Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the ice shall melt...

Photograph by Beth Sands

Today it was bitter cold outside, and yet the sun was shining and bright, and the sky was blue. It was a lovely day to be out of doors. It was a busy day, too, and I was in and out of church and hopsital doing spiritual things that left me feeling very good inside.

I performed Communion for someone today, for the very first time. Certainly I've shared bread and wine before, even in ceremony, but not in a Christian sense. It was... interesting. It was much needed (a friend is in hopsital and unable to come to church), and it felt good. I recounted the morning's sermon message to her, read a couple of passages from the Bible, and then we shared Communion. It was powerful in its simplicity. She enjoyed it, and seemed at peace after, and I enjoyed it as well.

The ice of winter will eventually thaw. My friend will go home, and the snow will disappear, and all the winter's illnesses will be gone. I haven't suffered as much this winter, for whatever reason. I haven't felt as cold, though it's certainly been cold at times. I haven't felt as barren within, either, and I credit seminary with a lot of that. I have done so much personal work this year, and I'm proud of myself for the strides forward that I have made. It feels good.

By the by, the photo is by my daughter. She's an incredible artist - please take a peek at her account, linked through her name above. I'm definitely the proud mama here. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti, Prayer, and Hope

No picture today. What kind of picture would I post? One of Haiti's destruction? I don't think so.

The topic of Haiti has been on my mind a lot. I see so many conflicting opinions out there that it's discouraging. I did a prayer vigil at church on Sunday, after the regular service. I wrote a prayer. I've talked with friends. None of it really means anything when you see the pictures of Port au Prince, though.

Some people don't want to send any aid. They say no one came to aid the States during Katrina and no real offers were made to help after 9/11. Others say that sending aid only makes it worse, makes the Haitians dependent upon us. I might agree with this one if they hadn't just lost their entire city and about 200,000 people overnight. I think it's a bit much to tell them to strap on their Big Girl Panties at this particular moment. Hell, some people think we should just close up shop in the rest of the world and withdraw all our forces and aid stations and tell the world to go to pot. Of course, people would still complain it was our fault; the topic line might change but the blame continues. Comes from being a successful country.

Some people send aid to just about everything they see. I don't think that's an answer, either. Sending willy nilly without knowing about the charities involved can cause real problems. You don't know where your money is going and, sadly enough, scammers are out there, ready to use the Haitians as an excuse to dupe you out of your cold, hard cash. I did donate, to Red Cross, and to Doctors Without Borders, because both of these organizations are DOING something NOW. They don't perpetuate horrors; they just help people out until they can stand on their own.

This morning or last night, another quake hit a bit west of Port au Prince, this one 6.1 on the Richter scale. It's awful, because it may have just ended any further rescue attempts. It's good, in that there really wasn't much else to fall down or be damaged.

Part of me wonders... perhaps they should just fence around Port au Prince, and declare it a national cemetary. The place is in total shambles, and it will be months or maybe years before they can rebuild. Maybe the right thing to do is find somewhere not on a fault line, and build anew.

My heart goes out to those who have been lost and injured in Haiti. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be there, buried in rubble and slowly dying of thirst or hunger... or scrabbling with bare, bleeding hands to try and get your child out of a pocket of air, hearing the screams but knowing that pulling the rubble out too fast could cause it all to crash down and cause the death you're trying to hard to stave off... So much horror and upset.

Yet, at the same time it feels very remote. With 9/11, I was frozen for a long time, then cried for days, and spent a long time watching news and worrying. Now... while I have not and will not forget this terrible disaster, it is not personal for me. It's just too big. 9/11 was huge, and at most we thought we'd lost 4000 people. Haiti is dealing with the concept of losing 200,000 people, and not one or two buildings, but all their modern buildings. Their whole city. What little fresh water they'd managed to get. I can't wrap my mind around it.

Then I read the news, and my mind reels with the inappropriateness of it all. Christians and Muslims deck it out in the streets of Nigeria, causing 400+ dead and maybe 4000 injured. Yemen is launching air strikes against someone they "think" is a senior Al Qaida leader. Instead of worrying about the Haitians' ability to survive this month, France is apparently going around telling everyone the US is invading Haiti rather than helping.

How can these petty things go on around us when people are dying under the broken remains of buildings? Christians and Muslims are both supposed to be peace loving; where is their aid now? Yemen could spend its arms cash on doctors or medical supplies. France could... well, just shut up. Argh.

Me, I support doctors. They will do what they can, and will continue to do what they can. I support those who teach, whether it's how to build a fresh water well, or how to sow crops that will feed the hungry, or how to raise animals that will offer not just meat but wool for cloth and milk for those who need. Education is the great equalizer, imo.

My prayers go out. They go out to those in Haiti. They go out to those stuck in the rubble, and those trying to save them. They go out to the injured, the lost, the terrified. They go out to the people with relatives in that awful place. May the gods above grant them some kind of peace.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year

It's a new year, and a new decade. How interesting. I have struggled a lot through 2009, and grown immensely. I'm proud of who I am becoming, and am no longer afraid that in growing I will lose who I was before. I am me, and that part will never change.

We're just starting to plan out the 2010 garden, and it's kind of exciting, and kind of scary at the same time. It's only January 6th... I want to relax and do winter stuff for a bit. But... it must be done.

I got a new phone today, much needed as my old one was really starting to fail in a number of ways. I'm quite pleased. It's an Alias, and I really like it. I need to get one cord to allow me to hitch it up to my computer so I can put songs on it, and then it will function as an MP3 player as well as my phone and calendar. Life is good.

On the spiritual front, I spent Sunday afternoon up in the woods with the kids. We took up some wine and some pretzels as offering, and took the tractor as far as we could then walked the rest of the way to the temple. I spent a few minutes saying a long prayer to Dionysos (I try and do special honors for him on the 17th day of the lunar month. That's about 2 days after full moon, which was on New Year's Eve this year. I also try to give honors to Artemis on the full moon, but wasn't home to do so this month. After saying my prayers to Dionysos, and praising him, the children and I made offerings into the snow. The red wine looked very interesting where it poked through. There was a very good feel to the whole thing, and the girltwin's eyes got very wide at one point. I always wonder what she sees.

The Agroterion was in fine condition, except that the massive wind storm we had caused a minor issue. The statues were all blown off their column, and one of the deer statues lost its antlers. Because there was no way to totally close up the interior, and more wind storms are likely, I carefully placed all the statues on the floor, so no further damage could happen. I worried at first that someone had come in and moved them or pushed them, but upon close observation, it is very clear that it was the wind and not a human agent. Whew. We propitiated Artemis once we'd cleaned up the temple itself, and sang her praises. The boytwin made himself conspicuously absent for that part, for some reason.

I spent most of the weekend unpacking from our trip, then took the time to totally revamp and clean my altars. I switched things around a bit, and also put out some new items. My MiL gave me a massive box of brass candle holders, three pewter cups and three pewter bowls. I put some of the candle holders out (two of them look like Roman columns), and put a pewter goblet on each of the main altars, with the bowls there as offering bowls. It gives a feeling of beauty and continuity to the altars, which I like. My room is feeling peaceful again, and that's spilling out into the rest of my life.

Tomorrow, I finish packing away the Christmas and Hanukah ornaments, and take the tree down. Then I'll sit down and start reading the Torah for my seminary class. I don't have to read the whole thing, and I've been trying to decide whether I want to read Genesis or Exodus. I've read the whole Bible before, but I understand the Torah is slightly different in wording even though those first five books are the same stories, in general, as are in the Bible. I admit, I'll be sad to see this month go. I wonder which religion we're studying for January... my birthday month!

* January graphic provided by Magic Art LJ Community. Thanks!