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lenten thoughts

5 February 08

last year, for those of you who remember, i gave up non-essential spending for lent.  it was wonderful and amazing and i am still feeling its effects.

so now that i’ve set the bar, i can’t really give up chocolate for lent, now can i?  i have come to see lent as a way of preparing me for understanding the sacrifice He made for me.  it’s also a great time for me to get straight what he’s asking me to do-and how to live.  last year, i was really struggling with how much a person should spend on themselves, what moral financial choices were, and what i really needed clarity from God on is where that balance is.  somehow, cutting it all out and getting it completely Out of balance for 40 days gave me clear-sightednes on where the balance line is.

this year, i have been struggling with this thing called listening.  i used to be really good at it.  i used to be the person that friends came to, to talk about whatever it was they were going through.  i was a good listener (by practice not by natural ability, mind you), and i wasn’t judgmental.  well, somewhere along there i lost those things.  i learned some things and started thinking that i needed to open my big mouth All The Time.  i gained a very strong opinion about everything.  although i’m still good at not judging sinners, i’m not so good at not judging the saints.  it turns out that if you want to call yourself a Jesus-follower, you better watch your p’s and q’s when you are around me.  because i clearly have got it figured out and i will either stew inwardly regarding your ineptitude, or i’ll make some comment, unsolicited mind you, about how you really should be more concerned about justice, or understand poverty better, or not separate yourself from the oppressed, and Watch Out if you say you are doing these things but i find a little space in your life where i don’t believe you’re doing it Enough.

basically, i’ve become skilled at the pointed finger and malicious talk.

so.  about a month ago i started attending a quaker church, in hopes of learning again to listen to God and listen to others.  it’s going quite well, in fact to be honest i love it.  i walk away some Sundays with a strange high.  did you know that God is like sweetened condensed milk?  yes this is what i’m talking about people, these kinds of thoughts don’t usually arrive in a person’s head without some cannibis assistance.

now it’s lent, and i have a feeling that i need to shut up for a while if i really want to get anywhere, other than Sunday morning, on my goal to learn to listen again.  so for lent, i’m giving up my opinion.

i know this will be hard-believe me if you know me you are thinking this is nigh unto impossible for little miss holly.  and i know it could end up making me really stressed out and about to burst for want of expressing my opinions (those which i think are blatant facts, you know).  but if the goal is to learn to listen-to God and to others-then when i want to Talk, i’ll Listen.  i’ll breath and meditate and listen to what God wants me to notice in the situation or person.

ok so here’s the deal.  i need to share some opinions while i can.  you ready?

i don’t care about whether a president is “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”  let’s be honest here, it’s not going to change anything, what their thoughts are on the subject, and to tell the truth there is nothing “pro-life” about being against abortion but for war, or capital punishment, or ignoring abject poverty.  so let’s focus on a candidate who could actually accomplish something about the other (many, varied) important issues facing the world today.  shall we?

ok so i have never found a candidate that i agreed with everything  on their platform.  not even close.  this is why i call myself an independent, not because i have no opinions and am a “nothing” as someone i love dearly recently called independents, but because i have too many (have you been listening to me lately?).  i don’t fit in any one box.

what i have learned as that the above does not matter.  the president does not get to make all the decisions on capital hill (thank the Good Lord in Heaven for checks and balances).  what the president can do, is motivate and inspire the country to do better.  this is why i’m picking barack obama (see below).  i want someone who’s going to get us thinking we can do something, again.  we’ve all gotten so apathetic we have given up on government and change.  a president can change that. 

okay enough politics. 
nestle is as evil as a corporation can probably get.
kraft is nigh unto as much evil as nestle.
wal-mart is messing up our local economies And our giant companies, all in one fell swoop because americans care more about a few cents off their pickles than they do the sustainability of their community.
pollution here means more poverty in africa.
get off your high horse and try public transportation.  you might turn out to prefer it.
i don’t live in a bad neighborhood.  i live in a poor oppressed neighborhood.  learn the difference. 
on that note, black doesn’t mean dangerous.
on the same note, i would go Mad if i had to live in a suburb where it’s safe but dead.  don’t make me. 
if i hear another person say “just pull themselves up by their bootstraps” i’m gonna strangle them with their own bootstraps, and then point out that the poor they’re talking about don’t have the Boots to be Able to pull themselves up by. 
if you are buying a car that costs more than my house did, then you are being morally irresponsible.  and thanks to the messed-up real estate industry right now, my house was really cheap so don’t think i’m just talking about ferraris and such. 
i really do think that sharing the wealth is a good idea.  more is not always better and sharing is fun.  for real.  i know it means the economy doesn’t continue to grow, i get that, i’m not naive.  but what i don’t understand is why we think that economies can just infinitely Grow.  why can’t they be stable?  wouldn’t that be Enough?  and why isn’t Enough enough for people?  wanting My economy to grow at the expense of others is just selfishness.
my husband rocks.  i know that’s not really fitting in the list but can i just tell you that he gets frustrated that i am not using my artistic gifts and he has recently given me permission to spend a little money on classy well-made clothing.  and he assures me that, yes, one can be “fancy” and socialist.  whew.

when Jesus said to give everything you have away, and then the early church shared everything they had, i’m pretty sure that was the way it was supposed to be.  i’m pretty sure he didn’t just give directives and really what he was trying to do was give analogies.  “what he meant was” watering down nonsense?  it’s nonsense.  Jesus meant what he said.

imagine if you didn’t have to worry about something happening and not having what you needed to survive it.  imagine living for the good of the community instead of your lonely little self.  imagine having a community that cared for you, and you cared for them, and we weren’t using the pithy modern “i care about you” kind of thing.  caring For.  not caring about but not getting involved.  caring For.  it’s a beautiful idea and i’m not sure why we’re all so afraid to try it out again.

do Not tell me you are joining the oppressed if you don’t have daily interactions with said oppressed.  and don’t, please DON’T tell me that rich white people are oppressed too, just spiritually.  i might just throw up on your fancy shoes.

most of us don’t get at All the message of Jesus because we’re so blinded by our own cultural norms.  this includes me.  so i’m going to shut up now.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 February 08 4:54 pm

    bravo. brilliant. courageous. so very proud of you.

    i think you’re a good listener to me. you’ve always been there for me in the Small And Big ways.

    i like your ‘rant’ at the end.

    if you ever find a hole in the way i live my life philosophy…please tell me. i’m serious. i want to do the things i say…you know…be consistent.

    te amo.

  2. bechirih permalink
    5 February 08 5:23 pm

    well, peapod, you are Easy to listen to! i can’t seem to find a pointing finger or malicious talk to throw your way….
    which brings us back to the fact that you better watch out or you’re going to get too perfect and we can no longer be friends.

    so-if i find a hole in the next 40 days-i’m just going to have to love you and listen to you for now, but i do promise to let you know once lent is over…if it hasn’t changed me so much that i realize that keeping my mouth shut is the best idea yet….

  3. Stove permalink
    14 February 08 1:32 am

    I just finished reading Amish Grace. Not a life changing read for me, but it provided some insight into the Amish and forgiveness. Somewhat relevant here, but I’m not religious. I thought Lent was only for Catholics. Anyhow, you will always rock in my book. You are my favorite Christian friend. 😉 I do miss hanging out with you, but I’m afraid when the Jeep finally dies. Yes, it’s soon. Don’t kill us if we get a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Kidding! But it will be mucho more environmentally friendly than what we have now. I still prefer to take PT though and the black man I live with scares the hell out of me. Go Kucinich! Yes, I’m crazy and promise to grace you with this presence as soon as possible.


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