Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I am up too late tonight, but I feel happy, really satisfied with my work and my day. I am so fortunate to have found work I really love most days - to be in a position to see people's growth and their fears, to be trusted with their vulnerability and to witness the seismic shifts that make big differences in lives (or little ones). I went grocery shopping with Ruth tonight and enjoyed the colors and textures of the food - especially the shiny green zucchini and the purple onions, the heavy oval Roma tomatoes - colors and textures that will translate into tastes. I'm in a mood to cook, to feed. And tomorrow morning I can sleep late - fix lunch for Ruth, work only afternoon and early evening. That is luxury I treasure. Spring is beginning to warm the air and the moon is past half, waxing. The buds are on the trees, the sap just beneath the surface creating a green haze of renewing life. There is much to fear but I am not fearful at this moment. This moment I dwell in hope.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I was deeply moved today by Senator OBama's speech and by his presence. The ground swell for him here is huge - started with the Universtiy of Texas Democrats hosting a rally in the relatively small gym on campus - ended up with 20,000 on the shores of Town Lake. I liked the content and the style - the agenda items regarding health care, education, energy, environment, immigration, the economy and the war. I think its sad that the San Antonio press fixated on the one negative comment he made - regarding Dick Cheney. The speech was positive and inspiring - giving a sense of the man, an overview of his goals and positions, a case for why the American public would, at this time elect "a black man named Barack Obama", and a call to action. I need to study his web site a little more, read his book, - but I think I've found my guy - the one I can truly belive can lead our nation in an ehtical direction appropriate at this time in this place.

I am worn out after five hours treking by bus to the rally, stnding through it, and treking back. I'm also exhilerated. I'll get more details out after sleeping, and also welcome specific questions.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.

Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.
The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully
your lifeis delivered, even though
you can't read the address.

Thomas R. Smith

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Today was a milestone day for Danny, the day of his first Reconciliation in the Catholic church. Confession in the old days. I remember as a girl hearing Protestants make negative comments about Confession - as if Catholics had it easy and could just tell the priest what they had done wrong and go out and sin again. That's not the way it was presented to Danny and his classmates and family members. It was presented as the sacramental culmination of a careful process of examination of conscience. The feeling surrounding it is like that surrounding the Days of Awe in Judaism. I found the questions posed regarding examination of conscience helpful in my own growth, and so did Danny. Its interesting to have common language with him - the ability to talk about hurting other people or hurting God's heart. The church, St. Austin's, has two superb educators working with the kids, teaching them to take their spiritual journeys seriously. Their path isn't mine, but sitting with the families, watching Joanna and the other mothers and daddies bless their children tenderly - eyes, ears, mouths, andseeing the love in the eyes of parents and children alike, I was deeply touched. Processing with silent families from parish hall into church glowing with sunlight through stained glass, altar adorned with delicate displays of white pussy willow, the words "I want to walk as a child of the light" - all touched me deeply. It was good to see families focusing so much gentle attention on the moral development of their children, beautiful that they have a community that serves them with such care. Danny, I noticed, treated all of us - especially his brother and sister with particular kindness all day, and his demeanor seemed especially sweet - even more than usual that of a child of the light. I am and will remain a little outside the spiritual commnity in which my grandchildren are being raised, but I have enormous respect for it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A good friend's father died tonight in the Christopher House hospice, and another friend's father was moved into Christopher House this afternoon. It does seem to be a season of dying. Ruth and I just got back from giving one friend a ride to the hospice to spend a few quiet moments with her father's body. Ruth still wishes that she, at five had gotten the chance to come to the hospital in the night to see Kerry after he died. I took the advice of nurses not to wake her that night and have her brought to see his body. She said it felt healing - like a redoing - to give our friend a ride to say her good bye. I felt good too, to be part of this process, this grieving. I think comforting those who mourn is a major part of my personal mission. That seems odd on one level, since I have a strangely matter of fact attitude toward death, especailly after long life. Its late, but I feel good about having been ableto help in this way.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's evening. What a differnece a day makes. Istarted this day low energy, not full of expectations, and ended uphavingabeautifulValentine'seveningwihtRUth andthekids.We didit all at awhisper becauseRuth haslosthervoice.Maybe the soft talking set a gentletone.Idon'tknow,but it was truly a celebration of love and family - simple meal of fishsticks witha sweet blessing - even Zachary adding gratitude. KK and Danny both di homework well and with focus. Tenderness aboundedall around. I go to bed hapy tonight, rich in love.
Valentines Morning. I'm disappointed I didn't get to make Valentines with the kids this year. I offered several times and apparently we just had communication break down - makes me sad. Sad comes easily right now and I'm working on lifting my own spirits. I have a morning without clients to clean and sort and I'll feel better if I do it well rather than sit at the computer dreading I won't do it well. Managing life (householder life more than professional life) involves keeping track of so many details - and I am not good at that, never have been. I'm haunted by my mother's old refrain about me. "The child doesn't face reality." But reality has so many levels - relational and ethical as well as mundaned and detailed. Some days its easier to function on all levels successfully. Other days I'd rather be a protected princess who doesn't have to do the hard stuff. But that's not a life I'd really choose even if I could. Enough musing. Time to file.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their causes, but what they say about their opponents.
Robert Kennedy
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Abraham Lincoln - who was born 198 years ago today. We need those words now, as a nation and individually.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday night. Good weekend. I felt so discouraged but have ended warmed and rested - loved the evening with old friends and family yesterday. We celebrated our traditional very late extended family Christmas complete with carol singing. This is the first year KK has been one of the serious singers, holding her songbook and reading the words - not in an apparent hurry to finish singing and open presents. I felt so happy just sitting on the floor in Jeanie's big back room, leaning against Bob's legs - hearing the interwoven texture of voices I love. Bob and I walked at McKinney Falls yesterday and sorted out many of our hopes and concerns. That felt good too. Last night, after the exteded family celebration Bob and I watched the film City of God about the violent youth culture in Brazilian slum. The film had a Lord of the Flies feel to me , kids killing kids because they could - but Bob pointed out that the slum situation was different from that in Lord of the Flies because the former existed because of the negligence of corrupt authority and the latter because of the abcense of authority. City of God worked as a paradox for m. Most of the kids in the slum were sucked up by it. The one kid, Rocket, always smart, artistic, and a little set apart, used his clear artist's vision and insider perspective to get out. The film shocked me. I think it is wonderful and true that there are always exceptional individuals who triumph pretty much no mater what - and mourn for those who are not exceptions and remember how strongly I believe that all of us are responsible for the least of us, not just for ourselves. I am including Bob's review of the film here. Bob writes:

Last night, we watched City of God. It portrayed a poor slum outside Rio de Janeiro and the gangs that emerged within the lawless slum. It was lawless because the establishment didn't care about it and because some police took payoffs to ignore crime there. The movie was told from the voice/view of a resident who escaped the slum, becoming a photographer, and like a photographer, he saw and watched what happened without much verbal comment, without romanticism, condemnation, or overdramaticization. He just showed us what he saw.

It made me aware of the much greater costs of dire poverty than I had imagined. Not just hunger and disease. Not just desperation and struggle. But in addition, the emergence of violence and oppression by young males who feel hopeless and helpless outside their coterie of gang members. Also, how a masichistic sociopath can easily rise to position of power and influence in this setting.

But it also showed me how, even in such dire poverty, even many of the "hoods" saw their life as not good, as an older brother told the younger, "you're smart. You can get out of this. Study, get educated, and don't touch a gun." Whether education, art, or simply determination did it, this younger brother did escape this "city of god" that seemed forsaken by all, including god, and in the process, told this story.

It is useful for me to see how people live in other places.

An excellent film, with food for thought. Portuguese? with subtitles.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday night and everyone else is asleep in bed. Ruth is sick - I hope just getting a cold and Bob and Chris are tired from working all week - getting up early and stying up late. It was god lying hours in bed with Bob talking about his students, short stories, his pleasure in talking to Chris in the car about school and politics as they drove back from Jourdonton. My mood is discouraged - thoughthere is sweetness all around me and I know it. I think the frustration and sufering of clients is harder to handle some weeks than others. And I wish I lived in a society where money wasn't a factor. I wish I could just give away therapy and not worry about paying office rent. Charging for caring services feels wrong - and managing without charging is impossible. I want to feel more hopeful in the morning - to have more of a handle on improving the practical aspects of my life. I'm not making as much progress right now on the house or on finding ways to sell things I've made or no longer want. I need to re-energise in the practical dimension, and right now that seems tough.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Time has passed fast this week -shouldn't be Thursday night already. My weeks are located in perceived time passage. Tuesday morning to Friday evening, when I am working a lot, seems to pass in a breath - fifteen mine's rather than four full days. Friday evening through Monday evening - my time more for myself and family flows gently and I am more mindful and focused on experiences. This is the second time in recent memory that I think about those long weekends as pleasant precursors of eventual retirement. Work is still satisfying though - richly satisfying this week though many people have been suffering more than usual. There have bee several deaths affecting my client group and I think the continuing winter is beginning to get people down (Ruth and I saw the first flowering tree yesterday - some sort of fruit tree- but it seems very premature. No red buds even hinting yet)

A highlight of the week was going on the Fun Bus in the evening yesterday with Ruth and the Kids. They bounced and swung from bars, slid, tumbled, chased, laughed. Good strong physical kids - happy in their bodies. When darkness fell and we left the bus, Danny proclaimed "I loved going on the Fun Bus!" Later, after dinner and homework, Ruth rode her bike up and down her street and the kids jagged along with her. I walked and didn't keep up, but enjoyed being out in the mild evening air. Today its wet again and back down in the low fifties

Monday, February 05, 2007

Blue day - robin's egg blue sky - cool, soft breeze - spring precursor - mild pink sunset. I played with Zachary at the park, enjoyed watching him with different groups of kids - fitting his level of activity and his style of play to different groups. He had fun and impressed me with his social skills. When Joanna took him home after the day, he ran back into the house and called out "I love you Grandma!" before heading home Talk about making a person's day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This weekend continues to have a faith and values theme. I took the kids to mass this morning. They all seem very comfortable and happy n the enviroment of their church - to really feel like it is THEIR chrch and to appreciate its symbols as well as the people who smile at them and the breakfast tacos and doughnuts. I was impressed by the educational session in preparation for Lent. The class was astonishingly well designed again today - intergenerational classes dealing with complex issues of conscience - but with a thread kids could follow. Someone at that church is brilliant at curricula! While the kids were cutting out fifteen child-relevant prayers to place in fifteen Easter eggs to be prayed in order (Stations of the Cross) or individually, adults responded to questions about everything from how the U.S. should behave regarding the war in Iraq to questions of individual self care regarding food and time.

I was touched by the "green" nature of the curricula on Food Ethics. It seemed to concretize some of the concepts I've heard called "ecoKosher" in progressive Judaism. I was impressed by the eater's ethics code I copied below. I can do better than I have been regarding some of these issues, especially buying locally. I learned a new concept "food miles"- the number of miles food has to travel to get to my mouth. Fewer food miles mean fewer greenhouse gases in the air. That makes buying food locally or regionally grown seem even more important. I have a farmer's market on the bus route that I can use summer and spring if I plan right, but I haven't used it often. I think I will do better this growing season.

Eaters' Ethics in Food Choices

Human Dignity:
Support fair wages and healthy working conditions for farmers and food workers.
Universal Destination of Goods
Support fair distribution of profits, not food cartel control
Integrity of Creation
Support humane treatment of animals, restrict factory farms
Protect the environment by the food you eat
Common Good
People around the world have a right to food security.
Limit "food miles" and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Affirm local food production and local purchasing as a preference.
Encourage fair trade practices.
Option for the Poor
provide nutritious food for those who are hungry

used with permission, National Catholic Rural Life Commission

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Today was plain fun. KK and I went shopping and bought her a pair of brown floppy pants and several shirts. She chose carefully, has simple practical taste right now. She picked tailored knit shirts that look good on her well muscled body, but really are very simple and classic. Even the Easter dress possibility she liked best is simple, a strait peach pink flowered calico dress with buttons up the front, a discreet ruffle at the hem, and a little pink sweater - less frilly than the description I wrote. We may go back and get that one if she doesn't find something else she likes better. She knows about sales and sizes and is willing to add prices and stay within a limit. She is rare among females I've known in being able to say "I don't look good in this one" without any shame or awkwardness - realistic self-confidence there. She was so proud of herself for not having the "gimmes" in a store full of beautiful clothes that looked great on her. And I had a blast watching her try on clothes, feeding her lazagne, just being in her company.

Then, tonight, Bob and I watched the movie Tsosie about a boy who grew up in extreme poverty and abuse in South Africa - (put out of the house by his father as his mother was dying) - became a harsh criminal killing for money for food and beer - until he carjacked a car with a baby in it. In the aftermath of finding the baby his own humanity (re?)emerged. This was a powerful film, artistically masterful, with hope in it about the human spirit but set in such bleakness. So many of the people of the world live in such bleakness - impose their bleakness on others. A far cry from KK being proud of herself for not pushing me to buy an extra shirt. How many kids have never had even one shirt or dress bought new?

Last week we watched the movie Mother Theresa, and more than anything I was impressed by the simplicity of Mother Theresa's mission. She had lived years in a convent near Calcutta without really seeing the poorest of the poor. Once she saw them, she was drawn to live and work among them and she did. She didn't believe that organization and planning were helpful to the implementation of what she saw as God's work - was most comfortable keeping the implementation simple, and doors kept opening. She saw herself as "God's pencil".

I wish it were that simple for me - that I felt a sense of pure and definite mission - knew clearly what message to convey with my life. I don't think I have a single message life - but maybe only saints do.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tonight begins the Sabbath of the trees and song - a festival Sabbath that comes in with the full moon Ruth and I visited our traveling Reconstructionist community - met tonight in the club house of a fancy apartment complex north of the house. We arrived in the cold night with the moon rise - heavy golden moon pushing up over the horizon as with effort and in great majesty. I like the traveling services - the need to set up chairs, move tables, make a place for ourselves rather than just using a building cleaned and arranged by others. I like this congregation too -its small enough and diverse in age and apparent interests, open to its own diversity. I really like Rabbi Monty - his obvious passion for his congregation and for living a holy life in the world as it is. He spoke tonight about Martin Luther King Jr. - how he was a true prophet in the line of Hebrew prophets and how each of us should look for the calling and mission to which we could apply as much effort and passion as Dr. King applied to the cause of civil rights.