Sunday, January 15, 2017

What Binds Us Together

When you go into a Christian church oftentimes you will see at the front an image of a human being. A man, hanging on an execution device, hanging in pain. A human being. A person.

What binds us together, what we have in common, begins with this: we are human beings. Each of us is a human person. And we are all created, equal, in the eyes of creation, creator, the universe.

What we have in common is also, often, pain. What redeems this pain is what binds us together.

We do not always know what it is. Empathy, sympathy, compassion. Horror. And also love.

We have before us in these uncertain days, in a time of anxiety and anticipation, a sense of ourselves as human beings who are under threat.

Some of us are undocumented, some of us are unwise, some of us are unemployed, some of us are about to lose our health insurance, our jobs, our livelihoods, our homes, our nation. Our identity as citizens - as something less than the fullness of who we are. (Granted, we are more than these. But still it hurts.)

That fullness of human identity is something nobody can take away from us. It is indelible.

Certain inalienable rights - life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness (and material well-being) - are among them. We won’t lose these.

But what we have in common, today, in this place, includes a feeling of being under threat. Or of standing with those who more materially, dramatically, are.

We have always been there. We have always been among those who are under threat. Because we are human. And that is part of our story. And that is what binds us together. Today. Always. Eternally.

May we remember who we are, and under whom we are one. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2017

On Growing Older

Aug. 20, 2011

     Aging is a gradual process it seems to me, not a series of "stages".
     There are physical changes as we get older -- Our glasses become "tri-focals", we need more dental work, our hearing is less sharp, it's more of an effort to get up out of an easy chair (or recliner).
     We notice these changes, from time to time, but they are not sudden. They sneak up on us. Our spine may begin to curve so that is it hard to "stand up straight" -- even when we are reminded.
     We look different on the outside, but we are the same people inside -- just more experienced!
     Think how full our "memory banks" are. It's no wonder we can't always come up with the exact word to express our meaning.
     Certainly our attitudes have matured -- at least, we hope so. We've learned to be more sensitive to other peoples feeling -- We try to understand their different viewpoints. We have lots of time to think. And to look back and enjoy our memories.

     It seems to me that people who want to plunk the "human life style" into stages -- like separate boxes -- might be a little young and inexperienced and rely too much on "studies"--
     A person my age can look back over a life-time of changes we only became aware of gradually-- (Especially when you are ninety years old!)


     John, keep in mind that the people you interview may not think of themselves as "aging" at 60. They may think of themselves as aging, but as middle-aged. In fact, I once plotted it this way:

1. Childhood and youth.
30's: Adulthood and 40's
50's: Maturity
60's: Middle-aged
70's: Mature middle-age
80's: Elderly
90's: Old!

But then, I remember a women I knew who called herself "an old lady" -- she was 58. (And I remember the funny look on the faces of Emma 'n' Charlotte when I told them. (They probably were in their 60's -- and still working -- as school nurses.)

     (Notice that I have called it growing older...)

     I do like your idea of going back and interviewing them on "what they have reflected on in the meantime" -- You certainly got me interested in "reflecting!"
     (Re: "Touch of Grey" -- Do you know about the "Grey Ladies" in hospitals?)
     About the multi-generational relationships; grand-parents and children -- Have you noticed that people (my age) smile at the children they meet, related or not?
     I certainly felt at-ease with my grand-children this summer and enjoyed their company. I wonder how they felt... (This is a whole different subject than aging...)


     Remember that ladies in their 60's may have noticed a few wrinkles, but they may not think of themselves as aging. They may even fool you by "coloring" (Aunt Carol's word) their hair. Phyllis S. certainly fooled me -- I thought she was in her 70's -- and then she turned 90 before I did.
     I like the idea of calling your retreat "Joy on the Journey"
     I often think of Carol, in her 90's, saying "Ah, the memories" -- It is certainly true -- and makes me appreciate having them...

     Now, about "multi-cultural" (a digression here): I've been reading of the different expectations of Mexican and Chinese families....

(Sara Scofield Leech, b. June 13, 1921, Palo Alto, Cal.)