Frozen in time…

“In the good old days…”

How many times have each of us heard that phrase?

But when were the “good old days”?

I think for each generation, they are when we were children…when we were blissfully and innocently unaware of the turmoil and conflicts that were around us.

Certainly, looking back from a historical perspective, I have yet to find a time period that was “perfect”…when everything in life was acceptable for everyone.

We are constantly growing, constantly changing, and that may be why we periodically would like to go back to those “good old days.” Change is difficult! It requires us to sometimes throw away outdated traditions, unrealistic expectations, inappropriate perspectives. But–as much as we would like to sometimes–we cannot stay frozen in time.

We are called to find the basic principles from the past that provide us with a foundation to build on–but not to stay in the past.

I know–sometimes we romanticize the past. We go to living history sites (like Williamsburg–which I love), and wander around, thinking what a wonderful time that was. But not if you were a woman…a slave…a poor farmer… Or we may live in an area where there is a large Amish population–a population that in many ways has decided to live in the 17th or 18th centuries.

Our world, though, requires us to deal with understandings and technologies that  were not in existence in the “good old days”–regardless of the time frame we consider. And while we may wish that some of them had never come into existence, we cannot ignore them, but we must learn how to live with them…how to control them, lest they control us.

The “good old days” are always now…and we need to learn to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly of them, because those parts are always inextricably intertwined.

Room for Mystery…

I lurk (and post) on several webboards and social media groups–many of them related in some way to spiritual “stuff” (although the discussions can take some unexpected turns at times). It’s interesting reading about others’ life journeys…spiritual experiences…questions…perspectives. I may not always agree with them…may sometimes get angry with them. But they challenge my own thinking and help me articulate more clearly my understanding of my own journey and my own relationship with the Divine.

Having said that, though, I have to admit that there is one perspective that I just cannot wrap my mind around–and that’s a perspective that I’ve seen in some folks that leaves absolutely no room for mystery…or Mystery. If it can’t be explained in a rational way, then it’s thrown out.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with rational explanations! In fact, there are times when I believe that rationality is what is required in figuring out a course of action–or even, sometimes in trying to understand scripture better.

However, to live in a world in which there is no room for Mystery baffles me.

I have had experiences that have no rational explanation. Not unless you consider me to be mentally ill. And I might agree with you if I went around having those experiences every day (or several times a day). But I can count probably on less than 10 fingers those experiences–and that’s out of 60-plus years. I don’t think that suggests a diagnosis of mental illness.

When I look at the world around me, I see Mystery. Yes, I know there are biological explanations as to how flowers grow…but why do they grow in this specific place?

There are explanations for the origin of species–but why the variety? and the color?

When the sun sets in all its glory, I know that some of the colors can be logically explained–but isn’t there Mystery behind how they touch us?

And the universe…the ever-expanding, ever-growing universe! We like to place ourselves at its center, but we’re actually only one very small planet in one very small cluster in a universe that–to me, anyway–can’t be completely explained. When I look at some of the photographs of it from NASA, I find Mystery…

A world without Mystery? Not for me.

Scaredy-cat

Rascal

I have a 17-pound schnoodle (poodle and schnauzer mix) named Rascal. Quite often he lives up (or down!) to his name–bold and anxious to run and play.

Except in one situation…

If he hears a fly buzz in the house, he is absolutely terrified. He will cower…find his hiding place under the corner desk and get in the deepest, darkest corner he can…shadow me like a 2-year-old, almost tripping me sometimes.

I don’t know why flies terrify him. He’ll go after wasps and bees with no problem, but let there be even the slightest inkling of a buzz, and all his bravery disappears.

Yesterday there were a couple of flies in the house. So he insisted on going outside, enjoying sitting in the sun for a while, and eventually hiding in his doghouse. He would not come in–not until we absolutely insisted, because it was getting close to bedtime.

He skulked in…tail between his legs, head constantly swiveling and ears cocked, watching and listening for any sight or sound of the dreaded flies.

When I went upstairs to take my bath, he almost tripped me because he was cowering so closely. And while normally he checks out the upstairs rooms and then heads back downstairs, last night he curled up on the futon in the spare bedroom–where he could still see me.

Then it was back downstairs and time for bed. Right!

I called…he looked at me. I called again…he came into the bathroom off the bedroom and just looked at me again. I got into bed and called…he looked and then hid behind the toilet in the bathroom. This wasn’t getting us anywhere! So I got out of bed, picked him up, and physically put him on the bed. I made him lay down, put my arm over him to make him feel more secure–and he finally relaxed. So did I. Big mistake!

He wiggled out from underneath my arm, plopped onto the floor, and back into the bathroom–probably behind the toilet again. I was too tired to go check. But I assume that’s where he spent the night.

Normally he wakes me up by making chuffing noises (kind of like a sneeze) and, if that doesn’t work, nosing me–and then yipping. This morning we skipped the physical touch–he stood by the toilet in the bathroom, chuffing and yipping.

I dressed, trying not to trip over the 4-legged leech that was clinging to me, and when I got his harness and leash out for his walk, he tore out of the house! As far as he was concerned, the walk could have gone twice as long–he wasn’t anxious to re-enter the house and be exposed to the dangerous insects that make such horrible noises!

I’m at work now–and he’s back outside. Maybe by this evening he will have decided that it’s safe in the house again–that his humans have removed that horrible buzzing critter…but I’m not counting on it.

It’s going to be a long summer!

Do-overs

Have you ever had one of those times when you wished you could have a do-over? When it would be nice if you could hit “rewind” and change how you responded to something or someone?

I’ve had one of those recently. An action I did in good humor was the wrong thing at the wrong time–although I had done it before with this individual, there were some stresses I was not aware of at the time, and it ended up not being taken well. Well, honestly…the individual felt I embarrassed both him and some friends, and it’s created a rift.

I’m hoping that eventually I can build bridges, but right now it’s too soon. I’ve asked a mutual friend to share my distress at having hurt this person…and at the moment that’s all I can do.

I think that because we’re human we’re all going to have times we wish we could have a do-over. It’s not because we’ve set out to intentionally hurt someone, but sometimes our actions and the stresses in someone else’s life collide (or vice versa).

So how to react to those times?

I’ll have to admit that I’ve been struggling a bit with that. I’m aware that I just ended up being the “trigger person” in this situation–the explosion was building and it was going to happen sooner or later. I just didn’t want to be the trigger. If I had done it intentionally, that would be one thing–but I didn’t. So am I going to let it eat at me? beat myself over the head about it? In the past, I probably would have. But that doesn’t help anybody…

All I can do is express my regret and hope that eventually there will be forgiveness…and allow the situation to be a learning experience, a reminder that I need to think a little more about how my actions might be taken.

And if I’m on the receiving end–and that does happen–I hope to give another the benefit of the doubt and give them the grace and forgiveness I would like for myself.

I love volunteers!

We currently live in a historic property where my husband is site coordinator and guide. There are three properties on the site (Heritage Plaza)–two of them open for tours, and then the one we live in.

Much of the history is related to the faith tradition I belong to…but not all. There is also significant history associated with our town.

But because the property is owned by the church, funds are sometimes in short supply to take care of all the needs of all the historic properties. And that’s where volunteers come in.

There are many folks in our denomination who enjoy traveling in their RVs. But they don’t want to just sight-see. Many of them use their traveling as an opportunity to provide volunteer service–and we have been recipients of that recently.

We have had volunteers at the site for the past couple of weeks. They have been replacing a rotting porch, stripping and painting doors, replacing a picket fence, providing handicap accessibility to one of the properties, painting buildings, updating plumbing, tuck-pointing and repairing masonry… And these are not young folks! They range in age from their 60s to one volunteer who was 90!

There is no way that we could afford to pay for all the work they have provided for us.

They’re not the only volunteers I come in contact with. In my work at my denomination’s headquarters, I deal with volunteer staff organists, volunteer guides, volunteer greeters…people who have gifts and talents they want to share.

Thank God for volunteers!