Seeing Rainbows

Life isn’t sacred.

Life is precious and wonderful. It can be tedious or exciting. Life, as Glennon Melton Doyle says, is brutal and beautiful… brutiful. But life isn’t sacred. Sacred means holy, set aside, reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object.  I’m not saying that life can’t be those things, but general everyday life doesn’t qualify as sacred. However, there are moments in one’s life that are sacred. Birth, when a baby takes its first breath, causes those present to catch and hold their own breaths, waiting for that first cry as air fills the infant’s lungs. Death is also one of those sacred moments; being present as someone takes a final breath is a holy experience and a sacred honor – one which I count myself blessed to have witnessed.

DSCN8740 Angels on the 7th floor

My husband and I discussed some of this a few weeks ago as he prepared to undergo an angiogram. We were filling out paperwork for his Advance Directive in the event things went horribly wrong. He didn’t want to have life indefinitely prolonged via medical support if there was no hope of recovery. We did the hard work of discussing how long I should wait for him to come out of a coma or allow him to be on life support, should those things be in our immediate future.

We experienced sacred moments yesterday. It was a beautiful morning: the smoke was finally clearing from our skies. I wanted to visit friends who were camping in a lovely Riverside spot before they left to journey home, so SuperDad and Moses and I drove the short distance to the state park. I walked the first half-mile with them, smiling at how happy our dog was to be sniffing everything. We parted on the bridge; man and beast continued on their favorite hike together while I returned to where my friends were camped. About 30 minutes later, when I was expecting their return to us, SD called to say the dog was having trouble breathing (this was not terribly uncommon and usually righted itself within minutes) so they were resting before moving on. Ten minutes later, a second call let me know that Moses wasn’t recovering well at all, and could I get a cart to meet them? My friend J and I asked the camp host if there was a cart available but she did not have one, so we drove to my house for our folding wagon, quickly returning to the park with it.  We met SD and the dog on the trail: Moses had slipped into a coma. We gently moved him to a blanket and lifted him into the cart. The trail back was rocky and uneven, and the decision was made for SD to go retrieve the car while J and I walked with the wagon along a smoother path until we could all meet up. At a stopping point in the shade, J reached down and pet the dog; she noted that his heart was beating quickly. By the time I reached down to feel his chest, Moses’ heart had stopped. There was no trauma, no misery – just a quiet ending. He was having a joy-filled morning, walking on one of his favorite paths in the woods until with a final wag of his tail, he laid down to rest. SuperDad was there to give him water and keep him company. When Moses took his final breath, he had a loving hand placed comfortingly on him.

Death is sacred, and in those important, holy moments of yesterday, there were people to bear witness to it. Aside from the fact that he was a 14-year-old Labrador retriever – that makes him the human equivalent of 98 years of age, so clearly his time had come – I think that is why I am so at peace with his passing: he was ushered out of this life with loving hands. Moses now at the proverbial Rainbow Bridge, where he is free to sniff whatever he wants to his heart’s content. We weren’t his first family, so if the legend is true Moses will have at least two joyous reunions in the future. There are some wonderful dogs I know of who went before him, and I imagine there is quite the dog party happening now.

DSCN2149 Moses 4x6 WEBSIZED

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MTM: Local Events

SuperDad trains all year for his favorite event, the Langlauf 10km Nordic skiing race on Mt. Spokane. In 2016 he took 3rd place in his age group, which only encouraged him to train harder. The extra training he did (some in thanks to Pokémon GO) paid off in yesterday’s race. Congratulations to the first place winner for his age group!

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This, of course, begs the question: will 2018 bring him more cowbell?

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too cool for sitting around the fire

Winter, however, is far from over. I snapped these two pictures prior to leaving for work on Thursday morning. The school district had to cancel classes and after school activities due to weather. The main roads were okay but we had received a fresh load of snow followed by a layer of ice and freezing rain.  It was the first day that The Scout felt up to going to class all week; he learned his lesson about checking his phone for messages after he got the the empty school parking lot.

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This is the kind of ICE we like best.

After church yesterday, I headed over to one of the university campuses here in town for a #RallyWithRefugees. The large room was filled to capacity and overflowed to other places where people could watch on screens, thanks to use of Facebook Live. The event had been pulled together with 3 different groups sponsoring it — Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, and the World Relief office — after the immigration fiasco at our nation’s airports. Those who attended were given the big picture of what is happening, the intimate look at what refugees go through to resettle here (the personal stories were eye-opening and inspiring), some details on how local officials are dealing with it here in Spokane, the legalities facing everyone (but especially refugees), and concrete suggestions on how we can help others. The event was worth every minute I spent there.

We had just finished hearing the story of one young woman’s quest for education when a city councilman got up to speak. He was showing his emotions not only because of the personal stories that were being shared but also because he’d just gotten word that ICE was currently doing sweeps downtown and that other city council members were hurrying to the main bus station and train station to question them. Having leadership in our city and state that support humane treatment of others is priceless.

The tactics used by the administration of POTUS45 are fear-based and education-deficient. So let’s combat those two issues (fear and a lack of education) with some information from the World Relief office:

“Under both international and U.S. law, a refugee is an individual who has fled his or her country of origin because of a credible fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group. This definition of a refugee does not include those who flee their homes but stay within the boundaries of their country (“Internally Displaced Persons”) nor does it include those who flee a situation of poverty, national disaster, or violence, unless the violence was specifically motivated by their race, religion, political opinion, or one of the other grounds under the legal definition.  The U.S. government admits individuals for resettlement within the United States only after a thorough individual screening abroad to ensure both that they meet the legal definition of a refugee and that they in no way pose a national security or health threat to the United States.”

The current screening process for all refugees involves many layers of security checks before entry into the country. In addition, only the most vulnerable are referred by the U.N. for refugee resettlement (less than 1 percent of refugees worldwide). For more, read this New York Times article.  It’s not a rapid scenario — vetting a refugee takes approximately 2 years with multiple background checks, interviews, and approval processes. Syrians go through additional layers of checks. Some people spend years waiting in refugee camps. They don’t have a home to which they can return.

As a person of faith, being concerned with how my country and fellow citizens treat others is not just a matter of personal opinion; the Bible is full of scriptures relating to how I am to respond to refugees and other migrating people, regardless of whether you read the New Testament or the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. Even for those who do not profess faith, the Golden Rule makes is clear how we ought to respond to the crisis of refugees.

 

Icy Feathered Hope

We’ve been in a deep freeze. Weather changes are coming, I can feel it in my hardware.
The Resident Teen also suffers, but there is no rhyme or known reason for when his setbacks occur.   dscn1517-cropped-macro-4x6

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
by Emily Dickinson
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Happy New Year 2017

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So look up! Keep your eyes open for moments of beauty and grace.

It’s a shiny new year and we have the opportunity to bring joy and share hope with others.

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Some of the Bible verses I return to over and over again are the ones I am sharing here.

From the prophet Micah in the Old Testament:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8  (NIV)

The words of Jesus as recorded by Matthew in the New Testament:

37  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40  (NIV)

What’s in your boat?

dscn0518-the-boats-websizedDale Chihuly’s incredible artwork: old wooden fishing boat filled with blown glass

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Looking at these images, I am prompted to wonder what I am carrying about inside of myself. What do others see? Am I carrying beauty or ugliness? Anger or forgiveness? Harm or helpfulness?
And I wonder why we worry so much about what our boat looks like instead of being concerned about the quality of the things we carry.

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Today I am reading the sixth chapter of Luke (New Testament). There are a lot of good things there to share, including the Beatitudes and the example of removing a plank from your (my) own eye before trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye.

On judging others:

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”     Luke 6:37-38

Fifteen Years Gone

It was a Tuesday morning, with beautiful, clear, early fall weather in many places; El Paso, Texas, where I was living, was one of them. It was The Barefooter’s 9th birthday, although we had celebrated with a party & friends on Sunday afternoon (something for which he has always been grateful). We woke up to breaking news on the radio, then ran to the living room to turn on the TV. It couldn’t be true… but it was…

Alan Jackson’s poignant song is one that never fails to make my eyes tear up.

Four planes, 3 buildings, 2 cities, 1 Pennsylvania field…
Nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

NYC, Spring Break 2010 253

9/11 Memorial, Staten Island

NYC, Spring Break 2010 249

A close-up view of the memorial on Staten Island.  The left middle section has two names: one for Deanna Lynn Galante and one for her unborn son, Matthew.

2011 June 239  those who perished in plane and building

Pentagon Memorial

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?”
________________________________________

This post is a partial re-post of one I wrote 4 years ago. It seemed especially appropriate to share today, on the 15th anniversary of so much sorrow and loss. 

 

Insert pithy title here

DSCN7638  Moses, March 2016

The Scout built a dog barn when Moses came to live with us — a dog house big enough for both boy and beast — but when the weather turned cold, our teen found himself sleeping out there alone; the dog preferred to sleep indoors in front of the pellet stove where it was warm. This was not a surprise to me since at his previous home Moses had also eschewed a dog house.

As our winter turns to spring, warm breezes call me outside and I hobble in answer to their call. However delightful the wind and weather may be (and it is, at least to me), I cannot abide a trashy backyard — which brings us back to the abandoned dog barn, a shelter without a roof since November’s big storm.

DSCN7598 Sign that childhood might be over

This afternoon, The Scout dismantled the remaining walls, threw away the torn and mildewed padding, and piled up the boards.

DSCN2389  Putting away childish things, 1 Cor.13,11

Childhood: over.

DSCN2394  Childhood, over - dismantled dog barn

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.     – 1 Corinthians 13:11  New Living Translation (NLT)

Faithfully Mundane

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The past few weeks have been filled with the mundane of daily tasks, including nagging the teen about his homework assignments, keeping up with the plethora of work e-mail and assorted responsibilities that I can’t pass off to others, and various appointments. While none of this is exciting or particularly blog-worthy, this is where we live — right here in a mundane existence. This is not a bad thing, as Tracy points out in this post.

I hope you click on that link before you get back to nagging reminding your teen about doing homework or cleaning up the pet vomit or dealing with Mt. Washmore (a.k.a., Mt. Neverrest) or washing those dirty dishes.

Thank God for dirty dishes
they have a tale to tell:
while others may go hungry,
we’re eating very well.
For home and health and happiness
I wouldn’t want to fuss
for by the stack of evidence
God has been good to us.

The above poem hung in my husband’s grandmother’s kitchen. My SIL cross-stitched it and framed it for me as a gift many years ago, and it has been in my own kitchen ever since. It really does keep me from grumbling too much about those dirty dishes.