Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fantasy Footwork

Friday morning, I saw a blue dragon, a yellow dragon, an east coast baseball player, parachutes sewn by eight handed seamstresses, the Easter Bunny, a cocky guy with six girlfriends who seemed devoted to him despite his infidelity, and I got a lesson in evolution from a bush.

As I was walking through Sorenson Park in Holly, hoping to catch the Lupines in bloom, I saw lots of things that were not the spectacular lupine display that I had hoped for. I saw a Darner Blue dragonfly, and another dragonfly that was bright yellow with black stripes, it looked like a dragonfly had mated with a bumblebee. I had never seen one like that. I saw a Baltimore Oriole with it's bright orange/yellow belly. I saw spider webs shaped like double layered upside-down parachutes. I saw a rabbit as it jumped out of the tall grass, ran across the trail about 15 feet in front of me and disappeared into the shelter of the trees. I saw another, slightly smaller rabbit about 45 minutes later. On my way back toward my car, ahead of me on the trail I saw about 6 brown, plain looking birds. They looked kind of like ducks, but not quite the right shape. They got a little agitated when they sensed my presence, so they started fluttering their wings and hop-skip-flying off the path. Then, out of the brush near them, a magnificent pheasant rooster made a ruinning jump, spread his wings and flew up toward the trees nearby. He showed me all the beautiful splendor of his 6 or so foot wing span. I've never seen a pheasant in full flight like that. I've seen them scurry off, but never in full out flight. It was breathtaking.

Before meeting the pheasant rooster and his harem, while I was walking around the prairie where the lupines were done blooming, I saw an Autumn Olive growing right up next to the trail. I looked at it an said, "what are you doing here?" I went on to explain that several years earlier, volunteers had worked hours, days and more days and more days to cut out all of the Autumn Olive in the area because it is an invasive species and has no business being there. The bush replied, "of course I'm supposed to be here, a bird planted me fair and square in its poop. After all, what's ecosystem evolution but bird poop, squirrel amnesia and answers blowin' in the wind?" How could I argue with that, except to say, but I love the lupines and Autumn Olive creates too much shade for them. So, the question becomes do my personal preferences for a natural prairie to continue as it has for millenia, or an invasive bush seeded in bird poop, imported from another continent and promoted by the DNR as a good way to attract birds to your property. It's beautiful green and silver leaves make a beautiful display even when the tart and tasty fruit aren't present. The birds eat the berries which have a large hard seed inside which they can't digest, so when they poop, the seed comes out whole, already fertalized with a dollop of white gold from a feathered backside. Whenever I see Autumn Olive, I get the urge to pull out the chainsaw, however, I can't help but admire its tenacity.

I also admire the tenacity of tomatos. Even though they are not supposed to be perrenials, or be able to self seed in our climate, I have volunteers every year. This year, I even have one growing through a knot in the wood surrounding one of the beds. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I'll get one added to this entry at some point. I laughed when I saw it. I finally planted something in the garden!! I have one whole bed that I have labled "mystery 'matos" which is a combination of some of those unknown upstarts and an assortment of unlabled tomatoes that a friend traded me for some of my seedlings.

If you want any plants, let me know, I don't want to waste extras like I did last year. The tomatoes are a little leggy and confused, and the peppers are short, but I think once they are in the dirt, they will be happy and jump up.

I have to replant the beets and carrots, I shouldn't have kept the mulch on the bed after planting them, they didn't make it. I've been eating lettuce from my deck and the sage that I planted last year is going crazy and growing huge. They were so little last fall, that I was surprised to see how they are flourishing.

I'm hoping to get some more stuff in the ground this week. I'm torn between finally getting the garden in, or helping Deb to tear out our bathroom so we can finally finish that project. The house is a mess with tiles, towel bars, faucets, showerheads, and boxes of stuff that we pulled out of the bathroom cupboards to sort through. Deb has already started getting tiles off the walls.

I haven't done a darned thing except work and sleep, with the exception of my walk on Friday and my hour in the garden today. There is so much more to do. As much as I have to say this, being off work last summer did wonders for my garden, even I couldn't work in it for very long each time, I had time to work in it more often. Although I don't plan on repeating that experience if I can help it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Road To Healing is Paved with Scares and Scars

On Monday, I stopped at a rest area just north of Ann Arbor. I saw two things that stayed with me. I'll relate the second one first.

As I was walking back to my car, I saw a young blond boy, about 8 years old, sitting in a dog crate in the back of a pick-up truck. I laughed, he looked so comfortable in there while his chocolate lab puppy was on leash with his mom, sniffing around the grass and trees. The boy looked like he belonged in the crate, with a big grin on his face, waiting for a dog treat while the dog was thinking about the front seat.

Shortly before seeing the kennelled boy, I observed another type of role reversal. It occurred to me that, as our population ages, there is an odd type of reverse discrimination for heterosexual couples. That sounds odd coming from a lesbian, but listen and I will explain...

As I walked into the rest area building, I saw an older man (probably in his late 70s) standing nervously outside of the women's restroom. A few steps further on, I entered the bathroom, and I noticed under the door of the handicapped stall, there was a walker and a woman's feet. This concerned husband could not go in there to make sure his beloved was okay.

When Deb was using a walker after her surgery, I could just go into the stall with her, to help her, to make sure that she was okay. I had an advantage that this white married heterosexual man can't ever excercise in a public restroom (except at the very few and far between that have a seperate, single-seater unisex handicapped bathroom).

I was sad for him in his anxiety and in his powerlessness to take care of his wife in public.

The reason I was in that part of the world was that I had my 3 month pap/pelvic exam in Ann Arbor. It went well. The doctor said that she likes what she didn't see or feel. The pap results aren't back yet. However, the bloodwork for my CA125 (tumor marker) came back the next day. It has gone up to 15.7. Before I had the chemo/radiation and surgery, it was only 12.8. I have to get re-checked in a month. Meanwhile, I wait.

This CA125 test is not always an accurate determination of whether or not someone has cancer. Some people's numbers always go up when they have cancer growing, and some don't. I have no idea which category I fall into. 15.7 is still very low in general, but because it was higher than it's ever been in my blood, they want to keep an eye on it.

So, of course, I'm nervous and worried. Throughout this process, I'm trying to remind myself that everything happens for a reason.

Tomorrow, Saturday June 14, there is going to be a conflict resolution mediator at the church to try to help us work out some of the crap that has been flying around there. My heart is breaking over what's been happening and being said. I'm not even involved in the controversies, yet still my heart breaks.

My heart breaks for those who hold so tightly to anger and resentment that forgiveness seems to them like an abdication of control. In reality, it is a reclaimation of true personal power which is innately rooted in compassion and love. (I am working on a sermon about this, it's not ready, nor am I ready to share it.)

My heart breaks for those who no longer feel welcome in a church that claims that it welcomes all people. As a welcoming congregation, people of all sexual orientations, races, abilities, etc. are welcome. Lesbians, as well as straight white men should feel safe. Straight white men, as well as lesbians, deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity. We all deserve to have the divine spark recognized within us, regardless if we are having a bad day.

My heart breaks that some people don't feel safe within the walls that I hold dear. Safety is a basic human need, and feeling safe assures us of a certain amount of human dignity to which we all are entitled. It is sad to me that some of us don't feel safe among others of us. The U.U. Church should be a safe refuge for everyone. It saddens me that so many intelligent, talented, compassionate folks now look for the "enemies" among us, the "potential abusers", the "perpetually rude", and those who are lining up on whichever "side" they feel is the most rightous among us. We should instead be looking to one another to help us recognize the enemies within ourselves and help one another begin to heal those internal enemies so that they are no longer enemies, but instead sources for positive change and internal strength. We should be lifting one another up, not seeking to drag one another down.

My heart breaks that there seems to be a collective amnesia regarding the importance of living, breathing and worshipping within the framework of the Seven Principles of our faith which are that we affirm and promote:
*The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

So, I hope that those who feel wronged or angry or hurt or threatened, or who just plain believe that healing needs to occur among our congregation all come tomorrow to allow and perhaps even facilitate some healing among us.

I have learned, since having my hysterectamy, that a very interesting thing happens when there has been a painful assult upon the body. Where healing is allowed to occur, the scar tissue is stronger and tougher than before the ripping open. The once abused tissue will never look or feel the same, but there will always be an air of strength for having gone through the process of being wounded, then having the wound cleansed, closed and through patience and care, healed. Without facilitating closure and healing, the wound would fester and contaminate the entire body, eventually rendering it powerless or dead.

Let the healing begin among this body of people that I so dearly love. Let the personal insults, rumors, anger and attitudes of victimization be put aside and allow the healing to begin. Our congregational wounds can be transformed into scars, which are healed areas of strength. Within the areas of current pain, if the healing is nurtured, the gaping wounds can transform into areas of unique beauty, if we choose to see them so.

The way to begin to see the unique beauty and strength is to learn from our pain. Learn collectively how to better communicate with one another (don't forget that the most important part of communication is listening). Learn as individuals to recognize ourselves in one another and to forgive ourselves and one another for being failable human beings.

We need, throughout this process, to remember that everything happens for a reason.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hllary Wins! Oops, Barak Wins!

Tuesday night, after a meeting at church, I got in my car, started the engine and Michigan Radio came on over the speakers like it usually does. I heard Hillary Clinton giving a speech and it sounded like she was giving a victory speech. I smiled and thought, "yeah, Hillary got the nomination." Then I remembered that I have been rooting for Barak Obama.

I realized that I was happy just to have one of those two fabulous candidates finally chosen.

When I got home, much to my surprise, I found out that Obama, not Clinton got the nomination. I still felt excited. I said, "Obama got it?!" (Of course, this came out of my mouth mere minutes after I had announced to Deb that Hillary won, having misinterpreted her speech only moments earlier. Keep in mind here that I missed the beginning of her speech, as well as whatever announcement was made in advance of her words.)

This primary season has definately been an exciting one. I just hope that the momentum continues so that the Democrats can reclaim the White House and try to counsel the rest of the country into some semblence of sanity.

Perhaps compassion, dignity and reason can soon become the primary motivation of our chief of state rather than domination, greed and a false sense of American entitlement.

I know, I know, I am too optimistic about the possibilities of ...everything.