…miles to go before I sleep,…

 

At the church where my spouse is the sabbatical minister, they are “on a journey”. In fact, as I write this a contingent of the congregation is walking from Judson Memorial to Calvary, its founding church, to join their morning worship.

Meanwhile, their regular pastor and family are travelling for this three-month period, at the end of which many of the congregation will converge on the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (A place, incidentally, that should on everyone’s trip literary.)

The congregation has designated this venture Judson’s Year of Pilgrimage. It is an attempt to “move” which, “in our planning and learning about pilgrimage, two elements have surfaced that differentiate a pilgrimage from other kinds of travel: intention and difficulty.”

For me, the key word is “intentional” for, after all, all of life is a journey. What the term pilgrimage implies is that sometimes we move in different direction which, when one stops to think about it, can be very smart. An anonymous proverb puts it this way “No matter how far down the wrong road you have gone, turn back.”

When this temporary stint is over, we will do exactly that. Don’t put too much of a point on the word “wrong” but obviously we are now off on a completely different road, one with a hopeful horizon but clearly filled, as all journeys are, with unexpected turns.

As we go, the preacher of whom I speak and I ask for what is the title of Anne Lamott’s meaningful book, Traveling Mercies.  Simply hope for us what has brought us this far, God’s grace.

 

 

Make America America Again

Make China...–from The Week magazine

The infamous MAGA hat continues to annoy me to no end not only because it is this President’s logo but mainly because of what it implies.

I, for one, can’t imagine a more progressive and hopeful country than we were with Obama in office.  That MAGA has the gall to suggest anything different is ridiculous.

At the Minnesota DFL’s annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner, the keynote speaker, Senator Corey Booker, reminded the room of the values that have made such a wonderful country. Things like global diplomacy, open borders, public education, affordable health care, diversity-always-growing and many other characteristics.

If there is anything that needs radical change, it is to rid the United States of this mean, hawkish, and, actually, very confused Administration. In other words, Make America America Again.

Try a little kindness (on an airline flight)

 

Related image

I am sure you have noticed, when you are leaving the plane, one flight attendant and one pilot standing at the cockpit door.

Say this next time:

To the flight attendant: “Thank you for your excellent service.”

To the pilot: “Thank you for getting us up and down safely.”

I am going to do that on my next flight. (Then again, I tend to over tip as well.) But remember, they have a hard job. Plus they have to be ready for all kinds of urgent or emergency situations. Their job is intense, too. Sometime Google “humorous flight announcements” to get an idea of how some of these workers try to at least lighten things up. They also become the brunt of the joke many times because passengers can be super annoying.  (One of  my favorite examples of this is a YouTube video of the flight attendant trying to deal with electronic devices.)

Stop and consider all the people in your daily life who “serve” you in pretty much thankless, and under paid*, jobs. Then think of the ways in which our health and safety depends on them. Why not try a little kindness?

 

*(Incidentally flight attendants make a lot less than you might think. The average is around $20 an hour and as glamorous as you might think the job is, it is not easy work. Pilots make a decent wage but driving these modern jets with all the high tech involved is challenging  and even more so when it’s back-to-the manual-controls in an instant. Remember Sully?)

 

Aging Together

How do you explain aging to a 30-year-old? It is, after all, something you have to experience.

On the other hand, you could learn from an “old” or, as I like to call it, an “aging” person.  Most of us –see what I did there?– are more than willing to share what we have discovered. (Caution: If you start us talking, it is tricky, in most cases, to get us to stop)

I pondered this quite a bit earlier this year as we saw our wonderful Eeyore-we called him Sorske most of the time- come to the end of his feline life journey. I often compared us, he struggling to breathe and I walking with arthritis pain.

We both used tried and true survival instincts, mostly unconscious, such as moving around, eating, checking out the weather on our iPhone. (I made up that last one. Sorske never got the smart phone concept)

I learned a lot from him because he kept doing the cat things like sitting in front of my recliner waiting for me to pick him up or finding some very hidden place to curl up for a nap.

On one of his very last days he did a very familiar thing, a poignant moment for me

Sorske helping

He came over while we were putting together an IKEA cabinet, walked out on the box and “offered to help.” I grabbed my phone to make sure I got the shot above.

It may sound cliché, but aging is not easy. Things that got us here like exercise, weight control, keeping humor intact, are harder and harder. One way I do it is to remember the last 6.2 miles of every marathon I ever ran. It was a lot more fun before I hit that wall but the race is a race. 20 miles isn’t the end so I didn’t stop.

Does all this help to understand, young people?

 

…goblin, hobgoblin, gnome, halfling, demon, monster, bugaboo, ogre…

TROLL: a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.

INTERNET TROLL: a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages…with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.

CONCERN TROLL: a false flag pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the troll claims to hold.

 

OK, enough with the definitions! I find Wikipedia addictive and keep following links from one article to the other, sometimes learning but more often getting lost in my curiosity. The above “troll” explanations are a good example of this. I already knew what an Internet troll is but I discovered that “it ain’t as simple as that”.

I went looking because I continue to be startled at how vicious these anonymous ogres can be. What I discovered is that seeing a stupid, mean comment is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

For example, a million troll bots that work automatically can skew any topic and confuse even the sharpest social media user.  Then there is the bullying of young people, which has been documented to have caused suicides. And what about the Russian interference in our last Presidential election?

One solution is not to read any comments at all. But everybody likes to be affirmed so, wow, look somebody said “Great post. Keep them coming.”  Which in turn keeps us scrolling down until a troll destroys the good feeling.

There is no final answer to how anyone can stop this beyond-absurd online behavior. Awareness may be the first step to dealing with it personally but it is like kudzu, ugly and unstoppable without using toxic chemicals. So, we live with it for now, with vigilance and maybe some humor if possible.

 

#MeToo, #TimesUp, Aziz Ansari, and Gray Areas

I can add very little to Michelle’s commentary although I might try to come at it from a male perspective in a future wordsfromwarren.com blog.

Michelle L. Torigian

downloadI read an account in which a woman with the pseudonym “Grace” details a night of intimacy with actor Aziz Ansari on the website Babe.  The account is one in which the woman agrees to go to his home after a short date.  As the night progresses she indicates her discomfort with his actions, feeling pressured to engage in acts.

Granted, it’s not rape.  It’s not exactly sexual assault.  But there’s something not exactly healthy about the experience anyway.  (Part of the account notes that he “wouldn’t let her move away from him.”)

Reading the article has the potential to give woman that disgusting feeling in their guts – a familiar feeling because of the common experience of many women.

And then The Atlantic releases an article to challenge the integrity of the women coming forward to hold him accountable by a woman-from-another-generation who essentially victim-blames Grace.

We’ve entered…

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