Wednesday, November 15, 2006

why do I do this...and why would anyone care.

You can tell by my lack of entries over the last months that blogging has lost it's luster. Life had been busy and topsy-turvy which has been a distraction from the fiber, and I'm not one to put my personal life in a private journal let alone a world wide web blog.

Matters personal and public vary for different people. My last entry is as personal as I care to get with others....even in person. Yet, there have been times in the past couple weeks when people, whom I come close to considering enemies, have told me things I would find hard to tell my doctor.

Sometimes I feel like my personality has this big blindspot when it comes to other people. My perception is that I'm being open,accepting, and generous...then wham, someone shows up with a dumptruck and dumps a load on me, letting me know just how selfish, insensitive, arrogant, and clueless I really am. How do you respond to that? I've reached the stage of life where my response is: "Yep, you're probably right." and walk away.

But here's the kicker....these very same people come back and act like nothing has happened. The only explanation I can come up with is: they've dumped their load and now they feel better. So what if someone else is left standing in their pile of .......

Last week was one of the most interesting weeks of my life. It began with an Elder's meeting at church where we took 40 minutes to decide the best way to introduce the new worship books at church. But it only took about 16 seconds to determine that we were keeping the Lord's Prayer with the "thee's and thou's". I marveled on this as I walked away from that meeting. None of us speak with thee's and thou's in the rest of our language, but we are attached to that language from our earliest prayer.

Next came a discussion in another group I'm involved with about how to place two Chinese ladies, who barely speak English, in a women's group in order to be encouraging and inviting to them. Not coming from Chinese culture, we decided to keep them together and pair them with a woman who lived in China for 4 years on a corporate transfer. The feedback we got later is that the Chinese culture in general is very "relational" and this was probably the best way to handle the situation. So far so good on that decision.

Wednesday was the dump truck day referred to above.

Then on Thursday, I was invited to attend the Jewish Women's book and author luncheon which was fabulous. Before the luncheon, the two women who co-chaired the event said the blessing for the meal in Hebrew (I couldn't help but think of clinging to my "thee's and thou's" earlier in the week.) The authors were fabulous speakers (which is not often the case) and all had personal connections to the Holocaust. Sadly the date of this event was the 68th anniversary of Kristallknacht. The solemnity of that event I understood...but some (not all) of the Jewish humor went right past me.

Friday was a huge Synod event at our church to kick off the introduction of the new worship book (AKA hymnal) at our church. Now, our church is in a "white bread" sort of community. But the SE MI region was represented and about 30% of those in attendance were African American. Wow, what a service!! The homily was given by an African American man from Detroit based on the passage from Luke where Christ is telling the apostles, "the kingdom of heaven is like...." The title for the homily was "Songs in the Key of Life" (due credit to Stevie Wonder was given). The church was transformed. I remember at one point looking over at the choir while they were 'getting down', and there was one of our elderly, white haired, spinster choir ladies with high color in her cheeks as she swayed and clapped from side to side. It was like being on the set for Sister Act. There was an enormous sense of love and affection present. And when we said the Lord's prayer there were "Heavenly Father" and "Our Father" and "your and you" along with "thee and thou" and it was all good.

Jump to Monday night and an interfaith bible study as we looked at Joshua and Judges and tried to make sense of Holy War in Old Testament times and today. It was heartening to sit and listen to people wrestle with their faith and try to reconcile themselves with God and man and war. I believe that there is no true faith unless there is doesn't just simply have faith, one has to wrestle and come to terms with the meaning of their faith in a world that challenges it every step of the way. And there must be a surrender...a surrender of one's human will for the betterment of others and to the glory of God.

So, what have I learned this week?
- That heritage and culture run deep within our veins.
- We must learn to keep what is meaningful to us while respecting and trying to understand what is meaningful to others.
- That sharing is important.
- That we would do well to search for what unifies us rather than what divides us.
- That Wikipedia has no entry for Kristallknacht, so I requested one.
- That there's a great Peace History calendar which I bookmarked.
- That our church can hold a lot more sounds of joy than I ever imagined.
- That it's okay if I haven't been doing much knitting, spinning, or weaving.

And tomorrow I have a meeting with the lady with the dumptruck. Think I'll go get my shovel. (Maybe I get along better with people outside my culture?)


  1. What a great week for learning!

    It amazes me how much it helps to "unload" to someone else - and I'm learning how to help others unload in my presence, instead of ON me. Which is all in my own attitude. "Standing at the foot of the cross", just being a witness to their pain, instead of taking it personally.

    Check Wikipedia for Kristallnacht - no K in the middle. They should link the other spelling to it.

  2. Wow, sounds like you've had quite a week! How about if I send over a virtual pot of your favorite tea or coffee and some virtual homemade muffins; your choice of blueberry or bran with my special recipe cinnamon butter.

    You've pointed out an issue that I have with pop psychology; and all under the guise of "open honesty." Quite selfish actually, especially considering how psychology is supposed to be able to fix all of society's ills. I suppose the dumpee is then supposed to go dump it on someone else???? So that the cycle goes on and on..... where's the solution in that???

    Having been the recipient of quite a few dump trucks, I have come to prefer the biblical way of dealing with issues. Actually it only gives two choices; forgive or repent. These are very personal solutions, not requiring the presence or participation of the offendee in question. And usually they require repeated application, but they work.

    But how to actually deal with the offending person, that's tough. I always to back to I Cor 13 which is very practical. And ultimately I hang on to the hope that my responses to difficult situations will be an opportunity to show that Christ has made a difference in my life. That I don't have to respond in human self righteousness, but through the power of the Holy Spirit I can respond in patient kindness.

    Can't say I succeed at this very often, but then I remind myself that this too shall pass.

  3. Interesting post. It's easier to be on your best behavior with people from outside your inner circle (culture, family, whatever). Hope it went well with the dumper.
    I love reading your blog and would sorely miss it. But, as always, do what is right for you. Just keep in touch.

  4. When I have someone dumping on me, I use creative visualtion and imaging that I am wearing a raincoat, rubber boots, hat and umbrella. I remember one particularly harsh dump where I slipped a whole body condom over the whole outfit. Strange image, but it worked on that particular occasion.


tie in the loose ends...