Sunday, May 27, 2007

Remember

It seems that evey year Memorial Day becomes more of shopping/BBQ holiday than an actual rememberence for all those people who have died fighting for our nation. While I have very strong opinions about our current war with Iraq, that is not what this post is about. I come from a family that benefitted from all the positives that a career with the military has to offer. My father was fortunate to have joined the Navy as the Vietnam War was ending and only served in Spain. After putting in five years, he then put in fifteen more with the Reserves. Dutifully serving every other weekend and four weeks every year. The places he served? Hawaii, Philippines, and Japan. Not too bad- at least from the pictures. I even worked as a camp counselor on an Air Force base. Our family was lucky. I mention this because I have seen the advantages a military career can bring.

Obviously, there is another side. One that has thousands of soldiers losing their lives. These are men and women who have families, that are grieving everyday for their loss. I currently have extended family overseas. I hope everyday that they make it home safely. I also grieve for all the innocent civilians caught up in the politics of their country, that lose their lives daily. I will never completley understand why "civilized" countries have to go to war. I will, though, remember the people who fought for what they believed, or, frankly, were doing their job to the best of their abilities. I will also remember the people who, through no fault of their own, died on the battlefield. Finally, I will hope and work for peace.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bunny Update

I checked the bunny nest today and they are all snuggled together. They are so tiny and cute (now that they have fur). While the rabbits are my garden's nemisis, it is hard not to admire their babies!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Baby Birds

Everywhere I look, there are baby birds! A whole cadre a siblings were cheeping on the ground looking for their mommy and/or food. One part of me felt sorry for them and I wanted to dig up a big mess of earthworms to feed them, then the more rational side said "this is how nature intended it to be, and they will be fine". It is hard to see little ones so desperate for something and not be able to help. I was happy to see the next day that they had all found their way home. I just wish all babies could have such luck.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pro-Family

Today I was reading one of the many articles discussing Jerry Falwell's ministry. While I disagree with many things he stands for, the article's mention of his pro-family platform really irritated me. (Disclaimer - due to a very unsatisfying meeting today, I am a little cranky.) I have a lot of issues with the conservative right exclusively claiming that they are "pro-family". How did this happen?! Just because I am not Christian, does not mean that I am not pro-family. If fact, most of my liberal religious friends are very much pro-family. Of course, the conservative religious right (and I do know I am making great generalizations) will argue that they believe in the man/women/child family not the inclusiveness that the religious left would claim. To me, a family will always be a group of people who love and are there for eachother. Why does it matter so much how that is arranged? Do we really want to spend what little time we have on earth supressing the love we have for eachother as a family just because it doesn't fit traditional molds?

Why, as religious liberals, did we let them take this word? Why do they get to be "pro-family", while we are considered to be "tearing down the family structure"? How do we get it back? A minister I really admire has often talked about reclaiming words. I think as Unitarians we really shy away from using words that have such strong connotations. Many of us come from backgrounds heavily influenced by these "words" and it is not easy to see them in a new light. I would love to see more (and I have seen a few out there) bumper stickers declaring "Pro-Family Unitarian". The more we use this vocabulary, the more comfortable we will be with it. We can't let other people monopolize words that actually, also, apply to us.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Surprise!

I spent most of the day weeding our garden. Due to a lot of rain (and my own lack of attention) the garden had become overrun with them. I had also started tomatoes inside and they were desperate to get in the ground. It turned out to be a very relaxing time. I started in one corner and slowly worked my way across the garden. I planted nine tomato plants (my first year of heirlooms!), peppers, and my first jalepeno plant. Due to a very hungry bunny, our lettuce and spinach have not been as prolific as usual. It was very satisfying to see the asparagus stand tall and the potatoes really taking off. I can not express enough how great it is to have a garden. As has been mentioned in many books (most recently Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver), it is so important for us and our children to realize where food comes from (not the supermarket). There is no better way to connect to the earth and nature then to actual work with it. It saddens me to realize that children think cheetos are a "real" food. I also think that people will respect the environment a whole lot more when they can actual see, feel, and taste the important things it produces. There is no greater joy then seeing my children harvest the fruits of their labor.

The surprise today was finding a little bunny nest! I literally screamed (not because I am afraid of bunnies ;-), but b/c it was so totally unexpected. They were obviously newborn as they had no fur. I really believe that animals just aren't as cute when they don't have their "coats". The quandry is - what to do?! The nest is next to the garden wall, in the actual garden. Now I know why that bunny was so hungry. Obviously I will not kill them, but I am planning an elaborate fence structure to somehow lead them out of the garden and on their way. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Lucky & Grateful

Today is my birthday. It is not some major "mile marker" birthday - just a further progression of my thirties. I didn't sleep very well, mostly because of my very childish excitment that it is MY special day! The thing is, though, I did wake up feeling very lucky and grateful. I am grateful to have such a wonderful group of family and friends. I don't know how I got so lucky to have them, but I am thankful everyday for them. I think of all the people who are truly suffering, through no fault of their own, and don't know why I am so fortunate. The most I can do is express to the people in my life how much I love them and work towards making the world a better/safer/kinder place for those who can't.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Teaching Bad Behavior

I am currently reading "Blessing the World - What Can Save Us Now" by Rebecca Ann Parker. It is a compilation of essays discussing ways religious liberals can make sense of and come to terms with the cruetly and devestation that the world is facing. So far it has been an interesting read. She has already got me really thinking about the way I, as a liberal, am processing such horrendous human behavior. How do we make sense of the cruetly so many humans are enduring, the crisis the environment is facing, and our own uncertain futures?

She posits that we don't spend enough time dealing with the violent/bad side of human nature. The Christian's have Lent to remind themselves of Jesus' very violent and humiliating death. The Jews have Yom Kippur to reflect upon their own failings and ask for forgiveness. The Muslims fast during Ramadan trying to reach a better self-awareness of their very human natures. What, as Unitarians, do we do? Not much.

Our religious education spends most of its time discussing the positive side of humans. We are told that there is good in everyone, that there is hope for the future, that we can make a difference. All this I really do believe. I don't feel that there is anything wrong in this, but are we depriving ourselves a true understanding of the human condition by not spending time discussing our "bad" side? I even hesitate to use this word, as it can mean so many different things. We, and our children, are not blind to the horrible things going on around us. But how do I explain to myself and my children why these things happen? We aren't doing ourselves any favors by not acknowledging that there is a dark side to humans. All of us have thoughts that we aren't proud of. No matter how "good" we are, we aren't perfect. I wish Unitarians had a tradition (Christian UU's do) of a period of time to reflect on this "other" side of human nature. Once we delve into it, we can begin the process of how to acknowledge and work with it. In doing this, we will be stronger as a community and better able to handle the next crisis that comes our way.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Eternal Families

Last night I watched Part Two of an interesting PBS documentary about Mormons. I have always found this religion a tad fascinating as I know I could never believe in Joseph Smith's revelations, but so many people do. I am not judging them, though, because no matter what your religion, you have to have "faith" that the unexplainable did occur or will happen.

What I want to write about is their interesting concept of Eternal Families. From what I understand, families go through a "sealing" process. This ensures that their families will be together for eternity - in this life and the next. It is an interesting concept and one I have never really thought about. As a parent, I can't imagine not always being with my family. I have no idea what happens after death, but I just assumed that if there is some sort of afterlife, of course my children would be there. It seems odd that you need an actual ceremony. But, the peace of mind that it brought these families was pretty amazing. They gave an example where a daughter (around 20) was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. The one thing giving her comfort was that even though she would not get to see and experience all that her ten brother and sisters would, she would get to be with them again in the next life. The families they portrayed seemed very strong and committed to each other.

As Unitarians, we don't have the luxury of such concrete notions. There are no definate ideas of families and "the beyond". While each of us may or may not have a solid idea of where we are headed, there is no certainty. Unitarianism puts emphasis on the here and now and making this life the best it can be. I agree with that, but sometimes think we don't allow ourselves enough time to reflect on what physical death means. Obviously we can't ever know, but I like to think somehow we will all come together as one (whether or not we have been sealed). Until that time, I will continue to work towards the best life possible right now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

DIY

I am particularly excited about the growing Do-It-Yourself movement. This falls into so many of my values. I feel that we have become such an immediate gratification, throw it out culture that we miss the intrinsic value in creating/doing something for ourselves, families, and communitites. In addition the environmental and economical benefits are very rewarding. Of course, we can't do everything ourselves and some of us have greater strengths is one area than another - but that is where community comes in. I happen to love sewing and have made it a goal of mine to sew as much of my clothing as possible (I am very inspiried by the Wardrobe Refashion site). My husband chooses to do as much improving around the house as he can. This includes consciously trying to use as much recycled and reused materials in building our garden, herb boxes, and future rainwater collection site. Instead of throwing away our "old" things, we donate to local groups that try, inturn, to reuse them.

What I am trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is in DIY, you have control over how much you impact the environment. It also forces (in a fun way) you to think about what really needs to be purchased and what you can do. I love learning new skills and knowing that I don't have to always depend on someone else to do it for me. I also want my children to become conscientious consumers and really value the work they try to do. I am passionate about raising self-sufficient children - not afraid to try. Plus, when you do it yourself, it can be as fun and crazy as you want it to be!

I don't want to leave the topic without mentioning how important it is to donate back your services to your community, no matter how small the effort. I find the more I help other people, the more they help me with things I can't do or just am ridiculously bad at (such as getting my computer to do what I would like - thanks Kelly & Juliette). Having a community also keeps me inspired and encourages me to keep trying, no matter how frustrated I get.

FYI - this just the beginning of my thoughts on the environment!