Weekend Coffee Share: Women’s March Edition, 2017

 

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Home of the University of North Texas, Denton has a lovely old square conveniently surrounded with good restaurants and quirky shops. There is a stately old courthouse around which protests and events happen all year round, and here is where an estimated 2,500 of us gathered in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, and hundreds of thousands of others the whole world round.

There were signs from about every group the Trump campaign maligned, threatened, or insulted over the last year.

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Held by mother and daughter, this sign is a replica of the one the mother’s grandmother carried as a Suffragette. So here we are again.

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There was abundant patriotism on display.

There were priests, pastors, and holy people, including a small contingent of opposition which set up on the corner across the street. They prayed and sang and chanted, just like we did. I was sad that breakaway group from the Square surrounded them and it devolved into a cross-the-intersection chanting at each other. Still, it was peaceful. It’s important to remember that in America, all voices get heard. Even those with whom we disagree.

Beautiful, fierce Latinas leading us in both Spanish and English versions of chants, Yes We Can! ¡Si podemos!

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There were veterans, families with kids, straight couples and gay couples, men in support of their wives, daughters, sisters or just, you know, humankind.

I was impressed with the turnout by older people, and by that I mean people I assume are older than me, who clings tenaciously to an increasingly elusive “middle-age”.

Black Lives Matter joined us.

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Those for whom Black Lives Matter, and also donuts.

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This lady, with perhaps the best advice of all.

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Someone braver than I ever thought of being.

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The Fire Department cruised by and blew their horns hello; there were abundant police milling throughout the crowd, friendly, though they did tail a man with a long rifle closely for a while. This Sheriff in particular I think has a wonderful face, and he seemed happy to be there with us. Note the mourning strip across his badge; my town is grieving a fallen officer.

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It was very loosely structured and there didn’t seem to be a solid plan for moving forward. There was a great deal of “stronger together” overheard, and disparate folks engaged in conversation. All good. Great even. Anything that brings differing people together for good  common cause is awesome.

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But as wonderful a feeling as this gathering left with me, I worry that the momentum will lose steam as everyone gets back to their day-to-day lives. Now is when the work starts, and we can’t afford to become (again) complacent. We need to get out and vote. Know who our local, state, and federal representatives are, and their voting records. Get noisy and remain vigilant. Fact check everything we read and hear, especially anything we ourselves pass forward, lest we contribute to the confusion and division.

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Somehow, we need to keep this feeling of purpose and unity with us every day.

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It was a good day, ending in Chinese food with friends.

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Oh, Mr. Chopsticks how I adore you.

Now, the real work begins. Stay vigilant, my friends. For our daughters, our neighbors, our friends yet unmet, those who have no voice, the disenfranchised, those who turn to us – to U.S., for hope.

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Friday Five: Random @ 3:00 a.m.

The RevGals may not know what they’ve unleashed in asking for any old five things that have been on our minds.

Sometimes it’s my bladder, other times it’s Blanca’s, but 3:00 a.m. is an old friend of mine. Three a.m. has taught me how quick, agile, and completely random a brain can be, how full of unbidden thoughts; at 3:00 a.m., I’d be happy if there were only five. But I’ll pick five that came and stuck a little with me while I was padding around in the wee-wee hours, letting out animals and doling out treats when they came back in.

  1. When one moves states and has to get a new driver’s license, one should automatically be granted enough time in the new state to drop however many pounds are required to produce a relatively decent photo. In my case this would have been six months.
  2. Exactly how expensive are heated toilet seats? Because the one at the ophthalmologist’s office yesterday was the absolute bomb.The Election has really had me in a funk, but I realized something this week when folks started boycotting the Inauguration: I think they are wrong, not in their ideals but in their absence, because I think this new Administration needs to know we’re watching, and that we will act upon what we see. I know I’ve spent too long with my head under metaphorical covers, not looking at what I don’t want to see.
  3. You only realize how brilliant an invention the Doggy Door was, and how much you miss having one, when you’re up at 3:00 a.m. trying to herd the dog into the house, praying none of the neighbors are up to witness the spectacle of one’s wild-haired, 3:00 a.m. self running through the backyard.
  4. “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s a quote I associate with Uncle Ben in Spiderman, even while knowing he was simply riffing on Jesus. It’s a quote that pokes at me, in my life of relative ease and comfort, a life that can contemplate things like heated toilet seats fat-faced driver’s license pictures.

Many years ago I learned at 3:00 a.m. it’s impossible to lie to oneself, and the more serious of the 3:00 a.m. thoughts bear further, wakeful consideration. While crowds and noise and strangers are all things I avoid, tomorrow I march in support of the Women’s March on Washington, “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

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Fortifying protein shake in Lent Madness pint glass. Even St. Brigid would approve a shot of vodka this morning.

Jesus tells us that however we treat the “least of these,” we treat him. While I have no great power, only a modest facility with language and the ability to communicate,  I do have an active conscience and a sense of responsibility. Tomorrow, I will march and take pictures, pay attention and communicate. It is what I can do, and as the mother of a daughter, as the friend and ally of LGBTQ folk, as a Christian human being, I would rather my lack of a doggy door have me up at 3:00 a.m., than the prickly conscience that comes of choosing the path of least resistance.

If you’re near North Central Texas, consider joining us tomorrow (January 21st)  on the Square in Denton.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Rolling up the Sleeves edition

I’ve been in a funk since the election.

It didn’t go my way.

The Wednesday after, I allowed myself to wallow, neither listening to nor watching any news. It would all still be there when I was ready to hear it. Instead, I Netflixed the day away on the couch in my sweats, with my critters. There may not have been a shower taken that day. Paul called from his job site in England and talked me off the ledge.

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He talks me off the ledge

I texted with my daughter, who also was not doing well with the election result, and we commiserated. I gave thanks for the supportive work environment she’s now in, where apparently nothing got done that day, but they all took care of each other.

Thursday, I watched Samantha Bee’s post-election show and was comforted, first by her righteous anger, then the exhortation to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Work: this is something I understand, and we surely do have a lot of work to do in figuring out how the Democrats got it so very wrong. This election has resulted in an outcome requiring much soul-searching, most particularly in figuring out who we are as the American people, because that picture has clearly changed over the last several decades. Lots of work to do.

 

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This fabulous woman makes me laugh, hard.

While the bewilderment remains, the malaise lifts. My daughter came for Thanksgiving week and we did not much of anything but commiserate, watch movies (definitely go see The Arrival, wait until Nocturnal Animals shows up on cable), and laugh. Few people make me laugh as hard as Charlotte. We cooked a very successful Thanksgiving dinner and followed that with a mini-Sloth Day on Friday. Perfect.

 

Now we hurtle through the Holiday season towards a new year and a new President. I am lucky to belong to the RevGalBlogPals, and in this time when my faith in my fellow man is shaken to the core, I am inspired by their writings reminding me there is a power bigger and stronger than I can imagine in control and that eventually, everything will be alright. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. They also remind me that this is not an excuse to stay mired in the funk, trusting others to do the work but rather, now is a time for prayerful consideration on my role in making the world a better place. Because we all have a role.

I believe the next four years will be a time when thoughtful people, whatever their political affiliation, must be vigilant in fact-checking and holding to account our public officials and the media. We will need to be sharp and attentive to preserve our democracy, this great experiment of American Freedom.

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Ornery Cat
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Notorious Sock Thief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff and I used to talk about the condition of our homes as metaphors for our emotional states and I do believe it is time to fill my home with light, color, and the aroma of baking goodies. It is Advent, the time of preparation and expectation and a spray-tanned president with a bad comb-over is no excuse to forget the coming of the One. For this weekend I am going to nestle in with my sock-stealing dog, ornery cat, wisely wonderful husband, and listen to the rain while bringing out Christmas.

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Come January, there is a lot of work to be done.

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Election Edition

If we were having coffee, I tell you that looking back over my many years and several election cycles, I cannot remember one where my heart has been so heavy, about which I felt such dread, quadrupled on Friday when FBI Director Comey injected himself, once more against all policy and procedure, into the mess.

On the one hand we see a capable woman with a ton of baggage, sadly a lot of that baggage is more her husband’s than her own. Unfortunately as full of hubris as her husband, she is not a particularly likable candidate. But she is smart and capable, measurably more honest than she is created for being, and I don’t think she will run the country off a cliff. I do believe she can continue the incremental changes we need to make our American society a fairer one, where folks of every color and creed have a shot at success.

On the other hand we have a spray-tanned narcissist who has campaigned as a friend of the common man, despite abundant evidence to his status as the ultimate insider (the privileged upbringing; “small” million dollar starter loan from his wealthy father; the unpaid contractors; the multiple adulteries; his continually availing himself of US bankruptcy law; the thinly-veiled racism;  misogyny; the gross advisers; the bromance with Vladimir Putin of all people, St. Ronnie preserve us). It is easy to poke fun at his supporters, casting them as fools in his likeness, but I think that is both unfair and largely incorrect. True, the guy shouting “JEW-S-A” while making KKK hand gestures is not his best representative; however, Trump has tapped into some very real unrest and anger among decent folks for whom the economic recovery has not worked. Their jobs went overseas and they’re not coming back, and the jobs they took to make ends meet don’t allow them to provide for their families in the manner they were accustomed, and to which we Americans feel entitled. So we cannot dismiss them.

But I really do fear what a Trump presidency would do to Women’s and Minority rights, not only from Trump himself but from the Alt-Right who surround him, notably Mike Pence. Pence’s record in his home state of Indiana and during his 12 years in Congress sought to turn back the clock on women’s rights 50 years at least.

What really drags at my heart is this: there is a surging undercurrent of anger in our country. Some is from women, and it’s about damn time that we collectively stood up and said we’re done, so very done taking 3/4 of our due. But the other portion of that anger lives among our minority brothers and sisters and it is absolutely equal in righteousness and long overdue. If we don’t do something to correct the areas that very much still exist, holding them back from equal citizenship, it is going to turn violent. It’s going to run up against that violent undercurrent at Trump rallies and bring out the worst in all involved. People will die and nothing will improve.

Through all of this ick I keep praying, knowing God hears me. I know I am not alone, I know so many people who are praying for Love to win the day, and I try to remain open to it being in some completely unexpected manner. Holy Spirit is nothing if not unpredictable, and so much wiser than I ken.

I feel helpless and I hate it. So I walk about the world trying to be loving to all those I encounter, making eye contact, being sincere rather than reflexive in the usual exchanges of “How are you?” “Fine, thanks.” I’m paying compliments, letting folks go ahead of me at the store, and tipping well. Does any of that make a whit of difference? I don’t know, but aside from supporting my candidate and voting in a thoughtful, prayerful manner, I just don’t know what to do.

This I can  do: I appeal to women, and all my brothers and sisters of color to be of good cheer and VOTE. Our system works when we work it, when we get off our butts and to the poling place certainly now during the election year but also and especially during the off-years, the congressional and senatorial elections where the real governance is done. Let us band together in vigilance, sending a clear and unmistakable message that representatives who do not represent us will be voted out. Every. Single. Time.

Together, we can make a difference. I will be praying for you, for us and please say a prayer for me, too, because I think without our votes there is a flood coming, or maybe it’s a fire, and I fear there are not enough of us acting out of love to weave a fabric stout enough to stop it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I just can’t wait for it all to be over.

#weekendcoffeeshare

Just like that, a Moment of Grace

It was the penises that pushed me over the edge.

This endless campaign year which apparently started before my birth and looks set to continue until well after I am dust has been so ugly. Vacuous debates with no resemblance to actual discourse;  or meaningless, nasty debates in which no actual policy is discussed and of which moderators lose control and do not hold the candidates accountable for  answering questions (except poor Meghan Kelly) but when the Most Obnoxious of Them All sank to discussing the adequacy of his genitalia well, I am done. So done. Done, done, done with them.

Sorrow, circling around my heart for many, many weeks, sorrow for Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington, all our Founders and Framers, and most of all our country, broke over my heart like a cracked egg. Who have we become?

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The outlook is dark, and full of terrors.

It is easy to just give up. Bow out. Put my head in the sand, pull the covers over my head, <insert metaphor for willful ignorance HERE>, because it’s hard to find much good in the current swamp of ugliness and vitriol. It turns my outlook dark and full of terrors.

But then I saw something lovely happen.

Arriving super early to church last Sunday to Do My Part for a micro-event but finding no one else who was supposed to help, I allowed grumpy resentfulness to step in and sit a spell and truth be told, it’s the sort of guest who rarely asks for an invitation. It just shows up in the living room like something the dog dragged in and I wonder, how did that get in here, when to tell more truth it was me leaving the door open.

chapelSo I did my bit with no grace at all and after a while I received the surely divinely inspired thought of stopping in the little chapel off the main sanctuary. Every time I pass it I make a mental note of the lovely, serene light emanating from it but I’ve never done more than poke my head inside. This time, in my state of High Grumbly, I knew I needed to sit a minute alone before services. The picture doesn’t do it justice; the natural light floods the stained glass window and fills the tiny room with a soothing, ethereal calm. It spilled over me and my grumpy like cool water over a sunburn.

Fr. Mark’s sermon on the Prodigal Son was particularly good, and I was glad I’d let the Chapel light wash away my resentment so I could hear it, and so I could see what happened during Communion.

Arriving alone after the service started and on a walker for support, entered an old man with the pasty complexion of the recently ill. The usher guided him to the end seat of a row. Throughout the service I saw the old man adjusting his posture and I know well what back pain looks like. He was struggling, he was hurting, but he was there. When it came time for Communion he stayed in his seat, the walk to and from the altar apparently too much. But I saw the usher whispering to him and after the last of us left the altar rail Fr. Jim came with the paten and bread, Ros with the chalice and wine and the usher knelt right down next to the old man, knelt on the hard tiles of the sanctuary, the young man kneeling beside the old man, and together they received the Eucharist in a spontaneous, perfect moment of Grace.

It was lovely and magic and human and divine. And I think I can pull my head out from under the covers, if only to look for other such moments.