Poetry – Scrambled Savior

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I meant to share this poem around Easter, but forgot. Guess I had too much going on. This poem just sort of wrote itself, with the images of both the commercial and sacred aspects of the holiday mixing together in my mind. It is not meant to be offensive to religion, but instead, to compare and contrast the cheerful, innocent brightness of welcoming spring with the actual gruesome reality of a crucifixion and resurrection:

Scrambled Savior

Easter
pastel eggs
poor Jewish carpenter
whipped, beaten, and scrambled
last supper
omelet

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Birthday Party Anxiety

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Today is my husband’s birthday. At his work (he teaches special education), they are holding a special party for him this afternoon and his coworkers reached out to invite me. I am going to go, but I must admit I am nervous. I’ve never actually met his coworkers since they are fairly new, so that is a little intimidating to me (having to meet them all at one time).

For some reason, I am super nervous about having to go to the office to check in as a guest…I know I am 35 years old and it is kind of ridiculous to be nervous about something so simple, but I am what I am. I am also worried about the drive, because it is about a 40 minute drive and that is way out of my comfort zone as far as driving goes.

I must admit when I first heard about the party, my first instinct was to say I couldn’t make it. Anxiety is a powerful force. But in the end, my love for my husband won out and I want to be there for him more than I want to be comfortable or free from anxiety. I guess love is an even more powerful force…

Religion…for all the wrong reasons?

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Just something to think about…

Have you ever really stopped to think why you believe what you believe? If you have any religious or spiritual beliefs, what prompted you to form them? If you are a Christian for example, why did you choose to be a Christian? Was it because that is what you were taught growing up? Is it because most of your friends/family share that belief system and you want to fit in? Is it because you want blessings in return or fear going to hell? Or it is because you truly love and want to live those beliefs?

Now, once you have an idea in mind of why you chose your beliefs, think about who those beliefs serve. Which of the reasons are self-serving and which are others-centered? If you chose your beliefs because that is what you were always taught or because all your friends and family share the beliefs, who benefits from that? Have you just taken the path of least resistance? Are you afraid to question those beliefs for fear of being ostracized, bullied or left out? If so, is that a good reason to believe something?

If you chose your beliefs because you fear the punishment of hell or desire rewards here or in heaven, who benefits from that? Is it selfish to choose a belief system based on what it can give you or to avoid the fears of hellish punishment that have been instilled in you? Is it materialistic to live a good life only because you want a nice mansion or big crown in heaven when you die? How many people keep some kind of tally in their head of good vs bad deeds, trying to do just enough good stuff to require whatever fulfillment they believe will get them into heaven? How selfish is the “gospel of prosperity” as some people have called it? Do you believe that if you do ‘right’ you deserve good things and that those who don’t have good things have obviously failed to live right (as I have heard some Christians say)?

Now, what about if you chose your beliefs because you truly loved them and wanted to live them? Do those beliefs make you want to serve others? If you are a Christian, do you truly like the things Jesus did and do you try to emulate those actions regardless of how unpopular they may be? Do you want to defend and help heal the weak and the hurting? Do you put the welfare of people before tradition? Do you want to actively participate in God’s spiritual kingdom here on earth and make things better for others while you are here, or are you just surviving until you can leave the earth? Do you find meaning in reaching out to others rather than in being entertained or catered to? Is your comfort more important to you than the basic needs of others?

Of course, no one can answer these questions for us. It is something that requires deep thought and honesty. It makes us see the parts of ourselves we may not like or may make us question what we have always thought. I ask myself these kinds of questions often and sometimes they are hard to face and reveal, but I have a deep desire to be authentically about helping others. So many of us take our selfishness into our religion…and that shows. People know and it turns them off. I hope that maybe we can all someday see that true love and spirituality can never be just about “us”, “our kind” or “our wants and needs”.

Picking on the poor in the name of Christ

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Over the years I have heard some of my fellow Christians say truly awful things about the poor, the disabled and the needy. In one conversation a fellow Christian declared that the poor “deserve to be poor” and almost always cause their own problems. I have heard similar sentiments from other Christians that almost always make me want to wince in discomfort.

I have also heard fellow Christians (and Fox News) say repeatedly that most people on disability are able to work and are just lazy people who want to rely on the government. I’m sure if they knew firsthand how hard it is to get disability, how long it takes and how worthless and depressed many disabled people feel when unable to work, they might change their minds. If they went through it themselves or someone else in their immediate family needed those services, you can almost guarantee their opinion might change. I would say the same for other services for the poor, such as food stamps and Medicaid.

When I hear negative comments about the poor and disabled from anyone in the Christian community, I can’t help but think of these verses:

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31.

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4

“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” Zechariah 7:10 (The word “alien” in this also makes me think about our treatment of immigrants – legal or otherwise).

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

“Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 (Jesus commanded this kind of extreme sacrifice and yet we balk at helping the poor in even small ways?)

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33 (I’m sensing that Jesus really wasn’t a materialistic guy and didn’t want his followers to be either. Could be wrong there, but I definitely get that feeling.)

Love – in theory and practice

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Maybe I have read too many near-death experiences or just have too much time on my hands, but I often think about the end of my life and how I will feel if I undergo a life review. While pondering, I start to wonder if the life review would make me regret some of the things I did? Or will I regret even more some of the things I could have done but didn’t do? I start to wonder about what will really matter at the end. Of course, most of the time I come down to the same answer…

LOVE – the “real” purpose in life.

Not fame. Not money. Not being highly educated. Not being praised and appreciated. Not work. Not play. Not fulfilling our ego. Not collecting things. Not being the “best” at something. Not being perfect. Not wallowing in self-pity. Not being “right”. Not being super-religious. Not even being “happy”.

In the end, nothing but love really matters. Not the ooey-gooey, tingly feelings of budding romance, but real, true, nitty-gritty love – the kind that seeps past your bones into your very soul and gives you the will to go on when all else fails.

The hard part is that love like that is hard to find and even harder to give away on a consistent basis. To give that kind of love to others you have to overcome the all-consuming self-interest that most of us struggle with. You have to REALLY be willing to sacrifice and give yourself to others. This kind of selfless love can be hard to give to your family, let alone to strangers. Most of us prefer to focus on the theories and philosophy of love, rather than the actual practice. It is easier and safer to stay in our heads and look logically at love, but real love can’t be analyzed and figured out…it can only be given away. I know that I often need a reminder of that fact, so I figured maybe others could use one too.