They Were Beautiful!

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

On Friday during my break I walked from my work to the county offices/courthouse to get new tabs for my car. The area around the court building is a little sketchy – bail offices, and etc. As I walked towards the entrance to the county offices a pair of men walked towards me down the sidewalk. I’m just going to say it – and I’m hoping you’ll understand and not make judgments on me for saying it – but these men looked scary. They were both thin (my immediate thought was “meth”) and kind of wild-eyed and nervous-looking, and they each were members of different racial minorities. Now I don’t know, exactly, what led me to do this – but I know I made an instant conscious choice – I smiled at each of them and said a friendly hello as they approached me down the sidewalk. They each looked a little surprised, and gave me a hello in return. And it was like – in that moment I saw who they really were, you know? They were beautiful! It was very humbling.

And yesterday, as I was waiting with Scotty in a long line at the local dollar store, I experienced another connection with my fellow humans that brought me a lot of joy. The wait was long, but no one was complaining, no one was cranky – everyone was just patiently waiting, sort of chatting with each other. We were behind a little family – a man – maybe a grampa? – and a little boy and girl, conversing with each other in rapid Spanish. While they waited, the boy and girl were checking things out on the racks across from the checkout counter – they’d pick things up – bracelets and toys – and look them over and then put them back. I told the grampa that he had a nice family – that I liked the way the children were behaving themselves. He smiled and thanked me.

Right after that the little girl found a jumbo-sized pen with Cinderella on it and she held the pen up to her grampa and began talking to him in Spanish. I knew she wanted that pen. I told the grampa that I would buy that pen for her. He hesitated, and then saw that the idea of that made me happy, and agreed to let me do that. The little boy found a jumbo pen with Spiderman on it – and I told the grampa I’d buy that one, too.

After I’d paid for the pens I handed them to the children and they both looked up at me with their big brown eyes and thanked me. I smiled and said, “De nada.” The little girl smiled a big smile and asked me, in English, if I speak Spanish. I told her not very well, but I was trying to learn it. I praised her for speaking both languages so beautifully, and she gave me another big smile.

Meanwhile, the cashier was managing to keep a straight face while I tried to practice my Spanish on the children. I thanked him for not laughing at my horrible Spanish. He grinned and said he has a hard time, too, sometimes, and he wished Scotty and me a good day.

There was just something so… these connections bring me such joy, you know? – like a little taste of heaven.

love-is-with-you

 

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“A Union of Hearts”

wedding photo

Happiness is spiritual,born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it. – from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing just the right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue  for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail  of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance.  The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved.

The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.  The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony.  He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love.  I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving homosexuals the same rights that they have.  I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

(originally published in 2013)

***

“Matrimony should never be entered into without a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other’s happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life…  Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship…   Marriage should improve the human species, becoming… a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, – passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, – occupy thought… The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity… Marriage should signify a union of hearts… Beholding the world’s lack of Christianity and the powerlessness of vows to make home happy, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection. There will ensue a fermentation over this as over many other reforms, until we get at last the clear straining of truth… Matrimony, which was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and man must find permanence and peace in a more spiritual adherence.”
– excerpts from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy

 

Something Bigger than Personalities

Whoah. I was just thinking about a conversation I’d had with a friend – we’d been talking about the marches we were both in last Saturday – mostly how epic and inspiring it was to be part of that – but we also got into a debate about the hate signs and hate speech that some people brought with them to the marches. My friend felt one way about that, and I felt another. And as I was thinking about that conversation this morning I had a kind of epiphany for myself – and I know this is something that a lot of you probably realized long ago – but, for me, it was, like, whoah. Here’s what came to me: I’m against hate – whichever direction it comes from, whether it’s from the left, right, or upside down; I’m against hate and mean-spiritedness.

And the corollary – I’m FOR loving kindness. No matter which direction it comes from – left, right, or in-between.

When I brought my “Love rules!” sign into the march it wasn’t to show support for everyone who voted against Donald Trump – in my mind, the marches were about something bigger than personalities. In my mind, this wasn’t an “us” versus “them” kind of thing. When I joined the march it was to stand in solidarity with folks who are working and praying for justice and equality for ALL people – not just people who voted against Donald Trump.

Not sure I explained this at all well. But when have I ever let that stop me from posting stuff? 🙂

“Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Your influence for good depends upon the weight you throw into the right scale. The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

good you do and embody

“The dam bursts…”

“You always had the power, my dear.” – Glinda the Good Witch

My friend, Randy, has given me permission to share his poem. It perfectly captures what I felt yesterday at the Bellingham Women’s March:

The hard and steady tread of feet
on the sidewalk, in the street,
always forward, no retreat,
The dam bursts,
its flood o’ertakes,
leaving miracles in its wake…
– Randy Kercher

I arrived at the Bellingham Women’s March a little earlier than most people. I’d gone by myself and wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anybody I knew there – but no sooner had I parked than a couple of retired teachers from my old school district walked past my car. We all grinned when we saw each other and gave each other hugs, and walked together to the city courthouse, where the march would start. I ended up running into a lot familiar faces there – former students; teaching colleagues; neighbors – some of my all-time favorite people…

I met some wonderful new friends there, too, and saw some great signs…

I stood near the front of the crowd when I first arrived. There weren’t a lot of people then. About a half hour later I started working my way towards the back to get a group photo – and I went back and back and back and still didn’t come to the end. By the time we started on the march they’d had to make the walk longer to accommodate all the people – we were looping ourselves – the people in front were finishing their march and there were still people in the back who hadn’t even started, yet. The estimates are 6,000 people – and that was just in Bellingham!

I so appreciated the police officers who were at the march. They were friendly and smiling and supportive. At the end of the march, I said to one of the officers, “We did good today, didn’t we?” And he smiled back and said, “Yes, you did!”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was awesome to be in the midst of thousands of people all working together for a better world. There was an amazing power in that. I left the march feeling grateful and hopeful for humanity.

This Scary Stuff Isn’t New

“Progress is the law of God…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Come on, Karen. You majored in History. You know the struggles our world has endured, survived, overcome. You know the scary stuff we’re seeing now isn’t new. I mean… it’s not like all the political corruption and corporate greed and dishonesty you’re seeing in America is something that’s springing up for the first time here. Look back at just the last 100 years in the United States – :

  • in 1918, when your 98 year-old father was born, women still didn’t have the right to vote in this country
  • when your father and mother were living through the Great Depression, members of the nation’s Supreme Court continually over-turned laws and programs designed to provide relief to the poor, to help the nation recover, and to bring reform to the economy
  • in 1942 Japanese-Americans had their homes and property taken from them and were sent to live in “internment camps”
  • in the early part of the 1950s – just before you were born –  government workers, and people involved in the Hollywood movie business, lost their jobs without recourse for being Communists – or just being accused of being Communists – by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and company
  • up until 1954 – just two years before you were born – racially segregated schools were still legal in this country
  •  in 1961, when you were a pre-schooler, there were still African-Americans who were living as slaves – who’d never been told slavery had ended in this country
  • when you were seven years-old the President of the United States was assassinated
  • when you were 11 years-old, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and, two months later, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated
  • when you were an eighth grader, four students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University were shot and killed by members of the National Guard
  • when you were in high school the President of the United States resigned before he could be impeached for trying to cover-up a break-in of his political opponent’s campaign headquarters

But recognize that for every step backwards – for every reaction against progress – we’ve seen humongo strides forwards. Look at the progress in the last 100 years:

  • in 1920 women were given the right to vote
  • in the 1930’s – in spite of the Supreme Court’s resistance to social reform – social security and other programs were established to ensure a safety net for our nation’s citizens
  • in 1954 the Supreme Court ended racial segregation in public schools
  • in 1963 the Equal Pay Act was passed – making it illegal to pay a woman less for doing the same work as a man
  • in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed, prohibiting discrimination in  employment, and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed, making discriminatory voting practices illegal
  • in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that laws forbidding inter-racial marriage were illegal
  • in 2015 same-sex marriage was recognized as a right protected by the Constitution

Karen, you now live in a country full of people who’ve never known legal segregation between the races. You live in a country full of young people who take it for granted that women can participate in politics – can vote, run for office, and serve on the Supreme Court. Americans are not going to allow this country to slide backwards. The gains we’ve made won’t be lost. Have trust in your fellow man and woman.

Buck up. There may be battles ahead – every generation has them – but progress always wins in the end.

“In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I know this may come as a shock to you…

To the folks driving the truck through the Fred Meyer parking lot – a big beautiful flag of the U.S. flying on the one side, and an equally big flag of the Confederacy flying on the other –

I don’t know how to break this to you, but someone’s got to do it, and I guess it might as well be me: The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago. The Confederacy lost. The slaves were freed, slavery was made illegal, and people of all races and ethnicities are now viewed as equal according to the laws of the land.

Just thought you should know. In case… you know… you didn’t.

Alrighty. Carry on then…