Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Blue sky, fields burned brown
by August’s relentless sun
await the harvest.
I started Sunday School when I was 5. I went to the local Baptist Church walking distance from my home. Mom didn’t drive until I was 12 so either Dad had to get up and take us or we walked. We walked many times. How much fun that must have been for Mom getting 4 little kids ready and out the door to walk the half mile to church.
My mom had been raised by my grandmother in the Nazarene church and I have no idea what church my dad attended or even if he did. We were not particularly “religious” in our home; we didn’t say grace before meals, but we were encouraged to say prayers at night before bed.
I loved Sunday School, except for having to get out of bed early on Sunday morning. I loved learning Bible verses, I loved the Bible stories, I loved the thought of somebody I didn’t even know loving me. The Sunday School teachers gave me my own King James Bible when I was 7 and I could read it from cover to cover as many times as I wished at my leisure. Vacation Bible School was a dream come true: crafts AND bible verses? Heaven.
Yet when I was 12 I became aware of a disparity in my Sunday School classes that disturbed me. There seemed to be this odd competition about who had the prettiest clothes, or the funnest toys, or the newest car, or the nicest house, or the most exotic vacation. I’d read the Bible and I thought my Bible said we were all the same and those external things made no difference. I didn’t realize at the time money had anything to do with religion.
I asked Mom about this discrepancy. She said “Well, I can see it is time for you to have a library card.” I’d already read everything we owned in the house including the entire set of World Book Encyclopedia we had. Mom didn’t know how to answer my question, but she knew where I could find the answers. She was such a smart woman.
We made an excursion to the library. In those days the library was in the City Hall building, an old red brick two story edifice, occupying most of a city block, intimidating with its orientation to the surrounding lawn. Around back the building shared garage space for the two city fire fighting vehicles, and inside shared offices with the city fire department and police station. To get to the library you had to climb the cement steps to enter the front doors of City Hall, walk past the official city offices on the left and the police department on the right, and proceed up another flight of stairs to the library.
Mom helped me set up my first library card. After getting my library card Mom explained I needed access to religious material. I met my first reference librarian, who graciously without questioning why, showed me shelves of books written by all manner of people and about every religion and philosophy on earth. I read most of the collection. Some of what I read was way over my head but suddenly a whole world was opened up to me and I had to go no further than up the steps past the police department. I learned how to teach myself anything I wanted to know. That’s the best gift anybody can give, thanks to Mom and a reference librarian.
Before I got through the religion collection the city funded a lovely new library overlooking a little pond a block from city hall. The basement of the new library housed a music library and you could sit in a private soundproof room and listen to the music of your choice. They had international music and classic and modern jazz, old vinyl albums and record players with needle styluses. You had to be approved so the librarians knew they could trust you not to ruin the equipment. I could listen to music from the countries of the religions I was reading about. The shelves about religion were larger than ever and there were cozy corners to sit and read in. I became a nearly permanent fixture.
After a certain point I stopped reading about religion. Other than some differences of practice and worship, it all seemed to boil down to faith. Faith in God or Jesus or Allah or Buddha or the goddess or the nature of the universe or yourself. But faith in a system of beliefs. It seemed to me moral and ethical non-judgmental behavior had little to do with religion and when the two were brought together it made the water all that much muddier. Both religion and ethical behavior have good values and may or may not be mutually exclusive.
Not one of the texts I read about religious beliefs of any kind said money was important. Nor that having the biggest or the best or the newest had anything whatsoever to do with living a good life. Nor that you should make other people feel less for having less. My read on the documents made us responsible for inclusively ensuring each other’s success as individuals and not as conformists.
In our culture many religions insist on conformity or exclusion. I’m wondering what faith has to do in a world where money is god. I don’t live my life like that and I know few people who do, however, the pervasive cultural attitude degrades all our interactions and judgments from the lowest levels and more blatantly at the highest levels.
The result I see and have experienced is bullying, abuse of power, inappropriate and undeserved hierarchies on so many levels all created in the name of money. Where is the love and acceptance Jesus or Buddha spoke of? Where is the helping others, thinking beyond yourself, respect for and acceptance of others who are not like you?
What really matters in the world? That all people have security of home and food and comfort. To pursue what makes you feel good without damage to others. That each of us, regardless of how we look or what we believe, are accepted and held in good regard by others.
Here’s my favorite “religious” joke. A friend of mine worked in the office at the local First Christian Church. She always answered the phone the same way: “First Christian.” Concise, with a smile in her voice, the polished receptionist. One day there was a very long pause when she answered the phone, then the caller said, “So…how old does that make you?”
Now that’s fun and has nothing to do with money. It lightened the office worker’s day. The caller felt rewarded for cleverness. The joke can now be enjoyed by my readers and their friends.
So how old are you? Do you accept others for who they are regardless of their color or religion or size or beliefs or education or abilities? Do you judge people by their appearance rather than their hearts? Do you believe their appearance reflects their hearts or soul?
Our appearance is something we do not control. Oh, sure, we can dress the body up in fancy clothes, we can mask the face with cosmetics, we can throw money into surgically changing our bodies and faces. Those things do not change our core, our heart, our soul, ourselves, or our actions. Treating people as if their appearance is who they are in a negative way can destroy sensitive people. It’s a from of bullying and oppression. Does it feel good to make people feel lesser than you? Not really. Does it feel good to know people for the unique individuals they are? Without a doubt. And when you treat people with appreciation they usually give more than expected. I admit while I do not judge people by their appearance I will form my opinion of others by their treatment of me or how I see them treating others.
Have faith. Treat others as you would like to be treated: fairly and without judgment. Feed your soul as you would feed your body, with respect. Love yourself but think beyond yourself. Give love and care. It’s worth the time invested. It has nothing to do with money.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – caught many shades of blue this week so for our listening pleasure here is Better Midler singing Am I Blue? I got to see her live when Barry Manilow was her musical director and played piano for her, a concert I won’t forget. Round fluffy blue hydrangeas; blue-purple grapes hanging from our state flower, the Oregon grape; wild daisy styled bachelor’s buttons; golden pink rose twinnies; pale pink and yellow rose; greens and browns of a wild armed tree in an abandoned lot; not a great shot but check out this guy checking me out, wild critter cute white tummy or no; a yellow rosebud destined to fade to white; I love catching critters going about their business like this bee on a pink hibiscus, and this busy bee on the sweet branch of old-fashioned baby pink rosettes, and this laid back moth/butterfly sucking on fragrant buddleia; and two brilliant washes of black-eyed Susans.
Currently Reading – The 48 Laws of Power (1998, psychology) by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers; The Dud Avocado (1958, Elaine Dundy); The Fluoride Deception (2006, medical politics) by Christopher Bryson; Man’s Search for Meaning (1946, psychology) by Viktor E. Frankl. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Warm days and cool nights.
- Cool wind on my always hot skin.
- Learning more about the crazy and crazy-making games people play.
- Having a limited BS tolerance.
- My sad face in repose which can scare people who don’t know my caring soul.
- Colors. Textures. Sound. Taste.
- Being ambidextrous and dyslexic.
- Toothbrushes, which after I am done with them for their original purpose I re-purpose as corner and edge scrubbers. They can get into all kinds of little places a bigger brush can’t.
- Learning how to better speak up for myself after 55 years of being bullied and oppressed.
- Being a shameless and unapologetic auto-didact.
- A roof over my head. My bed. Clean bed linens at the end of a long day.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch