Sunday, September 16, 2012

Signs that make me wonder

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  Matthew 5:22 (ESV)

There is a lot of angry speech in the world.  Signs are popping up alongside the rural roads in my hometown that make me wince. Heading down the Grade after church this morning I saw that someone had tacked a sign to a tree denouncing President Obama as the antichrist. If we are looking for where the line is drawn between free expression and speech that should be called into question, Christ drew that line. He told a crowd on a mountainside that anger directed toward another human being is tantamount to murder.
 In a recent discussion about free speech a friend pointed out that those who do not live in free nations do not understand that what is spoken in public in a free country is not vetted by our Government. With freedom comes responsibility. In America, each person is responsible for his or her words—in court if their speech is deemed defamatory or hateful and, according to Christ, before God if the dignity of another person is disparaged.

Although it may be distasteful, freedom of speech guarantees people the right to publically discuss the gamut of sensitive issues, but a line is crossed when invective is hurled at the heart of an individual or a group. The more we let our arrows fly, the less accomplished we become in participating in meaningful discussions.

I don’t think there is a person among us who has not had an unflattering epithet pop into his or her head. Because most Americans so value free speech we are usually willing to overlook a diatribe as poor taste unless the consequences are extreme ( for example, a teenager dies as a result of bullying).  Christ sets the bar higher than the courts.  To call someone silly or stupid (or worse) is to elevate ourselves above someone else, we all have done it, and it’s a sin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Piece of Cake

Cream cake, Lake Bled, Slovenia
I’ve had my share of cake this year; a trip to Europe: a writer’s conference in Denver; an extended stay in the desert; a visit with family in the Pacific Northwest combined with the annual pilgrimage to Ashland, OR to bask in the wisdom of the bard.  I was looking to let the rest of the year slide. Then Lesley popped up at Bucket List Publications suggesting the year’s not done and challenging her fans to write a list of five things to accomplish before 2012 ends.

  I tripped over the word accomplishment.  Haven’t I accomplished enough for one year? Then la petite voix in my head said “they don’t have to be BIG accomplishments.” So here goes:

1. Walk a trail at Yosemite
2. Celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday with family
3. Help someone heal
4. Organize just one of my photo projects
5. Draft 50,000 words of my next novel in November’s NaNoWriMo

You see what happened by the time I got to item # 5.

If you check out Lesley’s list, you’ll see she likes to live large. Me, I like to live in a large world but next year I’d like to conserve some energy to give to God as temple offering. I’m going to attempt to pare down my resolutions; No bucket list next year, more like a shot glass approach—quick, powerful, done.

1. Start something
2. Finish something
3. Celebrate something
4. Kill something
5. Figure something out

Most fun will be identifying what to kill. This year, I killed my landline. Pre-election season was a brilliant time to do this. My house is blissfully quiet. I save money on a redundant service and minutes in a day checking to see if the light on my answering machine is blinking. I’m motivated to actually go see people so I don’t lose all my friends.

Panorama, Bled, Slovenia
Little in life is a cakewalk. Whether 30 amazing adventures crowd your calendar or five activities challenge you to make changes, list making pushes you to accomplish something that is often harder than you imagined it would be.  So leave a little room for a piece of cake.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Door #1 or Door #2?

Holly Lane Gardens

Inn at Vineyard Lane
We recently sampled lodgings on Bainbridge Island, WA. They could not have been more different, but each had its appeal. Organic farmer Patti Dusbabek has four rooms and a cabin down an unpaved road on 8.6 acres at Holly Lane Gardens.  Llamas keep the grass trimmed and geese supply eggs for breakfast. The charm is joining Patti in her warm farm-style kitchen, watching her put the finishing touches on a cranberry kuchen and hearing the tales this retired federal labor law investigator tells about giving the good old boys a hard time at the local farmer’s market.

I’m not sure who runs the Inn at Vineyard  Lane.  Our daughter made reservations online. We received email instructions for how to access our room electronically and directions to breakfast in the morning.  The first day we never saw a soul, but hot coffee waited on the counter in the empty commons and fresh homemade yogurt, granola and fruit chilled in the under counter refrigerator.  The Inn comprises four well appointed, zen-like rooms meditating in the middle of a complex of flats and penthouses near the Bainbridge Ferry--as  urban a landscape as the Gardens are rural. It was peaceful. Eerily so, but we liked it.

So, which to choose when we snatch our ninety-year-old grandma out of Arkansas and whisk her to the island for Christmas? She would feel at home on the farm. Patti would warm her insides and make her laugh. But she chills easily. We have to keep her warm on the outside. We will choose Door #2.