Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Delight

I babysat for my favorite baby today. Rocky is nearly a year old now, and he has just learned to crawl. It was fun to watch him scoot all over and get into things I didn’t even know were there. He found a big paper bag full of bags that just delighted him. He dumped out all the bags and then just chortled as he crumpled the paper and threw them all over the kitchen I didn’t realize a person could have that much fun with a paper bag. Later he discovered the baby in the mirror and spent quite a while talking with the baby who looked just like him. It must have been a funny conversation because there was much laughter. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all find such delight in our everyday life?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guilty

The case is over. We can all rest easier tonight knowing that two very bad guys are in prison.

The case involved an interstate drug business. I now know a lot more about cocaine and the buying and selling of illegal drugs than I ever wanted to know. It’s a huge business with lots of people involved. The possible profits are huge, but jail is one of chances you take when you decide to traffic in illegal drugs. The evidence against these two defendants was overwhelming. The defense’s case was basically that the government set them up. The defendants were offended that the government used a wiretapped phone to collect evidence against them. The government had no business listening in on their private conversations about the buying and selling of their cocaine. The bad guys tried to convince the jury that they were victims of the government. The jury decided the case very quickly. We were convinced that the victims of the hundreds of kilos of cocaine being sold in the D.C. area were not these two drug dealers. They are two very bad guys who are a part of a large group of very bad guys. I am glad they are off the streets.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jury Duty

I have been on the jury listening to a criminal case for several days now. It is a very interesting experience. I keep thinking that I’m part of a TV show. Many of the witnesses and other court room people look just like caricatures of the people who would play their part on “Law and Order,” “Judging Amy” or “CSI.” Then I realize that this is real and I am being asked to decide someone’s guilt or innocence. It’s a bit intimidating. Many years have gone into the preparation of this case just to present it all to my fellow jurors and me. This is not a case that has received any press. No one will gain any fame or notoriety. All their work is just for the benefit of the jury.

Every morning two big, strong security guards meets the jury members as we arrive and escorts us into the building through a back door and leads us through back halls to our jury room. In the evening we are escorted out and protected until we leave the parking lot. In fact I am grateful to have them there to protect us. I’m not sure I like feeling a need to be protected. I will be grateful when this is over.

I will tell you about the case after it is concluded. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Jury Of Peers

I spent Tuesday in a room full of strangers who are my peers. I am on jury duty and this room full of people was the jury pool. It was an interesting place to people watch. The first person to catch my eye was a middle-aged man in a power suit. He was obviously too busy to be there. He had his leather briefcase open with papers all around him, looking very important. Just down the row from power man was a young black man with a head full of dreadlocks dressed in dirty jeans and sweatshirt. He slept. In the corner there were two blue-haired ladies chatting happily. The lady sitting near me was reading a book called, “Chaos,” with another book called the “Science of Chance” on her lap. She looked like a nerdy college professor. The man next to me was wearing a baseball cap and football jersey. He looked very bored. I offered him my morning paper, which he happily accepted. I was not surprised to see that he picked up the sports section first. Towards the front of the room I noticed a young, pregnant girl. She didn’t look old enough to either be pregnant or to be on a jury. She looked very uncomfortable. The people gathered there were young and old, black and white, male and female, wealthy and poor. But for that day in the jury lounge we were all equal as we waited to be either chosen or rejected.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Winter

Winter has finally come to Maryland. We had our first snow last night, along with cold, ice, and slippery streets. Schools opened two hours late today.

As the snow began falling heavily last night I went to church where our congregation is hosting “Warm Nights.” This is a county run program to increase the number of shelter beds during the winter months. Last night about 20 men and one woman spent the night in our church building. We had set up cots for everyone and provided dinner. Several church folks had cooked meat loaf, mac & cheese, broccoli and applesauce. It was good food, and the folks ate a lot. Several came back for seconds and thirds. Our guests had to be up and out at seven this morning. We served breakfast and gave them a brown bag lunch. They will be back every night this week and then move on next week to another church that take over for a week.

I came home feeling very thankful for the blessing of my warm house. We live in a nice suburban neighborhood. I don’t see the face of poverty very often. But the people who came for shelter last night are here in my neighborhood. They are real people with sad stories. They are just like me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Spiral Staircase

I’ve just finished reading, ”The Spiral Staircase,” by Karen Armstrong. This is the very moving story of one woman’s spiritual journey. At the age of seventeen she entered the convent eager to meet God. For Karen this was a brutal, unhappy, life altering experience. This memoir describes her journey through darkness as an ascent up a narrow spiral staircase that eventually leads into a place of light.

She concludes with this thought that is common to all religious traditions.

“The one and only test of a valid religious idea, doctrinal statement, spiritual experience, or devotional practice was that it must lead directly to practical compassion. If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express this sympathy in concrete acts of loving kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology. Compassion was the litmus test.”

Does your faith lead you to acts of compassion?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

High Five

I am just finishing Janet Evanovich’s book, “High Five.” It is the fifth is her series about Stephanie Plum, the world’s funniest bounty hunter. These stories have no redeeming value except that they make me laugh. Laughter is a very good thing.

What have you read that makes you laugh?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr


Today is a holiday set aside to honor the work of Martin Luther King Jr. Today I went to an ecumenical service to honor his life and accomplishments and spent some time reading, “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Today the world is better because of the work of King.

I grew up in a white only world. It wasn’t exactly segregated; there really were no people there to my knowledge except people who resembled me. Negroes lived in The South or in Africa. I lived in a small Southern California town. Everyone I knew was white, protestant, and middle class. If there was racism it was far away and not part of my world.

Today my grandchildren live in a very different world. Their world is a diverse place populated by people of different races and different religions. They judge their friends by character, not by race or religion. My grandchildren are aware of racism and believe it to be an ugly, evil thing. My grandchildren are living part of Dr King’s dream. There is still much that is wrong, but I am thankful that we have come this far.

The picture is a drawing I made of my two grandsons enjoying a day at the beach.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good News

Our newspaper is usually full of reports of war, murders, and political intrigue. This morning there was a story that was different. It was good news of the kind that made me smile through tears of joy. Shawn Hornbeck is home. Shawn is a 15-year-old boy who has been missing for four long years. There are many unanswered questions, but this boy who was lost has been found. He appears well and happy. I can feel his mother’s joy as she holds this son close to her heart. I do not know Shawn or his family, but I am a mother who worries about a long lost son. I can feel the joy. Welcome home, Shawn.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Washington DC

Last night our daughter, AM, treated us to an evening at the Kennedy Center. It was our Christmas gift from her. We saw “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” which is the story of a marriage from hell. You can check out her blog for a review of the play. The best part of the evening was the fact that she wanted to spend an evening with her parents.

We’ve lived in suburban Washington DC for forty-three years. I am still surprised every time we go downtown to realize that we live here so near to this most powerful of cities. The monuments never fail to impress me. On our way to the theater we saw the dome of the Capitol Building and drove right by the White House. We went by the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. We walked along the terrace of the Kennedy Center and admired the National Cathedral and the multitude of lights reflected in the Potomac River. This truly is an impressive city. I love that I am able to visit there and still be impressed by all the history that is reflected here.

Where do you live? What impressive sights are part of your world?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why

I just came home from my water aerobics class. It really is a fun way for me to get some exercise.

I go to a nearby health club with a few parking spaces near the front door, a small lot next to the building and a large lot just across the small street where it is located. There is plenty of parking in the large lot, but it is a few steps further away. Today people were fighting over the nearby spaces using words that are not on my approved list along with hand gestures that are less than friendly. I don’t get it. These folk are coming to work out on treadmills and stair climbers. They play tennis and swim in order to get exercise. They are paying good money to exercise and yet they can’t walk the few extra steps it takes to cross the street.

Can someone explain why people fight to park close to the gym where they are going to get some exercise?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Noodles

Momofuku Ando died on January 5, 2007. He was 96 years old. I think we should all pause a moment and give thanks to this man and the legacy he gave the world. Without him my children would have gone hungry during their years in dormitories. He keeps children all over the world from hunger. Mr. Ando was the inventor of Ramen Noodles. Can you imagine the world without Ramen Noodles? Thank you Mr. Ando.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Marriage

Recently my blogger friend Greeny said that I should pass on some secrets I’ve learned about a long and happy marriage. I have been thinking about that and decided that I really don’t know any secrets. I could talk about unconditional love, forgiveness and commitment to one another and marriage, but what I have finally decided is that I was just lucky. We were very young and na├»ve when we married. We were “in love.” We really did not know each other very well and certainly had no idea about how much pain and junk life can throw at you. Marriage has to be a commitment by both partners. If either one decides to quit there really isn’t much the other can do about it.

I was just lucky. I have a husband who puts up with me when I’m not easy to love and somehow lets me know he loves me anyway. In forty-five years we have survived a lot of pain together. We have also experienced life’s greatest joys together. Now we know each other. We are no longer just “in love.” Now we truly are part of one another.

My advice is to pick very carefully and pray that you are lucky.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolution Keeping

In order to follow through with my resolutions, today I joined the local health club. My knees have not been behaving as they should and have caused me too much pain to walk for any distance. I am beginning to feel like a slug for lack of exercise. So, starting tomorrow morning I will be participating in water aerobics class three or four times weekly. I am looking forward to this no impact exercise. I think it may be a fun way to become a little more fit.

What are you doing this year to stay fit?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

It is the new year and time for my resolutions. Like everyone else I plan to eat a healthier diet and exercise more. That is my every year resolution, though, so it really doesn’t count. I’ve decided that this year I will resolve to be grateful for each new day and live the life God gives me in joy. I think that is resolution enough for me.

To celebrate this new year we made reservations to spend a week in Yellowstone National Park this summer. Have any of you been there? Is there anything that you think we must do while we are there? We have never been there and are looking forward to going.