I stayed up way too late this week reading. I just finished “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. It is the story of three women living in Mississippi during the sixties. Two of the women are black maids in white households in a very racist world. These women tend to all the domestic chores and raise the babies for the white families that employ them. The book talks of the affection, love, abuse, shame and fear that are part of the complicated relationships in an unequal world. The third woman is a young white college graduate who is also trapped in this racist, sexist world. Their lives become intertwined as they work together on a project to share the stories of these black women. I cried, I laughed, I cheered and felt hot anger in this poignant story. If you enjoy feeling part of the story of humanities small triumphs over evil, read this book. It will leave you thinking about it's message for many days.
Today is one of my weepy days when everything just feels sad and a bit overwhelming. My life is full of more blessings than I deserve. I have a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren who love me, and an unwavering faith in a loving God. I should feel happy, but today I am just so aware of past hurts and their unwanted consequences. I thought I had forgiven and moved on, but I guess not quite completely. Forgiveness seems to be something you have to do over and over again. There were lies and accusations and hurtful words that have left painful scars. My children and grandchildren were wounded badly. We moved on. We found new paths and new ways and new places. We tried to forgive. Today I am angry all over again and trying again to forgive again and to move on again.
I always thought it was very cool that my big brother celebrated his birthday on Saint Patrick's Day. It just seemed like a fun day in my world. Today Bill is 75 years old. Life has been very hard for the past two years. His beloved wife suffered a terrible head injury in a fall. She has been in the hospital since that fall. Bill is a good man and a faithful husband. Not a day passes that he not at his beloved's bedside. There is no where else that he would rather be. Some days are better than others, but it is a difficult time. He does not laugh very often. I love this picture of my big brother taken a few month's ago at a niece's wedding. It makes me smile to see him laughing and having fun.
On Bill's thirty-fourth birthday I presented him with a new nephew. My youngest child arrived in the world on Saint Patrick's Day and joined his uncle in celebrating an Irish birthday. Last year when Paul turned forty the family took him to an Irish pub in Baltimore. It was a fun celebration. After that celebration Paul decided it was time to start taking better care of his health. He has been dieting and exercising a lot this year. He has lost fifty pounds and plans to lose another fifty. This summer he is planning to enter a 5K race. Next year I plan to post a picture of a much thinner, healthier birthday boy.
I'm reading a murder mystery by Margaret Truman. It is a good who-done-it about the murder of a senator's wife. I don't know yet who the murderer is. I am bothered by one of the main themes in the story. It tells a tale of corporate money buying the legislation the corporation wants. With enough money any senator or congressman or judge can be bought. It demonstrates how easy it is to corrupt congress. It is scary because it is so true. The supreme court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals and can give unlimited money to buy an election. A corporation here in Maryland has taken this decision to the next logical step and has filed to run for congress. This way the corporation can be sure to vote for it's own best interest.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
I spent the weekend in the Pennsylvania mountains with forty of my girlfriends. We were all attending a women's retreat called “The Art Of Prayer.” It was a beautiful weekend filled with sunshine, laughter, prayers, a few tears and an inspirational speaker. The speaker was my older daughter. She shared her journey of faith with words and music that inspired a room full of women. I sat there just amazed. My little girl has not always had an easy life. There have been some very dark and scary moments. She told about some of those moments and the fear and pain she experienced. Then she told about God's faithfulness and love that brought her to where she is now.
I was overwhelmed with pride and love. It was a weekend full of moments that just took my breath away.
When have you experienced a moment that just took your breath away?
I was horrified this morning when I learned that a hate group picked our local high school for one of their demonstrations. When my daughter dropped her kids off at school this morning there was a group of people exercising their freedom of speech by carrying hateful signs. My grandchildren and all the other kids were greeted with signs that were horrid. They said things like;
"God hates you" "God hates Obama" "God hates fags" "America is doomed" "God loves dead soldiers" and “God hates football, the devil's sport.”
These signs were carried by some crazies from Kansas who were inspired to pick our school after a young football player collapsed and died while running during an off-season workout. This was apparently a punishment from God because football is evil.
I felt contaminated just knowing these hate mongers were present in my town. I know hate groups exist, but this is the closest they have been to me. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there were 926 active hate groups in the US in 2009, 13 of them are in my own state of Maryland. Most of them are some sort of white supremest group, a few are black supremest and a few are Islamic supremest group. The group that demonstrated at our high school was listed as a general hatred group.
The police kept the demonstrators and all others apart. There were no major incidents and the hatemongers left shortly after school started.
How do people get so filled with hate? Is there any way to teach love and tolerance to these folks? I just don't understand. Is there anything we can or should do that would lessen the hatred?
It's March! In my part of the world March is coming in like a lamb, with sunshine and melting snow. I guess it will roar out like a lion in a few weeks.
Our snowy February ended with a most pleasant weekend.
Friday I made a big pot of chili and entered it into a chili cook-off. I was competing against such dishes as Road-Kill Chili, John's Triple Hot Chili and ten other varieties. My “Just Chili” won first place! I am so proud.
We got up Saturday morning and went to our new exercise class. About forty mostly older adults sweated and laughed our way through two hours of working out in a class called Get Off Your A**. After working so hard we obviously needed to go out for lunch. Any excuse for eating out is good enough for me.
The highlight of the weekend came in the mail on Saturday. The letter from our grandson the new airman was the first we had heard since he arrived for basic training in Texas. He sounded good and we felt relieved. It seems the Air Force is very particular about how a bed is made and our boy made his bed fifteen times one day. All in all, even though it is the hardest thing he has ever done, he sounded upbeat and positive. It was good to know he really is doing OK.
Sunday morning I played in the bell choir at church. The bells, when done right, fill the church with such a glorious noise. Even when not done right they make me happy. I think God smiles when we praise Him with music.
We watched the hockey game Sunday afternoon. Even though Team USA lost the game, it was a well-played, exciting game. I couldn't help but rejoice with the happy Canadians. I will miss the Olympics. It has been fun to watch those amazing athletes.
A friend of ours is an amazingly talented pianist. Sunday evening she invited us to attend a dress rehearsal for concert she is is doing next weekend at Carnegie Hall. She is accompanying a Mongolian opera singer. The vocalist had a beautiful voice. She sang the most beautiful Mongolian arias I have ever heard. At the end of the concert I felt like I had just been to Carnegie Hall, except it was free and five minutes from home.