short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Look for Common Ground

I frequently travel with only a couple of dollars (literally) in my pocket, usually because I run out of time to get to the bank before departure. I can nearly always find an ATM or use a credit card for any needs that crop up or forego needs satisfaction temporarily.

One Saturday, however, I was a little more disorganized than usual and ended up in Reno with nearly no money and only a rarely used ATM card -- the PIN for which I had forgotten. Oops! I called my bank's 800 number and reached a customer service agent named Beth.

I reacted with pleased surprise. "Oh, what wonderful news! My name is Beth, too. That must mean you are going to help me!"

Most people with respond with assent to such a statement. Few, if any, will say, "No, I don't plan to help you."

So, my comment set up the expectation that she would do whatever it took to get me out of my dilemma -- and she did. Although she could not give out the PIN on the phone -- and I would not want her to be allowed to do that -- with some creative thinking and several minutes of searching, she was able to track down a branch of my bank in nearby Sparks that was open all day Saturday. I thanked profusely. My problem was solved, and that other Beth was left with a very good feeling for the day.

Further, when I took a cab to the bank, I got to know a very talkative elderly man, a longtime resident of Sparks. From him, I learned much about the history of Sparks that I would not otherwise have known. I think the cab driver liked having an out-of-towner to tell his stories to because he waited for me at the bank at no charge.

The weatherman reported a chill in the air that day, bit I didn't feel it. It seemed pretty warm to me.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have no intention of spending Thanksgiving Day at a computer. In fact, I have all kinds of other plans, but I did want to wish all readers a happy -- and tasty -- day. As for me, I have a guest (friend) from Washington, DC, who has been here all week with me. Doah and I intend to attend the Thanksgiving Mass in the morning, then our whole family will go over to the community dinner that is sponsored by our parish. I think it is a bit unique. Every year the entire community (our town has only a little over 1000 people, including children) is invited to a free Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant-like building that our parish owns. Those who have cooking talent provide the food. Others serve or clean up. Since I have absolutely no cooking talent, my family and I serve on the clean-up crew. Every year hundreds eat for free -- rich and poor alike (and together). It is a great way to spend Thanksgiving!

However you spend your Thanksgiving, I hope it will be a day to remember and a day for which you find yourself grateful!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If God Loves Me, Why Can't I Cook?

The following excerpt from my latest book, Believer in Waiting, seems quite appropriate on the day before Thanksgiving (when I will not be cooking but helping to clean up after a community dinner where my family and I will receive the benefits of those who can cook -- this is an event that takes place every year and is sponsored by our parish; it is for everyone, whether rich or poor, alone or endowed with many local family members and friends; it is a community event that all look forward to and to which each contributes in his or her own way by cooking, serving, or cleaning up).

Everyone knows that I cannot cook a decent meal. As for the rest of my homemaking skills, let us just say that my passing grade in Home Economics as a child was a gift from a teacher who liked me but not necessarily a reflection of my homemaking ability. I think she just did not want to ruin my straight-A average. Maybe she gave me the grade for effort rather than result.

When my kids were growing up, if I wanted to get them to do something, I would just have to threaten to cook dinner myself rather than their dad. Even as youngsters, they knew how to cook well. (Their spouses love that.) As an adult, Doah wrote a book with my help, an exercise in understanding and developing literacy. The topic of all the tales in the book is my sad lack of homemaking skills and the horrendous outcome of my attempts to use them. The stories are as true as they are hilarious. Why I got missed in the distribution of talents that most women have, I may never know.

Every once in a while, though, I try to remedy the situation—to no avail. On Donnie’s birthday recently, I decided to make him dinner, freeing him from that daily task. He protested, but then realized that this was going to be my gift to him so he let me try. I had purchased some fresh squid; they are easy to cook. A salad and some vegetables, rolls, desserts—voila! a great dinner! Except it was, following historic patterns, not edible. Donnie made himself a toasted cheese sandwich, and, as happens in such cases, I ate the inedible meal just to prove something. (Just what I am trying to prove in these cases, I am not sure.)
So, I ask, if God loves me, why can’t I cook? This question parallels the kinds of questions that my catechism kids ask: if God loves me, why can’t I do something I want to do, why don’t I get an A grade on my project or test, why can’t I have a specific gift or opportunity, i.e. why is life so tough sometimes? I love the book by Lorraine Peterson that attempts to answer this question: If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open? I recommend it to all parents, catechists, and teenagers.

In thinking about this question, a possible answer begins forming in my mind. I cannot do things perfectly because I am human, ordinary. Not everything I want will go my way because it should not go my way because I am human, ordinary, and need to grow and learn. I need to walk in the path of the cross because it is that path that brings a different kind of life, one that leads to resurrection, one that is pleasing to God.

And then the life of Jesus comes to mind. He did not choose to live an extraordinary life but an ordinary one although the way he lived it was extraordinary. If he had not lived an ordinary life, we would not have the wonderful example of how we, as ordinary, human beings, can and should live. He gave us the example of how to live the way God would have us live, how to be servants to those around us, how to improve life for others, and how to bear our cross, whatever that may be, with grace and trust. He gave us the answer to the question that my catechism kids ask.

Oh, yes, now I know the answer. Why can’t I get the locker open, cook a meal for my husband, receive only accolades, have no financial worries, birth only healthy children, etc.? I cannot do those things precisely because God does love me! Just like God loved Job. Just like God loved Jesus!

About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.