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I don’t generally do the religion thing. In fact, there are two topics I avoid like the plague: politics and (you guessed it) religion. I don’t consider myself religious, but I am spiritual. While I do not personally adhere to any particular belief-system, I have nothing against those who do. I try very hard to respect the beliefs of others, that differ from mine, and generally, I adhere to the 11th commandment: ‘Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.’ (Don’t you just love George Carlin?) But to each rule, there is the odd exception.

One might deduce, from my user-name, that I practice paganism. This is partly true. I’ve been part of a coven. Cast a circle, or two, in my time. Do I consider myself a wiccan? No. Not really. However, the idea of a loving, nurturing god and goddess fits so much better with my world-view than that of a vengeful, wrathful patriarchal god. And the rituals involved in goddess-worship (Im talking regular, run of the mill paganism, not dark-side stuff, here) are lovely, and empowering, to both male and female. I like very much the idea of having male and female worship-leaders, rather than adhering to a largely male-dominated set of religious practices that has portrayed women as less, weak, or lacking in some way.

I have also been a ‘Christian’–baptized in flowing water, as is traditional, to “wash away my sins”. The minister who baptized me was removed from his pulpit by the church board, shortly after. For “personal reasons”. The longer I was part of various congregations, the more I agreed with the bumper-sticker: If going to church makes you a Christian, does going to the garage make you a car? Of course, there is a passage in the Christian Bible that says, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be, also.” I’m fond of that passage. Here’s another bit that never quite made it to the Bible, but should have: “The kingdom of Heaven is within you, and all around you, not in palaces of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone and you will find me.” This quote was from the movie Stigmata. Touted as the gospel of Thomas, the doubter, this statement would set the Church hierarchy on its ear, if it had been included, completely undermining the tidy business of saving souls they’ve set up. Salvation with a price-tag. The more you give, the more you’re forgiven. How incredibly pious *sarcasm font*. Naturally, it would have been excluded, if, indeed, it ever existed at all. I prefer to think it must’ve.

I’ve studied, at least minimally, the beliefs and practices of a number of religions, actually. I agree with some, disagree with others, and have combined them into a belief system that suits me. The core idea comes from wicca. Essentially it is this: what you put forth comes back to you, threefold; this above all, do no harm. Its similar to the concept of Karma, in the Hindu religion. Among other things, this was ‘borrowed’, when Christianity was first introduced to the ‘heathens’. It was supposed to make the idea more palatable–See? Our religion is just like yours, only a LITTLE different. Now, convert or die! So much for brotherly love.

I raise the subject of religion because at 6 PM, today, Christ was scheduled to rapture his church. At least that is what was concluded by reputed biblical scholar, Christian author, and broadcaster Harold Camping. It’s now 6:44 PM, local time. I’m still here, and so is everyone I know. And most of them are much more Christian than I am. But Camping’s prediction raises a couple of questions, for me: Firstly, in all of the study time he put in, did he somehow fail to note Matthew 24:36–“No one knows the day and the hour…Only the Father knows.” And Matthew 24:27–“The coming of the Son of Man will be as lightning that can be seen from east to west.” According to Thessalonians, the dead will be resurrected first, following a divine command, and a trumpet-blast. NONE of these happened. Sorry. And what about those poor fools who donated to his cause? (And since when did prophecy require funding, anyway? Oh yeah! There’s a biblical admonition to “beware the false prophets”.) Perhaps there needs to be a bit more Bible included in their bible study? Its just a thought.

My point, and I do have one, is don’t let your zeal for worshiping whatever invisible being you choose override the actual worship, itself. Worship, in my estimation, is supposed to be about study, ritual, fellowship with like-minded individuals, and communion with your omnipotent being of choice. But if, in the course of that worship, you fail to actually learn about the religion you’ve chosen, perhaps you should pay closer attention to the study guide. Again, it’s just a thought.

Lest you think I’m attacking Christianity as a belief system, I’m not, really. My issues with it stem largely from the mockery most people who call themselves Christians make of it. I’m not saying I’m any better, but I don’t put on a show for people, either. I am what I am. Just saying.

I owe a debt of gratitude to @Depoetic. She mentioned the two verses from Matthew and the bit from Thessalonians. They were good for illustrating my point, so I cited them, here. This stuff, by and large, is my opinion. You are fully entitled to your own. Feel free to share it in comments. I bid you peace.

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I firmly believe that there are people who are meant to be in relationships, and be quite successful at them. They are able to roll with the punches, give and take in equal measure, and forgive, endlessly, the small transgressions their partner may commit. It’s in them to do everything in their power to continue life with the partner of their choice. No matter how far they have to go to meet the demands the relationship places on them, they are willing to go that far, and farther. And I really admire people like that. I don’t understand all of  them, neccessarily, but I DO admire them.

Then, there’s the flip-side of that coin. There are people who were never meant for permanent attachments. They go out, meet people, date them, co-habitate with them, perhaps even marry them, but no matter how hard they try, they become bored. This boredom leads to creative ideas on how to ‘spice-up’ the relationship. And if their partner happens to be one of the previously mentioned ‘relationship’ people, they’ll try it. If they like it, it may become a way of life, and perhaps this is enough to help the relationship succeed. If not, the boredom and creativity leads to anger, resentment, accusation, and stagnation. Eventually, despite the best of intentions on both parts, the relationship fails. I fall into this category of the easily-bored. Sad, but unfortunately true.

Perhaps it’s immaturity. This is entirely possible. Yes, I’m a parent, and when the need arises, I am perfectly capable of being the responsible adult. I get up and go to work, pay my bills on time, do the laundry, feed the animals, and my kids, just like any mature person. But being an adult all the time is just so fucking dull! WHY can’t I have the best of both worlds? Why is it wrong to go out to a bar, dance-club, grocery store, library, etc., and indulge my flirtatious self? True, I may have come to the party with a certain person, and have every intention of going home with that same person, but in the intervening time, what is so wrong with having a little fun? And if that ‘fun’ happens to score an interested third party, once in a while? More the merrier. So, yes, maturity may play a part.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s a lack of understanding, on my part. I believe any successful relationship must have a natural ebb and flow. Give and take between the participants is critically important, no matter that it’s not always 50-50. But if one partner’s always giving, and the other always taking, that’s not a relationship, in my opinion. It’s servitude. While some people get off on the ‘king or queen of the house’ bullshit, I have a much higher opinion of myself than that. Leave us face it: it’s hard to kiss the lips at night that chewed your ass all day long. I also do not understand why it’s okay for you to do something, but not me. The double standard thing has never set well with me under any circumstances. I believe in equality, whole-heartedly. You’re no better than I am, so we should be entitled to the same liberties.

More likely, however, I have developed a certain inflexibility in my core beliefs. I was raised with certain absolutes, regarding what a happy, healthy relationship is supposed to mean. And anything less than that ideal is completely unacceptable, and not worth wasting my time on. I have come to believe that the perfect person for me only exists within my imagination, or any of a thousand or so romance novels. I have never demanded perfection. I simply asked for ‘perfect for me’. After more than a few failed relationships, I have come to the conclusion that ‘perfect for me’ doesn’t exist. Or perhaps I found it, once, and failed to recognize it. Either way, I’ve sworn off of serious dating.

As frustrating as this situation may sound, I am alone by choice. As any recent divorcee will tell you, ‘suddenly-single’ makes you ‘suddenly-very-attractive’. I’ve had no shortage of offers. Oddly, several of them have come from FaceBook. I’m seriously considering closing my account. I just can’t stomach one more message that says “You’re really hot. We should talk.” Why? What have you just said that recommends you to me? Or was I supposed to be so overwhelmed with your ability to string six words together in two sentences, that I somehow failed to notice that you are basing your opinion of my worth, in your world, on my attractiveness, or lack thereof? Oh, and hey, by the way Einstein? You forgot to send me a friend request, which, frankly? I would have ignored anyway.

So while it’s true, no man (or woman) is an island, I’m doing a fairly good impression of one, right now. I haven’t totally written off the idea that that magical ‘someone’ is out there. Should they have enough chutzpah to track me down, in the middle of nowhere, I have a shot-gun, loaded with rock-salt, all ready and waiting…

Its the small things…

I heard something, the other day, that went straight to my soul. Of all places, it was a line from an episode of the old 1960’s TV western: Wagon Train.

Let me set the scene for you: an old Irishman is dying, close to Christmas. He was supposed to play the part of Santa Clause for the children, but he knew his time was growing short. He asks the Wagon-master to play Santa, in his stead. He (the wagon-master) remarks that it’s such a small thing. The dying man says “Aye. Tis a small thing. But the small things make the BIG things bearable”. The simple truth of those words, even now, several days later, is still almost unbearably beautiful.

Let me tell you, this isn’t the blog entry I intended on writing. It is Mother’s Day, tomorrow. I had planned to write to you about my wonderful, beautiful, strong mother. I wanted to tell you how funny, wise and resourceful, loving and giving she was. How she only gave birth twice, but had many ‘children’. And how she faced the end of her life, from cancer, with a grace and dignity worthy of any great lady. How she died quietly one June morning, in her sleep, at home. It was four days past her 81st birthday. She was a lady, after all, and a lady always knows when to leave.

Unfortunately, life–and satellite television–intervened. I am playing the waiting game, right now. And waiting has never been something at which I excel. I was fortunate enough to have my mother for 36 years. My children may not be so lucky. I am waiting, as I said, on test results. There is a mass, approximately the size of a nickel, on the outer portion of my left breast, and two “areas of concern”, somewhere in my right. I am trying very hard to think positively, and not dwell on “could be” and “what if”. I will get the results next week, sometime. I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time, I am choosing, instead, to concentrate on the small things, or small, in relative terms.
My 9 yr old brought me a paper flower she made, in school, with a note attached, in cursive (she’s just learning it), that reads “I love you very much, Mommy!” And my 11 yr old? She’s begun having nightly chats with me. Not about anything important, really, in the grander scheme, but just general stuff. This is a new development. And it’s appreciated, by me. The two of them are TRYING to cooperate. Also a new development. They are sisters, after all…

I have friends both online, and IRL, who have offered comfort and support, laughter and advice, prayers, distraction, and just…parts of themselves, metaphorically speaking. Invaluable gifts, one and all. Small things, but important. Thank you, each and all.

And I have my “family”. Brothers and sisters, not born of blood, but of the heart. The men and women who called my mother “Mom”, as a token of respect. Then there are those I’ve met (IRL, and online), with whom I have forged a bond. I am truly blessed. This is something I don’t stop to count often enough.

What I came away from that episode of Wagon Train thinking, was that instead of worrying about what tomorrow holds, perhaps we need to concentrate on today–the small, everyday, happy things that our children, or friends, or family do that make us smile, make us look to the silver linings, rather than the clouds. Because when the storms come, these will be our comfort and shelter.

For whatever reason, the song in this link came to mind, when I think of the Irishman’s words:

I bid you peace. Happy Mother’s day.

~Reba

UPDATE: I spoke with the Dr., Monday last, and my mammogram showed a benign cyst at the 7 o’clock position, on my left breast, and two shadows on my right which turned out to be nothing. So I don’t have cancer. This has, however, taught me to appreciate the scenery, so it wasn’t wasted.

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A brief introduction…

Hi there, dear reader. So I’m now all settled into my new, SECOND, second home. Happy to be here. I’m among friends, right?

They say, in order to make friends, one should share something just a little personal. NO, silly, not THAT personal. Just a tiny little peek at my soul, so to speak…

The past year has been interesting. I really wish I’d started this blog back then. But I was in no shape. It took a while for me to get here, but here I am. I’m not sure where I’m going, but it’ll be a fun ride.

I left my hubs of two years, exactly 11 months, and one day ago. I’ve made reference to him a few times. If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you are probably gnashing your teeth, and thinking “Oh, NO! Not again!”. And no. Not again. Just making note of the anniversary. It was a good decision, even though, at the time, it was terrifying.

I’ve come a long way, in a year. I write. A fellow writer asked the question, once, of his readers, ‘why do you write?’ And after careful thought, I answered because its therapeutic for me. I work out my issues through fictional characters. And while not wholly a lie, its not wholly the truth, either. So, James, here’s a better, clearer, and more fully honest answer (pay attention, dear, I’m only saying this once):

I have been a writer since I was 9 years old. That was the year I got my first journal. And the year I wrote my first short story. My teacher was greatly impressed. It was some useless drivel about a Prince, a Princess, and a Dragon. Pretty heavy stuff, for a nine year old. I wrote page after page full of angst-ridden journal entries, all through middle-school, high school, college…to get the crap out of my head. It helps me work things out, seeing them in black and white, on a journal page.

So, writing as therapy. Yeah, definitely. But I also write (at least in my journal) to hold on to memories, to share thoughts too private for anyone else to know, and, also, from habit. Its just something I did.

Until I stopped. I stopped for five years. Because I came home from work, one day, to find Hubs (who was then my boyfriend) carefully leafing through the pages of my journals. I felt like I’d been…well…raped, or worse. So I stopped journaling. I stopped writing fiction. I just…stopped. And for five years, I kept that part of myself locked away.

Of course, after the separation, it took time. In the first weeks, I filled page after page with angst-ridden (are we sensing a theme, here?), venomous epitaphs, extolling the depths to which I was surprised to see him sink. And then I remembered that book wasn’t about him. It was about me. And I began to heal. Again, writing as therapy. Better, and cheaper, than the nice doctor. A kind friend suggested I should sit down to my computer, and let my heart lead my fingers. A couple of neat little ficlets came from that weekend. And I suddenly remembered: I am a writer.

So, dear reader, I write because it’s what I am. And someday, I hope to be a published author. I write with abandon, though I’m perhaps not as dedicated as I should be. Perhaps you’ll find my stories interesting, perhaps not. But they’re mine. In the end, that’s what really matters.