Love Your Neighbor

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Today I wanted to do something different. So I went to Unity Church. John Shelby Spong, a retired Epicopal bishop, preached on the Gospel of John.

Basically, he said, the gospel was made up. He said – how can you trust something written three generations after a person lived? The John Gospel, he said, was written 70 years after Jesus’ crucifixion.

The bishop told the story of the woman at the well. She was not judged. The conversation at the well was a metaphor for peaceful coexistence. (This is my interpretation of the sermon). Although the two at the well had different faiths, they shared the same god. And god does not belong to any one faith. The sermon inspired me to love without judging.

Spong concluded the sermon,
“It’s not that Christianity has failed, it’s that it hasn’t been tried yet.” I agree – we have not tried a radical love of neighbor and a deep tolerance for difference.

As I rode my bike from the church at Symphony Space along Broadway, I thought, yes, but if we are all sisters and brothers, why are we so divided? This message of brotherhood has not been the prevailing message of mainstream Christianity.

I went to Unity because I didn’t want to hear about the historical Jesus. I needed a spiritual boost – a personal empowerment. I am in a transitional mode (will let you know more as it develops!) and I wanted something personal, inspirational, and self help-y.

The last time I was at Unity, pastor Paul Tenaglia offered these affirmations:

“God has the right and perfect well-paying work as a New York artist for me.”

“I believe I have a natural abundance;
prosperity is mine;
I have unlimited success in my creativity.”

“Divine love blesses and increases in me.”

I liked those affirmations – and today’s sermon too. God is there – in love for self and neighbor.

Then, I went and bought a Christmas tree on Broadway.

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Make your day count

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let it go.
be silly. have fun. get out of bed in the morning. make your bed.

get out of your own way.

too much to do. every day is a new beginning. this is the season of the new. leading to Christmas. to new life. to a new year.

disappointments are natural. my son’s college application process was too easy. last night he hit a glitch. don’t want to go into the details. (the kids tell me, “you post too many facebook pics!” “you’re too obsessed with social media.” “you tell everyone everything.” yes. yes. yes.)

tell a story. make it good.
make it meaningful.
it’s enough.

it’s today. today is all.
i have it all. i have today.

i have been subbing. and i heard that one of my students, one who causes me no trouble, a nice kid, has something seriously wrong. (like, really serious!) why does this happen? not that i would want it to happen to one of my mischief-makers but maybe that would explain why she doesn’t listen or why he shouts out. but why the quiet, kind one? it so sucks. makes me not believe in God. makes me hurt for all the stupid injustice. life’s unfair.

why the shooting of unarmed teens? of one mother’s son? why, God?

when I get to heaven, i need a lot of answers.

until then, i will make today count. tell a story. make it meaningful.

then, let it go. have fun.

i’m choosing a word for 2015. it is happiness. what’s your word? what’s your story?

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We took the ferry from Essex to Charlotte. From New York to Vermont on Thanksgiving weekend. So beautiful.

 

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Coco can’t believe the sunset. It happens every single night. The sun sets. I want to notice the sunrises and sunsets.

 

Gratitude

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So here we are. The season of gratitude. Thanksgiving.

We know gratitude:

  1. Enlarges us.
  2. Boosts our immune system.
  3. Connects us to beauty.
  4. Keeps us rooted in the present moment.
  5. Pushes away criticism and jealousy.
  6. Embraces the giver as well as the receiver.

How do we make our thank yous more than platitudes?

  1. Make it general. Don’t expect anything back.
    • Thank God or the earth. “Even after all this time the sun never say to the earth, “You Owe Me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” (Don’t know who said this.)
  2. Make it specific.
    • As the March Hare said, “Say what you mean.” Mean what you say.
  3. Find a tribe of gratitude givers.
    • on Facebook, Richard Paul Evans hosts a GratiTuesday (I’ve not read his books but met him at an event – super nice guy!)
  4. Give 7 hugs a day.
    • After a hug, we feel so warm and cuddly, then we’re able to say grateful things.
  5. Woke up today!
    • What else could we ask for?

Some of today’s thoughts were inspired from #spiritchat — a soulful Sunday morning Twitter chat about a spiritual topic. The tweets fly fast and furious. This morning, I couldn’t chat because I had to borrow a camera from a friend.

This is the second reporting/photography job I’ve had in a couple of weeks. (Am reporting on an East Village Korean church for the Interpreter magazine.)

So grateful for friends (and their generosity!)

I’m also grateful for:

  • twitter (social media) and #spiritchat
  • photography work
  • the sun warming me
  • the crunch of dead leaves beneath my feet
  • the warmth of hugs
  • my great health
  • my optimism
  • old and new friends

Check out the founder of spirit chat, Kumud Ajmani’s blog.

What are

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

you grateful for?

Violent Images

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Last night Chris and I saw the play Tamburlaine. At the 30-minute intermission, I told Chris, "This is the best production of Tamburlaine that I will ever see. And the worst." I said that about Cymbeline too. Glad I saw it. Don't need to see it again. 

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John Douglas Thompson (photo courtesy of Nigel Parry and NYMag)

It has my favorite actor, the Marlon Brando of our time, John Douglas Thompson, in it. Tamburlaine reveled in his own psychosis and had such a lusty love of blood-letting.

Thompson, in fact, is a gentle man, a bit of a friend. He played MacBeth when Chris played the porter in the Scottish play. Chris says of him, “He doesn’t shy away from the big parts.” (Othello, Emperor Jones, Julius Caesar). He is all in. So good. Exciting to see such commitment. And the whole stage rocks with turmoil.

But to what end? The play is loaded with buckets of blood and plenty of gore, including a scene where a tongue is cut out. Eeeeew! The play by Christopher Marlowe was first staged in 1587.

I overheard an audience member say, “This hasn’t been done since 1957 on Broadway.” And with good reason. It’s just an endless parade of marauding death.

On the way to the beautiful Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, Chris realized he forgot his medicine.

“Do we go back home?” I asked.

“No.”

“I will just be slow.” Chris’s Parkinson’s medicine helps him move. Without it, he freezes. After the play, I put a hand on his back. On the way home, I pushed him along.

He was extremely slow walking to the subway, heading back to the Upper West Side. Then we got home and I had to tell Catherine she could not watch Django Unchained.

“It’s not a problem,” H. said. “She looks away during the violent parts.” He loves having a companion with whom to watch movies.

“I’m sorry. No,” I said.

“You’re too protective.”

“Yes,” I said. Believing that they secretly like that. Even thinking maybe Catherine wanted to be told not to watch that.

“Why? Why can’t she watch it?”

“I don’t want her to have those images in her head — of such violence.” I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ve heard. And yet, Tamburlaine filled my head with violence too. I don’t think I’m worse for it. Maybe it would’ve been okay. I don’t know. We live vicariously. But plays are different. The cast comes out for a curtain call.

We know it’s fake. We love the artifice.

We go slowly home.

Bucket Filling

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One downside to sending our kids to a very elite private school is that they don’t always feel proud of the fact that we are solidly middle class. Some of their friends have mansion-type apartments.

At a conversation on race at their school the other night, an African American male teacher, Mr. V., said that throughout his whole high school experience as a student at the school, he never once brought a friend home.

I told CoCo that. She said she doesn’t bring friends home either. But. ahem, she does. We are a fun family. I mentioned a half-dozen times in the last month her friends have stopped over.

This whole convo started because CoCo had been saying, as she does fairly regularly, “We need new floors. Let’s get those dark brown wooden floorboards.” She’s fixated on the inadequacy of our apartment floors.

“Honey, we need so much more than new floors. We need to fix that patchy paint job where the super fixed a leak two years ago. The laundry area is a mess.” I could start a to-do list but that’s not what I wanted to say.

Our apartment is so pretty when it's tidy. I was getting ready for book club dinner here.

Our apartment is so pretty when it’s tidy. I was getting ready for book club dinner here.

We have a beautiful, big apartment. We make it more beautiful all the time. I wish I was more dedicated to interior design. We have Anna come once a week. But we need more household help. Chris cannot really pick up like he used to.

I have been working a ton. I feel a sense of frustration at the amount I work and the little I get paid. Yet. Yet. I love my work. I love what I do so much. I love teaching and writing and editing. And my clients are amazing. I learn so much. And so, in this way, I am a little like CoCo, wanting more, wanting nicer, loving those luxury brands. Yet. I want to feel grateful for all that we have. Not all that we don’t have.

When I was doing the art handling work, I told my friend David Pullman who was working alongside me I couldn’t do the work any more because it paid too little. He said, “Every drop fills the bucket.” I love that.

Every drop of gratitude fills my bucket. My bucket gets filled, not by things, but by kind words and encouragement. Not by criticism, but by specific praise.

Check out this prezi on Bucket Filling

 

Autumn in New York

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They write songs about New York City in the fall. Jean jacket weather. Burning bushes. And Central Park. Ah. Don’t tell me about the polar vortex. I can’t hear you. La. La. La.

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Quitting NaNoWriMo

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2014-Participant-Facebook-ProfileIt hasn’t even started and I’m quitting. At the beginning of November, I always feel a push, urge, desire, impulse to jump into the NaNoWriMo waters.

Some of the reasons I’ve loved joining this movement of National Novel Writing Month:

  1. Love saying NaNoWriMo (Nanno Wry Moe!). It’s fun to say. It’s hip.
  2. Dig the curriculum for the young writers’ program for my afterschool creative writing classes. They’re so funny! Kids love the worksheets and lesson plans.
  3. A social and structured movement that gets people to write and write fast?! — What’s not to love?
  4. All the Twitter #amwriting hashtag love. #writesprints and timed writing. I write well with a pack of writers. I’m a woman who runs with wolves (and words).

But I ain’t gonna do it. Instead,

  1. Going to clean my tiny little closet, stuffed full of clothes from so many seasons.
  2. Support my darlings — the girls are in a play and H.’s applying for college.
  3. Plan Thanksgiving and Christmas road trips. (If we have friends or family stay at our place, it’d also be nice not to leave our apartment such a disaster.)
  4. Might organize some holiday parties.
  5. I just completed another writing challenge — the blogging challenge (posted almost every day for 31 days). Phew.
  6. I already finished one novel this year and I’d like to shop that baby around before I produce more literary crap.
  7. Want to embark on a week of querying for possible magazine articles. I’ve had good luck when I did this before.
  8. I don’t like waking so early or staying up so late just to push my word count up. I love sleep.
  9. I need some time to update my websites.
  10. Want a haircut; maybe an eyelash extension. Manicure?
  11. Freelance work pays; NaNoWriMo doesn’t.

But for anyone who enters NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you happy writing. Fun times. New friends. High word count! And much coffee.