Thursday, June 23, 2011

Give Joy to Others

My mother believed in giving joy to others.  She liked to visit people and share with them.  I loved her hot rolls, and she knew they were really special to me.  When she made them, she always sent a pan or rolls to my my father's cousin who lived two houses away.  I got to take them to her house.  I guess it taught me how much fun it is to give other people joy.

I knocked on the door and waited in excited anticipation for it to open.  She was glad to see me, but then she saw the pan of white balls of dough, and her smile was enhanced with another level of joy.

I still like to make bread like my mother did.  I often give a loaf of bread to a neighbor or friend.  That same joy still registers in their smile, but it blesses me as the giver.

Today I will read to the children at the library for the summer reading program.  I anticipate the same joy in giving them a new experience.  I hope to see their faces light up with new thoughts and ideas.  I will also share with them some kite designs and poems.  I think I will receive more than I give.  I want to be altruistic and bring them joy, but I know from experience that this giving of joy to others is really very fulfilling for the giver.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Mother Taught Me Beauty

passion flower, first thursdayImage by brx0 via FlickrI see beauty in fields and trees and flowers.  My mother taught me to see beauty where ever I happened to be.  Yesterday I discovered that I have a beautiful flower on my fence.  I didn't know what kind of vine it was.  It has large dark green leaves, and it climbs the fence.  Yesterday I finally saw the intricate and delicate blossom of the Passion flower.  I can't believe I just thought it was some nameless green vine.

Earlier I had removed all of last year's growth, but I didn't know what it produced.  Now I have a whole new appreciation of my back yard.  I just moved to this house in April.  This discovery spurs me to regard my yard with admiration.  I may even try to enjoy it more.  I would really like to focus on the lovely purple blooms.  I don't think they do well when picked, so it will be admiration on the fence, but maybe I can sit in the yard in the cool of late afternoon and enjoy the aroma and appearance of nature in my own space.  I think my mother would approve.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

We Hope for Better Things

A hand effected by rheumatoid arthritis.Image via WikipediaCarol, my daughter, is having surgery on her feet to remove rheumatoid nodules that cause walking to be painful.  We've been through this before, but we always hope this time we'll find a medication that will reduce the problem.  So far that hasn't happened.

Carol has suffered a lot.  She has had RA for 22 years since she was 23.  It has been a long hard road.  Her joints have been replaced--knees, hips, and shoulders.  Her wrists were fused.  She lost her right arm because of infection when they tried to replace her elbow.  It has been bad.  Then her husband died in February of this year.

She is tough.  She now lives with me.  We are struggling to get our lives together in a form we can both tolerate.  Carol was a cook in a small, country cafe.  She enjoys watching the cooking shows.  For about five years I owned and operated a small catering business, and she was my meat expert.  We didn't really make any money, but we had a good time.  Now she is still oriented toward food.  She likes to design dishes, choose ingredients, and dictate cooking methods.

When she is planning a dish or thinking about how it should go together, she says she will stir it over low heat, knowing all the time that she is going to tell me how to do it.  In her mind she still has the ability to stir and cut and blend.  I admire her attitude and praise God that she has an interest that sustains her in bad days.

I'm glad she still thinks of herself as active.  I still think I'm young.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Mother's Attitude on Sex

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...Image via WikipediaWhen I was about 6, I asked my mother the meaning of the words on the restroom wall.  She assured me they were not anything I needed to be concerned with.  Nice people did not engage in that behavior or write about it on the wall.

Now that I am all grown up, I find that everybody engages in the behavior and many, additionally, write about it in newspapers and magazines and depict it visually in photos and movies and on TV.  There seems to be no limit to the extremes people will go to for the sake of those words I first learned from the restroom wall.

My mother was right.  Nice people don't devalue sex.  That doesn't mean they don't enjoy it or engage in it.  It means they see it as valuable and meaningful.  Sex has two fundamental functions:  It offers us the method of reproduction, and it strengthens our bond with the person we will raise the child with.  We human beings reproduce ourselves, and we don't need a computer or even instruction to get the job done, but it takes two to do it.  No, I guess it doesn't, but it is so much easier that way.  It really makes much better sense.

Our society has taken this sacred act and made a parody of it.  We can do that, but the cost is high.  We wind up with lots of children who don't have the security of two parents. 

Not every sex act ends with a baby.  Sometimes the pleasure is all there is to it, but if the sex is spread around to all your acquaintances, there is no building of a relationship.  It is the cheapest kind of travesty on the intended purpose.  It is selfish and empty.  Sex in the context of a marriage relationship is used as a symbol of the union of Christ and the Church.  It is the most complete and sacred physical union we can experience.  It is a waste to turn it to casual and carnal uses when it deserves an exalted place.

I am sure that there are contrary opinions, and everyone is welcome to his or her own.  This is mine. 
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Mother Said to Respect My Elders

Elders from TurkeyImage via WikipediaWhen I was little, one of the rules children learned about how to behave in society concerned treatment of older people.  "Older" meant anybody older than me, but I took that with a grain of salt when I didn't see white hair or false teeth.  I addressed the parents of my friends as Mr. or Mrs., but my understanding of "older" included a different level of existence. 

Now that I am "older" I find that older is a lot younger than it used to be.  My Uncle Jimmie use to define older as "fifteen years older than you."  That's pretty good.  To a 10 year-old 25 is old.  To a forty-year-old fifty five is over the hill.  To a 70 year-old 85 is the top. 

Now that I have reached some of those more exalted years, I find I still have the same joy I had as a child.  I am as happy to see Christmas.  I still enjoy and praise.  What is it that growing up or growing old is supposed to change?  The requirement to act your age is entirely too vague.  According to some of the developmental psychology theorists, many people never reach the higher stages.  Maturity is hard work.  The people who reach 75 are viewed as being wise.  They are expected to find contentment and live in a state of integrity. 

For people who do not achieve this high level of maturity and functioning, bitterness and despair may be the result.  At least this is the dichotomy Erik Erikson describes. Some people who get to be an advanced age do not measure up to the Erikson's stage development, but I still regard them with respect.  It is not for me to make judgments about their stage development. Old people should be respected, especially if they are older than I am.  My mother said so.