Monday, January 31, 2011

Peace in the Middle East

I remember as a child when Desert Storm stole the fathers of some of my friends in elementary school. We didn't know what the Operation was about or really where the "Middle East" was, but it became common playground lingo to toss up a casual, "Peace in the Middle East," in our most adult voices. While most of my friends' dads returned, the confusion of that place had plagued me well into adulthood.

I've tried to understand the War in Iraq and the accusations some conservative news networks paint as Israeli and Muslim problems (as though the two terms are interchangeable). I've looked at maps as I've read and my twitter feed as they light up with violence and conflict and tragedy... but somehow that hazy cloud of misunderstanding has remained.

But there's one thing most children can relate to: the dream of becoming an archeologist. The pyramids, King Tut, mummies, treasures buried in the sand... Aladdin... okay, I know that Disney doesn't put it all into perspective, but there are major parts of American childhood from the 1990s that include middle eastern interest!

That's why this conflict in Egypt has suddenly piqued my interest so heavily. I do not claim to fully understand what is going down, but I am trying hard to find the news. I'm hitting my knees in prayer for the people whose lives have gone from somewhat normal to absolute frightening chaos. I've read accounts of men-- fathers, brothers, husbands-- patrolling the streets to keep their houses, neighborhoods and families safe. I've read about the internet being shut down and thanked God that I've been able to use this same tool to read about the conflict and strife in Egypt. I've found the sites that are helpful in breaking down what is actually happening: like this site. And I've even been humbled by a blogger when I dare critique American news for failing to really tell the depth of this "conflict" in Egypt.

Even our bishop has written a response to make clear the depth and need for prayer as well as accounting for our own Lutheran brothers and sisters living in Cairo in the midst of this.

I'm still searching for words. I'm still sorting through emotions... but I'm finally getting it. I'm finally becoming more than a contented naive American who is invested in the lives and welfare of her fellow human beings.

And I can't help but see the fingerprints from Sunday's Gospel stamped all over this issue...

When Jesus
saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Tonight, as I sort through this, I pray for the peacemakers & the persecuted. I pray for those who are reviled as were the prophets in the midst of proclaiming the Gospel. I pray for the poor in spirit who lack hope, for those who mourn, the meek and those who stand in the midst of chaos and violence, hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

It's not much... but, for now, it's all I can do.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Favorite Lady

Today, six years and ten days after C. Lawrence Hamme, my grandfather, passed away, the beautiful Pauline F. Hamme has gone home. I am alone. I cannot go home until after church tomorrow and I'm not certain I should until closer to her memorial service... which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday.

I woke to the phone call.

I'm both grateful and numb.

I took a shower and then used that ridiculous hair towel that Grandma gave each of us when she first began losing her hair nearly fifteen years ago.

I made coffee in my Keurig because that is what I would be drinking if I were sitting at my Grandma's kitchen table today... and how I long to sit at that table with her one more time.

I'll make warm vanilla milk as I settle in tonight before bed.

I am unsure of what the days ahead of me will hold this week. I know that my Grandma is at rest in peace with her Savior. I know that I am, indeed, not alone... and that the beagle has not left my side all day. I suppose, sometimes whether we are ready or not, we get thrust into our new realities. This new reality means that 203 days from now, as I prepare to walk down the aisle, I will be loving Paulie Hamme from afar.

Love and miss you, Gramma. Rest eternal grant her, Oh Lord.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today I Laughed...

Usually, upon parting with Jason, it takes me a while to straighten back out. If he does the leaving, I nestle in a warm blanket with the beagle and allow the sleep of impending loneliness to wash back over me. If I do the leaving, I spend four or so hours behind the wheel in silence, sorting out the hopes and frustrations of this life with my Creator.

We spent a whole five days together for the first time since before we became vicars over Christmas. It was amazing. The week back to work was lost somewhere between mountains of work, a summit on poverty and a dizzying head cold. Today, though... today I laughed. I slept in until 8 o'clock with 38 pounds of snoring hound by my side. I took an extended shower, braided my hair, packed my "One Good Woman" tote and filled the travel mug with the last mug of pumpkin coffee for the year.

Together, Tucker and I faced and conquered the 4,000 feet of treacherous curves that separates us from good produce and cheap gas. Well, technically speaking, I faced the mountain and he hid his face in the seat cushion to stave off car sickness... but you get the picture. We arrived at the open air farmers market and loaded up on handmade, crusty breads, farm fresh eggs and an adventure into an unknown squash. Armed with these tasty treasures, we turned a few blocks and discovered the fabric shop of wonders. I only bought a few notions, but plan to brainstorm exciting things for the many friends who are expecting wriggly little ones of their own soon and return.

I made a quick stop at the Brand Name Bookstore further into town and purchased a few new magazines and a book to tide me over until my mind can be made up on good reads to order from Amazon.

And when it was time to load the car back up, I found the local NPR station. I'd nearly forgotten how much "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" makes me laugh aloud. The Subaru, as it breezed through the miles of tree-lined road and bumbled back up and over the mountain, clung to that NPR station until it could no longer be heard through the fuzz. The laughter still clung aching in my cheeks. Lovingly prepared breads, new notions, a magazine on the happenings of the world and a carsick beagle topped off with a heaping scoop of Carl Kassell has brought me back to life.

Today I laughed... and remembered that in the midst of the isolation and quiet, God exists. In the middle of a bobbling beagle and a mountain of great proportions, there is a God who brings laughter and life to the surface.

And for that I am ever grateful.