Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I don't wanna talk about "him"

We heard a very good sermon Sunday on Micah 6:8: “This is what the Lord requires: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

She brought out ways in which we can as individuals can do justice and love kindness.

And then she drew on the analogy of her experiences walking her Labrador Retriever and later, a Golden Retriever, to point out how we do and do not walk humbly with our God. It was perhaps not a perfect analogy, but it was hilarious—and quite thought provoking—as she described her powerful dog dragging her down the street, not wanting to go where she wanted to go, seeking out stinky stuff to roll in, and generally not letting her be the leader in the same way that we tend to be willful and stubborn and don’t want to let Him lead us.

Richard pointed out to her afterward that these problems also afflict owners of small dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds. She wants to go her way, bark at and challenge other dogs, chase after stuff she can't possibly catch, stop to investigate every smell and leave her mark on it, roll around in stinky stuff. Every time I have walked the dog since Sunday morning, I have thought about how much like her I actually am.

It has become obvious that the man who is in charge of this country right now does not appear to do justice, or love kindness, as evidenced in the aftermath of his ban on travel from Middle Eastern countries starts to play out—with students unable to return to school and families separated because the husband or wife can’t get back into the country. Neither does he seem to be walking humbly with his God.

The other day we were eating lunch and I looked up and Richard was staring at me. I went back to shoveling in the food and looked up again and he was still staring at me.

What? Why are you staring at me?

I am trying to think of something to talk about that isn’t about Trump. I don’t wanna talk about him. It’s going to end up that he is all we talk about, and I don’t want him to be the topic of all of our conversations.

I agree.

I don’t wanna talk about him either.

Monday, January 02, 2017

In the Memory Bank

A few weeks ago while I was having lunch with a friend at a restaurant in town, woman and her husband walked in with another couple. If one were serving a platter of gossip at a meal, this woman’s reputation could fill it and overflow. Although I know I was wrong to even think about gossiping about her, I am pleased that I did not follow through. I said nothing about her to my friend.

I started wondering whether gossip is one of the seven deadly sins. I know my friend was raised Lutheran so I thought perhaps she might remember what the seven deadly sins were and if so, was gossip one of them? She said she didn’t think so. Had either of us been carrying a smart phone we could have whipped them out and done an Internet search right then and answered the question, but  at the time both had very dumb phones, so we just talked about it a while.

I began telling her about the thriller Seven, which told the story of two police officers on the trail of a serial killer who murdered his victims (one was actually still alive when found) by posing them to be symbolic of these seven deadly sins. I knew the movie starred Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Gwyneth Paltrow. I could see the face of the actor who played the killer but I couldn’t remember his name. I struggled for a while, and then gave up, only to finally remember, a few minutes later, that it was Kevin Spacey.

We began talking and laughing about memory and ways to compensate. She uses lists to help her keep track of short-term things. “This has been happening to me for a long time,” she says. Not sure what the solution is for "long-term" memory retention.

Then a few days ago when I saw the icon of the program we chose to watch off one of the Internet services I commented to Richard that one of the actors was sitting in an egg-shaped chair exactly like the one Will Smith sat in while he was taking the examination in the movie…  and my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember the name of the movie. He stumbled a bit and said Men in Black.

And we laughed, trying to reassure ourselves that this is just normal for our age, me trying to beat back the frisson of fear. My mother watched several close friends die of Alzheimer disease, and she was terrified of getting it herself. And for that reason some years earlier she had began working Sudoku puzzles to try to keep her mind active. I believe she was actually relieved to find out she would be dying of cancer instead.

I get what she was afraid of, I really do. This “memory thing” is one aspect of getting older that I really am having trouble with. The reassurance that it is normal for “my age” is somewhat reassuring, but the inability to instantly remember stuff is still rather frustrating.

As part of the worship service of the church we started attending in the spring of 2015, the congregation recites as an affirmation of our faith the Apostles’ Creed on the Sundays that we don’t receive communion. I have never made an attempt to memorize this. I just read it off the laminated pew card.

On Sunday mornings I leave the house at 7 a.m. to take the dog on our morning walk so I can return in time to fix breakfast and clean the kitchen before we get ready to leave for the service. I usually don’t think about too much very significant as I walk along with her – I contemplate what I am going to write about next on the blog, or I offer up little prayers for people who come to mind, or my mind just wanders a bit. Yesterday though, as I watched a heavy fog bank approach from the south and then settle down over the land, with the leading tendrils of fog flowing over the hills, suddenly running unbidden through my mind was the Apostles’ Creed…
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by
the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried…
There it was, the whole thing – without making a mistake or missing word. I was literally walking through a cloud rather than walking on one but it felt wonderful.