With one of my literacy teachers (the tall one) and three of her students.
I recently realized that life in my 70s has a guiding question that could have come straight from Marie Kondo, the tidy-up guru, though I have never watched a single one of her TV shows or videos and my house still retains pockets of clutter.
In fact, I apply the question, “Does it bring you joy?”, more to my life as a whole than to my dwelling and possessions, though I make sporadic efforts to apply it there, too. I use it to tidy up my life, so to speak, to focus on the things I really want to do.
It has not been an easy question for me to answer. One reason that it guides me now is that my answers to it have evolved over the years and shown up in surprising ways that I would not have guessed in earlier times. Continue reading
I just finished a huge project, editing a memoir and taking it all the way through the self-publishing process. It is not my book. It is the memoir of a remarkable 91-year-old former missionary to Congo, Martini Reimer Janz. Stargazer’s Children is available—today!—on Amazon. It was a labor of love all around. Continue reading
I am just back from a 3-day Wisdom School on the Law of Three and I am seeing triangles everywhere.
Law of Three, in the Wisdom tradition of Christianity, is the theory that the most basic, most pervasive dynamic of life is a triangular dance among three kinds of forces: FIRST FORCE– affirming (positive, active); SECOND FORCE—denying (negative, passive); and THIRD FORCE—reconciling (neutralizing, transforming, catalyzing … etc.). The first two forces may end up in opposition but Third Force is present (though hidden) in the stalemate, and when it comes into play, change happens. Something new arises. Still, all three forces are necessary for that to happen.
This waltz is how things evolve on every level, from the subatomic to the universal. It is in the very nature of God (think Trinity as process more than persons). It operates at the level of the individual human psyche and in our interactions with each other. Continue reading
Last night as I was getting ready for bed I noticed my right hearing aid was missing. I have not lost a hearing aid for a very long time. I have developed hearing-aid awareness, that is, I can usually sense when one has become dislodged and might be about to drop. So how did this happen?
I went through the clothes I had just taken off and tossed in the laundry basket. I went through the whole laundry basket, twice, scrutinizing and shaking everything. I checked the chair and its surroundings in the living room, where I’d been watching TV with headphones and had just removed them. I checked the kitchen, where I’d prepared dinner. Vic had cleaned up nicely so I decided to go through the garbage and trash he’d discarded as well. That was messy, but I felt my way through all the coffee grounds and kale stems. Continue reading
The four months of not writing this blog were an accidental experiment. It started when I didn’t feel like writing because of all the body stuff going on. My suffering was never acute and it is not as bad as it seems to sound when I write about it. What I was doing in that last post was exposing the little complaints that linger under the surface of the good front that we all present to the world. Mine are no worse than most people’s. But laying it all out there has attracted a lot of sympathy and advice that seem to be out of proportion to my degree of suffering. Maybe that is because, for fear of seeming like hypochondriacs or complainers, we don’t usually expose our discomforts to each other. Our facebook posts are smiles and celebrations.
When I write anything longer than a facebook post, however, I am usually trying to get under the surface of things, and what has been there for the last four silent months has been physical discomfort. I didn’t find that an interesting topic to write about. And so I moved into this inadvertent experiment: What would happen if I just stopped writing? Continue reading
I have always been a morning person but recently it’s been taking me most of a morning to get fully charged.
I start with coffee but Vic complains that I’ve been drinking more than I used to, i.e. more than my share. Yet I still drink a bit less than he does. Why is this a problem? Can’t we just make more coffee? Well, the system we’ve adopted to make our artisan pour-over, deliciously strong coffee makes no more than 700 g of coffee at a time. (Yes, we weigh it.) If one of us needs more than our established share, we have to make another pot or partial pot. That’s too much bother first thing in the morning.
But coffee is just the start. I’ve been needing more than my established share just to do the next parts of my charging routine. Continue reading
I keep thinking I want to write something profound, theological almost, but I am not up to it. Instead I meditate. 45 minutes this morning, no problem. And I think about diet and plan carefully for a food-shopping excursion during a brief break in the frigid, snowy weather. It wasn’t really a break but Vic had to go out for a doctor’s appointment so I went along and went around the corner to the supermarket and bought at least 10 meals worth of vegan food. Beans and more beans, greens and more greens. Continue reading
Elder, senior, aging, older, old. I want to be honest about where I am in life. I am, unapologetically, 73 years old. But I don’t really identify with any of these words.
“Elder” implies entitlement to authority and status that I may or may not have. “Senior” is a euphemism for “old” and I don’t go for euphemisms. I’m certainly “aging”–but isn’t everybody? And “old” is how I feel sometimes but I’ve tried calling myself old and it makes me–and others–uncomfortable.
Language matters, as Laura Carstensen writes in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, “In Search of a Word that Won’t Offend ‘Old’ People.” Continue reading
With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love. Continue reading
When we moved to town I thought I was giving up my special relationship with trees. Living in the woods, trees were my cathedral, my companions, my inspiration. I learned things about trees that I might not have if they hadn’t dominated my environment. Continue reading