As we sat at the table looking over the menu, Sarah handed the smaller version of the day’s offerings to Asher. He held it up in front of his face perusing the choices as if he knew exactly what his would be. Then an older couple moved over to the table across from us and he turned and said, “Hi!” The gentlemen took his hand and responded in kind, as Asher flashed those beautiful long eyelashes accompanied by a smile. What a hoot! During lunch he played with a miniature Batman, Darth Vader, and some other red clothed guy while he jabbered and ate. That’s how we communicate. He talks and I pretend I understand completely. After lunch, as we headed for the car, he waved and said “Bye” to the restaurant.

So, that was two times that I heard him say the appropriate word, at the appropriate time. Hi, and bye. What a rush!  Probably all grandparents feel this way. Early on his parents taught him a bit of sign language. The first time I saw the spark of understanding was when he had finished eating, and let me know it by waving his hands over the tray to the high chair. Shortly after, while we were shopping he patiently allowed me to push him in the stroller while Sarah and I contemplated floral selections for a Christmas swag. Finally he had enough, and waved his hands over his lap to let me know he was done. And that too, was a rush.

When I was a kid, longing for something in the not too distant future, my mother would tell me not to wish my life away. I often remember that thought, and then remind myself to savor the moment. But at the same time, I long for the day when I can talk with my grandson. There are so many things I want to tell him about. Like pollywogs and how they become frogs, and all about the cool things that live under fallen timber. And how important it is to walk carefully around the wildflowers. I want to tell him about snowflakes and raindrops. And how everyone is special, including him.

Sarah will probably say, “Soon, Grasshopper.” And she’s right. I know that because as I buckled him into his car seat, put his lovey (gauze blanket) on his lap, and moved toward his mouth with the pacifier (gear for travel and sleeping mode) he put his hand up and said “Nooooo!” Usually he just turns his head away when offered something he does not want. I looked at his mom, but she didn’t share my shock and awe – just a big smile. So then I did what any self-respecting grandmother would do. I tried it two more times and the response was the same…”Nooooo!” I did the happy dance right there in the parking lot.

Yesterday my grandson told me “No”. Maybe some day I won’t like that so much, but for now it’s a happy little song that I loved to hear.

Grandma! Again!

March 2, 2010

That’s right! There’s another on the way!

I’ve been given the green light to share my sunshine…

Nestled safely inside that warm and comfy space is a wonderful little baby. An ultrasound today confirms that our grandberry is ten weeks old, with a nice steady heartbeat. Sarah, Mark, and Asher will welcome an addition to their family, our family, sometime around September 28th.

Sarah is doing great with this news. Laid back and patient. Grandma, on the other hand, is thinking about onesies, the Carter’s coupons I got in the mail last week, and trying to remember how it is to have a two year old and an infant. Breathe deep, grandma. Sarah’s got the right idea. All in due time. No pun intended.

A Slippery Slope

March 25, 2008

Most have probably heard by now the rehash and replay of a sermon by Pastor Wright, from Trinity Church in Chicago. If so, I hope they have also listened to the response by Senator Obama. Then there was the backlash after he spoke of his grandmother as “a typical white person” a few days later. I’ve been thinking a lot about what a slippery slope it is when you talk openly and honestly about race. Particularly when someone is waiting in the wings with motives that are less than honorable.

I don’t know many who have had the occasion to attend a black church. I would go a step further to say that unless you are black, it really wouldn’t make much difference because you would not have the history or life experience to fully comprehend the significance. I don’t.

Two years ago I attended a diversity and inclusiveness workshop in Gary, sponsored by the Calumet District of the United Methodist Church. It was an experience that brought considerable self-examination. The first thing I learned was that in order to have meaningful dialogue everyone must seek to understand, be honest, and open to change.

I found a good piece on Black Liberation Theology from the Group News Blog. The author is a minister’s daughter brought up in Harlem and Queens Village. Here is her final thought:

I don’t for a moment believe that this is the end of this long-needed conversation about race in America. I think it’s another beginning, and that it needs to continue. I would just like to ask, gently, as my Mama would have, that we who talk about these things in good faith, check our assumptions, like weapons, at the door.

My mama would have agreed. And so do I.

Politics from the Pulpit

March 23, 2008

batlogo.jpgIn August 2004, Willi and I were in the process of “trying out” some of the local churches in hopes of finding someplace to settle. It was suggested that we visit one of the up and coming congregations considered to be welcoming and active in the community. The church was what I consider to be large, and growing fast enough that they were raising funds for an addition to their relatively new building. They were not connected to any denomination, which at the time was not an issue. Although Willi questioned the fact that, as a result, there was no accounting for the finances. The sanctuary was a large auditorium-type area with chairs and a stage, rather than the traditional style we were accustomed to. There were large screens for the multi-media productions. The musical presentation was of a professional caliber. There was a coffee shop in the lobby, as well as a book store. We attended two services. The congregation was friendly, but not the least bit overwhelming. In fact you could probably get in and out without even being noticed. The sermons, or messages, were delivered in a series and focused on improving your life through faith. The first service we attended was much like going to a theater presentation, only with audience participation. It was more than we were accustomed to, but not so uncomfortable that we didn’t go back a second time. The aura was evangelical, but not the message.

Our last visit was primarily like the first, only during this message a series of slides were shown. It began with pictures of people of all ages, in different walks of life. Eventually there was a photo of President Bush followed shortly by a picture of Osama Bin Laden in full dress with gun in hand. The image lingered on the screen. The next was of John Kerry, “the other guy” as described by the pastor. The message was very clear. With Bush our families and country were safe from terror. Not so with “the other guy”.

This church was delivering a loud and clear message to it’s congregation that would encourage support of a candidate who would further their cause. It was like a paid political advertisement. Only from your Uncle Ned that you know and love. Their website today states that “hundreds” attend three Sunday services at the west campus and their east campus will open in September.

This has been an occasional topic of conversation in our house, more frequently as of late. We landed in a church that has a progressive theology, with a focus on social issues rooted in our studies of the historical Jesus, rather than belief in the literal word. Although I am a Christian, I shudder at what that has come to represent. In the past seven years we have witnessed a blatant disregard for humanity under the guise of God’s divine blessing.

It’s important for me to know and understand the background of our would-be policy makers. It’s equally as important to know and understand the organizations whose endorsement they encourage and accept, as well as those who fund their campaigns. You would not expect someone who has ties to the oil industry to legislate for protection of the environment. If you are concerned about global warming, or at the least, the cost of gasoline, wouldn’t you want to know?

Back in the day, my mother said that there are two things you never discuss in polite company, politics and religion. In a perfect world, religion would have no place in politics. And politics would have no place in the church.

Blog Against Theocracy

March 22, 2008

batlogo.jpg“Only 56% of voting-age U.S. residents took part in the 2004 Presidential election, and that was 12 million more than in 2000. That means a little less than half of us couldn’t have cared less. And that was after the first four years. Bush received the most individual votes ever cast. His stand on terrorism and moral values won him the election, carried in on the shoulders of the fundamental Christians. Sticking to the questions is great in theory, but it doesn’t appear that the majority is asking? Prior to the last two elections I would have told you that a candidate’s religious beliefs made no difference to me. But if a candidate in the coming election feels they need to pander to the fundamentalist voters, I want to know about it. They obviously don’t have my best interest at heart.”

That was my response to a post last December, entitled I’m a Believer and You’re Not. Romney was the center of debate at that time and place, and Huckabee was being given a pass. Betty asked why we don’t “stick to questions about things that will show the candidates’ attitudes about the job to which they’re aspiring? What are their qualifications in foreign relations, domestic issues, economics…”

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Romney and Huckabee are both history, but the prominence of religion in government and in this election remains an issue. As long as the two are so tightly intertwined, it should. The days of taking things on face value are long gone and questions need to be asked. How will you safeguard the separation of church and state? How will you provide for the general well-being of ALL people? Is my right to religious freedom as sacred as yours? The answers probably won’t come freely and in some cases, honestly. Although for some they are painfully obvious, you have to dig for others. Thanks to the vast body of resources we have at our fingertips, I am better informed as a 52 year old participant in the democratic process than I have ever been. We all need to be. There’s too much at stake.

What’s up down there?

March 6, 2008

That’s a good question. It was the body of an e-mail from a good friend that I’m sure wonders what the heck I’ve been up to, since I haven’t been very visible lately. Thanks to those of you who have been checking up on me.

Have you ever tried to drive up an icy hill from a dead stop? We have a hill in front of our house that confounds most drivers in bad weather. It’s interesting to watch from the front window of our house. Usually they push the pedal to the floor and spin the tires. The engine races and the snow flies, but they get nowhere at all. Eventually they become frustrated and slip back to the bottom of the hill.

Having grown up in this house I learned the secret of the hill at an early age. I have to back all the way down to where the road is even, maintain a very slow but steady speed and shift into second when I hit the incline. If I’m patient I know I will make it to the top. Then it’s smooth sailing.

That’s kind of the way life is for me. The only thing is sometimes I don’t see the ice on the hill until I’m there. I spin my tires for awhile until I realize that I need to back up and get a little traction in order to move forward.

So, right now I’m in second and moving toward the top of the hill. Pretty soon I will be over the hump and back on level ground. I’ll get there and then all of the thoughts I have been gathering will come spilling out. For the time being they’re a little boggled and the words won’t come. But they will.

Here’s a little chuckle for you. We had an e-mail from Willi’s sister in Texas today. She’s said a little kindergarten kiddo told them during the election Tuesday that there were sure lots of people coming to vote for Alabama!

Life is good. It changes just like the weather, but it is good. You know? It’s all right.

Our Christmas Wish

December 24, 2007

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
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Peace and Good Will from Our Home to Yours
Merry Christmas!