Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I love the time between Christmas and New Years. For me it has always been a kind of quiet, contemplative time. A time to sit in front of the fire with a much anticipated new book. A time to reflect on the past year and reevaluate goals for the new one.
Now that the school supplies have been broken in and well used, it's a time to break open a crisp new calendar, planner and journal. The unmarked pages lie full of hope and promise. Perhaps a colorful new pen and some stickers and stamps with which to decorate the record of a life. I know it will be another year where the pages of the calendar turn too quickly, the jobs in the planner will never get all crossed off, and the journal may not be written in as often as I'd like. But just for these few nights, I will reflect, and plan, and look forward joyfully to a fresh start.
I will try to be more realistic with my goals, flexible with my plans, more disciplined in my work.
I will worry less and pray more.
I will smile until I feel like smiling.
I will try a little harder to see and serve Jesus, especially in those I don't like.
I will sacrifice some of my excess and even, sometimes, some of my necessities, so that someone else may have basic comforts of food, shelter,clothing or education.
I will try to remember to make the best of every situation I find myself in, and if possible, to have fun with it. Even if others are determined that I should not.
I will play music, and read books, and walk in the woods.
I will share all these things with my children.
I will try to leave my little corner of the world a better place.
Monday, December 14, 2009
It appears that very soon, Christians across the United States will be facing opportunity for civil disobedience on a scale that we have not experienced since the Vietnam War.
After the House passed their version of Health Care reform, eliminatng public funding for abortion at the demand of the people, the Senate has put abortion funding right back in to all of their options. And abortion is not the only issue. There is also the phasing out of medicare for the elderly, who have spent a lifetime already paying into that program; the danger of veterans losing their health care, which they often have to fight to get after fighting for our continued freedom; the possible "rationing" of services based on whether the government values the particular patient or not. The list goes on and on.
In theory, socialized medicine seems like a good idea - everyone gets health care. But in practice, there is always the danger of corruption. The unborn, elderly, special needs and "undesirables" are not protected. People are forced into treatments they have reasons of their own to refuse. Fines or jail time are threatened to those who cannot afford a plan and morally refuse to "go on the dole" (1930's talk for government aid). While I agree that the current system is not the best, more government control is not the answer.
One possible solution, Health Care Coops - like the financial credit unions - share in the expenses of members, and wield negotiating power with providers. Coops are formed around members' beliefs and ability to pay, so if one did not wish to fund someone else's elective plastic surgery, one would join a coop that did not pay for that. Unfortunately, too few coops exist to really offer an acceptable range of choices. The State of Washington offers an option for residents. There are Samaritan Ministries and Christian Care Medishare. What about our own Catholic Church? We used to run hospitals before the era of widespread malpractice abuse, why couldn't we set up health care coops based on our own principles?
But before we could even consider that route, we have to exercise our voices to our Senators over the next few weeks of their debates on health care.
I plead, let us rise up with one voice, united to our bishops - reject any plan that does not respect and protect life from conception to natural death!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Today's Mass readings speak of a richly generous God. Isaiah 25:6-10 "...the Lord of Hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines". Psalm 23 - need I quote? Matthew 15:29-37 is the story of Jesus feeding the 4000 (not including women and children). I grasped the point immediately: With 7 loaves and a few fish blessed by Jesus, the disciples fed the crowd and then gathered up 7 hampers full of leftovers. To me, this so obviously demonstrates God's abundant and generous love. He not only fills us, his love overflows and washes and consumes us. For me this is fact. He has demonstrated this to me over and over and over again in my life. Whether our feast was bread and butter sandwiches with water - and grateful for the butter to make the dry bread more palateable, or a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmin's, God's gracious hand has provided.
The problem came when I read the meditation, written so carefully by - a human! It started out well enough, a little humor, a little historical background. Then I got distracted. It said Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 77 times. Wait, I thought that was 70 times 7?! Then again - it said the disciples started out with 7 baskets - wait! I just read that, it said 7 loaves, not 7 baskets. I despise it when people misquote Scripture! It's a pet peeve, what can I say? I want to know what version they found it in and what chapter and verse. Mentally I slapped myself upside the head. Back off, cynical self. These are minor details. It's not like misquoting the words of Jesus and leading people astray or using them for corrupt purposes.
So I summon up my self discipline and return my mind to the original point of the readings. Trusting in the abundance of God. In good times and bad. We are more important to Him than even the birds of the air, who neither plant, nor gather in, yet look at how our Father provides for them. (Did I quote that right?) If it's small stuff, don't sweat it.