Monthly Archives: May 2006

the difficult path to a better future

Last evening, 19 voting members (about 8%) of my church gathered in my living room and decided to take an action that could change the church's future course. We didn't arrive at this decision unanimously, but after 2-1/2 hours of discussion we formed a plan that everyone present could live with and support.

We focused our gathering by considering how what our church would be like in a year if we did or did not make a change — a change that everyone in the room has been pondering internally and, in some cases, talking about in smaller groups for months. Those present variously expressed anger, happiness, sadness, confidence, worry, and many other emotions as the evening progressed and we discussed elements of the church's past and its turbulent present. In the end, no one was thrilled by what we decided, but we're all hopeful that the difficult thing we'll do this week will lead us to a better future.

We're taking an action that I've been hoping for; an action I've been talking to people about; an action that I support so completely that I volunteered my home for the gathering and encouraged people to come and talk so that their diffuse energies could join and generate sufficient momentum to push for change. I got what I wanted. And I was awake more than an hour in the middle of the night, thinking about what we're going to do and the tough months ahead.

If I were a Christian, I suppose I'd be praying, and hoping that this effort is truly God's plan for our congregation. But my atheist/humanist philosophy places the responsibility squarely on me and on the others who were here last evening. 19 people of all ages and backgrounds, new members and old, most of whom have filled leadership roles in the church, gathered and made a plan that we feel will best serve the church we love. I hope we'll succeed; and, if we succeed, I hope the future will be the better place that I envision.

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“you have a beautiful house”

When we built our house next to the house I grew up in, both my parents were alive and it seemed like the ultimate wonderful spot to raise their grandchildren. I was delighted with my new house, and I enjoyed going next door to visit frequently.

Then my dad died, and all I wanted to do was run; there were days that it took all my self control not to get in the car and take off for somewhere. Anywhere.

That was almost 7 years ago, and I still don’t like to go next door any more. My mom wants me/us there more often, and says so, but I have to force myself, and I don’t make that short walk as often as I should. I also don’t really want to live here any more; as I’ve said before, I’d love to live by water. It’s as if when my dad died, he took with him my purpose for building a house in an ordinary subdivision in an ordinary town in the ordinary state of Indiana. And now I can’t move, because my mom is here, and I’m an only child and the parent of her only grandchildren. Guilt keeps me tethered to this house and this place.

Today, my daughter brought home a friend who hasn’t been here before. When they walked in the door, the first words out of her friend’s mouth were, “You have a beautiful house!”

I suppose it is. I like the colors on the walls; I planted all the flowers outside, and I love the trees. I just wish I wanted to live here.

going quackers? maybe you need an emotional support duck

From an article in the May 14, 2006 New York Times:

These days people rely on a veritable Noah’s Ark of support animals. Tami McLallen, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said that although dogs are the most common service animals taken onto planes, the airline has had to accommodate monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. “Its owner dressed it up in clothes,” she recalled.

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civil marriage is a civil right

I'm incredibly proud to be a member of my church. This evening we celebrated 10 years as a Welcoming Congregation — welcoming, that is, of the full diversity of humanity, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We also celebrated the 10th anniversary of our congregation's chapter of Interweave (Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns). And, we re-dedicated our church's decision two years ago to hang a banner on the outside of the building, reading "Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right." (The elements wore out the original, and now we have a lovely, bigger, sturdier banner to replace it.)

I made a couple of contributions to the evening. I led everyone in singing Libby Roderick's lovely song, "How Could Anyone":

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul?

In addition, I made two half-sheet cakes (banana and chocolate!), one featuring two groom figurines, and one with two brides. (Similar cakes, which I also made, appear in this picture from the original banner dedication; there's also a third, featuring an interracial heterosexual couple.)

My church passed a resolution 10 years ago affirming our commitment to equality for people regardless of their sexual orientation or expression. In addition, our larger denomination passed a resolution in 2004 opposing a federal amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as being solely between and man and a woman. I am close friends with couples who have been life partners for many years, who nonetheless live with daily discrimination as a result of being unable to make a simple contract equivalent to heterosexual marriage. Rights pertaining to insurance, finances, children, taxes, housing, and much more are denied them as a matter of course, although the only difference between their relationship and mine is that they're the same sex. That isn't civil, and it isn't right.

I hope that I'll see the day when all my friends share in our nation's supposed commitment to equality for all. In the meantime, I'm proud to be part of a small but vocal segment of my community that is striving to make a basic civil right available to everyone.

yes, I do…

have "Animal Shelter" stamped on my forehead. I took Troy to the vet today, so she is now Officially Our Dog. The vet scanned her for a microchip (which I had never thought of), but she had none, so there's no way to return her to her original owners.

I have visions of children crying for their lost puppy. I can't help them, but I can make sure their puppy has a warm and happy home from now on.

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the healing power of cooking for others

It’s been a day from Hell. I can’t send email because my ISP is doing maintenance on its servers. I have a work crisis involving an author whose own fucked-up Word formatting issues are causing horrible problems that he’s blaming on my incompetence as an editor. (And, of course, I can’t do anything today to resolve this crisis, because I can’t sent email.) My computer is behaving in a wonky manner despite being heavily laden with antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software. One of my beloved cats is scarily sick. I had to do all my shopping for my weekly night of church cooking on Senior Citizens’ day at Kroger, so the aisles were clogged with slow-moving carts. Amid all the attempts at troubleshooting my email and other PC problems, I didn’t allow enough time for food prep. Doug and my daughter couldn’t go and help this week, so I wasn’t sure I’d have any help once I got there, other than my son. I barely made it to church in time to get everything ready.

But when we arrived, a wonderful couple were there to help. My son helped me put together 60 burritos; I became calmer the second I spread beans on the first tortilla. Rice got cooked, banana pudding dished up, tables set. 50 people came and ate food that I had begun to prepare in a state of horrible stress — and had finished cooking with a feeling of peace.

My email still doesn’t work, but I’m ready to face another day.

cats

We’re continuing our decision-making process regarding whether to keep the oversize puppy that I foolishly let friends deposit on our doorstep a little while back. I don’t really see the point of dogs. Rather than add a second dog to my household, I’d vastly prefer to adopt another cat (or two); but, the dog is likely to stay, and additional cats will probably remain a future acquisition. In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating my cats, past and present.

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