Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Dawning

Once again, Pat Oliphant does a cartoon that hits the mark!

A new year is coming, and I’m reflecting on what has transpired in 2007. For me, it has been a year of great transformation. Losing a parent does that. My world has shifted and changed…and continues to do so. I recently wrote to a friend that I feel as though I’m floating along a river, and I don’t know exactly where I’m going. The tide that is carrying me doesn’t feel like white water rapids, though. And that’s a good thing because otherwise I’d panic and probably drown.

As my world shifts and changes, I am keenly aware of the instability I see in the bigger picture. Last week’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto was an eerie completion of a prediction that I had made when I heard she was returning to Pakistan. I did not want to be right, and sadly, I was. The on-going slaughter of civilians and American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is a painful reminder of the presence of Dumkopf in the White House. The Lehrer News Hour on PBS does a memorial tribute some nights at the end of the program to show the names and pictures of servicemen and women sacrificed on Haliburton’s behalf. And it always leaves me with a pit in my stomach to see 19, 23, and 30 year-olds featured, knowing that their families have lost them, and knowing that so many of those families struggle to believe in this war; otherwise, their loved one has died in vain and not valor. Personally, I look at the deaths of all in this war and shake my head. It’s not a question of the nobility of their sacrifice; I’m sorry that they were sacrificed at all!! It doesn’t make my world safer; it makes it sadder.

And then there is much sound and fury in my very particular world of the Episcopal Church over the presence of women in the pulpit (which has been on-going for more than 30 years, boys!) and the existence of an openly-gay bishop which means that their might be other gay clergy (which has been on-going for centuries, boys!). African Primates think they must “save” some of our parishes from the “evil” wrought by the Episcopal Church USA. It must be easier to focus their attention on our country rather than face the perils of AIDS and bloody conflicts on their own soil. At this point, I’m so sick and tired of the name-calling and accusations that I wish all the angry right-wingers that gathered in Plano, TX, some years back would just swear allegiance to Pope Benny, and march off to Rome. Mel Gibson would be so proud!

All of this noise distracts us from the gradual, but visible, changes occurring in the environment due to global warming. Our lifestyles….and I don’t just mean those of Americans with our disposable view of the world, but of all people on the planet….are leading to the destruction of “this fragile earth, our island home”. The temperature is up 1.53 degrees was the news report I read the other day. Atlanta is facing the most arid year on record. And the polar ice caps continue to melt and lose habitat for the polar bears. If we don’t take better care of the earth, we’re just as doomed as if some nut case launches a nuclear weapon.

Oh, my! This all sounds so depressing, and yet I am not giving into depression. I’m not Pollyanna about this stuff, but I also recognize that there are certain things I can control and plenty that I can not. If I live my life in a way that reflects my beliefs, if I make a practice of mindfulness, I can at least put out some good into the universe, and take responsibility for what is mine. In that small way, I’m making my contribution. And living in a way that I believe I’m supposed to live.

A friend asked me what my New Year’s resolution would be. I would say it would be to stay on my river trip and make sure I deposit my trash into the appropriate receptacle. That's where I am in the life journey.

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