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I was quite busy on Saturday. We did housework in the morning, and then I took my eldest daughter to a science class in the afternoon. It was way across town, so I waited there for her, and did some blogging and related tasks on my computer. Then we went home, ate dinner, and hung out reading and watching TV until bedtime.

But I still had more things to do today. There were a few more cleaning tasks, the grocery shopping, and preparation for our Girl Scout meeting on Monday. But I didn’t really want to do any of that, and I knew that what I really needed was a Sabbath.

However, I still felt like I needed to do the other things. So I sat around on the computer and didn’t really do anything, and felt guilty about the things I wasn’t doing. I didn’t really either take a Sabbath or get things done; all I did was worry.

Next Sunday, I’m just going to do it. I’m going to take a Sabbath. I’m going to play music and read books and dance with my daughters and not worry about stuff that I “should” be doing.

How can I BE Christ in the world?

This is one of those weeks where I’m thinking “Well, I didn’t really do anything to be Christ.”  Sure, I did a lot of stuff. But did any of it matter?

Well, everything matters, I suppose. But that doesn’t change how I feel.

Mostly I’m just really tired lately. I wake up (not early enough) and go to work. When I get home, I feel sleepy and/or physically ill. And so I revert to being selfish. I don’t want to do anything that involves getting up and moving, either for myself or for others. I do things on the computer. I read and process email, and blog, and keep my calendar current. I do things for the Portland WordPress User Group, or for the local community dinner. But I push housework and gardening and things that would actually help my family out of my mind.

Summer was great. I could take things at my own pace. But right now, I really need help managing this.

I just got more than I bargained for at the grocery store.

My daughter and I walked up to the door just as a lady and her son were getting out of a cab. While I was grabbing a cart, the lady stormed into the cart bay, shouting “if you’re going to live in this country, you should learn to speak English!”

I wasn’t sure who she was talking to, but since our local Winco has customers from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, it could have been one of several people within shouting distance.

Evidently, I’d forgotten my mouth filter, because I burst out with a “WHAT?!”

She looked at me and said, “I was talking to my son.”

Realizing now that I had spoken out loud, I replied “Well, that’s very rude talk,” and turned away with the cart. She continued talking, saying something about the cab driver, and that she was sorry to offend me, especially in front of my little girl, but…

We kept walking, and I hoped we wouldn’t see her inside the store.

Of course, we did run into each other again, in the dairy section. I didn’t see her coming; she approached me, and calmly said, “I want to apologize. I shouldn’t have said that. I was just really upset; that’s wasn’t me.” She explained that the cab driver had wanted to drop her off down by the street instead of at the door of the store, and she’s disabled and can’t walk far, so that’s really not OK. And his not speaking good English didn’t help the situation.

I nodded, and said, “I would be really upset about that, too.”  And then she apologized to my daughter too, reiterating that she shouldn’t have said that.

I thanked her, and we moved on again. And then as we left the store, she was outside waiting for another cab, and she waved cheerily and said “Have a nice day!”

I’m not sure what the lesson is here. Maybe just that it’s worth speaking out? I’ve had other experiences in which speaking out just made the person angrier. In this instance, it actually worked.

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a great lady who had been married for 58 years. At her request, her husband got up to speak at the end about their 58 years of marriage.

“About 58 years of marriage – what I’m going to talk about is the anger.”

What?

He went on to say that in 58 years of marriage, there is plenty of anger. But over the last three weeks of her life, there was only love. And that there will be times of anger in any marriage, but that’s OK.

I know that sometimes a marriage really does need to end. But for most of us, this is real wisdom.

Bonus: Read 1 Corinthians 13

This is a turnaround week for me.  I’ve changed my ways, and I’m going  a different direction.

For the past month, I’ve either been sick with a cold or taking care of sick kids.  It hasn’t been fun, and it’s been a great excuse for not getting much done.  I haven’t posted much on my other blog, or anywhere else, and I haven’t done much housework either.

I’ve been lazy long enough.  This was going on even before the illnesses.  I’d come home, make dinner, half-heartedly clean up, and settle into my recliner with the laptop.  Sometimes I pretended to be working on my writing or blogging.  Sometimes I really did get some work done.  But mostly I played around.

This week, I’m getting things done.  After dinner, I fully clear the table, and fully clean up the kitchen.  If there’s anything else to do, I do that too (tonight I took out the garbage and recycling for pickup).  I don’t sit down until it’s done, even if the small of my back is starting to ache.

What’s the deal?  Am I suddenly a wonderful, energetic person?  Is it my own willpower; I’ve suddenly decided to be a worthwhile human being?  Will I forget about it within a few days, or after the first time it becomes really difficult to do all of this (it could happen; it’s certainly happened before)?

I don’t think it’s me.  I don’t think I’m capable of changing myself that way.  If I look rationally at all I have to do, and all I want to do, I become despondent, sink into my chair and forget everything in cyberspace.

I think this kind of turnaround is the work of God.  No, I don’t believe in magic.  I don’t think God says “hocus, pocus, there you go!  You’re a completely different person.”

I do think that the more we open ourselves to God, and allow God to flow through us, the more God can change us.

In this instance, God worked on me through a talk my husband and I went to Saturday night.  We attended a meeting with the Springwater intentional community and Mark Van Steenwyk, founder of Missio Dei and editor of The Jesus Manifesto.

In the meeting, we talked about intentional communities and new monasticism, and about spiritual practices of such communities, such as prayer, common meals, gardening,  and housework.

One practice mentioned was letting go of preferences.  This is especially important when people are living together in community (even in a traditional nuclear family). The man who brought this up said “this is my house, and I prefer not to have a lot of people in my house!”  But he’s willing to let go of that, at least once in a while, for the sake of community.

I’d prefer to go on lounging with my laptop.  It’s not a healthy preference for my family, though, so I need to let it go.  I’m not even using it right now.  I’m sitting at the desktop computer and letting my husband use the laptop.  That doesn’t mean I’ll never use it, and that I’ll never sit around and play on Twitter and Facebook.  It just means that I need to be more mindful of how I spend my time.

We also talked about the practice of hospitality.  Many intentional communities purposefully provide hospitality to those who need a meal, a place to sleep, or a more permanent home.  Mark admitted that “Hospitality sucks!”  It’s a difficult practice.  He told a story about the problems his community had in providing hospitality to a homeless man with drug and alcohol problems.

I haven’t brought any homeless people home yet, but then we don’t have many people over at all.  You see, for us to be able to provide hospitality on a moment’s notice, we have to keep up on the housework, and we haven’t been very good at that.  “We can’t have anyone over; the house is a mess,” makes a great excuse.

Yet it’s something we should be doing.  We should be inviting friends, family and neighbors over to share meals.  We should be able to have the girls’ friends over.  We should be ready for that stranger we’re meant to befriend, whoever they may be.

So getting the housework done each day is really an act of hospitality, not of drudgery.  I realized that right away, as we were talking.

Finally, as a result of this daily structure, I’m writing on a regular basis again!  After getting the cleanup done, I can sit down with the computer, either at the dining room table or at the desk, and write.  Writing is a practice, too, and I’m glad that I have it.

I’m grateful that God has nudged me into this turnaround.  I know it won’t always be as easy as it has these past two days.  I know I’ll probably make the wrong choice at some point, and I know that sooner or later I will run into some circumstance that prevents me from following this routine.  But I know that God is the God of Do-Overs as well.  We always get another chance to make a better choice, and to turn things around once again.

According to my stats page, someone found my blog by searching for “how to find a good catholic husband.”

That’s awesome, because I actually have the answer to that one, as given to me (unsolicited) by a priest when I was 23 and unmarried: Pray to Saint Joseph for a good husband.  It’s as simple as that, folks.

I dreamed last night about my church.  They were holding an event, and I happened to be in the building at the same time, but didn’t know about the event.

When I saw so many people I knew gathering around decorated tables, I asked, “What’s going on?”

Someone gave me the name of the event (I’ve forgotten what it was in the dream).  “I didn’t know about that!” I exclaimed, “Why wasn’t I told?  That’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t know about it!”

Someone showed me the flyer that had gone out, and then I remembered.  I had seen the flyer — and had ignored it, thinking it wasn’t worth my attention because it came from the more traditional service.

I could have joined in at that point, but I looked around the room, and saw it was full of the usual people — all older than me, and set in their ways.   I complained to one person, “There’s never a group for people like me.  I want to have a group of people who are more like me.”  I didn’t get a response to that, however.

Now for the reality:  Yes, in my church, there is a traditional service and an alternative service.   Yes, there is a large percentage of older people who are fairly set in their ways.  No, they are not awful people.  They are loving and caring people, some of whom happen to dislike change, at least in some situations.

I have, on several occasions recently, complained about not knowing what’s going on.  I didn’t know about the plans for an alternative gift-giving table for Christmas; I didn’t know about the new banners that were ordered; I didn’t know that someone was already bringing dinner for the Wednesday night group (I thought I was in charge of organizing that).

My dream tells me that maybe it’s at least partially my fault.  Maybe I’m not listening, or communicating with others like I should.  Maybe I’m isolating myself.

I also read a devotional this morning which talked about accepting people as they are and living in cooperation, not competition, with them.   That’s another thing that makes me go, “Hmmm…..”  And, “I can do better.”

I still wish there were some people more like me around, though.  I’ve tried to start a small group for women closer to my age a couple of times, but it didn’t pan out.  Both times, we started with three people, and both times it just fizzled out.

Where are the people like me?  I know some of you are here, on the internet, but where are the ones in my neighborhood?

Now my conscience is telling me, “You have to go out and find them, and find out what is filling their lives, duh.  Don’t worry about trying to get them into the church.  Just try to get to know some people.”

Duh.

People often disparage blogs by saying “any fool can put his name on a blog and write whatever he wants to.” Well, that’s true. Any fool can — and they often do. So why bother? Does anyone pay attention? Does it matter whether anyone pays attention?

I started writing on the web (other than on forums and discussion groups) a little over a year ago. I first signed up for a site that offered points for writing and participating in the site, and rewards for those points. The rewards were nice, but I left that site several months ago because I disliked many other aspects of it.

Shortly after leaving that site, I started writing for Associated Content. AC pays cash for what I write for them, although usually very small amounts. For some articles, I receive a small upfront payment, and for all articles I accumulate bonus money (paid monthly) based on how many page views they get. Again, it’s not much, but on my income, every bit helps, and it’s also good experience and a way to get publishing credits.

Now I’m on WordPress. WordPress doesn’t reward me directly in any way. I can’t even put ads on my blog here (aside from the occasional unobtrusive Amazon link). So why bother?

Well, I started a blog here originally because I sometimes have things I want to write about that aren’t really appropriate for AC, but that I would like to share with others. It’s also a way of promoting my AC articles (see sidebar and click, please) so that I can get more page views and more page view bonus. Mercenary, I know. I hope no one feels cheated.

It’s also just fun, though. Many of my internet friends have migrated to WordPress, so we interact here and have a great time.

It’s fun knowing that I’m being read, too. On the other site, I would obsessively watch my points grow until I had enough for a reward, but I think I was also watching them just know that people were reading my work. On WordPress, I’ve been obsessively checking my blog stats, even though there is no point value or cash value attached to them.

Does anyone pay attention? According to the stats, at least a few people do. Does it matter whether anyone pays attention? Well, clearly, to me it does. I like to know that someone is out there reading. I’m here for a number of reasons, but I think that’s the big one — just to know that someone is out there reading my stuff.