Five Minute Friday: Steady

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’m a country girl, born and raised near woods filled with hidden creatures and disappearing streams. The sound of owls hooting in the night draws up pleasant childhood memories of smoky barbecue and badminton and fat slugs. More often than not during the hot summer months, dirt gathers beneath my nails, evidence of yet another battle with weeds. The prairie on which I’ve lived for nearly a decade is ringed by ashy blue mountains, like those found on picture postcards. Ten minutes in one direction and one runs into a river. Ten minutes in the other, a lake.

My people – pioneers and farmers and horse thieves – trekked across thousands of miles in wagons or on foot. I know. The history there is complex and at times truly awful. No truly pure saint has ever lived this side of Eden. Still, I can’t help but admire the grit and moxie it must’ve taken to pull up stakes and leave the familiar behind, in the dust. To square your shoulders and press on, toward the hope of something better.

For all my love of London and New York, I could never live in a city. Give me the open spaces, the land where crickets cry.

Doing the link-up thing with the sass machines and the moustache crushes. We pontificate on the prompt: steady.

Go.

I’ll be 33 in roughly six weeks. There is now officially a Stacy London/Rogue of the X-Men/Anna from Frozen (pick your fandom) white streak in my hair. I guess I’m supposed to feel bad about both of those things. That’s what the vague, faceless mass called “society” tells me. Start shaving a few years off my age when asked and scurry off to the salon to hide the follicular evidence.

Why?

See, any day that I haven’t been told that I have cancer or that I’m in need of a transplant or that I’m dying is a pretty good day to me. Why should I waste time and energy worrying about age or hair color or wrinkles or whatever else it is about which I “should” be worrying? I have so little energy anyway. I’d rather spend it in other pursuits. (Not throwing shade at women who dye their hair or spend money on anti-aging treatments; I could not care less. It’s just not my jam). Besides, after experiencing the horribleness of waking up in the the night with a pounding heart, in the midst of a panic attack, anything I can definitively choose not to be anxious over, I will.

Maybe I’ll feel differently a decade down the road. Doubt it. If men become “distinguished” as they age, then so do women. Let’s reject the idea that the fairer sex decreases in value and significance the moment we slip past age 21. (Oh, there’s nothing that could entice me to be 21 again).

Time beats a steady rhythm, one we cannot pause or change. It is out of our hands. A thing we cannot control. All the creams and dyes and lotions and potions and injections and diets in the world will not stop the passing of the days, weeks, months, years. The body grows old. It breaks down. The very steadiness of time creates unsteadiness for skin and bone, muscle and organ.

How comforting it is to know that there is One outside the steady and the unsteady, One who is not ravaged by changing seasons, One whose eyes never grow dim. He is light and fire and radiance and goodness and beauty and mystery. He sits, enthroned, never to be toppled. He knows the number of hairs on our heads – white or otherwise. He determined the length of our lives long before that steady time even existed.

Yes, we age. We break down. Wrinkles and glittering strands and dimmed vision.

And yet – somehow – He builds us up. For the break down is not a winding down, but a winding up. An aching walk toward the Forever Place, the Eternal Home, where pain and sorrow exist no more.

Perhaps we’ll have polka-dotted hair and plaid skin there.

We won’t care.

Stop.

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Photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina

Five Minute Friday: Expect

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

I can’t figure out the world we’re living in. These are surely times that try human souls (thanks, Dickens). Government is a mess, reduced to odd tweets and cringe-worthy memes. Viewers rail against talk-show hosts for being not political enough (or too political) because apparently we decided to just give up reading and wrestling with news ourselves and instead just want someone to stoke the fires of our collective rage. Goodness, is there ever rage. Against Trump. Against Clinton. Against practically every member of Congress.

That foaming and frothing would be enough, but the rage has become personal. Intimate. No longer, it seems, can civility be maintained. Relationships crumble. Strangers shout at each other through the keys. This country is locked in “us vs. them” chaos, only we don’t really know who the “us” or the “them” are.

I didn’t vote for Trump. Made no secret of that. I’m very concerned about what truths lie beneath the surface, truths that begin to bubble up, popping and singeing those close by. Intuition tells me that the firestorm – raging for so long now – has really only just begun. And yet I can’t muster up hatred for those who did tick the box for him. Am I aware that Trump appealed to the misogynistic and xenophobic tendencies running throughout this country during the campaign, and that he continues to do so? Painfully aware. Do I think that those who stubbornly turn a blind eye to the faults of this administration are deep in denial? Yes. Do I think history will look back and see his time in office as one of the greatest missteps the United States of America has ever made? Probably.

But still. I can’t hate people who voted for him. The majority of us, I believe, want the same thing at the end of the day, as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently wrote: life, liberty happiness. We differ sharply on how such goals are achieved, but these are our desires.

I wonder, if we could all just remember that for a second, if we could start putting country and neighbor above party and power, would things take a turn for the better?

Linking up with Kate at the new FMF home. Tonight we:

Go.

I haven’t changed my mind about the nature of humanity. We aren’t basically good. Apart from God, we are capable of good, sure, but our fundamental bent is selfish. World peace isn’t going to suddenly break out. There’s a radical Anabaptist strain to my theology; I believe that it’s highly possible, even probable, that we will only continue a downhill slide, however slow it might be. I suppose I’m just dumbfounded that this election was the thing to expose the darkness. Then again, I know my history well enough to recognize that politics in this country has never been pretty or easy. Perhaps it was inevitable.

The Founding Fathers made backdoor deals. They were hardly paragons of morality. Jackson sent an entire people group into exile and death. Bleeding Kansas. Civil War. Jim Crow. Economic disaster. Riots. Kent State. When I entered first grade, we were at war in the Middle East. Twenty-seven years later, we still are.

I know all of this.

And yet I keep hoping, praying, that somehow, some way, everyone is going to calm down and we can move on. Move forward. Perhaps that is an unreal hope. I don’t know.

I did not expect this…mess. In the back of my mind lived the assumption that cooler heads and steadier hearts would prevail at the end of the day. There’s still time. It could happen.

And so I remain a pessimist trying to see the light in and amongst the clouds.

Even the barest hint would do.

Stop.

I’ve left you on a downbeat, something I’m not fond of doing. I’d much prefer to make you laugh or give you something to think on. But I can’t pretend or say “peace” when there is no peace. This is where we are, in the middle of a swirling storm that shows no signs of abating. A numbness, a sense of disbelief, accompanies the sound of thunder and the crash of waves. How did we get here? How did this happen?

No amount of think pieces can provide an answer. I wonder if those are even in the right questions. Maybe it’s not about how we got here, but what we do now.

Please, if you have a good idea – let me know.

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Photo credit: Nathan Anderson

Five Minute Friday: Future

Along the Way @mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

I’m starting this at 2:15 p.m., when I have some energy.

What an awful two weeks.

Abdominal pain. Vomiting. Massive head cold. Much snot. Coughing. Insomnia. Migraine.

You may refer to me as Ms. Side-Eye Crabby McCrank von Pissy (the 3.145rdth).

Cue Leslie Knope:

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Again I maintain that all is not lost as long as one holds on to her sense of humor. It has indeed been a rough fortnight (why does nobody use this word anymore?) but there have been patches of mirth. Followed by rage as I read about Christian fundamentalism (current obsession). Followed by much nose-blowing. Followed by extreme napping (I’m contemplating going pro).

Glad to link-up with Kate and company at the new FMF home. Tonight we contemplate: the future.

Go.

I love to laugh.

People tend to assume that the anxious, depressed and ill lose their ability to chortle somewhere between the crying jag, the blood tests and the bottle of Zoloft. Once again, misunderstanding strikes. Only the very lowest, darkest days find me without strength to smile.

My parents are both funny, Dad in a quiet, dry, “did he really just say that?” kind of way and Mom in a goofy, silly kind of way. They regularly exposed my brother and I to comedy growing up, whether in the form of a sitcom, a Mike Neun special on PBS, or in the constant jokes and loving teasing that flowed during family gatherings (my dad has four brothers. When they would get on a roll… Great memories). Ours was not (is not) a perfect family, but one of the things my parents did very well was to teach us how to laugh.

A necessary skill.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. It’s all very vague and uncharted and boldly going where I’ve not gone before. (See this for some context). I won’t be a stereotypical housewife because #aintnobodygottime for Pinterest-perfect crafts and I hate crafts anyway. Seriously doubt I will ever develop a love for standing over a hot stove. (Unless mashed potatoes are involved). Might obsessively reorganize my house. I may write a never-ending series on cults and Christian fundamentalism. I could decide to take up jogging. (Yeah, no, I won’t). This stupid body of mine will probably continue to throw me curveballs. Really should find a sponsor for that extreme napping.

No idea what lies ahead.

But I imagine there’ll be a lot of laughs.

Stop.

More fun things because why not:

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Finally, the magic that is John Crist:

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Photo credit: Mark Buchanan