Looking for a Sign

Every Sunday I find myself opening my eyes and looking up during prayer time.

Why do I do this?

Well, for years I have taken a look around when I am supposed to have my head bent and eyes shut.

Image by Eduardo

Image by Eduardo

Right after we share our joys and concerns and go into prayer, I am hoping for something that might be a glimpse of something glorified, something rare and beautiful.

I am hoping for a glimpse of God, Jesus or maybe just an angel.

We used to have a member at the church who drove me crazy. He prayed the loudest and always a half step in front of everyone when we did the Lord’s Prayer. The man was a sanctimonious ass, an uncompassionate Christian who made the other Christians look bad. And his goal was to never bring you into God’s love but to let you know he was a better Christian than anyone else.

That member bothered me because the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few times all members of the congregation are in lock step with each other, when they can take a minute to repeat a prayer and be in synch. We need to be able to do that, to know that there can be a moment when all are joined in worship of the same God.

But before we start that, when the pastor or lay speaker is giving up the joys and concerns, I open my eyes and look around. I want a glimpse, I want to see, I might still be looking for proof. I want to see what the glory looks like.

Image from Morguefile.com

Image from Morguefile.com

And I do not have to push anyone out of the way to make that effort.

Will I ever see God while I live here on Earth? Some days I think so when I see the beauty of hoarfrost or a blooming rose or kids just running around being kids. I see it in the beams of light that come through the clouds towards the end of a day.

When I try to explore the metaphysical world, I see a man who looks like Jesus in his European form. I once saw a picture of Jesus with more Mid-East features and thought that man looked beautiful as well. But I have not seen them at church or during a prayer time.

Still, at each prayer I take a moment to look and see if I can find him.

You never know, one of these days, I just might.

How do you try to find God?

Quick Bits

The past few weeks I have been a little busy as the school year wound down and softball/tee-ball season gears up. I also had a paying job to complete. So I took a little break from the blog. I  know some of you make the effort to write something everyday and I applaud you. Sadly, that is not me. Some days you have to say no to something, especially when that something does not pay you.

Today I am going to talk about this and that.

Black Bloc in Toronto, 2010
Photograph by Oliver Lavery, found on ladyoftheheart.blogspot.com

 

 

* A week ago, the city north of us had to deal with the NATO Conference, featuring many world leaders. Mrs. Obama took the wives of these leaders to her old neighborhood to show off a positive-action outreach center. Mr. Obama and others worked out how they will leave Afghanistan by 2014. Protesters abounded in the area.

Some, like nurses protesting the closure of mental health centers throughout the city, had a just cause to bring to the public. But then there were the Black Bloc who were there to fight against the police. Reporters heard shouts of “death to cops” and indeed, these people did not show up until the last day wearing masks or scarves over their faces.

On the same weekend in other parts of the city, two young teenage boys lost their lives to gang gunfire. They were not gang members themselves but people who caught in crossfire or mis-identification. If these Black Bloc people really want to do something about the injustices of the world, perhaps they could do something like volunteer in those tough neighborhoods to give kids a safe place to hang out or learn something new. But that would be akin to real bravery.

 

 

* Today I saw a story about a Safeway meat department worker who saw a man beating his pregnant girlfriend in the store. So he did what most of us would not and got between them. He stopped the man from beating on the five-month-pregnant woman and hung on to him until the police got there.

So the pregnant-girlfriend-beater was arrested and got off with three years probation. The meat department clerk at first was assured by his manager that his job was safe. The next day, he was suspended with no pay.  This is going to make life rough for the man with a pregnant wife of his own.

Thankfully the residents of the Northern Californian town let Safeway know that they made the  wrong decision. They inundated the Facebook page of Safeway, picketed the market and had a petition up at change.org. If that wasn’t enough, the police chief wrote a letter of support for the man. And he had the support of the mayor.

In the end, the butcher won his job back. There is common-sense in corporate America.

 

 

* When I got dressed today, I put on a tee-shirt that says it is a ‘large.’ The surprising part is that it fits, nicely. Maybe this weight-loss thing is working out after all. I increased my distance for walking, added wheat bread and took out white bread, maintained eating as much fruit and veggies through the day as possible and continued drinking at least eight cups of liquid daily.

Sometimes when I look at current photos, it seems like nothing has changed. It is when I try on a slightly smaller size in clothing that I notice the difference. We take our victories where we can find them. I am taking mine around the block as I walk the dog.

Roses along the Steps

 

 

* With this weird warm spring comes early blooming of flowers. My roses are hear before June and a part of my knows I should be worried. But are they not glorious?

BTW, the Chicago Botanic Garden is doing a study on bloom times. It is called Project Bud Burst. They are looking for more people to report the bloom times in their gardens. Great project and I need to sign up.

 

What is going on in your world?

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I was prepared to send a different column this week. But then we went to the drive-in theatre in Gibson City and watched The Hunger Games.

I had not read the book beforehand although my daughter did. She loved it  and is now clamoring for the rest of the series.

Before we went, I admit I wondered if this PG-13 movie was appropriate for my 7-year-old. The storyline is about a reality game in which the participants have to kill each other in order to win. Twenty-four participants, one girl and one boy, are chosen from 12 districts of the country and must fight to the death.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

The game is televised so that the whole country can watch if their tributes make it. We follow Katniss and Peeta from District 12, the poorest region, as they are chosen and make their way to the Capitol to become participants.

That’s right, 24 young people must kill each other in order to win. It is brutal although not gory.  I was surprised at how the filmmakers were able to keep down the blood while never letting up on the tension.

We had turned the back of the minivan towards the screen, removed the back seat and faced it towards the screen. This allowed the kids to sit in the large back area and the middle seat stayed in place.

During intermission, I knew that we should not have gone to this movie with our youngest. It was too intense for him. He responded by moving around a lot in the minivan, at times hiding behind that middle seat.

He told us it was not too much. Our oldest wondered how this movie differed from so many others that dealt with killing. He is right, action pictures do get into high body counts. And that includes the comic book movies we love that have endless minions being killed off.

To me, this movie is different from those other action movies. The faces of the dead are not adult minions but children. And some of these children are young, age 12, who must fight against 18-year-olds.

Image by DHarder

As I watched this movie, I thought about the short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and the bookThe Lord of The Flies by William Golding. I remembered other reviews that compared parts of this movie to The Last of the Mohicans. Another movie that came to mind was an independent flick from about ten years back called Series 7: The Contenders, about a reality game show in which the willing participants killed each other.

How young of a child should see this movie? Personally, I think those 12 and older are the target audience. My 10-year-old daughter handled it fine although if she had been less mature I would have had second thoughts.

In the end, I felt that The Hunger Games was well-made and tells a compelling story with a heroine that you can support. The questions it asks about power and control, distribution of wealth and resources are ones we need to continue, and how we treat the people of our nation are ones we need to continue processing. But it is emotionally intense and will live on in your thoughts for days after leaving the theater.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.