Sunday, June 29, 2014

Just Another Walk in the Park(s)

A few years ago I looked forward to Saturdays mainly because it meant I could get a good 10 miles or more walked/jogged out.  I haven't done that again since I participated in the half-marathon in October of 2011, for a myriad of reasons, the most charming of which is that I am so often caring for my granddaughter that there just isn't a window of opportunity to do it anymore. That's absolutely fine, of course, because given my druthers it's not even a contest which of those two things I'd rather be doing on a Saturday morning. 

All that time passed has gotten my head kind of out of that endurance game, but I'm working hard to find ways to ramp up again. With Rosemary spending this weekend with her Granna instead of me, I was able to put in a slightly more ambitious walk/jog yesterday morning, out at the AUM Wellness Center walking track. Granted, it still isn't anywhere close to what I used to do, just six miles, but when you are as out of shape physically and mentally as I am right now, it was an accomplishment of which I was proud. 

My legs were awfully stiff this morning, and the only thing for that, I've found, is to move them, so I decided that today I would just walk for the sake of walking. No pushing. No jogging. No attention to pace. Just move.   

I started out at Blount Cultural Park, where I got a little obsessed by how gorgeous the clouds were. 

 And then as I came around to the bridge I noticed there was a little parade underway. Naturally I had to stop and give it my full attention.

I decided I still felt pretty good, so I headed to Woodmere Park, a lovely but neglected little patch of property adjacent to the Shakespeare Festival. I've walked there before, but had forgotten that it just feels weird to walk that close to houses. A Peeping Tom could have a field day back there. I did a quick loop, and got back in my car to come home. 

I drove back through Blount Park, deciding all of a sudden to stop at yet another park on the way home. The water I'd had to drink before I left home, plus the water I'd sipped on after the first two walks had begun to send me a subtle message, so I parked at the way back at Ida Belle Young Park, near to the (as my Nannaw would have said) facilities.  It appeared to me that I had the park all to myself, too! No other cars in the lot, nobody on the tennis courts. 

As soon as I got out of my car, however, I noticed a person sprawled out on one of the tables in the covered area just next to those facilities, and I was just a bit wary of walking past him/her (I couldn't tell which), so I figured, heck, I was good for one short lap without that side trip.

But after that lap, I noticed that the sprawled person was still sprawled. I slowed as I got near, and started yelling, "Hey!  Are you okay?"  I yelled this out at least 5 times, but was still anxious about getting any closer. It was the second time in a matter of days that I had come up on someone that I was afraid was sick or worse in this heat (the first time turned out to be a police officer on a stake out), and so I called 911. I told the dispatcher I was not close enough to see if they were breathing, and I had no intention of getting close enough, but that I would stand where I was until help arrived. In less than 6 minutes from the time I had hit "9" to dial for help, a police officer and a team of paramedics were there.  

My car, Maude, is the gray car at which the paramedics are pointed.
The police car is to the left of me, obscured by shrubbery.
The car behind the paramedics pulled up during this whole thing. 

They were able to rouse the young man, and while I didn't want to insert myself into the proceedings, I also decided I was staying put to find out what was going on. He was checked out pretty thoroughly, the police officer spoke to him for a bit, and then it was over. I don't have the back story, but as we all were making our way back to our respective vehicles, he walked up right behind me, and I told him I was sorry if I'd embarrassed him, but that I was really concerned he was sick or hurt. 

And then he hugged me, and said, "Tha's cool." 

I'm glad I called, even though there was no emergency. I want to live in a world where we look out for each other, and the only way we get that kind of world is when we, ourselves, work to create it. 

I wonder what good we might do, what help we might be to one another, what delight we might discover each day, if we just slowed down and paid attention, don't you?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Pop and his girl, talkin' about stuff. 

Blount Cultural Park
Montgomery, Alabama

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Warning from the Riven Tree

I am not a theologian. I am not a spokesperson for the United Methodist Church. I have a history of teaching adult Sunday School classes and I led two years of a four year Disciple Bible Study, but my credentials for even those things lie only in my propensity to say YES before thinking things through.

I'm also not terribly interested in church law where those laws and rules were made by committee. Necessary evils, those, where human institutions are concerned, but hardly the stuff on which I pin my hope of salvation. 

I was raised in the Presbyterian Church but joined the United Methodist Church when I was a teenager. My best friend was a member there, and when you are a teenager who tends to be on the outside of every social circle there is, having one best friend becomes theology enough for a change. 

I was married in the same United Methodist Church I had joined so many years before. My family committed the souls of my Grandmama and Mama to God's care there before committing their bodies to the earth. My husband and I presented one of our children for baptism there, and both our sons stood at that same altar to be confirmed in the faith. I was privileged to witness my granddaughter's baptism from the same pew on which I sat when her father and mother were married. 

My husband and I moved our membership to another United Methodist Church in another city for a few years, after he had left the Baptist Church of his childhood. When we returned to my hometown, we visited another UM congregation for quite awhile before realizing that the church in which we had wed felt like home, and there we've remained for all these years. 

I love the United Methodist Church. I appreciate the freedom it gives me to enter into a relationship with God and my Christ that may look different than other's relationships. It has given me a framework  in which to walk through dark nights of my soul without losing my way. My faith is not a stagnant thing, it's a living thing, and this truth seems to me to be validated and celebrated in the United Methodist Church more than in any other in my experience. That doesn't mean it is the right or best path for anyone else, and I celebrate that denominational differences meet other people of faith in their own way. I'm used to sitting in a pew with folks with whom I see few things eye-to-eye, but with whom I share a faith in the things neither of us can see. 

The United Methodist Church is struggling right now over matters of sexuality that threaten to tear opposing camps apart. A proposal has been made by United Methodist pastor and author Adam Hamilton that there is, in fact, A Way Forward through all of this, and after reading through his proposal I find I am in agreement with him.  It's not a perfect solution, and I suspect that many church leaders fear mass exoduses from their congregations if they don't pick the right one for themselves. It's a valid concern, because each congregation has a budget to meet, and I don't mean that with any cynicism: there are folks whose livelihoods depend on their jobs as support staff for each of these houses of worship who have no say in how this goes who could be affected by mass exoduses, should that happen. 

I believe in my heart of hearts that the current stance of the United Methodist Church--we love homosexuals, just so long as they don't, you know, want to do the things that heterosexuals do, like commit their lives to one another or answer a call to ministry--smacks of the same sort of thinking that would keep people of color in slavery, women from the pulpit, and folks with skin diseases only allowed to come as far as the curb on Sunday mornings. The true ills of society rest in poverty, violence, injustice, and sub-par education for "the least of these." If we would only take our passion about the issue of homosexuality and redirect it to these things that truly do destroy families, we'd do something that really would glorify God.

I want to assure my pastoral staff that if Way Forward, or some incarnation of it, is ever adopted and my home church decides to hold fast to the status quo, I still would not leave it for rainbow colored pastures elsewhere, at least not simply for that decision, and I can't help but think that others might not feel exactly the same way. That may seem contradictory, but truth is, when I joined the church, I became part of a fellowship of believers who have never pretended to be of one mind about anything, and as long as we can embrace one another in spite of then it's where I'll stay. Those walls hold precious memories, and at the risk of sounding like a person prone to such, my personal cloud of witnesses lingers there and brings me peace.

On my walk this morning I ran across this tree, riven down the middle, perhaps in one of our recent storms. One half is still clinging to life; the other is dead and dry. Everything both sides need is in the part of the tree that has yet to be destroyed, but since it cannot put itself back together again it is all doomed.

We can mend our rift. We can. And we must. We have work left to do together.

Speak your minds freely; but remember, you are only making laws for the present time. 
Francis Asbury

Please note: I am certain that many who read this might be in disagreement. 

I love you anyway.