Hope for High Wind

I admit it. I subscribe to all those “liberal” newsfeeds and mailing lists, like UPWORTHY, CREDO, Ultraviolet, BBC, NPR, The New York Times. And lately, distressed by the stalemate in Washington, I’ve posted links from these on FB. And, surprise, surprise, I’ve gotten retaliating comments from “conservative” friends, and friends of their friends. The most recent was a link to a 1961 recording of Ronald Reagan talking about the evils of socialized medicine.

Yep, I remember hearing this. it was an LP record, and my folks invited groups of friends over to listen to it. They were never shy about their politics. I was in sixth grade and that commie pinko John F. Kennedy had just been elected. The country was going to hell in a hand basket.  I also remember how LIVID my mother got at me in August 1976, when right before the Republican convention, I commented that wasn’t it something to be grateful for that we had three good and honest men to choose from to lead the country. Jimmy Carter had already been selected by the Democrats, and the Republicans were to choose between Gerald Ford and Reagan. I could have been happy enough with any of them. But for my mom it was Reagan, Reagan, only Reagan. She was devastated when Ford was tapped to run against Carter.

Before going to Oklahoma City with Mom to visit Mama Hope that August, I had just come through a bout of shingles. I found that it was imperative that I NOT become worked up about politics. It wasn’t just politics. I had some personal issues, but if my thought became inflamed about anything, that horrible rash would reappear.  I had spent the summer mostly in bed, learning to control my thinking. Barely able to move, I learned concentrated mindfulness. I spent days and nights consciously identifying myself, everyone I knew, and every detail around me in terms of spiritual qualities.  For example, the redbud tree outside the bedroom window became a metaphor for vibrancy, flexibility, growth, development, It gently responded to the summer breeze, and I tried to emulate that responsiveness, bending my thought to that of the Holy Spirit wind that seemed to be blowing through my whole experience. This mindfulness was as effective as an electric fence. I literally had to corral every angry, disruptive thought and replace it with something kind and loving. A knee-jerk mental reaction would lead to an immediate physical reaction in my body. It was a heck of a discipline.

Eventually Mom got her wish, and both she and I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Honestly, I don’t even know how Larry voted. I still had some of that discipline left from 1976.

In the mid-80’s Larry and I moved to California. “Don’t go out there and get all weird on us,” counseled our West Texas friends. Does getting weird include making friends with Democrats, people who actually went to Berkeley, who voted for Alan Cranston? And, son of a gun, they had neither horns nor tails, and nary a pitchfork in sight. I found them to be deeply caring and loving people. Just like my Republican friends back in Texas, and all the other Republican friends I soon made in South Orange County.

And that’s where I need to go now — back to that sense of loving and caring. From a distance here in Mexico, surrounded by an admittedly liberal enclave of expat Americans and Canadians (you know, those socialists), listening to the echo chamber of my chosen “news” sources, as — please admit it — we all tend to do these days, it’s easy to become reactionary. Responsiveness, not reaction, is what I need right now. No more links. So bring it on — a good clean gust of Holy Spirit wind to carry me upward in thought, to carry us all upward and outward, even though in the whirlwind we may be 180 degrees apart.

6 responses to “Hope for High Wind

  1. Eric, that last phrase of yours is priceless. So many people listen with a mental foot tapping, waiting for their turn to get their point across, instead of really LISTENING to what the other is saying — and so often the words coming of the mouth is the LEAST of what we need to know.

  2. As kids we are always fed other people demons that they want us to adopt as our own, it does take us time to grow and see that other people demons are just that other peoples. Over time we discover that those so called monsters are kind generous people that simply were never given a time and place where they could be heard , so the ignorance and fear was left unchallenged….dialogue only works when one is ready to listen ,rather than listen to respond

  3. Thanks for commenting, Nancy in San Pancho. I miss seeing you and the others in your writing group. Have to admit I appreciate well-directed, thoughtful railing from time to time. But don’t bang your head against the wall. Got enough of that going on you know where!

  4. Helpful ideas, Susan, and beautifully stated. I need to do something besides rail at my computer screen. So far that has not had any results.

  5. Lindy, I admire your good spirits! Blessed and furious. Been there. Furious usually gets me started towards action, but it can be a toxic fuel. Leaves a lot of pollution. There’s GOT to be a better model than furious in the face of such practical, everyday problems this shutdown has caused.

    While I was on the coast last week, I picked up my copy of THE MESSAGE, Eugene Peterson’s thoroughly modern translation of the very old Bible. I wanted specifically to read his commentary on the books of Kings I and Kings II, the account of over five hundred years and forty kings’ worth of Hebrew history. As Peterson puts it, “Even the bright spots — David and Hezekiah and Josiah — were not VERY bright.” Further on he notes, “But through the centuries, readers of this text have commonly realized something else: In the midst of the incredible mess these kings are making of God’s purposes, God continues to work his purposes and USES THEM in the work — doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them…God’s purposes are worked out in CONFRONTATION and REVELATION, in judgment and salvation, but they ARE worked out. God’s rule is not imposed in the sense that he forces each man and woman into absolute conformity to justice and truth and righteousness. The rule is worked from within, much of the time invisible and unnoticed, but always patiently and resolutely THERE. The Books of Kings provide a premier witness to the sovereignty of God carried out among some of the most unlikely and uncooperative people who have ever lived.”

    So I’ve seen no lack of “confrontation,” and just the little bit of “revelation” I got early this morning (i.e., to STOP being confrontational) is evidence of “the rule” working within me. And if it can work there, hey, it can work just about any place.

  6. Touching and truthful. Unfortunately, I’m here in Nevada in the middle of the political mess. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised we many not be able to leave for Mexico next Thursday. I’m not complaining and feel blessed that’s the least of my worries. Our pensions and SS may be held up and leave us scrambling to pay bills. Also I tried to get my prescriptions for 6 months at the military base pharmacy that I use and they would only honor 3 months even though I had permission from my insurance that they could fill them for 6 months. The reason for not giving me 6 months is they’re running out of drugs and can’t order anymore due to lack of federal funding. These are minor issues compared to families who depend on food entitlements to feed their families. I am blessed but I’m also furious.

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