When I joined the RevGalBlogPals ring, I anticipated an easy link to thought-provoking writers pursuing similar questions. (I absolutely encourage you to click next, previous and random to find women--and the occasional man--pursuing questions of the work of the spirit in this world.) I did not necessarily think I would participate in the group-writing events, but I found people's personal responses to the "100 Things" exercise below so incredibly compelling, I couldn't resist.
Visit here and here to see the original post and the competition which grew out of it. Enjoy, and go forth and create your own 100 Things!
"I have lived…"
1. in the northeast United States for all but one year of college
2. away from my husband and children Monday to Friday as I began a new job and our house sat on a stalled market
3. anxiously, at times, wondering if the too-brief lives of some of my relatives will mean a too-brief life for me
4. in very wealthy communities and very poor, learning that sometimes people are people, no matter the size of the wallet
5. in a house that should have been condemned—with a closet that used to welcome bats to my room each night
6. with plenty, and with want
7. with the same college roommate for three years—I love you, Sue!
8. to regret only a couple of my life’s choices
9. on an island—and was likely too in junior high/high school (gotta get outta here!) mode to really cherish the place and experience
10. to be the first member of my immediate family to own my own home
"I have witnessed..."
1. a young cellist literally merge with the music he was playing during a performance of Holst’s “The Planets”
2. the arrival of a male and female cardinal on the feeder in our backyard
3. an ocean baptism where the waves literally washed people into the water as my father called out “Do you believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” before the waves came over them
4. the amusing shower-like spray of milk from my ready-to-nurse breasts
5. my daughter’s eyes as she stepped too deeply into a pool and realized she could neither swim nor breathe—and felt that deep lingering panic/relief as my sister leapt in to lift her to the air
6. Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian experiences of worship, prayer and meditation
7. my daughter take her first steps, read her first words, ride her bike without training wheels—and become, day by day, her very own person
8. a decrease in my own tolerance for violent or negative entertainment—having learned that I must metabolize all that enters through my senses, I’m much more selective
9. my own capacity to travel beyond perceived limits as I birthed two perfectly-formed children in two awe-inspiring natural births
10. how great losses can lead to great gains—and yet, the gain does not erase the great pain of the loss
"I have heard..."
1. my grandfather belting out hymns tearfully while surrounded by his family in many a congregation—and now I, too, am a hymn-crier….
2. my children laughing uproariously with one another when absorbed in their own time and space
3. the Indigo Girls many times in concert, and I never tire of the vibration I feel when they hit those perfect moments of harmony
4. my grandmother tell her granddaughters they need to learn to like sex!
5. songs that have, quite literally, saved me—an early Amy Grant concert video was a lifeline in junior high, and I hear Lori McKenna’s “One Man” and know she had a role in preserving my marriage
6. David Sedaris—and think his delightfully nasal voice is as endearing and comic in person as it is via radio
7. news of tragic proportions, and sometimes find myself unable to emotionally respond or react
8. the same piece of music capture both the great loss of my mother at her memorial service, and my children’s inestimable joy as they dance to the piece in our home
9. God’s voice quite literally rising from within me
10. the sweet, sweet sound of my son singing “Silent Night” with me as we snuggle toward sleep
"I have lost..."
1. and gained more pounds than I’d like!
2. the ability to balance on a bike, with some post-pregnancies vertigo
3. the ability to ride a rollercoaster (including the kiddie Polar Coaster at Storyland) due to this same vertigo
4. many, many hours of sleep in caring for a dear son with ear and respiratory infections that meant (and mean) very poor sleep habits!
5. any adolescent myth of immortality I once might have carried
6. a few friends due to our inability to live out a new story of possibility across differences
7. my belief that there are good people and bad, finding instead that we are all a powerful mix of both
8. confidence that right will always prevail—or that there even is a clear “right” to win out
9. some of my desire to travel as an American in foreign countries, wishing we could be a place without borders and biases—not wanting to wear the current reputation of my country on my sleeve as I move about the world
10. any notion that money can buy happiness….but a new roof and a vacation would be nice!
"I have found..."
1. seeking often means not finding, but opening and waiting sometimes means the answer is dropped in my lap
2. my sister and I have a root level of shared understanding from shared living that is irreplaceable
3. my marriage has become more intimate and connected as we’ve uncovered and acknowledged its very fragility
4. few things move me more than music that connects me to a meaningful time and place
5. God is far greater than my current imagination and capacity
6. being a parent can dwell in the “best” and “worst” categories of life within the very same moments
7. friendship sometimes takes great work, and sometimes happens in an instant (with special thoughts of some of my new friends who were an immediate “click” for me!)
8. once fixed ideas of my identity are more fluid than I once could have acknowledged—and the more I grow, the less I believe I truly know with certainty
9. that both women and men can abuse power, or can use it for good
10. energy literally emanates from my body when I see my children in pain or need
1. Matthew and, just as importantly, the partnership we’ve formed
2. the smell of my children’s hair and skin after they’ve emerged fresh from a bath
3. imagining living in every place I visit
4. the radio (and now television) program “This American Life”
5. Pepperidge Farms’ Hearty Wheat crackers (particularly with cinnamon apple sauce on top—a culinary delight from my college roommate, Sue!)
6. Anne Lamott’s brutal honesty, revealing the sacred in some of the least expected places
7. how I feel after practicing yoga—and yet I still resist developing a regular practice!
8. women writers of all sorts (Barbara Kingsolver, Nancy Mairs)
9. memoirs, and the revelation through them that all ordinary people live through extraordinary circumstances
10. the post-Thanksgiving sandwich of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a little bit of mayonnaise
1. type quickly, despite never learning the proper finger placements
2. play basic tunes on a variety of musical instruments, despite being a student of only piano, clarinet and voice
3. find metaphors for the realm of the spirit in every day living, and tune quickly from the practical to a sense of great truth
4. experience true lapses of self-confidence mingled with a sense that I have the potential to create world-changing effects
5. make conversation with academics in most any discipline—though some are harder than others
6. blog better or more faithfully than I can scrapbook
7. write and deliver a compelling message
8. do more physically than I often give myself credit for
9. easily spend a day with a fire in the fireplace and a book on my lap
10. let go of things more easily than people
1. racism, sexism, heterosexism—despite that I’m affected by it inside and out every day
2. cigarette smoke—particularly as it affects my possibly-asthmatic son
3. when negative stereotypes are reinforced by individual behaviors, and I have to work to unlearn them all over again
4. the division of religious communities over the question of who is welcomed through the doors
5. how sometimes I decide I don’t like people who I actually secretly admire and envy
6. war, and weapons turned on one another
7. abuse—of self, other, and the planet (again, despite that I’m often an unconscious or conscious participant)
8. how my resistance to forgiving often keeps ME from feeling free, though I imagine who I’m really chaining is my transgressor
9. pithy sayings designed to make sense or order out of events or moments that truly have no earthly sense or order
10. seeing my children in physical or emotional pain
1. I’ll be able to come up with 100 things—eek, this is challenging!
2. I will vote for and see a woman president of the United States
3. one day to live in a truly peaceful, gentle day—but perhaps I should first start with an hour!
4. current efforts to save the planet will somehow bring about a new sense of unity and shared humanity
5. my father will find more experiences of pure joy than pure sadness
6. to see my grandparents again while they’re still living
7. to travel soon to the Pacific Northwest to visit our family there
8. to retire in a home that lets me see Otsego Lake every morning, noon and night
9. my dear partner will find that life actually has a calling for him, and that future work will hold true meaning
10. my children find one person in life who truly loves them in the way their parents love one another
"I am trying..."
1. to be more present
2. to breathe consciously for at least a moment each day
3. to give people the benefit of the doubt (hence, the name of the blog!)
4. to try more often to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m satisfied
5. to imagine the possibility that I might live a good, long life—and consider how I make today’s choices differently when I conceive of this as true
6. to eat more vegetables and fewer sweets
7. to skim the few magazines we receive as soon as they come through the door—quick recycling, fewer piles!
8. to feel my feet on the earth, and realize She is holding me up
9. to read, write and study more for love than requirement
10. to dwell in a place of love