Mary Beth Writes

Today Len is at a Drupal (a computer language) conference in Chicago. Via Zoom. He had had hotel reservations, high hopes and enthusiasm, plus plans to meet one of our kids for dinner. Then Coronavirus hit the fan. The hotel gave his money back. Right now he’s sitting at his desk, headphones on, occasionally chucking at God Know What.  Drupal jokes, I guess.

Life goes on.

...

Six writerly types in my congregation write two church services per year.  We were going to do a service at the end of this month. We met once, eight days ago, which now feels like Back in the Days of Yore. We brainstormed about our theme – Wisdom. We took assignments, figured out more-or-less what we were going to try to do and then went home to continue thinking,  writing, and emailing.

We got a fair amount done. Then yesterday we all sort of (via email) realized that we cannot prepare a service about wisdom to be presented weeks or months from now. Because right now we are living in fear, questions, smart ideas, terrible ideas, and a deep intuitive search for wisdom.  One can’t pontificate on wisdom while one is in uncharted waters looking for a map. 

Is this happening to you, too?  You are trying to wrap up projects you started before this crisis – only to intuit that the old ideas aren’t quite up to the world in front of us?

Those of you who draw, quilt, paint, etc – people who create arts and crafts with your hands – is this happening to you? 

I’m curious if our questions are changing. If the materials and colors and metaphors we need are changing.

Here are some of the photos that Len took on our Scuppernong Springs hike.

 

Red Wing Blackbirds were singing and flitting like marshland popcorn on Tuesday.  Len took photos of these small noisy, skittish blackbirds. It’s not hard to identify with how vulnerable they are and yet how they just keep going.

I also found this curious story. Its from the Chitimacha nation (very small now) of Native Americas who live in the deltas along Louisiana’s shoreline. 

This story is lifted directly from the internet. Read here. 

Why the Blackbird Has Red Wings

This version of the legend comes from Katherine Judson's 1914 collection Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.

“One day an Indian became so angry with everyone that he set the sea marshes on fire because he wanted to burn up the world.

A little blackbird saw it. He flew up into a tree and shouted Ku nam wi cu! Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

The man said "If you do not go away, I will kill you." But the bird only kept shouting "Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

Then the Indian threw a shell and hit the little bird on the wings, making them bleed. That is how the red-winged blackbird came by its red wings.

Now when people saw the marshes burning, they quickly ran down and killed game which had been driven from it by the fire. Then they said to the angry man, "Because you put fire in those tall weeds, the deer and bear and other animals have been driven out and we have killed them. You have aided us by burning them."

Nowadays when the red-winged blackbird comes around the house, he still shouts "Ku nam wi cu, so they say.”

If the people had saved the bear and deer and other animals, I would have loved this story. Little bird calls a warning, people respond and save their world. But no, the little bird calls a warning and the people rush to the marsh and kill the animals trying to escape the fire. 

Is this an ancient native American tale.

Or is this CNN?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

I enjoyed the message, the great writing and the gorgeous pictures! Thank you!

Hello Mary Beth, I'm an academic, artist, grandmother, Quaker ... and lots of other things based in Oxford, UK. Just to say I recently discovered your blog and I'm finding the Coronavirus entries deeply warming and comforting. Thank you.
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you so much for appreciating my writing and saying so. It's like making a pie - half the satisfaction is in the making of it. The other half is knowing people want to eat the pie!

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Advent Light Post 12/1/2020

(The photo is of headlights making a dotted line on the cemetery fence.) 

...

Oh that morning! Len drove us like crazy across Chicago to the hospital where we would birth our first child.  It was a very clear, very cold December morning, kind of like what’s outside my window right now. 

That same evening I was wheelchaired back out of that hospital. When the lobby doors slid open, the world had become night and the driveway vapor lights lit a blizzard of whirling snow.

It was a completely different world. Yes it was.

Advent Light Post 11/30/2020

Today is Len’s birthday and to celebrate being born on the last day of November in the upper Midwest, he is out on his bike right now. It’s spitting snow, there are 20-30mph winds, and the real-feel temp is 20. He has on both pairs of his bicycling pants. He also has a slice of pumpkin raisin Bundt cake (hmmm, I wonder who baked that) in his bike’s little trunk. 

Happy Birthday to the kind of guy who, when a girl invites him to attend the Sunday school class she teaches - comes to that Sunday school class. A rare man, indeed. 

Advent Light 11/28/2020

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the first Sunday of Advent. 

So first of all, like I said before, I’m preaching. I think you can listen to the whole service starting at 9:30AM, if you go to https://www.uniteduuc.org/ .  There is usually a link there that you have to click, when you click it, it says something about YouTube, so click that link, too. Otherwise, by Monday (maybe earlier, I don’t know who does this or when) it will show up on YouTube at United Unitarian Universalist, Waukesha, and my name.

Preaching, Cheating, Thanking & Eating

I am preaching this coming Sunday at my church. I think if you check our website Sunday morning (11/29) between 9:20 and 9:30 - the URL for the service will be there. The November theme for UU’s  is Healing, so that’s what I am preaching about. https://www.uniteduuc.org/

The Gales of November

Today is November 10th which is the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Listen to the song here!) 

11/6/2020 Wow! It's happening!

I wrote this yesterday: “I’m all over the place. How about you?”

Today I’m: “I think I lost weight last night and it was some of the heaviness of persistent stress.”

It’s happening, Friends. Yes, we all know nothing will be sensationally simple going forward. Right now, the Senate is where it was pre-election. (Though hold on, Stacey Abram’s Amazing Georgia is having TWO senate races in January.)

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