Friday, April 25, 2014

Finding a Writing Class, Finding Peace

A friend posted this on Facebook and it tickled my fancy in an aha sort of way.
 So that's what I've been doing wrong! 
I spend most of my life trying to get all my ducks in a row, which I do with varying degrees of success. The finding peace part...I'm not sure exactly where that fits into the picture, it's not like I don't have peace. I'm not a malcontent. Peace neither eludes me nor is it my constant companion. As much as possible I live in peace with God, people, and my surroundings -- finding joy in little things like sunshiny days, wildflowers and rainbows. I have a friend who gets exuberantly happy over having a perfectly ripe banana to put on her cereal. I'd like to tip my own scale in that direction. Or is that more of me working, organizing, striving -- setting the stage for peace?
Forget that! Right now, it's my blog post about rabbits, robbing me of peace. I've got to publish something new so I don't have to look at those sweet, dear, departed creatures every time I fire up my laptop. Sniff, sniff.
The rabbits came to me in the midst of our remodeling project. Our living room renovation has successfully imposed itself on every room bordering it. Kitchen -- painted. Guest room -- filled with all the living room furniture. Family room -- likewise cluttered and torn up as we prepare to build in closets and turn it into our master suite. The little guest room off the family-room-transitioning-to-bedroom -- cleared out ready to become our master bath. But hey, that's not all...
They came when spring had sprung. On the days nice enough to work outdoors I'm clearing flower beds,  picking up sticks to make way for lawn mowers, raking leaves left over from last fall, and readying birdhouses for new tenants.  Township clean up day sneaked up on us and we're hurriedly gathering junk to haul away this weekend. Our outbuildings -- hopeless collectors all year long -- get this one chance a year to give up broken useless treasures and junk. Someone's got to supervise and help load it all. That would be me. All that, and...
When Phoebe brought me the rabbits I had just signed up for a writing course I found on Patricia Kay's new website. Her smiling face, friendly demeanor, enthusiastic style, and especially, her publishing success, reeled me in. This description of her course in her own words, caught my eye: Challenge to Write is the name of a class I teach. It’s designed to give writers a kick in the pants, something to help them get started writing for the day. If you’re not a writer, I know you’re probably shocked to find out most writers need a kick in the pants.
She piqued my interest and made me laugh. Click on over there and read more about the class and more about Pat Kay. I was hooked when she said, If you’ve found your way to this page, you’re either a writer or a curious visitor wondering what Challenge to Write means. 
Through this course I'm accomplishing what I set out to do, which is to write every day. Confession: I got behind the ten days I was nursing bunnies, which coincided with Holy Week and extra church activities and services, but not irreversibly behind.
Pat offers encouragement and critique to writers who post their work. Another confession: I haven't been posting my assignments -- not because I'm too shy, more because I'm still figuring out whether fiction is my thing. Compared to my classmates I have a deplorable lack of imagination, and imagination seems to be the key to good fiction writing.  On the other hand, I do have this novel I've written. I have two versions of the same book. One manuscript is safely tucked away in a desk drawer, where I understand all first novels belong. The other lives on my computer desk top, subject to edits and changes according to my will or whim.
Challenge to Write serves as a litmus test. By the end of the month (five short days) my novel, my work in progress, will earn a place of priority in my daily writing...or not. Either way, the class has been successful. I'm writing every day. Not posting for critique, mind you, but writing. And feeling a sense of hope and peace about it.
Having found peace, surely everything else will fall into place. Right?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

And Then There Were None

One by one, my bunnies died -- Phoebe's bunnies really. Pretty sad. But I got some pleasure from nursing them with a tiny baby bottle, cradling them in my hands, and watching them scoot and scamper around.

There were two runts -- one died first and the other died last of all. I lost one a day starting with Monday. On Thursday we were down to 3 little bunnies and two of them seemed so healthy...gaining weight and all...I was very hopeful. Optimistic about them, on death watch for the little guy.

One of the bigger ones died yesterday afternoon. The other remained energetic and curious and very cute, hopping all around, licking at the water bottle in the box. But...when we came home from church and visiting with friends last night his still warm body was limp, unresponsive. I had myself prepared to come home to the pipsqueak expired, but not his bigger brother. I was so sad -- beyond disappointed.

Before bed I fed and tended the littlest one, the only one left, knowing he'd be gone by morning. And he was. Oh woe is me. All that to say there will be no Easter bunnies at our house tomorrow morning, but I'll think of them and imagine them in bunny heaven while we celebrate The Resurrection!

"Where did the bunnies go?" My little neighbor asked her mommy.
"They went to a better place." Mommy replied.

I believe in that better place. And Easter is why I believe.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baby Bunnies

Congratulations to me, I've got seven little rabbits in my charge. They are so little... too little. In my heart (and because of all I've read on the internet) I know they will not likely survive. But I'll give them all the love I can until they go to bunny heaven.

Friday morning, while it was still dark, I heard Tom mumbling, "Ew, what is that?" His hand ran into a warm fur ball while he was feeling around the floor for his socks. He flipped on the light and said, "Rabbits. There are rabbits all over the floor."

Startled awake, I thought, Did he say rabbits or am I dreaming? Wait, maybe he's dreaming.

No one was dreaming. There were rabbits, closed-eyed, squeaky critters inside our house, right in our upstairs bedroom. Seven of them, scattered all over the floor where they had been deposited on the white carpet by our sweet dog Phoebe -- presumably. Phoebe, caught looking sheepishly proud and hopeful, Look what I found. They're just babies. You should take care of them.

Tom gathered the bunnies in a shallow box and put them back outside near the dug up nest. Silly mama had put them inside the fence, which is Phoebe's domain. Tom put the box on the opposite side of the fence and covered half of it with a towel. Good thing, because it rained sometime that morning while we were both gone. When I came home a few hours later some of the babies were cool. I warmed them up and got a few drops of liquid in them with a syringe. And then researched and read how to care for wild bunnies. Basically, don't. Leave them alone and let nature run it's course.

Two problems. First, Phoebe dug up their nest and the experts on the internet say mama rabbit won't return if an animal has interfered with the nest site. Second, we humans had already handled the bunnies -- Tom to put them in a box. Me to warm them and feed them and cozy them up in a fleecy man-made (actually, woman-made) nest.  When the sun went down and the air cooled off, I couldn't bear to leave them outside over night. So the box came in, the babies were hand fed again and an incandescent light shined a bit of warmth on them all night long.

Three days later, I'm still hand feeding baby bunnies and keeping them warm. They aren't getting fat and strong, I think they're getting weaker. Oh woe is me. My only consolation is this, I tried to save them. I gave them lots of love in their short little lives. I'll keep trying until there is no more hope. But for now, here's hoping.

In the end, if they survive will it be nurture or nature?  If they succumb, will it be my faulty attempts at nurture or will it be the strength and wonder of nature? Only God knows. I trust He's watching over me and my little bunnies.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.
Matt. 10:29

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Installation of Spring 95%

We're at 95-100 percent spring like weather, says me. Spring is here in (almost) full swing. By the end of the week temps are supposed to hit 70...not staying there, going back down to the 40s next week, but hey, this is northwest PA -- gotta expect that. I've heard spring peepers three days in a row (music to my ears) and some of my crocuses have bloomed.

Other signs of winter's passing...

swans on our beaver dam. But of course they aren't here to stay, just passing through heading further north. Such a beautiful spectacle they are whether swimming or on the wing.

And here's a red headed fellow pecking at the last of the
bird seed.

They say the crocuses have to be snowed on 3 times, spring peepers will look through glass 3 times, but what do they say about turtles? It seems to me, once the turtle comes out to sunbathe, that's it...spring is here in earnest!

So goodbye winter. No more snow, we've had our fair share. No more frigid winds, we've had our fill. Just walk away winter, please walk away...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mid Week Good Short Reads

I'm somewhat recovered from last week's drama over the World Vision upheaval. But that matters not -- I pray the innocent victims are also recovered. Innocents like the needy children as well as the vulnerable marginalized people whose status as worthy human beings was trounced.

One such person said, "I’ve been sitting in a swell of sad for a couple hours, because this is what I’m hearing: No, you aren’t even worthy to serve hungry children. You are so deeply unwanted that I will let a child die if it keeps you away from me. From us. From the body of Christ. I will spare no life if it keeps you far away." Those are the words and the wrung out feelings of Benjamin Moberg, on his Registered Runaway blog post titled, When Evangelicals Turn Against Children to Spite Me.

What's that all about? This sadly divisive issue is defined succinctly by Tony Campolo: The Board of Directors of World Vision USA tried to make room within their organization for Christians who do not believe that scripture condemns same-sex marriage, even though the board members themselves believe that it does. They simply were saying that their beliefs on this issue, as important as they might be, do not define whether a person is a Christian and, therefore, a possible employee within World Vision USA.

Rachel Held Evans poured her heart out in her blog entitled What Now? This after grieving... as she updated her followers with the reversal of World Vision's decision to amend their hiring and benefit policies.  valiant effort to encourage unity, stand up for those who are down trodden and persecuted within the faith. An update and apology that she posted after encouraging people to give generously to World Vision in order to stave off financial ruination that would leave desperately impoverished children without support. Because it is after all, not about me or you, it's about the children.

Tony Campolo explains very well -- in Christ we should be able to offer grace and live peaceably with one another despite our differences. The paragraph above is taken from the Red Letter Christians blog, which you can read here: One response to the troubles of World Vision. Tony's humble position reminds me of Jesus. Just my opinion. What do you think?

The key is dialogue, not name calling and judging, just talking, listening, offering compassion and grace because indeed, God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Only He knows for sure how to interpret His written word. The rest of us are left to our own devices, which is a scary thought even with the power available to us through the Holy Spirit! We still fall so darn short.

A friend of mine, Susan, put it well: I think most people think World Vision is a good organization. My question now is... If you are in an organization that is doing good, and you want to do what is in your heart that seems right, to be inclusive what do you do with the immense resistance. OR if you are in a church where you see a reputable organization that looks like it is going in a direction you don't agree with, but they are still good, what do you do? It seems like we need to find new ways to dialogue without tearing up the good work our brothers and sisters do. How can we argue fairly, honestly, without hurting those around us? Or can we? 

I loved that she says, "It seems like we need to find new ways to dialogue without tearing up the good work our brothers and sisters do." And I says, Amen, sister!

Must end with a final message from Rachel Held Evans...I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.