My alarm goes off. I don’t have extra time to hit snooze. I put an abrupt end to the melody sweetly trying without success to wake me gently.
Parallel process is a clinical term used to describe the common occurrence in therapy when the therapist’s own experience is reflected in the client’s. It is when a client comes in grieving over the loss of a loved one while the therapist has only just experienced his or her own loss as well. It is a therapist helping a client through feelings of anger and hurt that the therapist has also just recently confronted.
My mother spent the better part of her adolescence in London where she attended an all girls’ school called Rosa Bassett.
At some point most children ask their parents the question, “Why do we go to church?” In the Old Testament Moses gave the children a paradigm for dealing with such questions. In Deuteronomy 6:20-21 it reads, “When your children come to you saying, ‘What is the meaning of the commandments, laws, and rules which the Lord God has commanded you?’ then tell them, ‘We were slaves in Egypt, and God delivered us with a mighty hand.’”
Today on my hour and a half drive back from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, I was traveling through the radio stations when I heard a James Taylor song. I paused…and then transported momentarily to his concert we attended about six years ago.
Learning to fight is just as important for girls as it is boys, but I suspect this issue is particularly important for men at this point in our culture. I am part of a generation of men who have turned out to be passive in many ways. Some of us would rather play video games about war than actually leave the house and battle in life. I am not sure what all contributed to this trend. I am not sure that answering that question is the priority at this point. However, what is important is that we, men and women of every age, are awakened to the fact that they were created to actively pursue the path before us and overcome the obstacles that it brings. We learn to fight from God, who is a father that wars. In turn, we learn to fight for our children, who learn from us how to war.
The so-called Occupy Movement eventually shifted its strategy from occupying public spaces to occupying foreclosed homes and abandoned buildings. If you listen to the voices of the Occupy Movement this shift represents a change in focus from protesting Wall Street fraud to protecting real people affected in real ways. However, one has to wonder if the true motivation has more to do with recent problems encountered when trying to occupy public spaces. It was natural to start in public spaces, given that the ownership and property rights regarding such spaces is open to debate. But eventually public officials felt they had to evict occupiers from public spaces in order to maintain its use by the non-occupying public. Likewise, there are some debatable questions pertaining to ownership and property rights during certain stages in a foreclosure, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of this new strategy.
One of the great debates around Christmas time for Christians is whether or not to encourage or allow the belief in Santa Clause. I have friends and family on both sides of this debate so I want to be careful here. I have a great deal of respect for the desire to keep the focus on Jesus and His birth at this time of year. I want to encourage that focus, too.
When I was in second grade my grandmother, Anne, Nana to me, went on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although she traveled a lot at this time in her life I remember her trip to Brazil because she brought back a rock collection for me. I still remember the stones in their little pockets encased with thin sheets of plastic. I remember getting out the collection from my closet and spending long moments gazing at those rocks, one of which was an amethyst, my birthstone. I remember taking the collection to my second grade class to show my friends. More than showing off the rocks I was showing off my very cool grandmother…the one who lived in Orlando near Mickey Mouse and always flew in with honey roasted peanuts to give to me from her plane trip.
We are on our way to what is their final destination for the next several hours and I know this is it. These next few moments are all I have until I see my children at the end of their day.
Once a month and then once a week I leave my apartment on Czechosolvensky Armady and push the button for the teeny, gray elevator with the mirrored walls that is located right outside my door to the left. I take it down from the fifth floor and walk out into the foreign, shabby chic streets of Prague to catch a tram on Dejvicka Circle. I am careful to watch for the busy cars flying by that swerve quickly around the circle. I look for a place next to a window and take notice of the various characters around me. If it is full, someone usually gets up and offers me their seat. Up towards Prague Castle and over the hill we go. Peering into the cobblestoned streets of Mala Strana, I lean my forehead on the glass, feeling so wonderfully content and far away.
To fulfill the requirements for my Ph.D. program I have to be “in residence” for one year. What that basically means is that I have to be full time, the equivalent to taking three classes each semester. When I looked at the semester schedule for fall 2011 I discovered that to be full time I would have to take a class on Wednesday nights. I discarded the idea entirely. Why? Wednesday night is one of Jon’s busiest nights at work. Trying to coordinate childcare would be…complicated. The idea of trying to navigate those arrangements caused me anxiety just thinking about it. So despite the fact that Jon wondered if it was indeed the best year for me to do the residency requirement, I threw the idea away and thought that I would fulfill it later. As August approached, the possibility came up again. Was I really going to do this thing (the Ph.D. program) or not?
Soon after my oldest daughter started kindergarten we were sitting at the table having a snack, talking about her day, looking through the work she brought home, when I found a piece of paper where her teacher had written a note. The note simply said that Eloise had not finished her morning work and needed to finish it at home. Huh. Well, ok, that isn’t a big deal. I asked Eloise about it and she told me that she was having a hard time getting her morning work done before time was up.
My middle daughter and I have a ritual that we do every time we leave each other, whether leaving each other is for bed, school, work, church… She developed it so let’s see if I can get this right:
Choosing gifts for my parents for birthdays, father’s/mother’s day and Christmases is never easy. Sometimes I find a gift that I think will show that I notice who they are and what they like. I think my mom looks lovely in red and for years now I often get her something red…anything red…for Christmas. Sometimes the gift is completely and totally a token, a symbol that I remembered the day. No matter what, no matter how tight the money, no matter the circumstances of life, I try to get them something.