Clamoring Crabs–or Lobsters?

I wrote not long ago about some song lyrics from RENT and swore that I would continue that stream for a bit….I lied.

I was reminded not so long ago of a story about crabs…or lobsters…or crablike lobsters.  I can’t remember.  Forgive me, I just graduated and life has been a little hectic.  YES, that’s right!!!! I graduamatated!!!!!!  An MDIV in Pastoral Care and Counseling has my name on it!  I even passed with flying colors the last history class that I had to take and enrolled in midway through the semester.  BooYAH!

Anyway.  This story on crablike lobsters….a man happened upon a whole bucketful of the clawed crustaceans.  Another man came upon the bucket and wondered at the top being left off and questioned the first man about it.  He was concerned that the crabs would climb up out of the bucket, thus all the work to catch them being undone.

You would think that they would clamor to the top and rush to escape, wouldn’t you?  The wise fisherman replied that as one may start to the top, the others would sink their claws into the one escaping and pull them back in the bucket.  The first crab would never make it out, never escape because upsetting the status quo would be too costly to the whole.

AMAZING!!!!  I thought about that story today.  I thought about its application to human nature.  Amazing.  We are not so unlike our clawed crustaceans.  That saddens me.  It angers and disappoints me to my core.  It causes me to shake my head in dismay and question what I am doing.  I have to ask myself if I do that to another…do I do that to my children?  Are there people in my life that do the same to me?  I have to answer affirmative to all the questions.

There are many times that I have coveted another’s success or tried to talk them out of something because I did not want them to “get ahead”.  Albeit it was much earlier in my adulthood.  What I have failed to recognize are the moments that others have put me in that same situation and I have let them.  Moments when because of guilt or shame or fear I have left my dreams and hopes to the side and accepted their agenda.  Moments when I have stayed in the bucket because I am too scared of what the other side looks like to venture forth.  IF the crab understood that their freedom was on the other side of the bucket, they might tackle one another to get to the top.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t.  Maybe that is the realization that strikes in my soul this evening.  Maybe they are so content with the status quo and what they know that they would not fight for freedom…that they would not fight to live.  All they can see, all they know is the reality in  front of them.  They ask not one question, challenge not one authority…dream no bigger than the next pot of boiling water.  Water that will not give them new life (aaahhhh there is a sermon in that)

Am i guilty of that?  Yes.  I am guilty of wanting to take the easy route, of wanting a nice neat packaged solution.  I yearn for that…I think we all do.  I also yearn to fly.

With all that I am, I yearn to step to the edge, stare it down, spread my wings, and let go.  I have wanted that since I knew to dream.  I entertain many a dream in this head of mine…most of the time I feel too ineffectual to see them through.  But, oh Lord, I wanna fly.  What’s more, I want the chance to let others fly too, in their way, on their own path.  I think that is why I became a teacher so many years ago…I loved watching the dawn of dreams in my kids’ eyes.  I still do.  I love to hear the stories and where people want to go…and am so often disheartened when I hear them give up the fight before they have even started.

So, yes.  I am guilty.  Maybe this story can motivate me, or someone else to think…to dream, to fight.  Not all fight has to be destructive, not all anger is dangerous…and freedom does not have to cost everything.  I think to not experience that freedom is more dangerous and costly than never entertaining it in the first place.

I am not sure what all this means, I know that I have more to write, but my head is full of other thoughts.  I will close for tonight…I entreat your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams.  Let’s help one another fight to the top and fly!!!!

Shalom dear ones,

cahl.

No Day but Today

I have mentioned before that one of my all-time favorite musicals is RENT.  There is something raw, gritty, and real about it.  Aside from the stereotypical depiction of most theatre folk, the message is one that transcends surface thought.  I like that.

Idina Menzel does a phenom live performance of NO DAY but TODAY, I will provide the link.  No Day but Today

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret– or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There’s only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what is right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today
Jonathon Larson 1995

I think for the next couple of blogs I will dissect a bit or two of these lyrics.  There is something that is haunting me about them as of late.
There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret– or life is yours to miss.


I stand on the precipice of graduation in a couple of days…72 hours actually.  My fellow graduates and I have been looking forward to and dreading this day since we entered Seminary.  For me, it has been 4 years of the most tumultuous travels I have ever experienced.

There is something academically rigorous about the History, Doctrine, Politics, Ethics, and Theology that we digest.  Pile on top of that the self exploration into personal belief systems, values, traditions, goals, and hopes and you have a recipe for some serious soul-searching.  It never fails that some of the hardest tests and trials often happen during this time.  What appears to others as moments of great growth and maturity can seem like the most lonely and scary of times.  You feel stripped of all that you thought you believed, you have to be able to articulate what you believe and now you have to find answers as to why you do or don’t believe it.

If you choose to go a more pastoral route and incorporate some counseling into the mix, there is the exploration of self and family that takes place.  This is often much more grueling than the constant onslaught of academic papers.  It requires a tough skin to crawl that deep within yourself and stare down some dark places….sometimes you wonder if you will come out on the other side. I wondered that more than once, and there were times I was so angry, confused, frustrated, and hurt that I wanted to throw in the towel, scream a litany of curse words, and stomp out of the building never to return.  There were also times of such great joy that I could not believe that some of what I was seeing and hearing was real.  I have dear, dear, dear sisters whom I would walk through fire, no matter the situation or the time.  I remember conversations in corners of the buildings, tears shed, laughter shared, prayers uttered in earnest.  One of my dearest sisters, I connected the strongest with on the floor of a shower stall in a women’s bathroom.  I am honored to work with her in a ministry role today.  Another is in Canada and has just accepted a position in  an area that speaks to her passion in a way I know she will soar!  Still another has been ordained this year…our MOTHER!!!!  I was privileged to play a small role in her ordination service….these “girls” or “my peeps” are some of the closest people to me.

I am blessed to know these women.  I have had mentors…2 of whom are the closest adult role models I have ever known.  I have specifically dropped to my knees in one of their offices and sobbed my heart out to them.  They have prayed for me, with me, interceded on my behalf countless times, and pushed me in ways I never thought possible.  I am indebted to them.  They would never cash in that debt, rather would expect me to continue in the path of excellence and wellness that they model themselves.  They have helped me articulate a vocation that is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time.  They have my deepest respect, love, admiration, and loyalty–and those items do not come easily.

This Saturday I will cross the threshold, having completed four years of education and training, all while working and helping to raise 2 young boys with my husband.  I have had to say NO to some things in order to complete this mission.  I have also been told NO while on this mission.  I do not like that very well.  Do any of us?  No.  I cross the stage, leaving the guaranteed community I have known for the last four years.  I am…..scared.

Who is this person on the other side of this education and training?  I look back through things that I have written, pictures taken, tests completed, and I wonder….whoa!  Who in the world is this woman?  I entered Seminary a bumbling “kid” at 33ish…and leave knocking on the door to 40…in a couple years.  THAT is quite a chunk of time.  I began this journey not having a clue as to what I was doing….now I have a bit more of a clue.  No one could have prepared me for what I would encounter, tell me the pain I would endure, or the strength I would be provided.  Now I am done…what do I do now?

Most of my classmates are walking into a practice or a congregation.  I am not.  I am blessed to work for a Non-Profit which works in the realm of school teaching gardens as a means of holistic health, wellness, and education.  I work to advocate for community development based on assets that already exist, we do not do for anyone what they can do for themselves.   I enter into the journey of people’s lives and stories, and I am not afraid.

There’s only us….the now, the people, the life in the moment.  Now.  There’s only this…..so many times people have busted me for living for the future, steeped and stuck in the past, not present to the now.  I need to change that.  There’s only this moment, this second to breathe and be.  I have BIG trouble with that.  There’s only this….  Forget regrets….do I really need to hit that one now?  Forget them or life is (yours and mine ) to miss.

I want to embrace this….to breathe this into my soul….to crawl inside what that looks likes and put it on like a warm blanket ( much like my fuzzy Z blanket made for me by another dear sister).  How do I do that?  How does this woman, on the other side of Seminary change and transformation, crawl underneath that Forgetting Regretting and simply be?  Those that have the answers…speak now or forever hold your peace.

I don’t know.  I think my next blog will explore this idea.  For now, I need to lean into the celebration of a journey’s end and the expectation of the next chapter.  No DAY but TODAY.

shalom,

cahl

I Got YER Back

So the title motivates many a conversation.  Is it supportive, truth, a platitude we throw one another and never have any intention of following through on as we speak it?  I tussle with that as I contemplate my place in family, business, faith, and community.  What does that look like?  Maybe I am the only one that thinks through these ideas, but I recently posted a question on my Facebook that has generated some response.  I asked:  why do people do “good” things for others…is it because we are so motivated and cannot help to do so, or is it an ulterior motive? Please answer and provide rationale…..there is an ulterior motive to my question.

The responses were quite varied.  From some who admitted that there is always an ulterior motive (altruistically or not) to what we do.  Some contend that it is unavoidable, others contend that it is a “given” or that others are “programmed to serve”–it comes naturally without thought or regard as to what they may or may not attain as a result.  I think this an intriguing concept in this day and age.  As I contemplate the current political and social atmosphere, this ideology of community has been lost.  I wonder about that. 

I have been a teacher for many years and one the “perks” of the teaching world (be mindful the age-long debate of adequate compensation will NOT take place here) is that there are some days that teachers have for either sick leave, medical leave, and if lucky, there are 2 days available as “comp” days.  Often there exists a chance to contribute to the bank of days that are available in the event a serious illness or family situation arises.  I never batted an eye when it came to whether I would donate 2 of my days to the bank.  It never crossed my mind that others would question the concept either, it is interesting to note how many deem this an uncommon practice.  It baffles me, actually.  As I speak with people in my parents’ generation, I am shocked by the reticence contained in their reasoning as to why they would not donate.  It does not even cross their mindset that a donation of such magnitude would exist.  Interesting.  I asked my mother one time what she would do and she remarked that she would keep each day for herself.  I speak with young people my same age, (keep nearly 40 age jokes to a minimum) and the idea that they would come along another is unheard of, it does not exist.  Regardless of what one believes about health care, the idea that I would contribute to a common “pot” in order that more benefit seems contrary to most of my generation.  The idea that someone, anyone would be in need and that I could contribute is an honor.  The idea that I would not come along and meet a need, no matter how slight or the plight never matters.  It simply does not register for me to consider another option.

This idea of community is one I continue to explore.  What is that?  If I look at the denotation for the word community, it is one of a unified group of people striving toward a common cause.  From a connotative exploration, it implies so much more than that.  It implies relationship and giving and a natural offspring of that is acceptance.  Acceptance of what exactly?  Is it receipt of said relationship and giving and so much more?  If one extends the hand and it is not accepted, what does that do to the other?  Is it a slap in the face? 

I am guilty of such an action.   I look back at the last statements and paragraphs I have penned and am shamed.   Not shamed necessarily, but conflicted.  Hiding behind the well constructed sentences and verbage is often the easiest course of action when I come upon a subject matter that is too close to heart.  I can tell the stories of others and loved ones with passion and vigor and I am uber-joyed to do so.  Yes, I said uber-joyed, I love that term-uber.  The reality is that I do not have a clue as to how this community thing works.  Yup, I just admitted the great and powerful cindy does not always have a clue.  There is a scene in the musical, RENT.  Roger and Mark are screaming at one another, Roger about to leave the group and head to parts unkown in San Fransisco, he has sold his guitar, left the woman he loves, and is ready to wash his hands of the whole community that enveloped him.  Mark, the ever-observant narrator calls him on his shit.  Yup, I just said shit, too.  When confronted, the two clash–makes for wondrous dramatic interludes.  The comments from both in this moment are so raw, so real. 

Mark “For someone who’s always been let down, who’s heading out of town?”

Roger “For someone who’s longed for a community of his own, who’s with his camera, alone?”

Ouch.  Busted.  In walks Mimi, Roger’s intended, his soul.  “You don’t want baggage without lifetime guarantees.”  Anyone else feel the emptiness there?  I do and I can hear the pain in those interactions.  It is not simply a moment of Cindy living vicariously through an outstanding musical theatre experience, (thank you Jonathon Larson) I willing to admit it is as part of my heart’s cry.  I believe, furthermore, that I am not the only one to feel that.  Humor me some more as I reveal more of this RENT (ed) motif. 

MARK
Don’t Breathe Too Deep
Don’t Think All Day
Dive Into Work
Drive The Other Way
That Drip Of Hurt
That Pint Of Shame
Goes Away
Just Play The Game

You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium

You’re Living In America
Leave Your Conscience At The Tone

And When You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re What You Own

ROGER
The Filmmaker Cannot See

MARK
And The Songwriter Cannot Hear

ROGER
Yet I See Mimi Everywhere

MARK
Angel’s Voice Is In My Ear

ROGER
Just Tighten Those Shoulders

MARK
Just Clench Your Jaw Til You Frown

ROGER
Just Don’t Let Go

BOTH
Or You May Drown

You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re Living In America
Where It’s Like The Twilight Zone

And When You’re Living In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re What You Own

So I Own Not A Notion
I Escape And Ape Content
[What You Own lyrics on http://www.lyricsreg.com%5D

I Don’t Own Emotion – I Rent

MARK
What Was It About That Night

ROGER
What Was It About That Night

BOTH
Connection-In An Isolating Age

MARK
For Once-The Shadows Gave Way To
Light

ROGER
For Once The Shadows Gave Way To
Light

BOTH
For Once I Didn’t Disengage

MARK
Angel- I Hear You- I Hear It
I See It- I See It
My Film!

ROGER
Mimi I See You– I See It
I Hear It- I Hear It
My Song!

MARK (On the phone)
Alexi – Mark
Call Me A Hypocrite
I Need TO Finish My
Own Film
ROGER
One Song-Glory
Mimi
Your Eyes

mark
I QUIT!

Dying In America
At The End Of The Millennium
We’re Dying In America
To Come Into Our Own
And When You’re Dying In America
At The End Of The Millennium
You’re Not Alone
I’m not Alone.

Oh, dear readers, let those lyrics slide over you, let them engage who you are in your souls.  Listen to the essence in those words, hear the admission of community, the need, the desire for connectedness.  The chance to give oneself a break and live in the moment and to accept not a hand out, but a hand up!  There is such a difference, I have to believe there is a difference.  Whether I admit it or not, this fierce independence is killing off my individual essence and the chance to connect to a community.  Wow, that realization just hit.  I am part of a generation and a society so stilted to do it on their own, to accept help from no one and to help no one that we are dying.  We are dying to know self.   I keep telling  myself, “Just keep truckin, keep working, achieving, choke down emotion…RENT….don’t own emotion.  Don’t own it, RENT IT.”  Ah, how wrong I am, how wrong we are to do this to one another.  I hurt for this concept.  Hear the cry we are sending out….from people desiring the instant fix, the disconnection with real emotion, the inability to love one another…what are we doing?  Why are we smiting our communal noses in an effort to remain disengaged, unfeeling, and safe?  Why are we killing each other with words of hatred, bullets of shame, and isolation?  Why do we accept it as status quo?  Because it is what we know.

You know, the risky and ballsy move is acceptance…not insolance, but redemption.  Renewal is terrifying, it is easier to destroy than to create.  Creation takes time, vigilance, blood, and tears.  It is some of the most painful and rewarding work I understand.  To shake myself from a peaceful and stagnate existence into one that embraces community and a like-minded journey reveals me for what I am.  Scared.  Yes, from the self-proclaimed egghead, know-it-all, enough German to be a stubborn butt…I admit, I am scared.  I have no idea what community looks like when I embrace it, I know only the fly over crop dusting that is rental.  What a sham.–note that I said sham…not shame.  There is no shame in admitting being scared, there is shame in knowing that there is something different out there and doing nothing to embrace it and making it available to others.

What do I glean from this moment of creation….I have much to learn and I am not ashamed to tackle what that means.  It means that maybe I have made a first step in changing a mode of thinking I have ingrained in my understanding for nearly 38 years.  It means, maybe, just maybe…I’m not alone.

shalom,

cahl.

 

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