Saturday, January 05, 2019

And home again

The trip back home was uneventful (the best kind of traveling, I think). We did rack up an hour-and-a-half delay thanks to there being a broken rail ahead of us where we had to stop and wait for the crew to fix it. We did make up a little time, so I wasn't too terribly late getting into Mineola.

The drive home....well, there was more traffic than I'd like, and I kept putting off stopping for lunch, and finally, when I got to the Kroger's vicinity I decided to just shop and eat a late lunch at home, which is what I did.

I put my clothes away (one benefit of visiting family is you can do your laundry before you travel back, so the clothes in your suitcase are clean) and wrote my Sunday school lesson. I had also planned on taking down the tree but you know?  Epiphany isn't until tomorrow and I want one more evening to look at it before I put it all away. I find the end of Christmas hard, because it's going back to plainness during a dreary and often cold time of year, and this year, there's enough of concern in the news (we don't know if my brother's family, which depends on my sister-in-law's paycheck - she is a chemist for the DEA - will fare OK during the shutdown. My brother works *some* where he can from home, but as he's their daughter's main caretaker, and his areas of expertise are in areas where there's kind of ....a weak job market in their region....he mostly doesn't bring in a regular paycheck. And I confess a bit of a worrier's alarm about what a "federal state of emergency" might wind up looking like, if that's where we're headed.)

Anyway. There's chaos in the world and I like order, or at least I like the happy disorder of my cluttery house.

I did do a lot of knitting (and some crochet) over break; pictures will come later on. (One item, which is a gift for someone who reads here, won't show up in pictures until they've received it. I felt particularly industrious getting that made over break).

As I mentioned, I finished "Miss Mackenzie" and read a bunch of mystery short stories over break, and on the trip back here I finished Walter Brueggeman's "Sabbath as Resistance" which was very interesting and which I will be thinking about for quite some time - Brueggeman's argument is that taking Sabbath time is good for us for many reasons, some of them "equality" (both master and servant get the Sabbath off; therefore, it becomes one day when they are in some way "equal") but primarily as a check on materialism and the sort of greedy, grasping behavior that tends to define human society far too much. And one of his arguments is something that kind of strikes at the heart of an ongoing problem I have: taking Sabbath as a day to "just be" should be a reminder that our worth lies in the fact that we *exist,* not in what we can do, or what we make, or whatever. (I am terrible about tying my sense of self-worth to my "last success," and if it's been a long time since I successfully did something that seems "meaningful," I start to feel like....I don't know, I'm taking up too much room or something). That's something I need to work on - not tying my sense of  self-worth or "having a right to be here" to what I have done recently. (Unfortunately, a lot of modern life does push that; the endless grind of "there must be more publications" (or service, or teaching innovation) a la "The Rocking-Horse Winner". But I don't quite know how to divorce myself from the "must achieve more" directive (which I need to at least pay lip-service to, if I am to keep my job) and live more in the sense of "I exist so I matter." I don't know. Maybe learning to turn a blinder eye to the pressures of the materialistic world, and telling myself it's a game (but I tend to be deadly serious about games, which is why I'm not always the most fun opponent).

I also started Diana Butler-Bass' "Gratitude," which is on a similar theme to Brueggeman's - here, the idea of gratitude being something we feel as well as do, and also it's something personal as well as corporate/community-based ("corporate," in the sense of "the whole congregation/family/community/nation," not in the sense of a "corporation" in the business sense). Her argument is that we've become sufficiently fragmented as a people that we don't do community gratitude well any more...though she also cites the 2016 World Series win by the Cubs as an example (perhaps more trivial than some) of community rejoicing - and it wasn't just limited to Chicago. (I know people who live HERE who expressed great joy over it).

I also agree with her argument that feeling gratitude is a good antidote to envy or even greed: recognizing the good that we have and reflecting on that rather than on what the other guy has, or what we don't have yet. And again: that does kind of fight against the "gotta catch 'em all" attitude of modern work, where you have to keep pushing and keep fighting and never be able to be just....satisfied....with what you've done.

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