goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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We ALL Must Rise

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He Is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you.

All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods, many people I know who profess to be Christian are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance.

I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people.

I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion….in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught.

I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did.  He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was a dissenter, attracting followers and scaring the establishment. But generally, overall, his message was one of “love one another”. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Bible Belt where I lived for over 17 years has a preponderance of Christians who believe that Christ died for their sins, that they are saved. It may be a coincidence that that section of the country overwhelmingly voted for Trump, not necessarily because they liked him, because many did not like things about him. They voted for him because he promised delivery from things they perceive as evil. I believe their training as an obedient flock for their churches lead them to have faith without using any common sense about the promises made.  But their minds, like all good sheep, are befuddled by those promises.  They have not learned the ways to solve problems. They are stuck in a rut of tradition that means there is only one right way. And that includes following the shepherd.

Why am I picking on Christians? I just came from an Easter service where the Praise Band was singing and moving. The congregation, for the most extent, clapped as requested but there was no joy, no smiles. Did the words they learned as children not reach their adult ability to analyze? Are the praises they sing empty words without their hearts.  (In order for you to understand that I feel the same way about Jewish services where everything is in Hebrew, I will let you know that my Haggadah this past Monday’s Seder had limited Hebrew. I wanted the participants at my table to understand the story and the reasoning behind the holiday. To chant in Hebrew when you memorized it as a child and have no idea what the meaning is….has NO meaning.)

People often forget this commandment to love one another applies to everyone, everywhere. Not just people you know. Not just people who live near you. Not just people who speak like you, live like you, worship like you do. All people.

When does the message hit the heart? When does it become part of the soul?  When it does, you will rise.

Walking in the spirit is a pathway by people of any or no practiced religion. It means, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary.

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The Connection Between Us

Each of us is the center of our own universe and yet we experience similar pains and joys. I have learned that the ability to share helps me ease the anguish and magnify the happiness. Does your pathway include sharing?

About four years ago I started visiting farms that had expressed interest in providing food to The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia. A new concept, The Wild Ramp combines the shopping experience of the outdoor farmers’ market with the ease of indoor shopping.  It is a year-round indoor local food market that has increased in appeal since its inception about 4 years ago.

Although I had one grandparent who had retired from running a chicken farm, my childhood in the New York metropolitan area was focused on suburban and urban living. I even got a degree in urban planning. So you can imagine just how tickled I am that I have become enmeshed in the local food movement.

When I started I knew next to nothing and today I know just a smidgen more.  But armed with my curiosity, I spent an hour or two visiting the farmers, hearing their stories and learning about their growing practices. I then wrote blogs to inform the consumers, the better to market that individual farm and its products and The Wild Ramp Market overall.

My visit to Mil-ton farm in mid June 2012 just prior to the market opening was a learning experience for me. Dad Tim was working off-farm at his day job. Mom Stephanie was home with the four kids, in charge of daily farm chores and home schooling and also working a part-time job. Grandma lived on the land as well, part of the extended family.

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My favorite often used photo from Mil-Ton Farm

One thing that immediately struck me was how curious the kids were. They came with us as Stephanie and I walked along, eager to show me things and be part of the experience. I learned a lot about that family that day and made a foolish assumption that all farm families were that cooperative and involved with life learning. No, as I learned over time, the Appletons are unique.

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Tim and Kellen working to renovate the shop

They all pitched in, even the youngest, helping renovate the shop space. They all helped other farmers in the Wild Ramp extended family of farmers as there were calls for help. The kids helped develop salable items over the seasons.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

The Appletons walk the walk. Caring, loving, with high standards and expectations to strive for them. They have a strong faith in God and strong belief in the goodness of life.

But Tim just died, after a long and valiant experience with cancer. The Wild Ramp family is feeling this pain.

Personally, it brings my own loss of a loved spouse very much back into my mind. I can clearly imagine how Stephanie, a pretty strong woman, must be spinning in torment, trying to comfort the kids to provide them a sense of security while not quite really sure intellectually and emotionally where her footing will be in this earthquake. And the kids, scared of future loss, needing a lot more reassurance that all will be okay.kids

Although she might beg to differ today while everything is so raw, I know Stephanie and the family will work through this. The hole Tim’s passing  has left is a horrible learning experience for all, but they will learn to meld the pain of the loss with the rising spirit of his memory.Stephanie and Tim

The outpouring of love and prayers for this family is a testament to the goodness they have been as a part of the community. Tim’s legacy is priceless. We ARE connected, all of us.

 


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Ready…..Get Set……Share

Later this week the nation shares a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside as a national day of celebration. Take a moment and read his Proclamation. The timing of it is significant.

Washington, D.C.                            

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Amazing, even in the midst of a war that had torn the country apart, this beleaguered leader was able to express how much we had to appreciate.  So, I ask you, how do YOU celebrate Thanksgiving?  Many people plan a feast, gorge, and then watch football, with no apparent moment of thought to any of the blessings they have experienced, even in the midst of turmoil.gratitude-rainbowspiral1

Several years ago our Thanksgiving table was full. We always make sure to invite others to join our family to add to the celebration. As I tend to do, I asked the people to take a moment to speak of what they felt had happened to them during the year that was noteworthy of appreciation. It was sad for me to hear several adults say “this meal”. Perhaps they were just saying thank you for the fellowship, as it was unlikely that they had not eaten all year. More likely, they were ducking the thought process. As for the child present, she had no idea how to develop the thoughts. This lack I place on the parent, for not teaching values and ethics. Without appreciation for achievements, how do we learn to make the effort in the first place?appreciation-is-wonderful-thing-voltaire

Why is this so difficult? For those of us who daily take a moment either in prayer or meditation, this lack of connection with the Universe is a startling absence.

Start thinking now…you have a few days. Think of the entire year, not just the plate in front of you. Remember the hard times, yes. Remember the passage through them. Recognize the stresses do not go away, but recognize the ease that comes at times.thanksgiving2

To me, this exercise is not limited to Thanksgiving but is one of the easiest days to express it openly. Tell us what you gained this year.


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Mature Love

In the past few months several of my friends, all mature adults, have gotten married. It has been amazing to watch their joy, knowing the pathways they traveled to be able to trust this love will work, this love will abide, this love will be real and lasting.  chrles and vicMature adults know well the stresses of life and especially treasure their partner to make the pathway sweeter.

We grew up with the fairy tale, mostly of some guy rescuing some girl, and “they lived happily ever after.”  No explanation. No mess. No kids. No information.  Meanwhile, we grew up in our childhood homes, some with loving parents but many of us got mixed messages at best. I know I was told the man is the boss and yet, I saw my dad all so often bend to the wishes of my mom.  There is no magic one size fits all method. Patti and Leslie

Watching my friends decide to marry and then celebrate that with a meaningful ceremony is a blessing. Yesterday about 50 of us gathered in  the late afternoon sun along the waterfront of Gig Harbor, Washington.  The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, included spiritual and religious33 references from many sources. It included children of the betrothed, themselves young adults. It included a number of friends who came forward to light another candle to share some symbolic enlightenment of experience.

I think, if the adults have done their work, a mature marriage can work much better than one entered in the hot naivety of youth. Building the foundation: becoming friends that can talk about anything without either party’s ego being bruised helps the new partnership face the normal ebbs and flows of life with all its financial issues, health issues, aging parent issues and more that will arise. 40

While I was immersed in the joy of the celebration yesterday, I was also feeling my heart pulled far to the east to my friend Carol in Croatia. Her beloved Ivo is dying. After meeting as young adults and living their lives on separate continents, the spark between then revived a few years ago and Carol made a decision to leave California and retire in Croatia. They have been living together, in their 70s, not allowed to marry. There is nothing the heart was missing in the love between them. And now, Ivo is about to move on. My heart is with Carol and Ivo…they found the joy of life together and they will reunite again in time.

Dubrovnik Ivo and Sam hole in the wall

Ivo spending one on one time with Sam

Life is short. Spent with the wrong person it seems to be everlasting hell. Spent with the right person, time flies and joy abounds.


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Happy New Year

Ah….you think I’m a bit early. Others are counting down the shopping days left before Christmas (I know YOU don’t get thinking  about it until December 20) and here I am saying Happy New Year. What gives?

Well, it’s one of those religious things. This evening started the Jewish year  5775. Rosh Hashana translates to “head of the year” and it begins the ten days of awe. This is a solemn and serious time.  It is a chance for introspection and self analysis. It is the time to think through the events and choices of the past year, to think through the results of your decisions….or lack of them.

It is also the time to get right, not only with the Lord, but with the people in your life. You know, the ones you hurt either by doing or saying something that was unwise or chosen for dumb reasons, and the ones you hurt by NOT saying something wise or not doing something helpful.introspection-9682

It is, essentially, time for confession. A time for penitence. Only then can you have absolution.  Or not. See, in the practice of the Jewish faith ACTS are more important than words.  Especially empty words read because they are in a prayer book but read without your heart involved.

I used to tease my nonJewish friends I would share a secret with them, and I’ll do that right now with you.  It is traditional to think that on this day God opens the Book of Life. In this monster book are pages and pages and pages, one for each person now or ever living.  On YOUR page are written all your hopes and dreams, all your deeds (good and bad) and God’s plan for you.book of life

These next ten days, until Yom Kippur ends with the first star on the night of October 4, each of us can petition God to inscribe in the Book a good plan for the coming year. But you have to earn it. These ten days gives you time to put some thought into who you have been and who you want to be. To think about about your relationships with people, both dear and near, and the ones you pass everyday in your life without knowing their names. To honor that there is a Higher Power, something much bigger than you.

tashlikTomorrow afternoon there is  traditionally an action called Tashlik.  It is the ritualistic and symbolic action of casting off sins.  Traditionally done at a moving body of water, bread is ripped into small pieces, each symbolizing a sin or problem in the past year. The bread is then thrown on to the waters to flow out to the sea or, more realistically, to be eaten by the fish and ducks.   I was not brought up very religious so I can not tell you the prayers and what they mean. I can just tell you that if you think through this past year, and go through it slowly, truly thinking of the things you know did not work well and what your role was in causing that to turn out that way, you will be well on your way to a better year next year.

L’shanah Tova…..and may you be inscribed for a good year!

 


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Passages

A couple of my friends lost a parent in the last week. As my peers age, it is a normal part of life to face the illness and care of aging parents and their inevitable final passage.

With losing a husband to brain cancer after a ten year battle, I have had some experience to be able to offer a few words of what worked for me. Perhaps it might for you.

Be a realist

  •  Try to understand the cause of the illness. If you are reading this, you have access to the Internet and there are countless websites that can provide explanations that you probably can understand.  Do some reading in order to ask the doctors good questions.  Not knowing causes more stress than you need.
  • Fight (yes FIGHT) for good follow-up care, whether it is physical therapy or a home health aide.  Do not accept a guilt trip from anyone that you should be able to provide all care.  Even if you are a trained nurse, you are not able to be on the job 24/7.
  • Understand when things start to slide downhill that at some time, death will occur.  Trying to ignore it won’t make it not happen. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused that. The body gets awfully tired of the pain, the inability to take proper nutrition, the confusion. Recognize that this is not about what you are going to be losing, but making the time the best goodbye you can.

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Be prepared

  •  Doctors have a tendency to refer the patient to hospice very close to the end. This is a horrible disservice not only to the ill loved one but to you. I guess the doctors think it mean admitting failure, but being realistic about the illness and the probably outcome will enable you to persuade for earlier admission. Hospice is a wonderful helpful system set up to care for the ill person in their own home or perhaps in a residence. They provide palliative care, keeping that person comfortable and always acting with high respect. They also help YOU with the emotional turmoil as well as practical issues that are part of this stage of life. Hospice will typically enroll a patient if the doctor indicates end of life will occur within 6 months. That’s a wonderful amount of caring that can be extended if the loved one lingers on.
  • Use this time to make pre-arrangements so there is no need for intense decision making when the person passes. In fact, before your loved one gets so ill, it might help you to understand if there is anything s/he prefers. Many people can’t talk about death easily. Let me assure you, talking about it does not make it happen sooner.comfort love respect

Keep grounded

  • If you have a spiritual connection, relax in it, even if only a moment here and there during the day. As one wise woman said to me when I asked if there were special prayers, “Don’t worry about the words. He knows all the words.” Take some time to complain, to cry, to be angry. It is okay. It is normal.
  • If you have some friends, now is the time to call on that friendship.  Not everyday. Not for long hours. But ask for one to bring a home cooked meal, do a run to the grocery store for you, sit with you and have a glass of wine and a hug. If any friends are very special, ask for a relief hour so you can go get a haircut or gas up the car or just drive over to the park to watch the sun set. If you are used to doing for others, it may be hard to ask for help. Don’t be concerned; the time will come later on to help others again. Now it’s time to let others love you.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not eating well and not getting enough sleep, you too will get sick. Your immune system is already being attacked because of the stress. This is the time you need to love yourself a bit more.

You know the final day will come. We just don’t know when. Trying to move from a position of pending loss to one of making it the best goodbye you can will give you more peace than you can ever imagine. Hugs.

 


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Hindu Temple Visit

An optional tour one evening in Jaipur, enjoyed by about half the SmarTours group, was to the Birla Hindu temple built a few years ago by a well-to-d0 family.nancyb Designed to show how Hinduism encompasses both Islam and Buddhism with their symbolic rooflines, the white marble structure is surrounded with a white plaza. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, Arvind told us the ceremony we would witness takes place after sundown.DSCF6463 It usually takes about 10 minutes and includes a chant that is repeated several times. Arvind did warn us that the chanting could go on for a half hour or even longer, but it was a short ceremony after all.

He told us that symbolically he leaves his troubles outside on the steps leading up to the entrance, to be picked up again upon exiting. He told us that the chanting makes him feel very calm.

Arvind made sure we were positioned at the very front of the open room. People filed in behind us and what happened next was interesting.  As soon as the curtains opened and the ceremony began, the crowd pushed forward, as if eager to be as close as possible.

source: Lisa Garmat after the ceremony and people left the temple, from outside

source: Lisa Garmat after the ceremony and people left the temple, from outside

The ceremony actually began when the curtains were still closed. The priests sounded a conch shell, and the tones reminded my of the shofar blown in a Jewish Temple at the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipur. The curtains opened and before us were two statutes of Vishnu and Lakshmi, beautifully dressed in bright colors. The chanting began, one priest ringing some bells, as done in the Episcopal mass to draw attention to an important  prayer, and the other priest slowly making a circular motion with a candelabra. Candles are lit in Christianity and Judaism as well.

In a few minutes, the chanting ended, the curtains remained open. The crowd circled around behind the curtained area to receive a blessing from the priests in the form of a spicy sweet mixture to eat, one more symbolic similarity to Christianity.nancya

Once again, we are more alike than different. Love one another.