Monday, May 11, 2009

Commuting with God

Okay, so I've been thinking a lot about spiritual practices for a new generation--reframing traditional practices and also thinking about ways for busy people with little connection to traditional spirituality to connect with God.  Amy and I have actually been working on this for about a year, but we've discovered some gaps in our experience and so it's taking us a really long time to explore these things.

So one thing I've been thinking about is Commuting with God (get it? I'm so funny...haha, bad puns...okay, I'm done).  What are some ways that we can turn the daily grind of commuting into a spiritual experience?  I know there are the usual--things like praying for those you hear on the radio news; turning off the radio and driving in silence, just thinking/listening; sending up prayers for those drivers who cut you off; listening to music that makes your spirit sing.  I'm sure there are plenty of others too--things that don't necessarily involve a traditional understanding of "talking to God" but could feed our spirits and connect us to the Holy even in our cars, on the train, etc...

But my daily "commute" (if it can be called that) is 10 minutes each way.  I don't make longer drives often enough to make a regular practice out of it.  So I'm wondering, from those of you who DO commute--what are some things you either do or can imagine doing while you commute that would bring you closer to the Holy, perhaps even setting the tone for your day or night (depending on when/where/how/why you commute...)?

mother's day

Dear mom,

I still miss you.  I still hate the month before mother's day when every website, piece of junk mail, and email remind me to do something special for you.  I still hate going to church and having people pray for moms, be thankful for all you've done, and then neglect to mention how painful or difficult or anxiety-producing a day like this can be for some of us, for many different reasons. Today the pastor praying even thanked God for the privilege of taking care of our moms when they get older, the way they cared for us when we were young. It's a privilege I wish I could have, but won't.  I'd give almost anything to be able to spend that much time with you again.  Instead, I took the day off, I wandered around a city I love, I stared at tulips, I ate lunch with friends, I played Wii Bowling for the first time (and I'm still terrible, even when it's not real), I read about amazing women who are changing the world.  I cried a little, I talked to family, I remembered the time I threw up rhubarb in grandma's bathroom sink and got in trouble for throwing up in the sink.  
I also remember how fab you were, and am thankful for the time I did have with you, though I wish there was lots more of it.  And I remembered all the "extra moms" I've had, people you talked to too, people you entrusted me to, people who nurtured and taught and helped and extended grace when I needed it.  They were, and are, awesome women that I do not keep in touch with the way I should.  Too bad I didn't get your letter writing gene.

I don't really know what else to say, except thanks, and I love you.

Friday, May 01, 2009


You've likely heard by now that the Egyptian government had this bright idea--to cull the swine herds to stop the spread of swine flu.  Nevermind that there's no evidence that pigs are actually carrying the disease, or that it's spreading between livestock, or that it's spreading from pigs to humans at this point--everything seems to suggest a human-to-human interaction right now.  The pork industry is right about one thing: pigs aren't dangerous, and if using the phrase "swine flu" rather than H1N1 makes people think pigs are dangerous, then we need to stop using it.

So back to Egypt, where the government is slaughtering pigs, ostensibly because of swine flu.

You may know that in Islam, pigs are unclean.  Which means that the majority of Egyptians don't eat pork and would never imagine keeping pigs.  But the 12% or so of Egypt's population that is Christian are perfectly fine with both pork and pigs.  And in the Cairo region, most of those people who keep pigs are also people who collect garbage.  They live in an area commonly called "garbage city" where the ground floors of houses are the place to sort garbage and keep pigs (who eat the edible leftovers).  Some of the garbage goes to be "recycled"--at scrap yards, into various crafts, etc.  The rest is eaten by pigs or burned.  The families live in the upper floors, just above the piles of garbage and wandering livestock.

These people are poor, they're different, and they live in what the majority of the country would call filth (in more ways than one).  Culling the pigs is a way for the government to punish these people for being different, to push them further into poverty, and to highlight a religious issue that has been simmering under the surface in Egypt for many years.  

In other words, it's an excuse... punish the poor... widen the divisions between people... persecute Christians.


H1N1 it is, clunky a term though it may be. The side-effects of a more convenient-to-say term are too great.