Posts Tagged ‘faith’

I’m reading the Bible from start to finish for no other reason than that I’ve never done it before.

bible-fountain-1115

The Good Book ready for reading

Between attending Catholic school and being a lector at Mass, I’ve read parts of it. But never the whole thing.

I’m just over 500 pages in and if you’ve read the Bible, you know that’s not very far. Some thoughts on what I’ve learned to date:

·         I have no concept of Middle Eastern geography.

·         In biblical times, gold and silver were apparently lying around in big heaps everywhere.

·         It was a difficult period in which to be a woman.

·         In the Bible, people have huge families and live for abnormally long periods of time.

·         The Bible would be a lot shorter if it didn’t tell the same stories over and over.

·         There are many excruciatingly painful ways to die.

Since I’m approaching reading the Bible in the same manner in which I read any book, I didn’t go into it looking for hidden meanings or life-changing lessons. I’m just reading it. But since it IS the Bible, you sort of expect it to teach you something.

The version I’m reading is a study Bible which means in addition to the scripture, along the margins are interpretations of how biblical lessons can be translated into modern life. Some of these seem a little far-fetched but others are shockingly simple and make obvious sense.

I asked my best friend, who incidentally gave me this Bible many years ago and now works for a church, whether I could use a highlighter and write in it without being sacrilegious.

“Of course,” she said. “In its physical sense, it’s just a book, like any other book. It’s the words themselves and what they mean to you that make it spiritual.”

Since then I’ve highlighted a few verses and turned back the corners on a couple of pages I want to refer back to.

I haven’t experienced any epiphanies while reading the Bible but the exercise is making me more thoughtful in the sense that I’m thinking more about the world around me, my place in it and what I’m doing with my time on Earth.

Since I only read a couple of chapters every morning, I won’t be finishing the Bible any time soon. I figure there’s no hurry; it’s been around a LONG time and however long it takes me to read it is how long it takes. Like any Good Book, it’ll be worth it.

Have you ever read the Bible? What did you get out of it?

Remembering Mickey, a true free spirit.

Remembering Mickey, a true free spirit.

My grandma said Mickey Gulla was mouthy. Mickey said my grandma should lighten up. My grandpa didn’t say anything because he was married to one and liked the other.

Mildred “Mickey” Gulla died last week at the age of 94. She was a fiery Scandinavian sprite who was married to my grandpa’s friend, Joe, a big strapping Italian cop. They all met in the late 1970’s when my grandparents sold their farm and moved to town. I met Mickey not long after that during a visit to my grandparents’ house and saw her frequently when I was in the neighborhood.

Small in stature, big in voice, Mickey was the first adult that I called by name instead of “Mrs. Someone”. That was unheard of for us kids but she told us to and it was easy to comply because she was such a kid herself.

When I left for college, my parents moved and Mickey went from being my grandparents’ friend to my parents’ neighbor. Often when I came home to visit, she’d be puttering around the yard of her big brick house and we’d share a wave and a called greeting. The last time I really talked to her was Christmas of 2010. On a whim, I bought her flowers and my dad and I tramped across the street in the snow for a holiday visit. She was the perfect hostess, serving refreshments, sharing stories and pictures. At the end of the evening, she walked us to the door, squeezed my arm and said, “You’re full of piss and vinegar, just like your grandpa was.”

The following February she sent me a Christmas letter, unapologetically late with a good excuse: she’d tripped and fractured a hip, putting her in the hospital for nearly three weeks. The letter raised a good question (“When you were putting away your Christmas decorations, did you notice when you strip away all the tinsel and glitter, God’s real truth shows through?”), shared her favorite Charles Dickens quote (“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”) and revealed the secret to her long and happy life (“I’m having the best days of my life and I appreciate having everything I need. They are: my faith, family, friends, fun and food – lots of comfort food on cold days! That’s food for thought and thankfulness.”)

The letter ended in much the same way a conversation with Mickey always did, with her hope that I would explore the year ahead with good health and gusto. Like she did, right up until the end. We should all be so mouthy.

What Do You Take?

Posted: May 28, 2011 in Weather
Tags: , , , , ,

I ran into an old friend of mine today. She was standing in the entryway of her new home, arms thrown open as if in greeting, the chatter of others echoing from the rooms around her.  She looked shocked to see me and when I walked forward and she gave me a hug, she said, “How did you know we were in trouble?” “I’m intuitive that way,” I said. “Thought you could use some help.”

The “trouble” is the rising Missouri River, which is steadily overflowing its banks, driven by the increasing flows from the Oahe Dam which officials say are necessary because of the heavy snowmelts and record rainfalls coming from areas beyond our state’s borders. Shit may roll downhill but water doesn’t, at least not this water. It hurtles, rages, heaves as it comes out of the tubes at the stilling basin then weaves itself into the river and snakes its way downstream. Now it colors outside the lines, creeping over the edges of the land that normally holds it in check, flowing across lawns, pooling in parking lots, washing away roads. That’s what’s happening in Amy’s neighborhood and that’s why I’m there.

Her shock at seeing me was genuine; we haven’t talked to each other, in person, in a couple of years. Not that we’re fighting or anything (not that I’m aware of anyway); more just busy. You know how that goes. Jobs, family, commitments. Sometimes friendships fade over time, even if you don’t intend for them to. But we’re Facebook friends and when I saw her recent posts about sand-bagging her home, her new home that took years to materialize, I figured it was time for a reunion.

Amy quickly filled me in. They’d gotten the word this morning that the road to their housing development would likely be underwater and impassable by this evening. That meant not only did they have to reinforce the sandbags and quickly construct a berm but they had to get out – now – while there was still a road to get out on.

While I joined Amy’s family and friends in packing, hauling and tossing their possessions, it struck me that there are so many things you can live without that you never thought you could. When push comes to shove and you have hours to decide what has to go in the horse trailer and what can ride out the flood on an upper floor, what do you take?

Family pictures, furniture with history, the kids favorite toys, all find spots in the trailer. A desk too heavy to move, a pantry brimming with canned goods, decorative things that can be replaced, all will ride out the flood in the house. I watched Amy make a multitude of snap decisions today, choices I knew she never thought she’d have to make but when the water’s lapping at the back door and you’re looking out over the sandbag hill in your front yard at a neighborhood hurriedly working to save itself, you make ’em.

The residents and businesses in our area who are being impacted by the floodwaters have been preparing for days but it will be months before it’s all over and who knows how it will turn out? We’re fortunate in a way because we’ve had some advance warning, even if the information we’re getting is constantly changing. I think about the residents in Joplin and other communities devastated by tornados and I wonder: in times like that, when your choices are made in seconds or minutes instead of hours, what do you take? Yourself. Your family. Your faith that you’ll make it through this alive. And your hope that things will get better, however long that takes. If you leave with those things, you’ve got a fighting chance.