Merry Christmas, everyone! I took a break from quick-taking (take-quicking?) last week because I was putting together my series of posts reflecting on the O Antiphons. It was a very healthy exercise for me during the late days of Advent, and I hope some of you dear readers were also able to take some time out to reflect on these ancient prayers. If nothing else, perhaps you like I were singing “Something’s Coming” on the 23rd and 24th.
Another reason I took last Friday off from writing any quick takes was that I was still reeling from the tragedy in Newtown CT. I’ve been in CT for more than a week now during my holiday break. Not surprisingly the incident is still big news here, even as it fades away in other parts of the country (or maybe I’m wrong? Non-New-Englanders feel free to correct me). Last Friday I took a moment of silence with the rest of the state and much of the world, and thought about sitting down to write what I had to say, but wasn’t sure what that would be.
Much of my continued reaction is similar to the multi-faceted response I had on the day of the shooting. What I marvel at is that my response continues to include a desire to be better, to make the world more positive. Hatred and anger are perfectly normal reactions to evil of this size, but I am very grateful that those are not my reactions.
I still have a few days left of break, and I plan to fill them with enriching activities: exercise, reading, writing, singing, and preparing healthy food. My mother describes me as having been “born in drive”, which explains why I make my “breaks” into opportunities for productivity. What can I say? That’s how I enjoy myself.
This idea that “fun” and accomplishment can’t go hand in hand has always baffled me. I see this come up in conducting, and I know it comes up in coaching sports too (thought I have ZERO experience in that arena). A team or choir or band that is assembled for “fun” shouldn’t be exempt from pursuing excellence. I for one find achievement to be a lot of fun.
I started reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” yesterday and am fervently plowing through it.
Barbara Kingsolver is a beautiful writer, and in this book tackles one of my newest pet issues, the food industry. The scope of the book is much larger than that, and I wish I had it in me to eat seasonally the way her family did. It also makes me want to become a farmer or at least a gardener, and makes me weep for my lost plants.
I became interested in the meat industry when I became a vegetarian many years ago, and then just stopped thinking about it. When I developed Crohn’s disease a year ago and had to start thinking more critically about my food choices, I started reading up on “agribusiness” and finally had clarified for me something deep down I knew all along: there are a lot of people spending a lot of money trying to manipulate what goes into our mouths, and they’re doing it on behalf of businesses with the goal of making money, not making us healthy.
Which brings me to the farm bill! I know you were waiting for me to get to it. So the latest buzz is that in a few days the price of milk could skyrocket if Congress doesn’t pass the farm bill. I’d like to be clear about two things: I think people should be able to buy milk (and not just because Jed Bartlett told me so), and I am a TOTAL DILETTANTE when it comes to this stuff.
But I’m still wondering, who sent the press releases to the national news outlets threatening a rise in the cost of milk? My guess would be dairy associations, which represent big businesses, which are given huge advantages in the farm bill. This bears repeating: I have no evidence for this. This rant is brought to you by my cynicism.
And it looks like the real fight over the farm bill isn’t over sustainability, or farming practices, or breaking up corporate monopolies, but over food stamps.
(Does anyone else find it interesting we still refer to them as “stamps”?)
There was just a little snowfall where I am on Wednesday night. Enough to be pretty, not enough to be trouble the next morning. Hopefully we’ll get the same sort of weather event on Saturday when more snow rolls in. A storm is alright by me as long as I don’t have to brush off my car (if I wait long enough). Perhaps I’ll have some lovely white Christmas-season pix to post next Friday.
When I write next Friday it will be 2013. I can say unequivocally that this past year was better than the preceding one, which was filled with so much upheaval, stress and sickness. Yet when I look back to the beginning of this year, here is what I wrote about it.
2011 was a year of giving up, and I can say that without feeling desperate or pathetic. I gave up expectations, I gave up certainty, I gave up knowing. I fell in love, which is no small accomplishment for a control freak who doesn’t like most people. I learned to pray in wonderful ways, then had to let it all go as I forgot again, and now my dry prayers are prayers to remember what came before.
All of this threw me off. In retrospect, maybe it’s a sign that I am a little closer to mature: God trusted me – I trusted myself – with questions and changes and all of the things that I spent my twenties being frightened of. And I’m still here, ready for another arbitrary, blessed, wonderful year.
I wonder if 2012 was just about processing the year before. In any event, it’s been a good one. I hope you can say the same. Tell me about your 2012, and have a great weekend!
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I find the year a little tough to sum up. It feels like I got so little done but in actuality I did quite a bit…just perhaps not what I intended to do. So perhaps it was a year spent feeling like I was being nudged off course and as much as I didn’t want to settle in and see where it took me, I also didn’t do very much to struggle against the growing distance from my goals. In a way that’s clarifying to me, but also leaves me quite frustrated to know that I can’t seem to muster the energy to work. I envy your ethic – even if you really ought to rest & relax so your drive doesn’t mow down your health! I can’t quite get myself so dedicated to my own productivity, and then I get angry with myself when I know I could have done far more.
Sometimes productivity doesn’t look like what we expect it to…it sounds like you have accomplished a lot, and that’s wonderful. To a new year that surpasses the old!
One could attribute the continued use of the term “food stamps” to the lack of catchiness to the more correct terms, “SNAP benefits” when referring to the program itself, or “EBT card” which replaced the stamps.
I think you’re on to something!
Oh, I want to read “Animal, Vegetable, MIracle!” I gave up meat over 10 years ago because of what I learned about the meat industry and how inhumane it was to animals. Have you read “Dominion” by Matthew Scully?
I had similar reasons for giving up meat. I haven’t read the book you mention. I assume it’s worth picking up?
Definitely read animal vegetable miracle!