World War I Centenary

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Much in our world has changed since then.

Today, most people, in our part of the world at least, have their own car to travel for business or pleasure. Air travel to the far corners of the globe has become standard. Man has landed on the moon. Vaccines have been developed to combat deadly diseases, even while new diseases are discovered that terrify us. Televisions are commonplace in most homes. Most people own computers, and those computers can fit inside a pocket. Nations that were enemies during the War have become allies, and countries that were allies out of necessity have become true friends, even while new enemies have been discovered. Queen Elizabeth II, who could, in a short time, become Britain’s longest reigning monarch, wasn’t even born yet. Her grandfather, King George V, was praying for the safe return from battle of his second son, the then Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth’s father. Even the geography of the world has changed…there are new names and borders for many countries, and yet the people who inhabit them haven’t changed.

But much remains the same. We still turn to family for love and support in good times and bad. There are still fears and triumphs, joys and sorrows. Music still reflects our emotions, and we still look for a good story to entertain us and transport us to a new place. There are conflicts around the world over trivial and not-so-trivial matters. We have the potential to show great mercy, or to be cruel and unforgiving. We are always looking to discover new things. There is always childbirth, death, and, of course, taxes.

And the Cubs still haven’t won the World Series.

Yes, much has changed since the beginning of World War I. But, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same, which is why we must never forget, lest we make the same mistakes again.

You Haven’t Changed a Bit!

It occurred to me the other day, that depending on the context, the phrase, “You haven’t changed a bit,” isn’t always a compliment.

Sure, we like to hear that we haven’t changed, especially when it comes to our appearance, from those we knew “way back when.” But if those words are being applied to more than just our looks, I think we have a problem.

I recently ran across someone I knew from high school, (and even before), and those were the first words that came to mind–“She hasn’t changed a bit.” Yes, I was partly referring to her physical appearance, but it was more than that. Her attitude and demeanor, the way she carried herself, it was all just as it was 15 years ago. There’s something unsettling about someone changing so little since they were 16 years old, and I think it’s because it shows a lack of growth and maturity.

I hope that I’ve changed–and changed for the better. I hope that I’ve “grown-up” enough that people who knew me way back when would notice a difference in who I am. My basic beliefs haven’t changed, of course, but the way I approach the world has, and people should be able to observe that.

So, while people may long to hear those magic words, I really don’t think, “You haven’t changed a bit!” is a compliment, after all.

A Weird Turn of Events

Today was Moose’s last day of school before his graduation tomorrow. I was surprised to find that it was almost more difficult dropping him off for his last day of Early Childhood Education than it was dropping him off for his first day, two and a half years ago, but for completely different reasons.

When I had to leave him at the school that November day, I was so worried about how he would do. He couldn’t talk, and so I worried about how he would communicate with his teachers, and let them know what he needed, as well as how he would communicate with us when he got home, to let us know how his day was, and if he was happy at school. I worried about him being just barely three, which was, (and still is), in my opinion, too young to be away from home, at least for a “normal” child, (which, of course, he was not).

Today, my worries are about the future. How will he do in Kindergarten? Will he be able to keep up with all that’s expected of him? Because the expectations will be higher, and to be perfectly frank, Kindergarten “counts.” He *has* to be there, while ECE was always optional, and we could have removed him from the program at any time, if it hadn’t gone well.

Now, I know he’s surpassed what I thought he could do in ECE, so I’m assuming the same will happen in Kindergarten, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised, (and reassured). But I also know that things will be hard for him…I don’t know how hard, and I don’t know in which ways, but he will have struggles, I’m sure. And I would do anything to be able to take those struggles away from him, because I don’t want to see him get hurt.

And so, just as I did the day I first dropped him off, I shed tears. Not because I didn’t want to leave him, which was the source of my tears that first day, but because now, I don’t want him to have to leave the comfort and familiarity of the program I was so worried about leaving him with in the first place.

Seven is the New Ten is the New Sixty!

It used to be that 60 years of marriage was considered the diamond anniversary. Then, the “modern” list of anniversary gifts came out, and all of the sudden, 10 years is a diamond year. That’s quite a jump, from 60 down to 10! Of course, the modern list has diamonds for several anniversaries, and any number of gemstones and luxury items where they didn’t used to be (gone are the days of paper, cotton and leather–now it’s clocks, china and crystal!), but even so, cutting off the wait time by 50 years seems extreme.

It does make one wonder at the change. Is it because our society is so impatient, and so used to instant gratification that we can’t stand to wait until we’ve been married for 60 years? Is it because, even though life expectancies are longer, people are marrying later in life, thus making it less likely that they’ll be married for 60 years or longer? Or is simply that, with the divorce rate what it is, people want to get what they can while the getting is good? Any and/or all of these seems to me to be a viable possibility.

At any rate, even though we’re only celebrating our seventh anniversary this year, my wonderful husband got me a beautiful anniversary ring. Now, I’m a fairly patient sort of person, so it really wasn’t a matter of not being able to wait until our tenth (or sixtieth, I suppose) anniversary. And we got married young enough, so that’s not a problem. I’m also damn sure we won’t be getting a divorce, so it wasn’t a matter of doing the ring thing now, because we might not be together in a few years.

No, it was simple math. Thanks to Uncle Sam, and the economic stimulus package, we had the money now. With four children, we are fully aware that we may not have the money in three, thirteen or even thirty years, but here’s the government, giving us blow money, which is our civic duty to spend to try and help the economy limp along. So, good stewards of our money that we are (most of the time) we rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and did some shopping, not the least of which is my new ring. I am very grateful for my new pretty, and while I would have been willing to wait until whatever anniversary was deemed appropriate to receive diamonds, I’m glad I didn’t have to!

Nothing’s the Same Anymore

I’m finding myself at a place in life that is not very comfortable to me. Everything around me seems to be changing, and from my perspective, very little of it for the better. I don’t know, maybe this is just what happens when you get older. I am losing faith in my church body as a whole, am beginning to feel like maybe they have lost sight of what’s really important. I know there are still faithful congregations out there, and thank God I belong to one, but overall, I am starting to doubt whether the higher-ups have anyone’s best interest at heart but their own.

I have come to expect feeling this way in the world–as though I don’t really matter, like I don’t have anything valuable to add, and that most people are concerned with looking out for number one, but I didn’t expect that I’d begin to feel that way about the denomination I’ve belonged to since I was baptized close to 30 years ago. But now that my voice has been marginalized as only 1/3 of 1%, I come to realize how little I mean here, even though I spent 14 years of my life in denominational education, supported my husband through Seminary, worked at the headquarters of the church, and at a congregation–still, my voice doesn’t count. And when I think of the decades long members and workers who have been told their voices don’t count either, my heart hurts. We have been trivialized and swept under the rug, just so that the boys in charge can save face publicly, not caring what damage they’re doing to the people who put them and keep them in office.

I also look at old friends, friends I thought we’d have for life, and realize I don’t even recognize them anymore. I don’t understand how people can change so much in such a short amount of time, or how they can end up opposite us on almost everything we believe, but there it is. The things and people I had come to depend on in life have become foreign to me, and if not for my family, and a few very select friends, I don’t know who I’d turn to.

My heart is heavy these days, as I come to better understand what Christ meant when He said He came not to bring peace but a sword. I guess I never figured the sword would hit so close to home.