Friday, February 18, 2011

We are family

Through the years, I've noticed how families will sacrifice deeply for their most vulnerable members. Parents will forego every luxury to care for a disabled child into adulthood. Children will put their lives on hold to care for ill, elderly parents. Grandparents regularly give up their golden years to take in young grandchildren whose parents can't or won't care for them.

That's what we do in families. But as a state, as a nation, as a society, we apparently don't share that same commitment. Instead, when it's time to sacrifice, we ask the most vulnerable among us to sacrifice first. The wealthy among us refuse to contribute at the rate they did during the Reagan administration, demanding ongoing and increasing tax cuts. The powerful among us continue to spout partisan sound bites to protect their special interests while demanding that others bear the burden of sacrifice. And the rest of us let it happen .

And so, as we are facing the necessity of budget cuts--and no one disputes the necessity of budget cuts-what do we propose to cut first? On the state level, it's the mentally disabled adult in a group home or the uninsured handicapped child who is asked to sacrifice first. On the national level, it's families without health insurance and women and children who lack the basic necessities of life.

Meanwhile, the rights of the unborn are receiving a great deal of attention (as they should), while the needs of the already born are minimized. The battle cry is "personal responsibility!" Yet, how is an elderly man whose savings have run out due to the unforeseen cost of a nursing home supposed to take personal responsibility? How about a mentally retarded middle aged woman whose group home is the only home she has known since she left her parents' home? How about a preschooler with cystic fibrosis with loving parents who could never cover the cost of lifesaving drugs?

I long for us to remember that we are a family. I pray for the growing realization that if we don't take care of the most vulnerable among us, we have failed our values and our God. I hope that we will decide to share the burden--all of us together, contributing what we can--to create safety nets (yes, even government safety nets) for those who otherwise have none.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

21 years ago, we cancelled Valentine's Day. We were young and newly married and had what we could euphemistically call "differences" about what Valentine's Day was supposed to be about, culminating in the year I asked for a teddy bear and got a stuffed Tasmanian Devil instead. I decided then that instead of being pissed off every February 14th, I would acknowledge that C is pretty darn romantic most of the year and let him off the hook on Valentine's Day. It was a great decision.

This year, though, we've been missing each other a lot and C decided to reinstate Valentine's Day. Nothing fancy, but pretty perfect--lots of sweet words, an early steak dinner (to beat the crowds), a card, candy, a gift. It's been a really lovely night.

As always, though, our lives are punctuated by humor and silliness. Here's a conversation we had when I walked in from work tonight:

C: What's that? (pointing to a small bag of candy in my briefcase)
Me: A client gave me these . . . they're just like Reese's but waay better.
C: They can't be better than Reese's!
Me: Seriously, they're sooo much better. The chocolate is creamier and the peanut butter just melts in your mouth.
C: long pause But if someone got you some Reese's candy for Valentine's Day, you wouldn't think these were better, would you?

How was I supposed to know that Reese's now makes a heart-shaped box of candy? So here's my official opinion: the Reese's are better because they taste like love. (But the others are creamier . . . just sayin')

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mary and Martha

Two of my favorite Bible characters are Mary and Martha and the glimpse they give us into Jesus' domestic life and his friendships. I've always loved the way Jesus gives Mary--a woman!--a place at the table, or more exactly, a place of learning at his feet. I've always wondered, though, why Jesus didn't affirm Martha as well. On the Sojourners blog, I just read in one of the comments to an article about the two sisters: "If Mary had been the one to complain, Jesus would have said, "Well, Mary, someone has to fry the chicken.'" That made me laugh! Probably we shouldn't speculate, but it makes sense to me!