November 23, 2013

Fears & Films

Last night I watched12 Years a Slave. It was upsetting and disturbing, and rightly so. Based on a true story, it chronicled how Solomon Nor thup, a free black man, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840's.

I found myself hiding behind my scarf.

They're actors, I told myself, This is a movie set. They're acting. That is not real blood.

And then the next voice jumped in.

But it really happened. Maybe not exactly like this, but worse. To more people. Who weren't actors. This isn't pure fiction. And this isn't over..

I feel a bit ill today, thinking about it all.

About who I might have been if I had been born two hundred years ago and what I might have turned a blind eye to. About Grampie and last week's blogpost, about this photo series, about my friends' documentary on sex-trafficking & prostitution, and the horrors of sexual violence:

I fear many things for my life, but I do not fear being enslaved.
I don't fear being victimized repeatedly without any means of escape.
I do not fear living in fear for my life or my safety.

I fear being too loud, I fear being too pushy,
I fear forcing my perspective on others.
I fear that I'll talk too much about one thing and people will stop listening to anything I say.

More than that, I fear being a silent bystander while evil unfolds.
I fear that the little things I do are not enough.
I fear that fear will hold me back or that a lack of hope will prevent me from doing anything.

I fear that my perspective on the world will only extend to my own backyard, that I will be like the kind-hearted slaveowner played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who, when confronted with the truth of Northup's past, backed away, saying, "I can't hear this! I can't hear!"

November 19, 2013

Ginger Orange Cookies

Last night I needed to make cookies, and desperately wanted ginger cookies. Chewy, delicious, ginger cookies. So I found two recipes from brilliant food bloggers, and wound up with my own blend of a recipe. They were a huge hit with my Tuesday night-class Cookie Club and other friends, and most importantly, myself. Since I measured precisely (for a change), I thought I would share my recipe:

1/2 c. unsalted butter
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves/allspice

1/4 c. molasses*
1 egg

zest from 1/2 an orange
roughly 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/3 c. raw/white sugar, in a small bowl

1. Cream butter, brown sugar and spices.
2. Combine remainder of wet ingredients, add to butter mixture. Blend well.
3. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to wet mixture, just to incorporate.
4. Forming small balls with the dough (I used a tablespoon-ish amount and rolled them in my palm), roll them in sugar and drop onto a baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350 for approximately 8-10 minutes.
6. Remove, cool. Eat. Or remove, eat.

*the only change I think I would make is to add more molasses. I love molasses-y cookies.

November 14, 2013

Three Good Things

Earlier today, my boss referred to me as "Queen Bee" in an email. I have been humming Royals ever since. If only he knew this song! The image of a 65 year-old Welshman grooving to Lorde makes me grin.

This evening I attended an evening event in memory of CS Lewis, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. If you think I am a book nerd, you should have seen everyone else there!! Seriously though. It was something good for my heart.

After, I wandered briefly around a moonlit courtyard - my eye was caught by a tree with only one branchworth of leaves left hanging...somehow this sign of an imminent winter made me grateful. I'm not even sure what for.

November 11, 2013

What Is the Point of Remembering?

It's November 11th, so you all know what and whom I'm writing about. When I sat down to write, I wasn't sure what thoughts I had. And now this is my preamble: the following is by and large a sermon to myself. I don't intend to point fingers anywhere but at my own self (and more broadly, at the whole of our culture).

Remembrance Day isn't exactly a "holiday," but to me it is one of the most important days that we recognize as a country. This morning I stood in the small chapel at my seminary, participating in a brief service of prayer and rememberance while the cannons at Queen's Park echoed off the bricks and a distant horn sounded the Last Post.
Grampie and I, last year.

The sounds of war.

Briefly, mutedly, minutely, a reminder of what too many people lived through for too many days, weeks, months.

The act of remembering. An important occasion.

But here's my question: does it matter? What is the point of stopping to remember and honour the past if we aren't actually learning from it?

A few weeks ago, I called Grampie. As we chatted, I let him know that I would definitely be in town for yesterday's church service. He had been asked to read Scripture, and as much as he protests getting up in front of a crowd, the request to participate is a much-needed recognition and beautiful way to honour him.

Our conversation, of course, turned to the war, and he said something I've heard many times.

"You know I don't talk much about what happened. I don't like to talk about what we went through."

And then he made a connection I've never heard from him before.

"You want to know what we saw? Just watch the news. The same things are still happening to the women and children today."

The same things.
Are happening today.

The things my Grampie spent years in the trenches for. The memories that haunt him, seventy years later.

Genocide. Rape. Murder. The worst types of torture and violence.

They are happening today.

And what are we doing?

Now, I am not saying it's time for a new world war. God forbid such a thing should happen. But in the seventy years since World War II, have we not gained new tools? Have we not learned anything? Do we have no solutions, no methods of prevention or intervention?

Do we still care so little for our fellow humans?

I feel convicted today that remembering is not enough. Or rather, that "remembering" is not simply stopping to say, "This happened." A remembrance that honours the lives lost or irrevocably changed by wars in our past must include a commitment to bring peace, to be people of peace, and to seek the peace of all humanity, most especially those who are being oppressed, whose lives are at risk in the present day.

We kid ourselves if we say that the world is at peace today. We may not be living in a time of active war here in Canada, but to say our world is at peace is to deny the atrocities, the indignities, and the sufferings of millions.

So what are we going to do about it? What am I going to do about it?

Do we simply sit and wait til our government legislates violent action? Are there no other means, no other options to actively, yet peacefully, fight intolerance, racism, gender inequality and oppression? What is the reasonable act of a person who lives in relative peace and safety in response to the millions who do not?

I don't know yet, entirely. But I'm giving it much thought. And I welcome yours.

November 3, 2013

Thoughts: A List/Poem

The other night, as I lay in bed, I realized I've dropped the ball on blogging recently, especially my weekly seminary updates. And then I thought, Right now, if I never posted on my blog again, I'd be okay with that. I have quite a few offline outlets for conversations and life-processing, and maybe this one is becoming unnecessary.

This morning (for a moment, I thought it was yesterday!), I wrote a list of the things I've been thinking about recently. The list managed to come out as a poem:
On being more myself,
on jockeying for power
and hearing others' stories.

On writing papers for what I learn
and not the grades I'll get.
On Germany and Tanzania,
on money
and trusting it will come.

Becoming old and wearing out.
Remembrance Day, peace and
whether we learn from the past.

On gratitude and fear and how
          everything is grace.

And suddenly, I wanted to blog all these thoughts, unpack the seeds I had just mentioned, and share it all with YOU!

But there was no time (til now, when I ought to be asleep).

The moral of the story is this: my blog is not going anywhere. But time crunches, and full (happily so) living, the reality that I have many papers and assignments that ought to be written before blog entries, and I am no longer sitting bored-ly at a desk for eight hours every day - these add up and I'm not able to get it all out here as often as I'd like. Somedays, I'm at a loss for time. Others, I run out of words (surprising, I know).

I'll keep trying, though. Because I like what this space is, and I learn a lot from it, and from the kind words I've heard, others enjoy it too.

And if you want me to unpack any of the particular topics I've just thrown out there, I'm happy to start with reader-requests :)

Also. November!?!?!? WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE! (many good places)