Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Have you ever thought very much about your name? Do you know where your name came from? My names came from my two Dutch grandmothers: Rena, and Maria. But no one ever called me Rena Maria, because I was born with red hair and my dad called me Ginger--which means "red"--even though that name wasn't on my birth certificate or my school records or my passport. My name has been Ginger ever since. And I like red. A lot.
For a long, long time I didn't meet anyone else with a name like mine, a name that means "Red." But now there are some right here in this church!
Many years ago, when I was a little girl and we were on vacation in California, my mom took a job to earn some extra money. There was a doctor's office in Hollywood that needed a doctor for a while, and they signed my mom up to treat patients there. I don't remember how long she worked at that office, because my brother and I weren't paying much attention. We were busy sitting in Grandma's back room watching episodes of Gilligan's Island.
So my mom worked in this office and saw a lot of people right here in America who were poor and sick and needed help. And she saw some that were really different from the people she usually treated in her doctor's office. Some were rich, or getting rich. "There are some people with really strange names," she told us.
"What really strange names do they have?" we asked Mama.
"Well, a celebrity brought his kids in," she told us, "and the little girl's name was Moon Unit."
"Moon Unit!" we exclaimed.
"Yes," she said. "And another actor called her kid Bus Stop."
"What???" we exclaimed. "Why?"
"That's what I was wondering," Mama said. "Even if you shorten them to nicknames, Moon and Bus aren't very great names. I think the kids at school will tease them."
We laughed and laughed about those names: Moon Unit... and Bus Stop. And now I know that Moon Unit is a fairly well-known actress, musician and author. People call her "Moon." She named her daughter "Mathilda."
I've known some other children with different names. I taught Morning Star and Field Stream in the Philippines. And I met Blessed in Africa. He's a good pianist.
A long, long time ago, way before Blessed and Morning Star and Field Stream and Moon Unit were born--and even before I was born--an angel came to Joseph and said, "You are to get married to Mary, because she is going to have a baby boy who is God's Son, and you are to call him 'Jesus.'
There are some names that sound a little bit like "Jesus," --like Joshua and Josiah--but I don't see anyone else named "Jesus" in the Bible before Jesus was born on this earth.
What does the name "Jesus" mean? It means "God rescues," or "God saves."
Jesus showed us that God will rescue us from our sin and our trouble. He was God's promise, and He was God, keeping His promise to us.
He came to rescue me. And he rescues you, too. And that ... means his name--Jesus--is good news!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I had seen on my schedule a two-hour meeting with my associate about accreditation. I'd thought to myself, "That's suspicious. There's no way Scott and I can discuss accreditation for two hours!" But one knows not to ask about these things when it's one's special day.
Sure enough, at 1:00 the cake showed up and people began to arrive, creating a steady stream for the next two hours of well-wishers. Most of them were older than I, so I razzed them for advice regarding life after fifty. It was a delightfully fun, social time, and so enjoyable to be talking about non-work things with people that I'm usually all-business with.
The Marcus Whitman is the grand old dame of hotels in our part of the state. There's a stateliness to her, and the staff there make sure the food is good and the atmosphere genteel. I really enjoy it.
There are good things to making a fuss about a rite of passage. This one was just right.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Me, on the last day of 49
[Warning: Self-focused reflective post ahead.]
This is my last morning of being in my forties. It's a very odd feeling. I've been thinking about tomorrow's birthday for quite some time, and I'm not used to the idea yet. I have a feeling I won't get used to it, at least for a few years. In the decades leading up to fifty, one doesn't spend much time imagining what it might be like to become that age. My own parents turned fifty when I was away at boarding school; other than wishing them the usual birthday greetings, it was a non-event. So I don't quite know how to do this.
As Husband and I discussed the impending milestone yesterday, he commented that fifty is harder than forty because you can imagine yourself being twice as old as forty, but it's much harder to imagine doubling your age at fifty. You have to recognize by then that you've probably lived more than half your life. Somewhere along the way you peaked your journey upward to halfway without knowing it.
Fifty is beyond what you can stretch "young" to mean. Fifty is just fifteen short years from the traditional retirement age, although plenty of people are working past sixty-five now. Fifty is where you have to either fight your age in your body or accept it. I've always promised myself I'd accept it graciously--I mean the gray hair, the wrinkles, the saggy-ness. I find that at almost-fifty it's more important to me to live healthfully, so I won't settle for physical decline just yet. Resistance to entropy is the name of the game, and that takes some strategic effort. More exercise, better nutrition, looking out for my own emotional health--I'm being better to myself as I approach fifty.
I once thought I'd be spiritually settled by fifty. But I'm not. I still have questions, doubts still cross my mind, and I still think about taking a vacation from religion the way it's been organized around me all my life. I dream of living more simply, meaningfully and dependently with God, without all the traditions and arguments around me. I've had some surprising spiritual realizations in ramping up to fifty, and I'm still processing them. They are too personal to talk about yet, but they feel like God's special birthday gift to me. My spiritual life gets more precious and personal as time passes. Whether that can be done within my religious community is something I'm on a journey to discover, because I love my religious community. Warts and all, they are some of the finest, most interesting, fully human people on the face of this planet. They are my family. You can leave your family but you can never totally shuck them off. So far I see little point in dragging them around like a carcass behind me. They are still alive.
On this last day before fifty, I will do the things I usually do. I will meet with an accreditation team that has come on campus to evaluate one of our programs. I will meet with faculty in their follow-up appointments to promotion decisions. I will meet with the leadership team of the area I oversee for our weekly confab. I will talk with a chair about reconfiguring a couple of his academic programs. I will tour some problem spots on campus with our master planning committee, and I will welcome the graduate students at their annual Christmas reception. This has been the stuff of my forties.
My twenties were spent primarily in preparation for, and my first six years of teaching. My thirties were spent primarily as a college professor. My forties have been spent as a college administrator. I'm curious about the decade of my fifties. I think there will be some other change in this decade. Or maybe not. In any case, I find myself thankful for the flavor and lessons of each decade so far, and looking forward--not to the age, but the experiences of the decade to come.
And I won't end this without reviewing love life. I am, after all, a woman. I'm glad to have the unsure, unfulfilling dates of my twenties behind me. I loved the independence and security of my single thirties, despite the moments of longing for companionship. The married days, children and grandchildren of my forties have flown by fast and furious, and they have been a blessing beyond anything I've experienced so far. My forties have been full of laughter, love, and a deepening of my ability to be a contributing and committed family member.
And so I pray to live well, in this last day of my forties. And I pray that God will continue to do His good work in me as I peer through the doorway of tomorrow.
Friday, December 2, 2011
...at which which point it's time for Daddy to pick up the kid, and the family to gather for a photo. Note that the ages range from 2 to 85, and a good time was had by all!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
We spent Thanksgiving break with a number of relatives, as I've mentioned in an earlier post or two. But one of the best treats was getting more acquainted with Granddaughter #2, who came north with her parents to celebrate thankfulness with us. The purpose of this post is to simply give you the opportunity to ooh and aah over her incredible cuteness. Ready? Here we go!