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our posse. [merely-a-thought monday]

i didn't even notice .jpg

we are five hours and a ferry ride from our basement.  but we have an amazing posse of friends back there on the mainland.  my girl has taken up residency keeping an eye on our house and our posse is keeping an eye out for her.  we know that, no matter what, someone is but a phone call and minutes away from any kind of help she – or our house, basement included – might need.  and in that, we rest easy.  such generosity.

the humidity and heat has been high in southeastern wisconsin this summer and our basement?  in a line from my big fat greek wedding, it suffers.  one dehumidifier is not enough.  worried, we texted our up-north-gang up north to ask advice:  “in a non-centrally-air-conditioned house, how many dehumidifiers would you put in the basement?”  immediately we got back answers from jay and gay, opinions from charlie and dan, and within days dan brought over a dehumidifier, installed it and checked on the one already there.  thinking about the cluttered basement, we texted to him that while paying attention to the basement to please ignore the basement.  he texted back, “i didn’t even notice the basement.”  generosity.

we ran home for a night a couple weeks ago.  we ran errands, we installed the a/c units in the windows, we grocery shopped, we weeded and vacuumed, we prepped the house for our girl’s arrival.  we picked up mail and packages from john, shared drinks and not-enough-stories with jen and brad, ate a late dinner with 20, had quick before-she-went-to-work coffee with michele.  in their busy schedules, our beloved posse dropped everything and made time to see us, time to spend together.  generosity.

we couldn’t be here without our posse there.  fact of the matter is, we couldn’t be THERE without our posse there.

because it takes a village to take care of a basement.  and each other.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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when push comes to shove, don’t. [merely-a-thought monday]

civility 2 copy

my sweet momma always said that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  although she stood her ground, she rarely pushed back.  well, maybe at my dad…i certainly heard her push back in that relationship.  she was a woman before her time, struggling to be seen and heard…in relationship, in work, in the world.  nevertheless, she lead with kindness and generosity.

recently i surprisingly found myself in a situation where i felt the kind of civility that is needed to accomplish anything was lacking.  instead it was aggressive, pointed, antagonistic.  “when push comes to shove” implies escalation and this, indeed, was the case.  instead of actual conversation, it was a push-shove back-and-forth.  instead of communication, it was a shining example of what-not-to-do.

we drove past a passiton billboard on the way up north that read these words:  when push comes to shove, don’t.  civility is in you.  what does a boorish push or a retorted shove accomplish other than an establishment of immaturity, a driving desire and play for power and an uncooperative non-collaboration?

civility is not that hard.  it should be what we lead with.  respecting others and their place in their world.  we each get the same air to breathe and we each breathe in and out the same way.  instead of escalating to shove or pushing yet harder, how might we fill our lungs with responses of peacefulness, thoughtfulness, fairness, appreciation, intelligent consideration, magnanimity, grace, even reconciliation.  why must push come to shove?  it needn’t.

just don’t.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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turn your vision out. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

THIS husby's dollar bill ceiling copy

the high ceiling at husby’s invited some creative decorating.  twenty years ago, at some point in time after their renovation, the staff and clientele starting throwing money at the ceiling tiles.  there are specific instructions for this, which include tacks and quarters and precise folding, but the end result is a ceiling full of paper currency – a virtual piggy bank of resources that are donated to local causes in sister bay, wisconsin.  seeing the bills on the ceiling and the posted list of good causes just makes you want to throw money.  encouraging others to throw money, continuing the twenty-year-old tradition is generosity.  it turns their vision out.

as the season of lent starts, many people will, for reasons they may not even be able to articulate, “give up” something, a sort of faux-fasting.  back in the day when i was a young teenager, and maybe even now, it was something of a contest…who could give up the most interesting thing, the hardest thing, the easiest thing, who could boast louder.  that all seems antithetical to the point.  way back, giving up lima beans would not count; giving up candy counted.  i haven’t often participated in this.  i’ve just tried, successfully and unsuccessfully, to moderate at all times.

yesterday or maybe the day before i saw a post about giving for this period of time.  in an effort to raise consciousness about austerity, the suggestion was made to each day give a THING away, something you do not use but someone else would value having, or something you know, even though you sometimes use it, would be vital for someone else.  that way, at the end of this period of 40 days there would be 40 THINGS that you have put aside to give away, a contribution to others who need the things you are easily (or actually not so easily) able to donate.  giving clothing or shoes or backpacks or kitchen gear or blankets, things that pare down your own concentric circles of stuff and grace another’s life with something he or she needs.  turning your vision out.

today i will take out two laundry baskets for us – as a start for this new practice.  this makes more sense to me than giving up candy.  as a personal practice in everyday life and honoring this life i was given, i should always be giving up anything in excess that isn’t good for me, lifestyle choices as opposed to a diet choice or a lent choice.  as a new ritual practice for these six weeks however, gathering things for others will illustrate how someone else might be benefited by my lent.  it’s not just about me.  it is turning my vision out.

ceiling money donations copy

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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chicken marsala monday

sometimesfaith WITH EYES jpeg copy 3“…well, i will walk by faith, well, even when i cannot see, because this broken road prepares your will for me…” (lyrics from a really great 2002 song by jeremy camp called ‘walk by faith’)

“we walk by faith and not by sight….” (19th century lyrics from a 1984 hymn ‘we walk by faith’ by marty haugen)

trust.  practice.  faith.  repeat.  not necessarily in that order.  through the ages, a common challenge – faith without seeing.  ‘we’ are no different now than ‘they’ were ‘back then.’  faith.  it’s ambiguous.

it’s funny.  you might think that the most faith-reinforcing moments come during a service and this true for some.  as a minister of music for three decades, i have always sought to create those moments for others…when all things come together:  music, lyrics, emotion to amplify the words (and the word) spoken in the service and resonate within someone’s heart and reinforce their feelings of faith. it is a job i take seriously; sometimes you only have one chance to help connect a service with a person’s heart, one chance to reassure, one chance to raise awareness, one chance to have them ask questions within their faith, to challenge their assumptions for and otherwise.

for me, though, the most faith-reinforcing moments are outside of the faith-based venue, be it a church, temple, cathedral, mosque.  they are the moments that i can feel the hugeness of this universe of God and my absolute tiny-ness within it:  walking in the woods, standing in the sunlight, looking out on a mountain, holding hands, seeing the moon rise over the lake, watching the surf, seeing love pass between two people’s eyes, hearing my children’s voices, finding the right chord for a song, eating breakfast on the deck in the sun with cardinals, hearing music swell…

as a minister of music, i have heard a lot of sermons and been at an un-countable number of services.  think about it.  (and this is not counting all the years not spent in this position, nor does it count all the extra services at certain times of the year…you’re thinking, “ok, ok, ohmygosh, we get it!” )  so thirty years multiplied by 52 weeks multiplied by at least two services a sunday (sometimes three, but we will round it to two, as you roll your eyes.)  that equals 3,120 services and sermons.  and let me just mention, some have been…ummm…way better than others.  so you would likely deduce that i would know all the stories of the old and new testaments pretty well by now.  well, i beg to differ with you.  for me, those stories are peripheral.

what really counts for me is the stuff you can’t see with your eyes, the things you can only experience:  love, kindness, peace, generosity…  simplicities.  complexities.  these are the foundations of my faith.  faith in goodness.  faith in being held.  faith in grace. choosing actions that are life-giving.  knowing that if i fail today, i can try again tomorrow.  walking the broken road, faithfully believing that there is a higher power that i can’t see but i can experience.  one that surrounds me in my joy and in my pain.  ptom, in his lenten sermon the other evening, said, “God is for you.”  it takes a little (read:  a lot of) practice; it’s a new day every new day.  but i believe.

FAITH TAKES PRACTICE – we have different products for this on both www.society6.com/chickenmarsala and www.society6.com/kerrisherwood

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CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY – ON OUR SITE

 

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‘faith takes practice’ LEGGINGS

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts on FAITH TAKES PRACTICE

 

sometimes faith takes a little practice ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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common ground. on this good earth.

yesterday i received a message of generosity.  i was struck by its kindness. it read, “dear kerri, though politically i am on the opposite side of the spectrum of you, i want to tell you i always love reading your articles. we are both wives, mothers, lovers of nature, animals and our families. i choose to take what you write in and love to live in it awhile…”

paper mache earthcommon ground. we have common ground, despite our differences. and we can meet there – on that good earth – to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

too often we cling to our differences. ptom talked about the icy grip of our own stubbornness and i cringed thinking of the times i had fiercely hung on with that icy grip. we believe it is our right to harbor resentments and hatred. we hold our deposits into a grudge bank tightly, haughty looks on our faces and in our hearts. there is a common ground there too, but no generosity enters that place and the soil is tainted with our own ideas of self-importance.

i was talking to d the other day and we passed a place in our town that always reminds me of a plethora of memories, some of which are not entirely pleasant. i am grateful to the menopause wizards who have somehow blocked the synapses in my brain making it impossible for me to remember all the details of the unpleasantness and difficulty that took place there. the details have become fuzzy; ok, who am i kidding? the details aren’t even fuzzy. it’s more like a very low dense fog. it makes it impossible for me to hang onto the grudges i’m sure i’m “supposed” to still have. i can’t remember them. for that matter, i can scarcely remember all of what happened. what a good thing. instead, with no credit to me or any intentional decision i made, i remember the positive things that happened in that place, on that good earth. i can’t help but wonder what might happen were i to intentionally make decisions that way…releasing the things i have felt that have made me cling to useless negative energy.

i can’t help thinking that our world would be radically transformed if we could release the grudges (and over-important-ized-memories of how we were somehow wronged and prejudices and bigotry and inequity and walls we have built) that hold us back from meeting together, from finding common ground. we could choose to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

it’s there. the possibility. the space around us could become saner, with grace for each other, a place of peace.  on this good earth.

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there are angels all around you.

angelsallaroundyoujpeg“there are angels all around you,” pete said. he said this a few years ago now and it has stuck with me like glue. it was snowing – fiercely – and i had chosen to go drive in it with my inordinately-low-to-the-ground little xb. maybe not a terribly smart decision, but i needed to purchase a special gift and overnight it, so i left home determined to get to the little shop called ‘peacetree’ and find the perfect present. i took wrapping paper, a card, tape, scissors and a fedex envelope with me, in an effort to be organized and confuse the universe with my illogical logic.

having found and wrapped the perfect gift at the shop, i looked outside the big front window and saw that, not only had inches of snow piled up in my short time there, but the plows had gone by, encircling my little scion with drifts. i looked at pete, wrinkled my face in worry and said, “uh-oh…this should be an interesting drive home.” he looked back at me, his eyes kind and clear, and said, “there are angels all around you.” there were several moments of silence between us and then he said, “really.”

my husband just wrote a beautiful post about the angels all around us…the ones who help us, cajole us, take care of us, leave us favorite groceries on our front steps for when we return home from a difficult trip, make us soup, drop off a bottle of wine, bring us brownies….people in our everyday lives who make things easier. we all have them. sometimes we appreciate them a lot, sometimes we have no idea how life would be without them. they are indeed angels and life is better simply by their being in our lives. angels all around us. i was moved when the girl told me about someone she bought a sandwich and water for outside a convenience store…he was a veteran and she felt like she was drawn to helping him by her pa, my dad and a WWII ex-pow. with not much at all to spare, she was an angel for this man, who needed help. yes, angels all around us. ones we know, ones we don’t know.

and then there are the angels that i believe pete was talking about. the ones we can’t see. the ones who are present with us, but just on the other side. how many times have you felt the presence of someone you love who is no longer on this plane of existence? truth be told, i rely on that. i talk to my sweet momma, i tell my daddy stories. i ask my big brother to help me out, to give me clear, precise thinking, as he had. i’ve seen evidence of them, trying to get my attention…my “coincidental” noticing of the big semi on the highway going the opposite direction with the words “WAYNE WAYNE WAYNE” written across it…the two cardinals repeatedly swooping in the backyard over the deck, in moments i am missing my parents desperately…the intervention i can’t explain in an accident that could have proven to be tragic…the slight smell of cologne or perfume in the air…the can falling off the shelf in the green room beside the stage on the last take of the last song (called “divine intervention”) of my very first album (the-best-producer-on-the-planet-ken and i left this sound in the recording, feeling it an important message)…

i’m not sure we can seek these angels out.   as much as i’d like, i can’t just call them up. but i do know that they are there. and that blizzarding day i was out in the snow and got stuck by the fedex box, there is no explanation as to why i was able to just – all-of-a-sudden – drive out of the enormous drift into which i had slid. pete was right. pete is right.

occasionally, i see pete out and about in town. one of these times i will stop and tell him how much it meant to me that he said that. undoubtedly he won’t remember. but me? i will never forget. there are angels all around me. and yes, there are angels all around you.

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