Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Good Samaritan and the Social Safety Net

My friend Phil Fox Rose writes a lot of thoughtful pieces about the Christian life at the websites Busted Halo and Patheos. This week, he asked me to contribute a guest entry on the theme of faith and a political issue.The issue I chose comes directly from my life as a public librarian: how do you tell who deserves help and who doesn't? 

Anne Lindley: The Good Samaritan and the Social Safety Net

As a Christian, I believe Jesus was not kidding when He said “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Jesus talks about offering meat and drink, providing clothes, helping the sick. How about us? What should we do for our sisters and brothers? 

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Instructions for meditation, in three chapters

Watch your breath. Wait, and watch
as you might observe a sparrow
resting on a branch.
That is: attentively, at ease,
like a monarch who may choose 
to wait attendance on a sparrow.


Bird wings, and your faithful friend, your breath, never rest long.
The sparrow soon rejoins the air, the very air
that lifts and lets fall the skin below your throat.
The air that flattens cities, spins the maple seed.


There is no end of wonders
in the fulcrum of the breath,
in the stillness of the sparrow.
Divine, ordinary, framed
by the attention
of God's own eye.


photo: BBC News

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Now and Then

“Then” is a trickster word. Sometimes it has the sweetness of memory, the overripe Polaroid colors of lost time: “I was happier then.” Sometimes it has the hopeful, hungry grasp of the future: “Come October, I won’t be working at the library anymore, and I’m going to do a lot more writing then.” When we pair the word “then” with its stronger, brighter sister, “now,” it still doesn’t hold a lot of water. “Now and then” ought to mean “all the time,” because what else is there, besides “now,” and “then”? But instead, “now and then” means “sometimes,” a dusting of confectionary sugar on the cake of life.

When I was in the my last week of high school, I wrote a poem that began with the lines:
I am waiting with a second-hand seven days long
For the end of the river to pass by my door.

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Polaroid
I hoped (then) that the end of high school would sweep away everything that held me back, everything that kept me from living the life I wanted to live. I imagined just moving away from home would clear the broad avenue of life before me like the men with big brooms who sweep up confetti and lost ice-cream novelties after a parade. But more than a few years later, I'm still lingering behind in the crowd. I still hesitate to call myself a writer, as I write poetry now and then and dream up characters.

Now I am again on the verge of a big life change, stepping away from a regular paycheck and a steady stream of people who definitely want what I have to offer as a librarian. It’s a bit terrifying to say I am going to try to be a professional writer now. What if I never get paid again? Then I’ll be a failure. A failure with no paycheck whose chief talent is napping.

I am going to aim instead to be a steady writer. I write, I laugh, I make snacks, I daydream. These are all steady habits of mine. I’m going to launch my ambition on that river instead, the unspectacular but surprisingly deep river of steadiness, and see how it carries me along. And if I feel anxious about the passage of time, and whether I am living my life secondhand, I will repeat to myself calmly, “Now, now… now, now.”