Posted by Jennifer Angelina Petro on Friday, March 13, 2020
Posted by Jennifer Angelina Petro on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
A Little Story about The Purpose of Life, Chickens, Dragons, and Dark Chocolate
Jennifer Angelina Petro
Chapter One: The Ending
My parents were dead before I was born, and so was I. Hate to break it to you, but it’s the same for you too, dear reader. It’s the same for all of us. Thing is, it’s a fact that’s hard to remember. Once we infuse ourselves into a body, we’re already so delighted over the sparkling journey, that our so-called-past-becomes a distant, nearly fully unconscious memory. I say, “so-called past,” because, as the chickens tell us—there is no true beginning or end. The debate as to which who came first, is like arguing over which is better—dark chocolate Oreos or dark chocolate nonpareils—silly.
At any rate, let’s get back to me. As I mentioned a paragraph ago, my parents were dead before I was born, and so was I. Hate to break it to you, but it’s the same for—-oh, sorry, said that already. I’m trying to focus, please be patient with me. It’s not easy to be a ghost and keep your focus. Think of it—everything is radiantly timeless and sugary like cotton candy, and so it’s hard to remain focused on whatever is in front of you—not to mention the fact that you can pass your hands through everything you touch and that’s pretty cool, but nevertheless annoying.
I should probably define what a ghost actually is. It’s not what most people think. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (which remains my favorite website after all these centuries) in the original Old English, the word, “ghost,” was, “gast,” which meant, among other things, “breath; angel, demon; person, human being.” The fact that the word has devolved over the centuries to simply mean the spirit of a dead person, is a travesty. Most words today are devolutions of much richer, more wondrous meanings, and, as time goes by (which is really a very profane expression, since time doesn’t “go-by,” but more on that later—which is another word related to time that also baffles me), the human mind became less able to hold all these various meanings in one mind (which is, as you guessed it–the idea of “one mind”–a silly idea as well) and thus the intricate complexities of all words distill down to definitions that any old human intellect can tackle.
It’s entirely possible you might be thinking that I’m attempting to avoid relating the actual story I started out to tell—the one about my parents and I being dead before we were born—and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. You see, it is a challenging story for me to both recall and to tell. It brings to surface, like an underground lake suddenly seeping across the land, many painful experiences that must, of necessity, be brought to light. Not the least of which involves a hungry (but vastly misunderstood) dragon, the challenging descriptions of incarnating, and the hot-button-topic-of gender identity—sure to rankle the feathers of many small-minded fundamentalists.
All that said, let’s jump into the vegetarian meat of the story: My parents were dead before I was born, and so was I. Now, as I eluded to earlier—any word that is used in reference to time— “before,” “earlier, “after,” and so on, are really misnomers, and highly inaccurate and misleading. For the sake of you, dear reader, we will stick to the conventional, human terms for time. This is not to say you are incapable of grasping such concepts, it is more to say—your heart can, your soul can, your spirit can—but your mind—well, your mind will get all tangled in philosophical debating and you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the yarn I am spinning—or, at very least, about to spin. The broader, more cosmic definitions of “time” are going to be left for another, non-existent day.
Take a breath, dear reader, cause here we go.
Chapter Two: The Beginning
20 Alternative, Life-Affirming Activities to Do During Lent
Jennifer Angelina Petro
There is debate in both pagan and Christian circles as to the origins of Lent, and, as usual, both sides think they’re right. We know Norse people put ashes on their forehead to protect them from Odin’s more violent moods. And it’s hard not to notice that Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in Norse mythology, is an ash tree. We do know Jesus never mentioned Ash Wednesday, nor anything even close. It was a ritual adopted many centuries later. We also know that, in most Christian denominations—both Protestant and Catholic, that it’s traditional to “give something up” for forty days. Some people fast from meat. Other’s treat it sort of like a New Year’s Resolution and deny themselves chocolate, TV, fried foods, and the like.
I propose that Lent be a time of welcoming new things into our lives, of affirming people and things we love and new people and things we want to cultivate love for. The word, “Lent,” simply means springtime. Why, during such a lavishly abundant time of growth should we refuse ourselves even the simplest of pleasures? I truly believe that is not what Jesus wants. I believe he wants us to enjoy “the kingdom of God,” and to share of what we have. He fasted, yes, so the story goes, but he never said we should do it for forty days. Early Christian Church leaders were all about encouraging the illiterate flock to deny itself pleasures, to self-flagellate, to perform outrageous acts of penance, and all manner of self-mortifications, while they sat back in their gold-gilded rooms feasting. It almost became sort of a contest: who can sleep on a bed of nails the longest? Who can pick the worst self-abusive behaviors for the glory of God? The body was, after all, sinful.
Well, if we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine, then I say our bodies are sacred and meant to be treated as such. In light of that, here are twenty suggestions for alternative, life-affirming things we can do for the next forty days.
-Commit to doing some kind of act of self-care.
-Accept and celebrate positive things about yourself and others in active, real ways.
-Do something creative every day and then throw a party after that time to culminate the resurrection of (or the evolution of) your creativity.
-Do something kind (and in secret) for someone every day—especially perhaps for those you may not “like,” or who are “different,” than you.
-Take time to expand your understanding of things like feminism, racism, gender studies, white-privilege, etc., and ways to get involved locally and/or globally to help the world.
-Send someone (the same person or different) an email every day with a silly joke or inspirational quote.
-Sing every day–your favorite song, a new song, a silly song, a made-up song—to yourself, in the shower, at work, while walking, to strangers, to friends, to family.
-Try a new food every day and/or share food with someone else.
-Make every effort to sit down with your whole family for dinner.
-Every time you catch yourself thinking something judgmental towards someone, including yourself, reframe that thought into something loving, positive, and compassionate.
-Donate your time and resources to someone or an organization that helps others.
-Read spiritual literature every morning and/or evening. Or, at very least, read something other than online news—a story, a children’s book, poetry, a biography. You get the idea.
-Take time to learn about different faith traditions with the goal of looking for similarities and places your faiths converge.
-Eat breakfast and/or health(ier) foods.
-Take one little (or big) step towards your dream every day.
-Take a moment to breathe consciously outside.
-Take a moment to notice—really notice—a tree, flower, cloud, a loved one, your own amazingness.
-Throw away, or give away, one thing in your living space that you haven’t touched, noticed, used in ages.
-Inventory your life a little each day. Ask yourself how you’re doing as a citizen of the world. Be honest. No shame. Just objective self-reflection. What are you doing well? Where can you improve? Are there any amends to make? And so on.
-Go ahead and eat something you absolutely love.
The list is endless and as varied as you. The point is, instead of Lent being a time of denying things we like and love, we make it a time of embracing what we love in mindful, attentive, fun, and thankful ways.
It might also be fun to have your worship community, your family, your co-workers, and so on—commit to doing one of these affirming activities together and then celebrate the revelations and resurrections of playfulness and appreciation that hopefully would result by doing such a shared ritual.
As the season unfolds, it’s OK to start up a new “Forty Days,” anytime. It’s OK to celebrate the resurrection of anything that was lost and then found.
And, of course, it is the hope the cultivation of these positive things would extend far after Lent (or at least much longer than most New Year’s Resolutions); that they would become habits, so to speak, or perhaps, continually evolving spiritual practices.
You might be wondering what I have chosen to do this Lenten season. As of the writing of this post, I have the flu, so I am not committing to anything that puts me in contact with anyone else until I am officially not contagious. For now, I am committing to telling myself something nice about myself every day. I also commit to send little messages of appreciation and inspiration to someone different every day. Look in your inbox.
All donations go to medical expenses and groceries. Thank you. <3
Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,
The Spiritual Aspects
Of the Parts of Speech,
Part III: Adjectives
Adjectives are the painting words in our language. You could
say, the lion, and that
would technically be a complete sentence, but why not say what the lion is
doing?—The lion roars. Next, imagine what the lion looks like: The golden lion roars. Or,
The wild-eyed, golden-maned lion roars with the roar of creation. The
sentences with the adjectives are more interesting. They give you a
better picture. You could say, the
flower grows, or, the
dew-dappled, red rose grows. See what I mean?
Our handy online etymology dictionary says that the origins for
the word adjective mean to add to or throw
near. What words do you add to the names of things? Do you
throw in swear words? Do you add pet-phrases that somehow describe what
you are saying? Are the describing words you use mostly of a visual
nature? Do you speak in generalities or can you be specific?
Reflect on the nature of adjectives. Really play with
them, for adjectives make the creation alive and interesting—they are the
painters and poets of our language. They are creators and
catalysts. Imagine, for example, what color God is. What color is
His/Her hair? Reflect on the colors of emotions. What color is
pain? What color is joy? Reflect
on the sounds you listen to. Which sounds do you love? Which sounds
are grating? Reflect on the textures of things. Do you prefer soft
clothes or rough? Hold someone’s hand today, a friend, spouse, or a
child, and describe what that is like—both the feel of their hand and the
feeling that act brings to your heart. Reflect on the colors you see in a
given day—or do you see them? Is your life grey and covered in
dust? If so, do a cleaning and get out the paint brushes of adjectives
and color your world with beautiful descriptions. Reflect on the
qualities that describe the Divine. And let’s not forget about the sense
of smell. Reflect on the kinds of smells you love. Describe
them. What does heaven smell like? What does love smell like? Try
to use adjectives in every sentence you say today—try and use all the senses
too. Even if it sounds outrageous and silly—talk like an eccentric
poet. Have fun and play with adjectives.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog