Monday, February 25, 2019

Deconstructing My Faith

I'm being a bum today. I'd planned to ride my indoor trainer but I'm sorta just fine doing nothing except for catching up on my blog. Between stained glass projects and keeping our driveway cleared of snow, I've been quite busy. It doesn't appear that there's much of a break in this snowy period we find ourselves, but at least we're breaking snowfall records. It would be a shame to get this much snow and walk away with nothing to show for it. Just for fun, here's a look back at two years ago and here's from two days ago. Yes, I'm very proud of my snowbanks—thanks for asking.

I finished the stained glass window to the left yesterday (the one in the middle). There's something calming to me when looking at the lines of these windows. I suppose it speaks to the Virgo in me and my desire for things to be orderly. I won't try and explain it any more than that—you either get it or you don't. Here's a link to it in more detail on my Etsy site.

Here's a short video I took this morning of all seven panels. Hopefully, we'll have no more bird strikes into our sunporch windows now that they're all in place.

I'm overdue for my next bout of cluster headaches. It's been more than 18 months since my last episode with them and 18 months is typically on the outer reaches of how long of a reprieve I can expect. Tammy suggested I go in and see my neurologist to have all of the prescriptions in place that I'll need when they return so I'm not caught flat-footed and scrambling. I did that today. If you're interested, you can do a search of my blog for "cluster headaches". You'll find several posts there detailing a dark side of my life that I try to think about as little as possible when I'm headache free as I am today. I'll shut up now.

It's been since last summer that Tammy and I attended services at Family of Christ where we'd become members two years earlier. I have so little desire to return at this point. Tammy still participates with her friends in the book club there but she's lost her desire to attend as well—for now. It has nothing to do with Family of Christ. It's a fine church.

I've been deconstructing my faith for most of the last five years, questioning more and more the religion that was instilled in me at St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Bloomington as well as other churches along the way. They're some of my core beliefs and to walk away from them, much less question them is not something I would ever do without serious consideration. I still maintain my faith in God although God looks different to me now. I still spend a fair amount of time in prayer each day but I no longer hold fast to a belief in either heaven or hell, or the Trinity, or God and Jesus being one-in-the-same, and as I've written here before, I struggle with so much of what's written in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I don't know that I'll ever read through it again and that to me is a sad thought. I've been blessed beyond measure in my life. Don't I owe this all to God? I'm conflicted.

To be honest, lately, I've been entertaining the idea of reincarnation. It's not something I've ever studied or even talked about with anyone, not even Tammy. I recall how sad she became a few years ago when I began questioning the Trinity and expressed my doubts about it to her. I was breaking away and she was worried for me. But I can't pretend to believe in something when I no longer do. Reincarnation makes about as much sense as any other belief system to me. In my version of it, we're sent here to experience life from varying levels of class, race, and opportunity. What better way for us to truly walk in our brother's shoes. How certain am I of this? About as certain as I am that the Bible is truly the inspired word of God. I have a lot of room for doubt with both beliefs.

For the longest time, I've had a strange thought that occasionally creeps into my psyche—that in my previous life I was Uncle Herman—my grandmother's brother who immigrated to the US from Finland ahead of her. This is the only photo I can find of him (he's in the back left). But Herman died when I was two years old so how can it be possible that there could be a connection between us other than blood? I suppose I would see that as a problem if I had even a handful of memories to draw on before I was a few years old but I don't. I'll never have all of the answers in this life but I do have thoughts and beliefs that I've been going back to for decades, and the idea of some weird Uncle Herman connection has been with me long before I began pondering reincarnation. I have no idea why. I could be entirely wrong about all of it and I'm going to hell for questioning these things. Does it make sense to banish someone to an eternity of torturous fire for questioning that which nobody can see or prove?

It's getting late and I should probably wrap this up. I'd like to do a long indoor ride tomorrow and begin another glass project while immersing myself in questions I'll never have the answers to in this lifetime, because it's what I do.

That's all I've got.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tammy's Recovery Continues, Snowshoeing, Glass projects and More

Tammy has made significant progress in her hip replacement surgery recovery. The first 5 days post-op were more difficult than either of us anticipated they would be but she's been making steady improvement. She's graduated from a walker to crutches and now to simply one crutch. We expect that she'll be abandoning the crutch soon for a cane we purchased for her. She's mostly off her meds and is okay to drive but I've still been taking her places because of the abundance of ice and snow between handicap parking and the entrance to wherever she's going. I like being able to drop her off right at the door to minimize the risk of a fall which could be catastrophic to her recovery. She's busy making plans for a small vacation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this summer—a vacation where we plan to do plenty of hiking with her new hip!

I'm one month out from walking away from Facebook and while I do miss many of my connections there, I'm happy to report that there were no withdrawal pangs whatsoever. It's possible I'll return to it someday but not now.

I was out for coffee with some friends last week and they were talking about their snowshoeing adventures and how much fun they have snowshoeing the mountain bike trails. For the past few years, I'd been toying with the idea of buying some snowshoes. Our conversation was motivation enough for me to get my butt over to REI and check out their selection.

I'm good-to-go!

I hiked 5 miles on Monday and another 4.6 miles on Tuesday. It's a good workout in addition to being a lot of fun but I think I injured my lower back from so many miles so soon. I want to blame it on shoveling out the bottom of our driveway but Tammy suspects it was two days back to back of snowshoeing that did it. I suspect she may be right.

I've taken the past week off from my stained glass work due to a busier schedule than usual but I hope to be back down in my studio today to begin work on a project. I'm redoing one of my larger panels I made about a year ago that sold last summer. Tammy and I were both somewhat saddened to see it go.

I finished the piece to the right last week. I did a variation of this style last year and thought it would be nice to have another for our sunporch. It's for sale but I'm content if it stays with us.

I'll often mention on my Etsy site in the description for a miniature panel just how difficult it is to work with such tiny pieces of glass because I think some people are maybe put off by the amount I have to charge for something so small. The panel in the photo to the right took roughly 20 hours to fabricate (not including design and prep time). This miniature panel took me 14 hours. I likely can't charge more for my smaller panels and expect them to sell but I can for the larger ones, and so I do.

I'm waiting for Keith to get back to me with an idea he has for some windows in his and Tracee's home. I'd like to get them done before spring arrives and I close up the shop until next winter. I'm not even going to pretend that there's even the slightest chance I'll be able to work on any projects once the weather warms.

I bought tickets months ago to see Mandolin Orange at First Avenue in Minneapolis. I thought I was going to have to take a pass because of Tammy's surgery but my neighbor, Mark, offered to go with me. It was an excellent night. Mark and Becky brought over dinner and wine before Mark and I left for the concert. The ladies remained behind and rented a movie while chatting the night away.

That's all I've got.