Some Quarantine Observations

In the roughly 2 months since the stay home order was given, I have made some very un-scientific observations:

  1. I haven’t been much affected by the stay-at-home order.  It is what John and I did before this started. Except for going to church and groceries we didn’t go anywhere.
  2. I have actually heard from more people in the last 2 months than we had all last year. 
  3. Wearing a mask while shopping is kinda weird, I keep wanting to go into a bank, not to do anything, just go in.
  4. I am shocked at the level of ineptitude we, as a nation, are accepting from our federal government.
  5. I am totally grateful for the leadership of our faith community, my state and local governments. They deserve medals.
  6. I am heart broken by the number of people who have been exposed to and sickened by the virus, some because of people so selfish that they pass the virus on only because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by a face mask or a stay at home order.
  7. I am amazed and stunned, by the heroism of the nurses, doctors, medical house cleaning staff, postal carriers, grocery store clerks, police, and fireman who have continued to be the front line of defense. (I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.)
  8. I am angered by those who, with guns and lawsuits, attempt to intimidate our hero’s. They also sadden me because they are being manipulated by wealthy, greedy, power hungry, men who are following a corrupt leader.
  9. I have discovered some wonderful benefits to being told to stay home. I have been able to attend and participate in the Westar Institutes Seminars online and will take a poetry class this summer from the Grunwald Guild. All via ZOOM.  I would not have been able to do any of that if this hadn’t happened. (One of my questions even lead to a commitment to include gender roles in the next phase of the Westar’s Christianity Seminar, WOOT!)
  10. I have also been able to see all of our family, from across the country, on a regular schedule because of ZOOM meetings.  It has been so much fun to see everyone.
  11. I love it that I have a legitimate reason to read books by the bushel, as if I ever needed one.
  12. My garden is amazing, our garage is now cleaner that it has been in 40 years, and I have developed 5 new recipes that came out really good.  I have also created more that a dozen really bad recipes.  I am pleased that John has been a good sport and eaten the good and the bad.
  13. While church has been a bit weird and awkward, it has shown me how much our weekly sessions mean to me. Seeing each congregation member and our devoted and amazing pastor Luke and his assistant Mary make my week.

What does any of this mean, well, probably nothing. I keep trying to remember that none of us are alone. We have each other and the Holy Divine still walks with us. Still despite all that I know, have seen, and experienced I am sometimes afraid. Afraid for our grandchildren, and the children of our friends.  I am afraid for those who work with the homeless with little to no protective gear and pray every day for their safety.  My fear leads to anger when I hear of the lack of concern for our indigenous neighbors, all people of color, people who are disabled and therefore especially at risk, and the elderly who, unlike John and I, are confined within an institution.

I am also afraid for our nation, I am afraid for my family, and I am afraid for my community. I do not know what the future will bring. I pray, I hope, I pray,

Ruth Jewell, ©May 24, 2020
Photo: Troublesome Creek, WA, 2006, by Ruth Jewell

An Old Womxn’s Rant

At 73 I am pissed off. 

As a womxn, I have spent 73 years being told I am worthless by white men who hold power, any kind of power. I used to believe them, I don’t anymore.

Ever since I was a child, I was told there were simply places I could not go, things I couldn’t do because of who I was, female. And, I believed them. Why wouldn’t I? They were people I was told to look up to, teachers, ministers, policeman, fireman, politicians, even my father. My mother tried to convince me it was in my interest to stay within the boundaries old, white, pathetic, men tried to put around me. And I let them, to a point.

I was 22 when my father died of cancer, and on his death bed he told me I needed to find a husband very soon who would take care of me or I would come to a bad end.  I didn’t listen. I still don’t know what that ‘bad end’ was.

Something in me said they were all wrong, my mother, my father, ministers, politicians, bosses, teachers, friends.  When a ‘friend’ came to me saying one of the reasons I couldn’t get a date was that men were afraid of me because I spoke my mind, I was too strong and needed to me more ‘soft.’  I told him, yes a him, if that was the case then I didn’t want a date. And, I didn’t get one.

When an employer told me, I couldn’t get a raise because I was at the top of my pay scale, only to discover that a man who did the same job had received a raise.  I asked how his this was possible; I was told he had a family and when I ‘finally’ got married I would leave so I didn’t need one. That was when I learned of workplace inequality. I threw a fit and got fired.

I have spent my entire life struggling to be seen, to be believed, to be accepted. I made friends with people of color, immigrants, the different gendered because they, like me, were kept out of positions of power, out of well-paying jobs, locked out of society. I disliked, but understood, women who choose the tactics of men in order to succeed. They did it because it was the only way they could.  I disliked, but understood, women who used their gender to succeed because it was the only way they could. I choose neither of those routes and ended up with jobs I hated and people I distrusted because I had to in order to survive.

In the last 20 years I gained hope that womxn were finally making gains politically, economically, and socially.  Yes, there are more womxn in science, business, and politics than ever before but not enough. Womxn, people of color, indigenous people, and the different gendered make up the majority of our population but make up only a fraction of the leaders in business, science, and politics. That not only disappoints me it angers me.

I do not understand womxn who continue to support old, white, European males over womxn of any color, people of color, or people who are different gendered. It totally boggles the mind. We are better than that. We deserve better.

My hope lies in the young womxn from across this globe who are making their voices heard. My hope lies in the womxn of ‘Me Too’ who are saying enough with being abused and demeaned just to further a man’s position. But I am discouraged, frustrated, and angry that these womxn, young and old, are being berated and demeaned by politicians and media because they are refusing to be silenced. I am confused by womxn who do not support them. I am angry that the choice of politician we are being handed is an old, white, European male, who though he appears enlightened grew up in the same time period I did and I have no doubt indulged in white, male privilege by demeaning or berating womxn, people of color, and the different gendered just to get ahead. It is what was done in my day, his day. I don’t blame him, it was how he was raised, but I don’t want those same attitudes leading my country anymore.

I am tired, frustrated, angry, old, and yes just a little crazy.  If that is what it takes to get heard then I encourage more womxn to be crazy, tired, frustrated, angry, and if it fits old.

Ruth Jewell, ©May 3, 2020

All Means ALL

All means ALL
All means ALL

My thoughts over the last couple of months have been over whelmed by the violence, the bullying, the tragedy, and the anger that has played across my TV screen, computer, radio and newspaper in the last couple of months.  I have seen the quote by some famous person that reads “those who keep silent in the face of evil are giving their approval,” or the pictures’ displaying one perspective versus another and which one has the greatest validity.  I am left speechless and in pain.  Yes I have heard that even one small act of mercy changes someone and I have used those very words myself many times. Do what you can and ‘wait,’ wait for minds to change, or for hearts to open,  . . . wait for what.

The scripture for Sunday came from Isaiah and begins with “Comfort, O Comfort my people” (40:1), but, I’m sorry I don’t feel that comfort.  I offer prayers, I read, and I listen.  I volunteer at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, here at church, and lead the occasional spiritual retreat and labyrinth walk, yet, except for Juvenile Detention CTR, I feel as if I am “preaching to the choir,” so to speak.  Where in all of these days of suffering, and confusion does the offering come that provides more than my comfort and brings a justly faithful, hopeful, loving comfort to those who do not share my skin color, or language, or culture, or gender, or abilities, or whatever makes them different from the so called “main stream” of the population.

This meditation was intended to be an inspirational moment.  But I am not feeling very inspirational, just too much has happened in the last couple of months.  So I ask your forgiveness for talking through some of my thoughts.  I live in a world that appears to be falling apart as I sit my comfortable, warm home.  I keep asking what will stop the building blocks our lives from tumbling into the abyss.

I am afraid we are headed into a storm of our own making that will destroy us.  We won’t need to be invaded, no; we are doing a grand job of destruction all by ourselves.   Voices of change and compassion, justice, mercy, and peace are drowned out by hateful speech by bullies in high places.  The actions and words of those high placed bullies give permission to those who fear the unknown to be violent and destructive at the ground roots level.  Hateful speech and actions becomes a cancer eating away at our will to fight against justice and mercy.

So I sit in my little home office, offering prayers, and volunteering when the opportunity arises.  I do my small acts that I pray are being added to other small acts, but I don’t know if any of it will be enough. Our denominations GLBQ organization used the slogan “All Means ALL” at our last national General Assembly.  They wanted to get the message across that everyone matters, despite gender identification, skin color, religion, or culture everyone is important.  There are very few slogans I actually believe in, but I believe in that one.  If I can do nothing other than let each and every person know how much they matter in my life, in the life of my Faith Community, and in the life of the greater community we are all part of then I have done the best I can.  That will have to be enough.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 8, 2014