News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

The glowing heart isn’t my own heart but the white heart pillow with the word “love” on it written in red. Phil finally received and gave it to me today as my late Valentine’s Day present. We think it came straight from the manufacturer, because the address seemed to be from somewhere in China. It’s as soft as a stuffed animal’s fur and has LED lights in its fabric. When the switch inside the zipper is first on, all light up red, then green, and gradually the seven or eight lights start diversifying into a whole rainbow of colors from yellow gold to pale teal to pink to white. It looks as if either places on the pillow or the lights reflect slightly differently, so the hues come out differently. in some places the deep blue is royal blue, and in others, it’s more like violet almost purple. Some greens are bright Kelly greens. Others are more of a lime green. When the batteries are low, all of the colors turn and stay red.

Phil took a well-deserved day off for President’s day, even though it wasn’t an official holiday. Work is getting very busy on many fronts and for the most part he enjoys that. I will sigh in relief after he sees a doctor on Thursday to lance an infected place on his hand. A doctor at dialysis diagnosed infection as one of his co-workers suspected, but the doctor didn’t have the tools needed to take care of the job. Phil has important meetings during available appointment times today, and I hope and pray this thing doesn’t decide to spread throughout the rest of his body. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t worry, but with his suppressed immune system and how quickly infection can spread, I’m internally holding my breath. I don’t want to have to give up my husband for any of Lent as I had to for pretty much all of it last year.

Speaking of Lent, of course, today’s Ash Wednesday, and I’ll do my best to observe Lent, but I don’t think this year will be about giving anything up. This is because I guess it must be time for my mid-life faith crisis. I’m not having any doubts about God or Jesus. In fact, I’ve been reading the Joshua series by F. Joseph Girzone and some of his other works. The books have touched my heart very deeply. they tackle issues like ecumenism, war and peace, prejudice, and religious authority. I won’t rehash my “in case anyone cares” post, but let’s just say that being politically liberal and Catholic has gotten a lot tougher in the past few weeks. I’ve always known what the official positions are, but then it was a bunch of little old men I didn’t know making decisions without consideration of anyone’s circumstances. In Girzone’s language, they were a bunch of rules put on the people as a burden like those of the religious of Jesus’ time. Now I see posts on the Internet from Catholics who write and sing songs about Satan smiling every time someone has sex using contraception and how bad and sinful it is. Friendships are really being tested over these issues, as it’s become very apparent a few people are disappointed that I can’t tow the party line. We’ve made a conscious choice not to have children and are still very comfortable with our decision. I’ve counseled with a couple priests about the issue and don’t feel guilty. What I feel is rejected, betrayed, misunderstood and very very sad that a church’s rules seem to be more important than its people. For the first time in my life, I’ve had thoughts of walking away. Besides my very compassionate priest, one thing that keeps me there is knowing that because a lot of people who had similar feelings to mine have left, the conservative element has been able to be much more pronounced an beat down on the few of us left. Lent will be about hanging in there instead of walking away as alluring as that looks. I was planning to read a couple books about Jesus written by the Pope when he was Cardinal, but with the precarious position in which I find myself, I don’t know whether that will help or hurt. These and the comments below may provoke some argumentative response. I’ll say the same thing I said to a couple of people on Twitter, if my stances are so evil, go ahead. Get me ex-communicated then! One man responded that he had no stones to cast. I held my tongue, but I wanted to respond that it was because he’d already thrown them.

These feelings must be just the tiniest taste of how people who are gay/lesbian must feel every day. I had a very rough Mass last Saturday night. We were to watch the Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal video, and our priest tried to make it more palatable by saying there were a couple of scenes of our church in it. In an ironic twist, the video was set-up for sound, but no picture. the video was quickly turned off, and Father summarized it. Even the first few words of the Bishop validated that his voice was like his policies — rigid and by the book. I’ve interacted and have been comfortable with other Bishops, and though we may not always agree, I could tell they had a warm, congenial side. My impression is that ours does not!All of these issues were heavily on my mind, and even though I had plans after Mass, I almost went home thinking I wasn’t in any shape to go anywhere. With the listening ear and consolation of my canter and priest, I was able to pull myself together for my next event, and I’m glad I did. Earlier this year I learned about community sings which took place at neighborhood centers or parks. An e-mail address was given for blind people to ask for a Braille lyrics booklet. Saturday nights sing was a fund-raiser at a Lutheran church for Minnesota Families United who are campaigning for people to vote no the proposed constitutional amendment on which we will be voting this fall. Marriage in this state would be restricted to between one man and one woman if this amendment passes. People who are proponents of this are calling it the “defense of marriage act”. As my husband so eloquently put it, divorce threatens marriages — not who is allowed to marry. Over a year ago, our diocese sent a DVD telling us why we should vote yes to this amendment. Apparently, a generous gift was given to the diocese only to be used to produce this DVD. If the Catholic Church doesn’t want to marry people of the same gender, they are free to set down that rule, but I have a big problem with trying to legislate this position statewide. I have severe problems with any religious institution telling supposedly free people how they are to vote in a particular instance. I had fun at the sing and we sang everything from the Beatles to songs in an African language. We sang the first half, went downstairs for snacks and volunteer opportunities with the campaign, and then sang the second half. I can’t sign up to make phone calls, because I’m not sure I want to deal with the hatred which could come blasting back at me. Finding help from complete strangers during the event and to walk to the bus in a not-very-good neighborhood was easier than it usually is at my church.

But lest I give the impression that it’s only Catholics who trouble me, that’s not true either. I’ve written on this blog about how vain I find some of the Christian singers who like to look at themselves in the mirror from every conceivable angle. One singer had to show the Twiterrverse photos of her shoes and her gown before the Grammy Awards ceremony! The one part which was cool had nothing to do with how the clothing looked. Her dress was made by women who had been rescued from human trafficking. That’s worth celebrating. After Whitney Houston’s very Christian funeral, one singer had to pontificate on his blog about how foolish he felt celebrities acted thinking that Whitney was Christian or saying they were. One female singer pointed to Philipians 1:18, saying the verse might help. I paraphrase, but the verse basically says who cares about the how and the why as long as faith is being expressed. I really felt she very sweetly but firmly put that blogger back in his place.
Thursday I speak on blindness at a physics class called “nothing”. Of course, my portion is seeing nothing. And what’s physics without a little experiment? One lucky person is going to be blind folded and drop and find a round glass on what I’m told is a marble floor with only the verbal directions of his/her classmates.

Then I come home and lead a discussion on the book I chose for the book club by phone. I pray someone liked it. I couldn’t put it down, but I’ve gotten lots of negative feedback from club members about how much they hated it.

Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes
http://www.rebeccak.com

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