My Bucket List

I heard Bob Cowsill being interviewed on Hippie 94.5 (my favorite radio station) on the way to work today, and he said that a bus tour (his last with the Cowsills was 43 years ago) is the last item on his Bucket List.

Hmmm, I wondered. Is it good when you’ve crossed off all the items on your Bucket List? I don’t think I’ve ever made a Bucket List, though I have certainly mulled about it. I would bet that my Bucket List has changed over time.

Right now, here are some things I want to do before I die. And when I cross off the last item, well, I think I’ll be adding to the list. Don’t want to tempt fate or whatever!

1. Go on a mission trip to Mexico. My church, Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, takes an annual trip to Puebla, Mexico. This is the one I want to participate in. One of its focuses is educating women. I believe the primary focus is “Give Ye Them to Eat” or something like that.

2. Travel to New England and do a historical tour with John.

3. Go to the Grand Canyon with John. I’ve seen it before but he hasn’t. I am ashamed to admit that we didn’t take our children to the Grand Canyon. Oh well. Life got busy. We did take other great and not-so-great trips.

4. Go on a hot-air balloon ride. Yes, this will challenge my fear of heights, but it just looks like so much fun.

5. Learn to paddle board.

6. Write a collection of stories, poems, or perhaps a book. Whether it gets published or not, well, we’ll see.

7. Continue practicing yoga and do as much exercise as I can to keep my body healthy. I believe in the power of exercise to relieve stress, and I’m hoping it will also ward off dementia, which runs in my family. I am planning to take a tai chi class at some point.

8. Walk outside in nature and appreciate the beauty every single day that I can.

9. Learn more about botany. I am already obsessed with identifying trees. Not so much their scientific names as their ordinary names and maybe a little about them.

10. Continue to read all kinds of books. Well, maybe not so many trashy novels, but balance is a good thing. 😀

11. Practice conversational Spanish and brush up on tenses besides present tense. Learn at least one new Spanish word each week.

12. Work toward more balance in life...have more fun, don’t continually work more hours than I have to (this has become a habit), bite my tongue when I need to but also speak up when I need to.

13. Find some joy in every day. And learn not to work so hard at my spiritual life. God loves me the way I am. Of course I can always do better, but I just need to chill and accept that there are seasons in the spiritual life, just as there are seasons in nature.

14. Do at least one random act of kindness a week.

Okay, these are enough items to keep me busy for the rest of my life, I think. I have some other ideas, but for now this is enough.

Song of Peace

Song of Peace

Fireworks behind statue of liberty

“This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.”
–Lloyd Stone, 1912-1992/3, written in the interval between WWI and WWII when he was only 22

This song is one that our choir has sung several times around the 4th of July. I love it because it reminds me that just as we in the USA feel strongly about our country, its beauty, and our patriotism, so do people of other countries love their land, its beauty, and they are patriots too.

Over the years I have come to appreciate the freedoms we so often take for granted in the United States. I love my country, despite many things I see that make me recoil. A few things that come to mind are racial prejudice, the rich lording it over the rest of us, crooked politicians, a callous attitude toward those who are less fortunate than we, an air of superiority, and insistence that one point of view is right while everyone else’s is wrong. But though there are a lot of things that are wrong with our country, there are also many things that are right with it.

Traveling outside the U.S. has a way of making you see our country differently. When my husband and I visited Spain for a couple of weeks in March, I thought it was interesting to watch the news. There wasn’t much about the United States on their news. Oh, my…does that mean America is not the center of the universe, as we sometimes think we are?

This was our second trip to Europe; the first was 30 years ago. When we got home after that trip, I was so thankful for many things I’d taken for granted: air conditioning, ice in drinks, clean public restrooms without having to pay an attendant, being able to communicate in a common language. After our trip to Spain, I realized my perspective has shifted. We Americans are often spoiled. We visit other countries and expect things to be the way they are here. Well, they’re not.

I enjoyed our trip to Spain. We found the people friendly and helpful. Of course, it helped that I was able to communicate in Spanish. Not fluently, but my conversational Spanish was passable and I understood most of what I heard.

I’ve often heard it said that people are reflections of the way you treat them. If they treat you kindly, perhaps it’s because you send out vibes of kindness. If they are nasty toward you, maybe it’s because they sense some ugliness in you. Or maybe they’re just kind or nasty on their own…I don’t know.

On this trip, rather than thinking about what I missed about home, I started thinking about the advantages of being in another culture. It’s good to experience a slower pace of life, to linger over a meal for a while, to be anonymous in a crowd, to not feel like everyone owes me something (I don’t think I have that attitude as an American, but perhaps some of it is engrained in me).

I did come to appreciate the virtues of toilet tissue and having a commode seat (we ate in a few restaurants in Sevilla where these “amenities” were not available). I was also glad I took along a purse-size package of Kleenex.

Well, I am getting distracted now because my family is in the kitchen, so I will close. No really deep thoughts here, just appreciation for our country and its freedoms and the right to express my opinion and the right for others to disagree with me and the prayer that we will learn to appreciate the differences of others and embrace diversity and learn to practice compassion, listen more and talk less, and be a little more tolerant and forgiving of those who “push our buttons.” That is all.