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Showing posts from January, 2010

Of Athames, Swords and Ploughshares

Recently, I blogged about my enjoyment of a sport I'm no longer able to practice : kendo-style sparring with padded swords (boffers, to those in the know). The same back injury that keeps me from sitting down as I type these words took the sword out of my hands for good--though the glory--at least with my 9th grade students--lives on. I shared that story on the blog partly because it keeps my spirits up, in this long and pain-filled winter , to think of myself as active and athletic, rather than as injured and middle-aged. (Perhaps it's most accurate to admit that both are true.) But I also enjoy the irony of apparent contrasts: the aging Quaker lady, peering through spectacles on the bridge of her nose, who enjoys the immediacy and physicality of whacking somebody with a great big implement of destruction--while trying not to get whacked in return. But there have been a number of thoughtful questions in response to my story, both here and in person. Wasn't this bef


I am annoyed with myself. I like to think of myself as a warm and compassionate person; I like to have a sense of my own concern and tenderness for the people around me, and especially in my meeting. At times I live up to that sense of myself. But among the many things that I dislike about physical pain is the discovery that I'm a lot more self-absorbed than I liked to think. My world has narrowed to be like a radio station in a very small town. There's nothing much else on the dial: it's all me, all the time. How's my pain level today? Is the new physical therapy exercise working? How will I feel after I drive my car/work all day/grade these papers/sit through this meeting? The members of my Quaker meeting have been terrific in supporting me. They've recently taken on making the whole meeting room more accessible, not just for me, but for anyone else with a disability. I've gotten supportive phone calls, emails, cards, and even a visit--from a member of

The Swashbuckling Quaker

If one plans to become a middle-aged female teacher of high school English, there is no better preparation than the study of the sword. Seriously. Yesterday, as I was packing up my materials to leave school for the weekend--an enterprise which, since my back problems flared up, has required a lot of student assistance--one of the small tribe of students who had been staying after in my room, playing online games and discussing zombies with one another, asked me a question. "Ms. Bishop," Randy asked. "Is it true you hurt your back sword-fighting?" He looked at Josh and Jake, his friends and (presumably) the source of this rumor which Randy hardly dared to credit. "Yep," I was able to answer. "Yep, it's true." Although this recent flare-up (worse than the original injury, by far) seems to have been due to nothing more exotic than the H1N1 flu, it is true that I got my original injury sparring, kendo-style, with boff swords: foam-r

Turning Our Backs on Jesus: A Humble Request

Warning: You are entering a rant. Brace yours elf. This one is directed at the Pagans among us. Can we talk? Because I would like to humbly propose we make 2010 the year we leave Jesus out of it . Now, I'm not addressing myself to those of us who have an ongoing relationship of some sort with Mary's baby boy. I'm not disparaging (or praising, so purists please don't get your knickers in a twist here) those who consider themselves Christo-Pagans, Judeo-Pagans, Jew-Witches, or Witches for Jesus. Nor am I talking to those who have had a past relationship with Jesus who are still sifting through what that means to you personally, as you explore a Pagan religion; nor to those who have been Pagan who find yourselves drawn, for whatever reason, into relationship with Christ. I am not, in fact, addressing myself to hyphenated Pagans of any kind in this post. Nope, I'm talking to those of you who espouse a Jesus-free Paganism, whether Wiccan, Khemetic, Asatru, or

On Not Being Good

I like to knit, but I hate the beginning of the process. Because I am not a standard size, and because I often knit from homespun yarn, I can never simply take a pattern and knit it according to the directions and hope it comes out right. I have to knit a gauge swatch, and then measure it in several places, and do the math. I have to do the match for how many stitches I get per inch, and then again to figure how many stitches to cast on, to add or reduce or how many pattern repeats come closest to the right size for my project (which, as I said, is never standard), and then I need to re-measure once I've knit three or four inches up from where I cast on, and again before I cast off, and... You get the picture. I have learned through bitter and sometimes comical outcomes the absolute necessity to do the math. In life, too, as in knitting, I've learned to take as much control of any project as possible, from the very beginning. Always Do the Math. Even if you hate it.