Orange Pomanders

I’ve always known about orange pomanders. They were once used as air fresheners during the winter, a time when bathing was limited. I’m certain I even heard about my mother making them as a little girl. However, until recently I had never made an orange pomander.

I bought a bunch of oranges and bulk cloves for our recent Solstice Party. I had no idea how fun they would be to make. My children and I made more after our guests left. Poking an orange with a toothpick and then inserting cloves into a design is surprisingly peaceful and something that all ages can do. I believe we may have found a new tradition.

Daily Living

Photo by Michael Rhys

Society tends to view life as a succession of high points. We look forward to the next big thing, whether it’s an event, a holiday, a vacation, or a job promotion. Those high points make an outline for our lives and we look forward to those exciting high points. However, this roller coaster view of life discounts those in between times.

Life is about more than just the peaks. Those ordinary, seemingly mundane, times are just as much a part of life as the exciting peaks. Living with mindfulness allows us to live daily and enjoy life. We no longer find ourselves living in fast forward, anxiously awaiting the next peak of the roller coaster. We begin to enjoy the quiet moments and find an inner peace that resonates with our souls.

Compassion is not a Convenience

Photo by Aurelijus Valeisa

While viewing a lake at a local park, my children and I spotted something not too far off the shore, gasping. Just under the surface, I saw the signs of landscaping net, and I knew what had happened. Some of the landscape netting had made its way into the lake, where a poor, unsuspecting fish had managed to become entrapped.

I explained to my children what happened to the fish. At that point I could have walked away, but our family tries to help others. A fish was no exception. I looked around for the biggest stick I could find; it was too short to reach. The water was murky, although not too deep. While the day was a lovely temperature, the water itself was cold. However, compassion isn’t always convenient. Sometimes we have to make an effort.

I handed my 11 month old to her older siblings, took off my sling, and stripped off my socks and shoes. I rolled my jeans up as far as I could, hoping that we wouldn’t be leaving the park with me soaked in muddy lake water. Then I waded in. The cold mud oozed between my toes and over my feet, although I couldn’t see them for the murky water. I finally was close enough to reach the net with my stick, as I noticed small bits of blood escaping from the fish.

Snagging the net with the stick, I pulled it, along with the fish, back to shore. I wasn’t hopeful that I could save the fish, but I had to try. Back on the soft mud of the bank, I crouched before the water, working to rip the net apart to free the fish, my audience on pins and needles as they watched to see whether their mother would indeed rescue the poor fish.

Once freed, I hoped that the fish, despite its injuries, would swim away, happy for another chance at life. However, it’s gasping continued and, no longer anchored by the net, its body floated upside down, blood ocassionally seeping from the damaged gills. There was only one more thing I could do to help: end its life quickly and painlessly. I loathed the idea of doing it. I wasn’t certain how exactly I was to kill this fish with what I had available in such a manner as to ease its suffering rather than increase it.

Looking up toward the park proper, I noticed another family looking out towards the lake. I put the sling back on with my youngest in it, grabbed by socks and shoes in one hand and helped my other children up the embankment with the other, and headed toward them. I explained the situation and the father nodded, asked where it was, and headed down to help out.

Compassion isn’t always convenient. Sometimes we have to reach out a hand or go out of our way to help someone. While not always convenient, compassion is also not a convenience. It’s a necessity. If we have no compassion for others, we cannot fully connect with them. Compassion is a necessity, whether in regard to a friend, a stranger, our spouse, or a tired three year old.

Religious Privilege on a Calling Card

Photo by Glen Van Etten

Business cards can offer us much information about a business. They tell us the name of the person and/or business and give us contact information such as an address, phone number, web address, and/or e-mail. Other pertinent information may also be given, such as what services are provided. Being of an average small size, there isn’t a lot of room on business cards. The limited space given is used to convey the most important aspects of the business in the hopes that you will hire the person or use their services.

So what does that mean when someone includes their religion on their business card and their line of work is not one of religion? It could mean a lot of things, but for me, it means I probably am not going to hire the person. I can hear the shouts of outrage now of religious intolerance. In fact, you couldn’t be further from the truth.

I don’t care what religion a person is when I hire them for a job. I expect them to be competent and professional. Religion has nothing to do with it, unless they bring religion into it. Printing your religion on your business card does just that. With the limited amount of information on a business card, I have to make some assumptions about what that means.

Logically, anything mentioned on the person’s business card will have something to do with the business or the work that will be entailed. If I am hiring you to do my taxes, install an electrical light, or cut down some trees, I’m not hiring you for religious counsel. In which case, I must make another assessment of why that information might be provided. Chances are that you either (A) prefer to work with/for others who share the same beliefs as you or (B) are trying to share, or push, your beliefs on to others. That fact alone tells me something about you or the kind of service I may receive from you.

So, regardless of what religion you may follow, if you find it necessary to state it on your business card, chances are that I won’t hire you. The fact that it was stated on your card (in the event that your profession is not religiously based) tells me that you are rather intolerant of others who do not share your beliefs. Where I live, in a predominantly Christian area, it’s a matter of Christian privilege on a calling card.