Recently, I spit in a test tube and sent it off to 23andme to get genetic information about me analyzed. Some of it is to better understand my own genetic makeup and family medical history. For example, relatives have passed away from Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremors and I wonder what my LINGO1 gene says. Some of this is to support research. 23andme is gathering a lot of information about medical history, including medications taken, that may be helpful, not only in recognizing increased genetic risk factors for certain diseases, but genetic risk factors for drug interactions. Of course, of particular interest to me is the use of genetics to find possible distant cousins.
I’ve traced much of my family history and am fairly conversant in it. Some lines are hard to trace. Others go back to around the American Revolution, and others go back to the early European immigrants to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I have a great database of my ancestry, but it is on a hard disk of a twenty year old computer with a dead power supply. One of these days, I’ll manage to extract that data and restore my database.
One of my ancestors is George Washington Gordon. He was born August 13, 1844 in Lowell, MA and died Nov 2 1897 in North Conway, NH. The website, Find A Grave has a bit of information about him, and searching their website, it looks like many of my relatives are buried there.
Another relative is Mitchell Gordon. Records list him has having been born in St. Charles, Canada. Tracing his family, he appears to have moved to Essex Junction, VT, St Albans, VT, and eventually to Walpole, NH. His son Ezra, appears to have moved from Essex Junction and St. Albans, down to Windham, VT and then to Winchester New Hampshire. Based on this, I’m assuming that Mitchell was born in St. Charles sur Richelieu Quebec.
I mapped out some of the history in Google Maps, and it seems like an interesting app would be a map that shows your ancestors travels and they come together, have kids, move, etc.
It is 4 AM, the writing hour. This is often my best writing time, but these days, I’m usually asleep at 4 AM. Today is different. Yesterday, while out doing yard work, I got stung by yellow jackets. I took some Benadryl last night to try and keep the itching down, and it mostly worked. I slept pretty soundly until a little while ago. I woke up, put some more anti-itch cream on the stings and tried, unsuccessfully to get back to sleep.
Work has been very busy for me, these past few weeks, as has my campaign for State Representative. On the home front, I’ve been swimming, kayaking, playing Ingress, and researching various topics. We’re getting ready for Falcon Ridge, and beyond that, for Cape Cod. Much of this is fodder for several blog posts, that most of the time, I’m too tired or busy to get written. I will try to write some of these and line them up to be posted over the next several days
Saturday, The Rev. Amanda Katherine Gott posted on her Facebook page a comment about doing online research on garden weeds for Sunday’s sermon. The lesson appointed for Sunday was the Parable of the Weeds
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, `Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
It seems like I’ve always heard this parable preached about in terms of fire and brimstone. Indeed, the following verses include, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” While it is good news that the causes of sin will be destroyed in the end times, for those of us focused on God’s forgiveness and loving kindness, it doesn’t sound so much like good news.
My relationship with weeds has always been a bit different from that of the sower in the parable. I commented, “’One man's weed is another man's wildflower’. I grew up on Euell Gibbons and we often ate many forms of weeds from Oxalis to lambsquarters”. Although I didn’t really see how it related to the Gospel.
Another person posted a link to a great article, Why We Must Learn to Love Weeds. It contained many thoughts along the same line as I was thinking. It quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson saying a weed is “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered”.
This was in line with the direction Rev. Amanda took in her sermon. She talked about the weeds in her garden, which turned out to be Oxalis, the same weed I grew up eating. It is not for us to judge who the weeds are, we should leave that to God. Those people in our lives that we think of as weeds are people whom we have not yet discovered their virtues.
As she explored these sort of ideas in more depth, she said something else that particularly stuck with me. I love mixed metaphors and she mashed up the cup running over from Psalm 23 with the cup which is either half empty or half full, depending on one’s perspective. What matters, she went on to say, was not trying to pin blame on others for why the cup is only half full, but finding those whose cups are empty and sharing what we have with them. I thought about my current foray into electoral politics. I thought about friends who are going through tough times right now, through spiritual crises, people who can’t do church on Sunday morning because for them it is too cliché.
The cover of our church bulletin lists ten reasons you might like it at our church. Several of these reasons were well illustrated on Sunday
You’ll hear sermons that you can actually remember the next day.
You don’t think that religion should be based on fear and driven by rules.
You are seeking acceptance and affirmation of who you are as God’s own beloved.
You want God to be relevant to your life and you want your life to be relevant to God.
You’re looking for a community where there is diversity in the way people look, the way people talk and in what people believe.
I pray for my friends on spiritual journeys that they might find God’s love for them and how to share that love with others.
It’s been a long few months. At home, my uncle suffered organ failure and passed away a few weeks later. At work, I’ve been dealing with an ex-employee who is going through a tough time right now causing much stress to people I work with. In the news, the reports of fighting seem to have gotten worse. I try to muster energy for my writing, and for my campaign, and it just isn’t there. My birthday passed, with a celebration at work, but nothing to speak of at home. One of the things I was looking forward to, receiving lenses for Google Cardboard still hasn’t happened. I’m told they are in the mail and I have all the other pieces, but still no lenses.
Saturday, I went through the motions. I ate my morning oatmeal, mowed some of the lawn, and went to the dump. I tried to rest a little. I felt a sense of futility and ennui rising. I’ve been reading some of Chinamanda Adichie’s short stories which I find enjoyable, but also adds to the sense of futility and ennui. My eyes have been twitching, and my stomach has been uneasy.
Around lunch time, Kim came in with the local weekly newspaper. On the back was an advertisement for kayaks on sale at a local clearance store. The price seemed really good, and we checked out the details. The more we looked, the better the deal seemed and we ended up driving over to the store and buying two eight and a half foot kayaks.
These are inexpensive recreational kayaks. They are lightweight and came with all the necessary gear. We managed to get an additional, unexpected discount at the store. I put the roof rack together in the parking lot, loaded the kayaks, and off we went.
At home, I grabbed Fiona and we went to a local pond. Lake Wintergreen, in Hamden is about a mile long, and we paddled the length of the pond and back. It was a pleasant evening, and a necessary treatment for ennui.
Sunday, Kim and I went to church and afterwards, we headed off to visit Lake Wintergreen again. Now, my muscles are sore. The twitch in my eye, which had subsided is back, but now I attribute it to fatigue instead of stress.
When looking at all the suffering in the world, at times it can be challenging “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”, but a kayak can certainly help.