Sunday, November 29, 2009

Service of Remembrance

Each of the candles in this photo represents the life of a loved one remembered at the annual "Service of Remembrance" at my church. Each person present at this service completed a card with the name of their remembered friend or family member prior to the service. During the service, each name is read and the family member(s) come forward and light one of these candles. As the next name is read, the candle-lighter passes a taper to the next family.

It is moving simply to hear the name of each person read. Some of the people named are people I knew and some are not, but as I looked into the faces of those lighting the candles and saw the interactions of friends and family members I felt connected the life that was honored. Some grieved with a grief that is fresh and raw and others with a grief that has been tempered with time. However, for each person, the holidays present an opportunity to connect with the memory and absence of the lost loved one. Though it was pointed out that we, as people of faith, do not grieve as those who have no hope, we do feel the physical absence of those we lose while we remain here.

It is interesting that even though I did not have a connection with all of those honored tonight, I could identify with the grief and loss experienced by their friends and family. As I allowed myself to connect with their grief, I was connected with my own losses (past and present). As a community of faith, we joined with one another in expressing grief. In doing so, we participated in a healing ritual that helped us deal with our losses.

For those of you who find the holidays to be a particularly difficult time of grieving, I offer my prayer for God's peace for you. May you find a place of healing and comfort.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Starbuck's Rant

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I am not a coffee drinker. I don't like plain coffee. I don't regularly just drink a random cup of coffee. However, with enough milk and syrup in it, I really like a coffee-flavored beverage from Starbuck's. My favorite is a peppermint mocha. Several times a week I will go around the corner and order a "Grande, non-fat, no whip, peppermint mocha." Which, unfortunately, usually sets me back about $4. It used to be $4.32 until I learned about registered gift cards. With a registered gift card you could get your extra syrup free and just like that, my $4.32 became $4.

However, when the holidays rolled around, Starbucks offers a "Holiday" Peppermint Mocha that sells for $4.42 in the Grande size and your registered card doesn't get you nothin! Last year, I spent my days at Starbucks asking the cashier if they would not ring my drink as the "Holiday" version, but just as a Mocha with peppermint and "Presto" I got my syrups free. When the holidays rolled around this year, same issue. So, this year, I wrote to Starbuck's to say, "What's up with the added expense and no free syrup?" However, their response seems to have been to notify the stores to not ring holiday drinks any other way than as the holiday version. So now my $4 Grande costs me $4.42. This is just CRAZY to me.

There are new benefits coming in December for registered gift cards and I can't wait for those.

However, as I write this, I am reminded that there are literally MILLIONS of people in Africa alone that do not have clean water to drink and that those people must sometimes walk hours a day to get what water they have. This fact alone means that young women do not get education because they are carrying water all freakin' day.

So, I am not happier about my $4.42 Mocha, but it kind of keeps things in perspective for me.