Secret Weapon: NaNoWriMo

group of friends hanging out

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Evil triumphs over us when it can separate us from love. Isolation destroys a writer’s immune system and leaves them vulnerable to lies. The way to strengthen a writer is to surround them with companions.

In November of every year, writers all over the world band together to write their 50K word novels in thirty days. Called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the challenge involves several motivators to keep the writer going. Online and in-person meetups support the writer and encourage accountability. Other encouragements include writing buddies, pep-talk emails, and prizes for finishing. The NaNo website also has interviews with successful writers giving their own tips and inspiring stories.

Though solitude may foster productivity, isolation makes us prey to doubt, fear and despair. Love is the antidote to despair, and the NaNo groups I have written with are full of love and support. Just being in a room of other writers engaged on the same journey is enough to motivate me to keep writing. Love conquers all, they say, and NaNoWriMo believes it.

Reflection on a Dead Dog

This morning my friend Tanya posted on Facebook about a violent incident she witnessed in her neighborhood. A man was kicking his dogs with his children crying and screaming nearby. He kicked one into the street where it was run over by a car and “died instantly.” Afterwards he returned laughing to the house.

More disturbing to me were the follow-up comments by Tanya’s Facebook friends who said things like, “I would like to be the one to kick him into the street and laugh as he got run over,” “People who abuse dogs should be tortured,” and “Guys like that don’t deserve to live.”

The scenario has lingered in my mind all morning, and I feel called to reflect on it. I posted, “I am enjoined to love my enemies.” What does that mean? I certainly am not called to approve of the man’s actions. I am, however, challenged to have compassion. Father Tom said the other night that “compassion” was “invented” by early Christians. I don’t know if I buy that. However, compassion is the kind of love I think Jesus means, so I am going to explore my compassion for the principals in the story: the dead dog, the children, the other dogs, the driver of the car, the man, and the Facebook posters who want revenge.

The dead dog: If indeed the dog “died instantly,” then my compassion for it is small. In fact, the dog is better off out of a household where it gets constant abuse. Ironically, the posters seem to value the dog more than any of the others in the story and want to commit murder and torture to avenge it.

The children: One of the most shocking memories from my childhood was the day I heard my dad yell the word “Fuck” and slam the door of his Jeep, angry that he had forgotten to set the parking brake. I will never forget how ugly his face looked at that moment. He was transformed into a stranger, a monster. The children who had to see their father committing this ugly cruelty will probably never forget that day. The image of their daddy as their protector and model is forever shattered (if it hadn’t been shattered before). Whether or not they follow their father’s example and perpetuate the cycle of violence, they get my compassion.

The other dogs: I feel more for the other dogs than for the dead one. They seem doomed to a life of fear and pain. Perhaps some mature adult in the family will try to find better homes for them.

The driver of the car: I feel compassion for the innocent bystander drawn into this horror story just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope that he can avoid feeling guilt for the accident.

The man: Now here’s the hard one. Tanya says she can “feel sorry” for the man but not “love” him. I think she is saying “compassion” in different words. Anger can be the result of loss of control in our lives. The man had clearly lost control of his dogs when they ran away. But chances are the man has lost control in other areas: he has a low-paying job and a manager who treats him disrespectfully, his wife is distant since he has become so abusive, his kids are withdrawn or rebellious, and he has taken to drinking more than is good for him. The one place where he has always been boss is with the dogs, and today that all fell apart, too. When he ran amok, kicking the dogs, he lost control of himself. Addiction to power and control separates us from Love. We think we are God and we run the show. When the falsity of that stares us in the face, we get angry. The man couldn’t control the dogs; my dad couldn’t control the Jeep; they both got angry and ugly. I have compassion because I have done this myself many times, though not to a dog. When I feel loss of power, I get angry.

The Facebookers: For Tanya I feel much compassion because she witnessed the event. Though there may be some truth that we have become inured to violence on TV and in films, I am still shocked by violence in person. People are never more ugly and sub-human than when they are hitting each other or kicking animals. I hate seeing this side of us, and Tanya can be compassionated for her emotions and her desire to get away from there.

Some of Tanya’s friends are in the same boat with “the man.” They are angry that they can’t control the actions of others, so they are willing to act out their anger in violence. Perhaps violence was modeled for them in their childhood. It is modeled for them on television and other media. Don’t like someone’s actions—kick his ass! Also, Facebook tends to escalate emotional posts. Since you are not face-to-face with the person you are answering, you might feel free to use more inflammatory language than you would use in person. Your violent words may touch off a powder-keg of divisive replies that lead to people saying things they would never say in a different context. Also, people talk big. It’s easy to say you would torture someone or push them laughing in front of a car, but can you actually see yourself doing so?

Thank you, God, for laying this incident so heavily on my heart. I hope that my reflections are in line with your gospel. You made us in your image and you love us all, even the man who killed his dog. Only love, which you are, can heal this whole scenario, and I pray that your will be done. Amen.

Love For Everybody

Here is song #20 for November 20. It’s Sunday, Love’s day.

LOVE FOR EVERYBODY
by Pam Bowen

Verse 1:
I had a dream last night that I loved a guy at work.
I’d never looked at him before, thought he was a jerk.
He said “Hi” when I passed him, he didn’t seem so bad.
It’s funny how a love can start like that.

CHORUS:
I CAN LOVE ANYONE, EVEN STRANGERS THAT I MEET
BECAUSE EVERYONE IS MADE OF LOVE, WAY DOWN DEEP.
THE LOVE INSIDE THEM CALLS OUT TO THE LOVE IN ME.
LOVE FOR EVERYBODY WAS MEANT TO BE.

Verse 2:
Tuesday I met a woman I’d never seen before.
I felt at once she knew me right down to the core.
We talked and laughed about our joys and wishes.
When she left, I loved her like a sister.

CHORUS

Bridge:
On earth, in heaven, the King reminds us
A hunk of burning love glows deep inside us.

CHORUS

© Pamella M. Bowen

Plug Into God

Here is song #5 for November 5: I hear this as Christian rock or pop, maybe.

PLUG INTO GOD
by Pam Bowen

Verse 1:
When I’m pissed at the world, pissed at myself,
Don’t give a damn about anyone else,
Couldn’t care less cause I’ll never win.
Don’t talk to me about no sin—

CHORUS:
I PLUG INTO GOD, CHARGE MY WEAK BATTERY
TANK UP MY HEART THAT’S RUNNING ON EMPTY
TAP INTO GOD’S POWER LINE
AND FEEL THE PEACE THAT BLOWS MY MIND.

Verse 2:
When I don’t want to help, don’t want to do.
Don’t start bugging—I’ll say F—you.
Just want to play my tunes so loud
That I can’t hear the chaos outside my cloud.

CHORUS

Bridge:
Oh, my God, I can’t believe
That you love the screwed-up me.
Thank you, thank you, Lord above
For topping up my heart with love.

CHORUS

© Pamella M. Bowen

%d bloggers like this: