Monthly Archives: November 2020
What Will We Remember
what matters in the long run
of fading strength and memory
no longer clear or bright
do we know what counts
out of all the years of effort
and forgotten hopes let go-
what in our confusion lasts
perhaps a smile or tender kiss
the sweet sound of applause-
or windblown waves beneath
the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc
reminding us of heroes lost-
buildings designed and built
sermons preached on love
what we’ve written being read
songs relighting darkened hearts
lessons taught to children
actually changing lives-
matters it if loved by many
or one long love, now gone-
a special gift received or given
small kindnesses of others
a letter written to console
flowers when it’s least expected
laughter experienced as grace-
care-giving for the one you love
the letting go when it’s time
what will be remembered
when we’re on the other side?
This poet speaks to my condition!
We always bet
the world on Hope
although it has always been
a sort of Icarus-being
with its reclaimed wings
and hot-glue foundation.
We lay ourselves at its feet
and stare up into its eyes with love
although we know from its past
that it is likely to leave us
and soar until it crashes.
We spend too many days after that
staring at the ocean imagining we see it
struggling still and calling to us for rescue
even though each of us points
at a different spot and say we were certain,
this time, that we have it right.
Somehow in spite of all the times
we have found Hope’s soggy feathers on the shore,
all the time we have gone out in boats
to where we sure Hope was still afloat
and found nothing, we go back to the sea
and stare at the horizon, pointing first here,
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A very special memory of a grandchild opening his heart to Jesus.
Many years ago, I began on the first of the four Advent Sundays to pray “Come, Lord Jesus.” Then I watch expectantly for Him to become present in small, but recognizable ways in my heart and life. And most years my heart and mind are actually attentive enough to recognize His coming.
One Christmas Eve, our children and grandchildren were all at our home, surrounded by the friendly reds and greens of Christmas and delicious smells teasing from the kitchen. In one bedroom, a grand-baby snuggled into sleep, while in others whispering parents wrapped and ribbonned Santa secrets. Only Granddad was missing, out doing his traditional Christmas Eve shopping.
As excited older grandchildren were setting out to explore the woods and creek, I was making a clean up sweep through the holiday chaos. And one preschooler, too young for exploring and too old for a nap, went from room to…
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This is in response to the Making Sense pod cast by Sam Harris. In “The Key to Trump’s Appeal” Sam says it is his unabashed acceptance of his own human wants and weaknesses without worrying about the fall out for others. He frees people from shame and guilt. Where the Democrat intellectuals come on strong in moral judgement and an obvious sense of superiority.
I do think the obvious superiority complex of intellectuals has always alienated large parts of the population and this explains Trump’s appeal to a segment of the population. I remember the intellectual Democrat presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. I thought this description funny, but fitting: “Adlai looks at people like they are side dishes he didn’t order.” A lot of times even the use of erudite language intimidates and frustrates the average person.
But not sure Harris’ explanation fits the educated mid-to upper middleclass Trump supporters. For them, it seems to me to be about who gets their hard-earned tax money and the abortion issue gives their fight religious credibility.
I’ve been arguing for many years that both the Republicans and the Democrats are slowly, but surely eliminating the middle class.
And for many hardworking blue collar, lower middle class, who used to have some power through unions, physical violence has always been their last resort in desperation.
Now as a “little old lady” without either sex appeal, the security of accumulated money or the ability to still earn it, and having outlived all my “connections” with power, I am beginning to experience being considered not only invisible, irrelevant, a waste of time and money, but a nuisance. And it is bringing out the Trump in me! Seriously. I am having to battle my own hatred. I have to struggle when in public to suppress my own tendency to violence. I drag myself to the grocery at six in the morning for safety. Recently, when three, twenty something of age, over six feet tall men, not wearing masks came laughing and walking three abreast toward me in the grocery aisle, something snapped. And I lowered my head and picking up speed ran my grocery cart straight at them. They looked astonished as they scattered abruptly when I was inches away. I was on a high for days from it. I felt powerful and thrilled by the shock on their faces. I finally recognized that I had joined the ranks of the violent. But haven’t had much luck regretting it. And after months of dealing with the greed and intimidation techniques of insurance conglomerates after Julian died, I now dig in and do my best to be a thorn in their side without hurting the innocent, powerless workers who have to deal with the public. I really think that other than the bizarrely rich and those at the bottom living off the government, every other economic level is feeling oppressed and basically like they are being screwed by the other economic groups. Trump has legitimized the violence of our anger. And sadly, made the smallest marginalized groups easy targets as outlets for it. And though I reject this intellectually and morally, I understand it, and have to constantly struggle against it myself.
My husband and I were as different as both and when he died we had been married a month short of sixty years. For about twenty years we gave marriage preparation talks about differences in spirituality, values, interests, focus, family influences, and problem solving techniques. One of the first things he always said was, “I don’t understand Eileen at all, but I accept her as she is.” But he also valued my mind and gradually I helped him outgrow his Southern prejudices. He helped me to understand the need to temper ideals with realism. In this life, we can only inch toward the perfect. And we learned to work together well enough to raise five both intelligent and kind kids who are totally different from each other and also from one or both of us. And they are all awesome.
If we do not accept our differences as gifts and learn to understand each other and use our differences for the good of all, America will not ever be GREAT or KIND, never-the-less both. We, BOTH SIDES, are destroying America because we will not let go of our need to win in order to struggle to learn to work together. And the first thing we have to learn is how to dialogue (express and listen) without demonizing each other.
Several decades ago, Julian and I were given the task by our Diocese of creating materials for a six weeks class on Capital Punishment. He was 100 % for capital punishment and I was 100 % against. As we both read through all the materials with statistics and stories of people being executed and later through DNA found to be innocent and the large majority of them being black, Julian began to change his mind.
At the same time a friend of mine’s sister was murdered and decapitated and buried without her head, which was never found. The white man accused of the murder (with plenty of evidence) had already served time for rape and torture once, been released, and attempted the rape/murder of another woman a second time, and again served time, but was paroled. He was obviously mentally defective. He had chains connected to the metal floor of the cabin of his truck. Some years before this, my son and his wife had been giving this man rides to work, not knowing his history. When my son changed jobs, his wife had driven the man to work alone. This issue was now up close and personal for me.
I decided our justice system was defective and I wanted people like this man to be kept on death row. And that DNA and all the groups protesting Capital Punishment would manage to deter the death sentence for innocent people. But the insane wouldn’t be allowed to rape, torture, and kill again.
Most issues just aren’t simple or clear cut. And there are no perfect people, so no perfect systems or solutions. We aren’t God and this isn’t heaven. But our best bet for improving things is recognizing that there are two legitimate sides to issues and to work together to come up with a still imperfect, but better way to handle them at least for our times.
The Martha and Mary story with Martha doing the work to feed everyone, while Mary sat with the men and listened to Jesus has always bothered me. Even though I definitely identify with Mary and see this as a clear indication that Jesus saw women as equal to men, it seemed rather unfair.
Going through some of my old journals, I found somethings that have helped remind me of what I have let myself forget.
There is a big difference in “natural” gifts and “spiritual” gifts. Recognizing our need to listen to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and developing the habit of doing that is how we become able to seek the kingdom of God first and trust that our physical needs will be provided. This is so counter intuitive, that when I don’t daily seek God, I lose perspective and fall back into fear and trying to fix things myself even after all the miracles I’ve experienced. I seem to have Spiritual Alzheimer’s.
In my early days after a conversion from agnosticism to a personal relationship with Jesus as the human expression of the Love of God, I stayed immersed in the Scriptures and prayer for hours each day and my first response to challenges was prayer and then scriptures came to mind that related to what I was facing.
I’m going to begin sharing some small experiences as appetizers before I share some of the struggles at the beginning of my search for meaning and finding God in Jesus.