Author Archives: Eileen

Congressional Record

Simply awesome expression of feelings and thoughts so uncomfortable most of the time, we simply have to ignore them to stay functional. And the abuses Tony deplores may not apply to everyone, but history and the news indicate they are predominant.

Dark Matter

In a government built 
for and by men and only men
the most honor will be given
to those whose eyes mist over 
with bland depravity, the ones
who will square their shoulders
and sigh, "Well, nothing else
to be done here," then send 
soldiers and bombers
off to do bloody dirt 
they would not do
with their own hands. 

With their own hands 
they will sign orders 
for murder squads, then
go home to families, trot babies
on their knees till bedtime when they will
hand them back to women and go sit 
in their dark studies wondering 
what will emerge tomorrow morning
from the beige fog 
of incremental catastrophe in which 
they live and breathe.

They live and breathe for this distance from their kills as if they've developed a taste for the news of how children's bodies were churned by explosives, how the targets ran screaming, how…

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I hunger to be born again.

to take my hurts and failures

and mulch them into new beginnings,

to turn them into fertile fields

of understanding and compassion.

To experience again the greening out

of the frozen landscapes in my life

and gain a rich new Spring perspective

that builds on leaves and logs of yesteryear

to bring forth the ripe good fruit of love.

Traditions Both Tribal and Personal: Stories From Montreal

Rich in cultures, colors, and wisdom.

Adventures in Wonderland

Traditional Montreal selfie

I thought I’d finished with Montreal Christmas stories in the previous post, but I forgot this:

It begins with singing, ethereal voices in the distance that you can barely hear. Gradually it gets louder and louder as the choir slowly enters. There are 45 of them, dressed in red robes and carrying glowing candles, as they process up the centre aisle of the church. We turn to watch them.

But I‘m getting ahead myself.

The evening really begins when my sister Suzanne and Don and I meet up with her friend Josée. After a Metro ride and a walk the four of us enter into the warm and cosy ambience of Garage Beirut for a sumptuous dinner of authentic Lebanese food. Mezzes, charcoal-grilled lamb and chicken, humous, labneh, tabouleh and other dishes fill the table. We eat ourselves silly, along with good wine and good conversation. It…

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Sermons from the Molehill: The Broken Body of Christ

The Scriptures remind us of God’s laws and of our own struggle to be the Body of Christ.

First of all, God gave us laws as an incubator to keep us from wreaking havoc on ourselves and others. Other than a few mountain men and some hermits, most of us need society for practical reasons.  But living together comes with its own set of challenges and the laws were made to help us survive until we become spiritually mature enough to at least treat each other as we would like to be treated.  But it takes a close relationship with God for the grace to grow beyond trade-offs into loving one another as God loved us in Jesus. We all fall short of loving like Jesus.  Psalm19 says, “Who can detect their own errors?  Clear me from hidden faults…..Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

What irritates you most in other people? Notice during the next week, when you react to someone negatively.  It often has some connection with something we don’t recognize in ourselves. I’m a theory person, an idea person, who like Mr. Magoo goes through life not noticing the concrete world around me.  I was not practical or very competent at many of the things I needed to do as a wife, homemaker, and mother.  My fourth child called me from college and asked why I never told him that clothes weren’t supposed to be wrinkled. Does that give you a clue?  But, wanting, like the psalmist, to recognize my hidden faults, I worked with a Spiritual Director when I was in my mid-forties. After some inner work, I began to suspect that when I felt inadequate around practical people, I used sarcasm to “cut those people down to my size.”  Since I had always considered myself a very kind person, everything in me resisted admitting this.  After a rather painful session with my Director, I went to visit my mother who had Alzheimer’s and was now in a nursing home.  She was comatose by then, so I mostly just sat and held her hand. That day as I did this, in my mind I was telling God that I really didn’t think I was that mean. Mom had a new roommate, who in the couple of weeks she had been there, also seemed comatose, never responding to me or the nurses when I was there.  But at that moment, she raised up on her elbow looking directly at me and said very clearly, “You aren’t who you thought you were, are you.” As my jaw dropped in amazement, she lay back down and in the next few weeks before she died, never said another word in my presence.

If you decide to pray with the psalmist, “Clear me of my hidden faults…Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord,” be prepared for Him to do it. Being the Body of Christ is not for the faint hearted, but if you are reading this He has called you. So, let us respond together, “Here I am, Lord.  I fall short of your glory, but I am yours.”

Freedom For and From Religion

Freedom for and from religion are the same thing. It is important for all of us to protect that freedom.

As a “born-again” Christian and mother of two gay sons and with a grandchild who is transgender, I appeal to you to not foster the misunderstanding, prejudice, and persecution of future generations by ignoring that laws are being passed that contribute to those. Currently, there are laws in state legislatures that are aimed at preventing any acknowledgement in public school texts or classes of the reality of LBGTQ genders or relationships. There are numerous other laws being considered that are much more discriminatory. We are a democracy. Silence is consent.

Homosexuality is not a choice. My great-great aunt on my father’s side had the intelligence and courage to become a pediatrician and establish a clinic for poor children in the early 1900’s. Her family never spoke of her because she lived with one woman all her life. On my mother’s side, a great-aunt, with education and intelligence, but noticeably masculine traits, lived a quiet, but obviously lonely life. My brother has been in a monogamous relationship with one man for over thirty years.  My son and his partner of over twenty years teach at an orphanage for children born HIV positive in South East Asia. A very intelligent grandchild with an incredibly caring heart and talent in both music and art is transgender.

There is research that suggests that there are several genetic variants that may play a part in LGBTQ sexual orientation.

Sixty years of marriage convinced me that the commitment relationship of marriage is designed to both challenge and enable us to come to truly know and grow in love for another imperfect human being. I have also recognized that sex isn’t just for pleasure or even propagation. It is an integral part of intimacy and learning to love unconditionally. To me that is not only the purpose of life, but its greatest achievement.

Christians, please don’t contribute to denying future generations of people, who didn’t ask to be born different from the majority, understanding and the opportunity for loving and being loved as the person they are.

Even though discrimination in its many forms may not affect you personally, if you agree with my understanding, please help by emailing, calling, or snail mailing your legislators.  There are bills being passed quietly in most states that will contribute to and continue prejudice that provokes not only violence, but suicides by many young people in our times. Please be an advocate for them and future generations.


Powerful and so true. A good reminder when I judge someone else and want to give up on them.

The Renegade Press

“Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

There has always been a lot of conjecture about the true ownership of the quote above. While most people believe that it belongs to a Scottish author by the name of Ian Maclaren, there are some that attribute it to Plato, or argue that it was Philo of Alexandria who first uttered the phrase. Regardless of who owns it, the simple, yet profound meaning it conveys speaks volumes, especially in a world where we so often feel as though we are struggling, and forget that we are not alone.

Every single person in this world is living through their own unique version of reality. And in that reality, they are fighting battles both within themselves, and with the world around them as they try their best to survive. While some people face battles that manifest themselves as physical…

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Oh how sweet! Yes. A funny memory: My almost four year old granddaughter who mostly only used sign language for expressing her needs was riding in the back seat for the hour trip to my house. Speaking to her didn’t bring any response, so I decided to lighten up the boring drive on the Interstate. I started singing. I am tone deaf unfortunately, and my granddaughter, like many who deal with Autism, has perfect pitch. So, after a few lines of the song, she said clearly and emphatically, “Don’t sing, Nanu! Don’t sing!”

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

We keep (and are raising) a three year old here at the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners.  Like pretty much all the kids who live (or pass through) here, she struggles to overcome developmental, social, and academic delays.  As such, she does not, as yet, speak in complete sentences – certainly not elaborate ones.  Rarely more than word pairs.  However, she can and does sometimes sing a whole verse or two of a song.

Despite her limitations, she strikes me as very smart.  She is quite expressive.  Even if we must remind her to use her “big words” several times in even short exchanges, she seems to be a modern woman in the making.  She mysteriously conveys the idea that she knows what she wants and how to get it.  (Her secret agent name is Secret Agent Sassafras or “SAS”.)  We are remote learning/home schooling during…

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Today’s Quote

It seems impossible to forgive people like Hitler. But when the challenge comes from people like Archbishop Tutu and Corrie ten Boom, we know that with grace it can be done and that each of us is called to do this. Hard, but Jesus did it on the cross and calls us to follow him.

Soul Gatherings

Two simple truths:
there is nothing that cannot be forgiven,
and there is no one undeserving
of forgiveness.

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu ~

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Good Memories from a Hard Time

Grace for hard times comes in kindness, humor, and persistence.

I just saw in the obituaries that a very special person died. His name was Louie. I met Louie at a nursing home when I was staying there for the five months my husband was in rehab and then Hospice.    

Louie was 89 then, but feisty! My first encounter was when I went to the rescue of Louie and his amazing daughter-in-law. She came every day to try to help Louie recover mobility and self-care skills.  Louie was a challenge to take care of and he appeared to be purposely sliding down out of his wheel chair with her struggling to get him back up safely, so I came to her rescue. As I bent over to support him on the other side, he quickly kissed me on the cheek. His daughter-in-law was mortified and once we got him safe, apologized profusely. I laughingly assured her that in my eighties, it was a rare treat to be kissed sweetly on the cheek by an unknown gentleman.                                            

My next encounter with Louie was when I was getting an ice cream treat for my husband and had parked my bright red rollator in the hall outside the tiny room with the refrigerator. When I came out, the rollator was gone. I looked up and down the halls and it was nowhere to be seen. Then I spotted the back of a wheel chair propelling itself rapidly down the hall and I sped up to get a better look. Sure enough, it was Louie propelling himself with his feet while he pushed the rollator at an amazingly fast clip. When I laughingly tried to re-appropriate it, he tightened his grip proving that the therapy on his hands was working. A nurse saw my problem and joined us, saying, “Oh, Louie, your hands look cold. Here, let me warm them up by holding them.” As she began to take his second hand, I could see Louie catch on to the trick, so I quickly grabbed the handles and took off down the hall!                

Though I didn’t think Louie could speak, as I passed him sitting by the nurses station the next morning, I couldn’t resist teasing him. So, I stopped and said, “Louie, you stole my red rollator yesterday.” Louie’s eyes twinkled as he grinned and said clearly, “Yeah! I did, didn’t I?”

Louie had good days and bad days, but on his good days, I’d see him pushing his own black rollator rapidly across the parking lot making his daughter-in-law run to catch up with him. I often saw him working with a therapy block of things to twist, pull, push, and tie to regain dexterity with his hands.

Then, one evening when Louie was parked in his wheel chair slightly behind a man who had a support for his head and back attached to his own wheel chair, I realized Louie was working intently on loosening the screws that held the support on. I managed to put the other man’s chair with its back against the wall before I warned a nurse about the approaching danger from Louie’s successful rehab.

The last time I remember seeing Louie was a few days before my husband died. I had walked past him crying and when I came back past him, he said in a small voice with such a sad look on his face, “You were crying.”

I realize that if I had been responsible for Louie, I would probably not have such fond memories. But Louie helped me make it through a really hard time. After Covid came, I sent him a few cards kidding him about our encounters. I don’t know if he could read them or remember, but I hope so. I’m sad that I didn’t get to see him again.

Grains of Sand

The ocean swallows a grain of sand with each turning of the tide. It’s been happening for millennium. Progress is imperceptible in the blink of a human life span. It’s like the difference between watching a train go by from a mountain top or standing close to the tracks. But when we recognize our own oneness with the ocean it no longer matters.