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January 5th, 2017

SCIATICA AND ME

Let me tell you about me and my sciatica! As you may know, the sciatic nerve is the biggest, longest nerve in your body.  It was three years ago that sciatic pain down my right leg first began,  At first I just walked through it but as it grew worse sought the advice of the neurologist I had previously worked ftor, Dr. Jan Mashman.  He ordered an MRI, physical therapy, gave me medication, and emphasized NO back surgery.  The MRI showed L5 spondylolisthesis, and the meds I stopped after two days, they made me feel so weird.  The physical therapy for several weeks was lackluster so not very helpful.

Eventually I saw an orthopedist to see about the possibility of steroid injections for pain relief. The facilities and treatment were top-notch but after the ten days wait there was no improvement.  A couple of months later Dr. Southern was willing to try it again, with a couple of extra injections thrown in, but once again, no improvement.

Over this time I had been prescribed Lidocaine patches and had tried every over-the-counter pain med (Aleve, Tylenol. Blu-Emu, Aspercreme with Lidocaine, SalonPas, etc.) which helped minimally.  Also hot pads and cold packs for nighttime pain.  Fortunately nights were for the most part without pain after a half- hour or so in bed.

i had begun to reach the point where I figured I’d have sciatica for the rest of my life.  It was painful – quite – if I stood upright for over five minutes but I worked around that and did pretty much, everything I really wanted to do.  No walks down the street, no wandering in stores, but with a shopping cart a brief visit to shop for essentials was possible. I could go out for lunch or for a short drive.  I told myself it could be a lot worse.  I didn’t have plaque psoriasis, or cystic fibrosis, or hemorrhoids!

My sister, Dolly, told me her son, Ken, had back pain which was treated with radio frequency ablation which quelled the offending nerve for quite a time and why didn’t I look into that?  She offered to go with me to see my doctor when she came to Connecticut for her class reunion and I made an appointment to do that.. Dr. Hermantin didn’t think much of the idea for the sciatic nerve, saying I wouldn’t be able to raise my foot.  But he did bring up the thought of minimally invasive spinal surgery, a one day procedure, to remove whatever it was that was annoying my sciatic nerve.  It would require general anesthesia and approval by my internist and by my medical coverage.  A date was given for October 31, but as his secretary said, it’s not “set in stone.” “Why spend the rest of your life in pain? Sis said. At 93, how much rest of life are we talking about?

After an EKG and blood work, I was cleared for surgery!  And ConnectiCare agreed on insurance coverage!  Surprise!  Sister Dolly was left with the worry that if I died or it made me somehow worse it would be on her.  I asked our priest for prayers for the seriously ill, just in case.  Daughters Mary, a nurse, and Terry, quite medically savvy, would take me to the hospital.  It all went as planned.  I do not recall the anesthesia taking effect.  I do not recall being in recovery. I later learned that Mary had dressed the top of me, and Terry the bottom,  Mary got on Facebook posting “Mom’s out of surgery and in recovery” , “Mom’s going home,” and then “Mom’s home.”

God bless Mary who planned to stay the night with me.  I had pain medication (Tramadol 50 mg) to take and instructions as to what I could and could not do.

My post-surgery instructions read:  Unlimited walking and stair climbing.  Limit sitting to 20-30 minute intervals, usually before and during meals.  Limit car-riding, short distances with brace or corset on. Have someone check your incision for signs of infection.  Wear support stockings until first post-op visit in two weeks.

DON’T – bend or twist at the waist.  DON’T  Lift any item more than 10-15 pounds over your head.   Don’t druve a car.      Call physician for pain, redness, drainage, temperature greater than 101.5 in one day.

Spent the first night coughing, with sore throat as the result of intubation.  And burping.  Apparently the anesthesia annoyed my GI tract and things were not digesting well.  I had to sit up each time I burped – which was often. I could get up to go to the bathroom and to get something to eat.  My incision, only about two inches long, had been glued together and covered with steristrips.  Mary told me the incision was healing and I was doing well.  I did not feel well.  After three days I was able to  stop the pain meds.  Took a shower on the third day which wiped me out.  Had a bowel movement the fourth day!  Mary wanted to go home to her bed.  I did not want to be left alone.  Terry came for two nights  and then I was home alone.  Thank God son Dan and his family live right next door and were a continuing source of comfort and support.  I am so blessed to have these people in my life!

I couldn’t put  on my own socks or pick up anything dropped on the floor.  I would sweep the floor and leave the pile of dirt for someone else to pick up.  I couldn’t bend to get things from the freezer.  Eventually I found I could put on my shoes if I lay on my back with my feet in the air!  Finally we went for my two week follow-up.  I told the PA that I was still old, I was still slow, but something was missing.  THE PAIN!  I was almost afraid to say it!  The pain was gone!  After three years!

Now I had to try to get back some strength and stamina.  These things don’t automatically reappear when pain disappears, especially after three years.  The first set-back was a tooth extraction for a lower tooth that had been loosening for months.   Who needs this kind of stress?  Unfortunately the rest of my lower teeth are progressively loosening and will have to be removed soon.  I had been thinking I might die before it came to this.  But here we are.

My two-month post-surgery check up with Dr, Hermantin, the doer of the deed, is scheduled for the end of December. In the meantime I have discovered that YouTube contains many videos on spine surgery, physical and occupational therapy after spine surgery, and first hand reports of those who have undergone spine surgery.  It would have been helpful to have seen some of these before I was operated on.  For instance, I would have purchased a “grabber” and made better plans for aftercare.

I finally saw my surgeon on January 4th.  He was happy to hear me report that since the operation I’ve had no hint of sciatica, not in the butt, not in the calf, not in the foot!  At its worst the pain went down the whole leg with little darts of fiery pain in the foot.  NO MORE,

Unfortunately, my minimally invasive spine surgery (partial removal of middle spine bone) cured the sciatica but did not make me younger.  Still I have much to be grateful for – a good surgeon and and family that could not have been more helpful!  It is time to give thanks!

 

 

 

November 7th, 2016

PRISONER FOR LIFE

Over 20 years ago the 19-year-old man who killed my daughter was sentenced to prison for life.  Ten years after the sentencing I began to wonder if he was still there and found that I was able on my computer not only to access his record but get an address and a inmate number.    I thought if I wrote to him,  if he would answer,  perhaps I could get some insight on how it all happened, what actually went down.  I had not attended the trial, had never seen him.  What sort of person was he?  The grieving had quieted and curiosity was on the rise.

We have been corresponding now for over ten years.  His letters, of course, are all in longhand, and somewhat difficult to read as his handwriting is rather angular.  His grammar is excellent as is his spelling.  I’m learning a little about him.  Over the years I sent him four books.  The first was Dave Wilkerson’s THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE, about Wilkerson’s  venture into the gang culture in New York, a truly amazing book about how God can work in young men on the wrong side of society.  It might resonate with him, I thought.

As I began to get hints that he had been raised Catholic I decided to send him THE SONG OF BERNADETTE by Jewish author  Franz Werfel which had so impressed me when I first read it in 1942.  Until this day people by the thousands continue to visit the grotto in Lourdes where the child Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary who spoke the remarkable words “I am the Immaculate Conception,”  words which Bernadette could not herself understand.  Miracles continue to be documented there.

My third book was by Ben Carson which I sent when the presidential election got underway.  Ben, a famous black neurosurgeon wrote his book GIFTED HANDS long before he had ever considered running for president.  It is his life journey as a Christian and a doctor, and I thought other prisoners, especially black ones, might enjoy it too.

The last book was a recent publication by Eric Metaxas called MIRACLES.  Do they still occur? Why does Eric believe in them?  If you are not familiar with Metaxas just google”Eric Metaxas Prayer Breakfast” to view his very humorous, very touching talk about his faith journey after which he has the audacity to lead the group in Amazing Grace–in the presence of the Obamas!

So, here we are now.  No one in my family is interested in this correspondence.  They think that everyone “finds God” in prison and it means nothing.  I have saved the many letters he wrote me and am going to leave them to the children whose mother’s life he took.

I close with a quote from his last letter;

I read a quote from Solzhenitsyn from the book you bought for me.  “Miracles, What They Are, Why Then Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” by Eric Metaxas.  There’s a line from a famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl who was in the Nazi death camps. He wrote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.'”  I am reading Miracles again, my fourth time.  And Ive learned something more every time.  I got a highlighter and have marked all types of things. The first time I read it I liked the second part best, but now I’m leaning more to the first part.  I wanted to get “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life.  For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe but the maturity of the human soul.” tattooed on my shoulder blade with a prison wall in the background and have rays of light coming from up above BUT I promised my sister no more tattoos so I just carry a piece of paper with these words around with me. I have it on the back of my Prisoner Identification Card. I hope that your son gets the same feeling I do when you read that to him.  Ms. Dorothy, you are the main reason I’ve had all of the changes in my life and the way I look at things now.  Thank you.  Thank you for writing to me back in 2005 and letting me know how you prayed for me.  Even though I am in prison you helped me gain a freedom that people in society sometimes never experience.  I know God has plans for me.  He can make ANYTHING happen as long as we have Faith. Have you ever sat down and daydreamed about what it would have been like to walk with Jesus when he was here on Earth?  Years ago I would never have stepped out of the boat and into the water when He called.  Now I’d jump and run across the water.  Do you ever wonder why Jesus never had any children?  I know I’m God’s child but you know what I mean.  I’d like to be able to sit down with one of those Bible scholars and ask him or her all of the questions that float around my head.  Who knows, maybe some day I can use a computer and do all of that.

 

There is a possibility that this prisoner’s sentence may be somehow commuted in the near future, subsequent to a new law relating to sentencing of minors for life.  He has been appointed a lawyer and there has been some action relevant to reviewing his case.

I post all this because there is no sin so grievous that a repentant soul cannot be forgiven by God.  Jesus told us to pray “forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who trespass against us.”

Please pray for us.

 

 

March 3rd, 2016

ALIVE FOR LENT

LENT!  Sure enough I’m still alive.  92 and a half!  Where does the time go?  I gave up TV for Lent and all of a sudden I’m wallowing in time.  Didn’t think I really watched all that much TV ~ put it on in the morning to see what happened over night and to check on the weather – what to wear, whether to go to 7 AM or noon mass, depending on weather.  Then Kelly and Michael at 9 who are, of course, old friends and never get dull.  AT 10 AM over to the 700 Club which I have watched since before Pat Robertson ran for president!  I still find the 700 Club a reliable source of national and international news, especially regarding the middle east where they have a base in Jerusalem, which ISIS would like to eliminate from the face of the earth.  At 11 AM sometimes over to The View to see what the wacko uninformed liberals are thinking.  They try to be “fair and balanced” but no way!  TV goes off at noon and I put Rush Limbaugh on the radio and lie down for a nap.  He’s pretty good at putting me to sleep but he has earned my trust over the years.  TV comes back on at 5, FIVE AT FIVE ON FOX, under the aegis of Roger Ailes.  The program is going gangbusters and has earned it.  The participants are informed, articulate, and winsome besides.  To top the day off I sometimes fall asleep watching Jeopardy.  Even the college kids are smarter than me but it gives me hope for the next generation.

So that’s why I’m back.   Already wrote an overdue letter to Michael in prison.  He’s been  there for twenty years for killing my daughter, Peggy.  I started writing to him about ten years after her death to see if he would tell me what really went down; I figured he didn’t wake up that morning intending to kill her and might have been just a stupid kid making bad choices.  We write regularly now and though everyone says everyone “gets religion”in prison, I think he has. And that’s all for Michael for now.

I need not fear that I will miss anything important without TV.  My iPad gives me the weather every morning as well as the top news from the New York Times.  YouTube keeps up to date with videos showing that Beyonce’s performance in the commercial at the superbowl is Satanic and that we are all  one family as proven by the male Y chromosome in recent genetics.   In fact YouTube is a good place to start any type of research.  On the radio, I can count on Rush to be on fire about something every day.

During the hiatus, grandson Jaime married Marni Cutler in a beautiful October wedding.  There’s a lovely photo of the wedding  on Facebook which I can’t seem to get onto this blo

Two more greatgrandbabies are on the way.  Katy’s daughter Amy in Chicago is scheduled for a girl in June.  Terry’s son Sage and his Amy in the Berkshires will have a baby in September. May all go well with them.  This seems to be the year of the Amys!

At this point Lent is halfway over and the blogging has slowed down.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned anything about the sciatica that I’ve had now for over a year despite MRI, physical therapy, two sets of spine injections, and now medication which is not doing the job.  If I ever get rid of it, that will truly be BIG NEWS!   I’ll shout it from the housetops!

Till next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5th, 2015

RESCUE THOSE IN DANGER OF DEATH

It occurs to me, rather belatedly, that the annals of the rescues we undertook from 1988 to 1992 have never been typed up.  Should I die tomorrow, the records would be lost forever and my kids will have only the vaguest memory of my goings and comings.

A rescue, of course, (under the auspices of Operation Rescue) is a peaceful attempt to stop the killing of unborn babies at the places where they are scheduled to be killed, i.e., abortion “clinics.”  Rescues are so-called from Proverbs 24:11:  “”Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, behold, we did not know this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? ”

We first got our feet wet, my friend Dolores Teleski, I, and some hundreds others, under the leadership of Randy Terry, at four rescues in New York City in  May, 1988.  As I recall we stayed at the Times Square Hotel.

May 2, 1988 – Manhattan

May 3, 1988 – Queens

May 5, 1988, Long Island

May 6, 1988, Manhattan

We were arrested but dismissed.

July 5,  1988, we went to Paoli, PA where we were jailed for two days at the Chester County prison

July 7, 1988, Philadelphia.  All I really remember is that it was dreadfully hot and once I was able I drank all of a mammoth Coke.

July 19, 1988, we got on a bus in New York which took us down to Atlanta where we were arrested at the Surgical Center, refused to give our names, and for the first time gave our names as Baby Doe.  I was  BD 69 and Dolores BD 70.   We stayed in a Camp for awhile, sort of a barracks arrangement with bunk beds, all the women in one room and jail there didn’t seem half bad. We  could go out in the yard and talk to people outside the fence.  We were then  transferred to the new Fulton County Jail with cells that we had to stay in at night, quite hard to deal with because of my agoraphobia.   I stayed 14 days and quit; it eventually cost me $550.  Dolores stayed behind until they threw her out, time served.

? date   We  went drove up to Boston and the next morning traveled by bus to a clinic in Providence.  Were they surprised!  Dolores was arrested there but  I was not, and somehow we came home together.

October, 1988, a rescue in Bridgeport, dismissed  on a technicality.

November 29, 1988, Hartford, arrested, nulled, reduced to an infraction.

January 13, 1989, Planned Parenthood in NYC.  Not arrested.

January 14, 1989, another Planned Parenthood.  Not arrested.

March 4, 1989, Medical Options in my home town of Danbury CT, arrested for creating a public disturbance. Dismissed on 5/25.

April 1, 1989, West Hartford, I did not go, police brutality was reported.

April 29, 1989, Shrewsbury NJ.  I don’t remember this at all.  Not arrested.

June 17, 1989, West Hartford with many more people than April.  We were going to “show them.”  Police removed their names and badges and upped the brutality.  There are photos and videotapes of this episode.  Three times in my life I have screamed involuntarily; two time were caused by a swarthy W. Hartford cop without a badge, who did things to my left arm I didn’t know were possible.   I subsequently saw  a doctor for the left shoulder injury.   Spent 12 days in Niantic women’s prison.  On the way to Niantic we were told we would be safe there but the “accommodations” were pitiful.  There should be a movie of this “adventure.”

September 23, 1989, Bronx, not arrested.

October 28, 1989, Norwalk, arrested for criminal trespass and breach of peace, reduced to an infraction and discontinued.

April 7, 1990, New Haven, criminal trespass, reduced to infraction, found guilty $15 fine remitted.

September 28, 1990, Dobbs Ferry, trespass, resisting arrest, interfering with government admin, kept in solitary, then to Valhalla Hospital for blood pressure, found guilty of trespass, dismissed time served.

November 11, 1991, Medical Options, Danbury, not arrested.

January 29, 1991, Womens Pavilion, Dobbs,  Ferry NY, not arrested..

February 2, 1991, Greenburg, White Plains, NY, not arrested.

August 19, 1991, Wichita, KS, not arrested. Abortuary famous for late term abortions.  Quite a trip!

April 21, 1992, Buffalo, not arrested.

April 22, 1992  (where the heck is that?)  guilty of disorderly conduct, served two days

August 8, 1992, Danbury Medical Options, arrested criminal trespass.   10/30/92 Reduced to simple trespass, $35 fine and $30 costs.

September 14, 1992, Stamford, not arrested.

July 21, 1993,  Dobbs Ferry, not arrested.

October 9, 1993, Dobbs Ferry, arrested, trespass, 10 day sentence.

I must apologize for my sloppy bookkeeping.  When I made these notes I had no idea I would someday blog about these experiences.  There does exist, in my possession,  a videotape of the second West Hartford rescue which shows many people manhandled and you can see me being dragged (of course we wouldn’t walk!) down a hall and then my two screams can be heard.

It is over twenty years later.  We didn’t stop abortion.  Roe v. Wade has not been overturned.  Undercover video tapes have been made inside abortuaries where they talk nonchalantly about selling baby parts.  Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president ever.  The Senate has just passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  He will veto it.  God help us all.

Randy Terry has since studied all about Islam and is making a high-tech movie “What would Muhammad do?”  We carry on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 13th, 2015

A MAN NAMED APRIL

A few days ago I went to my bank and found a teller ready and waiting for me.  The sign at his station said “April.”  I said, “Are you April?” He answered “Yes.”  I asked, “What month were you born in?”  and he answered “April.”  I said “I love it!” and the rest of the day tried to figure out what I loved about it.  What I’ve come up with if that April seemed to be  at peace with his name.  Whether that has always been the case, I have no way of knowing.   But now he seems comfortable with being a man named April.

When kids are in kindergarten and the teacher addresses her students as Tahini, or Zucchini, or Djong, or Sam or Keesha and the kid responds the others just accept that that is their name.  They have no way of knowing whether it is a “regular” name or a foreign name or otherwise unusual.  They just don’t have the data base for deciding.  By fourth or fourfth grade they might begin to question various names.  Did your mother name you after a vegetable?  Don’t you know Jean is a girl’s name?  The situation could lead to ridicule or bullying if the child already thinks his name is strange and doesn’t want to be different.    The same situation arises if the kid has red hair, or a big scar, or a lisp or any number of oddities.  They have trouble fitting in, especially if others seem not to like the difference.    Fortunately some schools make a special effort to help children be accepting of the differences in others, pointing out the some differences are obvious and others not as easily recognized.  What a wonderful opportunity for teaching the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Empathy CAN be understood and taught.

But perhaps it is easier to teach others to accept the differences in their acquaintances than it is to accept the differences in themselves.  I think it has to do with pride.  We all want to be “special” but special in a good way, in a way that is better than others.   When we are ashamed  of how we are we are not in a good place.  A wise person once wrote, “we are as sick as our secrets.”  It is with good reason that the 12 Steps  of AA  ask  us to admit our failings to another, ask to be able to see what can be changed and what cannot be changed, and ask for the wisdom to know the difference.

Being comfortable with ourselves does not mean there is  not room for improvement.  It just means that for the time being we are OK with the status quo.  When we have loved (accepted) how we are it is easier to accept (love) others as they are.  Mutual acceptance makes bullying difficult. It has been well said that you can’t get someone else’s goat if they have no goat to get.

Years ago I was given an article on acceptance which is the best I’ve ever seen on the subject.  I am not keen on retyping this two-page, single-spaced piece  but will at least start.

 

THE COURAGE TO ACCEPT ACCEPTANCE

One of the deepest needs of the human heart is the need to be appreciated. Every human being wants to be valued.  This is not to say that everybody wants to be told by others how wonderful he is.  No doubt there is that desire, too, but that is not fundamental.  We could say that every human being wants to be loved.  But even this admits of ambiguity.  There are as many varieties of love as there are species of flowers.  For some people love is passionate; for others it is something romantic; for others love is something merely sexual.  There is, however, a deeper love, a love of acceptance.   Every human being craves to be accepted, accepted for what he is.  Nothing in human life has such a lasting and fatal effect as the experience of not being completely accepted. When I am not accepted, then something in me is broken.  A baby who is not welcome is ruined at the roots of his existence.  A student who does not feel accepted by his teacher will not learn.  A man who does not feel accepted by his colleages on the job will suffer from ulcers and be a nuisance at home.  Many of the life histories of prisoners reveal that somewhere along the way they went astray because there was no one who really accepted them.  Likfeise, when a religious does not feel accepted by her community, she cannot be happy.  A life without acceptance is a life in which a most basic human need goes unfilled.
Acceptance means that the people with whom I live give me a feeling of self-respect, a feeling that I am worthwhile.  They are happy that I am who I am  Acceptance means that I am welcome to be myself.   Acceptance means that though there is need for growth, I am not forced.  I do  not have to be the person I am not, neither am I locked in by my past or present.  Rather I am given room to unfold, to outgrow the mistakes of the past.  In a way we can say that acceptance is an unveiling   Everyone of us is born with many potentialities  But unless they are drawn out by the warmth touch of another’s acceptance, they will remain dormant.  Acceptance liberates everything that is in me.  Only when I am loved in that deep sense of complete acceptance can I become myself.  The love, the acceptance of other persons makes me the unique person that I am meant to be.  When a person is appreciated for what he does, he is not unique; someone else can do that same thing, perhaps even better than he.  But when a person is loved for what he is, then he becomes a unique and irreplaceable personality.  So indeed, I need that acceptance in order to be myself.  When I am not accepted, I am a nobody, I cannot come to fulfillment. An accepted person is a happy person because he is opened up, because he can grow.

To accept a person does not mean that I deny his defects, that I gloss over them or try to explain them away.  Neither does acceptance mean to say that everything the person does is beautiful and fine.  Just the opposite is true. When I deny the defects of the person, then I certainly do not accept him.  I have not touched the depth of that person.  Only when I accept a person can I truly face his defects.

To express it in a negative way:  acceptance means that I never give a person the feeling that he doesn’t  count.  Not to expect anything from a person is tantamount to killing him, making him sterile.  He cannot do anything.  It is said that children with rickets scratch lime from the walls.  People who are not accepted scratch from the walls. And what are the symptoms?

– Boasting:  in a subtle or obvious way they provide themselves with the praise they want so badly.

– Rigidity:  a lack of acceptance causes a lack of security in the path of life and, a fortiori, lack of courage to risk one step to either side of the path.

– Inferiority complex:  This simply defines the above conditions.

– Promiscuity or any other superficial joy:  deep down there is so much lacking that they endeavor to get whatever they can out of life in an easy way.

– The desire to assert themselves, the frightful power to impose themselves, the excessive need for attention, the tendency to feel threatened, to exaggerate, to gossip, to suspect others:  these are other symptoms of lack of acceptance.

THE ULTIMATE ACCEPTANCE

I am accepted by God as I am– as I am, not as I should be.  To proclaim the latter is an empty message because I am never as I should be.  I know that is reality.  I do not walk a straight path.  There are many curves, many wrong decisions which in the course of life have brought me to where I am today, and God tells me that “the place on which you stand is holy ground.” (Ex.3:5) God knows my name. “See, I have carved you on the palms of my hands.”  (Is. 49:16)  God can never look at his hand without seeing my name. And my name – that’s me!  He guarantees that I can be my self.  St. Augustine says, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.”  That is the dream we all share, that one day I will meet the person to whom I can really talk, who understands me and the words I say, who listens and can even hear what is left unsaid, and then really accepts me.  God is the fulfillment of this dream.  He loves me with my ideals and disappointments, my sacrifices and my joys, my successes and my failures.  God is himself the deepest ground of my being.  It is one thing to know I am accepted, and another thing to realize it.  It is not enough to have just once touched the love of God.  There is more required to build one’s life on God’s love.  It takes a long time to believe I am accepted by God as I am.

How often have we been told that it is important that we love God?  And this is true. But it is far more important that God loves us!  Our love for God is secondary.  God’s love for us is first.  “This is the love I mean, not our love for God but God’s love for us.”  (1 John 4:10).   This is the foundation.  Karl Rahner once made the remark that we live in a time where there is much interest in Church politics, (e.g., the pill, the reform of the curia, celibate priesthood.)  This may be a sign of a deep faith.  It can also be a sign of a lack of faith.  The basic faith is that I know myself to be accepted by God.  “We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.” The whole Apostles Creed is nothing but a statement twelves times over in belief in  this very love which God has for us.

On the night before he died, Jesus prayed to the Father, “that you love them as you loved me . . so that your love for me may live in them.” (John 17:23, 26)  It seems incredible that God loves us just as much as he loves his Son, Jesus Christ.  Yet that is exactly what scripture says.  We human beings are divided in many ways:  (1) in time, for us one minute comes after another and our time is spread out. It is not so with God. God lives always in one ever present now.  There is no division.  Eternity means that the whole of time is condensed in one moment that lasts forever; (2) in space.  We have certain limited extensions.  It is not so with God.  God is completely one; (3) in love.  We are divided in our love.  We like a person very much (90%), or in an ordinary way(50%), or very little (20%).  God does not measure love.  God cannot but love totally (100%).  If we think God is a person who can divide his love, then we are thinking not of God but of ourselves.  God is perfectly one, the perfect unity.  We have love, but God is love.  His love is not an activity.  It is his whole self.  If we but grasp some idea of this, we understand that God could not possibly give 100% of his love to his Son and then 70% to us.  He would not be God if he could do that.  When we read the dialogues of Saint Catherine of Siena we get the impression that God has nothing to do but occupy himself with Catherine. And that is right.  The undivided attention of God is with her and with each of us.

It looks like I did it.  Trying to understand it.

 

 

 

 

August 19th, 2015

FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

I love being 92!  I’ve written about the vista and the panoply and all that is true.  But there  is also  the insight that comes with age.  At least I’m calling it insight.  I look back and take heed of what my children have to say about their growing up.  It is quite obvious that I have muddled through.  I was smart and educated and competent in some areas.  i really tried to be a good mother but in some areas it seems I blew it!  One of my big mistakes was to think I was smart and educated and competent.  But I never asked for help until things were beyond repairing.  Advice might have been very helpful early on.  But who needed it?  Not me.

Now my kids are sixty-ish and it becomes obvious that they, too, have muddled through.  Even though they are smart and educated and competent in many areas, they still muddle through.  Maybe that’s what we ALL do – muddle through.  I rejoice at how well they are doing and the people they’ve become. Is that what it’s all about? = the transfiguration – striving, seeking, becoming.   And learning.  Learning until we can’t learn anymore.

I think of Mother Angelica who is my age and has been bedridden for years.  What a life she had!  How could a contemplative nun start a TV network?   She worked and prayed and taught and now she lies in bed.  But I am thinking that she is still learning.  I pray for her often and imagine that she is praying for me and for all of us.

I once read about someone who wanted to live life to the full so that when it was all over she could say, “Woo-hoo, what a ride!”  Maybe that’s what I’m doing, woo-hooing!  It HAS been a ride.  A small ride because I’m only a little person in the scheme of things, one out of billions, There are so many life stories out there in the world and we know so little of them.  Fifty years ago I was all wrapped up in my little life with my little family and my little problems.  We focus on what we need to do to make it to the next day.

It was a busy life.   Seven children, one after another.  Working, feeding, clothing, taking care of the house.  Prayer group.  When Father Joe thought he’d take the prayer group to the Holy Land I wanted so badly to go that I made it work.  What a memorable experience!  With the kids grown I had a new freedom, and a job, and managed to fit in trips to Lourdes, Paris, Assissi, Fatima,  Santiago de Compostela,  Auschwitz, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, with side trips to family in New Mexico, Indiana, Florida, Quebec, Toronto.      Then came the time when I thought I should walk away from my job, get on a bus,  and get arrested in Atlanta with Operation Rescue.  What a ride!  .Two  weeks in Fulton County Jail.  All told some 34 rescues and 19 arrests.  Multiple letters to the editor.  Weddings, a daughter killed, grandchildren. great-grandchildren.  the things of everyday life.   All told, it has been a woo-hoo trip!

Now, at 92, I have time to look around, at the panoply and  the vista and the people around me.  I find I want to know what makes them tick.  What do they live for, work for, dream of.  I look, for instance, at the presidential candidates coming forth at this time and try to figure out what they are seeking – power?  fame? or something they call “good.”  And what is it that they call good?  I am not the only one who thinks there is a marked divide in our candidates between those who serve  God and those who are godless.  I cannot understand the liberals who have no God. They cannot understand me.  I want to understand everything but just watching JEOPARDY demonstrates my very limited capacity.

So I pray.  There is a story about George Washington Carver that he asked God to teach him the secrets of the universe.  It is said that God told  him his brain was too small for the secrets of the universe but he would teach him about the peanut.  Eventually Carver was famous for his agricultural accomplishments but the tale about God seems to bear up when you learn that although Carver could have made much money from the patents he held but he would not cash in on them because they were from God!

Once I decided I could no longer accept the theory of evolution which fails by Darwin’s own criteria and received the death knell with understanding of DNA which Darwin knew nothing of (see previous blogs).   I started to listen to videos about atheists, theists, creationists, etc.  Kent Hovind and Ken Ham are creationists who take the bible  literally as divinely inspired   According to Genesis therefore the world was created in seven 24-hour days 6000 years ago.    God should know; he was there.  If we won’t believe that, why would be believe in the divine fatherhood of Jesus and other scriptures that we take literally?  ?  Of course, many  think the earth is billions of years old and they have good arguments for that.  I doubt I’ll ever get everything worked out to my satisfaction  on my own but I like to wonder and pray about it.   Right now I am pondering  a two-hour video by Hovind (https://youtu.be/KK3eh4Z5Ko4)  which  should provide food for thought for the rest of my life!  I am reminded that in  The Mystical  City of God by Venerable Mary of Agreda, written in the 1600’s, supposedly inspired by Mary, Jesus was conceived 5199 years after God made the world.

And that’s the trip so far.   Woo-hoo!

 

 

 

July 5th, 2015

WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT OLD AGE?

Here I am, practically 92, actually finding old age enjoyable in some ways.  Yes, I look old.  I feel old.  I creak and limp and use a cane.  But there are two  things I really appreciate, the VISTA and the PANOPLY.

VISTA.  I look at my children.  At this point, even  they look old, some are older than 60 and have the greying hair to prove it.  At this point they are pretty much who they are going to be.  Their strengths, their gifts have made themselves known.  Their skills are honed.     They are settled in somewhere, somehow.   But still, still, I find myself getting to know some of them and others, the ones far away, I still yearn to know.  Their strengths I rejoice in.  I am delighted to learn they now know more about many things than I do and have valuable advice.  Their faults I pray about.  They are my children and I will never cease loving them.

My children have children, in young adulthood.  To my mind, they are still wet behind the ears.  They are learning, seeking, finding their way in this challenging world.  One is a farrier and a forger (the kind with a forge.). One is a tattoo artist, one has a Ph.D., another is getting a P.A.  We have a nurse, an “activist,” a wanderer, a missionary, some with jobs I don’t really understand.  I love to follow their lives on Facebook.  Some agree with my politics and religion.  Some heartily disagree.  I trust they know I love them regardless and pray they will find truth and love along the way.

Some of my grandchildren have children.  I never see my great grandchildren because they live too far away.  Fortunately, thanks to Facebook I know what they look like and can watch them grow.  The youngest will be three on my birthday on July 11.

THE PANOPLY.    So I sit at this pinnacle looking down the vista to the past and all around me to the panoply.  I’ve been around so long and grasped so little one wonders if it will all ever make sense.  Is it a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?  Here and there a person or an incident stand out as being key to a greater picture.  And though I think I catch a glimpse of a overall reason for it all it is like seeing through a glass darkly, somewhat like looking at the underside of a tapestry and imagining the topside.

Early man looked about him and that was as far as he could see.  Television gave us a “window to the world.”  We wanted to go everywhere, see all cultures.  It’s all there – everything in the world – at the tips of our fingers, at the turn of a knob.  Add the Internet to that and it is more than enough–it is too much.  It is not humanly possible to grasp.  We need to find a way to winnow, to choose wisely, to find a way that makes sense, to sort things out.  For myself I look for people I judge to be both wise and good to lead me in the way to proceed.  It is all too difficult and I need help, especially from  God.

In days of yore the world just used to sit there quietly and you could survey it and slowly take it in. Nowadays it seems to rush at you at breakneck speed, one thing after another, with no time to absorb and reflect. At the end of the day when the TV is turned off and the iPad put away I find it pleasant to untether my mind and just let it wander where it will. As that wise philosopher Mortimer Adler said we need to have idle time so that “things can occur to us.”
As the poet wrote, “the world is too much with us, late and soon; getting and spending we lay waste our powers, .little we see in nature that is ours. We have given our hearts away….”
No wonder it is soothing to watch the day-after-day unfolding of a flower, in real time, the old-fashioned way.  Enough with time-lapse photography! Let nature take is course.  Slowly. Slow down. Breathe. Think. Muse!
Have you ever just sat and held hands with someone you love? Take time to hold hands with God’s universe and with the living God.

 

June 12th, 2015

FINALLY

No, this is not my last blogpost (at least I think not.) It is just a poem I found touching and I am touched that my son found it touching. I am not afraid that any of my children will desert me when I am “sad and sick and lost.”

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost,
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry,
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me till my life is done.

Author unknown
Alzheimer’s Associatio

A few years ago I wrote a post on the book IRIS telling about living with and caring for a brilliant woman as Alzheimer’s began and  progressed to helplessness.  More recently the movie STILL ALICE depicts another woman who actually told her unbelieving husband that she had developed early Alzheimer’s and beautifully shows the struggle to come to terms with the diagnosis.  Available on DVD; recommended.

June 12th, 2015

A MUSING – COVETOUSNESS

 

In the olden days, before people were so busy being entertained that they had no time to think, there was a sin called “covetousness.” Covetousness? Who knows what that means anymore? It has nothing to do with need and everything to do with want. We seem no longer to have the concept of enough.

We have to have an iPad, a smart phone, and a computer, all online at lightning speed. A cashmere sweater will not suffice; we need one in every color, with shoes to match.

Covetousness is intimate with the other capital sins, like pride. For some strange reason we are proud to have the best and the most. We are envious of those who have more and never content with all we need. Our palate is always seeking new taste sensations because we are surfeited by the abundance at the table which does not satisfy because we never sit down really hungry.

We grab and grasp and buy and accumulate with nary a care that we have too much and the other guy has too little! Isn’t it time to look at some of those old sins and see if they are at home in us?

Lord, have mercy on us. Help us once again to look inward and learn the meaning of sin, to look outward and learn the meaning of love.

March 22nd, 2015

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