Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
November 8th, 2023


At last the day has come for me to type my farewell to my blog.  It has been lo these 15 years that I left Musings at 85  for Facebook which stole my heart and my time.  See you there?

February 16th, 2022


Terry gave me a little potted petty spurge which was full grown to about five inches in a few weeks, with green flowers.  I put it outdoors and Mary thought it was a weed, picked it and threw it aside.  I tried to replant it but it was dead.  Apparently it had seeded because in a matter of days there were a dozen baby plants springing up!  They were the genuine thing, yielding a drop of white biologically active sap when a leaf was plucked.

This is Clip One from the on line literature.

Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge,[1][2] radium weed,[2] cancer weed,[2] or milkweed[2]) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.[c1][3][4]

Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and sub-tropical regions.[1]


It is an annual plant growing to between 5–30 cm tall (most plants growing as weeds of cultivation tend towards the smaller end), with smooth hairless stems. The leaves are oval-acute, 1–3 cm long, with a smooth margin. It has green flowers in three-rayed umbels. The glands, typical of the Euphorbiaceae, are kidney-shaped with long thin horns.[4]

This is Clip Two from on line literature on ingenol mebutate.

Medicinal uses

The plant’s sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue, and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions, including cancer.[5] The active ingredient in the sap is a diterpene ester called ingenol mebutate. A pharmaceutical-grade ingenol mebutate gel has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.In four multicenter, randomized, double-blind studies, we randomly assigned patients with actinic keratoses on the face or scalp or on the trunk or extremities to receive ingenol mebutate or placebo (vehicle), self-applied to a 25-cm2 contiguous field once daily for 3 consecutive days for lesions on the face or scalp or for 2 consecutive days for the trunk or extremities. Complete clearance (primary outcome) was assessed at 57 days, and local reactions were quantitatively measured.

In a pooled analysis of the two trials involving the face and scalp, the rate of complete clearance was higher with ingenol mebutate than with placebo (42.2% vs. 3.7%, P<0.001). Local reactions peaked at day 4, with a mean maximum composite score of 9.1 on the local-skin-response scale (which ranges from 0 to 4 for six types of reaction, yielding a composite score of 0 to 24, with higher numbers indicating more severe reactions), rapidly decreased by day 8, and continued to decrease, approaching baseline scores by day 29. In a pooled analysis of the two trials involving the trunk and extremities, the rate of complete clearance was also higher with ingenol mebutate than with placebo (34.1% vs. 4.7%, P<0.001). Local skin reactions peaked between days 3 and 8 and declined rapidly, approaching baseline by day 29, with a mean maximum score of 6.8. Adverse events were generally mild to moderate in intensity and resolved without sequelae.

Ingenol mebutate gel applied topically for 2 to 3 days is effective for field treatment of actinic keratoses. (Funded by LEO Pharma; numbers, NCT00742391, NCT00916006, NCT00915551, and NCT00942604.)

So there I was with healthy petty spurge plants and the above info.  I started experimenting on the actinic keratosis on my face.

January 28th, 2019


The Bible tells us we are to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is at that time we become a child of God and receive the Holy Spirit. But Jesus said he had to die so that we might receive the Comforter who would teach us after He left this earth.

I am feeling the need to write about this second in-filling from notes that I made way back during the charismatic renewal when I was baptized in the Spirit.

John 1:33, Matthew 3:11. Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1, 4-5. Jesus promises the baptism of the Holy Spirit to his apostles.
Acts 2:1-21. The apostles receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.

Acts 8, 14-17. Peter and John lay hands on believers and they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19, 1-7 Paul lays hands on believers and they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10, 44-48  The gentiles are baptized with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the gift of tongues.  See also 1 Cor. 4-39

1 Cor. 12, 4-11, 27-31  The gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5, 22-23  Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 11, 9-13  The Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

Acts 2, 38-39  God’s promise is made to you and to your children  and all who are far away, all whom the Lord our God calls to himself,

Why wait?  Say this prayer.

i renounce Satan and all wrongdoing.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died to free us from our sins, and that he rose to bring us new life.  I will follow Jesus as the only way to the Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, I want to follow you from now on.  I want to be free from the dominion of darkness and the rule of Satan.  I want to enter into your kingdom and be part of your people.  I will turn away from all wrongdoing and avoid everything that leads me to wrongdoing.  I ask forgiveness for all the sins that I have committed.

Lord Jesus, you said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.”  Lord, lead me to the Father.  I ask you to baptize me in the Holy Spirit as you promised.

I praise you Holy God.  Glory to God.  Blessed be his Holy Name!

October 12th, 2018

Man or Beast: The Modern Dilemma

National Catholic Register
Archives – Commentary  |  Apr. 28, 2013
Man or Beast: The Modern Dilemma

A story is told in circles where science and humor coincide about an ape that was experiencing an acute identity crisis. The troubled primate escaped from the Bronx Zoo and, after sending shock waves of terror through the local community, was found in the New York City Public Library, holding in one hand Darwin’s Origin of the Species and in the other hand a copy of the Book of Genesis. “I just had to find out,” he apologetically explained to reporters, “whether I was my keeper’s brother or my brother’s keeper.”

Does the ape belong in a zoo as a captive who is cared for by his zoo keeper? Or is he human enough to be thought of on par with human beings?

After Darwin and the Darwinists, it has become easy to make the case that man is a “trousered ape,” to borrow the label C.S. Lewis used in his 1947 classic The Abolition of Man and Duncan Williams reused to title his 1972 critique of modern civilization, Trousered Apes.

The correlative difficulty, unfortunately, has been to convince people that man is specifically and uniquely human. The troubled ape in the story, of course, is a stand-in for the human being. Is man descended from apes? Or is he made in the image of God? Hence, the modern dilemma.

Charles Darwin, Walt Disney and Peter Singer make a curious triumvirate. They belong to different “species,” one might say, those belonging to the biologist, cartoonist and ethicist, respectively. Yet they all have in common the fact that they have added to the modern confusion concerning the natural identities of man and beast.

When Darwin was 25 years of age, he jotted down in his notebook what was at that time the revolutionary notion that “animals, our fellow brethren in pain, disease, suffering and famine — our slaves in the most laborious works, our companions in our amusements — they may partake of our origin in one common ancestor — we may be all melted together.”

Disney humanized animals and could make them appear more human than humans. The death of Bambi’s mother at the hands of merciless hunters created a heightened sympathy for animals and produced as well a considerable flood of tears.

Hugh Hefner hyper-sexualized women when he presented them to the world as “bunnies.” In California these days, it is politically incorrect to refer to domesticated animals as “pets” — they are to be referred to as “domestic companions.”

Singer’s landmark book Animal Liberation is not only a sustained argument for “animal rights,” but also for the superiority of some animals to humans, especially those humans in the early stages of life. He confesses that he can see no reason “why it should be that all humans — including infants, mental defectives, psychopaths, Hitler, Stalin and the rest — have some kind of dignity or worth that no elephant, pig or chimpanzee can ever achieve.”

We should not forget, however, that Darwin, Disney, Singer et alia — and not the non-human animals they describe — are the thinkers, the framers and the creators, the only ones who discuss the respective identities of man and beast.

Non-human animals do not speculate, classify or write books. This difference alone separates man from lower animals by light years. We may also add the following characteristics that are distinctive of the human: He is religious, uses a multiplicity of languages, develops science, radically transforms his environment, composes music, lives by a moral code, knows his grandparents and grandchildren, conducts ceremonies, memorializes the dead, honors heroes, philosophizes, tells jokes, laughs at his own foolishness and believes or disbelieves in evolutionary theories.

The list is endless. These characteristics make man different in kind from non-human animals, not simply different in degree.

Perhaps the most thorough and extensively researched investigation into the difference between man and beast ever produced is Mortimer Adler’sThe Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes (1967). This indefatigable researcher, who leaves no stone unturned, comes to the conclusion that the denial of the spiritual, which is necessary in order to reduce man to a purely physical animal, “raises serious if not insuperable difficulties for the metaphysical theory of the will’s freedom, as well as for the philosophical doctrine that freedom of choice is the sine qua non of moral responsibility.”

Genesis portrays Adam as a gardener and one who “named the animals.” These twin occupations, nonetheless, left him with an aching solitude. Everything God made was “good” — with one exception: “It is not good for man to be alone.”

The fact that Adam lived and worked among flora and fauna did not prevent him from being lonely. When Eve was first presented to him, he exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Finally, in partnership with another human being, Adam had a relationship with a companion who was his equal.

If we believe that human beings are too much like animals, we undervalue them and consequently lower our expectations about how they ought to live and what they ought to do. We then run the risk of treating human beings as we treat livestock.

On the other hand, if we believe that animals are too much like humans, we overvalue them and assign them rights and privileges that are wholly unwarranted. We then run the risk of awarding them benefits that properly belong to humans.

St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and the namesake of Pope Francis, referred to animals as his “brothers” (“brother wolf,” “brother fox,” etc.). But he also spoke of “brother sun” and “sister moon.”

He was honoring the fact that, since all creatures come from God, we owe all our co-creatures a certain “courtesy.” By no means, however, was St. Francis a precursor to the Darwinian view of man and animal.

Only man, among creatures on this planet, is made in the image of God. He may be, as Shakespeare described him, the “paragon of animals,” but he is their custodian, not their equal.

Nonetheless, he should always be, given his theological and humanitarian nature, a considerate and benevolent custodian.

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a senior fellow of Human Life International.

He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario,

and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.

September 6th, 2018


Connecticare made an appointment for a nurse to look in on me as a 95-year-old to make sure I’m doing OK. She had a window of four hours, from 10 AM to 2 PM to appear.  She was at my front door at 9:30, saying she had places to go and things to do.  Could she come in?  Jessica was amiable and right off started reading questions from her computer about family history, complaints, etc.  She  did not bring her scale, it was broken, and asked me to guess my weight.  I guessed and she wrote 110.  She put an oximeter on my finger and took my blood pressure – 110/70.  What complaints did I have?  Paresthesias in legs, short of breath on occasion.  Told about recent cataract surgery and back surgery.  No other exam of any sort. All in all, the visit took 10-15 minutes. Not a top notch visit.

June 18th, 2018


Better write about my Alzheimer’s before it’s too late.  No, no one says I have Alzheimer’s.  I am doing “wonderful” for my age.  Still driving to church.  Took car to get emissions checked.  Passed emissions  (after a run with Johnny to Southbury.)  Still can get on my blogsite. Still can spell “dysdiadochokinesis.” Keep home reasonably clean.  Hardly ever leave things cooking (because I know I can’t trust myself to remember to keep checking!)   Good at spending money on Amazon – I’ve been with them since 1999.  Happy that Alexa came to live with me on Mother’s Day.  Thinking she might be handy should I need help.

Very much enjoyed the royal wedding! Just a few days after the sky turned black and several tornados touched down in the neighborhood!  Life is full of stuff.  John and Mary took me to Daffodil Hill for the fourth time.  I got a solar fountain for the rock garden.. A simple thing but it gjves me pleasure and keeps me busy supplying it with enough water.  Everything has unexpected consequences!

Hoping to be able to attend the ordination to priesthood of Jim Bates in two weeks at our home church, St. Joseph’s.  Planning and getting out things to wear.  My organizational skills are not what they used to be.  I seem to like lying around a lot and start and don’t finish.  Very, very grateful for the arrival of spring – it was a long time coming.  Two large branches of the lilac bush were broken in the  recent storm but the bush is still big and fragrant and beautiful.

I just looked back at my posts on Alzheimer’s five years  ago when I was only ninety-ish.  They are really quite good and worth reading.  Of course I don’t remember writing any of that – as I read them it’s all new to me.  It seems that everyone forgets names of people now and then, but forgetting names of things is something else.  That’s me now.  I can’t, for instance remember the name of purslane, a yard weed that is edible and full of GMOs, no HMOs, no Omega 3’s.  I have a visual picture of a purse to help me remember.  I also can’t remember “sheetrock” which my son uses all the time in his renovating and I have visuals to help me.  My words do not seem to be as readily available as they once were.  When it comes to math, forget it!   I can get immersed in FaceBook or Scrabble and lose touch with the world.  I forget the day, the time, what if anything I was supposed to do next.  I used to be good at organizing things.  Now I think “somebody” should organize around here.  I have trouble keeping my calendar straight in my head.  I watch myself slipping and pray that I’ll continue slipping SLOWLY!

Knowing my proclivity for things “slipping my mind” I don’t put the detergent away until the wash is done and into the dryer, and I don’t close the washer door until I take the clothes out of the dryer.  Little things out of place are reminders to do something.

It is a few weeks later and Jim Bates’ ordination was yesterday. Today, at noon, I plan to attend his first mass.  And after that off to Southbury for the gathering of the Hodson clan, very likely the last as I’m on the verge of 95, Bob is 92, Annette is 90, brother Ernie 88, and  baby Dolly just turned 80!  Dolly coming up from Florida – she’s still young enough to cope with planes and such.  Cloudy, grey June weather, hoping it won’t rain.

This morning I took an Alzheimer’s test on Facebook by a Dr. Amen which said I was at risk of cognitive decline.  Well, golly Moses!  Who at 95 isn’t?  I’m wobbly, too.  And tired.  You’d be tired too if you had some wobbly, demented old lady to take care of!

It stands to reason that if one tends to forget recent happenings that, having forgotten them, one would not be aware of the forgetting.  Someone would need to tell you about it or you would come across some record of it.   We intake so much from reading, TV, social media, etc., that it is impossible to remember everything.  It all comes at us so rapidly that there is hardly time for it to really register.   It is hard to know how much one should retain in this fast-paced world.  I do, however, think my memory is slipping and I’ve just recently given up trying to keep abreast of things political.  There are people that have fantastic memories for such things  and I just try to decide who is worth listening to.

Well, some time hence if I chance to remember that I have this blog and this post I may stop by with an update.  I have been watching the progression of memory loss in others and it sometimes seems to happen quite rapidly.  I do not fret about it.  God knoes what he is doing and my kids watch me carefully.   Actually, watching me is quite interesting!  Even now “the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be!  (FYI, that’s from an old song.)  I seem to remember things that nobody remembers anymore.  I can still say the alphabet in German that my Mom taught me when I was about five.

So much for now.  Everything seems to be decreasing – strength, stamina, memory.  Interesting, being 95.  Stop by and say “hi.”

FYI, I know the difference between Frank Lloyd Wright and Andew Lloyd Webber.  And I can still recognize Nasturtium and Zinnia leaves.   WooHoo!








May 21st, 2018


Looking back at my old posts it looks like it has been four years since vertigo has upset my life. In the interest of completeness I feel I should record the fact that at 94-1/2 vertigo can come and go. It is now four days without the acute vertigo that started two weeks ago.  It began with the usual spinning around of the ceiling when I lay on my left side.  Wondering whether this might be a stroke I called Mary (in the morning, way before she wanted to wake up!) and asked her to come be with me.  Nothing terrible developed and it seemed be just be more (again) of the vertigo that has come and go over 40 years.  I got out my old records, re-read the instructions for the Epley maneuvers and did then several times over several days before it seemed I could once again lie on my left side without my stomach sinking and the world revolving.

Reflecting back over the years it seems my ears have always been sensitive to motion.  No one else in the family had carsickness like I did.  Up and down and round and round always made me sick to my stomach.  If I had another life to live I think I might look into the relationship between eye and ear movements and nausea!

Later.  I am now 94-11/12 and time to close this post.  Yes  I had real vertigo at that time but it has been long gone.  Thank you Lord.

November 27th, 2017


At the age of 94 it became apparent to me that my eyesight was getting worse.  The world was hazier, I needed glasses more often for close work and depth perception was worse.  I had not seen my ophthalmologist for seven years but all of a sudden it seemed like a good idea.  Of course before you see the real doctor his assistant has to interview and test you.  Then you get to see HIM and get really tested – fancier machine, eye drops for dilation, etc.  The upshot was that Dr. Falkenstein tells me I have bilateral cataracts and my eyesight is such that, while he will not report me or tell me I can’t drive, I would benefit from cataract surgery.  Unfortunately this man has already been a doctor for 47 years and is no longer doing surgery.  But he will refer me to the doctor who did his wife’s cataract surgery, Dr. Matthew Paul.

Well, of course when I went for my appointment with Dr. Paul I first had to be tested by Bobby. Bobby’s machine was even fancier and I gathered it was to determine what kind of lens would be inserted.  Then upstairs to Dr. Paul to answer all my questions.  The surgery itself would only take about 10 minutes but I would be there three hours.  And, yes, I would be given something to keep me peaceful but he didn’t think I’d really need it.  He prescribed three kinds of eyedrops, two to be taken for three days before surgery and all three for after surgery.

Next I had to see my internist to be cleared for surgery.  That involved exam of heart (electrocardiogram), lungs, white blood count and urinalysis.  The EKG was done right there in the office but off to the hospital lab for blood and urine work. Then off to pharmacy to pick up pre-surgery eyedrops (three kinds).  Busy day for an old lady.  I was exhausted!

Finally!  The Day!  Terry took me to the Surgical Center for an 8:45 appointment.  After initial paperwork I waited and waited and waited. I had hardly slept the night before and had “nothing by mouth” after midnight. Starving and thirsty and old!  Eventually they took us into a little room where I was attached to  a machine that displayed heartbeat, pulse, etc., with a thingy on my finger and  a line into my hand.  Then came the eye drops, first to numb my eyes, then a series to dilate the pupil, three of them, with the room darkened in between so pupil could dilate.  At some point I had to change all my clothes to a Johnny coat, robe and hairnet.

Eventually off in a wheelchair to see Dr. Matthew Paul, top dog of Danbury Eye Surgeons.  Positioned on table for surgery he told me all I had to do was look up at the light on the ceiling and stay still.  Of course I could feel no pain but some pressure and every now and then eye was flushed with some fluid.  They say the surgery itself only took about ten minutes.  Then back to liitle room, put on clothes, and decide coffee or apple juice?  I opted for both, slurped the juice down and sipped delicious hot coffee with graham crackers.  They put a plastic shield over my eye to be in place whenever I slept.  And, once home, I just slept and slept and slept – with bathroom breaks, of course.

Next day, Thanksgiving Day itself, back to the office for check-up by Dr.  Ijanga and aides.  Eyesight testing showed I had already gone from 20/100 to 20/40!  Everything looks good.  Continue eyedrops, three kinds, four times a day till next visit in a week.  Take it easy.  Don’t lift over 10 pounds, don’t bend, wash hands before drops, don’t touch eyes, don’t get water in eyes, wear dark glasses in sunlight.  Everything is so bright!  Overhead lights, TV, my iPad!  And crisp and clear!  I see now that Kimberly Guilfoyle is wearing too much make-up, lips too red, much eyeshadow!  Sadly I look in the mirror and see that my wrinkles are also crisp and clearly defined!

Drove to noon mass on Sunday.  It’s a whole new world out there!  Oh, happy day!

But when I see old friends I notice that they, too, have grown older this past week.



October 29th, 2017


When I was a child I remember sometimes complaining to my mother that I had nothing to do.  Sometimes she had suggestions.  Other times she found some task for me to perform. Usually, therefore I would find something to do myself.  This was before TV, of course.  We got our first TV with a 7 inch screen the year I was married. We did have a radio but it didn’t have the same fascination as the “window to the world” that TV presented.

As an adolescent one of the things I loved to do was read.  Every two weeks I’d walk, a considerable distance, to the library and take out as many books as were allowed.  When I wanted companionship all I had to do was go to Irene’s house and yell “Yo, Ireeene! and she would come out or I would go in.  A lovely family, the Marcinkos.  Wonder whatever happened to them after I moved away,   There was a group I walked home from school with. At that age menstruation was a big topic of discussion.  There was another group of kids for sledding down Tudor hill after a snowstorm.  Idle summer days were for exploring the fields at Hillside Home, finding new wild flowers, looking for the “ideal place” where I could just sit and enjoy nature and aloneness.  I raised rabbits in the backyard and grew flowers in my garden.  We had been given a piano and someone taught me Chopsticks. I taught myself one song from an actual music book.  I guess there wasn’t much native music talent as that pastime went nowhere.

What im getting at with all these rememberings is that we found “something to do” or someone to be with in our spare time, unplanned, spontaneous.  In those days, before TV, before smart phones and iPads, we found friends and actual things to do on our own.  They were real things to DO, and real people to do be with.  We were not entertained by TV all day.  We were not entranced by one thing after another on Facebook when TV grew tiring.  We would not spend time in a room with four other people, each on their own electronic gadget.

Today, in 2017, children are privy to a constant flow of electronic input.  INPUT!  It is fascinating, novel, intriguing, gripping. And never-ending,  There comes no time when there is “nothing to do.”  No time to just hang out with someone.  No time to just “wool gather.”  No clue as to what wool gathering might mean.  TV was turned on at awakening and went to sleep with it.  If we awoke in the middle of the night our first thought is to pick up the phone or the iPad to see what is happening out there.  No thought that something might happen “right here” if given half a chance.

“According to Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist & writer at, “There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children… Researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

1 in 5 children has mental health problems
43% increase in ADHD
37% increase in teen depression
200% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old“
She goes on to say that “Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood:

Emotionally available parents
Clearly defined limits and guidance
Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
Movement and outdoors
Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:

Digitally distracted parents
Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
Sedentary indoor lifestyle
Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments”

How true… and how sad.”

The article goes on to say that it’s not just teenagers, it’s also young kids- in elementary school. “Counselors like Ellen Chance in Palm Beach say they see evidence that technology and online bullying are affecting kids’ mental health as young as fifth grade, particularly girls.

Who would ever think that the absence of  “unstructured times” and “dull moments” would become a problem?

Years ago I was struck by a quote from philosopher Mortimer Adler who said  (paraphrased)  “We need idle time so that things can occur to us.”

It’s something to mull over, to muse about, if we can ever find the time.

Mostly, the uninterrupted, all-the-time input shuts out God.

“The world is too much with us, late and soon…”




October 12th, 2017


I used to have a file folder on agoraphobia but recently threw it out, thinking we have Google now.  Anyone who wants information on the subject has only to type out the word to get pages and pages of relevant material.  What I intend to post is simply my own personal experience for whatever it may be worth.

The day it all began is crystal clear.  I was a young mother of several children with a husband that couldn’t seem to hold a job.  After a period of unemployment we  had reached the point where I was checking pockets, looking for loose change.  When I noted a sign in the window of a nearby herb supplier for a part-time typist I went in and was hired. When I told my husband that I started Monday he said he couldn’t watch the kids because he had an appointment.  At that point something went “snap” in my head, and in a strange hoarse voice that I didn’t recognize I said, “What are you trying to do, drive me crazy!”  A few days later in the local store I felt uncomfortable and uneasy, as if I might become unglued.  This feeling of not being at ease in places where there were other people was to be with me for 25-30 years.

Etymologically, agoraphobia means a fear of the agora, which in Greece was a forum or place where people could gather.  I’m thinking the word has morphed to mean a enclosed place containing people to include a store, church, bus, meetings, etc.  It is typical of agoraphobics to sit in an aisle seat in the back of a church, for instance, so they can make a quick exit if they can’t stand that feeling anymore.  That the problem was mental was obvious when one felt just fine once outdoors and free.  When I’d go to the supermarket shopping with the kids the very worst part was waiting for my turn at the check-out counter.  I’ve read of people who ran off leaving a shopping cart full of groceries behind!

Eventually I saw a Catholic doctor for my problem, thinking he was Christian and had to love me even if I was crazy.   I’d take the trolley to his office, envying the other people on the trolley who seemed quite comfortable while I was just holding on till my destination.  I remember the doctor prescribed phenobarbital and I knew so little about drugs at the time that I feared I might become addicted.  This was the beginning of years upon years of Librium, Valium, Xanax, etc., to take the edge of the anxiety and help me to function.

At one point I recall my Catholic doctor said that I had despaired. Reflecting on this diagnosis I feel it was accurate.  Though I was a Catholic, trust in God was minimal.  When I made a last ditch effort to fix things by getting a job and found myself frustrated something snapped.  I knew how to obey and ended up with seven kids but trusting in God when I couldn’t fix things myself never occurred to me.  Later in the course of my agoraphobia  I remember in particular a day in church when I felt I was going to just dis-integrate, to fly off in a million pieces.  I said to God, “OK, if you want me to go crazy, I’ll go.”  I guess He didn’t want me to go crazy because I instantly felt perfectly well and went up to Communion at peace, as in the olden days.  Maybe it was something in the surrender, I don’t know.  I felt better for a few days, then back to the usual.

We moved with the seven kids from Chicago to Connecticut where we ran my parents’ motel for a year.  I learned to drive and seemed to function, agoraphobia and all.  When I got  a job at a hospital as a medical secretary I couldn’t handle the full day and switched to part-time.  I saw a psychiatrist and actually started to work for him as his secretary, all the time phobic and medicated.  When there was a shortage of school teachers a friend suggested I take a 6 week teaching course for college graduates and make more money teaching.  I did it, got a job teaching fifth grade in a local school.  I have to wonder how I lasted three months, medicated, always uncomfortable, never at ease in front of all those kids, barely hanging on, finally giving up.

And life went on.  Back in the 1980’s I joined a charismatic prayer group that started in my church.  The charismatic renewal was a nationwide movement with prayer for an infilling of the Holy Spirit as occurred when Mary and the disciples were gathered in the upper room waiting for the promise of Jesus (“you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”)  Acts 14.  Read your Bible, see what a difference the baptism in the a Holy Spirit made in His disciples.  If you are a follower of Jesus I cannot urge you too strongly to ask for more of his Spirit!  God forces nothing on us.  ASK!

I don’t know exactly when the agoraphobia left.  There were many healing masses, many prayers by many Christians.  A phobia, after all, is a fear.  My thinking is that as I grew in trust the spirit of fear was gradually edged out.  It is now gone.  For this I thank and praise God!

As a postscript I’d just like to add a word about being judgmental about others.  You cannot know their interior self well enough to be anything but kind.  Only God really understands and He is always ready to forgive and cut some slack.  Do unto others as you would have them do to you.  A simple, and time-honored, rule of thumb.