The earthquake and the tsunami and the nuclear event have finally shut me up. I haven’t been able to write. I don’t have anything clear or witty or insightful or clever or new to say about these events. I am avoiding the talking heads on TV, and I’m reading as little as possible about the event on the Internet, and I’ve been absent from this blog. Why? Because I have no confidence at all that what I’d hear or read would be the truth. And I have the dreadful thought that the situation in Japan is far, far worse than what we are being told. I have no proof for the last sentence other than the plethora of contradictions I find in the news stories. And a tight feeling in my heart and chest and stomach that warns of impending, large scale disaster. I hope I’m wrong about this, but alas, I don’t think I am.
Mar 17 2011
Feb 24 2011
I’ve recently been reading the late UK novelist’s Muriel Spark’s book The Comforters. Her first effort at the genre, it describes in detail the life of Caroline Rose, a recent convert to Catholicism. Set in 1950’s Britain, Rose is first supremely skeptical of organized religion. The fellow believers with whom she interacts have an intellectual understanding of the faith, but to her they lack real sincerity. Beyond that, she believes that these people appear to fabricate God’s presence in their lives, rather than displaying the humility only a truly Divine relationship can produce. In particular, Caroline finds one frequent, unfortunate practice most distasteful of all.
Dec 02 2010
Currently, I am writing for an educational organization. In penning my pain for what occurs in our schools today, it occurred to me the same impersonal approach, awareness, or lack thereof, is evident in offices, neighborhoods, and in our broader community. People pretend to or believe they ” know” their fellow workers, their family members, and their friends. Yet, more often than not, I observe that this is not necessarily true. I, we, she, or he only comprehends what is visible on the surface.
Few choose to ask of, address, or answer the deeper concerns that life delivers daily; I offer this narrative and request your reflections. We all have our own tale to tell. I invite you to share yours. Please trust that I care; your secrets are safe with me. I suspect that others will honor you as I choose to do. I believe we all relate to sorrow.
Today the distress I wish to discuss is heartbreak, heartache, and heart felt feelings. In my own life, I am witnessing that many close to me are battling life-threatening illnesses. Their terminal diagnoses affect me deeply. They weigh heavy on those closer to the ” patient” than I. I cannot begin to imagine the pain long-suffering persons feel. Yet, through the quiet trials and tribulations of a teen, who supposedly studied under my tutelage, I learned. What we hide hurts us most.
Jun 12 2009
When I had cancer, a close friend asked if I ever wondered: why me? I told her that I didn’t. I told her that given that one in three Americans will, at some point, be diagnosed with cancer, I felt why not me? Cancer happens. It’s sometimes random. It happened to me. There was neither rhyme nor reason. It just did.
A different friend recently asked the same about a close friend of mine, who was just killed in an auto accident. A speeding semi veered into his car, in a national park, in Uganda, killing him and leaving his wife widowed for the second time and seriously injured. My friend wondered: why? Why him? Why her?
Another friend asked how I took the news. If I tried to think my way through it. If I tried to look for cosmic explanations, or if I was angry at the Universe, or if I was trying to look for silver linings. I wasn’t. My friend wanted to make sure that I wasn’t trying to think my way through it, because he wanted to make sure I was allowing myself to feel my way through it. To allow the pain to wash over me, and through me. Which is the only real way to respond to emotional trauma. Did I allow myself to cry? I certainly did. And I have, off and on, for days.
May 17 2009
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
The Times Record Herald reports that the New York Prison Guards Union has managed to kill a performance of an inmate musical production. The prisoners, it seems, wrote a play, a musical to be exact, produced it, directed it, and act, sing and dance in it. They were going to show it to prisoners at another, nearby prison.
Why has the production been canceled? Because the guards’ union is mad at the Governor because of closings, supposedly for budgetary reasons, of work release centers in which union member guards are employed. Not content to fight the Governor directly, not content to picket the Governor and the legislature, the Union has stepped in to stop the prisoners’ showing their play to other prisoners by threatening to picket the performance:
State prison officials have lowered the curtain on an inmate theatrical performance.
A troupe of 18 convicted murderers, robbers and other felons at Woodbourne Correctional Facility had been scheduled to perform an original play Wednesday at Eastern Correctional Facility in Ellenville.
But the state Department of Correctional Services has canceled the show because union workers threatened to picket.
“The commissioner does not want to jeopardize the program or the people in it by putting them in the middle of a statewide labor issue,” said DOCS spokesman Erik Kriss.
Jan 11 2009
Apparently the fairly graphic representation of the agonies of The Cross
were “upsetting the children” and was, in theirwords, a “put-off.” Now, I’ll admit I’ve been away from Mother Church for awhile, but as a good Irish Catholic boy,
I seem to recall being told over and over again that the unimaginable agonies of Jesus on The Cross were the point of Christianity; his agonies and suffering were what redeemed humanity. Silly little bake-sale Christians; when they say things like “we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross,” we realize that they’ve lost any reverence for — hell, any understanding of — the broken, tortured body that for 2000 years was the central truth of their faith.
A statue of the crucifixion has been taken down from its perch on a church in Sussex because it was scaring local children and deterring worshippers, a vicar admitted today.
Souter, formerly a cell biologist, said: “The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children. Parents didn’t want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying.
“It wasn’t a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.
“We’re all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross.”
Feb 16 2008
A friend of mine died yesterday, Valentines Day morning. She was at home surrounded by her sisters and held by her husband at the moment her body failed, as they sang to her and prayed. I sat in the hallway a few feet away and listened but did not impose myself to take up precious space at her bedside. She had pancreatic cancer that had remitted and recurred. Pain medication partially worked in the last few days, providing her hours or minutes of unconsciousness at a time but not in the final hour and a half of her life. Although unresponsive, she cried out strongly and often. Drowning finally ended her pain.
A couple of years ago she was diagnosed cancer and her prognosis was less than 5% chance of living beyond 6 months. Her treatment was first rate and with chemotherapy and surgery she went into complete remission. There wasn’t a trace of cancerous tissue in the organs that were removed, the therapy had been so successful, which is rare. However the treatment was so hard on her that she was left a shell of herself. We nearly lost her then and she almost succumbed to the trauma of the treatment. She had intense pride and it was clear she suffered greatly from seeing herself so feeble so she strictly limited her contact with anyone including old friends. Slowly she regained her health with many bumps along the way and only recently did we start seeing her back in her familiar settings. I saw her just before Thanksgiving as she made a point of coming to see me. She looked strong and had the old powerful and happy glint in her eye. She had always been a force to behold and she was back. I hugged her and told her how good she looked. I was happy to finally have her fully here among us again. Not more than a month later her diagnosis was changed again with no hope this time of survival. She went into bottomless depression and refused contact with anyone but her immediate family. Being a nurse, she even attempted push her family away and to find a facility to commit herself to that would oversee her care and allow her to deny her family the witness of the wrenching end she knew was coming. Of course that was far too much to demand of anyone and she was lovingly cared for at home by her family and hospice, but her passing has left wounds on those that were there. Hospice is a blessing, believe me.