Wednesday, December 27, 2017

THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS RUNS THROUGH PAWTUCKET? WHO KNEW?

Does my Road to Damascus Runs Through Pawtucket??


For the past  couple of years I have been struggling with two seeming contradictory situations: 
1. I have been beset with health and physical mobility problems that made  me able to do less and  less
2.I have become convinced that the  most necessary task of the  rest of my  life is to discover how I  can best respond to God's love and how I can  show forth  my own increasing awareness of the divinity that is with in me and every human being.
 
So that with diminished  physical powers  I am trying to find a way to explore and  expand my God-given spiritual powers. This paradox is a hard one to explain and also  seems to me to demand some kind of  dedication and devotion. I am  especially moved by how many times Jesus gives his newly chosen apostles just one simple direction :FOLLOW ME.  I don't see what the path of my following would  be. I do see clearly that for Jesus it was a path that lead him to Golgotha and I have seen the increase of my own suffering but it  is not comparable to that of the Savior.

I am uneasy even expressing these ideas.  When I feel a little better I start imagining myself undertaking and completing some pilgrimage or taking up some form of active  work of mercy--visiting the imprisoned,  helping the homeless. But I am unable to do much  except send  limited charitable  donations to  support the good works of others.

So what can I do? What is the path that I am to seek out and follow when I can barely walk at  all?  I am reminded of Milton's poignant question in the sonnet on his  blindness 
"Does  God exact day-labor light denied?"
Here is the entire sonnet:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait." 
The poet  finds an answer to his question and expresses it in the final six lines:

 "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait." 
What are the implications of  that answer that Patience gives in the poem for my  life and my limits? So God  does not need me to do anything?  I need to adjust my attitude  to bear  my mild  yoke.  That is literally the rub for me.
That means that what is right before me--the daily  inconvenient, pain ridden, boring  routine of rising and  trying to maintain this household that consists of a  person-me- who can do very little, and a person --my husband-- with dementia and memory loss who can do many things but no longer remembers? 
Is that the meal the Lord has set before me and that the poet George Herbert tells us is a LOVE FEAST?
286. Love
  
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, 
      Guilty of dust and sin. 
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 
      From my first entrance in, 
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning         5
      If I lack'd anything. 
 
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:' 
     Love said, 'You shall be he.' 
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, 
      I cannot look on Thee.'  10
Love took my hand and smiling did reply, 
      'Who made the eyes but I?' 
 
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame 
      Go where it doth deserve.' 
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'  15
      'My dear, then I will serve.' 
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.' 
      So I did sit and eat.


Where do I go from here?


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pawtucket's Assets

I broke off abruptly to return to the Packers game and the return of Aaron Rodgers.  Sadly, that didn't go so well, The Packers lost and Cam  did a better job than Aaron who seemed to be still recovering.  Since I am still recovering, I  think I understand Rodgers  thinking he was ready to go back when he was not.  He is back on IR injured reserve list and I  hope he is back with all his usual laughter and  energy next year,  
The debate goes on about  where  the Pawsox will go and how  a new stadium will be  financed. I listed the loss of the Pawsox as one of the blows that Pawtucket  has suffered recently.  Probably the changes in the Memorial Hospital are  things that will make  the most impact on the well-being of the residents of Pawtucket and Central Falls.  What is left to us?  So much history has happened here  in this small but important city  straddling the banks of the Blackstone.
The river and the falls provide a  wonderful scenic setting, and it was when I first  visited San Antonio that I became  aware of how  vibrant and successful a RIVERWALK can be.   If the Apex site is selected for a new  stadium, I hope it unleashes a new sense of  what is possible to create along the banks of the Blackstone from City Hall  to  RIVERSIDE Cemetery and the Lebanon  Mills on the  east side of the river. That would be a great re-imagining of a major asset that we  can never lose. We need to  research and
make  better known the  history of this  city. We have a proud  colonial history as  starting point for Foundry and metal work  under the leadership of Joseph Jenks and  the first mill  to manufacture cloth under the  direction of Samuel Slater.  However, Pawtucket has also had an illustrious  history of labor organizing and  working class struggles.  This history  needs to  be recalled and celebrated.
One of the most  illustrious  assets we hold is celebrated in poetry, oratory and song internationally.
What am I talking about??  Pawtucket's greatest jewel??
 Pawtucket holds a FENIAN GRAVE.   

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A GIFT FROM MY FATHER

 INADVERTENT ADVENT WREATH IN PAWTUCKET


Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been
approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the
ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? RILKE
I.
Today I went outside to feed
the birds and found myself pulling
the vines down from trees, wound them round
in a giant circle.,
Weaving rosehips, dried berries
of honeysuckles to make what
I surprised myself by seeing
was a wreath.
I placed it on the wall


II.
of the garage and tied into
it treats for birds and squirrels.
I had not known when I went outside
what I was going to do there.
Only the sense that they have long
ago been discarded stops me
from looking for old strings of lights,
glass balls and a tin angel.
Tonight, a cold December night,




III.
I sit and tick off all the mess
I spare myself: no tree, no creche,
no Advent candle.
I try to recall a single Christmas hour
that was special. For a long time
I draw blanks; then like timid guests
they peek around corners of my mind.
Half memories blurred by years
and tears that I am not sure how


IV.
much I remember and how much
I only hope was true and how
much I cannot bear to recall.
Gifts that brought me delight conjures
only skates, a doll and dollhouse
--nothing more ? Wait --one time a cross
on a gold chain--another time
a simple string of pearls.
I want to believe that they were from you,


V.
but since you left when I was nine
I doubt—but wait --one Christmas
morning: I walk into your room
to ask if we can see what Santa left.
Your hand reaches under the pillow
for a small green velvet box
-- gold cross and chain--I still wear--
so this must be true.
Tonight the only joys I bring to mind


VI.
smeared by your defection: your vice--
the doll house you shoplifted;
the trike we later learned you stole;
the tree you won in a card game.
But, once, yes, once I sang solo
at Midnight Mass and you came there.
Adeste Fidelis --among the faithful ones
from the choir, I saw you stand in the side door,
faithless, no longer singing, still longing to adore.

Waiting for more than Aaron's Return or Tom's Triumph in Advent

I am writing this blog post while waiting for the start of the Pacers  game and then on to the Patriots against the Steelers,  I have finished all my Xmas shopping--all on line and sometimes augmented by a telephone order.  This has been a season of recovery and recuperation and  several  financial scares.
But I was blessed with excellent physical therapists  who came twice a week to help me  regain my strength and mobility So it is heartening to me to see Aaron back in the Packers uniform.  His shoulder is healed and he is back in fighting form.  I do find consolation in watching the full recovery of  these super  athletes.  Always the fantasist ,  I  hope that I may return to a fighting form. Not  like Rodgers but like my  former self.

 But I am still waiting for that  full recovery to occur.  Instead I recover some of my function and form  but on a level that is always lower than what it was before.  Then I think that this is Advent--the season of  WAITING and LONGING and HOPING.

What are we waiting for in Pawtucket--for the Pawtucket Red Sox to get a new stadium in Pawtucket?

 For the Pawtucket Memorial Hospital to decide to stay open  and  return full services to the people of Pawtucket and Central Falls?

For the Gamm Theater  to give up the  idea of moving to Warwick and to  recognize that they  can work well with the space they have in the Armory in Pawtucket?

What I  have listed here are the three huge losses that have been  announced in the Bucket in the past few  months.

Just now Aaron Rodgers in the second possession of the game has kept  the  chances alive by  carrying and sliding to get the needed first down,  He takes what he can get--there's a lesson there. .
I need to take what   I can get in the Bucket.  

SOMETIMES WHEN I AM DRIVING AROUND  DOING  ERRANDS LOCALLY, ALL I CAN SEE IS WHAT IS NOT THERE.  That's for another blog of memory.

Today let me  count what  we still have  in the Bucket---
Slater Park-- with its wonderful baby geese and right now the  decorated Xmas trees to celebrate Family and to memorialize our beloved departed family members and friends.

 Well, the Packers just scored their first touchdown so I must give the game  my full attention and also make lunch here.


Remembering my Aunt Anna at Xmas time

Making those skeletons dance--Anna's Way

WHAT ANNA TAUGHT ME

Because my mother, Anna's older sister, Margaret was the constant reader, writer and thinker in our family I thought that she was my most active life teacher. After all in constant consultation with her brother Joe who was a Christian Brother and taught school all his life, she was always reading to me and taking me to libraries and encouraging me to prize my mind as she prized hers—they cannot take your education away, she often told me. My mother sort of knew that "they" would try to take anything else one had. gathered on life's precarious journey.

Anna, on the other hand, only read the newspaper and style and fashion magazines. Her favorite activities were Shopping, Bingo. Gambling and experimenting with make up and ironing new clothes. She was vain and gossipy and mocking and very funny. What did she have to teach me?

It turns out that she taught very valuable lessons in three areas—loyalty, vanity, and show business.
Let's face the music and dance.--That was her unspoken but constantly enacted performance.
Anna taught me the value of putting on a show. She taught me the heroism of cheerful, uncomplaining show boating.

Many days it would get very difficult to amuse my two sisters who had Down syndrome and were extremely active and restless. When my mother had exhausted all of her and my resources—play store with them, Norma, play hide and go seek. Read to them. She would pull out the last and unfailing stop--
Time to put on a show.

And depending on the time of year and what holiday season we were near we would begin practicing the Carols, or the love songs or the patriotic airs or Irish favorites. Then Margaret would take up her top hat and cane and I would act as Master of Ceremonies.

We would wait until Anna came home from her day job at the Corning Glass Works. And when she came through the door on the second floor on Englewood Avenue—she would see the costumes and the drum, and after a day inspecting glass from a hot furnace, she wold take her turn and do her set pieces—a sailor's hornpipe and a kind of modified can can. We would all join in the uproar and applause and bows--we had made it through another day.
 Years later when my mentor quoted Bernard Shaw's remark--”We all have skeletons in our closet, the trick is to make them dance,” I got it instantly-- wept and laughed copiously—that advice went straight to my heart—with Anna we certainly had made them dance.

Yes, Anna taught me the value of putting on a show. the heroism of cheerful, uncomplaining show boating.

Friday, December 15, 2017

GETTING CREATIVE IN THE BUCKET


I have never agreed with people who say that we cannot learn or teach the creative arts.  since I believe that creativity is  part of every human experience, I cannot  support the idea that there are only a few creative  souls. We all have  the creative spark--the fact is that  our society does much to dampen our creative enthusiasm .  Sometimes teachers are guilty of  discouraging  students by telling them that they have no talents. To borrow a phrase  that Pope Francis has used in another context--WHO AM I TO JUDGE.
We all have talents --the job of teachers is to help  those who  are in their  classes to discover their  talents and nurture them.  Self-expression is not meant only for the best--it is  for everyone.  Remember in the New Testament  the story of the talents--Jesus speaks most against the  person who buries his talent in a field--That is the  only wrong thing to do with talent--to bury it and not use what you have been given.  by God or by Nature or just your unique DNA expressing itself.  You pick your belief --but it all adds up to the fact that you are the keeper of your talents.  USE THEM UP..

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Recalling my last visit to my Uncle Irving


"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." Paul II Corinthians

I find that as the Xmas season approaches  the joy of awaiting the  birth of the Christ child is  mixed with recalling past  Xmas times and people  I loved who are no longer here.

I began thinking of the Mowry family, my paternal grandmother was a Mowry.  I suddenly  began recalling the last days of  one son of Ida Mowry Jenckes, my Uncle Irving Jenckes, my father's only brother.  Dying of cancer, he was being cared for at home and I went to visit him.  When he learned that I was downstairs waiting to see him, he asked that I be brought upstairs to his bedside.  When I saw him, he was sitting reading his Bible which he did daily.  He asked my Aunt Winnie, his wife, to leave us alone and  then he began reading aloud to me from St Paul's  Letter to the Corinthians--the great  teaching about love:
"If I should speak with the tongue of  man and angels but have not  love, I am as  tinkling brass or clanging cymbals."  He would pause and ask me what each line meant.  He was very intense and his gaze searched my face fiercely. When  he got to the lines that begin--"When I was a child"  and conclude "Now that I am a man I put away childish things."He came to a full stop.

"Explain this to me," he demanded. He asked, " what are the childish things?"
I remember that I thought--why he reads this Bible every day, he is a  staunch Baptist--he must know the answers.

Then I thought again --maybe he is aware that now  I have a PhD.  and  he is asking me as a scholar to  interpret the lines. Such a self-flattering thought to calm my nerves.
So I took up the old, worn Bible and read the passage aloud several times.  Then I treated it as if it were a problem  of literary criticism--some crux in  a sonnet by Shakespeare or a dense passage from Eliot's The Wasteland. I explained to Irving that the childish things could be the toys, the tantrums, the willful disobedience and defiance of youth.
I'll never forget how he looked at me and said simply,"No, try again." after I tried and he repeated that direction three times, I put the Bible down and said "OK I give up." 
And he asked me directly--  what childish things I had given up, discarded--and in the throes of my  prideful agnosticism I thought and I wanted to blurt out--
my rosaries, my scapulars, my novenas, my childish Faith--

I said nothing, just picked up the leather bound volume and resumed  reading. When I reached the  point about "seeing through a glass darkly," he stopped me again--"what is that glass and why darkly?"

Then I had another not so brilliant thought--oh, he is dying and he  is reading Corinthians for solace--. So I mustered up my Platonism and told him that the  fact that we have bodies and eyes of flesh permits us to see only material, earthly things, but when we die and our spirits are free of the constraints of the  physical  then we will know the  spiritual truth of everything.
Well--he said wearily--that's a start..  He dropped his head back on the pillow and closed those eyes. Almost on cue my Aunt Winnie came into the room to say that I should go down for tea with my cousins, Mary, Grace and Roberta. And I must admit I was glad to leave that room.

It has taken me many years to see that interview less darkly and to understand that  Irving was not asking me  questions for his sake, he was doing it for my sake. He was bearing witness, using his scarce energy to  raise  questions in my mind about  FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.
He was  acting like that  notorious HOUND OF HEAVEN,  acting on behalf of that GOOD SHEPHERD,  seeking that lost  sheep that was his niece and turning me towards eternity.

"Whoever brought me here will have to take me home,"  Rumi

POPE FRANCIS SPEAKS ON AGING


One of the surprising and touching aspects of the Pope's remarks to  the American  public has been  his emphasis on the  process of aging.  He mentioned the loneliness of the aged and also  he reminds us of the wisdom of the aged.  One of the  most poignant  insights is his  stressing of the  mixed nature of all things and of all of us. This thread  teaches us of the  ways we should examine polarity and refuse to see everything  as either black or white.  He directly  points to the inadequacy of seeing reality always as  a duality. In  calling for a  universal global ending  of the death penalty, he  focuses on the fact of death's  finality--that it erases  the chance of change and  rehabilitation.  I believe that applies to the  experience of aging and dying--as long as  we are breathing we have  within us the potential to change, to repent, to seek forgiveness and like the Prodigal Son to  turn back  to the loving arms of our FATHER who is always watching for us  on the road with arms ready to embrace us.

There is a golden thread that weaves  through every remark of the Pope-- to be at the service of dialogue and peace.  One of the most disturbing trends in our recent national conversation is the tendency to demonize certain groups and label them as rogue states or monsters.  We must not write anyone off, must not declare anyone  as finished or hopeless. Especially we must not numb our hearts to the tender  mercies that flow constantly from God to each and every one of us on this planet. Each of us so different in our  circumstances and our DNA but each of us united by our  human dignity and our participation in the divinity that we each carry in our immortal soul.

One of the  images that has struck me  vividly in recent readings of the Bible is how often God is compared to a Master Potter and we are compared to  clay on the wheel.  One great solace I  gain from this persistent image is  the thought that --it is never too late for the  Potter to perfect the clay vessel as long as  the clay is on the wheel. We are all still on the wheel and we  can  trust that if we  allow Him to, the Potter will perfect us,

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DIVERSITY IS THE NAME OF GOD'S GAME



Hopkins' Hymn to Diversity





               PIED BEAUTY
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him

This is one of my favorite poems because it celebrates the unmatchable abundance of Creation.  Often I have been struck by the sheer excessiveness of the world's beauty --it seems almost gratuitous. This poem tackles that fact  head on.  What it seems to do  for me is to clear the way for each and everyone of us  to be loved in the eyes of God.  God made so much  difference in the world--each snowflake, each blade of grass, each DNA,--he made all that difference because he likes difference. HE  is all one and that means that he contains  multitudes. He contains all the possibilities, and he wants to see each and every one of them flourish. HE does not play favorites He created everything and  He pronounced everything that HE  made as GOOD.
I  watched a news show of  Pope Francis slowly ride through a crowd  of people many of them special needs children at the Madison Square Garden.  How great  god is to have sent a leader that  shows such receptivity  and inclusiveness to all that  humanity.  It is overwhelming and so obviously right once   we see it.  Why is it so rare?  How can we bring that love and acceptance into our daily lives?


WORDS, WORDS,WORDS


Words, Words, Words

WORDS, Words Words I am beginning this narrative as my personal counterpoint to the narrative that a good friend of mine that I knew in Cincinnati has created about her life. I will attempt to tackle in my way the questions that she raises about meaning and life myths especially as they seem to be more urgent questions as we get older. Certainly I have been a person who has thought and explored questions of meaning. My push in my own reading and writing has been spurred by my desire to know and my delight in all the books that are in the world and the wonders that they contain.I would say that for me books have been the tools of my search into self knowing. Books have been a central focus of my life and love since I was young. my mother says that my first word was "book." That was the word she used for the magazines that I loved to sit with and turn the pages and look at the pictures from the time that I was 6 months old. Always I have loved the world of words and story. I found refuge there. That is what I have discovered that since my mother was an avid reader herself, she understood and praised my reading. She never yelled at me for reading—in fact if any one said I read too much, she would answer—let her read more and learn more because education and learning can never be taken from you. Early on in life I understood also that my middle birth position between two sisters with Down Syndrome meant that I was to be their protector and defender. My mother did not encourage violence or fights but where my sisters were concerned—if they were under attack from teasing or taunting children, I was expected to take action and to fight back. So there were two basic rules-- 1.Reading was never wrong 2.Defending my sisters was always right These were the often announced absolutes of my young life. The household that I lived in was intrinsically matriarchal—my mother, her younger sister, my two sisters and me. My father lived with us until I was nine years old. He was genial, joking man who often countered my mother's cautions and warnings. He was a compulsive gambler and had all of the suppressed energy and excitement of gamblers who are themselves daily running towards the big win that they know will be theirs tomorrow. My mother loved my father and enjoyed his jokes and easy going charm but she had discovered that she could not depend on him and that betting on a horse would always trump buying groceries. I saw my mother begin and complete difficult tasks on a daily basis. She was energetic and cheerful. She taught herself to paper and paint and would transform our tenement with her bright color combinations and creative use of wallpaper. She constantly improved our environment. So I saw that women could and often must take on big jobs. I did not yet feel any limitations in being a girl.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Something Gained in Translation


My husband turned 82 years old  two months  ago. I had told him that we wpuld celebrate this big birthday for the entire month of October. October is a special month--there is a change in the light : the air seems molten gold that floods the world with some hidden meaning. I got him two CDs of the ghazals of Ghalib set to music. He likes to listen to them and sometimes he translates the Urdu phrases as they are sung and repeated. One he noticed today "One desire can eat up an entire life; desires come by the thousands/I 've received what I asked for many times; but it was not enough."

 I once would have thought that this insatiability is one of the proofs of human failure, now I see it more as a sign that yearning is our default position--our glory. There is something that we want that cannot be satisfied by mortal things. 
Shakespeare has one of his characters say "I have immortal longings." 
Augustine said that our souls are made for God and we will be "restless until we rest in Thee." 
Shelly, another poet, wrote about "the desire of the moth for the star, the day for the morrow"
 Is this restlessness the best thing about us?  Could it be that we know that we were meant for something more than this mortal coil--that we are hungry to be reunited with the spirit that made us?  
Writing about the endless, hopeful human activity -- when there is no cause to hope,
 Ghalib writes "The efforts I make in my life resemble a bird in a cage/ Who can't stop gathering straws for her nest." 
One funny line from Ghalib " God sent an angel to drive Adam from Eden, we've all heard that story,/But when you threw me out I felt something much worse had happened.

A STRANGE WISH





Reading a poem by George Herbert who has become my new favorite poet, I come upon these lines that startle me so much I make one of those involuntary sounds Is it a chortle or a snort or a little stifled shout? The poem is titled AFFLICTION I--and here are the lines that shook me:
Now I am here, what thou wilt do with me
None of my books will show
I read. and sigh, and wish I were a tree;
For sure I then should grow
To fruit or shade: at least some bird would trust
Her household to me; and I should be just.
I have often had the exact thought and could never share it. I wanted to be a tree so that I would not be free to choose, I would just be what I was supposed to be. If I were an acorn I would be an oak-- not change to a cherry or long to be a maple. My freedom messes me up-- it makes me anxious. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I miss the point and choose the wrong job or the wrong husband?

 Then I saw that God requires freedom. That is what makes us great and worthy--that we choose to love God and to follow Him--we could and do choose otherwise. Divinity has no interest in coerced love. We must invite him into our lives. He will knock and knock but he will not enter unless he is invited. There is something magical and miraculous about that fact of freedom. He gave freedom to the angels and they revolted. He gave freedom to Adam and Eve and they ate of the forbidden fruit. But not the horses or elephants or the lions or cows--they simply follow their natures and instincts and cannot be faulted.
We are free to choose  and that freedom  defines our humanity.  God loves all of  His creation -- but we must will to love Him back.  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent Thoughts

It seems I am  often  starting this blog over. Like me it is flailing trying to figure out what  I should or can be in a  circumstance where my choices are coming up against my physical limitations.
I just re-read Tennyson's poem abour  Odysseus  setting out again in old age I will post a portion it here:
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 
He says that though much is taken much abides.  This emphasis on  what we have left in life is important to me.  It is the attitude I am trying to take to  consider  again the great value of my husband who has dementia.  Much has been taken from him,  but there is still something wonderful left and that seems to be the core of his goodness and simplicity and  fidelity.
That does not mean that I am  not still  annoyed with his repetitive questions and  lack of memory, but I  stop myself and  admire the ways he still tries to contribute. He is always trying to make things better. This trait has been in the forefront for 47 years of marriage.  When I focus on all that we still have, I feel a steadying  hand in mine and  a deep sense that all will be well.

A MUG'S GAME?



In the past two years  I have tried to pursue with more urgency my  desire to write poetry.  It is a strange  vocation and one I have  feelt was central to my identity  since my childhood---but  never trusted that I could  make a living  with poetry.  Poetry is my private and secret  pleasure.  It feels like an indulgence.  Even though when I read poems as a child from teh age of 4 to the presnt day  I was  moved and consoled to think that other  people had felt   so badly anad made a poem for  me and others to find and comfort ourselves with .
The  phrase that   labelled  poetry  "a mug's game" is from the poet TS Eliot. What do you think?.


"[Poetry] may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves." "Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality." "As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug's game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing. "


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trying to Recover in the Bucket


 

Shirt

 
Carl Sandburg

 FA

Thursday, January 5, 2017

HAMILTON--THE EPILOGUE

I am a little amazed at the brouhaha raised over the fact that an actor stepped  out in costume and spoke directly to the audience about a current political problem on  Broadway,  This was a practice that became expected in the theatres of London after Ben Jonson presented a spoken EPILOGUE to his play Cynthia's Revels(1600). During the Restoration  Epilogues used as political  commentaries became common  on the British stage. Epilogues were speeches  that addressed political realities and were part of the understanding that theatre formed an occasion for the political and ethical as well as emotional and  psychological education of the spectator.

Let's be accurate and recount what actually  happened after the performance of HAMILTON  when the actor playing the role of Aaron Burr stepped forward in costume and spoke to the audience  at the play's curtain. He was not rude or loud--he was asked to speak on behalf of the show's producers, he  spoke directly to Vice-President elect Pence.Here's the transcript of what Dixon said to the new vice president-elect on behalf of the Hamilton cast:
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you're walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There's nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen. There's nothing to boo here, we're all here sharing a story of love.
We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out. And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show. This wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men [and] women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.
The statement, which doesn't seem "very rude" to me, was written jointly by MirandaHamilton's director Thomas Kail, and lead producer, Jeffrey Seller, according to the New York Times.

The Joy of Victory banishes the Agony of Defeat in Cleveland


Shooting water guns at an ecstatic crowd, Tristan Thompson is making his way   through the streets of Cleveland.  They are celebrating in Cleveland and I am celebrating with them. I am watching NBA TV.  What a relief to see a city celebrating instead of grieving; to see a people proud of  who they are and what they have accomplished.  This feels like a salve to the open wounds of terror and fear that have afflicted our nation,

That  National Victory means so much to Cleveland, and it means so much to me. It seems to hold  out a promise to me and to all people who  feel defeated--VICTORY IS POSSIBLE!

I wrote that last year and never posted it--when led by LeBron James  The Cavaliers were  the best team in the NBA. Now we are preparing for another celebration of another type of victory as  Donald Trump  prepares to take over the reins of the American government,  Instead of  helping our nation to heal each day we're bombarded with more sabre-rattling and threats about  nuclear  re-armament and the  un -leashing of another Arms Race.  We have the President-Elect questioning the  findings of our 17  national security organizations.  These are scary times.

I try to counter my  distress with my usual self- comforting thoughts.

1.I do not believe that we live in a malevolent universe.
2. The arc of  human  history is always towards freedom --although it seems to be flat-lining right now.
3. The arc of time is towards an eternity of Universal Restoration--that I must own is a statement of Faith.

 I choose to believe that evolution is a positive advance towards  human perfection that will unite  us with  Divine Perfection.
Or as GK Chesterton so well said--
"IF SEEDS IN THE BLACK EARTH CAN TURN INTO SUCH BEAUTIFUL ROSES, WHAT MIGHT NOT THE HEART OF MAN BECOME IN OUR LONG JOURNEY TO THE STARS?"