Sunday Morning

I don’t believe in religion, but the aesthetics of Catholicism have stuck with me. I love the way church incense coats my hair and skin. It is a safe smell, like a blanket… I envy the faithful. There are shrines dotted around the hillsides here in Ireland, places where saints have supposedly appeared and healed the sick. There are wells of holy water and statues in the rocks, huts filled with prayer cards and gardens filled with painted stones in memory of loved ones who have passed away. I like to visit them occasionally. I sit in the stillness and observe people crying and praying and I close my eyes and try to let some of their hope get carried on the air and through my pores. I would like to believe that everything is accounted for, that there is life after this one, and that all of our decisions hold some kind of significance or moral worth. There is weight in religion. It is an anchor of sorts.

~ Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020)


Notes: Photo: Patryk Sadowski with Church of Ireland

Catholic, Non-Catholic. Believe. Don’t Believe. But Watch.

Of course I have sinned….
As a child, I have failed you first by not having the courage to taste of life itself.
Instead, I hid away in books, and then study.
I know now this left me empty and void of the world.

Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes (Netflix, 2019)


If you’re going to make a movie about what’s holy, it had better be outstanding — and this drama rises to the occasion.” ~ Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media

Yellow Paper (60 sec)


Dubbed “Yellow Paper,” the ad focuses on the homecoming of US military personnel for the holidays. It’s 60-seconds long, with the song “Welcome Home” by Joy Williams playing throughout. In it, a family drives to the airport in a snowstorm, hoping to get there on time. When they get to the airport, they pass out yellow paper and coordinate them into a ribbon shape.] The Yellow Ribbon program is part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It is the program that allows veterans to continue their education and enrich their lives by providing them tuition-free access to state universities. The yellow ribbon has come to symbolize US troops, Prisoners of War or Missing in Action persons, as well as the mental and physical health of our troops, among other things. The decision made by Toyota to use this symbol shows dedication to the people who protect and serve our country. (Source: Toyota Arlington)

For those with blocked youtube access, try this link.

Early Saturday Morning. And tethered…

2:39 a.m.

Lying in bed. I Can’t Sleep. Apparently, I still haven’t Live & Learned enough.

The window is open. It’s me and the crickets, and my thoughts that fill the night. And a passing car in the distance.

I hear / another year rustle by like the night’s /  one car. (Beckian Fritz Goldberg)

8 years ago today, well, not exactly today, but close enough, this blog was born.

I jump over to FB to re-read a comment on my last post: Tethered to Nothing.

This comment coming from a thoughtful (very), quiet (very), semi anonymous Follower.

Tethered by community. Tethered by the community you have created with your posts.”

And then the soft ah-ha.

Tethered to Nothing?

No.

Tethered to you. All of you.

And grateful…


Photo: Mennyfox55

To go back home, never more to roam, is my dearest wish of all.

Bob Simon: Is it possible to be socially acceptable to be a teetotaler on this island?

Ailsa Hayes: Yes.

Bob Simon: Are there any?

Ailsa Hayes: Yes. But– I’m not one of them.

Over the years, the island’s people have learned how to entertain themselves, often at gatherings called Ceilidhs which feature traditional dance and sad songs, mostly about leaving Islay and yearning to return.

[Man sings: “To sit with my love on the bridge above the rippling waterfall. To go back home, never more to roam, is my dearest wish of all.”]

If this looks and feels a lot like Ireland, that’s no coincidence. It’s only 25 miles away. They come from the same tribe, share the same Celtic culture and Gaelic language, not to mention a love of good whisky that gets them through stormy weather and the long winter nights.

There are no movie theaters on Islay, no dry cleaners, no supermarket, and no McDonald’s…at least in the fast food business. Jim McEwan says there is a long list of things that Islay doesn’t have…and doesn’t want.

Jim McEwan: We don’t have any crime, we don’t have mugging, carjacking, house breaking, rape, just dope, drugs, we don’t have that. You can keep that. You’re very welcome to it.

Bob Simon: How do you explain the fact that there’s no crime here? There’s crime everywhere else.

Jim McEwan: There is no crime. If you commit a crime in a small community, you’ll be ostracized and have to leave. Not only that, your family, your children and your children’s children will be remembered as the children of the man who committed the crime.

~ Bob Simon, excerpt of an interview on 60 Minutes in a segment titled Whisky Island. Simon visits Islay, a magical place in the Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland, known for making some of the great single malt scotch whiskies in the world.  Find full report here.

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

“People get up, they go to work, they have their lives, but you never see the headlines say, ‘Six billion people got along rather well today.’ You’ll have the headline about the 30 people who shot each other.”

~ John Malkovich


John Gavin Malkovich59, was born in Christopher, Illinois.  His paternal grandparents were Croatian. He is an American actor, producer, director, and fashion designer. Over the last 30 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award nominations. He has also appeared in critically acclaimed films such as Empire of the SunThe Killing FieldsDangerous LiaisonsOf Mice and MenBeing John Malkovich, and RED, and has produced numerous films, including Juno and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.


Image Source: m.antena.ro portrait of John Malkovich

I love the symmetry of a life like that, love the idea of Sunday dinner, the whole family gathered around one big farmhouse table

I was a child of the small-town South of the early ’60s, and all the women I knew stayed home with their children, whether they cared to or not…I also expected to get married and have children. Of course I would; that’s what little girls did…What I would be was a mother.

It’s not such a retro idea when you grow up in a family like mine…But I asked my Mother once what she felt she had been born to be, and without hesitation she said, “I was born to be a mother.” My father felt the same way about being a father. Everything my parents did, they did to support the family. We children were their role in the world…

But God help the woman who believes this message too wholeheartedly, who feels too acutely that motherhood truly defines her. The very culture that insists that raising a child is the single most important thing a woman can do with her life also maintains that she must be willing to surrender that identity the instant her child leaves home. The notorious “helicopter parent,” the meddling mother, the critical mother-in-law — these are all tropes at least as pervasive and unchallenged as any Madonna and Child image of manifest womanhood. A mother who can’t “let go” is a grasping, desperate creature, entirely to be pitied if not openly reviled…

It wasn’t always this way. When the house my grandparents lived in burned down during the Depression, the whole family moved in with my great-grandparents. When my other great-grandmother became widowed, she joined them in the farmhouse. No one questioned the wisdom of this arrangement or suspected any of them of being emotionally stunted, unable to let go. They simply expected to spend the rest of their lives together, sitting on the porch in the cool of the evening, talking to one another.

I love the symmetry of a life like that, love the idea of Sunday dinner after church, the whole family gathered around one big farmhouse table, but I’m also grateful to live in my own time and place…

But I struggle with the constant reminders that my sons share their lives primarily with people I’ve never met, that they all do work I know only in its broadest outlines. They love me; I know that. They call often to chat, and they don’t hesitate to ask for advice if they’re unsure of something. But exactly as their own culture demands, they have also created lives in which my husband and I are on the margins. Peripheral. Almost obsolete. Even a house fire would not send them back to live with us forever.

I will love having them all home for Mother’s Day, but in one tiny little corner of my mind I will also be missing the days when they were still so small and so needy, when the family circle was still close and closed. I will miss the smell of their sweaty little-boy necks and the feel of their damp fingers clutching my blouse as I bounced them on my hip. And I will remember all the years when Mother’s Day meant crayoned cards and plaster-of-Paris handprints and weedy bouquets made of clover and henbit and creeping Charlie and dandelion. The most beautiful flowers in all the world.

~ Margaret Renkl, excerpts from The Mother’s Day Trap (NY Times, May 7, 2018)

 


Photo: Elena Shumilova (Saint-Petersburg) with  a bit more about golden fish

Easter is calling me back to the church

I went to church on Easter Sunday last year, and never went back. It wasn’t a boycott, exactly. It was an inability, week after week, to face the other believers…At church, all I could think about were the millions of people likely to lose their health insurance thanks to Catholic bishops who opposed the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. I was supposed to be thinking about the infinite love of a merciful God, but all I could hear were thousands of Christians shouting, “Build that wall!” By the time Easter had come and gone, I was gone too…

In the past year, while my husband and his father were at church on Sunday mornings, I was in the woods, where God has always seemed more palpably present to me anyway. (And not just to me: “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,” Emily Dickinson wrote back in the 19th century. “I keep it, staying at Home.”) For me, a church can’t summon half the awe and gratitude inspired by a full-throated forest in all its indifferent splendor.

The year away from church hasn’t made me miss the place itself. I don’t miss the stained glass. I don’t miss the gleaming chalice or the glowing candles or the sweeping vestments. But I do miss being part of a congregation. I miss standing side by side with other people, our eyes gazing in the same direction, our voices murmuring the same prayers in a fallen world. I miss the wiggling babies grinning at me over their parents’ shoulders. I miss reaching for a stranger to offer the handshake of peace. I miss the singing.

So I will be at Mass again on Easter morning, as I have been on almost every Easter morning of my life. I will wear white and remember the ones I loved who sat beside me in the pew and whose participation in the eternal has found another form, whatever it turns out to be. I will lift my voice in song and give thanks for my life. I will pray for my church and my country, especially the people my church and my country are failing. And then I will walk into the world and do my best to practice resurrection.

~ Margaret Renkl, from Easter Is Calling Me Back to the Church (NY Times, March 25, 2018)

 


Photo: Arnaud Maupetit

It was so beautiful

Excerpts from For a Day, Our Political Troubles Were Eclipsed by Peggy Noonan:

“It was beautiful: Up and down Madison Avenue, people stood together and looked upward.

…It was so beautiful.

Up and down the street, all through the eclipse, people spontaneously came together—shop workers and neighborhood mothers, kids and bank employees, shoppers and tourists. They’d gather in groups and look up together. Usually one or two people would have the special glasses, and they’d be passed around. Everyone would put them on and look up and say “Wow!” or “Incredible!” then laugh and hand the glasses on…

There was a tattooed man in a heavy metal band T-shirt, with his teenage son. “You want?” the man said. He was lending his glasses to everyone who came by. “Are you doing this just to be nice?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. “We got them free.” Something nice had happened to him so he was spreading it around. […]

So that’s what I saw, uptown to midtown—sharing and wonder and friendliness, along with a continual refrain: Here, take my glasses. Do you see?

There was something about it that left me by the end quite moved. Witnessing spontaneous human graciousness and joy is stirring. And we were seeing something majestic, an assertion of nature and nature’s God, together. It was tenderly communal. [Read more…]

My Heirloom: I have this tremendous family gift. What am I going to do with it?


I have this tremendous family gift. What am I going to do with it? …

This is the house that I grew up in. And the land that’s around us is something I’m attached to. When I grew up we knew everybody around us. There was a sense of community. I want to make sure that gets passed down as well as the watermelon.

~ Matt Bradford, The Bradford Watermelon Company (Sumter County, South Carolina)

Find story and video on cbsnews.com: The Return of an Heirloom Watermelon


Thank you Susan.

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