Waiting for Godot

Another day, another memorial, another prayer circle, another media opp. My favorite quote of Emily Dickinson is “Hope is a thing with feathers that sings the song without the words and never stops at all.”   And so about 15 stand hands together in prayer while the world spins on.  I stand silently with them in my own safe room in California.

Watching the wussy gun proposals, of same old same old…shame our lawmakers.  “Red flag laws” is now the new mantra.  “Get rid of the assault rifles NOW” is not even 4th on the list of powerpoint bullets.  And the line increases, as we wait for Godot?  By the way, for non-book readers who happened to open this blog, google “Godot”.  “Waiting for Godot” was a famous play, where people waited on the corner for some mysterious person called “Godot”.  How long do we have to wait on the corner?  In the play, Godot never shows up but they meet others waiting on that corner.  Maybe, just maybe, someone in the USA is going to show up with a meaningful plan that has guts and teeth and gets directly to the point:  no more assault rifles.  We are not asking for the moon.  Those that make money selling these evil devices to the public need to examine their consciences.  Let’s put them up on a conversation on the media about why they continue to do it.  Waiting for a politically correct Senate to pass a law that could significantly reduce carnage is still not happening either.  Let’s prattle on about red flags and more wussy laws that don’t take the automatic weapons off the table. No one is discussing the elephant in the room.  Pass the law, folks, get rid of the assault rifles that killed so many wonderful people in SECONDS.  Red flag laws won’t do it.

New Zealand passed a law in 48 hours.  Assault rifles have no place in any community anywhere.  How dare you Senators not to put that issue as Number ONE in the list of to dos.  Come out of your vacay rentals and expensive summer houses, and fix this in a way that makes us proud.  There, my peacenik tendencies are firing up.

The media opps of memorials and gore and conversations are now formulaic.

 

Network Redux

To those who were alive and kicking in 1976, the movie “Network” claimed Academy Awards, but also changed a lot of ways of thinking.  The eternal quote “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking this anymore” is an example.  The exquisite scene where people nationwide opened their windows and shouted that quote is, as many would say, an iconic bit of film.

Let’s ditch the politely political term:  “we need to have a conversation”.  Let’s get down and dirty.  Proactives march, write Congress and call their own Congressmen and women.  Let’s stop being put back to sleep with repeat drawling of the media.  Rhetoric is rhetoric, but let’s get real Americans.  WE HAVE A PROBLEM.  This wasn’t brown and black folks harming our sacrosanct white environs.  It was white, may I shout WHITE Supremacists.  WITH AUTOMATIC RIFLES.

FIRST, let’s get rid of the Assault Weapons that spew death in seconds.  In New Zealand, it took a prime minister two days, that’s 48 hours, to outlaw automatic weapons, and she continues to forward the action on this legislation

What if?  What if we actually got real and admitted that our country of the noble and brave and free is just another sleepy rhetoric.

Let’s ditch the headline  “Mass Shooting”.  Let’s replace it with “MASSACRE”

The definition of massacre is:   (from Oxford)

Noun:  “an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people”

Verb:  ” deliberately and violently kill (a large number of people)”

synonyms: slaughterbutchermurderkillannihilateexterminateexecuteliquidateeliminatedestroydecimate, kill off, wipe out, mow down, cut down, cut to pieces, put to the sword, put to death, send to the gas chambers;

Let’s get clear that we need to be proactive, open those windows, and shout:  I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE.

Let’s fix legislation.  Let’s not vote for people who blather about gun rights while retaining automatic rifle legislation.

Breaking news?  oh yeah.  It will all happen again and again and again until we accept we have a problem and hit the streets and voting polls to fix it.  NOW.

 

 

 

Cyclic Insanity

Today, I turned on the TV and got to witness LIVE the latest of 3 gun massacres this week in the good ole USA. And the beat goes on. The NRA will have yet another denial and this will be another driveby of denial. On my blog I wrote something about gun control. It was written at the time of Sandy Hook, in Connecticut. I would resubmit and start the count, time after time. I’ve given up since there are so many gun massacres, it appears cyclic, and oddly habitual: it happens, people film with their phones, send the footage to the media, and over and over it is played: terror in the heartland? and then the flower altars begin. And nothing changes.  I grieve for the loss of perfectly wonderful people. I grieve for the loss of their families.  I grieve for the stupidity of the masses addicted to one more wild scene repeated over and over on the media.  Yesterday, I got to see a poor woman in a body bag. And per usual, the scene was repeated over and over and over.  Sound and video bytes now play repetitively.  In truth, they always have.  NOW, we get to see the gore upfront and personal, a dead woman in a body bag.   Shame on everyone who watches the media and does nothing.  How about we all make a list and put it next to our to-do list when we go to the market.  Only this list will name all those lost in gun violence.  Let’s not forget them by turning away AGAIN.  Even the media is addicted to moving on rapidly. After all two to three days and its on to the next media hype.  Let’s set our alarm clocks for the next time.  After all, it’s cyclic. Oh and let’s turn the channel to something else to avoid having to think about what WE have become.  A nation of voyeurs and altar builders.

On Nuns and Forks

I was born of an Irish Catholic father and a Swedish Christian scientist mother. It engineered a hybrid DNA: One of passion and rebel, wild and wooly immigrant from the Emerald Isle fiercely clinging to God and religion while the alternate strand was a quiet gentle healing woman who ALWAYS stood in MY wings and was truly the wind beneath them.

In truth, both loved me dearly as the baby girl that arrived at Child Position No. 2.  The Irish vaccination, however, took.  It became my inner and outer drive, a living too large in a small world.

Convent Bound

I wasn’t quite a daily communicant.  That particular ritual had diluted itself decisively over the years since early grammar school.   However, my Irish Catholic inheritance returned frequently enough to unsettle my rebellious buffoonery with co-ed education.  So on the day of my appointment with my favorite nun at my favorite convent, of my favorite order, I dressed somewhat demurely.  I didn’t over amp the space with a Peter Pan collar, but the very essence of ladylike efforting hung in the air.

Ringing the doorbell at the convent felt somehow momentous.  I knew I had crossed that fine line and would depart this auspicious meeting with clarity as well as decision.

Sister Ann Jude, a large and sturdy Polish woman appeared with her larger than life joviality in the standard habit of the Immaculate Heart order which consisted of black and blue with starched white accents.  It was such a gorgeous habit, I couldn’t help but admit.

As we sat in the formal living room of the convent, the nun politely inquired about why I had come.  I searched for words and then blurted out, “I think I want to be a nun.”

I was not prepared for the thoroughly shocked look on Sister Ann Jude’s face.

“Good Lord, Geraldine,  You can’t mean it!”

The almost nun  offended replied, “As a matter of fact, I do mean it.’

“Oh darling, I didn’t mean to offend you.  Frankly, you’ll fail in one of the three vows.

I immediately thought, Celibacy, but wasn’t quick enough to finish this thought before the nun countered.

“And it’s not celibacy OR poverty.  It’s Obedience!  You have such a strong will.  Promise me you won’t enchain it with any vows.  Go live happily ever after, love your Lord, but live FREE!”

At that moment, SHE had drawn a line in the sand.

Later, as I drove off in a vintage VW with an American flag on the back (it was the sixties after all), I couldn’t help but wonder.

Jeez, I’m 21.  I’ve come all the way for heaven’s sake to the nuns who trained me to be a good little Catholic girl.  I’ve knocked on the door and they damn well don’t want me.  Screw this! I’ll find my own way to God and the little green angels. 

I gunned the engine and careened around the corner to the on-ramp of the only freeway during that time.

Returning back to my apartment, I blared jazz on the tape deck and tears ran down my cheeks.  I felt abandoned by the most High.  Should I try a different nun, a different convent, a different order or was this holy woman right?

It was ten minutes before I realized I had turned off automatically toward the beach.  I careened again into the parking lot at Malibu and screeched to a stop.  I flung my sensible high heels into the back seat and quickly ran across the hot asphalt to the awaiting sand.

Time would tell.  For now, I was completely undone.

Looking back at that moment in time, I realize humorously what a Sound of Music moment we had created together.  Here I was a wild coed meeting with a sacrosanct nun complete with rosary beads on the side.  I was truly at a crossroads in my life and I was seeking counsel.  The hybrid, once again, was battling with virtue versus passion.

Sister Ann Jude saw it clearly and called it as precisely as a commentator at a football game.  But it wasn’t touchdown OR fumble, it was a pass about to be made.

She, herself, left the convent for an auspicious career in bioscience.  After all, it was the decade of Women’s Lib and the nuns felt it too. She acquired an auspicious assignment at Duke in stereoisochemistry.  I couldn’t even pronounce it.  Now here’s the cool part of payback.  Sister called me to go shopping with her for clothes.  Unfortunately,  I was out of country when the call came.  Now wouldn’t that have been cool:  dressing a study Polish ex-nun at Lohman’s or Nordstrum’s rack?  Later she married and produced a fine son and I proudly named her God Mother at the Baptism of my first daughter.

Oh and as a wrap, I went directly on from that day forward to dutifully ignore any potential vow of Obedience.  Chastity and Poverty were like see saws balancing precariously in the wind.

 

Embracing the Wind, from Musings on the Moor

For years I’ve avoided the wind, perhaps even feared it.  One night a few years back, it blew down an old tree with weakened roots.  Then the tree was catapulted across the cul de sac and smashed the window of my almost new Honda.  On further examination, it was actually caused by a mini tornado.  The tree uprooted, rose in the mix, took out the power line overhead and then headed to the Honda.

My ancient mother and I sat for four days without power.  Act of God? likely not but I nevertheless staged an hysterical crying jag and got the VP of the house insurance company to pay for the damage and best of all not cancel my policy.  So for years I considered the wind punitive.

Today as I made my way back from the fields, the wind came across the plain of newly harvested grass (ala my sixteen sheep).  I put my arms out and gazed at the brilliant sun, letting the force of nature wash me of so many hangers on:   the what ifs, the worries, anger, disappointment.  It was like a great hose washing me free of those lingering barnacles.  Yes, I am free. First round, first layer at least and I bless my friend the wind.

My Song for Mother Earth

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Can you hear my heart calling?

Remember, remember…

My dolphin, my whale, my glorious living sea, remember.

My lion, my tiger, my elephant and rhino, my tiny newborn lamb,

My mountains, my meadows, my deserts of golden sand,

My redwoods, my rainforests, my flower fields of wonder, remember.

They stand courageously beside you, remember.

Cuddle my little ones in your arms, 

Hold them now, as I, indeed, hold you.

Life upon me can be a gentle dance or a frightening Armageddon,

Choose the peace of nations, and choose to walk in peace upon Me.

I hold you all now in the Breath of a new Morn.  Remember, Remember!

All life upon Me stands at a hush now and also a prayer.

Remember.

 

Counting Sheep

my wooliesNo, I’m not suffering from insomnia.  It is a shepherdess I have become, don’t y know.  Well beyond my seventy years, I am caring for a wee mob of woolies in Scotland.  Counting them one by one becomes an exercise in repetition as I always miss one or two in the first round.  I’m told there are no predators to concern myself with but one could get tangled in the bushes and not be able to free himself all wool and thorn entwined.  So I get lucky this first afternoon alone.  All sixteen are present and accounted.  I scoop up large handfuls of hay into their trough while my lieges gaze on.  They seem to be as curious of me as I am of them. Tomorrow, I’ll create a stool so I can sit midst my flock and write.  After all, they’ve signed up to be my editors.

Back at the cottage, the mysterious barn cat stares through a dark closet. Big golden eyes welcome me back to an evening of peace.

 

April 4

Fifty years ago on this day, I was holding my first-born in my arms.  I had married an Aussie and custom had it that women had to lie in for ten days.  Wow, now all they get is a drink of juice and cookie and a bundle and hit the road.  Ten days was dignified.  My daughter had been born at 11PM on April 3.  I was still quite new to the business of mothering.  So here I was  ten thousand miles away from my own country, trying to figure out breast-feeding and the business of mothering while half way around the world, disaster struck again.  We didn’t have internet or tweets or any of the social media that gets instant gratification today.  And so, I heard about it from an Aussie nurse who came in to check on me and my new bundle.

I held my daughter close to my heart and wept.  We had already lost a president, and now a hero, Dr. Martin Luther King.  I remember how I felt such loss, such betrayal, such agony.   As a new mum, I wanted to promise my children peace and safety and maybe just a little bit of wonder. And here I was rocking and weeping and praying:  “Lord make it stop!”   The violence on the planet was escalating.  Viet Nam was on fire and the streets of my own country were ablaze with protests.  In the middle of it all, a courageous visionary was gunned down at a motel in Memphis.

Years later, that same daughter and I were on a pilgrimage across country.  We were driving a beaten up SUV loaded to the gills.  Our goal was to deliver her to a two year assignment in an all black high school in North Carolina.  She would teach for America before she set off for a PhD at Yale.  Wow, This same kid that I rocked so long ago was following the road of human rights.

So we made this road trip count.  We veered off at Memphis and went to the museum there.   The counter, the bus, the hangings, the marches, the black history that so few whites really knew was there before us.  The museum ended at the site of April 4, 1968 at the very motel where a hero died needlessly. The toussled bed covers, the dinner on the plate had been frozen in time.

I’ve never forgotten that moment.  I don’t think my daughter has either.  She went on to teach and fall in love with so many of her students who struggled the race card.  So many of those same students lost relatives to drive by shootings.

Now twenty-five years later, has anything changed?  Sure.  Our newborns are inheriting an even higher level of violence.  Safety is a treasured word that means very little on a day of automatic weapons and crazies and anger piled upon anger.  Have we learned nothing?

I’m in my seventies and I still won’t give up.  In MLK’s immortal words: “We as a people will get to the promised land.”   What did he see that night when he had been to the mountain top?  I can but wonder.

 

He is Risen

Today is Easter for the Christians, Passover for the Jews, and the bridge makers of it all sometimes sigh:  What exactly does He is Risen truly mean?  Last night, I watched “Jesus Christ Superstar” again.  I’ve watched it ritually for close to forty years.  Ted Neeley is still playing the part of Jesus in his seventies, and, worldwide.  Where does he get his vitamins to move onward every year?  He imbues the kindness of Jesus as well as his human frustration as he plays that powerful role.  “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” takes on a deeper meaning.  Last night, I put on the captions and actually sang along. Why not?  But as I studied those captions, I realized dialog I had missed even with my repetitive viewing on Good Friday or Holy Saturday.   It became clear that often the lyrics were subtle Sometimes they were evocative:  “Jesus is cool”  voiced by the high Sanhedrin priest.

And then the dialogs of Jesus and Judas.  Clearly the love between the two of them was there as well as the agony.    Tim Rice, the lyricist, is my hero.  He brought the story to life, not just another repetition of something written so long ago.  It is timeless.

Well, here is where I’m going with this blog:  What if  He is Risen was reflected in all our thinking?  What if Redemption, ah the elusive word, was ACTIVE NOW.  Redeem? Rise? Crucifixion? Forgiveness. All the words repeated ritually just might take on a new meaning.

We are smack in the middle of global change whether we wish it or not.  This “Holy Week” I contemplated who actually cooked the Last Supper.  Now there’s a subtle veering to the side  I honestly thought:  Wow!  The girls are at the market buying the lamb today (Tuesday).  Wow! The girls are prepping the roast for cooking and doing side dishes.  I even asked a Jewish friend what kind of side dishes would be at the Last Supper?  Sure it appears humorous but in fact, it’s kind of nice to wonder.  We glean over so much in our rituals.  And then I went to “Who cleaned up the dishes?”  Women quietly did their thing then as we do now but often invisibly.

What I’m trying to say is this:  What if we just threw out all the ritual repetition and allowed ourselves to feel the Rising from a very personal space.  Maybe we could throw out bigotry, judgment and taking any sides and oh yes, TWEET kindness for all.  Sure I’m Polly Anna again but Polly also rises. Our planet, our people, our nations our states, our cities, our homes just might HEAL.

Echoes on the Wind

At a time when tweets and sound bytes could easily disengage another beautiful day on planet Earth, I pause.  I pause because I can.  I pause because I choose.  I pause because I am in awe.

I’m here to witness CHANGE.  An old Chinese warning is “May you live in interesting times”.  Yes, indeed.  Yesterday, I proudly witnessed our youth marching with determination, focus and courage.  They were not alone. Older people walked beside them and behind them and remained silent.

These kids nation-wide and world-wide were not only gutsy to organize such a grand scale protest; they named it a movement.  Yes!  It isn’t going away after fifteen minutes of fame.  These kids have a plan.  Rolling thunder? perhaps.  But planetary change requires sacrifice, sheer guts and fearlessness.  I saw all of these yesterday and each speaker brought a sense of dedication to standing for an end to gun violence.

There were many moments of heroic speeches that will impact history.  However, the most moving for me was the young girl who read out the names of those ‘sacrificed” in Florida and then stood in silence.  Silence, silence.  Can you hear it? Can you hear the echoes of “Enough is enough, Never Again, and lest we repeat ourselves, shouts from the rooftops, “Never Again!”  Perhaps “never again” needs to become a mantra that is repeated over and over and over and over and over and over.

Please tell me that we won’t slip back into cerebral “conversations” on boring panels in beige meeting rooms with politically correct old people.  The youth are on the move. Yes, indeed, and I’m marching with them in my heart, in my mind and with my pen.

Perhaps we need to take several hours to read the list of everyone killed due to gun violence and then stand in silence, in respect, in grief and in dedication.  Can you hear the echoes or will they be lost upon the wind?