And now, the end is near …

2015 is about to go into the books and I hardly remember it happening.

The biggest thing this year has been my husband’s health problems, exacerbated by his not wanting to have the MRI he needs to have so his health issues can be (hopefully) diagnosed with specificity.

In 2015:

  • We moved, although we didn’t mean to (LONG story);
  • Our car was vandalized;
  • I changed jobs;
  • Tom was in the hospital and then the rehab place and under therapy when he came out, for a total of about 2 months’ worth of health care;
  • I pretty much quit writing for almost the whole year.

There’s almost certainly something else I’ve forgotten, but can you blame me?

I don’t know what to expect from 2016.  I just hope it’s better, but when I review the world we live in, I kinda doubt it.  Hope it’s better for you.

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Bibbledy, Bobbledy, Boo

I’m having an exceedingly good, very silly day.  And that bothers me.

Am I the only one who gets worried when things seem to be going well? Too well, maybe?  I get convinced that I’ll be all happy and the next thing I know, something will go terribly wrong.  I know, I’m nuts.  You don’t have to tell me that.

There used to be a TV show called “Murphy Brown”, with Candace Bergen.  One ep was about the family of her friend and co-worker, Frank Fontana (sorry – can see the face of the actor who played him, but can’t remember his name).  Frank doesn’t want to go to his folks’ house for some event — their anniversary, I think — because his parents always think the worst.

IIRC, Frank and his siblings go in together on a cruise for his parents. And sure enough, they start talking about all the things that are going to go wrong and Frank loses it.  His parents, taken aback, explain that they feel that if they have too much good luck or good feeling, that life will punish them for it.  That may not be exactly what they said, but it’s the gist of it.

I don’t  believe that, not really.  And I know a lot of my anxiety is based on the day my dad died.  I was kind of drifting at that point and I was selling Tupperware.  There was a sales rally that day (you can’t imagine what these things were like unless you did them, and you may not even be able to even if you did).  I had always thought these rallies were silly, but that day I was in a good mood and just thought “Oh, heck, why not? Let’s just lose all the rest of my marbles and have a good time.”  About thirty minutes later, the secretary came to get me for a phone call (from my mom) and life as I had known it to that point changed forever.

I’ve never forgotten that rollercoaster sensation.  I doubt I ever will. And it has colored my life for me — sometimes for good reason, even if the changes between happy and sad weren’t quite so catastrophic.

So while my rational mind smacks me like Cher slapped Nicolas Cage in “Moonstruck” and says “Snap out of it!” I will continue to feel guilty about being happy.  Even though I know I shouldn’t.

 

You gotta be …

You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

I understand why people stop reading the news.  Not only do I not trust major news outlets (and many of the ‘minor’ ones) but the news is so depressing that I find myself tuning it out in frustration.

Major shooting here, another one there — and just hang on, there’ll be another one soon. 😦

Father kills mother and children.  Children try to kill mother. Mother’s boyfriend beats child to death.  Toddlers put their brother in the oven.

I realize that our 24/7 exposure to everything that happens as soon as it happens means we hear things that would once have passed us by, and that hardly any of it is “new”.  We just hear about it more.

Suppose I wouldn’t mind hearing if I could do something.  I pray, of course, and (despite the mockery of the New York Daily News) that’s no small thing. I understand in theory why convents and monasteries were created to pray for the world and those in it — I could spend all day praying.  But I want to do more, and due to time, resources and personal obligations, I can’t.

Never has the world needed Jesus more, and never was it so likely to reject Him.  I used to be able to talk to people who didn’t believe and at least get a courteous or neutral discussion going.  Now, it’s a matter of anger, insults and rejection, almost without exception.  Things, as Dr. Dimble said, are coming to a point.  There’s no “give” any more — except in the worst way imaginable.

Lord Jesus, come quickly.  It’s only going to get worse.  And in the meantime, please give me courage to do what is right in YOUR eyes, not mine.  I don’t have any interest in being Laodicean.

You gotta be …

 

The ineffable qualities of poignancy and time …

My husband and I saw Simon and Garfunkel when they toured together after the performance in the above song.

Even though I think the performance we saw at the Q in Cleveland was wonderful, there’s something about this video that moves me profoundly.  It’s not just that two old friends put aside their differences to make great music again.

Part of it is that this song paints an America that flat out doesn’t exist any more.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m a child of the 60s, and even seen through the haze of a good childhood, I know they weren’t as idyllic as some of us who lived through them think they were.  But there’s an innocence about the song, remembering a time when you could just pack up and go.  I suppose you still can, but it’s not the same.  We weren’t tied together by electronics then, whether smartphones or just the need to fill out forms and give out your social security number for the simplest of transactions.

The other thing is seeing Simon and Garfunkel together again.  They still sound amazingly great.  Most of the kids who are “stars” now won’t be able to stand up at these guys’ ages and sing with anywhere near the same quality — at least without autotuning and whatever electronic garbage the music industry comes up with in the meantime.  At the same time, I’m moved by their longevity together. They started off as high school students and are still together, making quality music all these years down the road.  Marriages don’t even last that long any more.

Also, musically, as someone else pointed out, they transposed the song down a half (I’m guessing to help Art Garfunkel) and the lower pitch moves something in me; its a darker, deeper feeling.  Maybe it’s nothing more than sonics, but it feels very emotive to me.

“Cathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America”

Suddenly, I wish I could drive across the country … I’ve seen so little of it. Maybe that’s what moves me the most; America, and what she’s supposed to be.  Do you think there’s any of her left?

Remember, thou art mortal

In the heydey of the Roman Empire, a conquering hero who returned to Rome was often (depending on the temper of the Senate or Caesar) given a parade through the city called a “triumph”.  As parf of this, a slave followed the hero’s chariot throughout the procession — the slave’s only function was to murmur from time to time the phrase “Remember, thou art mortal”.  No one lives forever and one day, the hero’s deeds would only be memories.

Today, I heard that whisper myself.  I thought I was ready to get back to it — I had gotten out of the hospital, took my meds like a good little girl and even went and bought correctly fitted shoes.  I was sure I was on the high road.

Unfortunately, a couple of days later, things started back down and I was in a lot of pain, my foot was swelling up and I was having a heck of a time trying to get a doctor’s appointment at the hospital where I’d been admitted a couple of weeks ago.

Finally, a wonderful appointment person at the Clinic’s Willoughby Hills office heeded my pleas for help and called me back when a cancellation became available.  I wish I had her name — she almost certainly kept me from getting worse and I’d love to thank her publicly.

Anyway, to make a long story somewhat shorter, the doctor at the Clinic said in no uncertain terms that I belonged back in the hospital — an infection as bad as she felt this one was needed to be treated on an inpatient basis.  And to add to the fun, when I got to Lake West, the doctors ran a bunch of tests and told me there was every chance a blood clot was floating around and, in addition to being treated for the infection, I had to have a CT scan to ensure no blood clots were in my lungs.

It’s almost midnight now.  I just came back from the CT scan room, and I’m waiting.  I’m not sure if it’s just the test or if they’re clearing a room or what, but here I am anyway.  If was a little scared before, I’m incredibly scared now.  No, that’s not exactly right.  The idea that I’ve got a blood clot in my lung is not exactly comforting.  And I fear pain and potential disability.

I’ve always said that I wasn’t afraid of death, just of dying.  I believe there is more than this life — as a Christian, I believe that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  (I Cor. 2:9).  I do love Him and I believe I’ll be with Him when I die.

I admit, though, that I’m a little frightened by the thought of fighting for a breath that never comes, for the pain of organs fighting to work properly.  And I’m not READY to die — there’s a lot I’d still like to do.  Although most people probably feel that way; but hey! 51’s not that old. I haven’t made it to Montréal yet! 🙂

So I “compose my soul in patience” and wait, and think about the other people in the other rooms, who are going through their own journeys and pains, and their families who are waiting to hear.  I can pray for them while the doctors and nurses are doing whatever they’re doing.

And I remember that the journey never really ends.  It just goes on a different road.

R is for being in a Rush

“Each thing I do, I rush through so I can do something else. In such a way do the days pass—a blend of stock car racing and the never ending building of a gothic cathedral. Through the windows of my speeding car I see all that I love falling away: books unread, jokes untold, landscapes unvisited…”

Stephen Dobyns, “Pursuit”

I thought of this poem today when I was in traffic and someone zoomed around me, only to get caught behind the car that had been in front of me. I’ve always thought that poem was sad and a little scary — and perfectly descriptive of the 21st Century in the Western world.

Where are we all going in such a hurry?  Everything’s fast, or promised to be fast or intended to be, from our food to the roads to the self-improvement promised by website after website and advertisement after advertisement.

“How to Feng Shui your Home for Quick Results”

“Lose 20 lbs in 30 days without exercise”

“How to read 300% faster in 20 minutes”

Whatever happened to savoring things, to taking your time and enjoying food, a book, a leisurely drive in the country on Sunday after church? I would give so much to have a lazy summer afternoon where I could lay in a hammock and not do ANYTHING. No internet, no cell phone, no radio or Nook or whatever. The art of taking it show and doing the kind of productive ‘nothing’ that clears your mind and heart of stress seems to be gone forever, at least from the world I lived in.

What did you do the last time you didn’t do anything? When you put aside the rush and hurry of modern life and just let go?

P: Poems, Prayer and Promises (apologies to the late John Denver :))

Poems: I used to write poetry way more than I did prose. I think it’s a teenage thing, when you’re all full of angst and you write what is usually bad poetry to vent to the world to show off your “pain” that no one understands (and of course, your budding genius). Now, I’m more comfortable with haiku and micropoetry of various styles.  I have a minimalist streak that is happiest writing short-form anything. Occasionally I branch out (and there are a couple of longer-form poems on my writing site, De Mon Esprit!)

Prayer: There’s a new journal in my life — I pray for people when I run into them in RL or online and they ask, but I also pray for people when God brings them to mind.  I love a story I once read, where C.S. Lewis talks about how he was planning a haircut, then decided he wasn’t going to bother, but kept being nagged by the feeling that he really should anyway.  He gave in and finally went to the barber shop.  The barber gasped and told him, “I’ve been praying all day that you’d come.” He needed to talk to Lewis and ask for prayer (as I recall).  When the Lord really brings someone to your mind, often it’s a prompt to pray for them. My intention is to keep track of things in the journal so someone I promised to pray for won’t get lost in my frequently unreliable memory.

Promises: They’re important to me — I want to keep the ones I’ve made.  Sometimes that’s easier than at other times.