A Peculiar Crossroads

Almost a decade ago, I launched this blog. The nameplate has changed slightly but my general high regard for Flannery O’Connor (from whom the blog name was admittedly plucked) hasn’t diminished. I don’t recall our first meeting (in the pages of a book), but my philosophy as a young writer was partly formed thanks to her insights.

Her book Mystery and Manners set in motion my lifelong interest. I borrowed the book from the library. We were casual acquaintances then. By the due-date, I realized I couldn’t relinquish the book! In those pre-Amazon days, I scrambled to find a hard copy to purchase but found none.

As a last resort, I located a photocopier and proceeded to copy over 200 pages, dime by dime. (The above photo shows that well-worn copy.) I omitted the first chapter (21 pages) which relates O’Connor’s tale “The King of the Birds.” It was an amusing story but not worth the extra buck. Continue reading “A Peculiar Crossroads”

Educated Opinions

Experts. We rely on them. We make life choices based on the advice of experts. Before having a vehicle/appliance/roof/computer repaired, we consult the expert, someone who by reputation has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise worthy of respect. In fact, we so highly value their abilities, we pay them.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We crave the wisdom of medical experts. A highly-respected figure who’s both a physician and immunologist, for instance, would logically command attention and even admiration. Or a government official (less an expert but we listen nonetheless) may yield information worthy of consideration.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen. A physician could remove your leg instead of your appendix. Your computer guru could delete 30,000 emails instead of a virus on the hard drive. (It could actually happen!) In the real world, human beings – yes, even experts – can be miserably inept. Continue reading “Educated Opinions”

Art for Art’s Sake

Throughout childhood, my older brother was a role model and I eagerly followed him, learning from his example. He’s two years older and surely, I must have been an annoying shadow at times. When he decided to learn the violin in grade school, I followed suit. If he climbed a tree, I’d be directly behind him. An incident from junior high comes to mind.

image courtesy of Pixabay.com

My brother and his friends (all boys) were hunting rabbits in the barren cornfield near our house. Naturally, they didn’t want a girl tagging along but I begged and bargained:  I agreed to carry any rabbits they managed to snag. (It probably wasn’t the best bargain I’ve ever negotiated!)

I thought it unlikely they’d catch even one rabbit … imagine my chagrin when they bagged two! But I kept my side of the bargain, grasping a pair of rabbit ears with each hand for the trek homeward.

Needless to say, this experience ended my “hunting” inclination. I began emerging from my brother’s shadow to do my own thing. But even today, he acknowledges gratefulness to his younger sister (shadow) for introducing him to one of my classmates – now his wife with whom he recently celebrated 53 years of married life together. Continue reading “Art for Art’s Sake”

Stand

Tensions are nothing new for New York City. According to History.com, an 1857 NYC squabble (illustrated below) involved two rival police forces. It’s an interesting tidbit from history, don’t you think?

With this long-ago situation a variant of what’s happening today in cities across our country, newscasts have become more tedious by the day. Incidents like this, and this, and this certainly give me pause. What’s next? The whipping post and pillory? It seems intentional humiliation of individuals is now an acceptable power tactic to keep the timid, huddled masses in line. Continue reading “Stand”

Warring With Our Souls

Over the last couple weeks, COVID-19 has all but disappeared from front page news spreads having suddenly been supplanted by protests, rioting and looting. Yes, George Floyd’s murder was a despicable act of first-degree hate. There should be no debate, nor the excuse of possible extenuating circumstances.

Having said that, it is impossible for me to reconcile the understandable grief with senseless acts of barbarism and destruction which have been perpetrated as payback for this man’s death. If you think that’s a cruel or heartless thing to assert, you should probably go follow a different blog. (I’ll be equally direct in the paragraphs below.) Continue reading “Warring With Our Souls”

Jail Break!

Here we are … 8, 10, 12 weeks in with this crazy (and seriously overheated, if I may offer my personal opinion) pandemic. Have you enjoyed this bizarre social experiment as much as I have? (Granted, one of my last posts noted my comfortability with self-isolating.)

It’s been relatively easy for me to follow the guidelines. We live in a state where stay-at-home recommendations (for the most part) were modest, mostly respectful to sensible adults listening and heeding medical and government guidelines. Truth be told, my Beloved has trudged off to work every single day. It’s what he does.

Then, a week ago, we saw the headline “New York Times lists COVID-19 daily growth rate in NWA as highest in the nation.” Imagine the reactions! This isn’t something we aspire for top-list status. For myself, I’m hoping herd immunity kicks in soon.

Still, we’re adjusting here. And the good news I’ve been reading about – seemingly everywhere –  is that rioting, looting and pillaging cures the spread of COVID-19! It certainly takes the spotlight off  all the dreary predictions and public shaming (when someone isn’t wearing a mask … or sin-of-sins, failing to maintain proper distancing).

Long after a range of normalcy is restored across the world, the awful effects of COVID-19 will remain. So many individuals have lost their livelihoods and scores of businesses have been crippled beyond return. I’m no doctor, but even I can see this virus will go down in history beyond the number of people who died from the disease itself. I can’t help but think of its long-lasting psychological impact on children.

Further, the ease with which government encroached on personal liberties was stunning. (If that doesn’t bother you, maybe take some time to read the US Constitution.) Measles, influenza and smallpox were serious concerns for the founding fathers, but somehow they managed to secure our nation and enumerate certain rights of citizens … despite the numerous health challenges they encountered.

Don’t misunderstand, I know the virus was (and remains) a notable threat, especially for elderly folks with other health complications. As various states continue to transition through phases of re-opening, I’m optimistic we’ll see states and the country as a whole flourish and regain some economic and spiritual wholeness. But please, let’s not forget the essential freedoms previous generations fought and died to uphold; let’s hold them close, close enough we won’t let go.

In the meantime, a sonnet reflecting my thoughts on the lock-down.

Asleep In Jesus

Though it seems nearly a thousand years ago, back in early January (when the world seemed relatively calm) my Beloved bid adieu to his younger brother. This was before Covid-19 had rocked everyone’s world, but the expectation was that my brother-in-law’s days on this planet were ending. He moved out of state to live with his son.

We were privileged in recent years to have him living near us. Initially, he lived in our home, moved out, temporarily moved out of state and eventually returned to the area. An irrepressible individual, his stories never ceased to entertain and his bottomless reservoir of energy made him well-loved by all.

But cancer’s destruction would not be abated, rendering him a wisp of the man he once was. Bidding him adieu entailed numerous phone calls through January and February, until he was too weak to hold a phone. He passed into Eternity on March 4th at the age of 66.

Everyday, my Beloved feels this huge void from the loss of his brother. They talked daily including a regular Bible study time every morning by phone. Saying goodbye was sorrowful, but my Beloved knows the assurance of seeing his sibling again … such a blessed hope! Continue reading “Asleep In Jesus”

Elbow Room

When it comes to isolation, I’m something of an expert. (Someone – maybe Dizzy Dean? – once said: it ain’t bragging if it’s true.) Though I enjoy the company of a wide range of friends and loved ones, I’m quite content spending time alone. In fact, whenever there are times I must engage socially, it’s not long before I must grab time alone to replenish my sociability reserves.

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Unlike the social “deprivation” others are enduring, I’ve suffered no hardship from enforced social distancing. If I’ve needed to go out (grocery shopping, the post office, etc.), I’ve gone. In the beginning of March (as things first started closing down), I went to the post office where one of the counter clerks wore a surgical mask. It surprised me, but if that’s what she felt she needed to feel safe, I had no objections. Individuals should have the freedom to make those decisions for themselves.

Continue reading “Elbow Room”

One to Tell the Tale

Beginning in the Fall of 2014, I commenced a serious personal study of The Book of Job. This ancient biblical account relates the gripping story of Job. Today, we’d say he was highly-privileged and experienced the perks of life few of his contemporaries may have enjoyed.

The book begins with an unremarkable statement: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.” The next sentence tells us Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” But within just a couple paragraphs, the situation turns bad — really bad — for Job.

Thus begins an ages-old dialogue probing the goodness (or monstrous cruelty) of Almighty God. The question begs to be answered: why must a righteous man endure suffering? If a man is indeed “blameless, upright and God-fearing” (as the narrative proclaims Job was), then doesn’t he have every right to be exempt from humanity’s pain and affliction?

Continue reading “One to Tell the Tale”