Sacramental Bonds

The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has elicited reams of commentary on her life and her legacy. Recognizing the deep affection she had for fellow Justice Antonin Scalia (who died in 2016), I could respect how two esteemed colleagues from divergent philosophical backgrounds remained close friends.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, Harper’s Bazaar reposted a piece (originally published in January 2019) describing the Justice as “our feminist hero,” “a towering force to be reckoned with,” and “a pop-culture sensation.” NPR (online) described her as a “Champion of Gender Equality” and a “demure firebrand.” The Brennan Center for Justice was equally effusive:  “small, mighty, relentless and unforgiving.”

Continue reading “Sacramental Bonds”

Driving Miss Ruthe

When my parents married in January 1946 after the briefest of courtships, there would have been an ample supply of newlywed adjustments for both. This union was the joining of two individuals from vastly different backgrounds.

My dad’s forebears were mostly no-nonsense, hard-working midwestern people of German descent. Upon arriving in the US, Dad’s grandfather had settled in St. Louis. He and his family led lives of predictability – work, family, church, work some more – with few  distractions or embellishments. They were ordinary folks leading quiet lives.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

In contrast, my mom’s east-coast (Philadelphia) upbringing turned her into an independent, free spirit, a woman eager to embrace the waiting world. From age six (when Mom entered boarding school), familial attachments had mostly evaporated; only her mother remained and mother-daughter visits were infrequent. Living at school was doubtless a happy and wholesome environment, but sans family. Continue reading “Driving Miss Ruthe”

Locking Down Hope

“Every day has been as dark or darker than the previous one.” So says the opening paragraph of Jeffrey A. Tucker’s recent post on lockdowns. Tucker notes a host of concerns (some economic and others emotional) causing stress levels to rise beyond the breaking point. The oft-used catch-phrase “we’re all in this together” (an absurd bromide, if you ask me) seems woefully inadequate for individuals crushed by loneliness or economic disaster (or both). Aloneness tends to produce dark days with the potential to become darker.

Image by Queven from Pixabay

Search the internet and observe the number of pandemic-related stories highlighting dramatic increases of both drug overdose and suicide rates. The dismal details are distressing enough to turn one’s perfectly sunny day into clouds and rain! Continue reading “Locking Down Hope”

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”

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.

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”

Been There, Done That

Stir-crazy yet? Some people have more tolerance than others, I know. Still, more and more people are expressing similar frustration:  how long must this go on?

As I read back through old posts, I was reminded we’ve been here before. Back in October 2014, it was Ebola, another virus of considerable risk. At that time, my concerns centered on my elderly mother as well as my mother-in-law who passed away in 2017. Right now it’s my mom (now in her 94th year) who remains foremost in my thoughts. Continue reading “Been There, Done That”