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Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

This week, I found myself using this phrase more than once as I read the headlines:

Why are they like that?

For example, reading about “PharmaBro” Martin Shkreli, I found out that his idol is Donald Trump. In pictures, they seem to be doing the same smug smile.

There’s one news article that perplexed me as I wondered why people do what they do – the one about the eighty-year-old woman who delayed a flight for five hours because she threw pennies into the plane’s engine for luck. Headlines characterized her in various ways, “Elderly Passenger,” “Chinese Woman,” “Buddhist Senior.”

She didn’t do this because she’s a senior. It’s not because she’s a woman. Or Asian. Or a Buddhist.

It’s because someone told her that this was “a thing” and she believed it.

Everything we believe is information that came to us through someone in whom we have faith. Parents, teachers, siblings, friends. Pastors, priests, gurus. Nowadays, the internet.

I know people who play their “lucky numbers” in the lottery every day. A man I know hit the “bonus” on the daily lottery number one day and won $500. He was so excited. But. He’s spent five dollars A DAY on those tickets for the last twenty years. He still hasn’t broken even. Actually, if he’d put those five dollars into a jar, he’d have had a nice little nest egg by now.

Actors won’t say the name of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, instead referring to it as “The Scottish Play” because saying its name inside the theater is bad luck. (Just to be on the safe side, I’m not going to write it either! You can Google it. 🙂 Okay, it rhymes with Quack-Breath.)

We do things like this so that good luck will turn our way, or so that, at the very least, bad luck stays away from us.

If I could give advice to the woman who threw pennies into the plane’s engine for luck, it would be this: Keep the change. You’re better off flying on a wing and a prayer!

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Warning: What follows may not be acceptable to sensitive readers. But that’s life.

When you are the caretaker of more than one cat, you remain in a constant state of new motherhood — that is, you have to deal with certain “outputs” on a regular basis. To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of crap involved. And urine. And vomit. Today has been one of those days. Our three elderly felines have left behind them a rash of “land mines” that I am obliged to clean up. Honestly, they were less trouble when they were kittens.

But that’s the way life goes. Unless you are so wealthy as to be insulated entirely from humanity, you probably deal with chores that you don’t care much for. There is a beautiful little children’s book in which a school janitor explains to a child why she cleans toilets by hand: It is to force herself to become used to saying small “yeses” in preparation for the “big yes” that will come at the end of her life. I often think about this character as I scoop and sanitize. By forcing myself to deal with what my cats can’t control, I get experience in dealing with what I can’t control. And that’s humbling.

We’ve had a front row seat this week to the devastation of things we can’t control, like wildfires on the west coast and hurricanes down south. It’s brutal and ugly and heartbreaking. Thousands of people are being forced to say “yes” to things they aren’t ready for. Will it make them better people? Maybe not.

But it is a reminder that we are not the authors of our own lives. We don’t get to write our own endings. Every day we must deal with a certain level of…crap. Some days more than others.

How do we get through it? For me, it all comes down to a higher power. I can’t imagine how people face catastrophes without faith. I’m not sure I could get up in the morning without it. The “faith tape” in my head goes like this: You may not understand it, you may not be happy about it, you may be struck low, but there is always someone with you who longs to make it better. And that is enough to keep me going.

The best part of my faith life? Sharing it with others. Maybe you can’t quite get to the “yes” just yet. That’s okay. I can help. Lots of people can. We are, after all, God’s hands and feet on earth. You are allowed to let someone else help with your problems once in a while. You have only to ask.

Got too much crap in your life? Take a deep breath and remember Jesus’ “big yes” on our behalf. Or give me a call. I’ve got experience with crap.

Everybody’s trying to be heard. They’re making a point, even if nothing’s being said.

Like the way my cat stalks elegantly into the kitchen, gliding over to his bowl and waiting, back foot out, tail up, as if he’s still in motion. He’s conveying, I’m moving toward this bowl, and as you can see, for some inexplicable reason, it’s not filled to overflowing. It’s only half full. Is there… some…reason for this, hooman?

When I fold laundry, I have to remember that in KitKat’s language, a folded towel reminds him of his early days when he was still getting used to being in a house for the first time. I’d fold an old towel, put it onto the floor, then the couch, then the bed, so he’d realize he could sit anywhere he liked. He was welcome here.

So one time I was folding towels near where KitKat was resting on the bed. I put one down, ready to fold the next one. He immediately got up and came over to the towel, carefully putting one foot on it, looking at me as if to say, Is this okay? Cuz I’m going to sit on this towel you put here for me. Gingerly, the next foot went on, and he looked at me, then the next, until he was sitting in a circle, purring. So nice of you to fold this fresh, clean towel for me! It’s soft and comfy. Even warm! Guess I’ll take an eighteen-hour nap now!

He looked so comfortable there that I just patted his head and went on with the laundry. In his language, he’d heard me say, Sit here, beloved feline friend. It really was a nice gesture. I wish I’d thought of it!

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated when I pray and it seems no answer is forthcoming. But I look around and realize we’ve got a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a peaceful place to call home.

Just like a slow-blink from my KitKat. Seems to me that God sends his love without even saying a word.

On this humble blog, I talk about my health issues, since readers dealing with the same things may relate to my experiences. I’ve got MS,  so I move more slowly than most people. It also takes me longer to process information.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed while writing my post “Facebook Friends in High Places,” that our SueBE had logged in, drafted a post and put it up on the site while I was still finishing my draft! That lady sure gets stuff done.

Now, even after looking at my post for a while, I didn’t catch a glaring error until I was about to hit “publish.” I’d misspelled the name of the wonderful organization I wrote about.

The correct name is this: Skyline Urban Ministry.

What I’d written – twice, yet – was this: Skyland Urban Ministries.

So I got two of the three words wrong. Well, at least I got the word “Urban” right! Heck, I could’ve mis-named it as “Orbit” instead!

Skyland Orbit Ministries. Announcing our revolutionary new Outer Space Outreach! It gets cold on Saturn, even in August. Let’s send up some blankets and space heaters! Mission control? Let’s rocket those missionaries to Mars!

That’s one of the problems with having a condition that affects your mind. It takes longer for things to sink in. It takes longer to write a post. I can’t remember things sometimes, so I write myself lists. Of course, I can’t always remember where I put the list!

That same day, I wanted to find a prayer-poem for a friend, and remembered this one by our Lori. She can write such glorious poetry at the drop of the hat, while I’ll mull over the first line of a prayer I’m writing for days on end.

So even if I can’t accomplish a fraction of what SueBE and Lori can get done, we’re a team, so I’ll trudge along at my pace and ask God to take care of the rest. Mistakes may be made, but we’re all only human. When all is said and done, life really is a team effort.

Surely, I’m going to write about Charlottesville. How could I not write about Charlottesville? How could anyone remain silent as evil surges through the streets; as so-called “Christians” claim not to hate anyone, while in the next breath asserting that they would never break bread with a person of color; as a woman is killed by Nazis on American soil?

I need to take a breath. I feel sick.

I feel sick when I reckon that 34% of this country stands with a guy who sees no difference between White Supremacists and those brave enough to stand up to them. I feel sick when I think of the lie of history behind those “beautiful statues” (mostly dedicated in the early 1900s, when Jim Crow laws started being enacted, and the rest in the 1960s when the Civil Rights movement was burgeoning). I feel sick when I think of the hate burning in the hearts of all of those polo-shirted white guys marching with their tiki torches, as if they were waylaid en route to a suburban barbecue.

I am heart-sore. Weary. Nauseated. And yet, I know how privileged I am — what must our black friends, our Jewish friends, be thinking and feeling? It makes me want to swoon into despair.

SueBe and Ruth, my co-bloggers, have been my lights this week, reminding me not to give into the darkness. To keep my candle lit so that others can add their own little lights to it, so maybe we can make a path through the darkness and into a better place. What would I do — what would any of us do — without the support of those who “get it,” who feel as we feel and recognize that what’s on the line isn’t about politics; it’s about good versus evil?

So, for everyone out there too sick and sad and sore to grab onto the life preserver of hope, let me be an outstretched hand. Good people still exist. They’re out there. Maybe they need to make a little more noise, but they’re out there.

And I love you, and I stand with you, and I will hold out my candle defiantly, no matter what occurs. We will not let hatred win. Because no matter which biblical excerpts some people mutilate in order to justify their racism, there is one that trumps (ha!) them all: “7 My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.8 Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4: 7-8)

Let love mend us. Amen!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Despite my beloved mother’s best efforts (God rest) and the hours she put in playing Bach on the piano, I’m still nowhere near as cultured and refined as she was. She’d quote Chaucer for me, in middle English. She’d school me on the origin of words.

Still, I’m just an easily-distracted, uncultured, good-natured gal from New Jersey.

Doesn’t matter if I’m looking right at you as you tell me your long-winded spiel. In my mind, I’ve gone to Carolina.

Watching this video of Hilary Hahn, I was reminded of my mother playing Bach on the piano.

I’m amazed at how beautiful even one note can sound in the right hands. At the same time, I’m also utterly distracted by the fact that her producer looks like a combination of Fred Mertz (of I Love Lucy) and Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong).

Then I realized that her conductor looks like Art Garfunkel (of Simon and Garfunkel). 😎

So whilst (little faux fanciness for ya) I try to be good at culcha, alls I can really do is appreciate it in my own New Jersey way. I’ll never have tea with the queen, p’raps, but I like to spin a yarn and have a good laugh.

I noticed that when Hahn plays, her whole body moves in a particular choreography. It’s as if she knows that she can’t reach the notes with her hands unless her feet move in a certain way at the same time.

Her whole body is her instrument.

In the same way, your whole life is your testament.

Most of the people you meet would never stand still and let you convert them to your beliefs.

All of the people you meet are seeing, hearing and feeling your beliefs every time you speak.

With all that’s going on in the world, all I can do is offer you this cozy corner where you’ll always be welcomed like a friend and we can share our stories. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, kind people. You’re okay with me.

Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash

I’m ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe! Ready to sing; ready to raise a tune: “Wake up, soul! Wake up, harp! Wake up, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”

From Psalm 57:8, (The Message)

A few years ago, I was one of the administrators of the Facebook page for a prayer site SueBE, Lori and I wrote for at the time called Prayables. It was nice to connect with readers who enjoyed our prayers, and for a time, I found it a positive experience. But one day, some of our followers made awful comments about immigrants. One man thought it was terrible that “these types” were sneaking into “his country.” Where did such hatred come from? Is it so hard to get along with people just trying to make a better life for themselves?

I decided I didn’t need that negativity, so I left Facebook. But recently, I realized that some of my town’s important information is only disseminated on Facebook, so I got back on reluctantly, keeping all my settings on private.

Right away, I searched for prayers and was surprised to find my own prayers posted by a wonderful organization in Oklahoma that helps families in need called Skyline Urban Ministry. Oh! And there’s a prayer from Lori. And one from SueBE. Wow. It was nice to see this blast from the past.

The Bible passage above was posted by Skyline a couple of days ago. It was my birthday, and I needed that specific word from God on that particular day. My teen-age son has been battling extreme fatigue from a medical condition, so every morning, I struggle to wake up my “sleepyhead son.”

Ready to raise a tune? That’s right on target. Cole has a set-up in his room with a mixing board and headset, as well as a guitar and keyboard. He writes and records songs, and plans to have a career in music production.

It was as if a hand extended from Oklahoma to New Jersey, from kind people I’ve never met, but who somehow had a word of healing just for me. God always shows up right on time, but sometimes? He takes the scenic route.

Here’s a picture of the singer, Pink, cooking in her home, carrying her baby in a sling in front of her. When I saw it, I was concerned that the infant was too close to the frying pan and might get splattered with grease. I also noticed that the child in the back, climbing on the counter, looks distracted and may fall.

Now, is having this opinion actually another way of saying that I’m “Mommy-shaming” the singer? I don’t mean it to be. I suppose it’s all about intention and tact. She’s obviously doing her best to take care of her kids, as we all do. It’s hard to know how much you should say to or about another parent.

Once when my son was three years old, we stopped at a local donut shop. I kept him right in front of me, pressed against the counter so that no one would snatch him. A lady nearby was just paying for her coffee and said quietly into my ear, “They put the coffee right there on the counter near your child…just saying the coffee is really hot.” And she left.

Of course, I was offended and shrugged her off with the body language equivalent of “Well! I never!” But you know what? She was right. There was a definite danger that my son could be scalded by the cups of coffee that were being placed inches away from where I was vigilantly keeping him safe from child abductors. Sometimes we’re so hard-wired to watch for large, looming boogeymen that we don’t see the small vipers in the garden in front of us.

If conversation is constructive and considerate, there’s nothing wrong with respectfully disagreeing. Pink is doing fine. Her kids will be fine. Trolls will live under bridges, as well as in the shadows of cyberspace. Life will go on, not to worry. I look at it this way. It’s better to be kind than right. It’s better to be blessed than to be a budinsky. For our younger readers, a “budinsky” is just an old-school way of saying “troll.”

So indulge me in a bit of reverie. Picture me one thousand years in the future, after science has unlocked the key to longevity, so that everyone in the world now has long life, prosperity and an uncanny knack for sassy accessorizing. Acc-sass-orizing, if you will.

This would be after science discovers that people like me with eyes that may be considered green or blue (depending on the comfy sweater we’re wearing) can actually see into the future, so we’re given government jobs sitting at the computer all day, surfing, and predicting stuff (sometimes correctly, sometimes not so much – but, like meteorologists, we still get paid.)

This would be far, far in the future, when I’ve finally learned that just because my Cosmic Cat is sitting at the back door of my mansion on Mercury, facing me with those big moon-pie eyes as if he wants to come back inside, he’s just window-shopping. I’ll ask my inventors to build an auto-cat door that scans his hologram retinas so he can open the door his dang self.

Maybe then my son will read my blog posts! This humble blog has become a time capsule of sorts, a snapshot of my life through the years. What’s important to me at the time. What’s in the news. What I hope for my son as he wends his way down the road of life.

Every so often, I’ll tell him I mentioned him in a blog post. Read it, would you, so I can be sure I’m not saying anything a teen-ager wouldn’t want his mom to mention. Of course, I do realize… That covers just about everything!

So in a thousand years, I’ll ask my son, About reading that blog, honey… How ‘bout now?

Sure Mom, I’ll get around to it. Just about to catch the shuttle to Saturn!

Oh well. If you only read this, Cole, just remember. I love you like nobody’s business. Wherever I am – New Jersey or some nebula in the night-sky – I’ve got your back. And if you call from Jupiter again, don’t call collect. It’s long distance!

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