97 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

Face-to-face with our psychic integrity


I like the idea of Halloween serving a “more spiritually useful purpose” rather than being a confluence of gluttony and consumerism / New Jersey / Oct. 2009

“In my ideal version of Halloween, we wouldn't scare ourselves with images of ghoulish skeletons, eyeballs floating in cauldrons, and hissing, three-headed snakes. Rather, we'd confront more realistic fears, like the possibility that the effects we have on the world are different from our intentions . . . or that we have not yet reached our potential . . . or that people we like might completely misread and misunderstand us. Then Halloween would serve a more spiritually useful purpose. It would bring us face-to-face with actual dangers to our psychic integrity, whereupon we could summon our brilliant courage and exorcize the hell out of them. Costume suggestion: exorcist. (Begin by exorcising yourself.)”

~ Rob Brezney

Beautified by her presence


Mima on her porch covered with grapevines and overlooking the Adriatic Sea / She wrote: I recall all of you so many times and wish to see you all again along with the rest of the family. It is my duty to thank you all for those lovely memories with the pictures which remind me of you, so I can see you all and say to God, “Please let me see you all again.” / Sv. Vid, Croatia / May 2005

Over 100 years ago my great-grandmother Jelisava left her village in Croatia to join her husband in America. She never returned, but 95 years later her descendants traveled to her village and discovered her niece Katica (called “Mima,” for grandmother). Mima spoke no English but through the patient translations of her grandson Tonci we were able to learn more about Jelisava, her husband Anton, and their family and form a delightful bond with her. She knew the stories of things that had happened before she was born. She knew the Croatian songs that my mother had heard as a child. She made us Turkish coffee and gave us pure, cold water from the well in the back with the date '1863' carved into it. We had never known of her existence, but she had a photo in her house from the early 1950s of my mother and her siblings.

[A dear one, B, has called the story of how our families were reunited “a mythic tale if there ever was one”. Another dear one, K, describes “that day in Sveti Vid, when the sky literally opened up and God must have been blowing us all up the dirt road in Tonci's car, to the vine-covered patio, where a multi-generational bloodline met and the air became pregnant with memories and meaning. To me, that moment was both a treasured flashback of our ancestry and a testament to the imperishable love of family, even when the relationships are only through passed down stories and photographs.”]

We were beautified by her delight in finding us, by her love for us and her family, by her continued prayers for us. She died on Sept. 26th with her beloved grandson by her bedside. We shall miss her lovely presence.

“He 'adorned and beautified it by his presence,' the prayer book says — did it just by being there, presumably, just by being who he was, the way anybody we love very much and who loves us very much can more or less do it too.”

~ Frederic Buechner writiing about Jesus at the Marriage of Cana

Sitting vigil

SittingvigilAnita / Nov. 2008

We stroke your hair, hold your hand
Whisper in your ear in this room
Straight out of star trek, state of the art
Everything buzzes and whirs and blinks and beeps
Tubes and bags and flesh and technology inside
It's a room with a view outside
The soaring blue of the Ben Franklin bridge
An elegant church steeple, Camden's tall city hall
I think this would please you
We stroke your hair, hold your hand
Talk and tell stories and I think that I see you
Sit up, listening to us with a gentle smile
John the nurse brings a tray with
Coffee, tea, fancy Pepperidge Farm Cookies
Chocolate and butter comfort in fluted paper cups
This would please you, too
The chaplain says can I say a prayer for her? Of course
Yes, yes we're her sisters, thank you
A woman sweeps the floor, she sprays and mops
A lovely scent, apple she says, yes that's it
This would please you for sure
The first good day after the surgery
You couldn't wait to be down on your hands and
knees scrubbing your kitchen floor
We stroke your hair, hold your hand
Is she cold? She doesn't like to be cold
A respiration nurse cleans a tube
Just two days ago they brought you here
Huddled, weak and barely breathing
And yet you asked after us -- how you doing?
Now, pumped full of drugs, drugged with drugs
All we can do is stroke your hair, hold your hand
Whisper that we're here, we're here dear friend
Say I love you Say I love you Say goodbye

Patience is power


Spider web with its occupant; the web was built ingeniously, I don't run into it when I come out of the house since the right side is attached to the porch roof / New Jersey / August 2009

Patience is power;
with time and patience,
the mulberry leaf becomes silk.

~ Chinese proverb

Thunder through


Man in white / New Jersey / April 2009

I want the man in white and
his colorful compatriots to thunder through and
attack Anita's cancer so she can be rid of
feeding bags and nausea and anxiety and despair
so that my friend can be restored
strong and efficient, loving and lovely

Better, but still not good: 2/9ths


Golden Lady / Boston, MA / July 2007

"It is distinctively American to continually refine our Union, moving us closer to our ideals. Our Union is not yet perfected, but with this confirmation we will be making progress. Years from now, we will remember this time, when we crossed paths with the quintessentially American journey of Sonia Sotomayor, and when our nation took another step forward..."

~ Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) on the confirmation of another woman, Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court; only the third woman in the history of our country vs. 200+ years times 9 of old white men

Their vibrant presence

In solidarity with the Iranian women / Kostrena, Croatia / May 2005

“Of all the images I've seen emerging from Iran this week, those of fiery women beating policemen and leading protests have moved me the most. Throughout the past decade, Iran's extraordinarily sophisticated and well-educated women have sought for peaceful change through the existing system. Accounting for 60% of university students, Iranian women emerge from university armed with career expectations and modern attitudes toward their role in family and society. They have patiently petitioned the state to grant them more equitable rights before the law. But at each opportunity, they have been treated with contempt. Their vibrant presence in these protests is signalling to the government that they will not tolerate its discrimination and disdain any longer.”

~ Why Now by Azadeh Moaveni

Hard Luck Pound Cake

The Hard Luck Pound Cake / New Jersey / June 2009

Last week I went to see the doctor. On the way I heard the radio talking about how if Woody Guthrie were around he wouldn't be writing songs about “the economy” but rather how “times are hard” or these are “hard times.” My doctor asked about business and I said, oh, a bit slow — it's the economy I guess (in my head I thought “hard times”). He said that with the exception of one man (who sold some sort of internet-connection widget), all his patients talked about business being off, losing their jobs, losing their health insurance, etc. Driving home I got it in my head that I needed to make a pound cake (partially attributed, I am sure, to the weakness that comes after getting my blood drawn). I found a recipe for a swirled pound cake —the dark and light mixed together, kind of like life — and made a few “hard times” adjustments. The recipe called for 1 cup of butter; I substituted canola oil for half of the butter (butter is expensive and has more health-problem fat). The recipe called for 2 cups of white sugar; I substituted dark brown sugar for half of the sugar (dark brown sugar seems like the poorer relation to white sugar). The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract; all I had was a drop (I protest buying vanilla extract because it costs so much and I can never taste it in what I bake). The recipe called for a cup of milk and I had none; I substituted a cup of Paulo's Half-and-Half (it was in the refrigerator and is a little hidden richness to add comfort). The cake was wonderful — hard luck doesn't feel so bad with a good piece of cake. (Full recipe after the jump.)

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In today's sharp sparkle

... We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth ... / Obama Inauguration Speech, Washington, DC / January 20, 2009

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp —
praise song for walking forward in that light.

~ Inaugural poem “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander