Monday, January 3, 2011

Life Force (09/22/1997)

The slender young Vietnamese girl stood with her arms around the neck of the tall, blond American GI. The traditional pants and tunic of the girl's cultural attire coupled with the boy's Army fatigues only accented their youthful bodies. Yet they weren't dressed provocatively. The play was "Miss Saigon" and we knew it would not have a happy ending.

Scene upon scene produced the intended result as the audience was drawn into the emotions of the drama unfolding on stage. The characters acting out their tragic story took us with them as we too were caught up in the emotions being portrayed before us.

As I watched the young lovers move and sing and talk to each other, a cry of terrible anguish deep inside my gut began its silent journey through my psyche. Simultaneously, my heart sang with joy watching the awesome beauty of youthful love being expressed before me. The pervasive passion that erupts when young body embraces young body.

The pain in my gut was visceral and intense knowing I am past that time in life. No longer young. No longer slender. Most of the time that is okay and I am content.

Tonight I am not.

Love between the sexes is not limited to the young, of course. But it is, I think, in spite of the realities of time. Not the result of.

I was young and slender and pretty. . . just yesterday I think it was. The men of my youth were young and strong and expressed their love to me in much the same way as the young man on stage was doing tonight.

How did it go by so fast? Did I not see how beautiful it was until now?
* * * * *
I leave the theater with a heightened sense of what it means to be a woman who has loved this way. Filled once more with the sense of mystery of what it is that makes a man a man. They fight our wars and subdue our bodies. We are both repelled and enticed by the strength and courage and emotion that produces these acts.

Sitting here at my computer attempting to put my feelings into words, I am grateful to the gods for this glorious gift bestowed upon humanity, this life force attraction between the sexes. Seeing it characterized in plays and stories and in the lives of young people around me stir my own memories and renews in me a sense of awe for the beauty that is mankind.

Something Is Wrong with this Story (08/03/2002)

Journal Entry, 08/03/2002

Rented and watched the movie "John Q" last night. Almost turned it off. It is hard for me to watch movies about sickness and hospitals.

Occasionally the dialogue of the characters sounded not real, thinly veiled propaganda to support a political point of view. Although I happen to agree with the point of view. The liberals got it right. Again.

The climax blew me away, however. Reduced me to a mass of sobs and near hysteria as John Q lay on the table putting the gun to his head. I knew his wife rushing to give him the good news about the donor heart would be too late. I’m glad I was wrong.

I put the VCR on rewind and got into my "sleep" mode but the emotion and thoughts of John Q’s intended actions stayed with me. I tossed and turned and talked to God asking Him to help me understand until I finally fell asleep.

Most disturbing for me personally was the thought process that kept reminding me of a biblical story that has always troubled me.

John Q, after all, is just a story from someone’s imagination who had the wherewithal to make a movie expressing a political point of view. Certainly, aspects of John Q’s experience are valid. Certainly, our health care system needs fixing.

The story of Abraham and Isaac, however, for those of us who were raised to believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, is ultimately more troubling.

John Q. Abraham and Isaac.

Liberal Christians such as myself do not necessarily hold to the "inerrant" truth of every word in the Bible. It has been translated too many times by too many fallible humans. Even so, we embrace it as containing stories and examples of principles/values to live by. (Maybe we should have followed the example of the Muslims. They have never translated their "word of God" from its original language.)

John Q., a movie. Abraham and Isaac, a story. John Q would lay down his life to save his son. Abraham would kill his son to please God.

Something is wrong with this story.
Update -- Since writing this, I have learned the Qur'an HAS been translated into English.  My grand-daughter, whose father is from Jordan, has a copy.   

It Was Just a Phone Call . . .(09/19/2010)

Journal Entry--9/19/2010

Okay, so now I am blubbering again. I would like to call Lisa or CJ and share this with them but I don’t want to cry on the phone.

I just called John to see if he still wanted to get together and work on transferring some of these old 8mm films of my dad’s to video. Then we can isolate a specific frame and make a single still picture of whatever it is that we want. There are several I hope to do this with.  For my book.

So when I called he said he was waiting on some guy to come over (I forget the details) and then he was heading my way. So that saves me packing up the projector and film stuff and carting it over to his house in Franklin. No big deal but still nice not to have to lug the stuff around.

Then he said, "And I’m bringing New England Boiled Dinner."

WOW! I told him I had some food here we could eat (I baked some pork chops, green beans, and sliced potatoes last night and have plenty left.) But he said, "whatever you have can’t beat New England Boiled Dinner."

"Well, you’re right about that."

So he said he would be heading my way shortly and we hung up.

And that’s when I started to bawl.

Just like last night when Tom called. It was around 8:30 p.m. or so and he was driving back from Columbia and said he was just calling to check on me. He does that about once a week.

So we talked a few minutes. I mentioned that I meant to call him to let him know that I mowed the lawn this past week and the uneven ridges were mostly gone. That’s because he came by a few days before that and worked on the mower again to level out the blades so they would cut evenly.

He was glad to hear that. And then he said, "you know, it’s just amazing to me what a strong little woman you are. To think that you can ride that mower and that you LIKE to ride that mower and take care of things the way you do, that’s really something. I don’t think there’s too many women your age that would do – or want to do – something like that. I’m impressed."

"WOW!", I replied. "You just made my day. What a lovely thing to say."

His comments really took me by surprise – I usually think my kids, my sons, especially, just think I’m that Wacky Old Liberal Woman who really doesn’t understand the way the world works.

Then I said something stupid. "Who have you been talking to?"

"Nobody, I just wanted to call and see how you were doing. And tell you that."

Well, we talked a few more minutes and hung up.

And then I started crying again.

I thought about calling him back. I haven’t talked to anyone and didn’t want him thinking so.

Unless you count God. I talk to Him all the time about whatever. It’s just what I do. And sometimes I turn to Him for comfort because I feel sad about things. Things like the fact that my impression is that my sons don’t really understand me. Or if they do, they think I’m naive or silly or ignorant of how the world is, or kind of just a pain sometimes with my crazy ideas.

Like their dad, they tease me a lot. Like their dad, they seldom say things that are complimentary or express appreciation or just say, "I Love you, Mom.." If Jerry could have balanced out the sarcasm with compliments, I could have handled his sarcastic humor better.

In the case of their dad, the toll it took was severe and finally unfixable, and we parted ways. I wasn’t tough enough, I guess, to look past the sarcastic jokes and criticism to see a basically good man standing behind them. If I could have been stronger, wiser . . . if, if, if . . . who knows.

But sons are not husbands. And there is nothing, ever, that will separate me emotionally from my children. They are not their father. They are like him in some ways. Some of those ways are good, some not so good. But the bond between mother and child is stronger than between husband and wife and I thank God daily for the good men my sons have grown to be.

Like my grandmother before me, who I am so much like, I’ve picked a hard row to hoe. I chose it. Financially, it has been so difficult, for so long. And yet I am blessed to have what I have, be healthy enough to generally do what I want and need to do. Lots of times I find myself saying, "Okay, God, you and me. We can do this." And we do.

Sometimes it gets wearisome, though. Sometimes . . .

It was just a phone call . . . but it made my day.
* * * * *
A few minutes after talking with John about the dinner, he called back and said, "Let's meet at Tom's.  I have a really big pot of this stuff and they haven't cooked dinner yet so let's all go out there."

I thought this a little strange but said, "Sounds like a plan to me."   So I grabbed the puppy (Rocky) and off we went to Mt. Pleasant for what appeared to be a "spur of the moment" fun family get-together.

When I got to Tom's I came in thru the kitchen like always.  Jo (Tom's wife) was there but I didn't see Tom.  A few minutes later, in comes John with his big pot of New England Boiled Dinner.  Then Sam (Sammy Jo) and Tommy (Tom's children) came into the kitchen.  But no Tom.

After John deposited the pot on the stove and we all hugged as we usually do, Tom slowly sauntered into the kitchen.  Although it was quite warm, he had on flannel PJ bottoms, a tank top, and a fleece jacket on over the sleeveless t-shirt.  He took my hands as I started to hug him like I always do,, and held them out between us, preventing the usual hug. 

"There's something I need to tell you, Mom." 


"When I called you last night, I was at the hospital. A friend drove me there because I had a slight accident with my bike."

I had stopped breathing for a second but he was standing there, intact, talking calmly about what had happened so I got over the initial shock of what he was saying pretty quick.

He finished explaining what had happened (the Miracle I discussed in another post) which included the explanation of why John had called me back to say "let's go to Tom's."  They figured the best way for me to find out what happened would be if I could see that Tom was pretty much okay.

* * * * *
Did I mention how thoughtful and protective and good my sons are?????


Pledging and Praying (6/30/2002)

Subj:     The Pledge
Date:     6/30/2002 1:11:40 AM Central Daylight Time
From:    LibralLady

I was flipping channels Thursday evening and just happened to catch the e-mail comments you were posting from your listeners.  I was appalled at their comments and ran to my computer to express my concern.  This is what came out.
* * * * *

The Pledge is the Pledge.  A prayer is a prayer.

The beauty of the Pledge is that it is an affirmation of loyalty, devotion, and love of country.  An affirmation to uphold the principles of freedom upon which our Republic was founded.  A commitment to unity and justice and liberty.  For all.

No matter if I am male or female, white or black, some other color, or a combination in-between, whether I have a college degree or sling hamburgers at MacDonald’s, whether I believe in God, or Zeus, or some special amulet I found at the grave of my ancestor, or maybe I just believe in me, whether I am tall or short, whether I work or not, whether I have family or not.

Regardless, I can proudly stand with other loyal Americans and pledge fealty to my country.  It fills me with joy and appreciation and thankfulness that I live in a country that has been a melting pot of people from all places and times and was founded on the belief that coming here would be a good and safe place to be.

The beauty of the Pledge is that it embraces a philosophy that embodies and protects so many freedoms.  Freedom For and Of and From.

The beauty of one such freedom is choice.

The beauty of choice is that I can choose to pray or not to pray and still be a loyal, productive citizen of this country.

The beauty of prayer is that it gives me an opportunity to talk with my Creator.  To thank Him or ask for His help and guidance, His protection and care.  Something I do frequently every day.

Pledging allegiance to my country is a privilege and honor in which I have participated all my life.  So is praying.

The Pledge shows allegiance to country.  Prayer shows allegiance to God.  They are not the same.  There is no need for them to be. One does not exclude the other.

I learned to say the Pledge long before it was revised to include “under God”.  Not saying “under God” didn’t mean we were against God then and it doesn’t mean we’re against Him now.

If you prefer the original, say it.  If you prefer the revision, say it.  But don’t accuse folks of being anti-God if they prefer the original.  How misguided and insulting.

Do you think about the words when you say them?  We are one nation.  We are indivisible.  We offer liberty and justice to all.

And we have serious real issues and problems to solve.  United we are strong.  We need to expend this mighty energy to solve real problems.  Divided, the enemy wins.

Was our show of unity after 9/11 so short-lived?  Was it merely superficial emotion?  Genuine patriotism is not just waving flags, singing patriotic songs, and staging emotional songfests and gatherings.  True patriotism is practicing the principles this country stands for.  Demonstrating tolerance and respect and consideration and compromising when points of view conflict. 

As upholders of the Pledge, patriotic citizens who love and defend this country, we should be asking ourselves, who is responsible for these diversionary tactics which sidetrack us from the real issues facing this country and the world. 

These are the folks whose patriotism should be questioned.
* * * * * 

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims
may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
--- C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
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Published in The Tennessean, The Nashville Eye, 7/2002