Writing in the blogosphere

This has been a really weird and hard year. All of us who have spent so many decades trying to become competent and capable of being very productive, were shut into isolation by the pandemic, in order to try to stay alive. Some of my tools of “what I did” to manage to stay alive were walking on the beach every morning as early as I could manage to get up, and participating in a group of Lectio Divina prayer from our local church. About 12 of us read the day’s Psalm, Epistle and Gospel, from the Catholic lectionary; and we take a word or phrase from the Gospel, as we read it 3 times, trying to listen deeply and find the meaning more fully. Belonging to this community has been a big help with living through the Plague.

I got this blog set up, so that I could start to write more, write poems, share them, write reflections and share them. I really loved my blog at Blogspot, because it was easy to log into, and type something, and post it. Then they said they were stopping it, and we had to move. This site has me bewildered, and it does not seem easy to post photos or even give me the tools to make the font smaller or larger. I liked my peach-colored page at Blogspot. I am glad they have not erased it. I did bring some of the posts to this one, but copying and pasting is not fun or easy, and I left off after a short while.

It feels like the culture is erasing everything, in this way– they have taken away our audio cassettes, and our video cameras, and replaced them with newer technology. My CDs are not playable in my computer any more. My songs are stuck in a complicated technological limbo on Garage band, where I can’t untangle them. Luckily I have been able to find most of the poems I have written, by persisting in my attempts to get to them in the computer file. I almost lost them when the last computer crashed. I pay Apple to keep my photos cache, but they messed up my filing system, overriding it and making it much harder for me to efficiently get to groups of photos. It is better since I have started trying to label each photo, but that is tedious. So my experience is that I feel like the tide has come in very high and erased all I have built. People don’t go to Kindle to buy the books. Almost no one calls me. I get more ads than real email, and REAL mail is a thing of the past. I have decided that next Christmas I am going to send out Christmas cards, with a religious image. This year I was pretty upset to get pictures of dogs, cats, trees and jokes, but almost no Christmas cards about Christmas. So of course, it feels like we are in a post-Christian culture in so many ways, but the season and the rhythms of the liturgical year still are my deepest rhythms.

My friend Sue B. has been meditating for many years, and this year she became a meditation teacher. So she has been giving a meditation class to some friends, on Wednesday afternoon. Learning to go deeper into this wordless prayer-space has been so helpful, perhaps the MOST helpful thing, in the increased anxiety of the pandemic year. It is certainly hard to feel that anything I say deserves to compete with all the voices competing so loudly and demanding attention. I am really glad that my poem “To my Son” got published by Evening Street Review, and the book just came, and it is a very nice, bright and shiny new book. I didn’t even send out any poems this year, it was so overwhelming. I barely could write.

And now, we have just suffered this attack on the Capitol, by people who thought that the president needed them to swamp the Congress and let him declare himself some kind of solo emperor. It is a miracle that only 5 people died. It is a miracle that the Senators and Congresspeople got out of the chambers with a minute to spare, and were not murdered by this mob. I pray for the country, for the damage-control and the consequences that need to happen to keep this from happening again. And I see what conspiracy theory and “fake news” and chronic lies have done to undermine our sense of being a nation of people who want to solve problems, help each other to be successful, and believe in laws and equality before the law. I have watched good people who manage businesses shake their heads as they watched the monkey business going on in the Administration, but now we face insurrection; we have to say that we are now not going to look the other way, we are going to stop the train and lay down new tracks, to get our country back on the path of democracy, “to form a more perfect union” and live up to “the common good.” The values of respect, non-violence and willingness to listen generously are going to be severely tested as we see and hear out-of-control anger and vindictive rage. This is partly why writing a blog has been so difficult– the feeling of writing into the whirlwind of everyone screaming at the top of their lungs and no one willing to listen.

I am praying for the nation to get safely to the inauguration and to begin the kinds of legislative actions and administrative actions which will bring stability and healing to our people. I want to see a future for everyone, for humanity. I sure hope we can get there!

Water

So last night I watched the movie “The Social Dilemma” and came to the conclusion which I reached 50 years ago, that we have to “solve one damn problem after another” trying to make the world a better place, rather than trying to make money. If you were wondering about how you can make a difference, in trying to stop Nestle and other big companies from privatizing the water supply of the whole world, leaving millions of people to die of thirst, here is an answer: Charity: Water.

Every penny goes to helping bring clean drinking water to small villages all over the world. They have a separate business for generating the plans, engineering, and support system, so that every donated penny goes to getting the water to the people. You can give $5 a month, or more. It is easy to do. I watched their ad, the night I was watching Midnight mass from the Vatican, and they are a total inspiration. I wrote a poem about it.

“WATER FROM THE SPOUT”

WATER FROM THE SPOUT

Little faces lit with joy, 

as they put their whole heads

under the spigot,

and their hands, eagerly

cupped to catch the clean sparkling water

as it pours generously,  dancingly,

a ribbon of miracles,

continuously from the pipe.


Water

(the Health Inspector says:)

So the baby will not get dysentery,

so the mother can wash the clothes,

so the children can go to school,

and not be thirsty,

Or nauseated, or anemic,

because of amoebas and worms, 

because of this new spigot, 

because of the gift of the well, 

drilled by someone who wanted to 

be of service,

to make a real difference:

A miracle in the desert

Water

They have seen only mud holes, wet by

opaque brown water, glaucous as a cataract,

full of bugs,

where animals have washed, and drunk

after walking through the dust, toward

the pond which seemed a mirage,

there are footprints all around the slimy rim.

Dancing down the road, 

these strong children carried on their heads

big oil drums and plastic containers

full of  contaminated water, 

for miles, their feet dusty and hardened

by walking on the earth with bare feet,  

singing and flashing their smiles, 

on the daily walk from the mud puddles

back to their homes.

Water

They laugh, they sing,

Watching the clear, clean water splashing 

From the pipe.

The well is in the middle of the village,

women come with their baskets

full of clean washed clothes, 

children play in the open air 

their voices full of excitement and joy,

their hands clapping and touching,

clean hands and clean faces,

bright smiles of happiness

WATER

Will We Be Dreamers Or Searchers In 2021? – A Sermon On Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

How are we compelled to act in a new way, with urgency? Joseph acts on the dream he is given, to go to Egypt with Mary and the Child. He doesn’t argue, he gets up and goes.

Interrupting the Silence

The Second Sunday After Christmas – Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 – The Flight to Egypt

We’re three days into the new year, a time of change and transition often marked by the calendar more than the circumstances of our lives or world. Regardless, the 2020 year end reviews are well underway with commentaries, assessments, and judgments. For some, maybe most, “Goodbye 2020,” could just as well be “Good riddance, 2020.” And “Hello, 2021,” could just as well be “You couldn’t get here soon enough, 2021.” We’ve quickly greeted the new year with predictions, wishes, and prayers.

I read it in the news, op eds, and on social media. I hear it in the conversations I have with others and in the silence of my own heart. Will 2021 be different from and better than 2020? I suspect all of us, at some level, are asking and living with that question. 

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