Rest? Peace? Odd Words Paired With Death

By his choice and his hand, Clay Hunt died on March 31, 2011.

During tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Hunt watched his buddies die, mourned these closest of friends.

After being wounded, Clay Hunt returned to the United States  determined to serve fellow veterans through lobbying efforts and through participation in Ride 2 Recovery.   He  reached farther into healing activities by including  humanitarian efforts in Haiti and Chile.

John Wordin, the founder of Ride 2 Recovery recognized that Clay Hunt was despondent with survivor’s guilt.  Family members talked of Hunts’s depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  His life after combat continued to be haunted by his experiences.  Hunt’s marriage ended and he dropped out of school.   VA counseling followed.
Recovery looked genuine.  Hunt got a job, an apartment and was making a life with friends and new activities.  His life had a future including a Ride 2 Recovery event the first weekend in April.

By his choice and his hand, Clay Hunt died on March 31, 2011.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real.  It takes the lives of young people damaged by destructive pain that allows no rest, no peace.

I offer my sincere sympathy to Clay Hunt’s family, friends and fellow veterans.  May each of you find some measure of rest and peace as you struggle to accept the tragic ending of this young man’s life.


Throwing Stones

The question asked was:  “Did I want to throw stones or build bridges?”

A seemingly sincere and legitimate Catholic publication was soliciting subscriptions and donations using the glass house image.  If I admitted that my house is glass, which indeed it is, then I could be expected to protect my own sins,  heft the stones and build the bridges.  If memory serves, one of the target bridges was to sort the clergy abuse scandal and construct a pathway leading to reconciliation.

Hand me a stone and stand back.

My answer is that I will continue to throw stones until the walls come down.  In my small and insignificant way I will hammer at the cover-up, the obscenity of abuse by clergy, holy men consecrated to serving their God sexually abusing children.

Don’t ask, don’t even suggest that I build a bridge between bishops who covered-up by reassignment, between perpetrators who abused without consequence or conscience and young Catholics who will live damaged lives because stones were not thrown.

Rather than thinking bridge, come–stand beside whatever mountain of stones will be required.   The walls that protected must be destroyed.  Justice is demanded, else the whole church thing is a joke, a sad and sick joke using God to mask the evil.

Essential Beliefs

“Our names are labels plainly printed on the bottled essence of our behavior.”  Lynn Pearshall Smith

My radios are all set to 89.3, KCUR so the phrase ‘essential beliefs’ must have come from that NPR station, but I don’t remember the specific program or the context.  I do know that the phrase will not leave my thinking.

Lynn Pearshall Smith’s words are part of the standard signature on emails I receive periodically.  “Bottled essence’ is such a good use of language showing the idea that some essential beliefs are caught in our core, ‘bottled’ in our essence and motivating much of our behavior.   There are times when that essence behavior is spontaneous rather than studied.

I believe that many, if not most, of our values take root in emotion, that what we believe originally comes from what we experienced with deep emotion.   These deep roots are partially responsible for our difficulty in changing behaviors, in requiring baby steps to move away from core behaviors.

For much of our society, reason–the intellect–rules.  We raise our children in the realm of good grades, SAT scores, the best colleges, professionals–the rational and conscious.  We tend to trust what we label as reasoned and downplay what is emotional.  Of course all of these are important.  That is without question.

There is more to us, to humans that our rational selves.  And that ‘more’ is not the instant gratification touted in what passes for entertainment.  There is more than the isolation we have allowed into our lives, isolation of TV, movies, iPods, ear pieces, all that diminishes our interactions with one another.  And there is so much more than either being funny or being outrageous.

Rather than an open mind focused on learning what other real people have to offer, we take in what a small group of entertainment controllers feed us.  The constant diet of entertainment taints our ability to learn from personal interactions and thereby evaluate our bias.

As we move from baby to adult, we learn by observing patterns.  The complexity of life gets sorted as we interpret both the patterns and the reactions to our understanding of those patterns.  We create our essential beliefs.   Parked in front of TV is not parked in neutral.

Much is written about bullying behavior as if it were some new phenomenon.  It isn’t, but bullying is growing rampant.  The pattern we are nurturing is not one of sympathy or understanding.  Rather it is a pattern of Top Dog, Winner, Arm-Pumping Best, In Your Face, Look At Me.

As with many of my rants, I fail in conclusions.  I fail to find answers, to balance the emotional and the rational.  However, I believe we are more than we have allowed ourselves to become.

I believe that we are far out on the arch of the pendulum as we swing away from what we feel to be the harsh restrictions of our past.  I believe we have discarded more of our essence than we have captured in the replacements.  I believe that we have allowed the need for dollars and successes to blot the moments of  deep emotions that transcend—-that allow us to experience the joining of the emotional and the rational—-to be more fully human.


An unintentional hiatus but a hiatus just the same…

You are an amazing group, Gentle Readers.  Some of you, noticing the dearth of blogs, have contacted me asking the why of the dry spell.  I appreciate you more than I have words to express that appreciation.

My calendar has little respect for anything but the passage of time so that cluttered life-map cannot be excuse or  reason.

Some rearranging of family schedules has encroached on my version of disciplined writing, but adjustment should never be that difficult.  Union Station on the occasional Thursday rather than the standard Friday visit is simply a tweak that will eventually be realigned.  (Hi, De.)

Taking on a few extra commitments isn’t overwhelming, though some have been more time-consuming than expected.  In addition, I have spent hours writing two short stories depicting life changing events.  The stories processed important pieces of my history and I value the time and thought spent writing them.

Stutter steps while learning to handle the chores of this place should be just that–stutter steps–and nothing more.  Still, I continue to stutter.

The litany could get longer, but the point isn’t that chiseled and truly doesn’t matter.  My mind has gone underground, sort of like the moles building a city under the top soil of my yard.  Some of me has disappeared.

Hiatus is a brief stoppage, a thing to end on schedule.  I will find what is missing and look forward to tomorrow.

With Permission, A Retelling:Threads of Love

  • The group’s original mission was to make baby gowns, caps and blankets for burial.

    Now it also provides families with cloth “memory envelopes” in cotton or satin, a place to slip mementos of a brief life: a lock of hair, a specially worded sympathy card, a photograph.

    The group also makes items for babies in the hospital. Among them:

    Small bean-bag pillows, covered in soft fleece, that nurses use to position sick or premature babies safely in their bassinets

    • Cloth dolls for babies in ICU that carry the scent of their parents

    • “Sleepy vests” for preemies, made with Velcro fasteners so they’re easy to slip on and off.

Between them, Sally Gripkey and Rose Anne Livingston — grandmothers and longtime friends — launched an organization that has helped hundreds of Midlands families cope with miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a newborn.

The women in their group, Threads of Love, make delicate white gowns, caps and blankets used as burial shrouds.

“Nobody goes to the hospital expecting to go home without a baby,” Livingston said, “so most people aren’t prepared for burials.”

The clothing has taken the place of blue, plastic bed pads that, before, wrapped the remains given to grieving mothers.

“They are babies. They aren’t just things, you know?” said Gripkey, 73, a retired respiratory therapist who knows her way around hospitals. The volunteers rarely meet the people who receive their handmade gifts. Still, they can comprehend the cruel pain.

“We can’t keep up,” said Livingston, 75, a retired real estate broker who became an adept volunteer as an Army wife, moving from post to post. Gripkey first read about Threads of Love, which began in Louisiana, in a sewing magazine. For a couple of years, she made gowns on her own.

Early on, Threads of Love got a $350 donation from the church. Since then, it has been self-sustaining, with occasional donations from families touched by their kindness. “We’ve never had to have a fundraiser,” Livingston said.

She buys fabric on sale. A group from Myrtle Beach donates lace. Invariably, the seamstresses spend their own money on supplies, making what Livingston estimated is 2,500 baby items a year.

The largest burial gown they make is 24 inches long. The smallest is 5 inches; it can lie flat in a sandwich bag.

Posted, The State South Carolina’s Homepage, Mar. 15, 2011   by Dawn Hinshaw;  photos KimKim Foster-Tobin.

If you, Gentle Reader, would like to read the entire article or if you wish to  contribute, you will find the information at:

Serendipity Lives

Just as I hit the publish prompt for this morning’s blog, an email from my friend, Pat C. hit the in-box.  Pat’s message was quickly followed by duplicates from others supporting the main points in the original.  Pat C.’s email is the perfect addition to my Dull, Duller, Dullest blog referencing changes that Congress needs prior to asking the public to feel any deep pinch.  The forward spells out some very specific changes, concepts that would go a long way towards making believers out of many of us.
Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.  Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.   If not, just delete
You are one of my 20+.  Please keep it going.
This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat …. it has everything to do with your kids and mine!

Dull, Duller, Dullest

NPR reports that a scientist ran the numbers, discovering that April 11 was the dullest day of the century. Waiting, I hoped the tag line would not be that a government grant funded that scientific bit of whatever.  However, the report was quickly interrupted by spring pledge break and a non-commercial advertising a law firm doing intellectual property work.  Surely, there is irony here.

Do we keep the tradition alive, subduing any urge to pursue interesting and even relevant thoughts on this April 11, 2011?  In another 100 years, will this day be a follower or perhaps find a way to lead?  Or, in another 100 years, will anyone even care?

Let’s care.

Let’s insist that government leaders find a way to address the budget crises while refraining from over reliance on hot-button emotional stuff.   Priorities require measures that affect everyone.   Some interviewer of soft voice and concerned cadence questioning a Senator about his stand on the funding of international aid programs should find a another line of work.  Unbiased news slips farther and farther from reality, but spinning with an eye to discrediting honest attempts to sort priorities in dishonest and counter productive.

If entitlement programs need cuts in order to sustain the economy we are again faced with the truth that everyone will feel the sting.  However,  those makers of our laws, Congress, would do well to start in their House, to cut their entitlements first.  Again, surely there is irony here.