Hard Rain

Every year a blessing falls, the nutritious fruit of the walnut trees, a free gift of nature. Besides the crop, the trees grow bigger each year becoming prime for wood harvest. Outstretched arms cannot circle the Halloween Tree and that girth tells the tale, example for all the other lesser walnut trees. Past years have produced enough to fill twenty plus fifty pound animal feed sacks. Some years we simply add to the quality of squirrel life creating mini-mountains of plenty.

Remember the concept ‘bumper crop’? Bumper to bumper is the new bar, helmet required.

With the appointment for an agent and clients to view the house confirmed, my shed painting schedule ended. First the drive-way and a heavy-duty broom to find the asphalt under the sea of green. (Walnuts fall with a green outer husk.) Dodge ball, the constant fall aided by the wind, the clear drive never happened. Fine. Call it good for now and move to the yard. Prospective buyers need to see actual grass under the pea green obstacle course.

Start the mower, hitch the trailer and think ‘3 hours to rake and load’. By now, I am lamenting another of my hasty decisions to sell our bikes. Hanging on each handle bar was a helmet and I needed a helmet now. Hard rain hurts.

Hey, maybe a quick pass with the lowered blade engaged would slice a few to minutia, saving some rake strokes. Unhitch the trailer and give it a go.

Wow. Loud and probably denting the blades. Then, of course, I heard Bob’s voice reminding that walnut oil and grass don’t work together. OK. Fine. Stop. Rake. Now you, Gentle Reader, can remember “The hurrier I go the behinder I get.”

Clock ticking. Wind picking up. New objective. Never mind picking up, just get into piles clearing pathways through the beauty of this place. Mower and trailer back in the shed. Paint tools stowed. Rake with all the gusto that these old arms can muster.

Then came the crunch at the end of the long drive-way, a two car crunch. Quickly, move to the barn so the prospective buyers can have time and privacy to admire the home, the partially cleared harvest, the beauty that could be theirs. Right.

Fifteen minutes inside the house and gone. No walk. No nodding heads struck by the beauty. No admiration of the spotless decks recently cleaned and dressed. No head shake of wonder at the number of outbuildings, some just spiffed with new paint.

Oh well. By Saturday the gift of hard rain should be finished. By Sunday, the harvest up and gone. By Monday? I’m thinking early October blizzard.

Advertisements

On The Father, Joseph Matt (CCR)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 The Kansas City Star, page 1
Headline: Lawsuit alleges priest’s paternity

Granted abusing children is infinitely more debased than having sex with a consenting adult. Granted the consenting adult was vulnerable in the therapy session, transference known to every 101 Psychology student. Granted the woman/mother gave birth to the priest’s child, hiding paternity for many years. Granted the priest may not have presented himself as a trained therapist but simply offered his position as priest and friend. Granted the sexual relationship continued over a period of time, consensual sex.

Many years ago, my grandfather scorned the church because the local priest ‘had a woman’. To my grandfather the “sanctimonious position of the church regarding women and sex was disgusting, especially in light of what Pop believed to be common practice–a priest ‘having a woman’. Pop was born in Missouri in the late 1800s.

John Doe reports (page 9, Kansas City Star, September 27, 2011) that “My lawyer asked Bishop Finn what they were going to do about Joe Matt…And his answer was, well, Joe Matt’s done all these great things, he’s been a good guy, he takes care of his brother. All he did was compliment how good a guy Matt was.” Joe Matt returned to parish work after acknowledging paternity.

Many of my blogs reference the Catholic Church stated position: One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic…the one true church built on the rock called Peter and based on the Jesus philosophy. Many of my blogs reference my Catholic baptism and my years of sincere and loyal participation. Many of my blogs reference the beauty of hundreds of wonderful people true to the liturgy, tradition and dogma of the church.

I have written on sexual abuse of children by ordained priests, men of position and power entrusted with the welfare of those children. I acknowledge that many other organizations have dealt with abuse issues.

I have challenged the Catholic Church position that women are lesser than–unworthy to function in the roles assigned to men.
I have challenged the Catholic Church position on gay marriage, on homosexual persons created in that ‘image and likeness of God’ part of the creation story. I have supported the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. I have supported gay marriage and the rights of gay couples to parent children.

A whitened sepulcher is the image that refuses to leave. A magnificent edifice created on the beautiful teachings of a man named Jesus. This man named Jesus taught social justice, integrity, truth, adherence to stated principles. The building is a singular masterpiece until the doors open and the extent of corruption spills out.

Remember the parable of the widow’s mite, the pittance given (and praised). In her great need, the widow gave her money to the propagation of the so-called faith and her story became a part of the yearly calendar of readings. That widow’s mite helps to support a splendid city of pomp and wealth. Maybe Jesus would be shaking the dirt from his rope sandals.

Donnelly College Scholarship Dinner

Last week Donnelly College hosted the annual Scholarship Dinner. My volunteer duties included time at the reception table and a stint outside welcoming attendees. Actually, the time outside The Jack Reardon Center was disguised as a welcoming gesture while the main purpose was to guard the four reserved parking spots insuring that only certain folks used those spaces. Jazmin, a Block Scholar, and I were asked to identify (how?) those allowed in the front and center slots and to move others quickly on and out. A stretch limo was the no-brainer, but the other choices had embarrassing moments.

Jazmin shivered in the steady breeze, her bare arms shaking as the time dragged and the fourth VIP failed to show. She continued to smile as we welcomed each person in the wonderfully diverse crowd.

We talked of our history in Kansas City, Kansas, the changes along Minnesota Avenue, the scheduled EPA exodus to Johnson County. We talked of the immense value of Donnelly College as a beacon of not only education but a beacon of ethnic diversity and understanding. We talked about the life changing Block Scholar Program. Jazmin had her goal, Civil Engineer, that would be reached because the Block Family understands the value of protecting and nurturing young people determined to pursue a degree.

A small car whipped around the barricades taking one of the reserved spaces. That noisy engine could not belong to the tardy VIP, right?
As I prepared to give my “Sorry” speech, an order priest dressed in the long brown robe, rope belt and sandals jumped from the car, head down, and hurried towards the Center.

Not five minutes prior, The Archbishop of the diocese entered a bit breathless from his long walk. How could I ignore the blatant move by the little car, give priority to Father X when the Archbishop did not command a reserved spot? How could I do that?

In the name of equality, diversity, parity and multiplicity I did that. We were freezing and there was plenty of space if the late arriving VIP happened to show. Besides, Jazmin and I were hungry.

There is so much that could be written about the evening, about the program, about Mr. Block’s caring speech, about tremendous spirit of giving evident during the pledge drive, about the filmed interviews with Block Scholars, their lives opened to the audience, about the attentive and efficient wait staff, and about the hard work that preceded the event.

Rather than those important aspects, I believe that a glass raised to Steven and to Matthew—to their lives, their determination, their openness—is a glass raised to the purpose and order of that evening.

These young men represent the Mission of Donnelly and of the Block Scholar program. Steven and Matthew stand with pride, owning life mistakes and growing successes. They own it all. It is a privilege to know them.

The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A rerun of a previous blog, written prior to the legal end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The United States Military is the most powerful in the world, operated and led by people of experience, intelligence and savvy. Many, maybe the largest percentage, never see front line combat assignments in modern warfare. Retirement steadily removes the oldest members of the highest officers ranks, moving younger people up the career ladder.

Prejudices of my generation, and generations who came before, diminish as younger people see with different understanding. Clearly, there are military people who, with their understanding and conscience, continue to distrust the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perhaps those well-meaning men and women should trust the power of their organization to handle the death of the DADT dinosaur. Time and honesty will show that good and dedicated men and women have served with courage and respect while being caged in that dark ‘closet’.

The editorial page of the daily paper could consider moving Doonesbury from the comic section giving the military strips full editorial presence when Trudeau writes about DADT.

Admittedly, many church groups supported DADT and cannot let go of their stand on Gay and Lesbian people, the stand that uses God as condemnation, focusing on a few lines in The Book rather than focusing on the Jesus nature of love. Weren’t we taught that The Jesus of The New Testament overshadowed the ‘smite’ part of the Old Testament?

Not being a Biblical scholar, I cannot quote passages to back up a God that is all about acceptance, forgiveness, love, creation mirroring God’s image. Admittedly, I have problems understanding churches that condemn the private nature of homosexual couples while protecting pedophiles and abusers with cover-ups, money, promotions and denial. Whited sepulcher comes to mind— and a subject for another day.

I Believe

Alan Stark wrote I Believe.

On page 128, Stark wrote:
“I believe the definition of a friend is someone you call when you have really great news or really sad news.”

On page 111, Stark wrote: “I believe couples should hold hands at least three minutes every day.”

On page 156, Stark wrote: “I believe that memories are treasures worth more than gold.”

Three is that good number, the one that can mesh the unrelated and find a new truth. So I have an addendum to Alan’s beliefs, my big three for today.

I check myself off the definition of a friend. Today has been one of the saddest days of the last 11 months. There is no one I will phone to share the sadness. There is no one with whom I have that kind of comfort. There is no one to whom I could even begin that conversation, share that deep and penetrating loss.

Holding hands is vital, an intimacy to be cherished. Going out alone today, I did a virtual hand holding via four area wide garage sale events. Bob loved them. We trudged up the driveways as he searched for his bargain of the day and until he was too worn to continue. I bought three things just so the experience would be true, a book, a light switch, a leather purse. Three dollars ventured and a memory gained.

That brings me to those memories worth more than gold. My brain is odd. My memories are rarely specific in detail but definitely specific in feelings. Bob and I had two love stories, one in youth and the second in middle age and onto his last years. Between those chapters, I had another love story with a good man, the father of my children.

Today is not really an empty day. It is a day of far too many memories, far too much emotion, far too heavy with a sadness I cannot shake. I feel ashamed, weak, to be as I am today. Wonder why the amazing goodness that is so much a part of my life cannot handle the overflow of memories?

I believe that time as healer is a ruse. What really happens is that we get really good at covering over, pretending and doing make-believe. Today is my birthday and I want what I cannot have. I miss him.

The Cough Drop

Finding this new blog rhythm has been difficult. It wasn’t always so. Months to years I wrote most days, often trivial, sometimes touching a heart. Early morning hours prior to this “After Bob” passage were good for finding voice. Much of the voice died with him.

Don’t.
Don’t was a scribbled list started as I walked to the car for an early appointment. Don’t Cry Today. Don’t Think Sad Thoughts. Don’t BE Sad. Don’t Remember. Don’t Make Any Mistakes. Don’t Notice The Empty Spot At Your Side.
Don’t. I can be so impossibly annoying….so add that to the Don’t List. Don’t Be Annoying. A blog was forming.

A blog was forming, a blog destined to be felled by a cough drop, an exquisite cough drop shared by a friend via email.

Don is a talented friend, a man who trusts his emotions and cherishes his family both in the present and in collected memory.

Some years ago, Don visited his Aunt Ljubica . A survivor of a Fascist Concentration Camp, Ljubica was living in France. Don remembers her as a gentle soul with the soft edges honed in a life of kindness despite hardship.

As was the custom, the Ljubica’s family lined up to present gifts, shared an embrace and experience leave-taking. Ljubica, slowed by age and the injuries of the camp, had no gift. Her face, beautiful in its capture of time and experience suddenly remembered that she did have a gift. Painfully, slowly she struggled up the stairs, hobbled into her room and descended with the precious gift clutched in her hand.

With joy, with a flourish, Aunt Ljubica handed her love to Don, a box of her favorite cough drops. The power and the simplicity of love is astounding.

Moving On, Leaving Behind

A Ramble–nothing more than a ramble to no where…

The self gets blurred, like that image in a store front window, recognizable but rubbery. Our edges are not defined any more, distorted by circumstance. We concentrate. We force our eyes to see, but only the beveled edge of the mirror reflects.

Life mapped, goals decided, timetables set. Head down, emotion on hold, we plow through holding to clear and defined self-promises. Something happens; medical diagnosis, financial hardship, a deeply altered relationship, a forced change, a death. So we wonder at the reflection of this gritty thing we see, this new person invading uninvited.

The worst part is that decisions have to be made, not by who we once thought we were, but by this acquaintance we have become. Nothing unique about this–millions of daily multiples, probably the truest normal. Still, it feels like an unattainable balance, this moving on, leaving behind.

This house has to be part of moving on, a change that refuses to be gentle but one that I know, sooner rather than later, must happen. I will replace can’t with must and find an easier place to live. Then, again, if I drag my feet long enough, dig in deep enough, concentrate on finding what isn’t in this current state of now, I just might find some chrysalis-butterfly-thing waiting. Maybe.