A Mini Ramble (ccr)

Although I had no intention of being funny, Melinda was laughing. She is scary-smart and has a way of hacking the fat from any conversation.  We have been long distance friends for many years.  The reconnects are never awkward.

Actually, whatever made her laugh isn’t important. Our conversations  lead to new ways of looking at both the current topic and many life decisions.  She forces the search.

There has never been a time in my life that I did not long for a spiritual belief system that sustained. Being raised a Catholic, and nurtured by Dad who believed to his core, made the early years safe. At this moment, I can feel the comfort of those years.

The process of maturing is ongoing and isn’t always accepting of early comfort. Reality overcomes.  Beliefs suffer challenge.

Melinda’s laughter is often one of those challenges.  Dan’s recommendation of the works of Huston Smith is another of those challenges.   My frequent (often inspiring)  exchanges with Chris,  Mark’s unique perspective, Two-Names wisdom, Karol’s unflinching support,  Martha’s terse emails keep me prickly and searching.  I am profoundly grateful.

I believe that it isn’t enough to be part of tradition and community, though these are vital to human comfort. The greater need is for something more, so much more than physical comfort or the false security of following the letter.

What a waste to attend a church service and walk out into a life that doesn’t require more than that hour of worship each week. What a waste to claim spirituality over religion if spirituality is lazy and uninvolved.

Wouldn’t we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the children, seek social justice, educate and clothe,  welcome those we see as ‘different’ IF religion and spirituality were true seekers?

Wouldn’t women and men who perform these works be joined by thousands more if religion required embracing message and  mission?


Selfless or Selfish

Many years ago, a person close to me talked a convincing story about the kindness of others.  He believed everything—everything–rose from personal selfishness.  He spoke as though ‘kindness’ and ‘self-sacrifice’   were punch lines.   “There is always a self-serving motive when something looks like selflessness.”

I wasn’t smart enough to change his thinking, but smart as he was, he  never changed mine.  Our concepts of self-serving were different and probably come from how we understood ‘purpose’.

This holiday season is shared by many cultures and religions  each with customs and traditions particular to belief systems.   While it is true that commercialism looks like the high-profile shared custom, it isn’t.   Giving, sharing, participating, appreciating are part of the common core–the purpose behind the traditions and customs.

If one’s purpose can be served by selflessness then a case is made for self-serving.  But it is a wonderful kind of serving, meeting a need to give to others.    If purpose lies outside the pursuit of the wants of # 1, then are we not touching a higher meaning?

Tis the season….and the season is a lifetime.

Martha, A Tribute

I could have typed:  A Tribute to Martha but that would not have been correct.  That title would give the impression that my words were simply a way to honor this friend of  51 years.   My intention is different.

Martha is a tribute to us, her fellow humans.  Her life of courage brings honor to our species.

For years, we have teased about writing her life story.  Admittedly, Martha’s emails rarely  require more that 8 to 10 words.  Her talents are science and math.   So the plan (my plan) was to use my keyboard and her memories to record her story.   So far, she is still laughing at my persistence.

Obviously, it would be a breach of trust for me to write the story without her participation.  I won’t do that.

But I can write, Martha, A Tribute so you, Gentle Reader, will know the name of a woman of amazing strength, courage and an abiding trust in her God.

Going The Distance

In the beginning the ‘distance’ might have been a football field or any version of a race. A sports phrase became cliche because it fits so much of what we do. The difference being that in a sporting event, we see the end-point–the uprights, the checkered flag, final score, the finish line. Day to day takes a different kind of perseverance.

We might hope for, work towards a specific result, but we don’t know the distance. Some might say that positive thinking will get you what you seek, that if one believes, success will happen. Others might say that commitment and determination are the qualities needed for reaching any goal. Still others will say that any outcome is part of a Larger Plan and we should accept whatever results. Not my choice.

One of my elementary school teachers, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, had a rule for test study. “Pray like everything depended on God, but work like everything depends on you.” She covered both sides of that Larger Plan without giving her students any reason to make excuses. I liked that.

Four Ordinary Women has benefited from the persistent commitment of Patti’s husband, Wood Dickinson. Take a look at our website
Look a bit more and enjoy our blogs as listed on the website. They are beautiful. They have taken a tremendous amount of Wood’s time and talent.

Have you ever been really good at something and been asked to share that hobby with someone just learning? Maybe play tennis or golf with a total beginner? Patience, right? Takes unbelievable patience to pull it off without deep sighs, barely perceptible shakes of the head and a sore spot from biting the tongue. Wood is computer expert and we are rank duffers, but I have never felt his impatience even when I ask the same stuff over and over.

I have often talked about the steep-learning-curve that has taken us from writing to publishing to marketing to distributing. Patti has used the expression, “slogging through waist deep sand” to describe parts of this adventure. There are days when her words felt exactly right. However, we could not have come this far without the constant commitment of Wood’s perseverance.

There is no doubt that we are going the distance.

In Search of Short Term Memory

Another fair warning, Gentle Reader. This is a ramble, unstructured and without a worthy conclusion.

A conscious decision needs to be made.
Forget it.
Forget the list.
Forget the spider web of thought that clings with sticky residue.
Move all those moments of meanness out…away…gone.
Erase any long term lingering thoughts that keep the dregs fresh.

This isn’t forgive and forget. Too often forgive is a phantom, only vague and indistinct. We think we forgive. We say we do. But the next time a pinch happens, the dregs resurface, good as new. Forgiveness is hard.

There is the forgiveness of the Bible, 70 X 7. Corinthians admonishes not to keep a record. “It is in God’s hands” is a waver and a waver diminishes my responsibility. St. Francis’ verse is a goal, but pretty impossible for most of us. And there is that “if only” as in If Only She/He would apologize, all would be forgiven. Not so. It helps but forgiveness needs much more. Forgiveness needs change. I might forgive 71 X 7, but by that time, my turn is definitely winding down.

Some would say that those ‘dregs’ are life lesson…that we need them to make good decisions. Maybe. And maybe they are stepping stones to a better way of handling those life lessons.

And I admit that forgetting is as close to impossible as forgiving. Further, I know that I need to step away from several ‘lists’ that have been growing uglier. And I am trying. But how does a person step away without walking away? How can we forget without relegating the person to a totally different place in our life?

Disengage? Disengage from the patterns that allow the list. But that comes very close to disengaging from the person. And sometimes keeping a person close might be worth fighting the list and accepting that getting pinched is part of the bargain. But why must renewable pain be part of a relationship? How important is it to stay close to hit-and-run?

Wish I could ramble this one to some kind of conclusion. I can’t.

Murphy Again??

by Pat Antonopoulos

Never, ever let the gauge register less than half. Life long self imposed rule and do not remember a time when I let that travel security blanket fall. Until today.
Sounds like a Murphy’s droplet when refills are every few miles. But Murphy likes the elbow to elbow kind of pressure and I am scrambling to make today happen as planned.

Thunder and lightening through the night so sleep was brief and surface. Alarm was not suppose to be set, but ‘not-suppose-to’ is a hedge. It went anyway. Usual coffee and bagel to start the morning and bingo! Murphy #3 in the form of a filling falling out. Not just any filling but my golden-pirate-tooth that secures my place in Frank’s gang of shark fighting ship mates. Dentist leaving town tomorrow so a scramble to find a slot for me. Not yet.

Had to cancel another medical appointment for this morning, hoping to reschedule. That phone call hasn’t been returned.

Bob off to the range and I discovered a plumbing issue that I cannot handle with patience and a plunger.

Best (and only) dress-up blazer at the cleaners and ready on Friday.

Hey, Gentle Reader, this is NOT a laughing blog! Why?

Because….after weeks of trying, we get our important, but brief, TV interview on a local news show. Four Ordinary Women had one day notice and Murphy must have doubled with laughter knowing that Murphy’s Law is definitely Law. But we are doggedly persistent. We might not get our full fame allotment of fifteen minutes, we will prove that Murphy is no match for Four Ordinary Women. Check Loren Halifax, WDAF TV Fox 4 at about 12:50. Then let us know what you think.


by Pat Antonopoulos

Steve and Lisa walk across the field separating our places. They come bearing gifts.
Lisa has read our book, Four Ordinary Women, and she talks about her reactions to our words, to our stories, to our connections with her life. They are a wonderful couple with earth solid values and hearts stretched by years of sharing their values. To me, they look like a young couple in love with one another, not old enough to have a married daughter and a college son.
Lisa brings the gift of validation. Through our book, we have touched her deeply. She wants copies to share our stories with her family.
And eggs…fresh eggs from their hens.
Body and spirit are fed.

Mary Ann phones and asks that I meet her where she is working on St. Anthony’s fundraiser dinner. She is a friend from high school…fifty three years since that graduation. “For my boyfriend”, she says as she hands me a bag of candy—mostly chocolate. She always refers to Bob as her boyfriend. “The second sack is for your Sammy”. Sammy loves flashlights and Mary Ann has given us a jack-o-lantern light complete with batteries. Mary Ann has never met Sammy, but she loves him because I do.

A 75 year old man, Bob, is using a come-a-long to ratchet a four hundred pound tractor tire off the lug nuts and closer to the trailer. By himself.
By himself—he gets is handled. I do the step-and-fetch-it kind of things, helping where I can. But he does it….by himself. Finally, we have the huge tire loaded on the trailer and are heading towards Platte City where a repair shop can fix the damage.

Once we find the place, a young man named ‘Bud’ (honestly) and his helper roll the tire off the trailer, smiling as they ask how we managed to get it off the tractor, onto the trailer and delivered. He said, “You guys are still smiling??” He was so like by Uncle Bud—tall, strong and the definition of good natured. This young man honored what my husband had handled. I like that a lot.

My friend just phoned with a story of her weekend trip to Texas. She shared the touching moments, the poignant sense of this beautiful story. She gave me a part of her daughters…handed their beauty to me. A gift.

My album is rich with amazing people.