We Matter: #metoo Part Two

IMG_1238I was thinking it was that I had lacked courage. But, I think it was that the scales hadn’t fallen from my eyes yet.

Writing that last sentence sent me on the Google search to find out if a) that really was the phrase, and b) what is its origin, and c) what does it mean?

I learned, a) that is the phrase, and b) it probably comes from the story of Paul (who once was Saul) in the book of Acts when he stops persecuting “Christians” after being struck blind on the road to Damascus. He regains his sight three days later having embraced a spiritual awakening (the scales fell from his eyes), changes his name from Saul to Paul, and allegedly begins defining “modern” Christianity. Scales might refer to something like glaucoma, so maybe Paul smoked some dope.

(Note: I’m not particularly fond of Paul. He probably was a misogynist, homophobe, anti-semite who thought slavery was just dandy. You know, a Roy Moore who would not be able to immigrate to America today because of his country of origin.)

As for c, this is my favorite definition: “To suddenly be able to see a situation clearly and accurately: ‘the scales had fallen from her eyes and she saw clearly what perhaps she should have been aware of earlier.’”

Nice that the reference uses the pronoun she, because that fits with what has ensued since #metoo went viral. I would change the definition, however to read: she saw clearly what she had been aware of earlier, but had not yet learned to trust her own eyes.

I don’t think it’s just me. I think (hope) we are on a roll with women locking arms and saying loud and clear, “I know chocolate and that’s not chocolate; that’s shit in that sandwich.” 

As the scales fell from my eyes, I also disengaged my cloaking device—that thing I used whenever I smelled that I was perceived as a threat. I often used humor and self-deprecation to deflect the perception, retreating behind the cloak where I huddled in humiliation and seething rage.

The humiliation and rage has disappeared along with the cloak. Amazing how fresh the air feels.

The Dark Side still abides in the form of he-who-I-shall-not-name who has the codes necessary to launch nuclear Armageddon. He, of course, had to respond to Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s call for him to resign for his misogynist ways by calling her a whore who had come begging to him for money. Metaphorically, he launched nuclear warheads to destroy her.

And, just to prove the problem is not just men, but also women who don’t run with the wolves, Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to humiliate April Ryan, an African American woman reporter, well-respected for her intelligence and integrity, by telling her to get her mind out of the gutter. “Don’t believe your eyes, girl. Shut up and believe what I tell you to believe.”

The Dark Side does abide. But it doesn’t make me want to engage my cloaking device. The air feels too good without it.

I don’t think it was a lack of courage that kept me from believing what I saw with my own eyes. I think rather that #metoo shone light on my courage. I have been mouthing off since forever, telling my truth pretty much over and over again. What courage has saved me from is the shame and humiliation I felt when my truth was twisted into lies and weaponized against me.

So, now what?

 “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

That’s what.


Note: I do not think Al Franken should have resigned. I think he is a mensch, was smeared, and knew that if doubt was cast on his accusers, it would demean all those women who are speaking out.

Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s campaign manager, said that women will need to be ruthless in their pursuit of power. He said that Kirsten Gillibrand effectively removed Al Franken from her path if she wants to run for president. I have to say I had that same queasy feeling when she led the call for his resignation. I hope that isn’t true. I don’t want us to ascend to power that way.

What do you think?

Falling Into Grace

IMG_1045 (1)Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is a day in which the very ordinary—a meal, can be turned into the extraordinary—a meal. It is a time to transform surviving into thriving. A time for gratitude.

But, today is much like a Thanksgiving more than a decade ago when I could not see my way clear to feel that. I could not muster up gratitude no matter how hard I tried.

So, I did a meditation where I invited gratitude in. She took me through a dark tunnel that formed after the lava from a volcanic eruption hardened into black rock. It was not comfortable making my way through through the tunnel. It was the blackest darkness I had ever experienced. But there was an end to it. It led me into a cave covered in paintings that told the stories of those who had lived eons earlier.

I placed my hand on a painting of a horse and heard a chorus of voices say, “This is what it means to be human.”

That’s how I found gratitude that year.

All over Facebook I see messages that encourage us to be thankful, assure us, or maybe demand from us, that there is always something to be thankful for. I’m not big on that. Sometimes, there is just too much in the way. And I think we have a right to feel the grief we feel and the despair that accompanies it. It is the black-dark tunnel we must walk through to find our connection to being human again.

This past year has been one of grief and despair. Some of it from an accumulation of losses that fell one after the other over two decades with no time in between to give grief its due. And then there was the election and the pall of meanness and cynicism that has descended on our country.

More than once, I had to pull myself out of my own La Brea tar pit.

So this Thanksgiving is a subdued one for me. Tom and I used to host dinners for as many as 12 people. I miss that. But, Tom and I have found a way to honor the holiday with just the 2 of us. We are grateful for each other.

I think the most difficult thing about grief is it feels like we have fallen out of grace. I don’t think we actually do, but it is certainly a loneliness of the soul that is part of being human. It’s what makes us unique and connects us to eons of being human.

I like this definition of grace: the unearned gift. It is the life spirit that allows us to thrive regardless of our surroundings.

I think my time for grieving is drawing to a close. It’s time for me to venture out into the world where grief becomes a distant memory rather than a constant companion. What I learned from my journey through this latest tunnel is my own tenderness. My natural inclination has been to be a warrior—to fight for the higher purpose. So I’m not sure what it means for me to be tender, disarmed and without armor.

But, I’m certain that the tenderness of being a warrior is as powerful as the warrior wading into battle. Both require banishing fear from my workshop.

Maybe the only thing in the way of grace is fear.

Joy and sorrow are flip sides of the same coin. We really can’t have one without the other. That’s what it means to be human. Why we must treat each other with kindness. Banish fear of each other so we can let grace through.

Let Stories Happen

Radical womanA year ago on this day, I woke in despair and disbelief. I had planned on either literally or virtually wailing at the sky last night, to mark a year of despair. Despair had remained, but disbelief had turned into belief. That is, I broke denial and came to believe that the worst actually had happened. It was not a nightmare I would wake from. It was one I was living.

But then, another election happened.

It wasn’t simply that my “side” had won. It was that the true face of America had prevailed. The pale-pink-anger-contorted faces of men had been replaced by faces of many hues and genders, including the face of a transgender woman, and a red-headed man whose grief for the woman who was taken from him by a gun rose to action for gun control.

I don’t believe that women are better than men. Nor do I believe that the hue of one’s skin determines either inherent value or inherent racism.

What I do believe is that the voices, the authentic stories of women and people of color have gone unheard long enough. It’s not that the stories weren’t being told. They were being unheard.

On Tuesday, stories were heard and they resonated and people were moved to change our cultural story.

Confederate statues isn’t our history. Slavery is our history.

Conquest of a continent isn’t our history. Genocide is our history.

Neither is a history that has been relegated to the past anymore than an abuser’s apology relegates abuse to the past.

We can only relegate our history to the past when we reconcile it. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution don’t make us a great nation. Our adherence to them is what gives us the tools for greatness. Not a greatness that means we are better than any other country, but rather, a greatness that strives to rise above fear of the other.

We reconcile and overcome our fear of the other by telling and hearing authentic stories.

On Tuesday, stories were heard and they resonated and people were moved to change our cultural story.

Tuesday was preceded by a year of what I can only call awfulness. Charlottesville. Las Vegas. Sexual assault and predation exposed and condemned, except for the alleged acts of the man who holds the office of president. Bullying disguised as strength. Racism and xenophobia vaunted as patriotism. And then seven percent of a Sutherland Springs’ population was massacred within minutes, including 8 people encompassing 3 generations from the same family, within minutes.

And then followed the story told by opining politicians: we can’t politicize the massacre by talking about gun control, only by becoming a nation of armed citizens at churches, schools, shopping malls, and so on. We must always fear the other is that story.

That is not the authentic story. That is the covering story.

Fear of change is powerful. Especially if the change means a loss of power, or a perceived loss of power. So, we need to hear the stories those in fear tell, and receive them with compassion, hearing the sub-text behind the story, then transform them.

When I hear former general John Kelly tell the story of the sacredness of his son’s death in combat, underneath the stoic acceptance I hear the unfathomable grief of losing his son, “my boy” he called him.

That, to me, the unfathomable grief of losing a child, of having a child taken violently, is the authentic story—the story that Black Lives Matter is trying to tell. That is the story Blue Lives Matter is trying to tell.

That is a story that can connect us.

We need to change the cultural story from one that divides us to one that connects us.

The only thing that will prevent massacres like Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Sutherland Springs is to relegate assault-style weapons to their intended purpose: war. There is nothing sportsman about them. Period. Full stop.

In the late 70s Physicians for Social Responsibility used a medical model for arguing against the use of nuclear weapons: if there is no treatment or cure for a disease, the only medical option is to prevent it. I think we need to apply that argument to assault-style weapons.

That, I think, is how we can change that particular story.

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.” ~Anne Frank

The quote from Anne Frank’s diary is one of her final entries. I never thought she was foolish for writing that, for believing that. I think she saw that we all have, in our hearts, the choice of darkness or light, and that in the end, light would prevail, though it might come too late to save her. Her diary is her story. We owe it to her to tell the story again. Her family, like the families in Sutherland Springs, was massacred. As were the children and teachers at Sandy Hook, the concert goers at Las Vegas, the high school students and teachers in Columbine. Columbine is no longer one of the top 10 massacres.

On Tuesday, stories were heard and they resonated and people were moved to change our cultural story.

I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Those Words of Wisdom

6M3A4410

That’s Mr. Fraser in the middle

The future does not seem as inviting as it once was. It’s not that I see the glass is half empty so much as I fear it is being inexorably pushed to the edge of the counter, not by a playful cat, but rather by a spiteful man with a heart that cannot humanize his experience of being human.

Fifty years ago, I read William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech. What we should write about, he said is the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself. That alone is what is worth writing about, he says, worth the agony and the sweat.

I return to that speech at least once a year. The memory of it comes to me rather randomly. In a strange way, in much the same way that grief decides to pay a visit. But, unlike grief, Faulkner’s speech is welcome.

I read it in my senior year of high school, in my English Honors class, taught by the lovely-hearted Mr. Fraser. I had also been in his freshman English class where he read us passages from the Shakespeare plays we studied—read them with the voice of an actor who understood that Shakespeare wrote about the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.

I was in his freshman English class the day JFK was killed. Mr. Snodgrass had rushed into our classroom to retrieve a radio just before the bell rang. As we pulled out our books, the news that President Kennedy had been shot floated across the hallway.

For the next twenty minutes, Mr. Fraser held that class of 14-year olds in his steady heart as we waited, not knowing what we were waiting for. First we heard he had been shot. Then we learned he had been shot in the head. Twenty minutes into the class, the news that he had died floated across the hallway.

The president has died, the announcement came over the school’s public address system. School is dismissed.

A few of the 14-year old boys sprang to their feet and cheered that school had been dismissed. I suspect their reaction didn’t come from malice, but rather a 14-year old boy’s confusion about how to react to his emotions.

Mr. Fraser, who had been so calm and comforting, pulled off his glasses and glared at them. He was barely 5’4’’ tall, but he loomed over the classroom at that moment. “A man has died.” He said it with his Shakespeare voice. “Respect that.”

Mr. Fraser was the adult in the room that day, though he was probably no more than twenty-four. What he spoke were words of wisdom.

I cherish my education at Granada High School in Livermore, California. It comprised literature, history, science, and civics. It gave me no absolutes. It gave me a foundation to think, and taught me how to learn. It gave me a way to be in the world, to navigate what was to come.

That is why I fear the glass is about to be pushed off the edge.

dad with still

My dad in his khakis — he wore them everyday when he went to work in Saudi Arabia. Here he is with his still—homemade hooch because alcohol was illegal in Arabia.

I come from a working class background. My dad was an electrician, a proud member of the IBEW. Whenever I hear that the working class white man is angry and feels forgotten I understand what that means. My father did get left behind. And it was Ronald Reagan who left him behind by weakening his union, breaking its ability to negotiate the value of his labor. He spent the last five years of his life without getting a cost-of-living raise. That ate into his pension and left him feeling that his labor was not valued and so he was not valued.

What I don’t understand is how that justifies the trope, “the heartland doesn’t care about whether Russia interfered with our election — all they care about is not being left behind economically.”

If that indeed is true, that those in the heartland feel that way, I say shame on them. My father never would have bought the bullshit that is being spewed by our current president. He never would have believed that this man-boy born into financial privilege was anything like the men who toiled as my father did, counting on their paycheck to care for their families. He understood that we are a self-governing nation. And he was proud of that and understood that meant vigilance.

The easiest way to gain control over a nation is to divide it. To convince those who have been left behind that that “other” over there is the one who took from them their God-given right to whatever was taken. God chose them, not the other.

What I learned in high school has never been more clear to me than it is now because I have never felt that what I cherish about my country is in danger of being overtaken by men and women whose conflicted hearts have been turned to stone—who have spurned the better angels of their nature.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”~Abraham Lincoln

Whether that glass is half full or half empty, once it is pushed off the edge, there is no more glass, nor what was in it.

I don’t know how to protect that glass or how to catch it if it is pushed over the edge. I have never felt so hopeless and helpless as I do now.

And then I re-read this by Joseph Campbell in “Thou Art That”:

We can no longer speak of “outsiders.” It was once possible for the ancients to say, “We are the chosen of God!” and to save all love and respect for themselves, projecting their malice “out there.” That today is suicide. We have now to learn somehow to quench our hate and disdain through the operation of an actual love, not a mere verbalization, but an actual experience of compassionate love, and with that fructify, simultaneously, both our neighbor’s life and our own.

So there they are—the words of wisdom I was seeking. And these:

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which (sic) have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail. ~William Faulkner from his Nobel Prize speech

Write about the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself. Recognize the darkness that lurks in the heart, but glorify the better angels of our nature. To write is to hope. And so I will.

Post Script: Tom and I saw Mr. Fraser, by then we called him Bert, in 1995 while visiting New York City. Sadly, that was the last time we saw him. He passed away shortly thereafter, leaving the world a little poorer.

Mad Women #metoo

at 19

My mother at 19.

What if you had not been afraid to go down that street, go into that bar alone, wear that outfit, be there at night, apply for that job, sit alone at that movie, ask for that favor, drive through that neighborhood, take that creepy prof’s class, knock on that stranger’s door, sit in that seat on the bus, take that trip alone…how different might your life have been? What was lost because you were-are-forced to wear the cold shackles of fear?

Mad Men is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have one friend who didn’t like it for how it portrayed women. She’s 10 years younger than I am, so she missed the era in which it takes place.

Mad Men accurately portrays the culture of the 60s—a culture that was emerging from the emotional fallout from the Depression and World War II. One of Lily Tomlin’s characters referred to the 50s as 10 years of foreplay. By the time the 60s arrived, there was, shall we say, a lot of pent up frustration, along with the Pill. One could have sex, it seemed, without consequences.

I turned 20 at the end of 1969. A whole lot hadn’t changed. Help wanted adds were categorized as “Help Wanted Men” and “Help Wanted Women.” At the University of California San Francisco in 1972, one secretarial position requirements included being multilingual, knowing medical terminology, and having a college degree. That was in the women column. A janitorial position, in the men’s column, required a high school diploma. The janitorial position paid more—because it was assumed that men had a family to support while the woman was just marking time until she got married.

I overheard one of the doctors say that the best secretary you could get was a single mother. She would stick around no matter what because she had a child (or children) to support, and was less likely to get married because what man would want to take on a woman with a child (children)?

Fast forward to 1987. I worked at American President Companies, a company steeped in nautical tradition, including a submission to hierarchy. When you’re aboard a ship, you want the Captain to be in charge. But the hierarchy always had men in charge. So, what cascaded down was an unspoken but firmly embedded sympathy for men and what they had to endure.

I had already proven myself as more than capable. I had taken my assignments and run with them, raising the quality of the publications that were coming out of the department to a level that caught the attention of Corporate Communications. The company was leading the way information technology was changing the shipping industry. Corporate Communications wanted to make sure that internal communications helped shape the cultural change that resulted. They recognized that I had given the Information Technology newsletters a higher profile.

After my success, my supervisor told me that if I learned new technology, I might be promoted. Not I would be. I might be. He told my coworker, a man who was less technically skilled than I, that if he started coming in on time he would be promoted. They both were married with children.

When my mother entered the workforce, she thought there were the “front-office girls” and the “not-front-office girls.” Front office-girls were hired because they were eye candy for whoever walked into the office. Cheered the place up.

My mother thought of herself as a “not-front-office girl.” She had to rely on her skills to make her way in the world. And she resented it. She thought that held her back from realizing whatever dreams she might have had. She thought I was one of the front-office girls. She considered me to be pretty, so thought the way would be paved for me.

That was very confusing for me. I thought I had to choose. I could not be both pretty and smart—a truism reinforced by the culture. I definitely didn’t choose the paved path, but I also didn’t choose the path of embracing being smart. Off and on throughout our lives together, my mother resented me for not choosing to have my way paved as well as for what she thought was an option for me.

I had kept a lid on my smart. Lesson learned not just because of my relationship with my mother, but from the culture. It wasn’t until I was 60, after my mother had died, that I finally made the choice, when I finally embraced that I was smart and talented and was entitled to those gifts. It happened when I directed and produced a production of The Vagina Monologues. Sadly, my mother had died by then. I think she would have enjoyed it. And, may I say, if you look at the photo of my mother at the top of this blog, one would wonder why she didn’t think she was attractive. She was Lauren Bacall-sultry attractive.

I say this not to diss my mother. Or to whine. I say this because I feel like my decision not to choose came from a lack of courage. I was afraid that I would somehow diminish my mother if I showed her that the point was not to be the front-office girl, but to be a woman who is not afraid of her own power. And if I diminished her, I would lose her. I know that last sentence is true because I am on the verge of tears as I write it.

On Mad Men, Joanie was one of my favorite characters. She personified what my mother thought of as the front-office girls. They were the beauties, the women who brought men to their knees with their beauty. They had it made in the world. They would be taken care of. They were safe. They were paid for their beauty.

Joanie’s reality was, of course, far different, as was the reality for all those front-office girls my mother longed to be. Joanie, however, persisted and she prevailed. She found the success she thought was only available to men.

But what a price she had to pay.

Which is why #metoo happened this week in response to Harvey Weinstein.

This is not about Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein does not just happen in Hollywood—Hollywood just reflects the culture that casts women aside once they reach their 30s.

This is not about men. I am married to a man who cherishes me for being smart and tells me every day that I am beautiful and he worries that I don’t know that I am.

This is not about alpha men. Alpha men are leaders. And by leader, I mean one who has the best interest of the pack in their heart. They are the Mufasas. The Trumps, Weinsteins, Cosbys, Iagos, and so on down the road are the Scars—aware enough to know they don’t have what it takes to be an alpha, but simmering with resentment because they don’t.

This is about a culture that has become so poisoned by the fear of beautiful smart women that it enforces a code of silence when women are brutalized, raped, and emotionally bullied to humiliate them. To put them in their place—rob them of the dignity of their life spirit. And, by beautiful women, I don’t mean the front-office girls. I mean the beauty of a soul that has not been brutalized into submission.

I’ve been angry for a long time about my choice to not choose. I own that. But now, I’m choosing. And I’m mad. I’m mad because we are allowing a sick, festering culture of meanness to prevail.

I’m a Mad Woman. And it’s time for Mad Women to rise and rid our culture of the festering meanness.

Wonder Women, indeed.

The Patience of the Vineyards

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s more than the pleasure of wine.

There’s an ambiance to it. Different than beer. Different than a cocktail. You pair it with a meal. Or maybe you just fill glasses with your favorite wine, regardless of how it pairs or is rated.

I lived in wine country in California. The other wine country. Livermore valley. It actually has the oldest wineries, but during Prohibition, Napa-Sonoma overtook it.

This is my favorite time of year in the vineyards around Livermore. The dying leaves turn vibrant yellows, oranges and reds, and the autumnal light makes them glow with a softness that contrasts with the gnarly twists and turns of the eternal vines.

The vines are old. I don’t know how old, but they are old.

It occurred to me one day as I drove along Arroyo Road that producing wine is an act of faith and patience. The vines have to survive late frosts in Spring. Too much rain or a drought. Heat that might shrivel the grapes into raisins.

Once the grapes are harvested and crushed, one has to let them sit years for them to transform into the wine that delivers pleasure.

It takes more than faith and patience. It takes extraordinary faith and patience. It gives one hope for the future.

I thought of that as I’ve watched the fires ravage and consume the lives and land north of San Francisco.

This is a scary time of year in California. There are really two seasons in that part of the state: dry and rainy. So when October comes, and rains are still a month or two out, the beautiful golden hills covered with live oaks are also kindling waiting to be ignited.

I read that the fires that started in the middle of the night on Sunday traveled at 40 to 50 miles an hour. One doesn’t think of fire as something that can travel like wind. But it can. And when it does, its wildness is ferocious. It’s appetite insatiable.

I remember the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991, watching as fire trucks sped past houses burning bright because they could not save them.

A firestorm.

I cannot read about the course of the fires without weeping. Towns with familiar names are being evacuated—places where people were surrounded by the patience and faith of the vines. At one winery, the fire consumed vines that originated in the 19th century.

The fires haven’t spared the apple orchards, where trees that gave us apples for over 100 years stood helpless in the path of its fury.

And, of course, it hasn’t spared the suburban homes and hotels with names like Hilton that sprang up around the vineyards. Sprang up to enjoy the faith and patience of the vineyards.

It’s apocalyptic people are saying. A black scar that once was filled with the colors of vineyards in October.

One can hardly catch one’s breath.

It is apocalyptic, what we’re seeing. There’s a depravity to it because climate change is certainly driving the apocalyptic tone of what nature does. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires happen. But they are becoming increasingly ferocious as the earth adapts to human-created changes in temperature.

And now, Americans are dying in Puerto Rico because they do not have clean water available to them.

I want to restore my faith and patience in my country. But right now, we are being held hostage by a man who has a festering wound in place of his soul. A man with a heart so tiny, it doesn’t exist.

I watched a couple of episodes of “The Newsroom” last night. It’s seven years old, and it eerily predicted where we are now.

The fourth estate, the journalists, right now are keeping us from tumbling off the precipice of self-governance into an oligarchy. We are blessed to have military leaders who take their oath to protect and defend the Constitution seriously.

If we are to be self-governing, we need to respect governance. Otherwise we end up with a self-serving oligarch whose festering wound spreads its lethal infection to the earth, and thus to us.

My patience for Trump’s learning curve expired months ago. To be honest, I never have had any patience for him. His actions are leading us to the brink of nuclear war. My patience for his party’s Congressional leaders has long expired. We are dependent on them to act, and they aren’t. They are stuck, it seems, in a La Brea tar pit of cowardice. They are not upholding their oath to preserve and protect the Constitution.

I’ve always had faith in my country, believed that it had the mechanism that would lead us to the better angels President Lincoln urged us to heed.

But, my faith is shaky now. The wine country shows us the ferocity of fire. Puerto Rico shows us the ferocity of wind and rain. Compassion is our only hope, but the man with the power to care is threatening to cut off aid to Puerto Rico.

We have given extraordinary power to this man who has a festering wound in place of his soul. As a journalist pointed out this morning, the president’s powers are limited by institutions in everything but initiating a nuclear launch.

I want the patience and faith of the vineyards to be restored. I want to feel the extraordinary faith and patience that a future will be filled with the autumnal colors of the vineyard. Not one scarred by the ferocity of fire or wind or rain—of nuclear winter.

Seeking Words of Wisdom

“Words lead to deeds . . . They prepare the soul, make it ready, and move it to tenderness.”

St. Teresa

words of wisdom

Let it be. That’s how The Vietnam War documentary ended. After leading me through the minefield of emotions that is that time period for me. It was appropriate to end it with Let it Be. Seeking words of wisdom, let it be, let it be.

I planned on writing about it. My experience watching it, long buried memories revealed, heart wrenching open.

But, it’s hard to catch one’s breath these days. Events rise to overwhelm and outrage. I like that word outrage. There’s enrage, which keeps rage burning inside. And then there’s outrage. Move the rage outside to take action.

Then, Sunday night, another mass shooting. Fifty-nine people were killed and over 500 wounded within minutes at an outdoor concert. Listening to music. Celebrating it.

Five people were shot, three died in Lawrence, Kansas Sunday night as well. There have been more than 1500 mass murders by gun violence since Sandy Hook. And, as someone said, once you shut down debate after 20 children were shot dead, bodies mutilated beyond recognition, you show you accept that gun violence is acceptable.

Gun violence, explosive violence, man-made mayhem has been a part of my life, a part of my country’s life, since I was old enough to be aware of a world outside my home.

Civil rights activists gunned down

Four girls my age bombed into oblivion during Sunday School

Medgar Evers

John F. Kennedy.

Malcolm X

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bobby Kennedy

I was 14 when Medgar Evers and John F. Kenney were killed. Eighteen when King and Kennedy were shot dead two months apart. It seemed like hope died when Bobby was killed.

And the violence continued. In Vietnam. In Central America. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. In America.

Columbine

Oklahoma City

Virginia Tech

Sandy Hook

Florida

Las Vegas

And then there’s the underlying violence of “otherism.” Dog whistles it’s called. Puerto Ricans are suffering because they just want to be taken care of. They are brown skinned and speak Spanish, after all.

It’s as if every day, a rogue wave sweeps me out into a churning sea, drops me into a riptide of furious impotence, then spits me out to experience another day of events that arise from the depths of human indecency and depravity.

My thoughts and prayers are with you. They offer no consolation for the afflicted.  It just means, Thank God it wasn’t me this happened to.

 

“Remember, too, that little-used word that has just about dropped out of public and private usage: tenderness. It can’t hurt. And that other word: soul — call it spirit if you want, if it makes it any easier to claim the territory. Don’t forget that either. Pay attention to the spirit of your words, your deeds. That’s preparation enough. No more words.”

Raymond Carver

I am seeking words of wisdom.

Words that lead to deeds.

That prepare my soul.

Make it ready.

Move it to tenderness.

Tenderness. That’s what went missing on January 20, 2017. What got banished. With each passing day, tenderness as a national value has been driven deeper into the wilderness.

I have just started to emerge from the deep well of despair I fell into on November 9, 2016. I don’t really even know how, or why, I emerged. I suspect it has something to do with my heart. Not allowing my heart to be irrevocably broken by the tiny-hearted.

I read that the temperature of the fire that will cremate a body is determined by the heart. The heart does not go gently into that dark night. Its density makes it linger.

There is no closure. No magic moment that tells us, okay, that’s done, now you can move on.

There is only experience. It’s never done. You never move on from it.

It’s always there in our hearts and souls. The best we can do is have compassion for the experience, and learn to live with it, to weave it into the tapestry that is our life. Be willing to love knowing that love is not the answer. It’s just what we do because our hearts can endure it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am seeking words of wisdom.

Words that lead to deeds.

Prepare my soul.

Make it ready.

Move it to tenderness.