Our Friend, Joe

The political process in this country is like having an extended therapeutic relationship.  We bring forth all the hurts, play out all the drama, and lay out our future hopes for improvement and normalcy.  
It's not surprising we are seeking out Joe Biden, the calming voice of our past relationship, the safety valve for the horrendous trauma of the last years and very questioning of our deep seated base of norms and standards.  We are grasping.  We've been questioned to the core.  The standards and practices we use for political coping no longer work. The very government we look to for life sustaining policies and programs, such as Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, VA care and benefits, clean air, clean water,seems to have a foundation crack, and the house is beginning to tilt ever so slightly.  We are unnerved, and Joe is familiar, he's comfort food for the psyche. He's the family member we trust, the neighbor who smiles and silently helps by watching the kids.  It feels good. It works while we get back on our feet.
We've done this before. On November 2, 1976 we elected a former Governor of Georgia, and peanut farmer, to our highest office.  Jimmy Carter came on the scene after the tumultuous years of Nixon, and the pardon by Ford.  We wanted/needed calm, a normal, functioning government, and Carter promised, "I will never lie to you."  
As history has proven, we could have had a better president then, but perhaps not the president we needed.  
Sometimes the knights we need do show up, and sometimes they disappoint.  But they are what we think we need, even if it doesn't work out on paper.
Our therapy is never over. We always go back to the couch.  And we're forever trying to figure things out, before we totally lose our mind.

Spy Wednesday

Spy Wednesday

Today, the Wednesday before the beginning of Christian Holy Week, is known as “Spy Wednesday”, the day Judas Iscariot put into motion the workings of the plot against Jesus, the betrayal of friendship and leadership for pieces of sliver, thus beginning the journey to Easter.  

Judas!  The name forever connected to breaking the trust.

As we contemplate this time and begin our spiritual journey this week, consider the betrayals we see every day.  The daily litany of lies, backstabbing, and deceit played out in our government and displayed on 24-hour news programs, each story soaked for its potential for nastiness. The scenarios played out on our southern border, in their own way a betrayal of the Gospel, and belief aside, basic humanity. Corporations telling us they are the vehicle for connection and life sharing, only to sell that information, milking our very lives for information to use and exploit. 

The organizations we belong to, whether they be our source of income and livelihood, or merely our social media home, are a daily proving ground in the struggle for truth and authenticity.  The conspiracies to get ahead in our career, the misinformation put out to staff and employees, the power grabs, the concealed plans to eliminate those we find redundant, the illicit and contrived performance review, the false information we put out to build ourselves up or take others down with a simple post or text message, all bring us back to Judas..   This week, the conjunction of Passover and Holy Week, provides an excellent opportunity to review our actions and that of our work and social organizations.

Are we sharing the meal with those we will eventually cast aside? Are we dipping our fingers into the bowl with those with whom we are disingenuous? And how do we forgive those who have betrayed us?  The office gossip, the intrigue, the confidant who has abused our trust?

As we leave the office early to attend the varied religious services this time of year let's think deeply about the changes we need to bring back.

This brings faith to life.

Caregiving is a Lonely Act of Kindness


The Washington Post - November 20, 2016

It's uplifting to find a family coming together, so targeted and focused in their planning that the end of life process becomes a natural flow. 
I don't think this is the case for most. In a monthly caregiver support group I facilitate, I hear tales of loneliness, of frustration and anger, of guilt for having that anger, of people managing a system that is stacked against them and everyone has their hand out, of paid home caregivers who do little caregiving and need constant supervision just to get basic service, of home hospice and doctors that show little concern other than who is paying the bill, where bouts of "sundowning", the particular task of wandering around or pulling on their clothes that is so definitive of those near end of life, are met with doses of morphine. 
More often than not one family member does this alone with other family members hearing the struggle of primary caregiving but unwilling to put themselves out of their daily routine to reach out and serve. This is the reality of dying with a parent or spouse in America.

Yet one person stays.  Ever present.  The family member, close friend, or dedicated, selfless caregiver. THIS is the person that provides the service that gives dignity.  THIS is the person who lives in the background, allowing the dying person to shine one last time. THIS is the person who is there  in service while the act of passing happens, allowing the key to be found, the doorway to open.  No other act has as much kindness within it.

NY Times Comment - April 2016

In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat http://nyti.ms/1SAKeGL

My comment:

Westchester, NY

My family and I traveled with my 89yo mother on a Norwegian Cruise ship, in the unique section known as The Haven. We are not "super rich" or the "elite". We are, however, people who budget their savings in order to afford special service when they travel. And why do we do this? To feel "special" or upper class entitled? We do this for some self pampering, yes, but also because on the ever larger ships of over 4000 passengers the crush of people is constant and the fight for lounge chairs around a crowded pool with ever pounding music tends to make a trip that much more unenjoyable. On our ship I observed people going to fine dining rooms in old t-shirts, jeans, and flip flops, walking through cabin passages they could barely fit through carrying a plate of curly fries at 11pm, and their children having a spitting contest to see who could reach the people walking on the decks below. So I save my pennies and I choose sections like The Haven. I am not a slob, I was taught manners and proper table behavior, and perhaps it takes a few extra dollars these days to find what I want. Is there a class distinction? Gosh, I hope so, because being classy is something that has disappeared from civilized living. 


I love trains.   I love to watch them travel by, to hear clicking of the wheels on the tracks, to see the long lines glide by.   I love to be in the car "stuck" at a crossing gate that has come down, to wait expectantly for the big machines to pass, all to the consternation of less enamored friends.  The train whistle, an annoyance to some, is my siren call. 

I am not sure what draws me.  I guess it's the wondering.

“Where is that long line of freight cars going; where will it end up and what’s on them?”  “Who are those people on that train, how was their day and what are they going to?  What’s waiting for them after their journey?”  And all the while these silver guilded servants lumber on. 

Trains are simple really, although now loaded with complex electronics, but the basic wheels on the track is a concept that jets us back to the time of discovery, of the linking of the continents and the start of prosperity.  Now, more frequently, we hear the electronic voices announcing the stations arrived at and to come, replacing the conductors who used to call out the stops and be seen hanging precariously out the door checking on the safety those coming and going, keeping the train on time, always on time. 

The freight train with its linked connections of many, sometimes hundreds, of cars is a marvel to watch.  The trains glide along in their long dance, counted on to stay in line and behave in their practiced order, with little supervision by the handful of human overseers.   They move into the night, through locations that people wouldn’t last long in by themselves, hauling products we all need, to join the others in the vast yards waiting for their next assignment.  And at the front of all this, the Engineer!  

I used to think that the job of a long haul train engineer was very glamorous, and a bit mysterious, and perhaps a bit boring!   After all, what does one person do at the head of a line of 200 freight cars in the middle of the night?  Then, I learned.  All those friends traveling behind you can turn on you in a second if you’re going downhill a bit too fast, or drag you backwards with their own might if you don’t get them uphill fast enough.  You are alone, with the power under your hands, and the forces of inertia and gravity are yours to sense and harness.

A commentary on NY State prisoner beatings

A commentary on The New York Times article...

 AUG. 11, 2015


After 2 Killers Fled, New York Prisoners Say, Beatings Were Next

Yes, as we all agree, this kind of behavior is beyond disgraceful, but it continues, year after year, as those who have power lord over those in their charge; beating, berating, humiliating, intimidating, coercing,. This is the culture that we allow to be created. We don't care to hear what happens behind the walls and barbed wire. This is the "hero culture" where anyone in law enforcement is celebrated, and thanked for their service, no matter how inappropriate.

Corrections officers are at the bottom of the pecking order. They don't get the full respect of the law enforcement community or the public because they are viewed as babysitters, by a public that needs to have someone watch those that are discarded. We put people in jail and  we don't really care what happens; our gaze is politely averted. Then, if and when these former inmates are released, we make sure they are labeled and identified for life as "felons" not worthy to work or fully participate in society. 

Should you be an inmate labeled "sex offender" you are tracked, your whereabouts noted, and while in prison, you are segregated for your own protection, but the level of your harassment is that much greater.    One C.O.(corrections officer)  was once heard  saying to an inmate, "No one on the outside cares about you.  You are scum!  If this building burned down and every one of you were killed, not a single person would care."

These beatings, this coercion and intimidation, is not new. It happens over and over in every state in this nation, and, in some form or another, daily.  And really, we don't care.

The power of Christmas

In "The power of Christmas" in the Washington Post  (December 23, 2013) Michael Gerson wrote:

"The man who was born in obscurity and died an apparent failure is viewed as a guide and friend by more than 2 billion people."

The correct view should be "viewed as incarnate God", as proclaimed by all Christian Churches. "Guide" and "Friend" is a nice New Age approach, but fundamentally incorrect. The purpose of Christmas is not to celebrate the friendship of some sage or mystic, but to proclaim the ever present God made known to us.
Merry Christmas!!

Washington Post comment

SpeakTruly commented on JFK anniversary on TV: An onslaught of stale shows, and a nation stuck in a freeze frame washingtonpost.com/entertainment/…

JFK anniversary on TV: An onslaught of stale shows, and a nation...

REVIEW | Why do we keep reliving Nov. 22, 1963, in an onslaught of stale 50th-anniversary shows?

Oh how sad, another article by "someone who wasn't born" when JFK was killed, this time a critic. Yes, yes, we must move on, just as we have moved on from the Civil War, The Great Depression, The Civil Rights struggles in the South and nation as a whole, and over and over. Time for reflection and memorial does not lessen our need and desire to move on in life, but helps us clarify events, bring them further into our consciousness, and remember how life is changed by singular events. Yes, perhaps some of the upcoming television programming isn't up to snuff (we have all seen far too many poor JFK imitations) and they don't meet todays standard of incessant jump cuts, flashy graphics, and inane dialogue so necessary to keep the attention of thirty somethings, but they present another attempt by a society so meshed with media to reflect on an event that stunned even someone like myself, as a ten year old, and so changed the future of the American political agenda and the nation as a whole. 

So, I am sorry you are bored by all this. Go watch "The Voice". That will help you clear your mind.