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Don’t Buy the Trumpian Golden Glitter: A Poem

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Don’t Buy the Trumpian Glitter: A Poem

I wish I had time to tell how all that glitters is not gold.

How gold drapes in the Oval Office magnify a black heart of greed.

How shiny “health savings accounts” break the backs of the sick.

How the promise of “trickle down” tax policy does nothing but piss on the poor.

How pretending that climate change doesn’t exist won’t make it go away.

How the myth of “making America great again” is fraught with #FakeMemories

How the lure of “someone who says what he thinks” can lead to nuclear war.

I wish I had time to tell how all that glitters is not gold.

Because I love today’s word prompt:

Glitter.

Don't Buy It

Don’t Buy It

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The Deathly Stench of trump’s Refugee Ban

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Scent is seriously evocative, isn’t it? It intertwines with all the other senses and with memory and emotion. As if the brain chemicals released by odors have a scent of their own that fills your brain and touches every neurotransmitter.

Take this picture of Omran from Syria, for example.

Omran

Omran

The visual image brings on a strong sense of smell when you think about it. The primary odor for me is the acrid smell of burning sulfur, like spent sparklers on the Fourth of July. Then there’s that dreadful smell of burning hair that we all know from some mishap or another — perhaps also related to fireworks, or to the unexpected whoosh of a gas stove when you are making pizza from Italy or potatoes from Ireland or sauerkraut from Germany or hummus from the Middle East or coffee from Yemen or black eyed peas from Africa.

I am blessed never to have smelled burning human flesh. As a vegetarian, just the smell of meat cooking can make me gag. I imagine Omran smelled burning flesh the day the bomb went off. He, too, may gag his whole life when he smells meat cooking, but he probably won’t know why. He clearly has top-rung PTSD.

He’s smelling blood, obviously. And smoke. He has just been pulled out of the rubble of his home, so he’s covered with not just ashes, but fine concrete dust, adding that cold earthy smell to his experience.

I don’t know what Omran was doing before the bomb hit. Probably not playing with Play Dough or Legos or crayons like an American child.

Maybe he was hugging his dog and had a musty doggie smell on his shirt. I hope he did not witness his dog getting blown to bits.

Maybe he was helping his mother cook, and now the warm smell of baking flat bread will forever make him gag, too.

That dreadful orange color surrounding Omran smells to me like hot plastic, a Howard Johnson’s booth sticky with maple syrup and hot fudge sauce, baking in harsh sunshine streaming through a streaky window. I don’t know whether Omran will ever taste maple syrup or hot fudge sauce. I know his ten year-old brother Ali won’t. He died of his injuries a few days after this picture was taken.

The smell of coffee gets us up and out of bed in the morning. The smell of microwave popcorn gets us up and out of our cubicle at work. The smell of dinner gets us up, off the couch and into the kitchen.

Will the smells of Omran get us up off our butts and into our Senator’s offices and into the streets and into the airports? Will we remember who we are as Americans before we’ve lost our souls?

At the White House this weekend #MuslimBanProtest

At the White House this weekend #MuslimBanProtest

The trump™ supporters who respond to my Tweets on the #MuslimBan call me Snowflake and moron and loser. They say the ban is only for three months and we need to protect ourselves and besides it’s not meant as a Muslim ban, not really.

But I say that the children of Syria are choking on the smell of hate and violence and death. They do not have three months.

 

 

 

 

Graceful Grace

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Grace is one of my favorite words. Just the sound of it is lovely, let alone the meaning. I wouldn’t say the word itself is graceful — it doesn’t have enough syllables. For something to be graceful, it must have moving parts, it must be coordinated and flowing. Like the flower name, Lisianthus. Now that’s graceful. Also, “grace” starts with a hard “G” and that never sounds graceful to me.

Graceful Lisianthus (common name for Eustoma)

Graceful Lisianthus (common name for Eustoma)

On the other hand, that hard G melts into a gentle, caressing S, so I’ve changed my mind. The word grace itself is graceful. It recognizes and owns hardness, but moves past it easily and into beauty and peace, like a stream flowing over rocks before moving into a calm stretch.

It’s a pretty word. But the meaning — could there be a more gracious word, gracious being defined as “courteous, kind, and pleasant?”

Grace can be used as a verb, meaning to show favor, as in “I have been graced with an amazing house in New Hampshire where I can rest, read, and take the time to blog every day for a month,” or as in the sarcastic, “Oh, thank you Mr. Trump, for gracing us with your 3 a.m. tweets about Miss Universe.” (I know, I know — that wasn’t very gracious of me.)

We throw the word around, at least I do, but it is truly a precious commodity, which I guess means we’ve moved into noun territory.

Grace as a noun means “unmerited favor, love, or help,” and is usually associated with divine favor. The part I like is “unmerited.” Because I’m a mess, I really am, and yet my divine source just flows right over the rocky parts of my personality and showers me with blessed grace.

Religious people sometimes tie the idea of grace to forgiveness, but that doesn’t feel quite right to me. Forgiveness assumes some judgement, and grace bypasses judgement. There is such a rushing flow of love that any obstacles or hurdles we may put in the way of this divine unmerited giving might as well not exist. Grace is clean and pure and doesn’t pause to judge or even notice worthiness or the lack thereof.

It is a gift, an unconditional, extravagant gift, like an armload of Lisianthus delivered on a drab and rainy day.

Day four in my month of daily blogging: from the word prompt, graceful.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Fifty Shades of Whatever

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I googled “fifty” today, mostly because I’m avoiding writing next Sunday’s sermon which is currently a 9,000-word hot mess. I’m pretending that if get my writing muscles moving by blogging about a random word prompt, I will move seamlessly back to my sermon.

My “research” turned up many sites that teach us how not to look, dress, feel, act, smell, or have sex like we are fifty or (gasp!) older. But mostly the word “fifty” just brings up the continuing obsession we have with that banal bit of sticky fluff, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I suppose that the internet is to blame. Everyone is trying to increase their PPC (pay per click) and SEO (search engine optimization) numbers — they figure that “fifty shades of anything” will bring traffic, and traffic brings sales, fame, or both.

We’ll see what kind of response I get to this blog post. Perhaps the stats will shatter everything I’ve ever written on love, world peace, racial reconciliation, grief and healing, environmental apocalypse, and similar frivolous topics.

Several of Fifty Ways to Waste Your Time & Money

  • There are the predictable spin-off books and movies, Fifty Shades of Freed, Fifty Shades Darker and so on, and of course — God save us — multiple fan fiction sites honoring the original.
  • If I weren’t a vegetarian, I’d certainly spring for the Fifty Shades of Chicken cookbook. Maybe it’s got photos of naked chicken wings and breasts in risqué poses.
  • Here’s something almost as appetizing as grey chicken: you can purchase a Mixed Pack of red and white Fifty Shades of Grey wine. Eeeew.
  • How about the Fifty Shades of Surf detergent — their “naughtiest fragrance yet?” Because that’s what I’m after when I do laundry.
  • Or the Fifty Shades of Grey teddy bear, which comes dressed in a suit and holding handcuffs and a mask? In case you are looking to draw in girls younger than the twelve-year-olds already hooked on the original sticky fluff.
  • There’s the Walmart FSOG gift basket for a mere seventy bucks — of course it has handcuffs (chrome-plated with double locks) and an eye mask, but also a theater-sized box of “Untamed Love” Hot Tamales and a large bag of Twizzlers Strawberry Twists. Plus tea and pretzels because they had to fill up the basket.
  • My personal favorite, which I want for Christmas, is a coffee table book featuring portrait-quality photographs of fifty psychotherapists in their offices. Snore.
  • For those of you with newborns, you might be interested in this one (not):

    OMG

    Fifty Shades of Tasteless

Oh wait, my fifty-second attention span has expired. I just came across this site of fifty-word fiction stories. I should really try to get published there. And then I’m going to get serious about that sermon.

The Way That You See

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Today is all about seeing, apparently. I didn’t choose this theme for the day, the universe did. Or God. Depending on how you look at it.

photo (78)

First, I read today’s entry from Frederick Buechner’s Listening to Your Life, my hands-down favorite of the dozen-plus “daily readers” that I own. He says you can learn a lot from “religious observances” like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and christenings if you are in a receptive state of mind:

“The word ‘observance’ itself suggests what is perhaps the most important thing about them . . . It is life going on. It is always going on, and it is always precious. It is God that is going on. It is you who are there that is going on. As Henry James advised writers, ‘be one on whom nothing is lost.’ OBSERVE!! There are few things as important, as religious, as that.”

Then I turn on my computer and in my inbox is a daily meditation from Father Richard Rohr called “Nondual Consciousness.” This is his favorite subject, but it’s not as wonky as it sounds. It’s really about how we see ourselves and each other. Which is to say, it’s about love. Here’s an excerpt:

“You give a piece of yourself to the other. You see a piece of yourself in the other (usually unconsciously). This allows the other to do the same in return. You do not need or demand anything back from them, because you know that you are both participating in a single, Bigger Gazing and Loving  . . . You accept being accepted — for no reason and by no criteria whatsoever! . . .

To put it another way, what I let God see and accept in me also becomes what I can see and accept in myself. And even more, it becomes that whereby I see everything else. This is why it is crucial to allow God, and at least one other person, to see us in our imperfection and nakedness, as we are — rather than as we ideally wish to be. It is also why we must give others this same experience of being looked upon in their imperfection; otherwise, they will never know the essential and utterly transformative mystery of grace. This is the glue that binds the universe of persons together.

Such utterly free and gratuitous love is the only love that validates, transforms, and changes us at the deepest levels of consciousness. It is what we all desire and what we were created for. Once you allow and accept God’s love for yourself, you will almost naturally become a conduit of the same for others.”

Richard Rohr is best in small doses, like rich chocolate cake. If you liked that bit, I highly recommend reading his book, Everything Belongs. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it changed my life. It certainly changed how I see.

The Eyes of the Heart

Then I pick up my bible, which has been ever by my side lately as I work on two sermons simultaneously — remind me never to do that again! My head is a complete muddle and I have two messes on my hands, one of which is to be delivered in a week. Anyway, I come across a wonderful prayer from the apostle Paul to his friends in Ephesus, present-day Turkey. He prays that “the eyes of their hearts” would be enlightened so that they can see the hope and abundance in which they’re living. What a timely prayer for today!

Also a good reminder not spend too much time watching or reading about Donald Trump, lest my heart be filled with negativity and darkness — lest his anger and contempt seep into my heart and fill me with hate and fear. Elsewhere in the Bible, you’ll read: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

Watch what you see!

Back in my email, I find the daily word prompt from WordPress is “Eyes.” Of course it is.

eye

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite songsters, Bruce Cockburn.

It’s a verse from Child of the Wind:

Little round planet

In a big universe

Sometimes it looks blessed

Sometimes it looks cursed

Depends on what you look at obviously

But even more it depends on the way that you see

Admiring Humility

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“Whom do you admire?” It saddens me that an answer doesn’t come easily to me. When I was young, I admired all manner of people – rock stars, teachers, politicians, TV actors, scientists, activists, writers, you name it.

Nowadays not so much.

I admire certain aspects of many people, but finding an admirable whole is harder, especially a person in the public arena. I do admire the heck out of Barack Obama. He’s one of a kind, a class act, and I’m so, so grateful he pulled us out the mess we were in after the Bush years. I’d vote for a third term in a flash.

Barack-Obama-portrait-PD

Four More Years!

Other than Barack? Hmmm…

The virtue I most admire is humility, and it’s very hard to find. I am quick to identify a person’s need for approval, recognition, honor, esteem, or affection, and it turns me off big-time. The pathological version of this represented by Donald Trump utterly repulses me. Why? Because those needs are so very strong in me, and I can’t stand them! I want God to remove them immediately. But I fear the reason I long for humility in myself is at least partly so that other people will admire my humility. Which is probably why God lets me stew in my neediness.

Sigh.

Famous people aside, there are a number of humble people in my church that I admire, some suffering with disease or depression or physical pain, some teaching in troubled, low-income school districts, some caring for elderly parents, some carrying unimaginable grief, some sacrificing their time and freedom to adopt or foster or mentor needy kids. I am glad for these role models.

Thanks to WordPress for the word prompt: Admire, and I’ll leave you with Mother Theresa’s advice on cultivating humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

Grateful for Gratitude

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I know I need to write about Orange Man — I know I do. But words fail me. I just can’t do it yet. I felt genuine terror yesterday when I read that our security agencies are about to brief him on highly sensitive matters.

“Don’t tell him anything!” I wailed, right out loud. There’s simply no regulator on his tongue, and his only allegiance is to his own bloated ego, which is getting more and more inflated like some giant dirigible full of toxins that’s casting a huge shadow over my country and it’s going to burst and cover all of us with his Orange Poison of Hate.

So, you see, I’m not ready to write about what the Republican voters have done.

I also considered writing about my father, who passed away forty-one years ago tomorrow, while I was at my college orientation. I hadn’t wanted to go, but Mom said he would want me to, and she was right. But thinking about my Dad dying from alcoholism at just fifty-eight makes me sad, especially when I worry about other loved ones possibly be headed for the same fate. (If you wonder about yourself, I urge you to consider getting help.)

I’d like to write about the lovely spring weather and flowers and such, but it’s been raining for a week straight. My pansies have been flooded out. Plus, I’ve lost my umbrella.

DSCN4932

In case you haven’t guessed, I woke up a bit low this morning.

So I made a gratitude list in my journal, and I’ve decided that’s the best thing to share with you today. Here’s an excerpt:

My father being a kind man. My mother, my brother, my sister. My cats. My teal bedroom and the new matching quilt. Avocados. Cookbooks.The Bible. Books!! My drum. Airplanes. Candles. Music. Turtles. Cheese. Cheese pizza. Elephants. Rain forests. Brightly colored frogs. Having health care. The beach. Hummingbirds! Having an African-American president. Lilacs. The scent of vanilla. Fireflies. Stars. Prayer. Tea. Thank you!!

There you have it. I highly recommend the practice of gratitude. How can you be grumpy when you’re pondering brightly colored frogs?

Have an awesome weekend, my friends.

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