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Musings 50, Why Write?

Memory is selective and temporary. Vaguely I remember that the pen is mightier than the sword. But it’s not the pen that’s mighty, it’s the words. WORDS – put the first letter in swords last. Words light our lives or blow out the candles. We can be pierced by cutting remarks or filled with the joy of the words, “I love you, Mom,” from our child. Words have power.

Our words have moved beyond the pen. Left-handed, I dragged and smudged the ink across my words with the bottom of my fist until a kind teacher showed me how to tilt the paper. Later the miracle of a fountain pen with ink stored inside the pen leashed the mess of written words. Fountain pens were soon replaced with ball-point pens, and the need for jars of ink disappeared. The noisy typewriter replaced the pen, but soon the laptop made writing simple. .. write and send with the press of some keys. Remarkable? All of this during a lifetime, but it is still the words which retain the power.

I have hidden inside me a need to write. How do I know what I think until I see what I say? I possess the opportunity to see my words, examine them, and perhaps delete them after I change my mind. Unlike written words, spoken words can never be erased or changed, but memory may wear them out.

A writer wrote “writers write because they have no one to talk to.” We live in a world crammed with strangers, and we feel alone. We need listeners, and without them we write to invisible readers who listen to us. By picking up a book or article we listen to the writers and feel embraced by their efforts. We are not alone.

Without words, we have no history. Spoken words disappear. Our memories dissolve with time and do not last beyond us. We learn from memories, called history, and hope to avoid the mistakes others have made. Psychiatrists tell their patients when their lives seem off-course to keep journals and reread them. They may diagnose their problems with their words.

Writers have a duty to write only truths or to label their non-truths. A non-truth is not necessarily a lie or a lack of candor, but an opinion that may be misleading. We intuitively know that all men are not equal in all areas, but we recognize we are equal enough to have equality under the law and our constitution. It may take time for our words to register fully in our shallow minds.

Writers are the artists who rearrange their perceptions in a public form with words. There can be no greater satisfying occupation.

Thank you, readers!


Musings 49, Changes

The more things change, the more they seem the same. A song by Bon Jovi reminds us, “I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. I got this feeling like a train running in my head. Turned on the radio to the same old song, some big mouth saying where the world’s gone wrong. All this talk of peace and love is only for the news, “cause every time you trust someone, you just get scr—-, (disappointed.) My, how we hate change!

But change is inevitable – a process of time which we move ahead an hour tonight, making time go even faster than usual. There is a contradictory sense in most of us that things should remain the same so that we can ponder changes slowly and become accustomed to new ways.

But plus ca change, plus c’est la meme. Written in French by Alphonse Karr in 1849 in his journal, the aphorism refers to the proposal to abolish capital punishment. Today similar discussions take place, the same old arguments for and against gun control, free speech, and rights of immigrants and women.

Earlier this month Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, visited the president. He reinstated the importance of Esther and the festival of Purim, claiming it is prophesy as well as history. Israel faces the threats of the same old enemies. Persians now with the name of Iranians threaten Israel as they did with the Jews held captive in Persia under King Darius. (Readers may remember the 8 stories about this amazing woman I examined on this blog.)

Purim celebrates the brave actions of Esther, who saved the lives of her people and destroyed the enemy Haman, the king’s prime minister, with courage and cunning. Mr. Netanyahu reminded us again, that the more things change the more they seem the same.

Esther continues to have a message for all. The human condition is vulnerable. Make the best of it. It’s o.k. to eat, drink and be merry, but study the Bible, the Torah, or any history that celebrates mankind. Similar conditions appear and re-appear. Do good deeds to improve the conditions this world offers.

As written in Deuteronomy 31: 18, (Perhaps) God is merely hiding his face from us, for we are slow learners. The more things change, the more they seem the same.

I plan to change the format of these blogs — after the next one. Fifty Musings are probably enough!


Musings 48, Ifs and Ands

“If ifs and and ands were pots and pans, there’d surely be dishes to do,” is a proverb meant to subdue the questions of inquisitive children and get them back to chores. If Arthur Truluv (see 47) did not take his lunch in the cemetery with his dead wife, and if the teenager Maddy did not go to the that cemetery, we would not have Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv to muse upon.

-and there in a wood (ed cemetery) a young girl stood with a ring at the end of her nose, her nose, with a ring at the end of her nose. Arthur wondered why the girl was in a lonely place and not in school. He recognizes another lonely heart, and they talk. The girl seeks solitude, away from her father who is locked in his grief over the death of her mother shortly after she was born. She suffers in a school climate that disdains her. (A mother might have suggested her daughter get rid of the ring in her nose.)

Maddy’s father never discussed her mother, but she felt responsible for the death, and a sense of guilt overwhelmed her. Having lost my father when I was young, I remember thinking that if I had been more obedient he would not have died. Children rarely have words to express their feelings, nor do most teens, and probably many adults. That knowledge makes Maddy’s behavior predictable. Arthur listened with his heart.

Two lonely people meet and make a connection that changes their lives. Without love and understanding we wither and die, or acquire an AK 45.

Three things will last forever; faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love. Love seems impossible without hope and faith. Love takes risks, for it is not always returned. Arthur and Maddy risked rejection, but they used hope to make the future brighter.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed — Heaven starts with small acts of kindness and mercy. Bringing just a little bit of Heaven to Earth requires major engineering, but it makes a satisfying story.

(Matthew 3: 31-32; Mark 4: 30-32; Luke 13: 18-19)



Musings 47, Wishes and Horses

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” said Mother as she tucked sister and me into bed. I wonder what we were wishing for then. The proverb, written in 1628, is meant to show wishing is a waste of time. In our case it was a state of mind. Even today, I might wish I had the imagination to populate my life with the characters Elizabeth Berg invented in her novel, The Story of Arthur Trulove, (Random House, 2017).

Life can make you laugh or cry or simply be amazed. Coincidence or God-sightings? Life can go from bad to good, or good to bad in a moment, but it is always novel and hope floats.

Arthur Trulov, in his middle 80s, lost his wife of 60 years. His companion and soul-mate is missing, and he cannot reconcile it. Every day he packs a lunch to visit her in the cemetery My heart breaks for his loss. He reads the surrounding grave markers and tombstones, imagining the lives of those buried. He needs to know his wife’s neighbors for he does not know his own. His stories bring life to the dead, and he is comforted.

When I was a child, sister and I were taken to the grave of our father. Mother told us we could stop wishing, for he was not coming back. She sent us to obtain water while she was planting the geraniums or petunias she had brought. We read the the monuments in the green-wooded old cemetery. One decaying monument near father’s grave attracted attention. The faded letters revealed it was the grave of Catherine Hensley, long neglected. Born in 1860 and died in 1884, Catherine had been 24 years old. Not a long life.

“Perhaps she died in childbirth?” I considered the gruesome thought.

“No,” sister responded. “She fell off her horse. Or maybe she was hit by a carriage drawn by four white horses.”

“Don’t spill the water,” I advised.

I understand Arthur Trulov’s weird concern about his wife’s neighbors in the cemetery; but we must live among the living, and he noticed a young girl who should have been in school in the cemetery. She was wearing a ring – in her nose.

“Hope (and wishes) springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is, but always to be blessed.” Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)                                                    -to be continued-

Musings 46, I Wish—

(I Corinthians 13: 1) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.

A group of concerned people were invited to the oval office to advise the president about mass shootings, The recent attack killing 17 in Parkland, Florida provoked many  to speak up. Most agreed that assault weapons should never be in the hands of children. Some thought teachers should be armed to fight back or more guards should be employed. All agreed children must be protected, in our schools and elsewhere.

Another larger group met in Florida, led by a governor and senator. They displayed an anger and vindictiveness that only enraged them further. Shots were fired at the second amendment, the police and FBI, and the mentally ill. Arguments were divided along party lines, well worn fears and opinions.

Each mass shooting involves a mass-murderer who has a motive and an opportunity. This young man appeared to desire revenge for a flawed life. He had been a trouble-maker in school, suspended and finally expelled. He was adopted, but his adoptive mother had recently died. Over 20 complaints had been registered about him. Certainly a writer could investigate to explain his motive and the trigger.

On a high school campus at lunch time, I witnessed a group of bullies pick up a younger lad and dump him into a trash can. How humiliating! Immediately other students, some teachers and the noon-duty-supervisors rescued the lad and grabbed the offenders. They were taken to the principal’s office. The lad was taken to the school nurse who has apple juice and a listening ear. Supervision is necessary, and follow up is needed. Children need to be protected. Children can be cruel. Life can be a jungle.

And that is why the Bible says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4)

Long ago but when I was teaching, I read the Bible to my homeroom after we saluted the flag. I wish we could reinstate some of the Bible in schools. Our kids don’t always know it.

Musings 45, Long ago –

Book club discussed a book (really), a book written for children by Antoine De Saint-Exupery titled The Little Prince. Long ago I could imagine a small person visiting the planet Earth and me from a small asteroid high in the heaven beyond the stars. Now- well, it takes some imagination to consider the possibility.

The book was published in 1943, and its author, a pilot, perished over the Mediterranean sea in 1944. World War 2 seems like ancient history, but I was a child, and I remember listening to President Roosevelt on our small Philco radio, hearing the shock of the day that is remembered as a “day of infamy” when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I could not imagine what that meant.

Hitler had invaded France, and De Saint-Exupery was a man without a country. The world was at war again, but not for the last time, and the world must soon learn how to live with peace. But how can the small planet Earth eliminate its baobobs?

The little prince was in charge of his small planet. He knew exactly what he had to do there, tend his rose and destroy the roots of the baobob tree, for with “baobobs, it’s always a catastrophe.”

I wondered if our writer would consider the Nazis his baobob trees as he flew his plane over his occupied country. He could not know he would fly from the desert to a watery grave.

“You have to look with your heart,” the little prince told the pilot. What does your heart see that the eyes cannot? We can see or smell a rose, or thousands of them, but not sense their beauty. Eyes are blind. What does the heart see? Does it ache with happiness and joy, or with loneliness and despair. We can open our eyes, but can we open our hearts? I believe adults must see as children see.

For Jesus said “suffer the children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

There’s a sermon in that.


Musings 44, by the authority of–

Who’s the boss? If you don’t know, you have much to learn. Many stories in the Old Testament show God is in charge. God knows all is demonstrated by Noah, who was told by God to build an ark before the rain came down. God is all-powerful is illustrated by Daniel when God tamed lions for him. God requires obedience is proven by Noah, swallowed by a big fish when he disobeyed. God is always present is proven by the 2,000 year history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament. There we learn that God is forgiving, for he keeps re-establishing his connection with his people despite their disobedience. God is obviously The Boss.

Our Boss has complete authority over us. Fortunately our Boss is gentle and loving. He does not give us burdens we cannot carry.

In the New Testament we learn about Jesus, his Son sent to show us how to live with righteousness and carry our burdens. Jesus always knew his Boss, and it wasn’t the Roman soldier he met up with nor the traditions of the Jewish people. Although Rome held the world captive, Jewish customs did not permit interacting with a non-Jew, a Gentile. Most Jews would not have stopped to hear the Roman centurion beg Jesus to cure his servant. Jesus listened, then volunteered to go to the soldier’s home to heal the servant. The soldier, who understood power,  professed he wasn’t worthy enough, but he recognized that Jesus held the authority to command, even from a distance. The centurion recognized the power of Jesus, and Jesus acted with the eternal power in his heart.

“Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee,” said Jesus, and the servant was cured that self-same hour. (Matthew 8: 13-14)

We live our daily lives controlled by government, but government power is temporal, likely to change. The power of God is eternal, beyond our knowledge. We are urged to accept and obey the will of God. Surrender to God’s will.

God know what is best for each of us, and when our problems seem insurmountable, we are urged to relinquish them to God. Unlike Atlas, who struggles to keep the world on his shoulders, God takes on the world, and his child Jesus carries the world as if it were as light as an apple in the palm of his hand.

God power! Submit to it and use it.