Monday, February 22, 2016

California Here I Come


I'm off to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.  AND, I'm not taking my computer. I'll be back in March.  We can catch up then.  Pray for me.

Patron Saint for Sensitive Pessimists


Laura Macalister has a post about different things she could be patron of.  She asks, "What could you be the patron saint of?"  I  thought about her question for a bit.  At first, I thought that I could be the patron saint of  super sensitve people.  That's me.  I'm always reading into things that people don't really mean.

Then I thought that saints usually are patron saints of more than one thing.  A good example of this is St. Dominic.  Not only is he patron of preachers, but of those falsely accused and astronomers.  Don't ask me what St. Dominic has to do with astronomers, but he is.  Preachers because he founded the Order of Preachers.  "Those falsely accused", I'm not sure.  Probably because of Dominic's compassion and mercy.  But astronomers, I have no idea.  Maybe because of the star over Dominic's head?

Anyway, my point is, I can be the patron saint of more than one thing.  So besides being the patron saint of the sensitive, I think I could be the patron saint of pessimists.  Maybe optimists, too?  You see I am an optimist.  But that's because I'm a pessimist.  Realistically, I know that most of my negative imaginings never really do happen, and that causes me to be an optimist.  Doesn't that qualify me to be the patron saint of pessimists?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Unpacking the Planet of Antiquity

"The Planet of Antiquity" is the last chapter in the memoir, Unpacking the Boxes, by Donald Hall.  The author, Donald Hall, was our Poet Laureate from 2006-2007.  When Donald's mother died and her material goods disposed of, he was sent boxes of her treasures, which were Donald's memorabilia.  This book is the memory of what her boxes triggered.

Donald has had a long and interesting life.  Being a poet, he has crafted the story of his life in an appealing story.  His favored and only son status was not wasted.  He matured into a responsible, well-adjusted, and contributing member of society.  He was blessed.  But it is his last chapter, "The Planet of Antiquity", that I enjoyed the most.  I roared with laughter.  This chapter could stand alone as a short story.

Donald begins this chapter by comparing his ability to move, in his eighties, to his abilities as a child.  He's slower, unsteady, and has fallen, more than a couple of times.  But as he says, "You live in the moment."  Something we're told to do, anyway.

It's living in the moment outlook, that keeps him going.  If he, or anyone in their eighties, looked ahead, they'd probably become depressed.  So each moment becomes an adventure.  This became apparent when Donald was arrested for drunken driving.  (Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.)

Donald was not drunk.  He had had one glass of wine.  Driving home on a dark country road in New Hampshire where no one presumably was around, Donald exceeded the speed limit.  He was pulled over.  He put the car in neutral and as he rummaged around for his license and registration, the car rolled back.  The cop honked.  Donald managed to stop the car before it hit the cruiser.

The cop asked Donald to step out of the car.  Now Donald is a handicapped, elderly gentleman, who walks with a cane, and naturally has difficulty getting out of a car.  But he managed to eventually extricate himself out of his vehicle.

Standing face to face, the cop could smell alcohol.  I'm not surprised because I can smell alcohol on people's breath, after receiving communion wine--and that's just a sip!  Have you been drinking an alcoholic beverage, sir?  Donald told the unsmiling and severe visaged cop, just one glass of wine at dinner. With disinterested compassion, the cop asked Donald to walk the line.

Now, while I was reading this adventure in Donald's moment in time, I was freaking out.  "OH NO!" Donald is elderly and probably can't walk steadily under normal, calm conditions, never mind when he's nervous and under stress.  But Donald was looking at the situation as an adventure.  He was living in the moment and relishing that moment.  He jokes with the cop and tries to initiate a friendly conversation.  But interest and compassion aren't promoted attributes among traffic officers, I guess.

Donald couldn't stand on one leg.  Donald couldn't walk the straight line.  Donald couldn't touch his nose with his eyes closed.  Donald didn't pass any of the sobriety tests.  In fact, Donald appreciated the humor in the situation.  He wasn't drunk, just old.  It was surreal in its ridiculousness.

This sense of absurdity was self-preserving, self-protective.

Donald was asked if he'd take the breathalyzer test. Donald was thinking that he didn't want to waste any more time.  He was tired; he wasn't drunk; enough was enough!  So he answered, "No. I want to go home."  But this was interpreted as "No."   That's "no" period!

So Donald Hall was arrested.  He was handcuffed behind his back, which made it extremely uncomfortable riding in the metal back seat of a cruiser, with little space.  Of course, that's when everything itches, you have to go to the bathroom, and everything is crampy.  A little panic set in.  What will people say?  Will this hit the news?  What will my family do?  What happened to my own car left on the road?  How much will this cost?  What if I don't pass the breathalyzer; it could malfunction?  Do I need my diabetes medicine?  I'm thirsty?

Transported to the police station, Donald wasn't even allowed a glass of water, although he was permitted to urinate, under watchful supervision.  All he could do was sit in silence since conversation wasn't encouraged.

Finally, the breathalyzer was ready.  Donald scored zero.  He took the test again.  Zero again!  Alleluia!  Donald shook hands with the cop and the cop tore up all the arrest forms; Donald didn't even get the speeding ticket he deserved.  God is too good!  Although, some purgatorial time surely was paid especially since Donald had to pay for having his car towed away.

The arresting cop gave Donald a ride home.  As Donald was getting out of the cruiser's seat belt, he asked the cop, "Come on in and have a beer."

Perhaps we should all drink to "living in the moment."








Friday, February 19, 2016

The Snooze Button


Don't hit that snooze button!  Give up hitting the snooze button for Lent.  Too late!  Too late? You might say that you've already given up what you planned to give up.

Think again.

You can think of other sacrifices to give up anytime during Lent.  In fact, you might have already failed in your resolve.  You try again.  Begin again and start something new, add something.  The idea is to sacrifice.  Keep trying.

I know a woman who lost 100 pounds.  Wonderful, right?  But if I told you that it took her 56 years to do it, you'd think her accomplishment is diminished because it took her so long.  That would only be about a couple of pounds a year!

Think again.

During those 56 years, she's had multiple bouts of cancer and four hip replacements (hip replacement only last about 20 years).  Wrap your mind around that.  Hence, her 100 pounds weight loss accomplishment is now enhanced!  The idea is to keep trying.  She was derailed too many times to enumerate, but she began again and again and again.

Now what else are you giving up for Lent?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

R.C.I.A. Lingo

It is easy to see why some people are turned off by RCIA.  New terms and concepts are thrown at them.  Yes, each one is most probably explained, but one doesn't have a chance to get used to a term, understand it, let alone get accustomed to it, before another is introduced.

First of all, the man or woman trying to understand what Catholicism is all about is referred to R.C.I.A.  They may have asked what RCIA meant and told that it's an abbreviation for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, but that might immediately pass through the ears, because it's not used in its long form.  It is the most frequent question asked, and that's not by the newbies, it's asked, every single year by the same "cradle Catholics" --What's RCIA stand for, again?

Next, these newbies are called:
       Inquirers
       Candidates
       Neophytes
       Precatechumenate

They are instructed by:
     catechists
     sponsors

They learn they will need:
        rites
      godparents
      sponsors

They will receive:
      Sacraments of Initiation:
             Baptism
             Eucharist
             Confirmation

If they are baptized they are then called:
        candidates
However, if they are NOT baptized they are called:
        catechumen

Confused yet?

After Ash Wednesday, there is:
        Rite of Election
by the way, from the first Sunday in Lent to Easter is
called a period of Purification and Enlightenment

First Sunday of Lent is this Rite of Election so they are called:
        The Elect

Stay with me.

The Elect publically declare their intention to join the Catholic Church.
Their names and the names of their godparents are written in the Book
of the Elect. With prayers of support from the entire congregation, the
Elect now begin the last and most intensive weeks on the way to becoming
fully Catholics.

Every Sunday during Lent the Creed and Lord's prayer will be recited to
have the Elect recite.  The Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, special
rites called scrutinies will be read. Scrutinies are special prays for understanding
and purification.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.  The Elect join with the parishioners in
a
procession, waving palm branches recalling Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The last three days of Holy Week are called the Triduum--Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
       Holy Thursday--The Elect participate in getting their feet washed.
       Good Friday--The Elect meditate upon the death of Jesus.
       Holy Saturday--Finally, amidst long ceremonies, the Elect come to the fullness of Christian initiation.  They receive a solemn blessing, are baptized, and receive the Eucharist.  Confirmation comes at a later date, although sometimes depending on circumstances, the priest may confirm the newly baptized Christians, after baptism.

Now at last, if you are still with me, everyone celebrates the blessing of belonging to the Catholic Church.  Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pray Before You Think


One time when I arrived late for the inauguration of a friend as president of his chapter, I saw that the room was crowded.  The only seats available were in the front row.  I was OK with that.  I can stand.  However, I noticed a man in a wheelchair trying to peer over everyone's heads.  I thought for a minute and decided to tell him that there was space for him up front.  So being kind, I said to him, "You belong up front."

Just then, the audience erupted in applause, so I couldn't hear his response.  Besides, he had some sort of speech impediment I guess, because I couldn't understand a word he said.  I didn't want to embarrass the man and keep asking him, "What?"  "What?"  "What?"

Quickly, I grabbed the handles to his wheelchair and proceeded to push him up the aisle.  Immediately, his arms started to flail and his grunting words became louder, but I wasn't deterred.  I continued, until, another person stopped me.  Puzzled, I looked up.

"He's the Sergeant-at-arms."

"Oh."

To say that I was embarrassed is an understatement.  And if I was embarrassed, think of the poor gentleman in the wheelchair.  I somehow managed to mumble an apology to him and crawl inconspicuously into a crack in the floor.

Going over this embarrassing incident in my mind, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't very well say that I would never help anyone, again.  That's ridiculous.  I just have to think, before I do anything.

But I did think.  I thought and determined that the man needed help.

So now what?

Mmmmm.  Maybe I should pray before I think?




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Listening to God


Sometimes when you are having a conversation with God (prayer), do you intuit a response?  I take that as a legitimate answer and go with it.  I figure if I'm wrong, God will stop me.  I'm still trusting in Him, even more so.  Don't you think?

Other times, I take my time when I'm trying to discern something.  I figure it doesn't matter much if God hasn't shown me the way.

Have you ever ranted at God and then stopped short, in shame?  I have.  I take that as God giving me a look that would peel wallpaper off the walls.  As well He should!  Who am I to question One to whom I owe everything?  Still.  I know He cuts me a lot of slack.  I know He understands because after the shame, I usually can look at whatever injustice I was ranting about, more objectively.

Am I projecting myself in my perception of God?  What if I am?  Does it matter?  If God made me in His image, wouldn't it be natural for me to imagine God in my world?

I consider this relationship with God, prayer.  I do test God's responses, though.  If what God is telling me to do is good, then I go with it.  Is it a loving, compassionate, and a merciful response, then it's Him.

How do you communicate with God?  How's your prayer life?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mass Jitters

It was -14 degrees, this morning.  I was scheduled to lector at Mass.  Due to the freezing temperature, my car wouldn't start.  It's a good thing that my friend always goes to this Mass and gave me a ride.  Otherwise, there wouldn't have been any lectors, because the other one didn't show up.  The altar servers didn't come, either.  So I did double duty and did a poor job of it.

I couldn't get the stoppers off the cruets.  The wine almost flew out of the cruet when I finally pulled the stopper out.

Worse, when I washing the celebrant's hands the water spalshed out of the lavo bowl too fast,
and went all over the priest and myself.  Then because of all this, I got the giggles.  I almost couldn't stop them.

I almost lost it!

Pray for me.

Chimeras

Chimera is pronounced with a hard "C".  It's NOT "sh".  It's "K", followed with long "i", like in the word "kite."  Ki-mirror, is the way to say it.

What is it?  Chimeras are animals (and that includes human beings) with a combination of organs from other species.  Think Frankenstein.  Think again.  Many people have received replacement heart valves made out of pig or cow tissues.  This is a type of chimera.

Researchers use animals for medical study.  If a pig could provide a heart, kidney or liver, a human life would be saved.  This is a good thing.

What could go wrong?  


Think Frankenstein.

Pope Francis is said to have blessed some of the research.  The technology could be used for unethical practices.  Imagine a human brain inside a pig.  A pig brain inside a human.  Human embryonic stem cells put into animal embryos to create a chimeric animal.

Has your stomach turned, yet?

Let us pray that this new biomedical research remains in open interaction with ethicists.  It is a challenge, but human dignity has to be preserved.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Texas Story


It's so cold back home in Massachusetts right now, that Patrick was happy to be in Texas.  He was telling the Texan next to him, about his home in the Berkshires.  Patrick owned a farm.  It was a large dairy farm--20 acres.  Tex scoffed at that.  20 acres is nothing.  Tex said that it took a whole day, 24 hours, to travel from one end of his ranch to the other end.

Patrick mused a bit and said, "I used to own a truck like that."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Public to Private Confession


Tonight's Reading in the Evening Prayer for the Friday after Ash Wednesday is from James 5:15-16.
Declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may find healing, reminded me of the teaching my formation team and I gave last weekend, on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

James is talking about the early church, when they had public confession.  At first, the people just confessed to one other, i.e., "I'm sorry I used your tools without your permission; I'm sorry I lied to you..."

However, a big sin, like apostasy, was a mortal offense against the entire church community.  Remember Christianity was against the law. One who sinned against the entire community by denying Christ, or snitching where the place their Mass was being held, needed to apologize to the community.  The community would then assign the penitent, a penance.  Once the penance was completed, the bishop was called in to give absolution.

Note that this sequence is opposite of our current Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Then it was to do the penance first, then you get absolution.

Theology grows in understanding, just as we human beings do.  We once thought the world was flat. Now we know different.  So also, theology and the church grows.  During the Middle Ages, Christians felt they needed more in confession and often asked the clergy and local religious for spiritual direction to become better people.  The Celtic monks were known for this.  The Irish missionary monks and nuns guided people spiritually and developed an examination of conscience in reconciling them to God.  Eventually, bishops saw the value of this type of spiritual reconciliation.

BTW, it was in the sixteenth century that St. Charles Borromeo invented the confessional box.  He saw the need for privacy.  Also, the Council of Trent defined a rite for Confession.  Also, the seal of confession was enforced.  Secrecy was promised.

The Second Vatican Council renewed the Sacrament of Confession.  It is preferred to call the sacrament, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is stressed, not penance.  Penances are not physical works, anymore.  The sacrament asks the penitent to change his life.  Everyone needs to orient themselves towards God.  The confessor assigns a token penance and gives absolution.  THEN the penitent goes away on his own and performs his penance.  It's absolution before the penance.

This reading is a reminder of the love and mercy Jesus is always giving.  He wants us to get as close to Him as possible.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you...Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will exalt you.  James 4; 8-10


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Everyone Can Be Merciful

Free dental care in Hartford, CT, Mission of Mercy
Free Image

Pope Francis has declared as a year of mercy, this year.  In reading a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, I read:

The works of mercy are innumerable.  Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part.  Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Those with money can donate the funds to help others.  Those without money can donate their time.  Everyone can pray.  I have no excuse not to be merciful.  Neither do you.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Escaping Down the Ladder


Book Club is tonight but I'm not going.  It's too cold.  I did like the book, John Grisham's The Street Lawyer.  It's about a successful, high-power attorney and his rejection of the glitter and gold.  Unfortunately, in researching personal information that interested him, he ended up stealing property that wasn't his.  In fact, it would mean the loss of his license to practice law and jail time.

My "cloistered brothers," would say, "If you can't do the time, don't commit the crime."  Unfortunately, our main character, Michael Brock, didn't consider the rhyme.  But anyway, that's not the real story.  It's a concern, but the story is how Michael throws away his fast track career to become a street lawyer and become a better person for it.

The Wilderness


Our environment is the wilderness that is spoken of in Luke 4: 1.  I think of this especially during the upcoming Lent.  Jesus' temptations in this desert/wilderness are similar to mine and probably yours.  All the temptations the devil offer are material stuff, i.e., possessions, power, and status.  Of course, being old, I know better than when I was young.  Experience has taught me that people who have acquired much, aren't any happier than I am and maybe pretty sad and miserable.  What they lack is God.  Our relationship with God not only guides us through the wilderness but shelters us from assaults.  We are "led by the spirit," through life, just as Jesus was led out of the desert wilderness.

Meditation upon this Sunday's Gospel: Luke 4: 1-13.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dirty Little Secrets

Many ask priests, "What's Confession like?"  What they probably mean is, "What's it like to hear people's dirty little secrets?"  Well, from what confessors say, and from what I've read, priests respond with, "It's a humbling experience for the priest;" "it's a liberating moment;" "it's a grace."

The dirty little secrets are not what the sacrament is about.  The sacrament is a reconciliation with God.  Sin separates us from God and Confession/Reconciliation/Penance (different names for the same sacrament) bring (reconcile) us back to God.  This is why the confessors say, "It's humbling, liberating, a great grace."

The confessor sees how the penitent is sincerely trying to live a moral life. They don't like what they've done, or how they are, and want to start over.  The confessor sees the desire to be a better person, to get closer to God, to be what God them to be.  The confessor is humbled to be an instrument that God uses to be the means to speak in persona Christi.  The confessor sees how much people love their spouses, and children, and parents, and others.  These people truly are God's children and want to live that way.  They want their relationship with God to be better and that's why they're there--in confession.  No wonder priests call it humbling and a great grace.

And we Catholics are blessed to be the recipients of that grace.  We Catholics get to experience God's mercy.  Yes, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the way to get closer to God.  Receiving the Eucharist is as personal a relationship anyone can get; we become One with God.  And the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the means to the Eucharist.

This topic was inspired by my reading of a 3-month-old newspaper article.  "Confession is about the mind-boggling mercy of God," by Fr. Dennis Baker, in the National Catholic Reporter, November 20-December 3, 2015, Vol. 52, No. 3, columns 23.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Face of God

This is my "cloistered brother," MEK's latest creation.  The face shares an eye.  It represents both the feminine and masculine sides of God.  He is One God.  We, males and females, were created in the image of God.  God is looking at us with love.

Looking into the eye of Christ.
Looking with the eye of Christ.
Looking thru the eye of Christ.

Hearing thru the spirit of Christ.
Hearing with the heart of Christ.
Hearing into the grace of Christ.

Praying into the hope of Christ.
Praying with the tears of Christ.
Praying thru the mercy of Christ.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Paul Miki and Companions


Today, I'm teaching parents whose children are receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.  I'm giving the parents the history of the sacrament.

This morning, I opened my prayer book to find out that today is the feast of Paul Miki and Companions.  I can use this feast in explaining the history of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In early Christianity, the sacrament was public because Christianity was just beginning to develop.  Christianity was outlawed.  When it was discovered that you were Christian you were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed in various horrendous ways.  Many denied that they were Christians.  That's apostasy.

Afterwards, these traitors tried to go to church.  What nerve, huh?  Of course, their brothers and sisters could see that they needed to be accepted back, so the deniers of Christ had to apologize to the community.  This is how the first confessions were done--publically.  The community decided on the penance.  Once the penance was fulfilled, the bishop came to give absolution.

I am afraid that I'd be a coward and deny Jesus.  I'd need the grace of God to not be afraid and be strong enough to declare that I am a child of Christ.

Then this morning, I read about Paul Miki and twenty-five companions who were martyred in Japan.  Not only were they not afraid, they were happy about it.  They rejoiced.  They sang Te Deum!

May God bless them! They rejoiced because they were dying for God.  They were hung on crosses, much like Jesus. They died with God's praises on their lips.

I think God for such brave Christians.  Their story is so moving that for the next couple of centuries Japanese Christians kept the faith underground.  The blood of martyrs watered the faith of Christ.

Let us pray for Christians who are persecuted throughout the world.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Indifference

from my bedroom window

There's a blizzard outside.  I love bad weather, only because it gives me an excuse to stay home and read.  This morning, after my prayers, reading the Globe (Yay, delivery is getting to be regular!), I read the message of his Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the XLIX World Day of Peace.  I only read paragraphs One and Two, but that's enough to get the theme.  The theme is something I know but had never thought about--indifference.

I know and so does everybody else, that human beings are the most human when we help each other.  In other words, we feel compassion for them and are moved to do something, for them.  Nowadays, the pope points out, the world seems to be callous.  People seem to be indifferent to the plight of others.  (Think of those who want to build walls to keep people out.)  (Refuse to welcome refugees.)

I see it more and more, do you?

This is the intro to the rest of the message.  That's as far as I got.  After all, I have homework to do.  I'm reading Unpacking the Boxes by Donald Hall, for my writing group.  The Street Lawyer by John Grisham, for St. Mary's Book Club.  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown for Argonauta.  The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by Pope Francis for my Lay Dominican Chapter.

And silly children think snow days are just for them.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Interpretation of My Dream


This morning's post was about my dream.  I told the chaplain about it and she explained some of it to me.  She has taken a few courses in dream interpretation.  Most important is to know that dreams are ALWAYS about yourself.  I dreamt about someone else, but the dream is about myself.  The important items in the dream--we think are:

shrinking to disappearing
the head
the envelope kept for safe keeping
the EMT's

And what I felt during and after the dream. The shrinking shocked me.  The head appalled me.  I felt good about keeping her safe locked up in the envelope and felt relief when the EMT's came.  After the dream I was frightened that we (RCIA team) would get into trouble.  I was also very sad that the chaplain had died and we had nothing to prove that she had ever lived.  There was no body.

The last emotion I felt (being sad because there was no body) I think is what the dream is all about.  Hubby and I, and friends, have been discussing end of life issues.  Also, whether we want to be cremated or what.

In fact, someone told me a story just yesterday that her friend unexpectedly died and was cremated,  Her husband is keeping her ashes in an urn.  The urn sits on the table where he eats, so that he eats with her, like they always did.

The dream is about something that was on my mind.  That's all.

Dreaming

MEK Drawing

Dreams don't usually affect me.  However, last night I had one that woke me up and won't leave me.  It frightens me and I don't know why.  It isn't about me.  Here's the dream.

I'm teaching my RCIA class and the chaplain walks in.  She trips and falls.  We all immediately rush over to her.  She's unconscious but her entire body is twittering.  It's moving here and there, like a roomba vacuum cleaner.  It skitters across the floor and when it bumps into something it turns and continues.  There's another thing.  It's shrinking--very fast.  Of course, someone has called 911.  When we see her heading under something like our little refrigerator or a bookcase, we all rush over to it to block her from skittering under and getting stuck.  But eventually, she jitters her way into a big manilla envelope.  We don't think much about it except maybe--Good!  We can easily get her out when we want and meanwhile she's safe.  Finally, the EMT's come and we shake everything out of the envelope.  It just so happens that the envelope was full of paper dolls and some are torn apart.  We can't find her except for her head.  And we know that it's her because the head is still jittering.  In fact, it's the only thing jittering.  All her other parts are mixed in with the paper dolls.  So we shove everything, including the jittering head, back into the envelope, fasten it, and hand it to the EMT's.  "Here you guys figure it out."

I wake up.

What haunts me is that every piece of her is gone.  It's like she never existed.

What does it all mean?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

First Draft


Poetry consumed my thoughts all day, yesterday.  In the evening, I reread the instructor's poem.  I am taking a workshop in Prose Poetry Memoir Writing.  In the syllabus, when I read the instructor's example, I thought, "this kind of poetry is just like one run-on sentence."  I didn't think much of it.

 Now, listen up.

Last night, I read the story she distributed to the class.  Guess what?  It's a great short story.  I liked it a lot.  Then I looked up her prose memoir poem.  It's the very same!  So with that in mind, I took one of my poems that I recollected from my childhood and turned it into a memoir.  In other words, I expanded my emotions.  I wove a story around the feeling.

Here's the original story:

Cemetery Ice Capades

Dodging gravestones at winter's dusk
My labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I raced through the silence of the dead,
Leaving clouds of rasping vapor.

Being chased by serrated points,
My figure skates beat sharply
Against my back, like a jockey
Whipping his mount, to the finish.

Dee, Sue, Marilyn, and all,
Girlfriends in freestyle synchro.
Toured jubilantly across
Pete's Bog.  It went on far too long.

The sun slipped behind the trees.
Leaving me alone, skates balanced
Over my shoulder, whipping me faster,
down the cemetery hill to home.

Help me Grandma, Help me Grandpa!
Ask the Lord to protect me.
With labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I dodged gravestones at winter's dusk.

In keying this original poem, I see elements in it that I wished I had put in the following prose poem memoir.  I probably will add them.  Today is my usual writer's group.  I'll offer up these two versions and see what my critics say.  But for the moment, here's what I scribbled, last night.

                                                   Cemetery Ice Capades

Being chased by the serrated points, my figure skates beat sharply against my back,
like a jockey whipping his mount toward the finish line. My friends and I were skating
on the bog, behind cemetery hill. We were having such a grand time that the slipping
sun sliding behind the trees on the horizon, went unnoticed. Well, it was noticed, but
we were too hesitant to end our fun.  Figure skates have too many grommets to
loosen, especially with frozen fingers tugging at knots.  Various "goodbyes" were
called out. Then suddenly, I was alone. Alone--at dusk--in a cemetery--with silent
graves--loud silence!  I tied my skates together.  Tossed them, balanced over my
shoulder and took off running.  I dodged gravestones racing towards home, at the
bottom of cemetery hill.The skates whipped me to run faster. My feet never touched
the ground.  I flew over frozen puddles and little snow mounds.  I didn't look right,
or left, or down, or around.  Tears dripped out of my eyes and froze on my cheeks.
My breathing pounded in my ears as my heart beat out a prayer. I raced through paths
till I broke out free of the dangerous neighborhood, and slid down the hill where I
was home safe.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Narrative Prose Memoir Poetry

Casco Bay

You'll be suffering through my experimenting with writing my memoir in prose poetry.  For now, I'm just reading.  Here's the first stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's My Lost Youth.  It's not in prose form but it is a memoir in poetry.  Nice imagery.

My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Often I think of the beautiful town
That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
And my youth comes back to me.
    And a verse of a Lapland song
    Is haunting my memory still
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

Longfellow is writing about Portland ME.  I'm making a list of my own memories that I want to write about.

And I keep catching myself smiling.

Lataste Holy Door of Mercy

Lataste chapel
The beginning of the Jubilee Year is always solemnly marked by the opening of a Holy Door by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. However, for this Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis also wanted a Door of Mercy in each diocese so that everyone throughout the world may be able to celebrate the Jubilee.