Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Daily Prompt

Our National Nightmare

Burning with contempt
We peer into the mirror
of our discontent
strutting proudly
through our dens
down hallways
of our disbelieving minds

Deliriously happy
to be Great Again
Or
Deliriously happy
we are Not Like That

There, but for the grace of God, go I?
Really, my heart?

This moment is full of danger and opportunity. The opportunity to work on our national homework—long overdue.

Perhaps it’s too late for some. It’s never too late for our surviving children and the surviving children of this world.

Is this a nightmare from which we’ll one day wake? Or is it the nightmare that will take all of us down—together yet divided.

Every time national events cause deep revulsion or fear in me, I know it’s time to take stock. What is this national nightmare trying to say to me right now?

It doesn’t matter which issue we’re dealing with. White supremacy, human trafficking, pornography, sexual abuse and predators, political gridlock, opioid epidemic, mass killings, racial profiling, homegrown terrorism, corporate greed, broken promises, or a hundred other issues. Plus a steady dose of twitter-like hyper-inattention.

It’s all part of our National Nightmare, not new, yet starkly in focus and fed by Mr. Trump’s persona and ubiquitous presence in our media.

No one can deal with everything. So I’ve chosen a few things to explore between now and Christmas. Things with which I’ve had close encounters of the uncomfortable sort, each of which boils down to one very large issue: Abuse of Power.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring and doing what you can to level the imbalance of power around you. Right in your own backyard.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 November 2017
Daily Prompt: Strut

early morning

A flock of small birds
speeds south
high above tree tops

Early morning sun shivers
behind gray clouds
creeping across the sky

Next to the radiator
my cat huddles
soaking in precious warmth

Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were a bird or clouds or a kept cat. Then again, I don’t think that would be nearly as adventuresome as getting up each day wondering what it will become by nightfall.

I don’t know why I’m the woman I am, why I was born into this skin, or why I had no say about the family or country into which I was born.

I used to fret about this, as though things would be better if I were someone else. Born to different parents, at another time and in another place.

Today I love who I am as one of God’s creatures. Small, yet as precious as the smallest hummingbird making its annual migration from North to South. Flying, not tiptoeing my way into the next season of my life. Held in God’s large hand.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2017
Photo found at pinterest.com
Daily Prompt: Gingerly

Dear Friends,

No big post for today. Just a little report on what’s happening.

  1. I just got back from voting! Not a big election, but then that shouldn’t matter. I value my vote, especially as a woman with clear convictions and yes, hope for our future.
  2. The weather is going north today–temperatures dropping by the hour. On my way to our polling station I wore my down-filled winter walking coat for the first time this season. Walked fast, voted, and walked fast home, trying to dodge the cold wind. A great start to the day. Not for the faint of heart.
  3. Last Friday I spent most of the afternoon at my primary cardiologist’s office. He’s thorough and experienced–takes his time and looks at every possible angle to make sure my heart is functioning as well as possible. My biggest compliment of the year (so far) came at the end. He looked at my birth date, noted I would be 74 this month and told me I look like I’m 64! Now there’s a really smart doctor. And yes, he also said I’m doing just great, all things considered.
  4. Yesterday afternoon I met up with my friend Rita and her adorable little doggie. We had a wonderful walk and talk through the park and back to her place. She’s in her 80s and is as lively and engaged in life as possible. A beautiful woman from the inside out. Petite and energetic.
  5. Sunday was marked by news about the mass shooting at a church in a small South Texas town. Only 400 town citizens; over 25 dead and many more injured and/or in shock. There have been many mass killings in the USA. Not simply in recent years, but from the beginning. The difference today is that the last three massacres were carried out by loners using various means to kill as many people as possible. Homegrown terrorism, as have been most horrendous mass murders.
  6. Today I joined an online spiritual formation community, and hope to get into an online Advent retreat for poets. A friend sent me the link after reading one of my recent posts. I’m excited and energized, especially after studying their website and seeing the quality of people who work with this online community. It looks like just the thing for me right now.

Well, that’s about it. I hope your Tuesday is (or was) filled with gracious surprises!

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2017
Photo taken by DAFraser in Brisbane, Australia, November 2015 

Daily Prompt: Faint

ready for harvest


Ripe and ready for harvest
The meadow lies before me
Still standing yet stripped
Of all but essentials

The sum of my present life
Waits for release into new life
Seeds dropped here and there
With no guarantees

There is no cure for death
The goal toward which
Every heartbeat has driven me
The home for which I long

I feel only loneliness and sorrow
At leaving behind loved ones
And this beautiful threatened world

D took this photo on our last visit to Longwood Gardens. No more stunning meadow flowers, and not so many joyous birds and butterflies. Instead, it’s full of late term life, ready to give its well-aged beauty to anyone willing to spend time looking and listening.

It isn’t as perky as it was just a month ago. Still, it isn’t ugly, or a sign that all is lost. Rather, it’s a sign that life is brief and fragile, and that it’s important to love it while we have it. One way or another, death comes to each of us sooner or later. With or without time for last goodbyes or heartfelt conversations.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 November 2017
Photo taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017
Daily Prompt: Panacea

weapons of warfare

intention to harm
shot from loaded heart and tongue
backfires brilliantly
exposing raw self-contempt
seething beneath thin skin

What will it take to give us, as a nation, eyes to see beneath the surface of bully tactics?

The best solution I’ve found is to stand before the mirror of my loaded heart and tongue. I’m still learning to acknowledge, comfort and care for deep wounds inflicted upon me by others and by myself. The cost, however, is high. I have to let others in, allowing them to see and love me in my self-contempt, sometimes showing me how it’s done.

Is this lifetime skill of loving ourselves as damaged yet unspeakably valuable persons modeled in our homes, our churches, our schools? Do we know how to see into bullies without being hooked by their bows, arrows and buckshot ways? Do we know how to value them without giving up the duty of holding them accountable for the harm they do us and others? No matter who they are?

Our nation is drowning in an epidemic self-contempt raging across every boundary on our maps. It festers and erupts within national and state politics, and within the homes and streets of our neighborhoods. Directly and indirectly it fuels every shot of every firearm ever invented. How do we address this crisis? Or even begin to acknowledge it as a national emergency that touches each of us, whether we realize it or not.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2017
Image found at theodysseyonline.com

Daily Prompt: Simmer, Neighbors

a great restlessness

Sometimes
a great restlessness
comes over me

I long for home –
for release from pain and sorrow
weighing heavy
even in the midst of grand beauty
and people I love

I can’t go back –
The distance grows greater every day
and I can’t start over –
Not while I’m held in this time
You have given me

I’m just not sure why it matters
to have me hanging around –
Please enlighten.

I wrote these words at the end of the day, over a week ago. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to have life almost completely turned on its head within the short space of a moment or two.

The last two years have forced me to become brutally honest about what I can and cannot do each day. I swing haphazardly between elation (I finally figured out how to pull this off!), to weary despair (Is this the agenda for the rest of my life?).

At first, two years ago now, it was all a frightfully strange yet challenging adventure. Today I want less strangeness and more adventure. The kind that fits me today, not the woman I was yesterday.

As for ‘normal,’ it’s out the window! I don’t even know what it is anymore. The prayer above is the truth about me today. Open, expectant, actively looking and listening for a way to fit all pieces of this restless puzzle together: poetry, a small group of other poets, close to home and life-giving. Something that fits hand-in-glove with the writing I’m already doing and the woman I am today.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 November 2017
Photo of Sunset in the Black Forest, found at pixabay

Daily Prompt: Mystery

Ghoulish Gallery

Behold my four ghouls
Some greater than others
Designed to affright
disgust or delight

Traditional Irish Jack-‘o-Lantern (above) inhabits
the Museum of Country Life in Ireland

Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-‘o-Lantern
made from a turnip

Modern carving of a North American
Jack-o’-Lantern pumpkin
designed, hand carved and photographed
by my delightfully irrepressible Sister #3, Diane
who died of ALS in February 2006

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 October 2017
Halloween witch image found at pinterest.com
Images of Cornish and Irish Jack-‘o-Lanterns found at Wickipedia
Photo of Jack-‘o-Lantern pumpkin taken by Diane Renich Kelley
Daily Prompt: Ghoulish

my small world

Living in a well-kept cave
Hunched over my desk
A mere speck of dust
On the head of a pin
I labor earnestly
To make all right within
And without my small world

Ducking my head
I make my way cautiously
Down narrow stairsteps
Into an underground cellar
Retrieving small bits and pieces
Of frozen life-support
Watching lest I bang my head
On a forgotten metal pipe
Or hefty wooden beam

Sitting at my kitchen table
Shades drawn to shut out the gloom
And chill of approaching winter
I drink to yet another day
Of life within this small abode
Lined with objects of a past
Now haunting my present as I
Dig deep searching for lost pieces
Of a life I once lived now frozen
Within ghostlike reminders

This poem captures a truth about my life. Is it overstated? I hope so. But then again….

Sometimes I use John Baillie’s Diary of Private Prayer for my morning and evening prayers. The language is a bit outdated for my ears, but this line grabbed my attention this morning, leading to the poem above.

Creator Spirit….Forbid that under the low roof of workshop or office of study I should ever forget Thy great overarching sky….

John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer, p. 30 (Fireside, 1996 edition)

Thankfully the sun is out today, with fluffy clouds sprinkled here and there. I want to walk this day beneath and within the roof of our Creator’s glorious, overarching sky. Indoors or out, though I’m hoping for outdoors!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 October 2017
Photo found at carlwozniak.com
Daily Prompt: Fluff; Gratitude

The canvas of our dreams

The canvas of our dreams
Writ deep in hazy memories
Unfurls a Master Narrative
Embraced with godly fervor

Layer upon layer added thereto
Fills in once empty gaps
With stuff of dreams and whiffs of smoke
The snake oil of deceivers

Here, drink to this and drink to that!
We’ve always been the greatest
Just raise your glass and repeat with me
Our mantra of salvation –
Then head right to your voting booth
And punch for victory!

In the opening pages of his monumental history of multicultural America, Ronald Takaki defines what he calls “the Master Narrative of American History.”

According to this powerful and popular but inaccurate story, our country was settled by European immigrants, and Americans are white. ‘Race,’ observed Toni Morrison, has functioned as a ‘metaphor’ necessary to the ‘construction of Americanness’: in the creation of our national identity, ‘American’ has been defined as ‘white.’ Not to be ‘white’ is to be designated as the ‘Other’ – different, inferior, and unassimilable.

Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Little, Brown and Company, 2008 edition, p. 4)
Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness in the Literary Imagination (Cambridge, Mass., 1992, p. 47)

This rules out groups such as those Takaki focuses on in his book: Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, and Muslim Americans.

The only way to fight surreal snake oil is with knowledge and committed resistance to the purveyors of snake oil.

As a highly persistent woman, I am yet again highly recommending this book. Even though you may not make it through all 445 pages, you’ll find a goldmine of correctives to our current misguided, surreal national obsession with who’s really ‘American.’

Cheers to all my neighbors, near and far. We’re in this together–even when it seems we’re not.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2017
Image found at hallidaysutherland.files.wordpress.com

Daily Prompt: Surreal

Old before her grownup time


Old before her grownup time
A little girl in adult mode
Within her childhood body
Performs an adult’s duties

Reserves once bright diminished now
She wills her youthful girlhood back
To fuel her lagging body

Perhaps she’ll wake up one bright day
And find those long-lost years
Held in reserve for later use –
Life savings locked within a vault
Accumulating dividends

I woke up a few days ago with a thought flitting around in my head: What if all my unspent childhood energy—lost to adult responsibilities before my time—is sitting somewhere waiting for me to reclaim it? You know–to fill in energy gaps that crop up when least expected or welcome.

After nearly 74 years, surely I’m entitled to reap something from all that premature investment in adulthood. Not just in my spirit, but (especially) in my body.

Now wouldn’t that be something to shout about? I might even put one of those giant trampolines in my backyard to burn off the energy!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 October 2017
Photo found at livingonthecheap.com

Daily Prompt: Identity

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