Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Health and Wellbeing

It’s Monday morning!

Coming in for a landing
jostling for space
grabbing the prize
and gobbling it down
or flitting away to
a private dining room
in the brilliant maple tree
they swarm like bees

Red-bellied woodpeckers
hairy and downy woodpeckers
an occasional flicker
house finches and sparrows
tufted titmice and chickadees
red-bellied nuthatches
and plain black and white nuthatches
red cardinals and reddish-brown mamas
plus uncertain adolescents
interrupted occasionally
by raucous blue jays jumping
up and down and all over
our squirrel-proof birdfeeder

I wanted to come upstairs
and write a letter to you
but the birds kept calling out
with their happy dances plus
indiscriminate pooping on the porch rail
while Smudge slept soundly
on his special rocking chair
in the living room
resting from his nighttime
take-down of a baby cricket

It’s Monday morning
and I’m feeling rather frisky
and just a bit bold if not brave
Autumn is the most poignant
season of all with its nonstop
invitation to dance as leaves
flutter to the ground sparkling
with golden glory next to cast-off
pods from birdseed plus the other
stuff too all over the place
like a spatter paint job on
porch and lawn feeding the aging
grass with free fertilizer from above

A bit of nonsense, and a prayer that your week will be full of unexpected surprises of the good kind. Happy Monday, no matter what!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 October 2020
Photo of female Red-Bellied Woodpecker found at pilotonline.com

Am I brave?

Where is my center?
The one thing that matters
Above all else

What is truth?
Not what I see with my eyes
But enact in my life

Brave
I want to be brave again
I think

Yesterday’s bravery looks on
With bated breath
Was it for real or not?

Since childhood
I’ve prepared for this moment
Without a map

Now I’m a grown-up
Battle-worn and wondering
Can I do this again?

I don’t generally think of myself as a brave woman. Determined? Yes. But not brave.

My life has been a series of interruptions by men. Some were accustomed to taking over and talking over others. They seemed to be the truly brave players on the scene. People like my father, my first boss, some male pastors with whom I’ve worked, male teachers and professors, male board members, presidents, vice-presidents and colleagues. Sometimes male students.

They seemed to sound ‘brave,’ if not always wise. At best I might have called myself ‘disciplined.’ But even that sounds weak. Especially now, in a world reeling from a dearth of true bravery. The kind that moves ahead without knowing how this is going to end. Without hanging onto ‘power over’ other people. Without the need to prove something personally, or make sure this turns out right.

Most Christian churches with majority white members are likely in need of brave leaders. I’m not an official church leader. I’m a retired theologian. Nonetheless, it’s time to step up. Time to become brave yet again. This time without apology or fear of what people may think about me.

There’s too much at stake to put my trust in niceness, or even in making sure I’ve gotten every word in the right place, spoken or written in the right way, at the right time.

I’ve begun reading Brenda Salter McNeil’s Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now. I’ll say more about it in a later post. It’s a great read so far.

Thanks for visiting and reading. On another note, my poem, Haunted, has been published in a South Georgia newspaper. In addition, my primary care physician asked for it–to use in a small discussion group the practice has begun.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 October 2020
Image found at StarTribuneBaltimore.com

Smudge’s Health

How quickly life’s pages turn
Without an option to return
To yesterday’s life now fading

Everything changed in the time it took
To close and later open the front door
To unexpected pain and agony

Looking into our cat’s eyes I see
He already knows something is amiss
As he hobbles up to greet me

Smudge isn’t well. All day yesterday I thought about how hard it was to let our first two cats go. The first was 2 years old. The second was an overripe 19 years. Both were euthanized due to health issues. Now it seems Smudge’s days are fewer than we thought they would be. He’s about 7 years old.

The vet says he has a small heart murmur. It wasn’t there last year. He also thinks Smudge may be suffering from a small blood clot that lodged in his right back foot. He’s now on a very small baby aspirin dose every other day. If his foot pads are warm, that’s a good sign. Today they’re warm. Still, the likelihood that he’ll return to ‘normal’ isn’t high.

We tried to contact several cat cardiologists yesterday (referrals from our vet). To no avail. Maybe today? Covid-19 has made everything more difficult, including getting an appointment with a cat cardiologist. Sadly, I haven’t found one article that sounded upbeat about this particular health issue in cats. How long might Smudge beat the odds?

The last few days felt like a very sad dream. Today I’m being extra kind to Prince Oliver Smudge the Second. He still makes me laugh, and tugs at my heart. What’s a cat-lover to do?

Thanks for listening and empathizing.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 October 2020
Photo taken above our kitchen sink by ERFraser, July 2014

What will we sing at our funeral?

After the post-election fight
(There will surely be one)
After things said and done
(Never to be taken back)
Who are we?
Who are you?
Who are ‘they’?
Who am I?
Do we know how to live together?
Do we know ourselves?

The election pales before
Post-election realities
We can’t turn the clock back
The ticking never stops
Hours chime down
And then ahead despite
Agonies of loss and outrage
From either side of this drama

This country simmers
On the brink of boiling over
Into a million public and private
Wars of attrition and retribution
Burning to the ground every sign of
National good will or peace on earth

“My country, ‘tis of Thee sweet land of liberty?”
What will we sing at our funeral?

I pray I’m wrong. Yet there are already signs of kick-back. White Power individuals and groups are moving to take things into their own hands. Meanwhile, POTUS looks the other way, or acknowledges them publicly in ways that encourage them.

Who will be our true leaders in this unmapped territory? What are my values? What does it mean to follow Jesus no matter where this path takes me?

If my preferred candidates don’t win, will my values or direction suddenly change? Or am I willing to join and keep learning from children, women and men who live all their lives, as Jesus did, without the assumption of good will or peace on earth?

Praying we’ll find our way together,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 October 2020
Map found at pinterest.com

The Naming of Cats

In Honor Of Prince Oliver Smudge the Second, aka Smudge,
Who spent his royal time this day being transported by his Proud Owners,
Queen Elouise and King David, to and from His Royal Highness’ doctor’s office

Nothing life threatening. Just a nagging pain in his right rear paw pads. It takes all the fun out of rough-housing and running around the house chasing mice and crickets. Still, he’s to see a cat heart doctor in the next few weeks to find out how serious his newly diagnosed heart flutter is and what to do about it. In the meantime, he gets to be all lazy and fawned over. What a life!

No, I didn’t plan this post for today. It just happened, folks. However, I’m well into James Cones’ book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. I’m also reading W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, and re-reading slowly Mary Oliver’s slender volume of poems, Thirst.

Yesterday evening, I played my piano for the first time in months. We bought it right after our daughter was born in 1970. It traveled with us from South Carolina to Southern California to Nashville, Tennessee, to Pennsylvania. As beautiful as ever.

Smudge has always left the living room when I’ve started playing. He loves to walk all over it (lid closed on the keyboard!), but seems allergic to my playing. Last night, however, he wasn’t feeling as frisky as usual, and stayed right on his chair while I played.

Hoping your days are filled with beauty, truth and hope. Not because the sun is going to come out tomorrow, but because creation never stops playing music for us. We just have to listen for it. Not to deny the seriousness of life, but to baptize life today with a different kind of truth. Truth that reminds us of our Creator’s presence no matter what happens next.

Thanks for visiting!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 October 2020
Poem and image found at tumblr.com

Messenger | Mary Oliver

This is the opening poem in Mary Oliver’s slim volume, Thirst. The volume is dedicated to her partner of many years, Molly Malone Cook, who died in 2005. My comments follow.

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Death stares us in the face daily. Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, raging forest fires, climate change and more bring it home.

No matter which political and/or religious side you’re on, we live in the world of 2020, not 2019. As I see it, we’re in a national and international valley of death. Some self-inflicted; some visited on us unawares.

Given these realities, what are we now to do?

In the midst of her valley of death, Mary Oliver seeks to clarify her work. Yes, she grieves the loss of her partner. In addition, she wants to know why she’s still alive, and what the meaning of her life is now.

Though I still have my partner, this is my question as well. What am I called to do and say right now, in this world of Covid-19 et al? Not in a drab and dreary way, but in a way that conveys my love for this world, focuses on what matters, remains open to the miracle of joy, overflows with gratitude, and proclaims “how it is that we live forever.” Not for ourselves alone, but for this world starving for love and for life.

We matter, singly and together. No matter how defeated or discouraged we feel.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 October 2020
Photo found at pinterest.com

The Unreality Show

The Unreality Show
Continues unscripted
Relentless and determined
One labored breath at a time
Inhaled then exhaled
Wincing and fidgeting
Drifting and struggling
To keep it all together
As things fall apart

Mr. Trump returned to the White House. Not quietly in the middle of the night, but with a show of defiance that reveals his weaknesses. All caught on camera and in tweets to the world. It seems he decided he had to get Covid-19 in order to demonstrate how important it is not to give in to it.

Surrender to the realities of Covid-19, and to experienced Covid-19 experts? Forget it. That might look like defeat. Yet how else is a body to heal? Much less a soul and a heart well practiced in the proud clamor of unpredictable, destructive behavior now vainly turned to his own vain advantage.

I grieve what Mr. Trump has done to and against this country. We’re not perfect, and never will be. Not by a long shot. Today, however, we’re farther than ever from what we might have become in the last four years. This is true even though the past four years have clarified fault lines we would rather not (yet must) examine.

As a follower of Jesus, I’m instructed to pray for leaders of this nation. Today my prayer joins others, beseeching God for mercy. Not by sending a special healing miracle for Mr. Trump, but by mercifully removing him from his current position of seemingly limitless power. Power Mr. Trump does not now, and has never had.

May God have mercy on us all.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 October 2020
Photo of POTUS returning to the White House found at theintercept.com

Chains

Chains of fearful submission
Rattle through the nighttime
Terrorizing citizens caught
In the act of looking the other way

This simple act caught on screen and
Controlled by centuries of false freedom
Binds tongues and stokes the proud
In these days of wine and funerals

Whiteness permeates communal air
Contaminating the atmosphere
Dripping with the stench of refuse
From centuries of proud fear

Sunday church comes just in time
For another needle of painkiller
Soothing hard hearts and closed minds
Ready for another week of denial

This is my personal statement, based on a lifetime of church service and membership. Both conservative and not so conservative.  

Ever since this nation’s founding, independent and denominational white churches in the USA have enabled the war against full citizenship for people of color, American Indians, and many immigrants. How did churches do this? Chiefly by staying within so-called safe “non-political’ bounds, and practicing forms of charity that required sacrifice without causing a political ruckus.

Denial has a way of becoming deadly. It’s a downward slope leading to disaster. Many white churches in the USA are in denial. Some may talk about change. Others who care deeply about these things read books and get involved personally.

Rarely, however, is there difficult institutional change. The kind that’s visible, that stirs up uncomfortable controversy and leads to even more difficult change. Yet that’s what it means to follow Jesus the Jew on his way to death. He was crucified (hung on a cross/tree) for living the Good News for All and telling it like it is. Not with rancor, yet without mincing words or minimizing the cost to him or to his followers.

I’m praying for visible changes of heart and habits of life. We’re in this for the long haul, no matter how the upcoming election plays out. 

Thanks for visiting, and for doing what you can where you are. As for me, I’m reading James Cones’ book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 October 2020
Book cover image from amazon.com

Hugs and More Hugs!!!

Here’s a shout-out to my bloggy friend Carolyn, Queen of Hugs! Yesterday she got super-good news from her doctors. Today she asked her readers to do something to celebrate her milestone. I thought the video at the top was fabulous. So I’m posting it in honor of Carolyn. (Check out the link above to read about her good news, and see the way she announced it.)

My favorite evening wind-down shows are all about animals and the way they’re cared for. In well-run zoos, on refuge farms, in vet clinics formal and informal, here and abroad. You name it. It doesn’t matter. The bond between owners and pets or rescued animals is awesome.

Maybe we could learn a lesson or two about joy and faithfulness from their remarkable, unpredictable behavior. To say nothing about what it means to give and receive love.

In the meantime, huge congratulations to Carolyn, giver and receiver of many hugs!

Happy October! Don’t forget to hug a special person, pet, or animal today. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what joy feels like.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 October 2020
Video of Amazing Animal Hugs hugs found on YouTube

the long walk home, 3 years later

I first posted this in August 2017. Mr. Trump had been in office for less than a year. Now he’s up for re-election, and today’s world is far removed from anything that feels like home. Are we going to make it from here to there? And what will happen to us along the way?

*****

I wonder—
Do breathless trees
dusky skies
and lengthening shadows
remember what they see
beneath fading twilight
swathed in heavy garments
unsure of her destination

Is this a woman? I think so. She seems to be taking the long walk home. Which may or may not be that dark cottage hovering in the background, watching as she makes her way.

Is she alone? I think not. The trees, skies and passing shadows reveal more than what’s happening on the ground or in the background. If this world is God’s poem (thank you, Mary Oliver), we have reason to hope. Not because of the play of light in the trees, on the ground or in the background, but because of the Light that shines even in our darkest hours.

Sometimes, perhaps always, we must leave home to find our true home. Or better, to be found by God’s everyday angels in this world that belongs not to us, but to God.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 November 2017, reposted 30 September 2020
Autumn Landscape at Dusk, 1885, by Vincent van Gogh found at Wikiart.com

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