Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Mr. Trump

Missing in action

Searching for myself
In this other-worldly place
My mind wanders
Down one path
and up another
Without a map
Or proper clothes
For a fading woman
Whose goal is
To get through today
Intact

Yesterday’s dreams
Sleep fitfully
In another time and space
Missing in action

I haven’t posted for several days, in part because of a few nagging health issues that required attention.

The biggest hurdle, though, has been coming to terms with my present reality. First, as a senior citizen with chronic pre-existing health conditions. And second, as a citizen of the USA, with the reality of Covid-19 as presided over (or not) by Mr. Trump.

The question I asked several weeks ago still nags at me. What will I do if I develop signs of Covid-19? What do I want, and what do I not want?

Last week I looked through old photos of my life with D and our family. I thought about what I want and do not want, should I need to be quarantined. I also consulted with a trusted friend who is going through a similar discernment.

In short, what I wrote in my Living Will eight years ago isn’t going to work for Covid-19. So I’m starting over.

I’ve decided to use Five Wishes as my framework this time. In large part because they offer a framework for talking about this with family members. I don’t want to be intubated, or moved to a hospital. What would that mean? Are we up for this?

In some ways, I’d rather stay lost in my old photos. They bring me laughter and joy. They remind me that I’ve lived a life I never thought I would have, and visited or lived in places I never expected to see. I want to be anchored to that reality instead of trying to figure out how I’ll stay alive for as long as possible.

A life isn’t made up of years. It’s made up of small and large moments. A mosaic, not a graph or timeline. D took the photo above in January 1976, the year I graduated from seminary. One small piece of our mosaic.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 May 2020
Photo taken by DAFraser in southern California, January 1976
 

Of The Empire | Mary Oliver

This morning, in response to my post yesterday, I had an email from a friend. She sent a link to an essay by Susan M. Shaw, I’ll get to hope. For now, I need to sit in the ashes and mourn.  Dr. Shaw doesn’t spare our feelings. Nor does she minimize Mr. Trump’s role. Instead, she focuses on how we’ve colluded to bring ourselves to this point in history. I highly recommend it.

In her essay, Dr, Shaw includes a prose poem by Mary Oliver. It was new to me, and right on target. I found it helpful as a roll call of how we in this nation got from there to here.

Of The Empire

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

© 2008 by Mary Oliver
From her 2008 collection, Red Bird, p. 46
Published by Beacon Press 2008

I wonder what Mary Oliver would say to us today. Wishing for you some reasonably quiet time today to mourn, and ponder our culpability in this mess.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 April 2020
Image found at onthecommons.org

What’s on my mind these days

Without answers, here’s what I’m wondering about these days when it comes to Mr. Trump.

  • How and why did we come to this sad bargain that turned a self-proclaimed genius loose on us and on the rest of the world?
  • Why do I find myself wishing for his demise sooner, not later?
  • How, if ever, can I forgive the folly of this self-proclaimed genius who ignores expert advice, and leads his followers down paths of destruction?
  • As a follower of Jesus, how am I to pray for or against this leader motivated by greed, contempt and self-righteousness?
  • And what does it mean to follow Jesus when many who claim to follow Jesus think this means following Mr. Trump, or at least overlooking his lies and greed?

Everything isn’t about POTUS. It’s also, in a different way, about us. However, my blood runs cold when ‘common people’ are forgotten pawns in a deadly game of Chess held together by a made-up patchwork of throw-away lies, neglect, and innuendo.

Covid-19 didn’t change things. It made them impossible to ignore.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 April 2020
Image found at pinterest.com

Empty words

How quickly things fall apart
Cloaked in bravado and mis-speak –
Brash promises shatter beneath the weight
Of human ineptitude and fierce
Reality on the ground

And yet

Each day the drone goes on
For hours weighty with words
Full of fury plus silence about
What really matters most in this
Nation dying for straight answers

Yet again

Another wandering bombardment
Of jumbled prevarications interrupts
Painting the most upbeat scenarios
We can’t possibly believe —
Empty words drunk on themselves

No, I don’t listen to or watch the “daily briefings” from the White House anymore. They sound more like run-on election-rally speeches (without the hoopla of the crowds), than steady, well-informed updates on COVID-19 and what we can or must do to protect ourselves and others.

The poem is an effort to capture what I’ve seen and heard for myself. Living 76 years has its rewards. One is a long memory of times when our Presidents (of both parties) stepped up to the microphone and helped us join hands as a nation during times of disaster.

No, none of our Presidents has been perfect. Some have been corrupt. Yet on the whole, none in my memory has been as egregiously uncaring about the majority population of this nation as Mr. Trump. His behavior right now is not helpful, not healing, and not encouraging for the short or long-term future.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 April 2020
Photo of White House Press Briefing Podium found at politico.com

Maybe it’s only in me

Maybe it’s only in me
This welling up inside
Like a relentless canker
Reminding me daily
That I‘m not in charge

Bump it and it screams
Look at it and it glares back
Boredom or contempt
written on its face
caught in Trance-mode

plus interruptions to
make its point over and
over all evidence to the
contrary we should try
this suspect remedy or that

or maybe it would be better
to downgrade the pandemic
and reopen for business
a most humane approach
to business as usual

Yes, I can turn off the newsfeed, and often do. Not because I want to live in the dark, but because the alternative ramps up my sense of dis-ease.

We’re in a crisis greater than the coronavirus. A crisis of leadership at the very top. I fear this more than the health crisis for which there seems to be a difficult and effective way of at least slowing it down.

We need time. We need patience and good neighbors. This world and our nation will not be the same when we wake up from this global nightmare.

Together, we can make it. Divided, we’ll inflict more damage than necessary. It’s time to give our health experts the stage. And yes, Mr. Trump, sometimes the cure can seem worse than the disease.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 March 2020
Image found at greeleyschools.org

uncertainty

silence tiptoes
through the valley
searches for truth
hidden beneath
veiled madness
reverberating
through airwaves
relentless and
undisciplined
first one thing
and then another
without rhyme
or reason
torn into pieces
lives and hearts
skip beats waiting
for the next
moment to fall
redefining
everything

That’s how I’m feeling today. Listening to POTUS talk about the corona virus, it seems he’s making it up as he goes along from one day to the next. Picking and choosing what he thinks someone out there wants to hear? Wanting to show he’s in charge?

I’m reminded again that my life isn’t defined by POTUS. Yes, his behavior and undisciplined mind and feelings matter. Yes, he makes what’s already difficult even more difficult.

Still, he doesn’t have the power to define who I am. Today is Sunday. A day to be wise, truthful and happy as I learn to enter the fray one fiery sunrise after another.

Parts of Psalm 23 come to mind, reworded a bit.

Because You alone are leading me,
I have more than enough
to walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
especially when I fear I don’t have
what I need to get from here
to the end of my earthly journey.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 March 2020
Photo found at churchofthemessiah.com

The underbelly of the Church – because it matters NOW

I’m feeling small these days. Are you? The challenge at the end of this post is meant for all of us who feel unprepared or small.

Below is a quote from Simone Weil about the social and patriotic power of the Church. Not church as we know it on Sunday mornings, but the Church as a powerful institution within a political setting.

Weil wrote during the Nazi era. Her words are troubling, given the rise of the white Evangelical church’s political influence in the USA. Sometimes on Sunday mornings, but also in public arenas where religious language virtually baptizes political figures as agents of God, up to and including Mr. Trump.

In light of the Nazi era, this turn of events is more than troubling. Many, though not all German Protestant and Catholic churches, including pastors and revered theologians, colluded in the rise of Hitler. Their open support amounted to baptizing Hitler as God’s agent sent as their Great Leader at this time. Yes, there would be some bloodshed. But in the end, life will be better for those who survive, and Germany itself will gain esteem throughout the world.

Here’s what Simone Weil had to say about herself and the Church during the Nazi era. I read this as a comment on both Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany, though she refers to the Catholic Church. Highlights are mine.

All things carefully considered, I believe they come down to this: what scares me is the Church as a social thing. Not solely because of her stains, but by the very fact that it is, among other characteristics, a social thing.

Not that I am by temperament very individualistic. I fear for the opposite reason. I have in myself a strongly gregarious spirit. I am by natural disposition extremely easily influenced in excess, and especially by collective things. I know that if in this moment I had before me twenty German youth singing Nazi songs in chorus, part of my soul would immediately become Nazi. It is a very great weakness of mine. . . .

I am afraid of the patriotism of the Church that exists in the Catholic culture. I mean ‘patriotism’ in the sense of sentiment analogous to an earthly homeland. I am afraid because I fear contracting its contagion. Not that the Church appears unworthy of inspiring such sentiment, but because I don’t want any sentiment of this kind for myself.

Simone Weil, Waiting for God
Published by Harper Perennial in 1950 to celebrate 100 years since Weil’s birth

I couldn’t agree more. I’m also troubled by the silence of many white Evangelical churches that (rightly) choose not to get on the Trump bandwagon. Silence often enables the abuse of power. I don’t want to catch the silence virus. Hence this post and others to remind me that I have a voice, it counts, and I must exercise it regularly.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 March 2018, reposted 26 September 2019
Image found at books.google.com

Lost in an internal maze

Brilliant winter sun-rays
Filter through frigid air
Endangering darkroom eyes
Unaccustomed to light

Blinking he looks away
Unwilling to sacrifice
Hazy unclear sight for clarity
Or the fine details of truth

Better the sweet comfort
Of blurred lines mixing
Facts with fiction or
Reducing them to nothing

Stumbling blindly
From pillar to post
He makes his lonely way
Lost in an internal maze

I didn’t set out to write about Mr. Trump, yet it seems I have. So now I’m sitting here wondering what’s going on in me. Have I given up on his presidency? Disengaged myself from caring anymore?

That might happen if I believed that whatever he does, I will likely weather the storm. Yet I don’t believe that. His actions put us and others at risk every day.

More likely, I wrote this because I lack visible power over what’s happening in Washington. I voted. Now it seems there’s no more I can do to make a visible difference.

Nor can I say I hope for something better from Mr. Trump. I don’t. I’m an aging citizen, with limited time and energy. I want to know how to make my voice and my concerns heard.

Though I could perhaps feel sorry for Mr. Trump, that isn’t an option. He has openly chosen his way of doing business, and is following it regardless of intended or unintended outcomes for our nation or our allies.

What now? If I remember right, Jesus rebuked those who paraded their supposed righteousness before everyone’s eyes. Instead, he recognized with gratitude and admiration the widow who, almost unnoticed, gave from her heart the bit she had.

I want to find my bit, and offer it from my heart. Not to Mr. Trump, but to this world God already loves — the same world I’m learning to love in spite of our differences and blurred visions of reality.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 January 2019
Photo found at freepik.com

shadowy islands beckon

shadowy islands beckon
the end of the day

promises of greatness
if not prosperity linger
dying on the surface

perhaps tomorrow
will bring clarity and color
to a world gone missing
before the first day ended

(Many thanks to my Australian blogging friend John for permission to use one of his beautiful photos.)

As each week ticks by, seconds tick down with frightening speed. Especially when we measure damage done in what amounts to the blink of an eye. For example, almost overnight our government and its officials have created conditions that ensure hundreds if not thousands more children, young people and parents will suffer from PTSD.

When nighttime falls or even when daylight breaks, the nightmares won’t end.

The photo above isn’t ugly or deeply disturbing. It’s beautiful. At the same time, it’s full of ambiguity about what’s happening, especially beneath the surface and in the distance.

It reminds me of the shadowy picture Mr. Trump projects now under the guise of Beauty. As in, ‘It’s going to be really really Beautiful!’ As though repeating this mantra will calm us down or reassure us.

Yet when push comes to shove, I don’t see evidence that Beauty is happening for everyone in this country, much less elsewhere. Nor do I see a clear and present pathway from here to there that doesn’t involve backtracking and distractions and attempts to make something really really big out of nothing.

We have deep rifts and problems that need solutions. But creating more enemies internally and externally just doesn’t add up to a good day’s work or a good night’s sleep for any of us.

I still believe Resistance is Never Futile. If it doesn’t get us killed, it can make us both softer and stronger. I consider myself part of the loyal Resistance. It would also be nice if we could all enjoy a peaceful evening by a duck pond.

Peace to each of you,
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 July 2018
Photo by John of Australia. You can check out his blog site here.

their own foolishness

Crumbling beneath the weight
Of their own foolishness
Kicking hard-won ground
From beneath their feet
Fools crown themselves
With honor and glory

Sporting signs of faux nobility
Grown thin and ragged
They flaunt flimsy garments
Of shifting sand and ironclad
Beliefs now hanging precariously
In the balance of truth and justice

Passersby stop to gaze at the
Horror of this new world now
Showing in museums everywhere
As bluster turns to tired old mantras
Long past their overdue dates not
Likely to appear in deserted cinemas

It’s a matter of time.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 July 2018
Photo found at dailymail.co.uk; the old Paramount Theater in Newark, New Jersey, USA

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