Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Vulnerability

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

I wonder if when Years have piled | Emily Dickinson

Here’s an older post that’s relevant to our current situation. When the pandemic is over, what will we do with all that Grief and Pain?

I don’t wear a crucifix around my neck, yet I find myself in the company of those who, like Emily Dickinson, can’t escape Grief. It doesn’t matter how many years have lapsed. My comments follow her poem.

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love –

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one –and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There’s Grief of Want – and Grief of Cold –
A sort they call “Despair’ –
There’s Banishment from native Eyes –
In sight of Native Air –

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they’re mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like My Own –

c. 1862

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Emily begins by wondering whether Harm that has Years “piled on” it might be like a Balm. Perhaps like piling ice or heat on an injury? Some would say time heals all wounds.

Does it? Perhaps the passing of Time simply multiplies the Pain of this Harm. Especially in contrast to Love lost, withheld or betrayed.

Emily does a brief roll call of various kinds of Grief. She names Death first, yet doesn’t dwell on it since once it arrives, it simply “nails the eyes” shut. She may have in mind the person who dies, not the survivors.

She then points to other forms of Grief. They’re examples of the barely recognized yet obvious Grief humans carry every day. She names Grief of Want, of Cold, and of Despair. This is the kind of Grief that doesn’t nail the eyes shut. It’s the Grief of being invisible, shunned, ignored, banished from sight in full view of others. Not allowed to breathe air that supposedly belongs to everyone. Native Air that makes one a ‘real’ person.

In the last two stanzas, Emily imagines Grief as a crucifix, a fashion item. Something like a personal Calvary. She observes an assortment of styles and ways of wearing them.

I imagine some are barely obvious; others weigh the bearer down like a heavy wooden cross. Some are flaunted like medals of honor; others hidden beneath bravado or bullying. Yet each is real, whether acknowledged or not.

Emily finds ‘a piercing Comfort’ in her observations. Perhaps she isn’t as alone as she sometimes feels. Perhaps some Crosses are like her own.

When I was growing up, no one told me that grief could be an asset. It was something I would eventually get over. Not a strange gift that could connect me with others.

I don’t want to know everything about each person I meet. I do, however, need to take into account the reality of human grief. There’s nothing so isolating as having one’s grief overlooked or ignored. Or making it a personal problem to solve or get over–as quickly as possible.

Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Surely as his followers we can do a bit of this for each other, if not for ourselves.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 August 2017
Image found at wallcrossesandmore.com

Wayward sheep and frolicking lambs

Equanimity —
They say it’s
Calm composure
Regardless

Drowning in pain
Ecstatic with joy
Beginning a journey
Relaxing into dusk
Fighting for my life
Bearing life in me

I want to stand
before You
With calm composure
Because You alone
Are my advocate
The gracious Shepherd
Of wayward sheep
And frolicking lambs

Dear Shepherd of sheep and lambs,

Is it well with You today?

It’s easy for me to experience equanimity when the sun is shining. Right now it’s gorgeous. Bright, warm and inviting.

Yesterday was a drippy mess of clouds and chilly air. Music helped. So did writing. And making a big pot of soup. Yet in the end, even this can’t last forever.

I wonder what You did when things didn’t seem to go as planned? I already know You prayed a lot. What else did You do as You approached death?

You see, I don’t want to die. I don’t think You did, either. Even before the birth of COVID-19 (such a cold name for this vicious virus), I didn’t want to die.

Before You were so rudely arrested, were Your tears a sign of calm composure? I wonder if equanimity in the face of death is overrated. Not necessarily bad, but overrated. So many people are dying ‘early’ these days.

Please advise.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2020
Photo found at edgarsmission.org.au

Wandering thoughts on 31 March 2020

heaviness hangs in the air
relieved by brief moments
of sunshine or the smile
of a neighbor

relief and angst meet
on the corner of
truth-telling and fear
that it would be like this

now we know what
we don’t know
a step more than we knew
yesterday

solace comes slowly
if at all to people
used to being used
forgotten or despised

unthinkable thoughts
emerge such as
is this a plot to
reshape our country

I wait
For the shoe to drop
In our vast midlands
And wonder

what will the election
look like if we survive
to participate much less
hear about it

Most of the time my mind is focused on everyday realities, and staying in touch with myself and people I love. Still, every now and then the big picture presents itself. Not the big health picture, but the Big Government picture. The drama we never wanted to see or hear.

Praying for internal peace today for you and for me.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 March 2020
Image found at mydayswelllived.com

“From us, for you.”

Have you seen and heard this gift from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra?

Even if you have, watch it again! As often as needed. I had tears streaming down my face by the end. Kudos to the wonderful artists who put this together for all of us. And to Beethoven for making it all possible.

Today is make-a-creative-soup day. That means a great big pot that will last for several days. It’s also laundry day for all towels and washcloths. Plus make a veggie smoothie for today and tomorrow. With music in the background — the best part of all.

Praying for peace and health in this country. Peace of heart, mind, soul and body, plus sanity and clear vision for medical personnel who oversee this pandemic day after day.

Elouise

©  Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 March 2020
“From us, for you” was found on YouTube

dispensable? | today’s thoughts

Yesterday I wrote about the dilemma of being a senior citizen during this pandemic. The issue is about ending lives in order to focus more care on younger people. As much as I despise pitting older people against younger people, the dilemma is real. A reader left a comment based on her own experience. Here’s a slightly revised version of my response.

Thanks for this comment. I hear your dilemmas, some of which are my own as well. I’m fairly clear about end of life decisions when we’re in our ‘normal’ mode (whatever that is!). If the issue is about doing “everything we can to extend life,” without meaningful markers to let us know what we’re after, or when we’ve arrived, I have no desire to extend my life.

I watched one of my sisters die of ALS — according to her own clear markers. They had nothing to do with the ventilator that helped keep her alive for ten years. They had to do with a simple question only she could answer. Am I still able to communicate (by any means possible) with my family and friends? If not, give me comfort care and fluids, but no meds or liquid food through my feeding tube.

Nonetheless, this coronavirus pandemic has shaken my confidence in nearly all my carefully worded directives. Right now I’m thinking that, with regard to the current pandemic, the marker might be the need for a ventilator. Then again, I haven’t put this in writing, or communicated it to those who will need to speak with and for me. I don’t believe that fighting death at all costs is helpful or fair to others. As a Christian, I believe Jesus died ‘voluntarily.’ I do not, however, believe that his decision was without angst or fear.

Your last line is so important: “However, we need to keep asking the questions to stay in the moment and on the right path with our faith in our Creator.” To that I can only say Amen! Not an easy path. I pray you’ll find some clarity for the present moment in history.

Please feel free to add your voice to this conversation.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 March 2020
Image of social distancing found at nytimes.com

dispensable

stripped bare
windblown leaves
fall where they will
cascading quickly
descending
into darkness

let them rest
in peace
unidentified remnants
of another age
when we were
very young

my eyes blur over
stung by truth
too bitter to ignore
despite the cost
to our humanity
some are dispensable

Recent discussions about triaging elderly coronavirus patients are on my mind. Given my admirable age, it seems I’m in the endangered species category.

I don’t know what to make of this. I just reviewed my Living Will. No help there. It never heard of a pandemic like this.

Nor do I relish the idea of being involuntarily hooked to life support at the expense of someone who hasn’t lived as long as I.

Regardless of what I decide for myself, I’m troubled by the stark naked truth these conversations make painfully visible. Old age isn’t necessarily honored in this country, except in ethnic groups or tribes that actively honor their seniors. Not once a year, but daily. Whether they’re ill or not.

That’s what’s on my mind today. Meanwhile, identified coronavirus patient numbers skyrocket, and limited medical resources diminish daily.

Have you thought about your own wishes? What would you do/not do?

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 March 2020
Photo found at pinterest.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

We don’t marry disaster | Happy Monday!

I wrote this poem in September 2017, nearly one year after our 2016 Presidential Election. The situation today is no better than it was then. Even so, there’s reason to hope on this Monday Morning, March 2020.

We don’t marry disaster
It marries us
Unrelenting drought
Genocidal ethnic cleansing
Polio and opioid epidemics
Avalanches of pain and anguish
Wild fires breathing fury
Hurricanes and floods of destruction
Nature’s fury turned inward
Human fury turned outward
Multiplied exponentially

See the pictures in my scrapbook?
Like pages of a newspaper
Good news one day
Disaster the next
See that man who’s smiling?
That beautiful woman over there?
Those precious children looking your way?
The young people who think no one is looking?
There they were just yesterday
And now…..

What’s to become of us?
The ‘us’ that doesn’t exist anymore
Families torn apart
Friends for life now foes forever
Enemies within and without
In whom do we trust?
In whom do we place our hope?
False saviors arise from glowing ashes
Snake oil dealers hawk their sleazy wares

I get up in the morning
And look outside, up toward the heavens
Where the bright face of a newly waning moon
Reflects the light of a new day just dawning.
Two birds swoop silently together into an oak tree
High overhead a silver airplane leaves a misty trail
Fluffy clouds drift beneath a deep blue sky
Signs of hope and reason enough to get up
And live yet another day in my small corner
Of this world filled with small people,
Large hearts and infectious smiles.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 September 2017, reposted 23 September, 2020
Waning Moon image found at moodymoons.com

all the king’s horses and all the king’s men

The taste and sound
of denial parades daily
before clamoring cameras
unaware of disconnects
between reality on the
ground and fake scenarios

Propping up the current
prince who wants to be
king takes effort of the
most subtle kind if one
wants to retain favor
as well as political clout

Looking on I’m reminded
of all the king’s horses and
all the king’s men who
couldn’t put humpty dumpty
together again despite
best efforts to salvage him

and if it weren’t so very
personal I could laugh
at this show of barely
clothed disinformation
parading before cameras
as the real thing it is not

or better yet I might try
raging in disbelief though
today I’m grieving the loss
of our small fragile world
never to be put back together
again despite its deep flaws

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 March 2020
Image found at businessinsider.com, as of 16 March 2020

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