HODEGETRIA IN MONTE VEDERNI

HODEGETRIA IN MONTE VEDERNI

Sunday, January 31, 2016

THE COMPONENTS OF COMPASSION

Jesus Christ and his Divine Mercy


I have been meditating a lot on the topic of compassion, as it correlates to mercy very closely. It was pointed out to me recently that the root words mean "with suffering," essentially.

To have compassion upon a person does not mean pity. There is a distance in the feeling of pity. The pitied person is beneath you, like an ant. When you have compassion with someone, you suffer with them.

How does one suffer with another person? You sit with them, listen to them, feel the pain of the person, and share that pain with them by imagining how difficult their situation, how it must feel for them. You commiserate with them and let them know that you understand. You comfort them with your loving presence. Maybe you cry with them, if it moves you. You suffer with them. COM_PASSION.

American culture has, in some areas, bred a somewhat hard bitten Catholicism in which compassion is little practiced. Instead, a careful stoicism has taken its place. Expressions of unhappy emotion are discouraged. The idea of suffering with someone is received with alarm by many Americans and is considered an intrusion and a heavy burden. Americans are so invested in being entertained and "feeling good" that they aren't emotionally available to anyone who isn't cheerful.

This is just one way that the American culture has infected our Catholic faith and twisted it into a macabre version of itself.

I know someone who is not Catholic, but who epitomizes the compassionless culture in which we live. When faced with the depression of a family member, she chirped brightly, that "all you have to do is decide not to be depressed!  That's what I do, and I'm perfectly happy all the time." This isn't true, of course. She is an alcoholic who can only access her emotional center when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Otherwise, she is a cold and calculating person with no feeling for anyone else's pain. She's locked hers away and thinks everyone else should do the same.

Locking up one's emotions is TERRIBLE for the human person, just TERRIBLE. To criticize someone for feeling bad is the worst thing one can do to them. When you tell someone to shut up their pain and just express "nice" emotions, you are telling them that you do not wish to be a confidant, you want some distance from the person, and that you consider there is something wrong with the sufferer because they have emotions or life situations that aren't fun and entertaining. In your opinion, the sufferer needs to be fixed, not the situation.  You are saying that you can only tolerate conversation that makes you feel good.

If you are "she who must be made to feel good," it puts everyone else on tenterhooks, creating unnatural tension and sucking the life out of the room. How does one talk to a person if one has to edit out everything that one thinks that person might consider negative or unpleasant? It is an impossible task.

I DO know someone who needs psychiatric care and is not receiving it, so they are on a continual whining wheel of complaint because whatever it is that is really bothering them has not been dealt with. This is a DIFFERENT way of shutting off their pain. They put it in a room in the back of their mind and then run a continuous loop of complaints about petty things so they never have to discuss what is really bothering them because it is just too big. It is the monster in the closet. It is the real pain.

None of us is equipped to deal with psychiatric issues like this. The person in need of psychiatric care become testy if the continuous loop is interrupted. If the tape is stopped, the real pain might POP UP, and the sufferer doesn't want that.  Trying to change the topic and inserting a suggestion that they seek counseling would NEVER fly, mostly because their sense of self is already so compromised that it would just be received as a heinous criticism.

Compassion, in the above case, is listening when I can, as much as I can, expressing kindness, and getting off the phone. Someone closer to this person has to be the one who gets through and gets this person to a psychiatrist. I don't think it will ever happen because of the sufferer's domineering personality disorder, but who knows? In a few years, after repeating the tape a few thousand times, they might stop and have an actual conversation with me in which I am allowed to be compassionate and share the pain, whatever it is.

In any case, whatever the source of someone's pain, it has become fairly clear to me that having compassion with someone NEVER solves the problem that has induced the suffering, nor is it meant to. Compassion, kindness, listening, sharing warmth, being sympathetic and being with the sufferer will heal the heart, bit by bit. It won't improve their finances or their health or their family relationships, except, perhaps in an incidental way, but it WILL give them the strength to tackle whatever it is that is hurting them because they know they are loved, cared for, and understood. Being with someone in a compassionate way gives them a sense of security and that is valuable.

Advising people to wall themselves up with their pain and don't bother others with it has no value. In fact, it is detrimental and unchristian. If YOU feel that YOUR mission is to endure all pain and suffering without ever confiding in anyone but Christ, you're a saint. Go do that, and mazel tov to you. Just remember that in scripture there is nowhere it says that a suffering person, a disabled person, or a poor person ought to be lectured to be more cheerful.

In this year of mercy, show some mercy to your fellow human beings. Take the time to be compassionate. Take the time to share the suffering of someone else. After all, every suffering person is a reflection of our Lord who suffered for us all. And no, you're not to say, "This is nothing, just think what Jesus had to go through!" The suffering person IS the suffering Jesus. Act accordingly.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015 - all rights reserved

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

THE SEASON OF MY DISCONTENT

 
Sunset reflected in the Sandia Mountains



It is my least favorite season. Winter? No. It's the lying season. The political circus of the election year, where so many lies and distortions go flying through the ozone, even a machine gun couldn't knock them out of the sky.

I am going to make two major points, and then I am going to go hide until it is all over.

First of all, less than 3% of all people receiving entitlement income, what some people call "welfare" today, are able bodied people. That 3% includes people who have run out of unemployment benefits and cannot find a job, etc. MAYBE 2% are able bodied. About 53% of entitlement income recipients are elderly, whose work is behind them. 20% are disabled non-elderly who can't work. Something like 18% are the working poor.

So, when someone starts blabbing on some radio show or blog or in the grocery line and complains about the "massive" number of people on "welfare," they don't know what the hell they are talking about. People love to blame the poor for everything, when it is actually the rich who have been reaching into our pockets for the last 40 years, courtesy of welfare for the rich in the form of massive tax breaks and loopholes.

When it is Christians who spread lies about the poor and complain that they're being "forced" to support them vis-a-vis taxes, I want to retch. If I hear the story about teaching a man to fish just one more time, I think I will scream. Grandma and grandpa invented fishing, created the best fishing poles, found the best fishing holes, taught everyone ELSE how to fish, and then, exhausted, had to retire. The disabled can only watch other people fish because they are, well, disabled. Ditto with the working poor. They're too busy WORKING to learn to fish. That 2% that are able-bodied and not working? For heavens' sake, people! It is 2%!  2% is a tiny fraction of the poor. Why paint 98% with that brush? Why concentrate on that tiny little minority? Ridiculous.


 
Data from: U.S. Office of Management and Budget;
U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department
of Labor; and the U.S. Census Bureau


The Catholic Church has long taught that it is the job of the government to take care of the less advantaged, but in this age of a Republicanized, Americanized Catholicism, the opposite is being touted. Like little children on the playground, Republicanized Catholics stomp their little feet and say, "I don't WANT to be forced to pay taxes to help the poor!" They barely want to pay taxes to pay the police and fire departments that protect them. In reality, MOST of our tax money goes to the war machine and, if you make $50,000 a year, you are only spending seven dollars ($7) a YEAR for actual welfare for able-bodied individuals.

His holiness, Pope Pius XI, in his Encyclical on the Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15, 1931, said:

"The function of the rulers of the State, moreover,
is to watch over the community and its parts; but
in protecting private individuals in their rights,
chief consideration ought to be given to the weak
and the poor.

"For the nation, as it were, of the rich is guarded by
its own defenses and is in less need of governmental
protection, whereas the suffering multitude, without
the means to protect itself, relies especially on the
protection of the State. Wherefore, since wageworkers
are numbered among the great mass of the needy, the
State must include them under its special care and
foresight." ~ Pope Pius XI
 

The second thing I wish to point out is that a vote for a candidate who is only pretending to be pro-life and has no intention of changing the laws is not a legitimate "pro-life" vote. We have seen many of these politicians come and go who professed that they were pro-life, yet in the early 2000s, when Republicans had control of the House, the Senate, AND the White House, not a single piece of legislation was offered for the pro-life cause.

In 2004, when Pope Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote:

"A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil,
and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion,
if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely
because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/
or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a Candidate's
stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for
that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote
material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence
of proportionate reasons." - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(Pope Benedict XVI)
[Emphasis added.]
 
Note that Pope Benedict does NOT say that anyone who votes for a candidate who is in favor of abortion is guilty of formal cooperation with evil. He does not say that. If that is what he MEANT to say, he would have said it. He does not. If you vote for a candidate because you want abortion to continue to be legal in our country, then you are formally cooperating with evil. If you vote for him or her in spite of their pro-abortion stance, you are NOT. This is what this sentence means in the English language, although many people, well-meaning and sincere, are doing their best to twist it around to mean something else.
 
What he DOES say is that a Catholic may vote for a candidate, in spite of his stand on abortion, "in the presence of proportionate reasons." This is what has gotten so many people tied up into knots. There is a lot of confusion about this because of the "five non-negotiables" that were presented by Catholic Answers in 2012 and which are being touted in an overly simplistic manner.
 
THE FIVE NON-NEGOTIABLES, ACCORDING TO CATHOLIC ANSWERS
(1) Abortion
(2) Euthanasia
(3) Embryonic Stem Cell Research
(4) Human Cloning
(5) Homosexual Marriage
 
[I will note here that my beliefs are completely in line with the Catholic Church, and I do not approve of, nor do I condone the five non-negotiables listed above.]
 
There is rarely a candidate who legitimately and honestly embodies in his philosophy and actions a sincere adherence to the 5 non-negotiables that Catholic Answers has formulated, and whose intention is in concert with any claim that he or she may make with regard to actually DOING something about them.  This is where the issue of "proportionate reasons" becomes an exercise in mental gymnastics in which a LOT of facts have to be accumulated, weighed and calculated.
 
Ask yourself this question: Is forcing someone to endure evil the same thing as allowing a condition to continue in which people may choose to do evil? Obviously, these are not "proportionate" conditions because we are never voting for abortion to become legal. It is already legal. Abortion is not going to be forced on anyone, but measures that kill the poor slowly by starvation certainly WILL be enacted, if some candidates have their way. Is slow death any more moral than swift death in the womb? If you think the elderly and disabled are less vulnerable than the baby in the womb, I could prove you wrong, if I had another 5 pages in me, but I don't. I am losing my eyesight and I have already spent too much time on the computer just writing this thing.
 
I didn't want to write very many blogs, from here on out, as it is hard on my eyes, but some issues are just too important to ignore.
 
Say, you have a choice between two candidates and one candidate is marginally "pro-life." Let's say he was pro-abortion for many years, but suddenly became pro-life upon entering a race for political office. Or maybe this candidate has been "pro-life" for many years but never once attempted to introduce any legislation that would move us toward a pro-life condition in our laws and governance? Is this candidate ACTUALLY pro-life, or is he just CLAIMING to be pro-life so that he can win a seat in Congress or the White House or whatever? The answer is obvious. The man is a phony. He is adopting a posture in a calculated fashion, in order to obtain other ends. Let us say that this man wants to reduce aid to the poor and continue experimentation on embryos that have been created in a petri dish, "in the interest of science."
 
On the other hand, let's say that this man's opponent is pro-abortion and will ALSO do nothing to make abortion illegal, but he WILL fight against human cloning or one of the other non-negotiables.
 
Obviously, when weighing all the circumstances, one votes for the second man, despite his unwillingness to change the laws making abortion legal, because he will, at least, work to abolish the human cloning, another pro-life concern, and candidate number one is not going to do anything about abortion anyway, even though he claims to be pro-life.
 
Let us further complicate the scenario by throwing in some other considerations. Will the next president be in a definite position to appoint as many as 3 justices to the Supreme Court? Maybe candidate number one is running for president and, although he is a lousy legislator when it comes to pro-life causes, there are indications that he will appoint staunchly pro-life Supreme Court judges for whom there is strong belief that they will overturn Roe v. Wade?  AHA! In this circumstance, for whom do we vote? Mr. Phony candidate number 1, who has no passion for pro-life issues but who will appoint Supreme Court Justices who DO.
 
We have to use our BRAINS, people! That is what Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was getting at. THAT is why he phrased his comments about voting in the way that he did. Weighing the "proportionate reasons" is a heck of a lot more complicated than saying, "OK, abortion is worse than letting people starve to death in poverty, so you have to vote for the candidate who says he is against abortion." These are not "proportionate reasons" at all. It is comparing apples to poodles.
 
One of the reasons I just love love love the Catholic faith is that, in addition to being the one true faith and divinely inspired and all that, it is also an intelligent, deeply considered, elegant and nuanced faith. It is not a hammer looking for nails to drive, but a piano in which many keys are struck in order to make a gorgeous piece of music.
 
I feel challenged to learn as much as I can about the candidates so that I can ascertain the "proportionate" circumstances of each candidate. OF COURSE I am going to read as much as I can of all the information published by the pro-life organizations. I am going to study the candidates and their history, gauge their trustworthiness and their veracity, and try to determine, as near as possible, the most pro-life vote I can make. I do not feel compelled to believe a politician who says he is pro-life. After all, Roe v. Wade has been in effect for about 42 years now and, while there have been many people in office who CLAIMED to be pro-life, none of them did a damn thing about it once they got into office. Instead, they played hobby horse with what they REALLY wanted to do. They didn't give a damn about the millions of murdered babies. They had a hidden agenda to roll out.
 
[Barack Obama had one of those hidden agendas in the legalizing of same-sex marriage, something he once said he was AGAINST. Conveniently, after being elected, he "changed his mind." Ahem.]
 
Believing everything a candidate says about himself or herself is just a foolish thing to do. They are politicians, for crying out loud. Politicians are notorious for saying one thing and delivering another, for having ulterior motives and for failing to represent their constituents.
 
We are to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. It is evidence of sincerity I will seek in the reputation of the person(s) running for office.
 
We can't be lazy about this and just blindly accept whatever some politician claims about himself. So far, ALL the politicians I have seen in higher office, whether Democrat or Republican, are just fine with letting abortion remain the law of the land. Some of them have just been good liars, but here we are, with abortion STILL legal, and neither party doing anything to stop it EVER.
 
Let's not fool ourselves. The way ahead is not clear. The persons upon whom we bestow our votes need to be vetted by ALL of us. Don't vote for someone based on what they SAY about themselves and what they believe.  Don't just blindly hop on Donald Trump's bandwagon because you like what he says about America needing to win, Muslims needing to be prevented from entering our country, and he CLAIMS he is against abortion. He also says that The Holy Bible is his favorite book but bumbled his way through a quote so badly, it became baldly apparent that he has almost no familiarity with it whatsoever. He is just one example. I don't want to pick on him necessarily, but he is the first person who came to mind.
 
A lot of power comes with being the leader of the free world, i.e., the president of the United States. It has to occur to you that many people would do and say anything to obtain that power, and that they have done that in the past. Power corrupts. The degree to which a candidate is corrupted by that siren's song of power is what we have to suss out before we vote. It isn't simple. Don't BE simple.
 
Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.
 
Links to factual articles about candidates are VERY welcome, and I will post updates to this article and include them so that we can ALL learn who is sincere about their pro-life stance and who is just another politician looking for power.
 
God bless us all...
 
Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2016 - All rights reserved.
 

 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

DEMONS IN THE WORLD LOOK LIKE PEOPLE

Saint Marina, Whacking a demon with her hammer
(I have this icon in my bedroom prayer corner.)


Every once in a while, the hermit has to step outside her hermitage and buy dog food or mail letters. Experiencing the world can be a shock on those outings.

The same postal worker who sent my Christmas parcel to Jo on a dismal two-month tour of the world by giving me the wrong information and assigning it the wrong delivery service, was the postal worker who told me today that the U.S. Postal Service had never franked letters by machine tape and had only ever applied stamps. I guaranteed her that this was not the case, to which she replied that they had never done that "in all the time" she had been there. How long was that? Five (5) years. I assured her that the postal service was much older than five years old and had, in fact, been in business since the 1800's, and, as such, had done things in many different ways in more than 100 years of their history. The solipsistic arrogance of today's youth gives them the impression that no one and nothing existed before they came on the scene. History is not important because it doesn't include them! As usual, this young postal worker behaved in a snotty manner toward me, which is why I gave her a very short history lesson.

I received my tattered and smashed package BACK today in my mail box at home and, after pulling back the nearly destroyed cardboard box, got a chance to admire the fine work I had done on the big wool shawl...or maybe it is a blanket.  It's hard to tell. I can certainly use it as a shawl, since I am a big woman.  It had been so long since I had seen it, I had forgotten how pretty it is. I will be keeping it, as I do not trust the New Mexico mail service whatsoever. Poor Jo will have to satisfy herself with the thought that went into it.

Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of the U.S. Postal System and respect its history. It is also the only government agency that is self-supporting, and not a single tax dollar goes toward its expenses. I would say that is pretty darn awesome, so I am NOT in favor of privatization of the Post Office, which is being experimented upon in California, where they have installed or are planning to install postal services in Staples stores, causing loss of jobs and lack of cohesion in the process. I have a few relatives who have had long careers in the post office, and I support their efforts to keep the post office from becoming another private business. My disappointment is with the New Mexico Post Office workers. I have been told several times by the customer service people at U.S.P.S. that New Mexico is notorious for horrible service and terrible work ethic among the staff. Until I move out of this state, I won't be mailing packages to anyone.

I had my little service dog with me, and it is beginning to become obvious that, while the little guy is very helpful at home with regard to his barking duties and his cuddle therapy, he becomes overwhelmed when we take outings, gets nervous, and creates more of a problem than he solves. Even the car rides, which he greets with absolute ecstatic glee, make him nervous and unhappy if I turn on the heater or the air conditioner or listen to the radio, even very low. He has his own soft, cuddly, black-watch-plaid booster seat into which I clip him on the passenger seat next to me, but he has expressed a desire to crawl out of it and hide on the floorboards of the back seat.


Charlemagne, the reluctant service dog
 
I think I will leave him home except for brief outings when I won't need either the air conditioner, the heater, or the radio. He will be the home defender, which is a BIG help. Alerting me to the presence of strangers outside the house is a good thing. At some point in the future, I may have to also get a larger dog (hypoallergenic!) that is trained as a seeing eye dog, depending on how fast I lose my vision.

There is no guarantee that any dog can be trained to be a service dog, no matter what the breed. It depends on temperament of the individual dog, which is just as variable as the temperament of humans. We don't all do the same type of work, so we can't expect the dogs to do it, now can we?

I typically will only do one errand per day, as any more will tire me out, but I realized that Charlemagne was completely out of dog food and I had to go to Clarks to get him some more. He was nervous in the store, and more than one person startled him by trying to bend down and pet him, even though he was wearing his bright red nylon vest that says in large letters on both sides of the vest, "SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING. DO NOT TOUCH." One man almost got himself nipped, as he walked up behind me and, while I wasn't looking, tried to pet the dog, and had to step back quickly when Charlemagne whirled around to see who was touching him. I just happened to catch the action in time to reel in the little fella. I was trying to juggle the dog, my cane and my purse while I counted out money to the cashier, spending my last $30 on dog food, some inexpensive training treats and a new, supposedly indestructible rubber bone to replace the blue bone Charlemagne had destroyed and was gradually consuming, bit by bit.

When I left the store, I found that a very large white vehicle had encroached into my handicap space, well over the line, and had parked so close to my car that I was not able to get in. I was going to give it a try, however, when he came hurrying out of the store. I guess he was afraid I was about to ding his car by trying to open my car door.

It took me a while to get his attention.  "Sir!"  "Oh, Sir!" FINALLY, after many attempts to get his attention while he studiously ignored me, I said, "Do you realize that you have blocked me in?"

This smarmy and effeminate man in his 20's had the look of a snake about him. His eyes were beady, he had pale skin, and his hair was unnaturally dark but carefully coiffed, without a lock out of place. He was positively reptilian in his movements and reminded me of the lizards I used to get at the circus when my parents took me as a child.

Snake man didn't care that he had parked in my handicap space. What was important was his convenience. The person on the OTHER side hadn't given his gigantic vehicle enough room, so, of course, he HAD to park against my car, blocking my access. He practically hissed when he spoke, an effect that was emphasized by a cultivated, but slight lisp.

In his haste to remove his car before I could open my door and scratch his paint, he nearly ran over the poor dog, who was squeezed up next to his wheel. This is when I yelled at him not to run over the dog, and he gave me the finger and sped away...but not before I could hit one of his tires with my cane and then point at him with it. I was apoplectic.

A young woman with flowing blonde hair came running over to me.  She told me, "Demons have come to the world in the form of people!" Then she asked me what happened, having only seen him give me his middle finger. I gave her the short version, and she repeated herself. "Demons have come to the world as people. They attack me all the time too!  You have to watch out!"  I promised to pray for her, but I have to say I was astonished by the encounter with her. I have known for some time that demons are walking freely on the earth, due to our "anything goes" philosophy, perverted culture, and rejection of God. OF COURSE the demons are here, and they do look like people, but it is only recently that anyone else has expressed that to me.

Back at the hermitage, I had to take a tranquilizer for my PTSD. All the spirituality in the world doesn't cure PTSD, although it sometimes help mitigate the effects, but PTSD floods the body with adrenaline at the slightest provocation, and this physical/chemical reality has to be dealt with when someone behaves in an ugly way toward me.

I long for the day when I don't have to leave the house at all. I am too fragile to deal with a culture in which the vulnerable are treated with such contempt. Some of them, like the unborn babies, are even murdered. Also the old people who don't function well have become targets.  In some countries, they can (and do) forcibly euthanize people who do not want to be killed. I wonder if we will be turning their bodies into food as the next step, like they did in that one science fiction movie where they killed everyone over 30 and turned them into "soilent green."

To my friends who are sincere and faithful Christians, I tell you, "Demons have come to the world in the form of people.  You have to watch out!"

God bless us all

Silver Rose
(c) Copyright 2015
All rights reserved

Saturday, December 19, 2015

THE LITTLE HERMIT TAKES A SABBATICAL


 
Sun shining through the winter trees


The little hermit is going to take a bit of a rest for the time being. My eyes are bothering me a great deal, especially when I try to write on the computer. It takes a long time to write even the simplest of blog posts. I probably edit too much, and I DO very often go back and do major rewrites.  The print shortly becomes all fuzzy and blotchy because of the macular degeneration and the cataracts. Straining to read the material against the bright screen gives me a massive headache.

I have realized that this is not what I want to do with my remaining vision. Instead, I am going to read all the books I can and learn as much as possible. Most of what I want to read is rather obscure historical and religious stuff that is not likely to be available in an audio format. I do not typically read fiction. (If you are interested in what I aim to read, please take a look at my STUDY MATERIALS WISH LIST ON AMAZON .)

During this "year of mercy," I will orient myself to a deeper prayer life, and become more regular in my devotions. For help in doing this, I particularly call upon our Blessed Mother, Padre Pio, Saint Anna of Novgorod, Saint Mary of Egypt, Saint Margaret of Scotland, Blessed Margaret of Castello, Saint Rose of Lima, Joan of Arc, Saint Clothilde, and the rest of my committee of saints, some of whom are my ancestors.

There is one very important logistical issue on which I REALLY NEED SOME HELP!

Some friends and I are making a concerted effort to find a place for me to live that is more conducive to the needs of a contemplative. Someplace quiet and serene, but not far from colleagues and grocery stores.  Also, I have to prepare myself for the gradual loss of vision, so it must be a place where I may stay for a long time, memorize the layout, etc. I will need a fenced yard for my service dog, and at some point I may have to have a seeing eye dog, which will be a bigger animal, so the conditions have to be right for that arrangement as well. Moving is an horrendous big deal, especially for the poor and disabled, and I am hoping to move only once before my final move to heaven.

I only wish I had the resources to buy a house, because this would be the best situation, but the closest I could probably come to the ideal would be a guest house in back of one owned and occupied by Catholics.  If you would pray for me, I would be most grateful.

You can reach me by EMAIL for prayer requests and for information about housing.

In the meantime, I ask for you to pray for me, as I pray for you.


God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell



 
Prayer Corner


 

Monday, December 7, 2015

DAILY MIRACLES

Saint Anthony of Padua
 

I frequently fall asleep in my recliner while reading, crocheting or praying. I have no recollection of dozing off. I wake a few hours later and toddle off to bed. Sometimes I sleep the whole night in the chair. Today was no different. I woke at 4 in the morning feeling very cold. The weather has turned winterish, finally, and I keep the thermostat low so as not to balloon the electric bill. Shocked awake by the chilled air, I was a bit woozy but quickly got into bed and slept until I was awakened by the infernal workmen and by my dog's barking.

When I opened the eyeglasses case by the side of my bed, it was empty! My vision is extremely bad and I cannot function without my eyeglasses. Yet, they were gone. I thought perhaps they had fallen off or I had taken them off when I was asleep in the recliner previous night. I looked there and elsewhere, scouring the apartment and every nook and cranny where I may have laid them down. I even looked in the bed, wondering if I was so woozy when I went to bed that I forgot to remove my glasses.

Finally, I speak to St. Anthony about my eyeglasses. I apologize that I only talk to him when I need something to be found for me, but I ask him to forgive me in a roundabout way and continue to talk about how crucial it is that I find those darn glasses! I began to look everywhere once more, and I open the eyeglasses case again, and my glasses are sitting there, pretty as you please.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that the eyeglasses were not there when I first looked for them, and suddenly they WERE there, thanks be to God.

Sometimes I fret that I have no family or monastic community to help me, that I am alone, battling the world, the flesh and the  Devil all by myself. Then something like this happens, and my mind is ordered aright once more.

Thanks be to God.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015 - All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SAND HILL CRANES IN THE MORNING

Early Winter landscape

I heard the distinctive crackling cries of sand hill cranes toward the end of our morning constitutional and looked up to see a large flock of these giant birds sailing in a wide, lazy circle over the trees. Migration time. A bit late in the year, compared to earlier days when I would see them traveling in October, around the time of the balloon fiesta. They are going South to Bosque del Apache, the nature reserve a couple hours south from here by car. There, they will have a field of corn, grown just for them, that has been threshed and left to dry on the ground. They will mingle with the fat white snow geese and smaller varmints that cannot resist the sweet fresh smell of high quality food that is spread across the earth just for them, an incredible banquet.

Across the wide viewing path and boggy wetlands, the raptors will perch in giant trees. I saw a bald eagle there once, and many goldens. The memory of a brilliant male pheasant, arrayed in the height of his glory with gorgeous glistening plumes of bright feather, has stayed with me for more than 14 years. Glimpses of the timid are treasured.

Though I usually try to keep moving on my slow, shuffling walks around the property, I stood for several minutes, leaning on my cane, watching as the cranes slowly formed themselves into three parties of about 25 each. In beautiful "v" formations, following one another, they flew out of their orbit around the patch of cottonwoods and headed south.

These infusions of natural life sustain me and speak to a spot in my soul that is unnamable but gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. On the other hand, a wild sorrow grips me each time a bit of access to nature is eaten away by the dictates of government types for whom the bottom line is the ONLY priority, and the beauty of nature is irrelevant, inconvenient, or allowed only for the wealthy.

No sooner did I get inside my apartment, than the "landscapers" showed up with their infernal, roaring instruments of torture, otherwise known as leaf blowers. They blasted my front door with the vengeance, with me sitting just two feet away. The powered air forced dirt into my apartment through every crack between the door and the sill. After they covered every surface in my apartment with all the fine bits from the parking lot, they blew leaves and detritus into my garden and left me sneezing in fits, another tortured city asthmatic.

As soon as they were finished, a large machine on the golf course began chewing up the air with its artificial noise, mowing or sowing or who-knows-what. It continued for quite a long time, causing me to begin the now too familiar battle to calm nerves that have been jangled by the chaos of modern life.

Soon, the workmen that have been spackling the ceilings of the outdoor spaces will return with their ladders, their loud laughter, and their yelling to one another from one building to another. Hovering outside the windows of the many retired tenants, and slopping white spackling material all over the sidewalks, in the dirt and on the glass of the windows, they have been a constant presence for weeks now.

The building has gotten to the age where numerous repairs are required and, because the building was constructed so poorly to begin with, and the repairs are done in a slap-dash manner by non-professional, untrained laborers who do not speak English and are probably not even legally in this country, the repairs have continued for a couple of years now.

Every year, the activity in this complex becomes more and more intrusive, noisy, inconvenient and not conducive to the life of silence and contemplation of a hermit type person. Imagine, if you will, sorting oneself out so that the soul is in silence and ready to receive the Lord, and, suddenly, the place is overrun with jabbering, clueless workmen who are clanging pails and scrapers and paint brushes and thermoses in a cacophony of disorganization.

A few quiet moments of watching the sand hill cranes was a blessed (and rare) break from the mayhem of the majority of the rest of the day. I will be grateful for it and cling to it, thinking back to when life was much more like the former than the latter and how the balance has shifted so dramatically that I hardly feel as if I live on the same planet as I did in 1970 or 1980.

How will I meditate on God and say my prayers in the midst of this grotesquerie? How can one established sacred space when noise and the constant presence of strangers invades my privacy and seeps in with the dirt from the parking lot? All the icons in the world can't keep out this sort of invasion.

Please pray for me, as I pray for you.

Silver Rose Parnell
Copyright (c) 2015, All rights reserved
 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

THREE GOOD THINGS

My pink Christmas tree

As an introvert often saddled with a certain ennui and melancholy, in addition to a righteously earned case of well-managed, but still ever present, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I was thrilled to hear from a Catholic psychologist on Immaculate Heart Radio that everyone is born with a certain set-point for happiness, where the psyche naturally rests. The happiness quotient is on a continuum. He kept saying, "It's not your fault." After a lifetime of people blaming me and finding fault, here is this man who really knows something, and he kept saying, "It's not your fault."

He also said there are some things that we can do to naturally improve our moods, no matter what we are dealing with, whether born with a melancholy temperament or having earned one through a brutal childhood or other traumas. I am all for that, being a naturally pro-active person, so I was all ears.

The recipe he proposed was very simple. Every day, think of three good things that happened for you that day.  That's all - just three. He said that one would find (and it is true) that, once the brain starts to look for three good things, scores of good things come to mind and it becomes hard to pick just three! 

What this does is to train the brain to seek out positive things, things that make us happy, give us joy, a sense of accomplishment, etc. The brain will develop new habits, new neural pathways, and the happiness level will be raised.

I have been doing this now for a few weeks, I think. I post my 3 good things every day on Facebook and I ask my friends to chime in with theirs, if they want to do it, and I have found that some of my most sincere religious friends who have time to play on Facebook, are also keeping up this practice.

I highly recommend giving this a try, even if you are the most ebullient person, because it brings epiphanies in its wake and, best of all, a continuous stream of feelings of gratitude, which leads into praises to God throughout the day.

Give it a try. Keep up the practice for a few weeks and see how you like it. The effects may be subtle at first, but, after a while, you may find that your way of doing things has shifted slightly, your mental orientation is slightly different, and your mood may be, generally, much better.

This practice hasn't stopped bad things from happening in my life. It hasn't prevented me from becoming upset when the logistics of life work against me at every turn. I still get mad or frustrated, but I am easily distracted from it by something good. My mind is gradually changing its operation. It is always on the lookout for THE GOOD, and we know where ALL GOOD COMES FROM, don't we?  Yep.

My three good things for the day:

(1) I found some DEEPLY DISCOUNTED yarn on Amazon that is perfect for some warm and snuggly hats and neck warmers for the poor and homeless this Christmas, as well as a discounted yarn to complete a small project for myself.
(2) I had a lovely romp in a big pile of leaves with my little service dog. (He actually did the romping, since I am on a cane, but I enjoyed seeing his joy.)
(3) I got to eat pizza today. I hardly ever get to eat pizza because it is expensive to have it delivered, and I really don't go to restaurants, but every once in a while I relax the rules and have a treat. Chicken, pineapple and jalapenos. Delicious!

What were YOUR "three good things" today? Let me know. I will love to hear about your happiness.

God bless us all,

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015, All rights reserved.