Monday, September 1, 2014

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING

Baby hat made to give away


People think I have a lot of time on my hands because I am disabled and stuck at home.  It would be nice if I had hours of leisure time that I could spend sitting in front of my altar, but that just isn't the reality of my life.

It takes me three or four times as long to do anything as my able-bodied friends because of mobility challenges and chronic pain issues. What I find myself doing is praying and contemplating during my household chores.  The happy news about chores is that they do not occupy much mental space, leaving my mind free to practice the presence of God or recite favorite prayers like the Jesus prayer, the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary."

The joy of my life is making baby blankets and baby hats to give away to poor mothers.  I have to take frequent breaks while attending to my household chores because of my back and leg issues.  At that time, I take up my crochet or my knitting and continue work on whatever project I have going at that time.  Most of my fiber projects are fairly repetitious, so I can also pray while I crochet.  I pray for the happy life of whatever baby is going to be cuddled in that blanket.  I also pray for his whole family and especially that his parents stay together in a healthy, happy union.


Blanket and hat that I finished today

After all this practice on the blankets, I began to get creative, and some of them were turning out really nice.  I considered selling them at the local store that sells items made by local "artisans" but when I learned how little the other crochet artists were charging, I realized that this was not a good option.  The blanket, above, took me more than 30 hours to make.  How could I sell it for $20?  Golly, if I am going to give it away, I should give it to a poor child.  Consequently, none of the blankets will be made available for sale.  I'll just make whatever I can with whatever yarn comes my way, trusting in the Lord that He will provide the raw materials.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1Thesalonians 5:16-18

I highly recommend finding a ministry you can do at home during those moments when you have to rest or when you are having a particularly difficult "pain day," like me, and you are relegated to the recliner chair for the day.  If you would like to join me in my baby blanket ministry, please let me know at silvercottage@hotmail.com and we can work on a project together.  Winter is coming, and not only do the new babies need blankets, but homeless men and women needs hats and scarves for the frigid Albuquerque winters.  Believe it or not, it gets down into the single digits here!  Mittens and gloves are also much appreciated.  I have not learned how to make those yet, but if you can do it, that would be wonderful.

Alternately, you could opt to donate some yarn to the ministry.  I have a few discounted yarns on my birthday wish list, and Amazon.com has my mailing address.  See the links to the right.

Most of all, though, I pray that, if you do not already have a ministry that lends itself to continuous prayer, then find something or learn something you can do that will make a difference in the lives of the poor.  We don't have to do big things.  Hey, it takes me a week to make a crib-size blanket, but it is a labor of love AND a holy relic, each stitch representing a prayer for the baby that uses it!

If you home bound and you already have a ministry, write me and tell me about it and we will post it as a comment.  It will encourage other people and also perhaps give them ideas about something THEY could be doing to improve the lives of poor people.

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

God bless you.

Silver Rose Parnell

Sunday, August 31, 2014

THE POLITICS OF OPTIONS IN AN INDIVIDUALISTIC CULTURE

If you look very carefully, you can see a rainbow
amid the trees.


Yesterday I finally decided that I would no longer attend the parish I had been attending for the last year or so.  The reason I had tried that parish at all was because of the efforts of an extremely devoted Catholic woman who belonged to that parish and has spent the last year (or more) carting me back and forth so that I could sit through mass without excruciating pain.  God bless her.

Finally, however,  I had reached the point where the mental pain of sitting through a happy clappy liturgy; a condescending nationalistic homily that rarely gave God a mention; hand holding (ugh); and loud, gimmicky announcements given before the mass had ended (among other irregular practices) was greater than my physical pain.  I am quick to add that those people had been nice to me.  They gave me a comfortable chair in which to sit during the liturgy, dragging it right into the church and positioning it at the end of the handicapped row.  They gave me a sense of belonging by giving me a little responsibility at the welcome table.  The question is this: to what did I belong?

I am not going to spray all the defects all over my blog.  My point is not to bash the priest or saddle a struggling congregation with public excoriation, but to illustrate a problem common to many disabled persons, and that is the question of OPTIONS.  Our disabilities force us to make choices we would never otherwise make, were it not for the limitations of our condition(s).

Obviously, everyone's disabilities are not the same, and some disabled persons do quite well, with the help of mechanical aids, but mostly because of family, spouse or other supportive community that facilitates their access.  Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of us who are alone, and this is where the lack of community is most keenly felt.

The rarest sight in a church parking lot:
an empty handicapped parking space


I have a lovely Facebook friend who lives off the grid here in New Mexico, and just yesterday she posted a plaintiff wish for community of the faithful.  Now, she is Orthodox, but the situation for the Orthodox church in America with regard to community is the same, because we are all dealing with an individualistic American culture.  We can barely stand our own families, what to speak of the larger community of faith.

Yesterday, I posted about my experiences with the Vedanta Society in Southern California.  Something we could learn from them is their community focus.  Granted, it has been truncated somewhat due to a dwindling devotee base and changes in the economy, but I have to admit that I really miss that little community on the hill.  In the early days, we're talking 1930's, the Vedanta Society was given a bit of property in the Hollywood Hills - long before the Hollywood Freeway was even considered.  Some of the land may also have been purchased, but in any case, they had about two city blocks of property, some of it given over to a massive garden from which they got the flowers that were used in the daily worship.  There were also little houses stuffed together in a charming rabbit warren of residences, as well as an apartment complex.  The main property housed the temple, the monastery, the book store and the catalog buildings.  It was really charming.




I lived in the neighborhood for about 8 years, 3 of it in the convent, and I used to love to attend morning, noon and evening meditation hours.  There were many elderly ladies that lived in the smaller houses and apartments who were likewise able to attend.  They just had to walk across the small street and into the temple, which was a hushed and holy place.  No chatter allowed!




In this way, all people got to partake of a monastic style of contemplative life, without having to meet the criteria that is customarily required of a religious.  Good physical and mental health is the first hurdle to being accepted into a religious order.  This quasi 'ashram' style of living accommodated people of all types.

To be fair, we were dealing with individualistic Americans and there were many instances in which community members were not supported or helped during times of crisis.  I remember asking the cook at the convent for a plate of food for an elderly, long-time devotee who was flattened with a dangerous flu, only to be told there was not enough food, which was not true.  I said that was fine and that I would give her my portion of lunch.  Begrudgingly, this nun allowed me to take a plate to the sick old lady.  Now, that old lady had been very active in her youth.  She was a founding member of the group that originally moved onto the property, or she came very soon thereafter.  She had spent many years devoting a great deal of time to the maintenance of the place and the massive cooking projects that were required during the East Indian celebrations.  (There was always lots of great Indian food, and everyone in the world was invited.)  She had to gradually cease her efforts as she became too old to do them.  All of that support was forgotten, discounted, and taken for granted by some of the members, such as that one nun.


Lunch at the Hollywood Convent in the 1980's
(Swami visiting)

Another non-Christian group that does a much better job of forming supportive communities is the Mormons.  (Ignore, for the moment, their insistence that they are Christian.  Their theology and cosmology is completely different than accepted Christian doctrine from the earliest Christian age until the present.  That is a topic for another day.)  If you are a disabled Mormon, you are likely getting visits from eager young Mormons, with offers of help of all kinds.  If you want to attend a Mormon function, someone WILL take you.  If you are elderly, likewise.  If you've just had a baby, a score of young women will be helping with house-cleaning, baby clothes, baby this, baby that.  You won't go hungry or homeless or lonely if you are a Mormon in good standing.  I could never make myself believe in their theology, no matter how hard I might try, no matter how much I admire their community cohesiveness.  It's too bad, really.  I have several family members who are Mormon.

What is the point of all this?  I have a dream that one day Catholics will become more like the original Christian community that held all things in common and no one's needs went unanswered.  I have a dream that our "community" will be more cohesive, less individualistic and more helpful to one another.  I dream that the contemplative life will become more available to Catholic communities.  I suppose I dream of Catholic "ashrams," though I wouldn't want to use that term.  I long for loving communities.

"All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed
that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared
everything they had."
~ Acts 4:32

If I ever won the lottery, the money would be gone in a minute because I would build a community with plenty of room for the elderly and disabled, complete with little cottages outfitted for the handicapped, smooth walkways that lead to the kitchen and the chapel, and meditation gardens.  I imagine a library stocked with all the Catholic classics, as well as religious DVDs.  Big dreams for a little person of no resources!

In the meantime, while praying for the big picture, I have to find a way to get my own needs met with regard to getting to a church on Sunday.  Mind you, I am a sick, elderly lady and I am actually not required to go to mass any more.  I want to go to mass, though, and I would like to be able to attend mass at a parish of my choosing and not be forced to attend a place that violates all my sensibilities.

Wish me luck, and help me in my prayers, won't you?

God bless you all

Silver Rose Parnell

Saturday, August 30, 2014

DIVE DEEP INTO YOUR FAITH



I love the contemplative life; the peace, the silence, the stillness.  It was the emphasis on the contemplative life that initially drew me to the Vedanta Society, a Hindu-based organization initiated in America at the turn of the last century when Swami Vivekananda came to our country to attend the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago of 1893.


"None can teach you.  None can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul."
Swami Vivekananda

I did not have the advantage of having anything with which to compare this Eastern religious philosophy.  My parents hated religion and spoke against it frequently.  They were exceedingly immoral and pleasure-driven.  The tenets of Christianity were not ever discussed, much less taught.  All I knew was that I longed for peace and that I wanted God in my life.  Thus began an association with the Vedanta Society that included a few years in its convent in Hollywood as a nun.  Later, although I had left the convent, my teacher allowed me to take the final vows of sanyas, which is similar to being a Hindu Swami and involves renunciation of the world in favor of living a contemplative life completely devoted to God.




When I first stumbled onto the Vedanta Society in about 1980, there was a big movement toward ecumenism in Christian circles.  Hindus, Buddhists, Sufis and Christians were gathering together.  Pope John Paul II came to America and participated in an inter-religious dialogue with my teacher [Swami Swahananda], a Buddhist teacher and a Jewish Rabbi.  I was lucky enough to be in the middle of that small audience of about 500 people that had gathered at the Japanese Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  The idea that all religions lead to God was percolating throughout society, especially in California, where the cosmic poo-poo has a particularly enthusiastic reception.  Ramakrishna, the Hindu saint that devotees claimed was "an incarnation of God" had said that all religions lead to God, and he was particularly worshipful toward Christ.  One of his followers promoted the idea that Christ spent years in India before his public ministry.




Instead of simply respecting all religions, however, some religious people began to mix the religions together, creating an amalgam that sometimes results in the deterioration of one or both faiths.  Catholic priests were mixing Zen meditation practice with Catholicism.  Father Hand of the Mercy Center's "East-West Community" began teaching Zen Meditation in 1984 in Burlingame, California, after spending 30 years in Japan.

Here is a blurb from that ersatz Catholic institution with regard to their new teacher, with barely a whisper of a mention of his being a Catholic priest:

"RESIDENT TEACHER
In 2005, the community welcomed a new resident teacher, Fr. Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R., a Redemptorist priest. Fr. Greg began Zen koan studies in the late 1970s and completed them in 1996. He is an Associate Roshi of the Sanbô-Kyôdan Religious Foundation in Kamakura, Japan. He was given the teaching name of Ryûun-ken (Flowing Cloud) by Yamada Ryôun Roshi, the 4th Abbot of Sanbô-Kyôdan.
On November 11, 2010 Fr. Greg received full transmission as an Authentic Zen Master with the honorific title of Roshi from his teacher, Willigis Jaeger, who is the founder of the Empty Cloud Zen Lineage at Benediktushof, Holtzkirchen, Germany. He is the 46th successor to Master Lin Chin and has been teaching both Zen and Christian Mystical prayer in retreats around the United States.
Fr. Greg is the author of Listen to the Desert: The Secrets of Spiritual Maturity in the Desert Fathers and Mothers. He directs the East-West Meditation Program at Mercy Center and is its resident teacher."

This man has picked up where Father Hand left off, evidently.  It was Father Hand who (supposedly) told one woman that she had his permission to receive the Catholic Eucharist at any Catholic Church she chose, despite the fact that the woman was neither Catholic nor even Christian, really.  She believes that God has come to earth in many "incarnations," such as Buddha, Krishna and Christ.  She has a particular love for Christ but is not Christian and, in fact, speaks against the theology of the Catholic Church, but tells me that she continues to take communion during Catholic mass.  I have tried to explain to her how wrong this is, but my pleas fall on deaf ears.  She knows better.  She knows that the Catholic church, with all its "rules," is wrong, and she is right.

My readers who are not Catholic may not understand what a shockingly irreverent and strictly forbidden thing it is for a non-Catholic to receive the body and blood of Jesus.  Reception of the Eucharist is called "communion."   Receiving the Eucharist means that one is in communion with Christ and his church.  Even Catholics who are not in a "state of grace" are not allowed to receive the Eucharist because they are not in communion.  Grave sins must be repented, confessed and forgiven.  For instance, in the case of Catholics who are living together, unmarried, they are never allowed to receive the Eucharist while living in that condition.  Many saints have commented that receiving Jesus unworthily can make a person very ill and cause untold damage to their soul.

Even Ramakrishna, the "avatar" that Vedantists follow, who said that all faiths lead to God, told his followers to "dive deep" into one faith alone.


"To get the real gem, you must dive deep"
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Western devotees are particularly prone to scatter our allegiances over many faith traditions in a cafeteria fashion.  This is the way that we can avoid those pesky sacrificial aspects that are key to most religious traditions.  We can take all the stuff that tastes good to us, bypass the cashier at the end of the line, and skip out when it's time to do the dishes.  Because of our American democratic tradition, we also think that every rule and precept is up for discussion and should be voted upon.  We value our opinions much higher than the saints and sages who have come before us.  Some of us value it more than the words of Jesus.  Humility is not our strong suit.

When I finally found Catholicism, I read hundreds of books of the saints.  I realized that my value system was already in line with Catholic Truth and that, whenever I had a problem with Hindu philosophy, it was at those points where its teachings disagreed with Catholic theology.  Still, I struggled with my faith for a few years, tempted to return to the familiar contemplative orientation of the Vedanta Society and its habits, drawn to a type of monastic life and contemplative atmosphere that is not easily accessed in the Catholic Church, at least on the parish level.  On the other hand, I am too old, too decrepit and too divorced to be accepted into any religious order.  If I could, I would be one of the pink sisters.




Catholic parishes are often noisy and boisterous places.  Many of the churches don't have much reverential atmosphere.  The music stinks in many of them here in New Mexico, sounding like a combination of Broadway show tunes and Mexican mariachi music.  The Eastern Catholic churches, however, such as the Byzantine Catholic Church, represent the earlier Christian traditions which, because they ARE Eastern, I suppose, are familiar to me. The gorgeous liturgy is sung a capella by the entire congregation, without the aid of any musical instruments.  It sounds divine.  When I can, I will return to Our Lady of Perpetual Help here in Albuquerque.  Somehow, I will manage to sit through the service, despite my pain.




I don't need to go to the Hindus to find a FORM of Catholicism that resonates with me.  There really is something for everyone in this vast religion that accommodates under its generous umbrella a multitude of different rites and orientations.  What is crucial, however, is the theology, and it is our theology that is damaged when we mix it up with other religions or think that we can be the arbiters of the faith.

All of this came to me as I sat praying in front of my home altar this morning, the smoke of frankincense and myrrh rising in front of my San Damiano cross and my icon of the Holy Trinity.  I sat silently, wrapped in the orange chaddar (East Indian Shawl) that reminds me of my commitment to leading a contemplative life for God alone, a commitment that I maintain as a Catholic, rather than a Hindu, contemplative.  I have realized that, although I have no visible support or recognition for my solitary monastic vocation, I have the rock of faith on which to lean.  Because I have surrendered myself to the will of God and the direction of His Holy Church, I have nothing to worry about and very few decisions to make.  The blueprint, our theology, is my guide.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Friday, August 29, 2014

I HAVE TO STOP READING MARK SHEA



Mark Shea, a well-informed and prolific Catholic writer, is one of my Facebook friends.  He has a wide circle of Facebook "friends," some of whom don't seem to like him much.  That's what happens on Facebook when you open up your friend list to people you don't actually know.  Some people want to "friend" you when, in actuality, they just want to fight with you and/or bash your religion or your politics.

I find the whole thing fascinating.  He posts "hot" news items, makes a one-sentence comment, and then the fur flies.  So far, I always agree with his take on these news items.  He has compassion, intelligence, knowledge and good sense, which is a lot more than I can say for some of his "friends" that respond to his posts.

I spend WAY too much time trying to elucidate a logical, sane, fact-driven point because some of them haven't even a passing understanding of classical logic and its fallacies, and it just frustrates me.  Most of them do not bother to actually read the articles that Mark posts, what to speak of any independent, original source material from which to form a cohesive, rational  and fact-based point of view.  I waste my time posting source material that bolsters my comments, only to have them ignored or discounted by people for whom opinion is king.  Today, one guy even told me that he wasn't going to read the articles I provided, but that I should critique them and tell him which of my proffered articles was the least convincing!  He was so lazy, he could not be bothered to counter my arguments himself.  I was supposed to do it for him!

In one sense, it is invigorating.  Crafting a good argument, making a good case, can be fun.  In the end, however, it is a waste of time.  Once I craft my case, no one will actually respond to it.  Irrelevant comments abound.  Eventually, I feel that I do not exist for these solipsistic Facebookers.  There is no give-and-take.  No conversation.  No debate.  They just repeat the same ridiculous, nonsensical arguments over and over again, and if I challenge them in a way that makes them look bad, they turn their ire on me and start to attack me as a person.  Then it is a free-for-all.

When the dust clears, I feel terrible that I have wasted my valuable time pretending that I can enlighten anyone in a culture that is, for the most part, entirely closed off from incoming information that disagrees with the all-holy opinion that comes out of the imaginations of people whose rigidity of opinion is caused by mental laziness, lack of curiosity and disinterest in ultimate Truth.  It feels as if many of these people "pick a side" that is already well-established, for instance, liberal or conservative, and then they argue from that position, with little, if any, independent thought.  In their world, there are only two sets of beliefs....and that is it!  They just swallow whole whatever side they've chosen.  Today the gun lovers were attacking Mark for saying that some innocent people getting killed in a drive-by shooting was a "pro-life issue."  That's all he said...and the crowd went wild.

Ultimately, my distress is my own fault.  I already know that my main function, my "work," if you will, is prayer and contemplation.  I accomplish a lot more doing THAT than I could ever hope to do by thinking up intelligent comments for Facebook.  I am responsible for wasting my own time.

Despite being terribly interested in the topics on which Mark posts, I have got to stop reading him.  But he is so INTERESTING, I whine to myself.  Maybe I could still read him but avoid commenting on his posts.    Okay, so I will let myself read him, but I have to exhibit some restraint and avoid commenting.  He is just so darn INTERESTING, though.  It will be hard.  But I will try.

Silver Rose Parnell

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

GOOD BYE COCO


Coco Chanel Parnell
2004-2014


For the last 6 years, I have had a service dog and, although I was allergic to her and she blew her coat all over my apartment so much that I could have made a sweater every week from her fur, I loved her dearly.  A few months ago, I had to take her to the veterinarian for the removal of a tooth.  It turned out that she had cancer in her mouth.  They removed as much as they could, but the cancer returned within a couple months.

Finally, when her energy waned and she was no longer able to eat easily, it was time to take her back to the vet for the final time.  I couldn't find anyone to go with me who wasn't going to fall apart and make it more difficult for me.  This one of the disadvantages of being single.  There is no one to share the burdens or the joys.

I didn't want Coco to realize that something "bad" was going to happen, so I behaved as if everything was normal, except that the day before I took her in I made sure that she had some of her favorite things: A couple hours of cuddles and tummy scratches in my lap, some pieces of chicken from my dinner plate, a car ride, a short leisurely walk around the apartment complex, etc.

At the vet's office, I held her in my lap like a baby on her back and petted her while I sang her little lullabies that I made up on the spot.  She kept looking into my eyes with a mixture of emotions that I couldn't quite make out, except that I could tell she was worn out from pain and fatigue.  Eventually, my arms couldn't hold her any more and I sat her on the chair next to mine.  There was white fur everywhere: on my lap, my chair, the floor, and Coco's chair.  She hung her head in exhaustion.

The vet and her technician were very kind and gentle.  The technician was going to pick up Coco from the chair and place her on the exam table, but I wouldn't let them.  I had to do it.  I pulled my back out and put it into spasm for the next 4 or 5 days, but I had to do it.

Coco was on her tummy, facing me.  The vet shaved a small portion of fur from one leg.  I kept telling Coco, "Good dog.  Coco is a good dog."  I wanted to cry so badly, but I had to hold it together for Coco's sake.  I didn't want her to know that something was terribly terribly wrong.  I kept telling her what a good dog she was and smiling.

She didn't struggle until they gave her the shot.  I imagine it stung a little bit.  It was over so fast.  I told her she was a good dog.  She kept looking me in the eyes, and then there was a flicker of recognition that something was happening.  The pain was lifting.  She relaxed.  She died.  Her eyes were open.  Her tongue came out of her mouth.  They laid her on her side.

I fell apart completely.  We were all weeping.  Me.  The vet.  The technician.  The vet, a compassionate Christian woman, hugged me and said, "I love you."  It told her, "I love you too."

I couldn't stop petting Coco and asked several times, "Is she gone?"  I could not believe it.  Could not stop petting her, even though she couldn't feel it.  I tried to close her eyes but couldn't.  Eventually, I draped the end of the blanket over her body so I would not have to see her eyes.

Some time passed.  The technician left the room.  The vet asked me if I would be getting another service dog.  The queen is dead.   Long live the queen.  She recommended I get a standard poodle, the largest size, a smart dog that is easy to train and would accommodate all my needs.  I should get a puppy and train it from the beginning.

It is hard to jump right onto the next project of obtaining another service dog, but life does go on, despite the emotionally searing pain.  As with all projects, I do not have the resources to obtain a pure bred poodle puppy and pay for training, vet bills, a crate, food, toys, but somehow it will work out.  The Lord takes care of me, as he takes care of the sparrows in the field.

Spending so much of my day in contemplation of the Divine has given me a strength I never had before.  It has given me the confidence that everything I need will be provided.  The Lord knows what I really need in the ultimate, best sense, and I trust His judgment.  Trust is a remarkable gift for someone who suffers from PTSD, which generally destroys all of one's trust.  Without the contemplative life I am privileged to live, I doubt I would have been able to handle this fresh trauma with any sort of poise.  Without having become disabled, without being mostly house-bound, the contemplative life I now enjoy would have been impossible.  Consequently, I am grateful for my disabilities.  The disabilities, the chronic pain, and the poverty have all been gifts, in the highest sense.

I just have to continue to hold onto Him with all my might, rest in His reassuring embrace and be at peace in the confidence that He is now taking care of Miss Coco Puff also.

Please pray for me, that I am able to continue in faith.

God bless you all.

Silver Rose Parnell

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DONATIONS AND FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Every hermitage needs a cat.  Mr. Fuzzy Pants was
given to me as a kitten by a friend about 11 years
ago.  He is holding up pretty well for an old, retired
fur person.


Twice a year I lobby for donations to help keep me afloat here at "Silver Cottage," usually around my birthday in the summer and during the Christmas season.  I worked for 33 years, but now I am disabled and living on my Social Security.  It is $120 a month too high to qualify for any government or charitable assistance, but it is not high enough to pay for all my needs, nor do I have a loving family around me, eager to help.  I do have a couple of very kind friends who have done a lot for me, but I risk straining those friendships if I do not try other avenues of support.

There is a lot of suspicion these days about poor people.  While it is true that some people do lie and cheat in order to get government assistance, their numbers are very small.  Most poor people are elderly (53%.)  Another 20% or so are disabled, non-elderly.  Another large percentage are the working poor.



Still, I feel it necessary to be forthcoming about my lifestyle in order to reassure the wary.  I do not have the bad habits that people typically attribute to the poor.  I do not gamble, fornicate, drink, smoke, get tattoos, or take illegal drugs.  (I used to smoke tobacco, but I quit 8 years ago.)  I do not travel, go to movies, go out to eat, or get my nails and hair "done."  (My hair is now down to my hips.)  Although it is very hard on me physically, I try to cook very healthy meals from scratch and not from prepared or boxed foods.  I do not typically buy deserts or junk food.  Very rarely will I buy 7-up, ginger ale and grenadine with which to make "Shirley Temple" fizzies for summer visitors.  Customarily, I drink water, tea or coffee.  Nothing fancy.




Given I have no bad habits, what do I do with my time?

Yes, I HAVE tried to find avenues with which to make a little extra money, which is a question that suspicious people will frequently ask.  I was part of Ancestry.com's expert panel of professional genealogists for a short time.  JUST as I was starting to develop a client base, Ancestry eliminated their professional online genealogy experts in favor of a company they purchased in Utah which would only employ people who lived in Salt Lake City, unless you wanted to be a "go-fer" that would fetch documents from local city offices.  (I am not physically able to do that kind of thing.)  I subsequently attempted to be an independent genealogist, but I didn't have the necessary funds to advertise my services as well as maintain the NUMEROUS subscriptions to genealogy, newspaper, adoption and other sites that are necessary for the successful researcher.

Currently, I am producing some crocheted items for sale.  I won't make a lot of money from this because my carpal tunnel and my arthritis make me very slow, but if I can continue to get skeins of yarn donated to me, I can make a little pocket money.




I also crochet blankets for babies whose moms have decide not to abort them after all.  I give the blankets to Project Defending Life (the Gabriel Project) to be given to the wee ones when they are born.  Every baby should be greeted with joy and a hand-made baby blanket.





Also, I donate knit hats and scarves to the homeless during the winter.  We have a sizable homeless population here in Albuquerque, and our winters often get down into the single digits.



Winter in Albuquerque, December, 2013


Blogger Mark Shea has encouraged me to get a Writer's Market and do some writing for the Christian market.  (I have written professionally in the past.)  This is another avenue I plan to try.  The Writer's Market is on my Amazon.com birthday wish list.





In the past, I have sold many sketches and paintings.  I am developing a series of acrylic paintings for the local tourist market...mostly pictures of saints.

Prayer and meditation are my main "jobs," if you can call them that.  As a contemplative living at home as an "apartment hermit," I try to maintain a meditative atmosphere to encourage myself and any visitors that come my way.


My prayer corner, 2014

There are many projects in the works here at Silver Cottage.

The most immediate need has to do with my service dog.  She has cancer and will not be with me for too much longer.  I will need to get another service dog, and it has to be a pure-bred hypoallergenic puppy this time because my allergies and asthma have gotten very bad.  This is a very expensive proposition.  The purchase of the animal, veterinarian fees, spay or neuter costs, blood tests, a crate, and training costs add up to more than I receive in an entire month, but my doctor has certified that I need a service dog.  I need to find some way to do this.



First on the list, next to the immediate needs of a dying animal, is the need to inter my son's ashes in a mausoleum here in town.  He died in early December last year, and his ashes are still sitting in a drawer in my shrine cabinet in my prayer corner, which is not an appropriate disposition of the ashes of a human person.  Interment will cost a little more than a month's entire income for me.  I have no idea how I am going to afford it.

My only child, Jason Beasley, who died from 
complications of diabetes in December, 2013.  
This picture was taken earlier that year when he
 last visited me.

Secondly, the place is a mess because I do not have the proper storage furniture to organize and store business and art project papers and supplies.  For example, I desperately need a desk with a hutch to organize all the business stuff.  Right now, I am using two rickety, swaying "tv tables" as a writing desk.




My yarn supplies, office supplies and magazines are just littered around the apartment, with no home to which they can be consigned:




Both my kitchen table and my kitchen island are made from folding tables, one of which I bought when I was still working, 11 or 12 years ago, the other was discarded by a previous tenant:



My garden area is looking tacky.  The apartment manager will let the landscapers dig a trench for me, following the wall, but I need to purchase two large shrubs to plant.  It would be nice to have a statue of Mary in my little meditation garden.  A comfortable Adirondack bench would be a good replacement for the spider magnets I am currently using on my porch.  Some of these items can be found on my Amazon.com Garden and Patio list.



I could use a good coir rug in front of the door to get the dirt off my shoes before walking into the apartment.



My car needs some work.  I love my car.  It has more than 150,000 miles on it, and it is 20 years old, but a dear friend gave it to me and it is a great car.  Even so, it needs some work on the power steering fluid system.  It is missing a hub cap.  It needs to be smogged.  The registration is due.  You know the drill.


Food is also a constant issue in the household.  I have stomach problems and cannot digest many foods.  I am also allergic to some things.  The price of nutritious food has skyrocketed.  I have a separate wish list for food.

If you would like to contribute financially, please use the DONATE button.  Keep in mind that Paypal retains a small percentage of anything you contribute.  The other option is to follow the links to my Amazon wish lists.

I am grateful for any and all assistance.

FOOD:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2GGHA2BPIB80P/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o?

FURNITURE AND STORAGE:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/300GCT0N3DD81/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o?

GARDEN AND PATIO:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1442X2FTXUVRX/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o?

MISCELLANEOUS BIRTHDAY WISHES:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1YAFK1YV9QZLW/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o?

God bless you.

Silver Rose Parnell


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PRAY FOR MY DOG

Saint Rose of Lima


I have had a sweet little service dog for the last 6 years.  Her name is Coco, and she is dying of cancer.  Every day she sleeps more and more.  Our evening walks have become little jaunts, once around the building, and then she is straining to get into the back door so she can lay down again.  Soon, I will have to take her to the veterinarian's office, and then I will have to get another service dog.

I realize it may sound a little abrupt, that I will get another dog so soon, but I am not sleeping throughout the night, just like I did before Coco came into my life.  Without a dog to stand guard and hear the noises of the boogey man, I am vigilant, alert, waiting.  I have post traumatic stress disorder.  Sleep disturbances are common for people like me.  Often, I am awake all night, despite taking all kinds of sleep medication.  Finally, at 6 a.m., I go to sleep.  The vigil is over.

I pray for healing, but it does not come - not yet - maybe never.  I am not unhappy about that.  I trust in the Lord to do what is right.  Faith in the Lord does not necessarily erase all the difficulties.  If anything, they can sometimes increase because Satan is afoot and he hates people who have serene faith in the Lord.  He tries to shake us up, as he tried with Job.

People become confused and think that if we, as disabled people, have so many difficulties, physical, mental and financial, that we must be terribly unhappy, but this is not necessarily so.  As contemplatives, moving through our day, through our problems, our pains and our sadness, we are walking with Jesus and Mary, the saints and the angels.  If we keep our mind on the Lord and our heart open to Him all day, we are at prayer no matter what we are doing, whether we are caring for a sick dog, washing dishes, or sitting quietly by a window.

Spiritual life is full of contradictions.  How I can be grieving for my dog and full of joy at the same time is a mystery.  I don't understand the mechanism of this condition, but I accept it gratefully and hope that it continues.  But I still need your prayers, so please pray for my dog, that she has no pain, no distress and no fear, but that she will slip away peacefully and naturally in her sleep.  Please pray that I have the strength to get through this traumatic event, yet another death in the litany of death that has been chanted in my life over the last few years when my father and then my only child died.  I, in turn, also pray for you, because I know that you are going through your own versions of the trials of Job and, like me, you are quietly joining yourself with the Lord to get you through the trauma.

As part of the body of Christ, I am with you also.

Silver Rose Parnell