SAINT OLGA

SAINT OLGA
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, SAINT OLGA, PATRON SAINT OF CONVERTS

Friday, December 11, 2015

WAITING FOR THE LOCUSTS

The Plague of Locusts - Holman

In my last post I mentioned that I had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, but I somewhat "hid the lead" as there is so much going on right now, I hardly know what to mention first.

A few days before my doctor appointment, I was praying, and suddenly a voice came to me and said, "You have macular degeneration." I dismissed it as a trick of the mind. I refuse to be one of those people that clings to the oddly fantastical. I will not be oohing and ahhing over the face of Jesus appearing on a tortilla, nor am I interested in becoming an oracle for the entertainment of others. I just heard this voice and dismissed it.

A couple days later, however, when I heard the same words being said to me by the eye doctor, I was stunned. I have no idea what it means that I was given knowledge of this ahead of time. It could have been God talking to me or it could have been Satan. Chances are, it was probably Satan.

We sometimes forget that Satan will offer us powers and other emoluments to get us under his spell. When some people imagine the workings of Satan, they picture ugliness and horror. They forget that the Devil was originally created as an angel and has angelic powers. Even HE knows that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, so he will offer a person the chance to be admired by others, to be special in some way, to see the future, tell fortunes, etc. I imagine this is the reason that the Christian faith is firmly opposed to Ouija boards, palm reading, and all the related attempts at divination. This is Satan's territory, and you open yourself up to demons when you play around with these things.

It is not fashionable to believe in Satan these days. Even some men of the cloth will say they do not believe, but I assure you that Satan believes in YOU and wants nothing more than to steer you away from Jesus and his Holy Catholic Church. He is delighted that people no longer believe in him, because it allows him to move among us unseen and unrecognized.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
by Tracey Long


I steer clear of all mystics, visionaries and supernatural phenomena until The Church investigates and gives thumbs up or thumbs down on its origination. It bothers me that so many have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the Medjugorje circus, as it has several signs of being a fraud, and it is going to really upset some people when The Church refuses to sanction it. Some will leave the church, probably, as they have made it their pet project. Some will defy The Church and continue promoting it. This is classic Satan side show. Give the people something that is fantastical and otherworldly, pretending to be of God, get them hooked, and then pull them away from The Church with it. I have friends who dearly love the Medjugorje thing, and I worry about them very much. I don't think they will give it up, if The Church's decision is against it.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the macular degeneration. I really would have rather gone deaf than blind because noise really bothers me and I use my eyes a LOT in my art and my writing. We don't get to choose the crosses with which we are loaded down, however, so I must get used to this idea and try to prepare myself as best I can for what lays ahead.  My philosophy is to prepare myself for the worst case scenario, and then I will be ready for anything.

Don't think I am sanguine and all relaxed about this situation, however. I do try to look on the bright side of things and accept what comes, but I admit to being very unhappy about this latest development. My entire life, I have been overshadowed by a black cloud and have always felt an almost palpable pressure, as if a great big ugly toad was sitting on me and preventing progress. Even if I made the best decision in any given situation, I always got a bad result. The last 5 years or so has been the worst, with deaths, illnesses and financial setbacks galore. People have noticed and commented that if I did not have bad luck I would have no luck at all.

The deacon at my church suggested I may be under a family curse. On both sides of the family, we were devout Catholics.  In fact, I am descended from quite a few saints!  In the era of the great grandparents, all of them disconnected from The Church. Many divorces, alcoholism, children abandoned, and general moral decay followed.

Now, I have this disease in both eyes which will eventually blind me, and I think, "What's next? Locusts?"  There is a sweatshirt in the "Signals" catalog I received yesterday. It is black and has white lettering that says, "Oh, what FRESH HELL is this?" I don't usually buy t-shirts or sweatshirts with sayings on them, but I almost can't resist this one.

When I finish complaining about this latest news and I have adjusted myself, I plan to concentrate on getting a few things done before the sight gets worse. I need to work on memorizing a few things for which I currently rely on the written word. If I can, I need to memorize the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or, in the alternative, make some CDs for myself, which necessitates learning how to do that particular thing. I would also like to memorize all the meditations and the days on which they belong on the rosary.

Of particular importance to me is some serious Bible study. I just received a free course in the mail today. It is a small book, so I don't how thorough it is, but I will start with this one and move on. I would also like to memorize some favorite Bible passages.

There are MANY books I want to read, most especially the fathers and mothers of the church. There is a very large, complete set on Amazon which is about $400. It is on my wish list. I will be asking a Catholic friend if they would be willing to get it for me.

Painting is liable to become more and more difficult for me. I would like to get some paintings finished, particularly those of the saints from whom I descend, and some patron saints for a few friends of mine.

I have a 75,000 person genealogy database and have a long list of corrections and additions to make to it, but this is not something at the top of my priority list and I may eliminate it entirely. I have a cousin who is interested in genealogy. I may just give her editorial capacity on it so that she can take it up and keep it going.

I do not know how much work I will put into this blog. I will meditate on it and decide later.

Most important is getting myself moved into a more suitable housing situation. This has been on the menu for several years because I am far away from shopping and friends, and the apartment management is almost hostile toward disabled people. This particular task is somewhat daunting, and I could use some prayers with regard to this.

I do not really want to remain in Albuquerque, for many many reasons. The climate is not good for me, particularly for my eyes, as I have allergic conjunctivitis because of the dryness and wind, in addition to the macular degeneration. I don't care for the culture, and there are not many services for the poor and disabled. I DO, however, have a few friends here that I dearly love.

I need heavenly guidance on WHERE to go, whether to stay in this town or try to relocate to Oregon, where I have wanted to live for some time. I would go back to Northern California, except that the expense is way beyond me. I do have a lot of long-time friends and distant but lovely relatives who live in California, however, which is a big bonus.

I need help with all of this, and I would dearly appreciate all the prayers that you can send my way so that I am given the wisdom to make the right choices. Please ask for the intercession of the saints that I may be receptive to the guidance that the Lord sends me. Thanks so much.

God bless us all,

Silver Rose Parnell

 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

THE SUPER ICKY, VERY AWFUL, TERRIBLY TERRIBLE DAY


My solace at the crescendo of my crappy
day - Home made, organic hot cocoa
with very unorganic marshmallows



As previously mentioned, I am embroiled in a long term, frustrating attempt to coax my apartment complex into giving some attention to safety and handicap access issues, instead of discounting them (and me.) They continue to allow people to block my garage, and it is a maddening battle. It isn't legal for them to do this, yet they persist. Also, there have been people parking against our only emergency exit, but I dealt with that issue in another blog.

The complex is owned by the City of Albuquerque, and I am surprised that their representatives are so unsympathetic to the limitations of the frail elderly and handicapped. Usually, government types are more savvy about discrimination issues and potential lawsuits.

I am also in shock from the nasty and unprofessional treatment I received from the new apartment manager when I questioned the advisability of having tenants and visitors block our only emergency exit with their cars. After a lifetime of living in apartments, it blows my mind that my experience with people like her is so radically different than anything I had in California. I know that, when I drove across the state line 17 years ago, I did not suddenly become a different person. Nope, it's this place. It is stuck in time somewhere.

Aside from living in a backwards state, we also live in a very rude era, throughout the United States. Customer service people are nasty and behave as if the customer is their employee or their underling in some significant way. I suppose they are unhappy. Everyone is underpaid and overstressed. I think one of the reasons we have so many people unemployed is because everyone who works is expected to do the job of three people. That sort of nonsense was just beginning when my health became noticeably worse from inherited illnesses and the effects of old injuries. I couldn't take the stress. I had a high powered job in the legal field and, suddenly one day, I could no longer do it. That's what our modern world does to you. It chews you up and spits you out, then moves on to the next young victim. The young have contempt for the old, never thinking that one day, pretty quick, they will be old too!

If it was only for myself, I might just say, "Oh, forget it," and try to live with it until I can find another place to live, but there are a lot of disabled and frail elderly people who live here who are likewise affected by some of these shenanigans, and my inner Saint Joan of Arc just can't stand it. She has to go on Crusade.




Judging from appearances, this is not appreciated by management, for whom the bottom line is their only obvious concern. I was inspected yesterday, something that is endured by the low income people every year. According to the lady from the mortgage authority, it is to ensure that the apartments are being "kept up."

Our property is what you call a "mixed use" property, actually. One third of the people who live here are on a reduced rent, according to income. The last manager, who ran the place for 25 years, told me many times that the low-income tenants should just be grateful they have somewhere to live and they shouldn't ask for anything or expect the same level of service that the full-paying tenants receive. She was a super person in many ways, with a great personality and a feel for real community, so I am not sure if this wacky idea was her own or if she was specifically told that by her bosses at "corporate."

Of course, I have had a lot of such shocks since becoming poor.  I never had to deal with any of these apartment issues I've had to manage since moving into the low-income program in New Mexico. The complexes were run much better and the managers were very sweet and polite. There was only one incident in an apartment owned by a married couple in Burbank. The man was an alcoholic and was always trying to paw me, and I had to move out to save myself the aggravation.


My living room window. I have to keep towels stuffed in the
channel all year long because the window floods my apartment
every time it rains. I requested a new window years ago, and
management denied the request.


The inspector appeared to ignore my concern over the window that floods my apartment each and every time it rains, and a huge planter outside my bedroom window that would completely prohibit my escape if there were to be a fire, but she was very concerned that when the closet doors had been removed, the hardware was left on and nothing was done to pretty it up and make it look like the opening was intentional. She kept talking to the apartment supervisor and, even when I spoke, would not look at me or speak to me. I directed a couple questions to her and she ignored me. She avoided eye contact. It was bizarre.


The closet from which the door has been removed.


The hardware about which the inspector was concerned.



To my mind, that is a cosmetic issue I could live with, either way. I would rather have a window that doesn't flood my apartment and free access from the bedroom window without having to crawl over a black widow infested wine barrel filled with cinderblocks and dirt.

I tried to explain to the apartment supervisor that a professional window installer had already examined the living room window that leaks and that HE said that it had to be replaced with a different variety, but she wouldn't listen to me and kept talking at me as if my words had evaporated before they hit her ears. She kept saying that she would have to have a professional look at it before she would discuss it with me. This is typical of what happens at this apartment complex. We keep doing the same things over and over again, so even the smallest things get dragged out so long that employees change jobs at the main office in the middle of it, and the matter gets dropped unless I bring it up again. Then we have to start all over.


Old wine barrel that blocks the exit


The maintenance man was dispatched to take the screws off the bedroom window screen, as he had previously screwed it onto the frame, impeding access (years ago). Neither of us could remember why he had to do that in the first place, but I think the window is an odd size and he couldn't find a ready-made screen to fit, so he screwed it into place.  It isn't his fault. Management refused to have a screen made that fit the window.

The management supervisor dismissed my concern about the planter, despite my repeating that my disabilities would not allow me to navigate that planter if I needed to get out of the apartment through that window. Her response was, "It's been there for years, hasn't it?"  Well, yes, it has been dangerous for years, but are we to promote an unsafe condition simply because it has been done for some time? I kept telling her that my disabilities wouldn't allow me to get past that planter and she ignored me. (I notice today that the planter was moved off to one side, which doesn't solve the issue for me, but able-bodied people are continually trying to decide what handicapped and poor people "should" be able to deal with, and they don't know what they're talking about. If I tell someone that I can't manage it because of my disabilities, that should be IT.)

I told her that my disabilities were worsening and that I had just been diagnosed with macular degeneration, which will lead to blindness at some point. She made no comment. She just looked at me with an ugly face, then turned on her heel and walked away while I was in mid-sentence. She was visibly irritated. I suppose she didn't like it that I was bringing up issues that needed to be addressed in the apartment. I guess she was trying to get the best 'score' she could from the inspector and I was interfering. Who knows?

In addition to being treated like the scullery maid who has somehow found herself upstairs in the parlor during a grand ball, I have experienced, over the years, a continual slow-down of work on my apartment. I might as well talk into the wind when I ask for something to be done. Occasionally, it would be dispatched quickly, but usually only a portion of the job would be completed, and I would receive an email saying the job had been done! I had to contact the manager and say, hey, this job is not done, but her practice was to assign each portion of a job a separate work order so that it appeared that a lot of jobs were being completed when, in fact, nothing was completed.

Often times, the last manager would "forget" to write the work order, then forget again and again. I am astonished and frustrated at the amount of effort that it takes to get the smallest thing taken care of. This was not the case with every issue, but was true for most.  Other people, however, who ask for the same thing, were serviced immediately. I have been waiting since May of 2015 to get water in my back yard. All my plants have died, and I am STILL waiting, despite the fact that I have 2 or 3 emails from the office claiming that the job is done. Meanwhile, another resident asked for the same thing and received it immediately.

Before the old manager left, she promised me that she would get me a hose, as she had already done for the other tenant, and would attach it to the spigot, put it onto a wheel somewhat like the one they use elsewhere on the property, and then we would put it on top of a table on my patio so that I could reach it. Because my lower spine is "ossifying" bending over and performing tasks is very difficult. Of course, she did not do it.  7 months and counting...since I asked for access to the water.



dead plants and planters that have been emptied of
dead plants

dead plants

dead plants


While I was also promised two trees, of my choosing, to be planted alongside an unsightly wall that radiates heat into the yard, the only activity behind my apartment is a weekly leaf blowing in which the "landscapers" stomp all over my garden decorations and shatter them.




Yesterday, as the mob was exiting my apartment, leaving me limp as a dishrag, I quietly asked the management supervisor, "I suppose I will be talking with you at some time in the near future?" She looked surprised and scowled at me. We had spoken on the phone once during this week when she had FINALLY returned my telephone calls and emails and she had promised she would "address" the issues that I had brought up to her, but I have heard this before, and things never changed. I guess she thought that all she had to do was say she would "address it" and we were done. The apartment manager has not apologized for her terrible behavior. How is it addressed, exactly?


Back fence


Shortly after the inspection committee left my apartment, I took the dog for a hobble around the apartment complex to get some fresh air and alleviate some of the stress. A neighbor was sitting outside his apartment smoking, and I raised my hand in greeting. He studiously ignore me.

Now, what is ironic about this is that, back when that neighbor began to experience a severe downturn in health, I took his family under my wing, paying his wife $10 an hour to clean my house ($100 a month), giving them some beautiful furniture, large framed wall mirrors, kitchen appliances, jewelry, and several large and labor-intensive baby blankets and hats for their grandchild. I obtained a walker for the man and got him in touch with a disability expert so he could get some help getting disability benefits, as he seriously needs it.

The wife began to ask for many things during this time, eyeing my furniture and other items and asking that I give them to her. She "borrowed" so many paper goods and cleaning supplies that I began to run out at the end of each month and a friend had to bail me out and buy me replacements, while the wife never made a move to return any of the items she had borrowed. The last time she asked to borrow rolls of toilet paper, I told her I could no longer afford to supply her with household goods. She was insistent that she had no money to buy it and they were out, so I felt sorry for her again and loaded her down with three bags of paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. In return, I asked her to wash a sink of dishes as repayment, as I knew I she would never return the items she "borrowed."  I was hoping that having to do my dishes would discourage her from asking again, and it did. The next time she came over, she just stole what she wanted, stashing the items in her sweatshirt, probably, as I did notice that her stomach seemed an awful lot bigger than I remembered.

I did call that woman and gently brought up the topic, at which point she began shrieking at me, shrieking at the daughter, whose baby I had given many things and who was there with her in the apartment, and generally protesting far too much. She had stolen from me. She knew she had done it. I knew she had done it. God knew she had done it, but she made sure thereafter to loudly advertise her indignation that I would dare suggest that she would steal something. Her husband has to believe her, of course, and has even gone so far as to make threatening gestures when he drove past me in the parking lot one day.





So, I walked on and had to pass the apartment of a woman to whom I had similarly devoted much time and effort to help her, driving her on shopping trips, cooking many meals for her, giving her expensive wall art she had admired as it was her favorite artist, and even helping her trim her Persian cat. She became furious with me because of my Catholicism. (She is a Protestant with some odd ideas about Catholicism and an almost complete lack of knowledge of the history of the Christian faith.)  I had tried to explain some part of history to her, as she had made a claim that was completely off the beam. She was sitting in my apartment, eating a meal I had engineered specifically for her, because she was an extremely picky eater, and began to verbally rip me to shreds in a full-on attack that nearly took my breath away. The expression on her face was like Satan has taken her over. Another person was eating dinner with us and was astonished.

This wasn't the first time she had verbally attacked me. She criticized me constantly for countless things she did not like about me, about my apartment, my religion, my driving, and I put up with all of it in an attempt to be kind and patient with an elderly disabled woman who needed some help. I realized that my desire to give love and assistance to someone in need had, once again, backfired on me, and I had to step away from association with her, as I can only tolerate a certain amount of verbal abuse in my own apartment before my PTSD kicks in and I become a nervous wreck. Immediately she latched onto another woman in the apartment complex who has a car and who began driving her on shopping trips. I passed the two of them as they walked into an apartment a little further down the path, and they both pointedly ignored me.



Then I had to walk past the apartment of the man that gossips about me with the office staff and even tried to stir up trouble over one of my blog posts. Evidently, he must read my blog, at least occasionally.  Have fun with this one, guy! Run right over to your buddy and complain about me.

Further down the line is an older lady who once told me she was lonely and wanted me to drive her to the Bible class I was attending at the time. While driving, she criticized my driving and my life choices, called me vulgar names, and used swear words worthy of a sailor.  Then, she announced in class that she did not believe in forgiveness and how, if someone does her wrong, she not only won't forgive them but she will try to get back at them if she can. That was embarrassing.

 
 


I have since been informed that I made a terrible mistake in catering to these people and their demands. Evidently, it is typical that when a new person moves into a low-income property, some of the people will


Forgiveness is one of the central tenants of the Catholic faith that she professes, which is why I have had to forgive the management staff for their callousness and petty retaliation and the neighbors who took advantage of my generous nature and abused me.  I pray for them and discuss them, at length, with the Lord.  This is why I wave benignly at all of these neighbors I have mentioned, as I pass them on my walk, despite the lump in my throat and the nausea I feel in the pit of my stomach. When you have PTSD and you must live in an environment in which people return kindness with lies, hostility, and abuse, it is very stressful.

I do not want or expect to be lauded or rewarded for my kindness, but it is surprising to be treated so poorly in return.  No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose. To be reminded of these things every day as I pass these people on the grounds saddens and depresses me. I regularly smile, wave and sometimes chat with my other neighbors, but my experience with the people I've mentioned has discouraged me from getting close to any neighbor ever again. It doesn't help anyone to give them an opportunity to sin.

As far as my dealings with the management are concerned, I will have to plug away at it and follow through with the handicap discrimination case. I have been patient for ten years. That is enough.

Many of you will wonder why I stay in this place, and it is very simple. I am poor, there are very few low-income housing facilities in this city, and this one is the lesser of all the evils. If I had the money, believe me, I would not be here. The management knows this, and takes advantage of it. There are compensations. I am closer to nature here than elsewhere in Albuquerque and occasionally see some wildlife that is unusual to be found in the middle of the city. Beavers in the creek behind my apartment, muskrats, snakes, skunks, chipmunks, cranes, egrets, ducks, geese...and the quintessential New Mexico bird...the roadrunner.  I just had to include him, as I saw him walk past my apartment while I was writing this!





I have had a very difficult life, in general, am saddled with many chronic illnesses, and now I learn I will probably go blind  in my old age. To be dealing with all that, as well as reluctance on behalf of the apartment management to cooperate with reasonable measures to ensure our safety. and to be surrounded by people who have abused my kindness, is extremely difficult.

When I got the diagnosis of macular degeneration, I asked God, "Really? REALLLY, God? What is next? Locusts? Boils? " As St. Teresa of Avila once said, "If this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few of them" Still, I cling to Him.  I simply will not be thrown off. I'm stubborn that way.

If God is all good, and if nothing happens without the express will of God or God allowing it to happen, who am I to complain about the circumstances? I certainly can't see the good in any of it, but at least I trust that it is there, somewhere, and that God has everything in hand. I'll do my part to ameliorate the situation, of course, but God is in charge, and I just have to follow through with what I know is right and good, having faith that He is doing His part and that all is good.

Still,....I really needed a big mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows yesterday. I'm not superwoman and I have my limits.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) 2015 All rights reserved.

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

Saturday, December 5, 2015

MY OWN BRAND OF CRAZY

Starry Night - by Vincent van Gogh

I received a notice on Facebook today that a Catholic acquaintance was selling a book on Catholic apologetics, and he previewed a bit of it having to do with the date of Jesus birth. According to him, it is Catholic belief that Jesus was definitely born on December 25th.

Catholics do not know the date of Jesus' birth. In fact, we aren't really sure about the year, except that scholars have realized that he was probably born up to 8 years prior to when the Christian calendar fixed it. As for the date, we aren't even sure of the season. In one of the gospels, it does say that He was born when the lambs were in the field. Lambing season in Israel IS around that time, but there is a stretch of a couple of months, nothing to pin any certainty on the actual date.

Anyway, I contacted this "author" and explained to him that he was asserting something that was definitely NOT church teaching, and he came back with a lot of colorful comments. When I mentioned the season being lambing season, he expressed disdain for my idea that lambs were only born during one time of year. (Clearly, he's a city boy.)

He also said Mary should have known for sure the date of the birth of her own son, and I am sure that she might, but there is no record of her having let US know. It is certainly not in the Bible or any extant documents from the time period, and the Catholic faith does not claim that there is any record.

When I offered him an article in which Pope Benedict specifically says that we have no idea the date of Jesus' birth, but that it was probably not December 25th, the author told me to go peddle my brand of crazy somewhere else, so I am...right here.

Almost anyone can be an "author" these days, and some of them fraudulently put themselves out there as authorities on the faith, but they are apologists for a faith that is unrecognizable as Catholic. It is hard to wade through all the crazies and the heretics, but we have to do it. When you read something that smacks of some arbitrary fundamentalism, you can be sure that it is probably not Catholic. The exact date of Jesus' birth, for instance. It isn't something that is considered terribly important. That isn't the type of hill on which we want to die. Catholicism is much deeper and more profound, and we have better things to do than hotly defend some imagined date of Jesus' birth because it just doesn't matter.

If you want to know what the faith believes, read the Catechism, a good Catholic Bible (I like the Douay Rheims), and orthodox Catholic reporting agencies. Read the Encyclicals, which you can find on the Vatican website. Read the doctors of the church. Read as much of the church fathers and mothers as you can.  I will be right along there with you, as I am on a campaign to educate myself as much as possible. The first thing I got under my belt was to identify reliable sources, and I recommend the same to you.

God bless us all.

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
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