Sunday, November 27, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
Age is Better
Rod McKuen, 1933-2015
I have been young,
a fresh faced sprout,
with agile legs, a muscled arm and smile
to charm the world I went through
in a rush to get a little older, sooner.
Catching my reflection while passing past
a looking glass not long ago
I discovered I was older, even old. There was
no sudden melancholy or regret, and yet
some sadness in the wonder that it happened
while I wasn’t watching,
No pause to proudly ply the autumn into winter
I run as fast. I think a little faster and yet forget
at times what I went after there as I left here to
get it. This while crossing half a room
not half a lifetime.
So I’ve been young and I’ve been old and have
determined old is better.
Youth unfolds like coy Cleopatra from a rug
spilling all its golden wonders at the foot of age
who seems to envy everything, especially spring.
pledge anything to get an audience. Delivering
sometimes, most times not, on their way before
the promissory note comes due.
Can you blame them as they hurry off, afraid
another runner may beat them to The Score ahead
leaving nothing to be scored?
Age is oft times bitter, feeling in its failing health
that wealth of life eluded it. Apologize somebody or
some thing for leaving me to find the way I never
found or could not find because it was not there
or never was.
But having seen the surge of youth, the sag of age
in breast and chest and everything, I still say spring
is overrated. Age is better.
Less is expected of the once firm chest that drags
a little lower, the robust voice reduced to murmur
Age can finally say aloud what it really feels and
thinks in after dinner company or crowd.
No one blinks. If they do, no matter.
Age erases pretence; replacing it with honesty.
Age is proof you got from there to here.
Alas so many that you loved
did not complete the journey. You mourn them, yes,
and always will, but age is such a triumph over youth,
again, because you moved across the years to here.
Leaving there where it belongs
for youth to come along and re-discover.
God, I love this poem.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
One of our sisters who is 86 years old and up until last week was robust and sharp and in control of her life, is now dying. She had a very very bad fall about two months ago; she fell flat on her face, walking on the sidewalk outside of her house. She sustained some broken bones, most notably her cheekbones, and was in rehab. Then things went downhill from there. She came up to our skilled care floor up here to continue recovering, but developed blood clots in her legs. Two days ago she became very confused, disoriented, and was even hallucinating. They took her to the hospital for a brain scan and discovered a new and ongoing brain bleed. Now she is unconscious and is on hospice.
It happened so quickly that we are all in shock.
She's not the first. I've known of at least five other persons who have fallen , with bad results, in the last year.
This brings me to an article I read recently in Slate about how dangerous falls are , especially to senior citizens. I'm quoting from it here:
Sunday, November 20, 2016
This morning I re-discovered T.S. Eliot's poem sequence Four Quartets.It's been a favorite of mine since I first read it fifty years ago in college. In fact, when I gave the welcome address at our commencement ( NOT the valedictory!) I spun my speech from its words
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Today when I read the whole sequence again, I saw so much that I have missed in it over the years. Maybe I had to be this old to see it.
For now, just look at these lines:
What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
TS Eliot East Coker
Saturday, November 19, 2016
At the Vigil Mass tonight, the cantor sang my favorite Alleluia, the one from Weston Priory. He sang the third verse:
the fullness of our joy
Through that love we pass...
Which leads me to another appropriate song for this feast, one of my favorites from Taize:
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom,
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
I feel the way the woman in this photograph looks. I'm glad the bear is there to comfort her. I don't seem to have a bear nearby,
Perhaps it's because I've been sick for three weeks: one week with a "barf your guts out" stomach bug, followed by two weeks of really bad sinus infection and bronchitis. I am still taking the antibiotics. This physical state tends to depress a person.
However, the news in our country has also caused me to lose hope. I see a huge ( as our president-elect would say) crash coming. The prosperity he has promised to his followers, the really poor and disadvantaged working class white people in the middle of the country, is just not going to happen.
In the meantime, if the Republicans do away with Medicare, old people are going to be dying in the streets.
That's the catastrophe I see coming. I hope I am wrong, but that's almost the last hope I have tonight.
And in my religious community, the three youngest members left a few weeks ago; not together, but one after another. What does that mean for the future of our province? I don't have much hope there, either, and I feel guilty feeling that way.
So I am going to post some pictures I like right now, just to have something more colorful.
That was a truly marvelous moon the other night:
Friday, November 11, 2016
I drove through beautiful sunny November country, through Lancaster county, the land of my ancestors, down to West Grove, Pa, where I gave a poetry reading as a fundraiser for the West Chester Poetry Center. So many old friends were there! They liked the poetry, and I had a good time, too.
I stayed overnight with my friends in West Chester. By Monday morning, the cold had gotten much worse, and I had no voice.
I drove back to Emmitsburg and had a car crash on Rt. 30 about ten miles west of York.
A three-car rear-ender. I was the third vehicle, and the other two were large heavy pickup trucks.
I was unhurt, but the car was totaled.
Thus began hours of police, towtrucks, waiting for the sisters to get there to pick me up.
Then, of course, Tuesday was Election Day, when Trump and the Republicans won everything.
A lot of my friends were weeping all over Facebook about this. I was not. I was not completely surprised, even though the polls were so wrong. Too many people in this country hated Hillary.
I cannot imagine what this means for our country. I hope it means all the good things that those who voted for this think will happen: more jobs and better economic opportunity for so many who have felt so dismissed and ignored .
Then , on Wednesday I went to the doctor and found I have some really nasty upper respiratory infection. I'm loaded up with a heavy duty antibiotic called Keflex ( she even gave me a huge shot of it in my behind in the office!) and five days of Prednisone.
Then, yesterday, Leonard Cohen died.
I have loved his music and poetry since I bought his first album in about 1968:
I loved him when he looked like this:
and I loved him more recently, especially as he was on his Live from London tour in 2008:
I can't decide which one is my favorite song. The first one I loved was "Suzanne" but more recently
it is "Halleluiah."
I used to sing "Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye"
Goodbye, dear Leonard.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
This truly brutal and cruel election season in the USA is over, and Donald Trump will be our next president.
It was fairly close; in fact, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump's electoral votes were over and above what he needed.
I've read some articles which explain this to me.
However, I am still worried about what will happen to our country during the next four years.
I feel the truth in this remark by the comedian Stephen Colbert:
"It seems like we're trying to avoid an apocalypse, and half of the people are voting for the asteroid."
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
I love this poem by Jean Nordhaus:
by Jean Nordhaus
after the tremendous churning
that brought you forth, an owl
flew onto the rail of the balcony
where we sat, as darkness bled
from backlit hills into the sky.
In twilight, she perched on the ledge
measured us with wide, light-
on soft wings. Shades of my mother,
I thought, half-believing—the wide-
set eyes and level gaze.
have no more truck with us
are wrong. The dead are all around us
feathering the air with their wings.
They see in the fertile darkness
that surrounds this sac of light.
And in these hours we call them back
to steady us, who live in time.
"With Their Wings" by Jean Nordhaus from Memos from the Broken World. © Mayapple Press, 2016. Reprinted with permission