Archive for July, 2013

Openness

To open a thing implies some sort of effort. It may be a somewhat violent, forceful effort, such as opening a lock box when you can’t find the key, or even cracking a coconut with a hammer. Or it could be a gentle opening, such as the quiet pushing open of the door to a sleeping child’s room to check on him. Whether forceful or gentle, some result will be had from the effort, but that result will not be because of us. We need to be careful of seeing ourselves as that important. We need to know our limitations.

When it comes to Faith, I think only God, by His grace, does the opening. And I think it is sometimes a gentle opening, but often a forceful one. How many times do people ‘hit the bottom’ and then change and rise to the top. Could they have risen if they hadn’t first fallen? These sorts of things are in the hands of a loving God’s permissive will.

I do believe we can influence a person’s opening to Faith by our example, our presence, and our prayers. And these are heavy-weight things. When he or she is experiencing sorrow or joy, we can be alongside as conduits of God’s grace. But we should not think of ourselves as the ones ‘doing the opening.’

Be there for them? Yes! But ‘meet someone else’s spiritual needs’ and expect them to change because of it?’ Only God can do that.

The Echo of Time

Posted: July 17, 2013 in World On The Edge

       In my foyer there is a Grandfather’s Clock dating from the mid eighteen hundreds. Its origin is German. Before it came to me, it belonged to my husband’s uncle, a chaplain and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. It is a beautiful clock, and temperamental, but if I keep it wound, its gong is clear and loud and steady with an echo that resounds for nearly a full minute throughout the house.

On top of a china cabinet in my dining room, there is an Arsonia Mantel Clock that belonged to my grandmother, also dating from the eighteen hundreds, and may have belonged to my great-grandmother. My grandparents had it when my mother was born in Savannah, GA, and it traveled with their family to Panama City Florida, and finally to Dothan, Al. I remember my grandmother’s daily ritual of winding it. I wasn’t allowed to touch it then, but today, I’m the performer of that ritual and the receiver of its chiming.  (more…)

Photo by dtcreations, 2005, MorgueFile.com

Photo by dtcreations, 2005, MorgueFile.com

Not so long ago, if you turned on a local radio station in Dothan, Alabama, the music that came up was Gospel. You might hear The Blackwood Brothers, or the Blind Boys of Alabama. You might hear Mahalia Jackson or even Elvis Presley, but all of them were singing about the presence of God in our world.

Many times the songs were a sort of reaching up out of pain, and there was no question that God would reach back. For example, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” verse Three:

Whenever I am tempted, Whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, When hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. 

Today’s world often seems filled with pain and sorrow. We all recognize it, and at times personally feel it, but after pain and sorrow hit us, do we feel as safe as that old gospel song says we should? Do we reach up in order for God to reach back?

Sometimes, when tragedy or disappointment strikes, all we want to do is crawl in a hole and stay there. And personally, I think that’s fine for a while. We have to get used to loss, or disillusionment, or whatever it is that has dented our life. But we can’t stay there forever.

We have to climb out of the hole and look up to realize we are  loved, and that we will always be loved by God.

Two months after my husband and I graduated from Spring Hill College and were married, I began teaching at Fourth Grade at Holy Spirit School in Tuscaloosa and he began Law School at the University of Alabama.

My classroom was a makeshift one. Things were different then, and the Catholic Schools were overflowing, so my classroom had been made from the lunch room. Over the top of a partition, wonderful smells of baking bread flowed into the room, churning the stomachs of teacher and students.

The mother of one of my students was the school baker. Every morning in Holy Spirit’s kitchen, she made fantastic rolls, and sent any that were leftover home with me. She was a tall German woman, a single parent who I never saw without a baker’s cap. She took pride in her job, and in her son.  (more…)

Am I Good Enough?

Posted: July 12, 2013 in World On The Edge

On July 20, from 11am-2pm, I will have my first book-signing at Barnes and Noble, here in my hometown.

Will anyone come? Will I sign any books? As a new author, will I be accepted?

I worry about all that.

Acceptance is what we all want, isn’t it? From the time we are born until the time we die, we strive for the acceptance of those we admire.

There’s a character in one of my novels, “The Distance Between High and Low,” which I hope to have published soon. Hobart McSwain, born in Detroit, is adopted as a child by an Alabama family. Expressing his need for acceptance in the fictional town of Highlow, he says: (more…)

“I decline to accept the end of man… I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among the creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.” ― William Faulkner

If we believe there is a God who created each of us, then each of us is a child of God. And each human person has the divinity of God within him, or her. We call this divinity within us, the soul. It is the only part of us that doesn’t die. That makes the soul, and what happens within it, essential.  (more…)

What is the difference between an active and passive faith? 

A passive faith is rote: a mechanical repetition of something so that it is remembered, but often without real understanding of its meaning or significance.

A passive faith is a Sunday thing.  We go to Mass and Communion. But on Monday, other ‘more pressing’ things take over and Sunday is forgotten. We may throw out a few prayers. We may read a little scripture, but literally, we sleep through being in tune with Jesus.

AN ACTIVE FAITH IS ONE YOU CAN’T SLEEP THROUGH.

“Act and God will act, work and He will work.” —Joan of Arc (more…)

The Restorers

Posted: July 10, 2013 in World On The Edge

You know them. You’ve probably welcomed them into in your home: the painters, floorers, plumbers, electricians—all those who help to keep up the house in which you live.

Some of us try to do these tasks ourselves, and some of us know better than to try.  So, we call in the Restorers. Because we want order. Because we want things to work as they were made to work–and because we know what happens if we let it all go.

When the refrigerator goes out, the food goes bad. When the toilets stop up, the bathroom floods, and maybe even ruins the floors. When sparks come from an electrical socket,  fire is a definite possibility. No one can deny that these  problems need attention. No one can deny that to ignore them is foolhardy, even irresponsible. We must use our heads and solve the problem in our house.

But don’t we have another house for which We The People are responsible? (more…)

Late Sleeper?

Posted: July 9, 2013 in World On The Edge

Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people who sleep late, one of those who miss early morning rain storms and wake not even knowing they happened. I’m not, though. I’m an early riser, a wonderer, and a ‘thinker.’

This morning I woke thinking about Joan of Arc. A week or so ago, George and I watched a movie about her life. It was incredible, but it’s true. An eighteen year old girl  leads an army and defeats a world.

There have been thousands of books on Joan and many movies. All of them stir questions. Why would God want to save France?  How could an eighteen year old lead an army, defeat a world power and crown a king in a matter of six months?  (more…)

All About ME

Posted: July 8, 2013 in World On The Edge

If you ask a child of three or four to draw a picture of himself, what he usually creates is a big circle with suggestions of eyes, nose and mouth–i.e. a Big Head. That’s because at three or four, the child sees himself as the focal point of everything. He’s not mature enough to be interested in others, but only in what they can do for him. Life is all about him, all about having what he or she wants, And what is his response if he doesn’t get what he wants? Whining? Anger? A temper tantrum?

Each of us was once a child with similar antics. Now, we’re adults. We no longer pitch a fit if we don’t get our way.

Or do we?  (more…)