Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sabbath Psalm


How can anything hurt this much?
This blistering, burning vessel I've touched
Someone remove this cup from my lips
It's wrenching my soul to tattered strips

Depart. Be gone. Please let me be
Just let me die from this misery
Despair has come to claim his due
I never thought that he was you

Not Dowd! Not that. You don't comprehend
She's life, she's love, she's beginning and end
Without the dream of her these years
I'd never have crossed the Sea of Tears

I gave and gave, reached deeper still
I crossed your deserts and climbed your hills
Nothing was too great to ask
I always shouldered the toughest tasks

So this is what I get in turn?
Living water that burns and burns
Irons forged in some hades well
To scorch the soul condemned to hell

Then woe! to me and those I've known
Be damned good deeds that I have sown
I curse and swear at all I've done
There is no light, there is no sun

Just Emptiness who holds me near
She's not embarrassed by my tears
To cry and weep will make her whole
She too receives part of my soul

A foolish dream so ends in grief
Perceive it as a falling leaf
Then you'll know the times at hand
For one last thought before you land

Mine will be of an ocean shore
Before the Child had shut the door
And the vision that finally bowed
Retreated, expired...of Colleen Dowd.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spare the Rod

I grew up in a stereotypical Irish Catholic family who's parents certainly believed "spanking" was a legitimate form of discipline. This would take the form of a hand, paddle, or belt being used for the "whipping." In fact my parents believed in it so strongly that in 1960, before a trip to the Midwest, we were whipped because (as my mom said)  "you are going to pull something in front of somebody where we can't punish you." As far as I know, this was the first incident of "paying it forward;" albeit in a negative sense. To be fair, it was one of the lightest spanking I ever received. Still, general principles had to be observed and our parents had sent an unmistakable message.

My mom's usual method was using a paddle. There was a toy back in the 50's/60's where a ball was attached by a string to a paddle. I remember it was called something other than a "paddle ball," although for the life of me I can't recall the toy's name. There was a ten cent model and a "deluxe" twenty-nine cent model. My mother used the Deluxe. (she had broke the less expensive model on my older brother's butt years earlier, before I became aware of such nuances) She was consistent in that, if she could get ten good whacks in, she felt satisfied. (a bit more on this in a minute) My father was more a wild card. Depending on the offense and his emotional reaction to it, he was a hand or belt spanker. Sometimes he would use the buckle end of the belt. I honestly don't know if it was intentional or that his rage precluded such powers of observation. Because of outright terror, I have no idea if dad had a prescribed amount of whacks that satisfied his view of righteous punishment. I only know that the idea of love for someone who produced that degree of fear in me was inconsistent and never a part of my experience while he was alive.

One constant in the spankings was the "hand jive." All my siblings, as well as yours truly, would forever be inserting our hand(s) between our tender young fanny and the instrument of correction. Both parents were outraged by this maneuver and would wrestle wildly (while screaming for compliance) with the offending hand(s) so they could obtain unobstructed and maximum impact on the targeted area. The hand jive was far easier and more effective with mom (ergo the ten "good whacks") and frustrated her greatly. Dad would warn, wrestle, and then let nature take its course. The lash of a belt removes a hand from a butt "post haste."

So why is this post called "spare the rod?" I think spanking one of the least effective means of discipline. I honestly can't remember NOT doing something because I thought I would get whipped for it. It was simply a consequence, never a deterrent. In my childish mind I can't ever remember thinking I was being or doing something bad. Yet the corporal punishment inflicted by my parents said I had or was. Did it modify my behavior? For a time. But it didn't stick because I didn't understand. Until such time as any of us truly understand something, there won't (and can't) be lasting change. While you may feel justified "beating some sense" into someone, what you most likely have beat into them is animosity and resentment. If you genuinely wish to modify someone's behavior, think long and hard on what would be the most effective way someone could change yours. The technique or tactic you uncover might be the most potent method for you to employ, especially on your children.

Monday, February 24, 2014


A very special lady passed yesterday. In her honor, I am reposting the November 6th blog. The few minutes watching the video may be worth your while.

"Be thankful for everything." Alice Herz-Sommer

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday's Prism

You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself flowers in your views, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the world, and more than so, because men and women are in it who are everyone sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight as misers do in gold, and kings in scepters, you never enjoy the world. ~Thomas Traherne  Centuries of Meditations

Special Note: To the Ukrainian who came on at 4:00AM PST last night and read the entire blog; my thoughts are with you and your countrymen.