Saturday, August 17, 2019

WHAT WE ARE

MONASTERY OF ST. GERTRUDE
COTTONWOOD, IDAHO
WEST (BACK) FACADE OF SANCTUARY

"[I]t is true, for better or worse, that we affect others in the last resort by what we are. From us too power will go forth in our small measure, to heal or to hurt, in accordance with our state of being. Too easily we forget this central fact of life: that always and inevitably we are affecting other people. We think too exclusively in material terms; we forget the power of spirit. We think too exclusively in terms of outward activity; we forget the power of being. If we are filled with egoism, hatred, the dark forces of life, then we spread darkness and bitterness about us whatever we may do or say. If we are filled with love then it is light and joy that go forth from us and affect the world even though we may be remote from human contacts. We know what it means to be lapped in the love of another human being, to be energized by it, healed, strengthened, renewed: we have to see that that is true of the whole world, the battleground of those opposing forces, partly a haunted house where evil that was done long ago lingers and is active, partly holy ground where the influence of love lingers on, to the healing of humanity. We have to think of the simple saints, the hermits in their cells, and see them for what they really are: playing a major part in the world's destiny, in the shaping of the world's future, simply because they are love-filled and love goes forth from them. To spread that kind of influence is the first duty of the christian [sic] in the world in which he lives."

--Gerald Vann, OP,  The Pain of Christ




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

CONFLICTS AND CONTRADICTIONS




"[C]ontrary to what I might have hoped or expected when I was younger, life does not in fact grow simpler as one gets older, its complexities and contradictions do not actually decrease as time goes on."
--Esther de Waal, Living with Contradictions: Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict

How I do not know, but I have arrived at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho.

It is close to ideal.

I’m on the fifth floor, facing east, overlooking the Camas prairie, a big sky, and many tall trees, in particular two super-tall spruce I think, the upper branches of which reach far above the fifth floor and are hung with clusters of cones. It occasionally rains and thunders with flashes of lightning as it did the first morning. Birdsong of various kinds is constant. The sisters have an orchard with (that I know of) apples, apricots and cherries, as well as a giant raspberry patch. They thus have delicious home-made preserves, and fresh unsprayed cherries and raspberries at every meal. The food is plentiful and lovingly made and there is certainly enough there so I’m not going to starve, esp since I brought three to four bags and smart move of my own snacks, crackers, dried fruit and drinks.

The main thing is it is quiet. I have not had actual unabated quiet probably since I was at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony which was a year ago. Anyway, there are sisters who actually live on my floor and wing and I haven’t even seen them, though we share bathrooms. The bedroom is small and adequate with a window directly in front of a beautiful tree. I will sleep and take naps there. But the place I’ll spend most all my time is the Guardian Angels room, the studio I nabbed within the first few hours, which has two big windows, wifi, a desk, shelves of actually decent books (I also brought tons with me, and again good move), high ceilings, fir woodwork and which I have already managed to trick out with cards and artwork I brought myself, a few semi-decent icon images they had here, and wildflowers stuck in Goya coconut water cans.

I cannot describe the sheer sense of heaven to be ensconced up here and know I will not be BOTHERED. Right outside my Guardian Angels Room door is a life-size statue of Mary that scares the crap out of me every time I see/sense it as my limbic system persists in perceiving an actual person. She is squishing the head of a screaming serpent, so that’s good, and I hope to get used to her. Right across from her is a bathroom, and beside that a small kitchen area with a full-size refrigerator, a sink, a small coffee maker, and a plug for my electric water heater—in other words, my coffee and tea needs (one of the day's MAIN considerations) are TOTALLY PROVIDED FOR.

With all that, I have many psycho-spiritual conflicts/battles raging, per usual. I'm sure none of them amount to anything.


OH YES, AND THEN THERE'S THE HORARIUM
AND MY VERY STRESSFUL KITCHEN TASKS.
STAY TUNED!

Friday, August 9, 2019

DATELINE BOISE: RENDER UNTO CAESAR

SUNFLOWERS,
DOWNTOWN BOISE HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY GARDEN

In a piece this week for "Catholic Philly," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput reflects on the recent shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton.  He wrote:

"Now begins the usual aftermath: expressions of shock; hand-wringing about senseless (or racist, or religious, or political) violence; bitter arguments about gun control; heated editorials, earnest (but brief) self-searching of the national soul, and eventually — we’re on to the next crisis.

I buried some of the young Columbine victims 20 years ago. I sat with their families, watched them weep, listened to their anger, and saw the human wreckage that gun violence leaves behind. The experience taught me that assault rifles are not a birthright, and the Second Amendment is not a Golden Calf. I support thorough background checks and more restrictive access to guns for anyone seeking to purchase them.

But it also taught me that only a fool can believe that “gun control” will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted hearts. And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy, personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and perverted freedoms that we’ve systematically created over the past half-century.

So I’ll say it again, 20 years later. Treating the symptoms in a culture of violence doesn’t work. We need to look deeper. Until we’re willing to do that, nothing fundamental will change."

I couldn't agree more. I can't understand why every Catholic bishop and priest in the country isn't calling loud and clear for a ban on assault rifles (at the very least). And the secular world betrays its own limitations by failing to recognize that the violence that permeates the American psyche is at bottom a spiritual crisis, a sickness of the national soul.

Twenty years ago, Chaput observed:

"The real problem [of Columbine-like violence in our culture] is in here, in us … In the last four decades we’ve created a culture that markets violence in dozens of different ways, seven days a week. It’s part of our social fabric. When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes the universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes? When we glorify and multiply guns, why are we shocked when kids use them?"

Aside: Archbishop Chaput wrote a book in which from what I understand he maintained that every Catholic should vote based SOLELY on whether a candidate is for, or against, laws that ban abortion. But just as gun control laws in and of themselves won't stop gun violence, laws restricting abortion won't stop abortion--and for the very same reasons he himself stated above. So what do you do if a candidate thinks abortion is fine but supports the abolition of private ownership of assault weapons? What do you do if a candidate purports to support life in the womb but in his or her life, actions, speech and spirit is a malignant, racist, hate-spewing, lying narcissist?

Would that life were so clear-cut that we could extract an "issue" from the whole fabric of existence, choose the "right" side, and let our consciences rest. It's not, ever. Thus, Christ nailed to the cross: of the paradox of human existence'; of the fact that for us to live and consume, someone else necessarily dies or goes without; of the fact that no issue or money or decision or act is totally "clean" except possibly martyrdom.

So how to proceed without despairing? How to refuse the thought, Nothing I do matters, so I will do nothing at all.

 "The real problem [of violence in our culture] is in here, in us"…[Similarly, when a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote in response: "Dear Sirs: I am."].

Wednesdau, I drove from the 300 or so miles from Winnemuca, NV to Boise, Idaho. I started at 7 am, knowing there was an hour time change, and set as my goal to arrive in Boise in time for 12:15 Mass at St. John the Baptist.

The landscape was glorious and en route, I prayed the Glorious Mysteries, and for many people in my life, and others who've specifically asked me to pray for them. I also prayed my car wouldn't break down, that I could pass the semi in front of me without getting squished by an oncoming semi, that I'd find a place to pull over and pee, that my life would bear fruit, that my heart would be purified, that there'd be enough cell reception so I could check the Rogers Cup live scores, in gratitude, that the Boise Co-op would carry bread from the Acme Bakery, that I could reach into the cooler and eat a cup of yogurt and blueberries while driving, for the hideous heart-stopping gun massacres that our nation allows and de facto encourages would stop.

I thought about the fact that "being an American" has come to mean two very different things to two very different groups of people, or perhaps truer, that the American psyche has always had a split down the middle of it. In New Hampshire, where I was raised, our license plates, for example, read and still read, "Live Free or Die." The American Revolution was still very much a part of the civic psyche. Town commons were and still are adorned by cannons, flags, and statues of Paul Revere. On the fourth of July, you can still drive through Portsmouth, the town where I was born, and see grown males dressed as Minute Men.

Violence, in other words, upon which our nation was founded, was in the air, and so was the so-called righteousness that attended it, the thought here being: This land is ours and we're willing to die for it. Except actually the land is never anybody's except God's. The land is for those who understand and revere and cherish and value and preserve it, which at that point would have been the Native Americans who we massacred before grabbing and "conquering" it.

We never dealt with our collective and subconscious guilt. Instead of transforming the wound, we refused to acknowledge and thus transmitted it. Race has thus always been a factor in our history, and so has violence.

We paid superficial lip service to an amorphous ecumenical, toothless "God," then commandeered and appropriated "God" to support our violence. We claim to be a religious nation but as a nation we have never  truly bowed before any god besides our own self-interest and greed. We'll put a good gloss on it, like we all do in our daily lives, but when you get right down to it--self-interest and greed.

Beside the live free or die mentality arose many of the values upon which I have based, however imperfectly and inconsistently, my adult, sober life: hard work, decency, doing for your neighbor. A desire for the common good, and the cognizance that such a desire has sacrifice and compromise built into it.  You might want to play your music full blast, for instance, but that is probably going to bother your neighbor so you tone it down. A gratitude and reverence for the landscape and natural resources that manifests not so much in joining an organization but in ordering your daily life so as to be able to drink in and reflect as much as possible of that landscape.

I'm thinking of my father, who had a vegetable garden and shared the produce with neighbors. I'm thinking of my mother, who gathered greens from the fields in back of our childhood home and made Christmas wreaths from them. You operate on the honor system. You try not to take out without putting back in, hopefully more than you took.

But there's a dark side to the live free or die ethos, too. That one says I can do whatever I want and you can't tell me not to because I'm an American. I can ride my motorcycle back and forth through your neighborhood purposely gunning the engine and making as much noise as I possibly can at because I'm an American. I can drive a giant gas-guzzling 4 by 4 to transport myself and the one kid to Trader Joe's and yoga even though the world is in grave climate-change peril because I'm an American. I can acquire an arsenal of assault weapons in spite of the fact that my insistence on the "right" to such weapons causes incontrovertibly contributes to countless massacres of my innocent neighbors,  I can be the President of the United States and proudly pay no taxes because I'm an American, and a smart one at that. (That half those taxes go toward maintaining our military might, while our people go hungry, uninsured, uneducated, and jobless is another story--suffice it to say our President worships both our national military might and his own refusal to pay for any of it).

I, too, have a psychic split. As St. Paul said, The good I want to do I don't do, the evil I don't want to do, I do. What's the matter with the world is me. That I return again and again to my own need for mercy is what grounds me, enables me to continue living with some small kind of hope, strengthens me to take any action at all.

I drove 219 miles on 95 N (a two-lane highway), then cut off on 55-E, which was undergoing road work and had stop lights, then 84-E, where I could book it cause time was beginning to get tight, then off onto surface streets and downtown Boise and more road work and traffic congestion and with two minutes to go spotted St. John the Evangelist, jockeyed a parking space, grabbed my Magnificat, phone, keys, purse, sprinted across the street and asked a cluster of construction guys (the church is undergoing some kind of rehab) where the chapel was if they knew.

"Right down there, just duck under the yellow tape," one of them said, and I rushed in sweaty and shaking, during the Responsorial Psalm. Three hundred miles and I'd made it by a margin of seconds in time for the Gospel, so I felt I could in all good conscience, especially since I'd done everything in my power short of endangering others to arrive on time, take the Eucharist.

Lots of the women wore mantillas (and they weren't Latina), and in front of me was a young, well-built guy wearing a "Take the Hill" T-shirt, the back of which I studied during the homily. Pictured was a platoon of soldiers in camo gear with unbelievably scary-looking black hoods and machine guns. I'm not saying Christ was a pacifist, simply because Christ didn't have ideologies or formulas for anything. But I have a very hard time squaring the Gospels with assault weapons, of any kind, for any purpose. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and what is God's unto God."

Like I said, the Cross.


BLUE FLAME SAGE.
THESE TWO PIX ARE FROM THE IDAHO BOTANICAL GARDEN.

KATHRYN ALBERTSON PARK
BOISE, IDAHO.
YOU CANNOT BELIEVE THE INSANE NUMBER OF APPARENTLY GORGEOUS,FREE, CLEAN, PUBLIC PARKS IN BOISE!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

ON THE ROAD AGAIN


THE CARSON CITY NUGGET CASINO
I THOUGHT OF GOING IN AND ASKING IF I COULD JUST ORDER
A DIET COKE, THEN SIT AND SCOPE THE PLACE OUT,
BUT THE WHOLE GAMBLING SCENE CREEEEEEPS ME OUT.
PLUS IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE,
THE MOUNTAINS AND SKY!

Per usual, life has been moving at a faster clip than I'm able to keep up with.

I do know this: I'm in Carson City, Nevada. That's right. Holed up in the Forest Room of the Bliss Bungalow: "a charming inn for the discerning traveler."

Well, the first part  is right.

Carson City, the Historic District anyway, is totally cool--who knew? Bungalows of wood, stone and brick, shade trees, coffee shops, art galleries. (Plus of course the Nugget).

I'm en route to St. Gertrude's Monastery in Cottonwood, Idaho, where I'm to spend a month as an artist-in-residence. (An, not the: apparently there's to be another writer or artist, so that will be nice). For reasons I won't go into except that they have to do with the fact that I decided not to drive 500 or 600 miles a day, which I have done before on other road trips, I thought I would space this one out a bit.

Also, I planned the whole trip basically in the middle of the night on my phone while lying in bed. Which I realize now doesn't really show a full picture of the whole map thing.

I've gone up the 395 through Lone Pine to Independence, one of my all-time favorite California towns (Eastern Sierras) many times. And there is nary a hotel room or airbnb anywhere within about a fifty-mile radius of Yosemite this time of year. So I thought I would take a kind of westerly route and end up in the town of Tuolumne (not to be confused with Tuolumne Meadows, which is on the east side of Yosemite), spend the night there, and the next day have a leisurely drive across the park on the Tioga Pass (I'm ashamed to say I have never visited Yosemite and did not intend to "visit" it in any meaningful way this trip-but figured I could at least get a taste for next time) and end up on the 395 and from there up to Carson City.

All went more or less well except that getting to Tuolomne requires a good 100 miles--the last 100 miles--on "secondary roads", with gigantic 4 by 4s bearing down on my tail any time I was going less than 70, and as I approached on Sunday afternoon (thank God I was going the right way), after an almost six-hour drive, there was a huge long line of cars snaking down from the park and all kinds of people and activity and camping supply and kayaking stores and so forth. And I realized that to descend into Yosemite Valley itself this time of year would probably be not that much fun for a scenic drive.

I stayed in a lovely airbnb except it turned out "they" (the people of the town) were putting on some kind of huge outdoor 70s rock concert that entailed deafening rehearsal for an hour in the afternoon and then loud music with thumping bass from 6 to 9. So that was awful.

In the meantime, I took a long walk around the town. I saw a few cool artist-type warehouse-type spaces with weathered corrugated tin rooves and two or three huge clusters of swallows' nests under the eaves of the VA Building. An old lumber store with broken windows, a rusted tin roof, and overgrown weeds was probably my favorite place, besides the similarly burnt-out old-timey cinema. Some lovely person has planted a maintained a beautiful flower garden and had a sign out on the white picket fence saying "Garden Tours" in charming script but I didn't see anyone around and didn't want to barge in.

There was a general air of not a lot of jobs, and several streets dead-ended at fences with signs saying You Are Entering Native Land, or more like Don't Come in Here, it's Native Land. I skimmed a book about the history of Tuolumne that night and the first picture was of a Native Me-Wuk woman weaving a beautiful basket. The book (and this was by some town historical society, not someone with a "political" agenda) mentioned that when the miners and lumber people came in the mid-1850s, they stripped, cut down, ravaged, pillaged, fouled the water, and in general completely upset the ecosystem under which and with which the indigenous tribes had lived for centuries. It must have seemed like the end of the world to them, the Me-Wuks.

Meanwhile I was learning of two separate domestic-terrorism massacres, at least one of which was committed by some dreadfully mentally derailed soul who is worried that "the Hispanics" are going to take over--what was never "ours" to begin with. And is especially not ours to the extent that we don't respect, revere, and conserve it, and its people.

The other thing I realized is that the folks in these mountain towns have got to be kind of stuck there in winter. The passes are closed in Yosemite from November or so till early June! And probably even getting down and around on your own side of the park is kind of dicey. As in you need one of those giant trucks. And chains.

Much as I love or profess to love silence, that would drive me crazy. So back at my room, I googled What is it like to live in Tuolumne, and all kinds of interesting chat boards came up.

"Nature Guy" wrote: "My wife and I "crash landed" in Sonora, Calif. (Tuolumne County) about six years ago. Yikes! We could clearly see that this was a very nice area to live....about THIRTY or FORTY years ago! And we were told as much by folks who'd grown up and lived in this general area. Nearly all the roads date from the Civil War period, or before. Roughly speaking around the late 1850's and early 1860's. Unfortunately for everyone, in the many long years since that time, the area has far exceeded it's basic capacity for REALISTIC GROWTH.

And [sic] educated guess would be that absolutely nothing will be done to deal with this local dilemma UNTIL some local lawyers' family member (or City Council person) dies from being unable to receive emergency aid, due to congested roadways! Big money coupled with foolish, unrealistic growth can garner a VERY dark side, which everyone in this area pays for each and every day to some degree.

Looking at the faces of drivers in the opposite lane, bumper to bumper some 40 or 50 vehicles long, is an "education" worth avoiding. GRIM, I think, would be an appropriate description. As with many things, however, no one is shackled to this area (unless they want to be), and we're no exception. Our long-anticipated EXIT from this over-priced, over-rated area should take place in the next six to eight months, God willing. California still has numerous areas worth one's efforts to explore and live in....sadly, the general Sonora areas has surpassed it's "golden period" MANY long years ago."

This is just the kind of thing I'd be likely to write and I got a huge kick out of it. Naturally, a bunch of people told Nature Guy he was a jerk and that Tuolumne County is the best place going.

Anyway, I slept like a log and yesterday  morning drove the 68-mile Sonora Pass west to east, which is north of Yosemite Valley (and not in the park, which requires a 30-buck day-pass entry fee) but also "scenic." There was hardly any traffic and the heart of it has I think 25-degree grades in some places, first up, then down, so you definitely want to have enough water in your radiator and be playing heads-up ball. At the very top you could see snow all over the tops of the mountains! And these crazy alpine meadows full of wildflowers (whereas down below it's about 90 degrees).

I only got out of my car once, and went and sat on a log in the sun next to a rushing river and ate my yogurt and blueberries. My brother Joe had cautioned me from Marietta, Georgia, not to even think of going off on a trail by myself as MANY MANY PEOPLE SIMPLY DISAPPEAR IN YOSEMITE AND ARE NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN. I think he perhaps got this bit of info from Fox News, but I was so touched that a sibling was actually concerned for my welfare that I did a little research and came upon this very interesting site on NATIONAL PARK SERVICE COLD CASES.

Dang, it's dangerous out there!

My little Fiat 500 did great, knock on wood.

Next stop: Winnemucca.

THIS IS THE STATE CAPITOL!
SURROUNDED BY SHADE TREES AND A LOVELY PARK.

EXPRESSO YOURSELF CAFE,
KING STREET

RANDOM VICTORIAN HOUSE--
THE HISTORIC DISTRICT IF FULL OF THEM!


TONS OF BENCHES, PLAZAS, NOOKS,
AND TUCKED-AWAY PLACES TO SIT.
NO-ONE BOTHERS YOU.


THIS WAS BY A BANK OF AMERICA ATM.
I SOMEHOW THOUGHT THE PLACE WAS A BIG DESERT. WRONG AGAIN!


Thursday, August 1, 2019

ORANGE COUNTY'S CHRIST CATHEDRAL

AIRPLANE TERMINAL OR CHURCH?
MY SINS CAN'T WITHSTAND THE GLARE!
77 MILLION BUCKS OF OC DOUGH BOUGHT THIS.

Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

Let me say up front that my idea of the ideal Catholic church is a teeny, slightly down-at-the-heels chapel, say one of the “capillas” in and around Taos, New Mexico: whitewashed walls streaked with candle smoke, bloody statues of Jesus, tin retablos. On Sundays, if you’re lucky, maybe an accordion player.

On July 13, as usual, God had other plans. That was the night I journeyed to Garden Grove for a lollapalooza event at Christ Cathedral.

Formerly known as Crystal Cathedral and owned and operated by Protestant televangelist Robert “Hour of Power” Schuller, the church has been scooped up by the Diocese of Orange, subjected to a $77 million renovation, and as of July 17 is now open for weekend worship.

To celebrate, the diocese (which ministers to 1.2 million faithful) threw a black-tie bash, including a cocktail reception, a program and concert, and an elegant dinner by Patina in the Cathedral Plaza.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

This was a tough column. I had to really tone it down, and then the paper, which to its credit gives me incredible leeway, had me tone it down some more, and then they toned it down still further.

Here's a bit that didn't quite make it in:

I’m no art critic, but if I were in charge of building a cathedral, I’d first off hire an architect who loves Christ and attends daily Mass. A Mass-goer would know a church is the last place you want to be exposed to the sterile glare of the operating room. A church should be hushed, with a gloomy corner or two, and the merciful twilight of a convalescent home.

A church needs a splash of blood-red: say, a  beautifully-crafted stained-glass window of the Annunciation, or even a “corny” statue of Jesus pointing to his Sacred Heart: imagery, however high or low, that speaks of consecrated time and space; of a world beyond this one; of sin, redemption, eternity, and sacrificial love. 

Anyway, all the best to the Diocese of OC. And thanks for the dinner!


THIS IS MUCH MORE MY SPEED.
GLOOMY, SHADOWED, AND PLENTY OF
PLACES TO HIDE YOUR FACE IN YOUR HANDS,
WEEP, AND PRAY.



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

LETTERS TO FATHER JACOB




Watched a wonderful Finnish film the other night, directed by Klaus Härö, and recommended by a reader (thank you!): Letters to Father Jacob.

Synopsis: "Set in the early 1970s and based on a story by Jaana Makkonen, the film tells the story of Leila, a pardoned convict, who becomes an assistant to a blind priest, Jacob. The film depicts her transformation from a sceptic who grudgingly reads letters aloud to her benefactor into a caring savior of the pastor from his despair after the letters stop coming."

The tone and pace reminded me a bit of the work of Robert Bresson. The interior of a pivotal scene was shot in Holy Cross Church, Hattula, Finland.

I have never had the slightest desire to go to Finland, and am not even sure where it is. But this would be worth a trans-Atlantic trip for sure.





Sunday, July 28, 2019

CHRIS ARNADE AND HIS PHOTO-ESSAY COLLECTION: DIGNITY


"Religion and faith are essential for surviving the streets of the South Bronx. Everyone I met there who was living homeless or battling an addiction held a deep faith. Street walking is stunningly dangerous work, and everyone has stories of being cut, attacked and threatened themselves or stories of others who were killed. Everyone has to deal with the danger. Sometimes through drugs. Sometimes through faith. Few work without a mix of heroin, Xanax, or crack. None without faith. 'You know what kept me through all that? God. Whenever I got in the car, God got into the car with me.'

There are dirty Bibles in crack houses, Korans in abandoned buildings,. There is a picture of the Last Supper that moves with a couple living on the streets. It is the only real possession they own, beyond the Bible. It has hung in an abandoned building held in place by a syringe stuck in the wall. It has hung in a sewage-filled basement, and it has leaned against a pole under an expressway.

Rosaries, crucifixes, and religious icons are worn for protection and good luck. Pages of the Bible are torn out, folded up, and kept in pockets, to be pulled out and fingered nervously or read over in times of stress or held during prayers...

When you're up against evil, whether the mysterious effects of demons or the all-too-explainable effects of drugs, the front row's world of science, education and smart arguments doesn't do much for you."

“[C]hurches understand the streets, understand everyone is a sinner and everyone fails.”
--Chris Arnade, Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America

Arnade, a writer and photographer, quit his job as a Wall Street bond trader to wander about America actually sitting beside, talking with, and listening to the stories of the people that the educated, privileged, faith-disdaining, and mostly white often purport to want to help.

He has no particular "answers." He has no axe to grind nor agenda to promote. He just gives some faces and voices to the otherwise unseen and unheard.

He also discovered that the local McDonald's, in dying towns all over the country, is the new town square.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

COMPASSIONATE SOLIDARITY





COMPASSIONATE SOLIDARITY

When we think about the people who have given us hope and have increased the strength of our soul, we might discover that they were not advice givers, warners, or moralists, but the few who were able to articulate in words and actions the human condition in which we participate and who encouraged us to face the realities of life. . . . Those who do not run away from our pains but touch them with compassion bring healing and new strength. The paradox indeed is that the beginning of healing is in the solidarity with the pain. In our solution-oriented society it is more important than ever to realize that wanting to alleviate pain without sharing it is like wanting to save a child from a burning house without the risk of being hurt. It is in solitude that this compassionate solidarity takes its shape.

--Henri J. Nouwen
henrinouwen.org



Monday, July 22, 2019

MY NEW EDITING WEBSITE

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
LATE 1800s

You know how it is--you keep your head down, work, do errands, work, tend to daily life, work. Then 30 years go by and you realize, if you're me--Oh wow, I'm making the same amount of money now as I did in 1993 and the cost of living seems to have risen  a tad...

I need to "improve my earnings," as they say. And I actually enjoy helping shape, revise, and edit other people's stuff (anything rather than edit my own).

To that end, I am rolling out my new improved...That's right:

HEATHER KING EDITING.

So if you or anyone you know is wrestling with a manuscript--do let me know!

AGATHA CHRISTIE
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE...
CAUSE THEY ALL STARVED TO DEATH...







Friday, July 19, 2019

WASHINGTON DC AND THE DOMINICAN PRIORY

THIS--AND PLACES LIKE IT--IS WHERE IT ALL HAPPENS
IN OUR NATION'S CAPITAL...

This week's arts and culture column is on my recent trip to DC and begins like this:

Because I travel so often for work, I rarely if ever take a “vacation.” But recently I spent a week in Washington, D.C. — first-time visit — and loved it.

It helped that I had enough United Airline miles for a free ticket, and a cheapish place to stay: St. Dominic’s Priory (not to be confused with the Dominican House of Studies, which is across from the National Shrine).

Generally, in order to score a room there you have to be a priest, or the mother of a priest, or to occupy some similarly exalted position. My in was that I write for Magnificat magazine, thereby proving that even the lowly job of Catholic writer does have its perks. Not only that, the good fathers gave me the bishop’s suite!

I don’t care about any of the government stuff, I’d told myself in advance. Probably be a bunch of stuffed-shirt functionaries in black SUVS.

Similarly, I’d heard the phrase “Washington Mall,” and without even bothering to, say, look at a photo, figured a mall of any kind was a place to avoid.

My first night I strolled in that direction and, looking down Independence Avenue, caught a glimpse of the Smithsonian Castle. After going over to investigate, I was struck dumb not only by the building but by the gorgeous surrounding gardens where I spent every spare moment for the remainder of my stay.



READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.