Monday, July 29, 2013


"They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross."
--Flannery O'Connor

"Why do you have to be so gloomy and morose all the time?" a reader recently asked. "There's so much MORE than that. You should read my friend's blog who is a REAL Christian and HAPPY" etc... 

This, in response to what I'd thought was a lovely piece about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the affinity I feel for Barry, the homeless lush who staggers up and down Sunset Boulevard in my 'hood in L.A....

Boy did that raise my hackles! Gloomy!

Here are some photos I took last week, for example, after arriving early at the Twin Towers jail in downtown L.A. to talk to the inmates with some other folks about our 'journey" with alcoholism/drug addiction.

It was a beautiful afternoon, as you can see. These were taken on a creepily deserted street that runs along the back of the phalanx of cheesy bail bond joints located across from the jail.

Union Station-adjacent
Patsaouras Transit Plaza to the left. 
Some glittery concertina wire!
Don't you just love combining errands? And parking, too!
Twin Towers is in the background. Note the slit windows
so the inmates are deprived of a view of the sky, people, or trees.
Pill call wasn't SO loud that we literally couldn't be heard, as is sometimes the case. The guys were great. As always I felt like they gave us way more than we gave them. We're not allowed to hold hands with the inmates, lest we try to pass contraband, but at the end they held hands with each other and we held hands with each other and we all prayed the Lord's Prayer.

As if that weren't enough happiness, here are some pix of the drive home afterward, headed east on Cesar Chavez (which turns into Sunset Blvd.)

"Give me a person who has suffered by their own willful stupidity 

but found God in their process 
and I will listen."
--from one of my favorite pieces of fan e-mail ever

    And if the other reader is still with us--welcome!... 


  1. Gloomy? Hardly!! Life affirming, deeply joyful in the truest sense-that's you and your writing!

  2. I am a recently retired psychiatric nurse and was deeply moved by your piece about Barry. I know Barry and so many like him and they have shown me Christ. Your writing is full of life, joy and truth...not at all gloomy!

  3. I agree with Debbie. Maybe the gentleman in question just hasn't read enough of your posts or contributions to other publications and blogs to know what you are about. The piece on Barry was beautiful

  4. I agree with Debbie. Maybe the gentleman in question is just not familiar with your body of work. I thought the piece on Barry was beautiful and your honesty moved me to tears.

  5. I don't think your blog is gloomy at all, it's insightful, uplifting and cheerful. And I loved your piece on Barry as well.

  6. Heather, your writing is beautiful, truthful and luminous. Sometimes it what gets me through the day. Thanks for all you do.

  7. "They give us way more than we give them!" Keep writing Heather! You've shown me the light I've needed that has filled the gap between the church, reality, and the sorrows of this world. I now see my role in it all through the grace of God and the help of your words I know I was called to serve his people! Everyone has a Berry in their life waiting to be helped!

  8. Heather, I just love your writing. Sometimes it's what gets me through the day. That and a good cup of coffee. Thanks for everything.

  9. I love how in one photo, the blurred lights look like musical notes. Melodies in color.

  10. I wouldn't say your blog is never gloomy. Perhaps this is out of context, as I am not familiar with the post being alluded to (could you reference the date?)... but to defend a little gloominess... your acquaintance with "gloominess" is part of what makes this blog meaningful to me... as you once wrote in reference to John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." We live in a broken and decaying world, and it IS often dark and gloomy... but there is something (Someone) greater than the darkness. Yet the darkness is evident. I think your willingness to expose both the "gloominess" of this broken and decaying world and the hope we simultaneously have in Christ is what makes this blog come alive to me. We suffer... He was acquainted with suffering... there is thus hope and dignity and purpose in the midst of suffering. "Happy" Christian blogs are all over the place and they often have a false sense of bubbliness that doesn't ring true. At least in my life. To know joy, even in the midst of darkness... wow! That is the Life I cling to. The darkness is real... but the light is not overcome by it. Nor are we!

  11. Hi there, good people. Partly this was tongue-in-cheek: the Lord knows I have a dark side and I will fight to the death for my right to show it!

    But really this brings up all kinds of interesting reflections I don't unfortunately at the moment have time to coherently articulate. I will say that Catholicism saves us from veering over into fake, contrived happiness on the one hand or into despair on the other.

    Baseline: We have a Savior who said Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are they who mourn. Blessed are the peacemakers (who are inevitably poor in spirit and in mourning because talk about a losing battle). We have the Son of Man nailed in agony to the Cross.

    Catholicism redeems all of this from being merely sad, merely depressing, merely negative because we also have the Resurrection. Everything is always being born and everything is always dying. That’s the truth of reality. That’s why Catholicism can call the day Christ was crucified Good Friday. That’s why Christ’s teachings are the Good News. The Good News is you can relax cause you're not GONNA pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You're not GONNA come up with a ten-point bullet plan for happiness. We're going to die but Christ gives us the way not to be so subconsciously bowed down by that our whole lives that we can’t function. We feel the suffering of the world, we see the suffering of the world, we quake before the suffering of the world, and before our own suffering, and yet we are not broken by it. We sit with our friend in his or suffering. We know God is with us in it.

    To be poor in spirit is to be very grateful, for everything. I don't need to be happy to be grateful. But I do try to be a person of good will, of questing heart, of general good cheer, a lover of beauty, paradox, and a good joke.

    Anyway, on deck: some beautiful photos (not mine) tomorrow...

  12. The Christian culture fails to accept, let alone acknowledge, heaviness of spirit or a realistic perspective of humanity and society. If we take note of he rose's thorns, admit to our debilitating weaknesses, see beauty in the lowliest of creation, or refuse to plaster upon our faces phony smiles we are seen as having fallen short of God's intended plan to bestow upon us an eternal bubbliness. If your blog were littered with "I wake up happy daily because of God's gift of joy! Isn't He good?" I for one, would not be reading of it daily as I do now. It is because of your ability to look woundedness in the eye, call it for what it is, and shed light onto it, that I am encouraged. It is because of your willingness to lay in the dark for a while, accept a challenge, and ask the difficult questions that I feel a kinship with you. One of my own readers recently replied to a post saying I was asking tough questions and that she had googled the answer for me, followed with a link to a pious, joyous, high-school-devotional-like article which ignorantly ignored the reality of darkness in htis world. I am quite certain Jesus' example of hanging out with crippled, bleeding, distraught, and mentally ill people was not meant to be received as an invitation to overlook the brokenness of society, the real aches and injustices people experience, and the darkness in favor of a happily sheltered life. Keep doing what you do Heather, for to me that means knowing there exists a kindred spirit and encouragement to continue searching for the light in dark places rather than avoiding the darkness in hopes of light overtaking it. I love your work; I love your words; I love you. From one FOUR to another!


I WELCOME your comments!!!