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Today in My History

2001:  Reflections of Life
Just a Simple School Marm
2003: To Be Vulnerable
2004:  Secret Love
Brad and Jen
2006:  Only God Can Make a Tree
2007:   You Can't Get There from Here
2008:  What Hath Dog Wrought?

2009:  Photo Treasure Hunt
2010:  "Come Home"
2011:  Shakin' the Night Away

Back to San Rafael

Bitter Hack
: 1/8
"Radium Girls"

Books Read in 2013
 Updated: 1/11

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Jeri's Visit, Jan 2013

Mirror Site for RSS Feed:
Airy Persiflage

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mail to Walt


12 January 2013

I must be getting blase about this journal.  We went to see Godspell last night.  I had been feeling "strange" all afternoon, probably because of my erratic sleep the night before, so when we got home -- I don't even know what time it was, but probably before 11 p.m. -- I went straight to the couch, without passing GO or my computer and went right to sleep.  Other than waking up a couple of times, at which point I just covered up and went back to sleep again, I slept all night.

It was about 5 when I got up for good, having had what was, for me, a good night's sleep.  I snickered a bit when I thought about my friend Gilbert.   He was 55 when he died and in the years when we were friends, we spoke on the phone several times a week, and worked together at least once a week.  Our visits always started with a report on how many hours he had slept the night before.  He, too, suffered from insomnia.

When we went with the Neptune Society to scatter his ashes on San Francisco Bay, the people on the ship handed us a card with this verse on it:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

mary elizabeth frye - 1932

We laughed because here we thought that finally, in death, Gilbert would get a chance to sleep and this poem seemed to indicate that he was going to be too busy even in the afterlife to rest.

However that's just an aside.  What I was thinking about as I was going to sleep, after seeing Godspell (which is an odd musical which brings the proverbs of the Book of Matthew to life in an often humorous, yet (in this production) respectful way) is my own relationship with God over the years.

When you grow up and go to Catholic school, your vision of God is the old man in the long grey beard sitting on a throne somewhere in the clouds, surrounded by angels.  I don't remember, but I think there may have been a ceiling painting like that in a church I attended.  The picture is very clear in my memory.  Definitely not the benevolent grandfather we would like to imagine, but more the avenging being who will smite you for the least infraction (maybe like lying in the confessional!).  You don't think much about "God" per se, unless it's to cringe in fear if you do something wrong.

sacred-heart-of-jesus.jpg (25562 bytes)My feeling had changed by the time I was in high school.   I don't know why I became so interested in the Sacred Heart.

We had a full size statue in the school chapel, on the altar, right beyond the communion rail (because I was a girl, I wasn't allowed on the altar itself--only priests and nuns could go there).  I spent a lot of time kneeling at that rail having conversations with Jesus.  Jesus and I were buds.  Whenever I had a problem or a question, I headed to the chapel to talk it over with my buddy. 

I don't ever remember going the formal prayer route, except maybe in group settings.  It was just me and Jesus, when we were alone, and he was much more approachable than his scary Dad.

When I got to college, and became involved with the Newman Club, my whole life, it seemed, revolved around the Newman Club (the Catholic club on campus) but somehow I don't remember the level of intimacy with my buddy continuing.  We did group religious stuff together and we went to Mass and we went on Retreats -- weekends where we would go somewhere, usually to one of the California missions -- with a priest, to camp and pray, meditate and have fun.

I seem to have gotten further and further away from the "Jesus my buddy" part of my life the more I became angry with the guys who were running the Catholic church.  By the time I officially left the Catholic Church, I had divorced "Jesus" from the "Catholic church" entirely.  Oh yes, of course he is still at the heart of it, but so is he at the heart of every other religion, whether in the exclusive manner that the Catholics think of him, or in a tradition which has no concept of "Jesus" at all.  We could still be buds.  It just wasn't important that it be within the confines of a specific religion.

When Gilbert died in 1986, I was in charge of taking his cousin and niece, who came out for the memorial service, around to see the sights of San Francisco and we stopped for lunch in Chinatown, directly opposite my favorite church, Old St. Mary's (OSM) on California Street.  My mother was baptized there.  It is a beautiful church, unlike the cold mausoleum that is St. Mary's Cathedral which was built on the site of my old high school.

I dropped Susie and Jerry off and parked the car, but before I returned to the restaurant, I was compelled to pop into OSM to have a quick visit with my buddy.  I didn't really know what to say, other than "take care of him, please" but it felt comforting to have that brief renewed relationship.

In these busy days, or even in the lazy days that are filled with TV and web surfing, I don't often think of my old buddy, but I know he's always there when I need him.  We had a chat last night, in fact.  He doesn't keep track of how long it's been since we last talked.  He's just glad that I decided to talk again, however briefly -- and that's nice.


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When I see pictures like this, I know there is a God

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