Who’s That Growling Under my Bed?

Mama said one night when she was a little bitty girl the grownups were talking politics and had sent her off to beddy-bye when she came running out crying, “Help! There’s a big bad dema-crack under my bed!”

That’s just the way I feel. And it could just as well be a big bad publican or a librarian under my bed! The fear mongers are out! Hard times are coming, the worse that ever was. It strikes fear to my very soul. You think things are bad? they say. Just wait, if you vote for them, you haven’t seen bad yet. Vote for us, we’ll save you and the whole country!

My gosh! My heart’s pounding, my blood is running cold. I’d better run out and vote for our libelators. Except it’s not Election Day yet. I can’t. Darn. But wait a minute, the other side is saying the same thing.

Oh, politics as usual.

How do I Offend Thee? Think on What I Say

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways.
I offend thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when I say good riddance to your
Shackles of propriety. You say I’m not allowed
To have beliefs that differ from your own. Even though such
Beliefs come from my heart and mind only to guide my own life,
Not to inhibit yours. I offend thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. That America
Is the land of freedom to believe as one’s conscience allows,
Not as others say. I offend thee with the breath, smiles, tears,
Of all my life! And, if God chooses, I shall offend thee until death.

Well Blow Me Down and Call Me Flossie

When I was fifteen I worked one summer in Don’s Restaurant in Hazard, Kentucky. My name was Flossie. Don had such a turnover in waitresses he couldn’t remember our names so he used a few favorites remembered from ages past. Assuming there’d been a Flossie, that is. So I said “Blow me down and call me Flossie!” After all, he was paying me fifty cents an hour.

We had a tip box to put our gratuities in (I’m more sophisticated now) to be divided up weekly. Like a good little Flossie I put all my tips, excuse me, gratuities, in the box during the first week but when it came time to receive my cut, I only received four dollars.

I complained to the other girls that my tips, excuse me, gratuities, had been more than that for half-a-day. They laughed at me. “We don’t put it all in,” they said, “just a dollar here and there.” In other words I had shared all my own tips, excuse me, gratuities, with them, but they had shared only a smidgeon of theirs with me. The scale had been weighted to their side. I wondered why they hadn’t told me ahead of time. That’s how green I was. I’m more sophisticated now.

Okay, I said, and the next week I only put in a couple of dollars. But I felt dishonest. “Oh, he knows,” one girl said, “he don’t care.” And, since we were all in cahoots, I figured it was okay. But my conscience still bothered me, just a smidgeon. I’d been taught that rules were rules and were meant to be followed.

Although I never became a corrupt politician, nor even an honest one for that matter, I wonder if that’s how it begins? If we all do it, then it’s okay. Let’s vote ourselves some special benefits, set up different rules, just for us.

Of course none of this is actually vocalized. Most likely they just breathe in that rarefied stink in the air that wafts off the old farts who’ve been corrupting Washington for years, and they know without vocalizing that this is how things are done in Washington, DC.

A Boil on the Presidency?

If you’ve ever suffered from boils you know how painful they are. They have to be lanced and drained in order to heal.

Although I don’t remember the following family story as I was only a toddler, an older brother told me about the days when we lived in poverty due to the early death of our father.

The trouble began with an outbreak of boils. To bring the boils to a head and give relief from the pain our mother applied hot compresses, probably from a solution of Epsom salts, and/or soda and boric acid powder in boiling water.

But more boils continued to break out. Finally, Mom sought the advice of a wise old hill woman who told her we were all suffering from an evil in the blood. She said to have the older boys gather burdock, a weed that was plentiful in the hills, and make a tea from it. Everyone in the family should drink the tea and it would soon remove the evil that was tainting our blood. At last we found relief.

I researched and found that burdock has been used since the Middle Ages as a blood purifier and treatment for boils. As well as a host of other ailments. Interestingly, the article’s advice was: “Do not gather burdock in the wild.”

Evidently because “The roots of burdock closely resembles those of belladonna or deadly nightshade”. Now was that a narrow escape or what? One mistake and the solution to our problem might’ve killed us. Not unlike, I think, some treatments for cancer today that kill the good cells as well as the bad.

What a mixed-up world we live in! Everything appears to come down to trial and error. Pure luck appears to determine the outcome.

I can’t help but wonder what evil force has infected the blood of our country. Rising like a boil to the surface with hate messages running amok.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a boil on the presidency.

God Makes No Mistakes

I was an arrogant child. I thought I was smarter than God because I could see where he’d screwed up. While my mother prayed every night with us children sitting on the floor around her (since we didn’t have that many chairs) I blasted God in my mind for the early death of our dad, for our poverty. Later, knowing God could read my mind, I feared the hot cinders of his wrath raining down on me from the sky.

But rebellion boiled inside me, where I secretly sneered at the preacher’s daughter while envying her for her pretty blue Easter dress. I softened my pain by wrapping it in anger and built a wall around my vulnerability. My anger was not allowed to be expressed in the face of my mother’s prayers of thanksgiving for God’s love and tender care (ha!) so I kept it between us two.

One evening while my mother was thanking God for getting us a load of coal to get us through the winter, my teenaged brother Andy called from the kitchen after having refused to join the circle, “I’m the one who got us that load of coal!” Mom did not acknowledge his outburst but I was thrilled by it. “There,” I thought. “There, God.” And I was content to know I was not alone

Of course I would grow through the bruises and heartaches of living to become grateful for the life I had, to recognize that it was granted to me by a loving God. Who also let me find my own way to exist in this strange life on his beautiful planet. But also to realize that his love knows no limits, that he loves each and every one of us.

My gripe today is not against God but against a society that doesn’t value its people as God values us. We have groups called minorities who have been bullied and excluded due to their differences from the mainstream of society—people who even dare to use the supposed words of God to justify their insufferable actions.

Some progress towards equality has been made with the larger groups of minorities but one group that has been blatantly excluded includes gays and lesbians.

In the beginning of my realization there were such beings in the world I too felt uncomfortable with them. It just didn’t “feel” right. But having learned to question my feelings since my first run-in with God, I asked myself how it would feel to love someone of the same sex in the same way one loves someone of the opposite sex, that merging into a couple that makes the world glow with an intense joy that lights up our spirit.

How would it feel to be born with that difference, yet be told I must “have” or “pretend” to have that feeling for someone whom I can’t love? Otherwise to be told I’m bad, depraved, and out of favor with God. Because gay people recognize early in life that they’re attracted to their own sex even if the full realization takes place much later, it is obvious to me that when God created them, he did it with love. He did not make a mistake.