Wednesday, July 15, 2020

As a child, I grew up with my brothers attending a Catholic school and Church. Back in the late 1950s, we made our First Holy Communion, at about the age of seven. Second grade. That’s pretty young, as I think back, and as I think about kids today. Just before the big day, we experienced the other Sacrament that goes hand in hand with it; our First Confession. Wow.

Confession is where you go to the priest, back then it was in the confessional, where you didn’t see the priest, and confess your sins and the number of times we committed the omission. At the time, the Catechism graphics that accompanied the sin was milk bottles. Just like we had our little morning milk break from little glass bottles. They were pictured with a few splotches on them, indicating venial sin. Those weren’t terrible, a white lie, talking back to your parents, talking smack about someone, those kind of minor offenses that marred our characters. A black milk bottle indicated a mortal sin.

I cannot imagine the horror Monsignor Aughney felt when a seven year old confessed a mortal sin. Mortal sins were the game changers, the show stoppers, the back the truck up, let me get absolution kind of sins. Adultery. Murder. Sinful Thoughts. Those were always such hot beds, the nuns mentioned adultery, but never explained it. Murder was easy, easily explained. Sinful thoughts might have been sexual in nature, I cannot see a seven year old sinning that way. At least, not one that has been raised in a household like we were raised.

Our folks were really good people, they worked hard, they sacrificed for us, they taught us about God. They did a good job. We all grew up ok, the usual bumps along the road. The old nuns would call kids out in the classroom sometimes, “Michael M., you need to go to confession!” It was always a boy, being chastised in class. Maybe a stockade would have been less embarrassing. I wonder if the nuns confessed when they beat the snot out of Michael M. for jacking around and talking during class. Any Sister Mary’s out there? Please comment below, just curious.

I no longer attend Mass or use confession as a way to cleanse my soul. I believe the term is “fallen away.” It’s ok, I know God loves me and Jesus saved me, and the Holy Spirit inspires me. I no longer think I need to be killed by the Communists in order to get to heaven. Martyrdom never appealed to me, but as a kid, we were taught about it early. In between offering up little inconveniences and collecting pennies and nickels for the Pagan Baby Fund.

That said, it doesn’t hurt me to “examine my conscience” once in awhile, and tell God I’m sorry for this or that. You can check yourself without having to leave the house. The Catholics still believe in the need for Confession and telling your sins to the priest. I give them straight to Jesus, who to me is the go-to guy for giving it to God. Or I can go direct. Either way, God forgives my indiscretions, whatever they may be. I still haven’t hit adultery or murder, so I’m relieved about that. I have no desire to do either, trust me.

As I got older, gossipping and assassination of character qualified as “murder of another’s character.” A stretch? Maybe, but it makes you think. Even now, being discourteous, being rude, cutting in line, screaming in a policeman’s face at a “rally,” these are all things we do that are not right or helpful to us or society in any way. Practicing discrimination is wrong. I don’t know what sin it is, I just know it’s wrong. Don’t do it. Say you’re sorry. Intolerance of anyone because of race, color, or creed isn’t just illegal in the United States, it’s a sin against humanity. We need to stop and ask forgiveness.

Disrespect for older people or anyone in authority falls under “Honoring they Father and Mother.” If you disrespect Mom and Dad, you will disrespect your elders and police officers. It’s all wrong. I still find myself thinking, “I respect my mother as my mother, so I’m not starting an argument with her over her negativity.” I choose instead to remove myself from the negativity. Problem solved, and I’ve been kindly quiet about it.

A long time ago, while the Babe and I attended Countryside Community Church, in Omaha, Reverend J. Keith Cook gave a sermon about the Ten Commandments. In my whole life, no one ever mentioned the Ten Commandments serve as the basis for all of our laws today. When you think about it, it’s true. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Honor your parents. Don’t want what your neighbor wants. Honor God, keeping his Day Holy. As a society, we haven’t done that in decades!

I’m going to switch gears here and work on my book homework for awhile, before Gavin gets here. Pizza’s on the menu for lunch, I’m going to let him make them if he wants. This Grandma loves that kid, to the moon and back. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful. Wash your hands! Wear a mask! Help me out, can’t meet my grandson in Colorado until we’re safer from the Coronavirus. Thanks for reading today. Think about how we can all be better citizens and souls. I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Be careful out there.

Let’s Be Courteous! We All Need It!

This Too Shall Pass

It’s all going to be all OK. I know it is. Just have to get through the next two and a half weeks.

You know the feelings you have when you’ve been dealing with things out of the ordinary (say, medical/health issues)? It’s been a very long six weeks, and this tough exterior is starting to crack. Yes, as together as we all think we are, we’re but mere humans and we get worn out, worn down, and wobegon. Don’t you just love the word wobegon? It brings to mind hearing Garrison Keillor and his stories told, painstakingly slow, as only he can. They were worth waiting for every word. He can make me laugh. That’s what I’m in need of right now, laughter.

I get a tremendous kick out of reading things that make me laugh out loud. Babe (Dan) just looks at me, then I say, “You’ve just got to listen to this.” Then I proceed to read sometimes an entire page to him from what I’m reading. Sometimes he’ll laugh, sometimes not. He never says anything, he just listens. That’s the Babe, always listening. It is one of his finer qualities, for which I’m eternally grateful. He’s patient while I carry on.

I am also listening to Peanuts Greatest Hits, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This is on purpose, it’s some of the greatest Jazz there is. Jazz always lifts my spirits. And even more so with Snoopy on guitar, Schroeder on piano, and Pig Pen on bass.

In two and a half weeks, I’ll be hearing the Christmas tunes while I’m working on my novel. Last year, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Things weren’t going great and I just didn’t have any Christmas cheer. First time since I left home. It is way different when your kids are all gone, and no one wants anything but cash or gift cards. Sure, it’s easier, but nothing can make a person feel as good as picking out something with the gift receiver in mind. It is a good feeling. I miss the whole activity, shopping, wrapping, watching the person open the gift. Hopefully you get it right and they love it.

In the past, we have adopted kids through our church to shop for. Samaritan’s Purse had a very good program. When our granddaughter Addison went to Sunday School, we did that, and filled a red box for a little boy and a red box for a little girl. The photos and email’s about those children really make you think about how very fortunate we all really are.

Aside from Garrison Keillor, another humorous author I love to read is Bill Bryson. It all started with the movie, A Walk in the Woods. I read the book after seeing the movie, and the first half of the book, I laughed until I couldn’t stop. It was addicting. The Babe had a lot of passages read to him from that book. The second half of the book educated me about the National Parks and many things about these beautiful places I did not know. My family was all about learning from reading. I really appreciate that about that crazy bunch of people I grew up around. Always an adventure with them and a book.

The key to any reading experience at this point in time is time and quiet. With a puppy in the house, that’s about impossible. She explores a lot, and the doors to Babe’s office and my studio remain closed, as do the bathroom door, our bedroom door, and the laundry room door when I remember. Otherwise, the familiar search for Goldie, making sure she’s not squatting somewhere she shouldn’t, and saying, “What are you chewing on?” The Babe is doing great with taking care of her, it’s really lifting his spirits. That is so necessary for healing.

So for now, this is my circus and these are my monkeys, so to speak. It is a beautiful sunny day. I will find a stack of beautiful, happy music to hear while I write today, and all will be well, here at my little part of Lake Wobegon. It’s OK to visit there, but I don’t want to stay too long. That just isn’t me.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen . . .

With all of the allegations flying around this country about everyone, I think back to the best reaction to some allegations of infidelity was on the old Late Show with David Letterman.

In 2009, it appeared a man approached Mr. Letterman, and communicated he had proof and knowledge of some very bad things Mr. Letterman had done. He threatened to publish a book regarding said bad behavior and write a screenplay portraying the behavior.

It was determined the man did observe said bad behavior and that he demanded a monetary compensation. Blackmail. In the amount of two million dollars. Wow! The FBI became involved, an arrest was made and Mr. Letterman took the bull by the horns and opened his show one night with a full confession to the world about his infidelities. People thought he was joking.

He apologized to his wife, begged her forgiveness, and admitted to being a terrible person. I don’t condone his bad acts but I applaud his candor and public confession. Aside from risking his career, it was clear how important his wife and child were to him, he also stopped any further scrutiny of the matter. It wasn’t dragged out on the news forever, no one kept regurgitating it over and over. Although he had a lot of hard work ahead of him, the public part did not interfere any more. You can find the actual footage on You Tube. It’s interesting.

Wouldn’t it be great if our elected officials did the same? Could you imagine?? No more grilling people over and over testifying about what they know, knew, or did not know. We have been on a ridiculous merry go round for quite some time now. I just want all of this to be over so our lawmakers and elected officials to be true public servants and serve our great country.

There has to be a better way for these things to be handled. Maybe prosecuting false or erroneous accusations would stop such accusations and investigations. I’m not looking at this as a pro President or anti President person. I’m just commenting as a citizen who is seeing work helping our people go undone. Let’s cooperate. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s heal and be United as we should be. Our very future depends on it.