Gardening

How can a virus travel
+++and not love?

Or are we not now all infected
with shame
+++at our human nakedness?

We don’t want to know our own evil
so profess good, pretending
+++to smile without hurting.

So painful.

The Tiananmen butterfly warns us:
cyclones we’ve stirred with our grasping
+++While the world shudders.

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“Howling” – November 7, 2009

Introductions: Mom died with Alzheimer’s in 2011. In Fall of 2009, we had moved her from assisted living to skilled nursing due to fall risk and escape seeking. Howling,” from my blog Walhydra’s Porch on 11/9/2009, tells of our last coherent conversation about death.

Quill & InkWalhydra is one of my storytelling alter-egos: a grouchy old witch unhappily reincarnated as a gay male would-be writer.

When things with Mom got

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Loss of shared space: the second pandemic

Image of empty coffeehouse through window

What happens when much of the human race suddenly loses the safety of sharing physical space? Does this loss go deeper than the pandemic itself? How do we heal from this great social wound?

Most living people have never had to notice how essential the mutual sharing of physical space is—until now.

Worship, school, work, shopping, eating out, going to bars, restaurants, coffeehouses, sporting events, and on, and on. We social animals live and breathe these hours of visceral physical

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Memory and the St. Johns River

During my mother Lois‘ last year of life, she lived at St. Catherine Labouré Manor, a skilled nursing facility on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL.

Mom longed for the out-of-doors. She had always been a walker, a lover of nature. The constraints and losses of Alzheimer’s didn’t change her longing. If anything, what was most important at the core for her may have been highlighted.

Jim and I learned quickly that we needed to take

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Lois

Jim and I sat with Mom for the last couple hours of her life last night.

Before sunrise on Wednesday, I had awoken from a powerful dream, in which the vibrant, out-going Mom whom I haven’t seen in several years was holding everyone’s attention at a party with her three brother and other family and friends.

Later that morning, when I visited her at St. Catherine Labouré Manor, I found her in her recliner in the sunny hallway

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Grief

Bearded Iris

For my mother, recovered from hospital yet confused and afraid as Alzheimer’s steals her memory.

For my partner, since she is his mother, too.

For my brother and sister and their families.

For my father, whose last, eldest sibling has died.

For my friend whose mother has just

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On waiting and squirming

Being of melancholic temperament, my Quaker practice is occasionally reduced to long periods of inner struggle between faith and circumstance.

These are not periods of doubting God or of doubting that I can rely upon God.

Rather, they are periods during which I have difficulty finding God’s reassuring silence in the midst of my own emotional noise. Or, sometimes, in the midst of a kind of emotional shut-downness, when prolonged distress has dulled itself into exhaustion.

As

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