Monday, December 21, 2020

"Shepherd's Pipe Carol" and My Journey to Bethlehem

 In yesterday’s (12/20/20) posting, I said that I hoped to explore how tonight’s “Christmas Star” might lead us all to Bethlehem: “each in our own way; each in our own time; each with our own story.” Early this morning, I began today’s post. When I found myself writing the 4,798th word, I realized that my thoughts were too many for my usual 600-word post. That many words suggested that, at another time, I might describe in a memoir my journey into the spirituality that has evolved within me over a period of eighty-four years. For now, I’ll simply summarize.


In 1969, I found a book, in a Minneapolis bookstore, that contained letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke to a young poet. One piece of advice he gave resonated with the Dee Ready who’d left the convent three years before and was searching for she didn’t know what. Rilke wrote:


Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.


And the point is to live everything. 


Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.


At that time, questions abounded within the dark labyrinth that was myself: Would I always be a misfit? Would I ever be loveable? Would I ever stop judging people? Was there some good I could do to justify my existence? Would I forever be needy? Was this loneliness peculiar to me or were others lonely too? And, one last question, the presence of which became like the breath I breathe, “What is the best way to love?”  


I began to wend my way through life. I had been raised a Roman Catholic, but as the years passed so, too, did my need for a belief in the Trinity, in the divinity of Jesus, in a personal God. Reflection on my own experience of life led me to let go of that which no longer spoke to me. Or nourished my spirit.


Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to live into answers. It was the beloved myth of the Christmas story that finally brought me to the spirituality that informs my life today. The “Shepherd’s Pipe Carol” by John Rutter is the Christmas carol that announced—like the dawning of a great light—the answer to my lifelong search. If you have time, please click below and listen to it.


Note that the carol is about a question. The shepherd boy is already “living” his way into an answer as he hurries to Bethlehem to see a baby nestled against his mother’s breast. Gathered there he will find shepherds—cold, hungry, homeless—and magi—educated, world travelers, wealthy—as well as the innkeeper and the animals who inhabit his stable.


The baby in that life-giving myth grew into a man. He, too, must have had questions, heartwishes. He, too, must have lived into answers. From my reading of the Christian gospels, I came to understand that he grew into a truth that envelopes us all: All that matters is inclusive love—love especially and always for the poor, the outcast, the “lowly. Moreover, if we are to give love, then we must include ourselves in the great Oneness—inclusivity—that binds us together, for time and for eternity.  


Love then became the theme of that man’s life. A theme born of his experience in a small Roman province called “Palestine.”


And that, my dear friends, became the answer to my questions also. Bethlehem for me is the answer to my deepest heartwish and my lifelong question: “How do we love best?”


The answer is there in the stable of each of our hearts: We love best by loving inclusively, by seeing ourselves as part of the Whole—each of us essential unto the other.


So simple and yet perhaps the hardest part of living: to live into the Oneness that awaits our questions. To live into the Oneness illustrated by those gathered in that stable.


We all have a lifelong heartwish or question; we are all on a journey to live into the answer. For me that journey, that question, that answer is the substance that is the myth of the Christmas story repeated throughout the ages. It is a necessary myth that assures me that if I am to find myself, I must live in the Holy Oneness of All Creation—all humanity and all creatures that inhabit the planet—donkeys, cows, sheep, and, oh, yes, cats! And dogs!


Well, I’ve now written not 600, but 827 words—a rather lengthy summary. It’s time to leave you in your own Bethlehem stable with your own questions that have become the heartwishes of your life. 


Peace, Merry Christmas, and Joyful Journey. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

An Update and a Christmas Carol

Hello All, on this sunny day with both the birds and the squirrels at the feeder. In five days, we will celebrate the journey of a Jewish family and a group of shepherds to Bethlehem in Judaea. Tomorrow, we celebrate the winter solstice, a yearly promise of change in our natural world.

Shortly after sunset tomorrow, we here in Missouri will look at the southwest skies and see the wonder of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. My hope is that this “Christmas Star,” last seen here 800 years ago, may perhaps lead us all to Bethlehem: each in our own way; each in our own turn; each with our own story. Here’s an old carol, from long years ago, about what the friendly beasts found in Bethlehem.


Tomorrow, in another posting, I hope to share with you a modern carol about Bethlehem. That carol also prompts me to share with you my thoughts on how we are all going to Bethlehem and why.


But first today: It’s been a month since I last posted about Eliza, the grand-daughter of my heart, and Donna, a friend whose generosity knows no bounds. Both of them are accompanying me in my life-long journey to Bethlehem. Both are gifts whose lightness of spirit and embrace of all humanity have enriched these final years of my life. 

All of us, I suspect, understand that Elisa and Donna, whose lives in just three short months have been changed by cancer, are finding that life is fragile, fleeting, and finite. But . . . filled with the grace of Oneness.


Elisa is home now in Idaho. She’s had high dosage radiation on her brain tumor. It lasted for 55 minutes. She’s also completed the seven-day, 20-minute sessions of radiation on her spine. She will return to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City every six weeks for an immunotherapy infusion. After each third infusion, her whole body will be scanned to observe the course of the cancerous tumors.


The oncologists and other doctors at the Huntsman have given her a prognosis of two years. The radiologist, however, told her, “If anyone can beat the odds, you can.” Everyone at Huntsman was somewhat astounded by her grit and determination, her indominable spirit and optimism, her gratitude for what has been and what will be.


Donna’s stage 2 breast cancer has been removed, and she begins radiation for three weeks in January. Her prognosis is reassuring: with radiation and the daily taking of a pill (not sure what it is) for five years, there is a 95% probability that the cancer will not return.


They both want me to thank you for sharing the past two months with them and for connecting with them through your own spiritual pathways. Both feel and know they have much for which to be grateful this Christmas. I want to thank you, too, for your response to my own health concerns. My concerns have been truly put in perspective when I think of what Elisa’s and Donna’s lives are right now and what they may be.


For the past month, Meniere’s Disease has held me in thrall, which, I hope, explains why I haven’t been posting anything more about Elisa and Donna. However, both are on Facebook (as I am) and whenever Elisa has posted, I have shared her post on my own Facebook page. A number of those who have “befriended” me there have responded to her stories. 

Many of her posts are funny; others poignant; still others, inspiring. And some illustrate Elisa’s way of drop-kicking this force called “cancer.” If you, too, use Facebook, her name there is Elisa Beth Magagna should you have a desire to read her own account of her journey with cancer. 



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Friend Whose Generosity Knows No Limit


Donna, on the right, with a friend in California

Today, I’ve news to share about Elisa. In addition, I want to introduce you to Donna, a friend who’s in need of our connection and our collective energy in the Holy Oneness of All Creation.



Late last week, the doctors discovered a number of blood clots in her lungs. For three months, she’ll give herself a shot of blood thinner two times a day in her abdomen.


Five days ago, the oncologist ordered a new MRI. She discovered a brain tumor that wasn’t there two weeks before. In that time, it appeared and grew rapidly. (The word aggressive is being used.) The tumor is resting on that part of her brain which, if I’m understanding correctly, determines or influences her personality. 


Surgery would be risky. Instead, the radiologist will do a 55-minute session of radiation on the tumor. He will then schedule a series of radiation sessions to reduce the size of the tumor.


For this radiation, Elisa must lie totally still. To ensure that, the doctors will make a mold to cocoon her. I’m not sure if the mold (with its three holes—two for eyes; one for breathing) is just of her head or if it will be of her entire body. 


Elisa’s spirits remain good although she hesitates to shave her head for the mold/radiation. But it must be done. She explained to me that her hair is part of her identity. I’d never thought about that, but her explanation made sense to me.




My cousin Kay was twelve years younger than I, but always there was a connection between us. When I lived in Minnesota, she and her friend Donna would visit periodically, bringing with them two shelties. The four cats with whom I lived deplored the dogs’ presence and disappeared tout de suite! Undeterred, Donna always found their hider-holes and won them over.


During those visits, Donna and I became friends; her connection with animals awed me. (She is, I think, a true “dog . . . and cat . . . whisperer.”) It was during those visits that I first realized she is, in her essence, a giver.  A care-giver, yes, but also a giver of time to all who need help.


About eighteen months after I moved back to Missouri, my cousin died of the complications of diabetes. It was then that Donna offered to help me whenever I needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment, to a new store, to lunch, or the movies. That became even more important to me when I had to give up driving in October 2016.


I sometimes think that the word Generous is incised on her heart and in the bright pathways of her brain. She’s never failed to wholeheartedly respond when I’ve asked for help. 


Now, I hope—with your help—to help her. 


Tomorrow—Thursday 11/19/20—she is being operated on for stage 2 breast cancer. Afterward, she will have radiation for several weeks. 


So it is that once again I call upon your own generosity and ask you to remember her in your thoughts, prayers, visualizations—however you connect with the needs of others.


Tomorrow, I hope to once again begin to visit your blogs. That is, I hope to resume my life, which has been on hold due to my knee replacement a year ago and the vision problems and Meniere’s symptoms of this year. 


I tell you this because I’d like to make a suggestion: when you see a comment from me, please think of Donna and Elisa. That thought—momentary/fleeting/ephemeral—will be, I believe your prayer. It will connect you to the two of them in Holy Oneness. It is in Oneness that we meet. 



Thursday, November 12, 2020

With Gratitude

Hello All,

 Here’s a quick update on Elisa.


1st—All is well. On Tuesday, the surgeons operated to remove the tumor on her L3 vertebra.


2nd—They fused the spine from L1-L5, removed the tumor and most of the infected bone in the L3 vertebra, and put a “cage” in its place.


3rd—This relived the pressure from her nerves that was causing the horrific pain. 


4th—The operation took about 8 hours.


5th—When she was in recovery, the nurse told Mike that “the patient was doing well.”


6th—The surgeon told him that “things went extremely well.”


7th—The surgeon put a “drain” in her back to protect the nerves from whatever small bleeding would happen around the spine. 


8th—I’m not sure if the drain has been removed as I haven’t heard anything more since Tuesday, late afternoon. Mike, I suspect, is exhausted from the burden of worry beforehand and the tidal wave of joy and relief afterward. . . And Elisa, I hope, is resting, snoozing, napping, sleeping, and letting herself drift into a Nirvana that is free of that deep, down, bone pain.


9th—Here are two photographs she’s posted on Facebook. The first is from Wednesday, the day after the operation. The second was posted today. Note that the cage looks like a violin. On Facebook, Elisa commented about that. You see, she was a childhood progeny on the violin and has been making music all her life. I hope how that she will be making it again—pain-free.


Thank you for all the healing thoughts, prayers, energy, concern, love with which you swaddled Elisa. I am in awe—inspired by—your generosity of spirit. Peace.


FYI: Monday, during and after the operation, I reread all your comments on my past two postings: Thursday, November 5, and Monday, November 9. In gratitude, I responded to your words. So, if you have the time and the inclination, I encourage you to go to those two posts and read the responses. Thank you again. Peace. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Possible Surgery Tomorrow

 Here’s Elisa and I caught up in some tomfoolery in her home in Idaho.



First, I heartfelt thank-you to those of you who left a comment for the last posting in which I shared with you what was happening with Elisa and the stage-four melanoma that has invaded her body. Thank you for your blessings.


Second, please continue to raise her up into the light of your own belief in the possibility of healing.


Third, I just got the latest news: Tomorrow the doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute will operate on her back to decompress it. Elisa’s back pain has been horrific. The medicines they’ve tried—ones that the insurance company will cover—have not worked well. Finally, however, last night one did work, and she got a good night’s sleep. That is, I believe, a great blessing in and of itself. A grace.


She called me a few minutes ago—I hadn’t heard from her for three days because of the pain and the great exhaustion it brings with it. Her voice sounded stronger than it had been when we spoke on Thursday.


The cancer has “eaten” away over half of the L2 and the L3 vertebra. The pressure against her spinal cord is great. So, a decompression, as I understand it, will happen tomorrow.


The doctors have told both Elisa and Mike (her husband) that the operation is “high risk.”


The surgeon wanted to operate today, but could not do so because of the gravity of the other scheduled operations. However, the surgeon is almost certain that tomorrow she can “slip” Elisa in.


Trying to stay in this present moment, I am cloaking her in a cocoon of the healing white light of the Holy Oneness of All Creation. 


I believe in Oneness. That is to say, I believe in the power of our collective energy; I believe in the power of our collective intentions; I believe in the power of our collective desire for whatever healing is needed for Elisa. 


On Thursday, I said to her, “This must be the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced.” 


She replied, “No, Dee, it isn’t. The hardest was losing Zeke.”


Zeke was her two-month-old baby who never left the hospital and died there, in her arms.


I am so grateful that I’m being part of her journey through this life-threatening experience, which demands great courage. She, the former student, is teaching me, the former mentor. And that’s one way in which one generation blesses another. As the poet said, “Everywhere there is one, and never two.”



Thursday, November 5, 2020

An Update on Elisa's Cancer


In last Sunday’s posting, I shared with you what is happening with Elisa, the young woman who has become a daughter/grand-daughter to me in the past seven years. Thank you for the comments you left. I’ve shared them with her.


Now I want to update the information I gave you last Sunday. 


The biopsy, which was done on Tuesday, revealed that she has stage four melanoma in the tumors on her spine and in her gall bladder and lungs. The tumor in her brain is not, the doctors said, cancerous as “yet.” 


Those who are in stage four melanoma have a 1 in 6 chance of living possibly five more years. 


There are two types of this melanoma. Being in type #1 can help a person live for those additional years. That’s because with type #1, there is a therapy medication that strengthens the immune system. 


There’s no medication or therapy to keep those with type #2 of stage four melanoma from dying early.


Elisa does not know yet, which type of stage 4 melanoma she has. 


FYI: I know little about cancer. So, I may not have heard correctly what Elisa told me. Moreover, I may not understand the implications. If I’ve said something here that you know is medically incorrect, please let me know.


This morning, Elisa called to tell me that her insurance company will not cover the medication that the doctors/surgeons at Huntsman Cancer Institute have had her on. Instead, last night she was administered a new medication. The side effects for her have been as follows: only one hour of sleep; hallucinations; constant itching. 


Clearly, Elisa is allergic to this new medication. The nurse practitioner is now trying to work with the insurance company to find a non-allergic medication it will cover. For now, Elisa has to stay on the one that’s giving her so many stressful side-effects.


Last year, two of my dearest friends died: Bob Kraske and Pat Lassonde. At the time, I blogged about how each had touched my life with goodness. In the past ten years of my life, 10 friends have died and 3 close relatives. So, the reality of aging is the narrowing down of those who have enriched our life with laughter and love.


This morning, lying in the doze before waking, I thought that I’ve always wanted to live to be 102. That would mean that I have 18 years left. And I thought, “If only I could give those 18 years to Eliza. In the beat of my heart, the blink of my eye, the throb of my love, I would do so.”


But I can’t because I’m not in control. Accepting that is truly a part of becoming fully human. So, once again, I come to you and ask for your healing thoughts. Prayers. Energy. Visualizations. 


At the deep center of Elisa's being, where she is most truly herself, dwells a wellspring of joy. I hope that joy will continue to enfold and imbue others. I hope Elisa will have five more years to enjoy being with Mike, her children, her extended family, and her multitude of friends. That is what I hope. 


But whatever happens, I find myself filled with a deep and abiding gratitude for the gift of her presence in my life. That she chose me as a mentor, then a friend, then a grandmother is a mysterious wonder. We simply never know where life will take us and who we will meet on the journey. I’ve met Elisa. 


Please do continue to hold Elisa up into the light of your own belief. Thank you. Peace. 



Sunday, November 1, 2020

My "Grand-daughter" Needs Help

Hello to all of you who are reading these words. Since 2011, when I began to blog, you have supported me whenever I shared a health concern with you . . . and there have been many concerns.

Or so it seems to me. You have prayed for me in many different ways because each of you has your own Center of Oneness. And each of you calls that center by the name that best describes where you are on the circle of belief that connects us all.

Back in 2006 when Meniere’s Disease entered my life, a Minnesota friend said, “Dee, I think you have fourteen guardian angels watching over you. Somehow, no matter what, you always bounce back.” 

The truth is that I have even more angels now for when I’ve shared my health concerns with you, you’ve always been sympathetic, compassionate, thoughtful, empathetic, gracious angels. Always. 

Now I’m asking you to extend your great, good concern for others to Elisa Magagna, whom I met through blogging. She has become the daughter—or granddaughter (given our age)—I never had. Her four children call me Grandma Dee. Elisa and her family are an abiding blessing as I move through these final years of my life. 

Elisa is now at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. After several lengthy CAT and MRI scans over the past week, the doctors have discovered the following: 

·      An invasive tumor on her L2 and L3 vertebra in her lower back. That tumor is eating into the bones and causing pressure on the spinal column so that both her legs are now numb and walking has become difficult. The bone pain is horrific.

·      A second tumor on her spine.

·      Tumors on her gallbladder.

·      Tumors in her lungs.

·      A tumor in her brain.

The doctors think this is all caused by the metastasizing of the melanoma removed from her wrist two years ago. However, they won’t know for sure until they do a biopsy tomorrow.

Everything seems dire. However, I try to stay in the present moment and not let my mind race into future possibilities. For me, life is now one step; one moment; one day. Sufficient unto this day is information I now have.

Let me tell you a little about Elisa. She was 28 when we met in 2011; I was 75. Caught in the web of a troubled marriage, she got a divorce and became a single-parent, raising four children—who are now 10, 12, 16, and 18—on the minimum-wage job she found that would enable her to be at home when the children most needed her.

Time passed. She grew in the confidence that had evaporated during her first marriage. She met and married a man who gave her the love and support that now enriches her life. Mike, an exceptional human being . . . as is Elisa, is a thoughtful husband and a loving father. 

Now Elisa, who is 37, is involved in the fight of her life. I believe she has a plethora of angels, but she needs more. She needs you who have been such a support and comfort to me. 

I ask you to pray for her—that is to do whatever is comfortable for you to do when someone asks for your help. Pray; send healing thoughts; visualize; put her name on prayer lists at your church or community center. 

None of us knows what is best, but all of us know that the loving concern of others can bring healing of mind and heart, spirit and soul. And we hope and trust . . .  healing of body. 

Thank you. Peace.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020



This posting has a twofold purpose: to update you on my health and to tell you about my news-fast.


Re: Health:

In late September, after the seasonal change, the barometric pressure seemed to calm—here in Missouri—its precipitous ups and downs. Because of that the Meniere’s symptoms have been in abeyance. I have the occasional mild headache, but it is simply a short drizzle compared to the storm of a Meniere’s headache. 


I cannot truly explain what this means with regard to my ability to think clearly, prioritize, make decisions, and respond with some coherence to the questions of others. I am feeling equal to life again, and I hope to begin reading blogs again and working on my writing.


Re: News-fast:

One aspect of my calm is that I’ve been fasting from politics since Monday, September 21. RBG died on Friday the 18th. I spent the weekends reading the New York Times articles about her, viewing the DVD film “RBG,” and watching the television news anchors eulogize her. 


On Sunday night, I sat against my bed headboard, reading a NYT’s article on her life. Next, I read an NYT’s opinion column on how her death would probably change the make-up of the Supreme Court and three impeding cases. 


An overwhelming emotion roiled within me. Closing my eyes, I tried to get in touch with it. First came anger. I let myself feel it. Then I plunged deeper into the recesses of my psyche. Still as a statue, I discovered a profound and abiding sorrow over the changes in our culture, which I’d witnessed in the past fifty years. 

I’m not going to detail those changes here, but I saw so much isolation and self-absorbed individualism that I found myself sobbing in the deep center of myself where Oneness dwells.  


It was then that I decided to fast from the news of the day. No viewing of the television news or the Facebook political raves or rants. No reading of the New York Times on my computer. No talking with friends and family about what is happening politically—and for me, almost everything is, in some way, political. 


I decided to fast for seven weeks—until the election of November 3. Depending on its outcome and the consequences (domestic terrorism), I’d then decide whether to resume my normal “keeping-up-with-what-is-happening” attitude or not.


Since leaving the convent, I’ve been what my uncle once called “a politic junkie.” For the past five weeks, I’ve been in rehab. I’ve “cold-turkey-ed” political news. Well, to be truthful, once each week, I called someone and asked for one tidbit of news.

Here are the five tidbits I’ve learned in five weeks: 1) in the first debate the president yelled a lot; 2) the president had COVID and was in the Walter Reed Hospital for a few days and he now says he’s immune; 3) a fly landed on the head of the vice-president during his debate; 4) the woman who’s been selected to replace RBG is a strict constructionist or an “originalist” (I think that’s the word my friend said); 5)  COVID is on the upswing in quite a number of states.


Okay. Five things I know from the past five weeks. Believe me, I have little to talk about to anyone who calls. I’m downright boring.  


I have two weeks to go on my news-fasting. And really that’s nothing compared to the eight-and-a-half years in the convent when I heard no news at all. I’ve spent these weeks feeling grateful for my life. I am so fortunate in so many ways.


Peace, pressed down and overflowing, to all of you who have read these words.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Accepting, Embracing What Is

This year, I’ve posted sporadically and done a poor job of visiting your blogs and leaving comments. That haphazardness is due to Meniere’s Disease. 

The specialist who diagnosed Meniere’s in 2006 said I had a “truly bad case” that was both “progressive and intractable.” This year’s vision problems have resolved themselves as I follow the routine of 30-minute-focus/20-minute-close-eyes. That’s easily doable; what Meniere’s does to my mind isn’t easy. 


For me, this year has been the worse for Meniere’s since 2009. From early March on, I’ve had almost daily headaches that are like migraines in intensity, but without the light sensitivity. On those days, I want to bang my head against the wall so as to knock myself out. The headaches drain me, so, if the next day is headache-free, I have no energy to do anything except listen to a book. 


The headaches make me stutter when I talk; I can’t think straight. My brain becomes “foggy.” That is, I can’t prioritize, make decisions, or make sense of what is being said to me. 


Beyond the brain fog, Meniere’s brings wooziness, dizziness, insomnia, and an imbalance that has me bopping against the hall walls and falling against the computer screen or furniture. (My mailbox is across the street, and I weave back and forth getting to it. I suspect the neighbors think I’m a secret tippler!) 


This year, I’ve so enjoyed listening to audio books about the American Revolution. As our democracy is being fractured, these books help me put the present time into perspective. However, my last post, which was about my reading, took me 5 ½ hours to complete because of the brain fog and the vision routine.


Leaving comments when I read your postings also takes time. Time for the words to come and to make sense. When I proofread the comments before clicking, I discover words missing, meaning gone. So, writing comments whether on your blogs or mine is both time-consuming and frustrating. 


For most of my life, I’ve had a routine: school, convent, work, retirement. Even with my vision, routine reigns: 10 times a day I put drops in my eyes. And I now have the vision routine of 30 on/20 off. When I don’t stick to a routine, I accomplish little. When that happens, I feel frustrated; disappointed in myself. In 84 years, I haven’t been able to outgrow this incessant drive to achieve.


A psychiatrist once said to me, “Dee, be gracious to yourself.” I’ve said that to others, but the truth is, I find it hard—I’m driven to produce. (If only I could work on my childhood memoir, I’d explain how that happened!) This past Wednesday, however, some concerned friends encouraged me to accept that I must let go of routine. I need not only to accept that truth, but to embrace it and find good in what is. By doing so, I’ll banish the debilitating feelings of disappointment and frustration and, yes, guilt that hound me. 


I’m sharing this with you simply to let you know that when I can visit your blogs, I will do so because I so want to keep up with those of you who have become virtual friends. You matter to me. As the weeks and months pass, I’ll visit when the day feels right and I’m making sense. When a day is especially good, I hope to post my ongoing response to the audio books. Just know that you aren’t forgotten, that I will always feel deep gratitude for your support.



PS: I’ve read, reread, edited, and searched for words for this posting for five hours. I’m going to stop now. Please excuse any mistakes.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Reflecting on Learning from "Bunker Hill"

What does a revolution look like? What happens when something revolves? 

I’ve been reading about the American Revolution (AR) at the same time as I’m witnessing Black Lives Matter (BLM), which seems to me to be another revolution, one to secure systematic equality. In Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick, a writer who delights in extensive research and has an uncanny ability to find what I call “the telling detail,” I’ve been repeatedly surprised by a number of similarities between the AR and BLM.

BLM: For the past three months, people of all ages and from all walks of life and background have peacefully protested police brutality, especially toward Black men. They have drawn attention to systematic racism in our country.

AR: Between 1767-75, colonists wrote King George III and members of Parliament to air their grievances about the Townshend Acts. The cry was, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” 

BLM: For many Americans, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, was the final straw in the long history of racial inequality in the United States. 

AR: The final straw for the colonial rebels was the march to Concord, Massachusetts, by British soldiers and the deadly skirmish at Lexington in April 1775.

BLM: A large majority of Americans support the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Many supporters do not have a shared reality with the Black protesters, but they do have a shared desire for justice. For equality. For human dignity. 

AR: At first, only Massachusetts supported independence. The other thirteen colonies, particularly the southern three and New York, did not immediately see how what was happening in Boston touched their lives.

BLM: In several cities, looting and rioting followed the peaceful protest. (Personally, I think today that the wordrioting is code for “Black rioting.” Somehow “Whites” don’t riot.) Because of that, some supporters have turned against the protest and are themselves protesting the loss of property. They now view the protesters as criminal rather than peaceful, convoluting protesting with looting/rioting. That is, they see everyone in the protest—except perhaps for the White participants—as potential looters and rioters. Moreover, they fear that these protesters will destroy their property and livelihood just as lotters in Minneapolis destroyed the small businesses along Lake Street.

AR: Those colonists who favored independence came to be called Patriots; they disagreed with the Tories who had little trouble with the status quo. The Tories deplored many of the Patriots’ actions and began to fear them because several Patriot gatherings evolved into mobs that assaulted and tarred-and-feathered dissenters. 

In 1765, a mob of Boston colonists, protesting what they considered an unjust law, ransacked the home of Thomas Hutchinson, the Massachusetts governor. They shattered windows, broke dishes, demolished furniture.  In the early 1770s, colonial sailors, resenting corrupt tax collectors and abusive law enforcement, attacked British ships. In 1772, they burned the Gaspee. In December 1773, a number of colonists, dressed as Native Americans, dumped a shipload of tea into Boston harbor to protest the tea tax. 

Looters? Yes. Property destroyers? Yes. In the dark of night, in costumes that masked who they were, these “Sons of Liberty,” feeling unjustly done by, rebelled. Their actions caused loss not only to the British tea company but also to those in the colonies who stored tea in warehouses, carted it to stores, and owned the stores that sold it.

Protesters, looters, rioters seem part of both revolutions. However, I’m not defending destroying property. I am loudly decrying the taking of human life in the name of justice. Or of “law and order.” And I’m trying to help create a country in which all of us will acknowledge the truth of the reality that has been part of Black lives for centuries.

Drawing from Wikipedia.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

An Intro to a Series

The political and pandemic period in which we now live prompts this posting, which introduces a series of postings I plan to do on audio books by well-known historians.

First, some personal background: my parents encouraged me—from about the age of 10—to read two newspapers a day. Around the supper table, we discussed what I’d read. They wanted me to understand “history being made.”  In college, I mostly studied ancient and European history.

However, in August 1969, after leaving the convent, I began my studies for a Master’s Degree in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Two years later—after taking as many classes as I could over the course of twenty-four months—I obtained the degree with an emphasis on Black and Southern history.

For American studies, I took classes in several departments that offered courses about the United States. Among these were sociology, art/architectural, linguistics, literature, political science, and history.

After completing my master’s in 1971, I read two weekly news magazines (Newsweek and Time) and the daily Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers. From 1976 on, I nightly watched The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, which later became known as the PBS Newshour.  

What I didn’t do after leaving the U of M was to continue reading books on American history written by distinguished historians. That was a mistake I’m correcting now.

For the past four years, whenever I hear the president speak, I think of the behavior of Joseph McCarthy, the Republican senator from Wisconsin who conducted televised hearings during my last two years in high school. I watched those hearings whenever I could and listened to my grandmother Ready rhapsodize about McCarthy. 

In the spring of my senior year (1954), while watching the Army-McCarthy hearings, I heard the legal representative for the army say to McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency?” He asked this after repeatedly witnessing McCarthy browbeat and belittle others with derogatory names and blatant innuendo.

As McCarthy did in the 1950s, many Americans—those of the “Contract with America” in the 1990s, the Tea Party Movement that began in 2009, and those who espouse the QAnon far-right conspiracy theory of the past two years—keep referring today to their “rights” and to the Constitution to explain their words and actions. Given that and the partisanship so evident in our country, I decided on my 84th birthday in April to study American history. I’m going for another master’s degree!

No, I’m not going back to school. I’ll take no tests. Write no papers. But I will, for as many years as I have left to live this life, read the books of reputable historians who can explain the threads that tie together one century/one event to another in the United States. Ultimately, I’ll award myself a home-made diploma from the University of Historians! 

I’ve started my degree work (sounds impressive doesn’t it!?!?!) with the late 18th century. Already I’m astounded at how woefully ignorant I’ve been of this period of American history.

In future postings, I’ll share with you books I’m reading about the following:

·      The 1st American Revolution (the war for independence—1775-1783)—books by Nathanial Philbrick, Rick Atkinson, and David McCullough.

·      The 2nd American Revolution (securing the peace, establishing government, writing the Constitution—1783-1789)—three books by Joseph J. Ellis.

·      Biographies of those who led the struggle in both revolutions—books by McCullough, Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham, and Ellis. 

I hope to live long enough to study the entire history of our young country. And then . . .  if my health permits, I want to study the history of the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand as well as several Asian, African, and South American countries. I want to learn and appreciate.

So much to listen to and absorb. So many reasons to be grateful. Peace. 

You will note that the historians I’ve mentioned are all men. White men. As I learn enough to be appreciative, I will read histories written by and about women, histories written by and about Native Americans, and histories written by and about people of color.

I want to, I must read about colonial women and their work for the cause; about African Americans and the significant role they played in the Continental Army that George Washington commanded; and about how the founders of the United States systematically put in place plans that would push Native Americans westward and ultimately eradicate them. 

If any of you have books to suggest to help with my education, please do so. The only caveat is that the book must be available in audio because I’m no longer able to easily read paper or e-books. Once I move beyond the United States, I’ll need suggestions for other countries and their histories. So please help me out with this. Help me be inclusive. Expand my mind and my heart. Show me how to embrace Oneness.

That is . . . Help me learn the lessons of history and the struggles of all human beings as they try to find Oneness.