I has them.

It would’ve gone alright with the rest as a middle name for real: Relax Qualm McGillicuddy, though it works better as a statement — a comma after Relax would’ve been perfect.

I had qualms about everything. If I didn’t, I imported them. I was my mother’s daughter, which is to say not half Irish just yet, which is to say French Canadian. My neighborhoods in a historic seaport were incredibly diverse, so I was surrounded by Italian qualms, many French Canadian ones, and the rarer Irish qualm (who had qualms about having qualms but had them anyway, only slightly moreso than did the Greeks).

The problem was, we were mostly of the Catholic working class persuasion, and that was rife with qualms. The only Jewish girl I knew didn’t seem to suffer them. She was joyful, animated, sure of herself. I desperately wanted to be Jewish for a while, back when I didn’t realize one could be Jewish and yet not religiously so.

I continue qualmward. Not because it’s mandatory for the conscience — that’s only how it got a foothold. I need qualms, the awkward 50-lb butterflies of doubt, to warn me off of what I think I want to go for — or at least make me think longer, consider more.

Or, angelqualms.


A Sharing: He hides (recycled) giants…

(Relax note:  I particularly love “Sleeping Louis,” who was built on a former homeless persons’ sleeping site. Check out all Thomas Dambo’s work from here.  [And all the more now, I cannot help but think that even the most radical terrorist (or activist) would transformatively benefit from a walk in some woods.])


A Re-blog (“An Open Toolbox in the Rain”)

(Relax note:  “A journal of the vessel Seafire including mishaps and musings of the crew.”  Somehow, you’re always right there with him.)

The evening is clear, the sky is clear. The temperature is not frigidly damp. In fact it is almost tepid. Outside in the last of the day’s light two Kingfishers dart and chase, chattering vigorously. Inside the boat, I’ve just turned the heater on for the evening. It was off for most of the day […]

via An Open Tool Box In The Rain — seafireblog


A Re-blog (“Soul in need”)

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope: Soul in need of mercy, whoever and wherever you may be, know that all the riches of the Divine Mercy are, for you, contained and offered in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Go before the tabernacle, or seek out the monstrance displaying the Body of Christ, –a feast…

via Soul in need — Witnesses to Hope

(Relax note: We in America generally aren’t used to the concept of mercy. Individually and in pastoral/social/humanitarian groups, yes, but collectively as a gun-loving/capitalist ideologue nation, not so much.

Mercy is the premier hallmark of God, the only reason we could have a Saviour, and it’s been hard to live where God seems unwelcome more and more, to live where God apparently looks so much like self.  It has often been damned lonely, here, where neither He nor His mercy [for others!] is welcomed — and His Mother’s, only a little more.

Almost everything from the lives and mouths and pens of the popes since Vatican II — as from Fatima and ultimately from Golgotha — has spoken to the Lord’s mercy.  This is what the Holy Spirit wanted more out there in the modern world via the Second Ecumenical Council:



And thus, ours. If we don’t recognize His for us, though, we’ll never find ours for others [and self]. Hence, we have a cold and skewed emperor, and false mercies.  We’re being skewed, too, and our true mercies are fading fast. Lincoln recognized the Lord’s mercy, as did many other forefathers, as did JFK — and found their own within. One sees the difference instantly.

Without mercy, there is no real love, no real peace, no real honor, no real heroes, and no real hope. The above reblogged article says it so much better than I. Please know that Catholic churches are open every day, if not all day, then certainly a little before and after daily Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is there, for any of us, in His tabernacle. Or, one can always face the nearest tabernacle from home or park bench or bus station or railroad trestle, and He will see whom He already knows, just fine.)



Good vibrations

We think about who we were, what we wanted, where we were headed, and now.. sometimes we just think of getting the house cleaned up and sorted better for eventual erasure of our collections of private treasures by the next of kin (and maybe going out to dinner now and then if there’s not too many of us to treat).

Until, that is, we get to the ocean.

The salty spray knows one’s own salt and deliberately blows that morgue odor off of one, threatening to take the whole scalp with it. There on the big rock (pick one — they’re all yours), you can be as wild and crazy as that frigid water that exists for your and my very life. Lie down on a boulder or in some hollow, who’s going to care — the seagulls? No one cares. Bring a pillow.  Dream, again. Not hunkering down, not hiding.  Owning!  Own your crazy ocean, rock, and life. Go. (We do have some sand, but the sand do have some wetness and fleas! Plus, I like being where the rogue waves and I can call each other “Stinker”!)

When I leave for work, I keep the car radio off until I’ve said some abbreviated hour of Mercy prayers (a half hour and sometimes 4 or 5 decades late!), while wolfing down a half of a peanut butter-and-anything sandwich. (Hand-held energy.) When I’m done praying for a heart-furnace to grow quite south of Jesus, and for the Church and for the popes’ intentions (via Mary), for the family and all loved ones, for the children of the world and the (other, public) victims of the day, I turn on the radio. Unless I am deep in cow/horse/turkey country. “Out in the country” only lasts approximately two minutes at 35 mph! I had to go a different way today, though, since some City someones just had to play with tree-limbers on my time, so I heard this from Supertramp. What a great song! It, too, puts my first paragraph into perspective.

To question everything under Heaven is a timeless, ageless good idea. Don’t lose yourself.


Birds, foxes..

I wondered for a while, why, when I was trying so hard to walk with Him, to truly do His will for myself and two children in that housing project, He allowed me to linger in a cesspool of loose women once of Rock-old faith who, among other insults to all humanity went after Him, too, who with a narrowing of eyes, wondered aloud if He ever acted on His temptations. I answered whatever I could and I prayed for them, but it cut me straight across something vital. I bled. I wish I could’ve gotten angry instead. At someone. Anyone. That sort of angerless bleeding hurts.

I wondered, as I lived each day in mostly human loss and withstood each night in human fear, too alone, and too poor to break us out for years, why. He was not revengeful, so perhaps it was the right penance that I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to make. It was knocking my legs out from under me in every sphere. Dear God, everything of my human life — anything that I might’ve done or wanted to do or needed to do, even for my children — had become so minimal.

I wondered as I pored over Scripture and Jesuits each knock-fearing night for so long, if maybe that Spanish Teresa had been right — if this was how He treated His friends, no wonder He had so few. I wondered also why, in the midst of it all so seemingly endless, I felt a hope like having overheard a Conversation about me, of love, which allowed me to wait. As if something good was coming from all this — very, very surely that. As if something wonderful was being prepared.  I laid my head against the wall that bore the Vilnius-like portrait, and breathed in, and out, hanging on. Sometimes wordlessly. What was there to say?

And years after He set me with a good man whom I had not sought (my future had entirely been given up to Him, whether it be the career which would stem from this sudden college..and perhaps being alone through life, or be it life with some good man, good enough for kids), in a lovely public wedding after the dispensation had come through, and with a better domain — one of our own — and with other children, a pool, a dog with papers, every sort of opportunity of schooling and arts and social arts for all four kids, all securities for all these decades (the length of His human life!), I realized what my (now) little trials had been about.

The Man of Sorrows Who’d had nowhere to lay His head, had let me taste His camp, His loneliness, His fear, His nausea, His desire to redeem.. to ransom the captive. Despite the good care He’d received for 30 years, He’d never really had anywhere to lay His head in this world. He would not have that until He redeemed all the resting places, on earth and under the earth.  Until then, He had submerged Himself in this often cesspool with cesspool fruits, because of Love, and He had let me spend the briefest evening with His inner agonies of the ruination of His Father’s beloved people. Love hurts? Love can annihilate!  Love consumes all but the seeds. Yet, it wins, in the end. It drags us up, in the end, that we will have Somewhere to lay our heads — and even now, should we find little or no purchase here.

To pay it forward as best we can is the first and last requirement of love.



What short parade-goers can see

I see that WordPress has a bit of a bug today.  Ah, well.. ’tis the season. What isn’t going around just now?

And what isn’tmassive“? I’m 5’2.5” and even shorter on the inside: everything is massive — buildings, bridges, buses, 6-year olds..

One of my favorite (almost inanimate) massive creations is a 3/4-life sized Sixth Station at Our Lady of Victory basilica in Buffalo, NY. (On the outside, that is — inside, that Station is millennia-massive).

It, like all the other Stations, is carved in Italian marble — one piece — in exquisite detail.  Can you imagine? Well, probably not, so you should go see the basilica!  Even the angels at the doorway holding bowls of holy water are massive. The altar is massive, as are the side altars and all the columns including the red marble one spiraling up to Heaven.

All the churches in the west of Ireland are massive — of Notre Dame height and depth and width.  Even their outdoor Crucifix scenes are massive. Like the inside of even the most diminutive Irish people. Those churches are both big enough and small enough to allow your loved one to lie in state overnight, that the prayers of those nearby waft over them in comforting recognition.

The Museum of Natural History is massive, as is Central Park.  As is the Syracuse Zoo (as is the one in Ohio). The Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, roller coasters, giraffes..

I’d give just about anything to be left alone in the basilica for about 18 hours, and at least that long in the Museum. Amazing that via others’ great and long labors, the past rushes forward to engage and embrace our presence timelessly in welcome and love.  Can we not feel the artists’ and scientists’ and archeologists’ own explosive wonder?  We should know all their names by heart, yet they knew we wouldn’t.  It wasn’t about them.  Their love wasn’t about themselves, was it? O, thank God!