Passion Week Ponderings of the Obsessive Compulsive kind that can lead (and do, too often) to situational depression.


I read this, a BBC report on Modern Slavery

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And I watch this, a dramatization of Bonhoeffer on "Religionless Christianity"

It could be pictures and words about something else, almost anything else. The possibilities and juxtapositions of tragic realities are, in every sense of the word which follows, legion:

animal abuse, child abuse, planet abuse. Priestly denial, political denial, corporate denial. The celebration of ignorance; the championing of stupidity; the congenital co-dependence with anger.

And, instead of doing the hard work that needs to be done, the crowds scream, "Give us Barrabus."

Somewhere within those thoughts there runs a red thread of congruity, and it leads to the reasons I do what I do. I can no longer verbalize it or them. I can’t. But the acceptance of that inability keeps me anchored to Life.

It is about the Other; that’s the best I can say.

Passion Week Ponderings (of the sarcasm-touched kind)

We stand on the porch looking down our bent noses at our brothers who’ve come back home after cavorting with the world. A day’s pay for a day’s work, that’s our motto! If you don’t have a job, get one! God is good all the time but, brother, you’re a pain in the ass. Now go back to your pig slop and dancing whores!

We keep a nice supply of oil on hand for our lamps. We can’t help it if the other side of the world is dark, maybe they should learn to burn rendered fat from their starving cattle and babies. We’ve got parties to go to, people to see, commerce to be attended to; we don’t have time to keep everybody else lit up!

We need loudspeakers when we pray. We need football fields to pray over, and flags
a-flappin’in the background while we’re a-prayin’. God hears us better that way. And that way the people on the other side of the street can hear us better, too. Might do them a world of good.

That floozy, ass-twitchin’ blondie across the street- look at her! She sashays by here every day about this time- she’s just asking for it. She really wants it.We need to run her out of town before some of these teenage boys get permanent kinks in their necks.

(And would someone please shoot that goddam Samaritan that keeps passing though here. He needs to get a life. He’s trying to make the rest of us look bad. And tell that woman who comes into the church on Monday mornings with her snot-nosed kids to keep her precious little handful of change. It costs us more to count it than its worth. And get some *No Trespassing* signs up in the parking lot- those skateboarders need to find somewhere else to be laughing and carryin’ on.)

God, we love the smell of More Rules in the morning!

By the way, what are these reports we’re hearing about some guy up north saying his god is more important than the old Red, White, and Blue? And that he’s trying to organize a New World Order of God, and that he’s going to let the prisoners go? What the hell is that all about? Go find out what you can on him! we’ve got a rope, we’ve got a tree…hahahah– you remember that old saying? From back in the good old days?

One Last Step (surely the final chapters are near?)

So, last Saturday morning

after walking up the hill to the red one-room school 1000 times

and up that same hill to the United Brethren Church where she

was baptized

giggled with her sisters

brought her sons who then giggled at Lily Wolf singing off-key

watched her Pap, and then her Mom buried in the nearby graveyard

and after steps back and forth between the kitchen and serving area

at Nick Yanko’s Restaurant and Grill

and after a walk to the judge to be married to Ike

and two more walks from Ike’s car to the Summit County hospital

to give birth

and after walking up and down up and down up and down stairs to

the cellar to wash clothes

to get stuff out of the freezer

to the upstairs to put boys in bed

to sleep

and to sleep herself

and to put those clothes from the cellar, which had hung outside on the line

in appropriate chester drawers and

make beds, then get preserved



strawberry and raspberry jelly off the shelves and take them downstairs

after she had, months earlier, carried them all upstairs to put on the shelves,

after she had walked around the church teaching Sunday Schools for years,

making Street Fair pies for many more years

going to meetings: garden club, PTA, Secret Sister, Card Club, 4H, Friendly Class,

then up to Jean’s, up to Tommie’s, down to Olive’s, into town,

up to Betty’s, and back to Grandma’s

after walks through the woods- 2 miles a day with her best friend from up on the hill, then over to the barn to give the workers there some cookies,

or the one with a birthday a cake,

and then out to the mailbox (over and over and over) again to mail her sons,

then her grandsons and granddaughters



more strawberry jelly

and more cookies

and more

and after she walked to where they buried Dad, and back there for all the reasons wives of 50 years go back to see where their husband is lying

and after she walked in that massive house alone for three years,

after she walked in the assisted living home around and around and around the hallways,

then around and around other hallways, looking now in increasing emptiness of thought for her Pap, her brothers Harry or Tom- when are they coming? Where are they?

walking walking walking walking walking


and then,

last Saturday morning,

right after breakfast in the dining room of the Care Center,

there was a

final step.

One Last Step.

And her legs would go no further.. Or the mind which told the legs to “go” stopped

(more likely)

and so those of us who walked with her along parts of that long Walk through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas and parts of ten decades

must look back for her (with her as best we can)

remembering what she would remember about that


(and now she sits)

the tears of revelation..


thanks to Hune MarguliesThe Martin Buber Institute For Dialogical Ecology , I have been enjoying Yiddish poetry. While I don’t speak Yiddish, I would love to hear it. I used to, as a boy, hear the various eastern European languages of immigrants to our town. I would envy them; it seemed that they could be happy or angry in more powerful ways than I had ever known people in my family to be.
Morris Rosenfeld, in about 1886, wrote of the Manhattan sweat shops he remembered:

O, kalt un finster iz di shap!
Ikh halt dem ayzn, shtey un klap!
Mayn herts iz shvakh, ikh krekhts un hust;
es heybt zikh koym mayn kranke brust.

Oh cold and dark is the shop!
I hold the iron, stand, and strike!
My heart is weak, I moan and cough,
my sick chest barely heaves.

(I won’t write any more Yiddish here, but I included this first verse so others could see the relationship with German written and Hebrew spoken. Try reading it out loud. It’s cool.)

a theme for the rest of the poem begins now in verse two and continues:

I moan and cough and press and think,
my eye dampens, a tear falls,
the iron glows; my little tear
it boils and boils and does not evaporate.

I have no more strength, it’s all been used;
the iron falls from my hand,
and still the tear, the hot tear
the tear, the tear, boils more and more.

"Perhaps you are a messenger,
telling me that more tears are coming?
I would like to know, tell me:
When will this great sorrow end?"

I would have liked to ask more and more,
of the unrest, of the wild tear,
and then a stream came forth
of tears, an unlimited amount of tears
and I quickly understood
that the river of tears is deep.

In another poem, written several years later, Rosenfeld wrote:

They pay with tears for a tear,
that is all they can afford:
I am a tear millionaire
and I lament the millions.

The tear that will not boil away is like the bush that will not burn, discovered by Moses. Both the tear and the fire are the word of God and revelatory..
I went back to these poems earlier today because I was experiencing the tears of others, spoken occasionally in actual tears, yes, but communicated more often in anger, stereotyping, belittling. Our tears so often have little to do with the points of view we stub our minds against, or in response to the names we might be called by someone who is projecting their own shame onto us. We are most often reacting to ancient hurts, childhood pains, adolescent misunderstandings, or adult questions that never received the answers that would satisfy our intellect or emotions. Our tears are always, it seems. tears-in-waiting, dammed up behind bravado or pretense but let loose when a particular word or thought acts like an opened handle on the riverworks.

The Yiddish factory worker was surrounded in the tears of faraway sadness- faraway from homeland, family, and childhood friends, and very far, it felt, away from hope. The Manhattan factory worker face 14 hour days on wooden floors in an always too hot or too cold factory and then a few hours in a noisy fifth floor walkup where- maybe- a few hours of sleep after a bowl of soup with some bread could be had.

His tears, her tears were of the same substance as our tears, even though formed of different pain. Taste his pain, taste her pain on your tongue as his tear her tears flow down your cheeks. Long ago, your tears, too, were tasted then wiped away with a dusty cloth. But they never ever really went away; they are the same tears still..the river of tears is deep.

Hello? This is Nancy at the Care this David?

This is Nancy ____ at the Care Center, is this David?


David, we’re calling about your mother, you know she fell earlier today..


Well she fell again and there is a cut on her right arm, not a big one but we’ve taped it up.


We think she may have had a stroke which caused her to fall, she’s favoring her right side and her face is drooping a little that way too..right now she is just sitting and is not able to get up and walk like she usually does, you know?


We’re just going to put her to bed for the night and look in on her and then have the Dr. stop by in the morning. We’re almost certain there is no breakage in the hip or the leg, but if you would like we can arrange to have her X-rayed in the morning.


She seems to be in no pain, but we will of course give her something for that if it looks like she is hurting.


mom 3

Do you have any questions?


Well if you do you know you may call us anytime.

Yes, thank you, goodbye, thank you very much, I’m sorry I don’t have any questions, I’m out of questions, please don’t mistake my lack of questions with a lack of curiosity, I am just out of questions, there are no more questions in me just question marks with no words in front of them, if I had a question or a thousand questions it would be three years ago when words mattered but now it is only punctuation and silence and I don’t want you to think that because there are no questions that there is no more care but that care doesn’t matter and I can’t stop the love but that doesn’t matter either and I really do thank you again all of you but there is nothing I can do now except tell you to give her pain pills and I will wait for a