Summer Solstice 2020:
Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
When chaos is all that the cowards of life have left, expect it to reign — in buckets. Mostly because the craven and the corrupt cannot rein in their own cowardice, they let others do the dirty deeds for them. And those Others can test the patience of even a saint.
Some people have more experience with cowards than others. I personally, and professionally, have had a lot, perhaps more than my share, although I try not to measure that allotment here on earth. I’ve always believed that it all evens out — in the End — and courage is rewarded in a very different way than is cowardice.
The end of turmoil can seem so very far away, when you are in the midst of it, and feel only heartache and the type of suffocating sorrow that easily leads to despair. Despair is truly a mortal sin because it denies the existence of God. All you need to do to give to the devil, and his minions, an easy victory is to look toward that one-way door of despair. Walking through it then becomes effortless.
It is not easy for me to speak of ordeals from my past, but, whenever I do, I realize, once more, that each and every tribulation occurred for a beneficent reason. Those acts of malice and heartlessness did not happen to me; they happened for me.
I don’t know if I was born a fighter, but I had to become one, to survive evil and cruelty during my childhood. In later years, as a maturing adult, I became a warrior — to protect my loved ones, in particular, my daughter, from the savage spitefulness that surrounded several despicable events surrounding her birth.
On the day of the birth of my daughter, I, already a fighter, became even more of fighter. I became a warrior, a victorious warrior. I took a page from the history book of my own life. My grammar school basketball team was called The Spartans. I aspired to the austere courage of my adolescence.
I’ve not ever regretted the life-altering stand that I took on that day to confront a woman who used a newborn baby as a weapon to seek reprisals against me. You see, I had spoken the truth among people who had, on a family basis, outlawed truth. To exact a petty but vicious revenge against me, most of those individuals refused to acknowledge the birth of my daughter.
My greatest sin, a final declaration of the truth, was the statement: I will not be blamed for problems in your family that occurred before I was even born.
You see, there is a real-life statute of limitations on sins committed before you first drew breath upon this earth.
The road ahead from that moment was difficult, painfully difficult, for me and for my husband, but the road we’d traveled thus far had been far more painful and difficult — not being able to feel free to speak the truths that had become so horribly obvious, but which were forbidden any freedom of speech by the powers-that-were.
I would not have forsaken one single precious moment of protecting, not merely myself, but an innocent infant from a spiteful much older woman and her surrogates. My daughter received the love and protection from her mother — that her mother never received from the woman who gave birth to her.
Miracles happen in that way. Fears and tears and the type of anguish that can cripple a person emotionally are then used for good, and toward the good. Such a commitment to “do what is right” is not an earth-shaking sensation. It initially occurs in small steps that lead to the big step, the huge one that makes that so-called difference that has become crass advertising fodder.
I was not always aware of my combative nature. At times, I still am not. Dear Husband laughingly told me yesterday that my style of reading The News to him in the morning, at the breakfast table, is rapid-fire. Not a Gatling-gun, but the street sweeper of Eliot Ness days. He keeps up on the latest outrages bit by bit, while I only have time to learn of current events, quickly, all at once, and usually days, if not weeks, behind the actual time-line.
My dear-dear friend and former proofreader always got a real kick out of Debra in the Suburbs. She worked with Dear Husband at the time, and when we lived in The Cul-de-Sac, a fetid fishbowl of miserable beings, she would hear of my latest run-in with the Suburban Scaredy-Cats, kneeling before the gods of political correctness.
“Has she punched him out yet?” was her favorite inquiry.
“I refuse to punch any man who is smaller than me” was my only reply.
That advice can still be taken to heart, when dealing with the big bullies who are pygmies inside. Any man not able to, or unwilling to — due to his own garbage-gut gluttony, greed and selfishness — defend the weak, the innocent, the helpless, the wrongly maligned, and the revered memory of dead heroes — he is not a man. He is an insult to manhood, and to womanhood as well.
During my final Christmas in the burbs, in my gilded cage, I decided to sew some large mittens, for a front-door decoration, and fill them with evergreen branches and candy canes. Dear Daughter was not quite seven years of age, and, when she saw the handmade holiday cheer, she asked:
“Mommy, why do those mittens look like boxing gloves?”
I guess it’s because they really are boxing gloves!
I’ve not a fierce temper, but I do have a fierce response to lazy twits and their dirty deals, and pompous-ass sellouts, and feckless frauds, and stuffed-shirt hypocrisy that parades as any form of morality. I got a belly-full of all of that condescending crap before I even reached the age of majority. Dear Husband says that my zero-tolerance of such rankness got used up a long time ago. Indeed, when it comes to arrogant people pulling a fast one in the name of virtue, my tolerance went into the minus category decades ago.
To soothe my soul, I ask my Maker to help me to remember the Serenity Prayer more often. There was a time, about 10 years ago, when I wrote that heavenly request on a sheet of paper and taped it to a rough-plastered wall in my then-unfinished closet. As time passed, the prayer became more important to me than anything that might have been, or was, in that storage space.
You can store up a lot of resentment toward the evils and the ills that men, and women, do in the name of justice or goodness or whatever the schtick is during the latest news cycle. It’s a heavy load to carry. It really is not your burden to carry. That resentment belongs to the cowards. It was their first stepping stone toward hatred, and to their own final undoing. Bitterness is always the initial mis-step along the path to despair.
Let not your heart be troubled. Your heart deserves the daylight of the certainty that belongs to the blessed, and the sweet serenity of the meek who do, indeed, inherit the earth.
On this solstice of the summer, the longest day of the year, celebrate each hour as if it is eternal, not fleeting. Aspire toward the peace of mind that inspired both versions of this simple but sublime supplication by Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr.
Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.