A little blog blabber. (You’ve got time to read this, or you can clean your garage.)

I didn’t touch the news yet. Took my synthroid. Sipped some coffee. Read from several books. It’s been a full two hours and I haven’t seen the world map blotched with blood from one continent to another. So many have offered perspective by comparing all the different ways humans die and the percentage thereof. I once read that more people die from donkeys than from plane crashes every year. What an asinine perspective. Now when on the back roads of my delivery route, I see donkeys as potential murderers.

This must be some sort of reset. This virus, of all the past viral anomalies, is historic in its scope of culture twisting adjustments. Off in the distance I see. I see you off in the distance. Six feet might as well be six miles in some instances. Yet, out of the fire and into the frying pan-demic we all can admit a heightened awareness of how little we control stuff. I can still set the toaster level on four and expect crispy bread ready to melt butter on the surface, but deep down I know…

What?

Today is Sunday. The sun was seen from what I now call my reading room. It’s a little hovel, with windows facing east, south, and west. My thoughts tip-toed, skipped, and tripped from brain cell to brain cell, eventually finding neuron highways to travel as the coffee kicked in. I thought of other author’s thoughts. I thought of God’s thoughts. All this time to think, when the truth of the matter is we are thinking all the time. It’s our awareness that flickers on and off like a light bulb in a fruit cellar.

Here are some things of which I was made aware:

When filling my vitamin/medication daily dose tray, I imagine playing mancala.

An organized garage is a thing of beauty.

Refrigerator chess is always one move away from checkmate.

Everybody poops. (The toilet paper isle is still echoing, even when we speak in hushed tones six feet apart.)

Whenever I see latex gloves my first inkling is of an unpleasant procedure.

God and the Coronavirus are both unseen, but real.

My family can survive a lockdown, for a couple of weeks at least.

Neil Diamond is relevant.

I really want to play tic-tac-toe in the grocery store with all the X’s on the floor.

My wife loves me, and I love her.

Wildlife, especially birds, don’t give a rip about pandemics.

Beauty is indeed fleeting, but hey, I still see it everywhere.

A measured sense of humor in times like these is essential.

Thoughts can be turned into prayers.

Family is.

 

I’ve already gone over my goal of six hundred words per blog post, so if you’ve read this far, I’m proud of you.

Everyone, wash your hands, say your prayers, and make eye-contact.

 

Social Distancing and/or Emotional Distancing

By now, you’ve probably heard the term Social Distancing. Look it up here: www.cidrap.umn.edu

When I first heard the term my immediate thought was we have socially distanced ourselves for years. Well, maybe its just me.Taking such a broad mental swipe at this term without delving into its particular application now took me down paths of emotional, not physical, separation.

My aim is not to minimize the Covid-19 reality. We all need to pay close attention to directives and at the same time remain calm. Prayers and precautions will bode well as the professionals keep digging for solutions. What I’m wondering is how much social distancing will change our emotional distance.

Numerous studies, blog posts, and professionals reveal the distancing, isolating, and detaching emotional effect of social media. Now that’s a loaded sentence. Might our screens save us from spreading this new virus? Will skipping down the Skyping lane alter the quality of our connections? Will our diminished proximity change much of anything? I sure hope so!

I say this because my social media footprint diminished over the past few years. I distanced myself. The constant contact, all the likes, swipes, and emoji droplets seemed to cut my soul down to data points and comparisons thereof.

I’ll be perfectly clear, I am not a professional. I am not a doctor or scientist or counselor. I am a creative with an active imagination. My thoughts get away from me sometimes like a dog breaking its leash and sprinting toward a squirrel.

Nevertheless, thoughts are thoughts, and if it were possible, a cup of coffee and conversation on emotional distancing is a better solution than this old blog. Some eye-contact and body language between sips and syllables might bring a more wholehearted dialogue—six feet apart of course.

For now the only virus between us might be encrypted between these lines. So, a blabber blogging we go, eh?

Emotional distancing came to the front of my mind when I heard about empty stadiums and a postponed writer’s conference. What’s the big deal about the social element of it? Tucked into the social aspects of face to face, shoulder to shoulder connection is emotional attachment. This leads to thoughts of Reactive Attachment disorder (RAD).

Ours is a house of adoption, and as the number of additions rose, the reality of RAD rose to the surface. It’s a thing, just like social distancing is a thing. The short definition of RAD is the inability to form healthy emotional bonds with others. It’s like signaling another to come close and when they do, you stiff arm them. “Come here…that’s close enough.”

Emotional distancing is more subtle than what the health officials are advising concerning the Covid-19.

As RAD showed up in our children’s lives I became aware of my own RAD tendencies. It’s a manifestation of a virus. The virus of intimacy. “Into me see” as someone aptly coined. We all want to be seen on different levels. Yet we don’t. The game of hide and seek began a long time ago.

“Adam, where are you?” Genesis 3:9

Before that question, Adam and Eve were quite okay with skin as their only clothing; The epitome of social and emotional proximity. Then the cover-up was inaugurated. Did you know there are over seven hundred varieties of fig leaves?

Hiding places are innumerable. This century with all its fingertip knowledge dispensers, and screens depicting images of every imagination is comparable to “water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” Many have succumbed to techno-Tarzans swinging from vine to vine, deeper and deeper into the jungle of social media until no evidence of the sun hits the soil. With a loincloth flapping and lion claws flailing, humanity shrinks into the morass of social media without touching anyone. Sorry. Saw a squirrel.

All I’m saying is the blue light of our screens doesn’t give us the vitamin D we need.

Touchscreens aren’t the same as holding a hand, kissing a cheek, or letting body language fill in the blanks of a conversation.

I pray as we distance ourselves physically, we will feel the emotional separation. These are strange times indeed, hopefully not estranged. I pray our hearts will grow fonder, and when we draw close again our humanity will be on its best behavior.

I pray as our bodies isolate, our hearts will be insulated by the love of God.

God help us, and be near to us on all levels. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to socially immerse himself with us to end our social and emotional separation from You. Amen.

Psalm 145:8

Why Two Days Changed My Fussbudgetness.

I read this again. Wow. That was a rough go. God is good.

G. Allen Barrett Poet. Writer.

Lucy, from the comic strip Peanuts, was often referred to as a fussbudget. Over the past few years I have become a fussbudget, my heart traipsing around the landscape of complaint, unbelief, and fear. Recently I described it to someone as brooding. I can’t seem to nail down a solid description of my state of mind. Needless to say, my silent grump grump aint helpful to those in my proximity.

Then two days, one right after the other, a couple of weeks ago, shook me out of my inward sourpuss self. May 17th two of my children decided to take a giant leap…out of an airplane. Be honest, what do you think of first when skydiving come to mind? Exactly. What if the chute doesn’t open? I don’t see this thought as pessimistic, but realistic. Planes have wings to keep humans up there in the wild blue yonder, unless…

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The Heights of Humility

Recently, I went to the mountains in Colorado. The camp was nestled at 8600ft. It took my breath away in all respects. Such grandeur. The day before I returned to Michigan, a group of us decided to go to the crosses another 1500 feet up. Three crosses mounted on a bluff of the mountain begged attention. I thought of what I might say when and if I got there. “I’m the king of the world!” De’Caprio

Well, after taking many breaks to catch my breath I reached the desired summit. My my my… How I was humbled. Words were few and I felt adequately small. This was a holy moment, and I felt a bit more whole. There is something, someone way bigger than me, and it was okay.

It was as if God was saying, “I got you. I Am mysterious and majestic, and I see you.”

This was more than a bucket list check-mark. This was transformation. Such mercy and grace. I felt much of my abandonment issues melt away.

As I looked at the three crosses I thanked God for putting skin in the game.

My Personal Turkish Delight

Peanut butter and banana toast and I go back a long way. I’ve probably mentioned this before. Now, fifty years later, the slathered combo atop a crispy base holds carbolicious delight…and comfort. You’re probably nodding in agreement iffin you have bitten into such wonder.

When I was a punk in short sleeve sweatshirts bananas were a delicacy. They were not on the priority list. But every now and then they’d show up. Surprise! As long as my mom did her dedicated run to the day-old bread store there was hope. Margarine and a metal bucket of peanut butter, will travel.

But bananas. The rationed yellow boomerangs. When they arrived on scene they wooed me to drop my blankie and toss my pacifier. A new comfort for this creature. Maybe a rite of passage even.

For some reason, my mom thought 12 cents a pound was too much to sacrifice back then. I had no idea. When she doled out dinero it rarely was for Chiquita. Even the commercial jingle didn’t phase her. Remember…”I am a Chiquita banana and I’m here to say.” Could be she thought the peels too dangerous.

Bananas, bananas, bananas—go ahead, say bananas enough times and you’ll at least smirk at how silly it sounds. Try it in Spanish too. Platanos, platanos, platanos. Actually, just about any word you say over and over becomes silly.

But anyway, why I’m a blathering on about a squishy substance sheathed in a sleek yellow holster?

It’s spiritual.

Just kidding.

It’s emotional attachment.

Possibly.

It’s intellectually stimulating.

Are you for real?

Okay, this is why…

“Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today.”

Monday Muse. Thank You Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Are we content with the content of our character? Or are we living skin deep, keeping up appearances and letting our hearts go to seed? Images are everywhere. Platitudes placed between the possibilities of communion with the humanity of it all.

We all have our character flaws, no? Our social media offers cover like a fig leaf of ‘likes’. Proximity becomes relative as our closest relatives see us as we are. Then there’s God who asks, rhetorically, where we are. God sees our skin and beyond, often without our acknowledgement. God sent Jesus to come look for us too.

I don’t know, I just want to honor Dr. King today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Named after his father, who adopted the name of Martin Luther to honor his march of sorts. Martin Luther had white skin, by the way. He was the one who shook up the church back in the day. I’m sure he had character flaws too.

We still wish for a dream to come true. “That we would judge each other not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.” It’s a process. There’s always room for character growth.

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King.

Monday Muse 2020

First Monday. We’re alive. I’m writing and you’re reading. Grace has lifted us once again. How shall we respond?

I write. It’s a compulsion. Sometimes words illumine a way out of a thought jungle. Worry; the great canopy of blocking the light of day. Vines, creepy-crawlies, and unknown sounds and furies. I gotta admit, and I have, that the older I get, the more I am prone to worry. Anxiety strangles the heart, mine at least.

The heart is the matter. What’s the matter with my heart? That question’s been dogging me for quite some time now. So, on the first Monday of this decade I broke out my bible app and entered ‘heart’ in the search box. The verses pertaining to the heart are many, and the conclusion is God cares about hearts. More than ‘likes’ on social media. More than the 24 hour news cycle. More than information and opinions and bowl games. If you have a bible app, look for yourself.

Listen to these verses with your heart…

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:6 and 7 The  Message.

What is the center of our humanness? Our hearts of course! God’s desire is for our hearts to be wide open with Him. This doesn’t come naturally to me. Often I get flamboozled into thinking I can’t trust God with my heart. The realization hits only after I’ve stonewalled God, and am deep into self-protection mode. Think of the reasoning in that! I need to protect myself from God? If there’s a need for protection then I might as well join AA (Atheists Anonymous). I’ve said before ‘If God isn’t good, what good is God?’

Make no mistake, if the verse says fret not, God knows our tendencies. God knows where our hiding places are and He is perfect at hide and seek. Once God even sent Jesus to look for us.

This I pray:

That our hearts will be flung open to the goodness of God. That like water to wine, worry will turn into praise because of Jesus, our only hope. Amen

Pressing On

I can’t describe the journey and faith of Bill and Mary Sweeney, but here’s a post to read for yourself. So encouraging.

Unshakable Hope

Happy New Year!

I believe 2020 will be a great year.

Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve had ALS for twenty-three years. I’ve been on hospice for the last fifteen months, and in that time, I’ve had three close encounters with death. I don’t mean to make light of this, but I think you could say that I have one foot in the grave, and the other is on a banana peel. Knowing this, and reading that I’ve declared that 2020 is going to be a great year, you might be questioning the state of my mental health. I get it, but please hear me out.

I’ll admit that my mental health is not as good as it once was. I recently watched a movie for twenty minutes before realizing I’d seen it before. I don’t know if this is related to the ALS or just getting old…

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