It is the 109th Anniversary of her birth, Eleanor Rita Downs-Gallaher. Simply Nell. Somewhere, it is my ever present hope, she dances brightly before God who must have had dancing in mind, and gentle fun, and all good things, when he conceived my mother in his heart and placed her soul in the body being prepared for it inside her mother’s womb. If ever there was a “blithe spirit”, she was. Everything I remember of her was as Shelley put it. She was unpremeditated art. I loved her first. Or maybe it was she who loved me. I cannot tell. But, my first love was her. My last living memory of her is the old woman in the hospital gone but for her beating heart, whose eyes brightened opening wide as she saw me enter her room; whose mouth opened in unspoken exclamation of surprise and joy; whose arms reached for me as I approached. “Mom,” I said, and took the hand she reached for me with, and held it until I left.
It was enough then, that last touching, to remember all those other times with her, around her, and to feed the hope I have today, the hope never far away, of feeling her touch again, and hearing her voice say, “Hello, Dolly. I missed you.” “I missed you, too, Mom.”
Now the trees are almost bare. A bright sun barely makes it above the wall of lace like oak branches behind the houses just across the street. Its patterned light dances into the living room on the wind that moves the shadows back and forth while the chimes outside ring Autumn’s first real frost, a threat of winter, down from the arctic breeding grounds, inevitable and unwelcome. I’ll probably have to rake those last tens of thousands of leaves soon, fill the bags and pray no snow falls before they’re taken away on Thursday. I don’t want them plastered to the lawn all winter under two or three feet of snow. They’re the “divil’s own” then. But, I’ll be honest, I don’t feel at all happy about doing it today.
The wind roars now, as if to say, “Come out! You and your rake, O Man! I challenge you, the Cold Wind from the Ice Sea and Deep Frozen Waste to fight me.” Global warming. Yeah, right!
I think I’ll make another cup of tea; have some oatmeal. April and raking look entirely possible right now.
It’s funny. When I first awoke and came down to the kitchen to put on the kettle for the tea there was just a faint glow of day-not-yet over east, down low, just above my neighbor’s big green bushes. The only breeze that could have been came from the wings of birds, cardinals, titmice, house finches and one chesty wren. No skylarks, though. They’re probably on a flight to Florida, now.
Then I picked up my book after the tea was in its cup and sat down in the room now almost empty of books; the room we call our oratory, blessed for that use by our pastor some years ago. Stratford Caldecott, may he rest in peace, (say hello, Mom, if you happen to meet him) is the author. It’s one of his last books, Not As the Word Gives: The Way of Creative Justice, and a beautiful work, as is everything he did it seems to me; and now does I am sure. He is speaking about technology where I am now, and discussing some of the things he thinks we ought to be thinking about. He writes:
(T)echnology always has purposes of its own , or (if you prefer) an implicit logic that we accept when we buy into the machine for its own purposes. Technology represents an entire world view, an organizing myth for our culture, and increasingly it is coming to shape the way we view and experience our own bodies and those of our children. (That sentence chilled me.)
Up until now , the Church has tended to go along with the general view that technological progress is benign and in any case irresistible. Christians must simply make the best of it. Every new invention may be used for good or ill; the Church should simply discourage its use for ill. If technologies in themselves are not morally or culturally neutral after all, then this policy needs to be re-examined. The crisis over human cloning is likely to force such a re-examination in any case, for now even many scientists and technicians are asking: “are some kinds of knowledge so terrible they should not be pursued?”
I’ve stopped there and simply been thinking. One of the first things that occurred to me was whether or not any one of our ancient ancestors raised a question about the first use of a rock to bash open the head of a rabbit, or the snare that had been used to catch it? And, what was the answer he got from the rest of the band?
Well, it’s just a little after 9:00 AM. I took a look out the window just now, and gave a listen to the wind thrumming through the trees. Down the block, a couple of hundred yards from here, a few oaks stand poking up from a hollow behind a friend’s home. Oak leaves are tough little buggers, the last to go every year. On one of the trees they hang on in a triangular bundle against the wind, below the sun; like a shield. A thousand bronze leaves, two thousand, flash bright in the breeze dazzling the beast wind from far away. Had I them in front of me, bright and bronze, I think I’d take wind’s dare and face him; brazened behind my leaf legions.
God awaits you. So, wherever you are, you must commit yourself to imitating him and uniting yourself to him, cheerfully, lovingly, keenly, though circumstances might require you – even permanently – to go against the grain.God awaits you – and needs you to be faithful.
Psalm 103: 11-12
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Life in Christ
Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons’ private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights. Interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom.
Here is a selection from the music of John Tavener, one of my favorite composers, “Hymn To the Mother of God”. One of the commenters mentions that Tavener said he composed it for his mother. I can certainly do no better. For you, Mom: