Where Do You Go

Where do you go when there’s nowhere to turn to?
Who do you trust? What is the truth?

Life stripped you naked, frozen in time.
How do you know what to do to survive?

It happened so fast you were took by surprise.
But that’s usually how tragedy arrives.

Like an electric current cold fear fuels your veins.
Your tazed mind staggers unable to remain

Calm, collected, the way you were before
a viral terrorist locked you indoors.

Where do you go when there’s simply nowhere?
Confined all alone with your fear.

Where do you go when you’re unsure who to trust?
You want to crawl in a hole but you know that you must

Shelter in place, standing firm in your might
To weed out the wrong and discover the right

Where do you go, your mind questions again?
Go in, it then answers, where you’ll find a friend.

A voice that will guide you, if only you’ll hear.
A voice reassuring you’ve nothing to fear.

I hit pause, said the voice, so you’d not be distracted
And finding your way would be the attraction.

Where do you go when you don’t know where to turn to?
Go inward, said God, and rest assured that I’ve got you.

Keeping Confession Private

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:5

If I’m taught to pray in private, why then would I be asked to confess in public?

Call me old fashioned, but face-to-face confession never resonated with me.

In grammar school (parochial) we marched dutifully, what seemed like weekly, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Truth be told, I lied. What could I possibly have been guilty of at that age? So much for confession. I think it was the only time I sinned.

And penance seemed the same no matter my crime. I often wanted to call father’s bluff and confess a doozy, just to see if 3 Hail Mary’s would still absolve me.

I never really felt ‘cleansed’ after my youthful jaunt behind dark and heavy, blood-red drapes to a kneeler that suggested, simply by virtue of my attendance, that I was guilty of something. Anything but uplifting or reflective, it was a heavily morbid and eerie experience.

To then take, what to me seemed a mockery of a most sacred moment, publicly face-to-face strips away the veil of praying in “the secret place”.

But when I talk to God (confess) in complete and private remorse He assures me He’s heard me and shows me I am forgiven. So . . .

Forgive me father, for I have sinned
but I won’t be attending confession again

This face-to-face, it’s not for me.
I was far better off when you couldn’t see

Anything more than my sorry soul
peering from behind a veil of unknown

Pity me not for this choice I’ve made
for I confess my sins to the Lord each day

Looking down, He lifts me up
with Divine forgiveness and endless love

And although He appoints you in His place
to hear the remorse of my disgrace

I revert to confessing and bearing my soul
the same way that I pray – to the Great Unknown

Happy Mother’s Day Most Important Mother

Oh, Happy, Happy Mother’s Day
to the most important Mother there is.

Thank you for watching over us
and protecting all our kids.

Some are sadly hurting today
with their mothers no longer on earth.

Could you grace them the strength to bear their loss
as you did your son of birth.

Oh, Blessed Mother, as you know
motherhood has its days.

But blessed are we who both give and receive
the love of your Motherly Grace.

Opinion writing vs. blowing off steam

Everybody has an opinion. Everybody.

And everybody is voicing them.

Print, online and on air; written, visual and audible, there is no escaping the myriad of mediums available to share our views. From social media musings of our chia tea at the local café to award-winning opinion writing, everyone is opining.

Yet, let us not confuse opinion writing with social media sound off or blowing off steam.

Being a writer nowadays is both easier and harder. Easier because there are so many mediums to publish at. Harder because there are so many mediums to publish at. That’s a writer’s riddle. If you’re a writer you probably get it.

Unfortunately, all these new mediums don’t necessarily result in “paid” opportunities for writers. Readers may feel frustrated when they hit a pay wall. Writers are used to them.

But we write anyway.

It’s like one of those options we come up with when we’re contemplating our life’s purpose and someone asks: well, what is it you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it?

Write. Right? That’s what every writer would say.

And thankfully we do. Whether we realize it or not, agree with it, like it or understand it, the human universal operating system is opinion. From our choice of toothpaste to our choice of president, every decision we make is based on our personal perspective of what’s presented to us. But how lost we would be if we listened only to ourselves.

“Professional” opinion writers have a greater task than simply sounding off. Although their published pieces are still their opinion, their voices are presented in professional manner, which could be a reason we tune in to them.

Both personal and professional opinions are valuable.

Anyone raised from the “because I said so” mindset of yesterday knows that it left no room for personal opinion or perspective to be voiced. I always had my own thoughts, viewpoints and conclusions, as I’m sure you do, too. My behavior bucked yesterday’s misguidance, irritated others and bestowed me with a “that one there” tagline. That one there will let you talk until you’re blue in the face and then does whatever she wants. I knew then what I know now: listening to the viewpoints of others is necessary before making a decision.  

I have great respect for opinion writers. Without them I’d be operating from a confined because I said so mindset. Opinion is important. Opinion writers are important. Professional opinion writers are very important because they conclude from a myriad of different angles. Opinion helps us understand the world.

So keep opining. Keep reading. Keep open to seeing perspectives other than your own. And while we may not reach the professional proficiency that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ernie Pyle did, we can at least aspire to using our God-given heart, mind and voices to touch lives and topics the way he did.

A bond neither time, space nor death can break

On May 3rd, 2018 I learned that a close friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. I was asked by her twin brother if I would write and deliver her eulogy. As I thought about what she left me to work with, I couldn’t help but reflect on the synchronicity of events – I had just published a column about living life in sync with what we’d want said about us in passing. There was a huge gap of time between us, yet as I began to write I realized she walked her walk in life – and I was honored to share that and final words of testament of her.

Would your integrity stand the test of time?

Vivian Seaboyer’s Eulogy – the honor is mine

Why are we here?

Not so much in this church today celebrating the life of Vivian Seaboyer.

But here on earth.

What’s it all about?

Vivian and I met during what could be called our formative years. High school. And what a bond we formed. For years we were pretty inseparable and somehow solved all our teenage problems walking to and from Medford High.

Vivian-Seaboyer-collage

Vivian loved music. Weekends were spent listening to Elton John albums, gathering with friends and wearing the grooves off of Vivian’s Motown record collection, and sneaking an occasional drink from the Wolcott Street bar, which we were sure Mr. Seaboyer knew nothing of.

Vivian had a reserved side. But when she opened her heart and home to you, you became family, which was quite an honor because Vivian cherished her family. All of them. She adored her parents, shared a special bond with her twin brother Vinny that only a twin can understand. And having a sister as close in age to her as Carolyn was, the two became soulmates and Carolyn became part of our pack. And I do not mean to exclude Vivian’s older siblings from the equation, it’s just that I didn’t know you as well. But Vivian adored her entire family.

One of my fondest memories was of a road trip Vivian, Carol and I made to the Biddeford house after Vivian and I graduated from high school. We packed Vivian’s Pinto with adult beverages, enough clothes for a week and an agenda consisting of nothing but having a good time. So when we discovered a carload of guys on the highway to Maine, we had no choice but to flag them down, pull off and party. Vivian’s reserved side had become loosely spontaneous.

To this day I have a yellow Old Orchard Beach, Maine sweatshirt that Vivian and I each purchased to commemorate our friendship and adventure. Like our lives, it’s a bit tattered and worn. But every time I see it, I go back in time to a person who brought so much joy to my life. Vivian.

Life intercepted and slowly sent Vivian and I in different directions. Vivian loved the ocean and Maine so I’m not surprised that’s where she settled down. But cellphones and social media were non existent and keeping in touch somehow created a 35 year gap between us. It seems almost contradictory to say Vivian was such a close friend and huge part of my life as I look out into faces I know nothing about.

My recent attempts at finding Vivian on social media brought me to her sister-in-law, Alison, who passed my message on to Vivian.

Vivian and I never did reconnect – on social media. But as I stand here today, I realize we never really disconnected.

So, what are we here for?

Hopefully, it’s to do what Vivian has done, touch others and create a bond so deep that neither time, space nor death can break. And hopefully, we’re as successful at it as Vivian was.

Are you living your write of passage

The dead are living proof that what we do in life matters gravely. And I am grateful for their inspiration each and every time I read one of their stories.

I’m not an obituary reader by any means. I’ve missed plenty a final fanfare because somebody departed without letting me know, and those that did know informed me only with a post-service questioning of my absence.

But the dearly departeds’ stories, their obituaries, their eulogies, I’ll call them their write of passage, make for some seriously thought-provoking reading. Every time I read one of their stories it begs the question: are you living the obituary you’d want to read about yourself?

You are – living your obituary. But is it what you’d want said about you?

Many years ago I came upon a eulogy that filled an entire page of the local paper. I didn’t initially realize I was reading a posthumous passage. But when I was finished every hair stood erect on the back of my neck inviting me to wonder what would be said about me in passing.

I suppose in part that may also depend on whomever was chosen to pen my passage. For their perspective of me is what will emerge from their emotional pen. But I’ve got to provide some foundation for them to begin with. Right?

Something simple, I mused, like, integrity, she stood in it always; man of her word, without question. She loved to talk, but more so, she walked her walk. And last but not least, faith, the one true constant in her life.

Those are some of the things I would surely like to be remembered for, and that full-page eulogy sits there in the back of my mind always reminding me to live the words I would want spoken of me post-departure.

Recently, writers celebrated the anniversary of the death of columnist Ernie Pyle. Locally, there was media coverage of the sudden passing of Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon, NPR radio voice Carl Kasell, former First Lady, Barbara Bush, and a beautifully moving tribute written by columnist Cynthia Stead about a Margery Scully. Each of these individuals surely lived lives that afforded great commentary, obituary and eulogy.

And once again, as if the Powers That Be were running a system check, those passing events had me revisiting whether I am living the eulogy I would like to read about myself.

I like to think that I am, but it doesn’t hurt every now and then to take a moment to take stock. Someday you, too, shall pass. There’s no do over. There’s no defense. There is simply someone else writing your final passage. What have you left them with to create from?

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that a person should deviate from who they are so that a eulogy or obituary can sing praises of them – as was the case in the comedy film “The Last Word”. I merely mean to attempt to provoke your thoughts about how you’re living your life and whether it’s in sync with what you’d want said about you.

Before You Go . . .

Perhaps we should all take a prompt from “The Last Word” and write our write of passage for fun, as an inspirational exercise. Say everything you would want the world to know you stood for in life. Then look back at it and your life and ask yourself: am I living those words? And if not, what can you do to begin to live in what you believe in so that you can leave that behind when you go?

Is your fight of rights limiting your value

I don’t believe the fight of rights should limit itself to feminism. Not all females seek to be valued for their gender.

There are females who believe females should occupy a ‘seen and not heard’ sector in the world of humanity.

There are females who comfortably succumb to the misperception that they need a male to survive.

Feminism fights to grant women equality with men.

Individualism fights for the importance and worth of each person.

Gender is a spice. Individuality is the main ingredient. Don’t limit your value to your gender. Expand your value with your individuality.

Women don’t become powerful by fighting others for their opinion of them. Women are powerful when they are individuals who understand the misperceptions others struggle to overcome about them.

If you’re a female, today (the 6th International Day of the Girl) is your day to celebrate your double dose of value.