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

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.

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.

Squishy foods

If you never try, you’ll never know.

What happens when one makes a decision without knowing the facts . . .

Squishy Foods

She was 17, a delightfully joyous young lady, a friend of the family. As I prepared the evening’s meal it was an honor to set a place for her at the table.

Then the truth came.

As she glimpsed the evening’s culinary creation she hesitantly confessed – in an almost subtle voice of repentance for what I could tell she felt was a disrespectful reply to dinner – “um…I don’t like scallops.”

“No problem,” I assured her. “There’s always a refrigerator full. We’ll simply prepare you a different dish.”

Her silent sigh of relief filled the air…and amused me.

But I wasn’t letting her off that easy.

Teasingly I inquired … “Have you ever had scallops?”

“Ah, no!”

I grinned. She gulped … hard.

“Then how do you know you don’t like them?”

“I don’t like squishy foods,” she delivered with ligtening speed.

“Oh!” I accepted.

We both turned to go about our business…me with dinner preparations…she socializing with my son. Until…

I beckoned her to the kitchen.

Feeling forgiven and off the hook, she returned with the innocence and energy of a budding young adult.

Then stopped short and in horror of the sight before her.

There sitting alone on a lunch plate was a scallop. I handed her the plate, a fork, a napkin and these words of wisdom…

“Go into the other room. Try the scallop. If you don’t like it, spit it into the napkin. But when you return you will be able to say with confidence whether or not you like scallops.”

I could hear her sweat.

We both turned to tend to our business.

Shortly she returned. Plate empty. Napkin … full.

“I don’t like them,” she shivered.

We both laughed.

“Well, at least now you can say ‘I don’t like scallops’ with confidence and experience.”

She giggled in agreement then thoroughly enjoyed dining on…her favorite leftover pasta dish.

A Painless and Pleasant Procedure

It was truly a painless and pleasant procedure. She was hesitant … she experienced … and now she knows.
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Have you ever been hesitant to try something new? Share your experience.

Addiction: a deep holistic disease with many unanswered questions

As heroin rushed through her veins I wonder what rushed through her mind.

Was she relishing in the notion of temporary relief from a demon who’d challenged her years ago?

Did the thought cross her mind she could be ingesting a drug so potent she could find herself in the depths of delusion but unable to find her way out?

Did she care?

Or was the pain so strong, the demon so dark, the burden so heavy and relief so elusive that she Just. Didn’t. Care?

Did she know others did or did she feel abandoned, ashamed and alone?

She. A lovely young lady who passed through my life; yet without permission to publish her name I can only call her a pronoun – she.

After the comment “addiction is a decision … and a very stupid one” sparked an outrage and outpouring of response among friends on social media not too long ago, I became concerned whether we as a society have become so close-minded that we refuse to entertain the possibility that there’s so much more to addiction than a user’s bad choice.

Feeling “there was something more going on beyond just the chemical factor” Johann Hari, former journalist and author of “Chasing the Scream” questioned, “What really causes drug use and drug addiction?”

The culmination of fully immersing himself into three year’s research, Hari states in the book’s Introduction and in interview with The Fix that “Drug addiction is not what we have been told it is and punishing and shaming drug users only makes them worse – and creates a blizzard of other problems for society.”

So as her body lay limp, her brain lay idle and her organs send signals to a myriad of monitors, I wonder, if she could view herself lying comatose from overdose would she have put the needle down? Did she wish someone had intervened?

So many questions. None of which blinking monitors can answer.

They’re not comforting, those blinking monitors. They’re like the final symphony of struggle this victim lay bearing. Yet I can’t help but wonder if where she lie is relief from the burden that delivered her there.

Machines continue to blink. I continue to wonder.

Is it the misfiring, cross-firing or hard-wiring of cerebral chemistry that sends one into the depths of addiction yet not another? Is one born with this malfunction or does life lace it as struggles? Did she reach out for help and none was forthcoming? Could her friends see a problem yet unable to reach her? Did she have a parent standing bedside, flashbacks of their little girl filling the void of the reality that lay before them? Does she really want to die or is she simply unable to outrun this demon?

So many more questions. None of which blinking monitors can answer.

In “A three-part path out of addiction” published March 6, 2015 in the Cape Cod Times, 38-year sober, Harvard-trained certified addiction specialist and 30-year CEO of Pathways to Freedom Inc., John Paul Nickerson shares, “Addiction is a disease, a complex, holistic disease. Substances are not addictive, people are. We need to switch focus from substances to people, from punishment to treatment, prevention and education.”

A helpless observer to a story I can’t begin to understand I offer the only thing left one can give to a body lying in wait – prayer. Prayer, that the deep desires of this burdened soul be granted. Prayer, that she feels saturated by the Lord’s mercy. Prayer, that she forgives herself. Prayer, that should she depart, that those left behind be granted strength to carry on and guidance to uncover answers.

Prayer, because there’s still so many questions. None of which blinking monitors can answer.

From the looks of things, I’d say she has struggled to survive the unplugging of life support long before now. But the moment of truth is upon her. Will she make it? Is the choice even hers anymore? Has she used her last trump card?

The wait was short.

She lost her battle.

As statistics continue to rise and addicts continue to fall, I can’t help but join in Hari’s quandary, “why do we carry on with the strategy we’ve got when so many can see it doesn’t work?”

“It’s a girl!” may have been how this young lady made her debut, but she deserves more than a statistical farewell as a pronoun in a drawer in the coroner’s office.

Let’s silence the blinking monitors and listen to addiction’s victims because there’s so many questions, some of which they might help us answer.
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Do you think there’s more to addiction than a user’s bad choice?

How state of mind affects perception

An open and curious state of mind allowed me to experience this view from the pew the way I did. As is so often suggested, it’s not what you look at, it’s what you see. Perception. Yet perception is affected by so many things that are going on in our lives at the moment of our observation or experience. Our emotional, physical, medical, professional, personal, financial and spiritual states of mind at the very moment we experience something influences our perception of the event.

Squirming around in my sleepy stupor I silently declared to myself that I was not going to church. I was just too tired. Sunday morning, a day of worship, but also a lovely day to stay snuggled amongst the pillows. But then my gratitude angel whispered in my ear and reminded me how God never tires of helping me so surely I can drag my awesome life off the sheets and go give thanks.

Moments later someone suggested, “Why don’t you go to mass at the chapel”, a quaint little place of worship on the banks of the Falmouth Harbor.

What an odd suggestion, I thought. I hadn’t been to the chapel since 1998 when a family member got married there. And yet two weeks ago while attending mass at my parish church I was short the money needed to purchase a couple of books in the lobby book sale. Not to worry, the attendant shared, the books will be available next week at the chapel. You can catch us there. And yet I never did make it to the chapel book sale.

So as I prepared to attend Sunday service on this gorgeous July morning, it was foggy yet clear I was being guided to the chapel.

Cruising the short ride to St. Thomas Chapel, I mentally acknowledged my gratitude and openness to whatever the day brought. Though admittedly my spiritual curiosity was piqued, I relinquished all thoughts of “why” I seemed to be guided to attending mass there and just enjoyed the adventure and chatting with the locals perched on their harbor-lined decks soaking up the morning dew and their morning brew. I even offered to fill a few empty Adirondacks I noticed some folks had.

Sliding quietly into a pew, I looked slightly right from my kneeler and froze in awe of the view before me. The pew that I chose (or I think chose me) boasted an expansive view of the boat-filled Falmouth Harbor through the side door I’d just entered. Mass hadn’t yet begun so I discreetly retrieved my cell phone and captured the visual magnificence. Admiring the view, I slid back in my seat and thought what a view. It was all so breathtaking I wanted to share my photos on Facebook but then felt a strong nudge not to. I leaned back continuing to soak up my surroundings and heard the words “view from the pew”.

Shortly thereafter, the homily served more symbolism – parables the priest spoke of making comparison to life, talks of attitude being 80 percent of everything, to plant seeds, reap what you sow and be open.

Lingering in my pew for a moment at the conclusion of the mass I ruminated on the myriad of messages delivered in the last 90 minutes of this day. The most profound of which was the phrase “view from the pew”.

For a while I’d been tossing column title ideas around in my head but hadn’t really settled on one. I knew the type of content my column would contain. I love alliteration and metaphors. And I love the rhythm of words. And well, I simply had not been able to come up with a title combining all those attributes.

Yet there I was, dragged from my Sunday sheets and guided to a place where the precise metaphorical title I was searching for would be served.

I saw a breathtaking view from the pew. I heard the phrase “view from the pew”. I whispered the words “view from the pew”. But I perceived so much more.

Have you ever had this kind of unexpected experience? Please share your story and allow it to uplift and inspire readers.

“View from the Pew™” – my column title – is my sharing of what I see from where I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, at the time of the experience. I hope my view from the pew™ inspires you to open your lens.

Have you ever had this kind of unexpected experience? Please share your story and allow it to uplift and inspire readers.

Every Day is 12-21-12

~ December 21, 2012 ~

What a remarkable day. For years many feared 12/21/2012 would be the end of the world. But here it is 12/22/2012 and the world is still here.

That should tell you something . . .

December 21, 2012 was not the end but the beginning … it was the end/beginning of a new Mayan calendar. Yes, according to the Mayan calendar it is the beginning of ‘The Age Of Enlightenment’, the end to their ‘Age of Darkness’. Strangely, for us, it is the beginning of the Winter Solstice. And while to some Winter Solstice may seem like the dark season, it’s actually the end of the darkest days and the beginning of days staying lighter longer. And hopefully and most importantly, 12/21/12 was the beginning of your realization that giving in to fear causes hardship, worry, stress and anxiety. (Not to mention, our calendar ends yearly. Yet, we do not fear it, we celebrate it with a New Year’s Eve celebration)

I have to admit, though, I’m stumped. Really. For so long, so many people feared that 12/21/12 was going to be the end of the world. They heard about it, read about it, watched documentaries about it and feared about it … mostly feared about it.

And that’s one of the things that stumped me. If indeed there were any truth to the end-of-the-world notion, personally I’d be running at full speed taking it all in. The last thing I’d be doing is “worrying” about it. Seriously. Think about it. You can’t STOP the end of the world from happening. There’s no sense in tidying up your affairs, for there’d be no one and nothing to tidy them up for. If indeed the end of the world was a date known to you, all you can do is … live it!

Now, a bit perplexing is the paradox that every day is 12/21/12. Think about that for a moment. None of us knows exactly when OUR WORLD, our life, will end. At any given moment of any given day you could be called home. Yet I’ll bet you haven’t marked every day on your calendar as the end of your world. And you shouldn’t.

What you should be doing though is keeping that notion in mind – that every day really is “12/21/12” – that every day we are counting down to the end and you should live each day, each moment, to the fullest because while we don’t know when our last day will be, we are assured of one thing, ONE of these days IS OUR LAST. So, wake each morning with gratitude for another day of living your life, loving everything around you and leaving behind the legacy that “you took it for all it’s worth – and gave even more”!

So, HAPPY December 22, 2012 – YOU MADE IT ! The world didn’t end. And I’d like you to join me in a celebration because not for one minute did I ever think or fear that the world was coming to an end on this prescribed day. In fact, I “knew” for sure that it wasn’t coming to an end. Why? How could “I” be so certain?

It’s really fairly simple.

I listen to my gut (my intuition, inspiration, guidance). And my gut told me that the world would not be coming to an end on 12/21/12, that in fact I would be here in grand fashion on December 22, 2012 to …

Celebrate a new beginning, a winter solstice and MY BIRTHDAY!

Yes, today, December 22, 2012 is my birthday and I’d like you to join me in a celebration. Let’s hang out and chat here. Tell me, what is it that you are going to do to celebrate your life now that you are fully aware that 12/21/12 was NOT the end of the world, but that every day is 12/21/12. What do you plan to do to embrace the “Age of Enlightenment”?