Spiritual Stuff.

Correspondence.

Once or twice a year I’ll receive a handwritten letter from a local person encouraging me to find myself, reduce my stress, bring serenity to my life, etc. by becoming a Jehovah’s Witness (or is it ‘join the Jehovah’s Witnesses?). I’ve received these letters for many years, in all the locales that we’ve lived in. Apparently my name and needs are on a mailing list somewhere.

These letters don’t bother me. I actually read them. I don’t feel compelled to take any action, as I have my own spiritual beliefs and I’m quite solid in what I believe, but I find the correspondence interesting. No two letters are the same. Perhaps the senders are provided many templates.

I hope the authors find peace through sending me these letters.

RIP Her Majesty.

A photo from the Internet.

As an ignorant Yankee I don’t know a lot about the British Monarchy. I do know that I enjoyed Queen Elizabeth II’s messages at Christmastime and I admired her presence and poise whenever I saw her on television. She passed on at age 96 today. The longest reigning British Monarch, may Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, rest in peace.

Celestial.

Yesterday, Shohreh Aghdashloo, best known to me as UN General Secretary Chrisjen Avasarala on “The Expanse” posted on video on her Twitter account that simply took my breath away. I don’t know if it was the cinematography, the music, or just the general vibe of the piece, but watching the video turned my day completely around and made everything just a little brighter.

In the video Ms. Aghdashloo says, in her characteristic low voice, “Isn’t this celestial”? What a beautiful word with big meaning. Celestial. The word rings a bell in my head and the sound is pleasant.

100.

Betty White would have turned 100 today. We won this book in a hospital charity auction back in 1999. I read it back then and it just occurred to me that I need to read it again. We also made a donation to Pima Animal Care Center here in Tucson in Betty’s memory.

We need more people like Betty White in the world.

Privacy.

There were certain taboo subjects around the family dinner table when I was a kid. The news would be on the television in the other room; Dad was most likely keeping an ear on that. We didn’t talk about religion and we didn’t talk about politics. Ever. Once in a while politics would come up at Gram and Gramps’ across the street, when that whole side of the family was together, but they would end up in heated discussions and Dad would retire to the living room to read a magazine. It was usually an aviation magazine.

I was always taught that one’s religious beliefs were private. It was considered rude to be loud about your religion. Different kinds of religion were fine, just be quiet about it. So that’s what we did. My religious beliefs, which grew into more of a spiritual belief, were between me and what I believed in. The only thing we did that was outwardly religious on a daily basis was say prayer before supper and I don’t really know why we did that. Habit, I guess. Readers may be surprised to find out that I still say grace before dinner. It’s one of two rhyming numbers I’ve said all my life and the rest of my family here in Tucson goes along. Sometimes they slap their hands and yell “break!” when I’m done and then we start eating. I’m happy and fortunate that my chosen family goes along with this tradition from my biological family.

Because we were always taught that religion is private, I still find it surprising when someone starts spouting hallelujahs or “Praise Jesus!” all over Facebook, like God needs an affirmation via Mark Zuckerberg. I have a few friends from high school and quite a few relatives that will post vague social media updates, “I really need prayers today. I can’t say, but pray for me”. I always picture myself dropping an American quarter down a well and hope for the best, because in my mind they’re basically using their power of prayer like a wishing well. My spirituality doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind throwing a coin in the wishing well if it makes others happy. It’s when people use their religion to beat you over the head with a Bible; that’s when I get cranky. Speak softly. Listen. Keep your beliefs close to your heart. No need for a billboard.

Having traveled in all 50 states I can safely ascertain that many Americans feel God needs a bumper sticker, he needs guns, and he hates a lot of stuff. This is the all loving God they talk about, of course.

Too many religions are just nuts.

Words.

I strive to choose my words carefully. I occasionally choose the wrong words when conveying thoughts; usually for emotional impact or as a result of personal heightened emotion. When using words with a sting, my voice is louder and higher in pitch, even when I’m sharing them via keyboard online.

I’m focused on using better words to help bring down the temperature of dialog. Everywhere. Online, in conversation, it doesn’t matter.

One of the things I most admired about my father was his capacity to keep calm and his discipline around language. I heard my Dad swear. Once. Maybe he just minded his language better around his children. I rarely heard him say something negative about someone. If he did, it was out of frustration.

Dr. Maya Angelou is on absolutely on target; words are “things”. Once we realize this, we understand what we’re putting out into the Universe through communication and language.

RIP Mary Ann.

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” has passed at age 82. She died of complications from COVID-19.

Erma and Irma.

During my lifetime I’ve known two women named Erma. Actually, one was named Erma and one was named Irma. The latter I knew in person; the former I knew by way of newspapers and books.

Now, I’m going to clue you in on something. I’m not a housewife and I have never been a housewife. But even as a youngish lad I enjoyed reading my grandmother’s books by Erma Bombeck. I knew nothing about puberty and sexually reproductive practices, so I had no idea what Erma Bombeck was writing about when she lost everything in The Post Natal Depression, but her style was humorous and friendly, and after seeing her segments on “Good Morning, America” (usually when I was home from school with the flu or something), it was easy to read her passages in her midwestern accented voice. Erma Bombeck wrote in a “wry” way but she always made me laugh, even if I didn’t know what I was laughing about. I had no relationship with cottage cheese, I knew very little about cleaning alabasters (I think it had something to do with a bird cage), but I did dream about travel and I could identify with the idea of Mom and Dad arguing in the front seat of the 1978 Chevy Impala.

Now the other Irma I knew in person. She lived on a farm that wasn’t too far from us. My dad’s cousin’s divorced wife and kids would hang out with my mom and their kids (prior to the divorce) were aged right around my sister and me, and we’d spend plenty of summer days together. Irma and her husband Sam owned a dairy farm and we’d go over there to visit. The drive was fun in that it was across hay and cornfields on a backroad called the Sheepskin Road. Irma drove a Chevy Malibu with bucket seats (I considered this quite fancy) and the downstairs bathroom had an early 1970s era front loading Westinghouse Washing Machine. Irma was always very nice, very grandmotherly, and like Erma Bombeck, Irma was always positive and would go out of her way to take care of the people around her. Once in a great while I’ll dream about Irma and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just a friendly way of waking up with a smile on my face.

I spent some downtime reading old columns by Erma Bombeck today. I still don’t know how to clean an alabaster (who knew a bird would get dirty?) and I don’t know anything about having a kid standing stark naked on top of the television set while I’m writing my latest blog entry, but like Irma, Erma makes me smile.

I hope the two of them have had the opportunity to share pleasantries on the other side.

Stargazing.

Clear Night on Smith Lake by Nathaniel Polta on 500px

I spent some time daydreaming about what we are going to do when we’re able to travel about this country again. I told my husband I want to drive far away from any city lights on a moonless, clear summer night and just gaze at the stars. I want my vision to be filled with the beauty of space. There’s a whole huge universe out there and I want to see its awesomeness, unimpeded by city lights. I want to watch comets dance and see satellites streak by. I want to lose myself in thoughts of who is sitting on another planet, many light years away, wondering what’s going on near that pale, little yellow dot in their night sky. I want to feel hope.

I want to lose myself in the stars.

Idling.

In these unprecedented times my head is going in many directions at once. When the world gets noisy, I have a couple of ways to get things back in order: I fly an airplane, I go for a long drive, I lose myself in technological endeavors.

I can’t fly an airplane right now, we’re not suppose to be going for long drives, and I’m probably spending too much time losing myself in technological endeavors.

What to do?

Truman has the right idea: throw yourself down on the floor and look out the window to watch the clouds go by. I’m going to try doing that a bit more today. I tried a couple of days ago for a few moments and I immediately noticed the lack of city sounds and the lack of air traffic in and out of O’Hare and Midway. The trick to watching the clouds go by is to quiet the mind. I’ve never been one to really meditate because when everyone else in the room is concentrating on their breath all I hear is my tinnitus.

But watching clouds go by? That might work.