"God never gives you more than you can bear". From the Book of Baloney, Chapter 1, Verse 1. It is not from the Bible. Nor is it congruent with the overall teaching of the Bible. But it gets trotted out by well meaning but stupid people in the face of apparently unbearable tragedy and suffering. Your child committed suicide but "God never gives you more than you can bear". So God knows that I can bear the searing pain of a teenage suicide? Such horrid nonsense. The one you love most is being slowly brought to death by an insidious and creeping cancer, but "God never gives you more than you can bear". Oh thank you God. I will bear the suffering of my best beloved, and I hope that she/he can also bear it. "God never gives you more than you can bear". Tell that to the poor people of Yemen who are being torn to shreds by the bombs, missiles and bullets (courtesy of the U.K. and U.S.A. governments). Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of our displaced brothers and sisters who live in often squalid refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Jordan etc. Or in Bangladesh. Or in Kenya. Or in Uganda. Or in France. Or to those who barely exist in the detention centres of the U.S.A. and the U.K. "God never gives you more than you can bear" If this be so God is a sadist. The late and great Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas "Tip" O'Neill famously said "all politics are local". He was on the ball. My passion in this blog is routed in the local. In the past three months two of my contemporary friends have been plunged into the deepest pits of grief because of the deaths of their adult children, in both cases because of soul destroying addictions: one to alcohol, the other to addictive drugs. In both cases there are bereaved children. My soul is seared. My friends' souls are destroyed. I would be no more than an stupid Pastor (or an idiotic f-cktard) if I were to to offer comfort by quoting the book of Baloney Chapter 1, Verse 1 "God never gives you more than you can bear". The worst I can do is to offer advice. The best I can do is to listen to their grief. Listen this year, next year, and the many later years. God has not given them more than they can bear. Oh No! Oh No! But God has given me two ears with which to listen. God is in the listening.
I posted this meme the other day to follow up on my blog entry about the joys of reading.
The meme says it all for me, and it's been well received and forwarded by many. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Now back to the books I read. Well not all of them (!) but to say that when I discover an author I binge on her/his books.
Here are four of my binge authors, and the book which introduced me to them.
(Interesting: three north American, one south American three females,one male) --------------------------------------------------------------------- If you do not know these authors I encourage you to investigate them. If you know them well I'll be glad to get your comments about their individual skills as authors, or about which of their works you most/least like.
Most of you know that I rarely watch television (my set is at least twenty years old). Maybe this is because I did not grow up with T.V. I was sixteen years old before it entered our home. I grew up with Radio (or "The Wireless"as we called it then). The good old Beeb (BBC) had many broadcasts which were unconnected with news and current events, unlike the current AND ghastly American National Public Radio (news, talk shows, political speculation and blah, blah, blah to the max). That old Beeb had such programmes as "Afternoon Theatre", a five days a week thirty minute radio play, one for each weekday A radio play - by which our minds and imaginations created the sets, the faces of the characters, and the homes, streets and districts in which they lived. Indeed, that good old Beeb commissioned Dylan Thomas's marvelous play "Under Milk Wood" for radio broadcast. It was never intended to be staged.
Thanks also to the BBC there was the super radio production of an adaptation of Galsworthy's "Forsyte Saga" (was it in fifteen or thirty minute segments? Did it take six months or was it a year?) I know that the introductory music was from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. I cannot hear that music without thinking of John Galsworthy's Book and the BBC adaptation. No visual sets but a marvelous gift to the imagination! Words in radio dramas such as these, stimulate the imagination, take us into worlds which we have never seen, and introduce us to people we have never met. I am not aware of radio drama in the USA, but Public Radio International distributes a programme called "Selected Shorts". Wonderful short stories are read aloud to a live audience in NYC, and then broadcasted.
https://www.symphonyspace.org/selected-shorts/about-selected-shorts I was able to enjoy it in Cambridge, MA but (sadly) it is not carried by WUSF our local S.W. Florida Station. More's the pity. It was another gift to the imagination! ------------------------------------------------------------------------ All this is but a prologue to a blog I will write later about my afternoon activity: - I read. When I am not reading (mostly American) history or biography I plunge into fiction. I have my favourite authors and often binge on their works. *More about who they are in a day, or two, or three! Save to say that this good fiction stimulates my imagination. I read the words, but I "see" much more. I like some of the people, and despise others. I recognize their voices. I can "read" their thoughts. I "see" some of their faces and places. In a recent novel I was in a decaying industrial town in Wisconsin, a small village in the French Pyrenees, and in a small town off the coast of Maine. I visited these places without spending a sou for travel, accommodations, or food! *More soon? Maybe!
We liked it well enough, and afterwards we enjoyed our usual Sunday morning Coffee at either Panera Bread or Starbucks.
Barbara prefers Starbucks, I prefer Panera
but we agreed that Arlington Park is a better venue for our Sunday morning peregrinations. ----------------------------------------------------- Then everything changed. My friend R. had invited me to his home for Sunday lunch. I arrived at his home in good time. He did not answer my door knock so I walked into his thankfully unlocked Condo. 'Twas then that I discovered, (via something that I must keep private), that he'd had a seizure on Saturday night and had been admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
I raced to the Hospital and was able to visit R. in the ICU. He was his usual cheerful self, but his words made no sense. He gave me three different accounts of what had led him to the Hospital. And he expressed his anger that Donald Trump had visited him in the hospital. Them's the bare facts. The splendid RN on duty told me as much as he could in the light of HIPPA (Health Information Personal Privacy Act). This RN is trying to track down R's brother in Ft.Lauderdale. BUT my dear friend R does not have a Living Will, nor a Health Care Proxy, nor a DNR document. It was only by luck or god-incidence that I discovered that he was ill and thus was able to see him today. Not to be smart but I have a ton of information as to who to call in the event of a medical emergency (including who should be asked to take care of my dog). This information is on my fridge door, in my car, and in my wallet/bill-fold. I have a regular will, a living will, a "Do Not Resuscitate" document, and a Health Care Proxy. There are so many end of life issues to be faced whatever our age, but more acutely as we pass from our third to our fourth quarters.
As a single man who lives alone my principles are (a) who needs know what in the event of a major medical emergency, or of my sudden death?, and (b) have I provided written information as my my needs and desires and made this information available in accessible places? Those with spouses or partners would be well advised to create such an information document. (Think for instance of the immediate and complicated ramifications if you and your spouse/partner were killed in the same road accident). And if you have one or two children (or more) talk to them about these matters and make sure that each child is provided with the same information in written form. Memory is tricky so the last thing you would want is for your children to have different or even contradictory memories of your plans, wishes and desires in the event of your grave illness or sudden demise. Just saying!