FACEBOOK RANT PART 4: POETRY, “PRAYING!!” AND…POSTURING

Not for nothing do I choose to be an anonymous blogger. When you start ranting about “praying”, you better watch your back…and the “you” I’m talking about here is “me”.

So, kind of like my antipathy for “sweet girl”, which was the catalyst for my post regarding that phrase (making the point that there’s nothing wrong with either being “sweet” or being a “girl”, but there’s a lot wrong with using the phrase “sweet girl” ad nauseum), there’s absolutely nothing WRONG with praying and everything RIGHT with praying, if you are a believer, which I am.

Here’s the problem as I see it, and it usually encompasses all the areas in the post title: poetry, praying, and posturing.

Someone has a real problem in their life, states the problem, and then requests prayers on Facebook (this could spin off into a whole nother rant-post for Mrs. Hate). Or maybe they do a “vague-post” and just say “requesting prayers”…which is certainly problematic for a reader like me (the somewhat suspiciously cynical, yet kindhearted, sort), because then I’m wondering “are they such a dimwit that they’ve dreamed up a horrible problem like “I just don’t know what flowers to plant in the side yard…maybe I better request prayers on Facebook”, or is it a “real” problem??”. Hmmmm…nevertheless, the person is requesting prayers.

Sometimes the poster (for clarity here, the one requesting the prayers) waxes poetic in their request for prayers, but here’s how it usually goes…those who comment on the post now have a wide-open field to either say “praying!!”, “praying now!!”, “prayers going up!!”…which always reminds me of a bunch of jack-in-the-boxes popping up…or they spin like whirling dervishes and go forward into a most poetic rendition of grandiloquent and bombastic sentences. I’m not EVEN going to string together a bunch of what I would consider “grandiloquent and bombastic sentences” because, in all seriousness, I would get dangerously close to taking the Lord’s name and the concept of prayer in almost a vain way, and that is NOT good.

And what if you know the person, they have a real problem, everybody is posting “praying!!” and you DON’T post along with the herd, even if it’s all very legitimate and very sad?? And you are praying great drops of blood and sweat for them anyway, but just don’t care to hop on the Facebook prayer train?? THEN (the dangers of small-town life) “people” might “think” you, the non-poster, are so cold and uncaring. AARGHHHH. BLAHHHH.

When I ask myself what IS it about requesting prayers, using Facebook as the vehicle, that bothers me, I guess it comes down to this…I don’t believe in drawing attention to myself, I don’t believe in putting all (shoot, ANY) of my stuff out there on Facebook, whether good or bad, and I don’t believe in trying to be posturing-poetic.

Then my spiritual mind started rambling, and a BIble verse came to mind: Matthew 6:6.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

I’m no BIblical scholar, and I know it’s easy to take a verse and twist it to suit your own needs, but to me, this verse stresses “don’t pray in a show-offy way”.

I did a little Internet searching on this verse and found comments containing these phrases:

  • prayer in public that is motivated by a desire to show off
  • prayer promoted by the spirit of ostentation
  • a flowery, public prayer might be based in a desire for people to speak well of you and how kind you are instead of letting God reward you

Law, law…and I’m not talking about policemen here. I’m talking “lawzy me” over the disintegration of knowing how to act.

Sadly, Facebook and its narcissistic, stupefying influence has taken over many people’s lives, and sometimes I feel like I’m a voice crying in the wilderness, but, as always, my philosophy is to stay private, avoid fluff, and be your own person. Maybe I’ve missed something, but I’m getting too wore-out with how to write this post without coming off like a complete unfeeling, hardass atheist to think further.

To soothe my brain, I will re-read “Valhalla for the Inarticulate”, a column by Taki Theodoracopulos. Quotes from the column and links below; Taki T. states much more beautifully and incisively than I ever could my feelings about Facebook and modern culture.

 

“And don’t get me started on Facebook, whose concept has been explained to me by my son and daughter.”

http://takimag.com/article/valhalla_for_the_inarticulate_taki/print#ixzz32fEyoOQ7

“The urge to blab and spill one’s innermost secrets to strangers is more than weird; it’s sickening. It springs from a navel-gazing culture of narcissism that would have made even poor Narcissus blush.”

http://takimag.com/article/valhalla_for_the_inarticulate_taki/print#ixzz32fDR5y2u

“The slovenly emotionalism of Oprah has replaced privacy, good taste, reticence, and other such restraints people of my generation grew up with.”

http://takimag.com/article/valhalla_for_the_inarticulate_taki/print#ixzz32fD5IkrN

 

 

 

 

 


THE LAST DINNER TABLE

her husband had a feeding tube the last ten years of his life

cancer of the larynx took away from him the ability to speak or eat

and tube feeding kept him going

***

the patient said she looked back on the years before cancer came

and remembered how

she was always busy being a wife and a mother

a farmer husband and five children kept her busy in the kitchen

and they always enjoyed their fellowship around the table

***

the day came when she set a full dinner table as she always had done

an abundance of riches

fried chicken and mashed potatoes

butterbeans and squash

sliced tomatoes and spring onions

bread-and-butter pickles

cornbread and sweet tea

chocolate cake and pecan pie

***

her husband walked into the kitchen and saw the spread

he knew he could not enjoy

and mouthed these words:

I could eat every bite of this

***

the patient said

her heart broke

and

that was the last time she laid out food as a spread

*****

How to say this without sounding tactless? This patient appeared to be just an ordinary elderly woman…small-boned, grizzled short hair, no makeup, plain of dress, quiet of demeanor. You’d see her sort pushing the buggy in the grocery store and then getting into a serviceable, old four-door car.

So what was special about this woman? Well, you’d just have to get to know her, but it didn’t take long being around her to become enamored with her spirit.

She was not particularly “depressed” at being in the hospital…she just accepted it as a part of life that the human body will fail us at times.

She had a dry wit about her that peeked out, once you got to know her. She didn’t let being in her early nineties take away her love of seeing a little humor in everyday life situations.

She had a love for her family, and they for her. Her children and in-laws were faithful “spend-the-nighters” in the hospital room and stayed during the long days also.

She had lived a plain, hard-working life as a farmer’s wife and mother of five children. What others might see as drudgery, she saw as blessings. Read Proverbs 31:10-31.

She had a delicacy of spirit and concern for others that we would all do well to emulate. Imagine all the joy she had for all those years preparing those delicious meals with vegetables from her own garden, laying it all out in all its abundance for her family to enjoy, and then realizing the sadness it caused her husband…that he could not eat it. And just like that, she quit doing what had been such a part of family life for so many years…the pleasure of seeing a beautiful home-cooked meal all laid out in all its glory.

It’s been over five years since the patient left the hospital, and I’ve wondered about her often.

My wonders were answered several months ago. Her obituary expressed the characteristics mentioned above and also stated something I didn’t know…that she had spent the last two years of her life in a nursing home where, the obituary declared, “she made many friends”. What an example of a pleasant attitude and good life until the very end at almost 100 years of age!!

This “ordinary elderly woman” was, in fact, extraordinary. She blessed us, and we loved her.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Matthew 25:21


THE OLD DAYS, OR “THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS”

some of the greatest blessings in life

are the unexpected blessings… 

they are a gift in the midst of everyday life

and, as we look at our life, especially when we are

gifted

with the advancing of years and aging

…aging just gives us more opportunities for experiences…

we can see blessed experiences have piled up and are there

if we but recognize them and cherish them as they unfold

***

a quote we often hear is

“there are no accidents”

and here is a story about a no-accident that is a true blessing

***

the patient…an older black man

the therapy worker…a younger white woman

the patient seemed to know who the therapist was…

but the therapist had never heard of the patient

***

the patient started to question the therapist and said…

I know who you are…

your doctor granddaddy set my arm way back in the 1930s

when I was a little boy

and fell off climbing over that fence

and broke my arm

***

he was a fine man, a good man

and my sisters and I remember your great-aunts

and their cats and dogs and chickens

and their horse and buggy

and their pistol

and their palm-reading

and how we all lived out there on your farm…

all of us, my granddaddy and my uncle too

and we walked that dirt road

and fished in that pond

and played in those woods

and gathered eggs underneath your aunts’ house

***

the patient said…

I can sit in this room in the hospital

and look out the window at the woods

and remember the old days

of running through those woods

playing and running and being so happy and alive

***

as the therapist did not have the privilege of knowing

her grandfather and great-aunts

…they died before she was born…

she was

so thankful

for the opportunity to hear these stories

and meet the man who was her connection to her past

and the man was thankful to meet the woman

who had the family “blood” in her

and had her grandfather’s voice

and her grandfather’s walk

***

with tears in his eyes, the patient told me…

it’s just so good to talk to somebody about the old days

he remembers his childhood as a blessed happy time

what wonderful memories he has

and how wonderful that he came into my life

completely unexpectedly

***“there are no accidents”***

thank you, Mr. Johnny


from Doc-eeee

*****

I live outside the city limits of a small town of less than 6,000. One would think that somewhere along the way the patient, Mr. Johnny, and I would have met up, more than likely in the grocery store…which is usually the best place in town for having a friendly chat. Truth is, I had never laid eyes on him, so his searching looks at me and questions to me of “do you know who I am? I bet you don’t know me” discomfited me slightly, yet he seemed harmless enough.

Once the floodgates opened and Mr. Johnny started pouring out memories, however, I saw the past come alive. I had heard endless stories of my wild, loving grandfather and eccentric great-aunts from my mother, but there was something about hearing a stranger’s remembrances of living on the farm and the love he had for my grandfather that gave me a whole different perspective on how a non-family member viewed my family and this safe time in his life.

Mr. Johnny might take umbrage at being termed “a non-family member”, and you know what? He would be right. I felt as close to him and as comfortable talking with him as I would my blood kin.

And you know what else? Saying Mr. Johnny “had tears in his eyes” is not quite right either.

Mr. Johnny actually was speechless with dry sobs and emotions almost every time we talked. Such is the aching,  stirring beauty of shared memories of “the old days”.


IF FACEBOOK AMERICA GETS ANY FULLER OF “SWEET GIRLS”, WE’LL BE A NATION OF DIABETICS…FRIDAY RANT, PART 3

“sweet girl” this

and

“sweet girl” that

“mean girl” thinks we need to chat

***

And I sincerely apologize if this title offends any diabetics,  but there is such a strong association between sugar and diabetes that this title seems valid.

What’s wrong with being sweet? What’s wrong with being a girl? Absolutely nothing…both delightful states of being.

But “sweet girl”??

Now we’re entering into a cotton candy world full of fluffy pink clouds, vanilla ice cream cones, bakery birthday cupcakes, and cloying candle scents, a world where many of the female sex feel compelled to glorify other females with sugary, syrupy salutations.

We’re also entering the abhorrent world of lack of imagination, linguistic triteness, paucity of expression, and the “pigs rushing off the cliff in the Bible” scenario (also known as…if everybody else stuck their head in the oven does that mean you have to, too?).

Thus begins Part 3 of how Facebook encourages, advances, subliminally promotes, whatever you want to call it, paucity of expression.

If you take as a given that “sweet girl” could be improved upon, here are some alternate suggestions from Mrs. Hate for overwrought verbal sugar:

  • You are so sweet
  • You are some more sweet
  • You are the sweetest thing
  • You’re just too sweet for words
  • If you got any sweeter you’d be a Baby Ruth bar

You may still be yapping on about how “sweet” this “girl” is, but at least it’s phrased in a little more original way.

And not EVEN going to get off on the tangent of…”her?? sweet?? everybody knows she’d stick a knife in you before the sun comes up!!” But NO…in the cotton candy world, every girl is sweet and floats around in some alternate universe of fluff.

Once again, with this “sweet girl” thing, I’m boggled—and masochistically fascinated—at how a phrase comes out of nowhere and enters the public domain. Phrases like:

  • it is what it is
  • “this”
  • reach out
  • whatever floats your boat

get on my nerves in varying degrees of irritation (mainly a high degree), but there’s just something about phrases having to do with people that go beyond the pale for me. (See prior posts on “DH” (Part 1) and “strongest woman” (Part 2) )

It just seems like you’re not respecting the person’s individuality by referring to them with a phrase that you refer to…everrrrybody with.

Please, people…don’t you see that whatever sweetness a girl has is being diminished by repetition? That the phrase “sweet girl” is something that even the most witless person will eventually begin to stare at blank-eyed when scrolling through Facebook?

I don’t predict any monumental changes in folks’ thought processes and their subsequent written expressions, but this “mean girl” feels like, once again, she has a duty to call attention to and call out linguistic triteness.

Otherwise, two hundred years from now, Earth’s inhabitants will say “my gosh, was everybody that sweet except that foaming-at-the-mouth Mrs. Hate?”