Monday, May 26, 2014

Saving Children

God is...

There are some things we would rather not know about, think about, talk about, or for that matter, write about.  Sex trafficking of children is one of those things.  I was invited to attend a luncheon last week sponsored by Corpus, an organization of married Catholic priests, whose featured speaker was a heroic Assistant District Attorney, Joseph R. Wall.  His compassion for these young victims of the sex trade touched deeply. Wall’s presentation painfully detailed how mostly 13 and 14 year olds—although some are even younger and some older—from seriously dysfunctional families, are masterfully recruited, manipulated, and abused by their pimps who he called monsters.  Wall said the City of Milwaukee is now “the Harvard” of sex trafficking and is becoming more profitable than drug trafficking, especially since Milwaukee is close to Chicago where the children are often taken because the going rate is much higher there. 

I could not listen to the details of how the most vulnerable are targeted, enticed, flattered, groomed and then abused without feeling personally stunned.  It left us all asking how can this happen and what can be done?  Segregation and poverty were said to be the taproot of the problem.  Milwaukee is one of the poorest and most segregated cities in the country.  White flight to the suburbs, along with the loss of major manufacturing in the city, led to a decline in jobs that paid a living wage, which lead to a loss of self-esteem in breadwinners, which led to spiraling dysfunction in families.  I truly admired Wall’s courage when he said much of the problem is here in this room citing the aversion to paying taxes that legitimately support programs to raise people out of poverty.  Wall questioned the need for the, on average, $50.00 per homeowner property tax reduction Wisconsin residents will receive this year.  He said we are seduced by our darker instincts—our selfish side—that tell us money is more important.  He said a cost comes to living in a civilized society.

Just as we cannot realistically jail every cocaine user, Wall said neither can we jail every john or pimp.  He encouraged us to learn more about this ever-growing problem.  Be willing to spend money to keep families out of crisis.  Educate yourself on the politicians who support the young and the poor.  Programs that raise children’s self esteem are important.  Breakfast in schools, school nurses, medical care, music and art programs are all an investment in our future because the children are the future. 

What if the God, who mysteriously lives within each of us, can only help the children through us?

Monday, May 19, 2014


God is...
Lawrence Kushner--Kabbalah and the Inner Life of God” was featured on Krista Tippitt’s National Public Radio Program this Sunday. Tippitt  and Kushner did a fascinating job discussing Kabbalah—the Jewish mystical tradition—describing the indescribable, the mystical experience.  Rabbi Kushner defined the mystical experience as a direct experience of the Divine--where a hidden unity is concealed in our troubles--and where human action has an influence on the inner life of God.  It is where we come to learn to redeem the holy in our personal struggle—where we come to know it is all good.  God is found in both the good and bad.  Kushner said mystical experiences surface when religion gets too “formal.”  He said mysticism creates a healthy anarchy for growth and development.  I loved it when he said it is as if God asks, “Hey kid, how would you like an experience of the Divine?”  And then you spend the rest of your life unpacking that experience.     

When life became nearly unbearable for me with my monumental, and seemingly never ending struggle, over my aging parent’s care needs, I felt God’s mystical touch.  My inner life was turned upside down when I experienced her saying, “Be not afraid.”  I began seeing people, places, things and all of Nature in a new light, including myself, which saved me.  I looked for answers in all encounters.  Gradually they came.  I left the church of my birth and have grown spiritually.  And I take comfort in the idea that my memoir is how God and my father worked out all the past abuse. I now understand “God Never Hurries” is just the beginning of my unpacking that Divine touch.

On the bar above my blog post was a Comfort Message I posted that a friend sent me after my best friend Ben died.  I am now expanding it to Comfort Messages and have included two God sent messages that comforted me during my troubles--one teaches Forgiveness and another Trust.  More will gradually be added.

What if we could all come to redeem the holy in our personal struggles?     

Monday, May 12, 2014

Intensive Training

God is...
Constant alert is very exhausting.  Last week I was in bed by 7:30 p.m. some evenings.  My 10 week old Yellow Lab, Oliver, is now training me to crate him a couple of times during the day to give us both a break from constant surveillance and elimination worries in the house.  I do feel an actual thrill in my body when he pees or poops outside and also feel crestfallen when he is momentarily out of sight or earshot and leaves a puddle or pile in the house.  Four to eight weeks without an accident is what the “House Training your Puppy” brochure considers success.  That’s a whole lot of alert time. The vet suggested I not expose Oliver to areas where other dogs frequent until his vaccinations take hold, so outside we mostly stay in the yard where he picks up bark, pine cones, stones, moss and dirt with his mouth.  Except for crate time, surveillance is never ending. 

I hadn’t been on a bike ride or walked in the woods for five days but now I use his crate time and just go.  In my five days of absence, the wood’s floor was transformed from brown leaf litter to a lush green carpet patterned with white trilliums and yellow shaped bell-like flowers with pointy petals.  The tall tree canopy is still devoid of noticeable buds and I suspect that frost from last winter’s severe cold still lingers deep underneath my feet.  I wonder what the woods will look like when I can pronounce Oliver housetrained?

What if we all learned early on to take better care of ourselves in intensive situations?  I know I would have been a better mother without all the Perpetual Responsibility.

Monday, May 5, 2014


God is...

Friday night I laid awake anticipating Oliver.  Now that I think about it, this is the first time I consciously made a decision to get another dog, albeit with some arm-twisting from my daughter. My dearly departed best friends, Lydia, a Beagle-Cocker mix, was a birthday surprise; and I sort of inherited Bear, a Sheppard-Husky, and Ben, a Yellow Lab.  Who in their right mind would consciously choose to be tied down, saddled with intensive training, property damage, higher food costs and vet bills that rival my own medical expenses?  It certainly would not be me, the Mother of Perpetual Responsibility.  But Lydia, Bear and Ben, each in their own way, quickly won my heart.  They all taught and comforted me through the joy and sorrow they brought into my life.  

Saturday morning, Yellow Lab, Oliver entered my life.  And I have an inkling of what he has come to teach me.  Last week, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin’s show titled, “Gaining Power Through Letting Go,” featured Judith Orloff, author of “The Ecstasy of Surrender.”  I felt Orloff’s use of the word surrender very inviting.  She said surrendered people know when to let go and when to control.  Since much of my life was spent struggling against abusive power, I never understood surrender as the positive force it can be.  But I do now recognize coming to trust in the slow work of God, with worries surrounding my aging parents’ care, was ultimately true and positive surrender.  What if I just, up front, surrendered myself to all the joy and sorrow this fragile little being named Oliver will now bring into my life?

It’s hard to imagine anything cutter than a 9 week old Labrador puppy.  He had his first vet appointment today and lit up the office with his cuteness.  I was relieved the vet was not concerned with his frequent scratching and very loud snoring the minute he nods off.  Surrendering to whatever Oliver brings into my life makes letting go of worry and dancing with joy seem so much more possible now. 

What if we all pondered the ecstasy in surrender?