“I see dead people”

My thoughts are a bit chaotic today. It’s Good Friday, the day Christians celebrate the execution of Jesus Christ and I feel that I should talk about that, but I want to talk about my cat.

I wrote that she died the second week of December. She was seventeen years old, she was born a week before the twin towers fell. There are still signs of her about the house – her favorite toy is still under the chair in the kitchen where she always kept it when she wasn’t playing with it, the bat-ball ring is in the library. I find it hard to go into the library still – that was where she always insisted I lie down so she could take a nap lying on top of me.

The title I chose is a teaser “I see dead people”. It’s a joke and … it’s not exactly true. Sometimes people I’ve lost visit me in my dreams. The only time I actually “saw” dead people … ghosts, I suppose … was at my mother-in-law’s funeral. She and my father-in-law were sitting on top of her casket (his ashes were in the coffin with her – they were buried together), both looking in their early to mid-twenties. She was trying to pay attention to the funeral mass, he was teasing her. She kept slapping at him, laughing and telling him to behave.

I say that I “saw” them but it wasn’t exactly seeing. If I looked directly over there all I saw was the coffin. But if I watched from the corner of my eye, I knew that they were there and what they were doing. I was concentrating and not concentrating at the same time – sort of the state of mind as one is falling asleep or just waking up. That’s the only time I’ve had this experience and I cherish the memory.

However … I do have dreams.

A few years ago, my best friend, who had been dead for two years at the time, visited me in a dream and I asked her why she had waited so long to come visit. She said that it took her that long to learn how to visit dreams. We had a nice long visit and I’ve seen her a time or two since, mostly in adventure-type dreams because those are what she likes.

This morning, in a dream, I found the ShadowCat lying on my bed. She had a new toy with her – a small pitch-black leopard toy with shiny black eyes. (ShadowCat is a black cat, with seven white hairs on her chest.) She was content to lie there, playing with her toy, until my sister decided to scratch her head. Then the ShadowCat got up in disgust and demanded the door open so she could leave. (As the Scottish saying goes “Touch not the cat but a glove”.

I’m left thinking that cats come and go where they will and can find smaller … openings perhaps? … than my friend. I’m thinking that ShadowCat did what she wanted and that someone is loving her very much to have give her a new toy to play with. I’m thinking … I’m thinking that my grief is healing but I still miss her very much.

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Monday, Holy Week 2019

I’m scrolling through my facebook feed and there are a lot of links talking about the lack of empathy in today’s society (https://www.npr.org/2019/04/11/712276022/the-end-of-empathy), the willingness of conservatives to teach lies (http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/michigan-conservatives-vie-to-cut-democracy-from-classroom.html), and … as always … the narcissist in the White House displaying his complete lack of humanity.

Most conservatives in the United States of America identify themselves as Christian. By any careful study of the teachings of Christ Jesus, they are not.

After Jesus taught his disciples how to pray what is now known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, he told them

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6: 14-15

Another time, he taught

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Matthew 7: 1-2

If these passages are not clear enough, Luke reports that Jesus taught this lesson.

I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

“For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.Luke 6: 27-38

The language is clear. Unambiguous. Not in code.

Those who follow Christ are empathetic. They judge with mercy and compassion. They do not establish one law for themselves and their families and another for everyone else – but they pray that they will judged with mercy.

Something that I want to bring up here – God gives rules and instructions for those who have no innate moral sense and who require an outside framework to know when their behaviour is appropriate. Some do God’s work without expecting reward, without keeping score. Some can pull out the proper chapter and verse because these are the teachings that resonate in our souls.

It is said that the Devil quotes Scripture to suit his own purposes. Those who quote chapter and verse of fire and brimstone, smiting and death – they quote the verses that resonate in their souls.

Why would anyone calling themselves Christian boast of being a fire and brimstone religion? Wouldn’t that be of Hell instead of Heaven?

~~ Rannan Bìobaill anns a’ Ghàidhlig ~~

“Oir ma mhaitheas sibh an cionta do dhaoinibh, maithidh bhur n-Athair nèamhaidh dhuibh-sa mar an ceudna: Ach mur maith sibh an cionta do dhaoinibh, cha mhò a mhaitheas bhur n-Athair dhuibh-sa bhur cionta.” Mata 6: 14-15
“Na tugaibh breth, chum nach toirear breth oirbh: Oir a réir na breth a bheir sibh, bheirear breth oirbh : agus leis an tomhas le’n tomhais sibh, tomhaisear dhuibh a rìs.” Mata 7: 1-2

“Ach a ta mi ag ràdh ribhse ta ‘g éisdeachd, Gràdhaichibh bhur naimhde, deanaibh maith dhoibh-san le’m fuathach sibh ; Beannaichibh iadsan a ta ‘gur mallachadh, agus deanaibh urnuigh air son na muinntir a ta buntuinn gu naimhdeil ribh. Ris an ti a bhuaileas thu air son ghial, cum an gial eile ; agus do’n ti a bheir t’fhalluinn dhiot, na bac do chòta mar an ceudna. Thoir do gach neach a dh’iarras ort ; agus o’n neach a bheir uait do mhaoin, na iarr air ais i.

“Agus mar a b’àill leibh daoine a dheanamh dhuibh, deanaibh-sa mar an ceudna dhoibhsan.

“Oir ma ghràdhaicheas sibh iadsan aig am bheil gràdh dhuibh, ciod am buidheachas a ta agaibh? oir gràdhaichibh peacaich féin an dream aig am bheil gràdh dhoibh. Agus ma ni sibh maith do’n mhuinntir a ni maith dhuibh, ciod am buidheachas a ta agaibh? oir ni peacaich an ni so féin mar an ceudna. Agus ma bheir sibh iasachd dhoibh-san o’m bheil dùil agaibh ri fhaotainn a rìs, ciod am buidheachas a ta agaibh? oir bheir peacaich féin iasachd do pheacachaibh, chum gu’m faigh iad uiread a rìs.

“Ach gràdhaichibh-sa bhur naimhde, agus deanaibh maith, agus thugaibh iasachd, gun dùil a bhi agaibh ri ni sam bith ‘na éiric ; agus bithidh bhur duais mòr, agus bithidh sibh ‘nur cloinn do’n Ti a’s àirde ; oir a ta esan tabhartach dhoibhsan a ta mi-thaingeal agus olc.

“Bithibh-sa uime sin tròcaireach, mar a ta bhur n-Athair tròcaireach.

“Agus na tugaibh breth agus cha toirear breth oirbh : na dìtibh, agus cha dìtear sibh : thugaibh maitheanas, agus bheirear maitheanas dhuibh.

“Thugaibh uaibh, agus bheirear dhuibh ; deadh thomhas, air agheinneadh, agus air a chrathadh ri chéile, agus a’ cur thairis, bheir daoine ann bhur n-uchd ; oir leas an tomhas le’n tomhais sibh, tomhaisear dhuibh a rìs.”
Lucais 6: 28-38

Palm Sunday 2019

The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann (1948)
part 5

Therefore be at peace with God,
Whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labours and aspirations,
In the noisy confusion of life,
Keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams
It is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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Sixth Saturday of Lent 2019

The Desiderata by Max Erhmann (1948)
Part 4

Take kindly the counsel of the years
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings,
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars.
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you
No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.

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Sixth Friday of Lent 2019

The Desiderata, part 3
by Max Ehrmann (1948)

Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
For the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
Many people strive for high ideals,
And everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
In the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perennial as the grass.

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6th Wednesday of Lent, 2019

This is the last Wednesday of this Lenten season. The last 4 or 5 days of Lent (depending on whether you count Palm Sunday as part of Lent or not. My beloved and I are discussing this issue). Instead of posting the Gaelic prayers/ hymns/ spells to be found in Carmina Gadelica, I want to finish the season with the poem that most eloquently expresses … and shaped … my faith.

The Desiderata
by Max Ehrmann, 1948

Go placidly among the noise and the haste
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
Be on good terms with all peoples.
Speak your truths quietly and clearly
And listen to others,
Even the dull and ignorant.
They too have their stories.

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