Jesus Christ Superstar

Mercy, peace, and love. May the grace and Lord surround and be with you on Good Friday.

 

Good Friday has always been a special day for me. I love the ritual of The Mass celebrated today. Everything about it–the smell of the incense, the number of celebrants, the length and the drama of the readings–it left me with a feeling of anticipation.

The Church tested me as a young woman growing up in the 60’s–it is an ongoing challenge.

Then Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

It captured my soul then as it does today.

As so often happens, music transcends time and space.

Whenever I hear any part of any song from this work, I am transported back to the early 70’s. I am sitting in front of a console stereo system in the dining room of my friend, Pam.

I can hear the first album of the two album set drop onto the play table. I see the collection of friends gathered to hear and share the new album slide closer together, huddling around the lyric sheet, reading, and singing.

Remember those album sleeves with song lyrics?

This is a powerful memory, burned into my mind because of its magical simplicity and clarity.

I will be listening to the live televised presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar” this Easter Sunday.

I’ll probably cry.

Pam was another friend I lost this past year.

But I’ll be smiling, too.

I’m thinking Pam will be singing along with all of us who are now scattered across the country. I’m wondering how many of those who used to gather at her house and select the different stacks of albums we’d pile onto her stereo system will be seeing and experiencing this same memory?

I’m betting I won’t be the only one with a tear in my eye.

I wish you all a blessed Easter and remind you to treasure those you love and keep them close.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

My thanks to Jeff Durst for allowing me to use his photo of the Catholic Church in Mason, Texas, published in the Backroads of Texas Facebook page. Please do not re-publish this photo without written permission for Mr. Durst. I am blessed to have so many wonderful and generous photographers in my Facebook community. Thank you, Jeff. 

And so it is.

“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
― David Richo

It’s been close to thirty years ago when I met my friend, Sandi.

We’d both found our way to a non-credit course at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. I don’t remember the name of the course. We were both looking for ways to find and fix ourselves. The ever-evolving list of self-help books was no longer meeting our needs. I think most us very devoted readers found themselves more confused than ever.

My friendship with Sandi is a perfect example of God placing people in our lives when we need them.

We were both from the Midwest. Our stories were and remain complex and convoluted, to say the least. We had been in several of those self-help classes offered at ACC. By way of these classes, we had a very strong bond–a bond formed between two survivors.

After we’d both completed a course taught by Rochelle, we were both made aware of the opportunity to have personal therapy sessions with our instructor. Unknown to each other, we both accepted and became one of her clients. After some personal sessions, some of us we asked to join an after-hours group session.

It was the mix of one-on-one sessions with Rochelle and working with that special group of people who’d been selected to work together due to our similar life experiences that changed my life forever.

I talked with Sandi for a few minutes last week. We touch base when we both have a minute or two and those infrequent conversations are moments of soul recharging.

This last conversation was a rushed one—I was in the car and she had family visiting. The one important thing she shared with me was this:

“Did you know that Rochelle died?”

It was news to me.

There was no time to elaborate.

Our shared counselor retired from seeing clients rather suddenly. In my mind, I always felt that our select group was, perhaps, too perfect in our combined needs.

Once dismantled, we did not meet as that group again.

I always thought I’d see Rochelle again.

I always thought I’d have a chance to tell her, face-to-face, what a difference she’s made in my life.

Over the past few days, I’ve realized my blog is an extension of many of the insights Rochelle gave me.

She knows I am grateful–and so it is.

God’s work, at times, is not always so mysterious.

It is, however, always miraculous.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
― Graham Greene, Ways of Escape

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless us all.

~Peace~

My thanks, once again, to my dear friend, Kimberlee Salimeno, for allowing me to share her beautiful picture. When I saw it this morning it reminded me of the setting we had for our group sessions. It was another sign to talk of Rochelle and express my gratitude to her and all those I met through her. Thank you, my dear Kimberlee.  I love you.

Friends = Family

“we must take care of our families wherever we find them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

Every now and then we meet people who become family.

Saturday afternoon I was able to spend time with some of my Colorado family.

I am thrilled and I am so grateful.

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

Terrorism

“Terrorism isn’t a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the death of innocents and destruction of property to make us fearful. Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed — even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail — even if their attacks succeed.”
― Bruce Schneier

 

It has been quite a month here in central Texas.

I’ve perched myself on top of my little hill, observing with uneasiness, as someone terrorized the city of Austin.

I”d been feeling rather smug, thinking I was beyond this mad man’s craziness.

That was all well and good until a package exploded at a FedEx facility outside of San Antonio.

It’s a feeling we’ve all come to accept as part of our lives–unfortunately, we see evidence of terrorism every single day.

Terrorism oozes into your head, unbidden, and hangs out there. Even though it was happening far from me, I watched my fellow Texans suffer, grieve, and attempt to live their lives in their now normal state of extreme caution and trepidation.

Before long, I realized fear had begun its cautionary whispers which bounced around in my head throughout the day and into your uneasy sleep at night. It wears away on you because you don’t rest—you are concerned for yourself and for those people who are part of your daily life. Suddenly, getting that package delivered is now overshadowed by fear—not just for yourself—but for that driver you see and talk with every day.

The reign of terror ended early yesterday morning when the man who orchestrated these past weeks of angst killed himself and injured a SWAT team member by setting off his last bomb inside his getaway car.

It is over but it has taken a large toll. There are new walking wounded.

The Police Chief shared at the press conference yesterday the bomber left a video confession. Maybe this will shed some light on why he did what he did. The Mayor of Austin spoke at this press conference as well, leaving us all with some advice I hope we all think about and follow. He advised us all to walk across the street and get to know your neighbors. Get to know—really know each other and take care of each other.

Today, I am thankful I can sit on my hill with less fear–venturing out to the store or worry about the safety of my UPS driver. I am thankful for my little community and my neighbors.

My prayers continue for those who suffered as a direct result of these bombings—both physically and mentally. The victims are many. The wounds deep and mostly invisible.

Our world has become an even scarier place.

We need to seek out the good—not just look for the helpers but we must become one of them.

The only way to survive is by helping each other through all of these insane twists and turns.

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.

For the Love of a Dog

“In my lap I had my dear little pug, the smell of whose ears will always be sweeter to me than all the perfumes of Araby and the scent of heliotrope combined.”
― Kathryn Davis, Versaille

Sometimes God gives us a challenge that forces us to slow down.

This past week was one of those times. I was given time to pay attention to all I love and hold precious, a time to be gracious,  and thankful.

A little over a week ago, my oldest dog, Bud, began acting as if he was in pain. Bud has never been a very subtle dog–this was no exception. He would suddenly stop and sit, staring at me with a rather annoyed look on his face. The most noticeable change was the most troubling–for the first time in his twelve-year lifetime, he’d stopped following me–something was brewing.

When he stopped eating and began a near continuous whimper, I knew I needed real help.

Long story short, the vet discovered several hot spots on his tail. I’d never had a dog with hot spots before—I do not ever want to deal with hot spots again.

With the help of topical and oral antibiotics combined with an e-collar, we began our journey down the long and winding road of recovery.

I was reminded how slowly time goes as you sit with a loved one in pain. Bud would settle down and not cry if I sat with him. I sat in my chair, talking to him as I stroked his back. His comfort became the focal point of my days.

I was also reminded of a very simple fact—you can not rush healing. After five days of medication, prayer, patience, and a lot of whining of my own, he was getting better.

Unless I had to travel, Bud has been by my side every day since April 8, 2006. Today, he is resting quietly beside me, awaiting his breakfast, no longer in pain. His tail is better and so am I.

My world is back on its axis–all is right in Hibdonville.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
― Roger A. Caras

I am…

B…simply being…

May God continue to bless us all.

~Peace~

 

Leaving the Light On

We all lose friends.. we lose them in death, to distance and over time. But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave the light on.     
Amy Marie Walz

 

This week did not go as I’d planned.

Isn’t there some old saying that says something like when man makes plans, God laughs?

As usual, I gave God some chuckles.

A  goal for 2018 is to get back to Iowa to visit old friends. Facebook has given me the huge gift of re-establishing connections with many of the people I grew up with in Traer, Iowa. Why I never went back to see these special people when I still lived in Iowa is somewhat of a mystery to me. My best guess is I was simply not ready.

What I never imagined was the possibility that some of the people I wanted to see would not be there when I finally returned.

I’d left Traer when my family moved from this little community after I’d finished eighth grade. My eighth grade year had been one of huge changes for our family. I’d certainly had personal challenges all through that year, centering around school and other extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, I made some very bad choices.

I was searching for something or someone to give me some direction because I’d lost so many things in my personal life. I wanted to belong somewhere regardless of the cost. No one was whispering in my ear, trying to influence me. I was as stubborn then as I am now and I’d made some bizarre my choices. The more off-the-wall those decisions were, the more attention came my way. This became a whirlwind of craziness that lead me to a place that worried my family. My dad had tried all the things he knew to steer me back on track–between his new marriage and my behavior, it became obvious to him this would be a great time to start a new life somewhere else.

When school was out, my brain knew we were leaving. My heart refused to believe it. I made bargains with my dad, hoping he would change his mind. I even tried to be nice to my step-mom, thinking I could win her over. I made nightly deals with God, promising to change my ways if we could just stay—I wanted to stay and start high school with my friends.

No deal.

So, we left the little community where I’d grown up–the place that held most of the people I knew in the whole wide world.

It was my little town—a place where I’d gotten lost both literally, returned home by way of the local town cop, and figuratively, struggling to understand how my mom could have really died and left my sisters and me all alone with a dad who had no clue what to do with the three of us.

Because of these types of thoughts, it’s become very important for me to return to this little place—to see those who are still there so I can feel I’ve had some closure to the part of my childhood that played out there.

I firmly believe Traer holds the key that will enable me to shake up my memories in a way that will reposition the big puzzle representing my life. Right now, there are pieces holding positions just outside of the main puzzle. I cannot figure out how these pieces fit into the big picture. For so many years it’s felt as if the entire puzzle board was slightly off-kilter. There seem to be little patches of pieces waiting for someone to suggest a slight shift in position that will magically draw all those stragglers together with one firm snap.

This week, as I worked on my travel plans, I learned one of those classmates had died.

I was taken so off-guard. I’d never imagined I’d never have the opportunity to see all those people I’d remembered so easily and often over the past fifty plus years.

Now, I’d never have the chance to tell one of them—Nancy—how happy I’d been we’d had the chance to reconnect by way of Facebook. I never had the chance to thank her for how good she’d always made me feel when we were young and she’d hang out with me. She was one of the kids I always wanted to be friends with—even my kid brain knew we had very few common interests. Now, as adults, I wanted to look into her eyes and tell her how much I appreciated and treasured her.

Now, I continue to plan my trip, knowing it is even more important to stay on course. I know how important it is for me to get there and see those people who were and still are the building blocks of the person I am today. These are the people who saw me as my most innocent self and watched as I struggled growing up. They are some of the most real and most kind people I’ve ever known—they need to know that and hear it from me.

Regardless of how I reshuffle dates, there won’t be enough time there this trip.I can’t do it all in one visit—I can get it started, though.

Once again, God’s message to me stresses how vital it is to let those I love know how important they are to me.

Today, I grieve not only the loss of my childhood friend, Nancy, but I feel the loss of an opportunity to sit and talk with her, adult to adult, laughing as we share our life experiences, rejoicing over our successes while encouraging each other over the failures. Each shared moment would have added a few more pieces to our respective puzzle boards, re-establishing those connections we’d unknowingly set up all those years ago.

God bless you, Nancy. My world certainly has been brighter for having known you. See you on the other side.

“A spiritual connection with someone lasts forever, even when physical presence fades.”
― Danielle Barone

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all. Remember to tell those you love how much you love them.

~Peace~

A Plan

“Support your own success. What do you need to do to make your dreams a reality? What steps do you need to take? How can you be ready for an opportunity? Think of everything that you would need to do to harness opportunity. Start working on those things. You will want to make the most optimum use of any opportunity that comes along. How can you do that if you’re not ready? Don’t sell yourself short. Do what you can TODAY for a better tomorrow. Your efforts will pay off. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams.”
― Akiroq Brost

I realized last Friday I needed to make a change. I was mentally and physically tired–kinda like Ruby’s new little piglet.

Nearly a year ago I began my storytelling. Little did I know how much I would enjoy it! I’d gone back and read some of my older stories and discovered I’d grown as a storyteller. What a wonderful discovery but…I needed to re-evaluate where I was going and if I was on the right track.

I was beginning to see by publishing a story Monday through Friday left me very little time to research, read, and learn. I am surrounded by all these marvelous tools, but I have no real idea how to use them in a way where they could help me work more quickly and more efficiently.

My supply of the easy short stories was wearing thin. Combine that with my cumbersome methods of writing, I was working very hard in order to complete my daily tales.

That little voice in my head, my very quiet and patient “logical self” whispered, “Dear One, it’s time you made a new plan.”

I’ve resisted doing this for a very long time. In the past, cutting back was my way to avoid putting my words out there. Now, I know I’ve gotten over that fear, I believe in myself and I know I’ve committed myself to writing. It is time, for now,  to make a plan where I write a little less and concentrate a little more on learning.

For the next two months, I’ll publish two stories a week. This will give me time to read and learn. I need to get a firm understanding of how to use the WordPress platform. Right now, I know how to get my words out there. Any little glitch throws everything into a tailspin. I’ll be researching topics I’ve wanted to develop and share, taking time to expand on what I find instead of just superficial summaries. I know my readers have some of the same questions and interests I do. With more preparation, I can dig deeper. How grand it will be to have a collection of stories to pull from and share. I can grow the Barbara Storytelling Bank. Once that’s done, I’ll be back on my daily schedule.

“Don’t Just

Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

The First Day of March

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

For decades, whenever the calendar declares it is March 1, a series of images flash into my mind:

The sun was shining in between clouds that had a more summer-like appearance than I remembered seeing the last time I’d paid any attention to the sky. I was young, in my junior year of high school. The gusty winds of March had begun in earnest. It was wonderful to feel my hair blow across my face and into my mouth as I laughed at everything John said to me.

I had my prop, the basketball, which had been my ticket out of the house.  I’d set up a play date at the basketball court at Lowell Grade School.  This particular court was a place my sisters and I escaped to often. It was across the street from our house. Neither Dad or Irene had any problems with us going there. That was a very important part of growing up in my house, I was never allowed to go far from home.

On this day, March first, the snow had mostly melted, leaving mushy puddles in scattered spots across the court. For the most part, I tried to avoid them but my first serious crush, John, worked hard to hit them with a force that covered us both with freezing slush. It was a glorious day.

John.

I see him so clearly in my head on this day–a date that has become such an odd anniversary of sorts. His dark hair, dark skin, early beard, kinda goofy walk with his feet angled outward and a pace that would be called speed walking today. He was always in a rush–I’m not sure if even he knew where he was going.

All I knew was I was in love with him–he was cute, funny, full of energy, mysterious, and troubled.

He lived with his mom and his younger brother. His mom worked a lot which meant he was responsible for his little brother. He was adamant he had to be home in time to cook dinner for his brother when his mom was working. That fact made us a good match–I was responsible for my sisters, too.

As the school year ended, so did our relationship. I was devastated–how could that be? We were so perfect together–he introduced me to the Rolling Stones and Bill Cosby’s Noah’s Ark routine. He played “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” over and over again. This was one of the first times, and by far, not the last time, I realized I was so very naive.

The last time I had any real contact with him was a Saturday night just before the school year ended. For whatever reason, he just showed up my backdoor. Luckily, Dad and Irene were out because it would NOT have been okay for a boy to show up at our house. He came to the door and asked if I would come with him. I’m pretty sure he’d been drinking–my naive mind saw no danger–I only knew he was there–at MY door. I went with him.

The part of the street we lived on had no stop signs or stop lights for a very long distance, making it the perfect stretch of road for kids to race their cars.

My gut told me he was angry and sad. My gut was also screaming at me when he floored the car leaving our driveway. By the time he got past the grade school, he was beginning to lose control of the car. I was sitting next to him so I could see that the speedometer was steadily climbing–I buried my head in his shoulder as we began to slide–I think it was my movement that brought him back to reality.  He slowed down, turned towards his house, and parked the car. He looked at me for a long time, saying nothing.

We sat in silence. My gut told me that he was in very deep trouble. I told him I was going to walk home and got out of the car. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back, saying he was sorry, and he’d take me home. He hung his head and told me that he just could not do this anymore.

The next time I saw him was after we’d graduated. Actually, I did not see him, none of us did.

It was the first freeze of the winter and John was speeding when he hit a railroad bridge in the little community where he had just started college. He was killed instantly. His head injuries too severe for an open casket.

As my friends and I stood beside his coffin, my gut screamed at me that his accident was no accident.

My heart still wonders what happened to his little brother.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

May we all stay aware.

~Peace~

Many thanks to my dear friends, Kimberlee Salimeno, for allowing me to borrow her picture for today’s story. Love you.  

 

 

 

 

 

It Was a Day For Me

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.”
― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

Today became an unplanned self-care day.

It was so good and I am so thankful.

Of course, now I’m having a tad bit of a guilt attack for not getting much crossed off my to-do list. Not to worry–I found this great quote as a way to prepare for my day tomorrow.

“You get up in the morning; it’s the start of yet another day in your daily life. However, if you want to make it interesting, exciting, extract the best out of it and make those 24 hours go a long way then make-believe that it’s your last day! Make every minute, every second, nay, every heartbeat count. Do things you’ve hesitated doing before. Go on, apologize to that dear friend with whom you haven’t spoken for quite some time now. Express your true feelings to your sweetheart. Give a hug to your children or grandchildren and tell them how much you love them. Wear that beautiful dress you’ve been saving for an occasion. Eat from your best crockery, drink from those crystal glasses that you’ve been maintaining for some grand party. What’s more precious than your own life? YOU are THAT important person you’ve been waiting for so long. Throw yourself a party, pamper your own self, tickle those taste buds and have a blast.

We keep waiting for that right occasion to take out that pretty dress, little realizing that we may not fit into it after some time. We keep maintaining those crystal and bone china ware little realizing that they can break. Use them often; use them for and on your own self because the most important person is YOU.”
― Latika Teotia

I am…

B…simply being…

Get out there and spread wonder and experience joy.

~Peace~