Snippets of stories heard from the other side of the curtain:

“That you, Jake!—Get me your ma!—Quick!” The muffled voice speaks with urgency, the palm of her hand thrumming the handrail of the gurney. On the other side of the curtain heavy breathing punctuates the drama. “Yeah—You got it—I’m in the ER—With a nosebleed. I’m full of packing.” Hours pass until her discharge to the nursing home.

“Your blood sugar’s down to 550—Down 200 since you’ve been with us,” the nurse says as she yanks the curtain behind her revealing muddied work boots atop the gurney. He moans, turns over. “If it keeps going down like this, we can let you go home by evening. Either that or keep you overnight to monitor you—At any rate we gotta figure out a way to keep you supplied with insulin.” More hours pass until his discharge.

“What’s happened here?” asks the doctor wearing green scrubs as he fingers the stethoscope around his neck and steps behind the curtain.

“You see—It’s like this—My mama fell off the porch and cut her head on the driveway.” Her words ache with fear. “Bleeding all over the place—She’s no business out there alone—I always tell her that—But she forgets—She’s all I got!” She stifles a sob. Still more hours pass until my room is available. As I leave the unit, I wish them God’s blessing. The toothless matriarch beams, her wound cleaned and sutured as she awaits more tests.

Such stories mitigate suffering and disclose the Compassionate Observer within our midst.

 

 

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From my reflection upon the evil splicing the Brett Kavanagh confirmation hearings, together with the media flimflam in its wake, have emerged an ancient liturgical ritual and a story, both from the Bible.

In Leviticus 16: 7–10, we learn of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the most holy day of worship in the Jewish calendar; its intent was to purify the Israelites’ sinfulness that impeded their covenantal relationship with Yahweh. The High Priest cast their guilt and shame upon the head of a goat and then beat it into the desert, never to be seen again. The Israelites felt better, but remained ignorant of the flawed depths within their unconscious, still unknown to them.

Unfortunately, this practice of scapegoating continues, despite the ongoing explorations around the globe in the depth psychology of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

And in the gospel of John 8: 1-11, we watch how Jesus dealt with the scribes and Pharisees, bent upon stoning the adulterous woman in their keep. He looks at them, says nothing, then leans over and begins writing in the sand. Infuriated by his silence, they badger him further and remind him of the penalty in the Mosaic Law for such crimes. Then comes his measured response: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” Then he resumes writing. And we remember what followed.

Both passages speak to the human condition with its minefields littering our inner landscapes. Shrouded in impenetrable darkness lay deadly energies that kill or maim: anger, greed, lust, sloth, pride, gluttony, and envy. I know. I have all of them. Only when trip-wired do we experience them, either in others or ourselves.

That happened during the media bedlam of last Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and its aftermath: frenzy inflated egos, unleashed inhibitions, and wounded spirits, perhaps irreparably.

Evil flaunted its poison. The challenge is to be wary of our own and drop the rock.

 

 

Goats from Bob’s Mobile Petting Zoo munch the begonias along the front walk of the brownstone. On the front stoop, kids bottle-feed spring lambs and pet others. Nearby, a saddled pony tosses her blonde mane and waits with her handler for the next rider. Ducks squawk as a neighbor, broom in hand, shoos them from her roses. Rock music and squeals of laughter pour through opened windows, their lace curtains frisked by winds within the froth of play.

It’s Chris’s surprise party for his twelfth birthday.

Inside, multi-colored streamers festoon the walls and fixtures, helium balloons smooch the ceilings, paper plates drip with remains of pizza and ice cream. Upon the dining room table dances the father who organized this after-school party; Chris and his buddies gyrate in tandem with him. In all the rooms more kids wearing party hats jump on sofa cushions and dance.

A sense of concerted play makes complete sense of this apparent mayhem until abruptly ended by the return of the irate mother, an interior design executive. “The party’s over,” says the father, and their shared camaraderie fizzles.

So the 1994 movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, begins.

Had not the mother axed this party, it would have continued into the evening; its momentum, open-ended and spiced with joy, fired imaginations of the participants and blessed them.

Imagine if Mrs. Doubtfire (the father’s later disguise) would throw a similar party on Capitol Hill—It would have to be a surprise.

 

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