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“I sat in Dr. Cone’s classroom at Union—that’s where I did my theology—back in the late ‘80s,” said Eunice, her soft eyes alight behind rimless glasses. “Yes, he was a master teacher, mild-mannered despite the hard truth of his people he espoused in his lectures and books,” she added resting her hand upon the dining room table, its vase of tulips beginning to fade. “But I’ve been away from all that for sometime—I didn’t know of this book.”

Her response to my blog on Dr. Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree left me breathless, but not from lung issues. Additional reflection upon his identifying the Crucified with Black victims of lynching flared my psychic pain: Both experienced mob rule, torture, jeering, and slow agonizing deaths, alluded to in the first blog, but now felt. Rather than follow the chaplain—patient dialogue of previous visits, our conversation took off in a different direction: its synchronicity demanded it.

Yet, it did not come off as I had hoped, due to my dearth of words; they only came later. At best, I skirted around the glaring issue stinging my innards, and some preliminaries did surface: Eunice’s South Carolinian origins; growing up in York County, site of numerous cotton and rice plantations worked by slaves; her physician father’s segregated waiting room; planning a picnic for the townspeople on the grounds of Davidson College, her college, that up-ended a KKK rally planned for Main Street; attending Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, known for its liberal bent; and her continued studies in spirituality that enhance her role as chaplain.

I listened, deeply, asked questions, and later researched South Carolina’s practice of slavery through the lens of the Crucified: it blistered my soul wound still more, scraped my entitlement, and woke me to what’s coming.

Our chaplain—patient dialogue will continue.




My birth certificate tells part of the story: I was born on November 12, 1935, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Thomas O. Moloney Jr and Mary E. Costigan, 28 and 26 years of age, respectively. On December 20, 1935, a clerk filed this data with the Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City, Jefferson City, Missouri.

This document attested to my emerging into chronos or chronological time: a quantitative measure of time in hours, days, weeks, months, and years. But kairos time, another Greek word, oriented me to the full mystery of my existence: a qualitative measure of time that accounted for the Sacred’s special presence in my life—those inexplicable O! moments.

Decades of living with chronic illness and pain, fatigue and constipation, of necessity, opened me to kairos time. Therein, I discovered the Crucified. How my passion soared as I kissed His knees during Good Friday’s Veneration of the Cross. I was not suffering alone. Unutterable prayer filled long nights of darkness atop my bed, froze tears, crusted my mouth. Such was my destiny to suffer.

Because of my reliance upon the Crucified for the next step, whether supported by a walk aid or limping on my own, I had neither inclination nor energy to live in chronos time. Relationships overwhelmed me. Anxiety precluded serious study, warped concentration, messed with my memory. Yet, I worked beyond retirement age, ever dependent upon health insurance to cover medical costs.

Now in my ninth week of hospice care, the Crucified still companions me. I am grateful for what has been and for what is emerging. Some kind of a finish line looms ahead, but it’s still indistinguishable.


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