Posted by: jevcat | March 20, 2020

Spring in Time of Pandemic

As we all hunker down and work from home while the corona virus pandemic advances, like all of us, I am also trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy and contact with family and friends, all of whom are, so far, fine (knock wood).

We have not been at this long, but it is already, at least to me, taking on something of    the character of the old joke about the man who falls off the top of the Empire State Building and, as he passes each floor, calls out to watchers “Alright so far!”  (Insert nervous chuckle here.)  But the reality is, more people will die, maybe people I love, maybe even me.

And yet, and yet:  It is spring!  And the earliest spring in more than a century – maybe because we need it more this year?

The first day of spring is celebrated in different ways everywhere, and one festival I have only been introduced to in recent years is Nowruz.  A pre-Muslim Persian holiday that survived the conversion to Islam, it’s observed across a wide swath, from Afghanistan to India to China.  I was introduced to it by one of the women I work for (she also introduced me to Persian food, which is another, and delicious, story!), I’ve participated in Nowruz celebrations at the UN, where I work, and I’ve grown to like it.

Some of the traditions surrounding Nowruz are similar to some for Passover and Easter but Nowruz is also the Persian New Year, and it seems to rejoice more in the renewal of the natural world that spring brings.  And we could use reasons to rejoice about now.

Here in New York and in many places in the world, life is seeming dark and scary to a lot of us right now, probably because in many ways it is.  It may seem an odd time for celebrating the new year, but, in a different way, so is the Western new year in January.  Maybe we need the celebration more in such times than in better ones.  Stuck inside most of the time by health decree, maybe chances to be outside mean more; maybe those shoots struggling up, green, from the dark are telling us something, and the flowers on the branches that were bare not that long ago, too.  Winter never lasts forever; spring comes, is here now, in fact.  Even in the midst of everything else, spring is still here.  It won’t last forever, but it will be back next year.  Before this one goes, I am going to try to see it, from my window and on my government-sanctioned daily “solitary exercise” walk, enjoy it, and remember that new life is happening all around me, all the time.

Posted by: jevcat | March 14, 2020

On Friendship and Memory

Yesterday was my last day of work at the office, programs having been shut down and work being done at home now and for the immediate future to prevent spread of the corona virus.  I was meant to be going with a friend for dinner and to a Duke Ellington tribute concert with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, but we found out late in the afternoon that the concert had been cancelled.  My friend suggested we go to dinner anyway, and, in the spirit of “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” I had been thinking along those lines, myself, so we did.


As more and more events, shows, and sports seasons were cancelled, the evening took on something of the feel of “the condemned women’s last meal.”  We went to La Bonne Soup, a restaurant we’ve been going to since we were in our twenties, which makes it practically ancient.  It was once third on our list of go-to restaurants (number two, La Fondue, was across the street, and number one, a branch of the late, lamented Magic Pan chain, was a few blocks away) and is the only one of the three still operating.  We got what we always get:  the special, consisting of a glass of French sparkling cider, a green salad with the house mustard vinaigrette, slices of baguette with butter, a crock of French onion soup, and chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream.  It’s been a long time since we were there, and we lingered a length of time I hope was mitigated for the server by the size of the tip and the fact that the restaurant was much less crowded than usual.

I think those rare times we get there now, the food is seasoned and enjoyment is multiplied by the layers of memory involved.  Walking to the from the restaurant to the subway afterwards, we passed the City Center theatre, and I reminded her of a time in our twenties when we had eaten a massively indulgent, large, and heavily fat-laden (also incredibly delicious) meal at the lost La Fondue.  As we were finishing dessert (I no longer remember whether that night it was the chocolate fondue or the ice box cake, a tower of tiered chocolate wafers and whipped cream), we realized we had lost track of time and had only minutes to pay and get the block or so to the theatre and up to our nose-bleed-level seats for an Irish company’s ballet version of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World.  We somehow managed to pay, run when we could barely waddle, and race stumbling up several flights of stairs, sliding gasping into our seats just at the last possible moment.  I think it was intermission before my cardio-pulmonary rate resumed its normal level.

Last night, trading lines of “and then we . . . ” punctuated by whoops, we laughed all the way to the subway, still amazed, after all these years, that we hadn’t died of heart attacks on the City Center stairs, and shaking our heads at the foolishness of our young selves.  It is a gift to be old and silly with the same people with whom you were young and silly.

While waiting on the platform, my cell phone buzzed with a call from my best friend – more of a sister, really – who decades ago moved out of New York, calling to update me on an on-going family situation.  We talked until my train came, hearts reaching across the miles, as it always is with us, speaking sometimes almost in shorthand, the way old married couples complete each other’s sentences.  We’ve basically known each other all our lives, we’re the third generation of our families to be close friends, and the ties between us are like sedimentary rock, built up over years and years of shared experiences, laughter and tears mingled and piled up, settled and solidified, as firm a foundation as anyone is likely to find.  I couldn’t help, but I could listen, as she has listened to me at other times and in other places.  The memories are more than I could number.

Today is an anniversary of sorts for us, as the first time we remember meeting was on a long-ago Friday the 13th, and even though it was in September, we have always celebrated Fridays the 13th, no matter when they fall.  We must have had contact in the neighborhood or through our families before that, but that was the day we spoke to each other on the school bus.  We’ve been speaking to each other ever since:  in person, on the phone, on paper, on line:  years of words – and silences when there were no words.

Perhaps it’s the times, with ordinary life shutting down amid fears of the novel corona virus and apocalyptic scenarios abounding (not least of which involves the scarcity of toilet paper) but I’ve been thinking ever since how blessed I am to have such depth of shared memories, with these women in particular, and also with other friends of many years, including my lost-and-found Beloved.  They provide a background, an anchor, a refuge, a grounding, a fabric that winds around and through my days and years.  They are part of me, as I am part of them, invisibly connecting and supporting.  I am profoundly grateful.

Posted by: jevcat | February 17, 2018

Snowy Evening in the ‘Hood

Finally got myself outside to into the falling snow, only to discover it was now falling slush. The block was still beautiful — so, of course, I took pictures.

Almost back to the apartment, a guy I think must work at the homeless drop-in center next door was just finished parking a van. He watched me cell-phone-snapping light through the snowy trees and said, “You must be a professional photographer,” which made me laugh. I told him no, I just liked the way it looked.

He went off into a whole riff about how beautiful it was, and how photos touch memories, and the branches against the building would trigger memories, perhaps of other places, and a photo would bring those memories back. I said yes, photos help us remember.

We talked about how lovely the branches looked, the way they picked up the light from the street lamps. I put the phone away and turned to go. As we said goodnight, he said, “I didn’t even see it, until I saw you looking up. God bless you.” I wished him the same, and as I walked into the courtyard, he was still standing there, smoking a cigarette, and looking up.

Blessed are the small things in life, even when we don’t realize they’re really the big things.

Posted by: jevcat | December 28, 2017

“Shelter in Place”

It’s a simple phrase, one that probably meant nothing to most of us twenty years ago.  Now, however, the combination of ever more frequent mass shootings, the escalation of climate change-driven natural disasters, and occasional terror attacks have made it all too common.  “Shelter in place” — it’s a phrase that begins with such a comforting word, “shelter,” that in this context provides no comfort whatsoever.

But on a winter day when the wind chill factor is bordering on negative numbers, “shelter in place” doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.  And it’s Christmas time, and isn’t that what Mary and Joseph, with no other choice, did?  It occurs to me that today is the commemoration of Holy Innocents, Herod’s extreme (even for him) attempt to protect his hold on the throne.  Warned by the Magi, and once again with no other choice, Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus fled to a place of shelter – this time a foreign one, Egypt — refugees from political violence.

For us, Christmas has become a cozy time, a shelter, perhaps, however temporary, from everyday life.  We forget how difficult and dangerous life was for the people behind those figurines in the creche.  The world was no less dangerous on the first Christmas than it is now, though killing was harder work and more personal then, and death was, if anything, a more frequent visitor.  Shelter is where we find it.

So I’m feeling as though we ought to acknowledge the fear but savor the shelter, whether our shelter is a place or a person or all of the above.    As for me, at the moment, it’s tea time, and there’s British baking show on PBS, so I’m going to make a cuppa’, toast the cats, and shelter in place.

2017 Intercession Creche

Posted by: jevcat | November 24, 2017

Revelation Wrestling

It’s that time in the Daily Lectionary Year One I hate:  the end of the Pentecost, when we have been slogging through the long march through Revelation.  The late Edward N. West, Canon of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is reported to have said the only way to read Revelation is loudly, and as rapidly as possible. I question whether even that helps – all that angry, hallucinatory imagery.  I grew up in the 60s, but I missed the mind-altering substances part and just absorbed the peace and love thing.

I mean, all those lampstands and the odd, angry being behind them – I’d much rather Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, thank you very much.  And I have to confess, much as I like St. Michael, I have always been rather fond of dragons, too, though of course, there’s good and bad in every group.

I just cannot believe that the same St. John who wrote the gospel and the Johannine epistles wrote Revelation, and it’s something of a comfort to know many scholars think that, too.  How could the person who wrote those wonderful, beautiful words about love and its essential importance, who taught us that God is love, produce such a relentless catalogue of misery and wrath and punishment – and seem to take such great delight in it?  Where is the God of mercy and love?  I hate the violence and fury of Revelation, it’s celebration of revenge, and I do not recognize its god.

And yet, and yet, there are glimmers. . . Rossini’s comment about Wagner having some wonderful moments and some awful quarter hours could apply equally to Revelation.  The last chapters, especially, have beautiful passages:  the vision of the new creation, of all being renewed, in Chapter 21, and its message that God is/will be dwelling among us, every tear will be wiped away.  And, almost at the very end, the wonderful, incantatory, almost hypnotic invitation of Chapter 22:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.

And let everyone who is thirsty come.

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

So what are we to make of this?  That human beings are contradictory creatures?  Certainly.  But, in the end, all are invited, all are welcomed?  I don’t know, but I hope so.


Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck Brothers,



Posted by: jevcat | November 12, 2017

On Seeing

On Seeing

Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? (Mark 8:18)

I got to take a vacation this year.  That’s not something that happens all that often, for reasons both financial and of time.  I have a friend who spends the first two weeks of September every year on outer Cape Cod, and every year she invites me to spend a few days or a week there with her.  Most years, I – reluctantly – have to say no.  But not this year.

And so, early on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, on about three hours’ sleep and carrying with me the freelance project I would have to finish in the first couple of days there (and having seriously overslept), I set off to meet my friend in Brooklyn to begin the long drive.

The place my friend stays is unique – and its days are numbered, as the family that built it in the 30s is de-accessioning it to separate private owners, but that only makes times spent in the cozy little bungalows perched on the seawall along Cap Cod Bay more precious.  Sunsets spread across the expanse of the Bay are breathtaking, and if one positions oneself just so in the airy front room, all one can see is water.  Every moment the light is different, and every moment is to be savored.  The place manages to breathe wildness and peace simultaneously.  We have swum with seals almost close enough to touch while small seabirds dove nearby and sat for hours watching the sunset afterglow, moonlight on water, and the slow blink of lighthouses on the far end of the Cape a bottle of local wine or a pot of hot tea close at hand.

Phone 11.12.2017 1120

No matter how many times I go, I am grateful; no matter how many times I go, it will never be enough.  It is, to me, a miracle, and a foretaste of Paradise.

And Paradise must be explored.

My friend, who has been going there autumn and spring for decades, knows more wonderful places to walk than can be easily covered in a week, but we did our best.  And I realized that getting out of my usual milieu – and out into nature – brings with it an opening of the eyes, a different way of seeing.  There’s a sort of re-birth that occurs, and the world becomes new:  every curve of a branch a song, every glint of sun (or moon) on water is a revelation, the bark of each tree contains untold mysteries.  It was glorious, and I drove my poor, very forbearing, friend to distraction, I’m sure, stopping to photograph every feature and angle.

And then it was time to come home.  The ferry ride from Provincetown to Boston and the very long ride back to New York, is a passage from the magical realm to everyday life.

And yet, I seem to have carried a bit of the magic of that world, that way of seeing, back with me.  There have been times when I’ve caught a glimpse of that world right here, noticed something in a familiar object or place I’d never seen before.  It turns out, trees in New York City have branches and bark, too.  And there are sunsets and bays here, as well.  Why don’t I usually see them here, when I see so much beauty in them when I am on vacation?  Well, because I expect to see those things on vacation; I look for it.  Why not look for beauty here, too?  Why not stop and examine the curves and folds of things I pass on my way to work, to notice the color of the sky and the water here, too?  Don’t just rush past on the way from home to work and back:  stop, look, listen.

I’m trying to practice what that Buddhists call “mindfulness,” and to be aware of the beauty around me.  And even what is not beautiful.  A Jewish colleague once loaned me a little book of bruchas (blessings), translated from the Hebrew.  One of them was to be said when one sees an especially ugly person; it was “Blessed are you, oh Lord our God, who makes us all different.”  How wonderful to not condemn or despise difference – even the difference of ugliness – but, instead, to thank God for it.

I was even a bit later to work than I needed to be last Tuesday, because walking to and from my polling place, I stopped to look – and photograph – trees in my neighborhood in their bright autumn wardrobe, and to enjoy them.  I’m trying to notice things more.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the Kingdom of God is within.  I am learning, I hope, per Blake,

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

            And Heaven in a Wild Flower

            Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

            And Eternity in an hour.


Posted by: jevcat | December 15, 2016

Advent/Erosion II


Your Spirit moves through me
like water
trickling through
the porous rock of a cave

Drip by drip
dissolving me
carrying bits away
to build up other places

Hollowing out a space in me
darkness, awaiting light
emptiness to be filled
a cavern, waiting
the building of a manger
and Life.


Posted by: jevcat | December 9, 2016

Chessie and the Chinese Food, or:  “A Kit-napping”


The Culprit, looking innocent

So, yesterday at lunch, knowing I had things to do when I got home, when my assistant said she was going for Chinese food and asked if I wanted some, I splurged, and, instead of my usual small-hot & sour soup-and-egg roll (“What is it with you and the soup and egg roll?” she always asks), I requested she get me the pepper steak lunch special, which also included the above-mentioned delicacies, as well as brown rice.

Since that is too much for me to eat at one sitting, my thinking was that I would eat half at lunch and bring the other half home to nuke for supper, when I had finished what I needed to do.  Rushing to get out of the office (an hour after my supposed quitting time), I put on jacket and backpack and headed out, got halfway down the stairs, remembered the Chinese food still residing under my desk, sighed, trudged back up the stairs, retrieved it, and headed home.

Arriving home nearly two hours later, having spent much of the trip reminding myself that I was tired and not to leave the bag of Chinese food behind, I plunked the shopping bag down next to the elevator, pushed the button, and moved the yard or so down to the boxes to collect our mail.  Tacked to the bulletin board over the mailboxes was a sign stating that a workout machine in the second floor hallway was free for anyone to take.  It had been sitting there for a few days, and my Beloved and I had noticed it going down the stairs Monday on the way to the hospital, where he is now a stem cell transplant patient.  He had remarked that it was a good machine and, knowing he will need extensive physical therapy and strength-building in the coming months (and knowing what our budget is), I was excited.  I rushed to the elevator and upstairs to ring him and ask if he wanted me to claim it.  He did.  I grabbed my keys, ran downstairs, dragged it the length of the hall, wrestled it into the elevator, and repeated the process in reverse on our floor, angling through the door and into our living room; then, triumphant, I texted him that we were now the proud possessors of a workout machine.

He rang me back, we had a lovely chat, after which I fed the cats and scooped the litter boxes, and then I sat down at the computer to do the work I needed to accomplish.  Somewhere during this time, I heard a very loud rustling.  Our middle-aged cat, George, is beautiful, fat, and complacent.  Our yearling, Chessie, is none of those things, and periodically is addressed (usually loudly and with some exasperation) by his full name:  Chesapeake Eugene (long story).  I assumed Chessie was doing something somewhere between mischievous and the wreaking of total devastation.  When the sound continued and was followed by what sounded like papers falling, I looked up.  Not seeing anything, I walked from den to living room:  nothing; kitchen:  nothing; bathroom:  nothing; bedroom:  nothing.  Shaking my head, I returned to my work.

Finally finished, hungry, dreams of pepper steak having filled my head for some time, I decided it was time to consume my meal.  I walked to where I had left my backpack, near the front door:  nothing; to the kitchen:  nothing; den:  nothing; living room:  nothing.  I looked over things, under things, behind things:  nothing.  In my excitement, did I leave it down by the elevator and mail boxes?  Grabbing my keys, I headed downstairs again:  nothing.  Back upstairs, I retraced my steps.  I even went into the bedroom:  nothing.

As it was around 11:00 by then, I finally surrendered, thinking I must have left it behind by the mailboxes and someone removed it.  I did give one last look to the area around the chair next to the phone, where I thought I remembered setting it down, and, a petition to the usually reliable St. Anthony having proved ineffectual, I got out some leftover salad and the last slice of leftover pizza, warmed the latter up, poured myself a glass of wine, which by this time I felt I deserved, and had my belated supper.

Lastly, I made myself a nice, comforting cup of tea and, turning out lights as I went, headed for the bedroom.  Setting the cup on the bedside table, I sat down, and my right foot touched something.  Looking down, I saw the edge of a plastic shopping bag poking just a bit out from under the bed.  “I don’t remember putting a plastic bag under the bed,” I thought (after Midnight, I can turn into a bear of very little brain).  As I gave the bag a tug, the Duane Reade logo came into sight:  the sturdy bag into which I had put the Chinese food to safeguard it while it accompanied me home, now with a broken handle.  Inside was a brown bag, and, nestled in the bottom, safe in its little plastic containers, my Chinese food.  I carried it through the dark apartment into the kitchen, surprising myself by narrowly avoiding the unaccustomed bulk of the exercise machine, disposed of the plastic bag, wedged the brown bag into the fridge, and went to bed.  Perhaps I should first have said thank you to St. Anthony, but he really could have let me know sooner.

Posted by: jevcat | November 11, 2016

Life Lessons from Romeo & Juliet (with a Nod to St. Paul)

028-romeo-and-juliet-theredlistHaving spent the latter portion of Tuesday evening rocking back and forth in a fetal position and moaning, “The Supreme Court!  The Supreme Court!”, I woke Wednesday morning to a grey and brooding sky.  Almost the first thing that popped into my head – after the one about how maybe it was all a bad dream or there had been a miracle between sometime after two A.M. when exhaustion, emotional and physical, finally claimed me – was a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:  “The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.”  It ran through my head through that whole dreary day, along with the line that precedes it:  “A glooming peace this morning with it brings” – although how “peaceful” I was could have been debated.

When I was an impressionable 14, we were sent by our English teacher to see Franco Zeffirelli’s movie version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  It was love at first sight.  Having that summer been the victim of a seriously unfortunate short haircut (when entering high school in September, three months after the disaster, the first words of the man who is now my beloved life partner, whom I’ve known since we were nine, to me were “What happened to your hair?”), I fell in love with Juliet (Olivia Hussey)’s hair and spent the rest of high school unsuccessfully trying to grow my hair as long and lush as hers (I’m still trying).  And I fell in love with Romeo (Leonard Whiting), not to mention the actor playing Benvolio, and with the costumes, with Nino Rota’s score (setting off a life-long love of the early music on which the score was modeled), the sets, the romance of the story (who doesn’t want to die for love at 14?) – oh, yes, and the language.

I inhabited that film.  I saw it several times, pored over the souvenir program I’d gotten (yes, boys and girls, in those far-off days, first-run movies did often have souvenir programs you could buy), bought the record album that contained the music and many of the words, and listened to it endlessly – so endlessly that nearly 30 years later, when the dear friend I was visiting in England took me to a production of Romeo and Juliet outdoors in the ruins of an old abbey, she (a teacher) was stunned to realize I was “lip-synching” my way through the play along with the cast.  (I told her, “Don’t get too excited.  This is the only Shakespeare play I can do this with.”)

So maybe that’s why the words of that final speech, given by the Prince, kept echoing through the sorrow and rage yesterday, the raw weather and the raw emotions.  It felt (cliché alert) as though the world were weeping with us – and I say “us” because the majority of the people I know were at least as distraught as I was at the prospect of a petty, vindictive, spiteful, hate-filled, smirking ignoramus (and those are some of the kinder things I could say) about to become our President.

But what does a fixation on Romeo and Juliet have to do with our current national tragedy?  Well, on the way home, my mind, still on the play, drifted to an earlier scene, where Romeo is hiding out with Friar Lawrence after having murdered in a sword fight the odious Tybalt in revenge for Tybalt’s having (perhaps accidentally) just killed Romeo’s good friend Mercutio in a similar fight (one Romeo had been trying to stop).  Friar Lawrence, who in some ways can be looked at as a fool – without his well-intentioned meddling, there would be no tragedy – yet what he says to the grief-stricken, fearful, helplessly wailing Romeo is actually quite useful to one willing to hear it (Romeo wasn’t):  He lists for Romeo not what his (very real) problems are, but what his (equally real) blessings are:  Tybalt would have cheerfully killed Romeo, had Romeo not got Tybalt first; the law says death for his crime, but the Prince has mercifully changed it to banishment; Juliet is alive; Juliet still loves him.  As he ticks off each item on the list, he says to Romeo, “There art thou happy.”

All that “happiness” doesn’t make Romeo feel any better.  Friar Lawrence’s “pack of blessings” mean nothing to him.  The only thing he can see is the horror before him; the loss has obscured the good that remains.  And I realized that, in this dark night into which we have plunged, good still does exist – something to nurture and build on.  Hadn’t I spent the previous night and all day telling other sorrowing people, “We have each other”?  That’s no small thing.  Hadn’t I told them, too, “We have to keep holding on to each other”?  I know we will, and that’s no small thing, either.  I know, too, that there are other groups of people like us – we make up at least half the country, and we will not be silenced.  Standing together, we can be a very big thing, indeed.

The Prince’s full speech is:

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

It can feel as though there’s never been woe like ours, but that’s not true.  So, yes, let us mourn this event that feels like a death to so many of us; let us have more talk of these sad things.  But, at the same time, let us not forget those things of which we can still say, “There art thou happy.”  Let us, in our grief and anger, not forget that pardon has a place, and that revenge ends up uselessly with a stage full of bodies.  And, arm in arm, let us work together, fight for justice together, be kind to each other, believe in each other and what we can do together, and never forget that “these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  (Not Shakespeare, but another great stylist, St. Paul:  1 Cornthians 13:13)

Posted by: jevcat | January 12, 2015

Epiphany Journeying

T-W Center 2013 Christmas

Tomorrow Epiphany will be a week old, and part of me feels as though I never made through Advent.

The job I’ve had for the last few years has its busiest time in November and the first half of December, with long, intense, stressful days-stretching-into-evenings. This year, my freelance work was more demanding during that time period, as well. With all the best intentions in the world, Advent, and even Christmas Day, passed in a blur of day job, freelance, financial juggling, frantic last-minute prep for family Christmas.

Suddenly, Advent and the first day of Christmas were gone, so was my adrenaline, and I was almost too exhausted to stir. A week of recuperation, and then, just as I felt I was beginning to revive, time to go back to work, and BANG!: Epiphany. I’m still trying to clear out space for the Baby’s manger while simultaneously journeying to Bethlehem, and here were the Magi at the door. It felt rather like the time dear friends, having left early for fear of summer holiday traffic, turned up at my apartment 45 minutes early, while I was still vacuuming. I opened the door when they rang, said “Go away,” and closed it again. Well, I almost closed it again. Then I opened it wide and told them to come on in, but they’d have to take the place (and me) as they found it, which they were more than happy to do.

So maybe that’s what I need to do with the Wise Men (and God) now, too: just surrender, throw up my hands, and say, “Come on in, but you’ll have to take me as you find me” – which God always does, anyway. Oh wait a minute – that’s part of the point, isn’t it?

But then, Epiphany often finds me all at sixes and sevens, stuck between the joyous mystery of Christmas and the looming slog of Lent, then Easter, which, while the latter is also a joyous mystery and easier than Christmas, it’s just not as much fun. Cadbury eggs and Jelly Bellies, pleasant as they are, just aren’t in the same league as all those Christmas goodies; a basket from the Easter bunny is no match for Santa’s sack; and even the loveliest decorated eggs can’t hold a candle to the scent and sight of a Christmas tree lit and decorated with years of accumulated ornaments, each of which has its own tale to tell.

And if I feel confused, it’s no wonder – Holy Innocents comes on December 28th, but the Magi whose visit sparked the slaughter don’t arrive until January 6th. Who thought that made sense? (Although my Beloved, the high-energy physics engineer, is continually explaining to me that in a quantum universe anything can happen – he tries to explain how, too, but that’s where we run off the rails, or at least I do.)

Then there’s the whole “home by another way” thing. I, who sometimes feel like one of the Perpetually Perplexed, at least directionally, am notorious for getting lost while retracing my steps, whether literally on foot or metaphorically behind the wheel of a car, and I am brought up short: Go home by another way? Without even the star to guide them anymore? Even with the star, I have no idea how they found that manger-in-a-haystack, and without the star? Home by another way? Seriously?

Yet even when there’s not a baby king’s life at stake, sometimes we have no choice: there’s a washout on the road, a job ends unexpectedly, someone dies . . . and we have no choice but to go on/home by another way. And sometimes the home we wind up at isn’t the one we started out at. Maybe it was that way for the Wise Men, too. I, who am neither wise nor in any way magical, will just have to work it out. I will just have to keep stumbling about, stubbing my toes, and stopping to say, “Wait, didn’t I just pass this before?” – like the time a friend and I, having missed a turn, spent the better part of a summer evening, night, and very early morning driving through central New Jersey, passing regularly through Edison, which we always recognized without seeing a sign because someone earlier must’ve run over a skunk: catch that whiff, and we’d say to each other, “Oh no! We’re in Edison again” – but we did finally find our way, wearily, gratefully, home.

And so shall we all.

Wise Men, Nativity Set, St. Luke in the Fields, NYC

Wise Men, Nativity Set, St. Luke in the Fields, NYC

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Spoons & Hooks: Crochet patterns

Crochet patterns & techniques

A Little Fire

reflections on Christian spirituality from a brother of Holy Cross Monastery

The Irreverent Kitchen

Ain't nothing but a party!

A Journey of Remembrance and Hope

My Holocaust Pilgrimage to Poland


News, data and insight about the powerful forces that shape the world.

Secret Staten Island

Discover Something New about Old Staten Island.

Save Our Seaport

For Sail, NOT For Sale!

Jevcat's Blog

Musings and Amusings ...

Kathryn M. McCullough

Author, Artist, Expat

Mark Petruska

Writer & Editor

Jane's Walk USA

walk - observe - connect

the daysman

because motives matter

Sunshine in London

Views from a broad

Embracing Myself

My mystic path. Finding the holy in all things. Being the Divinity that I am. Engaged contemplation. Flourishing in dangerous times. Engaging, Embracing and Healing the World. is the best place for your personal blog or business site. News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

Resting my eyes

Id and Ego saying their piece