The Prostitute of Notre Dame

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris (Photo credit: analox & admiréIt was July of 1978

It was 1975

I had entered the great cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris

There in his majestic place of worship

A prostitute sat in the last row…

Breasts overflowing like two bolsters

Her cabrioles stretched wide

Her patinated countenance concealed with ceruse

Yet her person was incised into the pew

Her newel was humanity

Who could hold a candle to her truth

The peacefulness of the sanctuary was a grommet to her soul

Her soul was the finial

I was the trug

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DEFINITIONS: [bolsters (long pillows);  cabrioles (thick fat legs); patinated (weathered look of copperf/bronze); ceruse (pigment composed of white lead); incise (engrave); newel (central post of a circular stairway); grommet (eyelet to protect an opening); finial (ornament at the tip of a lamp); trug (shallow basket)]

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© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

between now…and the next time

English: from the NOAA photolibrary. http://ww...

English: from the NOAA photolibrary. http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

between now…

and the next time…

life continues on

with anticipating rhyme

between n

ow…

and the next time…

ideas bombarding one another

will you still be mine?

between now…

and the next time…

lightning strikes

amid the sublime

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© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Mom

Mother

Ma

Mom

Agnes

Aggie

Grandmother

Great Grandmother

Agnes G. Johann

June 29, 1915 – February 17, 2010

 Mother..a word that is synonymous with the heart…Our Mom was a person who lived her life in generosity…who opened her door to others and welcomed them into her home…regardless of beliefs or race…Democrats or Republicans…she always loved a lively political conversation or discussions about God and faith.   Even if Jehovah Witnesses would come knocking on the door, and most of us would not respond, she would invite them in for a discussion, relishing the debate. Once she and Dad went to Combermere, Canada to visit Catherine de Houeck Doherty’s home of retreat. Father Fran Eschweiler traveled with them. He was a great friend of Mom and Dad’s and shared much with them. Mom was a woman of faith, not one who would go around pushing it on others…but one who simply gave the example of prayer…faithfully attending the Liturgy on Sundays and Holy Days…saying her prayers each morning and evening at home and before meals.  If she had one weakness, it was worrying if she was too hard on others or did not do enough to help someone.  She was hardest on herself.  She was a woman with a conscience.

Mom was a good friend to her friends.  There was Ceal Dehler, a dear friend, who already has returned to God…and Helen Gagan, a nurse,. Ceal, Helen and my Mom would discuss religion and were notoriously known as “The Weeping Women of Jerusalem”–my Mom would come up with these dramatic titles for themselves. She was not afraid to question her faith or what she believed.  Ann Schaefer Bruendl was another of her very close friends, since childhood to this very day. Gerty Berres was also someone with whom my Mom enjoyed to visit and share laughter.  I remember that my Mom and Gerty took all of us children– Gerty had several as well—and off we all went to Lizard Mounds State Park for a picnic and hiking.  The picnic was outside of the Burial site. My Mom always held a special place in her heart for the Native Americans and would speak in their defense whenever the opportunity presented itself. When Mom thought an injustice was done to someone, she would speak up in their defense.

Mom had the most sensitive heart of anyone I have ever known.  Sensitivity in our culture today is looked upon oddly…like a weakness…but as our Mom showed us through her daily life, her sensitivity to the needs of others was a gift of love and compassion. She would spend literally hours finding just the correct greeting card for someone’s birthday or anniversary. She would search for the card that would touch the heart.  She was blessed with many good and special friends over the years.

Through her many years of being mother to eleven children, grandmother to twenty-five grandchildren and great-grandmother to eighteen great-grandchildren we find a person who never stopped caring or giving.  She worked so hard.  I can still see the shirts and overalls that she would wash and wring it with the old hand crank and then carry out to hang on the clothes lines.  She always made sure we had new dresses for Christmas and Easter.  Each birthday was celebrated with a cake and a gift that was carefully selected.

Now being parents ourselves, we can better understand how very much patience they had with us all. She left us a legacy to continue her spirit of love, forgiveness and care for one another and for others.

Caring for eleven children brought with it tears of joy and tears of loss.  Our parents, like we in our day, had sad times mixed with joyous times.  Certainly losing their two oldest sons at such tender ages, Robert at the age of six to tuberculosis and Roger at the age of 20 in a fiery Air Force plane crash, were sad and difficult time.  Our children should never die before us.  But they did not allow this great sadness to stop them from continuing on with life or with loving and helping others.

My parents gave without thinking of returns. Their home was always open — to us, to our families, and to our friends.  My Mom cared for her mother and dad when they could no longer take care of themselves. She and Dad also took care of Dad’s Dad.  Mom also took care of her Aunt Gerty for many years until she went home to God. In addition to that, ever so often the parish priest would call her and say , “There are some young girls who need a place to stay for the summer.  Could you take them in for a while?”

The thousands of meals that she prepared over the years were always done with great care and planning.  Though she did not acknowledge it within herself, she was an artist and the tables were set with just the perfect tablecloth, candles and decorations matching the feast being celebrated.  She loved to celebrate each feast and holiday—Easter,  July 4th, Birthdays, Thanksgiving Day, and especially Valentine’s Day. Each Valentine’s Day Dad would bring her a huge heart filled with chocolate delights and gave each of us kids a smaller one.  One year Mom decided she needed to lose weight, so Dad bought her a scale.  She had a sense of humor!  It paid off, she was the Queen of TOPS that following year! And even received a trophy for her efforts.    Mom also would cut out and create felt valentines for us and through the years we would receive them through the years, and that is why it was one of the gifts brought up during the Offertory procession as well as a ceramic shoe to symbolize the collection of ceramic shoes she had received—whenever someone would go on a trip, she would receive a special shoe from wherever they had been. Mom also cherished the many cards and letters she received from her children, grandchildren and friends and with them she crafted 24 scrapbooks, filled with kind words and memories. The love of friends and family was what she cherished the most!

I recall as a young child, the times Mom would create the posters for the Strawberry and Fall Festivals that St. Michael’s Church would orchestrate each year.  My Mom would be sure to take the signs to all the local businesses in the surrounding towns.  Despite all the housework, and she much to do, she would find time to help the Church in any way that she could.

What I appreciate most from her were the conversations that we shared and her deep love for God – her sense of spirituality has kept me alive and continuing the walk through life. I appreciate the fact that she taught me to be open to all people and respect other cultures and faiths.  When I was in college, I would ask to being home friends at Christmastime that had no where else to go, and they were always welcomed—whether they were Chinese, African-American, Native American, Jewish, Lutheran, Spiritualists,–it didn’t matter—they were welcomed. Even when one of my friends from Taiwan, having been used to living in an apartment, accidentally used the clothes chute for  an incinerator, helping clear the scraps from the meals one night!  It was funny finding the pork chop bone in the sock the next morning! My Mom was not a woman of pretense, but someone who could listen and appreciate the diversity of people. She taught me a great deal.  It was because of her that I chose to be a teacher.  She had one regret, that she never had the chance to attend high school. More than anything, she believed that getting an education or training to be your best self was very important in life…and I am sure if she were here today, that would be her message to each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She would also encourage us to continue to read—for that was her favorite pastime. She was an avid reader as the shelves of books in her home would verify.

Mom also enjoyed celebrations! Many New Year’s Eve parties and Halloween parties took place in her home.  She loved it when she could don a costume.  As a teenager, she was in three Church plays with the lead role.  She loved the drama and enjoyed good movies.

Finally, I would say what she always said to her friend, Bette Thelen, who I spoke to yesterday morning, “Pray not for the dead, they are in God’s hands, but pray for the living!”  So let us pray for each other and be joyful we had Ma for 94 years and continue to live the joy and goodness that she lived so wonderfully in her life!  Her final request to me was that St. Francis’ prayer should be sung at his funeral Liturgy.  I will rewrite the prayer  now as a promise to my Mom.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

 where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

 where there is doubt, faith;

 where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

 O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

 to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

 For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

* * * * * *

© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Remembering My Sister

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet

 ~Vietnamese Proverb

                  Barbara Irene Johann

            February 21, 1947 – July 25, 2010

           We were a family of eleven….Barbara was my older sister…and the 7th child born into our family. Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring – A sister is a special gift… when we are too young to know better, we are competitive, we want a caravan of nomads to take one or two away, we get tired of being beat at Canasta with the concealed hand that gives an extra 100 points, that Barbara was very clever at playing and beating me on a consistent basis…we count how many dishwashings they got away with, as my Mom always said she did not need a dishwasher, as she had 5 of them…then, as we grow more mature, we know a sister is someone who will never get bored with your stories of childhood, who will see through you in a heartbeat, who understands your personal stories sometimes better than you do yourself! We share family feuds and secrets, we share family jokes —we know each other’s hearts…we have been through much together, and though time moves on, it can be taken back instantaneously to another moment and seem as real as the present.

In essence, to lose a sister, is to lose a friend…to say good-bye to a part of yourself. However, rather than think of the loss, we need to focus on what the life of Barbara gave to all of us. Barbara was a strong person…in spite of the physical distress that racked her body all of these years…that we have only begun to understand in the last ten. Myotonic dystrophy slowly takes the life out of a person—tiredness is a constant companion—that often causes a person who has it to be misjudged as not trying hard enough— I believe that Barbara was the victim of silent judgments many times, myself included—however, in spite of her physical limitations, she forged ahead and gave 100% to living her life. She was strong-willed and when she made a decision on an action, she followed it through.

She may have been 7th in our family line-up but she was THIRD in the way she lived her life— God was first, then others, then herself. Barbara encouraged others to be kind and generous not through talk, but through action. Despite the many setbacks and rejections that would cause many of us to give up on relationships, Barbara never did… but would constantly give others the opportunity and chance of knowing her and being friends. She never gave up on people. In that she reminds me of Jesus—always there— and is that not what is asked of us as Christians—to be Jesus to one another? How many times is God rejected in our lives, but constantly continues the knocking and does not withdraw His love. That is how Barbara loved…her husband, Terry, her son, Jimmy and Eric, her family…her brothers and sisters…her friends

 

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© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Embracing Gratitude

gratitude. =)

gratitude. =) (Photo credit: camerakarrie)

Embrace gratitude

indeed a challenge…

a challenge to leave the dung heap

… and move beyond oneself…

the self-imposed tomb–

the Lazarus within called forth…

sometimes it is more comfortable to remain in the dark, because the unknown is a risk…

to embrace gratitude takes risk…

and deep belief…

trust in Yahweh…

giving up old patterns

…and feeling foolish and out of place in the pool of gratitude…

believing God can and will and does…

love me as I am…

 

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© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mermaid of the Salish Sea

Seaside at Porto Covo, Portugal. Français : La...

Seaside at Porto Covo, Portugal. Français : La côte de Porto Covo, au Portugal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dedicated to…

 Mary Lois Alford

Love carries the heart to places it should not go

Deep within the recesses of the waves

Perspicacious judgment leaves the moment

Longing for the want as the water moves to and fro

 

Who is this woman

who captivates the heart?

 

Salient dreams nourish the gentle graciousness…

 

As the coy smile appears on her lips…

 

Demeanor revealing  the finer art!

The plaintive cry of the Salish Sea…

Woman so strong…mesmerizing…calling

Yet deftly refraining…beckoning me onward…

Quietly drifting over the stream to me

Modern Enslavement to Rudeness

Chargepod is a 6-way charging device that allo...

Chargepod is a 6-way charging device that allows you to charge multiple cell phones, PDAs, headsets, and most other mobile electronics with a single power supply. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Functionality?  Connection? Or would you consider AVOIDANCE?

Cell phones have taken over conversation.  Humans no long speak to one another, no longer listen to one another. We are caught up in this persistent wave of technology. Enters your family for Thanksgiving dinner and what is held in each hand? Not an offered handshake, not flowers, not candy…no!  Hands are carrying the cell phones already on! Wireless computers are clutched in the other hand. Instead of greeting the person whose home has been entered, we immediately connect to the handheld device instead of greeting the relative or friend that we have traveled to see! The very object that should increase our human connection with others is decreasing it right before our eyes!  As the receiver of this action, we find ourselves attempting to pry their eyelids away from the electronic device long enough for them to spit out a hello!

Christmas rolls around and steeped in commercialism, we forget that we are here to celebrate LIFE and the Christ child. Once again…the day has been overrun by hurried meals and a rush to the High Definition Modem for the latest in sports, as we place all of our energy and strength into the team that we want to win! And once again, we can not bear to listen to Aunt Sue speak about her day…because her loneliness would expect a reply from us…and it is much easier to press the button for a new channel!  While in another room, the young adults are catching up on the episodes that they missed on the High Resolution Definition Cable TV! Technology has once again defeated us!

The small talk is no longer important. The idiosyncrasies of this cousin or aunt are no longer considered.  Our little bits of humanity that once identified us as unique organisms on this planet Earth have become oblivious and unimportant to the new brain wave. I venture to say we are becoming less human!  Our generation is becoming more disconnected than previously.  In addition to the physical distance pulling families apart– the mileage now has entered the room in the form of a small, electronic device!

Easter is trying hard to keep up with the consumers–now we have Hallmark chickens that, with a push of a button, lay an egg before our eyes!  In any case, how did it come about that Easter rabbits brought chicken eggs?  Dare I have the family gathering only to be struck down with the wireless taking over?  Can I bear that humiliation that a computer screen is more worth their time?

Family gatherings we now suspend, as to technology our minds and hearts bend!  We are trapped in “rabbitization of humanity,” masking our humanity with the false impression of connection, with the rapidity of our fingers texting across the keys, seeking someone out there in cyberland, while ignoring the person smack in front of us!”Hurry, hurry, [we] can’t be late!” …the rabbit from Alice’s Wonderland foresaw the world we did now create! “No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late for a very important date” could be transposed to “No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m texting, I’m texting, for my cyberfilled life!”

We do not appreciate the presence of one another but are drawn to the incredible illusion of “being with” someone on the cell phone as we text. How rude we have become as a people, as a nation — never happy with the present or the one present. That is exactly what this behavior is saying. The younger generation does not want to hear it but it is quite true!  After conducting several self-imposed surveys of young adults, the conclusion that I have come to is that texting alleviates the ability to respond.  We do not share our true feelings or colors. We can avoid the other person when we text.  Texting is impersonal and gets us off the hook. We can mask our response because our voice will not betray us.

Humanity is improved?  I think not! We have no time to stop and look into one another’s eyes…we have no time to hear the words of those with whom we speak…we do not meet….while our cell phones get the last tweak!

Despite the increase of a seeming connection, a rudeness abounds that lacks the affection!

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© 2012 Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane H. Johann and johannisthinking.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.