Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THE HEALING POWER OF TEA AND SYMPATHY...AND LAUGHTER



Yesterday I was in a bad mood.  Everything had fallen in around me and I had one too many issues heaped upon me.  My customary sunny disposition grew a little dark.  The last 4 years have built to a crescendo of issues; worsening health, money problems, my father died, the swami died, my uncle died, my son died, more financial issues.  Writing blogs about the difficulties of poor and disabled people usually makes me feel much better.  Aside from prayer, it is all I can do to help the poor who are being squeezed tighter and tighter every day, especially the elderly and the disabled, who can do little to alleviate their situation.  I am the guinea pig, so to speak.  My life exemplifies the lives of so many other people that all I have to do is write about what I encounter daily, and I get my point across.

But what about the bad mood?  The sense of hopelessness and vulnerability?  Usually, my faith holds me together, despite the many hours of isolation within which the accidental hermit lives.

Last night, a friend came over for tea.  She helped me with a few things around the house and we began to laugh about the ordinary moments of ridiculousness.

We moved the mattress on my bed and, when I took the sheets out of the dryer, they had "pills" all over them!  It was disgusting.  They were the cheapest sheets I could find at K-Mart when I got the larger bed, but they still had cost me more than $30!  We tried EVERYTHING to get those pills off the sheets, resorting, finally, to a roll of tape meant to remove dog hair from one's clothes, when I realized that my fabric shaver needed a battery that I didn't have.  We kept getting that tape stuck on our fingers and my hair kept getting in the way.  The tape was pink with zebra stripes.  It was just ludicrous.  My friend kept making fun of my sheets and telling me, "You have GOT to buy some new sheets, girl," while struggling to get the pills off of them.  We laughed and laughed.

My rather large cat decided to leave the biggest, stinkiest present in his litter box that I have ever seen.  The house was immediately inundated with a foul odor.  Frantically, I slapped on a face mask and some surgical gloves and hurried to remove the offending present.  My friend's comments made me laugh and laugh so hard that I gave myself a "stitch" and it is still there, in my left side.  It hurts to cough.

When I had captured the offending items and sealed them in a special odor masking plastic bag, my friend ran it out to the trash, nearly gagging on the way.  Afterward, we lit incense and put it in my bathroom AND my bedroom, where the scent had wafted on what evil breeze, I do not know.  I lit a candle.  The laughter continued.

A disgusting job was made funny and therefore more enjoyable, in an odd way.  We had another cup of tea and had more conversation.  She left, promising to visit me again soon.

After she was gone, I enjoyed two beautiful, home made burritos that she had brought over to me for my dinner and watched an old television episode on my computer.

This morning, my problems are still with me, but the burden is lighter, thanks to last night's visitor, the prayers of more distant friends, and, most of all, the generosity of our good Lord who comes in the guise of helpful friends and laughter.



Copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

SO, YOU THINK POOR PEOPLE HAVE EVERYTHING HANDED TO THEM ON A SILVER PLATTER?



Some people truly believe that poor people have everything handed to them on a silver platter.  I remember, years ago, when I was having to move from a second floor apartment to a disabled, ground floor apartment because I had torn the meniscus in BOTH knees and could hardly walk, much less climb up and down stairs.  I had just become eligible for disability, but I would wait two and 1/2 years before I was eligible for Medicare! 

I told a friend that I was worried about how I was going to move, and she said, "Don't they have to pay for it?"

I asked her, "who is they?"

"The government," she replied.

This would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so damn sad.  "The Government" doesn't pay for anything for me, much less my moving expenses!  In fact, the first 5 months of my disability constituted a "waiting period" because Social Security has decided that everyone has 5 months worth of income and assets with which to support themselves, after which Social Security will kick in!  I don't know ANYONE who has 5 months worth of income to draw upon.  Maybe rich people make enough income to save that much, but the regular wage earner rarely does.

Some people think I am "living off the taxpayer" because I receive Social Security Disability.  The truth is that I paid into the Social Security system for more than 30 years, and I am receiving the benefits to which I am entitled,  just like any other insurance plan.  That is why they call it an "entitlement program" - because the people receiving it really ARE entitled to it.

Neither is my health insurance free.  I pay more than $100 a month in Medicare premiums.  I pay another $20 a month for Human drug coverage.  On top of that, I have been paying $30 to $40 per month for medicines.  Even though I paid tons of money into the system for more than 30 years and am continuing to pay for my health insurance monthly, some people claim I am living "on welfare!"



I receive my treatment at the local "teaching hospital," University of New Mexico Hospital, which relies upon people like me as a source of patients on which their students learn, and my income qualifies me for a secondary insurance called "UNM Cares," which lessens my co-pays at the pharmacy.  (Obtaining this coverage is a grueling, yearly process of bringing in all my financial information, waiting hours in back-breaking chairs before being seen.) 

Not only do I shell out actual money for insurance coverage and medications, but the bureaucratic run-around I get when I try to obtain services is INTENSE.  Recently, I have been having trouble getting my medications.

A few days into this month, I called UNM Pharmacy and ordered refills on my 5 medications.  I was told that the operator had run my refills through the computer and they had 'cleared.'  She advised me that they would be available the next day.

When I went into the Pharmacy a day or two afterwards, I took a number, waited in an excruciatingly uncomfortable chair for 40 minutes until my number was called.  The clerk at the counter informed me that two of my medications had NOT cleared the computer (contrary to what I had previously been told.)  One of them needed a new prescription.  She said that the insurance company did not want me to take the other one, but wanted me to use a different medication.  I was shocked that the insurance company could decide what medicine I was to take, but the clerk insisted, so I acquiesced.  I filled out paperwork for the medications to be mailed to me.

When the medications were mailed to me in a bright white envelope with a big sticker on it that said, "URGENT - MEDICAL SUPPLIES," the post office refused to attempt delivery.  Instead, the carriers left it at the post office FOR DAYS, despite my having called the main USPS number and gotten confirmation numbers for "redelivery."  Early in the week, I had been told by one of the postal carriers that she "couldn't be bothered" with trying to find anyone's apartment!

Finally, having completely run out of one of the medications, I had to get a friend to help me load my rolling walker into the car and accompany me to the post office, where I waited in another line, got my package, gave them a piece of my mind, and dragged myself home again.



Upon opening the package, I discovered I had been overcharged.  None of my medications have ever been more than $7, but this new medication was $30!  I was upset because this was the medication that the UNM Pharmacy told me I had to have!

I called the UNM Pharmacy mailing department and had to leave a message because they do not answer telephone calls.  It takes up to 3 days before they return a call.  Finally, someone called me and informed me that the amount was high because I didn't have UNM Cares Insurance.  I informed them that, indeed, I DO have it and that it is valid until January of 2015.  They insisted I didn't have it.  I asked them to call the financial aid office and the woman refused.  They said I had to call.

I called the UNM Financial Aid office and was told that yes, of course, I was right.  I DO have UNM Cares Insurance and that it is clearly in the system and that the UNM Pharmacy has the SAME system and ought to have seen it.  She told me to have them call her!  (Something they had previously refused to do!)

So, BACK I went to the UNM Pharmacy Mailing Department, where I had to AGAIN leave a message because they don't answer their phone! 



Kristin from the UNM Pharmacy Mailing Department called me today and told me that she had called the UNM Financial Aid office and had gotten it straightened out with them, and that, yes, I DO have UNM Cares Insurance.  (Yes, I do.)  The real problem, though, according to Kristin, is that the new asthma medication is a "Tier Three" medication, whereas what I HAD been taking was a "Tier One" medication.  Tier Three medications cost $30.

Kristin said that my doctor was faxed a request to submit a pre-authorization request for my old medication but that HE had decided to order a different medication!  This is the exact opposite of what I had been told at the beginning of the month.

Clearly, I had received 3 or 4 different stories from 3 or 4 different people at the same location.  Who KNOWS what is the truth?

I never wanted this medication to begin with.  I am content with the medication I have been using for years, and I do not have an extra $25 to spend every month on medicines.  I told her I want to return the medication that is sealed and never opened, but she informs me that they are not allowed to do that, but she will have a conversation with one of the pharmacists and see what she can do!  Clearly, I will likely be stuck paying $30 for a medication I never wanted to begin with.

This afternoon I received a phone call from one of the senior pharmacists, Andy.  He was very kind, and very patient, but did not have good news for me.  Whereas, in the past, the UNM Cares program would cover any drug that was not covered by my insurance company's formulary, currently the UNM Pharmacy will demand full price for it! ($165.00 in this case.)  This is being blamed on OBAMACARE, but I strongly suspect it has nothing whatsoever to do with Obamacare. 

I have been dealing with this medication issue nearly three weeks now.  In addition to the money I have spent, I cannot begin to estimate how many hours I have spent on the phone and in person in an effort to simply get a prescription and get it at the right price!  In a recent blog post, I told the story of how I'd recently been made to wait 45 minutes just to get a man with a wheelchair to take me to where I would be having a procedure performed at the UNM Hospital...somewhere far too distant to walk on my own.

Clearly, nothing is being handed to me by the government.  Obtaining services is a constant struggle and they are not free!  It aggravates me no end when I read nasty comments on the internet and in the newspapers to the effect that poor people are too lazy to work and that this is why they are poor.  It is a ludicrous assessment of the situation.  I can't imagine anyone preferring this circus to holding down a job.  When you have a job, you have money and you have choices that are denied to you when you are poor.  The logistics of life were SO MUCH EASIER when I was working.  Why on earth would I choose to be poor and disabled when every year it gets harder and harder to make ends meet?

Social Security increases do NOT meet the increases in food, utilities, medicines, and other necessaries.  Every year, I get further and further behind.  Why would anyone "choose" this?  You'd have to be crazy.






Copyright (c) 2014, Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.
 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A WORD ABOUT ABORTION

"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion
has already been born."  ~ Ronald Reagan



Everyone who knows me pretty much knows that, although I am against abortion, I am not an anti-abortion activist, per se.  My ministry is geared more toward writing about the poor, and my personal prayer life follows the mystics'.  I do make baby blankets for poor mothers who have opted to have their children instead of aborting them, but that is the extent of my active support of the pro-life cause. 

In fact, I have been saying for some time that, until we cure the underlying problem, abortions will likely remain legal and people will continue to have them.  The underlying problem is fornication, of course.  We live in a culture that promotes promiscuity, ridicules traditional morals and degrades the family.  Our real job is to convert the culture and bring more people to Christ.  In the meantime, however, we do need to at least TRY to create a stopgap measure to stem the tide of abortions and save the babies from being killed.  If we did manage to make abortions illegal, that would only be the beginning of the real work.

From a purely personal point of view, I am very grateful that abortions were not legal when my father got my mother pregnant when she was 17, because he would have insisted that she have one, and I would not be here.  How can I know that?  Well, I knew my father and his attitudes toward children.  I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl, but just take my word for it.  Despite having had narcissistic, selfish parents; despite a wretched childhood and a difficult adult life, I like being alive.  I wouldn't trade it for an early death in the womb.  When I was in the womb, however, I had no say in whether or not I would be allowed to live.  Fortunately, neither did my parents.

All Christians look forward to a never ending life in heaven with Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the saints and the angels.  One could ask the question that, if we are all meant to return to heaven, why didn't God just create us, like the angels, and keep us in heaven with him?  Why put us through these human lives and THEN take us back to himself?  It is a mystery, of course.  No one can really answer that question, though some of have tried.

The essential point is that we must be here for a reason.  God created this world and he pronounced it GOOD.  It is for some good that we are here, living our lives, participating in the creation of more lives.  The natural order of things is GOOD.  A mother and father coming together to participate in creation is GOOD.  Babies are GOOD.  Life is GOOD.

The story of how Satan came to be illustrates the problem of egotism and arrogance.  Satan thought he could be another God, so God threw him out of heaven.  In the story of Adam and Eve, our first parents were egotistical and arrogant, thinking that they knew better than God and could eat of the fruit of the tree, despite God having instructed them not to do it.  These stories carry the message that ego and arrogance are the primary sins that get us into trouble.  The moment we think we know better than God; that we know better than the Church he created; that we know better than the natural order he created; THAT is the moment when we are thrust out of the heavenly realm and left to wander on our own, in misery because we are estranged from God, by our own choice.

Putting effort into circumventing something good God has created is a sin against God and is not in our own best interests.  It throws us outside of the Holy Kingdom.  This is why the entire Christian church was against artificial contraception until very recently.  (Now only the Catholic Church really talks about it.)  It is one of the reasons why Christianity has always been against abortion.  The sin of abortion is easier to comprehend than the sin of artificial contraception in the minds of many, even religious people.  Until one realizes that the cycle of life that God has created for human beings is GOOD, it will be hard to understand the prohibitions against artificial contraception and abortion.

Westerners accustomed to the democratic process have a particularly hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that obedience to the natural order, God's order, is the ideal.  The individual is so lionized by the Western world, that each person has been elevated to a mini-deity status, and the egotism and arrogance of this stance is death to the spirit.

Fortunately, Christianity is the religion of second chances.  In the past, we may have sinned against the natural order of things, but we can repent and re-enter the kingdom of heaven.  Many women regret their abortions, have repented, and are enjoying the bliss of the community of God's people.  Many men regret the abortions they have encouraged.

They have realized that obedience to God is not a position of slavery.  It simply means that one is in harmony with the natural order that God created.  While a musical harmony is beautiful to the ears and uplifts the spirit, disharmony is painful and repellant. 

The real "choice" that we all need to make is whether or not to place ourselves in the harmonious, beautiful and sublime kingdom of heaven, in communion with God, his saints and angels, or whether we want to live outside the magical circle, in a life of disharmony and disease.

Copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 18, 2014

MINOR CRUCIFIXIONS



The last couple of weeks have been full of messy, circular, painful and annoying events, but each time I am assaulted with yet another bit of stupidity, I have thought of Jesus on the cross.  Today is "Good Friday," although I wonder at the name.  It is the day that we commemorate the day Jesus died in a horrifying manner that, sad to say, was all too common during the Roman era.  First, he was, amongst other things, scourged (whipped) to within an inch of his life.  People often died from scourging alone.  On top of the scourging, he was also crucified.  I don't need to describe it to you.  Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson's movie has a more than adequate picture of the process.  Of course, there were several different methods of crucifixion in vogue at the time, and we are not sure of which method was used, but it is a distinction without a difference.

This week I have been dealing with some health issues and, in connection with that, dealing with the bureaucracy of the University of New Mexico Hospital.  This is the hospital that accommodates the poor of New Mexico.  It is a "teaching" hospital, of course, so unless you are lucky enough to have one of the teachers as your doctor, you are subject to having to have a string of doctors attend you over the years, some of whom don't yet quite know what they are doing.  It can be unnerving.  A few years ago, I lobbied to get one doctor who could follow me through the years, dealing with my chronic issues.  I was lucky.  I got Dr. Byrch Williams, a great doctor with a great "bedside manner."

Unfortunately, however, when I have to see a specialist, it is like playing Russian Roulette.   Many of the doctors are very good, but you know there is always a bullet in one of the chambers.  This week I had to go to one of the clinics that is located in the main hospital FAR away from the parking structure.  As with every other store and institution, there are not enough handicap parking spots.  I had to drive around and around and around to the top of the parking building and there, on the roof, was ONE space next to the elevators.  It was frustrating, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.

The elevator was filthy, with graffiti on the walls and chipped paint.  Once I got to the ground floor, I was dismayed to see that the entrance to the hospital that faces the garage had been turned into an emergency exit and I could not enter!  Instead, I had to limp, with my cane, ALLLL around the building to go into the large front entrance.  It was painful, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.

Entering the cavernous room with a high ceiling, I was greeted with so much noise and random activity that I had to stop for a moment and orient myself.  The air was full of the smells of food being cooked in the cafĂ© adjoining the common room.  Patients were walking and wheeling into and out of the facility.  Several groups of medical personnel were lounging in the comfortable chairs where patients were meant to wait. 

I approached the polished marble information desk and asked one of the young women to have them send down someone with a wheelchair.  It is hard to describe the air of disinterest that the woman emanated.  She wasn't rude.  She was interested enough to be rude.  I felt I was beside the point because she had other things on her mind.  She called the Patient Transport Department and told me it would take half an hour before they could come get me with a wheelchair.  Instead, it took 45 minutes.  In the meantime, I recited one rosary in that noisy, chaotic place.  I wish I could say I was a tiny island of serenity amidst the cacophony, but I would be lying.  I was distracted and tense, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.

When I finally got to the clinic, the doctors, Sales (a woman), and her supervisor Waxman (a man), were very kind.  I thought they would schedule me for a minor surgical procedure for a future time, but they told me they could do it right then, if I wanted.  Rather than go through another day of hassles in this behemoth of a hospital, I opted to have them perform the procedure.  Out came the scalpels and needles and they went to work on me.  It was scary and painful, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.

When it was over, I had to sit in the adjoining room, waiting again for a wheelchair to come get me.  This time it only took 25 minutes, a decided improvement.  The young man pushing me around was very kind.  He was a Tibetan from India.  I asked him how he liked it in this country and whether or not he had friends.  He told me that he returns to India now and then, but it has begun to feel unfamiliar to him.  He is used to it here and knows many of the Tibetans that live in New Mexico, where the land is similar to some parts of India and Tibet.  He was very kind to me, but I sensed an underlying unhappiness, but perhaps that was just because of the business of his day.  So many people are overloaded in their jobs, while other people vainly search for work!  It seems like everyone is expected to do the work of 3 people, so that 2 other people remain unemployed.

The following couple of days were very busy with visitors, phone calls and attempts to straighten out an erroneous billing I received from UNM Hospital Pharmacy.  My service dog also needs surgery and I had to complete some documentation needed to obtain funding, walking to the office to make copies.  My apartment is coming up for renewal, and I had to submit all kinds of paperwork for that.  (You would think that, once you move into an apartment, the rental agreement would just roll over every year, with the exception of rent increases, but every year we have to reinvent the wheel here.)  Some people think that the disabled have lots of time on their hands because they aren't working, but I have never been busier.  When you are chronically ill, your needs increase, and getting those needs met invariably requires more paperwork, more money, and more attempts at funding.  It is a grind, but Jesus had it worse.

Today I woke at noon.  I have slept more than 10 hours, recovering from the stress of the week.  The first thing I said to myself was, "Jesus died on the cross at noon today."  Jesus had it much worse than me.

Copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.
 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

LITANY OF THE LIVESTOCK

Spring view - 2014
 
 
Home-bound people often rely for companionship upon animals, domestic and wild.  Some of us require service animals for our various disabilities.  In addition, it has been scientifically proven that petting an animal and interacting with it is very good for one's health and has a tendency to reduce blood pressure in those for whom this is a problem.  I hope my animals don't lower my blood pressure, or I'd be dead.  Despite years of cigarette smoking (which I stopped about 8 years ago), I have the blood pressure of a teenager, thanks be to God.  I have that and my "beautiful brain," according to the MRI results several years ago.  No shrinkage - that's the key.  Anyway, I expect I will be around for a while, with my beautiful brain, my good blood pressure, and my animals...with the understanding that the rest of the edifice is slowing going to pieces.




The problem with animals, however, is that they require an awful lot of maintenance.  I have a small service dog and a huge Bengal cat, and it is like having two toddlers in the house.  You never know what they will poop on or what they will eat, and sometimes it is the same problem at once, in the case of my dog who has developed a taste for cat poop.




My morning routine goes somewhat like this:

I wake in my bed, propped up by my slanted pillow, my squishy pillow under my neck, a pillow under each arm, and a pillow under my knees.  The first thing I do is grab the large wooden cross I place on my chest when I go to sleep at night.  I use it to remind me, last thing at night, and first thing in the morning, that no matter my problems, someone had it a lot worse than I.  Things may be rough, but at least I am not being crucified, literally anyway.  I say some sort of prayers, many of them wordless, usually ending with a resolution to "do better today."  Then, as much as I want to lay abed, I can hear my corgi's toenails tap dancing on the linoleum floor around my bed, and I know that if I don't get her outside soon she will get so upset that she'll barf stomach acid in protest.  It's a new trick of hers, and I must say, it is quite effective.



As soon as I try to disengage myself from my pillow fortress, the Bengal stomps onto the first pillow that needs to be removed and plops himself down on it, purring to beat the band.  He used to care less about me when he was young, but now that he is an old retired gentleman he can't get enough of me.  Typical male.  Anyway, I have to pay the toll, so I stroke him nicely, give him a scratch under the neck, and scoot him out of the way so that I can roll myself out of bed.  Then the litany begins.

I read an article once that claimed that groaning is good for you.  Convenient, yes?  Getting out of bed and putting on some clothes is accompanied by a symphony of my groans and moans, punctuated by my dog's barking at me in an effort to herd me toward the back door.  This music supports the litany of my occasional exclamations of, "Lord save me!" and other such sentiments. 

I wake with a lot of pain, as do many people, but I push through it with physical activity first thing in the morning, in the vain hope that everything will get warmed up and less creaky.  Alas, my infrastructure is permanently damaged and, I suspect, rusting away in some hidden spots.  Still, I do not want to start my day with pain pills because the doctor has only given me enough for 2 per day.  It is not enough for my needs, but I am afraid to ask for more because the doctors at the public clinic deal with so much addiction amongst the poor population they serve that they act like everyone is an addict waiting to happen.

I spend the next hour and a half catering to the creatures while reminding myself, "life is good!"  First, I need to get the dog outside, then bag her business and stash it in a deceptively pretty tin container in the garden, for disposal with the trash later in the day.  Then I have to wash all the animal's dishes.  This morning I also had to vacuum the tabletop where I feed the cat because he's such a pig he throws his food everywhere.  His bowls are surrounded by a mass of tuna bits and kitty kibbles.  Usually, I take a sponge and wipe it off, but the carnage was too much today.  The cat eats like he's King Henry VIII in the great room.  The litany continues.  "Lord save me!"

Once the dishes are washed, I measure out some kibble for the cat into his "Petite Royal" Parisian kitty bowl; dump a can of wretched "tuna" that smells like the bottom of a bird cage into his special, whisker length oblong dish; then pour out a dish of water which he will never drink because he insists on drinking from the bathtub faucet and will sit there for an hour until I acquiesce and turn on a dribble of water for his majesty.






Next, I turn to the dog's needs.  She's now on a special, low fat diet that is easy on the digestive tract.  I always wear gloves to wash her dishes because, although she licks her bowl VERY clean, she deposits a layer of saliva which is just gross.  Anyway, I put down her water first, while she tap dances around the kitchen, licking her lips and staring at me, wild-eyed.  My girl loves her food.  First, I measure out an exact amount of kibble, hit it with some hot water, then mix in a rounded tablespoon of some low-fat dog food.  Gently, I tell her to sit and stay.  She'll do it, but she's vibrating the whole time, and her eyes are saying, "why are you torturing me like this?"  When she's settled down, a bit, I tell her, "OK, take it," and she hoovers it in less than a minute and stands around, hopefully, as if she suspects I may give her more, which I never do...but a dog can dream, right?  She needs to lose 3 pounds, according to the vet.

My animals eat and drink better than most of the people on the African continent.  I worry about the quality of the water here, because our pipes are always breaking, so I give my dog the same bottled water I have delivered to me.  It is an investment in our health, which is expensive to repair, once it is broken.  Still, I think about those people in Africa who have to haul their water from the river a mile or two or three distant.

Most of the world lives in some version of abject poverty, surviving without even the benefit of clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, or proper food and housing, what to speak of electricity and all of that.  It is a source of bewilderment to me when I contemplate how, in the last 2,000 years or so, some countries have soared to the heights of comfort, while others remain in huts.  I suspect there is something sinful in that.  "Lord save them," I say.  The litany continues.

Finally, the animals are pooped, fed and watered (or so I think), and it is time for my first cup of tea.  I'm in the water closet for perhaps 3 minutes, during which time the cat is free to come in and use his litter box, but today he decides he is shy, and he REALLY has to go, so by the time I enter the kitchen to start making my tea, he has deposited a giant stinky poop squarely in the middle of the cushioned mat in front of the sink, something he has never done before.  It smells like the demons of hell have shot up my nose.   I can hardly believe it!  I suspect it has something to do with the new toilet in the bathroom which sounds like a jet taking off from Cape Canaveral.  Every time I flush it, the cat jets out of the room and under the nearest piece of furniture. 

Head pounding from allergies, an emerging migraine, and a neck spasm, I don my kitty haz mat suit.  First, the "gas mask."  That's the most crucial.  We don't want the troops to faint before the mess is cleaned up.  Then the latex gloves.  I make sure my long hair is falling down my back and not INTO the poop.  I dispense with the offending mound and carry the bag to the trash.  I can't imagine how I would get the mat clean enough for future use, so I quickly walk it out to the giant trash bin around the corner and deposit it there.   "Lord save me!"  The litany continues.

FINALLY, I make myself a big mug of very strong coffee.  I really need the extra caffeine by then.  I sit down in my recliner, put up my legs, and am about to drink it, when the dog insists that she has to go outside again.  She won't leave off, so I take her outside, and, sure enough, she leaves me a large bit of business, and I am on poop patrol once again.  "Lord save me!"  The litany continues.

copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

SHEEP AMIDST THE WOLVES


During the last 4 years, I have experienced a string of significant deaths in my life, each of which devolved into a drama that left me out in the cold: suspicious death and inheritance stolen; a beloved spiritual teacher surrounded by grasping, possessive followers; and my only child whose ashes were supposed to come to me but other relatives in his town closed ranks and prevented me from getting anything.  Without power, access or resources, I was unable to obtain even the smallest memento of loved ones.  I had imagined I would be comforted by the presence of a little reminder of the love I had for each person, but even the smallest comfort was not to be had.

These big events presented themselves in a sea of smaller, similar events, all of which seemed cruel and senseless, heartless and mean.  I have been reeling from the shock of it all.  The grief, the loss, the sadness, the depression, hit me hard.  Physical illnesses worsened, as did chronic pain.  Back and stomach spasms returned.  Migraines proliferated.  I have been stressed for years.

A good friend pointed out to me that all of this has happened since I was accepted into the Catholic Church.  I mulled this over for some time and had a quiet epiphany.

All of the people who have worked so hard to hurt me are non-Christians.  In fact, most of them are hostile toward Catholics in particular.  I should not have been surprised by the evil assaults.  I should have expected it and welcomed it because Jesus promised this would happen:




“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.  But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.  When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say.  You will be given at that moment what you are to say.  For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.  When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.  Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.  No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.  It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!

“Therefore, do not be afraid of them.  Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light, what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.  I have come to bring not peace but the sword, for I have come to set:

             a man against his father,

                        a daughter against her mother,

            and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law

            and one’s enemies will be those of his household.
 
Matthew 10:16-36.

Yes, everything has been turned upside down, but now I understand it.  Every attack is proof of the Lord's love and presence in my life.  There will be more attacks, but I know from whom they come,  and for whom they are meant, and I will no longer be puzzled by the whole process.  I will continue to speak, and it will be the Spirit of Our Father who speaks through me, and I will draw strength from it and be healed.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Matthew 10:40
 
Copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SAINT SALVATORE OF HORTA

1520-1567


Saint Salvatore was born during the golden age of Spain, when it was wealthy world power, and art, religion and politics were flourishing.  Salvatore's family, however, was poor, and both of his parents died by the time he was 14.  Afterwards, he supported himself and his sister as a shoemaker.  When Salvatore was 21, his sister married and he was able to join the Franciscans.  Before long, he became famous for his holiness.

Salvatore healed people, just with the sign of the cross.  So many people came thronging to see him that his superiors kept having to transfer him to different locations.  Sometimes people would tear off pieces of his habit in order to have a relic of his.  Fame is annoying and inconvenient.

Salvatore would not pray for people on demand, however.  If you wanted him to pray for you, he required that you do a good examination of conscience, go to confession, and receive the Eucharist worthily.  This idea gives me pause, because I always agree to pray for people when they ask, and I am going to have to give some thought to Saint Salvatore's method.  Also, it makes me want to run to confession so that I can pray for Saint Salvatore's intercession so that he could heal me.

On the subject of healing:  I believe in spiritual healing.  Jesus healed.  His apostles healed.  It is possible.  On the other hand, I do not believe that everyone is destined to be healed, no matter how many saints you get on board.  Pain and suffering are a reality on this planet.  Some people may be chosen to suffer for their sins or the sins of others.  They are chosen to be "victim souls" and offer up their pains for the sake of the world.  This is one of those big mysteries that we will never solve.

Some people think that God is a vending machine and that, if you pray to him and sing a few songs and follow his commandments, then you will automatically be dispensed whatever you ask of Him.  It just doesn't work that way, no matter how much the "name it and claim it" people say otherwise.  Our relationship with God is not a piece of commerce.  He is our heavenly father.  We do what he asks of us, not because we want to get riches or comforts, but because we love Him and we know that He wants the best for us.

Others think that God is made out of unicorns, cotton candy and rainbows, in other words; a god with lots of sweetness and no demands of his own.  People who believe in this type of God will often get mad at him when something goes terribly wrong in their lives.  They would say, "how could a good god allow this to happen to me?"

The point of religion is to prepare us to see God by increasing our holiness.  We are destined to become saints.  God doesn't care about our prosperity here on earth, except as to whether or not our condition is conducive to becoming a saint.  Please note:  Saints are customarily known for their poverty, simplicity, austerity and devotion.  The way to heaven cannot be bought.  In fact, God doesn't seem to like rich people very much.  Throughout the old and new testament, the message is given over and over again that it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.

If my healing doesn't interfere with God's plan, then my prayers may be granted.  If they are not granted, I won't be mad.  With confidence, I will proceed as best I can, knowing that the good God accompanies me.

Copyright (c) 2014, Silver Rose Parnell
All rights reserved.