Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Final Proof, The Sweetness Of The Rose

It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
-- Peter De Vries, "The Mackerel Plaza," 1958

An AA speaker, Bob Earl, would say the same thing this way...Without God, I'm fucked.


In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.
-- Hubert H. Humphrey

It was my mother's lifelong distress that she built her public self so completely, with such excellence, such art, that those of us close to her could not break through. If we caught on to the differences between private and public self, we would eventually think of her as not genuine, and become accusatory. That would never work because her persona was too tightly woven. To my great good fortune, I realized possibly a decade before she died that what I took as false was not false and she was in very important respects exactly who she seemed to be. It was possible to map her public persona character back onto her mostly hidden private self. It is in this area, in the consequences of this structure that at least two of her five marriages failed and also where she almost lost her last two siblings. In the end as best they could her youngest sister and middle brother both decided that keeping the relastionship was too important and they tried to look past this appearance of falsehood in her persona.

I don't know if her siblings ever figured it out, because she really was difficult in her way. In many real respects she not only raised me well, but I also survived her and had to struggle to do it.

Meanwhile as is often the case in such matters, there are a very large number of people who remember her, who continue to be taught through her books, who loved her dearly, knowing and needing to know only her public self. She was celebrated and decorated, and was one of the leading lights in the ministerial program for training ministers in the field in Unity School of Christianity. She accomplished a great deal in her lifetime, including writing three books, training ministers, teaching high school English to a whole army of baby boomers, and winning various awards for acting and also directing plays. In her youth, she turned down the opportunity for a movie career to go to university, and there she graduated PhiBetaKappa and was valedictorian of her graduating class, sharing the stage at Berkeley that year with Harry Truman. She got a lifetime achievement award from Unity School near the end of her life, of which I understand only one is given a year.

She said she understood Liz Taylor very well. I think she did.


  1. I don't pray so much.....more like converse with the god inside me.

    But tonight I am praying for you.

    I don't know why but you feel like you need it.

    Mothers are hero's sometimes but people mostly :)


  2. Thank you for that, Michelle. Yes. I could be very close to having my life come undone for medical reasons. Of course, my position is not different from anyone else's. We could all be hit by a bus at any moment, only sometimes you can see the bus coming.

    I don't pray so much as I chant. Though I chant mostly in Sanskrit, this is perfectly ordinary Catholic behavior, saying the Rosary, for example, especially if the round is done in Latin. In fact the Catholic Rosary counts 54 and the Hindu round is counted on a mala of 108, precisely twice 54. I don't chant a precise number.

    You understand, this is not an accident. It is numerology, both Catholic and Hindu.

    As for my mother, she was indeed a hero of sorts and a very good example of how you can't do it all even when you try really hard. Mom and her siblings all came from alcoholic hard times, did what they did in reaction and response to that. Mom kind of raised the four younger siblings for a few years before the family shattered entirely.

  3. I admire the wisdom that allowed you to understand. Being understood is, I think, what most of us desire. That's a very different thing from being known.

    I hope your physical being catches up to your spiritual being, Christopher.

  4. i should have saved my war of the roses piece for today..... Tudor rose

  5. Ghost, that's a beautiful five point mandala, but I couldn't have guessed it for a rose had you not told me.

  6. I feel like I had a "public persona" for my kids when they were growing up...I had to be the perfect example. I let them in now...realizing my failures and foibles are their learning opportunity. Seeing me real has deepened our relationship. Like I was posting earlier about being "all over the freakin' map." It's chaos, but it's real.

  7. Wow thank you for saying that WW...I constantly feel guilty because of all the imperfect me my kids have had to see. Maybe I shouldn't.

  8. Thanks, W&W. You are fortunate that you had the capacity to drop your masks. My mother never could until it was far too late, and actually it was more like she no longer could keep them up all the time. She became querulous and bitchy in ways she never had been in her failing health.

    Michelle, real almost always works better in the long run, but sometimes it doesn't matter what you do because your kids have an inner drive that trumps your efforts.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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