I'm very grateful to those who have been asking where I am (in a comment thread at my last posting). I appreciate your concern, and apologize for having abandoned the dialogue here for a period of time.
I'm doing fine. Have just been out of steam lately (and as Ruth notes, the house in which I do my reading, writing, and thinking has been upside down for some time, as Steve and his brother build a new bathroom for us, and also add an office for me onto the house).
I won't deny it: the backlash now underway in my own state and elsewhere in the U.S. against LGBT folks takes a toll on me. It takes a certain psychological toll, even a physical one — but, above all, a spiritual one. As someone who will, God willing that I live to the end of this month, turn 65 soon, I have sometimes felt lately that my life has not counted for a great deal.
An uncomfortable, painful recognition to cope with as one approaches old age . . . . One that makes blogging difficult . . . .
And so, rather than moan and kvetch and bore you to tears, all things I'm exceptionally good at, I just sometimes decide to fall silent. To spend my days catching up on reading: a moving memoir Rolando has emailed me; Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend; John Boyne's A History of Loneliness; a sheaf of poems I've been asked to read as someone helping judge articles in religious journals for a contest, etc.
All while saws whine behind my chair, and drills screw bits and pieces into a newly built floor, and Steve's sewing machine hums away as he makes new curtains for rooms slowly coming into being . . . . And while I try to remember that hard-working folks need nutritious and delicious meals to keep them working, so that I'm also churning out pots of soup, pans of cornbread and fried bratwurst (these are German-American farm folks, after all), upside-down cakes, you name it: whatever the good workers demand!
I do apologize for being silent. I've actually tried to write some things. They just seemed flat when I re-read them, like a bottle of seltzer water that had lost its sparkle. And when I look at articles in the Catholic media for themes to spark my inspiration — publications I've bookmarked for daily reading — I think to myself, Really? This is where my fellow Catholics are? This is what they want to talk about?
I feel light years removed from much that's being discussed in the name of my religion, by my fellow Catholics. I seem to inhabit some other planet.
And that sense of alienness, of not even understanding what other folks are going on about as they talk about Catholic this and pope that: it makes me turn to silence even more. It's not, after all, as if my voice has ever really counted for my own Catholic community.
If it had counted, someone somewhere would have made a place for it. Instead, Steve and I have found ourselves out on our ears for many years now, with no entrée whatsoever in the Catholic academic community and no entrée to be hoped for, as our human journeys near their ends.
And, as my last posting explained, when the very same messages are being transmitted to us hot and heavy in the state in which we now live, the state in which I grew up and have strong roots, and when I cannot turn to my church as a refuge, but find in my church community only a mirror of the draconian message of exclusion: the result, for me, is that I choose, for the sake of saving my soul, to muster my energies in silent reflection.
As I do the things I am not too bad at, if I say so myself — like making pots of vegetable soup and pans of cornbread! I do cherish you readers, though, and am sorry both to bore you with my plaintive postings at a time of serious struggle (for me), and to fall silent for so long.
The photo: hands clasped in contemplative repose have always been meaningful to me, perhaps because many of the 19th-century tombstones of my family members employ the motif of the clasped hand to illustrate that not even death breaks the bonds that bind us one to another. This photo is snipped from a picture of one of my great-grandmothers (Lucy Frances Harris Snead), as she sits in repose.