A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Semper F

This morning I was woken at 7:34 by the telephone ringing. The boys use their cell phones exclusively, and won't pick up on the land line even if they're standing next to a ringing phone. They just assume it's not for them, and don't want to be responsible for any messages. So I had to struggle out of bed to answer it.

The caller asked for Amir. He sounded like the man who had called yesterday from the College, asking about Amir's registration for the fall semester. So I carried the phone upstairs to him. Amazingly, the boy was awake enough when I opened his bedroom door to take the call.

I got right back into my still-warm bed for "five minutes" more sleep. Taz had figured out that any action taking place before 10 o'clock would have nothing to do with going for a walk, and was still curled up under the covers. I could hear Amir over my head pacing back and forth for a long time. I heard his voice every once in a while between long stretches of silence, as though he was listening to a harangue and occasionally saying, yes....ok...ok...yes.

He came downstairs eventually to replace the receiver. He was confused--unsure exactly with whom he'd been speaking. He had an appointment at 1500 Main Street at 11:00. But he so didn't want to go.

1500 Main Street is the Federal Building--with a Marine Corps recruiting office on the first floor. They've got recruiting offices in the local colleges, too. My caller ID revealed nothing, so I just went ahead and called the downtown office. A couple of inquiries got me to the person who had just telephoned.

"Is this about my son enlisting in the Marines?" I asked him.

"No, ma'am," he replied. "I just wanted to inform him about some educational opportunities available to him."

"But, in order to take advantage of these educational opportunities, he would have to enlist," I persisted.

"Well, yes, eventually," he answered.

"My son is not interested in enlisting," I told him. "So he doesn't want to waste your time or his own."

I yelled upstairs to Amir that his appointment with the creepy guy was cancelled. He was so happy he ran downstairs to hug me. "Mommy is awesome! Hurray for Mommy!" he kept singing.

If those fuckers think they can get their hooks into my son, they've got another think coming. If their cause is so honorable, why do they have to dissemble to the extent that a kid doesn't even know who he's dealing with until five minutes before he finds himself shipped off to the desert?

By the time he gets out of school, there'll be nothing left to plunder in Iraq, and we'll have moved on to Iran. Then maybe he'd have the opportunity to shoot his own second cousin!

I don't fucking think so. Not as long as he's got a Mommy .

Saint Joseph to the Rescue

I was sweeping up bits of insulation from my porch at dusk yesterday when my neighbor Ken drove by. He stopped to chat for a moment, and next thing you know we were cleaning out a tree guard next to my driveway as we talked. He was edging the brickwork with a mason's tool he got out of his truck, and I was sweeping up the soil with the broom I had been holding. From there we moved to my "lawn," or whatever you call the sorry patch of dirt in front of my house. Ken scratched an "X" right in the middle of it where he thinks I need a "focal point." He's imagining a small ornamental tree, or a bronze sculpture of an open book with the history of the Emory House written on it. I agree that the sculpture would look nice, but not the electric fence I'd have to put around it to keep it from being carted off.

I was picking up bits of litter as we talked, and I spotted what looked like the little plastic tag that holds a bag of Wonder Bread closed. I tried to pick it up, but it was really stuck in the dirt. In fact, it felt like I was trying to pull up a railroad spike driven into the ground. I wasn't able to dislodge it; Ken finally had to yank it out.

The "bread tag" turned out to be this statue of St. Joseph holding the Baby Jesus. Tucked into the crook of his left arm is the spray of lilies he always carries. Ken thought the statue was molded plastic, but I'm pretty sure it might be solid ivory, maybe even from the Renaissance!

I'm not saying I believe in miracles. But I've been worrying that little patch of dirt every day for two weeks, and there was no square white object there as of yesterday morning.

Joseph was a carpenter, so he is the patron saint of laborers. He was the earthly spouse of the Virgin Mary and adoptive father of Jesus, so he is the patron saint of families. He was instructed in a vision to wed Mary, and did so without hesitation, so he is the patron saint of doubters.

What better patron could a single mother with a broken-down house and a lot of worries ask for? A feeling of complete and utter peace washed over me as I realized that St. Joseph had manifested himself to me to let me know that he had everything in my life under control.

Ken and I made a little pedestal for St. Joseph right on the "X" and placed him there. Although he is only 4 inches tall, I thought he looked magnificent. Unfortunately, he is too precious to leave unguarded in the front yard. I took him inside and cleaned him carefully; soon I'll make a little shrine for him...maybe even a grotto. Saint Joseph was picked by Our Lord to take care of the Baby Jesus and his Mother, and now he's going to take care of me. Nothing is too good for him!