Yesterday I received a letter from a life long friend who said she followed my blog but had noticed my posts were further and further apart. It’s true I haven’t been posting to my blog. Not because I’m painting more. Not because I don’t have anything to say. If anything, I have too much to say.
When I was teaching, I had a reliable sphere of influence. As a mother, as a grandmother, as a wife, as a friend, as a member of The Presbyterian Church on State Street, I have felt useful and often influential.
As I age, I realize my actions and words might be less influential than I would wish. I no longer have the physical or emotional resources to take in a refugee family, as I once did. I no longer can lead discussions about Elie Wiesel’s Night or J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for The Barbarians. I do not have as a disciplinary resource the alternative learning center, time out, or “give me the car keys.”
Instead my resources have become more subtle. I ask myself which businesses reflect reasonable ethics, which entertainers support human rights, which voices advocate for objectivity, which leaders adhere to the Beatitudes. Everyday, suddenly I’m hyper alert to common choices.
Which movie will we watch? What will we save our money toward? To whom will we make charitable contributions?
What doesn’t work? Ranting to the dog and my husband. I did that last night, my hands waving like a maniacal orchestra conductor sitting on a sofa. A long stem glass of red wine rested on the lamp table near my right hand. During a climatic flourish of indignation, amid the apogee of symphonic verbiage, my right hand swept the long stem glass into the air, broadcasting swirls of Cabernet Sauvignon into the air, across white and blue plaid sofa cushions, onto the creamy carpet, against the white walls, finally to dribble down the sides of the coffee table.
Suddenly thrown into action, my husband and I leaped up, running for towels and our Bissell Little Green. Ollie the dog, our curious audience, cocked his head, disappointed I hadn’t sent a bowl of popcorn flying instead. We missed the last twenty minutes of the PBS Newshour.
It’s humbling to realize the limited extent of private orchestrations of exasperation, the helplessness of protest, the frustration of moral rectitude, especially when the available lesson is a glass of red wine swirling across the room.
Ultimately I’m left with the Beatitudes. I’m accountable to Someone other than myself. I am encouraged to confess, not to accuse or blame; seek value in all people; advocate for objectivity of truth and love available to all. It’s the least and the most I can do here from my now clean sofa. Indeed, I am telling you the truth.