The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

.  Fall in a heap, exhausted. Then get up, clean up, and do it all over again.

.  There is joy in this. This “living” we do. No matter how sweaty, or dirty, or ugly, this “living” is a beautiful thing.

.   There is no ‘give up’ here, no ‘quit’ , no ‘over it, no ‘packing it in’.

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Right now, in my little trailer in the middle of down, down, way down and out USA, I am deciding to care. I am deciding that my sufferings will amount to something, that all this silence and fear and worry  in my heart will be done away with, that with this breath of life my Creator blessed me with will be used to help someone else live, too.

.  I know I’m a rag-tag mess. I can’t think straight most of the time, and there are days I can’t leave my house. I am oppressed by an illness that tells me I don’t have it, and that feeling like I’m sick is a sin. I’m not exhausted, it tells me, I’m lazy. I’m not in excruciating pain, I’m a dope seeker. I was not abused, assaulted and raped, I was promiscuous.

.  I am here, I am now, and with my God’s help, I will reach out to someone else. And with my God’s help, I will not believe the lies. Instead I believe the Bible, God’s own letter to me, and to all his children. I want to live.

THE PAIN of it ALL

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What do I say to a black mother whose son was murdered at the hands, or knee, of a white man?

.   I saw George dying, in front of all the world, murdered. Every fiber of my being cried out for action to save him, knock that cop off of him, hurt those who were hurting him, scream “STOP!!!!!” at the loudest volume my wind and stretching vocal cords could scream. I saw him die. I could see the actual moment the life left him, we all could. His killer’s arrogance galled me, I cried as if George was my own. Those awful, endless minutes are now emblazoned on my conscience, and the world’s. But George’s suffering was finally over, the pain had ended for him. His family’s pain goes on.

.    My daddy died unjustly, and it took years for my anger and pain to subside. But, then, I am white. And it wasn’t a police organization, or even a police man who killed him. For me it was a hospital, who killed him just as surely as if they kneeled on his neck. And he was a Sicilian man, very dark complected, 1st generation borne of immigrants to this country, but I suppose he will be considered a “white” man by history.

.   But the pain I felt is the same pain George’s loved one’s feel in this sense: there was death, it was not natural, there was injustice, and there is anger. I feel it now, these years later. I was righteously indignant, I loved my daddy more than any girl ever loved her daddy, ever in the whole world. Whole universe I thought. I never saw his flaws, he was a hero to me, and they murdered him, and someone had to pay. I had to make it right , for him. For his memory.

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Another Day in Paradise

.   They hated me at that hospital, I believed. They had been out to get him, because we were poor, and because everyone knows doctors and hospitals only want one thing, right? Money. And we all know that there are very baaaad people in the medical field, there is a long, very, very long history of distrust in the Sicilian immigrant community against the “establishment”. It carried down from tyranny and mafioso, in the “home” country, where my ancestors were murdered and enslaved and oppressed by terrible injustice. Not only was the regime murderous and corrupt, even the local officials were, requiring payoffs and inflicting gross injustice and physical pain on the poor people who were supposed to be under their care. They had no choice, starve, be murdered, or board ships of misery with their last pennies to try living in a beckoning land across the great sea.

.  My granparents had experienced the ghettos in New York when they arrived, cramped, dirty, unlit, no facilities, living in dark, dank, freezing, stinking tenant housing in their new country. Now, instead of their tropical isle, where they knew the enemy, there were new enemies to contend with. Such hatred, such predjudice, such injustice, such poverty. All these conditions shaped the mentality of generations, the distrust of the “system”, the lack of eqaulity, the oppression…

.   My father was an angry man. For as far back as I have memory, he was mad at what he perceived as injustice in government. In another age pehaps he would have been a radical, I dont know. But he worked so hard, all his life, had  access to more education than his parents ever had, served in the military and was able to move to Florida in his early 50’s. which had been his lifelong dream. He never stopped working, even then, and I had everything I needed as his kid, except love. But I adored and idolized him, to my mother’s dismay. When I became his sole caregiver, he was my child, and I determined to never let anything bad happen to him. For all the grief I had put him through in my life as an addict, now that I was sober I would appease his every whim, and ease his Dementia and Alzheimer’s. He was my reason for being, for except for my dear shih-tzu’s I had lost everyone in my family, and had no children.

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Always a Dapper Dad

.    I was a she-bear when it came to his care. Endless research, talking to pro’s and others  on caring for the elderly. But no matter what I promised him, no matter how good I cared for him, and no matter how totally committed I was in my devotion, I was not able to save him from being killed.

.   So, then. What can I say to the millions of traumatized, oppressed, angry people who are fighting right now? They will do what they believe they must, to find relief for their anger. But to the loved ones of a man who died unjustly, there is something I can say, even in my proverbial “whiteness”:  I am so, so sad for you.  I can relate. I can relate to the sickening feeling in your gut, that horrendous hot ball of lead where your heart used to be. I  remember the anger, the absolute bursting feeling of helplessness, the burning knowledge that this should never have happened to your child, your son, your daddy, your husband, your brother, your uncle, your nephew, your cousin, your dear, dear friend. Your Beloved.   

.   My pain was real… Your’s is all too real right now. I will never question your pain, or think I know what you should feel, or do. I never want to exaccerbate your suffering. everyone grieves in a different way, for different lengths of time, for different reasons. there is never a right or wrong way to grieve. I wish you peace, someday…healing…a lessening of this great burden you carry.

.   My anger  was only relieved by my learning the true reason for death, suffering and in justice. Knowing and believing in the the knowledge that God will soon do away with the true source of the evils we experience as humans. the tormenter of us down thru the ages, all the way back to the garden of Eden. The father of the lie, Satan.

God had an answer to Satan’s lie right there on the spot: Jesus Christ, God’s Only-Begotten Son and The King of God’s Kingdom would crush Satan and throw him and all his cohorts into the Abyss!! It will happen very soon, when God says it is time! Then the words of Revelation will come true!

Revelation 21:3-5 reads:

.  ” With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them , and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.(4)And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

(5) And the One seated on the throne said:”Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says:”Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

.   Such beautiful words…a beautiful dream, perhaps? No. A promised reality from our God who cannot lie, whose purposes always succeed, and whose prophecies always come true. I have a favorite scripture about the surety of all God’s promises coming true, maybe because I am a farmer at heart, who has always loved the rain.

.   This is in the Bible book of Isaiah, in Chapter 55, beginning in verse 8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” declares Jehovah. (9) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For just as the rain and snow pour down from heaven And do not return there until they saturate the earth, making it produce and sprout, Giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,(11) So my word that goes out of my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, But it will certainly accomplish whatever is my delight, and it will have sure success in what I send it to do.”

.   Yes, The Creator of the entire Universe has everything taken care of, he has told us that he will be the only Judge, and His Son will carry out his Judgement.  The Ride of the Four Horsemen is already well underway.  One day soon our dead loved ones will be resurrected and what joy there will be, when this earth is finally free of evil and we will live forever in peace.Artwork and Pictures 056

.  Please take the time to learn what the Bible says, I want you to have the peace of mind and heart that I finally found. It is not too late, my friend.

The CLEAN Effect!

      Yessssssss….Deep inhale….Yessssss….

.  There is often some bright speck, a teeny-weeny glint, in the midst of devastation. Often this tiny glimmer of good goes unseen for years, decades, even centuries. I’m sure there have been major disasters where no bright side was ever found, the loss being only that. A loss. Losses. Deaths. Dying.

.  We could only see that, if we got tunnel vision with this Covid Pandemic. Only the disease, the fear, the grief, the bodies stacked up like cord wood. It could just open it’s huge great-white-shark-sized mouth with it’s blood-covered-razor-sharp giant teeth and swallow us whole. Then our lives will have ended, with a dark shroud of sadness enveloping our memory. Is this how you are feeling? Are you frightened?

.         It certainly is a normal reaction to this situation. But there IS a silver lining… Have you heard about the animals? They are coming out of the woods, out of the forests, out of the bushes, out of the darkest recesses and back into the sunlight! With humans staying quiet, staying out of their cars, letting the Earth rest from it’s gasping, the animals are out!!! It thrills me, it brings joy to my weary heart to see images of river otters playing in a grassy median, rolling and romping, and laughing!(I’m sure they are laughing, they have to be!)

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My Izzy, 2005-2017

.  I see cardinals again , and osprey flying low. I hear owls, and see ‘coons and possum. Oh, I know, I’m talking about “less desirable”wildlife, but let me tell you, it fills my heart near to bursting. As a child I would read “Born Free”and Miss Anderson’s Cheetah stories, gobbling up the word images of animals running free across African Savannahs. I dreamed nightly about my wild Stallion that I would ride someday, and about Bambi becoming a Stag.WIN_20191128_03_49_42_Pro (2)

.  My Mom’s Bible Study books had images of happy people hugging lions and petting tigers, and I physically yearned for those images to come true. As I learned about God and thought about His love in creating puppies and kittens, I found Bible passages that promised a paradise one day. And as the years have past my faith has become brighter, and the day for me to hug a white tiger, or play with a wolf pup has gotten closer ,too.Picture 005

.  Yes, there is much sadness, sickness and death. There is injustice and corruption and pollution. And , sadly, there are worse things to come in the future, no matter where you live on this planet. But it all is bringing us closer each day to God’s fulfilled promises, such as the end of wickedness, pain, crime and hatred. To days of joyful work for humans, building houses, planting gardens. Many people think that God is causing this horrible pandemic, and that He is a God who throws people into Firey Hell.

.  I have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, and was baptized in 2003…but I had many things that I changed, only with God’s help. I was a  full blown drug addict and alcoholic for 23 years, beginning at age 13. I only knew abusive and violent relationships, having my nose broken twice, being tied to a tree, stabbed and shot at, being choked unconscious more than once, and more. All this by my own husband. By the time I was 33, I looked like a 50 year old, and I felt 100. I had so many health problems, pain was my constant companion and still is. I smoked Crack, Pot, snorted coke, meth and used drugs intravenously for years. I drank my first beer most days by 9am, and lit my first cigarette before my eyes were open in the morning. I now have PTSD, and COPD. I had Hep C . I was dying and wished I was dead. Finally, before my husband killed me, he was arrested by the ATF and was convicted as a habitual offender, 15 years to life.Picture 419

.  Oh, how I cried. I thought my world had ended. I really went wild. He wanted me to work with the law to get his sentence reduced, I thought ATF agents were behind every tree. I refused to work with the Feds, because I thought I was smarter than them. I hooked up with a member of a MC club, and planned to tell the FBI about it… After all the humiliation and abuse they told me they would never use any info I gave them…I wanted to die… But I didn’t.

.  I called my Mom, and begged to come home. She let me. I was the proverbial daughter. Near death and bankrupt in every way I moved back to my parent’s house.

Lots of things happened that I could go on about. Bad things. And worse things.

.  But there was a glimmer, a glint of good in all that mire I was in…

.  I got on my knees before I took the last step to suicide, and I begged, pleaded, beseeched, cried and screamed my anguish and remorse out to God.

.  He heard. And He helped.

. I was able to get clean and sober, 21 years ago this September. I quit smoking the next year. And then, after calling God my “Higher Power”in AA for another year I learned that God , Jehovah God, could and would and did forgive me.

.  Yesssssss….deep inhale…..Yessssss!!!

.    You can feel this forgiveness too. I hope you do. Then I can meet you, in paradise on earth when all this badness is finished, for good.

(if you want to learn like I did, JW.org is where to go… You’ll  be able to read and study the Bible, watch videos and learn precious truths…and you will learn how God sent His Son, Jesus to sacrifice his life for ALL humans…yep, me…and YOU TOO !!!)

What You Made Me Feel (Blue-Eyed Johnny)

A deep abiding sadness, wistfulness… like watching a deer in the meadow, at dusk

just before that shot rings out.

Beauty/ Pain/ heartbreak/ death

Their young faces haunt me, these young men I have not met.

How strange it all was to them: Surreal Landscape, Unreal Assignments-

You must die taking this hill, then let it go…You must kill,kill,kill..

I am with you there, that bap!! Bap!! of rifle fire throwing hunks of wet earth aloft, making pieces of palm frond dance right over your head.

Over my head.

Over Our Head.

I close my eyes and see their eyes glowing in the jungle dark.

I see your eyes Johnny Boy. Your blue, blue American eyes so wide, wide open.

That mix of righteous fear, and unrighteous courage- A big question mark in your smile, the cigarette dangling from your strong, veined hand, an M-16 cradled like a lover in your arms.

If I die, I die a Hero, not a poor man’s son, not a redneck, not a carpenter, not a iron worker, no, not one…

A baby, only three or four, staring up from my daddy’s floor, to a tiny black and white TV,

Nixon’s face is what I see, then the images will start again:

Bombs will fall, flames will leap, soldiers will yell

I will sleep- to the sound of choppers overhead-they evac you while I’m still in my crib.

Can I wipe the blood from your face, with my long brown hair-

Can I pour perfumed oil on your battle scars, my blue-eyed Johnny?

Can I love you tho’ I was not there, my brother, son, lover, friend?…

Won’t that damn war ever end?

 

(written after a marathon viewing of Vietnam, The Ken Burns documentary on PBS)by Susan T. Martin, October 8,2017, but felt since I saw the images of the Vietnam war on my parent’s TV as far back as I have memory…)(I was born in 1964)

Burning Desire..Really burning….

I am fighting right now, and you already know what is after me…negativity. Depression. Self Pity. Pain. Sadness…boo, boo, bad, hiss, grrr, mumble, mumble…SIGH…

I have been feeling worse than usual in my physical self, heavy, cumbersome(love that word), out of breath, and oh! SO SLEEPY.

Mentally? Running With Scissors!!!! WHEEEEE!!! Paint, Paint, draw, sculpt, glue, spray…UH, WAIT.

Did you say SPRAY? As in SPRAY PAINT?!?

Yea, I did. What about it?

And you said GLUE? AS IN SUPER GLUE? AND CONSTRUCTION GLUE?

Uh, yea. What’s the big deal? I use my mask all the ti…oh. OH…OH, now I understand. I got up sicker today, and wheezing, and groggy, with a blazing headache… And I didn’t put my respirator on when I sprayed that wall hanging last night… it was just going to be a couple seconds…the mask was inside…just a couple steps away,, but I was LAZY. AND FOOLISH. AND NOW MY LUNGS ARE SCREAMING. only I can’t hear them cause I CANT BREATHE!!!!

I made it to my standing Doc Appointment 5 minutes after I got out of bed. I mean, my hair already sticks up, but I seriously looked like Einstein.

I told her I thought maybe I had Pneumonia, pressure in my head, chest, headache, weary etc… And being the Real Physician she is (i don’t know why I said “Real”, too much news) she listened to my lungs.

Wow. I did not need a stethescope…The Rice Krispie Trio was playing a tune in my lungs. Holy smoker, who quit 20 years ago! No, I thought, not me!

Which is a rediculous thought, I have known for a couple years now that my lungs are failing. How did I know this? Well, it seems that I used CONSTRUCTION ADHESIVES to build an assemblage a few years ago… The year I had a Pulmonary Embolism from laying around too much after the 3 surgeries I had, the year I fell 4 times due to vertigo..etc etc… Oh . here is te health litany.. STOP.

The point is that I ALREADY have the knowledge of what NOT TO DO if I want to stay healthy. I already have KNOWLEDGE that I damaged my lungs and body severely with my lifestyle in the past, and I KNOW what to do to help myself.

The REALLY SAD THING is that I lost my Burning Desire to be my best me, my healthy me, the BEST Version of myself that I can give to my Creator in Thanks.

I lost my FOCUS, and I let the bad ways back in for a minute, the way of shortcuts, laziness, seeking material weaBEAUTIFULlth, and I cheated myself of some breaths of life again. And I didn’t even light a match…

When the Doc said she would let me try to change some of my test numbers without meds, I really let myself down, because I opted for the meds. I told her I just DID NOT HAVE IT IN ME TO MAKE THAT MUCH OF AN EFFORT RIGHT NOW.

….. um…WHAAAAT!!!??????

I even felt sick as it was coming out of my head into my voice box…DONT HAVE IT IN ME…TOO MUCH EFFORT…why dont you just puke and fall over in it?

I felt shame, burning shame, not burning desire. That I did not feel I am worth the effort. That Jehovah created this wonderful human being of ME, and I “don’t have it in me to make that much effort right now? What an insult to my loving God, who sent His Beautiful, PERFECT and BELOVED SON, Jesus Christ to die for me. This same me that I couldn’t muster the will to TRY to save. Oh, for shame, susan.

I tried to backtrack as soon as it was uttered, claiming that I just feel so sick that everything is extra hard right now…I haven’t slept, you know…

NO! I WILL NOT LET MYSELF DOWN LIKE THIS.

Nor will I INSULT my GRAND CREATOR, SOVEREIGN of the UNIVERSE, JAH!!

I WILL BE ON FIRE WITH DESIRE starting THIS VERY MOMENT!!!

BREATHE, GIRL, BREATHE!!!

RUN WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT! WE MUST FINISH THIS RACE!!!! YEEHAW!

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“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017