Looking Back, Being Present, Looking Forward

by Robert Dunkan

I became aware of a lovely poem titled Back Home by Margaret McCarty today.  It’s about looking back and wishing you could start over by listening to your parent’s advice (and taking it) a little more than you did and appreciating their love and care more a second time around….if only you could go back.  I can think of countless things my parents told me that I wish I would have listened to but even so, they raised me well and my life turned out pretty good with a 19-year marriage, the 3 beautiful daughters we’re raising, and my Catholic faith firmly intact.

I’m glad my parents are still here, both about to turn 70 soon, so I can let them know that all the things they taught me were heard and are appreciated now, much more in mid-life, than they were in my youth.  It also gives me a bit of peace when my daughters seem to not really hear or take to heart the life lessons I’m trying to teach them.  I have more faith that even though the evidence seems to the contrary, that the seed is indeed well planted and will serve them well in their journey.

Lastly, this poem brought to mind that although I have gained wisdom and grace, there is still more growing to do.  There are still ways I can apply what I know even better in order to merit children who will be able to look back at their mother as fondly as the author of this poem was able to look back at hers.


If I had the power to turn back the clock,
to go to the house at the end of the block,
The house that was home when I was a kid,
I know I would love it more than I did.

If I could be back there at my fathers knee,
and hear once again all the things he told me,
I’d listen as I never listened before,
for he knew all too well just what life had in store.

And all the advice that dad used to give,
His voice I’ll remember as long as I live,
It didn’t seem very important then,
What I would give to live it all over again.

But what I would give for the chance I once had,
to do something more for my mother and dad,
I’d give them a little more joy and a little less pain,
a little more sunshine and a little less rain.

The years roll by and we cannot go back,
Whether we were born in a mansion or in a shack,
But we can start right now in the hour that’s here,
and do something more, for the ones we hold dear.

Since time in it’s flight is speeding so fast,
there’ll be no time spent regretting what’s past.
Let’s make tomorrow a happier day,
by doing our good unto others today.

~ Margaret W. McCarty © 2016. All rights res


“But gain a good name by well doing my duty”

Image result for painting of woman working in rose garden

My oldest daughter received the Sacrament of Confirmation last week.  She chose St. Therese of Lisieux as her Confirmation name so we got her a pink leather bound St. Therese Bible that has a quote by the saint and my daughter’s first and middle name (Rose) engraved on the front.  St. Therese said “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.”  My Grandmother introduced me to this saying when she advised that I should pray to The Little Flower, as she is affectionately referred to, and said that she has often received answers to her prayers accompanied by a rose from this saint’s intercession .

When I was pregnant with my oldest, my mother told me she knew I was going to have a girl because that morning she saw 1 pink rose blooming on her rose bush after all the other roses had died and the season was over.  I had already picked my girl name with Rose as the middle name since that is a family name on my husband’s side, so she took that late-blooming rose as a sign that surely she would have a granddaughter.

About ten years ago we had to travel out of state for the funeral of my cousin’s 12 year old daughter who passed away in an auto accident.  At the time, neither my cousin (Catholic) nor his wife (Christian, from I’m not sure what denomination) were practicing their faith.  I spent my time in the car on the way home praying the Rosary for their dear daughter and for them as well.  One of the things I requested was that they would find their way to practicing their faith again and that my cousin’s wife would convert to Catholicism so they could have a shared faith together along with their son.  I remember as I was praying that I smelled the overwhelming scent of fresh flowers.  So much so that I had to ask if anyone else in the car had brought some with them from the funeral.  The strong scent lasted about five minutes and then faded away.  It was then that I knew that my prayers had indeed been heard.  It was only a few years later that we received the news that my cousin’s wife had been received into the Church.

What I experienced was not a new phenomenon.  It’s actually pretty common.  Here’s a link to an interesting discussion of the topic by ordinary folks.    The Catholic Church calls it the odor of sanctity when the scent is associated with living or deceased saints.

I’m bringing all this up simply because I came across this lovely poem today that speaks of how doing our duty well will remain after we are gone like the scent of the rose remains after the flower has died.  It’s comforting to know  that our works can live on and “scent” the future of those touched by our faithfulness.  I think God has allowed us this occassional grace of these heavenly scents to remind us of the real beauty contained in all that is good even when it’s not immediately visible to us.

The Rose

How fair is the Rose!
what a beautiful flower!
The glory of April and May:
But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour,
And they wither and die in a day.

Yet the Rose has one powerful virtue to boast,
Above all the flowers of the field!
When its leaves are all dead and fine colours are lost,
Still how sweet a perfume it will yield!

So frail is the youth and the beauty of man,
Though they bloom and look gay like the Rose;
But all our fond care to preserve them is vain,
Time kills them as fast as he goes.

Then I’ll not be proud of my youth and my beauty,
Since both of them wither and fade;
But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
This will scent like a Rose when I’m dead.

~ Isaac Watts

Arranging Roses

Where Would We Be Without Women?

Image result for painting of mother and sons
Pino Daeni

“Too much in our modern society encourages us to indulge the illusion of individual autonomy. This illusion is fostered by, among other things, modern “social contract” theories. A man can only assert something as foolish as an original “state of nature” where men come together to form themselves into a community if he forgets his own mother. But with all due respect to Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, we do not enter the world as fully formed, rational, self-interest maximizers.”

Image result for pino daeni old man and old woman
Pino Daeni

“We are dependent rational animals who become who we are because people cared for us. At least one person cared for us enough to carry us in her womb for nine months and go through the painful labor of giving us birth. No one — not even God incarnate — came into this world without a mother. We are beings who draw our existence from others, and so we are called upon to learn to exist for others. Such is the life of a mother. And such should be our life, whether we are mothers or not.”

Image result for pino daeni painter
Pino Daeni

“We live in a world that values and valorizes strength, capability, and domination. That world, valuing the things it values, has often enough dismissed women as weak and worthless. And yet, the absurdity of this view is obvious: Where would we be without women — and not just women, but women with the strength to allow themselves to be more vulnerable for nine months, and sometimes for years afterward, so that we can be strong? We would not exist without them.”

Image result for pino daeni old man and old woman
Pino Daeni

“A society that resists the temptation to celebrate only strength and achievement, and that recognizes the need we have for those who work selflessly year after year to make possible so many of the things we take for granted — our life, our health, our ability to speak, our virtues, our knowledge of the faith — is helping to spread the leaven of Christ.”

Image result for pino daeni men
Pino Daeni

“Societies that preach the “state of nature” and think that we can depend upon some form of social contract often produce what they most fear: a society in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Begin with the wrong view of the human person, and you end up with an inhumane society of irrational self-interest maximizers and a dog-eat-dog world. A society that protects and values mothers, on the other hand, is sowing the seeds of charity. God help us if we forget mothers.

pino daeni paintings
Pino Daeni

Quotes taken from the article titled  Pictures of Two Women published at The Catholic Thing

I’m Stunned and Shocked at the Trump Victory….and Elated Because I am a Trump Voter

The day before the election I determined that I wasn’t going to watch the results because I was sure, given the polling, that Clinton would be elected.  Despite the fact that I didn’t think he was going to win, I wanted to vote Trump, not only because his policy positions were ones I could support, but also because I wanted to add my voice (small as it may be) to the rejection of the establishment on both sides of the aisle.

Of course when the evening of election day rolled around, curiosity got the better of me and I jumped online to follow the facebook/twitter feeds and running blog commentary of both well-known conservative voices (Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Kellyanne Conway, Conservative Treehouse) and those of ordinary people whose opinions I’ve come to respect through their online writing.  The first thing I came across was an announcement that “He’s winning Florida.  Most of the vote is in and the ones that aren’t in yet are from red counties.”   It was then that the glimmer of hope that I kept squashing down the last few weeks every time it crossed my mind that perhaps the polls are skewed and not actually a reflection of what’s going on, began to grow.  I thought “I’ll just see how he does in FL, OH and NC before I decide whether to call it a night or to stick it out longer.   Little did I know that I would be sticking it out until Hillary finally conceded and Trump gave his victory speech around 3 am.

The entire evening was a nail-biter with the agonizingly long wait for PA to be called for Trump and with that their 20 electoral votes that would put him solidly at 274 for the win.  Needless to say, I got to bed around 4am and powered through the day yesterday on 3 hrs sleep so I didn’t have the brain cells to give any commentary here.   Today, I have some thoughts and observations to share.

1. I voted for Trump for his policies.  Now I expect him to deliver.

2.  I’m deeply concerned about the fact that universities feel the need to offer “safe spaces” for students who are so traumatized over the results that they need professional help to process their feelings.  How are these emotionally stunted adults supposed to learn to deal with disappointments by treating them like preschoolers?  It’s cruel to coddle them like this.  Michael Bloomburg points out in the New York Post, “…one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views.”  Also, “How to study, cooperate, listen carefully, think critically and resolve conflicts through reason — those are the most important skills in the working world, and it’s why colleges have always exposed students to challenging and uncomfortable ideas.”

There are BIG parenting fails that need to be dealt with if our young people are reaching adulthood unprepared to deal with disappointment or uncomfortable feelings.  Offering play doh, crayons, bubbles, cookies and frolicking puppy videos to help them deal or feel safe keeps these adults at the emotional maturity of pre-schoolers.  Is it the acceptance and the over tolerance of  single moms, dead beat dads, helicopter parenting, and children being raised full-time in institutional settings from their infancy that is contributing to this?  I think, yes, yes, yes and yes.  The loss of our ability to reason before we react is concerning.

3. This isn’t all students though.  “In more than 20 years at UM-Flint, I am sure that these support services were never provided after previous elections, and certainly not in 2008 or 2012,” according to economics Professor Mark Perry. “And if the outcome of the election had been different, I am confident that either no emails would have been sent out to the campus community, or they would have been announcements for post-election campus celebrations, rather than an announcement for a campus ‘vigil.’” Source

Personally, if I was a liberal I would be embarrassed that this coddling had to be done every time one of my ideals failed to materialize.  I would wonder why my conservative counterparts don’t need a safe space when a liberal is elected and their conservative candidate faces defeat.  What was it about their parenting that made them better able to deal with their feelings instead of being crippled by them?  But then again, liberals aren’t know for their ability to think this deeply because they can’t get past their feelings in the first place.

4.  The ridiculous claims from some that this election was about sexism.  The election was only about gender for staunch feminists that voted for Hillary because they wanted the “highest and hardest glass ceiling” finally broken. People may have voted FOR her because “gender” but I doubt that any voted against her for that reason. The only sexism was on the part of feminists against “white male power.”

5.  The equally ridiculous claims from parents who didn’t know what or how they were going to tell their children about their new President or how their children were sobbing and terrified that he had been elected.  Who the hell instilled that fear other than their parents in the first place?  These are the children that are going to need college safe spaces.

6.  This excellent article that Trump voters were hidden in plain site.

Please add your commentary.  Agree or disagree freely.  I promise I can handle it.