Who Am I?
A Spiritual Journal
by Evelyn Donachie
Edited and with commentary by Steve Donachie
Foreword.....................................................3 Affirmation................................................14 Grounding..................................................15 A Deaconess...............................................18 Universal Energy.......................................20 Human Nature...........................................22 Discipline...................................................25 Children ....................................................27 Brotherhood..............................................29 Motherhood...............................................32 Mothers' Day..............................................36 Souls With Bodies......................................37 Middle Age.................................................39 Spiritual Growth........................................42 Fellowship..................................................45 Citizen of the World..................................49 Posterity and Creativity............................53 Birthday.....................................................55 Happiness..................................................57 Body, Mind, Spirit......................................59 Purpose......................................................62 Membership...............................................65 Cars and Fear.............................................67 How Big Is Your God?................................71 Housekeeping............................................73 Shyness......................................................75 Hand Work................................................78 Trinity, Unity, Trinity................................80 Illustrations................................................85
In 1975, the year she turned 51 years of age, my mother, Evelyn Donachie, kept a month-long journal as part of a spiritual exercise. Into these approximately 50 pages she poured all her highest aspirations for becoming a better person, wishing only to learn how to live closer to God and to nature, and to be of service to her fellow human beings. I was only 28 that year and preoccupied with my own life. If she ever mentioned this journal to me I forgot about it long ago. But it must have been valuable to her. The pages were filed away in a rusty metal box along with the deed to her house, insurance policies, and assorted birth and death certificates. For that reason I was able to discover them 35 years later, after her death in 2000 and my sister's death in 2009 placed them in my hands. There is something uncanny about hearing the
voice of my mother again ten years after she fell silent forever. It is her voice just as certainly as is the clear flowing hand in which she wrote – she belonged to the age of beautiful penmanship, which is now a lost art. But though I can recognize the personality, the document records a side of my parent that I was less familiar with. The woman I remember was timid, anxious, and prone to go into hysterics over anything from a home repair to a simple pot boiling over on the stove. But the author of the journal is someone on a spiritual quest who writes simply and directly about her desire to improve herself, to overcome her weaknesses and limitations, and above all to grow closer to her creator and her fellow travelers on the earth. In doing so she expressed her highest self, the person she aspired to be, and the one she came closest to becoming in the very act of stating that desire. The thoughts she set down may not always be original or momentous, but they are simple and direct expressions of the kind of personal search for meaning in life that any thoughtful person should be able to relate to. She demonstrated a level of mature wisdom
that gives evidence for “that of God in everyone” which speaks to us, and through us, if we only listen. What follows does not require an introduction, but some background may help the interested reader to appreciate more fully the circumstances in which it was written. Mom was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised there during the Great Depression. Her father was German Lutheran, her mother Irish Catholic, and she attended Catholic schools all the way through business college. Her father always held good jobs through those hard years – with the New York City police, then the Pennsylvania Railroad, and finally with AT&T – so the immediate family never suffered; but the specter of poverty surrounding them dictated that young Evelyn should learn a trade to be able to support herself if the need ever arose. (Later on, it would.) Accordingly, she studied typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping so she could always find work in any office. I don't know why she was also allowed to study music, which she loved, except that maybe it was considered part of a good set
of social skills. But she had quite a talent for classical piano – years later I remember her playing Chopin nocturnes and waltzes remarkably well – and a lovely soprano voice. That's how she met my dad. While on leave from basic training during World War II, an army buddy of my future father introduced him to my future mom as a fellow music lover. They must have hit it off, because when Dad shipped out for Europe as a second lieutenant he painted “Evelyn” on the hood of his Jeep. When he came home at the end of the war they married. (The buddy who had introduced them was not so lucky. He didn't made it back.) Dad played the piano so well he was able to go to Juilliard on the GI Bill. Then he transferred to Columbia University because he wanted to study more than just music. They had married for love and romance, and photos from the time appear to show that they started out happily as proud new parents and the owners of a first home. But things somehow went wrong after that. With two young children once my sister had been
born, they moved to Miami, where my father's parents and brother had relocated. From the beginning things were always a struggle there. As good a pianist as he may have been, Dad was not one of that top tenth of a percent who could achieve a concert career. Nor did he have the knack for popular music, or the patience to teach. Instead he held only a series of menial, dead-end jobs until eventually he found a career as a botanist at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This profession was not a lucrative one, however. They were able to buy a house with a no-money-down VA mortgage, but as soon as my sister was old enough to put into kindergarten Mom had to go to work so they could make ends meet. She found a secretarial position at the School Board office downtown and took buses to work. Later she became the secretary at a local elementary school, a position she held in several different schools until she retired. Long before that, however, the strained relationship with my dad fell apart. When I was 12 they separated, and a few years later divorced. Then in 1973, just two years before the journal begins, Dad died suddenly from pneumonia, which was complicated by the chest
wound he had received in the war. I know that Mom always considered him the one love of her life, in spite of everything, and it is pleasant to find him mentioned only fondly in the pages of her journal. Finally, just a few words about Mom's spiritual journey. As I mentioned, she had grown up as a staunch Catholic in parochial schools. My father was also born into a Catholic family, but one that was not so rigorous in its beliefs and practices. Dad's experiences in the war, combined with his questioning disposition and wide-ranging collegiate studies, led him to abandon his faith. It's a measure of how strong this conviction was that he eventually persuaded my mom to follow his example. I'm not sure how heart-felt it was on her side, but for whatever reasons she came to disagree with strict dogma and to admire more earnest forms of faith in practice. For example, both my parents idolized Albert Schweitzer as much for his musical achievements as for the missionary work he supported with them. When we kids were in elementary school our
parents seemed to feel that some form of religious exposure was necessary, so we began attending the Unitarian Church. It's hard to imagine a more complete about face from Catholicism than this. But it was part of a continuing theme – one thing they both liked was that the organist, like Schweitzer, played a lot of Bach. And the church school, as I can attest, was more like a comparative religion class than an indoctrination. From the beginning we were encouraged to listen to what others believed, and to decide for ourselves what to believe. Dad eventually left the Unitarians, just as he left us. And Mom wandered for a time until she was introduced to the Christ Congregational Church. By whom? Well, actually it was me and my friend Richard Sevigny. I was all grown up by this time, and my closest friend and I used to have marathon philosophical discussions comparing Eastern and Western mystical traditions. Richard had grown up in his parents' Congregational church, and he had such a close
relationship with the minister there that he actually was considering going to divinity school to become a minister himself. The minister's name was Theodore N. Tiemeyer (yes, initials TNT, and Richard would tell you with a grin that his sermons were dynamite!). I attended services there a few times with Richard and his wife, and found the church to be welcoming and not stuffy as I found many Christian churches to be. Rev. Tiemeyer was a tall, haggard character with a great booming voice and wide arms. He also had an interest in parapsychology and was a friend of Arthur Ford, the well-known psychic. This interest was not shared by all the members of the congregation, some of whom thought their shepherd was leading them pretty far from the path. But for Richard and me it made him wild and interesting. Richard never did go to divinity school, but for a time he became the leader of the church youth group and enlisted me to help out. Somewhere in there I must have told my mom about the church, because she decided to give it a try. Wonderfully and unexpectedly she found a true spiritual home there, one in which she could be who
she was and become what she hoped to be, which is surely all any of us can ask. Mom started reading the books of Edgar Cayce, whom she mentions several times, along with some other works that I commend to your attention, besides studying the Bible and coming to see it in a new light. Along the way she took it on herself to do a spiritual exercise involving keeping a journal for 28 days. The routine apparently included the use of an Affirmation, which explains itself in the text, combined with a general topic to reflect on, a “grounding” exercise, and often ending with a plea for God's help in her search. The topic she chose, “Who Am I?” is a question to which she never gave a better reply than in these few pages. I'm glad and fortunate to have it, and to be able to share it with others. Steve Donachie Miami, 2010
About the text: I have transcribed the original manuscript almost exactly as it appears. One of the amazing things about it is that there are hardly any crossed out or corrected words in the whole text. Mom's thoughts formed themselves into complete sentences and paragraphs, almost as if it were just another piece of dictation she had been taking. I've included an image of the first page with the illustrations at the end so you can see it for yourself. I have kept her underlines as underlines rather than changing them to italics, which is not the way we write when we write by hand. I corrected a rare misspelling just to show how rare they were. In the case of “bonzai” trees, which was repeated, I indicated the correction to “bonsai” the first time only. Surely we can forgive her for that one, because when she was studying spelling there were not many Japanese words in the English lexicon! And after all, it's a translation. I have added brief titles to each piece just as an aid to finding a topic to refer back to later. I've also added
footnotes where I thought there was something I could illuminate, but these are tucked away in italics at the end of each day so they can be skipped if you prefer to read just the original as it was set down in that month of May, 1975.
This document was created with OpenOffice Writer. The font is called Droid Serif. The page size is set for digital reading devices.
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Who Am I?
May 2, 1975 I know I'm “a child of God.” But knowing something intellectually isn't enough. I must put much thought and work into application to fully comprehend this wonderful truth. I've decided to use “My soul doth magnify the Lord” as my spiritual affirmation since I've just begun to think of its meaning in a new light. Magnify means bring into sharper focus and enlarge. The Magnificat statement then can mean my soul should be able to bring God into clearer understanding for me and others I meet in my life. That divine inner spark is capable of so much – if I can find the way to use it in accordance with divine plan. Oh God I have felt help in beginning my search. I acknowledge I need much further help.
May 3, 1975 I've tried the “Grounding” practice suggested in the workshop. I seems very reasonable to me that it can be helpful. I've been thinking of the way sunrises and sunsets have impressed me when camping.* I've also thought many mornings when I see the sunrise just before going into school that it represents the beauty of the universe and that I'm “storing up” the beauty and serenity of the moment to help me through my day of work. The “Grounding” seems similar to these other impressions – only intensified. Also, with all of the applications of solar energy now, it certainly seems possible that people can absorb energy from the sun. While I was serving today, I began to think of it as a “working with hands” tool toward deeper enlightenment. It seems working with hands at simple tasks or on works of art share something in that something is created. Perhaps all creative work draws in varying degrees on the Creative Forces of the universe that are of God. If so, more than satisfaction
and relaxing calmness are the benefits gained. I've always enjoyed making things with my hands. But today I began to think of this in a more important way. I don't know whether this will have any lasting effect on me, but I hope it will. Went to Church* supper and enjoyed the fellowship of the group. I have sometimes wondered if members knew each other in previous lifetimes. So many ties with friends and mutual acquaintances show up that it reminds me of Cayce's comments that some of the people attracted to work with him at Virginia Beach had known him in previous lifetimes.* My feeling of fellowship in the Church was something I feel I needed. It's helping me develop friendliness. I've found much happiness as a bonus along with the deeper blessings of Church service.
* Mom was beginning to go on a series of camping trips with my sister during the course of which she scouted out other parts of the state where she might choose to retire.
I have followed her capitalizations of the word “Church” because it may indicate a shift in her perception during the course of the journal. Near the beginning it is usually capitalized, while later it is not, possibly reflecting an increase of her comfort and familiarity with the church of her choosing, and less of a need to address it as a proper noun. The mention of previous lifetimes may seem out of place in a Christian church since reincarnation is not part of any church doctrine. It is prominent however in the writings of Edgar Cayce, whose followers believe he was “channeling” messages from departed spirits. It might seem odd for someone like my mom to be dallying with such ideas, but remember that the 70's followed hot on the heels of the 60's, and such ideas were already becoming widespread in the American counter-culture. It also is a sign of Mom's open-mindedness and the fact that, like me, she had also read and thought a lot about Hinduism and Buddhism, which treat reincarnation as a matter of fact.
May 4, 1975 I am a Deaconess! At the Church election this morning for new members to the various Boards, I was elected to the Board of Deacons. I'm thrilled at the realization of the many wonderful opportunities to be of help and service to others [that] will be opened up to me through being a member of this Board. I hope to try to make the most of these opportunities. I'm glad this is beginning at the same time I'm trying a deeper search into my spiritual growth. I know that whatever I give of myself will be returned to me in blessings from God. The blessings I hope for are awareness and spiritual growth. Mother Theresa* spoke of the joy that no one could take away from her. I found the similar reference to that joy in the Gospel of St. John today. This is what I seek – on a much smaller scale, according to what I can do in my life circumstances. I hope I'll find the inner voice to guide me so my soul can magnify the Lord.
*There is something poignant about Mom's quoting Mother Theresa about joy when that good woman later confided about the loss of her own faith and the need to go on without it. But the link is appropriate. I see my own mother struggling with her faith, as do many of us.
May 5, 1975 The idea of Universal Energy being in all life and even in all inanimate things seems easier to imagine while doing the little “grounding” practice. The universe is one from the power of the sun down to the earth and grass beneath our feet. I am a part of the universe and have a function to fulfill. I pray for understanding to know my purpose now so I may try to fulfill that purpose. Behind all atoms are energy, and the energy is of God. I share some of this energy with all life and with God. We are of God originally and our souls are working toward reuniting with God. As children of God, the beauties of the world are our inheritance. Help me to savor and appreciate the beauties of the world and skies. The effect of trying to “drink in” or experience the beauties of nature is so calming to me. It makes me feel small in the total picture, yet more important because of sensing the divine thought and plan behind all creation. And I have a place to fit in in that vast complex panorama. My part
is small, but there is something I can do to serve in some way in this exact place and time of eternity. May my inner guiding light not be obscured by my hurrying about unimportant things. Help me find the quiet temple of God within where I may learn how I may fulfill my important tasks in life and draw closer to God. Each blade of grass is tiny but, in unison with other blades, each is a part of an emerald carpet. I attended a Deacons' meeting this evening. Here is a new door to opportunities to help serve the church that is serving me so very wonderfully. It would be marvelous if I could help a few other people find this same happiness in this Church. Help me find the right words to say at the right time to lead people in to visit and find the joy inside.
This passage and the others in which Mom claims to have found happiness are good to hear. I remember too well how devastated she was by her divorce, how alone and helpless she felt, and it is good to know she came out the other side of that difficult time.
May 6, 1975 It rained this evening from about 5 to 7 so I missed watching sunset for “grounding.” There was just a short while of a few white and pink clouds reflecting the setting sun. I watched their beauty fade and deep blue clouds gradually pass over them. For a few minutes it looked as though you could sense the turning of the earth. It must have been moments such as that that inspired music of the spheres. No wonder Edgar Mitchell* was so awed by the sight of the earth seen from outer space. Lyla lent me a book about women of the Bible and applications of their experiences to present day women. I read the first chapter tonight – about Abraham's second wife – and feel it is an interesting book. Human nature doesn't change, as Reverend Tiemeyer keeps reminding us from time to time. I wonder whether this is more because the patterns of behavior have only so many possibilities according to some basic laws – or whether it's more because the
same souls are living and reliving and fall into similar behavior patterns again and again or different patterns that may also be basic for growth at that time. I feel I have a need to be of service and thought this might be a need because of [a] previous life of perhaps indifference to others. Now I realize though that all souls have the purpose in life of being of service to others in helping to serve God and spread His kingdom on earth by trying to make His light within us shine forth as evidence of God's love to others. I thought today at school that I may be perceiving a little growth of calmness within me. But it may only have been a calmer day of work today. I am aiming though at putting religious insight into practice. I pray for help in following through with good intentions.
*Astronaut Edgar Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon on the Apollo 14 mission. While on the moon he conducted personal ESP experiments with some friends back on earth. In 1973 he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences to “conduct and sponsor
research into areas that mainstream science has found unproductive.” He also believed that at least some UFO's were travelers from other planets. Apparently Mom had read a moving account of his experience of seeing the earth from a distance.
May 7, 1975 I think Arthur Ford* said somewhere that one of the most important things for us to learn is discipline. I understood he meant learning to discipline ourselves to use our time wisely, to set reasonable goals and work systematically towards our goals, and, in general, to set our lives in order. I cringe when I think of the importance he placed on this because I feel so disorganized. I've tried to get my work organized more smoothly, but at home I find it very difficult to make any headway in getting more organized. I enjoy being at home, find pleasure in living simply and unfrantically.* But I know my simple life could be even more satisfying if I can make myself clear out anything that's “clutter” and get home in better order. It will be hot this summer but I'll try to accomplish something positive towards this goal this summer. I think Arthur Ford said this discipline would
prepare us for life beyond.
*Arthur Ford was born in Titusville, Florida, in 1897 and died in 1971 after quite a career as a psychic or clairvoyant. Whatever you may think of that, he also left behind a body of spiritual teaching that many have found helpful. When Mom starts talking about her difficulty cleaning the house and trying to live “unfrantically,” I hear the woman I remember. She fought ineffectually against the triumph of clutter throughout her life. But she did make progress against the idea of “frantic.” Later in her life I could detect a definite shift into a more tranquil and easy going pace. Retiring from the public school system and relocating to the small town of St. Cloud in Central Florida helped a lot, too.
May 8, 1975 I've often felt, and sometimes said, that the greatest thing I've accomplished in life is to raise two children. It's so true that so very much of a mother's best thought, work, and creative activities center around her children. In fact, it's so easy to feel it's a noble thing to be so concerned and involved with children, that a mother must be sure to remember the children's lives are their own. They're entrusted to the mother's care for a while, but they must be given freedom to grow and develop alone. I'm proud of Steve and Jan. Yet I'm probably responsible for very little about them. I am only one of many persons from whom they've inherited some qualities. I am only one of many from whom they've learned, and continue to learn. And I've learned from Steve and Jan also. What a great pleasure and satisfaction there is in finding that since they are of another generation they hold some keys to my understanding these times more clearly. This is like the
river Rev. Tiemeyer spoke of with the source unknown, the heritage of the past passed along into the present and flowing on into the future. He referred then to religious truths, but it applies to all life. The old man in Sidhartha* also spoke of the river. It's such a shame that while we're in the present, sort of “main act” of the drama with our children that the every day burdens, tasks and petty problems consume so much of our energy. While I still have time, I want to concentrate on trying to make our hours have bits at least that will fit into this good heritage type of memories to pass on down the river.
*It's nice to know your parents are proud of you, but how amazing is it to hear that they are letting you go, that you are your own person, and even that they have learned from you? One case in point: Herman Hesse's novel, Sidhartha, is one that I recommended and may have loaned to her. Another item to pass along down that river.
May 9, 1975 After many years of claiming to believe in the brotherhood of man, I have finally during the past year at church grown to feel a more real sense of brotherhood with my fellow man through the deep sense of fellowship in the church. It's been easier to feel comradeship and interest and concern for the fine friends I've made at church. The Bible discussion group meetings have made us aware of the strength of good vibrations generated by a group seeking understanding of the meaning of the teachings of Jesus. We have been stimulated to keep thinking long after the meetings and during the days following. “Where 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name, there I am also”* seems to be felt in this group. I have grown closer to the fine people I work with at school also. I think this is increasing this past year because of my church associations and happiness in belonging to this church. I feel happier and hope I act happier as evidence of what I have found.
Where it is still most difficult to feel brotherhood is with a few emotionally tangled up children at school and with unreasonable, irate parents. These, of course, are the ones most needing kind, sincere attention. I keep trying but know it's not truly genuine. I think of souls on varying levels and rationalize until I'm guilty of a kind of condescending concern and pity for these people – as though I'm somehow a little higher and more blessed than they are. That isn't right – and for all I know they may be on a much higher level of development than I am. It's hard to find the way to act that can be helpful and truly Christian. I haven't tried the practice suggested in the Cayce workshop of silently stating an affirmation before confronting such people or situations that cause us difficulty. It is supposed to help gradually in making us gentler people. I must try to follow this suggestion. It may be exactly the help I need to improve in this problem area. I must aim at being aware of the spark of the Christ consciousness in all those whom I find it so difficult to like.
*There's a wonderful connection with that Biblical quote: “When two or three are gathered in my name ...” When I began my own association with Quakers, I found myself in a “worship sharing” where we were given those words to contemplate. I struggled with it at first. I wanted it to say, When even one is gathered in my name … It took me several years to appreciate that the real message in the words is the value of fellowship, which was at the core of the teachings of Jesus. He wanted us to remember that the fellowship was why he was here, what it was all about, the message and the lesson we had to learn. To have it appear again in my mom's journal is a perfect closing of a circle.
May 10, 1975 I read today about a prodigy pianist-composer, Michelle Levin Katz, who is now married and the mother of 3 step-daughters and two children of her own. She feels that being a mother is just as creative a job as being a musician. That's how I feel also. It's true that a mother shouldn't try to mold her children into the kind of persons she'd like them to be in such things as abilities in which to excel, characteristics such as bold and aggressive, mild and passive, outgoing and gregarious, introverted and scholarly, etc. – but she can be near as the child's own talents and characteristic[s] begin to manifest and provide whatever tools, atmosphere, training, books, etc. will seem most appropriate and beneficial to development.* That's why a mother feels such pride in her children when they are grown-up. Not that she made them what they've become, but that she watched and tried to nurture the unfolding personality and character. I am a mother and have found this very rewarding.
There were many times when I felt very insecure about my abilities to know how to act and what to do. Perhaps it doesn't matter just what we do sometimes – that only one thing is right to do and all others wrong – but something deeper about interaction between souls. The child can feel support and love, which are the real things needed. Creative forces are of God, so being a parent should make one more aware of God and feel some partnership in the miracle of new lives unfolding. I'm so happy that the love Scott and I shared brought us Steve and Janice. I must try not to lean* on Steve, but I do enjoy talking with him and feel great joy in finding I can now learn so much from him. I find such great joy and contentment now with my relationship with Janice. I think we've both matured and gotten to understand each other better. Each day of my life brings me joy. May I not miss savoring and realizing those joys. Some are brief moments and others long-lasting. I long to grow more aware and selective in the way I
spend the hours of leisure each day so they will be productive – not in frantic busy-ness, but in peaceful, fulfilling living.
*There's a lot for me to take in here. It's certainly true that both my parents left me free to evolve in my own direction – so much so, perhaps, that I later came to feel almost neglected. Yet when I look back I see the many instances when Mom made available to me what I needed. I was not forced to learn the piano, but other instruments appeared when I developed the interest – even, during the “hippie” era, a sitar from India. When Mom worked at the central school board office she fed my insatiable appetite with virtually every science fiction book contained in the main library. If I needed a slide rule for math class, or oil paints for art, or a drafting table to study mechanical drawing, those things materialized regardless of the scant amount of money that was available for them. One summer I picked up typing by working my way through one of her tutorials from school on the old Underwood manual typewriter
that she sometimes used for after-hours work. When I came of age and my father was not so available, a book about “the facts of life” appeared, because she knew I could learn whatever I wanted simply by reading about it. I smile to see her admonish herself not to “lean” on me, because it's true that I chafed at having to be more of a support to her after she had lost her husband. I certainly resented any idea that I had to become the “man” of the house. But though it was sometimes uncomfortable, I know there are many things we shared during that time that I might have missed otherwise, and I must remind myself that I often found her a good companion.
May 11, 1975 Today is Mothers' Day – or Festival of Christian Family Life – and the sermon in church dealt in depth with some of my thoughts last night. It was very good and helped clarify my thoughts. I'll have the chance to work next year with Material Aid committee at church. This interests me a great deal for I think I should be able to do some things in service or knitting that can go to help someone in need. It's been a long while since I've done anything to help so directly. I want to make the most of this opportunity. I must get our home in order. I've tried in places, but everything seems to get in disorder again before I get the next room in order. I thought that some boxes might help me get storage organized. But it's daily items that I have lots of trouble with. I won't give up. Maybe if I try to act as though I'm well organized little by little I'll become organized. Cayce spoke of changing gradually. I mustn't be impatient.
Souls With Bodies
May 12, 1975 If Cayce's readings placed emphasis on our being “souls with bodies” rather than “bodies with souls,” it would seem reassuring to us to concentrate on the time of eternity of our souls rather than on the limited number of years of the lives of our bodies. I've never had driving ambitions to excel in a career or ambitions to acquire wealth, and I'm glad I haven't been caught up frantically in that mad pace. There have been times I've felt I'm never going to live up to as much as I perhaps may have been capable of, however. Whether this is laziness in not developing talents fully, or whether this is heading in a good direction of not being desirous of temporary goals – I'm not sure. It seems to be something I can explain either way. Of course I prefer the latter, but I may just be deluding myself about that. Perhaps I'll never know for sure till after the end of this lifetime. Lately I've wondered whether reincarnation may give us a variety of lifetimes with a variety of types of life situations to see
just what we make of different circumstances. Maybe, just as in education, there is a kind of lateral, enriching kind of growth, in addition to only onward and upward for reward or stepping back down to atone or learn. One day is all we live at a time, and trying to do the best we can with each day is probably still the wisest advice we can be given. It could be that souls develop by tiny gradual changes – like the idea of healing beginning with changes in a few atoms, and then snowballing. Only the “snowballing” with souls must be very, very gradual, too.
May 13, 1975 I'm a middle-aged woman – and I love it! Somehow I feel more an individual “me” at this time of life than ever before. I am no longer a child – shy and uncertain of what lay ahead. I'm no longer a student, a young wife, a young mother. As I look back now, I remember all the happy experiences of each of these periods of my life. Yet while living through them I also felt a great deal of insecurity about my abilities to manage. I sometimes felt overwhelmed by daily problems and unsure of whether I was doing the right thing. Now all the experiences have blended to give me a background memory of wonderful times – and accomplishments. It's true that I never accomplished anything spectacular – but everything moved me further along that river of life with streams leading into ever-widening rivers with diversity of characteristics. The bits and pieces of talents that I've developed – playing the piano, enjoying listening to music, sewing, crocheting, knitting, typing, shorthand,
bookkeeping, driving a car, rowing, cooking and baking, developing love of reading good books – now are beginning to seem like pieces in a big jigsaw puzzle that's “me.” It's remarkable to realize how many of such seemingly lowly skills have enabled me at various times to be of some help to others as well as to myself. If one of our main purposes here on earth is to help others and if I had managed to learn these skills before needed – then I did succeed in developing talents to be of service to others. I was selected to work with Material Aid at church because of serving and handiwork interests, and I do want to be of help with this during the coming year. So “little pastimes” and simple abilities can be used for good. Middle-age is also a time when it seems good to slow down our pace of activities to some degree. I find myself considering this the opportunity to develop inner calm and a feeling of tranquility and well-being. I'm trying at work to make my motions and walking more poised and avoiding as much as possible the frantic rushing. I think I'm getting just as much work
done, but I'm trying to become a calmer person. Serene is the word I'd like to aim for. Somehow all this is a sign of “acting my age” and becoming better for it. I think it will do me good, and I hope I may also have a calming effect on some of the tense children and adults I meet at school. This seems to be in keeping with my affirmation – “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
It's odd for me to hear my mom reflecting on “middle age” when she was younger than I am now. But I can certainly agree with her sentiment that it is a time of coming to know yourself and to be more comfortable with yourself than during the earlier and often more tentative stages of life.
May 14, 1975 The middle-aged years seem just right for concentrating on spiritual growth. The only thing that's hard to understand about that is the sadness of young lives that end in death before having the opportunity of older years.* Perhaps those haven't the need for longer years. I don't know. I'm just glad I've gotten to my approaching 51st birthday. I haven't made much progress yet with meditation,* but I keep trying, and it's important to me. Maybe my feeling of healthy wellbeing gets more help from my meditation than I know. The Cayce “Search for God” books should be very stimulating in gaining better insight. I've read just a little of Book I. I realized today that I'm old enough to be the mother of many, and possibly most, of the people I work with at school. This can help explain why they usually don't call me by my first name. I had thought it
was more because of a lack of friendliness on my part. I'm glad to know it's probably just my age. I like the staff at school very much and feel fortunate to work with them. Middle-age is also the time when I can understand my father and mother better. I had felt afraid of becoming my mother's companion 10 years ago; now I would be able to fit into that position more comfortably. It doesn't do any good to live with guilt and regrets, so I try to believe I did the best I could at that time. I'm more stable now in may ways. Having been an “only child” seems to have caused me to have problems getting along with people at times. It's not that I was “used to having my way about things” but just that I didn't have as many experiences with brothers or sisters or many childhood friends. I guess that's why I never feel lonely. I've been used to being alone a good deal.
I'm not sure who was on Mom's mind when she refers to people who die too young, but my father's death at the
age of 52 was only two years in the past, and not long before that a young woman I knew had taken her own life. Still earlier, one of my childhood schoolmates, now college age, had died in a bizarre Halloween accident when his car crashed into a runaway horse on a country road just a few miles from home. The incidents are abundant, and abundantly sad. Those of us who survive are always aware of those who didn't make it, and must learn from that whatever there is to learn. Her mention of meditation may refer to a practice related to this spiritual exercise she was engaged in, but it may also be Transcendental Meditation, the technique taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “TM” was something I tried for a couple of years around this time, and which my mom also took up on the strength of my positive experience with it.
May 15, 1975 I'm a member of a wonderful Women's Fellowship church group. I attended the Installation Banquet this evening and again felt very strongly the genuine close friendliness of the group. It's been wonderful this year to have joined this group at church. My life has been enriched by it. The program included a slide presentation of Erma Vance's visit to the cities of the Incas, modern and ancient. The scenes were breathtaking. The cold climate high up in the mountains and the clouds hanging around the peaks reminded me of oriental mountains with shrines and temples that I read about last year. It seems the grandeur of those mountain settings and effects of clouds and sunrise and sunset stimulate spiritual growth. The accomplishments of those ancient Incas [were] truly amazing. I've always been fascinated with information and pictures of Incas and Mayans. Scott*
was, too. He enjoyed his trip to Guatemala & climbing a Mayan temple. I think that might have inspired one of his finest poems.* How tragic that those people were conquered by greedy seekers of gold and wealth. It seems as though this doesn't say much tonight about my thoughts about who I am. But perhaps my awe at those mountain scenes taps some memory deep within my soul-consciousness. Florida is so flat, and we always enjoy getting up into the central part of the state with hills and lakes. Rev. Tiemeyer spoke one Sunday of frequent Biblical references to hills. We seem to find renewal and strength from such views. Perhaps the majesty seems symbolic of God. Scenes like those make it impossible not to experience nature itself. The beauty, awe, wide-spreading panorama all speak of a Creator of great varieties of beauty, peace, stillness, and sounds of birds, waters, wind, rain, etc, etc. Some of the scenes tonight were high above the timber line. The reed huts and boats – boats like Thor Heyerdahl built to test his theory of travel from Egypt to South America. And they think an Inca city existed 1,000 years before Babylon! Oh the marvelous
mysteries and excitement of our world's history and its people. I am an inhabitant of a sub-tropical peninsula state of the United States on this wonderful planet Earth.
*My father, who disliked “Charles” and could not abide “Charlie” or – worse still – “Chuck,” started going by the nickname of “Scott” when he was in the army. It came from his Scottish ancestry and maybe the fact that his dog back home was a Scottish terrier. Anyway, it stuck, and he even got his family and in-laws to adopt its usage after he came home. Most people who met him later in life didn't know him as anything but Scott. I'm not sure which of Dad's poems she is referring to that may have been inspired by Mayan ruins. Several of the ones we collected after his death take a long view of history, and the age of those ancient constructions would certainly have resonated with him. And in another poem he wrote about the magnificent skies that we have in Florida that must take the place of majestic mountains.
Neither of my parents traveled much, but my dad did make that one voyage to Guatemala that he really enjoyed. I still have a wooden reed instrument that he brought me as a souvenir. Mom took a number of camping trips around Florida with my sister, but – except for a cruise to Nassau with our grandmother – never left the state after the family moved here. She never flew in a plane her entire life.
Citizen of the World
May 16, 1975 I am an American and a citizen of the world. It's strange how people think it's fine and good to feel patriotic about one's own country but find the aim toward “one world” loyalty either just visionary dreaming or a disloyalty to one's own country. I thought of this as I typed mimeo* stencils for our school Bicentennial* newspaper. I guess it gets back to ideas about inclusion of persons with similar likes, heritages, religions, etc. and exclusion of all other people as somehow lesser persons. It's still hard for us to support totally and sincerely the brotherhood of all mankind. I was reading something about Pentecost tonight in the Acts of the Apostles. It seemed to stress finding unity for people of diverse backgrounds through the Holy Spirit. Evidently we still don't open ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit to become filled with this wisdom and enlightenment.
Oh God I have so many opportunities to practice brotherhood with many different children and grownups daily at school. Too often I feel I want to think of everyone as a child of God, but know I fall far short of my intentions. I've thought of trying the technique of thinking of an affirmation before dealing with anyone – but I keep on acting heedlessly without remembering an affirmation. I must keep trying.
* For those too young to remember the days before ubiquitous copy machines and laser printers, you should know that schools and small businesses with a need for short runs of printed material had two options. There was a “ditto” machine and a “mimeograph.” Both used stencils that had to be created on a typewriter. The ditto stencil had a blue dye on the back that was dissolved onto special, slick copy paper with the aid of a fragrant and noxious solvent that is probably now prohibited by law. The mimeo stencil had letters cut out by the typewriter; it was then wrapped around a cylinder that pressed ink through the cutouts onto the copy paper.
Neither one was good for more than a few hundred copies before it was worn out and had to be discarded. If you wanted more, you typed another one. Typing them and running the machines were both jobs that my mom performed at the school. She also cut the stencils for our home-published, mimeographed edition of my father's collected poetry, called Ruins, Eagles' Feathers. The printed pages have survived for 35 years so far with very little degradation, showing how superior that process was to the ditto, which faded pretty rapidly with age. 1975 was one year before the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence, an event that was greeted with much hoopla throughout the land, apparently including my mom's school. It was somewhat tempered, however, by the recent ignominious end of the Vietnam war, which had cast a pall over patriotism for large segments of the population, and the resignation of Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal. Regarding the larger theme of being a citizen of the world, I recognize here a familiar teaching of both my parents. They thought the League of Nations had been a
great idea, idolized Dag Hammarskjold, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, voted for Adlai Stevenson as a voice of reason in the anticommunist hysteria of the 1950's, admired the Unitarian hymn that begins, “We would be one in hatred of all wrong/ One in our love of all things good and fair,” believed that the world had to be united to avoid nuclear holocaust. This was the air I breathed as I grew up.
Posterity and Creativity
May 17, 1975 I'm a mother and I am proud of my children and their accomplishments. This makes me like millions of other mothers throughout the world today and millions down through all the ages past. A bit of our pride is the feeling of one kind of immortality in passing on a bit of ourselves to posterity through our children. Janice did a thoroughly organized job of stage managing of the dance concert at the college tonight. It's taken lots of work in rehearsal time and planning time, and time to tape the music, and time working on her part and costume for the finale. It went very smoothly and I was happy for her success with the work.* Creative work gives us satisfaction because we use God-given gifts or talents and add a bit of our own unique personality. But the personality is from God also, so perhaps that's why it makes us feel in tune with God.
* My sister, Janice – who preferred to be called Jan – was someone who struggled in life. Afflicted with a genetic disorder that caused scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, she was a misfit who never really found her place in the world. A rare exception was her brief affiliation with the dance department at Miami-Dade College. Mom is celebrating her achievement as stage manager – more than the role of stage hand that I remembered – and her inclusion in the performance. In the middle of one number Jan came on stage dressed as a janitor with a mop and pail and got comically tangled up with the dancers. I didn't see the performance, but I understand it was a hit with the audience.
May 18, 1975 I am now 51 years old. And I think it's a marvelous age to be. I am fortunate to have good health so I feel increased drive now to seek and develop the important values in my life. I had a wonderful birthday today. It was Pentecost Sunday. Jan and I heard a wonderful sermon in church, cautioning against narrow, limiting dogmas, and urging each person to seek his own personal religion. It clarified my thinking along these lines and was doubly great to hear on my birthday. Steve came at noon for dinner. He brought me a beautiful bonzai [bonsai] tree. Jan gave me Nixon Smiley's* book “Yesterday's Florida” and Marjorie Douglas'* “Everglades, River of Grass.” These make a great combination of a miniature, perfect example of the uplifting, calming effect of nature – together with large-scale studies of this interesting state of Florida. It was a very happy day.
*Nixon Smiley was the long time horticulture expert at the Miami Herald, as well as historian and author of several books. He also had an office for some time at Fairchild Tropical Garden, where my dad worked as a botanist (the career he finally found). For a while they worked together, and Dad assisted Smiley with research for a book on native Florida plants, so there is a personal family connection with this gift. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas also has a connection with Fairchild. Besides being a champion of the local flora and fauna she was one of the founding members of what we always called simply “The Garden.” There is now a life-sized bronze statue of her seated on a bench there; you can sit beside her and have your picture taken with the Mother of the Everglades.
May 19, 1975 I am a happy woman. It's a good feeling to acknowledge this. Too often we think of happiness as a period of time when everything is going especially well or some very special events have occurred. Too often we fail to realize we can be fortunately blessed with an over-all quiet kind of happiness that exists throughout our lives. I just realized that even the sad times are sad because they're considered in comparison with warm, bright, happy times. When we are overwhelmed by grief at the death of a loved one, it's really proportionate to the joy and happiness we knew with that person. We could spare ourselves the pain of mourning at the price of refusing to become emotionally involved and concerned about other people. Their deaths then would cause us no pain of separation. But surely then our lives would be sterile, empty – and sad! It seems to be one of the paradoxes of life. God, please help me to keep aware that I am a
happy woman. Maybe then I can grow closer to my goal of becoming a calmer, more serene person. Then I could truly give testimony in my life that “my soul doth magnify the Lord.” It could also help me show that my religion has brought great peace into my life, and hopefully encourage at least one person to draw nearer to God.
Here's that allusion to happiness again, which I find so reassuring, as tentative as it may have been. She is certainly recalling my dad here as she expresses the time-honored sentiment that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Body, Mind, Spirit
May 20, 1975 I was thinking last night that in life our body develops first, then our mind, and finally our spirit. Or at least that's the way it seems to be planned for us with schools and colleges to develop our minds as soon as our bodies have developed sufficiently for us to function fairly independently. Then somewhere about the same time as the schools begin to be dominant forces in our lives, the churches begin our spiritual development. As a child I felt less pressure from the religious training than the mind training knowledge in school. It was emphasized though that the spiritual concerns were really the most important. Learning to earn a living and then doing the earning and providing for family needs do take so much of our time though for so many years. Rev. Tiemeyer said Jesus also worked to support his family after St. Joseph's death. Then he spent just 3 years in his actual public ministry. So it seems he may have set an example for us in this way also. The length of time isn't
as important as the quality of what we do in our spiritual growth. When I looked through the book about Japanese bonsai trees, I marveled at the fact that this type of miniaturized tree horticulture was ever conceived. It seems to have hidden significance in finding beauty in small trees reminiscent of majestic landscapes. Anyone with a tiny yard or home has room for the beauty of a bonsai tree or trees. We don't have to own a vast estate or forest to appreciate the stature of noble nature. Of course it's also possible to have any kind of plant grow in a pot. But that's different than slowing the growth of an old tree to keep it in a small container and even to controlling the shape of its uppermost branches. The bonsai tree takes so much more time and care than a regular tree growing naturally in the soil. Perhaps that's part of the meaning behind it also. In daily watering and caring for the bonsai the owner confronts the beauty of the tree daily. Sometimes we ignore our regular trees for weeks at a time or casually appreciate their shade. Turning our attention daily toward a small miniature of a serenely beautiful natural landscape
must have a calming effect. It would be a way to experience nature daily and perhaps grow a bit as persons because of the contact. Oh God help me to notice and appreciate all the tiny examples of beauty that I encounter each day instead of yearning to see great marvels in extensive travels. What is near me is a part of the same world. There are many who long for a trip to Miami!
Having recently participated in a Bible-study series at the Miami Friends Meeting (definitely a first for me), I'm interested to hear how my mom's impression of Jesus seems to parallel my own. We tend to view him as a man, as someone we might have known – someone who was doing his best to teach us all something and to set an example with his life, but not someone who was inherently any more divine than the rest of us. Wasn't he trying to let us know that we are all children of God, as in my mom's opening words of this journal? I suspect he might be dismayed to see people worshiping him while missing the essential point of his teaching.
May 21, 1975 I have some purpose to accomplish in my life. I don't ever expect to succeed in doing anything very great or important. Yet my life touches other lives daily, and my actions sometimes can cause widening circles of effects like pebbles thrown into a stream. Therefore without even much thought of “doing something,” I do in fact do things daily that may cause good or bad effects. I am the one who controls my words and actions, so I must seek to have my thoughts under control in order to show kindness and positive deeds and not impatient, mean or negative deeds. Cayce said what we build in thoughts we meet in life. I guess that's where it's important to begin improvements. It's so easy to be tense and preoccupied with troublesome thoughts – and then carelessly say something that can hurt someone's feelings or act impatiently with someone and make someone unhappy and sad. If we can sort of activate our little “mind alert” signal to think clearly and rightly before we speak or
act, we can surely make our circles of contacts sources of encouragement, joy and happiness. This would seem to fulfill our purpose to make the world around us a little better or happier for our having lived. I'm trying to act more deliberately and carefully to try to improve. I was afraid today that possibly I'm just slowing down in work. It will take some practice to develop how to do what I'm seeking to do. It's a step toward becoming a more gentle person, which is a goal. The things I can accomplish are little things, but many, many little things could really amount to something worthwhile. I must keep trying to do my best each day.
When I was in Junior High – as we called Middle School back then – Mom and I used to watch a weekly series on Public TV called “The Way of Zen” in which the philosopher Alan Watts instructed us about Oriental religious teachings. One thing that always stuck with me, and perhaps with my mom, was the Taoist idea of
“wu wei wu,” or “do without doing.” I hear echoes of this in her musings about how our actions have effects, whether we “do” them or not. It's also related to the Existentialist premise that we are what we do.
May 23, 1975 I am a member of Christ Congregational Church. Nothing has done more to help me find myself and clarify my religious thoughts than joining this Church. This has probably been the happiest year of my life. I remember saying brief pleas of prayers to ask God to help me find the way closer to understanding. Then I visited the church – and did find the way. I find this happiness continues to grow. I look forward to each Sunday's service and receive added insight in each service. The Bible Study meetings each month have also been stimulating and made me see the Bible in a fresh light. The meeting tonight was very enlightening. The fellowship of this group has reality, also. I look forward to sharing these study hours with these Church friends.
As I wrote in the introduction, I'm pleased that my mom found such a spiritual home in the church that I
introduced her to, however inadvertent it may have been. And I'm pleased to have found such a home myself among Quaker friends after spending most of my life following my own nose when it came to spiritual beliefs and practices. I can now agree from my own experience that it is good to have a fellowship in which to continue the search and the growth that we should hope will continue throughout our lives.
Cars and Fear
May 24, 1975 I was uneasy today about the car, and realized how very frightened I can become of mechanical things. One day the car did stop dead on the highway, and I experienced that feeling of helplessness. Ever since I seem to be more aware than ever before of the actual possibility of being stranded in some remote area because of the failure of some small piece inside a complicated automobile. We've always been fortunate on vacation trips, but now I seem to be growing afraid to go on a trip. This is probably increased by the fact that I really am not totally confident in my Mazda car yet. Mechanics who are familiar with it, and service centers with parts, are not so numerous. It seems more of a real problem than when I had Ford cars. I'm also afraid it won't have enough power for turnpike driving. Perhaps a lot of my upset is the fear that I may not have made such a wise choice of car after all. My fear is compounded because of driving alone or with Jan and not having a husband to depend on to know
what to do about car troubles. I would be terrified of even a flat tire. All of this seems trivial except that I know I felt slightly ill because of this today. This is really foolish. I feel worried about a mechanical problem arising that I wouldn't know how to deal with. It seems a strange problem of this day and age. Yet when I think a little further I realize there have always been threats of troubles from things or forces beyond their control hanging like clouds over lives of peoples of all times. In fact it seems that striving to calm fears about things that could happen – but might not happen – and facing actual problems as they do arise with as much courage, resourcefulness, and action needed at the time can add to what we usually call “character.” I found myself praying today that the car would get me home safely. I don't think this is a good thing to pray about. The only part that has any merit is the childish admission of our weaknesses and fears. Times like today remind me of my very limited capabilities and convince me I wouldn't be very
capable of running a place in a remote farming country area. Farmers are used to knowing how to tinker with all kinds of machinery and household repairs. Perhaps I need these days of feelings of insecurity to counterbalance days of inflated ego when I feel capable of managing a good deal. I think there's a saying that humility is the beginning of wisdom. Help me, Lord, to be well aware of my weaknesses and limitations so I won't attempt more than I can handle.
Not everything I recommended to my mom was a success. Her purchase of a used Mazda happened largely because I had owned a Volkswagen and then a Saab, so she thought she might give a foreign car a try. At the time, Mazdas were even more scarce than Saabs, so her fears of being stranded somewhere with no service available were well-founded. On top of that, she had only learned to drive fairly late in her life, after my father moved out, so it was something she was never really comfortable with even when the car was working
properly. It's interesting to see how she was able to find the moral lesson in her fear, and to come to grips with it. When I think of her I remember the fear, but I need to be reminded of the courage that it takes to meet the fear.
How Big Is Your God?
May 25, 1975 This morning I remembered that I had written yesterday that I didn't think it was good to pray that my car would keep running. Then I remembered what Rev. Tiemeyer says he answers when asked if it's all right to pray about some certain thing. “It depends on how big your God is.” My concept of God is big and my faith is growing. So surely God could keep me from being helplessly stranded in a car somewhere. Yet I don't expect I should get special protection. Struggling and coping with various problems seems to be part of life. What I do want to learn though is to stop wasting energy on fear. I want to learn to walk confidently in the conviction that I do receive many blessings from God, and my energy should be directed toward positive thoughts and deeds rather than negative or fearful thoughts and actions – or inaction because of being frozen in fear. It was a wonderful day today. Jan drove me to church again, and I truly felt the joyful happiness of
having a grown-up daughter who's now an adult and able to be of help and support to me. It's nice to have her with me. Peggy and Bob Ozman also came to church this morning, and I felt so happy to think I had been able to tell them of this church. I do hope they'll find the peace and joy I've found in this wonderful church. Jan and I watched the lunar eclipse last night. It was really awesome to see it through the binoculars. What a vast miraculous universe this is.
It's wonderful to have this glimpse of my mother and sister gazing at the moon and stars, standing amazed on the shore of the vast space in which we swim. I also see the beginning of the shift in their relationship. Late in my mom's life their roles reversed, with Jan becoming the caretaker.
May 26, 1975 I spent a lazy holiday today, but I feel relaxed and rested because I didn't rush. I hoped to accomplish some house cleaning and organizing but didn't. A holiday should be restful and pleasant though – so I let myself off from work at home again. The truth is probably that I know I'm really not talented in homemaking skills and good housekeeping. I think that perhaps I'll manage better if I stop aiming toward improving drastically in this area and see what develops. In looking over the above I wonder if this is something I can work with by saying an affirmation before each of the times I look at the house with frustration that it all seems overwhelming. I had only thought of that in connection with people situations. Maybe it would help me in this way. I'm glad I felt worried about my car the last 2 weekends. It gave me the chance to need Jan to take me
to church, and it made me feel good to receive her help. It seemed to make her feel good to be of help, too. Most of all I'm glad she came to church with me. I hope she'll find all the happiness, strength and meaning there that I have found.
Jan's affiliation with the church was never as deep as Mom's. When they moved to St. Cloud, there was no Congregational Church available. Mom settled on a Presbyterian one as the place where she felt most at home. Though she found companionship there, it was never as deep an experience as what she recounts in the journal. Jan didn't take to it at all, and began her move into an increasingly isolated life.
May 27, 1975 I read some of Cayce's group study work “A Search for God” tonight and felt how insignificant my daily journal comments have been. Perhaps it would have been better to wait till I had advanced further in study before attempting a journal on who I am. Yet I feel it has still been time well spent – even if not fulfilling the intent very fully. The other day, for instance, I was thinking about the idea of our being Body, Mind and Spirit and how growth develops in that order. The infant's development is mainly physical, our development in youth is physical and mental during all school years. Then finally our bodies reach maturity, we become fairly satisfied with our mental progress – and then we turn to the most important, the spiritual growth. It seems the first two are needed to form a human being who can function to carry out the purposes of the spiritual self. This is a bit similar to something I read tonight in “A Search for God.”
Also, in reading listings of expressions of Creative Forces, negative and positive, the word “shyness” caught my eye. This was such a definite characteristic of my childhood, that I hope it's a sign that I've made some progress since in the course of the years the shyness has faded away. I also noticed “insecurity” and “fear” in the negative lists though, and I'm still dealing with those. I enjoy middle age because I'm more comfortable with myself in dealing with other people than when I was a shy, self-conscious child and young lady.
I'm glad that Mom felt she made progress against shyness, which was something of a family trait. But she remained a person who compulsively followed all the rules, no matter how irrelevant they may have been. Once I went to the Post Office with her in St. Cloud. Though we were the only ones in line, and only a few feet from the clerk at the window, Mom insisted on walking all the way around the ropes that marked where people were supposed to wait, down to the far end of the room
and back. The clerk smiled at me and said fondly, “She's a funny lady.”
May 28, 1975 I've always enjoyed making things with my hands – sewing, knitting, crocheting – and have always felt satisfaction is seeing finished products. It seems now that this has greater value than I realized. Jesus worked as a carpenter, and St. Paul was a tent maker in his trade. In Taylor Caldwell's book about St. Paul [Luke]* she explained the Jews stressed intellectual studies, but they also felt they should learn a trade as well. This was to be of practical service to their countrymen. But it may also have been for all the intangible and therapeutic benefits of working with our hands. Engrossed in painstaking work with some craft, we focus our attention on some creative endeavor. Perhaps this brings us closer to being able to appreciate the beauty and greatness of all tiny and magnificent marvels of God's creation. A musician appreciates music more keenly, an artist appreciates works of art to the fullest, a writer appreciates masterpieces of literature to the utmost details. So in
trying any creative work we must be trying to invest and increase our God-given talents. Part of the reward seems to be the greater appreciation of the universe and the perfection found in God's creation. I've had so many wonderful advantages and opportunities in my life. I'm afraid I haven't always appreciated them enough or made the most of them. I'd like to resolve now to do the best I can in the rest of my life not to miss the opportunities or fail to appreciate the blessings.
Taylor Caldwell's novel about St. Luke, which Mom mentions again the next day, is called Dear and Glorious Physician and looks like an interesting piece of historical fiction. I've taken the recommendation and am ordering a copy for myself. Thanks, Mom!
Trinity, Unity, Trinity
May 29, 1975 Today is the last day of this 28-day journal. I'd like to end with some clearer insight into understanding who I am, why I'm here and what my life should accomplish. At this moment though I don't feel I understand anything very specific – or at least nothing more than I think I had felt all along for a number of years. Once coincidence did occur today, however. I received an application made out to my name for membership in AAA automobile club.* This seems like a timely suggestion of a way to feel more confident about driving or taking trips. I do intend to join. I've often thought it sounded like good security protection of road service, but I don't ever remember receiving an application like this one. It does seem to fill one of my needs. And answer to prayer? We're getting near the end of the school year. I'm trying to act with calmness and am succeeding
sometimes. I brought home some empty boxes to try to organize some clutter at home. I'm not going to give up on this aim – no matter how dim my hopes of success seem to be. Mary Tirb will give me some material for infant gowns to be sewn for a mission in Puerto Rico, so I'll soon be starting with some Material Aid work for church. Sunday I'll be installed as a member of the Board of Deacons. I hope to find many ways to be of service to others through work on this Board. Sarah has surely done so much to help me feel welcome and become acquainted at Church. Her example on the Board is a wonderful one to follow. However I don't have as much time as she has devoted to this work. I want to do the best I can though. The sermon Sunday is The Unitarian-Trinitarian Hassle. This is because it's Trinity Sunday. But this has special personal meaning to me because I feel I have trod the road all the way from a dogmatic and
Trinitarian Catholic faith, through a shift to a free Unitarian faith, which led me to more intensive religious searching – and finally to the Trinitarian Congregational Church where I feel I've found my true church home. Over the past year or so I kept remembering Francis Thompson's “Hound of Heaven”* – about my heart was made for Thee, oh Lord, and I cannot rest until I rest in Thee – and Taylor Caldwell's book about St. Luke made me think more about Mary's Magnificat – My soul doth magnify the Lord. Now that I feel I've reached the goal of my searching, I mustn't sit back and feel I've come to the end of my studying for deeper understanding and knowledge of God. I've just reached a firm foundation on which to build. I hope an A.R.E. Study Group* will be started at Church, for I think this would help me very much. I've gained so much help from the Bible Study group this year. I hope this will continue next year. It seems I'm filled with many good resolves. I know,
too, that whatever knowledge I gain must be put into practice in my life or it would just be an academic accomplishment without any spiritual value. Perhaps in another few years, when I may have made a little progress, I'll try to write another journal. May God keep answering my pleas for help all along the way.
*It's wonderful to think of a prayer being answered in the form of an AAA membership. Unlike the drowning man in the joke who refused help when it was offered, Mom did join and kept up her membership for the rest of her life. Her next (and last) car was a Ford Tempo. I have been unable to find out what A.R.E. stands for, though the context indicates it has something to do with religious study. American Religious Education perhaps? Francis Thompson's poem, “The Hound of Heaven,” can be read online if you're interested. The language is florid and bombastic by contemporary standards, but it seems to have been considered a powerful statement of
faith in its day (the 1890's). Essentially it tells the same story as the children's book called The Runaway Bunny (1942), which is ostensibly about how a mother will change her form to whatever is necessary to continue to support her wayward child who is seeking to become lost in the wider world. But it is easy to read between the lines to the larger spiritual allegory in which God becomes however large is required to encompass our wayward souls on their journey. This is certainly a fitting place for us to end, and for me to say farewell again to the mother who will always be with me.
The first page of the journal, demonstrating Mom's elegant and highly readable penmanship.
The mimeographed title poem from Dad's collection for which Mom typed all the stencils. We produced only a hundred or so copies. I added a cover design and had it printed on an offset press, then bound them with staples along the spine. Mom registered the book with the Library of Congress, making it an official publication. This joint effort was a fitting memorial to my father, and one that helped us both in dealing with his death.
Mom and me in St. Cloud, soon after her retirement, probably about eight years after the journal was written.
Mom with Jan, Christmas in St. Cloud
Evelyn Marie Donachie (1924-2000) School portrait circa 1962