I am quite stupid -- you should know this about me right away. In fact I tell the good Lord this all the time, and I am only occasionally guilty of false modesty. For example, regarding the corporal works of mercy -- feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and so on -- I tell the Lord, "I have not done a single corporal work of mercy in my life, but I am very stupid, so you must now show me exactly how I may do them. One can't simply walk into godforsaken neighborhoods with fruit, or into prisons and say, here I am to help. Although saints do (see Mother Antonia Brenner, here)."
And God has been kind and has shown me, plainly. Recently when I was at the church, on my way out of the narthex, a man who helps run the St. Vincent de Paul society happened to be busy in the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen, arranging foodstuffs. So I knocked on the half-open door and talked to him for a few minutes. It was exactly as if God were saying, This is the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen, d-----t. I learned, "We could use more canned fruit." So I bought some.
It's the same with orchids. A few years ago I bought this Maxillaria sanguinea, above. It flowered precisely once. One time, one flower. When well kept, the plant should display a knot of little green bulbs sprouting fine, lush grassy foliage, with soon an abundance of full-lipped, maroon lady's-slipper-like blooms. After its first and only show, I put mine outside on the porch of my apartment for the summer. Rain, fresh air, and humidity are said to be good for orchids. In the dark wee hours of one summer night, I heard in my sleep a strange, juicy, loud sort of crunch-croil-crunch. The next morning, all but two of M. sanguinea's plump little green bulbs were gone. Eaten.
I thought I might nurse it back to life, and so after some dithering I eventually planted it in a large safe pot with some other specimens, in fact the usual supermarket Phalaenopsis. The poor remnant stayed barely alive, but that was all. I never dreamed that M. sanguinea, trim fine boat, might have different watering needs than three huge Phalaenopsis floating like ocean liners in that sea of processed bark chips (which I might douse at the kitchen sink once in ten days) that inexperienced growers like to use for all orchid re-potting needs.
Today was the day the light broke. Of course. They're different. Pot it in some tiny pot and water it much more often. Who knows what might happen? D-------t?
Who knows what might happen, also, with the angry lady who snapped, via email, "Please take me off your subscription list. Thank you."
This has nothing to do with orchids.
Regarding this I thought, mercy, good woman, I have no control over anyone's mailing list. I got on it myself months ago, I think by saying "Oh! Sure," to some person I actually knew and was speaking to, in another room just off the narthex. It happened that when I had a question for the people on that list this week, about how one does that peculiarly modern corporal work of mercy which may encapsulate and promote all others -- I'm talking about praying to end abortion -- I reasoned, Why not ask them all in general? And I plainly wrote,
Does anyone have any experience just going by yourself to pray outside a PP* site? I went to the Flossmoor location one Saturday recently because the 40 Days for Life site showed someone else had signed on for that hour. When I got there, a man was there praying but he said he had just stopped by to pray because he had the time. Whoever was scheduled didn't show.
A little later, some parishioners from St. Laurence O Toole arrived and said it was better not to go to PP clinics alone for personal security reasons.
The PP clinic on LaGrange is 5 minutes from my house and I could easily spend an hour there on my days off (which are random because of my work schedule). Does anyone do this or is it not safe? I found the experience of praying at the Flossmoor site rewarding and I am just looking for other thoughts.
And I received a few helpful answers and then, today, the cold command. Take me off your mailing list.
Who knows, it might not be my short letter to forty or so acquaintances and strangers which prompted that command. Perhaps somewhere in the addressee list is someone else whose name my lady suddenly caught sight of, and remembered she loathes. Or maybe my lady is just busy cleaning up her spam folder, and is still polite enough to say "Please" and "Thank you" about it.
Or else she is outraged at the idea of anyone's standing athwart, even in prayer, a woman's "right to choose." For myself, I would not even argue that point anymore, nor any of the usual points regarding abortion really. The legal and political ships have long since sailed. The commercial ship too. You cannot live in the modern world and not support companies who support Planned Parenthood. Not to mention your taxes. It's almost comical. I go to the grocery store after an hour of vigil and find even my eggs have a "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" stamp on them. So I am there outside PP* for me. I'm not completely stupid. All I can do is eventually stand before God and, when he asks me, "What did you do about the worst evil of your time and place?" say, Well Lord, I stood and prayed outdoors.
There were about fifteen of us. Quite a few people driving by on a chilly, blowy Friday honked their horns and flashed a thumbs-up. Later I got an update through my email telling me that this morning was less busy than the usual Fridays, but that Tuesdays seem to be picking up. Perhaps the women are being forewarned.
Shall I cheerfully report all that to the email list, and accidentally forget to expunge my lady's name beforehand? That seems rather mean and self-regarding, perhaps prayer is better for her and me too.