90 Day Challenge: Day 7 – Fortitude

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God[b] is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

Fortitude. According to my Dictionary app, it means having the “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.”

In other words, like the Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard of Oz,” sometimes we have to put up our dukes and fight our way through circumstances that impede our progress toward living our true and authentic lives.

Sometimes we need role models to show us what this looks like.  We find them in the Bible, in literature and in life.  Often we find them in those closest to us.

One person I have always admired is my friend, Margaret.  I know no one who is as true to her sense of self as she.

From the trials of her escape from Hungary in 1956 as the Soviet tanks rolled in to the ways she has dealt with personal tragedy, to her strongly held personal and political convictions, Margaret is one of the bravest persons I have ever encountered.

She knows who she is, what brings her pleasure and what she is and is not willing to tolerate.  She speaks her mind, she loves with her entire heart and at nearly 82, she has a lively and enquiring mind that is as sharp as when I met her 47 years ago.

We were an unlikely friendship pairing, the 18-year-old young woman who was me taking her first steps into a larger world and the 35-year-old married mother of two who was my supervisor at one of my first “adult” jobs.

I was quiet and reserved.  She was outgoing with a great and ready laugh.  I had met only one other person who came to the U.S. from a foreign country – my German teacher Mr. Sturmer.  Her Hungarian accent was still thick but her command of English – learned from watching soap operas in her early years here – was excellent.

I was a backwards rural Indiana girl.  She was a cosmopolitan woman from Budapest who had been politically active in her country.

My steps into my adult life were tentative.  Older by 17 years, she was more sure-footed about who she was and what she wanted – what she deserved from life.

Once I joined the Navy in 1972, I would be accused of being the feminist she actually was. With her I would take my first trip to a metropolitan city – Chicago – and fall in love with my first art museum and the Impressionist works I saw there. My first Renoir.  My first Monet.

(It is still our habit when traveling together to visit museums of all kinds. In fact, as I write this I realize I have traveled more places with Margaret than any other person with the exception of my son.)

Whenever life has given me lemons, it has always been Margaret who has helped me buck up and make some sort of lemonade as a result.  Just by letting me know she was always there for me.  Just by letting me know she always cared.

I am privileged to know four generations of women from her family.  Like Margaret, they are all strong individualists, goal oriented and intensely interested in the world and those they encounter in it.  Their interests are varied but deep, as are their connections to one another.

If Margaret were a saint, with her great love of all things flora and arboreal, she would be St. Dorothy, the patroness of gardeners.  A Master Gardener, Margaret roundly berated me on a visit to my then husband and I in California years ago because I knew nothing about the indigenous plants that grew there.

Her yard in Florida is filled with native plants, and I once spent an evening learning more than I ever wanted to know about avocado growing at one of her Exotic Fruit Club’s monthly meetings.  And tasting some fruit that deserved to stay exotic and off the grocery shelves, imho.

But as with the entirety of my friendship with Margaret, it was an adventure.

While the Lord is my Shepherd and my Shield, Margaret is the person who stands by my side and tells me I am up to all challenges that come my way.

And if I ever forget that, I have only to look for inspiration at the life she has led – one of fortitude in all that defines it.

 

90 Day Challenge: Day 6 – The Link Between Heaven and Earth

I started out Day 6 in Day 7 mode.  All I really wanted to do was rest, just as God rested after his six days of creation.

After waking at 5 am with a headache, I watched the first Bridget Jones movie. Not having enough of my Mr. Darcy fix, I then started watching the second until pain medicated sleep overtook me during the break-up scene.

Mercifully, Salem let me sleep from whatever time that was until 11:30 am.  I spent most of the day doing piddling things, feeling very non-creative indeed. I couldn’t even muster the energy to do the necessary reading for the class I facilitated this evening.

What should have been a deficit turned into a blessing, as the session dealt with the culmination of all the reading that had preceded it.

In Genesis on the 6th day, God created the animals and human beings.  Our lesson tonight was on the contemplation of the relationship between God and the latter.

Most enlightening to me was the idea that as the only creature that is both matter and spirit, we humans have a unique position in the cosmic order – along with Christ, as the head of the Church – to engage in the exchange of love from the Father to the Son.  It was why Jesus had to come to earth in the flesh as the “new Adam;” so that the love the Father has for his creation can be returned to him through the person of Jesus.

As the body of Christ, the Church participates in unity in this loving exchange.  It is the purpose for which every human being is created.

The angels, as pure spirit, cannot do this.  Matter that has no spirit cannot do this. Only man – as both spirit and matter – can fulfill this unique role. And since Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, breaking their communion with God, man and woman can now only fulfill this task through the person of Christ.

For Catholics, the height and summit of this exchange takes place during the Mass, as the priest lifts the Host and pronounces the words “…through him, with him and in him, through the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory are yours forever and ever.”

So we are all of us here for a purpose – to allow God to love us and to love him in return.

It is both that simple yet very complicated at the same time, because each of us has a different path to take to reach this realization.

For some of us, that path is more littered and strewn with life’s debris, a steeper climb along darker paths.

But for those who despair and wonder then why on earth they were even born, may the simplicity of our Unitarian purpose give them hope.

May they know it is all for the sake of love, and love alone.

“All you need is love, love; love is all you need.” (1)

 

(1) “All You Need Is Love,” by John Lennon/Paul McCartney, Copyright Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

90 Day Challege: Days 4-5

“My grace is sufficient…” 1 Corinthians 12:9

This was the first piece of Scripture I saw this morning as I belatedly turned the wall calendar from June to July.

Low and behold, it was also the same Scriptural quote for the first of today’s reflections from the Laudate for this week’s Mass readings.

This is what I have seen called God-incidence.  The Lord is trying to tell me something if I will but listen.

I could not have heard this message on the 4th day of this challenge. I literally had a headache from sleeping so little the night before as I tried to reconcile two realities that had collided.

The Fisherman -of whom I have previously written- is real. But he will never be real for me.

I have discovered the identity of the man being used by the Fisherman in the many pictures he sent me – including pictures that were supposed to be from his childhood, of his family, of his supposedly dead wife.

There is a real man with a real family and a very alive wife out there. His is the face that was in the imaginings of the life I would share with the Fisherman.

His was the face I that I had so immediately loved, the hands I studied in the photos, the dogs I imagined us walking together once he returned from the Fisherman’s oversees project.

Normally I do not fall prey to scammers. And at first I resisted this one.  But I was so drawn to him from the moment I saw his photo on the dating web site, so taken in by the early intimacy of sharing photos of ourselves as children and the shared Catholicity, that I went back knowing I was taking a chance he might not be who he said.

What I didn’t bargain for was finding the “real” man in the pictures, discovering his identity and life and how that would also crush my heart; how discordant all my feelings would become.

What it would feel like to share a few texts in Messenger with him.

St. Paul would understand what I have been feeling.  In the Mass Second Reading from Second Corinthians he speaks of his own “thorn in the flesh.”

My thorn, my affliction, with which I have struggled since I was 18, is the thorn of the romantic feelings in my heart I always seem to hold for the people most wrong for me.

Then I saw those words on my calendar this morning, and had them repeated to me in reflection of Scripture.

And I know God is telling me He is my sufficiency and will see me through this ordeal of mind, body, heart and spirit.

I pray that like Paul, I will learn to be “content” with my inherent weakness towards the romantic side of love.

Because whatever else it may have cost me in this life, to be able to love is a weakness that ironically is my greatest strength.  “…for power is made perfect in weakness,” Paul wrote.

And I know this because Paul himself also said: “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 

 

90 Day Challenge: The Third Day

“And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.

Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it.

And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam.

And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.

Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” [Genesis 2:18;21-24]

Everyone has a cross to bear. Or perhaps multiple ones, depending on their life’s season and circumstance.

Sometimes I feel like I am carrying a number of them all at once; not the huge, tree-like Cross to which our Lord was nailed, but an armful of smaller crosses that I am struggling to hold so they don’t clatter to the ground, their sound signaling the enormity of my failures at one time for all the world to hear.

This is one of those times. I thought starting the Nineveh 90 spiritual challenge would help me focus and bring some discipline to what has been an emotionally chaotic few months.

But today that chaos swept over me like a tidal wave, leaving me stranded on the beach, wet and all alone.

Alone again, actually. “Naturally,” as the Beatles sang.

If I am Adam’s rib to someone, I have no idea who or where he is. In what is still my girlish naïveté (if a nearly 65-year-old woman can have such), I keep running up to the men I encounter romantically thinking “this time will be a fit.” But it never has been.

Perhaps it never will be and I must finally accept that even if all the other crosses are somehow made to disappear, this is the one that I will carry with me to my grave.  That this is the cross I was born to carry.

Today’s Nineveh 90 spiritual focus is on hope, which Hebrews 10:23 says we are to hold onto “without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

The Catechism says “hope responds to the aspiration of happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man.” (As Adam’s rib, one presumes the extension of that hope for happiness to women as well.)

Adam had the entire garden of Eden and all it contained. He even walked there in conversation with God.

Yet still God sensed an incompleteness in Adam, an unhappiness that even paradise and communion with the Father could not quell.

So how then is a rib left without a heart to beat beneath supposed to be complete in its happiness either?

These are God’s mysterious ways, I know: a plan I do not understand, a larger cosmic picture I cannot see from the small space in which I somehow fit the puzzle.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” said St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

Well, at least on this third challenging day, I managed some prayer.

I shall have to save for another time the challenge of hoping without worry. And all the other third day Nineveh 90 challenges I failed to undertake.

Did you hear that? It was the sound of a cross, dropping.

90 Day Challenge-Day 2

Spiritually I did well today. I got all my readings and prayers done at the appropriate times.  I definitely served as a prayer warrior in Mary’s army this Independence Day.

While I haven’t fasted, I have eaten modestly, drunk plenty of fluids and -so far- haven’t had even a sip of Coca Cola.

Sadly, I napped rather than exercised. My intentions were good, but my walking buddy at first cancelled, then tried to reschedule for later when I had determined it would be too hot.  I had intended to ride my recumbent bike, but, like I said – I napped.

The TV has been off most of the day and I am three chapters into Ron Chernow’s new biography of Ulysses S. Grant. I am finding out my knowledge of him as man, General and President has been very narrow. I am trying to imagine Lin-Manuel Miranda turning this one into a Broadway play as he did with Chernow’s “Hamilton.”

The rap Civil War battle scenes could be epic.

Hopefully it will be much better than the musical adaptation of “Gone With the Wind” I saw many years ago in San Francisco. Actually no hope would be involved.  Nothing could ever be worse than that theater experience.

Let’s just say an uncooperative horse live on stage during the “Atlanta is burning scene” – not a good casting choice.

Speaking of the Civil War, I had much fun last night crafting my #SecondCivilWar, #SecondCivilWarLetters and #secondcivilwarpotluck threads on Twitter.

Sadly my call to arms for someone to churn homemade ice cream to go with the apple pie went unheeded.  It is so hard to throw a good Civil War potluck these days.

I am sure Alex Jones and his Infowars crowd were disappointed at this pointed lack of success to muster the alleged overthrow of our current President he warned of over the weekend.

What was he expecting from a group made up of us snowflakes anyway? We wield sarcasm, not rifles.  But we wield it well.

Now I am watching the PBS concert “A Capitol Fourth.”  I am waiting for my neighbors to start setting off their firecrackers in about an hour and contemplating a small bowl of plain popcorn with a soupçon of sea salt and just a tiny, tiny 3 oz glass of soda.

It has been a far cry from the hot, languid summer July 4ths of my childhood, which featured swimming in the lake, grilled hot dogs, sparklers and getting cherry bombed by the neighbor boy and his pals.

I also usually was burned to a red crisp by bedtime, smelling of Noxema generously applied.

But there was home churned ice cream. And we were all quite civil as we ate it.

 

The 90 Day Challenge

Today I am starting on a battle plan that I hope will gird my faith more tightly to me; improve my mental, physical and spiritual health; and renew me, body and soul.

A friend of mine has done this faith challenge, called Nineveh 90, and she swears by its benefits.

It is basically a program of prayer, diet and exercise designed to bring you into greater communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Because of health challenges and knowing what will and won’t work due to my fibromyalgia and related autoimmune disorders, I will have to adapt it. Twenty years ago, perhaps I could have taken the program on as written. But that was 20 years ago. Maybe.

Okay.  In all honesty, I would have never attempted this 20 years ago.  My work and commute schedule would have precluded it.  But now as I enter what I am calling my “second retirement” a month before my 65th birthday, I want to kick it off right.

So getting up at 6 am is a little early for my body to function due to bedtime meds designed to put me into deeper, more restorative sleep.  But, I can move bedtime to 10 pm and get up at 8 am. That is doable. So then I will do Morning Prayer. Then again at noon. Then at six pm. Then at bedtime.

My routine of saying a rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet and various other prayers dear to me will continue, as will my  perusal of the day’s readings and reflections in the Laudate and the devotionals that always seem to speak directly to that day’s needs.

I was also delighted to listen to today’s “Heart of Mary” podcast on her virtue of patience, which is not one of my own great virtues.  And it fits with my dedication as an auxiliary member of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays may be a challenge. I may need to just follow my nutritionist’s diet plan.  Giving up sugar – well, that will challenge my Coca Cola addiction.  But I will do my best.

Walking a mile each morning and riding my recumbent bike for 30 minutes each afternoon to start – doable if I keep a good mindset about it.

I can keep the TV off and my mind focused on reading and music. I may work some cleaning chores into the mix for the added exercise benefit – and because my house desperately needs it.

Giving up a number of ministerial leadership responsibilities will hopefully free up time and head space to focus on a more contemplative, interior spirituality. Not that I am leaving all the ministries themselves. I just don’t want to be the person responsible to meet any more deadlines or plan any more workshops or fairs of any stripe.

My second “career” as professional volunteer is over. From now on my hands will just be among the many trying to lighten the load.

Daily Mass attendance? We’ll see. But definitely rejoining my prayer group after a more than two-year absence because I always had some committee meeting or another to attend is a doable goal and has been a much missed grounding in my life.

Consistency in First Friday Adoration is something I definitely will be adding, however.

More time to write? Well, let’s see what God produces through the Holy Spirit at work in me.

Today is a fresh start.

Death in A Newsroom

Yesterday’s story about the deaths of five journalists for the Annapolis “Capital Gazette” made anger tear through me like the bullets that claimed their lives.

I am angry at the gunman, angry about yet another senseless mass shooting and angry that we have a President so dismissive about the enshrined Constitutional protections of a free press that he dares to call it “the enemy of the people.”

If the media is the people’s enemy, why in their wisdom did the Founding Fathers consider it one of the first things in need of protection?

Perhaps because they envisioned a day when someone would repress it in ways beyond the excessive taxation of newsprint itself.

I got my start in journalism in a newsroom probably very similar to that of the “Capital Gazette.”

Then called “The Five Cities Times-Press-Recorder,” (TPR for short), I started my reporting days there via a college internship program that turned into a full-time employment opportunity.

Though we only published twice per week, we did our best to provide the same comprehensive coverage as the county daily. This meant putting in 80 hour weeks that began on Monday and ended at noon on Friday after that week’s last edition was “put out.”

It meant scrambling all day to write features on agriculture, education and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant only to spend the evenings attending harbor commission, city council and boards of education meetings.  Then I would leave some of those meetings at midnight to have to be back at 6 am on a Wednesday or Friday morning to write stories that had to be turned in by 9 am for a noon publication.

I often did this with my then toddler son in tow, sleeping nestled in blankets under my desk as I typed away until it was time to wake him, feed him, drive him to day care and return to the story waiting in my IBM Selectric for its final touches.

Had I been in that routine in today’s media environment, my son could have been a victim to this senseless violence.

Newsrooms, you see, are places of intimacy where colleagues quickly become families as well as competitors for stories once called “above the fold.”

In few other workplaces could I, as a single parent, combine my responsibilities of motherhood and reporter.

I remember the people and their names to this day: Mary, who would go on to become my roommate and remains a dear friend, an “aunt” figure to my son; Jerry, whose acerbic wit and critical eye on my stories made me improve my reporting of them; John, the diligent editor who made my copy better (and infinitely shorter); Rosemary, our social pages editor and Tom, who filled two pages of sports each edition; Dick, the publisher and owner of a small town California paper with a national news story I was responsible for covering in his own backyard.

And God help you if you got scooped on that story by the county daily or the national press.  This was “our story” in our “territory,” not theirs.

Every time Trump refers to the “dishonest” media, I want to scream because his is the true dishonesty – taking a broad brush that paints an inaccurate label over an entire industry of people who work insufferably hard for pay that is often not commensurate with the hours, education and dedication required to do the job.

Meanwhile those community papers that struggle to hold on in the digital era are fewer and fewer in existence.  Something has been leeched from our sense of community as a result.

The last thing they need is to be caught in the cross hairs of Trump’s dishonest rhetoric because he can’t stand the fact Jeff Bezos has more money and owns “The Washington Post,” or that Jeff Zucker at CNN doesn’t show Trump enough fealty for putting in a good word at his hiring.

Because that is the source of Trump’s true ire at a press he simultaneously castigates and secretly courts because he covets its praise.

Trump’s neediness for adulation will be the death not only of these journalists, but of our nation as well.

For as Thomas Jefferson so simply said, “The only security of all is in a free press.”

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A Third Political Party: Now Is the Time

Our government is not operating quite as the Founding Fathers intended.

But it is not beyond correction. Yet.

They intended ours to be a system of checks and balances so that no one branch of government held more power than the rest.

That is difficult to do in an era where one party holds all power and are cowed by the rhetoric of the leader of the Executive Branch to speak out and balance his actions so that they do not lead us to an “Imperial” Presidency.

Which is why perhaps it is time for the formal founding of a third political party.

Both the GOP and the Democrats have shown there are deep divisions within their ranks that make them unable to exercise the bi-partisanship and willingness to compromise in the governance of a country too large and diverse to hold onto extremist left or right views and accomplish anything of benefit for the people.

And as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently said, ours is to be a country “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

And too many of the people continue to be disregarded in the political environment we have experienced since the 2010 midterms.

I would like to see the idea of being “moderate” or “centrist” in your political views stop being anathema.

By being thoughtful, by not being rigid and at the far of either ends of the political spectrum are we to find the only chance that the way we govern benefits the greatest majority of the people.

I realize that an established third party with genuine political clout leads us more into a parliamentary style of governance. But other countries do it and retain their democratic values.

This is different from claiming to be an “Independent,” which is an individualistic stance that says “I will vote for whichever party I feel is best reflecting my personal preferences, beliefs and needs” of the moment.

It will not lead to good governance.

Only when we recognize that as a country, we are also bound together as a community -as diverse as that community is- will we ever get back to a state of rational government in the United States.

Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and helped craft our Constitution, said this about governance:

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good governance.”

FDR said “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country “

But perhaps it is Mark Twain who offers the most practical view of all: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

What “Art?” What “Deal?”

Can we dispense with the notion that Donald Trump, and only Donald Trump, is master over the “Art of the Deal?”

First of all, he didn’t even write the book himself. A man named Tony Schwartz did.

In an article today by Peter Baker of the “failing New York Times” -the subscribers for which has INCREASED since a President Trump, btw – Baker gives a precise run down of all the deals Trump HASN’T made since taking office:

His 17 months in office have in fact been an exercise in futility for the art-of-the-deal president. No deal on immigration. No deal on health care. No deal on gun control. No deal on spending cuts. No deal on NAFTA. No deal on China trade. No deal on steel and aluminum imports. No deal on Middle East peace. No deal on the Qatar blockade. No deal on Syria. No deal on Russia. No deal on Iran. No deal on climate change. No deal on Pacific trade.” 

The  same article points out that despite raking in $100 million a year for ONE of his Atlantic City casinos in the 90’s, he still managed to go bankrupt and lose all three.  Plus three other bankruptcies on other various interests reported by other sources.

If Mark Burnett had not come along with NBC’s “The Apprentice,” Trump would not be occupying the Oval Office today.

In fact, I would wager given his past business history, he wouldn’t even still own Mar-a-Lago. Or Trump Tower.

There is no art to Donald Trump.  Only artifice.

Look at the two biggest failures of his Presidency so far: the travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim majority countries and the plan to separate children from asylum seeking parents at the Southern Border.

First, they failed because they were bad policy to begin with.

But they also failed because both were poorly planned and badly executed.

The Muslim ban was a bum’s rush attempt that was crafted without benefit of legal counsel.

The second was allegedly better planned.  But if you have no tracking system of which kids go with which parents for purposes of reunification, how good a plan did you really make?

Or was the master plan to never give the kids back at all? To be just as ruthless in the outcome for parents – the permanent loss of your child for daring to knock on our door – as MS-13 delivering them dead on your doorstep at home?

Donald Trump is not some clever genius who “alone” can fix things.

Negotiating NAFTA is not the same thing as negotiating marble for a foyer.

Sitting down with Kim Jong Un, giving the latter reams of propaganda pictures to use at home, is not a diplomatic win, either.

What will it take for Trump supporters to wake up and smell the coffee? Do they need to lose their homes because their wages aren’t keeping pace with costs?

Because they aren’t.

Do they have to lose someone they love to a terrible illness because the GOP-controlled Congress keeps stripping away the protections of the Affordable Care Act? Has its eyes on depleting Medicare and Medicaid?

Because they will.

Do their kids have to go hungry because the rules on income for Food Stamps have changed and the working poor may no longer qualify?

They might.

Btw, exactly how many of those coal mining jobs have they gotten back so far?

While last year EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt alleged 50,000 had been added, in fact only 50,000 EXISTED, per Politifact.

The actual increase was about 400 per month. And the increases started before Trump was ever elected, not because of it.

What Trump has given is a tax cut to the super wealthy and corporations which -except in rare instances- are being used for stock buy-backs, not to add plant, improve product or give bonuses to employees.

Meanwhile he has pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord (which didn’t obligate us to DO anything) and the Iran Nuclear deal, which WAS delivering on a verifiable non-proliferation of nuclear capability by that country.

All Trump has given this nation day after day -starting with his Inaugural Day itself – is lie upon lie upon lie.

The question is – when will those lies finally stack up high enough for his supporters that their weight finally collapses and he loses that base support?

Would they really let him get away with killing someone in cold blood in the middle of 5th Avenue?

Many might, depending on who it was he killed.  Which says what about him and them?

Hopefully the base will tire of Trump before Congress gives him money for a vanity border wall that we don’t really need and – given Trump’s track record – likely wouldn’t even get built.

The only deal had in this last election was a bad one, any way you slice it and dice it.

So much for “ The Art of the Deal.”

 

 

Give Back The Kids

Everyone is asking when the children of asylum seekers will be returned to them.

My guess is that those that are will be returned very, very slowly.

And given what I am guessing was a deliberate lack of advanced reunification planning on the Trump Administration’s part, I am betting that very few may ever see their parents again.

You see I think that WAS the plan – to make the loss of the children a permanent thing so as to make the idea of coming to the United States as unappealing as staying in Central America to face the violence threatened and perpetrated by the MS-13 gangs that Trump loves to frighten all of us with as well.

Donald Trump intended to hold on to these children – not just as a bargaining chip for a vanity wall – but as a tool to keep people of color from thinking of entering this country.  Ever.

Lose your child to MS-13 or to the U.S. government.  Either is a Sophie’s choice.

Given the current political climate, it is astonishing they still want to come here in the first place.  How horrible must their lives really be that they would – three years after Trump’s escalator descent – still choose to come to a place where the President’s favorite pastime is hearing his rabid base scream “Build the Wall!”

Yes, we need an established border that defines our sovereignty.

But what we need more badly is solid immigration policy that deals with the undocumented who have lived law-abiding lives here for decades and have adult children who have only known the U.S. as their home since they were as tiny as the toddler featured on the cover of next week’s “Time” magazine cover.

We have paid to educate those young adults called Dreamers.  They have attended school with our children, played soccer in our fields, sat beside us at Church services.  They deserve a clear path to citizenship and their families deserve to know they will not be deported.

Call it amnesty if you want. But kicking them out of the country will not bring back a coal miner’s job in West Virginia.  It will hurt our economy in ways Mick Mulvaney hasn’t yet penciled out.

Then we need to integrate our foreign and immigration policies so they work in mutually advantageous ways, including continuing to set the example of a nation based on laws that are defined by their justice, fairness and equality of application.  We could start by practicing on our own citizens.

I don’t pretend to know how to do all these things and have them make the scales balance equally.  Perhaps no one does.

But I do know how to start – give the children back, as quickly as possible.