Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Musings, 12 December 2015

Good morning,

A grey sky stretches above me as I stand at the backdoor and wait for the coffee to warm in the microwave, yesterday's leftovers poured into the crystal cup which a friend's daughter left at my house and my friend let me keep.  I cradle the cup  in my hand and slide into a dining room chair to eat my banana and scroll through news sites, social media, and e-mail.

Late yesterday, I settled my Monday trial, so rather than work this weekend, I can enjoy myself.  Jenny Rosen has invited me to a Hanukkah party.  I plan to shop for Christmas.  I might nag my son via e-mail about his potential arrival date for the holiday.  Fun stuff.  I wonder how my client from Monday's trial will occupy her time this weekend, in her small apartment, still confused about the end of her twenty-year marriage.  I worry about her.  Her fire might smolder and then inflame, fed  by the stacks of paper showing her husband's treachery, the pages of her diary filled with stories of loss -- her birth parents, her adoptive parents, her fostering aunt and uncle, her husband -- the last on the heels of a half-million dollar inheritance that he hid from her until the discovery phase of the divorce action.

A red and green pile of presents on the buffet reminds me that I have not yet dragged the artificial tree from the basement.  I'm debating.  I bought that tree more than a decade ago, closer to two; when the pulmonologist cautioned against my breathing live cedar with my uncontrolled asthma.  I used oxygen then:  a condenser when seated; a portable tank on the move.  I returned the tanks long ago, and the condenser accumulates dust in the basement.  My favorite curmudgeon used it for a while, but otherwise it sits idle, on a shelf in the basement next to the boxes of ornaments.

This week also saw the end of a five-year divorce action in which I'd represented the wife for only the last six months.  Her husband has finally been consigned to a Missouri prison cell.  A judge levied two consecutive seven-year terms on the man  for savagely stealing his step-daughter's innocence.  With the conviction, he ran out of funds.  His divorce lawyer withdrew and we set the divorce for disposition.  I thought the judge might cheer as he spoke the formulaic words with uncharacteristic vehemence.  He apologized to my client for the long wait.  She tendered a thin smile.  I gestured her to wait for me while I got copies of the judgment.   I found her standing with a friend's arm on her shoulders.  Not cheering.  Not gleeful.


On the radio, I hear news of the first Saudi election in which women can vote.  I find this astonishing.  Though Saudi women still face a ban on driving an automobile, perhaps their voices will rise and finally be heard.  My cynical mind wonders if the Saudi election board can tell which ballots came from women.  I wonder if the segregated ballot box holds a shredder.

I have no plans for Christmas Day other than perhaps to watch a movie with my son.  We can spend Saturday at Carnies' Honker Springs Farm.  On Sunday, the usual suspects will gather at my table.  Scrooge and I share nothing except our ghosts of Christmas Past.  I don't need threats to move me to give, but spirits haunt me nonetheless.  I'm growing old.  I have sixty years of memories, each of which crowds for a place on my page.  I ignore them all, at least now, at least in the weak sunlight of a wintry Saturday.

A woman posted something nasty on my Facebook page this week, an admonishment that I would be condemned if I did not accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.  She might be right, I suppose; though as I told her, I have lots of Jewish friends who beg to differ.  Her ugliness saddens me.  I let her statement stand and watched my friends rise to logically refute her contention.  Eventually the debate slipped into the depths of the social media morass.  But I continued to reflect on her assertion.  I cannot fathom a divine entity which limits acceptance in the way that she described.  "Divine" and "limit" seem incompatible.

It's human beings who judge, not divine ones.  I contemplate and find wanting the man who cast his wife from their home when his finances took an unexpected upturn; the man who ravaged his stepdaughter; the men who grudgingly allow their wives and daughters to vote while still denying them the right to drive themselves and their children through a day's activities.  But even though I feel confident in my judgments, I suspect that if there is a divine entity, he, or she, or it, opens a path to forgiveness even to those whom I condemn.

In thirteen days, much of the Western world will celebrate a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of a child in Bethlehem, a city which lies in Palestine, 93% of whose current residents belong to the Muslim faith.  Meanwhile, the world reels from the terrorist acts of Islamic extremists followed by angry retaliation -- the burning of Muslim mosques, the rejection of Syrian refugees, the assault of Muslims in subways and on city streets.

Society flags under the weight of shame.  I see it in my practice and I hear it on the radio.  The fact that any of us can still celebrate anything in the face of all this pain astonishes me.  And yet we do.  We do.  My clients will find a way to overcome their personal pain; the Saudi women will smile in glee beneath their veils.  Their eyes might reveal nothing, but their hearts will beat a little more wildly.  I will celebrate Hanukkah with Jenny Rosen, her boyfriend and his family, and a host of their friends.  I'll celebrate Christmas with Episcopalians.

Even though, as we all know, I am a recovering Catholic.  Life continues.

Mugwmpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.