59, thoughts, washings

in my mfa class with donald barthleme 1975 (or there another) I wrote, 1975

‘ I want to compose, write, make blue for you.’

from Gass’ book on being blue, to the dead father by donald, I never completed our design

silent stones, gifts from 3 Kings’ Day, 6 january

silent stones, gifts from 3 Kings’ Day

my lovely wife, Priscilla, desires a New York holiday with her daughters after our trip to Florida with Deirdra and her 3 children. On King’s day I heard these stones, silent stones,

Elisabeth in conversation about lupus told Priscilla, her mother, 

  •  Deirdra in Tampa, Florida, has more ‘than one bald spot’ at the at the back of her head; she has multiple lesions

Priscilla did not know.

  • Sarah, the middle of the three sisters, told Priscilla that she ‘had to stop running …her legs, toes, big, small are, were ‘hurting so’

We did not know.

  • Elisabeth mentioned that her Whole30 plus diet was ‘helping with her inflammation’. She has arthritis and lupus. 

We know.

Deirdra, her youngest, never spoke about her lesions; and Priscilla never asked about her bald spot.
Sarah never asks; does not respond to texts. Her mail ‘box is full.’
Elisabeth, the oldest, a nurse who supports family care givers, is very busy and tired from her children’s and husband’s cares; works and graduate school. She struggles to call, but we can imagine.
They give what they can: silent stones.
And each of these silences was, is, like a Samuel Beckett stone, a silent stone.
In Beckett’s ‘Molloy’ (his title character) describes his attachment to 16 stones, 
“Taking a stone from the right pocket of my greatcoat, and putting it in my mouth, I replaced it in the right pocket of my greatcoat by a stone from the right pocket of my trousers, which I replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my trousers, which I replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my greatcoat, which I replaced by the stone which was in my mouth, as soon as I had finished sucking it. Thus there were still four stones in each of my four pockets, but not quite the same …”

For Beckett’s Molloy,  the process of moving a  stone from pocket to pocket to pocket to mouth and back to pocket is life: move, remove, suck, absorb, replace and move again. What are these stones? Why this process?

I can’t and won’t answer for another, including Beckett. For myself, the stones are my memories, objects and  items;  absences and silences. They haunt me; they absorb as they speak or rest. They are silent though. And  I can not speak with them within me; within my mouth. Silent. And I can’t hear either as I focus in on their movement from pocket to hand to mouth and back to pocket. Only they matter. Or  do they matter? They don’t. 

They don’t. Not as long as I can not speak or hear. And I can’t this 3 King’s Day. I echo Molloy here, 

Deep down it was all the same to me whether I sucked a different stone each time or always the same stone, until the end of time. For they all tasted exactly the same. And if I had collected sixteen, it was not in order to ballast myself in such and such a way, or to suck them turn about, but simply to have a little store, so as never to be without. But deep down I didn’t give a fiddler’s curse about being without, when they were all gone they would be all gone, I wouldn’t be any the worse off, or hardly any. And the solution to which I rallied in the end was to throw away all the stones but one, which I kept now in one pocket, now in another, and which of course I soon lost, or threw away, or gave away, or swallowed…

Silent stones are about me-may ‘never’ being with and never ‘being without.’ It doesn’t matter which, as long as there is silence.

silent stones.

60, thoughts, washing

a pastor, elder, principal, teacher, I naturally form essential personal questions. (epq notes in my personal notebook)

from my past to my present; from reflections to meditation; from childhood to youth; youth to husband and father; from silences to spoken words, I have formed, reformed essential personal questions …today’s-…

recently, I wrote on getting all my connecting thoughts and writings to ‘a word’ ( charlesosewalt.com )

this moment, my word, my epq: ‘What was is Jesus’ first and last words to His loved disciples?’


‘Follow me’

At the end, to Peter,

“Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22)

at the beginning to Peter,

Jesus’ first words (Matthew 4:19) are now ,also, His last, – “Follow Me!”

this is His word, His answer, to, for me, today

When Jesus first called Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19, He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Peter followed Jesus for three years, denied Him three times before His death, and, now is restored. As Peter followed Jesus, he still questions.

What will happen to him and the others? to the loved John? (20:21)

What is Jesus to do?


Jesus is making them; making us; making me.

But, but, Jesus had one message, one answer for Peter to all his questions: “Follow Me!”  

first commands do not change

“Follow me!”

follow me


61, thoughts

my previous thoughts posts have been alternating between thoughts of my ancient pasts, and my present pasts.

This first day of the NewYear 2020 I want to be totally, completely in the present.

With a broken right leg the result of a partial right knee replacement surgery in June, I have been living in deep, constant pain. But I am now in faith, deep faith that healing will come.

Yesterday I cared for myself. I called the Physical Therapist and made my first appointment; I called on my leg cast, and will get it fitted this Friday; I wrestled with both my NYC grand children; had my dear friends over for dinner; re- read an old Star Wars paperback on ‘the Mandalorian Armor’; I …

laughed and I silently cried; I eat and smiled quietly; I caress, lightly kiss myself, lightly; I played a harmonica. In words, I heal.

I healed because I have stopped looking at all to others; I healed because I looked at myself and moved, acted. I limped and walked, I thought and wrote: I healed-

and I will continue to write, walk, and heal for this year 2020 as long as care, care for myself

first then, this year receive; then give, freely


joseph, thoughts on Mary’s husband, her love-part 2

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this,… Matthew 1: 18-20a

Matthew as a Tax Collector had to be by both his profession and his nature a list maker/organiser. As he walked and listened to Jesus, he complied the details that make up his gospel. A Hebrew writing to other Hebrews, Matthew’s narrative is heavy on Old Testament quotes; connections of the scriptures to Jesus’ life; and, importantly, Mathew starts with Jesus’ genealogy which includes the Hose if David to his earthly father, Joseph. His go as k is more all his Jewish brothers and sisters will be convinced of Jesus as their Messiah.

Joseph also is a list maker, a compiler, an organiser in his profession (carpenter) and his nature. A process person, Joseph always sees both, all sides, of an issue or a project. Note the number of ‘buts’, because and yet in this short two verse description of how he decides to take Mary as his wife. Matthew’s words describe Joseph’s process of taking, loving God and Mary. Joseph is creating vast spiritual, emotional and physical space for himself and Mary and Jesus. And he does this through the lists of possible choices.

Joseph creates lists to create space for himself to feel and think. He is building a family, lives, homes in these emotional and intellectual spaces. And once he has designed a space for Mary, then, unexpectedly, an angel appears and the planned quiet space for Mary becomes a joy filled space for Mary and Joseph and their, our, Jesus. Joseph is flexible enough to walk into this new heavenly space; and he does it knowing this walk will be life long.

Mary had to have known of this first discarded plan of Joseph. He was going to leave her and now he wants her? Why accept this man and this plan? Wouldn’t God who visited her ultimately protect her and her baby? How should she answer Joseph?

Her response can be felt in her immediate actions with Joseph: she marries him.

Her love is seen here. She does judge or question Joseph’s first plan; she does not say ‘do it’ -put me away quietly. She does not passively accept Joseph. Mary walks with him to Bethlehem, though very pregnant with child; she does not say ‘why didn’t you make a reservation?’; she does not throw her wedding ring at Joseph during her birthing labour. She chooses him.

Simply, she walks with him, lies with him. She listens to his new plan and his former plan. Both share experiences with Angels and God. Both will share in the life of their Jesus. Both will share each other, fully.

She loves him all the more for loving her with both his quiet process plan, and his immediate angel induced marriage plan. Joseph is a true loving son of David, a listening, a receiving prophet, a generous king like priest.

And as this descendant of David, Joseph builds the temple David was not permitted to build: his life and hands help build the temple Jesus. How?

Joseph can build space and act with present force. He is Her love, God’s love, and Joseph can build and because of love.

And He can build, as we can, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 para phrase)

joseph, thoughts on Mary’s husband, her love-part 1

Did Mary love Joseph of Nazareth?

If so, how could we, how could anyone, know?

Matthew in his Gospel implies a full character portrait of Joseph in a few verses on the carpenter himself and his earthly first son, Jesus-

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (1:24-25)

Mary loves Joseph because Joseph is a generous giver. And by giving he is also becomes her love, her gift.

Joseph gives his inner dreams, his internal self, openly, to his-their Lord’s angel; he gives his promise of marriage to the virgin Mary, and keeps it though she is pregnant; Joseph takes her, gives her, his home; he marries her; but, but, …Joseph does not consummate the marriage. Joseph takes Mary home, married, but does not take her physically.

Joseph gives, provides Mary, space.

She must have free space to think and reflect; to reform and reframe her own self and identity. Joseph loves her because Mary is a gift. She is His Lord’s personal gift to Him. This is how he sees her and loves her.

He does not add his touch to God’s; his hands to the Spirit. Joseph gives loving safe space by accepting Mary and naming, by giving this son the name Jesus.

In part we can know that May loves Joseph because she accepts and honours all his giving.

Mary loves Joseph because she receives him as a gift, as her gift.

61, Convent Avenue, part two, life changing

61, Convent Avenue, part two, life changing

So …

I returned to Music and Art High School as an observer volunteer. Lou Simon, then the chair of the Department, had applied for a half year sabbatical and everyone thought Dr Paul Reich would get the temporary chairmanship. If he got the position, he would not be supervising a student teacher. But it was not to be.

Someone else in the department had more seniority. They grieved Dr Reich’s appointment; won and Dr Reich returned to teaching AP English and remained dept assistant.

And one of the first things he did was speak to me. He told me I deserved the placement. The school was making an exception and I would the second of two students teachers that year.

But he still could not stand listening to my voice, so, I would work with a good friend of his, Seymour Mauer.

It was a miracle; a Christmas miracle. My spring job tarring roofs, my 20 credits that spring semester, my busy hectic life was saved.

And I was to start and teach immediately.

And I was bad, really, really bad.

Kind, patient Seymour had me teaching four freshman ELA lessons a day. He believed in more being more. But for me it was less than zero. I started poorly in from the first period, sat with Seymour during our common free second period; made adjustments and

…got worst, period after period; period after period. By day’s end I was horrible. And more pressure -besides proving Dr Reich and other naysayers “right” (after all I was the first CCNY student to get a M&A placement in over ten years) was coming.

James Shields was my CCNY Education professor. Student teaching was a six credit course at that time. A grade of lower than an ‘A’ would lead me to losing my BA/MA Fellowship. I was in deep trouble.

Mr Shields would do 3 observations and in that first month of student teaching he gave me a generous ‘C’ for my first lesson.

I continued to struggle in my High School classrooms and a month later, after real hard work with Seymour, I reached a B-.

And then, I don’t know how or why, it-teaching-all fell into place. I was good, very good. So good that when Seymour was called for jury duty in early May, I taught all his classes and not the legal substitute teacher. I had arrived in spades.

And then they had to dismiss Dr Paul Reich’s student teacher from Columbia University for trying to ‘date’ some of his older female students. All the firs, including myself doubts, defeated.

Things felt great; I was succeeding. And then Prof Shields came for by last observation. Super surprised, he said my lesson was ‘one of the best he had seen’.

As we sat in the teachers’ lounge with only myself and Prof Shields at the front table and Dr Reich sitting by himself at the far back table, he gave me my course grade. It was the behind June.

The conversation with Shields was short with the praise and very disappointing: the C and the B- and the A+ averaged out in Prof Shields’ view as a “B”. I had no chance to speak or state how I felt about the grade.

Seymour was still on jury duty; Lou Simon was on Sabbatical. I had no one to argue that my unusual growth as a teacher should be granted an “A” for the six credit course. Covering a teacher 5 periods a day; going to classes at night; performing well, all were breezed over. And then, Dr Reich said from the back, “excuse me Prof Shields, can I have a word?..Charles, can you wait outside?”

Ten minutes later Prof Shields exited the lounge, saw me in the hallway and said succinctly without emotion, “the grade is an “A”.

I walked in the lounge and standing at the door Dr Reich said,

“I need to apologise to you….I was wrong; you deserved the original placement and you should not have been made to feel like a ‘second choice.’

“But I still cannot bear to listen to your voice. You deserved this “A” for all you have accomplished. And will accomplish.”

Dr Reich’s standing for me; Seymour’s trusting me to grow; Lou Simon’s making an exception for two student teaching placements; all changed my life.

But Dr Reich…he was a man of truth and integrity. He admitted an error and spoke for me. He was literally a ‘father to the fatherless. Me.

That is my teaching life, my life changing moment.

I will always love him and Seymour and Lou. All ways.