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.

61, Convent Avenue, part one, life changing

At the High School of Music and Art in the mid 70’s I was a student teacher in the field of English. ( which we call ELA today)

Normally, Music and Art only took one English student teacher a year. I needed that placement desperately as I was taking 20 credits a semester and working nights and was married and disowned by my family. ( they hadn’t spoken to me for three years and that time would continue for another five)

I needed to graduate fast; and continue working in order to live. Music and Art was in the midst/middle of City College at that time. Getting that student teaching placement would enable me to walk from my own study classroom to my student teaching classroom in ten minutes max.

I needed that placement badly.

So I applied a semester ahead of time and volunteered to work at M & A sorting their book room, which had no hands on it to count books for many years.

I thought this work and other bits would put me fast track for the one ELA teaching sport. Sadly, it didn’t.


The Supervising Teacher choose the applicant. Dr Paul Reich was a brilliant teacher, a master in and without the classroom. Watching him in action for six months only pushed my desire for the placement in a fever. He would make me a master teacher.

At the end of the interview process Dt Reich sat down with me and spoke bluntly,

“I can not consider you as my student teacher as I would find it unable to listen to you speak 5 hours a day.”

My Heavy New York accent had finished me. Crushed I left dejected knowing I had to return in the coming two weld to finish categorising the books, I briefly, momentarily consider quitting my volunteer work, but didn’t.

I would return….

To be continued as 60, part two

62, Star Wars, Elf and this day

why, who, did the same creative mind direct and create an Elf and a Baby Yoda? As Joseph Campbell wrote in ‘A Hero with a Thousand Faces’- as George Lucas heard, a Hero wears many multiple masks, a thousand faces.

Perhaps the desire to understand and then to form and reform masks can be traced to the need to protect and hid; create and destroy. This desire to be an Elf and a Mando at the same time is part of the answer; and this is what’s Joesph Campbell wrote of in ‘A Hero with 1,000 faces.’ His writing generates a golem.

And Jon Favreau is this creative golem. He directed both and Elf.

His creative company, formed in 2018, is ‘Golem Creations Ltd. LLC is a television production company created by Jon Favreau on August 30, 2018.[78][79] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Favreau cited his fascination with the overlap of technology and storytelling and that he gave the company its name because a golemwas like technology; it could be used to protect or destroy if control was lost of it.’ (Wikipedia)

A golem can used to ‘protect or destroy…’ Elf protects and destroy his father; his store and Christmas itself. And Mando and Baby Yoda both protect and destroy in Jon’s Star Wars spin off ‘Mandalorian.’ They destroy a mother creature for its egg and bounty hunters who search tracers for them. And these golems also have the power to heal.

Golem, I have also always been. As Yesterday, when I taught my granddaughter Liv, created with her, as golems, this Christmas song,

Reindeers with red noses can and will protect, if we allow them, as children and Baby Yoda, to sing and heal as they crea

63 donald barthleme

the year the dead father was published Donald was my MFA teacher in Writing. (the NYT gave it a front Book Sunday Review thy was a real pan. the editors called and apologised ..they loved it and I believe made the dead father a top editor choice off the year) Donald invited me to a select writing group at Grace Paley’s village hone. I went once but Barbara wanted me home that those nights…and I only went to Grace once…

64 ‘burnt toast’

with Priscilla, food has always been a part of our story. the first days of marriage, she loved making toast with tea for breakfest in the mornings.

our only issue was that every day she burnt the toast-some days dark; others just browned.

over the years I have grown to only eat toast if it has been burnt: the darker the better

burnt toast, my acquired taste


Grace Baptist Church in the Bronx had a flowered arch over the small outside walkway to the pastor’s housing. It, the flowered arch, isno longer there. The church still stands but the outside arch will live in my memories as the place where Barbara and I were photographed, leaving as teens, married in 1972.