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another poem for my sister, who is doing better, blessed be God

Meanwhile the rain keeps raining

Though she can’t see me

And I can’t see her.

Meanwhile, as the squirrel leaps

Onto the wheel of peanuts,

The nurse says

She’s not going to crash anytime soon.

Meanwhile, though the snow is almost gone,

The wind is up

And the driveway is mud puddles,

The air around her is stale and antiseptic.

Meanwhile the cars whoosh

Along our road

The machines around her

Swish and tick and hum

Breathing for her.

What I’m Reading: The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan

How this book fell into my hands, I don’t recall now.  It made a strong impression on me several years ago, memorable enough to be read again recently.

I have long been drawn to the Divine Feminine.  She comes in so many guises, as Sophia, Shechinah, Mother God, and the Virgin Mary.  In India, she has multiple aspects in the goddesses Shakti, Kali, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Durga.  Greek mythology offers us Hera, Demeter, Aphrodite, and Athena. We have Kwan Yin and the White Tara.

I grew up culturally Jewish, if not the child of religiously observant parents.  I had negligible familiarity with the New Testament.  So when I picked up The Expected One, I started out on a new and wild ride through early Christianity.  And I met up with the controversy over Mary Magdalene.

Back in 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, Roman Emperor Constantine I and church bishops chose which gospels and doctrines would be the official documents of the Catholic Church.  They rejected some existing gospels, which resulted in a specific viewpoint.  The chosen books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John painted Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, a woman possessed by seven demons.  One part of the story, though, couldn’t be eliminated: that Mary Magdalene was the first of the apostles to see the resurrected Jesus.

Other ancient documents came to light hundreds of years later.  These told a different story, one that challenged the traditional Christian theology. In these writings, Mary Magdalene had a close relationship with Jesus.  He chose her to continue his teaching.  Joseph of Arimathea brought her safely to Alexandria, and from there, she traveled to southwestern France where she taught The Way.  Her followers were known as Cathars, and their descendants live on in that part of France.

That’s one layer of the story.  But the region’s folklore goes further, stating that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s wife.  They had children, whose descendants can trace their line back to one of the offspring.  And this is the story McGowan tells in The Expected One.

This novel offers the fascinating and surprising journey of Maureen Paschal, writer and professor, who gets swept up in a quest for the gospel written by Mary Magdalene.  If you choose to read the book, be sure to read the Afterword as well, in which the author includes parts of the Magdalene gospel she couldn’t fit into the novel. 

I was so intrigued by this information that I bought The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup. 

Two more books by McGowan that continue the story are The Book of Love and The Poet Prince.

Your Hands

Photo by Anna Shvets on

dedicated to all the medical workers, and especially those at Pomona Valley Hospital

Your hands are my hands,

since I can’t be there

to raise the bed,

to bring the pudding

to hold her hand.

Your voice is my voice

since miles muffle mine

to say words of comfort

to speak kindness

to tell hard, compassionate truths.

Your heart is my heart

since I’m so distant

to offer a warm smile

to give a gentle touch

to rest a cool hand

on her precious forehead.

The Karakesh Chronicles

Available from


What Is Truth?

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If you believe it, does that make it true?

What is truth, anyway?

This question has come up more than once lately among my friends and writing colleagues.  In this age of “fake news,” what have the sages said about truth?  I thought I’d take a look.




That’s from Oxford Dictionaries online.  Not much help, is it?

Here are some thought-provoking excerpts from Psychology Today:

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. –Thoreau

…In Plato’s Cratylus, on the philosophy of language, Socrates says that aletheia (Greek, ‘truth’) is a compression of the phrase ‘a wandering that is divine.’ (I love this phrase) Since Plato, many thinkers have spoken of truth and God in the same breath, and truth has also been linked with concepts such as justice, power, and freedom. According to John the Apostle, Jesus said to the Jews: ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’

…Today, God may be dying, but what about truth? Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, claimed that ‘truth isn’t truth,’ while Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor, presented the public with what she called ‘alternative facts.’ Over in the U.K. in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, Michael Gove, then Minister of Justice and Lord Chancellor, opined that people ‘have had enough of experts.’

Truth is a property not so much of thoughts and ideas but more properly of beliefs and assertions. But to believe or assert something is not enough to make it true, or else the claim that ‘to believe something makes it true’ would be just as true as the claim that ‘to believe something does not make it true.’ For centuries, philosophers have agreed that thought or language is true if it corresponds to an independent reality. For Aristotle, ‘to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.’ For Avicenna, truth is ‘what corresponds in the mind to what is outside it.’ And for Aquinas, it is ‘the adequation of things and the intellect’ (adæquatio rei et intellectus). Unfortunately for this so-called correspondence theory of truth, the mind does not perceive reality as it is, but only as it can, filtering, distorting, and interpreting it.

There’s the crux of the matter: our minds interpret “reality,” (whatever that is) and so we have the premise of the old Rashomon film: one event, multiple interpretations of the situation.

“The Rashomon effect describes how parties describe an event in a different and contradictory manner, which reflects their subjective interpretation and self-interested advocacy, rather than an objective truth.”—

My quest for an answer quickly lands me in theology:  (John McArthur)

Here’s a simple definition drawn from what the Bible teaches: Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. That is the biblical meaning of truth. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological.

Truth is also ontological—which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.

OK, but if we go with this, then who relays God’s truth to us?  Trump?  The Pope?  Is anyone out there getting the word directly from God?  The author of this article claims that truth is found in nature and in Scripture.  He continues:

Truth is not subjective, it is not a consensual cultural construct, and it is not an invalid, outdated, irrelevant concept. Truth is the self-expression of God. Truth is thus theological; it is the reality God has created and defined, and over which He rules. Truth is therefore a moral issue for every human being.

I can accept that truth and morality are closely connected. Onward!

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, we find a gathering of many thinkers on truth. (Michael Glanzberg)

The problem of truth is in a way easy to state: what truths are, and what (if anything) makes them true. But this simple statement masks a great deal of controversy. Whether there is a metaphysical problem of truth at all, and if there is, what kind of theory might address it, are all standing issues in the theory of truth .* (for the complete outline, see below)

  • The basic idea of the correspondence theory is that what we believe or say is true if it corresponds to the way things actually are – to the facts.

The coherence theory:

  • A belief is true if and only if it is part of a coherent system of beliefs.

I don’t know about you, but this hasn’t gotten me much closer to the meaning of “truth.”

It is, as the Oxford Dictionary points out, easier to say what truth isn’t.

And that’s the truth.



Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

for Jan

In the container of arugula,

past its sell-by date,

I pick through

the serrated leaves,

toss out the yellow pieces,

the slimy green bits

In the container of your abdomen

people in green scrubs

pick through your sad intestines

(long past the sell-by date)

all stuck together,

threatening rot.

Chop out the bad bits,

sew the good bits back together.

It’s easy with the arugula,

just toss it in

with some romaine (chopped)

a few cherry tomatoes

maybe some sunflower seeds

or leftover green peas.

The salad is ready

no time at all.

For you, though,

your skin tubes and tunnels must be reimagined,


cleared of obstruction

for your digestion to proceed

according to precedent

for time to heal

for salad

to pass safely through.

The Karakesh Chronicles

Available from

and – for caregivers