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  • Godwin Cotter

My sister is incurably positive even though the news of the day and present circumstances are not. I've been watching my nurse sister look after my mother. Mom is one year away from 90 and still lives in her own home. I was struck by not just my sister's formidable nursing skills, but her cheerful attitude that seems to do more to restore health that the modern medicines. And as we live in Canada, I should say also clarify that her cheerful attitude is not from our fully legal cannabis stores we have on every corner. Oh yes, and as we live in Canada, I should also say that my sister's pronouns are she/her. Mea culpa, my bad, please forgive me.

My sister has a way of gentling cajoling that extra mile out of her charges, sprinkling an effervescence of wry cheerful humor like pixie dust in every situation. She even had my teenagers pulling weeds in the garden. My sister also gets my mom taking these day-trips across the living room with her walker. With mom, there are also exercises to do, self-care to be accomplished, conversations to be had. My sister makes these things happen.

My sister often makes bold announcements that could be said to border on mischaracterizations, worthy even of the main stream media. "Mom really likes eating healthy, please pass her more stinging nettle salad ". "Mom, you can't wear that, that's an old lady dress!". "Here, we'll wear matching outfits to church, people will think we're twins." "Mom has a new boyfriend, the trainer at L.A. Fitness." My mom protests but for the most part goes along with the program. With both mother and daughter, there is a background of cheerfulness even though I would have to say both their lives have their difficulties. My nurse sister was fired for refusing the vaccine, but now is saddled with three jobs; one that is nursing-related and pays the bills, an unpaid job providing care from my mom and a third job advocating and organizing for those fired like she was. She's never been so overworked, so much away from her husband and so much away from her home. I don't want to get into a vaccine debate, I only mention this to make the point that having a perfect life is not a prerequisite to having a happy one.

I am drawn to the news media like a moth to flame, so I tend to develop a cheerfulness deficit. I won't be healing those around me with my doomsday demeanor. I think this happens to all of us media gluttons, regardless of your chosen political slant; left, right, center or cutting edge. Media tribes I disagree with, my media-spawned-spidey-sense tells me, have a been taken in by an elaborate falsehood. Fairytales have more plausible narratives. My own media tribe has a credible narrative but when I croon from their hymnbook, it's gloomier than being buried alive. With the world's current trajectory, being cheerful seems to be a lie, denial of the obvious or both. How can you be cheerful then?

By analogy, I could truthfully tell my mom, "You know Mom, you're pretty old now, you're no spring chicken, soon you'll be dead." To quote David Gerrold, "Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order." All that may be true but it reduces life a death watch of loved ones, of dreams and of Western Civilization.

I think the truth is deeper than the surface reality. St Alphonsus recounts a story about an un-named holy monk:

“Externally his religious observance was the same as that of the other monks, but he had attained such sanctity that the mere touch of his garments healed the sick. Marveling at these deeds, since his life was no more exemplary than the lives of the other monks, the superior asked him one day what was the cause of these miracles. He replied that he too was mystified and was at a loss how to account for such happenings. ‘What devotions do you practice?’ asked the abbot. He answered that there was little or nothing special that he did beyond making a great deal of willing only what God willed, and that God had given him the grace of abandoning his will totally to the will of God. ‘Prosperity does not lift me up, nor adversity cast me down,’ added the monk. ‘I direct all my prayers to the end that God's will may be done fully in me and by me’. ‘That raid that our enemies made against the monastery the other day, in which our stores were plundered, our granaries put to the torch and our cattle driven off -- did not this misfortune cause you any resentment?’ queried the abbot. ‘No, Father,’ came the reply. ‘On the contrary, I returned thanks to God -- as is my custom in such circumstances -- fully persuaded that God does all things, or permits all that happens, for his glory and for our greater good; thus I am always at peace, no matter what happens’. Seeing such uniformity with the will of God, the abbot no longer wondered why the monk worked so many miracles”.

So to conclude, if you're a media junkie, I'm not sure what your boogeyman is. What or who is robbing you of sleep, stealing your peace? Is it Donald Trump, Vlad the Impaler Putin, Kamala Harris, Generation Z or the deep state? Regardless what your worst fear might be, the solution seems to be gratitude, a deep state spiritually where you are able to do what St. Paul advises the Thessalonians "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Gratitude in all circumstances will heal the soul. This world is passing away, the next life won't, it will be forever.

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