Near 500 words: The Mother of All Living

–from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

One of the most moving statues, for me, is “The Penitent Magdalene” by the Italian artist Donatello. With it, we get the figure of Mary Magdalene after years of wandering in the desert. It’s a statue that I love.

After spending some time gazing at pictures of it, I began to think of Eve. The Genesis story doesn’t give us much after she and Adam left the Garden of Eden. All we know is that Eve had three children.

One, Cain, murdered his younger brother, Abel. After Cain was banished to only God-knows-where, Eve and Adam had a third son. His name was Seth.

It seems to me that something is missing from that story. What was it like to leave the comfort and security of the Garden of Eden and spend their years wandering in a world that was so large and people-less? I began to imagine those two wandering souls and their regret for losing Eden. How they must have felt being cut off from God. The depth of their homesickness. Especially Eve, who gets the brunt of the blame for their banishment.

As I thought about the story, I remembered Psalm 137. This particular Psalm was written while the Jews were exiled in Babylon. It begins, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” The Psalmist was speaking for anyone who has been forced from their homeland and cannot return.It’s the story of the African slaves. It’s the story of the Jewish, the Armenian and the Irish diaspora. It’s the story of the Syrian refugees and refugees everywhere.

So I wrote this poem.

“My heart is breaking,” 
Eve told the Earth. 
Then Eve scribbled the words
with the ink of her tears

into the dirt upon the Earth’s back. 
“My son murdered my son, 
and the murderer is a ghost 
haunting the valleys 
and the mountains.” 

Eve sat by a tree 
mourning her first born, 
mourning her second child, 
the blues in her eyes shedding  
seven hundred seventy-seven tears each day  
‘tween the sunrise and the moon. 
“Tree, my heart is bleeding,” 
she sang, her grief rising 
like smoke up to the ears of God. 

Eve went down  
to the church by the river Cry. 
She lit a votive candle 
and prayed the rosary 
one hundred and fifty times 
for the souls of her sons,

one whose life was taken away, 
one who took the life
and a third,
a new beginning. 

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Police Brutality

It had been a long night for Jesus. First the Passover meal, then the praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, then a nice stroll around the Garden. Just as He was about to leave the Garden, this cop showed up.

“Gee, I was just out taking a walk,” Jesus said to the Roman cop.

“Don’t you know that this is a white rich guy neighborhood?” the cop said to Jesus.

“Isn’t it a free country?” Jesus said.

“Not for your kind,” the cop said to Jesus. “So are you going to go peacefully or are we going to call in the SWAT team for you and your boys over there?”

“You can’t do this,” Jesus said. “I know my rights.”

“Look, Buddy, the only right you got is to move along. If you don’t, we’re taking you to jail.”

“But—“ Jesus said

“Okay, Buddy,” the cop said and grabbed Jesus’ arm. “It’s jail for you.”

Jesus felt his sandal fall off. He went down to slip it back on. The cop pulled out his revolver and slammed Jesus over the head. “Hey, guys,” the cop shouted. “Resisting arrest.”

A “guy walks into a bar” story

Harry sits on the stool at the end of the bar.

“So he comes into the bar,” the bartender offers.

“Yeah?” Harry says.

“He comes into the bar with that long hair reaching down to his butt. Tells me a big lion story.”

“Don’t you mean a big fish story?” Harry asks, then finishes his beer. He motions for another bottle.

“I would if it was a big fish he killed. But he says it was a lion. This lion, the size of Jericho’s wall, springs out of a nearby bush as he’s on his way to that Delilah’s house.” The bartender takes a MIchelob out of the refrigerator, pops the cap and passes it over to Harry.

“Yeah, I’ve heard about her. She’ll screw anybody in pants.” Harry takes a swig of the beer.

“Or kilts. Anyway this lion heads straight toward him. Sammy grabs the lion by the head and throws it on the ground. Then twists the cat’s head until it is d-e-a-d.”

Harry and the bartender laugh.

In walks Sammy with a huge lion’s head. He throws the head on the bar and smiles. “I’ll take a brewsky.”

The bartender pours Sammy a large beer and sets it on the bar. Sammy picks it up and throws his head back and chug-a-lugs the beer down. He slams the mug onto the bar.

“What’ll you give me for this here kitty’s head? Make me a good offer ‘cause Delilah wants an expensive engagement ring.”

The bartender goes and opens up his safe. He pulls out a big wad of bills and gives them to Sammy. The big galoot takes the bills and counts them and slides the head over to the bartender.

On his way out of the bar, Sammy shakes his head and says, “Geez, that Delilah has become so…so Kardashian.”

The Good Book

I am a Good Book kind of guy. When I was growing up, all the other guys read the articles in Playboy Magazine. I read the Bible. You heard me right. The Bible. I kept wondering how it would turn out. I’ve never been a turn-to-the-end kind of reader. It always surprised me that Hercule Poirot hit the nail on the head and got the right guy. Usually the butler.

In those kind of books the butler did it. In fact, no matter what kind of book it is, the butler does it. So I wasn’t surprised when I got to the end of the Good Book to discover that Satan was the Butler.

Why did I read the Bible when all the other guys were finding out what Hef would wear to the prom? Certainly not for the clothes. I mean I wouldn’t be caught dead at a prom in a toga. The problem with togas is that you have to find matching shoes. Has anyone ever been able to find toga-matching shoes for a prom?

No. I wanted to find out who won the baseball game. After all, the Bible starts out with a baseball game. In the Big Inning. Spoiler alert: God wins. How He wins I am not telling. But He wins. The score isn’t even close.

I wondered if Noah’s Ark was the original Titanic? If so, where was the glacier? I even tried my hand at doing a Moses. I went down to the river close by my house and tried my hand at parting the waters. All I got for my trouble was a mouthful of water.

I thought my break out with the mumps was the first plague in Exodus. To get some relief, I told my mother to let my brother go. He was a regular Cain anyway.

I joined the marching band and took up trumpet. I figured it would be a great way to blow down the walls of the neighborhood bully. After all, it worked on Jericho for Joshua and his band of merry men.

Instead of working out, I did a Samson. I grew my hair long and expected strength. My back still hurts from the strain when I tried to pick up that VW Bug.

You’d think I would have learned. But no. I was arrested for carrying a sling shot without a license. I figured what was good enough for David was good enough for me. And I do live in an Open Carry State.

But you want to know the biggest disappointment. I couldn’t figure out how Solomon got seven hundred girlfriends. I tried reading “The Song of Solomon” to a number of girls at the college I went to. Talk about a great way to get slapped. That’s it.

There was one thing I did right. I didn’t put out the burning bush I saw in my back yard. I don’t care what my wife says. It could have been God. If God wants to burn down my house, what can I do? Besides FEMA and the insurance company paid for a whole new house. And my wife got the kitchen she’d been praying for.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: An Epic to be all the other Epics

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Ten Commandments” (1956):

To all my Jewish friends, you are in my thoughts as I wish you well during this Passover season. 

It’s almost become a cliché, this movie. That’s why I hesitate to recommend it. But during this season of Passover, it’s very hard to ignore. Hollywood has tried to remake this movie any number of times and has failed. There is something about this one that gets to the heart of the story.

The story is an epic one. It is the foundation of our civilization. It is the story Jesus celebrated with His parents as a child and with His disciples at the Last Supper. This is why I have never understood how those who call themselves Christian can be anti-Semitic.

It is the founding of the Jewish nation built on the desire for a people who wished to be free. But it wasn’t an easy road. This people did not become a nation because it was easy. They became a nation only after years of suffering in slavery, then more years of wandering in a wilderness. Before they became the Promised Land of nationhood.

It is the beginning of Western Civilization’s belief in freedom as a core value. By looking back to the story of Exodus, the African-American community developed a belief in their ultimate delivery from slavery. The call, “Let my people,” can be heard in the song, “We shall overcome,” and in the words of Dr. King’ “I have a dream.” Just like the children of Israel, this community knew that liberation was not only possible, but inevitable. It was this same call for justice and freedom that those at Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square were crying out for. Wherever injustice and tyranny exists, the call, “Let my people go,” will be heard.

It is story of the gift of Law. Without the law, there can only be chaos. But it must be a law that respects the rights of all. That is a law that everybody is under. Even the king. It was this story and those Commandments that were a forerunner to Roman Law, to the Magna Carta, English Common Law, the Constitution of United States and the Napoleonic Code. When the Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, they were building upon the belief established by the Exodus story.

So, when I watched this movie one more time, I remembered these things. I was also reminded of what a great movie this one is.

Of course the movie can’t completely remove the “from my cold dead hands” remark Charlton Heston made before the NRA. I’m sure when all is said and done, he would prefer to be remembered for his performance as Moses, calling for Pharaoh to “Let my people go.” I know I would. One thing is for sure. Yul Brynner was never better.