“Stay calm, have courage and wait for signs”*

by chuckofish

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 2.01.32 PM.pngWell, there is bound to be a big let-down after a big event that you have planned for so long…IMG_5623.JPG.jpegIMG_5935.JPGIMG_5933.JPGIMG_5934.JPGIMG_5936.JPGIMG_5940.JPG…and I am in the middle of it. Good grief, two weeks of non-stop socializing with family and friends and people staying in your house…IMG_5585.JPG.jpeg

IMG_5596.JPG.jpegBut c’est la vie. This past weekend I did very little but straighten up the house and do laundry. I still have more straightening to do, but I made a lot of progress.

I also spent a good amount of time with my new best friend Walt Longmire, who has joined the ranks of my small club of Best Fictional Characters Ever (Holden Caulfield, Philip Marlowe, Dick Summers…). The book (NOT to be confused with the television show) I just finished was As the Crow Flies, which ends with Walt’s daughter getting married in a traditional Cheyenne ceremony.

…the two birds I’d noticed were crows circling right above the meadow, the primaries of their wing tips spread like fingers as they rode the thermals that lifted them into the cloudless sky.

Maybe it was an omen, but I decided to take it as a good one. I’d heard that crows mate for life and are known to raise their young for as long as five years.

Sometimes you don’t get that long.

I thought about Audrey Plain Feather and how her life hadn’t turned out the way she’d hoped–maybe nobody’s did.

My wife Martha’s hadn’t. Mine hadn’t. Even Henry’s hadn’t.

Maybe Cady’s would.

It’s hopes like this that you cling to at major turning points in your life and, more important, the lives of your children. You keep going, and you hope for the best, and sometimes, maybe not very often, your hopes come true.

I also watched Red Beard (1965) directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. I had read about this film on the Mockingbird website and knew it was a favorite movie of the Rev. John Zahl, but had never seen it or really heard much about it. Indeed,  the British Film Institute’s 2015 list of “10 Essential Kurosawa Films” did not feature Red Beard. But there is a Criterion Films DVD and so I got it from Netflix.

red beard.jpeg

And let me tell you, this is a great, great movie! It poses the question, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” The answer is illusive, as we know, but there is solace to be found in knowing that there are, indeed, good people in the world. This is the lesson learned by several characters in the movie including the protagonist, a young, arrogant doctor played by Yuzo Kayama. Red Beard, Toshira Mifune, is one of the good people.  He has learned to overcome his own arrogance in order to love people where they are and to help them. It reminded me of Sunday’s Gospel, where Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 30)

Indeed, the movie is about love and grace and is absolutely amazing. There are so many great scenes–I tear up just thinking about them!–such as the scene where the clinic serving women scream the name of the dying child (“Chobu!”) down the well to pull his soul back from the dead. Do not put off seeing this great movie because it is three hours long and you think you are not in the mood for a “downer” movie. It is inspiring. Also, I was struck by the acting in this movie, which is so, so good and rather subdued by Japanese standards.

Anyway, I just loved it and highly recommend it to you. I watched it alone, of course. The OM left after half an hour to water the shrubs. I guess he wasn’t in the mood.

But, hello. Someone left this “toast prop” at my house!


It’s the simple things, right?

*Cheyenne motto