Demon fireplace

At the retreat center I went to in September, there is a mantlepiece that was handcarved by a priest. He is related to the Sister that runs the center. The center is a retirement home for Sisters of Mercy. This particular mantlepiece isn’t actually being used over a fireplace. It used be in another building but it got moved here. It is a piece of sculpture at this point.

It is a little disturbing.

This is the part that draws your attention when you come into the room.
demon 1

This part is at just below eye level. It is the largest part on the piece. It took the most amount of time.

I studied it up close, in part because it frightened me. I’m making part of my practice to not run away from things that frighten me. This has many layers – it wasn’t carved from one piece of wood. I seem to recall there were at least seven layers. I’m a little concerned that a priest spent this much time working on the face of a demon.

Let’s look at it straight on.
demon 2

Here’s the view when you back away and look at the whole thing.
demon 3

Jesus is insignificant in comparison.

It reminds me in part of Hindu carvings of Shiva dancing, yet his foot is on a tiny, hobbled creature that represents ignorance. I doubt that the priest had this in mind when he carved it.


Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite flowers. They are called bluets. I first saw them when I was on my honeymoon. We went to Grandfather Mountain, which is in the Western part of North Carolina. They are tiny little flowers – less than an inch across. They are a delicate pale sky blue, with a gold center. They bloom in May. I think of them as our special wedding flower. I feel like they bloomed just for us, to celebrate our wedding.

Here is a huge bank of them on Grandfather Mountain.

Let’s get closer, shall we?

Oh, why not get even closer?

Gosh, they are so lovely, why not get right up in them?

They are like looking at a field of stars.

I love them in part because they are not showy. They don’t call attention to themselves. You have to get right up on top of them to see them, which is perfect for my eyesight. I have come to really appreciate tiny things because that is all I can see well these days. I have to take my glasses off to see anything this close, but I see it better than I see regular things with my glasses. Bifocals are in my future.

Parenting license.

I wear baggy clothes for the same reason some people gain weight. I do it to hide. Somehow in wearing something too large, shapeless and styleless, I’m hiding who I really am. I know, deep down, that even if I were naked, I’d still not be showing my true self. The soul is deeper than skin.

Perhaps my need to wear dull colors is also a self defense technique. It says don’t notice me. It is the same as camouflage for birds. The male cardinal is red. But the female is brown. She is the one who protects the young. Perhaps the child I am protecting is myself.

I know that lots of things were taken from me as a child. I know that I was not loved or cherished. I know that my room was gone into without my permission. I know that my money was stolen by my dad and my brother. My brother stole it from my room. My dad just took it out of my savings account. He saw it as a spare account for him. Much of my money as a child came from my grandmother. She was his mother. I know that he expected my Mom to give him the Christmas money that she got from his Mom. He saw any money from her as money for him. Money is a symbol. Perhaps he felt that she never gave him enough of anything. Perhaps he was jealous if she gave anything to anyone else.

He was greedy. He was selfish. He was a glutton. He did not care about other people’s feelings. If I told him that I had a headache, he would tell me about how he had a bigger headache once. Maybe he thought that by pointing out how it could be worse, I should get over it. Maybe he was just self centered and didn’t know how anything could be about anyone who wasn’t him.

If I told him about something emotional, something that made me sad or angry, he offered a pill. They were all prescription. But prescribed doesn’t mean healthy. Medicating your feelings is escaping them. I’m grateful I never took him up on it. I’m sad that I wasn’t taught how to deal with my feelings.

It is just like with alcohol. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is healthy. If you drink to deal with your feelings, you are abusing yourself and your children. You aren’t teaching them how to be human. You are teaching them how to escape. You are stunting their emotional growth.

You are supposed to trust your parents. They are supposed to look out for you. They aren’t supposed to get zonked out on substances, legal or otherwise. They aren’t supposed to just take up space on your childhood. They aren’t supposed to chain smoke themselves to death. They aren’t supposed to leave you high and dry.

My parents abandoned me before they died. They just weren’t there. Perhaps they did me a favor by dying. It meant that I got to learn that their normal wasn’t normal at all. I had to start looking out for myself and learning from others.

I find I get really angry when I see a family where the parents reek of cigarette smoke. They are poisoning their children every day. Even if they smoke outside of the house, they are shortening their lives day by day, and they are reducing their energy level bit by bit. Even before they die they have stopped being alive. Smoking is theft. It steals your health and your life from your children.

I find I get really angry when I see parents treating their children how I was treated. I want to yell at the Mom for treating her son like he is an embarrassment or an interruption. I get really angry when I see this same mom who growls at her child for doing things that are normal for children decides to have even more children.

I get really sad when I see these children look so sad. If eyes are the windows of the soul, his soul is screaming “Rescue me, someone, anyone. I am in hell.”

I asked three people what I could do. A minister. A teacher. A therapist. They said I can’t do anything. I just have to watch this happen.

Is it possible that there were people who saw me as a child and wondered the same thing?

Some people are simply not capable of being selfless enough to have children.

It isn’t fair. It isn’t right.

You have to pass a driver’s test to get a driver’s license. The theory is so you prove that you are safe. But amateurs get to have children. Sadly, the driver doesn’t get caught in the flaming wreckage. The passenger does.