Disparate images and phrases percolate inside as I search for a single thought, the one sentence or word that will help me make sense of and navigate the storms and beauty we weather daily.
n An aging homeless man, wrapped in worn coat and stocking cap, pushing a makeshift cart of meager belongings down Front Street following last weekend's storm. He trudges against traffic because the sidewalks are knee deep with heavy, dense snow. He has walked from Asbury Methodist Church Safe Harbor on the city's west side where he stayed the night before, to Faith Reformed Church at Front and Garfield, where he will spend that night. I am grateful for Safe Harbor, the agencies, churches and people who make it possible. Annual homeless count figures released last week show a 28 percent increase — from 704 last year to 906 this winter.
n The divisive and nasty Republican presidential primary debates so short on solutions, so big and loud on cultural-religious political war mongering. The first sentence of 1st Corinthians 13 comes to mind: "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
n Payback time for Republican icon Rush Limbaugh, the victim of his own vitriol after calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and "prostitute" for testifying before Congress on contraception costs.
n The memories of my kind, gentle grandfather as I shovel for hours after the storm. He was a staunch Republican in the era of small shopkeepers. I doubt he ever would tolerate Rush for the sake of the party.
n The sense of adventure and the quiet I enjoyed that first day after the March 2-3 storm that clogged city streets and left thousands in the region powerless. No television, no email or snail-mail, no Facebook, no Wi-Fi, no virtual anything. Just me, my corgi, my neighbors, my shovel, the heroic snowplow drivers and Ohio work crew that helped remove limbs and branches from streets and off wires.
n The gratitude and compassion I felt the second powerless day as I sat in layers of clothing in my 42-degree house, trying to write with gloves on and feeling my toes go cold.
Life is not a straight line. It meanders and winds. It surprises. It disappoints. It ebbs and flows through quiet stretches and rabid rapids. It brings sorrows and aggravations, beauty and ugliness, joy and peace. It brings us to our knees. It teaches us the importance of caring for and helping others.
It silences loveless clanging bells because they simply are neither true. nor relevant.
I have found my one word: Gong.
Loraine Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.