Saturday, May 21, 2011


The day is young, but so far, the world has not ended. It's a quiet morning in Washington DC. I can hear the fountain in the front yard across the street, some birdsong, and my windchimes moving around just enough in a gentle breeze to make sound. The sky is clean, clear blue, the air is sparkling, Brother Sun seems happy to shine but is not inclined to beat down on us. Ahhh .... if the world were about to end, this would be the perfect day for it.

All this week, reading about the cult who were (again) predicting doomsday, I wondered how the children of these folks are coping. I felt so sad imagining them preparing to die. Supposedly adults can make up their own minds about what they believe, but kids? It's just mean to tell them the end is coming. I know the people who espoused doomsday didn't see it as cruel, but please. To wake up today, to discover that the world is not ending, well - now what are those kids supposed to believe? Grist for the mill, I guess.

One thing my father used to say about being Jewish is, As long as even a single person on earth is suffering, we can never be completely happy. I've thought about this idea many times, worked through it in therapy, etc. I took it in at a very deep level. The idea that we must all be miserable forever and ever (since of course there has always been suffering) goes a long way towards explaining my father's psyche, but does not ring true in any way to me. I had to work through it, though. For a long time I believed him, hence I never allowed myself to feel completely happy.

My mother used to say, You are capable of greatness in any field you pursue. Those are not her exact words - I guess I've blocked the way she said it because this idea, though it sounds generous and encouraging, was not exactly helpful. I'm not sure anyone is capable of greatness in any field. All of us have talents and skills, yes, but they must be developed through hard work and focus. Somehow my mother left out the part about hard work, study, and discipline, all of which are definitely a part of excellence no matter what. The fact that I was not able to spontaneously perform brain surgery or rocket science by the time I was in high school made me feel like a failure. I don't blame her, but it was a set up. She didn't mean it that way.

One parental message that has really worked well for me was something my father said whenever he wanted to humiliate my sisters, which was, Becky does not have a weight problem. I still believe it - no matter what I weigh, it does not seem like a problem to me. I believe my sisters have worked through that particular humiliation so as to understand that they don't have weight problems either.

Bloody hell, everything parents say has huge impact. Those poor kids of the Family Radio cult. My heart is with them today. May they become wiser from this experience. May it be so.

Shabbat shalom. Seize the day, people, and live fully yes? I say yes.


ellen abbott said...

we all, in our own ways, have to overcome our childhoods. My father would tell us that we could do anything we wanted and yet what we wanted to do was never good enough. Well, my sister and I anyway, my brother is a high achiever.

I've never really understood the idea that life is suffering and we must escape from the wheel of life. I know there is suffering in the world but there is also great happiness, beauty and love.

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't get it either. I have my moments, but most of this experience of living a human life is really good.

California Girl said...

Yes, we are capable of greatness, each in our own way, but it does require perserverance. I wonder sometimes if I've taught my children the value of said perserverance? I don't see it in them yet, at least, not the way I'd like to see it.

Parental POV: worrying about their future. My sons are in their early twenties and still very confused about which road to take. One is graduating college this month. The other doesn't want to go back. I keep telling them to take either road and explore because they are young, unencumbered with relationships, debt, etc. It's hard for them to trust that faith. I went through it myself when I was young. I thought I was supposed to know what I wanted to be, yet I did not.

I am very lucky. I have two well-mannered, kind hearted, generous sons who are a delight to those who meet and get to know them. They embody the most important things in life: charity towards others, friendship and love.

Elizabeth said...

Let us not even embark on what our parents did to us.....
Not a good day for it, under the circumstances!

Yes, what parents say has a HUGE impact
God knows what I've uttered in error.
However, yes, the sun is shining beautifully
son and grandson arriving any minute
sending much love, dear Reya

Steve said...

The only article I saw about those kids quoted them saying, essentially, that their parents are crazy. At least some of them seem to know what's up.

That saying of your Dad's is quite touching, actually. I'm sure he wanted to develop in you a sense of the suffering of others, and a need to help ameliorate that suffering.

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve it is SO GREAT to see you here. You, too, California Girl.

I'm relieved to know that the cult kids are just as saavy as other kids who seem to know everything. Have you noticed? Thanks.

My father meant well - I guess - but there are so many ways to encourage compassion. Cursing us to eternal suffering unless we somehow saved the world, created rather unfortunate results. I don't blame him.

Pauline said...

"if the world were about to end, this would be the perfect day for it."

Love this line! It isn't 6 PM here yet, but so far, no earth-shattering quake. We did have a thunderstorm a while ago...

I'm with Maya Angelou - we do the best we can with what we know and when we know better, we do better.

The peonies in the first photo are gorgeous!

Jo said...

"Try your best to be a strong, kind, and loving person.

Do all you can to develop and use your gifts to better the world.

Be grateful for your strong and healthy body, despite what the outer shell looks like.

Seek the sweetness, if not happiness, in each moment."

I suppose these messages are really what your parents and parents around the world are really trying to convey to their children. Like everyone else, I'm sure I'm guilty of muddying up these messages occasionally with my own ineptitudes.

I can say without reservation that it's SO much easier to keep these messages simple with our grandchildren! I wonder why that is?

It sounds as if you've done a lot of forgiving for your parent's shortcomings. That is the real blessing for all of you.

You know how much I love that peony photo, right?

Meri said...

It's a pretty amazing responsibility, raising children. We want to encourage and enhance self-esteem without creating grandiosity and narcissism; we want to promote compassion but with appropriate boundaries so they aren't taken advantage of; and the list goes on and on. I tried not to generate neurosis in my children. . . and likely made myself neurotic in the process.

Reya Mellicker said...

Meri - ha!

Jo, I doubt seriously that you've made many mistakes in this arena. You are very conscious about what you do and don't say.

I worked through what my parents did and who they were. They loved us, and ... oh yeah ... they were seriously imperfect. But there are percs, such as the fact that I DON'T have a weight problem. Well done, papa!

steven said...

well reya, world's ended today, but not ours! there's qualities of suffering and suffering doesn't have to be a bad thing if you know why you're suffering and how it contributes to some other goodness or someone else's goodness or a greater goodness. consider for example the suffering that inhabits the space between who you are, and who you wish to be. that could be good suffering if it's placed inside real work that leads to becoming or regaining the person you are intended to be. i can look at the crap and travail of my own life and see my work as a result of all of that against the perspective of it leading me to the very good people of my life, to the very good things of my life, to the future becoming and i can say hey thankyou so very much. really thankyou!!! steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Steven I wish everyone listened to you! Yes about suffering. I willingly suffer for all kinds of things - my lusts, for instance. Yeah. In order to evolve, it's well worth it. Yep.

We had a spectacular Rapture day in DC today. It was BEAUTIFUL, people were cheerful, it was lovely all day long. Hmmm ...

Kerry said...

I am glad that you can be happy now, as I obviously see from your writing and photos.

I doubt that a parent would truly want to burden their child with guilt forever. No! Your loving and clumsy father only wanted you to know that the world is not always a perfect place and that you must help it to be better. You became a healer, Reya, and your parents are so proud.

lines n shades said...

love the way you talk with images.

really beautiful peonies :)

Tom said...

hmmm. i guess my kids have developed a very strange sense of humor, but i don't know if they're in any way prepared to live in This world

Whitney Lee said...

My father's most commonly repeated phrase-I swear it one day may be what we choose as his epithet- is "Life is Choices."

It's taught me about personal responsibility and accountability. I'm the one in charge here, if my life isn't what I'd like it to be then it's up to me to change it.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Passed down to me from my great-grandmother Ellen, of County Sligo, eight years old in the famine year of 1847--"Pick up that little potato--you might be hungry some day and wish you had it." Helping my dad dig potatoes, I thought it meant "Don't be lazy; don't waste food." Later, I thought it meant "Work hard, and plan for the future."

Now I wonder if it wasn't a barefoot Irish girl's way of saying "Carpe diem!" Anyway, I'm always glad to have potatoes.

Reya Mellicker said...

Potatoes are a good thing!

Whitney what a perfect message!

Tom: your kids are GREAT. I met some of them, remember?

Val said...

it is strange how a single comment, even a glib one, can have impact. I suppose if it resonates with you then it will stay long after the person of influence has forgotten what they said. Its so random but i guess these are all challenges that we set ourselves anyhow.

As you know i am an avid follower of your blog, and I am fast becoming a follower of Stevens comments on your blog. how is that? After i have read yours, i look for his response. its like a yin yang thing and just fantastic. Thanks always Reya for bringing out the best in us all

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you, Val! I too am a fan of Steven's comments and Steven's blog. He is so smart, so human. I learn from him every day.

I learn from you, too, Val - whenever you're close enough to a computer to post. Love and thanks to you.