Little Black Sheep — Excerpt

I wonder if my mother had any clue that she was marrying a man who had little or no interest in her substance, a man whose desire for her was fully satisfied in the superficial gloss of her Seven Arts skills. The Seven Arts, claiming that “To be poised, lovely, and well-groomed is the inherent right of every woman,” was a local finishing school that offered a social navigation compass in manners and feminine wiles.

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Kenny and I are fans of 60 Minutes, the CBS news show that airs Sunday nights and I always got a kick out of Andy Rooney.  His pleasant rants about things that annoyed him reminded me of my grandfather, Paul Parrott.  Papa was a bit more acerbic but no less opinionated or hesitant to say what was on his mind, regardless of potential impact.  Years ago when my step-father, Joe went to ask him for my mother’s hand in marriage, Papa, perhaps feeling that opportunities for his divorcee daughter might be few and far between, interrupted Joe’s heartfelt declarations of love with a terse: “Take her my boy, she’s yours!” Continue reading “Reply All”

The Little Whistler and The Enforcer

Years ago I went through an intensive therapeutic experience at a place called OnSite.  It was a game changer for me and I was able to address issues springing from my childhood that had plagued me and dulled my ability to engage more fully in my life and loves.  There were many surprises during the week I was there and perhaps the best one came from my experience of one of the members of my small group.  She was remembering the loss of her mother as a ten year old and the impact on her life and she began to speak of her pets and what a comfort they were, both then and now.  I found myself in tears which I initially thought were prompted only by compassion but I realized quickly that they were also personal. Continue reading “The Little Whistler and The Enforcer”

Becoming Episcopalian

Last Sunday I was confirmed in the Episcopalian Church.  This feels like a major statement considering that I’m a lifelong Presbyterian but I’ve never been particularly exclusive denominationally, finding truth and beauty in nearly every expression of the faith that I’ve been exposed to.  When I was in college and succumbing to alcoholism and drug addiction, I would emerge from a long dissolute run, sweating a liquor cabinet of fumes, overcome with despair and self-contempt and return to the Presbyterian church of my childhood, confessing as I went.  In those days I didn’t know what the cure was, I just knew it had to be spiritual in nature because nothing in this world could help me, so I began with penance, thinking that if I was sorry enough–and I certainly was sorry, I would be released from my bondage after an appropriate and severe punishment.   Continue reading “Becoming Episcopalian”

A Little News, A Lot Of Gratitude

Ashley in York, PA in 1995.
Ashley with her son Henry in York, PA on the Brother’s Keeper Tour in 1995.

I am thinking this morning on how a chance encounter in York, PA led to one of the most consistent, foundational tools of my career.  Rose showed up at a show I played with Rich Mullins in an old theatre and asked me if I had ever thought about having a web site.  This was 1995 and my knowledge of computers consisted of my exposure to Hal on 2001, A Space Odyssey.  As you may recall, Hal was a villain.  She offered to create one for me and followed through promptly and brilliantly.  She has been following through ever since, creating and recreating with the twists and turns of technology.   Continue reading “A Little News, A Lot Of Gratitude”