Author Archives: Joe

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.

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Sorry

I am being so lame this week. I had another headache last night because there was a rainstorm that came through yesterday, and rain always aggravates my trigeminal neuralgia. So, once again, I remember that I was thinking about writing a post, then I got distracted and went to bed before I actually wrote one. Susan notified me that I had not posted this morning. I had woken up feeling much better had not even thought about not having a post scheduled. 

For the rest of the week, my posts might be a bit short. I am going to a conference in Boston tomorrow and will be gone through Sunday. Thankfully, because I am technically “working” Saturday and Sunday attending the conference, I will be off Monday and Tuesday of next week.


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The Rhodora

The Rhodora
By Ralph Waldo Emerson – 1803-1882

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,

I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,

Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,

To please the desert and the sluggish brook.

The purple petals fallen in the pool

Made the black water with their beauty gay;

Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,

And court the flower that cheapens his array.

Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why

This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,

Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,

Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;

Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!

I never thought to ask; I never knew;

But in my simple ignorance suppose

The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.

About the Poem

The official name of the poem is “The Rhodora, On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower”, and was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1834. Emerson uniquely describes a wonderful and insightful spiritual connection with nature in a primitive, deified manner. The focus of the poem is to showcase to Emerson’s audience that a person has the embedded ability to share and experience a kindred relationship with God through the beauty of Nature.

The Rhodora is presented as a flower as beautiful as the rose, but the Rhodora can be described as a scrawny deciduous shrub. In the poem, it is described as remaining humble and not seeking broader fame. The narrator of the poem is outside during springtime in New England and has found a beautiful Rhodora, “Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,” and is reflecting on the ability to bring beauty to such a dismal location and setting.

“The Rhodora” described the love of his life, probably his life. Emerson disliked the ordinary and the status quo. Therefore, roses are nit his cup of tea. Everyone loves roses, so he wanted a more unique ay to describe his love. When it came to describing his wife, the Rhodora plant encompassed all that he felt of her, including the lavender petals. Emerson describes his wife as stunningly beautiful through his eyes, and similar to items of immense value, she is hard to find. He gives her a grand compliment as a writer that she has a calming influence on his life and points out that she is only known by a certain few, those who seek out her uniqueness, her beauty, and her calming influence. She must have been a remarkable woman.

About the Poet

An American essayist, poet, and popular philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) began his career as a Unitarian minister in Boston, but achieved worldwide fame as a lecturer and the author of such essays as “Self-Reliance,” “History,” “The Over-Soul,” and “Fate.” Drawing on English and German Romanticism, Neoplatonism, Kantianism, and Hinduism, Emerson developed a metaphysics of process, an epistemology of moods, and an “existentialist” ethics of self-improvement. He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity.

“There are many unspeakable words, forgotten, or forbidden. Great thanks to the poets who make them all become reachable.”

—Toba Beta


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Monday Morning

When I went to bed last night, I had thought I’d scheduled a post for this morning, but my friend Susan emailed me to say that there was no post. That’s when I realized, I thought about writing a post, but I never did. I got distracted shortly thereafter and completely forgot. I have today off for work, so I’m taking the day off completely to rest and relax. 

Have a great week!


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Overcoming Adversity

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

— Joshua 1:9

There has had no shortage of hard times and struggles the last few years, and as much as we’d like to run away from those struggles, we can’t. However, we can look to God to guide us through difficult times. We’ve had the ups and downs of life during a pandemic. There has been political upheavals, millions of deaths, supply shortages, economic problems, whether that be inflation, the high price of gas, or the loss of a job. A lot of us have experienced a combination of these adversities over the past few years. The writer Arthur Golden said, “Sometimes we get through adversity only by imagining what the world might be like if our dreams should ever come true.” For many of us, we imagine what the post-pandemic world will look like. Some of us worry the world has changed irreparably. Some of those changes have been bad, but some have been good.

If we were going it alone, any of these things might have been enough to break us, but through it all a strong faith that God is working in our lives, that we can trust Him, and that His strength is enough will get us through these adversities and the ones yet to come. One of hardest things to do as a Christian is to have faith that God is working, and to not be afraid of all the things that come our way. Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

God hasn’t promised that we won’t suffer in this life, but He has told us that He’ll walk through our valleys with us. He’ll be right by our side, and His grace will be enough.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will [d]dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

—Psalm 23

When we look to God He will give us the strength we need to carry through the dark times. God has an unwavering love for us, and He will give us strength when we look to Him in prayer. First Peter 5:7 tells us to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” With God as our strength and our guiding light, we can overcome and rise above our hardships. Psalm 46:1 advises us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.


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Moment of Zen: Books