Chariot

Chariot: (n) a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing.

“Negro spiritual. “

It’s not exactly an oxymoron, but within the two words there seems to be a contradiction of purpose.

After all, if you were a Negro, you might find it difficult to be spiritual to those who decided to know you only by that term.

Yet a race of people who were beaten, subjugated, raped and sometimes nearly starved managed to get around a fire late at night when their persecutors had retired to the Big House, and come up with songs which we now display in our religious catalogues today.

  • “Let My People Go”
  • “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
  • And of course, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Even though the songs are melodic, harmonic and perhaps even rhythmic, they all carry a central theme: “Dear God, I hope they stop beating me and if they won’t, I hope you kill me soon.”

You can be sympathetic to their plight.

“Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin’ for to carry me home…”

A pretty simple passage: “Since there’s no solution here on Earth, since the Massa has the whip and since my family can be sold at a moment’s notice, maybe it would be wise to begin Eternity really soon.”

Negro spiritual–a music that tells us where people find solace when other humans abandon and mistreat them.

It is soulful, it is seeking and it is sad.

I can’t listen to the song about the chariot without realizing that my ancestors made the singer want to die.

 

 

 

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Alfredo

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alfredo: (n) a sauce for pasta incorporating butter, cream garlic and Parmesan cheese.

There are very few surprises.

Well, I guess the fact that avocados are high in calories is a little alarming, considering how little taste they offer for the load. But generally speaking, you can taste–or really just look–at a dish of food and know that it is killer with everything that produces the fat and sugars which make us bounce out of the room in our “rotundness.”

Such is alfredo sauce.

It’s almost comical, isn’t it? It seems to me that the times in my life that I’ve eaten fettuccine alfredo, I have found myself screaming at the world around me, “What the hell! Leave me alone! I’m gonna go out with a fork in my hand and a smile on my face!”

  • Butter. Come on. Can anything be more symbolic of excess?
  • Cream.
  • Parmesan cheese.
  • And then, on top of that, to create a noodle that is larger and wider than spaghetti–a four-lane carb–to make sure you don’t lose one single drop of this exorbitantly-caloried sauce, is a proclamation of insanity portrayed as a declaration of eating independence.

I once walked by a plate of fettuccine alfredo–without consuming it, merely viewing it–and went to the scale, having gained three pounds. My eyeballs had absorbed the richness through visual osmosis.

It’s much like America. Watching a little piece of Dr. Oz the other day as they were discussing how to take kale and turn it into chips by baking it in the oven, a commercial came on afterwards advertising the new Wendy’s double-bacon, avocado, guacamole cheddar cheese burger.

I love this country. We talk such a good game–and then we decide never to play it.

We think putting on public service announcements about childhood obesity will cover the problem as we continue to dangle saturated fats and sugary confections in front of our children like Christmas ornaments lit up by tiny little bulbs.

They tell me people in Italy eat lots of pasta, and don’t have heart trouble. All I know is, if they’re eating fettuccine alfredo, they should be prepared … well, they should be prepared … to die.

Agonize

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Agonize: (v) to undergo great mental anguish through worrying about something.

Really?

I’m sorry. I always try to empathize with my fellow-men and women, but sometimes the causes and circumstances that promote frustration and agonizing concern just escape me.

Early on in my life I came up with a simple principle:

There is only one day which is totally beyond my control: the day I die. And all the imitators of that experience can be dodged, as if they were bullets.

There you go.

It reminds me of the words of Jesus when he told his friends, the disciples, that their buddy, Lazarus, was sick but that he wasn’t going to die.

The truth is, he did die.

But traveling to see him, to prepare for a resurrection, it would have been of little use to weep, fuss and agonize over his temporary termination. So Jesus told them it was “all cool.”

Now, I’m not talking about an optimistic attitude, which is often devoid of needed reality and focus. (In other words, people who always “look on the bright side of life” can be quickly dimmed by a single rain cloud.) But it is a needed perspective.

There are three forces that will work for us if we are aware of our own surroundings:

1. Mother Nature. She just has a way of doing things, and if you learn her ways, you’ve got the first four digits of the “pick six” in the lottery.

2. Fellow humans. Contrary to most of the television programs, the vast majority of humanity does not consist of pimps, thieves and serial killers. People actually do help more often than not.

3. God. God has no reason to do anything but support his children. The only thing we have to remember is, this grace is bestowed to the humble.

Agonize if you want–but I will save that single moment of uncontrollable worry for my own death, and fight it off … until it’s absolutely mandatory.