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Work in Progress

Among other things, I have been working on my first book of verse, working title "Marilyn's Book of Poetry, Verse, Whatever: 50 years of bits & pieces of writing exercises" by Marilyn Catherine McDonald, MA. I am sending the manuscript to a few trusted readers to give it a pass through and a review of their thoughts. Hope to have it ready for Amazon Create/Space and Kindle by the end of the summer. 


The following is an excerpt from "Mother of Eight Survives Population Explosion: Just Between Us Column Selections"

Jeff was black and I was prejudiced

Too often the only time a person’s name appears in the newspaper it’s in the obituary column. There’s more to life than that.

Jeff was a black student in our predominantly white suburban parochial school skirting the largest black housing project in Detroit.

We were in our senior year. Jeff was in another homeroom but we shared a class in Bible History. He sat in the desk at my right, halfway back in the third row from the windows.

He was a good student, a valuable asset on the school basketball team, well received by his fellow students and responsive to their friendship. Jeff was a tall, quiet boy with inner beauty that expressed itself in his warmth of character.

Yet, there was a barrier between Jeff and me. Barriers made me uncomfortable—especially when I had a strong hunch that I was the one responsible. People talked about prejudice, but I couldn’t identify with the kind of racial hatred I grew up with in the Detroit area. I didn’t feel any hatred for blacks, but definitely uneasy and fearful.

Prejudice can be little things. Like a black boy tugging at my pigtails from the desk behind when the first grade teacher is opening up a whole world of knowledge for me. It’s running home from school because a black boy flashed a knife and started chasing. Teasing? I was too young to decide. It’s seeing a little white girl cry and throw an ice cream cone away after a teasing little black girl took a lick and “made it dirty.” It’s hearing your mother quietly tell your brother to please not bring that little black boy home after school again—while the boy sits on the curb in front of the house waiting to play. It’s being knocked down on the ice pond in the vacant lot by a black girl twice my age and size. It’s living through the 1943 “race riots” where 23 blacks are killed and the city goes berserk with confusion, fear and hatred. It’s gradually building up protective barriers because a few bad impressions by some representatives of a particular race refuse to vacate the memory.

I could detail even more real or imagined harm done to me by whites, but when you’re building a prejudice your mind doesn’t calculate that way. With the whites who harmed me it was a matter of the person and not the race—and I can remember what that individual did.

I never felt right or good about the prejudices compounding in me. They were subtle and I hid them well—from everyone but myself. I knew I couldn’t live my whole lifetime being afraid of blacks, it hurt me too much. They really weren’t aware of it.

If I could ever learn to know a black as a fellow human being it would have to be Jeff who would help me. I was still more of an observer than a participant in trying to overcome my particular fear and prejudice. Jeff, if he ever knew of my struggle never revealed it, but helped me by his quiet, warm person to learn to erase color of skin from the picture.

“Could I please borrow a piece a paper?” He asked across the aisle one day before a test began.

“Sure,” I handed it across without hesitation.

And on another day I might ask him if he had the answer to one of the homework questions, and we would share our conclusions before class started. When you’re a normal, healthy and active teenager in the senior year of school the prejudice problem doesn’t occupy much of the waking or sleeping time. It was quickly relegated to the subconscious and left to resolve itself naturally in its own good time.

Over a period of time I could comfortably talk to Jeff about school activities and homework. Some of my friends double dated with Jeff and his girlfriend from his housing project. She went to a public school in Detroit. Some of my friends backslapped, joked and were loose and relaxed with Jeff. I still felt some barriers.

Suddenly, Jeff was stricken with leukemia. One day he was absent from the desk next to me in Bible History. We were counting the weeks until graduation, but Jeff never returned to that desk—or to any other desk. He was hospitalized for a series of tests.

One Sunday afternoon five of my close girlfriends got together with “nothing to do,” and one proposed we take a bus trip to the hospital to visit Jeff. First we called to be sure we could visit. The hospital was strange territory for our little group, but we found our way to Jeff’s room with help from a nurse who seemed pleased that we had come to visit.

The reports that came to us at school over the next several weeks and days made it look rather doubtful that Jeff would be attending graduation. We all put our spiritual force of prayer behind his wish to graduate with his class. We didn’t know he would be there until we started walking up the church center aisle for the pomp and circumstance of graduation proceedings. There were two capped and gowned figures sitting in the front row to the right. One was a childhood sweetheart of mine. He’d been recovering from a serious illness and making a gallant comeback. We’d been praying for him as well as Jeff. The other boy is another story, and I’m here to talk about the black boy sitting next to him, Jeff.

I didn’t look around to see if there were dry eyes that night, but I know much attention was focused on the two boys who came out of their sick beds to graduate.

With red, imitation leather-bound diplomas in hands, and tassels turned to signify our advance, we marched out into the world and searched for our friends in the meeting rooms and parking lots.

It was a warm, early summer night. A group of graduates stood by the parking lot fence congratulating a smiling Jeff with gentle pats on the back and handshakes. As I approached the small group I observed that the girls ran up to the male classmates and planted graduation kisses on lips and cheeks. Jeff stood there, smiling his broad grin of white teeth against his black skin.

I walked directly to Jeff, held out my right hand for a congratulation handshake and leaned forward on my tiptoes and planted a kiss firmly on his right cheek.

“I’m so happy you’re here, Jeff,” I swallowed the hard lumps forming in my throat. “Thank you for coming.” I couldn’t tell if he blushed or beamed with pride. When he returned congratulations and said, “Thank you,” so much human acceptance and Christian love was exchanged. I felt that somehow he knew what I had felt but never expressed.

Too often we regret those left-undone acts of love. As I look back I’m grateful I was able to cross the barrier I’d built. Able to show another person I cared. Grateful that person was so approachable.

Sixty-nine graduates went their separate ways. A very few weeks later a phone call informed me that Jeff died.

A small group of my close friends again boarded a bus to go and see Jeff. The funeral was at the Chapel of Our Lady of Victory, in a black neighborhood in Detroit.

The wood floor of the chapel creaked as we walked in, and my knees cracked, as they always did, when I genuflected at the pew. Black faces turned and viewed us. I thought for a moment we were out of place—but sorrow and mourning have colorless faces, and death is nondiscriminatory.

The prayers of blacks and whites went up in unison, remembering a human being who left his impression on our lives.

Excerpt from Mother of Eight Survives Population Explosion: Just Between Us" Column Selections  by Marilyn Catherine McDonald

pages 196-199, 2003




NEW BOOK RELEASE 

Read.Reflect.Respond.Rest. 366 Daily Reflections on Random Selections from Scripture

                       by Marilyn Catherine McDonald, MA, dtcstpmt@aol.com                                                  ISBN: 9781500886400    Available: www.amazon.com, www.createspace.com, 


Why do we pray?  Why do we meditate?

Answers to vague, soul searching questions such as these come from experience – doing the exercises and getting results. Mostly, we don’t know what we are looking for in the exercises. When we work out on the treadmill at the gym we have a goal in mind – to lose weight, gain physical strength and stamina. Prayer and meditation are both spiritual exercises. Our spirit is somewhere at our center – a place of comfort, rest and peace. And, it is easy to get there. We are looking for the divine presence within our core being – that “Kingdom of God” within us that Jesus promised.

On January 1, 2011, I began my journey to the center of my being by randomly selecting passages from old or new testaments. Taking a few minutes to reflect on the passage and read footnotes as needed. Then I wrote one page of commentary in my spiral notebook. Nearly four years later – a book of “366 Daily Reflections on Random Selections from Scripture” is available to readers. The important lessons in the book are overshadowed by the process of just doing the exercises of reading, reflecting, responding, and resting in the comfort of discovering a connection with something greater than ourselves, within ourselves.

 Reviews

“This book is a true delight filled with Holy Scripture, wonderful insights, perspective and gentle humor. Knowing Marilyn and sharing her love, gratitude, wisdom, hope and grace has been very special. Now, by putting it in writing, Marilyn is passing this quiet joy and peace to the rest of the world. Thank you for writing this book. I feel privileged to call you friend.”                                            – Doris E. Gauthier, CSD, Spiritual Directors International

 

“From early childhood, we have heard the phrase, Stop and smell the roses. Yet, in our often too-busy lives, there is hardly a moment to smell the roses, reflect on our lives or even take a deep breath.

“Now, however, comes this book from author Marilyn Catherine McDonald that makes taking an ever so brief reflective interlude each day not only easy, but uplifting, well beyond the momentary investment in time it takes to spend with her book!

“Whether you are a frequent or infrequent reader of the bible, you will appreciate the 366 expertly chosen quotes from scripture that can, each day, literally reorient your approach to life. For example, the selection for January 5 is: Every day is miserable for the depressed, but a lighthearted man has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15) Marilyn sheds additional light on this quote from scripture by reminding us, ‘A smile uses fewer face muscles and is uplifting for the face as well as our hearts, and the hearts of others.’

“The combination of the quotes from scripture and Marilyn’s true-to-life, wise commentary, can, in just moments, give one enough pause to actually improve one’s day…and one’s life…by simply changing the way we look at life’s challenges.                      – Jan S. Smith, Ph.D., Co-Owner and Managing Director of Bestlight Creative

Author Biography 

With hundreds of published articles, stories, corporate promotional pieces to her credit since 1967, Marilyn Catherine McDonald, at 81, is self-publishing her fifth print-on-demand book/and eBook. She earned a  BS from Portland State University and an MA in Communications from the University of Portland. Marilyn and her retired U.S. Air force husband Harry Taylor enjoy life in Oregon.

 Other books by Marilyn available at Amazon.com

Alert the Media: How the American Indian Movement used the Mass Media, 2010; ISBN 978-1450534277.

Little Girl Lost: A True Story of Tragic Death, Resources & Bibliography, 2003; ISBN 1-4010-8340-4.

Mother of Eight Survives Population Explosion: “Just Between Us” Column Selections, 2004, ISBN 1-4134-3044-9.

Snowbirds Unlimited: Tales from the Restless Traveler, 2010, ISBN 978-1450534277.

An Unforgettably Marvelous Chicken Named Oscar, 2012, (Children’s story, EBook only).



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Name: Robin Prante Email: littleriverplace@q.com
Welcome Page:   
Country: USA  Date: 3 Aug 2012 03:00:05 GMT

Comment: Enjoy the web site. Great job. Always a joy to see what adventures you are up to.



Name: Kat Hammontre Email: bajakat@gmail.com
Welcome Page:  http://www.katskorner.com.mx  
Country: MEXICO  Date: 18 Oct 2013 18:00:49 GMT

Comment: Love your site Marilyn and I'm pretty sure I had my head cut off in a previous life. You are a very talented writer my dear! Keep on doing what you're doing cause it's working! xo



Name: Marilyn Email: dtcstpmt@aol.com
Welcome Page:   
Country: USA  Date: 18 Oct 2013 22:24:57 GMT

Comment: This is Marilyn, reporting in, please feel free to leave a comment, about whatever.



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