Help For Christmas

Dear Friends,

This year marks the first Christmas I will be unable to buy anything for my kids. I realize that’s a pretty good record, and yet, my heart breaks knowing I do not have the resources to buy presents this year–for my kids or anyone else.

Yes, they will understand.  Yes, I can make them things, write them things.  I know.  And there are also things they need and want in their young lives that I would love to help them with.

If you are able, please send along a donation below that I promise to use towards purchasing gifts for my three sons.

Thank you with all my heart.



For My Therapist, Dr. Sullivan, by Radiance Angelina Petro

For My Therapist, Dr. Sullivan


Radiance Angelina Petro


Dr. Sullivan


Dear Friends,

I want to introduce you to my therapist, Dr. Sullivan.  Dr. Sullivan is a spiritual counselor (an ordained interfaith minister), a sociologist, a gender studies professor, author, feminist, shaman, hypnotist, and over all amazingly gifted, kind, and wonderful person who I both respect and admire.

I truly believe my sessions with Dr. Sullivan have been, and continue to be, transformative.  She supports and guides me through some of the difficult challenges in my life as a transgender person.  Over the last year she has also been integral in helping me get to a place of actually wanting to live and to thrive while living.  She has helped me with my transition and is tremendously insightful, wise, and commonsensical as well about my life as a transwoman struggling to find work and a place to live.  Her deep spiritual insights have helped me navigate the intense self-hatred I have carried with me most of my life.  Dr. Sullivan is open, attentive, and deeply compassionate.  She is very well versed in LGBTQIA issues and her vast knowledge of gender studies helps especially with cases like mine.  But she doesn’t just work with people on the LBGT spectrum.  She works with anyone.

If you are looking for an amazingly gifted therapist or you know someone who is, then please contact Dr. Sullivan at 215-704-4264.  Her website is  She is local to Philly and also does Skype sessions for clients around the world.

Thank you Dr. Sullivan.  I am so grateful you are in my life. <3






Dear Friends,

You may not know this but I lost my job of 16 years this past June, due, in large part, I believe, to being transgender. I am also about to lose my home leaving me a divorced, 48 year old unemployed and homeless transwoman.  I am applying to many different jobs and have only had 2 interviews in some 60 applications thus far.  Seems there is little market for people like me, even with my stellar teaching resume.

Right now, I have no source of money in my checking account and cannot pay for groceries or other things I need to just get by. I applied, and was turned down for, unemployment. I am trying to get food stamps and welfare, but the process is slow and I need groceries now and there are basic bills to pay, like water, electricity, etc.

If you are able, please consider donating to me on my blog using the donation button at the bottom of this post and that appears on the bottom of nearly all recent posts. I was hoping to use any donations from here for future gender-affirming surgeries (even though only 2 people have donated in the past 2 years), but anyway, I need to eat. I am desperate, and scared.  If you can, please help. I hate asking this….I have never before in my life ever asked for such a thing.  I never would have envisioned this being my life at 48.

Writing this post breaks my heart. I was going to do some sort of crowd-funding for my surgeries as soon as I got on my feet again, but to be asking for money for food is heartbreakingly sad.

But OK.  There you have it.  I have kept this blog for about 6 years and love it.  I hope you do too.  You know, if you’ve been following me all these years, that I have never asked for such a thing.  This is real.

Thank you everyone for reading and for donating. Please feel free to share this post with those who you might think would be willing and able to help.  I love you all. Thank you with all of my heart.

Yours Ever, Jennifer (Radiance)



I promise anything you send will be used for food and other day-to-day essentials until I can get foodstamps or some other source of assistance, and most hopefully, soon, a job, somewhere, anywhere.

Reflections on Clothing, Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph, Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home, By Radiance Angelina Petro

Reflections on Clothing,

Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph,

Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home


Radiance Angelina Petro


mowgli eye


I remember, before I came out, going to work wearing a tie, stiff slacks, dress shoes, and getting called, Joseph and Mr. all day; and then, coming home, shedding it all—dropping it all—like unnecessary armor—the clothes, the name, and then putting on my comfortable clothes–the ones I had started buying and wearing in secret, the ones I have always wanted to wear but didn’t know it—the ones that made my body feel alive; and finding myself suddenly breathing again.  I hadn’t realized it, but I had been holding my breath in a very real sense the whole day.  In my silken night gown however–beard and all, hairy everything and all–I felt at home in my body.  And then, add to this wonder, the discovery that I could choose my own name, and I felt like a queen—well, more like a sorceress brewing her own life.

The day came when I found myself shaving my arms for the first time.  I couldn’t believe how freeing it was.  This may sound hard to believe, but the day I shaved my entire body (well, what I could reach, that is), I hadn’t planned on doing it.  I just stood there naked in front of the full-length mirror, took the clippers out, and started.  Some of you may not know this, but I used to be hairy as hell.  When the tufts of hair began to fall from my arms, chest, legs, belly, my…well, other parts—I laughed and wept, and then laughed and wept some more.  I was so incredibly happy.

I wasn’t shaving to try to look like some feminized image in my head—nor was I, nor am I now, against body hair on anyone—but for me, it was a moment of liberation and revelation, and shaving felt like shedding, molting—stepping out of bearskin and becoming human.

Same as when I wore “women’s” clothes for the first time.  Of course there is no such thing as men’s or women’s clothes—I know that now—but those first few weeks I started wearing clothes I thought were women’s, were among the most innocently sweet times of my life.  Yes, you and I both know I am prone to hyperbole and just a touch of drama—but who cares?  It’s the truth.  First time I wore a woman’s blouse and skirt I felt euphorically happy. And when I put a dress on for the first time– hiding up in my room late one Friday night in late winter– I admit I felt aroused, but much more than sexually–I felt blessed, validated, home—a kind of arousal I had never experienced before but that would soon be eclipsed by the watershed moment when I realized what all of this meant (not that it needed any meaning)—the moment I realized I am transgender.

What I saw in the mirror that night was right and good, even though, as I said, I still kept a beard—which in those first few months, felt like an incongruency.  I now know many gorgeously handsome men who wear dresses and sport beards and they look (and are) amazing. But then there came the day the beard had to go too.  And for me, I have done my best since that day, to look and feel as shaven as I can. That is my preference.  Somedays I put on my skirt and a t-shirt, eye makeup and go out without shaving—occasionally I won’t shave for two days, but that is rare.

The thought of wearing a tie now, or the old clothes I used to wear, sickens and saddens me—or rather, makes me feel like it’s a violation of my being to even think about wearing them.  And I know that is still stinking thinking—that it doesn’t matter what I wear—I am a woman through and through—fuck what anyone else thinks a woman should or shouldn’t be or wear—I get it—intersex complications all rolled into one me—I am a woman—no matter what I wear, how I dress, or how much body hair I choose to keep on or not.  And yet the feeling remains that to wear those old clothes would be like wearing fire.

And today, alone in my house, but not alone inside—for I have you and others—I no longer have to hide anything.  This is me (of course, yes, there are still things I hide just for the sake of the joy of mystery).  For the first time in a long time, I am OK with me—with who and what I see in the mirror.  I am not where I want to be in many ways with regards to my physical appearance, but I am moving in the direction that feels right for me.

Wednesday, at therapy, I had the most profound sense that Joseph was ready to leave—that he had done his work and was ready to go back into the light.  He had protected me; did his best to keep me safe.  Even as the abuse piled on—he hid me, sheltered me from the blows—he took me into his soul.  And when I told him I was ready to give birth to myself he acted as midwife and wept with joy the hardest when he saw me standing in front of the mirror all dressed in satins and silks holding a little girl in my arms.

His spirit remains in me, but his soul has gone home.  This may be hard to understand—this difference between spirit and soul.  All I know is that spirit is like another mind—another voice or breath, while soul is the like the essence behind that mind or breath.  It is like the music of the voice and its meaning.  Spirit is mist, soul water, body earth holding all of the above.

I live with two spirits with my own soul in one body.  It’s hard to explain but it makes sense to me.  Yes, each spirit has its own, individual soul, but their souls are their souls and have little to do with me.  My soul is my soul, like your eyes are your eyes, and this body is mine—a woman’s—even if it has shades of Joseph shimmering through.

It would not surprise me in the least, by the way, to find out one day, sooner or later, that I am not two-spirited—but many spirited.  Just as there are many genders made manifest in our waking conscious lives there are many gender-spirits swirling about us—and they are all—each and every one—beautiful and scented with earth and dappled with stars, and, with my luck all looking for a home (for that is what many spirits do—they look for homes to dwell in while others are content to travel through the trees and across ponds never settling down anywhere).

Last night, Joseph sent a firefly into, and then out of, my room.  I know it was him checking up on me.  And when I blew him a kiss I felt myself grow taller into my own being.

I know too that it was my mother—my spiritmother—who sent Mowgli to me (well, she is more than my spiritmother, but that is another story—she is also more than my most recent earthmother, but that too, is another story).  Spiritmother wanted me to know I am loved and that I needed to allow myself to be loved by people here.  She wanted me to know that freely accepting and giving love with vulnerability, joy, and wisdom—is OK—even though it will always mean heartache at some point or another (there are worse things than heartache—there is heart emptiness, heart sickness, and heart rage—I have experienced all of these and at very least heartache cooks up along with it poetry and the longing that pervades the best poetry). Spiritmother sent Mowgli to me to let me know she was thinking of me, and that I am with her always, and she with me, and that, unlike I had been wrongly thinking for so long, I can bewith her whenever I wantneed.

Looking at pictures of Mowgli today, his eyes betray the source of the mystery that is the love of my spiritmother.  And, even as uncertainty swoops and dives around my head, I am safe—here—in my own true self, together, with you.

When that watershed moment came when I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am transgender, everything I knew and didn’t know, bloomed into that one divine, precious moment, and the joy from that moment echoes today through my entire being—right through my fingertips and toes.  Yes, the watershed moment caused a mud-slide and many houses turned on their foundations and careened down the hillsides of their lives. Yes, the watershed moment flooded the streets of many hearts and preconceived ideas of who I am or was.  Sure, the watershed moment washed out many old yards littered with the shells of old cars and rundown sheds.  Nature is like that.

That moment though was the single most soul expanding moment I have ever experienced thus far in this life, and I stand today in deep gratitude and humility that I was picked to experience a second birth in my own being, my own body—that my own soul got to realize itself while in a body—that the spirits within me have a chance to sing, dance, to revel by the fires of passion and purpose.  They get to live as freely inside of me as they want—which, is a lot—is totally—is completely—is without reservation or hesitation—is without shame—is without malice towards anyone—is with utter simplicity and fullness of breath and room to explore and to wonder and simply be.

There is more to the story, of course.  It is still writing itself in the sand and on the water and in the wind and in the fires and bones of the world. This is where I am at this moment, Friday, August 05, 2016.  As I go about my day today, looking for work and a place to live, I am also playing detective trying to piece together the intersex narrative that has been running through the pages of my life like an unseen river which is only now beginning to rise, spilling forth over the banks of the ideas I used to think held me—even as a transwoman.  The mystery continues and more shall be revealed.



mirror 1





Thank you for supporting my ongoing transition.  Yours, Radiance

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Touching Lives Around the World–Literacy Outreach Belize–A Program by Professional Storyteller, Kristin Pedemonti

Teaching Reading (in Spanish!) at Library San Miguel Duenas Guatemala, 2007

This weekend I had the great blessing of attending Story Fusion, a wonderful storytelling festival in the Lehigh Valley.  It was organized by the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild.  The weekend was truly life changing for me and I will be posting about my experiences, and the fruits of those experiences, over the next couple of weeks.  The best thing about the weekend was meeting and connecting with this whole culture of people–storytellers.  The people I met were generous in spirit, kind, open, wise, playful, and out there trying to make the world a better place.  One such person is Kristin Pedemonti, a professional storyteller who founded an amazing literacy outreach program in Belize.  She is helping teach teachers and students creative wrting, the value of stories and literacy, and so on.  It is a truly beautiful endeavor.  Today I am reprinting, with her permission, an entry from her website that tells about her project.  Included here are three training videos that she made showing some of the work she is doing.  Please watch them now or over the next few days.  She is wise and playful and we can all learn from her generous spirit.  Please visit her website and follow this link to the original article because in it there is a Paypal Donation button to help support her project that I was unable to put in this reprint.  

So here’s the article about her work in Belize.

Kristin sold her home and most of her possessions in 2005 to create Literacy Outreach Belize. She used a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale to kickstart this volunteer project. Since 2006, Kristin has donated literacy programs for over 33,000 children in Belize and trained over 600 teachers!

Carla, teacher at St. Joseph Primary in Belize City has this to say:

I am a teacher at St. Joseph Primary School in Belize City and I have known Ms. Kristin ever since she came to Belize. She is a storytelling expert and she has really influenced me as a teacher. She is vibrant, motivated and has a very pleasant personality when dealing with children… I was lucky to have been chosen by her to tell stories to my class and the children and I have always enjoyed it. I am a very motivated teacher myself and just listening to her made me even more enthusiastic about teaching especially telling stories to my children. ~Carla Graniel

Great things are happening with Literacy Outreach Belize! Good News, Kristin is the 2011 Recipient of the National Storytelling Network International StoryBridge Oracle Award in part due to her work in Belize!

Every year Kristin returns to Belize for approximately one month to continue the project through teacher training workshops and school visits. Every year since 2007 she depends on her own fundraising and securing sponsorship to sustain the project. Through the years the following groups and individuals have helped sponsor Literacy Outreach Belize: In 2012, the trip was sponsored through a fundraising campaign on 53 people raised $3K+ to sponsor the creation of Teacher Training Videos. In the past, Michael Thomas, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbino, The Kilroy Family, Allison Rotteveel, Marlborough Elementary School, Northern Elementary School and August Brinker. Read on to learn what was accomplished with each sponsor’s donations.

Thanks to all the supporters via Kristin was able to do the following in January 2012:

  • 340 students participated in Preserve Culture Story-writing programs at Bishop Martin and Immaculate Conception Schools.
  • 168 teachers attended Teacher Training Sessions on Creative Writing Using Indigenous Stories and Storytelling in the Classroom.
  • TWO Teacher Training Videos were filmed and edited thanks to the help of Matthiew Klinck, Eva Behrens and Robin Reichert. The videos are already being distributed in Belize through the Literacy Unit, National Library Service, Sacred Heart College and Ecumenical Junior College and are on youtube on my channel: storytellerkp
  • Here’s a preview of the Training Videos:

    August Brinker sponsored the 2011 volunteer trip to Belize. Because of Mr. Brinker’s donation Kristin was able to do the following:

    January 15, 2011 to February 10 2011

    • Preserve Culture Story-writing Programs presented at Bishop Martin RC School for over 500 students
    • Book Drive for Bishop Martin, 100+ books donated
    • Staff Development Teacher Training Workshop at Sacred Heart Junior College, 47 teachers learned how to preserve Belizean cultural stories and use storytelling and story-writing to enrich their classrooms
    • School visit to Immaculate Conception School in Bullet Tree Falls, story-writing workshops with STD 5 and 6 students
    • Nearly 200 Sacred Heart High School students participated in Story-writing workshops
    • Story-writing workshop and storytelling presentations at St. Joseph School Belize City, over 300 students participated
    • Staff Development Workshop at St. Joseph’s School
    • Teacher Training in Dangriga

    Thanks to Allison Rooteveel for the book drive and Marlborough Elementary School and their Penny War in PA for sponsorship. The following was accomplished in 2010:
    January 12 to January 29, 2010
    Over 2000 students at 4 schools received FREE storytelling and Story writing programs to help them prepare for the National Exam. Nearly 500 books distributed to 3 schools benefitting over 2000 students!

    The 2009 trip was sponsored through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.
    February 24 to March 25, 2009
    2156 students at 6 schools received FREE storytelling and story-writing programs. Expansion to Immaculate Conception Primary School in Bullet Tree Falls village.
    Collection of 200+ stories written by Belizean students.
    Positive meeting with President of National Institute of Culture and History.

    The 2008 trip was sponsored in part through the sale of Kristin’s Storytelling CD’s and the sale of hand carved Thai instruments donated by Micheal Thomas.January-March 2008
    Belize Story Writing Project: Kristin provided storytelling and story-writing workshops for nearly 8,000 students and 200 teachers January – March 2008.

    The 2006-2007 trip was sponsored by the sale of Kristin’s home, Belize City Rotary, Rosendo Urbina, and Michael Thomas.
    2006-2007 Literacy Outreach: Kristin provided programs for over 20,000 children at 120 schools, daycares and preschools throughout Belize.

    March 2006 National Library Service Staff Training. Kristin presented workshops on Dynamic Children’s Programming and Storytelling Techniques. (32 libraries in all)

    May 2006 National Library Service Library Tour: presented programs for 14 Village libraries From Gales Point down to Barranco. Books 4 Belize: collected and distributed books to libraries and schools throughout Belize.

    December 2005 Kiwanis Club of Emmaus, PA donated $100 worth of books. Neff’s UCC Church in Neff’s PA donated $500 of new books to the cause July 2006. Friends and family have donated over 2000 books thus far.

    November-December 2005 Where I am From Poetry Project with Muffles College, Belmopan Comprehensive School and Upper Perk Middle School in East Greenville, PA. Over 200 students wrote poems based on George Ella Lyons “Where I am From” poem. The poems were exchanged between the Belizean and American students.

    Collaboration with the University of Belize and presentation of Teacher Training for several at-risk schools.

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    My First CD: “Be Here Now, Songs for the Wonderchild,” is Available on itunes and Amazon!!

    On the heels of publishing my first book, I have released my first cd of music.  It is an all acoustic affair, just me and my guitar.  The songs are all short little meditations and prayers, universal in spiritual scope, and meant to be sung by old and young.  It’s a collection of singable inspiration.

    I wrote all of the songs except for a few of the lyrics on a couple of songs.  I really hope you like it and buy it for yourself and to share.  It’s available as an mp3 download on cdbaby, Amazon, and itunes.  Here are the links.

    Well, the itunes link won’t work in this post, but you can find the cd on itunes under Joseph Anthony, “Be Here Now, Songs of the Wonder Child.”  The other two links work though:
    And here is the title song as a free mp3 download.  Enjoy!

    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    Purchase “Following Your Heart’s Desire” Today!

    Whoever you are, your true place is calling, calling, and, because you really are a spark of the Divine, you will never be content until you answer.”  –Emmet Fox


    “Following Your Heart’s Desire…provides a wonderful opening to something better…Anthony shows us how to create a life worth living.”–Brad Yates, author of “The Wizard’s Wish,” co-author of “Freedom at Your Fingertips.”


    If you’d prefer to pay by check, please make it payable to

    Joseph Rogers-Petro for $15.95, and mail it to

    PO Box 1302
    Roslyn, PA 19001

    Excerpt from the book,
    “Following Your Heart’s Desire,”
    by Joseph Anthony

    Do you want to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?

    Do you, once and for all, want to know what God’s plan is for you?

    Do want a life of unlimited abundance and true prosperity?

    Do you want to do work that is truly healing for yourself

    and the world?

    Do you want to live the adventure of a lifetime?

    Does your life feel empty?  Unfulfilled? Discontented?

    Have you lost your passion for life?

    Do you have dreams but don’t know where to begin?

    Do you have talents and gifts that you are afraid to use?

    Does fear and self-doubt hold you back

    from living the life you’ve always dreamed of?

    If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then you are reading the right book, and I am truly glad you’re here.  For you about to discover

    Your Heart’s Desire

    You were born, as the great poet William Wordsworth tells us, “trailing clouds of glory.”  How could it be otherwise? You are a child of God.  What that means is you have powers inside of you that are truly super powers, utterly miraculous, and utterly endless.  They are God given powers–to create and to manifest, to imagine and to build.  You were born with a purpose–hand-picked by the Infinite Source of Supply.  It is a purpose you are free to follow or not.  If you choose to follow it you will live in heaven right here on earth.  You will shine like the sun and help the world to shine more brightly.  You were born to shine.

    And there’s more.

    The talents and gifts you possess are woven together with your dreams. One could say they are your dreams.  Your talents and gifts can lead you to discover your dreams and your dreams can help you discover your talents and gifts.  You were born to express and to share these gifts and talents with the world, and nobody else can do that for you.  I’ll say it again:  You were born to shine.

    So stop a moment, wherever you are, and stand up.  Say these words out loud.  Rise up and claim them as your own: 

    I am a child of God.  I have a song in my heart that is mine and mine alone, and I will not let it die within me unsung.  I am worthy of all abundance and prosperity, for I am an heir to the Kingdom of God.  I am ready to sing.  I am ready to claim my dreams. I am ready to live my Heart’s Desire.


    How exactly do you reclaim your dreams?  The rest of this book will go into the details of the process that I have developed to live my dreams.  It will explain precisely how you can discover and achieve your own Heart’s Desire.

    Here is the Table of Contents:


    One: Divine Discontent                                                                  

    Two: Finding Your True Place in Life                        

    Three: Discovering the Blocks                                    

    Four: Finding a Mentor                                                           

    Five: Disciplining Your Thinking                                

    Six: Dealing With Difficult Emotions                         

    Seven: Forgiveness and Restitution                             

    Eight: Review                                                             

    Nine: Shining Your Light                                            

    Ten: Inspiration for the Journey                                            

    Appendix One:  Affirmations                                     

    Appendix Two: Resources                                          

    “Joseph Anthony is a Spirit Warrior…“Following Your Heart’s Desire” is his blessing to us: a validation of our sacred worth and a practical, yet beautifully poetic guide to discovering it for ourselves.” Jean Raffa, Ed.D. Author of THE BRIDGE TO WHOLENESS, DREAM THEATRES OF THE SOUL, and HEALING THE SACRED DIVIDE. Blogger at

    Purchase “Following Your Heart’s Desire” today for $12.95 +$3.00 shipping, and get started living the life you’ve always wanted.  Read the book by yourself or study it with a group of like-minded friends (a mastermind group).  It also makes a great gift for someone you love.

    If you’d prefer to pay by check, please make it payable to

    Joseph Rogers-Petro for $15.95, and mail it to

    PO Box 1302
    Roslyn, PA 19001

    “Joseph Anthony’s book is a delight for the soul. His writings touch a deep chord with those who are on the path of awakening. This Wonder Child helps us to reclaim and express our innate innocence and heart’s desire. Get ready for a heavenly ride!” Rev. Jill Sabin Carel, Agape Interfaith Ministries



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    The Promise of Mother’s Day


    Yesterday, as I was driving to Barnes and Noble to write a little bit about Your Heart’s Desire, I realized today is Mother’s Day.  As some of you know my mom passed away three months ago.  And as the knowledge of this day dawned, as if on cue, rain began to fall.  It was a soft, gentle spring rain.  On the left side of the road, however, the sun shined through billowing clouds.   And as thoughts of my mother branched through my mind, my heart thrummed with grief.  Yet I knew, any second: “She’ll send a rainbow.”  And sure enough, just when the pangs of hurt swelled into tears, a rainbow– low, and shimmering, bloomed across the sky.  It was full—with the purple particularly radiant.  I hurried to park the car to get out and stare.  My heart leapt with gratitude. 

    The rainbow, that Promise of eternal life–of ever unfolding creation in spite of darkness and tears, spanned an iridescent bridge across the sky connecting Heaven and Earth.  And it was beyond beautiful.  It was my mother’s love stretching down in a gesture of flowering luminosity.

    And then, after about ten minutes, it began to dissolve, and the backdrop of the dark, late afternoon sky stood steely grey.  But the dark clouds had been touched.  The colors were still there announcing themselves through the many rooms of those drifting castles, kissing the faces of any silken-clad angels sleeping on downy beds. 

    And I can keep moving.  She sent a rainbow, and so I, in turn, send it to you. Obviously my Blackberry’s camera does not capture the brilliance of the rainbow’s triumphant gateway, but you get the idea. 

    So remember, when the going gets tough; when the hurt hurts; when the memories flood your chest and cast their fragrance through the rain of your tears, there is always Light; and there will always be rainbows.  Glorious, heart strumming-mixtures of rain and sun, with the rain being just as crucial to these celebrations as the light.  These Promises have been made for you, for me, for all of us.  Pursue Your Heart’s Desire, find your true place in God’s Universe; find your voice and instrument in His choir of Love and His orchestra of Service—and shine.  Let the Light catch your tears and through them proclaim rainbows of Hope to everyone you meet.



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

    Here and Now


    I am listening to a cassette tape that’s 29 years old.  It’s of my mother and I teaching preschool catechism classes.  I was 14 and her assistant.  It was my first teaching job. 

    Her voice is light and musical.  She leads the children in a prayer: “Dear God, I am your little child.  Thank You for my family.  Amen.”   

    She tells the students I am her son and that I will be her helper, and that I am a good drawer. 

    She tells them not to run outside after class is over.  She doesn’t want them to get hit by a car.

    She tells them they will have a snack and asks me to pass out vanilla wafers and lemonade.  We sit picnic style on the floor. I hear myself whistling in the background.

    While they’re eating, she shows me a house she drew that she is planning on showing them. “Oh is that what that is?”  I tease.  She laughs and says, “I know you could do better, Smarty.”

    She turns on a record of Carey Landry and everyone is singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” as they draw pictures of their houses and their families.  I hear myself singing.  It’s like listening to a ghost.  It’s me, I recognize the timber, but it’s so much thinner and crackly with adolescent changes.  The record begins to skip.  We laugh.  I give the needle a nudge.

    At the end of class she asks the children if they were good enough to deserve lollipops.  “Yes,” I pipe up.  She gives everyone, including me, a lollipop. 

    I hear us sending off the last of the children.  We are outside.  It must have been a sunny day in spring.

    The tape is going to end soon.  I am dreading the moment.  The wheels carry the tape along like a little brown river.  The hazy hiss of the tape is loud as it flows, carrying memories as it goes, like a river carrying pieces of the sun. 

    There’s a long quiet period.  I can just barely hear my mother in the distance talking with one of the parents.  I wish I knew what was happening.  I hear the wind blowing over the microphone.  I haven’t said a word in several minutes.  I wonder if I am just standing there watching her.

    And then I hear us getting into the car.  The car door shuts.  I hear myself saying: “Oh the tape recorder is still going.”  “Oh you had it on all this time?”  She says.  Then it’s over.  The tape ends.  It just stops.  And with it my heart aches.   I feel suddenly empty.  I don’t know what I was expecting to hear—some kind of secret message?  Just more of her voice?  Part of me wishes I hadn’t turned the tape on.  My feelings are all a bit jumbled.  I feel strangely stunned as if I’ve lost her again.  But no.  It’s just more grief.  I miss her, plain and simple.  There are no regrets—even though regrets are trying to break in and smash the tenderness that exists between us. 

    And it is OK.  I can let her voice go.  I can let go of teaching now if I choose.  I do not need to fear being disloyal to her (or my father, who also was a teacher) if I break away and do something else.  I can fulfill my own dreams.  What matters now is that I remember how quickly it can all end.  How suddenly the tape can stop. 

    I rise up to meet the rest of the day.  There is a calm, but steady urgency.  The wheels are turning.  There are people to love, dreams to manifest, voices to listen to, here and now. 



    Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog