The Burial

It was oddly industrial.  My brother and I witnessed the burial, and just before it began, the representative from the funeral home warned us kindly that it involved a backhoe. 

A man from the cemetery fastened ropes to the stone box that they placed my mother’s casket in and signaled for the backhoe driver to lift it up.  As the casket rose from the ground it swayed, bumped into the arm of the backhoe, and then, as the machine began driving towards her grave, actually began to spin around.  It was bizarrely comical and tragic all at the same time.  An amusemnet park ride for the dead.  It was definitely cold and industrial. 

As her casket was lowered into the ground, a man stood atop it to steady it and center it into the hole.  And even though I know in my soul that my mom is elsewhere, happy, healthy, young again, the process seemed disrespectful to the shell that was her body.  But I know those performing the inglorious task were trying their best to make it OK, so I cannot fault them. 

After the casket was settled in the ground, my brother and I tossed down two white roses.  And for a brief instant I had the sensation to jump into the hole and make a big dramatic scene.  But I didn’t.  Thank goodness I am slowly learning that I do not have to do everything my thoughts say to do.  It reminded me of the few times I’ve someplace high and the thought comes to jump, and I don’t.  It was sort of like that. 

After we sent the roses down, the backhoe shovel began to slowly, and I will say, almost tenderly heap the heavy, February dirt into the hole.  I think the backhoe operator knew how difficult this was to watch for my brother and I and he really tried to make it as gentle as possible.

As I watched this process I was reminded of a poem my wife Amanda wrote when her dad’s mother died.  At that burial, her dad and the other pallbearers actually lowered the casket down themselves.  The poem she wrote is very moving and so I will, with her permission, end this post with it.



Your brothers and you are lifting

your mother from the back of the hearse

as she once lifted you

from the deep shaft of nothing,

and you are thinking “she has left me behind,”

as you left her behind and learned to live

a story she had not hoped for you. 


Around you it is weirdly warm for January,

and you are coatless before the bare trees

and your own grown children watching

like blossoms on dark stalks

beside the waiting hole. 


You are holding her body that once held you,

the wet earth smell around you like a blanket,

and carrying her across the muddy graveyard

as she first carried you when you were too small

to walk, too small to bear

something as heavy as your life. 


The casket is so heavy,

the thing  inside so light

as you lower her,        

as she lowered you,

gently to your cradle,

covering you with kisses that fell

like flowers on your face.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

The Viewing


My mother’s voice still rings within me, although there have been times over the last few days when I consciously forgot about it, as awful as that may sound.  I take comfort in knowing, however, that, like the resounding song of God that thrums through me and all creation, her voice is there, fragile, yet wrapped in strong, silver chords.

I hadn’t seen my mother since December.  She was frail and sickly then, but I thought she would live a few more years.  Seeing her body in the open-casket viewing this past Tuesday, was both shocking and reassuring.  For as a result of working through my amends I was able to make peace with my mom a few years ago.  Together we shared a sweet, intimate connection.  We spoke often of saints and matters of faith.  And while she still held on to the sadness that I was the child “who moved away,” she still appreciated that we could talk the way we did—openly and comfortably. 

So there she was—dressed in a red sweater, hands folded across her chest, as if, as the poet, Bill Knott* says, “she was flying into herself.”  Under her hands were her rosary and her prayer books.  And since she loved crossword puzzles and did several every day, my brother tucked the one she would have done on February 18th at her side.  She had on golden earrings, and my brother, a barber, had actually gone into the funeral home the day before and cut her hair.  How tender that image is to me of him cutting her hair.  I am not sure I could have done that.  I told him how grateful I was for his loving act.

She looked peaceful, a bit stern, almost like a royal bird lying there—light as a feather.  She looked healthier, oddly enough, than I had seen her in years.  I kept expecting her to rise up and say, “Hey, what’s going on?”  So many feelings—angry, sad, dramatically tragic, strangely silly, peaceful, happy, all swirled through me as I saw her lying there. 

A kindly old woman from my mom’s church came up to me as I stood there and said, “She looks peaceful.  I sure hope she’s in heaven.”  “Why wouldn’t she be?”  I asked.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” the old woman said, “it’s just that one never knows.” “I do,” I said, “my mom is in heaven right now, singing and dancing with the other angels and saints.  She’s doing whatever she loves to do.”  “Oh dear,” apologized the old woman, “I didn’t know you were her son.  I’m so sorry for your loss.”  And, looking rather embarrassed, she slunk away. 

I turned back to my mother’s beautifully decorated shell and, while my heart aches to be able to speak with her again, bake bread with her again, or just sit with her in silence at the kitchen table again, I know—all dogmatic theology be damned—my mother is in heaven, happy and singing, truly, a bird on a wing.

*The Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

On the Death(?) of my Mother

I wrote that previous entry a few days ago and had it scheduled to be published this morning.  Little did I know that my mother would pass away Saturday morning.  She died in her sleep of congestive heart failure.  She lives in Detroit and I live in Philly. We spoke last week and it was a pleasant talk.  I was trying to encourage her to use positive affirmations and to have faith in her prayers.  She sounded weak, but in good spirits.  I did not know that would be good-bye.  When I got word of her death I was buying coffee for my wife.  My sister called crying and told me what happened.  As I walked back to my car my knees began to shake.  For while we knew our mother was failing in health, we did not know how much longer she had.  And so she has moved on.  This is what she wanted.  She was suffering and nearly incapacitated these last few weeks.  Now, I believe, she is resting in her Savior’s arms.  She has been transformed, in the twinkling of an eye, as Paul says, into conscious contact with the Wonder Child.  In fact, I daresay, she is a Wonder Child—“For behold, ye are sons and daughters of God.” 

And now I have yet another opportunity to demonstrate the ideas wrote in the previous post.  And because I have the loving support of friends and family, and because I do walk hand-in-hand with the Wonder Child, I know “that out of every season of grief and suffering, I shall see His marvelous wonders to perform.”

So my family and I are on our way to Michigan for my mother’s funeral.  And because I am not over being self-centered, I struggle through worrying about what other people will think of me for how long we are able to stay after the funeral, while at the same time slowly grasping the idea that I will not see the physical form of my mother again.  And as I move through the process of feeling my feelings—the grief and the anger, I can’t help but remember a poem that Emmet Fox put it his book, Power Through Constructive Thinking (Plus) :


There is no death!  Our stars go down

To rise upon some fairer shore;

And bright in heaven’s jeweled crown

They shine forevermore.


There is no death!  The dust we tread

Shall change beneath the summer showers

To golden grain or mellow fruit,

Or rainbow-tinted flowers.



The granite rocks in powder fall,

And feed the hungry moss they bear,

The fairest leaves drink daily life

From out of viewless air.


There is no death!  The leaves may fall,

The flowers may fade and pass away;

They only wait through wintry hours

The coming of the May.


And, ever near us, though unseen,

The fair immortal spirits tread;

For all the boundless universe

Is life; there is no dead!


                                                Attributed to Bulwer Lytton

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

The Bulldog Brothers

This is just a little shout out for the rock band my three sons and their freind  Roman have formed.  It’s called the Bull Dog Brothers: . The oldest rockers are Sam (lead singer, guitar player)and Roman (bass), both 14, then there’s Ben (on keyboards), who is 12, and finally, Daniel (on drums), age 10.  They released their first song on iTunes.  It’s called, Dethroned.  Here’s the link:

You can also buy it on Amazon.  Here’s a widget for them:

It’s a great song with a great anti-bullying message.  Check it out.  It rocks!  Cheers

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Moving further down

the muddied roads,

along the tiny villages

of water, the memory

drips with secrets.

Every reminiscence

cups drops of moisture

at its center.  Filtering

into the thinnest gullies,

each memory’s warm

liquidity dissolves image

after image, lovingly,

from the inside.  Until

one night, the past stumbles,

and the future rises, like

a manta ray leaping for the moon,

like a clear word sung tirelessly

all morning, like

breath into prayer, like night

into morning, loss into gain,

eternity into


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

All Beginnings Begin at the End

 Once upon a time a man wandered through a thick, dark forest.  He could barely see the road ahead, and he stumbled over gnarled roots and stones.  At certain times he realized he had been walking in circles when he tripped over a particularly obvious, yet small root that he kept telling himself he would step over the next time that he saw it.  And since he walked in circles he saw the root repeatedly.  Consequently, he fell repeatedly.

One day he went in a different direction.  He looked up and caught a glimpse of the sun through the web of the canopy, and began to follow that singularly radiant star.  After trudging uphill for a few miles he smiled to himself when it dawned on him that he hadn’t tripped over that pesky root.  The journey seemed a little lighter, especially because he could laugh at himself just enough to know that it was OK to make mistakes.  This idea struck him so happily that he made himself a little song about it:


“Kings and queens can never grow

Without mistakes to use as guides,

They help us know the way to go,

And gold within their heart resides.”

The fact that he had spontaneously referred to himself as a king struck another chord of joy within him and now suddenly beams of the sun shot through the trees so that with every step he took he felt as if he were on a stage in a grand spot light.  And instead of feeling nervous to be on stage, he felt like he could play, even dance.  And the dust particles danced.  And the branches of the trees waved and danced.  The birds caught up in song.  And the path itself turned golden.  And the roots from the trees lining the path were no longer obstacles to be avoided, but things to be marveled at and studied—for some of them looked like little bridges, others like monster’s arms frozen in the ground, others seemed like statues of snakes or dragons, or like sculptures of rivers.

“Indeed,” he thought to himself, “if God is King, then that makes me a Prince.  And good kings always want their princes to have the kingdom.”  And then he remembered the line: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

And that was the end, and so the beginning began.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


This blog began over forty years ago.  Of course, I didn’t know anything consciously about blogs when I was three, but what I did know is: I was a seeker.  I sought after truth, safety, acceptance, love.  And I sought through many avenues and passageways: religions, addictions, relationships, therapies, and many other places to hide.  I say, “hide,” because when one is lonely, hurt, abandoned, abused, there is a yearning to find something, someone, someplace in which to curl up in and hide–anything to fill the hole inside, anything to make it OK, anything to oddly enough keep things the same.  I sought through sordid places, made many mistakes and wrong turns. And after many years of searching and suffering, I had enough—I wanted a change—a new life. 

I embarked on a path in which I didn’t have to be alone anymore.  I didn’t have to hide anymore (unless I consciously chose to).  I didn’t have to be slave to my feelings and negative beliefs and paradigms.  This path brought friends, mentors, and spiritual brothers and sisters in suffering into my life.  And slowly I learned to let them in. 

Some in this fellowship studied and lived by the writings of Emmet Fox and the 12 Steps.  I dove into these teachings out of sheer hopelessness and ended up learning to swim and play (and yes, trudge) through them—constantly discovering ways to apply them to my life.  Today, there is hope.  I have a deep and meaningful conscious-contact with the Wonder Child.  I need never feel lonely again.  The way has opened and I walk hand-in-hand with my fellow seekers.  Creativity and intuition are part of my life now.  And so is joy—the deliciousness of being alive.

One of these seekers suggested I start this blog as a way of celebrating, processing, and sharing my journey in contacting the Wonder Child.  So here I am.  And here you are.  Everyone is welcome.  There is room for everyone.  For everyone has suffered.  Everyone carries shame and guilt.  Everyone carries pain and negative beliefs and self-talk.  And yes, everyone carries within them the Wonder Child.  Let’s embrace the feelings we need to embrace and move together towards our dreams, towards God, towards freedom–towards the Wonder Child.   

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Special Thanks to Lefty’s

Before I get too much further on this blog, I want to thank my host, “Lefty’s”  This is my first time ever making a blog and I am not all that computer savvy to boot.  This morning I had several questions about creating this blog and I called their customer service center.  The gentleman I spoke with was so kind, patient, and understanding.  He kept saying, “no worries.”  This is exactly the kind of nurturing the Wonder Child needs when embarking on a new adventure.  The agent never spoke down to me.  I felt safe to ask any questions I had.  In fact, he anticipated questions that I didn’t even know I had–but I had them!  So, anyone considering getting a website or a blog, use Lefty’s  They are awesome!  Here’s their link: lefty’  Have fun.  Cheers.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog