Mary Beth Writes


First of all, you should realize that tomorrow is March 4th which is the only date of the year which tells you what to do. Hah.

This week I was amazed by this map/representation of the process of the creation of a new star. A year ago, there were no visuals of this process. What you are looking at is cutting-edge stuff observed and collaborated by 90 astronomers worldwide.

That + in the middle is the new star that right now is bigger than our sun. We know it’s young and new because it’s growing.

That “flat” swirl around it is the protostellar disk which are elements orbiting with the growing star. The baby star and protostellar disk are swirling through space at the speed of a hundred Daytona’s. As they (they?) zoom in their trajectory, elements in that disk (hydrogen, plus nitrogen, oxygen, helium etc.) are being attracted BY GRAVITY to this star.

Scientists have theorized and known that gravity pulls elements in towards stars but until this map, there’s not been a visual representation of the observation of it. Via telescopes on several continents, they’ve observed this process swirling around star G358-MM1. The different colors represent where the elements are in relation to the moving star.

This is not a smooth lockstep process. Everything is moving. and gravity is orchestrating this process which is an amazing thing to observe and understand. This is the viewed and recorded dance of elements being pulled in, energy exploding back out which affects the swirling flotsam and jetsam of the elements of the universe. This is the tango of creation going on with that one star.

You can read this more closely here. 


Someone suggested H for Heaven. I’ve been thinking about this all week.

First of all, I don’t believe in a heaven that is a designated nice place we go as our individual selves after we die. Then again, let the reader beware, there is no Gospel of MB.

This is what I do think about heaven and how the concept and hope of heaven works in our imagination and spirituality.

1. Heaven is a comfort. When people and animals we love die, it is almost impossible to absorb that loss. Probably the first things humans did that made us become human were A. live in groups, B make beer and bread, and C. invent another world where beloved spirits go to continue to act.

After my dad died when I was a kid, many people told me that my dad would be waiting for me in heaven. Or he’d be watching me from heaven. That he was ‘out there’ somewhere and so I shouldn’t feel as devastated as I did. Blessedly, my mom did not give these messages to me. She was devoutly Christian and yet somehow she knew that we needed to deal with our world as it was now. Dad was gone. We were here. Deal with it. Pray for life to go forward, not to hold back what was gone from it.

Where there is overwhelming loss and injustice, people invent judgement and heaven and hell in order to be able to act. Where bombs fall on peacemakers, where babies die of preventable diseases, where storms and earthquakes decimate populations, we tell ourselves that are caught up into the arms of God, because it is the only way to breathe.

When people act evilly, we hope for a hell for them because torture and decimation seem the only possible justice for what has been loss.

We are human but only human. We use the concepts of heaven and hell to keep going and get through.

2. Heaven is power.

There’s the Islamist terrorist who dies and goes to heaven expecting 70 virgins and can’t understand why he’s surrounded by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and others in wigs and knee britches. There was a typo and the promise was 70 Virginians …

Or way too many American Christian preachers and leaders who get to the pearly gates and Martin Luther King is sitting next to God saying, “Hmmm… Who do we have here?”

When we choose who to believe, what to do, and how to act on the basis of whether it will allow or bar heaven – heaven is being used for power.

My kids use rewards to raise their little kids. Act okay and there will be a treat. Choose something wrong and the kid gets grounded for an appropriate period of time. This is a good way to raise children.

We are not children. If we are choosing our yesses and no’s based on whether it will take us to heaven or hell, that is, to put it mildly, baloney.

Spirituality invites and strengthens us to live with faith, mercy, love, and kindness. That’s all spirituality is good for and goodness knows, that’s enough.

3. Heaven is a scientific question. So where is heaven? What happens to us after we die? What’s going on here?

First we figure out why we want to know. Are we afraid? Grieving? If so, we need our fellow humans to help us live and breathe through this time and loss and fear.

But – back to the baby star spiraling across the universe. Whatever is most true in spirituality is related to and part of the ongoing story of the universe. We come from and are likely to return to stars. What we own is dust. What we love, yearn for, learn, and share become gravity for those who are left behind and those who will come along next.

I say, and so would many others, that heaven is the realm of living that truth now.

In case you want to know more about stars and the elements of the universe and how to possibly see them in action - Len recommends this article.

What causes the Northern Lights? The science behind the phenomenon. | Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express




Mary Beth's picture

Argh. I was deleting rogue scam comments, of which I get many - and I just deleted the last 50 comments you wonderful readers sent to me. So if you are looking for them - they are now on their way to that new star being born all those galaxies away. I apologize. I've been not making this mistake for years. I guess it was time to make it. Once.

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Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'


The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

Ghost on a Post / Poetry with Third Graders


This is what I texted to Len this afternoon after I finished the poetry class with third graders. “I’m done and back. The kids were great and I’m a limp washrag, Teaching forty 8-year-olds for 90 minutes is way more energy than Everest.” I then drank half a beer (I NEVER drink in the afternoon) and fell asleep until the Mineral Point afternoon ‘change of shift siren’ shrieked for several minutes. It’s been a full day.

How 2 Write a Poem (3rd grade edition)


Next week is my Writers Week at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. I won this when my story “How Crow Got Out of Jail” (Read Here) won first prize in the 2023 Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring contest for short fiction.

Winning that contest motivated me to open my Substack account. So far I’ve published 17 stories and only published once twice. (Who noticed that?)

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