Friday, October 30, 2020

Be Witching

 Listening to the young man's wracking sobs, the crone nearly wept herself. Yet she dared to hear hope. Why; how? Because the paroxysms of his weeping, in all their anguish, mimicked laughter. And were not these tears a wry assessment of the absurdity of humanity's existence?

Though it was the first time they had heard each other's voices, they had knowledge of each other's souls and anticipated a future of close connection.

Word Witch had attained "elder" status in both age and achievement. The bloom of maidenhood no longer graced her plump cheeks, yet there was a youthful aura about the softly jowled countenance 'neath the brown and silver strands of her thinning mane. She wore her age well and embraced the memories of nearly seven decades. She did not bear the decrepitude one associates with the word "crone:" that is because the language of the Sisterhood has been distorted. Misogynistic old men, who feared strong powerful women, corrupted the words "crone (crowned one)," "hag (holy one)," and "witch (wise one)," making them ugly and demeaning. Thankfully, they are beginning to be reclaimed and restored to signify their original meanings.

As with any empath who has acquired great stature, Word Witch had cherished rituals she relied on to refresh, renew, and replenish her spirit. Once restored, she could again nurture others, without depleting her reserves.

So often this kindly soul wished she had known the Old Ways from her earliest years, though being raised in Roman Catholicism had not been without certain advantages. She had been afforded a good education which had always served her well. Her upbringing had also given her a glimmer of  understanding for the theological mindset. She now communed with her sister witches, celebrating the mysteries of the natural world; and she could also converse with members of ecclesiastic circles.

Within the crone's coven, was a lovely russet-haired hag, who was much loved by  Word Witch. As many goddesses are known to do, these two cherished the company of canine creatures. Some of their sisters were more inclined to the ways of Bast and kept felines. Within the secluded glen where these women sheltered there also resided a few men, most were wizened with age.

It was mid-autumn, a time when some believe the veil between worlds becomes thinner. Metaphysics is a strange and wonderful field whereby one is free to explore the world beyond one's physical self. Harvest time is particularly ripe for otherworldly reflections, observances, and celebrations. It is not by chance this is the season of Samhain and Day of the Dead. In later years, Word Witch often found she preferred the company of wraiths to the noisy chatter of most humans. In the time of pandemic, it was good to have companions who were not potential spreaders of disease.

On the evening she spoke to the young man, he told her about the dog who had taken up residence within the walls of his domicile. The bitch was a rescue, whom he and his partner had perceived to be a mutt. One day, a companion told him, "Buddy, what you've got there is a Carolina dog; a genuine American dingo." A shiver of excitement came over the crone upon hearing this. Next morning she told Red, "I believe Tink has been reincarnated." Astonishment animated the features of the flame-haired recipient of this pronouncement. Having recently espied a canine resembling her departed companion, Red had wondered if Tinker may have returned to dwell once more among humans. She really hoped so: Tinker was an extraordinary dog who would grace any life she touched. For a brief moment, the sun shone a mite brighter; though sadly, no warmer. Having imparted the tidings she had come to deliver, Word Witch hastened to the coziness of her tiny cottage. After a warming cuppa, she would bake bread and write a few letters: she'd never known a recipient of either to spurn the gift.

Ensuing days were grayer, glummer, and damper; scarcely broken by either warmth or bright sun. Two months remained until the coming solstice, when a change of season would start to bring incrementally more daylight to Northern Hemisphere and longer nights, south of Earth's equator. Much had transpired during the previous twelvemonth: most notably, a pandemic. But in addition to a disease of the body, there was a virulence which ate at the spirit. This latter is the evil  of systemic racism and increasing numbers of people are bringing awareness to this blight.

Too long has toxic masculinity been poisoning Mother, greedily destroying Earth. Having dominion does not give leave to dominate. Rather, as an allegedly intelligent life form, humans should seek to effect stewardship; taking only what is needed for sustenance and benevolently nurturing the planet which is our domicile, our home. As it stands at present, War, Famine, and Pestilence are resulting in hideous Death. These "Four Horsemen" [of the Apocalypse] are generated by testosterone-driven  greed. If humans accept this travesty as "the way things are," then this species is truly doomed. If there is to be any hope for survival of the human species, it will come from nurturing women: it has been demonstrated repeatedly; when women and girls prosper, everyone is better off. We must cherish and encourage our daughters, just as we do our sons; value girls and boys equally; lovingly accept our queer and trans citizens, as we do our cis-gendered population. Systemic racism must be dismantled and wealth redistributed. Balance must be restored: otherwise, we become extinct.

It matters not to the planet; it does not require humans. Indeed, Earth will be better off without us.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Murdering Mother

   During a recent walk, I was distressed to see warnings that pesticide had been applied to the expanse of grass at apartment complex where I reside. I was overcome by a wave of nausea and revulsion. It breaks my heart to see Mother Earth's children treat Her so shabbily. We are appointed stewards of the lands and seas of our home planet. Is this how we handle our sacred charge? It might not be just United States that is manic for cosmetically enhanced grounds but here, it seems to be an evil mad chemist's dream come true.
   Pesticides don't only kill the targeted "pest" but innocent adjuncts thereof. Those grubs killed by your lawn chemicals? Bluebirds love 'em, but because grubs make your grass less "pretty," you decided they must die; but if the grubs don't die right away, any bird devouring them might get sick [and eventually die]. And the toxicity doesn't stop there: bunnies and other denizens of the wild ingest this poison. The names Chem-Lawn and Monsanto are familiar, undoubtedly in the States and perhaps even abroad. Even when activist groups call them out for their dirty deeds, money has a way of blinding legislative bodies: and non-monied peoples are just expected to suck it up. Not for the greater good but because corruption is more lucrative than justice.
   As species continue to be eliminated, it will not be so very long before humans are on the endangered list. In many places, they already are. Where do you suppose runoff chemicals go? They don't just disappear, you know. They enter waterways; destroying ecology and tainting drinking water. Although risks are minimally acknowledged, "powers that be" have deemed the levels of danger *acceptable;* mainly because said powers are not affected. The situation has been especially dire in poor areas, which are inhabited by large numbers of persons of color. Yet another way to keep oppressive [white supremacist] patriarchy alive. Can people not see, not understand, that destroying the planet, destroys society. Granted, we humans have flaws; but it would be better to heal, than kill.
   A good place to start would be to encourage and promote more areas of natural habitat; particularly outside city limits. If a property owner declines to mow, don't impose some bully ordinance to force it, by threats to send county equipment to do the job and bill the property owner for it. There is an awful lot of nonsense going on and it just seems these funds would be better spent, cleaning up toxic waste, fixing roads, and enforcing fair housing practices.
Even inside city limits: promote turning yards and roadsides to raising food crops. If the early days of the Covid-19 taught us nothing else, it made people aware of disruptions to supply chains. For example, thousands of gallons of milk were dumped: maybe it was greed and maybe it was not physically manageable to donate to poor people. It did nothing to help that relief subsidies went overwhelmingly to mega-farms: the wealthy, who could have come through this situation virtually unscathed, were bailed out. Crony capitalism will be the death of us. Then what?
   But while I still have your attention, I would implore you to be kind: not only because it is the right thing to do; just do it for yourself - it will make you feel better.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

"Psycho" 101

   This was begun nearly eight years ago. A lot has happened in that time: notably, the vast increase in global population and, as time transitioned from 2019 into 2020, a pandemic. Having "sheltered in place" since mid-March, I've had plenty of time to think and write but haven't done so, because it has been painful to watch humans be so unkind to each other. Still, I feel obliged to share and interact: humans are social creatures and we have it within us to help each other be our best selves.
   Humans are complex, multi-faceted creatures. While putting myself "out there" via this medium, there is an awareness that some may find elements herein, disturbing. That is a risk I readily take, hoping it inspires you to look within yourself. Now, in 2020, almost everybody on the planet, has time for taking a closer look at one's lifestyle and habits. So far, most of the seven billion plus people on the planet are too busy trying to stay alive, to bother with metaphysical niceties. Then, of course, those who are barely even inconvenienced, seem so busy making themselves richer/making life miserable for the have-nots, they don't seem the least bit inclined toward self-improvement or introspection. C'est la vie.
   Perhaps a few took exception to the content of my 31 August dream, wondering what sparked it. (Remember, this was 2012: it has been so long since I had that dream, I don't know if it was one about being a dragon or some other supernatural being. I cannot find record of it in any of my drafts.) As a person who minored in psychology, it seems an "occupational hazard," for want of a better term, to psycho-analyze my more unusual dreams. The best I came up with, is *government* is "eating us alive." I will add the, ahem, 'action' took place "off stage," as it were, and it was not violent or gory. As for my acknowledged involvement: are we not all, at some level, involved/culpable?
   No matter your political affiliation, it's pretty evident in the U.S. as well as many other countries, change is needed. There are so many [any are too many, in my opinion] right wing governments/regimes. In the "Age of Corona" (the virus, not the beer), the world is seeing the countries with the best responses, are led by women. Most, if not all, of those countries also have social democracies in place. People cannot, indeed must not, continue to place blind faith in a "machine" that chews us up, sucks the life out of us and spits us out like so much offal.
   Read, process information, thinkvote, (if at all able). Sadly, "ability" refers not only to state of physical well-being: in many countries, including United States, there is rampant voter suppression. Do whatever you are able, to ensure voting rights. Since information is power, mentor in schools or adult ed programs; help teach everyone to read. We need individuals, not automatons. If there is no program in your school curriculum, contact a local library. [Obviously, much of this work is difficult to impossible, while safety measures of remaining physically distant are in place.] Unplug your television an hour or two a week and have family discussion. I know I don't have to tell you these things, maybe you just needed reminding. Maybe we all do.
   Let's not become emotionally isolated and uninvolved. Let us not be afraid of what others will think. Be bold and share yourself. Maybe your action will give someone else courage to do the same.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Kidnapped: a hare-raising tail

   I am, by nature, a writer of letters and have corresponded with people around the world. No matter which continent is your home, if I have your postal information, chances are you have received a letter from me. Next to travel, letters are probably the best way to experience other cultures. I am also privileged to have among my contacts, a canine correspondent: inter-species communication has opened a new world.
   On Monday, 20 April, 2020, a chocolate bunny was placed in custody of a postal department in the mid-west; headed for a small town in Michigan. My doggy pal and I stayed in touch via Facebook messenger, so he could keep me apprised of progress. Andy figured a rabbit would travel speedily but, almost as a caveat, expressed a hope that bunny would survive the trip. We never could have imagined an outcome like the one which unfolded.
   On Shakespeare's [accepted] birthday, Andy asked if bunny had made his appearance but I told him no. He thought that was terrible but I told him I hadn't yet despaired. Two days later, Andy told me his human was quite upset with the situation and would make inquiries at their local post office.
   Nearing end of first week, Andy said he could have driven it here faster himself but, with stay at home orders, he had entrusted transport to USPS. By Saturday, 26 April,  friend bunny was alleged to be in Champaign, Illinois. In "normal" circumstances I might have expected his arrival within a couple of days. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, east-west mail has taken substantially longer than it had previously. Optimistically, given rabbits' reputation, Andy opined wouldn't it be wonderful if there were babies, by the time bunny arrived.
   On Monday, 27 April, Andy dejectedly informed me he didn't think I would see bunny that day either, though tracking had been checked and he was moving. A day later, Andy said they were not optimistic and feared someone had eaten bunny. I interjected that I certainly hoped not, since I was looking forward to that pleasure myself. He then showed me a picture of the first rabbit he'd considered sending, except it had begun to "bloom:" turn white; so he'd purchased a new one. Hoping to divert my friend from his dolor, I adopted an upbeat position and said I was sure bunny would arrive before the week was out. But Andy was not so easily dissuaded and said it was only a lie that bunny had left Champaign. I convinced him to cut USPS some slack, as many workers had been affected by the pandemic. Later, he was suspicious because, although his human had received notification that bunny was in transit, he was never given specifics about location. Within the hour, Andy wondered if bunny had melted. (Canine prescience?) I said if that happened, hopefully bunny's remains would be given to me, for respectful disposal.
   By Thursday, we had reached the conclusion bunny had been kidnapped: that would explain not only delay of arrival but the ambiguity surrounding bunny's precise whereabouts. Using his own distraction techniques, Andy asked, other than bunnies, what was my favorite food? I told him tacos; but they probably wouldn't travel well. He made other suggestions: cookies; mints; vodka? Then he confessed that, as a dog, he had no experience with vodka but he had heard some humans say it was good. How about apples? Apples were quickly eliminated from consideration, as they would likely bruise and/or spoil, in transit.
   On Friday, Andy had big news: bunny had been kidnapped but had escaped. He was presently in Detroit and would try to make his way to Tecumseh, Saturday. Andy told me it sounded as though bunny's abductors had beaten him pretty badly, so I had best prepare myself to deal with his injuries. Early Saturday morning, Andy sent a message that bunny was on a truck, headed for Tecumseh. Andy was greatly relieved, having figured bunny was a goner.
   I was late going online Saturday, having gone around the apartment complex, serenading the residents. Not having a response by 3:00 that afternoon, Andy had begun to fear bunny had been followed after his escape and now I had been kidnapped too.
   Once I got Andy's frantic message, I hastened to assure him I was fine. However, bunny's outer wrapper informed me he'd been "Received in Damaged Condition," which I was sure had resulted from his abduction. Andy wanted to know how bad bunny's injuries were; could I tell he was even a bunny; and could I still eat him? I took a picture of bunny's mutilated and melted corpus delecti. Andy asked if there were also a letter in the package. I took a picture of my gloved hand holding a page from a yellow legal pad, with brown spots. I explained I had first taken the marks for drops of dried blood and had worn gloves, thinking  it a ransom note, in which case, I would have turned it over to investigative authorities.
   Twenty-four hours after bunny showed up in my mailbox, I decided to submit his narrative - harrowing as it was, to cyberspace. On the night of his arrival, I poured myself a glass of wine and spent nearly an hour: gently cleaning bunny; licking dried chocolate, slowly and carefully peeling foil wrapper from bunny's mangled body. As I tended his wounds, bunny rambled - nearly incoherently (or maybe it was the wine).
   Yes, he had been kidnapped. But all those days when his precise location was not known, one wonders if he were in Belgium. The greatest argument against that presumption, of course, is that international flights are down considerably, at this time. Yes, bunny was no ordinary herbivore; he was four ounces of Godiva chocolate and Godiva was established in Belgium in 1926. As I understood it, after he'd made his escape he had set off, ostensibly on his way to me. Needless to say, he was disoriented and no doubt babbling. The first passerby bunny encountered did not understand him but could make out the word "Belgium" across his tummy, so tried to send bunny to his presumed homeland.
   We may never know if bunny's injuries were inflicted by his kidnappers, or the well-meaning - and apparently very strong, stranger who may have been a mite insistent that bunny take off for Belgium, instead of Tecumseh. Thankfully, bunny is here now; and he is delicious.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Get a life

   Little more than a century after the influenza pandemic of 1918-'19, Earth was beset by COVID-19: an illness caused by a novel corona virus. [The name comes from COrona VIrus Disease (20)19.] Some countries, saddled with questionable (at best) leadership, are putting focus not on the health of citizens but on the economy. (!)
   The 45th president of United States has formed a "council" to 'Re-Open America.' The officials of said council, as announced on Fox News [yes, I know] are: Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff and formerly representative of North Carolina's 11th District; Ivanka Trump, Trump's daughter; Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband; Steve Mnuchin, investment banker, serving as 77th U.S. Secretary of Treasury; Larry Kudlow, director U.S. National Economic Council; Robert Lighthizer, attorney and currently U.S. Trades Representative; and Wilbur Ross, investor and current U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Even knowing next to nothing about economy, I had heard most of these names: and knew they spelled disaster for the majority of United States residents.
   Trump has been whining for weeks that the country has to be opened up, to maintain a strong economy. I don't know about you, but when a "leader" is more concerned with bottom lines than the lives of humans, it tells me that person is not fit for duty. Of course, many have realized that about Trump since before he was even nominated.
   It is the leaders, both of individual states, as well as several countries, who are focused on curbing the spread of infection and promoting healthy populations who have the best interests of actual flesh-and-blood people in mind and at heart. When countries/states are forced to bid against each other for limited resources, it isn't good. Period. Systems based on concentrating wealth among a very few, cannot be sustained indefinitely. Just look at who was deemed to be "essential" during the covid-19 pandemic: grocery store workers, healthcare workers, medical personnel, janitorial staff and sanitation workers. Most, if not all, of these people are making minimum wage, which is a far cry from a living wage. That simply is not right. Everyone deserves not only enough money to live on (without having to work two and three jobs) but to be treated with dignity and respect.
   Liberté égalité fraternité: the motto on banners carried during the French Revolution, espouse liberty (freedom), equality, and fraternity (brotherhood). That is what we need now. we must be sensitive to the needs of others, treating all as kindred, because we are all in this together and togetherness is the only way we will "get through." It was John Donne who wrote, "each man's death diminishes me" in his poem No Man is an Island.

   So, just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; so is global health only as hale as that of the most vulnerable member of humanity. It is our job, our sacred trust as humans, to take care of one another. When this affliction has passed, have no fear: rich people will still be around, ready to steal your money. If billionaires were reduced to millionaires, it wouldn't kill them but sending people back to work before there is a vaccine may well prove deadly. Keep staying home and getting well: going back to work too soon will [almost certainly] lead to a resurgence. Nobody wants that.
   A robust economy is dependent on a healthy populace: dead people don't spend money.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Today was dark at both ends

As you can see by date below, this was written sometime ago; it felt worth visiting again. It was written as a personal missive because that style is comfortable and familiar: I have been known to write 600 letters in a year.
Today [ 8 April, 2016 ] was dark at both ends

    Hope you will forgive the absence of endearments and usual opening pleasantries, but as title implies, this had been a long day. It began when the alarm clock rang at 5:45 a.m. - signifying need to arise from my comfortable bed and ready myself to meet Mary in the lobby at  6:30.
   Quite frankly I debated writing this tonight or waiting until tomorrow; but I feel a journalist's need to report *as it happens* or as soon after as possible. Hopefully you will experience the day as it unfolds.
   After scraping the windshield, we set off to meet the tour bus which would transport our group to Zehnder's in Frankenmuth, Michigan. After picking up breakfast-to-go from McD's, we boarded our bus in Tecumseh. Next stop was Adrian, then Brooklyn, and finally Jackson. By then, some of us had been on the bus two hours, so our compassionate driver pulled into next available rest area. We headed up US 127 toward Lansing because a significant portion of M 14 was closed in Ann Arbor. We arrived at Zehnder's Restaurant about 11:20 and were seated. Luncheon was served at noon and entertainer Tom Sadge began his Neil Diamond show at 1:30.
   Sadge is a terrific performer, interacting with his audience. He joked with the crowd, saying he had performed at Neil Diamond's birthday nine years in a row - but Neil had never shown up. Then he clarified that the Neil Diamond Fan Club had booked him all those times to perform at the annual celebration of Mr. D's birthday. A CD of the event was sent to Diamond and one year, Sadge was at a Diamond concert and was called onstage to perform. The day was marred by a couple of drunks with another group who were obnoxiously loud. I noticed one wore an oxygen cannula and it was all I could do to restrain myself from crimping her air hose. Being a vocal supporter of "live and let live," thought I should practice what I preach - but it was tempting. Was pleased that two numbers I consider *musts* came close together: Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show, and Coming to America, which closed the show.
   Then we were given an hour to spend money in the gift shops containing outrageously priced merchandise. But wait, there's more. We went down the road to Bronner's Christmas Store, billed as "world's largest."
   You already know I have little or no use for shopping, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. My pleasure came from my passion for communication: everything was labeled in various languages from around the world. As we waited in the lobby to get on the bus, I was studying a sign which read: MEETING PLACE. As I craned my neck to see around someone, a friend asked, "You don't understand all those languages, do you?" Told her no, but similarities between related tongues fascinated me. It was easy to see how close Ukrainian is to Russian; Serbian to Czech; Spanish to Italian.
   At long last (5:37) we were all on the bus and the trip home began. We got the news Detroit Tigers had won their opening day game - though I do believe most fans were just as glad to receive the news second hand instead of being in attendance at the game, as temperatures didn't make it much beyond 39 F. Precipitation impeded visibility and made road conditions hazardous. We passed one vehicle which had slid off pavement and another car pulled over immediately in front of one with flashing red and blue lights on top.
   Passengers were dropped off in reverse order - *the last shall be first* - and some thirteen hours after we'd boarded, we got off and wearily made our way to cold automobiles and headed for hearth and home.
   Those of us who had someone waiting to hear from us, notified loved ones of our return. I made my requisite phone call, had a glass of wine and a nosh, then filed my report. Hope I didn't leave anything out, but now I really must go to bed.
Kisses, my sweet. 
Jo Ann

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Molecule in the Universe, Dust in the Wind

NOTE: This was written 03/03/2012, while I was employed as a direct-care provider; in the year 2020, I would be one of the frontline "essential personnel."
  The planet's [human] population is fast approaching eight billion and I am closing in on the end of my seventh decade. (jbd)
A Molecule in the Universe, Dust in the Wind
   There are now over seven billion people inhabiting the planet we call Earth. This is double the number from my childhood. I was born a mere six decades ago, the proverbial 'blink of an eye' as time goes. So where did they all come from?
   Some are the result of artificial insemination, fertility drugs and the efforts of some overachievers, such as the infamous Octo-Mom. Still, who am I, indeed who are any of us, to say someone shouldn't be here? What determines an individual's right to live, their value? Though some denounce 'survival of the fittest' as a qualifier, that premise governed the existence of our species for millennia. Individuals who were physically incapable of supporting themselves and had no one to provide their needs, died. We now have means of keeping such persons alive - but at what cost? Indeed, we cull other living things; plants are thinned out, as well as livestock. Many indigenous peoples live or lived in cultures wherein separating oneself from the community when  weak and dying is viewed as "taking one for the team."
   With the institution of social programs to aid the less fortunate, some people feel they can dictate who is deserving of help. People are reluctant to pull the plug or deny costly services to helpless newborns, afraid to be labeled "baby killers." The stigma applies less stringently to the elderly, but we are loathe to admit a desire to save money by denying care to someone who will never be able to repay. (Note: In the face of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, this very thing is being seriously discussed/considered.)
   There have been models of  generosity through the ages: Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day. They met need where they saw it without a lengthy interrogation to determine if the victim were "deserving."
   Some wonder why God allows suffering, while maintaining there is sufficient wealth to feed and care for all the world's inhabitants. Therein, I believe, lies the answer. The Creator gave us souls and free will and probably has hopes that we will use our gifts wisely. What constitutes wisdom? Do we make our own comfort a top priority and give scant concern to the welfare of others? If one is a member of the fortunate elite, does one then have an obligation to share one's good fortune? I am not defining "elite" as the top one or two percent who control obscene sums of the world's wealth and consume disproportionate amounts of the planet's resources. I speak of anyone who has an indoor supply of running water, an adequate amount of food and a place to sleep, sheltered from the elements.
   There are food chains in nature, but humans like to think of themselves as an "evolved" species, above such mundane concerns. As long as we callously turn our backs on those less fortunate than ourselves, we are among the lower animals.
   I suppose it is only the raving egomaniac who never questions his own importance in the grand scheme of things. Every now and then one encounters an individual convinced the world revolves around their needs and wants.
   I know I have friends who would miss me, were I gone. Some might even be distraught, and my co-workers would be temporarily inconvenienced. I don't really expect anyone beyond my immediate family to be devastated. Every one should be noticed: "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved Mankind; And therefore never send for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” (John Donne)
Recent tragedies, such as school shootings and weather disasters rightfully tug at heartstrings. Even celebrity deaths bring people together in grief.
   You may deem my reaction harsh, but I see no sense whatsoever in leaving stuffed toys, balloons and other mementos at the site of an incident. I think the money spent on such transient things would do more good given to a non-profit charity. This would have the added benefit of eliminating debris littering the area. A candlelight vigil is different; people sharing their sorrow, reaffirming that life goes on.
   Sometimes practicality is so misunderstood, but it seems to me a donation to a rehab center would be a fitting tribute for a person who overdosed. Instead of leaving a teddy bear at the site of a child's death, become a children's advocate ... at the very least, cherish your own children all the more.
   We need to consider that we are not alone on this planet or in this universe. How hard it is sometimes to lay arrogance aside, especially when one feels it is one's only suit of clothing and does not wish to appear before the world naked and vulnerable. In the wake of tragedy, heroes emerge.  Russell King Jr., a victim of the shooting in Chardon, Ohio was an organ donor. His family said, "...his heart still beats."
   Even more than I hope my heart continues to beat for a long time, I pray each beat will be lived in love and grace.

When it beats no more, I hope your life is better for having known me.