Posts Tagged ‘Hope’


Logo for Operation Pedro PanFifty years ago this week some 14,000 Cuban children were part of a Miami-based project called Operation Pedro Pan. They were brought to the U.S. In hopes of having a better life instead of the almost certain abject poverty they would experience under the Fidel Castro regime.

One of the men who headed up the project was a simple man named George Guarch, who worked with the Catholic Welfare Bureau to arrange the lift. He was of Cuban origin himself, speaking fluent Spanish and English. He would be the one person who these kids would meet when they first arrived.

In all cases, as near as I could tell, the parents voluntarily sent their children even though it meant separation from them—the chance at a better future was the price exacted for such a steep sacrifice.

Fifty years later one of those children, Pedro Noriega—now 67, and George’s own daughter, Lynn Guarch Pardo, met to record their thoughts for NPR’s StoryCorps.

They talked of the trip, of what it meant to a child to leave its parents and home, of his recollections of seeing her father when they arrived in Miami. He recalled being taken with a good number of other children to their home where George’s wife made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. “I will never forget that,” he said. He also recalled meeting the daughter for the first time and that of a family which would “find a way” to make things work.

He also remembered George working with customs officials at the airport that first day on American soil. one eighteen-year-old boy had been sent with some siblings, and apparently coffee had been “accidentally” spilled on the paperwork
thus smearing some of the data on the forms. One of the areas needing to be re-filled was the date of birth, which was adjusted so siblings wouldn’t be broken up or older—’adult’—children wouldn’t be released onto the streets merely by virtue of their age.

It sounded like lots of coffee was wasted that day.

As the two spoke and remembered this man George you could hear their voices break, if only slightly. “He was one of my best friends,” Pepe says. Years after Pepe came here he and George began to meet once a week for lunch, until one day George didn’t show. Pepe found out his mentor had died the day prior.

“I’ve got five fingers. I only can count all my good friends with one hand, and George was maybe number 1. And every time we talk about him, you’re going to get wet eyes, too, believe me.” After an emotional pause, Pepe shakily says “I still miss him.” Lynn replies, just as tenderly, “I miss him too.”

This one man—and his family—sacrificed as much as the Cuban parents to give these children the gift of America and all the hope she promises. All the war, abuse, instability, politics, terrorism, and overall dark side of humankind can indeed be swept aside by a solitary, powerful idea. powered by Deeds Of Unselfishness.

If you’d like to hear the interview between Pepe and Lynn you can find it here.


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Soul Mates painting by Rahul MalpaniMythology is rich with allusion to the bond men and women share. Many cultures have myths depicting an initial male/female pairing which produced mankind. In others, such as some Hindu myths, man and woman are initially one entity, not so much human as an essence, which eventually splits in two—those two halves wind up in a life long search for one another to attain the completeness they once shared.

Ever had that feeling after seeing, or just being in a persons presence, that there is something deeper that resonates more than you could possibly describe? A yin to your yang? Moon to your sky?

Greek mythology tells us of Orpheus, a man who so loved his wife that he traveled into the underworld to petition Hades, god of the underworld, for the release of her soul. Orpheus, perhaps the best lyre player in the Greek pantheon, was said to have learned his skill for playing the lyre from Apollo. It is told that as he played for Hades the normally immovable god was moved to tears. So enchanted was he that Orpheus was granted his wife’s release, but only upon one condition: he could not look back to see if she was following until they had completely exited. Orpheus, during the arduous trek back to the entrance, had plenty of time to convince himself that Hades was tricking him. He kept his eyes forward until almost the very moment he reached the exit, but having not heard or received any sort of sign his beloved was behind him he turned to look behind, only to see his love be dragged back into the underworld forever.

We’ve all felt that at some point, right? That tragic heartbreak. Each of us, at some level, knows that gut wrenching feeling that feeds on an almost never ending series of questions and self-doubt—What if I would have not said a word? What if I had remained calm? Why didn’t I act differently? Orpheus’ loss is perhaps a direct metaphor for our own regrets.

Carl Jung believed that later in life, once we are past young adulthood, we spend the remainder of our lives trying to understand, to get in touch with, our unconscious, that we make choices based upon this drive to become more familiar with a part of us we know little about. Is that place where our better halves reside? Why do they seem so utterly elusive?

A fascinating correlation, and certainly not anything resembling an answer—this very connection Jung attributes to the inner part of one’s personality is known as the animas for men, the animus for women. It is possibly the deepest part of us, the very core of what we strive to understand and connect with; for men, our feminine side, our animas; for women, their masculine side, their animus. Perhaps this very concept is why an individual so deeply resonates with us. Perhaps they are most closely connected to our core than others.

The question then seems to be: Are they—our soul mate, if you will—impossible to find? Should we simply settle for something good instead of great?

Or are they—as I believe—simply within reach and waiting for our touch, and we for theirs.

Contemporary romanticism or fallacious mythology?

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Pandora One of my readers and I were bantering back and forth via e-mail one day. The subject of restoring mankind back to its idyllic, almost pastoral origins was raised, couched within the construct of myth: “Maybe we can start life all over again, make it better the second time around; no eating of apples, get rid of the snakes. Pandora’s box stays closed.”

My reply? Let’s save that for the end of this post. I think it is better suited there.

Soon you will see the review of a book I recently read, The Greek And Roman Myths: A Guide To The Classical Stories by Philip Matyszak. Ever since reading the Iliad in high school I’ve been intrigued by Greek mythology. The Greek and Roman Myths happened to coincide nicely with the e-mail supposition above. I have also been taking a course on myth throughout human history; interweaving the book and course made the posit of a human reboot intriguing.

I think most of us have at least heard the expression of ‘Pandora’s Box.’ Here’s an interesting tidbit: The Greeks of antiquity would never have used a box for such a thing; according to the ancient myth the gods sent her to earth with an urn.

The myth of Pandora begins with Prometheus and Zeus. The king of the gods had decreed that mankind—as Prometheus had recently created—were forbidden to have knowledge of fire. Long story short, Prometheus tried to pull a fast one and snuck fire to his creations hidden in a hollow reed. Zeus caught on when he saw the stars reflecting the light of fire on earth below in human settlements. He was furious. For starters he chained Prometheus to a mountain and sent an eagle to eat his liver every day. Being immortal, Prometheus’s liver would regenerate overnight, and he would suffer the torment all over again the next day.

But this wasn’t good enough for Zeus. He was really pissed. Clearly, it didn’t take an Olympian god to see that mankind was prepared to make all kinds of trouble now that he had fire. Zeus asked another god, Hephaestus, to create a woman. He wanted something evil to befall humans to balance out the gift of fire . . . the way he saw it a woman was just what the doctor ordered. Until Pandora, all humans were male. Hesiod, in his book Theogony, misogynistically refers to the ancient time of life without women as the “Golden Age.” Things were perfect; men ate what they wanted, did what they wanted, had very little to fret over. Life was good.

Zeus had bigger plans.

Now, remember, the pantheon of Greek gods contained goddesses as well—female deities, and these feminine divinities gave to Pandora many a gift for mankind so as to soften the impact of Zeus’s fury. These gifts were carefully placed in an urn, and were not to be released until they could be properly trained by Pandora to benefit humanity.

But Zeus, per usual, had an ace up his sleeve. He gave Pandora a gift of his own—an abiding sense of curiosity

From the book:

Hardly had Pandora arrived on the earth, when she opened the lid to see what the urn contained. Immediately the creatures in the container flew out, and being as yet untrained to serve humanity they became instead despair, jealousy and rage, and the myriad diseases and infirmities that inflict humanity, All that remained was hope, which became trapped under the unbreakable rim of the urn, and which mankind was able to train and make a friend, as the other ‘gifts’ in the urn had intended to be, though in ways which we cannot now imagine.

So there was Zeus’s ‘gift’ to mankind. According to Hesiod, the party was over.

Pandora went on to have a daughter named Pyrrha—incidentally, the root of the word we now use to convey the idea of a large fire, a “pyre.” If you recall, fire started all this.

There are myths aplenty throughout recorded history which allude to a similar fate for man. In many myths male gods become a means of restoring fertility cycles to goddesses, who themselves were responsible for assuring plentiful harvests of crops. Slowly, though, male gods began to subjugate their female counterparts, and the feminine deities gave up a lot of their power to the ever-renewing pantheon of gods, regardless of culture or evolving society.

Could we possibly find a way to assuage Pandora’s curiosity if offered a second chance to do it all over? Would we want to? Think about it.

In Egyptian mythology there is the story of Isis and Osiris. At one point Osiris (Isis’s male consort) is killed by his brother, Seth. Later, Osiris’s son, Horus, has a fierce battle with his uncle and eventually defeats him. Wanting revenge for his father’s murder, he brought Seth before his mother, the Pharaoh Queen, and asks what she would like him to do with Seth. She gave the matter grave thought, and eventually told Horus to let him go.

Isis understood that the cosmos requires a balance between good and evil. There must be Yin and Yang, black and white.

In light of such considerations, how could man possibly turn away as divine a gift as woman?

Many cultures believe that humans were initially one asexual entity which eventually split in two as male and female, which helps explain how some of us feel about finding (or having found) our “soul mate,” that singular person who seems to make us feel ‘whole’.

How can we make subservient, or even place beneath us, that which was meant to bring us such wonder, such passion, so close to touching Heaven itself with our mortal being? How could we not melt in our embrace of Pandora . . .

The Old Testament tells us that God created Eve out of Adam (notice the placing of man over woman again, as well as the similarity to the two-from-one type of creation myth?). He didn’t want Adam to be lonely. Just as Pandora affected mankind so too did Eve, who eats from the Tree of Knowledge and gets humans banished from the Garden of Eden for eternity, with the added onus of mortality.

And yet . . .

Adam lives his mortal days in the presence of a creature whose very existence balances a great number of other woes and misfortunes. Epimetheus, the Greek version of Adam, winds up with Pandora, and despite all she has done for (or to) mankind they become ancient Greek mythology’s first human couple—one in harmony, each meant for the other.

I hope you have read this far to get to my response to the supposition that started this post. I replied:

“Pandora would be ever-present in the guise of woman, would she not? Potent, magical, irresistible. Man would only suffer the weight of loneliness without the silken luster of woman.”

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Guardian Angel

Do yourself a favor, a kindness really.

Close your eyes and exhale slowly. Listen to your breath as it leaves your body.

Think of the times you’ve literally crawled completely under your bed covers, luxuriating in the warmth that surrounded you. Remember the peace it brought? When you exhale again, try to recall that inner peace. I know it sounds eccentric, perhaps even unorthodox or kooky. But give yourself a chance . . . and listen with your heart. Ignore what the ears funnel into your brain, just for a moment.

To the attentive, something stirs.

Some do.
Some don’t.

I happen to believe in angels. Always have.

It’s not something I wear on my sleeve, but be assured I keep them close to the vest at all hours.

This past weekend I went to—and participated in—the Tucson Festival of Books. Big crowd, gorgeous weather; it was quite a pleasant event. I got there early (gee, how typical of me) and located one of the ‘Author Pavilions’ I was to be at for my allotted two hour time. I hung around the first tent (‘pavilion’) I came to, until one of the other authors announced it was Pavilion 1 . . . D’OH! I was supposed to be in Pavilion 2. So I wandered around until I found it.

That part isn’t all that interesting.

When I arrived I chose a spot between two other folks who had already set up. I didn’t know anybody there, so the choice of seat was entirely random on my part. Although now I’m not completely certain it was.

See, the two ladies to my left (your right in the picture) had written a book titled Your Angels Are Speaking. I didn’t look before I sat down. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t inquired about their book until I’d been sitting there for about twenty minutes. We chatted for a bit before I broached the subject. When she told me what it was and then began telling me about how it came about, I was, naturally, intrigued.

Here’s where I lose some readers, but that’s alright. . .
The two women are sisters. One of them, years ago, said she had actually encountered her guardian angels. Apparently she was able to connect with them over the span of a few months. One sister did the writing while the other spoke aloud. Mind you, they were very normal people. You’d think someone like that might seem to have shaken a few screws loose, but I’m telling you they were as down-to-earth as you or I.

In case you’re wondering, I did buy a copy and have only just starting reading it. But let me relate a quick story to you about a time that cemented my belief:

I remember, quite some time ago, being worried about a dear friend of mine who lives in New York. I hadn’t heard from her in quite a while, even though I had tried e-mailing a number of times. I went to bed one night and prayed aloud, asking for whatever kind of divine assistance I may receive—I needed to know she was okay, even hoped she would contact me. Remember, I had heard zip for months—many months at that. Frankly, I didn’t expect to hear anything, but while my head tried to slap sense into me, my heart fervently hoped for that small sliver of a chance she might get the message.

The very next day she wrote to me.

“Coincidence,” you say. Perhaps. I can’t rule it out. But given my prior experience I wasn’t inclined to take that bait.

I truly believe that I wouldn’t have heard one word, perhaps for many more months, had I not allowed my heart to cry out for help. I was beyond mortal means of communication. If I searched my memory I’m sure I could recall a multitude of instances when my guardian angels have helped me.

I am but a mortal soul, perhaps an essence of some kind or other restricted by physical flesh and bone. The biological machine continues to operate under the laws of nature, but the true self aspires to the deeper truth of Nature’s God.

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Only three days left . . . not for shopping, but for my second tour. Today has two stops:

• A brand new review of The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between at Reading at the Beach. Two words come to mind: stocking stuffer.

• A guest post I wrote for Market My Novel about one of the ways I write when I’m not actually writing. Bewildered? Check out the post!

Stocking Stuffer, Stocking Stuffer, Stocking Stuffer, Stocking Stuffer . . . ;^)

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pink_peoniesOur next guest post comes from a woman who, until recently, lived in my neck of the woods. For some reason I’d always thought she was an ASU student. Her blog posts were always entertaining and well written, so it only seemed logical to me. Soon enough Fate saw fit to allow me to actually meet this wonderful young talent.

She goes by the moniker of the little red writer, and you can find her blog of the same name here on WordPress. She’s unassuming, genuinely smart, and even though she may never outwardly admit it, also a hopeless romantic. Yes, Ms. McKenzie Boltz, it’s easy enough to spot one when you are one yourself!

I invited Kenzie to join our weekly East Valley Writers Group at a time when her life was suddenly turned upside down, and am pleased to report that she is every bit as charming as her blog entries imply. We have very much enjoyed having her join us as we share our writing efforts, and then of course for the social meet at Village Inn afterward.

When I asked her to write a guest post she had rather suddenly learned she would be moving back home, but readily agreed to write one anyway. I had every confidence she’d come up with something good, but also understood that she had a lot going on, so it might be short, or maybe (gasp!) not up to her usual quality . . . and I was okay with that, given her circumstances.

She sent it to me with the caveat that she wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted, and that she’d been very busy while writing it, what with packing, etc. She seemed almost apologetic.

I wrote her back later and expressed the following sentiment: “Kenzie, I think this may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read that you have written.”

Read on . . . I’m sure you’ll feel much the same way.

I think differently of the seasons now that you’re gone. I never considered them much before – – the depth and beauty in each. You left mid-autumn, when the trees were ripe with red and orange leaves, burning against the evening sun. The deadened ground crunched beneath our Sunday shoes; the bitter breeze flushed our cheeks and hands.

I wiped my eyes, and held Grandpa’s hand. I missed you. I missed your brown curls and heavy sighs, your gold wrist watch and soft skin smelling faintly of Mary Kay. I missed you. My tears said so. But my heart felt at peace, for the words impressed upon me, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

You never wished for us to cry, only to be happy – – to embrace life together, and here was autumn, a time of harvest, of gathering. “It will be strange,” I told Shalyn, “not having her here this time of year.”

Shalyn smiled. “She’s here, just in spirit.”

“Too bad her spirit can’t make apple and pumpkin pie,” I marked, and we both began to laugh and cry, but mostly laugh. I could picture you, shaking your head, wagging your finger. I also pictured you in the kitchen, hands white with flour, the smell of warm cinnamon spice in the air. For a moment, I was a little girl at your side, watching your rail-thin arms flex as your hands pressed into a slab of dough. “What do you like most ‘bout Thanksgiving, Grandma?”

“Certainly not the baking, honey-bun, but you know what they say – – no rest for the wicked!” you teased, and paused to answer more seriously, “Family. I love my kids and grandkids and great-grand-babies. I love loving you, and I love knowing you all love me.”

Thanksgiving was different without you – – without poppy-seed cake, the pies, and homemade whipped cream; without the ho-hum of your voice, the laughter in your expression, as you began to clear away dishes, saying, “Time for the next holiday!”

Oh, but we celebrated you, not mourned! Together, like always, we named our blessings over the past year, you amongst them all. Over turkey and cranberry, we reminisced: pink mints in the bottom of your coat pocket, birthday cards and gypsy beads, volumes of old photos post-WWII, and your love of pink peonies.

And when Christmas came, I half-expected to find you busy about the tree: organizing presents, fixing a bulb, just admiring. But the tree stood alone. With its miniature colored lights, vintage ornaments, and tin star – – it stood alone, looked alone.

Grandpa slipped his arm around my waist. “You know, when she was a young thing like you, her hair was just as red.”

I smiled, thinking of the old black and white photo – – your hair in pin curls, your eyes aglow with laughter, a ball of snow in your hands. Grandpa knelt by your side, handsome and promising in his uniform, and baffled that you might actually clobber him!

You are gone, but so much of you lingers. Like the dark, shag carpet you never wanted to get rid of, because, “It’s just fine!” Or the turn-of-the-century wallpaper, a print of red flowers between faded lines. There are boxes of letters, all lavish with your bubble script, and a jacket – – your blue jacket – – lying over the arm of a chair. And here, on the tree, the old vintage ornaments passed down mother to child, mother to child.

Standing there, admiring the glass, oval bulbs and twinkling lights, I wanted to ask Grandpa if he remembered the blue-spotted bird’s egg, because I do. We found it one morning in the park, hiding in the long grass. He said not to touch it, because it was too fragile, and the egg had yet to hatch. So we just stared, admiring its simple beauty, wondering how something so small could hatch and fly free – – wings stretched against the sky.

That egg reminds me of you, now free and soaring.

And though I cannot see you, as the leaves turn from green to gold, and the cold air draws in loved ones for holiday warmth – – I think of you, I feel you, and I know you are a part of the gathering – – laughing and smiling with us in spirit.

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Conversation_w_GodIf you’ve never read Ms. Laurie Kendrick‘s blog, What Fresh Hell Is This?, then you’re missing out on one of the most intelligently funny women since Ghenghis Khan. See, I know you’re thinking the Khan wasn’t a woman, but it just sounded so much better than Hillary Clinton.

Yeah Laurie . . . that guy.

She’s been in the broadcast industry for over a full quarter century, having done stints in television and radio, and having won a number of awards in the process. Her takes on life can run the gamut from twisted to ephemeral, but often honed to a fine edge with sarcasm and, dare I say, scholastic wit. Her readership is currently hurtling towards half a million hits, and she was recently named one of the top ten most influential humor blogs in the country by The Onion, a little fact she has yet to trumpet about.

When I had asked her to do a guest post she readily agreed, and I eagerly awaited something in the Kendrick vein. But she’d re-posted a piece she’d written some time ago and it was a perfect fit for this occasion, so she kindly allowed me to re-post it here. I think you’ll agree that it speaks succinctly about hope, and certainly about faith.

Be sure to leave her a comment for a chance to receive a copy of The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between.

It is my absolute pleasure to present you with her piece, A Conversation With God.

These are difficult times for so many people, for so many reasons. All things considered, this is one of those occasions that negate the old adage, “there’s safety in numbers”. We have so many things in common in our struggles, yet we have to deal with these difficulties all alone. Sometimes, for reasons we can’t fathom, that’s the only way to soldier through.

Why? I’m not sure. It’s another one of life’s mysteries, manipulated from Above, perhaps.

While I’m not an overtly spiritual woman, I grapple with my Catholic-imbued spirituality constantly. I was in the grips of this struggle in late April of 2007 when I originally wrote and published this post. It was conceived and written from my heart. And in all honesty, it helped me when I wrote it then; it has helped me to read it now.

3:46 PM Thursday April 26, 2007

SCENE: A cramped and messy apartment, somewhere in Southweast Texas. Laurie sits at her desk. The phone rings.

It is God calling


LK: Hello?

God: Hey LK. What’s shakin’? You had a birthday recently.

LK: I did God, thanks for remembering. Hey, this is a real surprise. You never call me.

God: I felt like talking.

LK: What are you up to?

God: Oh, you know. I’m like the McDonald’s of redemption. I answer six billion prayers a day. I wake up the next morning and there are six billion more.

LK: We mortals are a pesky, relentless bunch.

God: Yes, you are, but I love ya. Anything on your mind?

LK: Yeah, there is. God, there’s a lot of crap in the world now. Heavy stuff happening. I just don’t understand why things are the way they are.

God: I know. Most of it’s hard to wrap your head around. Like why Eddie Murphy didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Dreamgirls”. And of course, there’s the whole Sanjaya thing.

LK: What was that all about?

God: Sanjaya? Oh for that, you can thank all the girls in the fifth grade class of the The Palmer School in Winnetka, Illinois.

LK: Huh?

God: Prayer circle.

LK: Interesting. Why then was Sanjaya voted off “American Idol”?

God: For that, you can thank all the the boys in the fifth grade class of The Palmer School in Winnetka, Illinois.

LK: That’s pretty funny. Still, it seems odd that we’re praying for Sanjaya when there are so many other things that need your attention.

God: People pray for a lot of different things. What’s pressing to some, won’t be to others. I don’t rate prayers or prioritize them. If you need something, you ask me, I hear you.

LK: But do you always answer every prayer?

God: Always.

LK: Doesn’t seem like it.

God: I do. Take you for example. There was that little issue of penis envy in fourth grade? Remember that? You prayed to me, asking me to turn you into a boy. I answered your prayer by keeping you a girl.

LK: But you didn’t give me what I wanted. I really wanted to become a boy. And by the way, what was I thinking?

God: Please! You were eight years old at the time and no, I didn’t give you what you wanted, but I gave you what you needed. Don’t get me wrong, sure, I could’ve done it. I could’ve snapped my fingers and you’d have gone from Laurie to Larry in a flash. But that’s not what you needed. That’s not what Madolyn Welsh needed, either.

LK: Madolyn Welsh? My college roommate?

God: If you wouldn’t have been you, you wouldn’t have gone to college, moved into the dorm and you wouldn’t have roomed with Madolyn. When her mother was killed in that car crash that fall, you wouldn’t have been there to help her. That was a very difficult and trying time for Madolyn. She needed you and you needed to be there. And the fact that you were there made a difference. It saved her life. Saved yours too. Remember? You were having a very tough freshman year.

LK: I remember. What would the alternative have been for both of us?

God: You don’t want to know.

LK: Wow….

God: One life affects so many others in ways you aren’t even aware of. We’re talkin’ real “It’s A Wonderful Life” stuff.

LK: I’m glad I was there for Madolyn.

God: And be glad she was there for you. It wouldn’t have worked in any other way. Did you know she went on to become a doctor? A surgeon. She saves lives everyday and you helped make that possible.

LK: I had no idea. We lost track of each other our Senior year. I’m glad she’s doing well.

God: She is.

LK: You know God, there’s something I don’t understand. If you intervened with things all those years ago with Madolyn and me, please explain what happened at Virginia Tech? Where were you? And while we’re at it, let’s address the Challenger explosion and September 11th. Why didn’t you intervene then? A lot of people are asking that question.

God: I was on campus at Virginia Tech. I was on board the Challenger and I was also in New York; at the Pentagon and in that field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania five and a half years ago.

LK: But why did all of those…….

God: Those things happened because sometimes, bad things happen. For these people? It was their time.

LK: That seems so simplistic! Especially coming from you! As if I’m supposed to take that as an answer and be OK with it!

God: Exactly.

LK: Then why didn’t you prevent these things from happening?

God: I gave humans free will.

LK: That explains nothing.

God: That explains everything. For every action there is a reaction. That’s the way it is.

LK: That’s the way it is? I’m supposed to accept that? I suppose then, that Calvinism is correct? Our lives and how we live them, and end them, are predetermined?

God: Well, that’s over simplifying the point really, but there are some things that I want and need all of you to do.

LK: Now see? This is what I’m talking about!! I don’t get that! There are things you “need” us to do? What does that mean?

God: Everyone has a mission. Something they’re here to do. You’re here for a reason. Everyone is. The reasons are big and grandiose for some; quiet and unassuming for others. I changed that up for variety. You know, to add a little spice. But every life touches another. It’s part of my Divine Plan.

LK: But I don’t understand.

God: That’s why it’s “divine”. Look at it this way; do you know for a fact that when you go to sleep tonight, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning?

LK: Well, yeah unless you’ve got other plans.

God: Don’t be a smart ass. Answer me.

LK: Yes, I do.

God: Ok, that’s faith.

LK: What does that have to do with any of this? And what about Virginia Tech and 9/11? More than likely, the victims were operating on faith. They believed that they could go to class or work and be just fine . Not get shot to death or vaporized in their office after a hijacked jet crashes into their building. They believed! Maybe they felt covered by some kind of Divine Protection clause–part of that spiritual Deity/Follower privilege. What I think we should be getting when we sign up for our role as “Believers”. Where was your divine protection then, God? Those people had faith that their lives would go on just fine, yet they died horribly, tragic deaths!!

God: I told you, I was there.

LK: Then why didn’t you do anything?

God: Did it ever occur to you that I did? I was there. When and where they needed me the most.

LK: I still don’t understand why there are thousands of dead people as a result?

God: Look, faith is just that—believing that you’re covered, because you are, no matter what. Things always happen for a reason. Things are always taken care of. They always will be and so will you. You have to believe they’re always taken care of. That’s faith.

LK: Sometimes it’s really hard to do this blindly.

God: I know it is, but you’ve got to try. I gave you this ability to believe.

LK: Why?

God: Because hope keeps you alive.

LK: Hope?

God: Hope keeps you coming back for more. It makes you want to come back for one more chance to experience life. You do this for the off chance that maybe…just maybe one day, you’ll possibly get a guarantee that something just might happen.

LK: God, with all due respect, that makes no sense…

God: It makes perfect sense. It’s faith.

LK: OK fine, but this faith stuff is asking a lot of us sometimes. I’ve had faith before. Exercised it regularly. I prayed to you for things that I wanted and needed to happen. But I was let down when my prayers weren’t answered. I’ve never been married and only came close once. You know that I really loved Nick. When he left me, my heart was broken. What happened?

God: You’re prayers were answered. You just didn’t like the results. I gave you what you needed.

LK: But I loved him!

God: Trust me, I gave you what you needed.

LK: And what was that?

God: You needed a life without Nick.

LK: Why?

God: Nick was never the right guy for you. If you were with him, you’d never get the chance to meet the man you’re supposed to be with.

LK: So, where is my Mr. Man and why am I alone now and so miserable?

God: You’ll meet him when the time is right. You’re alone now because you need to be and you’re miserable I guess, because for some reason, you want to be.

LK: I want to be miserable?? What purpose would that serve?

God: Only you can answer that.

LK: Where are you in all of this?

God: I’m right here–where I have been; where I will be. Listen to me–I give you opportunities, Laurie. You make of them what you will. You decide how to react, how to feel. This is how it works. This is life.

LK: This is how life works? There’s pain and disappointment, God! It happens everyday. It’s happening everywhere. If this is the way it is, then with all due respect, this seems like a very flawed plan.

God: Once again, this is how life works…flaws and all!

LK: Then let me ask you this–why am I out of work and with no idea what I’m supposed to be doing?

God: I’m giving you this time to figure it out. And you will if you try. You’re accountable for some of this, too. You have some control, some say in how your life turns out. But make no mistake, I’m always in the background and will always give you what you need. It may not always be what you want, but it will always be what you need.

LK: God, you and your ways are like this huge conundrum!

God: Yes, I guess I am. I like that word, “conundrum”. It absolutely explains nothing, yet explains everything, don’t you think?

LK: You know that I get very frustrated with you and I get mad at you sometimes.

God: I know and that’s OK. I understand.

LK: Divine plan, right?

God: Sometimes getting angry and expressing it is exactly what you need.

LK: So, what we’re talking about here the difference between what we want and what we need and that we can’t always get what we want.

God: Yep and Mick and the Stones backed me up on that fact about 40 years ago.

LK: And beyond that, this is about probability and outcome. . The end result of these events in my life would have been far worse than just my experiencing the disappointment because they didn’t happen?

God: This is true.

LK: OK, you spared me, but why did you let me go through all that pain and disappointment in the first place?

God: Because you learned valuable lessons from each of the experiences.

LK: Like with Nick?

God: Especially with Nick.

LK: Then, you’ve always had my best interests at heart?

God: Always.

LK: I guess I never looked at it this way. You know, I feel close to you right now.

God: This is good.

LK: That reminds me…you knew my Aunt Sarah, didn’t you?

God: Yes.

LK: She always said she felt closer to her maker whenever she flew.

God: Your Aunt Sarah was a mean old broad. Not very nice at all. Believe me, she actually would’ve felt much closer to her real maker had she traveled by submarine!

LK: You’re funny. I love that you have a sense of humor.

God: That would explain the Geo Prism.

LK: I guess I better go now. Thanks for everything.

God: You’re welcome.

LK: We don’t do this enough, God. Let’s talk again….soon. Next time, I’ll call you.

God: You know, nothing would make me happier. Sometimes, you give me exactly what I need.

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Autumn TreesEquinox; is that a cool looking word or what? I feel smarter just saying it.

You’ve heard the word before, but haven’t ever quite understood what it meant, right? For those of you in more seasonal climes, I envy you. Really. Where I live—three feet from Hell—we don’t get to see the slow brush of God’s hand across the landscape. Some dumbass, way back whenever, decided it might be nice to settle in the middle of a friggin’ desert, you know, just for fun, maybe have a few laughs and make a couple bucks by providing w waypoint between the West coast and the continental interior.

You know why this resevoir of dust and cactus is called Phoenix, don’t you . . . that’s right, it has to do with the legend of the Phoenix, the same one that rises from the ashes. How do you get ashes? By burning something, that’s how. If you’ve never felt that kind of heat envelope you, then go stand under a magnifying glass at about noonish, then you’ll kind of understand.

If you’ve never been here, don’t believe the hype. Stay where it’s green and you can actually feel what ‘autumn’ means. Now hold on . . . Lest you think it’s all sour grapes, you should know that Arizona entails much more than just Phoenix; the north country is actually quite beautiful and does heed natures call during this time of year—during the aforementioned equinox.

The equinox, put simply, is one of two times a year when the sun crosses the equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length. Today, September 22nd, is that very day. As the days get shorter I won’t be joining the rest of you in breaking out the sweaters and jackets, but I will be in awe, as I am every year, of nature’s color palette.

The beginning of autumn is also the beginning of one of the best stretches of the year. The mere cooling of the weather is enough to make us think of the approaching holidays and, if nothing else, the lighter tone which separates this last quarter of the year so very distinctly from the rest. For many it means a time to either go to or welcome family and friends, to share gatherings and meals together. To remember fondly, and conversely, create fond remembrances. Speaking for myself, frankly, I’m not a huge ‘holiday’ person; I more thoroughly appreciate the essence of the holiday season, and of autumn itself. The greater number of us can’t help but be in a somewhat more pleasant frame of mind during this time of year.

In Arizona, we’re just happy that summer is damn near over.

Autumn, more familiarly known as ‘Fall’, has it’s own unique spell it casts. Everything in nature begins the process of gearing up for onset of Old Man Winter, including us. From baseball’s “Fall Classic” to the march to the Superbowl (or one of any number of college bowls) during football season, even sports fans brave cold temperatures to follow their teams—something else we associate with both fall and winter.

• We carve pumpkins and then turn them into pies.
• We endure the seemingly endless onslaught of ads for those • seeking public office.
• Some begin planning very early for the annual Thanksgiving feast.
• Some of us make the yearly pilgrimage to a Christmas tree lot, or maybe even pick one of our own while traipsing through the snow.

People speak of arising in the early hours of Thanksgiving to the scent of cooking turkey. The mere mention of the smell causes some to instantly recall the heady aroma, which itself triggers other memories. You could argue that any other time during the year may do that, but I’d wager the memories of autumn are far stronger.

These recollections, in some manner, center upon those things we individually find special or even endearing. More to the point, they bridge the precipice between our hearts and logical selves. Our better natures warmly bask in the results. We fervently hope for better things during this season, and we track them with the amazing mechanism of capturing and recall of memories. If I may so boldly make the reference, autumn is—perhaps more than any other time of year—the time for us all to warm ourselves over the ember between.

The Light, The Dark, and Ember BetweenThis year in particular also is something of a personal watershed for me. As of October my book, The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between, will have been in public release for six months; the timing was not planned, yet it seems almost auspiciously serendipitous. The spirit of the stories within favorably reflect the very essence of what I’ve tried to impart here about fall.

To that end, I’ve asked several folks to write a guest post for me about what defines love or hope for them—again, in the spirit of the season.

Over the next six days you’ll be hearing from these people whose blogs I’ve read for a while. Some have traveled with me during my previous book tour, four have read the book, one has recently ordered it, two have reviewed it; they all have my book in common, but that’s not why I asked them to guest post for me—I asked all of them because I hold each one in high regard, and have been genuinely blessed to have been put in their path. Some make me laugh, some make me think, but all are just honestly good people. I wanted to ask a whole slew of people, but time considerations (theirs and mine) meant I had to whittle the list down to single digits. I will also be giving away some copies of my book to those who may come from these other blogs and leave comments on each of the posts.

As for my own definition, I can safely say that it’s documented within my short stories. In short, hope and love are many different things to each of us, but it is how we distill them that resonates within like a ripple upon still water.

May this season bring many better things, and continued blessings for each of us. Please join us all this week as we celebrate the human need to balance the light and dark, the gossamer bond we share with nature as our own autumnal equinox.

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