Enough

I had left the phone at one of the hospice sites the other day and one of my favorite nurses grabbed it for me.  I felt somewhat liberated without the phone for 48 hours and then somewhat giddy when I got it back in one piece. Instant connection is something I have gotten used to, like too much caffeine.   We were busy getting to where we were going and getting ready to see who we needed to see, so seeing that the battery had gone down to 2% I left it alone until I got a break between seeing patient number three and an upcoming meeting.  With a few quiet moments to myself I checked what I had missed. It was 11:30   my time.

32 minutes prior a text was sent to me and to her Dad.  Lulu writes “You will hear this on the news I’m sure. School shooting going on at the high school in Aztec.Currently my class is in lock down and we are safe”.  

Then a few texts out to her from her Dad and a second text at 11:29 that she was ok.   I left a message on her phone and was able to talk to her a few hours later.  “The kids have all been evacuated, but we just went back into lockdown because there were more shots fired in the park down the road.”  She started to tell me what it was like for her and then “Mom, gotta go, they are evacuating us.”  There were reports going around that were later corrected, but in the moment, it was confusing and sacary for both of us.

My words to her, “Call me when you get home, I love you.”

6:09  my time she texted, “Home”. 

Lulu is a first grade teacher in one of the grade schools in Aztec. She has 20 little lambs to teach and to shepherd over.  The town of Aztec is pretty small, around 6500, so basically everybody knows everybody. In the top North East corner of New Mexico, it is close enough for her and a couple of other district teachers to commute to and from Durango. Aztec is as much her community as Durango and I am glad she has her carpool buddies. She will need them.

A couple of weeks ago there was a teacher’s meeting where the issue of having a plan for an active shooter came up.  There wasn’t a plan.  The principal of the school and the teachers put one in place.  She practiced it with her class on Monday.  MONDAY.   

She had just started her class and over the emergency system came the message that there was an active shooter.   She did was she was trained to do and locked the door, gathered the students, pushed the kids cubbies loaded with stuff against the door.  She flipped the tables and arranged them as a barricade in the corner away from the windows and kept the children quiet and calm for 2 and half hours while clutching a pair of scissors in her hand for just in case.

She knew the protocol to unlock the door for the principal when she got the signal and she got the children to the spot where they could be picked up. She said “Mom, I could see what was going on outside and hear all the cop cars and helicopters going by and I knew kids were killed over at the high school. I could see people outside the window and I knew what was going on, but I haven’t stopped shaking. ”  

Did the kids know? I asked.

“No, they knew it was a real and not a drill, but they didn’t know it was a shooting.  They can learn that from their parents” she replied.

We have spoken a few times over the past 48 hours.  She knew one of the victims Casey Marquez, not the other, but knew that his nickname was Paco.

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She also said that the shooter was the uncle of one of her students from last year.  That he had gone to the high school to kill some kids before he killed himself.  She knows a couple of teachers who were in the High School that day.  Undoubtably her students will return to school next week and she will be processing this whole thing for weeks to come.

Even though the shooting was at a different school, her students are effected, she is effected and I by proxy as her mother, am effected. She and another teaching buddy were out yesterday at a cafe and a stranger who had overheard them talking about the shooting came up to them, bought them lunch and thanked them for keeping the kids safe.    They had heard about the shooting on the news the day before and they were effected.   We should all be effected.

Here is the thing.  Lulu is a teacher,  not a trained combat soldier  She is a first grade teacher who, not knowing if the shooting was in her school or not, responded by making sure that the 20 little souls in her care were as safe as possible and she armed herself. Not only with a pair of scissors, but more importantly with the courage and conviction to keep the children safe and did so with the confidence from training for an event such as this,  just three days prior.  The kids knew what to do and 20 First Graders were in lockdown for over 2 hours without a meltdown.

I didn’t see the shooting on the news Thursday night.  I was able to get on-line and get bits from new releases, but I didn’t see a story.  It felt odd, then I was enraged that a school shooting didn’t make the national news, as if we have gotten so used to hearing about mass violence, that three dead is not considered national news.

The President didn’t make a comment about it, not one tweet.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  The President has tweeted about his support for this guy. imgres.jpg

And he twitted about fake news, but he didn’t say anything about the lives lost. Or the teachers that responded, or about a community that is hurting.  Nothing. Perhaps it is better that way.  What can he say at this point?

There has now been some national coverage, and some friends who had heard the story from me told me they have heard about it on the radio or saw a quick bit on the cable news.  New Mexico is seen as a strong Republican State and the NRA is popular in New Mexico, I wonder if there is a correlation between those two things and lack of media coverage?  Lulu said that at a candlelit vigil the night of the shooting there were people with vile signs that said “Arm the teachers”.   Is this the new response, ignore or incite?

I just can’t.  I had felt liberated by being disconnected for a short time and now reunited with my phone and thus connected to my child by text and calls, I feel better.  But I don’t feel better about where we are as a nation. I want to disconnect from all of the stuff that is going on, as if somehow by disconnecting the idiocy, it will go away.  Well is hasn’t and it won’t if I avoid it. I must continue to face it and by doing such be moved to action where I become part of the change, not a part of the problem.

Mouse Is In The Garage

I had a heavy week.  I thought I would get ahead of it by doing a spiritual assessment on a new admission Sunday afternoon and while I was at the facility, I would check in with another couple of patients.  I have a flexible schedule like that. However I also had a bunch visits that needed to be done, a week of lousy, rainy and otherwise dank weather, a memorial service and an online class.  Come Friday I was a bit fried.

Balance is the key and so knowing that, I got a kitten and named it Mouse. img_0788

I figured having something very alive was a good balance to being with those who are dying.

But after a long week, I figured I needed something else. Teary eyed and exhausted. I finished up work and even Mouse could not help lift the weight, so I headed down to the village, and I decided to go and get that bike that I have been wanting for a good long while.  I had been down to the Dedham Bike Shop at least a couple of times over the last few years and even bought a bike for my buddy Bea’s birthday. But didn’t get around to getting one for me.

I stopped riding a bicycle about 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with IC and was told that I had to change a whole lot of things in my life to reduce the pain and disabling effects of the illness.  Riding a bike was one of those things. Plus I was either a student or an unemployed CPE intern or simply unemployed, so a fun thing like a bike was out.

imagesYesterday I threw  caution to the wind and decided to go look at bikes and found one that seemed like a good fit. I put a deposit down on it with the plan to go ahead and pick it up this morning.   I felt like I was 5 again.  My first bike was red Schwinn Pixie but with a white seat and it came from the Dedham Bike Shop. I picked a purple one and got a purple helmet to match.  I felt like the kid at Christmas who peaked and saw a bike with their name on it.

It was a good thing too. When I returned home after a meeting last night I was called in to work to help the family of that new patient I had been with last Sunday.  The patient had put themselves on hospice and the family was not ready.  The Patient was ready for death and had said so to me, but the family wasn’t on the same page.  And despite the protests against the illness, the patient passed away.   I got the call and within 15 minutes was on site, but the family had left and so I did what I was called to do.

Went down the hall, entered the room and then spent then next little while with the deceased.  I had found the TV on, the bathroom door open with light streaming out, full light in the room and the sheets of the deceased all askew.  I turned things off, pull the covers up over her feet, shut the door and began to pray.  They had said to me last Sunday that they had forgotten their prayers, so I pulled out a Rosary and said it for them, as I laid the pink plastic cross down.  Returning home I took some time to decompress and thought about that bike.  I went to bed singing “Bicycle race ”

This morning I went down to the village and rode it home, singing.   These same streets that I rode my first little red bike on and all of those feelings of being free came back. Just like when I first learned to ride and go faster than on foot.  And getting the bike gave me some energy to do the chores and put the cat window in for Mouse. She learned to use it and has some freedom now herself.

In her new freedom she disappeared for a while and gave us a scare.  Turns out she went into the neighbor’s garage and before they went out for the night, the door was closed with her locked inside.  They are still out and she is still locked in, but at least I know where she is and eventually they will come home, see my note pinned to their door and I can go fetch her.

And here is where the balance pays off.  Mum was tired at the end of the day and when Mouse didn’t show up, Mum was upset.  Afraid of all the things that could go wrong.  On the other hand, I had an awesome day riding my bike and singing Queen songs.  I figured Mouse would either show up or she wouldn’t.  Either she lives a free life going out and coming, sometimes getting stuck and needing to be found, or she doesn’t.  I choose the former too.   And like Mouse I choose to play when I can.

 

Exhaling into death

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It occurred to me yesterday morning that I have been fearful of the role of full-time hospice chaplaincy for two main reasons.

The first is that I thought I might get burnt out ministering mostly to folks who are actively dying and their families, that the nature of unavoidable death without the affirmation of life might not be there. That without the balance, I would eventually tip over and absorb too much of the grief and not enough of the life.

If you are on my hospice list then you are most likely dying.  Some folks get better with hospice care and no longer qualify for it, but mostly, folks die.

Here is the other point. Frankly I didn’t have confidence that my spunky little self was cut out for the solemnness of the gig.  I met a ton of ministers and others who felt called to hospice while I was in seminary and CPE, and they tended to be very peaceful, calming, and reverent.  I am mostly irreverent and have a quirky sense of humor.  I am also naturally charismatic and sometimes find it difficult to tamper that gift down. I don’t mean to say that I am all that and a bag of chips, but I have that funny personality that is highly interested in others, connects easily to strangers and for the most part, is authentic.  What you see is what you get.

I didn’t think that my calling was to hospice.  I figured it was to helping people with addictions, and homelessness, and hospital type stuff.  I love hospital chaplaincy and did well in training with the cases where it was messy.  Messy with bells and whistles going off.  Messy with theological issues.  Messy with emotional responses.

This is what I discovered.

In the hospital, death is there and is often sudden.  Unexpected.  As chaplain you need to have your spiritual tanks filled because you respond to some deep stuff. People are plugged into machines, the heart is monitored, beeps and alarms go off. People rush in and rush out trying to save the patient. The main purpose of the medical team is curative,  everybody jumps in at the code to save the life and the chaplain holds the sacred space.

A 17-year-old wraps their car around a tree and the family comes to the bedside, faced with issues of taking him off life support or organ donation.  The baby’s heart isn’t working and he has to be medevaced to Children’s hospital.  You are called to take someone to see their loved one in the morgue after death from an overdose and you lead them to a cold room, generally far away from the rest of the hospital, and generally underground.   Shock is the response to sudden and unexpected death.  It is surreal at times.

Death comes unexpectedly and on the emotional intensity scale of 1-10, 10 being full on, you give spiritual care and support, holding the sacred space for the family and the patients.  It is a fast inhale, like when you are being startled and you quickly hold your breath for dear life, hoping death will not take it.   And sometimes you go from emergency to emergency and you have to be there, one patient emergency after another.  All of you, present and with The Divine because you are the symbol of the sacred in the moment.  It is exhausting, but I was good it.  I can hold my breath for a very long time.

In hospice, it is like a long and cleaning exhale.  Death is not unexpected, it is unavoidable, for the most part.  There are folks who struggle with accepting death, their own or the death their loved one.  Hospice is provided only if there is a medical indication that curative medicine will no longer help.  To be on hospice you have to have a terminal diagnosis with death imminent, generally less than 6 months.   Hospice is when death has knocked the door has opened.

And with the exhale, it seems that the tension of intensity , the holding your breath against sudden illness and unexpected death,  is released. The emotions are still there, but not as tense.  The grieving process has begun.  The emotion has moved from the shock of not accepting that death has come,  to sometimes welcoming the relief from suffering that death sometimes brings.

In this place, with patients and their families, my true self can be present without filtering.  Not to say that I was fake in my other work.  I was authentic, but I feared that I could not be authentic in hospice full-time.

Well I seem to be wrong. This calling fits like a glove.

I can hold the space sometimes  and relieve the tension by bringing life back into the room of the dying.  “Tell me a little bit about your loved one” I say.   I can get the story telling started because I am genuinely interested in the life of the patient.  Family members get that. They can feel it  and respond by sharing the life that their loved one lived.  Granted I am still new at this type of gig. But if I can be my true self right from the get go, then I am pretty optimistic about it.  All things will sugar out with time. I am hopeful this calling will get sweeter.

 

 

I am not a preacher

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Well, not really. At least not yet, there is very little wind. Certainly not huge gusts that make the trees creak.  There is heavy wet snow  and walking home tonight was lovely in a surreal kind of way.    The ambient light created from street lights, and glow from the nearby highway, gives everything a pink and orange edge.  The sun set hours ago and I swear it is so light out I took the photo without a flash.  I miss the dark deep of a North Country snow.  The stillness I crave in the storm is dispersed with sounds of cars unaccustomed to driving on greasy roads.  Just say’n.

Yet my joints don’t know the difference. My hips hurt and I am a bit gimpy. Which I expect with a good-sized Nor’easter.  Yesterday was worse than today and no amount of hot tubs, gentle stretches or over the counter meds help.  I didn’t leave the house and spent most of the day up in my studio working on a pattern draft and playing with Mouse.

Today I mustered and got myself to Church and was treated to validation of my calling.

On Fridays and Saturdays many of my preaching buddies are working on sermons and programs.  Not me. I was grateful for that yesterday.  I love to write and I love the exegesis required for a good sermon, but I don’t like preaching.  I don’t like reading scripture in front of people. Here is another secret: I don’t really like participating in a service.  It is too much like organizing a play  in which you are both the director and the actor.   Plus you gotta know the script. Which given my dyslexic way of thinking and the way the words often tumble out in the wrong way, I get anxious.  So instead of  being in the moment and getting my worship on, being totally connected, I am uneasy.

Not so when I speak extemporaneously in a AA meeting, or in a one-on-one in a hospital setting.I can pray at the bedside of the dying and the injured without notes.  I can expound ad infinitum while being authentic and I won’t remember exactly what I said, or the way I said it.  I just know that when I connect with people in that way, the spirit shows up.  I can give a testimony, tear up and get an amen.  But be the pastor in a congregation every Sunday?  Nope. Not me and not my call.

Melanie, our Priest at St. Paul’s has the gift.   Today she did a baptism and when she was pouring from the silver (historic) pitcher to the font, she stopped abruptly and exclaimed “Wait! This isn’t water.  This is the wine!” Talk about being baptized into the blood of Jesus, which would have totally  ruined the beautiful baptismal dress of the candidate. She then got the correct silver pitcher, but the water was too hot.  Trying to make sure the water wasn’t too cold, which might have produced a cry of anger, someone had brought the water to a boil and it was still scalding hot.  Melanie then called for colder water and several folks scrambled to get some.  She was able to turn a potential disaster into an epic win for the preacher.

And I got to be present instead of being anxious and it didn’t matter that my hips were killing me and that I was chilled and kept my coat on during the service or that I had my clunky blizzard boots on.  I was reminded that I had a Sunday of friends and worship and that my gifts of ministry are just that; mine.  Different from what is sometimes expected, but valid all the same.

I was hoping to go into work tomorrow, yup was looking forward to it, but got an email that we will have a snow day.  Whoop Whoop.  Here’s hoping we actually get some decent snow.

 

 

How do you tell a Mob Boss to quit smoking?

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I had a great conversation with Mum yesterday.  We were talking about politics and ethics and social justice. We talked about those that reach out to everybody and those that for what ever reason, push those that are different away.

And that lead to a bunch of family stories most I knew and this new one I had never heard. Grandaddy was a surgeon here in Boston and was one of the first in the world to successfully open the chest cavity to do either lung or heart surgery.  His main thing was lungs and he was one of the first to connect the effects of smoking to lung disease.  Mum said that when President Eisenhower had his heart attack, Grandaddy was flown out to Denver as part of the medical team.  That story did not surprise me, I grew up hearing stories about some of his patients that were heads of state, famous actors and the like.  These were pre-Hippa days, and often the family would receive gifts from “grateful patients”.

That was a category.

Pointing to a crate of oranges, “Hey Mamie, where did this come from? ” Or looking at the delivery of giant flower arrangements, “who sent these?”  “A grateful patient Dearie, a grateful patient.”

The story I didn’t know was about that time when he operated on big time Crime Boss Raymond Patriarca and there were detailed cars parked outside of the house for a week or so.  Mum said the cars were FBI or CIA.  I am not so sure about that.  “We had to lock the doors, and we never locked the doors” said Mum.  “We couldn’t go anywhere until it was over”.

What was the issue?  “Well I guess there would have been an issue if Patriarca didn’t make it off the table.  It was life and death you know.” Mum quipped.

I guess he didn’t discriminate.  He treated everyone about he same.  Gave me lecture upon lecture about smoking and I am sure he gave that same lecture to the Mob Boss.

This is what I know about Grandaddy. He was a diehard Republican who I argued with during the Ronny Ray-gun years. At family dinners, we would get going about it until Mamie felt it was going nowhere and would say, “My, the battleships are a lovely shade of gray this year”.  He taught me to fish, to gut that fish on the spot, to chop wood and to how to stack it.  He told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.  He once sent me a letter at camp impressing upon me how important communication was.  He had his secretary type it for him.  I wish I had kept that letter.   He was human like the rest of us.

What I did see was that he pumped his own gas, but he drove a Saab.  He talked to the guy behind the Dunkin Donuts counter with the same intent as international guests at his table.  He impressed upon me to never think less of someone doing manual labor, for we all should do what we can with the gifts we are given.  If he had to go out at night, he often wore his PJs under his suit because he liked to get his sleep.

He was a product of his generation, born in 1901 and in Peru Nebraska.  He was motivated to do something after watching the fall out from the 1918 flu.  and the Great White Plague.    He didn’t get everything right, but he did instill the notion that one should find their purpose and do it. His was fighting Lung disease.  He literally saved lives, and from what I remember and what I have learned, he never checked to see what the patient’s background was; religious, economic, political or otherwise before he operated.  We all bleed red.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall then he lectured the Boss about quitting smoking.  He could not help to give that lecture to anyone at anytime. He was asked to speak at my 6th grade graduation and I was mortified when he gave the no smoking lecture to the whole school.  I picked up smoking because it was so rebelous.  He once hauled me into his clinic and took a chest r-ray just to scare me.  I didn’t work, I was hooked anyhow.  I smoked ciggs off and on for years and still dream of them.  But I smile now when I see how his efforts in the early days paid off and for the most part, people understand the risk of smoking.

I guess he knew that the addiciton of smoking does not discriminate, neither does lung disease.  It does not care if you are rich or poor, black or while, Christian or Mulim, gay or straight.  He did the work he was wall called to do Mob Boss or not.

 

 

 

 

Tell me why you fear him

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His name is Omran

In 1986 I was a student in London and thought that it would be great fun to travel with a buddy I had met at school.  Susie Morgahni’s family was living in London after immigrating from Beirut.  The cause was war.   Her parents had applied for visas and were planning to immigrate to  Youngstown Ohio when the school year was over.  Susie talked about to heading to back to Lebanon to see her brothers and grandmother one last time.

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The Morganhi’s had opened their London flat to me and it was a home away from home while I was abroad, and so when I heard Susie talking about the plan to travel home to Lebanon I asked if I could go too.  There had been a cease fire, and hostilities had settled. It would be a non-tourist type trip. I would be in the homes of friends and I felt safe about it. I could see the Cedars of Lebanon.  They said I would be an honored guest.

So the plan was that we would fly to Cyprus and then take a ferry over to Lebanon.  I called the states and told my family, who were less enthusiastic and they put up some strong opposition.  But I was 21, so I didn’t listen. I wanted to see the world for myself. I hated the US at that time. I thought that Ronny Ray-gun was going to cause the third world war.

Susie went ahead of me but I was going to meet her at the airport, head to Limassol take the ferry over,  be met by her family and have a fantastic reunion.

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When I arrived in Nicosia I saw armed security guards and instantly felt alarmed.  In customs they took my passport.  It felt like everyone was looking at me. The customs official glared at me angrily, pointed to the chairs and gave me directions in a language I did not know.  He took my passport, pointed at me while talking to other officials then went into an office.  He came back out a few minutes later and started to question my intentions.

Why was I in Cyprus?  Why did I want to go to Lebanon? Did I have a contact number for the people I was going to visit?  What was the relationship I had to them?  Why had I come from London?  Was I really a student?  My name was Alexandra, maybe I was Greek?

I was terrified.  They pulled my passport and I was connected to the American Embassy. I could head back to England or stay.   What ever my choice, I wasn’t going to Lebanon.

The school was closed for the week, so I had nowhere to stay over break .  Being completely naive, I figured I would stay in Cyprus for the week and at lease see the country.

The country was beautiful. I headed to Limassol and found a place to stay.  I found some Canadian troopers who had been assigned by the UN as peacekeepers and they spoke English.  I ended up having a terrific time for the first couple of days.

Then there was news that the United Stated had bombed Libya.  There were protests in the streets, effigies of Reagan being hung and the American Flag being burned.  I had never been so scared to be an American and so thankful that I had associated with Canadians and the Embassy.

Turns out my family, concerned for me before I left London, had contacted the State Department and I had been flagged.  I returned humbled from the experience and I came to love the freedom of this country and the assumed safety I had always felt as a white, privileged citizen.    Susie made her trip to her homeland and returned to London as well.  When she made her trip to the states as an immigrant later that year, we picked her up from the airport and hosted her for a couple of days before she flew off to join her Mother in Youngstown.

I was so very lucky to meet people who  were from different backgrounds than me. I was so very lucky to live in a different country and lucky to be welcomed into homes as a stranger.  As such, I was treated with the utmost hospitality and felt honored.

I have strived to show the same here in this country.    I have made friends with  Jamaican domestic workers on H-2B visas  and have invited them into my home at the holidays to share a meal.  I have hosted Chinese immigrants, who have finagled their way here through a complex network of “marriage”and extended family.  I have celebrated with friends who passed the test and became citizens.  I encourage my daughter to travel in China when she was 16.

My own family is not from here. They finagled their entré as well.  My grandfather immigrated from England and made a couple of attempts, then married my grandmother to get citizenship.  My brother in law has a green card.  Other ancestors came over on boats. From Germany in the 1800’s and from England in the 1600’s.  Every one I am related to is from away.   They came becuase of the myth that here, in this counrty, we are all equal.

His name is Omran. Tell me why you fear him.

He is a refugee and has the rotten luck of being born in the wrong place.  I welcome him.  I welcome those who have gone through all of the visa vettings and green card ques, those that are being detained at our airports. I welcome them.  There are those that wish to do harm to those who have freedom.  But it is not Omran.

We have taken a dangerous turn this week.  Banning people and building walls will only make things worse.  We are to welcome the stranger. We are to give hospitality.  His name is Omran.  He is welcome in my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope showed up

16142597_421040801560465_7118998267674492025_nI called my friend Desirée yesterday to ask a solid favor from her.   Perhaps.  That was the pretense really.  I called her because I feel a need to hold my breath as this giant wave of discontent approaches and I need to slide down deep under the current to let it pass over me.  I need to be able to hold my breath, to be ready to come back up and to swim strongly out of the rip current.    I am a strong swimmer, but these waves are dark and fast and are crashing down, threatening to take us onto the rocks.

I have been quiet these 6 months, resting and refocusing.  Making ready for what lies ahead. Des and I talked about transition and all that comes with it and what we need to find in it.  Community.  Community is what I left in Vermont.  I knew who I was in my community.  I knew who I was in my life, but all of that changed.  Des and I talked about the inauguration, the Women’s march and the new executive orders that have been signed.  We talked about the feelings and what we experienced on Saturday.

She was in Santa Fe, in her new home and I in Boston.  She spoke of the mass of people and the hope that they carried with them.  She spoke of the community that was all around her.   I spoke of Boston and how it was like Marathon Monday, with opening day at Fenway and the Red Sox playing the Yankees, but add to that a super bowl win. That was the 175 thousand that marched.  But without the bravado. Without the drunk and brawling, over the top, chuckle heads with smeared paint on their faces.  Without the winners and losers.  It was like the best of Boston, the best of the world showed up and said we are here. We haven’t left.  Justice and Equality showed up and with it babies in snugglies, kids holding signs, grandmothers and fathers, some using canes and some just wearing pink hats. The students and the doctors showed up  after their shifts and the police stood witness to democracy in action.  Hope showed up along with Everything is going to be alright.

Des told me that I needed to write this.  I said, I have no idea what I said, you write it.

Then this morning my muse came back.

We know that storms come and that the currents and waves can do damage.  The winds of war seem to be in the air as well.  So we make ready.   We store up our good will and our kindness and our ability to give to others our of our own stock when required.  We batten down the hatches and bring in the boats.  We hunker down and get grounded in our spaces and wait it out.     And with some storms, we go out in the middle of it.   We naturally seek to help others in times of need.  Some people get caught in the storm.  We go out to bring them in.

And with this political storm, we are all in this together.  Not me from my side and you from yours. But all of us, at the same time.  Make ready.  Plan ahead and most importantly don’t lose hope.  This too shall pass.  It might be nasty now, but it will pass and those that can and should venture out into the middle of the mess will.  Of that I am sure.

We are better than what the storm wants us to think.