Category Archives: Musings


Children of Abraham

Late one very dark night, I stood with my friend, Ibitsam, under a streetlight in Chicago. She held before me a picture of her son, Mohammed, so I could see how he had looked a few short months before when he had still seemed healthy. She said he was no longer recognizable to anyone. We held each other and wept for her son, who died only a few hours later.

Ibitsam, she was well named, for her name means Smile in Arabic. I had seen her glorious smile when we first met and had seen how it transformed a rather plain face into a thing of great beauty. She was also intelligent and kind. Her husband, Abdul Aziz, came to get me the morning of Mohammed’s death and said he wanted me to come and “look” at his wife. I thought he meant for me to help her in some way, but he literally wanted me to “look” at her, to “see” her. In her exhaustion she lay across the bed, passed out like a small, broken bird. Abdul Aziz said a simple thing as he gazed lovingly at her, “Isn’t she beautiful?” Oh, yes. They flew home that afternoon so that was the last time I saw her.

Over many years I have met and grown to love other Arab women, and many of their husbands and children, including almost all of Ibitsam’s ten brothers and sisters. I also believe I was “adopted” as a member of an extended family when the highest ranking clan chief pulled me into his arms and kissed me on both cheeks in front of all the adult males and females in their group. I, who had been told never to touch or shake hands with an Arab male, was stunned and never figured out for certain what had happened. But thereafter the women accepted me as one of their own, insisted I share their food, and in all ways treated me as family. Some of them even removed their veils in the presence of my husband.

Now when I hear arguments raised for and against Islam and/or Arabs, I am torn. Because of the ones who are now my friends, I fear for them when their homes are wracked by war and I weep for their losses. But I also stand with the Jews, and Israel as a nation. I do think we will pay a high price, not just in the United States, but all around the world, for the impression that we have turned against Israel and accommodated Islamic militancy.

I have met Arabs who are evil in their disdain for us, the Great Satan, even while taking advantage of all that America has to offer. Do I think even those I call friends would hesitate to behead me and mine? I’m not sure, but I fear that some, if called upon to do so, would indeed go ahead and kill us all. There is always a small uneasiness that makes me question even those I think of as friends. I am very sorry for that.

Once for several days my daughter and I helped keep a death watch over the most beautiful and engaging child I have ever met, an almost four-year-old Arab boy named Haitham. His body was rejecting a lung and kidney transplant and his great will to live made for a long, grim struggle. His absolutely devoted father finally could not bear to see his pain and was physically unable to visit without totally breaking down. We periodically sat with Haitham’s mother until one day she also could no longer bear the pain. The task of watching this death was not for the faint hearted, yet it was also a precious and holy time.

Haitham’s death led me to ponder on him, and all Arabs, as children of Abraham. After his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on the mount at Moriah The Lord God told His friend Abraham, “. . . in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the sea shore. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18).

Christian’s are taught that ” . . . if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) In these days Christians and the children of Jacob, who became Israel, are still sundered from the children of Abraham’s son Ishmael, and Jacob’s twin, Esau, but as we accept Christ we are of Abraham’s seed. Perhaps these groups must reach a point where they all accept Christianity before they can become the blessings they were meant to be to “all the nations of the earth.” To many people these are obscure matters from an ancient history that doesn’t mean much to them, and the enmity between us seems insurmountable, yet God’s words are eternal.

Even in my uneasiness about these Arab people who are my friends and brethren, as a Christian I know that the Lord God’s promises to Abraham are true, and that each of us who are of Abraham’s seed will yet bless all the nations of the earth. How that will eventually come to be I cannot comprehend, but in the Lord’s own time it will surely happen.



My friendly advisor in Judaic thought tells me that in some sects of Judaism the practitioners are told not to engage in intercessory prayers on the sabbath, although they may ask for blessings on the sick. The theory here is that God established the first sabbath based on His own need for rest following creation, and that He still has need for rest from the pleas of His children. As my friend says, “I’m sure He doesn’t like to hear our whining all the time.”

This is a new way of looking at prayer for me. I have heard sermons given  where we are told to pray once in awhile and ASK FOR NOTHING, but GIVE ONLY THANKS to God for His blessings, and that such a prayer should make us more grateful and aware of all God does for us. Making it a regular sabbath day matter had not occurred to me.

In what manner ought we to pray? Even the Disciples asked, ” . . . Lord, teach us to pray . . .” (Luke 11:1) KJV. Dietrich Bonhoeffer recommended the Psalms as a teaching tool for prayer based on a sermon given by Martin Luther. Bonhoeffer said that every person seeking God in prayer should take the time to study all of the Psalms at least once each year.

Jesus did give the true pattern of prayer in answer to the request of His disciples. Although it is translated a little differently in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, the essence is the same, and it is beautiful in its profound simplicity. It is known as THE LORD’S PRAYER as given in Luke. Let’s break it down to see if we can truly consider the meanings:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
We pray to the Father of us all, who dwells in Heaven, and give reverence to His name to show our love and awe for Him.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
We need to be reminded that it is His kingdom we seek. In order for that kingdom to come, we seek to follow His will here on earth and to pray to understand it. This reminds us to always consider our doings carefully and not rely on our own limited understanding.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Such a simple thing, our daily bread. We don’t ask for great riches or glory here, merely the “bread” that sustains us. Beyond that we also need to remember that Christ is “the Bread of Life.”

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
The reminder that in order to be forgiven by God, we, too, must forgive all men. We need so much help in forgiveness and we need to ask God to help us in that grueling task. Notice here that Luke says we are to forgive “indebtedness”, a term which covers all sorts of payments we think are due us, maybe even the value of a tooth for a tooth, or for emotional or monetary harm. We need to learn to forgive, but we can still ask for justice to prevail.

And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil.
Does God “lead” us into temptation? Does He always “deliver” us from evil? These are hard questions. Is this another statement of how the world really is? Can we be led easily into temptation, or from time to time, through no fault of our own, find ourselves in a place where we must be “delivered from evil?” Perhaps we need to think of this as a responsibility we each have, to pray for the strength to resist temptation and, if at all possible, the strength to flee if we are placed in a dangerous or evil situation.

Luke 11: 2-4. KJV
. . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Matthew 6:13: This ending is left off in Luke’s account. But we must remember it and always keep in mind that the kingdom belongs to our Father, whose kingdom, and power, and glory we seek.

Amen. This is our seal of acceptance for what we have prayed.

The Lord does not want “vain repetition”, but rather thoughtful prayers – from the heart. Jesus said that God our Father knows what we need before we ask, but we still need to talk to Him about those needs. That is good six days a week, but perhaps we should approach our sabbath day prayers a little differently. Give our Father a rest and let the thanksgiving really count on that day.



This is both a thank-you and an explanation of my entry into the blogosphere. It has been wonderful to find some readers who have been kind about my “homilies” even though I have not known how to put my words out to be more easily found. So “THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND WORDS.” Since one is never too old to learn, I  hope to do better in the future, but some explanation for my lack of savvy is required.

I was born in 1940, so, there, I have given my age away. For the first thirteen years of my life my family lived a generally more late 19th or very early 20th Century lifestyle. Just before I turned 4 years old we moved to the country. We had electricity, which meant one bare bulb in the middle of the kitchen ceiling and once or twice a week we listened to my grandfather’s old cathedral shaped radio. There was no indoor plumbing, in fact no running water except for an artesian well just a few steps from the front door of the four room “house” we lived in. We did have a party line where the operator still said, “Number Please?” And certain neighbors always listened in.

Some of the things we took for granted seem almost bizarre today. The outhouse was dark and grim, with hairy wolf spiders and black widows in warm months. It was also freezing in the middle of winter. We heated and cooked with a wood stove, so wood had to be constantly split and chopped, and bringing in the wood meant there were all kinds of the above-mentioned spiders ready to bite. Water was hauled in on Saturday night, heated on the stove and poured into the tin tub. We were bathed according to our sex and age, which meant that I, as the only girl, at least got clean water, then the boys were bathed. We washed our hair with soap, with the final rinse having vinegar mixed in the water. We put on clean pajamas and were sent off to bed in one bedroom. How my parents then took care of their own needs I never thought about. How would they even fit in the tin tub? Hmmm. Maybe they stood up and poured water over each other? Some things were rather primitive even for the time.

On the brighter side, we were always busy with hard work and play. My parents always made sure we had things like bicycles, roller skates in summer and ice skates in winter. We were all taught to swim at a young age. I had lovely dolls and an even lovelier aunt who had only boys, so she taught me to embroider, crochet and sew.

The boys worked with my dad to build a new house. Even with the shortages and hardships of the war our father found ways to get lumber and nails (even if they were rusty or needed straightening) for construction. My brothers always had Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, model airplane kits and new Lionel Model Train additions to their set every Christmas. We all went bird watching, horseback riding, hiking and camping. We also had both indoor and outdoor chores and chickens and other animals to care for.

One thing I always seemed to lack was any concept of future changes. We finally moved into a fairly modern house when I was 13, but I was always surprised by technological advances. The first time a B-24 flew over our house I was totally astounded. How could anything so huge fly? And when my older brother told me that someday we would be able to see movies in our own homes I wanted to beat him up for lying to me. How could that possibly be? The first time I saw a TV it scared me to death and our first Mixmaster and steam iron were incredible inventions to me.

When I married my husband, Bear, who loves technology, he concluded that he had to drag me kicking and screaming into the 20th Century, just in time for the 21st. When he bought his first high end computer, a Mac LISA, I thought he had gone completely insane. He told me it was important for our little children to learn computer skills. Why? He told me that people would one day have computers controlling their homes and businesses and we would rely on them for everything. Says who? Why would anyone even want that to happen?

Al Gore invented the Internet (!) and it grew up around me while I paid no attention at all. I got addicted to PAC-MAN, learned to do letters at work on a computer and had to admire the ease of change and correction. Before I started this blog I had used e-mail and had a personal junk file. I read Frank Hebert’s DUNE books and still didn’t understand the possibilities of the “gom jabbar.” Was that man prescient or what?

So here I am today trying to catch up to my kids and grand kids and do a blog in cyberspace on what I consider to be important things. I am learning, but I have a long way to go. Bear and I will try to make this blog become more convenient to find and follow if you so desire.

My advanced age must be one of my excuses, even though my late father-in-law and his brother bought into the computer age long before I did. Is it (mostly) a guy thing?

I’ll go now to find what an RSS thing does.




A friend told me of a time when his father was struggling to build an essential business in Japan and having a terrible time because the English translators didn’t seem to get the words out right. Since he didn’t speak Japanese he had no way to tell what was going wrong. He finally concluded that the Japanese were taking advantage of his lack of understanding of Japanese business practices and of the language.

He knew that Brigham Young University would have ex-missionaries who had served in Japan and learned the language so he went there and chose to hire the biggest, blondest, blue-eyed returned missionary he could find, one no one would expect to speak Japanese. He took him to all meetings but told him to just sit as though he were a go-fer and never let anyone know he could speak the language. Later he would tell the boss what was actually said at the meetings. As the boss began to understand what was really happening his business became very successful.

This story reminded me of the many questions I have had over the years about Biblical translations, and of some things that might be of interest to others about their own questions.

One of the questions that intrigues me most is the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a “pillar of salt” for looking back on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I’ve always felt that looking on that as a “punishment” for disobedience was questionable at best. Those were her children and grandchildren being incinerated back there. What mother wouldn’t look back in absolute anguish? Also, was it a commandment not to look back or a – what? Recommendation?

At any rate, I was told that the George M. Lamsa’s Translation of the Holy Bible from the Aramaic of the Ancient Peshitta Text had been translated by native Aramaic speakers into modern English. The Eastern Church says that their bible translation, the Peshitta, would be the Old Testament used at the time of Christ and the New Testament as fully preserved from the time of the Apostles. It’s easy to read and clarifies many things.

Reading the story of Lot’s wife shows a footnote that the Aramaic term “being turned into a pillar of salt” is a colloquial saying meaning to be “frightened to death.” Can’t you just see the good King James translators in England staring at their salt cellars and scratching their heads before translating it literally? (And mothers can see a kid in trouble being told, “Get out there and take care of the goats or I’ll turn you into a pillar of salt!”)

I had heard so many explanations of it being harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that I tuned it all out. I heard the one about there being a “camel’s gate” in Jerusalem where they would have to unload the camel, make it crawl through the gate on its’ knees and then reload it on the other side. Sounds like hard work and very inefficient. Why not just go to another gate? It would make more sense. Mr. Lamsa explains that the written word for “camel” in Aramaic has one tiny dot of difference between it and the word for “yarn” or “twine”. The verse in his translation is that it is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than to pass twine through the eye of a needle. Rich people sometimes do have a hard time holding on to their humility, but some of them do. Why should their riches condemn them?

One of the most perplexing questions I had was where Jesus tells his followers that if their right eye offends them it is better to pluck it out, or if their right hand offends them to cut it off. Every few years someone does one or both of those things. Most people know that this is figurative, but I always wondered just what it was figurative about. The Lamsa’s translation has footnotes indicating that the eye is the seat of jealousy, so that part means not to covet. As for the hand, the punishment throughout middle eastern countries was, and in some places still is, having the right hand amputated, so that injunction means not to steal.

Mr. Lamsa’s translation has answered many questions for me. But I still love the formality and majestic language of the King James Version.

There is also a book on translation called IS THAT A FISH IN YOUR EAR? by David Bellos. It has a section on bible translations and how they had to relate to the understanding of people when missionaries brought them the gospel, the “good news.” On tropical islands where the people had never seen snow, how could the term “white as snow” have any meaning? Looking around the missionaries couldn’t see anything white enough to substitute except for a bird, so they translated snow as “white as a cockatiel’s feather.”

Many of the islands are made only of sand and are very swampy, so the natives built their homes on stilts. When the translators got to the part where Jesus told of the foolish man building his home on sand while the wise man built his on a rock, they had to consider that for awhile. They finally translated that part to read that the foolish man made his stilts of soft wood (which rots in water), while the wise man built his home with hard wood.

Some people object to the translation process, but the main objective should always be greater understanding for everyone.


(This is a poem I have written in response to the Holocaust Deniers who make a mockery of and deny the reality of historical Truth)

Of late the faded photograph, grainy and old,
Intrudes upon my mind
And sears my sleep.

The women – naked, exposed –
Led helplessly to an open grave,
Striving still, to shield their beauty,
Hands covering breasts and mounds —
Enclosed by encircling arms, one protects her child
Now never to be born.

Nearby with rifles stand
Who think they are men,
leering at the capturing camera,
Bearing witness forever to their unholy glee.

In the vast economy of God,
Whose loss is worse?
The women, whose beauty is only transformed,
Or the unthinkers who destroy themselves?


I feel such a sense of foreboding for the Jewish people worldwide and for the State of Israel.  Our amazing president has managed to fail all of our strongest allies. Will Israel stand alone? Prophesy says so. The Lord has said He will bless those who bless them and curse those who curse them.

Where will we stand?

MY MUSLIM “FAMILY” or How I Got Adopted

“INSHALLAH, CHILD OF ABRAHAM.” To A Most Beautiful Young Eagle on His Final Earthly Flight

For many years we shared time at a Ronald McDonald House in Chicago with families from many Arab Nations. As women we were told not to touch the men and to let the families initiate contact as they desired. So I was hesitant at times to approach any Arab there.

As the years passed we all became more comfortable with each other and began trading ideas and offering help to each other. The first time I shared in the impending death of a child, I stood under a street light with his Arab mother while she and I wept together and she showed me photos of her son when he was healthy. He was her only child and she and her husband had fought so long to keep him. Mohammed died the next morning and his father came to me and said, ” Will you come and look at my wife?” I thought he meant for me to talk with her, but when I reached their room she was lying passed out across the bed like a broken bird. I do not think she had really slept in weeks. Her husband stood there gazing with such love at her, then he turned to me and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” And he put his arms around me. He really did mean for me to “look” at her and see how beautiful she was.

Over several years a Saudi family came to the House frequently with several of their children who were in need of the same kind of organ transplants. The family was evidently high class because the husband, Nasir, was shown great deference by all the other families and was kind of a tribal leader. Nasir and I had many conversations about the genetic problems that occurred in his family because of inbreeding (his wife was a cousin to him), but he knew that the custom would not change, one always married within the clan. We discussed God and philosophy and he frequently asked about life in Alaska (which he was amused by and could not get a clear picture of), while I tried to learn more of his life. His wife smiled at me but spoke almost no English. Since she was the “chief” wife, most of the other women were kind but distant. Everyone seemed to love my daughter, even Nasir, who had a daughter the same age.

One day I went to the large living room where the men gathered every day to listen to Al-Jazeera. It was my habit to sit in another corner and knit. I noticed that the women, who never came into the living room, were all sitting in the rotunda of the room and had turned towards me as I came in. I was puzzled as Nasir approached me and all the other men also turned towards me. Nasir engaged me in a conversation in front of everyone, which seemed to center around my belief in God. He finally seemed satisfied by my answers and put his hand out to me. I was startled but thought he just wanted to shake hands with me so I also extended my hand. He grabbed my hand, pulled me into his arms and kissed each of my cheeks, then he stepped back and all of the men shook their heads in what appeared to be consent at what had happened. All the women smiled and began talking and everyone looked happy.

Stunned and not understanding what had just gone on, I smiled at them all and went to my customary chair to knit.

Whenever I was at the house after that I was treated as family. If the women cooked they fed me, anxious for me to like their food. Most of the women stopped veiling themselves around me, and, interestingly enough, some of them also unveiled in front of my husband.

I still do not know what happened when Nasir kissed me that day, but I felt like I had been “adopted.” I am so aware now of the wars and general instability in the Mid-East because my friends and their children are there. I worry about them and weep for their losses. I understand the minds of some of the people because they have shared them with me.

My daughter and I kept a heart-rending deathwatch over a beautiful Arab child named after the eagles while his body rejected a kidney and lung transplant. Watching the process of dying for one trying so hard to live is not for the faint of heart. His father could not bear to see his child, his beloved son, suffer. He fell apart if he came into the room. His wife took longer but finally could watch no more either. Many times my daughter and I were the only ones in his room but we tried to be there at least once a day. We spoke to him often and could see his wonderful personality peeking out while we wiped his face and let him know how much we had come to love him. His death was a blow to so many people, but the Arab word Inshallah (as Allah wills) guides and sustains the people of the Islamic faith. They have a kind of fatalism, for want of a better word, that helps them cope in ways more westernized people don’t understand very well.

One question I had about the Arabs has been answered very clearly. I always wondered why the Iranians released their U.S. hostages as soon as Jimmy Carter was no longer President. I now know that Arabs only respect their enemies if they are strong and they knew that Carter was weak. Ronald Reagan was a man they could respect as a “worthy” enemy.



I do not remember a time when I didn’t have a book spinning in my head. Reading forced me to decide whether I wanted to be like the people in the books I read. That aspect of reading became more important when Holocaust literature started to become available in the early 1950’s. I still weep for Elie Weisel’s losses and marvel at his survival.

My youngest child (who was born when I was almost 46) and I were discussing a talk she had heard by an author who was a holocaust survivor when I mentioned that I had been in my early teens when I began reading books on the subject. She looked surprised and indicated she had begun reading those books when she was nine or ten. Imagine her shock when I reminded her that when I was that age the war was barely over and the books were not yet written. World War II was ancient history to all of my children.

There were so many times that books challenged me and made me decide what actions I would not take part in, or which ones I wanted to emulate. Sometimes I think of life as a continual “reinvention” of one’s self. The act of reading internalizes the quest to change like nothing else. Asking questions and deciding how one should act is a process of surprising growth and most of the thought involved is inside “where the meanings are” (per Emily Dickinson).

I remember a chance thing when I was a high school sophomore in a World History class. The instructor began the class by telling us what we didn’t know about history. Then he described a city where the ruler had gathered up scrolls, clay tablets, cuneiform writings and books from all over the known world and established the greatest library the world had ever seen. The teacher said he knew no one in the class could even tell him the name of that city. Instantly without even thinking I said, “Alexandria.” The teacher’s face was so shocked as he stared at me. I was also shocked because I was normally shy and hated attention being drawn to me. I honestly could not remember how I knew about the great library at Alexandria and can only think I must have read about it in The Book of Knowledge years before that class. If the teacher had asked me one real question about the city or the library I don’t think I could have answered it.  The only thing I could have said was that the library was destroyed almost completely some time after the death of the ruler (Alexander the Great).

Of course I became the “teacher’s pet”, and also became known as a “brain.” There are times when a reputation has to be maintained with great effort. I worked so hard in that class so I would not be exposed as the dummy I actually felt like. I don’t think I could have done anything wrong in the eyes of the teacher in that class, and I know word got around to a lot of the other teachers. I found myself putting more effort into every class I had.

One of my aunts (the wealthy one) was telling my mother how she paid her children $25 for each A they got, $20 for each B, and $10 for each C. I was around the corner listening and feeling sad because we didn’t have that kind of money. After a moment my mother said, “If we did that with Anniel we’d go broke on one report card.”

She had never said a word to me about my grades so I hadn’t known she was proud of me. Her words were a better reward than any money.


“TODAY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.” English translated road construction sign on  Tokyo street –

Very early this morning I had cause to remember learning to read and what that has meant in my life, which is still under construction.

I was three years old when our family moved out to what was then the country. Dad bought an acre of scrub land covered with sagebrush, tumbleweed and mustard weed, where we lived in a four room shack with no indoor plumbing or central heat. We did have electricity and a party-line telephone. A well was drilled and we were fortunate enough to hit artesian so we never needed to pump or prime the well. I loved the well and thought it the most beautiful place of all in winter when it froze where it flowed down the pipe and onto the bare rocks and little branches around it.

We had very few books in our home, although daddy loved the newspaper and we all loved the comics. After dad and mom finished with the paper, I always sat on the floor under the kitchen table and  “looked” at the rest of the paper, along with the comics.

My older brother started school the year we moved, so I was alone a lot. My parents decided that year to buy a set of books called The Book of Knowledge, and I would sit on the floor in front of the wood stove for hours poring over and looking at the different sections and pictures until I practically had them memorized. I particularly loved the literature and Fairy Tale sections where there were tales of villains and heroes. Each year we would receive another book to add to the set. It was called The Book of Knowledge Annual, and I lived for the day it would arrive so I could find out what had been learned in the past year in science, and what literature had been added.

I could hardly wait to go to school so I could learn to read, then I would be able to learn anything in the world. The thought was thrilling to me. I envied my brother and the kids around us who went to school before I did. They would be so far ahead of me. I hated the thought.

Finally I was six and the big day arrived. Kindergarten at last, and I would learn to read. All of my senses were alert, and, sure enough, the teacher stood up and talked about the great things in store for us, including learning to read! She picked up a strip of blue colored paper and said, “This is the color ‘blue’ and this is the word ‘blue’ written on it.” She repeated the same thing with a strip of red paper. I was so bewildered. She repeated the same thing with an orange strip, and then added, “Someday you will know how to read, and no one will have to tell you what the words are.”

I went into absolute shock. Of course the words said “blue”, “red”, and “orange”, what else could they possibly say? Then it hit me, this was reading and I hadn’t known it. I already knew how to read!

I wish I could tell how I learned to read without ever realizing what I was doing. I remember the stories, King Bruce and the Spider, Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast, I had read them all in The Book of Knowledge. I had also read about World War II and even the Rape of Nanking in The Reader’s Digest, which a neighbor subscribed to.

After school that afternoon I told my mom I didn’t have to go to school anymore because I already knew how to read.

They still made me go to school, even though “See Spot Run” held little attraction for me.


“. . . whoso shall offend one of these little ones . . . ” Matthew 18:6

The radio wakened me this morning to the news that a six year old boy in Colorado was being charged with “sexual harassment” for kissing the cheek of a little girl he liked. The principal of the school said the charge would be permanent on his school records. I was rolling my eyes at such stupidity when the news played the little boy’s voice saying, “I did something wrong.” At that point I almost cried and wanted to scream, “NO, YOU DIDN’T!!” It was not a good beginning to the day.

What in the world are we doing to our children? Six years old and this child thinks he did something “WRONG”, when he did no such thing. And now he faces the threat of this idiocy hanging over him for the rest of his school years. At some time or other every little boy innocently kisses a little girl. Most big boys sometimes innocently do the same thing, too. Almost all women have male (and female) friends who hug them and kiss their cheek. That’s just who they are – huggers and touchers.

Doctors and nurses know that all patients, from birth to death, crave human contact; that preemies are more likely to thrive and survive if they are held, caressed and spoken to. Some hospitals have volunteers who feed and rock babies so they receive important touching.

I have heard parts of, but not read in full, a report about developing a conscience in children. One researcher said that the first step is to hold and talk or sing to babies so they learn they can trust and care for those around them. Another researcher said that trust is the cornerstone of conscience. Sounds about right to me.

The war against boys is such a farcical thing it makes one want to laugh and cry at the same time. And what does this war do to little girls? Can they grow up happy when they are forced not to trust any of the boys, or men for that matter, around them? And yes, I do know you have to teach children to recognize inappropriate behavior, but there are correct ways to do so without scaring them to death.

My grandmother died when my mother was barely six years old, and mom’s father was a rather shy and undemonstrative man who didn’t quite know how to rear his four little girls by himself, so he made sure they were fed and clothed, and left the loving to visiting aunts and friends. My mother missed the love and touching of a parent and grew up craving human touch and contact so much. Sometimes when I would visit I would reach out and scratch her back or hold her while we watched TV. She would sigh and open like a thirsty flower. I could feel her wrap herself around in my expressions of love through touch.

What happens to this little boy and girl in Colorado now that they have been shell-shocked by the so-called adults around them? Do they feel that all people who hug them are evil? That if they want to hug or kiss someone they themselves are bad? Do they ever trust anyone at all? What are the long term consequences of cutting off completely normal actions of the people around them?

Fathers and mothers need to stand up for the right of their children to be children and do the normal things that all little children do. It is really past time to attach shame to the so-called professionals who don’t use common sense and indulge themselves in bringing harm to little children.


How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the light of the glittering stars,
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceeds that of ours.

Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
. . . . . . . . . .

Laying on the lawn at night gazing at the stars and learning the constellations from our father and mother, who had learned them from their fathers and mothers, and they from theirs, back, back into the past, was one of the joys of me and my brothers. We loved learning the difference between stars and planets and finding the Pole Star of true north. There was Orion with his gleaming sword, the Great and Little Bears, Cassaeopia’s throne, and yes, we did learn the Latin names, too. Do parents still lie on the ground with their children and show them the heavens? Or are their children so enthralled with Social Media, texting, computer games and the like that they never look up at the heavens, still less what might be at their own feet?

I can’t help but ask myself when I see the Mall Zombies wandering down the halls, rude and foul mouthed, not even seeing or caring about other other people, what they will do when the plug gets pulled and the lights go out. Are they even prepared to take care of themselves if the need arises? How will your children fare? Do they know how to work or even be responsible in any way?

I think we have many people who will succumb to despair and fear in straitened circumstances, while others will turn to crime and violence to get what they want.

Lest you think I have not seen such circumstances, I was living in Alaska on March 27, 1964 when the Good Friday earthquake struck. We were fortunate in Anchorage then because for the most part people were somewhat prepared and helped each other. But there were certainly others who indulged in uncivil and criminal acts.

We need to strengthen our children, homes and communities to prepare them for what they may face.

Parents and children need to bless the ties that bind them and learn together the things of glory that surround them.

Even now, living far north, where one cannot even see stars in summer and it’s so cold to be out in winter, our children show their children the stars and northern lights, rousing them in the middle of the night, bundling them and carrying them out to SEE.

I love to sing the forgotten verse of “Home On The Range” to remember those beautiful times and the questions of creation. Do any of the other stars’ glory exceed that of our own?

Why are we so afraid to acknowledge all the beauty around us, to be thankful for creation’s miracle? Make time to teach your children of wonder. Caring parents used to do that in order to humanize their children, to pass on their own love and wonder.


“Those people get cold and hungry, too.”  Henry, my father

My father was a young man during the real Great Depression. He was a “hobo” who “rode the rails” all over the western United States, sharing boxcars with other men also in dire circumstances. He drifted from place to place looking for any work he could find and working hard for every penny or food he earned.

He also made life-long friends, both among those who helped him and those he rode the rails with. He and his friends referred to each other in racial terms that are totally unacceptable today and they thought nothing of it. In fact, they were terms of endearment for his group. Dad was known as “that hard-headed Finn”, usually accompanied by some other more colorful expletives, and almost all of those he knew referred to themselves by their pejorative racial identities.

Daddy finally found work in a copper mine, married and settled down a few years before World War II began. Times were still tough but with the beginning of the war the depression officially ended and dad found what was considered a defense job as a night shift switchman for the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad. He still loved being around trains and worked for the Railroad until his death.

When I was a child there was only one black family in our community and we children never met them. They were spoken of by the adults we knew in terms that today would be very derogatory. I think we children heard every racial epithet in the book. By today’s standards, daddy and his friends would certainly be considered “racists” by referring to all groups in such language.

Coming from the Depression generation, money was a huge factor in dad’s life. He never wasted a penny if he could help it and he lived by the maxim “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” So when he came home from work one extremely cold winter morning and announced that he had “lost” his winter coat and “broken” his thermos my mother was completely baffled and kept trying to get him to tell her how in the world such a thing had happened. He told her to stick to her own problems and just get a new coat and thermos for him.

The next payday mom took me with her while, as usual, she went to railroad accounting to pick up dad’s paycheck. One of dad’s co-workers was also there and came out to our car laughing and said, “Henry nearly froze to death when he gave that black hobo his coat and thermos and fed him his lunch.” He also said dad brought the man into the switchmen’s shed to “warm up and hide from the railroad dicks until the train left and then he even helped him get aboard a boxcar without being seen.” When mom told daddy what she had learned he looked embarrassed and muttered, “Those people get cold and hungry, too.”

Since I had never met any black person I had assumed daddy didn’t like them. But what I heard that day left me with a very different perspective about my father.

My youngest brother, Dave, told me about our father taking him to the airport when he left for Vietnam. He said that everyone leaving on the flight had family and friends seeing them off except for one young black man from out-of-town. Dave walked around greeting friends when he realized dad was no longer with him. He found him sitting with his arms around the black kid, who was homesick, lonely and scared. Our father and Dave stayed with the boy right up until the boys boarded the plane and daddy hugged and kissed them both goodbye.

So, tell me, did my father’s words make him a racist? If so, what did his actions make him?