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Do We See the Faces of the Children at Our Borders?

LOOK WITH YOUR COMPASSIONATE HEART squarely into the faces of these boys and girls snatched from their parents and siblings. Give your undistracted concentration to their terrified, disbelieving gazes. Bear witness to their utter humiliation as they are handcuffed by strangers in armed uniforms and secreted off in unmarked vehicles to undisclosed locations. Pause yet …

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A Day for Love in the Age of Trump

YOU MIGHT SAY that at its inception St. Valentine’s Day was born of the order of a lover’s “blizzard.” For, as legend has it, Saint Valentine, a third century Christian priest, selflessly ministered to his fellow Christians during the blizzard of persecution instigated by the Roman emperor Claudius. He did so by deliberately defying the …

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A World Of Surprises

BEING MOTHER OR FATHER TO YOUR OWN LIFE’S WORK is like the stone-deaf Beethoven birthing the Ninth Symphony’s Ode to Joy. The craft of creativity is far more formidable than comprehensible. We become infinitely more dependent upon what we do not know than upon what we know. Who knows for sure whether this score will ever …

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From Blue Mountain Ridges to Desert Sand Concentration Camps

IT WAS THE SUNNY SUNDAY MORNING of June 23rd, not unlike other days when the sky is painted blue and gentle breezes waft through the cruciform-flowered dogwoods and stalwart-standing oaks of western North Carolina. Nothing was ostensibly different — not the flow of traffic into the parking lot or the flight of songbirds flitting from …

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“Best and Deepest” Self-Portraits

IF ONE TAKES THE TIME to study Vincent van Gogh’s numerous self-portraits, it is apparent that there are several “Vincents” dwelling within the one Vincent. Never, though, do Vincent’s self-portraits exhibit an outright display of mirth. Like a hound tracking a faint whiff of exotic expectation, one must hunt for the glee hidden beneath the surface of …

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“Follow Me When I Try to Explain Something”

VINCENT VAN GOGH ONCE WROTE OF HIS FATHER with whom he had more than one verbal altercation while living under the same roof, “I seem to detect in Father proofs . . . of his really being unable to follow me when I try to explain something to him. He clings to a part of what …

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Portraits of You

AS THE SAYING GOES, and as you have heard it said, you are the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the friends you make, the name you bear, and the words you speak. You are also your social security number, your high school picture, the glimpse of you a passerby brings to mind, and …

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The Slaves of My Ancestors

DICK, STEPHEN, CHARITY, AND LUCY were their given names — these beloved “Negroes.” They were the propertied slaves owned by my fourth great grandfather at the time of his death in the year 1810. At the top of the inventory of all of Philemon Davidson’s worldly possessions, the court appraised Dick at 120 pounds sterling, …

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Grace Given As Grace Received

THERE ARE STORIES PASSED DOWN about my grandfather Clarence, who died several years before I was born, to the effect that he could take quickly to the stern edge of his character and at times be brusque, impatient and demanding. While he was an industrious and productive Virginia farmer who certainly knew the meaning of hard work, with …

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Quiet, Please! While The Fox Is Passing!

AMONG THE PURPORTED BLESSINGS OF LIFE in the countryside is nature’s primordial gift of tranquility. This is reason enough to take the wilderness trail that rambles toward Eden. To a human actor too long accustomed to the raucous rattle of the internal combustion engine in its endless procession over miles of concrete freeways, the world-stage of …

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Some Wisdom From Woodchuck

IT IS TRUE. An oyster would have better concocted this beloved mother-of-pearl than I, the pearl-maker, who is left holding nothing but the encrusted shell of a mollusk. What on Earth, I ask, has happened to the luxurious nacre within? My fond creation, all six pages of it, like pearls on a strand, broke loose this …

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Trickling Twiddling Rippling River

OLD MISTY EYE, Fountain of Eden Draped over spiked spine of wet-cold sleeping mountain Ancient of Days, canticle of waters thundering aground Rumbling and tumbling atilt and crashing around Through craggy fissures of rock and sodden seams of silt. Trickling, twiddling, rippling river Splattering over bobbing twig, jagged stone and sunken rig. Gentle flowing brook today, rowdy ripping rapids tomorrow Frothing beneath drooping …

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Of Mites and Miters

MINISTRY IS LIKE SPORTS. It is subject to the pointless competition of the steeplechase, the serious injuries of boxing (with shadows), and the deadly leisure of line drives aimed straight at the preacher—absent the benefit of recreational drugs (religion alone is dangerous enough as opiate). It is like golf minus the combat compensation of seaside, …

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