“Thank you for your service”

August 17, 2016 § 1 Comment

thank-you-for-your-serviceA few years ago, Mark and I were sitting with a friend in a Panera restaurant having coffee and talking. Suddenly a man I call the Panera Stranger, thrust his hand at Mark and said, “Thank you for your service!” Mark mumbled something, I was paralyzed, and we were all – including, most likely, the Stranger, were left feeling awkward and uncomfortable. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chautauqua, and not a moment too soon

August 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

250px-ChatauquaInst_HallPhilosophyI came to the Chautauqua Institution six years ago and while I loved it, I had not been tempted to return. My own fault, really. I approached it, by habit, as a Learning Experience. I took classes. I listened to lectures. In the spirit of the Institution’s founding, I felt Improved. But nothing happened that stirred me.

This year, by chance, I came across the theme for the season, “What It Means To Be Human,” and saw the theme for Week 8, “War and Its Warriors: Contemporary Voices.” I scanned the speakers. Some were new to me but I had the books, in some cases multiple books, by four of them on my shelves. « Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday People

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

candle-flameIt is the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a strange day, liminal time. It was always hard for me to know how to feel on this day. Ever practical, I would be properly solemn on Good Friday but on Saturday I would say I knew how this story turned out and there were things to be done – eggs to be dyed and braided bread to be baked and, in the time when I was going to church, candles and lilies to be arranged and potted flowers to be put out for the children. « Read the rest of this entry »

Truth. Then Reconciliation.

March 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

My Lai. Photo by Mark Smith.

My Lai. Photo by Mark Smith.

Buried within Seymour M. Hersh’s look back at the massacre at My Lai, The Scene of the Crime, published in The New Yorker, there is the account of a poignant exchange between the director of the My Lai Museum, Mr. Pham Thanh Cong, and an American veteran who had been one of the perpetrators.

The American, Kenneth Schiel, says he wants to “apologize to the people of My Lai,” but that is as far as he goes. “I ask myself all the time why did this happen. I don’t know.”

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Advent Image

December 13, 2013 § 2 Comments

IMG_0160 It is deep and dark December in the northeastern United States. Snow has fallen for days. Nothing outside my window resembles this photograph and yet I keep coming back to it as a focus for Advent meditation. « Read the rest of this entry »

Ariadne’s Story

November 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

cretianariadne It’s not true, what they say. They blame The Minotaur but I looked elsewhere, even long after I had left my city with the man who then abandoned me, sailing his careless way, forgetting (or so they would say) to signal his success, flying the black sail instead. His father, believing his beloved son dead, threw himself from the city walls. What was it about him that made people love him so, when all he wanted was to fill his endless hunger for daring and adventure? « Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of Civilians

August 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I grabbed this graphic from a site called, Half the Battle which has the results of a survey of millennials about the challenges veterans face as they adjust to civilian life. If I am reading this correctly, it seems that the gap of awareness is not as wide as it was after the Vietnam War, but there is still the question of what civilians can do to help.

I grabbed this graphic from a site called Half the Battle which has the results of a survey of millennials about the challenges veterans face as they adjust to civilian life. If I am reading this correctly, it seems that the gap of awareness is not as wide as it was after the Vietnam War, but there is still the question of what civilians can do to help.

Since I visited Viet Nam two years ago I have been advocating for civilians to take a stronger role in assuming responsibility for war. That visit prompted me to ponder the legacy that my generation not only still carries but that is being passed on to younger generations. If civilians are more willing to hear the truth about war, I have been saying, perhaps those who fight will be better able to heal and all of us will be better able to find solutions to problems without resorting so quickly to war.

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