Muriel Jean McCown


I had just finished swimming my mile at the Apex Center. There are three pools there that have been able to reopen at Covid capacity. I swim at the lap pool, which has become a true gift. The two other pools are family recreation pools complete with water slides, fountains and all kinds of fun stuff. It is amazing to me that a limited number of kids can make so much noise. Today while I was swimming my laps I could hear a universal sound. A cacophony of screams, yips, laughter, squeals, and general kid mayhem. This is a universal noise that is the same in Mexico, China, Europe, or Wash Park. There are no discernible words— just joy expressed.
As I was driving home I thought about that sound and the word “cacophony”—a harsh discordant collection of sounds. I learned that word in my Vocabulary Building class taught by Jean Mccown. I was asked a month or so ago who my favorite high school teacher was. For me it was easy. Mrs. Mccown. I had her for English literature, Advanced Composition and Vocabulary Building, all of which have stayed with me these many years.
I got home and ate my dinner. It was January 6, and I was trying not to watch the tragedy of the coup d’eta inspired by The Liar In Chief. I got a notice on my Face Book app that Muriel Jean Mccown had died New Years Day. The irony of having just a few moments before, finding myself reminiscing how much I learned from her and now acknowledging her passing on a day of betrayal was not lost on me.
Jean Mccown was grace incorporated. A very classy lady with a South Carolina accent, which at Pueblo East High was something to behold. She was the kind of teacher that made you want to learn. She even made Silas Marner fun. My brother in law Dave Marquez said, “She was the first teacher that made me believe I was smart”.
We read McBeth where I memorized, “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The Way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

I repeated every line of it and could see Jean Mccown with her slight and warm smile knowing that the truth of such a moment is timeless. It was an appropriate response to the tragedy of a pathological narcissist and his cult followers attacking the the heart of our democracy. It was a night I will never forget. I found my moorings in my memories of knowing my favorite high school teacher was one of my anchors.
Jean Mccown was an honest optimist. We learned that literature could help us look life straight in the eye with to totality of the good, the bad, the ugly and know grace is in our midst.
Onward and Upward, Mark

The San Luis Valley

At 6:05a Christmas morning, I took off on a drive to my son Mateo’s home outside of Espanola, NM. The sun was just beginning to show itself as I headed south. I think early Christmas morning might be my favorite time to drive, ever. I had the world almost to myself. When I got to I-25 South there were about four cars that followed me all the way through the metro area. I was listening to classical Christmas music, and the scene was serene and comforting. I remember thinking, “This reminds me of the Colorado of my childhood”.
I stopped in Pueblo to say hi to my sister Rita and take a break. I soon headed south on an interstate route that I have driven 100’s of times. I can feel the stress flake off me as I see the Spanish Peaks on the horizon. In no time I was headed up La Veta Pass which empties into the San Luis Valley. 35 years ago in 1986, we moved to Alamosa which lies in the heart of the largest alpine valley in the world. It is a giant terrarium. It’s 60 miles wide by 120 miles long. It is totally surrounded by 14,000 ft peaks, with the Sangre do Christos on the east and the San Juans on the west.
We moved there with four kids, two cats and our best dog ever, Smiley the Australian Cattle dog. For the next 11 years I served as the pastor of First Christian Church in Alamosa. From 1993-97 I also served as the pastor of First Christian in Monte Vista. They were 19 miles apart and we lived out in the country placed nicely between them. The “Valley” as we came to know, it, is truly a mystical place. It is where Colorado history began. It is home to multiple cultures and peoples. The indigenous Americans would often spend the winter there as it had ample food and water everywhere. There are amazing farms and ranches there. It is full of artists, free spirits, and people whose line was “our car broke down here on our way to California and we never left”.
Let me tell you about the winter of 1991-92. On Halloween we got two feet of snow on the Valley floor, which is 7500 ft in elevation. What that did was to create a cold vacuum in the whole valley. There are thousands of artesian wells there which pour out warm water. This made a fog which covered the entire valley day and night. It was like a cloud lid. Every day got colder than the day before. For 91 days in a row it NEVER got above 0’ day or night. The coldest it got at our house that we knew of, was -44’.

For many days it got down to -63’ in La Jara, a town to the south of Alamosa.
I was at a minister’s meeting in Colorado Springs, where the pastor there was talking about being an Air Force Chaplain in Fairbanks, Alaska. “Do you know Mark, if it gets to minus 38’ you can do this amazing trick. Get water boiling and put it in a big thermal mug. Throw the water in the air and it will implode”. I headed home where I could not wait to try it. That night it was -41’ and I got the kids to join me. Sure enough, you throw the water up in the air and you hear a soft “whoooompffff” only to see a huge cloud go into the sky, and ice crystals sparkling in the night’s light. Soon word spread and for about three weeks this scene was repeated all over this frozen Dr. Zhivago tundra.
This Christmas Day the Valley did not disappoint. The winter scene was breathtaking. I turned south at Ft. Garland to head to Taos, NM, which was 70 miles away. My heart was filled with memories of Christmas time when my kids were all in our home. Of life in a small town where the best and worst of life together was shared (the best far outweighs the worst). As I was coming down the pass I was greeted by two Golden Eagles who were dining on the most recent road kill. I slowed down to come within just a few yards of these majestic birds. South of San Luis there are many wild horses and they did not disappoint. The almost yearling colts had grown since I saw them last summer.
I have had four homes in Colorado— Pueblo, Alamosa, Denver and now Arvada. Each of them have shaped me. The Valley, was the place where I found recovery, beauty, rich history, a love of the land, and a place where you lived in 360 degrees of sunrise and sunsets.
This Christmas morning I was alone but never lonely. Onward and Upward,
Mark

Rita Jo

1951


My earliest memory took place a few days after December 26, 1950. My parents introduced me to my brand new sister, Rita Jo. I can see myself looking over the classic crib which had multicolored balls at the end, which were there not for just decoration, but to spin as soon as the enclosed baby learned to pull itself up. I was totally taken in with a sense of amazement. There was a certain smell of the infant that calmed me. Today my sister Rita Jo turns 70. Happy Birthday~sis you are a gift not only to me but to our family and the world.
When I turned 30 it did not bother me, but 18 months later when we had Rita’s 30th birthday, it made me realize that the sands of my hour glass were speeding up. Growing up with me as the “big brother” was not all fun. I could be a jerk, a tease, and I confess that I still regret the day I aimed a BB gun at a 45’ angle and about 100 yards away, and the BB landed right on her rear. Today Rita has her own story about why she is so committed to MOMs Demand Action for responsible gun laws. Rita is a warrior for sane gun laws, environmental justice, racial inclusion, and recovery. She is also a commissioned minister in the Disciples of Christ. Rita Jo is my hero!!!
Let’s back up to 1953. Soon after the birth of my brother Charley, my mom Pat sunk into a severe postpartum psychosis. She was institutionalized on and off for a year. Rita and I were put in the care of friends and relatives. At one point we spent a month or so going to a place Rita affectionately renamed—PUEBLO Day Penitentiary—It was not pretty. I would not leave her sight. As a result I have a very clear memory of a “care giver” in a white uniform taking me into a stair well and kicking and punching me. I would not stop yelling until they let me stay with Rita. I only share this because I know these kinds of things happen to kids.
In 9th grade I tolerated Rita showing up as a 7th grader at Heaton Jr. High with her “cat eye glasses” and ponytail. However, when she showed up as a sophomore at Pueblo East High, I figured out really quickly that she had a covey of very cute friends. We began a much more mature friendship that goes on to this day.
I was privileged 22 years ago to perform the wedding for Rita and Dave. Together they have built a remarkable partnership that is blending a son

apiece, and four grandkids. To be either Rita’s grandkid or nephew or niece is to blessed. Rita cares, Rita listens, Rita is fun. She was a master teacher, and if you were fortunate enough to have her as a kid or the parent of kid, you know what a fantastic educator she is.
One final story— I was in the 6th grade and Rita the 4th. We were both taking piano lessons and we were playing a duet at a Christmas recital at the old Central Christian Church. I don’t know if it was stage fright or what, but Rita froze. I, being the jerk that I could be, elbowed my sister ever so slightly in the ribs. She started crying. We limped through the song.
I could not ask for a more special sister. She has an amazing sense of humor, a pastor’s heart, and was smart enough to survive me.
Onward and Upward, Mark

The Sweet Spot


The metaphor “Sweet Spot”, I first heard in reference to that place on a baseball bat where the ball pops off the bat with the greatest velocity. It is the place on a golf club where the ball does what you want it to. It is that time on a vacation or trip where everything comes together. Today I am talking Swedish Tea Rings.
My grandpa Joe Anderson, was a full blooded Swede whose parents immigrated to the US and settled in SW Iowa. My mom Pat, who would have turned 100 in three weeks, loved her Swedish heritage. She could say the Lord’s Prayer in Swedish. She was a great story teller and had many tales of her Nordic heritage. What I remember best, is that this time every year she would make four Swedish Tea Rings. This was no simple task. It took her all day. There was the dough prep, the rising, prepping the filling that consisted of walnuts, currents, cinnamon, honey, and who knows what else. She would bake them two at a time. When they were cooled they would get just the right amount of frosting.
“Don’t you dare touch these Mark, they are for Christmas morning breakfast”. They sat there for a couple of days talking to me. Then after the joy of “unbridled materialistic avarice” (to quote Ralph from A Christmas Story), we headed to breakfast. My mom was a world champion homemaker. Christmas at our house was a combination of chaos and grace.
Well, the Swedish Tea Rings were warmed up to perfection. Now something I had learned in my yearly consumption, is that, as much as my mom achieved perfection, there was always about a three inch section where the juicy best found its home. So believe it or not, I became an expert at spotting that “sweet spot”. I would carefully plot my selection where I aimed for that most amazing concoction of Swedish perfection, oozing with extra moist goo. In my well honed proclivity for “tasty” this was a grand slam over the center field fence.
Sweet spots are harder to come by this year, but all the more joyful when discovered. I will share two with you. One, my wonderful daughter Amy and family, sent me the most amazing slippers, along with the best homemade Christmas card. If you want a peek just connect with me and I

will send you a picture. Two, my grandson Miko made his second short film. He has the gift of both heart and mind.
So enjoy your ‘sweet spots’ whatever they might be. I would love to hear from you as to where you found, tasted, heard or observed your 281 yard drive, which rocketed right out of the perfect place on your club.
Onward and Upward, Mark

Light


In eight days we will experience another winter solstice. In terms of daylight it is the shortest day of the year. It is 4:55p here at my dining room table and it is almost night. I am looking out over a snow covered view and I am greeted by a gentle variety of Christmas lights at each of my neighbor’s homes. My fireplace is gently waving to me with radiant warmth that comes as close to perfect as I could imagine. I plan to drive out before sunrise tomorrow just to watch it happen again. When the sun is way south, the daylight radiates and creates sunrises that go well with Handel’s Messiah. When I get to the the crest of the hill on 120th, I can see downtown Denver to the right and Boulder to the left.
Like everything else, this is a very unique Christmas time. The Pandemic has seemed to motivate my part the of world to be even more festive, and I am grateful. I have been thinking about light and dark all day. I remember going to the Cave of the Winds near Manitou Springs when I was about eight. Somewhere on the tour we were asked to stand still and the guide turned out all the lights. I was not scared, it was too dark even to imagine any scary thought. This total darkness was probably no more than a couple of minutes but I got the point.
A right of passage in my youth was to “walk the storm drain”. This 1/2 mile corrugated steel passage went from Belmont park to the Fountain river. It was about four feet tall which meant you negotiated it bent over. My first time through was this side of terrifying. I was last in a line of about five boys. The tunnel was straight for about 250 yards, then it made a turn which meant the light behind us disappeared. For the next few minutes you were in cave darkness. Then at about the time I asked myself why I did this, light appeared as a tiny round opening in front of us. We got to the end, where we threw rocks and chased lizards. The trek back was a piece of cake.
I have been thinking this week about a quote from Leonard Cohen. “The cracks are what let the light shine in”. Life is breaking my heart open again. The realities of solitude which can become loneliness has broken me open. The sadness of watching the Covid “death ticker” hit nearly 300,000 hurts. And then I get the message on my phone that Charley Pride died today of Covid. He had a great run!!! He would perform every

year at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. My parents were huge fans. They would put on their western gear and head to the Fair in red cowboy boots (mine now) and my mom in a classic cowgirl skirt and vest. “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” Charley. I cried when I thought of how this unlikely man crossed the racial divide with music, which began when he was in the Air Force singing in Montana. The light from this crack of grief is a gift.
Tonight I will put on the Nat King Cole Christmas album and think of the bubble lights on my parent’s tree by our fireplace on Alexander Circle. My mom would light a couple of candles and a 10 year old boy would sit on the couch for hours and bask in the lights of a winter’s night.
Onward and Upward, Mark

Johnny A. AKA Quail

Jonnie A. (AKA Quail)—

A Man of Peace

Soon after JFK’s assassination, I began to slip into what I now recognize as a deep and dark depression. In May that following year I lost my friend, Larry E., to a tragic drowning. I was then told by my father that I was going to work at the family business. There would be no baseball, hanging out at the pool, or riding my bike for endless hours around Pueblo. The work was very hard, as we cleaned carpets in two homes a day, and picked up 20 some area rugs. We brought those rugs back to the plant to scrub, and hang from a 25ft ceiling for forced air drying.

I worked 50 hours a week, which I am sure is some violation of child labor laws. It was mostly solitary work as I was a helper to an adult specialist. I had hours to think. I spent a lot of time thinking about death, listening to Country Music, as the men that worked for my dad and uncle loathed Rock and Roll. It was KPUB and never KDZA. The good news as I look back, is that it was the golden age of Country and I know all the songs. In August football started and I was freed from that summer of indentured servitude.

I headed off to my Sophomore year, never once telling anyone about the fear and sadness that lived inside of me. That year the East High Eagle football team was loaded with Senior talent. I was a clumsy but eager kid who lived in a body that looked far more grown up than I felt.

At East we had two Junior Highs funnel into one High School. I came from Heaton, which was brand new, very privileged, and other than the kids that were bussed in, it was 99% Anglo. Risley was the other Junior High. Those students were mostly blue collar, poor and it had many Hispanics. I now realize how fortunate I was to have had that experience. They had great teachers at East, and I learned a lot. Between going into 20 homes a day while working my summer job, and now schooling in a very diverse context, my world expanded.

I was scared and lonely but never said a word to anyone. I was nearly 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, which made be stick out as a Sophomore. It was probably the third week of school and I was in the cafeteria standing alone, and all of the sudden I was surrounded by three guys who began to bully me into a fight. I had no idea who they were or what I had done. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Johnny A., who was known as Quail, get up and move towards us.

Quail was our starting defensive end on a team that just beat Poudre from Ft. Collins 6-0, to take over #1 spot in the top high school foot ball rankings. Quail was a man among boys, a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor. He put himself between the three of them and me. He looked at them and said “What’s your problem??? Leave him alone, he is my friend”. Mind you, he had never said a word to me on the practice field or locker room. He smiled at me and went back to his table.

What I share now I do with Quail’s recent permission. Fast forward to the early 2000’s. MK and I were visiting our many relations in Pueblo, and we went to a 7am AA meeting. There in the circle of recovering folk was Johnny A. His strength and gentleness of character oozed from him still. Many times we went to that meeting while my mom was still alive. Often we were met by Quail.

This Sunday is Peace Sunday in our Advent world and I have thought a lot about what peace is. When I think of how Quail intervened on my behalf, at a time in my life when I needed hope, sometimes peace is an action and not a state of being. The powerful act justly on behalf of those who are vulnerable. There is also a second peace and that is internal.

Quail’s health is not so good, but the peace that passes all understanding flows out of him. Thank You Johnny A., my brown skinned hero, you are a peaceful peacemaker who is obviously at peace with yourself and the world. I close with this prayer that Quail and I have shared in the circles of AA.

From St. Francis

Lord make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,

Where is there is hatred let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may

not so much seek to be consoled as to console,

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen

Onward and Upward,

Mark

Johnny A. AKA Quail

Jonnie A. (AKA Quail)—

A Man of Peace

Soon after JFK’s assassination, I began to slip into what I now recognize as a deep and dark depression. In May that following year I lost my friend, Larry E., to a tragic drowning. I was then told by my father that I was going to work at the family business. There would be no baseball, hanging out at the pool, or riding my bike for endless hours around Pueblo. The work was very hard, as we cleaned carpets in two homes a day, and picked up 20 some area rugs. We brought those rugs back to the plant to scrub, and hang from a 25ft ceiling for forced air drying.

I worked 50 hours a week, which I am sure is some violation of child labor laws. It was mostly solitary work as I was a helper to an adult specialist. I had hours to think. I spent a lot of time thinking about death, listening to Country Music, as the men that worked for my dad and uncle loathed Rock and Roll. It was KPUB and never KDZA. The good news as I look back, is that it was the golden age of Country and I know all the songs. In August football started and I was freed from that summer of indentured servitude.

I headed off to my Sophomore year, never once telling anyone about the fear and sadness that lived inside of me. That year the East High Eagle football team was loaded with Senior talent. I was a clumsy but eager kid who lived in a body that looked far more grown up than I felt.

At East we had two Junior Highs funnel into one High School. I came from Heaton, which was brand new, very privileged, and other than the kids that were bussed in, it was 99% Anglo. Risley was the other Junior High. Those students were mostly blue collar, poor and it had many Hispanics. I now realize how fortunate I was to have had that experience. They had great teachers at East, and I learned a lot. Between going into 20 homes a day while working my summer job, and now schooling in a very diverse context, my world expanded.

I was scared and lonely but never said a word to anyone. I was nearly 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, which made be stick out as a Sophomore. It was probably the third week of school and I was in the cafeteria standing alone, and all of the sudden I was surrounded by three guys who began to bully me into a fight. I had no idea who they were or what I had done. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Johnny A., who was known as Quail, get up and move towards us.

Quail was our starting defensive end on a team that just beat Poudre from Ft. Collins 6-0, to take over #1 spot in the top high school foot ball rankings. Quail was a man among boys, a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor. He put himself between the three of them and me. He looked at them and said “What’s your problem??? Leave him alone, he is my friend”. Mind you, he had never said a word to me on the practice field or locker room. He smiled at me and went back to his table.

What I share now I do with Quail’s recent permission. Fast forward to the early 2000’s. MK and I were visiting our many relations in Pueblo, and we went to a 7am AA meeting. There in the circle of recovering folk was Johnny A. His strength and gentleness of character oozed from him still. Many times we went to that meeting while my mom was still alive. Often we were met by Quail.

This Sunday is Peace Sunday in our Advent world and I have thought a lot about what peace is. When I think of how Quail intervened on my behalf, at a time in my life when I needed hope, sometimes peace is an action and not a state of being. The powerful act justly on behalf of those who are vulnerable. There is also a second peace and that is internal.

Quail’s health is not so good, but the peace that passes all understanding flows out of him. Thank You Johnny A., my brown skinned hero, you are a peaceful peacemaker who is obviously at peace with yourself and the world. I close with this prayer that Quail and I have shared in the circles of AA.

From St. Francis

Lord make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,

Where is there is hatred let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may

not so much seek to be consoled as to console,

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen

Onward and Upward,

Mark

Hope 2020

Dear Friends,

There is nothing I could say about the year 2020 that each of us have not experienced, thought or shaken our head’s about. Here is a thought that is guiding me through Advent.
“The Light Shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness did not overcome it”
John 1:5
This is John’s Christmas story. No angels, shepherds, mangers, wisemen, or bucolic scenes. Just this profound statement that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In this Advent season a lot will be stripped away from what we are used to. That is not all bad. My plan includes lots of music and watching A CHRISTMAS STORY at least twice.
I have a friend who spent Christmas in a prison, in Czechoslovakia, in 1974. He could never quite explain why he ended up there (said he got drunk), but Time Magazine implied that he worked for the CIA. He shared a story with me about befriending a prison guard who brought him Double Mint gum. He kept the foil wrappers and fashioned a complete Nativity set in tiny sizes.

He was released and headed to seminary at Phillips U in Enid, Oklahoma. In my imagination I constructed what his miniature Nativity looked like. Here is the best part. He shared there was a hole in his ceiling from which a beam of light shown in the corner each night. Guess where the “8 pound 11 oz. Baby Jesus in a manger” was??? Keep the faith…that light still shines.
A couple of weeks ago I came home from Greeley and MK (who was heading off the next day to “Grandma duty” in California, for a couple of months) had gotten out my favorite Christmas decorations and yard lights as a gift to me in her absence.
My light is shining from the inside out as each day the kindness of friends and strangers touch me.
Onward and Upward, Mark
ps, My bucket list is down to 1– Don’t kick the bucket!!! (Wear your mask so we don’t kill each other)

Dear Friends,


Hope 2020
There is nothing I could say about the year 2020 that each of us have not experienced, thought or shaken our head’s about. Here is a thought that is guiding me through Advent.
“The Light Shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness did not overcome it”
John 1:5
This is John’s Christmas story. No angels, shepherds, mangers, wisemen, or bucolic scenes. Just this profound statement that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In this Advent season a lot will be stripped away from what we are used to. That is not all bad. My plan includes lots of music and watching A CHRISTMAS STORY at least twice.
I have a friend who spent Christmas in a prison, in Czechoslovakia, in 1974. He could never quite explain why he ended up there (said he got drunk), but Time Magazine implied that he worked for the CIA. He shared a story with me about befriending a prison guard who brought him Double Mint gum. He kept the foil wrappers and fashioned a complete Nativity set in tiny sizes.

He was released and headed to seminary at Phillips U in Enid, Oklahoma. In my imagination I constructed what his miniature Nativity looked like. Here is the best part. He shared there was a hole in his ceiling from which a beam of light shown in the corner each night. Guess where the “8 pound 11 oz. Baby Jesus in a manger” was??? Keep the faith…that light still shines.
A couple of weeks ago I came home from Greeley and MK (who was heading off the next day to “Grandma duty” in California, for a couple of months) had gotten out my favorite Christmas decorations and yard lights as a gift to me in her absence.
My light is shining from the inside out as each day the kindness of friends and strangers touch me.
Onward and Upward, Mark
ps, My bucket list is down to 1– Don’t kick the bucket!!! (Wear your mask so we don’t kill each other)

November 22, 1963


A couple of weeks ago in my blog called Elections, I made reference to this date. This Sunday will be 57 years from that mark of time. I want to expand on the ‘death of innocence’ that occurred that day. It was my first of several “I remember exactly where and when” moments. I was walking down the hall after 4th hour Gym. We had the third lunch and like most 14 year old boys, we were tripping each other, punching, joking and hungry as badgers after hibernation. We were met in the entrance to the cafeteria by our coach and gym teacher Mr. Clay. He was crying, “President Kennedy has been shot”. That was all he said. We went on into the cafeteria and it was eerily silent. It was Friday, and in Pueblo which was half Catholic, that meant fish sticks. They sat on my tray staring at me.
A few minutes later Mr. Wilkerson our principal, came on the PA and said, “We have received confirmation that President Kennedy is dead”. Mrs. Kline our math teacher, burst into tears right in front of us. “Excuse me, just put away your work and please be quiet”. We were. The next thing I remember doing was going to basketball practice. It was weird. What was usually noisy and raucous was lifeless. Finally our coach said, “I need to go home and I am sure you do too”. I got home and my dad had already come to be with my mom. They were Republicans, but John Kennedy was their age, a WWII vet with a family. Although they did not often agree with his politics he was our President. That was a Friday and Thanksgiving was very late that year.
We never had a chance to really find out why Lee Oswald did what he did. Books and movies galore have speculated, but on Sunday the 24th right in front of our eyes, Jack Ruby took revenge into his own hands and killed Oswald and took away any chance of finding out the why. Conspiracy theories abound ~ so what? Tomorrow is the 22nd and like many of my generation, I revisit this marker in our teen years.
Today’s youth don’t have a day, but rather a year—2020. No school, life on the screen, families stressed to the breaking point, and an election where the truth has been sacrificed for power and political courage is in very short supply.
I call my grandkids and kids often. I need to hear their voices and see their Face Time faces. I am totally alone this week in our home. MK is in

California helping our daughter Stephanie and family move from a small condo into a home. I am thrilled for all of them. I am not feeling the least bit abandoned but grateful.
On Thanksgiving day my plan is to go to Burger King and buy two Impossible Burgers with a large order of fries. I will eat one for lunch as I FaceTime my various family units around the country. The other will be my ‘left overs’ that will comfort me for the third and final football game I watch. I will find myself wondering more than once how the world might have been different had Lee Harvey Oswald missed his target from the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository. Ironically, I was in the exact spot with my son in law Christian on a November 22nd not so many years ago.
Tomorrow around noon I will take few minutes and ask God for direction in these uncertain times. I suspect the answer will sound much like Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you? Do Justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God”. Amen
Onward and Upward, .
Mark