Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Stream of Consciousness

Some days there doesn’t seem to be a focal point, just a lot of random thought and thinking.  Today was one of those days for me.  I decided to share it with you.

This morning I woke up at 4 AM worrying about why I couldn't find my textbook for a college course I'm taking. Got up. Couldn't find it. When I got up again at 6:30 AM I decided to wear an LA Dodgers jersey as a workplace Halloween costume (since they're in game 6 of the World Series tonight). Couldn't find it. Went out to retrieve my phone, because I last week I lost my normal charger cord and now have to use the one that plugs into the car. Are you starting to see a strange pattern emerging?

I stepped on the scale again this morning.  It’s disconcerting lately.  This morning was the first time I’ve ever muttered a tiny “Thank God” for a reading of 199 pounds.  (Troubling, right?)

I get crazy about drivers who cut in line.  This morning there were several on my morning commute.  As I was coming out of the Midtown Tunnel listening to ‘spooky’ music and talk of ghosts on the radio, a big car came racing by me on the right and cut off the guy ahead of me.  I felt the fury rising; that driver was about to get a blast of my very private, very effective sworn testimony.  You can imagine how difficult it would be to stop that fury in its tracks, but that’s exactly what happened.  It was like a big bucket of cold water was dumped on the fire of my anger.  It just faded and fell away, leaving me wondering and amazed at the sudden change, and a little startled by what I’d seen.  It was a hearse.  (Later I caught up to see if the driver was a Ghostbuster.  Nope, just a sailor.)

Every time I try to log onto any website that sells books, the web browser freezes.  It’ll go to any other site.  Navy sites. Google.  YouTube.  My email.  Random sites where I’ve looked up scientific questions.  But try to go to any site having to do with bookselling and the response is Nope No Go Nothin’ Doin’ Give Up.  Why doesn’t someone want me to buy another copy of that textbook?

Equation seen on Facebook:  ‘Expectation – Observed Reality = Frustration’.  Kind of a negative way of expressing a point, but I think it makes sense.  Think about it.

Half a millennium ago today the Protestant Reformation started.  Martin Luther, monk and priest, nailed his issues to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Besides the religious importance of this courageous act, the Reformation was a giant step forward for individual liberty.  Its effects are still being felt today.

Radio commercial this morning seeking donations of automobiles pointed out that classical music will always be around but your old classic automobile won’t.  It got me thinking.  Music is ephemeral.  First it exists in someone’s mind, then it can be played and shared and recreated endlessly.  The tune can go on for as long as there are people on the earth.  A car made of steel will eventually rust and fall apart.  Strange, isn’t it, that the thing we think of as strong and durable succumbs to the ravages of time sooner than something that has no physical substance at all?  That made me wonder about what ‘everlasting’ really means.

That’s about all I need to share with you this morning, I guess.  Happy Halloween, everyone.  Eat more chocolate.  Be as different as you need to be… but don’t be too weird.  Think about stuff.  Make a child laugh.  Have fun.

P.S. Posted in between servicing trick-or-treaters!   =-)

Friday, October 27, 2017

After the latest shooting tragedy, what next?

For nearly a month now, partisans of both sides have been scrambling to use the tragic shootings in Las Vegas to advance or defend their preexisting opinions about the Second Amendment and gun control.  As each side spins the tragic facts to support their own agenda, a few reasonable people in the middle are trying to discuss how we should respond to this obvious and ongoing threat.

What’s the best course of action?  To ban all guns, disarming the law-abiding along with the criminal?  To double down on gun rights despite the danger of easy access by criminally insane persons?  Here I offer some opinions that are sure to anger extremists on both sides of the debate.

For that reason alone, I believe it might contain the seeds of a real solution.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Note the two parts:

(1) "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

(2) "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."

Both parts of this amendment were included intentionally and both parts are absolutely essential.  The political 'Left,' always eager for more gun control, forgets or ignores that the right of the people to bear arms is a constitutional right.  The political 'Right,' too often willing to sacrifice public safety in defense of a political position, forgets or ignores the fact that defending public safety is the true intent of the amendment. 

The government cannot ban all firearms.  The Constitution forbids it, and armed citizens are indeed a protection against tyranny.

The intent of the Second Amendment is to protect the safety and security of the people of the United States by ensuring the continuing existence of militias. 

Militias are for the protection of the people.  Whether the enemy is a foreign power, or an invasion, or terrorists, or an illegal uprising, then militias can support the armed forces, much like the National Guard does now. 

But if the U.S. government becomes the instrument of tyranny, the militia can - when other remedies are exhausted - be turned against an illegal and despotic regime.

The Second Amendment is designed to protect the right of small groups of Americans, agreeing on the necessity and operating cooperatively as well-trained, disciplined militias, to protect the people from danger or if necessary to check the power of an out-of-control government. 

But notice:  The right to keep and bear arms in opposition to the government is intended to be exercised in communal response, by "well-regulated" militia, a group of citizens operating together in united opposition to tyranny.  Not by any individual angry at the government.  That way leads to anarchy.

The Second Amendment guarantees the people the right to keep and bear arms.  It suggests that this right shall be exercised, at least in part, in and through local militias.

This does not mean citizens can only have firearms that are kept by the militia in the armory.  The people have the right to “keep and bear” arms.  The people have a right to own firearms sufficient for their own protection.

This does not mean anyone can at any time for any reason, acquire and own any type of firearm he or she chooses.  Whereas the right of self-defense is absolute, the right of armed resistance resides with the militia, not the individual.

Can anyone on the political ‘Right’ reasonably argue that the Framers of the Constitution intended criminal or insane people to retain the right to firearms?  No.  Can anyone on the political ‘Left’ reasonably argue that the Framers of the Constitution intended that the government should be able to ban all guns from the populace? No.  The Second Amendment is a double-edged sword, cutting against political extremists of both persuasions.

The government can never ban all firearms, leaving the people helpless against enemies foreign or domestic.  Individual citizens who are neither criminal nor insane, who are trained and "well-regulated," retain the right to keep and own firearms.

Other than when acting in self-defense against an immediate threat, individual citizens do not have the right to act in armed rebellion against the government.

Well-regulated militias, operating as a communal or political entity in support of the greater good of the people, have the right to use armed force to check the power of an out-of-control government that is exerting power in unconstitutional ways. In concept, the well-regulated militia is much like the jury.  The jury exercises its legal power to condemn a criminal based on well-considered facts, the law, and the good sense of the jury members acting in unison.  The militia may exercise its power to take arms against a rogue government based on well-considered facts, the law, and the good sense of the militia members acting in unison. 

A good faith interpretation of the Second Amendment and common sense dictate that:

·          Government should not attempt to prohibit law-abiding citizens from owning firearms appropriate for their own defense.

·         Government has the right to reasonably regulate firearms in support of public safety.

·         Only well-regulated militias should keep firearms of sufficient power to repel invader, put down an insurrection, or take down a rogue government. 

In practical application this means that any citizen who is not a felon or mentally unstable should be free to own and carry firearms for self-defense. Any citizen should be able to own one or two or several non-automatic pistols or rifles.

In practical application this means that ordinary citizens may be prohibited from owning weapons so powerful that misuse by a criminal or insane person might result in catastrophic loss of life, injury, or damage to property.

A reasonable interpretation of the intent of the Second Amendment implies that militias may hold powerful weapons (including automatic firearms) to be used in training, well-regulated militia activities, and cooperative response to any threat to the general welfare.  However, ordinary citizens, unless specifically authorized due to position as military or law enforcement officer or unique self-defense needs, should not own automatic weapons.

It is difficult to decide which of the two extremes usually offered as our ‘alternatives’ is more dangerous.  Far to the political ‘Left,’ extremists have actually called for the repeal of the Second Amendment, a part of the original Bill of Rights adopted in 1791.  Once our government starts repealing amendments from the original Bill of Rights, we are doomed to absolute subjugation.  Far to the political ‘Right,’ extremists vilify anyone even suggesting discussion of this continuing threat.  Those people are willing to let innocents to perish as long as they are not personally inconvenienced or politically contradicted. 

Bottom lines:

·         Law-abiding citizens have the right to keep ordinary and reasonable firearms for any purpose.

·         Criminals or the insane may be denied this right by due process in defense of public safety.

·         Only well-regulated militias have the constitutional right to keep weapons of catastrophic potential, including automatic firearms.

·         Individuals retain their inviolate right to self-defense but an individual, acting alone, does not have the right to instigate armed rebellion against the government.

·         Well-regulated militias, operating as a communal and political unit, have the right to use armed force in an attempt to check the power of a government that has illegally and unconstitutionally assumed for itself tyrannical power.

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution states the purposes for which the Constitution was written.  The Second Amendment is masterfully designed.  In one sentence of 27 words it describes a right and affirms a principle that provides legal basis for three distinct elements of the Preamble.  The Second Amendment is designed concurrently to insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.

Any questions?
- Gryphem

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

An Open Letter to Michael Bennett

Mr. Bennett, I have been a fan of you and the Seahawks for years.  I want to remain a fan.  More importantly, I want to get Americans working together to address serious problems we face as a nation.  That’s why I must write this letter.  It is not the “negative backlash” you said you expect in response to your national anthem protest, but it is an expression of a different perspective that I hope you will try to understand.

I respect you as a player and as a person.  I believe you are acting with good intentions when you protest.  Although I respect you I do not approve of the disrespect for our country(and the majority of citizens) that is implicit in your protest.

I share your aversion to racism, violence, and injustice.  We should by rights be allies in this struggle.  But when I see your protest I do not feel a connection with you and your values.  You may not have realized it, but when you refuse to respect our nation I feel your disrespect personally.  When any citizen disrespects our nation, that person implicitly disrespects himself, his own family and community.  We are all Americans. 

We all know the United States of America was not born perfect.  We are not perfect today.  Yet throughout our history one of our greatest strengths has been the ability to improve ourselves.  That was true in 1787, in 1865, and in 1964.  Whether it remains true in 2017 is yet to be determined.

You indicate that you were motivated to sit with a towel over your head during the national anthem, at least in part, by the riots in Charlottesville.  Your words seem to demonstrate that you equate the alt-right racists in Charlottesville with our nation as a whole, or perhaps with ‘white America.’  If so, you are wrong about that.  Every society has members who offend, victimize, oppress others, who generally act in contradiction of the values of the society.  The presence of racism does not make America racist.  It makes America a nation that is contending with racism.

Numbered among the citizens of this nation are some who have committed crimes including theft, slander, rape, treason, and even murder.  Should we refuse to honor the United States because some citizens have committed crimes?  Of course not.  Numbered among the citizens of this nation are some who are racist.  We should no more disrespect our nation because of these flawed individuals than because of thieves and murderers.  Racists are not acting on behalf of the United States of America.  They are in fact contradicting centuries of true American values.A  merica is not racist.  Racists are racist.

The United States was founded on principles of equality.  We didn’t get it right at first, of course.  That’s why we had to fight a war among ourselves to end the evil institution of slavery.  Later we extended citizenship and the vote to African-Americans, Native Americans, and women.  The struggle for civil rights continued a century after the Civil War and in some ways continues to this day.  But progress has been made, and improvement should continue.  Please do not blame racism on the nation that has enshrined your freedom in the Constitution.  Our United States government and our society are not the enemy.  This nation and its people should be your (our) greatest allies in the fight to make real the promise of liberty and justice for all. 

NFL National anthem protests do not improve our nation.  They do not bring us together.  They divide us.  They disrespect the nation and direct contempt toward institutions that exist to preserve and promote justice.  They direct contempt toward some of us who work day in and day out to promote equality among all people.  They create antagonism between groups and persons who should be allies in this struggle.

We will not solve problems by blaming each other, or the nation as a whole, for faults of the past.  We will not solve problems by blaming each other for the faults of a few.  We will not solve problems by disrespecting the nation for the unjust or criminal activities of some.  We will not solve problems by separating ourselves into factions and blaming each other.  We will only solve problems by working together as people of goodwill.We are all America. 

You say you want to encourage bridge building, not separation or hate. I believe you.  So do I.  You should know that the national anthem protests are creating big walls and resentments on all sides.  Is the message you intend the message that is actually being received?  I don’t think it is. 

You say you want to speak out against injustice?  Great!  Please do!  The problems you are trying to highlight are important, and I commend your desire to bring attention to these issues so that our nation can become more just and equitable.  Can we find another way to focus awareness and effort?  A way that will make all Americans of good will feel empathy rather than frustration, motivate them to cooperate rather than turn away?

Let’s please stop this flawed tactic and begin to improve justice and equality in America by working together.  Let’s recognize that the vast majority of American people of all races and ethnicities are really on the same side in this struggle. 

Adelaar Gryphem

Friday, July 28, 2017

Purpose or Profit

According to an article I came across on a reputable career-oriented website, new research shows that “having a purpose in life” significantly improves your chance of making a lot of money.

Okay, I can understand that.  People with a sense of purpose tend to achieve what they set out to achieve.  Why wouldn’t that tend to be true in the realm of finance as much as in other aspects of life?  Good so far.  

The article goes on to make some good points about why you’ll live a happier, more productive life if you have some goal or objective that motivates you.  

But then it gets weird.  The author seems to feel a need to justify why we should strive for a happier, more productive life.  Isn’t it obvious that ‘happy’ and ‘productive’ are worthwhile in and of themselves?  Isn’t it self-evident that having something to live for is a positive and life-enhancing condition? 

Apparently not.  In order to persuade us that having a meaningful life is a good thing, the author writes, “finding meaning in your life… leads to happier and more productive workers and more money. This is an equation we can all get behind.”

Oh, now we understand.  Now we can ‘get behind’ the purpose-driven life.  Now we can justify the purpose-driven life in financial terms.  Now we know having a purpose makes us a profit.  Now we can justify having a purpose in life because it increases our income. 

The twist from meaning to money leaves me dizzy.  I always thought people with ‘a sense of purpose’ tend to find happiness in something more ethically satisfying than a fat bank account.  I guess I was na├»ve. 

All sarcasm aside, I wonder if the author is actually aware of the unspoken axiom underlying her article:  The only higher purpose that is truly worthwhile is to accumulate as much money as possible.

Such a sad and ultimately dysfunctional approach to life.  Futile.  Utterly and ironically without meaning or purpose.  

Well, I wish success to my friends who find their meaning in wealth.  I am not optimistic, though.  Research notwithstanding, I predict that anyone who goes seeking purpose in life with the ultimate goal of making a lot of money will fail to achieve one of those objectives or the other. 


Friday, October 14, 2016

An Attempt to Silence the Opposition

Earlier this week the New York Times published the accounts of two women who allege candidate Donald Trump touched them inappropriately.  Candidate Trump claimed the article was “libel” and demanded an apology.  Following is the response from a lawyer representing the Times.  [Warning: strong language.]

“You write concerning our article ‘Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately’ and label the article as ‘libel per se.’ You ask that we ‘remove it from (our) website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.’ We decline to do so.

“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.

“But there is a larger and much more important point here. The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance — indeed, an issue that Mr. Trump himself discussed with the whole nation watching during Sunday night’s presidential debate. Our reporters diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts. They provided readers with Mr. Trump’s response, including his forceful denial of the women’s reports. It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices. We did what the law allows: We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Judge for yourself (1) whether this candidate is morally competent to serve as President, and (2) whether the basic freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights would long endure under a Trump presidency. 


Monday, August 1, 2016

Character Does Matter!

Warning: Bluntly honest political opinion.  You are under no obligation to read further.  But if you do I challenge you to engage with the essential question underlying this year’s election, and answer honestly:  What kind of leadership does my country really need, and where can it be found?
- - - - -

I am fed up with disrespectful and un-American behavior on the part of some candidates for our highest office.  Just when you think Candidate Trump has violated every ethical standard he could possibly violate, he finds a way to sink to a lower level.  His disrespect for American hero John McCain several months ago was inexcusable, and now he has decided to pick a fight with the family of another American hero. 

Captain Humayun Khan, US Army, served in Iraq.  Captain Khan, son of immigrants from Pakistan, served honorably.  He was killed in action and received the Bronze Star for heroism.

Now Candidate Trump has publicly disrespected the family of this fallen hero.   He spoke against them because of their Moslem faith, and antagonized them because they had the courage to call him out for being divisive.

It doesn’t get any worse in America than disrespecting the family of a soldier who gave his life in defense of this country.

Many Republicans have disavowed Trump’s comments.  Some have apologized for him.   Some have expressed outrage.  But most continue to support his election to the office of President.  That is hypocritical.

It is time for Republicans with ethics and patriotism intact to disavow this demagogue.  Candidate Trump has no respect for anyone – not for American heroes, not for the American people, not for his own supporters, not for You.  In my opinion, an informed American who votes for Candidate Trump after the  disrespectful way he has treated these and other honorable Americans is not a  patriot.

The candidate of the other major party also is no patriot, no friend of our military, and not a virtuous person.  Both major political parties have nominated ethically flawed candidates.

Once, long ago, I was a Democrat.  I left that party when they began caring more  about winning elections than doing what was right for our country.  After many years as a dedicated Republican, I left that party for the same reason.  

Today both major parties have abandoned honor, virtue, and moral courage.  Their patriotism, such as it is, is hollow, worn for show and effect.  Their ‘courage’ is bravado and bluster.  Neither of the two major parties (or their candidates for president) shows any sign of putting the best interests of our nation ahead of the political party (or themselves).

It is time for Americans of honor and goodwill to look elsewhere for leaders of  competence and integrity, to leave the major parties, to regroup around a  candidate of character who shares many of the highest values of both right and  left.  I have come to this conclusion: the ethical choice this year is the Libertarian Party. 

Some of you will have issues with one or another part of the Libertarian platform.  That is to be expected.  After all, do you agree with every opinion of your preferred major political party?  Think about this.  The essential founding principle of the Libertarian Party is individual freedom.  The very name of the party is derived from the word “Liberty.”

Whether or not you agree with each and every Libertarian position, your vote for Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld will be:
- a vote for experience, integrity, and ethical leadership; 
- a vote to disarm the most extreme partisans of left and right,
- a vote to stop cronyism and entrenched corruption; 
- a vote to end the culture of entitlement on display by the political and economic elite of both parties;
- a vote to terminate the reign of a dysfunctional two party duopoly that thinks  this year’s candidates are the best we can do.

A few of you may think voting for a third party candidate would be “throwing away” your vote.  Not true.  It is your prerogative to vote for a candidate you support.  To vote for someone you don’t support just because he or she is the lesser evil is throwing away your vote, particularly when there is another option.

What are you trying to accomplish with your vote?  Are you trying to save  America from Hillary Clinton?  At what price?  From Donald Trump?  To what end?   Either of the major party candidates will, if elected, be a political and ethical catastrophe. 

I do not choose to lend my support to either of the corrupt dysfunctional candidates headlining this election.  I will be voting for the only political party that is uncorrupted by power: the Libertarian Party.  I will be voting for the only presidential candidate on the ballot nationwide that can truthfully be described as a person of virtue:  Gary Johnson. 

Be honest with yourself, at least.  Are you truly satisfied with your choice of Republican or Democrat?  Are you planning to vote for someone, or against someone?  Before you make your final decision in this contest which might decide the essential character of America for generations to come, you owe it to your nation to give serious consideration to all your options.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Understanding the Greatest Sorrow: A Reflection on Tragedy in Three Parts

Introduction: My Background Story

Three years ago my three year old grandson and several of his little cousins were visiting at my mother’s house in Central Florida.  I was outside while inside toddlers in a line were parading around the house holding a brass candlestick as a scepter.  One minute they were marching, disappearing out of sight into another room.  The next minute there was a scream and a wail and panic.  By the time I got inside one of the parents was holding a towel to my grandson’s head.  There was so much blood.

If you have never seen a small child hurt like that, you probably cannot imagine how shocking, how traumatic the experience, the urgency you feel, the vital need to heal and comfort that child now, immediately.  I’m sure it’s most intense when the injured one is your own child or grandchild. 

My wife and I bundled him up and raced him to the hospital emergency room.  We were rushed right back into the treatment area.

It was a nasty cut over his eye.  After a while, the doctor got the bleeding to slow to a trickle.  But he needed stitches.  The team of a doctor and two nurses needed our help.  We had to hold the boy while the stitches were applied. 

My grandson, not really conscious, could not understand what was happening.  He struggled and thrashed and cried out.  We held him as still as we could while the doctor worked on his brow.  We tried shushing him, telling him he would be all right, but still he resisted and fought and cried.

He didn’t have the words to say so, but my grandson believed in those moments that he was engaged in a struggle for his life.  His face, normally so cheerful and friendly, was grim and determined as he fought with all his strength for survival.  We could not comfort him while his laceration was being sutured.  For him the experience was existential; for us it was heartbreaking.

Thank God the process was over fairly quickly.  The wound was closed, sterilized, and bandaged.  We were able to carry him home, where over the next couple of hours the sobs became less frequent as he gradually calmed down and slept. 

We were lucky.  The damage was not as bad as we thought at first.  The cut healed well and the scarring wasn’t bad.  We were worried, but as it turned out he never seemed to resent either of us for holding him still as he struggled.

If my wife or I could have traded places with him during all that, either one of us would have done so in a heartbeat.  But life doesn’t work that way.  We could not take his pain and angst and terror away.  We could only hold him and whisper reassurances while he went through it.  That’s all we could do.

Part Two: The Tragic News

Last Tuesday evening, only a few miles from where my grandson suffered his head injury, an innocent two year old boy fell victim to a more tragic fate.  He was playing happily at the lakeshore, on vacation, parents nearby, when he was snatched away.  My heart goes out to the family of little Lane.  His father jumped to save him, leapt into the water, grabbed the alligator’s jaws and tried to pry them open.  But he couldn’t.  No one could have.  The alligator pulled Lane under the water, where he drowned.  His body wasn’t found until the following afternoon.

This time for an innocent child there would be no coming back.  His cries and struggles for life were in vain.  There would be no calming down into sleep, no reunion with family, no time to heal.  He is gone, taken cruelly before his time.

I’m certain his parents would have traded places with Lane if they could.  But that’s not how life works.

We all know of this, and other great tragedies that devastated the Orlando area last week.  Death has stalked the innocent and interrupted lives being well-lived.

Part Three: The Vision

I had a dream yesterday morning in the darkness just before the light. 

It was more of a vision, really.  I was in the skies above Florida, hovering just under high gray clouds in the moments before dawn, looking from the southwest back toward Disney and Orlando.  In the distance below and far away I could see the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Grand Floridian Hotel.  As I peered closer I could see that there was a child near the lakeshore.  He was under the water.  I felt, more than saw, that he was stuck under a log.  He was not moving. 

There was a tiny stirring.  The child seemed to be awakening.  Although his body remained motionless under the water, the child sat up.  His spirit drifted upward, above the surface.  He rubbed his eyes and looked around, confused and scared.  He didn’t seem to know where he was or what had happened.  I felt pain in my heart for his loneliness, but I was powerless to reach him.

I watched this innocent little soul waiting bravely by the lakeshore.  Gazing toward the horizon beyond the lake I saw the skyline of the city. There was movement.  Another being appeared in the sky above the city and was approaching. It was an angel coming toward the child.  I thought she was wearing a robe of gray, but perhaps that was only the predawn twilight.  She seemed to have small wings and hair blowing in the wind as she hurried across the sky in our direction.  I couldn’t see her very well, for she was so far away, but somehow I knew her name was Christina.

Christina reached the Seven Seas Lagoon and held her arms out to the child.  He put out his lower lip and seemed for a moment as if he was going to cry, but he didn’t.  The look of fear and hurt in his eyes was a bit less.  He watched the angel, and he knew she was his friend, and he reached back to her.

For a few moments, the angel rocked the child on her lap, patting him tenderly.  She sang beautiful songs to him.  They seemed to draw comfort from one another, and they were at peace.  A tiny wisp of love appeared visibly between and around them.

I became aware of a small crowd that had gathered in the distance, low over the city.  They had been there all along, but I hadn’t noticed them because they had been huddling near the ground.  They were baffled, troubled.  Some were angry.  Some were desolate, forlorn.  All were confused.  None knew what to do or where to go next.  Then one of them noticed the two hovering over the Seven Seas Lagoon and rose up into the air a bit.  Others followed.  Soon there were more than 40 flying toward us slowly, hesitantly, not daring to believe that anything existed beyond their place of loss and mourning.

They too were angels.  Most, but not all, were young like Christina.  There were a few women, and more men.  As they approached it seemed each countenance was most characterized by sorrow.  But as they arrived, a few at a time, some began to smile.  They smiled at Christina, and they smiled at the little boy. 

By the time the last of them arrived near the lakeshore, some were interacting with the two they had come to see.  One sat beside Christina, held the boy’s hands, and talked with him.   A moment later another stroked his head and wept quietly; I could not tell if the tears were of sorrow or joy. Another patted Christina on the shoulder paternally.  Tiny sparks of joy began to be visible around the gathering. 

One or a few at a time, they all came to visit Christina and the child.  They smiled, sometimes wistfully, sometimes peacefully.  Each took comfort from the presence of the others.  There was the palpable sense of an inexplicable hope, and a gradually dawning awareness that all was not lost. 

Over the next several minutes a few straggling angels arrived, one at a time, from nursing homes, hospitals, and wherever angels come from.  All wanted to see the child.  All loved the child.  All appreciated and admired the one who was caring for the child.  All brought their own bits of fading sorrow and surprising joy to share with the others.

The entire assembly began a beautiful dance.  They floated above the water, moving gracefully around the child and the angel in the middle.  They moved inward lovingly, outward peacefully.  They rose higher, drifted back, joined hands, twirled.  One of the dancers took the child by the hands, swung him around happily, and returned him to his friend. As the dance continued the troupe spiraled upward, higher and higher.  When they began to draw near the clouds, I felt the presence of a place of love and joy in that direction.

I watched them disappear all together above the skies, and I knew.  I knew their tragedies were real.  I felt their pain and loss, and the pain and loss of the ones they had to leave behind.  I knew their wrenching grief.

I also knew the pain and loss were not the end of the story.  For beyond the inconceivably sorrowful there existed a more blessed reality.  Something from there brought to those grieving souls a spark of joy, to the forlorn a wisp of love, to the troubled a soft sensation of peace, and to the discouraged an unexpected and beautiful prospect of hope.  I knew they were finding that place together. 

- Gryphem