The Mindkiller


March 2020  

The Mindkiller

My son is a Dune fan, big-time, so I’m familiar with the phrase “fear is the mindkiller.” But, be honest. Don’t you think everyone will remember March of 2020 as “The Year of the Pandemic”?

That one month seemed to last forever. No one knew what was happening, what was going to happen. We still don’t. Like everyone else, I’m hoping we’ve made it through the worst part. As a writer, I’m surprised no one wrote a novel called “The TP Wars.”

The first week was the worst, when there were long lines and empty shelves, but I see it as a wake-up call for our over-indulgent society. I believe we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t matter. Institutions we considered infallible simply closed down. While President Trump may be right in seeing Covid-19 as a war-time enemy, it’s been my experience that a war creates jobs; it doesn’t demolish them. And, while businesses might recover, I share a lot of my friends’ opinions that nothing will ever be the same.

Given what we’re going through and may yet endure, being fearful or anxious is certainly understandable. Matthew 6:27 says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Again, feeling anxious is normal, but don’t let the stress level reach a point where you can actually feel your blood pressure rising. Celebrate your ability to take a deep breath, and pray for those who can’t. You won’t be of much use to yourself or your loved ones if you let fear destroy you, so be serious but calm. I’m amazed at how polite, how generous people have become in the stores and on the streets — more so than before Covid-19 became a reality.

Maybe it’s true, and everything we know will have changed, but what if it’s a change for the better? And if we come out of this, as I believe we will, what could it hurt to celebrate life? Wouldn’t those who’ve loved us wish it so?

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me. And we will make it through this.


The Name of the Rose


February 2020  

The Name of the Rose

Would February be the same if it weren’t for Valentine’s Day?

The magical month of February came by its romantic connotation the hard way. It was named Februarius by the Romans after the Latin term februum, which means purification, with a ritual held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. February was one of the last months to be added to the Roman calendar, since winter was considered a monthless period. A few not-so-romantic names are Solmonath (Old English for “mud month”) and Kale-monath (for cabbage). The Finns got a little closer to at least a poetic feeling by naming the month of February helmikuu (month of pearls). When snow melted on tree branches, it formed droplets of ice that resembled pearls. Kinda nice, right?

So, when and how did romance officially enter the picture? Again, it took a while, starting with the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome, who ministered to persecuted Christians in 3rd-century Rome. The romantic embellishment was added later, in the 18th century, avowing that he wrote the jailer’s daughter (whom he cured of blindness) a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a fond farewell before he was executed. Courtly love in the 14th and 15th centuries, associated with lovebirds that appeared in early spring, slowly grew into a time to express feelings of love through gifts of flowers, candy, and cards (called “valentines”).

In Italy, St. Valentine tokens were thought to prevent attacks of epilepsy, and an equally non-romantic moment occurred in Chicago’s North Side in 1929 where seven gang members were violently murdered (the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”).

After considering the down-side of Valentine’s Day, it occurs to me that, while chocolate is always a good idea (like Paris), that little guy called Cupid is holding … a weapon?

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me.