Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Asbestos

Uh oh! The plumbers found asbestos. What does this mean? I don't know. I have to put a call in to the EPA.

In other news, while I was distracted by goings on around the property, the little boy (AKA the destructor) got into the board games. The board games have achieved nirvana, that is, they have become one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

FIRE!!!!

This has been an interesting day, to say the least. The plumbers set fire to the insulation in a wall. The fire spread very quickly and a wall had to be torn apart to get to the fire. More damage was done putting out the fire than was caused by the fire itself.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tradesmen, pretend fish, cemeteries, and services

On the property today I have plumbers working in 4 units. Painters working in two units. And workers installing shower/tub enclosures in two other units.

The little boy has been pretending to fish off of the balcony. He catches them and brings them to me to take off the hook, clean, and cook. Then he eats them and shares them with me.

Also, my Dad asked me to shop around for graves and coffins for him and my Mom. So I've been calling a bunch of cemeteries. This has not been fun but it has to be done.

Also, I'm wrting a guide book to Holy Trinity Cathedral for my friend Jeff's group of Protestants who are visiting. up to 25 pages so far, and all I've touched on is the Altar and the Iconostasis. I haven't even gotten to the relics or the actual service yet. Thankfully, I have a few days left to get it finished.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Valleys

I live in San Jose. Recently, the city government, or the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, or the Chamber of Commerce, or some official or quasi-official body has begun calling what the Spaniards and mexicans called "El Pueblo de San Jose" the Capital of Silicon Valley.

Hmmmm. It is certainly the seat of the county government. And Silicon Valley is certainly important to the County, indeed Silicon Valley, or more properly Santa Clara Valley is the financial engine, not just of Santa Clara County but of all of Northern California. But calling San Jose the capital of Silicon Valley seems pretentious, at least to me. When downtown San Jose was a dirty slum and nobody in their right mind went unarmed into the east side of the city, the computer industry was buzzing and chirping away in the cities to the northwest of San Jose. Palo Alto is where HP was started in a garage. I think it was Mountain View or Palo Alto where Shockly invented the the electronic semi-conducting transistor. PARC was in Palo Alto. And the first sketch of a hard drive was made on a napkin at the Waggon Wheel Resaurant in Mountain View. (I shouldn't leave out the Sunnyvale. The fruit cocktail was invented in the Libby's plant that no longer exists. There are no more fruit packing plants in Santa Clara County.) Now many of the big technology companies have their world headquarters in San Jose. Adobe is even downtown (it isn't a slum anymore.) and has built a nice children's playground next to one of their buildings. (My little boy likes it.)

Today we drove from San Jose, in the Santa Clara Valley to the San Juaqin Valley. I think the only way to get there is to go through the Diablo Mountains via the Pacheco Pass. The Pass was originally cut by the Ausaymus Indians. Their path went from the ocean to the San Juaquin Valley. Later it became a conveinent route for Roman Catholic missionaries and Spanish soldiers. California Highway 152 follows the route now. The San Juaquin Valley has another name: The Central Valley. If you look at California from outer space the Central Valley is the thing that you will notice.

When I was a little boy and lived in Silicon Valley the air was so dirty and smoggy that many days I could not see the mountains around the valley. (Ironically, I lived in Mountain View!) Today the air is much cleaner and I can always see the mountains. To the west they are covered with the gorgeious green of redwood trees because of the wet ocean air. To the east they are golden brown, with little green patches in the draws where oak trees have found a little rivulets to slake their thirst. In the Central Valley, the air has gone the other direction.

When I would visit my Uncle Fred as a boy I could always see the Diablo Range to the west and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range to the east. But the air has grown brown there. Today I was less than 20 miles from the Sierras and I couldn't see them. It was shameful. But it seems like every little town in that valley wants to be like Los Angeles or San Jose: Sprawled all over the place with cookie-cutter sinlge-family "homes" (realtors never call them houses) where fruit trees used to stand. And where there is sprawl there are roads. And where there are roads there are cars. And cars make smog. It is shameful. I'm not opposed to growth. I'm just opposed to suburban growth. I know I've said it before but here I go again: Cities are good. Rural areas are good. Suburbs are bad. It is such a waste. If I weren't a free-market capitalist I'd make it a crime to cut down a healthy fruit tree.

Well, I'll get down off of my soapboax now. I'll tell you what I saw while driving. Thousands of acres in almonds and grapes. Scores if not hundreds of acres in cotton. Also corn. And much alfalafa. We saw dairy cattle and beef cattle. We saw a goat dairy, too. While driving through the little town of Firebaugh we saw a quinceanera taking place at the VFW hall. Or it might have been a wedding. It is hard to know since the girls whear white at both a wedding and a quinceanera. Either way, it looked like people were having fun, and the girls were beautiful as only 15 year old girls are- they think they know what life is about, but they don't really. I love the central valley. I was born there. My wife was born there. I hate what is happening to it.

The place we were going was a big house surrounded by about 15 square miles of vinyards. The house was on a little rise, with many tall trees. It was right on the widest part of the San Juaquin River and there was an observation deck on the second floor that overlooked the river. The occasion was my wife's cousin's graduation from university. Being Californians, we had grilled tri-tip to eat. It was a very pleasant afternoon. I read the current issue of the New Yorker to my wife and little boy on the drive there. He slept on the way back. It was a good day.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Death and Burial of an Orthodox Christian

On July 3rd the Orthodox Church comemorates all the saints who have shone forth in North America. One of the lines of one of the songs we sing about them mentions "saints known and unknown". Since I have some friends from the Evangelical Free Church visiting my Church, Holy Trinity Cathedral for the Festal Vigil on the evening of July 2nd, I've been thinking about the texts of the service and how I am going to explain saints to them. In particular, what was I going to say about "Known and unknown" saints.

Then last night, as I was falling asleep in bed, I remembered a man named Isaac I would sometimes talk to at Archangel Bookstore in San Francisco, and how everytime I saw him I saw the love of God. And how being around him always made me feel closer to God. But I could'nt remember his name.

Then this morning I found the following account of his death in my email box. (I didn't even know he was sick until after he was dead.) If yesterday I had suspicions that Isaac was a saint, those suspicions are now confirmed today.

Saint's don't necessarily walk around doing miracles, unless you think it miraculous that love is lived in a city that mocks love. In Isaac's case, it seems like he did the most saintly of things, he helped others by suffering; he provided an opportunity for God's mercy to work through the people around him, making those who ministered to him more holy, too.

This is the story of his death as told by the woman who loved him and took care of him to the end.



The Death and Burial of an Orthodox Christian
by Maria Nash

Although there is no more personal a story than that of the death of a loved one, I am inspired to share at least some of the events that transpired in the passing of my husband, Isaac Nash, who died last year. While we had only seven years together, I do not regret my decision to be his wife. Our whole married life was spent at Raphael House as members of the live-in community -- which is a dozen Orthodox Christian staff members plus live-in volunteers who help run a shelter for homeless families in San Francisco. Other Orthodox and non-Orthodox complete the staff and volunteer core that provides services to fulfill our mission of helping at risk families achieve financial independence while strengthening family bonds.

This Raphael House community plus other family and friends helped me to care for Isaac in life, and also after his death. We discovered that we could handle all the details ourselves -- without a funeral home or
funeral director. Isaac's body was not embalmed -- it went from his sick bed directly into a lovingly made coffin, into the church for the services, and then was transported directly to the monastery and to his
grave. I will briefly discuss his hospice care, our preparation and care for his body and the burial.

Hospice Care

In the beginning of hospice care I continued to work at my job, but stayed home with Isaac full time for the last weeks of his life. His hospice nursing case manager came once per week and I could call a nurse at all times and they would stop by if there was ever an urgent need. Hospice also provided a nursing aid a few hours per day during his last week. Also during the last six days, I hired a night nurse so that I could get some sleep.

I loved caring for Isaac, but it was trying and tiring. While I was his primary caregiver, in addition to the hospice workers, I had a whole team of people backing me up -- the Raphael House live-in staff plus my church community and other friends and family. Amidst the difficulties of his illness and loss a new understanding and world was revealed in the opening of so many hearts to Isaac and me. Carmela helped with the nursing care, was on call during the night, and got
anything that I needed -- whether it was my morning coffee or a bandaid. Bob was there to help with any lifting or anything that was needed. He also was my right-hand person in helping to think through all the details and make sure I had all the information and supplies needed for the final preparations and burial. A Raphael House live-in volunteer David Costas, carried a beeper in the last weeks of Isaac's life and came every time I called to help me to move Isaac up in bed or other lifting I could not do on my own. Matushka Angela (Matushka, little mama, priest's wife)let me use her car during day to run errands, and was available for any help we needed. Our parish priest, Fr. Tom visited and brought the Holy Gifts to Isaac on many occasions before his death. Connie gave both Isaac
and I massages. Elena, Ralitza and others helped with laundry... I would just leave a load outside of my door and later find it clean and folded. Without hesitation, Fr. David made it possible for me to completely drop out from all my Raphael House responsibilities and
duties.

I'll never forget the day that Isaac needed to talk to a priest and Fr. David immediately came up to hear his confession. Matushka Elaine was trained to help with the nursing care, and offered such loving support every time I saw her. My Mother came to my graduation the
week after Isaac was diagnosed and he was already too sick to attend the ceremony. She visited again a few months later just to be with us and offer her wonderfully sensitive love and support, and once more at the end. Fr. Nicholas and Lucia came to San Francisco while Isaac's family was visiting and helped me to host them. Then they came again at the end, along with John, Ian, Gina and Sophia.

It is a unique situation to live in an Orthodox community like Raphael House where there is so much support readily available. To make hospice work without hiring a lot of nurses, one would have to come up with a similar team of people to help the primary caregiver.
Although Raphael House may be a unique sort of community environment, hospice works in regular home situations all the time.

Preparing for Burial

How we gathered the information on preparing Isaac's body for his casket and burial was a gradual process of discovery. In the July/August 2004 AARP Magazine, Isaac was drawn to an article on the "green" burial movement and expressed interested in this route for his own burial. Green burials are legal and meet all state regulations and health requirements, but there is no embalming, making everything safely biodegradable and therefore environmentally friendly. (Green Graveyards -- A Natural Way to Go -- For black-and-white reprints of this article call (800) 635-7181, ext. 8158 or check the internet: http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/yourlife/Articles/a2004-06-30-green_graveyards.html

I never knew that embalming was a choice. Probably like most people, I thought there was some kind of a law about it. I discovered that this is not true -- at least not in California and most states. A mortuary
employee told us that "it is a law that a body must be either refrigerated or embalmed before 24 hours after death." This is not true either. I also learned that embalming is not a traditional Orthodox practice from the material prepared by Fr. George Gray's parishioners
of the St. Elizabeth Committee of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon, entitled RESOURCES in Preparation for Dying, Death and Burial In this publication it states, "The procedure that takes
place in the 'prep room' of contemporary American mortuaries is one that, quite simply put, is an offence to the temple of the Holy Spirit that our bodies are considered to be."
(http://www.stnicholaspdx.org/articles/SaintNicholasChurchResourcesBooklet.pdf)

In August 2004, I saw a portion of a very intriguing television documentary on PBS about home funerals, which I later learned was describing stories of people involved with the organization Final Passages -- which is further described below.

In September 2004, Isaac prompted a meeting to be held with his confessor, Fr. Jonah Paffhausen, Bob Harrison and Tulio Vasquez who would help us with this process, and the two of us. Fr. Jonah told us about the prayer services and how they would proceed, and that we
would not need to use the services of a mortician or funeral home, but only had to complete and file two forms. He told us that parishioners from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in San Anselmo, California had further information on how to prepare a body for burial.

Tulio attends St. Nicholas Church in San Anselmo and had a fellow parishioner, Maia, send me the one page sheet on 'directions for preparing a body for burial'. This sheet includes some names and numbers of people to call for more information, which led me to the
organization called Final Passages (http://www.finalpassages.org). I ordered the full manual from Final Passages which, in combination with the sheet from Maia, were my guides to understanding the steps of caring for a body, and the supplies and information that we needed to get together ahead of time.

Very important also was a gift from my parents of the aforementioned booklet prepared by the St. Elizabeth Committee of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon, entitled RESOURCES in Preparation for Dying, Death and Burial. The statement in the booklet
that it is not an Orthodox practice to embalm helped to seal the idea and we became committed to doing it all ourselves.

We purchased the beautiful casket ahead of time from the monks of the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Point Reyes, California. (http://www.monasteryofstjohn.org/Caskets.php)
Our friend, Emily Newbury, devoted a whole Saturday to lovingly decorate the casket with padding, satin material and ornate edging.

A group of our young Raphael House live-in volunteers: Naomi, Rachel, and David, along with Bob, Tulio and Christopher -- took it upon themselves to take a trip to Platina, California to dig Isaac's grave at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery. Even though Isaac had
visited this monastery only once before he was sick, he was absolutely sure that he wanted to be buried there. After getting his approval, Abbot Gerasim directed Isaac to write a letter stating his intention and
request to have his final resting place at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery.

At the End

Isaac looked so beautiful and natural in repose. It may not have been that way if his body had been embalmed. Nor would we have had the opportunity to show our love for him by preparing his body for burial ourselves -- to wash and anoint it, and give it back to the earth in his natural form. Having his body amongst us for three days allowed us to continue to look, to touch,
to kiss, and to begin to accept the reality of his death. To have had to be separated from his physical presence at that time would have made it all much more difficult.

As we try to respect the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit in life, so we are able to do after death as well. It can be a blessing for everyone who participates. In Isaac's case, after his spirit passed, we immediately gathered and said the Pannihkida prayer service, followed by our preparation of his body. I was directing and his son, Lawrence Nash, Bob Harrison, and John Garner -- with the help of a wonderful nurse -- washed and anointed him, put on his baptismal robe, and
placed his body into the beautiful casket. At the same time, Fr. Nicholas read the Psalter, while others prayed and helped as they could.

The coffin was then taken downstairs and placed in the Chapel of the Archangels at Raphael House with his feet facing the altar. Interspersed with divine services, for two days Psalms were chanted around the clock as people took turns keeping vigil.

The first evening the Vigil for the Departed was done. The following night, the choir of monks from The Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco lovingly and beautifully sang the funeral service
with Fr. Jonah, Fr. Nicholas Letten, Fr. David Lowell, and our parish priest, Fr. Thomas Alessandroni, (Synaxis of the Theotokos Mission) as celebrants. The Divine Liturgy was served the following morning.
Isaac's body was then taken to St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, in Platina, California, where Abbot Fr. Gerasim, Fr. David Shank and others participated in the burial rite. Fr. Tom offered a loving graveside homily. Many put a shovel of dirt over the casket after it was
lowered down, and Isaac's son, Lawrence and Larry (Maria's brother) worked until well after the sun went down to fill in the six foot grave.


Dr. Roth

"I love you, Forgive me, I forgive you…" Dr. Roth told Isaac that this was what he needed to get said to people in the face of his diagnosis of liver cancer. Dr. Roth was the one who broke the news of his cancer to us, visited Isaac at home, and came over to sign the forms for me after his death. It has proven so true and helpful what Dr. Roth told me -- that mourning is not a linear process, it is ok to feel joy and happiness
when it comes, and that the sorrow will take its own course…this way and that.


A Glimpse of Isaac

Close friends of Isaac's wrote to me soon after his death, "We have met few if any that our Lord has blessed with the gifts that Isaac had with his relationships with people. People of all ages. It just didn't matter to Isaac who you were or how old or young you were, he just gave you a big portion of God's love whenever he was around you."

I found another example of Isaac's generous and evangelical spirit recently when I came across a Christmas card which he wrote to his daughter and her husband -- that for some reason did not get mailed…
"Dear Connie & Elvis, May Christ, Mary's Baby Boy find welcome anew and afresh in your hearts this Christmas. Though it was a manger He was laid in that night in Bethlehem, He came to this world to dwell in you and me, all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Glorify
Him in your hearts as Lord and Savior. Magnify Him as King and
God…"

As that card shows, Isaac never lost an opportunity to express his deep love and faith in Christ and at his end he faced his illness and impending death with this same courage and faith. He took this final opportunity seriously and was able, by God's grace, to use his last days as a time of cleansing and prayer. His concern was for those he left behind. He inspired all of us who had the good fortune to serve him at the end of his life. Even in the last few days when he could no longer
talk and was just resting, tenderness and light seemed to come out of his pores like the glow of a full moon. He continued to love us until the end, and our faith tells us that he still does, and we continue to love
him with the prayers that the church has given us to offer up for his sweet soul. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, grant rest to thy servant Isaac!

Note: I have prepared a much longer article with practical details on how to prepare and to take care of a loved one's body after death, including information on filling out the government forms in California. I'd be happy to send this to anyone. Email
mnash@raphaelhouse.org or call (415) 474-4621.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tyrany! Despotism! Leviathan is unleashed!

There are now no restraints on government. Freedom is a memory! New London is the claw of the dragon. The Supreme Court has thrown open the gates to Nationalist-Socialism. There is nothing now that stands in the way of Hitlarian economic policy in the United States. Read about it here.

"Troubles and trials often beset me"

Over the last few days we have had major plumbing failures. I have tenants moving out. The ones who are have nowhere else to spend the night or at least take a shower hate me. It is very difficult. Plumbers have been crawling all over the place since the 15th. It is very very bad. Then yesterday my boss got onto me for not having a bunch of stuff done. I told him I want a transfer off of this property. I'm going to go look at another one tonight.

In other news, my mothers eye surgery went well. Some of her sight has been restored.

A Joke

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a group of half dozen or so officers that included personnel from most of the countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked: "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?"
Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied: "Maybe it's because the British, Canadians, Australians, and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German."
Suddenly the group became very quiet...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dinner Tonight

This is easy, if a bit decadent and debauched.

Champagne Risotto
  • 2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • A half bottle of champagne or other dry sparkling wine, for example Franciacorta or Prosecco
  • 1 quart simmering beef, chicken, or vegetable stock (I use chicken)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a small onion, finely minced (Some people like a whole onion. I don't. I think it overpowers the wine.)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano (There is only one kind worth buying and it doesn't come in a green package.)
  • Salt & Pepper

Melt half the butter and slowly sauté the onion until it turns golden. Wet it down with a half cup of the wine and cook over a brisk flame until it has evaporated. Then add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until light passes through the grains, and begin adding the broth a little bit at a time. Once all the broth is in, start pouring the rest of the wine in a liitle at a time. Do not let it get soupy. Only pour as it is absorbed. Continue cooking the risotto, stirring, until the rice is just shy of the al dente stage, at which point stir in the remaining butter and the cheese. Cook a couple minutes more, turn the risotto out into a tureen.

More Mad Hot Ballroom

Barbara has good things to say about the movie, too.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mad Hot Ballroom

Mad Hot Ballroom. It is a movie. Go and see it.
Synopsis: documentary- elementary school kids in New York City learn ball room dancing. Compete. Only one school takes home the trophy. There is one boy who barely speaks English, but his eyes, his smile, his moves - wow! He might not speak English, but he still speaks. This movie had my little boy was dancing in his seat.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Giver of Life

A long time ago when I was a PFC in the S-1 section of an Air Assault Battalion HQ I was talking with a Sergeant from the S-4 section. I was trying to convince him of the truth of truth, that there really is someting that exists wheather or not anyone believes it exits. Sometime during the conversation he said "What would you do if a UFO landed and aliens popped out? That would completely invalidate all your Christian shit." I attempted to answer him by saying that his argument was a retreat from reality and a leap into a potentially endless chain of "what ifs". But he kept saying, "What would you do? See! See! It totally kills your argument. I'm not going to beleive the Bible until you answer the UFO question."

I was totally at a loss. I had never encountered such a strange argument before. Anyway, that conversation has never left me, and I have thought about it often over the last 15 years.

Last night while driving up to San Francisco for the Pentecost Vigil we were listening to a science radio show called Life On Earth on KQED-FM. Now I have to explain that since Pascha 50 days ago we have not been saying a particular prayer. It is the prayer that Orthodox normally say at least three times a day, except for the 50 days leading up to Pentecost.

The prayer is:

O, Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who art everywhere preasent and fillest all things, Treasury of good gifts and Giver of life, come and abide in us, and save our souls, O Good One.

It is a prayer to the Holy Spirit and for the fifty days leading up to Pascaha we remeber that the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit. So, we do not pray this prayer. But our hearts ache to pray it. We, if we love Jesus, want to be filled with his Spirit. And this prayer finally gave me the answer to that supply sergeant's question. How? By listening to the radio and traveling to Church where I would finally after 50 days sing that prayer to the Holy Ghost. You can read the whole text or download a recording of the interview here, but below is the part that jumped out to me:

"And to his great surprise they have, and he's found at least one microbe that not only thrives in the spacecraft assembly facility, but seems to have actually evolved in it. It's a tough little spore, it eats aluminum. He found it growing on the surface of one of the Mars Rovers. It forms these spores and then the spores kind of group together to form a little, what he calls an igloo. It looks kind of like a macaroon under a microscope and when he cuts it open and exposes it to the light detection techniques that NASA's developed to look for life, he finds no sign of life and then when he puts this little igloo back together, the microbe comes back to life amazingly. And I asked him, "So you know you found this thing on the Mars Rover when it was being built. Do you think it's up there on Mars right now?" And he said, "oh yes, I'm quite certain, I'm almost certain that it is." So you know, I mean, it's just indicative of how life wants to spread."

So, I had this prayer to the Holy Ghost in my mind (Actually, I was trying really hard not to think the words until I got to church.) and I was listening to this interview about life. And then it hit me... If we Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is the "giver of life" and if we believe He is "everywhere present" we should not doubt that evey measureable part of the Universe is filled with life and if we do not see it is only because we do not have the tools to see it.

If I could go back in time I would say this to that sergeant: "We expect to find life in outer space because God loves life, and there is no place where He is not. Therefore, we would see the arrival of little green men as a validation of what we believe about the nature of God."

Oh, about Pentecost: Bishop Tikhon was here. Fabulous services on Saturday and today. But next year I'm going to make a point to talk to someone about getting the oriental rugs back down on the floor before we do the Kneeling Vespers. (We roll them up and put them away for Holy Week and Pascha to prevent damage from hundreds of dripping candles.) Oh, we did the procession. You can see me in this picture. I'm the man holding the Icon of the Holy Trinity.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Much of what people think of as "the Sixties" really happened in the early 1970s

Back in the early 1970s my parents were pastoring a little pentecostal church in Palo Alto that became part of what was known as the Jesus People movement. What that means is that over the course of 6 years about 700 hippes walked through the door of that little church. I was really young and barely remember any of them. But I do remember that some of them were very messed up. Later I found out that it was because of drugs. I still run into some of those people once in a while. They are, for the most part, still trying to serve God.

Usually, the first thing my Dad had these kids do after saying the sinner's prayer was to have them call their parents.

Here is a really good article from the Wall Stree Journal. I do not know how often they change their links so I've pasted the entire article below.

Dad Ran the Hippie Squad
NYPD detectives worked undercover to rescue runaways from a far-from-groovy life.

BY WILLIAM MCGOWAN
Friday, June 17, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

So what did you do in the 1960s, Daddy?

For more than a few boomer men, such a question would ruin an otherwise pleasant Father's Day, calling up memories of antiwar anger, countercultural folly and bad hair. But in my house it was always the start of an enjoyable generational exchange. My late father, a Navy vet who retired in 1972 as a detective captain after 25 years in the New York Police Department, always had a striking answer when one of his eight children (or their children) asked him about those days. "I ran the Hippie Squad," he would say.

During his long NYPD career, my father guarded Fidel Castro, held down the fort in "Fort Apache" and taught Telly Savalas how to answer the phone for "Kojak." But leading the 20 or so young undercover detectives in this real-life "Mod Squad" was his favorite assignment.

Flashback, October 1967: As the Summer of Love fades into autumn in New York's East Village, runaway teenage socialite Linda Fitzpatrick is found bludgeoned to death with her hippie boyfriend, "Groovy" Hutchinson. Just a few months before, Fitzpatrick had graduated from prestigious Oldfields School in Maryland. By the time of her death she had become a "meth monster," last seen panhandling before she was lured into the basement of a tenement by promises of an LSD party.

Fitzpatrick's murder--the basis of a Pulitzer Prize-winning account by J. Anthony Lukas--left parents and public officials desperate to understand, as Mr. Lukas put it, the "forces at work on young people" who were "leaving middle-class homes throughout the country for the 'mind-expanding' drug scene." Sociologists invoked "the generation gap." Pastors, parents and psychologists scrambled for a way to bridge it. My father, then a detective lieutenant, did his bit too, leading a unit whose mission was to infiltrate the hippie scene, locate underage runaways, reunite them with their parents and put predators--drug dealers, racial hucksters, Hells Angels types--behind bars.

According to former Hippie Squad detective Greg O'Connell, "parents of runaways were on their own" before the squad was formed. Midwestern mothers and fathers would come to the city and walk the streets, carrying pictures of their kids. Lightpoles were plastered with fliers, à la 9/11, describing the age, appearance, nicknames and "last seen" whereabouts of the missing.

Many runaways came to roost in the rundown or abandoned buildings of the far East Village, spreading dirty mattresses on the floor of makeshift crashpads. Free love, along with heroin and methamphetamine, triggered an epidemic of VD, hepatitis and drug addiction. Bad relations between white middle-class hippies and impoverished local blacks and Puerto Ricans resulted in beatings, robberies and worse. "Rape was the norm for runaway girls," says former Hippie Squad detective Robert Marshall. News reports told of a father identifying a 13-year-old girl from Ohio who had been raped and thrown down an airshaft and of a drug-addicted 17-year-old girl from New Jersey who was found dead in a steamer trunk. "It was a very intense era, a sad era," recalls retired East Village detective Edmund Murphy. "A lot of kids got hurt."

The members of the Hippie Squad came from all over the city, many from police narcotics units familiar with undercover work. The chief of detectives promised that there would be no deadweight, and he delivered. The unit was diverse--Irish, Italians, blacks, Jews and Latinos. They forged a family-like bond, dining together before their 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift.

To pass, some squad members grew beards or long hair and wore ratty clothes, their guns holstered under bell-bottomed pants. Others donned leopard-print vests or put studs in their noses. "Born actors," my father would say. "Shoulda been on Broadway." For his part, my father, then 45 years old and the boss, dressed in an older "Dragnet" style: good suit, sharp tie and fedora hat.

The detectives worked in groups of two or three and traveled in unmarked cars. In the cases referred by Missing Persons, they used "stoolies" for help. They picked up other runaways randomly on the street, tipped off by tender ages and nervous demeanors. The bulk of the squad's action involved minors apprehended in "no knock" raids on crashpads or parties. In the late 1960s, when the legality of warrantless searches was unsettled, "it was easier to take a door off its hinges," former Detective O'Connell says.

The squad arrested the predators it found, but it tried as much as possible to return the runaways to their parents. "Ours was more a social mission than a law enforcement mission," Mr. O'Connell explains. Indeed, a lot of the kids had hit bottom by the time the Hippie Squad found them. They wanted to go home and just needed a little help or coaxing.

During the long hot summer of 1968, reports of "no knock" raids would occasionally hit the grapevine, inspiring angry hippies to lay siege to the East Village's Ninth Precinct, waving banners that said "Don't Bust Our Crash Pads" and "Join the Revolution." It was not uncommon to see mounted cops, a couple of busloads of riot police and dozens of uniformed officers ringing the precinct house itself. The members of the Hippie Squad were also there, infiltrating the crowd and leading them off to other destinations in what the squad called "cattle runs," until the mob's energy had faded.

Dad often escorted VIPs who wanted to see the "hippie scene" up close. And sometimes the top department brass or City Hall officials would arrange favors--really just immediate police attention--for politicians, celebrities and friends whose children had become runaways. One of the more interesting such cases involved the daughter of Maxie Levine, a former mob enforcer.

Maxie's teenage daughter, a meth addict, had run away to the East Village and then to Miami, taking her cat with her. A Hippie Squad detective accompanied Maxie to Miami, where they quickly located the girl. But they didn't pick her up right away. Maxie, you see, wanted to party, which they proceeded to do for three days, at one point drinking with Jackie Gleason. Finally he gave the signal and the girl was brought in. She was whisked by jet to a private sanitarium in New York, the cat in a hatbox.

A few instances of rule-bending aside, the squad was on the straight and narrow. The relative youth of the men, their excitement for the mission and their loyalty to my father kept temptation at bay. The squad enjoyed so much autonomy that my father, in the old department style, sometimes ran the show from uptown places like Toots Shors, where the banter was warm, the cocktails were chilled and Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young" always seemed to be on the jukebox.

By late 1968, hipppiedom was ebbing in the city and the number of runaways declining. One night, my Dad told his men that the squad was to be disbanded. In a little more than a year, it had found and returned 350 runaways.

For my father, the job's greatest satisfaction was the gratitude of the parents--and some of the runaways. He kept their letters until he died. "The lieutenant was most kind and understanding," one parent wrote. The detectives who had helped to find her daughter did "excellent work."

Mr. McGowan is completing a book about the New York Times.

I've discovered a new blog

There is a Jewess who call herself "The Virgin Queen". She says some interesting things, such as...

"Mark my words --- anyone who asserts that we can't know what we'd do in a given situation is making an advance exuse for why they will do the wrong and cowardly thing."

"Not to fear, liberal friends! When demographics make you irrelevant you will have the comfort of knowing that the Republicans are intent on pushing 95% of your agenda and will continue to cede the last shreds of America's sovereignty almost as quickly as you could have yourselves!"

"Jesus Christ was sent to redeem the world.
He was not merely a prophet.
He was not merely a radical rabbi.
He was more than a man. He was Divine.
With his suffering, he paid for the sins of mankind.
To many of my readers, these are not shocking statements. However, they would be quite alarming to some of my friends and family. Why? It is very simple:I am a Jew. I believe the above statements to be true, but I am not a Christian. I have nothing to do with Jews for Jesus. However, as I became closer with many people whose lives have been transformed, the questions began to bother me and I found myself investigating them."

So, check out her blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Durbin is wrong

Senator Durbin thinks that the US Marines guarding and interrogating the prisoners at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba are not much different from the Nazi prison camp guards or the guards of the Soviet gulag. Why does he think this? Because he holds the mistaken idea that the prisoners at Guantanamo have rights under the laws and customs of war that are being violated, that is the prisoners are not being treated as the Geneva Conventions say they ought to be treated.

I'd like to clear someting up abot that right now. It is something that drives me nuts. The prisoners at Guantanomo are not Prisoners of War (POW). They are unlawful combatants (UC). The Geneva Convention affords them no protection. They could have been shot on the battlefield when they were first captured. They could all be lined up and shot today and it would be perfectly legal.

What is the difference between a POW and a UC? Well, a captured combatant has to meet all four criteria of a POW. If all four criteria are not met the captured person is a UC, thus not protected by law.

The Geneva Convention states that the four criteria are
"(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly; [and]
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

The Al Qeda fighters do not satisfy any of these criteria.

The Taliban is a bit harder. They did have a government, and though it was not recognized by the UN or the US was a government with an army and a command structure. But they had no unforms and no fixed distinctive sign - they dressed as civilians. Sometimes they carried their arms openly. Sometimes they didn't. And by hiding among civilians they did not meet criterion d. They are unlawful combatants. They do not fall under Geneva Convention protections.

So what happens to them? They can tried by a military tribunal (see Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942) ) that can decide to free them, hold them indefinately, or kill them. They have no right of appeal.

In case you are interested, this has always been the practice since at least the American Revolution. And it has always been an uncomfrtable practice. The falling out that General Washington had with his Aide-de-Camp, Alexander Hamilton was over just this issue. Washington had Major Andre hanged for being a UC. Hamilton thought Washington shouldn't have done it.

During the battle of Springfield in the Civil War, one of my family members was almost hung for being a UC. (He wasn't and it is a little complicated. I might tell the story later when I have more time.) And President Lincoln had the UC Beall hanged.

Remember that South Vietnamese National Police Chief, Gen. Nquyen Loc Loan who shot the prisoner Bay Lop in the head with a .38 revolver? Well, Bay Lop was a UC. (Notice that Bay Lop, a Captain in the Viet Cong is dressed as a civillian.)

UCs are put to death. We do not allow them to live. If we want to change that law, we can. But we need to remember that one of the purposes of the law of war is to prevent civillian suffering. It is imperfect. It is often ignored, even by us (ever hear of strategic bombing?) but it is the law and it is a good one.

So, I say again. Durbin, and and everyone else who says we are mistreating Al Qeda and Taliban personnel at Quantanamo are wrong.
The Taliban, like Bay Lop, Major Andre, my relative, and Beall endangered civilians by their dress and by concealing their weapons. When soldiers can not distiguish between civilians and their enemies they are forced to regard everyone as an enemy, and that only increases the misery of the civillians. War is hard enough on civilians without UCs making it worse. They have no legal protection for a reason: They deserve none.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The dream I had today

I took a litle nap with the little boy today. I had a dream. I don't remember all of it but it went something like this.

We were living in rural North Carolina. We had a small farm, maybe 30 acres in plum trees. We also were rasing free-range heirloom turkeys. They roamed around among the plum trees, eating bugs and fallen fruit. We also had bees. The bees were used to polinate the plum trees. But the boys (in the dream the new baby was a boy) who were older teenagers, took the bees around to other farms were paid for polinating their crops. And we had a beeswax candle business. And there was a little stone orthodox church down a dirt road. We walked to it.

I think it might have been the best dream I have ever had.

It is amazing how God takes care of me

We've needed a new bed for a while. The bed we have is one of those metal frames that has wooden slats that support the mattress. The matress has been a futon matress. After many years the futon was worn out and, essentially, I have bee laying on beechwood slats. Not comfy at all.

But God has given my wife and I these jobs that lets us spend amazing amounts of time with the boy and together. And give us a place to live. And money. And tenants who move out and leave behind mattresses and box springs that fit on our Swedish iron and wood slat frame!!!

Tonight we went to Macy's and bought sheets. It was my first time to buy sheets. Can you believe it? I'm 36 years old and have never bought a sheet. When I was living with my parents, I used the sheets they bought. Then I was in the army - they give you 4 sheets. Then I was married, and people give you sheets when you get married. Then I lived with my sister and used her sheets. Then I moved into a house where the guy moving out left a water bed with several sheets. Then I was homeless - no sheets needed when you are living in a van. Then I was living in the corner of a warehouse that had been converted to a small office - sleeping bag. Then I was homeless again - sleeping in an old station wagon with a sleeping bag. Then I was sick (Pertusis. It almost killed me.) and a man I barely new let me have his bedroom while he traveld in Asia. Then I lived in various flop houses in San Francisco (sheets provided) then I moved into an apartment that came with a bed and sheets. Then back to my sisters house where again I used her sheets. Then I got married to a woman who had sheets. So, all of those years I've never once bought sheets. And then tonight I go to Macy's to buy sheets. And guess what!?!!? They were on sale!!!! 25% OFFF!!!

TONIGHT- No slats in my back and beautiful new 300 thread count sheets!!!!

Education

I just signed up for this course offerd by the University of Joensuu in Finland. I don't know that it will ever amount to anything, since my multiple marriages disqualify me from serving in any liturgical role. But maybe someday I will be able to serve as a catechist.

The tuition is 370 Euros. I have been waiting three weeks to sign up. I suspected that the Euro would fall in value against the dollar. I was right. I saved a few dollars by waiting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It Looks Like My Letter Wasn't Needed.

Doh! The Holy Synod was already on top of the problem and did not need my letter. Here is a paper that is going to be considdered at the 14th All Ameircan Council in a few weeks. It sees all the problems I mentioned in my letter plus more. I love being Orthodox. Our bishops are so thoughtful. I am continually impressed by how deeply they look at things and how much attention they give to the matters before them.

Monday, June 13, 2005

An Open Letter to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America

After reading this report (thanks to Raphael who posted to the link to this report on his blog.) I felt the need to contact the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America.


Bless, Masters.

Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, and Your Graces of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, I’ve never written a letter to a bishop, let alone a synod, so please forgive me if I am not using the right forms of address, or if writing to you in this way is a violation of protocol. Any failure in those regards is do to my ignorance, not to any lack of respect or love. I am not anyone important, but I am your son. I am a member of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco but I am not writing on behalf of the parish or anyone in the parish. This letter is only from me, no one else.

I have never been happy about the OCA being a members of the NCC but I just figured the Orthodox were trying to get the other members of the NCC to repent, and bring them into the Church. But today I read about the National Council of Churches’ conference on the “religious right” that took place on April 29 & 30 of this year. (I am enclosing a copy of the article I read. It is taken from the website of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.)

The article quotes several speakers at the conference. Some of the errors made by conference speakers were:

- Equating President Bush with “the evil”

- Equating American electoral politics with “Hitlarian tactics”

- Equating living in the United States with living in a police state.

But those are just little annoyances and insults designed to enrage a crowed. The dangerous things that were said, the words that can cause real damage to our mission of evangelizing this continent are the words of two speakers, Joseph Hough and Joan Boaker.

In disobedience to St. Paul’s instructions Joan Boaker spoke treasonous words, promoting riot and anarchy. We Orthodox should have no part of this. We are not political. We honor the Caeser no matter who the Caesar is, even if the Caesar is Nero, or Caligula, or Decius. We do not “shut down the government”; governments are God’s ministers. The Holy Prophet Samuel taught us that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”, yet the NCC sponsored her speech. Why are we a member of this vile organization?

Joseph Hough mocked the Southern Baptists for their support of the Christian teaching that homosexuality is a sin. But on this issue, at least, the Southern Baptists agree with the Church. But the NCC sponsored Mr. Hough’s cruel speech; a speech that teaches that there is no need for the homosexual to repent of his sin, thus consigning the homosexual to Hell. This is not love for the homosexual; this is hatred for the homosexual and all humanity. This tells the homosexual that there is no need to repent; that there is no hope for him; that he is trapped in his tortured life. Would we say that to the glutton, to the thief, to the prostitute? God, may it never be! We proclaim life, not death. Yet we are members of the NCC, which preaches slavery to the passions and death as the normal and good state of things. This is not love. It is pure hatred. Why do we count ourselves among these enemies of humanity?

Several of the people at the conference spoke in support of abortion. And the NCC sponsored their speeches. Why do we lend our name and the dignity of Christ’s church to this group that promotes the murder of children? If it really is an effort to evangelize them, I beg you, my lords, look to the example of St. John the Forerunner. He did not join the party of the Herodians to call Herod to repentance.

Please, lead us out of the NCC. Our membership in that reprehensible organization gives them unwarranted dignity and brings shame on us.

Matthew

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Sad Story

For the last few week I've been telling the litte boy the Story. I mean THE Story. Ever since he was born I've been telling him that God made the moon and the sun and the bees and the trees, etc. He knows that that it gets dark at night because God makes the sun go down. But as I said above, last week I began telling him the story. So far we are through the six days of creation, the planting of the Garden in Eden, the making of Adam from dust, the naming of the animals, the making of Eve, the temptation and fall, the horrifying conversation. ( "Adam where are you?" "Who told you you're naked?" "Dust shalt thou eat".) Each night I tell a little bit more than I told the night before.

He can tell it with me now. I'll ask "what happens next?" He'll say "she eats the pretty tree". Or I'll ask "what work does Able do? " He'll answer "takes care of animals". And boy, you should here him describe the cherubim's flaming sword. All I said was that it was a flaming sword but the little boy has added all kinds swooshing and roaring of sound effects. It is very dramatic.

Saturday night we got to the part where God banishes Cain and Seth is born. The little boy said, "This is a sad story." I said, "Yep".
"Does it get happy?"
"Eventually, but first it gets sadder before it gets happy."
"When is it happy?"
"When Jesus comes".
"Oh."
I asked"Do you know what Jesus does when he comes?"
He excitedly answers"Tramples down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"
"Yep, that's what he does. That's when it gets happy."
So we stopped telling the story, sang a few songs, and he fell asleep.

Tonight, when I asked him if he was ready for me to tell more of the story he said, "Just the happy part."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mormons

I have a couple of new tenants. They are very young and intense members of the CJCLDS, also known as Mormons. They are so Mormon they even wear the special Mormon Underwear. (Free advice to any Mormons reading this: Most stylish summer clothing is incompatible with your underwear. Do not wear short pants, tank tops, sundresses, etc. with your sacred underwear. It is a "Fashion Don't") Anyway, back to what I was saying before I got side tracked by the underwear thing this couple are really nice, pleasant, and likeable. But they are so overthe top cheerful and hospitable that it seems fake. Its almost like these two nice people are putting on masks so they will appear to be nice people. It makes about as much sense as a beautiful woman wearing makeup.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Visit

My friend Jeff (New M.A. in theology from Fuller, newly "comissioned" pastor in the EV Free denomination) is bringing a bunch of men to Holy Trinity Cathedral for the Vigil of the Feast of All-Saints. I tried getting him to come on Pentecost but I think he was afraid of the length of the service and the amount of participation required. It isn't easy to stand back and observe during a major feast.

He is taking them on a tour of Christianity. I think they are going to visit several different churches over the next few months to see how they are the same and how they are different from the EV Free Church. After the vigil I'll take them on a tour of the temple and then out to dinner for Q & A. It ought to be fun.

Prayer of a Sick Person (from the Orthodox Prayer Book)

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, You became man and died on the cross for our salvation. You healed people of sickness and affliction through Your love and compassion. Visit me, Lord and grant me strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with patience, submission to Your will and trust in Your loving care. I pray that You will bless the means used for my recovery and those who administer them. Grant that my sickness may be to my spiritual benefit and that I may live the rest of my life more faithfully according to Your will. For You are the source of life and healing and to You I give praise and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Still sick but I have an opinion on the Supreme Court

Yesterday was spent in a drugged stupor. My wife had to come home early because I couldn't stay awake to take care of the little boy. Still much pain and discomfort today. The force of my coughing pulled a muscle in my left side, just below my ribs. Another muscle in my chest is pulled, too, but not as painfully. I hate being sick. It interferes with so much stuff.

I would have slept all day today, too but I have 3 empty units that I am renovating. It is surprising to me how much work is involved.

Oh, about the Supreme Court and the California medical marijuana case. Justice Clarence Thomas was right, and the majority of the court was wrong. For too long, since the beginning of the New Deal the commerce clause has been used as a battering ram to destory the wall of liberty our Founding Fathers erected in the Tenth Ammendment. I hope the government of the State of California ignores the Supreme Court in this instance. Judges dress in black, and in this case it is the blackness of evil deeds, for they have injured the constitution.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sickness

The little boy and I are sick. I think my wife is sick, too, but she is pregnant so it is hard to tell. Anyway, we've been sick all week. I've lost my voice. Only slept 3 hours last night. Miserable. The little boy has been asleep for the last 5 hours. I hope he manages to sleep longer. Sleep is the only relief. Well, I suppose heroin would be a relief, too, but I don't know where to get any of that.

On saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed and all three of us went to see my friend Jeff receive a M.A.T. degree from Fuller Seminary. The main campus is in Pasadena, but in Northern California they occupy one wing of St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. I think it is kind of weird that the Roman Catholics let the Protestants use their buldings, what with the anathemas and everything. But, hey, that's just history. Besides, I'm not Roman Catholic or Protestant. But it is disturbing to me to see people not behaving consistantly with what they profess. If you say you believe something, act like you believe it.

Four things that were interesting:
1. Many Church of God in Christ (a sister denomination to the denomination I grew up in.) people were at the ceremony. I didn't know they were such big supporters of seminary education.
2. The staind glass windows in the chapel were very pretty. At the top of each window was a large image of a saint, in at the bottom of the window was a large depiction event from the life of Jesus. In the middle of the window was small circle showing the Old Testament type. For instance, the window that contained a picture Jesus bearing his Cross to Calvary also contained a picture of Isaac bearing the faggot to Moriah.
3. There were protestant faculty sitting infront of the altar on the elevated sactuary of the chapel. (click here and scroll down to "Renovation: 1989 - 1993" to see what I am talking about.) I was surprised by that. I would have thought that even if the Roman Catholics did not object, the Protestant theologians would have known better.
4. All of the songs that were sung were like Christianity-lite. There was nothing incorect about them, they were just not enough. I don't really know how to describe it other than by saying that something was missing. I think the best analog I can think of is saying that vanilla is a flavor of ice cream. That is a true statement but it does not even approach a definition of vanilla.

We were to sick to stay for the party after the graduation. We just came home and craweled back into bed. No church on Saturday night or on Sunday. Almost nothing accomplished today, either.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Great War

My grandfather Clovis Cagle (my mother's father) faught in the First World War. I don't know what he did in the war other than than this: He was in the field artillary and was in charge of a horse team that pulled a gun. I also know this about his service in the Army: He marched across Doughboy Field (the parade grounds at Fort Dix, New Jersey) when he graduated from basic training. I graduated from basic training on that same field about 70 years later.

Later in his life he was a postman. And he was the father of 7 daughters and one son. He was also a pastor (and so were several of his brothers) in the United Pentecostal Church. When the United States entered World War II he tried to enlist but he was too old. I never knew him, he died a few weeks before I was born. But I have seen his picture and heard many stories. I think I would have loved him had I known him.

I guess I've been thinking about WWI lately because I heard about a British veteran of that war who died recently. He was a horse cavalryman. His name is Albert Marshall.

I suppose everyone knows the heart breaking poem "In Flanders' Fields" by John McCrae. But I am not sure everyone knows "We Shall Keep the Faith" by Moina Michael. If I remember the story correctly, in 1918 she was working in a YWCA in London when she read the poem. Being moved to tears she picked up a pencil and wrote...

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

I didn't write about it on Memorial Day (I was afraid you might think I was bragging) but I'll tell you, now that a few days have passed. On Memorial Day I took the little boy to a cemetery near here. We have no relatives in that cemetery nevertheless we drove in and looked for the veterans section. It was easy to find since there were little American flags on each of the graves. Most of the graves had flowers on them, too. But a few did not. I told the little boy to find a grave with no flower and he did. We put a rose (the floral emblem of the United States) on it the grave and prayed for that fallen soldier and all of those men and women who protected us from harm, though they did not know us, though we had not even been born when they were fighting for us. I want my little boy to remember them, to learn the lessons that they wrought.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Family

A few days ago, I sent letters to my two oldest boys (fruit of a marriage that failed 14 years ago) telling them that my mother wanted to see them before she dies. On wednesday of this week the older one called me. He had some questions about his Granny but he was very cold toward me. He asked for my sisters phone number so he could confirm what I told him. Then I heard through the grapevine that he was going to be here yesterday.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from him. He was at my sisters house but no one was there. He didn't know how to get to my Mother's house. So I and the youngest of my sons drove to my sisters house to see the oldest of my sons and take him to talk with my mother.

SURPRISE! He is 6 feet tall and has a beard! And my middle son (16 in a couple of days) was with him!!! And he is even taller! (The little boy said, "My brothers are enormous.") I won't go into all of the details of yesterday (you would weep too much), but it seems that the sons I thought I had lost are being restored to me.

God put a woman in their lives who is an excellent influence on them. She is married to the owner of the ranch where my oldest works, and she even makes them go to church on Sunday. She drove them both up here to see their Granny.