The New Panic Room Radio Show

The New Panic Room ep 313 ft Ra Lynn Lonewalker & Mark Harrietha

HellBound Books Publishing presents The Panic Room Radio Show!

The good times just keep rolling tonight Thursday at 10:30pm EST. So cruise on in to the soda shop, drop a dime in that jukebox, and dig those classic tunes. Then listen while hep cat James Longmore and pretty kitty Xtina Marie talk with author Ra Lynn LoneWalker & voice actor Mark Harrietha! Featuring samanthas_shelf, a fun segment for your enjoyment with book reviews by the lovely Samantha Hawkins. Don’t miss the fun and shenanigans!

Disaster Work in Amerikkka

The current protests that have erupted across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd seemingly had far reaching affects. When I saw the film footage of George’s death I was, like most everyone, sickened by what I saw. Unfortunately, I had inclination we would find ourselves in this situation eventually.

Let me explain, back in April 1992, I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, California when the Rodney King riots broke out. We were deployed to help bring the situation under control. At the time most of us on base hadn’t seen the footage of Rodney’s beating by the police—the internet didn’t exist back then—as we were focused on our training, taking the peace of our nation for granted.  We climbed aboard the duce and half’s somewhat blind to the situation. That was a hard position to be in not knowing what was going on. I remember we sat in the back of those trucks asking each other questions; Are we actually going to war in L.A.? Are we going to fight our own countrymen?

I was a medic and under direct orders by my superiors to do as I was told. So, all of us had no choice in the matter, it didn’t matter what side of the issue we were on, if we even knew what the situation was, we had our orders. As a Marine Corpsman (medic) I can justify my duty as one that provides medical assistance when needed. I was thankful, I wasn’t there to shoot anyone, I was there to patch up anyone and everyone. The thing that kept going through my mind was, why were the U.S. Marines being sent to U.S. city? I didn’t think it was possible for the U.S. military to be used against its own country. I thought for sure it was going to be the end of our world as we knew it. I was young, inexperienced in the ways of politics and I only knew that I was to follow my orders.

Fortunately, my unit didn’t have to hurt anyone, and I was able to patch up a few people before it was all over and we went back to base. But what I took away from that experience was the atmosphere where nothing got accomplished and I figured we would revisit the situation at a later date. The civilians didn’t feel like they were heard by our government. And we, or at least I, felt like I had been awakened with the realization that we, as a country, could go to war with ourselves and that scared me. Later, when I did see the footage of Rodney being beat, I was shocked that it had happened. I couldn’t figure out why the cops weren’t arrested straight away for their brutality. Why did tour leaders let this get so far out of hand that the Marines we deployed? It seemed like common sense to retrain the police and for our communities to work on society as whole. I had no idea that injustices like this were happening. (I do understand now this is part of my privilege as a white person.)

Fast forward to 2016, I was deployed for disaster work due to severe flooding in Texas and Louisiana. I live in Nevada and have lived most all of my life in the North Western United States.  Before 2016 I didn’t realize that southern hate groups and especially the Klu Klux Klan, were growing and becoming an upcoming voice for our country.

When I arrived in Huston, Texas as a disaster volunteer I was relocated to Beaumont, Texas for a about a week and then up to Jasper, Texas for another week. My job was to drive out to the rural areas and map the periphery of the disaster while performing wellness checks on people. As a volunteer, I never once thought of my work as anything other than helping people; it never crossed my mind that victims of the flood would have a problem with outsiders. Like I said I’m from Nevada, and my partner on the job at that time was from Syracuse, New York—both white men.

Once we arrived in Jasper, Texas it did not take long before my partner and I ran into trouble. We had noticed that many of the properties had white crosses in the yards, rebel flags, and another flag that is white with blue field in the upper corner with a red cross. We came to learn later that those are symbols of white supremacy. The later flag is what is known as a Christian flag, but it’s been adopted by the KKK as well.

When we saw these symbols, we naively felt little concern; we inaccurately guessed the crosses represented a Christian family. However, we quickly learned crosses can also represent white supremacy for many.

We came to a property where the signage was very racist along the driveway. Signs that were warnings for non-whites not dare come to this home. As a working partner of a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is helping people, we are taught not to distinguish who gets our assistance. Even if a person is a flag waving racist, we offer them the same assistance to them as we do their neighbors. My partner and I are white, so we figured we could knock on the door without any harm. I knocked and then heard a commotion in the house, it sounded like people leaving out the backdoor. I heard someone fumbling with the lock on the front door, and eventually the door opened to a big man coming out on the porch.

“Hello,” I said and explained what organization we were with, even though we were both dressed in vests that obviously expressed who we were. “We are doing a wellness check on you, your family and your neighbors. Have you been affected by the flood and if so, how can we help?”

He looked at me, then to my partner and his face turned red and his eyes narrowed as he turned back to me. “We don’t want no damn Yankees helping us. We can get along just fine without you!”

He was visibly angry with us. The disdain this guy had for Americans living in the North was unbelievable. My partner who was seventy-two at the time said, “Yankee? I haven’t heard that term used toward someone since the seventh grade. You folks still use that term?”

That was when I saw a man about hundred yards off in the backyard pointing a rifle at us from behind a tree. I looked at the big man and said as I pointed at the red cross on my chest, “This is not a target. We are only here to offer assistance. If that is problem, then we will go.”

The big man waved a hand and the man behind the tree dropped his aim and walked calmly back to the house through the backdoor. He then told us it was better if we left and that we should tell everyone from FEMA to the Salvation Army not to come to his house. For safety reasons my partner and I went out of our way to inform everyone we could about that area. It was common for us to run into people like that in the Beaumont /Jasper area. Understand that in this area they still bury the dead according to color. I was told that ‘It’s just the custom down here in the south not to mix whites with the non-white in the grave yard.’

At another point during this disaster deployment, I was working with a FEMA officer who was headed up to Jasper from Beaumont to work at the joint operations site up there. I told him about the hostility I had experienced up there and shared my concern as he was a man of color. His reply sent shivers down my spine. He told me that when he arrived at the disaster he was assigned in Jasper where he had been warned by FEMA in the Dallas office about the intolerance in this area. The night he arrived, he was pulled over by the police. He identified himself as a FEMA officer, by holding up his badge. The police took his badge and tossed it across the street and told him they didn’t recognize his authority and because of his color he wasn’t welcome in Jasper. They told him “Remember what happened to James Byrd? If you know what is best for you, you’d leave town.” James Byrd Jr was black man that was lynched in Jasper in 1998 and drug though town behind a pickup truck. The pride these white supremist have for such a horrid act still makes me ill.

My FEMA friend told me that after the police left, he got out his vehicle, retrieved his badge, got back in his vehicle and left town. Once outside of town he pulled over. He said he was shaking and crying all at once. His tears were out of frustration that he couldn’t depend on the local law enforcement for backup and cooperation. But in truth, he told me that he was scared for his life. Even though he had a gun on his hip, he was frightened and intimidated by the local cops. “I shouldn’t feel that way in my profession,” he said, “I can’t believe that in 2016 we are still dealing with this racists bullshit!” This time he was going to Jasper with four other FEMA officers to continue working the disaster. Prior to going back to Jasper, he had filed a complaint about the police department, so he felt confident his trip would be different from that last experience. Our paths never crossed again, so I don’t know the outcome of the FEMA officer. It is my hope that he didn’t have any other troubles.

If you recall, 2016 was an election year. In these towns it was not uncommon to see yard signs that read “We have endured a minority president we will not endure a woman present.” Or, “If Hillary gets in, we go to our guns!” When I got home, I told my wife, “I had no idea how much hate was out there until this deployment. I fear a civil war in our near future.” At first, she thought I was exaggerating until other people that were deployed with me confirmed what I had witnessed. I have been on other deployments since 2016 where racism has become an issue.

For insistence, when I was deployed to the Virgin Islands in 2017 during three Category 5 hurricanes, I witnessed how different a disaster is handled when racism is involved. People that held high government positions made policies not to help the people of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico because the population wasn’t white or considered American. Because I was no longer the young, sheltered man I once was, I, along with others saw the racism clearly when it came to the lack of urgency or help being deployed to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. The U.S. Government purposely delayed resources and material relief to the islands, and let the Jones Act waiver lapse, slowing shipping that brought aid to a trickle making recovery efforts very difficult. Yet, the U.S. Government vowed to stand with Texas and Florida every single day to help them restore and recover. While Puerto Rico and St. Croix are U.S. territories, yet because their skin color is different, we treat them different in recovery efforts. 

I am sharing these experiences to help shed light for my fellow white Americans on the very real racism that I have witnessed firsthand. As I said, after my deployment in 2016 to rural Texas, it became very apparent that my experience foretold of what would happen in the future. George Floyd has exposed what some of us have been talking about for a while now, racism in America and I am glad that the protests over his murder show no signs of quieting down. In fact, quite the opposite with the ripple effect for justice of others killed at the hands of racism has erupted. I hope that people keep going until there is real change.

What is happening is painfully familiar to the Rodney King riots. For people like James Byrd Jr. their injustices need to be addressed. It is my hope and prayer that we as a society come to learn the value of our fellow person no matter their color, creed, religion, gender / non-gender or choice of partner. I understand that being white telling my point of view might stir up emotions of resentment by some, but please understand that I’m attempting to educate my white counterparts. My experiences are authentic and have provided me with an avenue to empathize with my fellow human no matter what color their skin is, and it is my hope that this little story helps others to see the there is still much work to be done to become an anti-racist society.

A Push for Peace

As a storyteller, I write about experiences that have moved me: most of my novels are many stories weaved together to make one. My goal as a writer is to challenge my readers to think about something they may have not considered before. Today, this is part of my experience with the Black Lives Movement (BLM). I have been behind The Black Lives Matter movement for a few years. Colin Kaepernick was the person who introduced it to me when he played at the University of Northern Nevada (UNR) in Reno where I live. My wife and I went to all of the home games and loved to watch him create magic out on the field. A person couldn’t help but love the kid both on and off the field. He was approachable, kind and sensible. My impression was that Colin had his finger on the pulse of everyone and everything he came into contact with. Watching him grow into a great man of principle has been a pleasure. I remember when he got picked up by the San Francisco 49ers—my wife and I were so excited. We knew he was going to be special; we just didn’t know how special. When he started taking a knee and the NFL world grew concerned, I figured if he was taking a knee he was prompting me to learn something. That is when I came to learn about BLM.

Within all of the criticism of Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee his biggest critics overlooked what he was doing behind the scenes to help others. As I learned from watching his college years, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t just talk the talk, he takes risks (BIG RISKS) and takes action. I knew one day the world would wake up and see what he has been trying to tell us all these years. I quit watching football because of the unfair treatment of Colin. For me, I saw how corrupt and racist the NFL is as an organization, especially the owners of the teams.  

As our country comes to terms with its racism, I see people that are special like Colin Kaepernick who rise to the occasion. Throughout the demonstrations in Minneapolis over the murder of George Floyd, I met an incredibly special person that has been working for change in his community for a long time.

The first time I saw Trey Pollard he was standing between the riot police and demonstrators. Trey was attempting to keep the peace. This was the first day of the most recent demonstrations for BLM and the situation was volatile, tensions were high to say the least. In my opinion, Trey put himself on the line to protect the police as they were outnumbered by the crowd of demonstrators. He was asking everyone to stay cool, no looting, no violence. I thought to myself, “now there is a guy that is determined to help his community.” Later, I met and spoke to Trey, I learned that he had been handing out water and masks (remember COVID19?) to the demonstrators and police. He was also organizing platforms so people could voice their grief and frustration without any violence from the crowd. As the demonstrations grew, I heard Trey and his team talking to people to remind them to stay six feet apart because of the contagion. Again, I reached out to Trey and let him know how much I admired him, that I supported his efforts, and I would help in any way I could for the movement.

Writing this is one way I am working to spread the word and bring awareness for people like Trey and his organization called WE Push For Peace. WE Push For Peace is a non-profit organization in north Minneapolis that has one goal: make real change that is felt on the street.

*Image from We Push For Peace’s Website*

Trey tells me that he dedicates his time working to take the community away from violence and focus on making a difference, especially for kids. He has joined his efforts with other community activists, youth workers, and other volunteers who have a shared goal to bring peace to everyone. “No one should be afraid to walk down a sidewalk in Minneapolis,” they told me. It is a heartfelt pleasure to see people that are motivated by change rather than power and money. People like Trey and his volunteers dedicated to changing the lives of others are the heroes of this time.

When George Floyd was killed and the community took to the streets, Trey and his crew hit the streets too. They were out there not only bringing awareness to what was going on but helping both the police and the community. As I said, I believe they put themselves in the danger zone in order to help others. A huge, humbled shout out to Trey and his team – STAY SAFE MY FRIENDS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

I’m going to leave a link to WE Push For Peace and if you are one for those people who are wondering how to help our country during these hard times, go to the link and donate to WE Push For Peace. Your money will not be wasted in their hands. These are very capable people that are actively working in the community to make a difference on the streets.

Lastly, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and donated to WE Push For Peace as have members of my team. To me, this shows the ripple effect of Trey’s kindness, courage, and dedication. If you would also like to give or get involved, please see below for more information. Donate and know that your money is going to the cause without a doubt.

Donations can be made via 

  • Cash App to $wepushforpeace
  • Venmo to @Wepushforpeace-Pollard
  • Venmo to @Wepushforpeace-Pollard
  • Zelle to We Push For Peace

If you would like a tax receipt: 

Please put your email address in the memo on Cash App or Venmo.  We Push For Peace would like to be able to send you a receipt for your generous donation.  Or you may email  your name/address to wepushforpeace@gmailcom and a tax receipt will be sent to you. 

Disaster Preparedness: Practical Tips to be Prepared for Emergencies

I have volunteered in disaster work for several years now and having some experience with disasters I am frequently asked, “How should I prepare for a disaster?”. Since this is a common question, I thought I would put out a simple list down to help people.

Get Educated

Before the list, I think a big part of disaster preparedness is education. I advise you to take the time to learn how to save a life. You can go online a find a First Aid, CPR, and AED (automated external defibrillator) course near you. Personally, I’ve been able to save lives with CPR and first aid. I now teach these courses in my area and I know for a fact they will help you in an emergency to save a life. These courses are not difficult and will build your confidence on how to react and what do when a disaster strikes. Here is a link to The American Red Cross, but you can go to the American Heart Association or there is plethora of others available. Find one that works for you and your schedule.

One of the things I have learned from being assigned to a disaster team is that the people we find in that are victims of a disaster are usually near their house or near their car.

Make an Emergency / Disaster Preparedness First Aid Kit

DIY emergency and disaster preparedness first aid kit

Knowing that people are often near their vehicles, I tell people to outfit their car with a comprehensive first aid kit to include at least:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 emergency blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 gauze roll bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 gauze roll bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury / non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

Supplement it with: liquid Benadryl, chewable aspirin, Pedialyte (1 package or 1 liquid), sanitary napkins for big wounds, clotting powder or corn starch, super glue (yes it’s good for wound care), sterile eyewash, burn cream with pain relief, sturdy tweezers and scissors.

Put a blanket in your car. When someone has suffered trauma, whether it be physical or psychological, wrapping a blanket around the victim helps them to feel safe. In disaster preparedness, being able to provide comfort is important and a blanket can do just that.

At least two bottles of water. A person can ration and stretch-out the consumption of water to help them to stay hydrated until help comes.

Some non-perishable food. A general list of non-perishable foods can include:

  • Beef Jerky.
  • Granola Bars.
  • Dried Pasta (ramen noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, etc.)
  • Trail Mix (especially the nuts)
  • Canned Foods (meats, vegetables, fruits, soups)

What Else to Expect in a Disaster

When we find people in disasters, they don’t realize how broad the devastation of a disaster usually is. Meaning they had an impression that they would be rescued quickly, yet in reality they were stranded for weeks. In working with my disaster team, we have come across people who’ve been stranded near their car for weeks and if they only had had some water and food in their vehicles their time waiting to be rescued would’ve been much easier.

“If we do our part with disaster preparedness for the unlikely and unthinkable, our chances for survival increase exponentially. “

If I’ve learned anything from working disasters is that they are happening more frequently and are almost everywhere these days. If we do our part with disaster preparedness for the unlikely and unthinkable, our chances for survival increase exponentially.  This is a small and doable list. Be kind to yourself and your family. Properly outfit your vehicles. All of my vehicles have a backpack that contains the items listed above. It doesn’t take up much room and are easily accessible. My lists come from the Red Cross for whom I volunteer, but you find other sources online with other lists that are equally as good. Find the one that works for you in your climate, environment, and local hazards.

If you have questions regarding disaster preparedness feel free to reach out to me with questions. I’m happy to help!

Lithia Park

Lithia Park by Ra Lynn LoneWalker book cover

Purchase Through Amazon

  • File Size: 5691 KB
  • Print Length: 530 pages
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Ruby Birk, who lives in Ashland Oregon, often comes to Lithia Park with her dog Yukon to sketch. She is the quintessential starving artist who never earns enough money through her artwork to pay the rent or purchase groceries. She seems to be filled with angst and is jealous of so-called normal people with normal nine-to-five jobs. Self-doubt is her biggest enemy, and because of her limited faith in the world of art, she is reluctant to leap into the job market and conform to the world around her. If she got a regular job, she protests, she would have to turn her back on everything she believes in. This is what has her filled with depression. When Ruby’s ex-husband surprises her one day with a painting, he bought for her, her life is suddenly turned upside down. The painting is more than a hundred years old, and yet painted on the canvas is the unmistakable image of Ruby, her dog, and an unknown man. As if the painting weren’t strange enough, it’s her signature in the corner that unsettles her: it’s her name, and she is convinced it was written by her hand.While she doesn’t recognize the man in the painting, there is something familiar about him. And when she turns the painting over, she finds further mysteries taped to the back of the canvas and frame. This mysterious painting leads Ruby on a journey to find out how the painting came to exist in the first place. She also learns who the man with her is. Through the magic of Lithia Park, Ruby is able to travel through time and go back a hundred years to get the answers she seeks. Lithia Park swirls together in elements of “Bid Time Return,” “Lust for Life,” and “A Portrait of Jennie” to give readers an enchanting novel that takes on immense themes: love, death, magic, and the power of the human mind to transform and transcend reality. Lithia Park will captivate readers who fall under its spell.

All the People in My Life


A heartfelt thank you to the great team I have, that makes my books possible, my editor: Barbara Ardinger her input and assistance has been over the top! Sherry Wachter and her excellent skill of proofing and designing. Sara McCormick and her beautiful artwork that grace my book covers. Cheri Levenson and her continued guidance on my path in life, she is proof to me that angels do walk among us.

Barbara Ardinger

My friend and editor Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (,  is a published author and freelance editor. Her most recent book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her previous novel, Quicksilver Moon, is also realistic…except for the vampire. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. She is also a regular blogger for Feminism and Religion.

Barbara writes: “I began working with Ra Lynn LoneWalker in 2010 and have (so far) edited seven of his novels, plus website material and other pieces he has written. During this time, we have become good friends.

To date, I have edited more than 300 books, both fiction and nonfiction and also including screenplays, children’s books, academic discourse (textbooks and doctoral and master’s theses), website text, and some poetry. Fiction edited includes romance, action-adventure, science fiction, western, mystery, historical, speculative, and horror novels. Nonfiction edited includes philosophy (mostly mainstream metaphysics and New Age), Calvinist theology, holistic health, science and technology, political tracts, business topics, history, and memoirs and biography. The authors live around the U.S. and around the world, and for many of them, English is their second language. I have also taught university classes in writing and public speaking and have worked as a technical editor (four different industries).

I live in Long Beach, California, with an aged, rescued Maine coon cat named Heisenberg. When I can get away from the computer, I go to the theater as often as possible—I love musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. I have been an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. I have also been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer.”

Sherry Wachter

Sherry has been my book designer for ten years, and she is a joy to work with. She and her son Patrick have the ability to catch the vibe of my work. They know exactly what is needed to make my books stand out. The cover art and attention to detail is what I rely on when it comes to the final touches of a project.

Sherry Wachter has been designing, illustrating, and editing books for both small presses and private authors for more than 20 years; providing a full range of personalized, professional, experienced publishing services. For more information or an estimate email them at, or call them at 541.938.6292.

If you are looking for that extra touch for your book don’t hesitate to contact Sherry and Patrick.

Scott Chandler Photography

Scott has been my photographer for over seven years. He’s a creative and hardworking guy with a positive outlook on life. Working with Scott is a pleasure.

Scott writes: “I have been blessed to turn my hobby of photography into a full-fledged commercial photography business.  I started out with a 35mm film camera doing landscape and railroad photography, has turned into a full-time job for me doing everything from aerial photos to special events.  It has taken me on some unforgettable life experiences, and I have met so many incredible people along the way.”

Rachel Weinstock

Rachel writes: “I have been one of the lucky ones to use my degree throughout my career. Marketing is a passion of mine because of its ever changing nature; to stay relevant, it is imperative to always be learning new things. Prior to starting my own freelance business, Rockelle Marketing, I worked for advertising agencies and small businesses. Marketing has been my career for nearly 15 years. My passion is writing so working with Don feels less like work and more like a hobby.

I have the dream to someday write a book of my own. For now, I write a lifestyle blog called Tired as a Mother and work with creative, inspiring authors like Don!”

The Personification Of Love (previously published as Shades of Gray) Sample Chapter

Living in such a wonderful place, I soon became aware of the vitality inherent in the living things around my little home. I perceived every living thing with a new understanding and in greater light. The light was the energy emitted from the living things, independent yet connected to every other living thing. Each beam of light was vibrant as it flowed down the rays of sunshine and fell against the shadows of the thick woods. Within these beams of light I perceived the fabric and the patterns of life that created tiny rainbows of beauty. They were different in size and various in shape, not quite spherical. Watching the lights spiraling dance brought joy to me as I became aware that space was no longer empty but filled with sound, movement, and light. As an observer, I experienced the vitality of every change in my environment and recorded what I could with the camera that my father had given me. With every click of the shutter, I tried to express what my mind perceived. Each day wove me into the connection of the things around me. My yearnings for more connection increased.
I was making direct contact with consciousness of the mineral, vegetable, and animal intellects. The energy of intelligence connected me to nature’s mind. The promise of all the mystical traditions of the world was there. My sacred quest was real, and I knew it, felt it, cherished it. I never wanted to go back to living a life inconsistent with that of the Goddess.
I felt awake. This wasn’t an impression of any external movement flowing into my perception, but as though my life was being drawn out to nature. I had the sense of acting upon the various natural energies moving in and throughout my being. I felt synchronized with the rhythms of some larger life. I felt the trees, the flowers, even the boulders and began to study the nature of these things. Although my understanding at the time was vague, I was aware that I must follow my soul’s calling.
I found friendship with everything around my little home. I always asked permission to take a photograph because I respected all that lived within nature. Just as I would say to another human being, “Pardon me, would you mind if I snapped a photo of you?” so did I also ask other subjects. I always received a response. The earth was new and fresh in those days when I honed my craft of photography.
It was a day like any other day, a warm day to be walking along the river’s edge. I was out looking at the beauties of nature on my way to a favorite place for photography when I saw a tall figure moving swiftly among the trees. I could only distinguish the jeans and red plaid shirt, but the energy of this person’s lights was that of a very sad person. Curious, I strained to see better, but the vision had gone from me. I was sure it was a living person because the body was clearly visible, but having lost sight I continued on. I knelt in the same spot where I had knelt in prayer for many days. It was a spot where I allowed myself to sink into my thoughts, calm my confusion, loosen my grief, and pray for direction. Still kneeling there, I glimpsed the most beautiful hands I had ever seen, angelically fair, as if carved from pigmented marble by the most skillful carver. They shimmered with lights that communicated love. I continued to kneel, looking at them in silence. The face and head of the owner were hidden from my view, and the owner was unaware of me. I watched those eloquent but unmoving hands. They were in no way clasped in prayer, folded in patience, or closed tight in despair. They were as listless and motionless as the hands of a statue. I thought for a moment that I was having another visit from the Goddess, but in a fraction of a moment, I realized that this vision was mortal in every way.
I considered snapping a quick shot, but even though they were magnificent hands I didn’t want to make a nuisance of myself. I could read the human lights, and they were desperately shouting to be left alone. I understood and respected this desire and gave way to the privacy each one deserves. Night was falling. It was time for me to go home. The sound of the rushing river hid the sounds of my soft footfalls as I made my exit.
I wasn’t doing anything dishonorable. I only saw what came into my vision. I think that evening by the river a spell of sorts was laid upon me. I was captivated by what I saw. The vision inspired my soul. I was fascinated and yearned to photograph those perfect hands against the backdrop of nature. I craved to see the colors of love, which I had never seen before.
In the days that followed I communed with nature, whose language I was still learning. I began to think I would never see those hands again. Some weeks later, I was again walking the river’s edge. It was a beautiful autumn day, and the trees were splendid. Lost in the foliage, I was looking for wild raspberries that ripen in October. They would, I thought, make great subjects to shoot as well as a sweet snack. I walked slowly, searching the bushes, and again I saw the same well-built creature. I stood still, and in a minute, I saw the long ebony hair that hid the face of this person. The elegant hands were folded and supporting the drooping head. I watched in silence. I would have given the world to have had the courage to approach, but I thought it best that I not intrude, and so, not wanting to be seen, I hurried into a patch of thick pines. Concealed I focused the lens of my camera and snapped a shot. It would be my first photo without asking the subjects permission. I felt guilty.
As I stood among the trees, I heard moaning … moaning that vibrated in hopeless tones, moaning that disturbed my heart. I turned to go, wanting to assist this sad, broken creature, but the moaning grew louder and deeper in a tone warning me not to approach. Its echo brought me thoughts of misery, yet the voice had an undertone of sweetness as well as sadness.
For days after my last glimpse that haunted my mind, I wandered lonely with my camera on the banks of the river. At times I also carried the cumbersome tripod. As suggested by the property manager, I had set up a darkroom in the main house, and after consulting many how-to books I began to develop my photos. This remote location was a brilliant place to learn my craft. Of course, my first pictures were underdeveloped or overdeveloped, but I acquired the skill quickly, and soon I had some photographs that I felt were worth keeping.  Mother Nature communicated with me, and I felt her calling me toward photography. With every photo, I began to feel a purpose in my life. My favorite photo was of the moaning figure whose tones reverberated the length of my spine. I studied this photo, feeling moved by the sight of such an elegant creature but also entranced by the sadness that enveloped the figure. Even on paper, this creature spoke to my heart.
My solitude extended through October as the beautiful figure I had seen continued to elude me every day I ventured out. With great disappointment, I worked my craft and moved forward in my skills. The first week of November went by as uneventfully as the previous weeks. Then, when the snow covered the ground, I imagined I saw someone walking through the pines. I envisioned a tall, well-grounded figure finding a seat or leaning against an old fir, still hiding its face from me. I soon realized I wasn’t imagining this. I was seeing the residual energy of a moment just past. I worked to forget what I saw however, and returned to my photography and communing with nature. My routine became predictable. I did the housework of the main property, then brought wood into my little home where I stoked the cook fire and prepared my dinner. Once I had completed my obligations, and while the sun was still up, I walked along the river looking for subjects to photograph. I did this in a state of prayer, which for me was stretching my awareness and embracing the vitality of nature.
One day early in the winter I went for a walk first thing in the morning. I didn’t usually go out that early, but for some reason I felt a strong urge to go out before setting to work. I walked the usual route along the river. The air smelled delightful and fresh, and the sounds of rippling waters were magnified by the stillness of the morning. The tall, snow-frosted pines pointed toward the heavens as the rich energy from the blue spruce and the willow all seemed to take the chill away. The nature of the world was exposed. I sat on a rock near the water’s edge, feeling my passion for nature rise up in me and looking for a direction to point my camera. Above the surging waters, I heard the faint sound of moaning. I listened carefully, hearing the cries of pain and discomfort, then stood up and looked around. It was difficult to tell where the moaning was coming from. Strapping my camera over my shoulder, I walked into the thickest wooded area, and in the distance I saw what appeared to be a heap of clothes piled on the rocky ground. I ran toward it, my heart beating wildly, and soon came upon the beautiful hands clutching a bulky, water-soaked winter coat. I stood quite still for a second. What should I do? I decided to go to her. Her graceful figure was bent as if in deadly pain. Her lights confirmed her condition, as well. Her face was turned from me, and sunk toward the ground.
I knelt down by her side, gently touching her. Her pathetic moan changed to a startled cry that caused me to jump back in surprise.
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
To my bewilderment, she didn’t say a word. She turned away from me.
“I don’t mean to distress you further,” I said, “but common humanity doesn’t have allowances for me to leave you here.”
Still she said nothing, nor did she move. I felt something was inhibiting her, keeping her silent. I cannot describe the feeling, but I knew that I had to intrude on her private moment. I reached over and raised her head and saw that she had taken leave of her consciousness. When I tilted her head back, brushing the wet hair from her face, I was compelled to cry out loud as I beheld that face. She was bruised heavily about her eyes, the right side of her face was especially damaged, purple around the temple and forehead. Her nose was swollen and bleeding, her lips split and inflamed. When I touched her, I expected her to awaken, but she didn’t respond.
Behind the damage, she must have been an attractive woman, strong yet delicate in every way a woman could be. Whoever had harmed her must have had hate running wild through them because they hadn’t hit her just once, but had beaten her severely. I looked around, hoping to find her assailant, but there was no one in sight, and I saw no residual energy anywhere. I ran to the river and dipped my scarf in the cold water, then returned to her and placed the wet cloth on her head. She opened her eyes and looked at me, her pure green eyes hollow and inconsolable. I was immediately lost in those eyes, hypnotized by the loving energy she radiated, energy I had perceived weeks earlier. I had to shake myself to focus on the situation at hand.
“Was I near death?” she asked me in an odd kind of whisper.
“No, I don’t think so, but I’m sure you are seriously injured,” I replied, not knowing what else to say.
“Help me get to the river,” she said. “Lay me face down in the water and let me float away. Death is the cure for my injuries.”
“I will not!” Was it a coincidence that she, too, thought of the river as death’s calling?
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Me? Well, I’m Maggie,” I replied. “Maggie Fitzgerald at your service … but not at the service to help you die today. And you, dear friend, who might you be?”
She lay still for a moment, not saying anything. I could see she was collecting her wits. She sat up, holding her head in her hands. “My name is Connie McCarthy.” She spoke with an Irish accent. With a hateful look, she added, “Go away. I can’t be helped.”
“Connie,” I said, “you have no need to worry about me. I’m not important. I only have concern for you. Have you hurt yourself more than your head?” I could see by her lights that she had multiple injuries, more than she was perhaps aware of. I studied her. It seemed as if she all at once woke to full consciousness of where she was and what had happened to her.
“Yes,” she said, “my arm.”
“Will you let me see it?”
With the strength of an ox, she tried to push me away, and she said foul words, but I refused to leave her. I could see the pain in her arm becoming unbearable.
“You shouldn’t trouble yourself with me,” she said in a gruff voice.
“Don’t fear me,” I repeated. “I can’t leave you here in this condition. I live not far from here. Would you allow me to help you to my home? I can take better care of you there.”
By that time it was getting dark and the snow was starting to fall again. A winter storm was on the way. The temperature dropped suddenly, and I could see that Connie understood the gravity of her situation. She was soaked to the bone and already shivering.
“Let me do all that is in my power to help you,” I suggested, “and when I can do no more to assist you, then we can be strangers again if you so choose.”
“You don’t know me,” she protested. “You don’t know my situation.”
“I don’t need to know anything in order to help you. Just come home with me before we both end up frozen out here.” I still didn’t know if someone might be in pursuit. Strong winds picked up, blowing around us and through us, giving me a solution to motivate my hesitant stranger. “I only want to help you,” I said. “I can’t take a look at your arm out here in these conditions.”
“So, you are Maggie?” She seemed to be irritated by my persistence. “I’ve watched you walking in these woods, taking pictures. I often wondered what you might be like and why you were always alone.” As she spoke, I could see that she was having trouble forming words with her bruised lips that were leaking blood. I could also see the pain in her eyes. “You wander around in these woods as if you were a widow being chased by the ghost of her husband,” she added sarcastically.
Her words hurt my soul, and I had to turn from her in an attempt to hide my emotion.
“Oh, I see my jest has failed. You are a widow.”
Holding back my tears, I nodded. “Yes, I have buried a husband. I walk along the river and think of his dim grave, but here by the river I look at the wonderful sights around me and find comfort. Now, Connie, let me have a look at your arm in the light of my home.”
She reluctantly agreed, and I helped her walk to my small home, where I stoked the fire in the stove to warm us. Connie came into the kitchen and sat under the electric light. Her poor face was morbid looking in the brighter light, and her clothes were soaked with river water and blood. The amount of blood alarmed me. I feared she had open wounds yet to be discovered. She allowed me to wash the blood from her nose and lips. I cleaned her face the best I could, but as soon as I removed the blood, her bruises became more apparent. Her eyes were beginning to turn a darker purple and close down into slits. She was in a wretched condition, but I found her compliant. I put my camera on the shelf.
“Now let’s see your arm.” I said, not waiting for protest.
But Connie was strong willed. “I can’t move it! It doesn’t need your help. I can get along just fine.”
“Oh, I see.” I turned away and gestured for her to leave my home. I could see the pride in her face, but finally it let go and she spoke quietly.
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt for us to look at it under the electric light.”
As I helped her pull off her wet, heavy coat, I feared she would faint again from the pain. I took her arm in my hands as gently as I could and tried to hold it still so we could get the coat off. It was broken and badly bruised. Once the heavy coat was off, I saw just above the collar of her shirt the most terrifying mark. It was the mark of a human hand that had gripped her so hard it left a discolored print around her neck. I acted as if I hadn’t seen it and turned, tending to her arm.
“Connie, I fear it’s broken. You’ll need more help than I can provide. How long were you out there in the woods in this condition?”
“I don’t know. Since before the sun came up.”
“Why didn’t you call out for help?”
“Call out for help? I would never do such a thing. It would have been better for me to lie there and die quietly.” A sudden hot flush came over her face.
“I can’t believe the words I’m hearing,” I said. “Proud words is what they are! There is no disgrace in calling out for help when you’re hurt.”
“I would rather crawl away and die alone!” she snapped back. “I don’t take kindly to pity. Pity is for the weak. I could endure anything over being pitied.”
“Connie, the sweetness of pity from those that love us is soothing.”
She seemed disgusted with me, but I was more trying to distract her from her injuries than engage in a debate.
“Did you like the people that pitied you when your husband died?” she asked. “Did you like to hear, ‘Oh you poor thing, I’m sorry for your loss, it must be so very terrible’? Did you enjoy them hanging their heads low on your behalf? Did it make you feel good when they called you a poor widow … did it?”
“You have a cruel mouth,” I replied.
“You are a pathetic soul, aren’t you Maggie. Not a brave bone in your body.”
I laughed aloud at the seething stubbornness she displayed. I couldn’t help it. She didn’t offend me, she tickled me.
“I know of a very brave and proud woman,” I said, “but we won’t dare speak of her right now. Let’s leave that for another day, shall we? Your arm is badly bruised and broken … so, what is the best thing to be done for it?”
“Well, if I must live, then I suppose we should do what we ought to.”
“Perhaps I could get you in my car and take you to the hospital,” I offered. “If we hurry, we can get through the storm.”
She looked doubtful. “You have no idea where the nearest hospital is, do you?” she barked at me. “Besides, I have no money for a hospital. And I doubt that my arm is broken.”
“You’re right, I have no idea where the hospital is,” I confessed. “What can I do for you?”
She touched me softly with her uninjured arm. When her beautiful hand caressed me, I felt a chill travel through my body. “Why are you so kind to me?” she asked. “I really want to hate the world right now. You are making it so very hard for me to hate everything and everyone. Don’t you see me as poison? Rid yourself of me. You’ll be better off.”
“I will do no such thing! I will help you to the extent of my abilities, and after that if you want to return to being strangers, that will be your choice, and I will honor it.”
“I’m all right,” she said again, but I could see the pain was beyond her control. “Let me be.”
I wanted to obey her wishes, so I left her in my little house and ventured through the wind to the main house. I recalled seeing a cabinet full of medicines when I had cleaned the master bath. I went right to the bathroom and gathered some bottles of medicine and other supplies to treat her arm. When I returned, I found her still sitting on the chair, sunk into exhaustion.
“Does your arm hurt much worse?” I asked her.
“No, it’s not bad.”
I could tell by the lights around her face that she was hot with fever and nearly fainting from the pain. “I believe you are too proud to recognize the pain you are in,” I said. “I found some supplies that I think will help. Let me know if you need anything else that I haven’t thought of.”
She just nodded at me. Never once did her proud spirit yield to the moaning I had heard in the woods, though I could see her dazed expression and knew the throbbing throughout her body caused it.
She took a deep breath and looked at me. I knew she couldn’t wait to leave me once I was done. “I’m very grateful to you, Maggie, for your soft ways,” she said. “You have been too kind. Thank you.” She spoke almost indignantly.
“Is that some kind of dismissal? Is it your hope to leave as soon as I have doctored your arm? I would invite you to stay until you have healed more completely. ”
“I will not impose upon you further.” “I intend to take care of you. When you’re well, you can leave my home and I will forget you … anything you like, but I refuse completely and decidedly to let you leave in your condition in this weather.” I spoke firmly to her because I could see that her lights were dimming.
Embarrassed and confused, Connie looked at me.
“Let’s pretend I’m no stranger to you.” I drew closer to her. “Think of me as someone who is your friend. I respect you and your situation, whatever it may be. Take a moment before we begin and prepare your mind.”
Most women would have reacted in an outburst of tears, but not Connie. She concealed her emotions and her pain. Pretending that her discomfort had completely disappeared, she looked squarely at me.
“You are too kind. Because of your hospitality, it would be rude of me not to be grateful.” Connie now had a strange look of peace on her face. She let go of her consciousness again and began to fall from the chair. I caught her in my arms and whispered soothing words to her, stroking her forehead and gently laying her on the floor of my little home.
Her eyes opened again. “Your hands,” she said, “your low voice and your soft hands relax me, Maggie. Don’t take them off of me yet.” Her eyes rolled up into her head and she fell away from reality again. I was frantically wondering what I could do for her, as it appeared I was capable of nothing more other than holding and reassuring her. I held her with one hand and tried to bathe her face with a wet rag with my other hand. There was still dried blood in her nose and her poor lips continued to bleed. I pulled my arm from under her so I could gather the materials I needed to wrap her arm. But even that slight movement woke her and she looked up at me, filled with fear again.
“Don’t hurt me anymore!” she pled, not recognizing me.
“Connie,” I said, “It’s me. Maggie. I’m not here to harm you. Don’t be frightened, dear. Let me do this work without a fuss. You’ll be all right.”
I’m sure she wanted to make some protest, but I started to work on her arm with determination. I had no medical training and was baffled as to what to do. As I looked at the light around her, I had an intuition about what should be done, and I acted. Connie returned to her oblivion, and I examined her arm. I located the fracture. Instinct poured through my mind, and I knew not only what must be done, but also how it must be done.
Poor Connie, I thought as I worked. She had suffered so much. I thought I was gaining her trust, but now I feared the pain of my working on her arm would cause her not to trust me. I used my knee and both hands to reset her arm with a loud snap. Connie woke up instantly, combating me or some unseen evil. It wasn’t easy for me to keep working on her injury while she resisted me and spoke words that didn’t make any sense, rambling, crying, screaming. She didn’t recognize her surroundings, or me, for that matter.
I wrestled with her for a long time, finally getting her to take the morphine I had found in the main house. I wish I could have persuaded her to take the pills earlier. It was cruel to set the arm without them.
Eventually I was able to finish her arm. I examined her further. I wanted to find the source of the blood on her clothes, but after investigating I found no puncture wounds. However, I suspected that she had some broken ribs, nothing life-threatening, but very painful. I was thankful that I had come across the bottles of medicine in the main house. The morphine was a blessing. As she lay there with eyes shut tight, I took a long hard look at her. Her neck was a dreadful sight, covered with large handprints, a man’s hands. I realized that someone had tried to kill her. I was fearful that whoever wanted her dead might learn that she had survived. Did he want to finish his work?
I thought about putting her in my car and driving her to the Prince of Wales Hotel and asking them to give her safe quarters. Already, in her stubborn, cantankerous manner, Connie had found her way into the depths of my heart. I could in no good conscience surrender her to anyone and chance never seeing her again. I knew I was no doctor, but I had been a mother and had cared for my daughter when she was ill. I also had healed other family members when needed. I decided, given the location, the perils of the storm, and my previous ability to heal, that I was fully qualified to look after her. I got her to my bed with some difficulty and eventually I was able to get her comfortable and warm under the covers.
While Connie was resting, I quickly ran back to the main house, where I opened the gun cabinet and loaded a Winchester 30-30 rifle and a Colt .45 pistol. I brought them back to my home with a box of extra ammunition for each weapon. I was resolved to protect Connie from the man who wanted her dead. I placed the rifle by the stove and kept the pistol with me in my skirt pocket.
Connie’s ill health was not life threatening, I could plainly see, but the pain had brought on fever to the point of delirium. If I had learned to adore her when I first spotted her in the woods, my affection for her during this time became intense. Her large dark green eyes pursued me through the long, stormy day. She shook in pain, screaming at people not in the room, suddenly sitting up in bed and crying words that I have never heard before or since. But somehow I soothed her when I touched her or spoke to her.
The storm continued into the night. It was that night that has woven itself into my memory and created memories that have lasted through the length of my life. During the long, strange night, a weird hush filled my house more fully than the light from the dim oil lamp. Connie’s voice sounded like nothing on this earth. It sounded like a faint, sweet song, like sad music with words concerning death and farewell. She spoke of leaving, never to return to this world again. And sometimes she spoke of sunshine and flowers.
“Good-bye,” she moaned. The words died off in a sweet intonation, only to come again through her cracked and swollen lips. It was easy enough to imagine that some threatening cloud or shadow was tormenting her. She was being pursued, but by whom? And why? I sat in a rocking chair with the rifle across my lap and the pistol in my hand all night. I sat near Connie while she wandered through the secret places in her mind. Occasionally she awoke in fear and I tried to sooth her. When the wind blew against the house, I thought it was someone trying to get in and I sat up straighter, at the ready. I was worried about Connie and her condition. At the same time I worried that whoever wanted her dead was coming for her. It was a long night.
And yet no one came looking for Connie. As far as I could tell, she was safe with me. But her injuries refused to heal. I didn’t know what to expect, but I soon realized what an awful struggle she was engaged in. She rambled in her delirium, calling for help and telling a sad story of torture. She cried out not to be harmed anymore. She implored her captor to release her.
Except for her words, my little home was so quiet I could hear the river flowing, and the sound of it soothed my soul. The river was my reassurance that everything was going to be all right. I could feel the presence of the Goddess. She was near and helping me to understand my role in healing Connie.
But Connie’s words filled the air with distress and fear. She screamed, “No, don’t!” over and over again, then talked about a man wearing dirty boots. I rushed to her side and took her hand.
“Let it all out, my dear,” I said. “Whatever I hear, I will attempt to forget. Your story will never be known beyond these walls. Your words are safe with me.”
I doubt she heard me, but I talked to her anyway, as if my words could penetrate her dark and distant mind. She lay on my bed in my nightclothes. The muddy, blood- stained clothes I had found her in lay in a heap on the floor.
The next day, she began to regain consciousness.
“My head hurts.”
“I know, dear. You have been through an awful situation. You are safe here with me. I have some pain pills. Would you like one?” She nodded and I brought her another pill and a glass of water. Poor thing, she was a pitiful mess.
“Connie,” I said a little later, “I’m going to bathe you. You still have mud and blood and dirt on you. I think a sponge bath might help you to feel better. I’ll take these filthy clothes and give them a good washing, too.” I touched her lightly on the shoulder to make sure she heard me.
“You are too kind to me,” she replied in a weak voice. “Thank you.”
I did the best I could at scrubbing her clothes, but the blood was set unrelentingly and had deeply stained the cloth. When her clothes were as clean as they were going to be, I hung them by the stove to dry. Then I turned my attention back to Connie. I wanted to wash away her bruises, to wash away her pain.
After heating some water on the stove, I made a washbasin out of a large mixing bowl and brought in fresh towels. There was no curious prying on my part, but when I turned the covers down, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. Her whole body was bruised and had scabbed-over wounds in random areas. I was suddenly seeing the dreadful reality of a terrible tragedy. I was weak, perhaps, or even foolish, but I stood there, my eyes blinded by hot tears. Her battered body told me the story of the man who was determined to get inside Connie after she refused him. It was a sight that would have touched any woman’s heart. It was as if I were in the presence of the dead. Connie wasn’t moving now. The pills had taken affect by that time, and she lay still, barely breathing. Her knees were bruised, and when I turned her over to wash her back, I saw the unmistakable print of a boot. She had knuckle prints on her ribs, and I saw the signs of force that marked her inner thighs. The light that surrounded her was flickering and dim, but within the dimness I could read a shimmer of love colored in burgundy.
What awful story was her body trying to tell me?
What man was capable of doing such damage, of this violent passion? Whoever it was, I hated him for his trespasses. I had a sympathetic mind and considered myself a forgiving person, but I couldn’t forgive what I saw there, what I read in the faint flickers of Connie’s light.
It occurred to me that my eyes had taken in what Connie wouldn’t want me to see, and now I knew the dreadful thing she didn’t want me to know. I felt like someone who had been summoned to examine the sudden movement of a hand that drew back a white sheet from a dead face and left it exposed for witnesses to view. I hastened to complete my task of washing Connie while she slept, but I could never forget what I had seen.
I ached for her as my hands washed her limp body. I wanted so much to wash away the pain and ugliness. I wished that my hands held the power to release her from the ugliness of mankind. I wished she could forget what had happened to her. Even though I hadn’t known Connie for very long, I remembered my first impression of her while walking by the river. That impression was of a sweet woman lost in sadness. Her crying by the river had spoken to my heart of her condition. Love was something I hardly admitted to yet, even as Connie held her place in my mind and in my heart. Now, seeing her battered state, I wanted to love her all the more.
I can’t explain the attraction. It was divinely orchestrated.

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Music Of John Clarke

Have you ever heard a melody that made you stop whatever you were doing at the time, and focus instead on the amazing sounds that were filling the air? Well, that happened to me not so long ago.

I was going about my work one day when a friend who plays the guitar and usually listens to Heavy Metal said to me, “Hey, I found a guitarist I think you will like.”

Now truthfully, when my friend made the comment I was convinced that what he had in mind for me to listen to was someone banging obnoxiously on some amped up Gibson SG. This assumption, which later proved grossly incorrect, prompted me to immediately erect a mental blockade of sorts; it was a reflexive move designed to guard against what I was sure was headed my way, namely, an all out assault on not only my auditory system, but on my musical sensibilities as well!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a genuine passion for music (really, I do!).

Indeed, I’m never without some way of listening to music whenever possible. And in my own repertoire you will find several styles. For example, friends who knew me in my younger days know that I dig on Rock. Others from my rural roots know I love Old Country. I’ve danced at a Reggae concert or two, and I often get out the old–but not dead–jazz pieces from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. One thing few people know about me is that my favorite instrument is actually the cello. (Yo-Yo Ma and Adam Hurst… now those two can really bring me to a calm with their work, no matter how crazy this world can make me!)

Anyway, why my friend thought I would like a Spanish guitarist, I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that the remarkable song my friend treated my ears and soul to that day–Azul, by John Clarke–made me stop, sit and listen. And what I heard as I listened moved me in a new direction, stretched my soul.

As I sat and listened to the energetic yet fluid sounds of John Clark’s guitar solo, a single question cycled through my mind again and again: “How is it possible”, I thought to myself, “that one person playing one instrument can make all these wonderful sounds I’m hearing?”. Well, the answer, of course, lys not in words, sentences or paragraphs, but in the rhythmic musings and imaginings of a well-tuned, professional artist. Have a listen for yourself and you’ll hear just what I mean.

“He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention, it was more like the opposite…”

“… it was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone.”

When you watch Clarke perform his song Most Evolved, you see an artist having fun with his creation. To his credit, John’s performance is at once athletic and effortless. The song, the guitar, John’s fingers: they all just flow in Zen-like unison to an internal rhythm that seems to inhabit the very essence of who he is. To hear him play is truly a wonderful experience, but to actually see him perform … now that’s a whole new dimension entirely!

As luck would have it, our paths actually crossed a while back, albeit in a passive sort of way. When it happened I wasn’t sure who he was. I had stumbled upon John and his inspired music at a place called The Cannery in San Francisco (a very cool place made even cooler by John’s passionate playing). It turned out to be one of those serendipitous moments that I seem to be blessed with from time to time.

Anyway, recalling that moment brings me back to the simple chair in which I found John seated.

He wore simple jeans, shirt and street shoes, and had the look of a humble man. There was, to be sure, nothing flashy about John, and so my impression was that he was a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy.

When he performed, I saw a man in love with the music he plays. He didn’t appear to be looking for the audience to give him attention; it was more like the opposite. It was as if he had a bag of gifts and he wanted to give something to everyone. Those gifts were songs showing amazing talent.

Once in a while during the performance, I saw him with his head down while his fingers were doing the work, and he looked vulnerable; but then he’d look up and I’d see a smile from him. Oops, he had missed a string; but only he noticed it, so he smiled at his faults as we all do at one time or another.

John, to me, is a very human musician. In him I see a teacher for our children who aspire to play guitar. I also see an example of the soul working in unison with the physical body to create a language that as a listener, both soul and physical body can enjoy.

I use music when I write, it helps me focus. And at times it gives my characters attitude. John’s music is inspirational for me, and I wanted to share his gift with you. (I would have felt selfish if I had kept his music to myself without letting others know about it!)

John, I know you don’t know me from any other fan, but I wish you and your talent the best. You truly deserve to be promoted and to play in a venue where you get the recognition you deserve. I applaud you from those high places where the soul resides.

Peace, my friends, and remember: Let your Soul Grow!
–Ra Lynn

To all my readers and fans: As you may already know, I’m a supporter of all the arts, and from time to time you’ll discover a post from me reviewing other people’s work. I do this as an avenue for you, my fans and curious readers, to stretch your soul as well.

What about you? Do you know of an especially talented, gifted, inspired or unique artist that you think I’d enjoy–be they a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, architect, etc? If so, drop me a line. I’ll follow your lead and write a review for others to read and learn from.

Christmastime 2013

Standing in a parking lot while my girlfriend is doing some Christmas shopping, I find myself taking inventory of Christmases past. Into my mind fly memories of snow, cold, and cheer. Standing here watching these internal movies, I find that each recollection has its own sweetness or bitterness. To revisit these memories is like walking away from this reality and going back to what was once present and familiar.

On this December night all the other Christmas nights of my life come alive again. Twenty-thirteen has been an eventful year, full of excitement both good and bad. This year is now almost completely gone, and I’m feeling hopeful about 2014. What will it bring me? It stretches before me in imagination like some great vision, a vision filled with awe of the unfamiliar. I see a year that can be friendly or unkind or a combination thereof. But I don’t fret or dread it. I welcome it. If anything is consistent in life, of course, it’s change, and I see that 2014 will be a year of change.

Thinking about Decembers past, I focus on the friendships that warm me like cozy fires kindled by family members and friends of yesterday. As I stand here in the parking lot, quietly reminiscing, I hear the echoes of those voices that in earlier days meant a lot to me. I hear the voices of friends and family members who have passed on from this world. When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles, hear their voices. And I smile. I also think about those living whom I’ve not seen in a long time, and to them I offer a wish of good health and fortune for the holiday season and the coming year. I understand that the pathways of my past have brought me to this point in my life, and I release a breath of gratitude. I’m thankful to have known some truly special people in my time.

And so it is now the Christmas season of 2013. These nights, the stores are filled with anxious and aggressive shoppers pushing, and grabbing up merchandise. Selfishly, uncompromisingly, they are going about the holiday with little thought about the infant laid in a manger or the shining angels that appeared to the shepherds or the miraculous star that took its station in the sky. It’s a story that all Christians are familiar with, the one that deals simply with the goodness of the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the story of God’s gift of charity to mankind. Deeper than the pushing, shoving and shopping I can see that Christmas glows in the faces around me in their friendly smiles. I see good people hugging their families and friends.

Somewhere I hear “Peace on Earth and good will toward men,” which is an optimistic prayer that wars and rivalries may vex the nation no more, not only on Christmas, but the whole year ’round.

The 25th of December is a great day. It’s a day that many look forward to with hope and gratitude. In the Good Book, we find Isaiah standing on the peaks of prophecy, looking across ruined empires and seeing a new star rise above the horizon. Further in the past, before events recorded in the Bible, we find the pagans whose deities filled the heavens and who rejoiced in the harvest festival from December 17th to January 3rd. In the midst of their merrymaking came December 25th and the ceremony honoring the birth of Mithra. For me, no matter the belief, winter is the season to make merry and be grateful for what we have.

Time moves forward, and it’s getting late. Soon the lights in the great shopping malls will go out and the empty stores will be left to the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Here where I live, the temperature is dropping, and I can see my breath now. I look up to the sparkling heavens. There’s the Milky Way in its powdery grandeur, there are stars and planets shining peacefully in their black spaces, and I think that in a few days, there will be one Christmas less between my grave and me. Not a dreadful thought, but a natural one.

I think of the year to come and I wonder if it’s possible for the people who hold high places in government to be the ones who lead us into the New Year properly. Could they cast us a new reality, one that is heaped high with happiness and the good for mankind? Is it even possible for mankind to live in balance on Mother Earth; to love and not hate, to live and not obliterate?

It would be nice to wake up at the end of this year and find that this Christmas had created a lovely, loving memory that will last the whole year. That’s what I wish.

May Your Spirit Grow!

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Ra Lynn LoneWalker

Eyes Of Sunday Morning

What goes on behind the scenes of my work is important to me because it inspires me to include the details of everyday life in the books I write. It’s the little moments we all experience that help us relate to one another. For me, the little details are the things that draw me into a book, movie, article and so on.

It’s the little things that are important. For instance, this morning (Sunday) my girlfriend and I left our house and went for a drive to Virginia City. When we got out of the car I could hear bells ringing from a nearby church. The night before I was lost in doubt. I couldn’t see myself in the future. I was afraid—there is a lot of power in doubt.

The day was sun-filled, with crystal-blue skies above. I looked at my girlfriend and smiled. She smiled back at me. I love to see her smile. She had no idea of the doubt that haunted me the night before.

I could see the church behind her, and behind that I saw the partly cloudy sky. I felt better. Faith had been restored. Although I’m not a Christian, I could see the symbolism in the beauty in front of me.

“I see you,” I said.

“I see you too,” she said.

Unbeknownst to her, in that fraction of time … in that tiny little moment her eyes, hazel and magnificent, not only saw me, they soothed me. We’ve been together for a few years now and without question love lives in our house. But this morning her eyes…

If you are a student of science, you’ve been told that Charles Darwin believed in and promoted evolution by natural selection. We are taught in school that we, the human race, crawled out of some evolutionary soup. His hypothesis has been taught as fact, rather than supposition, for some time now. What most of us were not taught is that Charles had doubts about his supposition. The eyes of every species are too complex, causing Charles to believe it would have taken divine intervention to create such a superb organ.

The first time I saw my girlfriend, long before we dated, I only glanced at her. I didn’t see the amazing woman I know today. But I remember the first time that I really saw her, really saw her, time slowed down for me. She was brushing her hair back around her ear with her hand. It was rude of me to stare as long as I did, we were only acquaintances at the time, but I did. I saw in her the woman I see today. But back then I thought there was no way she could live up to the dream I had of her. I remember that day well. She will tell you that back then she didn’t even notice me. I know she believes that, I also know her soul felt differently. Her soul was there. It was in her eyes smiling, calling me.

Charles couldn’t understand how the sclera, cornea, iris, optic nerves, and various other intricate components could have evolved at the same rate as the rest of our bodies. For a single organism to go from complete blindness in a pond of soup to developing a place that would become an eye that would eventually see light, recognize images, color and so on—well, there was just no way to explain it with science. The eye is elegant. It not only perceives, but it is a major portion of our identity. The color of our eyes, the shape of them—how well-rounded or curved they are—gives us a basic expression that the rest of the world interacts with. As humans, we look into another person’s eyes and we gain information. We get a feeling whether we can trust them or not.

This morning I felt my abdominal muscles tighten when she tilted her head to one side and said, “I see you too.” I saw the face of loveliness. She tells me she sees the next best-selling author. I smile when I hear this. Those are such kind words. But I understand how tough the literary world is. I have my doubts.

Charles had doubts too. He looked at the eye and realized that it was more likely to have been designed, moreover created, than to have evolved. There were times of doubt for Charles and the eye was one great cause. His wife Emma encouraged him to go on, the scientific community encouraged him to go on.

I too see the eye as created. I have no reservations that life was created by something greater than we are capable of understanding. My girlfriend encourages me. Her eyes speak … not in words but in a soft, universal dialect. The unspoken words are palpable with exquisite, loving emotion. I memorize the small moment.

“Why are looking at me like that?” she asks.

I turn my head. “It’s nothing. I just want to remember this moment. That’s all.”

I tell myself, I must never forget the eyes of Sunday morning.