Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the judge's words

I guess it's been three years since Richard Reed (the would-be shoe bomber) was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced in a U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. I don't remember reading or hearing anything about his sentencing at the time (the media is funny that way). But tonight, I heard.

I didn't have a blog back then. But even now, three years late, the judge's words are worth passing on.

Apparently, just prior to sentencing, Judge William Young asked Richard Reed if he had anything to say. Reed admitted both his guilt and his "allegiance to Osama bin Ladan, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah." He then went on to add, "I think I will not apologize for any actions. I am at war with your country."

Judge Young passed sentence (life in prison, plus 80 years, plus 30 years, plus a fine of 2 million and change) and then said the following:

"Mr. Reed, this is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not -- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal."

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discreetly. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten; but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice -- individual justice; justice, not war; individual justice -- is, in fact, being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down."


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

i would like a clone, please

There's not time enough to do all I want to do.

This week, I became a homeschooler again. And I have to say, I'm loving it already. We started with a pretty basic schedule yesterday, but by this morning, I was ready to add some fun to those basics. I pulled a Bach CD from the top of a shelf, where it had been collecting dust, and filled the house with music. Rumaged around until I found Along Came Galileo and Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book and The Sign of the Beaver. And then, because we're starting a new venture and new ventures call for new materials, I scrapped the old Book of the Centuries notebook I'd started with Zac ten years ago, and spent the morning printing out bright new sheets for Tera. The girl should have her own fresh BOTC, don't you think?

If I had a clone, she could continue sharing such details. I'd instruct her to tell you about all the "Life Skills" I have planned for Tera -- the knitting, sewing, quilt-making, cooking and baking. My clone would know just how to describe the delicious but unorthodox pumpkin muffins Tera made for her first solo baking adventure this afternoon (she added 1/2 cup of flour instead of 1 1/2 cups ... so we're calling it "delicious pumpkin pudding"). She'd write while I attended to the nineteen other things needing my attention right now.

I don't have another me. But if I did, she'd be busy. I'd set Shannon-b in front of my desk and toss notes at her all day long--bits of description I want her to include in a blog post, or remembered dialogue. Story ideas for a novel I want to start. Email I need to send but have no time for.

She'd tell you about the radio interview I had Friday. She'd tell you I didn't faint, I liked the interviewer, and it actually went well.

She'd then go on to describe the retreat I taught at over the weekend, and how much fun we had, and how nice it was to connect with a half dozen friends I had known in past years but lost touch with.

I can't write all the words I'm hearing in my head, because too many other voices are calling to me. There's the voice that says, "Supervise Tera's flute practice," and the one that says "Start dinner," and the one that says, "Weren't you going to edit another chapter today?"

It's noisy in this head. I would like a clone, please.



Thursday, September 14, 2006

yesterday, today and tomorrow

Tomorrow, I'm leaving to teach at another women's retreat. That means today, I study. So I can't tell you about the longed-for rain that has finally arrived, or the sound of Dave's armload of firewood hitting the hearth, or the scent of my mulled cider candle burning in the leaf-shaped votive holder I picked up yesterday.

I can't tell you any of that. Today, I study.

Tomorrow, just before I leave for the women's retreat (with Smokey Point Community Church, held up in Sumas, Washington ... just this side of the Canadian border), I'm having my first interview for Inconceivable. It's a half-hour live radio interview with Bob Dukto of Detroit's WMUZ (103.5 fm). If you think about it, pray for me at 1:00 ET; 10:00 PT.

And speaking of Inconceivable, I read a review yesterday over at Can You Hear Me Now? that made me cry. As I told Kim (the reviewer), writing that book was a solitary endeavor. Although I suspected that others shared my experience, I didn't know for certain until I began to receive emails and read these reviews. Kim's words helped me understand a bit better why God asked me to revisit all that pain.

Oh, the pounding of that rain! And you should see the maple leaves fluttering on their long journey from the tops of the maples to the grass below. Wish I had time to write more ...


Thursday, September 07, 2006


When I grab my one and only Longaberger basket--the one with the frilly blue liner I made myself because I was too frugal to buy theirs, overlaid with the plastic liner I bought from them because I was smart enough to know I'd need it--and head down to the garden, I know I was created to harvest tomatoes. And beans. And whatever else my eyes spy out there. There's something earthly and perfect about hunkering down before a groaning tomato plant, reaching between those curly, pungent leaves, and relieving the branch of a hefty round orb--the scent of which I simply cannot describe. Nor can I quite capture the color. It's almost alive, that ruby hue. Nestled in all that green, those gems practically call your name when you make your appearance through the greenhouse door. "We're here!" And so they are.

So when I'm loading my basket with perfect tomatoes, I know I was created to feel the growing weight of that Longaberger basket slung over my arm.

I'm convinced, too, that I was born to make spaghetti sauce. I feel like a genuine earth mother chopping the peppers, zucchini, garlic and onions that found their way into my basket during the tomato-fetching mission. And when I'm tearing bits of basil from the pot on my patio, I'm quite convinced that God wrote somewhere near my name, a century or two before my birth, "Make this one love to cook." Because I do. I love the tasting and testing that goes with the venture. I love digging through the spices above my stovetop, looking for that one particular something that I'm sure will pull the best flavor out of the pot. I love the warm, lovely smell of just-peeled garlic ... and the patterns made by dancing, jumping herb-flecked splatters ... and the hot sound of burping, burbling, bubbling sauce. And I love that I get to wear -- and wipe my hands on -- my black Starbucks apron.

And though I truly don't want to go all chariots-of-fire on you, the truth is, when I'm cooking, I feel God's pleasure. Maybe it's because He's a parent, and a banquet-setter, and the satisfier of all our hunger. He knows what it is to see upturned, expectant faces, and to watch hope dawn in the eyes of the hungry. So when He looks into my kitchen, and sees me stirring that ugly wooden spoon in my sloppy fashion, I feel the rhythm of His heartbeat.

And sometimes, I feel His smile.

Labels: ,


Monday, September 04, 2006

lake ta ...oh!

Friday, September 1

I can't begin to describe the beauty. This picture will have to do while I dash around this afternoon running errands.

Back later with words.


Monday, September 4

I'll get to the heart-view in a minute.

The eye-view was this: Mountains. High-altitude pines with a scattering of giant cones beneath each. Winding, rise-and-dip roads. Cedar and river rock-adorned shops--many with black bear statues frozen mid-climb along stairways or standing in guard-pose in parking lots. And that lake ...

Nancy (my sister and assistant) and I took one mini tour from Carson City up along the north shore of the Nevada side on a quest for "Three Dog Knit," a yarn shop in Tahoe City. Because she drove our rental, I was free to irritate her with outbursts of "Look at that!" as we hugged the lake.

"I can't!" she'd burst back.

But I'd forget again by the time we turned the next corner and some other outburst-worthy sight would enter my vision.

I've seen rocks in water before ... but never rocks so big they made the people standing on them look like Polly Pockets. You have to comment on a thing like that.

And though I've seen many lakes in my lifetime, there's a particular beauty to this lake that renders you wordless at that same time that it fills you with a desire to speak. Nancy and I found our way to a lake-facing porch midway through the retreat. Our destination had been the gift shop attached to that porch, but when we turned the corner of the deck and saw a row of teakwood rockers facing the water, we forgot about shopping and instead claimed a rocker each and took to staring.

I flipped off my flip-flops so as to concentrate better, and tried to ignore the view of para-sailers and Sea-doers long enough to capture the right colors before me. For the leaves on the trees that adorned our side of the shore, I settled for honey and sage. For the water lapping below our feet, I could only think of emerald. It sounded lofty, but I soon discovered that someone else had settled on that word when they dubbed a portion of the far shore "Emerald Bay."

Up close, it's gem-green. Further out, it's deep blue. And when a boat drifts into view lugging a primary colored hot air balloon and the people who will soon glide upward in it, you feel like you're in an idealized painting come to life.

That's the eye-beauty. And as if that weren't enough food for our souls, God arranged a family reunion with women we'd never met before.

The women of Calvary Chapel Carson City are funny, sweet, noisy, and beautiful ... just like the women at our church. Nancy and I felt at home immediately. Kelly, the pastor's wife, is a kindred spirit. We even discovered that we both collect heart-shaped rocks (and her husband, Pat, found one for each of us before the weekend had ended).

Though it sounds cliche-ish, we laughed together; we cried together. But there's something in that cliche. Between the sharing of laughter and tears, hearts open and bonds form. Strangers become sisters. Heaven becomes more real, because you know that whether or not your paths ever cross again on this side, you'll have eternity together.

Almost as soon as the hellos and nice-to-meet-yous had faded, we were hugging good bye. As Nancy and I headed south for one loop around Lake Tahoe before turning for the airport in Reno, I replayed many of the conversations I'd shared with that group of women and thought about the vastness of this family I've been adopted into. What a gift the church is. It's popular to criticize the Bride of Christ and point out all her flaws. But she's beautiful to Him ... and to me, too.

Labels: , ,