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It began this morning. Shivering snow showers blanched pastel blossoms atop fruit trees, discolored bulb plants, and pinched dogwoods, leaving in their wake penetrating wetness and slick sidewalks: More of April’s fickleness that smarts—as if the faux colors of spring were a joke.

And less than one year ago, there was another killing in Powderhorn Park of Minneapolis, this time, not a shrub, but a man, its international impact finding resolution, of some sort, in today’s guilty verdict on all three counts. How this “flowering” will unfold remains to be seen.

Desperate is the need for global prayer to recreate hearts, afresh with new color.  

In the interim, we cry, “Mercy!” while observing tomorrow’s blooming azaleas and giving thanks.

Hushed tones to fully rounded ones implored the heavens for peace and justice: Like the balm of Gilead, rare perfume used medicinally in biblical times, harmonies seeped into the marrow of our bones and quieted our spirits. Late afternoon shadows dulled the art glass windows of Westminster Presbyterian Church (1882) that surrounded us.

In the sanctuary, fifteen members of the Missouri Women’s Chorus wearing black tops and pants followed the direction of Scott Schoonover in a selection of contemporary compositions from America, UK, Brazil, South Africa, Italy, Canada, and Norway. A moving template of the human family sharing our scarred existence in loving compassion stirred through the audience: Underscored was the plea to listen to each other, a daunting task disciplined by humility and honesty. Such purification rains down peace and justice from the Sacred and obliterates violence.

A praxis for peacemaking further enhanced the performance. St. Martha’s Hall, a shelter for abused women and their children, received donations of food, notions, and clothing from the audience.

And Christine Brewer sat among us.

While I was returning to the parking lot, supported by my cane, I noticed an abandoned two-story office building on the northeast corner of Delmar and Union Boulevards. I shuddered. The space had once housed enterprises whose signage had advertised human endeavors of varied stripes. Gone were the former tenants—My circumstances crowded upon me.



“The morning burned so August-hot, the marsh’s moist breath hung the oaks and pines with fog.” So begins Delia Owens’s novel, Where the Crawdads Sing (2018), featured on the New York Times bestseller list for the past sixty weeks.

That sentence reveals the author’s poetic bent, her intimate experience with the flora and fauna of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and her working knowledge of multiple archetypes sprinkled throughout this novel.

Owens’s images clamor with sensuousness, plunge us within teeming interludes of sounds, tastes, and colors, even repulse us with the stink and humidity and sudden squalls of trackless swamps. This subtle interplay of violence and gentleness forms a pastiche of strange beauty that fascinates and invites even deeper engagement with the next image.

Within this setting, Owens unfolds the story of six-year-old Kya, abandoned by her alcoholic father, her battered mother, and her siblings. Alone in the family’s rough-hewn shack, Kya assuages her orphan heart by communing with Big Red and other herring gulls on the beach. From them and other creatures scuttling atop blistery sands and foraging the forest floor, she intuits the laws of nature: they become her life teachers. So keen is her learning that a certain fierceness tinges her character causing the townspeople of Barcley Cove to scapegoat her as the Marsh Girl. No one cares enough to learn her name. Colored Town also carries their judgment, several decades from the1965 Civil Rights legislation.

Such prejudices nudge our own, mired within swamp-psyches, and beg for release—undoubtedly the universal appeal of this novel.



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