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It begins small—a mass of shoots along the ground, their tendrils angling for fence posts, for trellises, for garden lanterns, for rock outcroppings along creek bottoms. The fevered race is on. Summer sun hotwires their prodigious growth into swirls of greenery that soon become tangled thickets. Occasional breezes whip the gummy tendrils onto still more shrubs or upon whatever lies in their path. In late August clusters of star-shaped flowers feather the tops of these vines, their sugary sweetness intoxicating bees and other insects.




Sweet Autumn Clematis is the name of this perennial.

It seems that gossip has similar characteristics: fiery, infectious, showy, invasive, suffocating. Such psychic darkness lurks beneath the guise of excitement and hilarity and swells the media’s breaking news and ignites lunchrooms. Its fabricators insist that they are in the know, no matter the mangled remains of their prey. The resulting entrapment seems impermeable to change—But not so.

Both tangled vines and gossip are noxious, and harsh measures are needed to destroy them. The first hard frost kills the perennial and reduces its lush foliage to the straggly hairs of a witch hell-bent on escape. And the laser-truth of grace excises the lies from those afflicted and restores their characters, whether still living or deceased.

We have only to wait. Evil has always had short shrift in this world.


It began four days ago. The doorbell rang, followed by a brawny lineman wearing a hard hat who attached black placards to our front door knobs. We learned that –

“AT&T is bringing our fiber network technology to your neighborhood! With AT&T fiber, the future of the internet is here!”

We also learned that with this technology, we can expect: “Ultra-fast internet starting with a 1000 Mbps connection, speeds 20times faster than the average cable customer, a reliable connection with less waiting or buffering, and a better Wi-Fi experience with expanded coverage and support for all your devices.”

On the flipside of the placard, we learned that crews would need access to easement areas in our back yards.

With the placards in place, bucket trucks, pick-ups, and other trucks with hitches rolled into our neighborhood and the work began. More linemen from Universal Communications scaled ladders, mounted bucket trucks, attached more power lines to the existing poles. Grunts and shouts accompanied the work, with frequent adjustments to their hard hats.

All of this wearies me. True, information is valuable, however we receive it, but who says it must is be continually accelerated? Already, the globe suffers from psychic and physical constipation—a frightening engorgement of the psyche that buries spirit, the wellsprings of life. No matter that EMFs fry us, as well.

Yesterday’s AT&T telemarketer underscored this condition. Ostensibly offering me still more services, her voice wobbled with exhaustion. She, too, was weary.




The Mysteries of China, one of the offerings screened at the St. Louis Omnimax, affords a long look into the past: the year is 201 B.C., the death of Qin Shi Huang, the first self-styled emperor of a unified China. A military genius, a ruthless tyrant, steeped in the blood of warring states around him, he created multiple enemies who wanted him dead. Within the protection of his generals, however, he carried on his economic and social reforms and had slaves build the national road system and the Great Wall; of no consequence were the deaths of thousands engaged in these labors.

But not so for himself.

Terror of dying compelled him to search the known world for an elixir of life. Paradoxically, the mercury potion prepared by Chinese alchemists caused his death when forty-nine years old.

Yet, Qin Shi Huang did begin preparing for this eventuality after his accession to the throne. Thousands of laborers constructed a necropolis with an underground palace and a life-sized terracotta army of eight thousand, each with a unique face, together with one hundred and thirty chariots and five hundred and twenty horses. Only in 1974 did farmers, digging a well in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province, happened upon this phenomenon. Whatever was to come, Qin Shi Huang would be protected, or so he thought.

Such ostentatious funereal sites give me pause. They are are still around.




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