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“There are three good reasons to buy Girl Scout cookies,” so belted out my great niece-entrepreneur with the red braid and wine-colored glove raised in salute. With her, stands another Junior Girl Scout buddy in fourteen degrees weather in front of the West St. Paul Walmart. “Besides, they’re yummy!” she said, holding up a box of Mint Thins.”

Mary is also standing within a time-honored tradition, the Girl Scouts of America, spelled out in its Promise:  

On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country,
to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

And its accompanying Law, both composed by its founder Juliette Gordon Low:

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

In 1917, five years after the foundation of the GSA, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, began baking and selling cookies to raise money. Today, its profits supplement three core structures: the NYC national office, Girl Scout Councils, and individual troops. Development of character, confidence, and courage activate the full potential of these young members. My great niece already brims with gusto. What will she become?

The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers. The Girl Scout Handbook.

Only the whir of the potter wheel licked the stained walls of the studio as an apron-clad artist cupped a mound of clay slip with wet hands. Next to the wheel laid scalpel-like knives, sponges of various sizes and textures, wires strung to handles, other cutters, twigs, and leaves. But the potter’s sensitive hands, sinewy and dripping wet, caught my attention: He seemed to know when to pause, slow the wheel, add more clay, etch designs upon the lip, indent patterns, and so much more. With others, I looked on, hushed by the emerging bowl taking shape on the wheel.

After the potter slip-wired the bowl from the wheel and set it aside to dry, he focused upon his students and smiled. “You can do this too. It just takes practice—That’s why I’m here.” That was years ago.

Then, as well as now, this experience mirrors Potter God’s ongoing intimacy in bringing forth new life, within limits of time and space. Like the hollow in the earthenware bowl, my body of eighty-six years has held a treasure—despite chronic disorders. Light always emerged and I did find my way, albeit with new direction and resolve.

At some future moment, Potter God will slip-wire my body from the wheel of life and set me free from my present diminishments. Until then, I wait and pray… and ask you to do the same. I’m grateful.

Nothing aggrieves the psyche like disease, destruction of property, desertion, divorce, or death. Such losses, of whatever magnitude, shade the psyche for indeterminate periods of time—in their wake, steaming pitch burns useless dross from unlived lives.

At the onset of loss, thick soot obliterates identity and greases confusion into riderless barreling skateboards. Impenetrable night shrouds the spiritual faculties, rendering them inert, colorless, and isolated. Kettle-black metal chains bind imagination and fog memory. Tears moisten lead pieces of “what used to be,” which further stab throbbing hearts. Shadows of reality trick ill-formed decisions necessitating correction and more change, perhaps dislocation. Panther-like, anger blazes, then subsides and hides until its next surge.

Such are the shades of grief as sufferers pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. Many have already perished; many wounded; many homeless.

Such is the painful plight of Haitians and Afghans and countless others. For them, we continue praying: “We ask Your protection and care with complete abandon.”

The Light of Life will return–It depends on where you look.

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