"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Freelance whirlwind of advice on twitter and more

@HeideWrite in #clarkclass. Photo by @Adamropp
#clarkclass, my two-week intersession class on twitter for professionals, has concluded another session. It's a highlight of my teaching because I  bring in a bunch of successful professionals to share their experience and advice.
Students love it because it's practical and relevant, and the speakers are younger and bring fresh ideas.
After each session we debrief, all students recount something that impressed them, that they learned. Then we post them on the class blog, #clarkclassUCO. You can see all those briefings there if you wish.
But one speaker I must share here is my former student Heide Brandes, @HeideWrite, who charges into a classroom--a whirlwind full of caffeine, energy and advice--about much more than twitter.
Twitter has been huge in this UCO grad's success as a freelance writer, but most of her comments to #clarkclass were more about living and writing. 
Still, she told the class that her goal was to " to travel for free, make a ridiculous amount of money to do it, and I will use Twitter to do it." Someone tweeted that, and before the day was out she tweeted that the universe opened with a glorious opportunity, just from that tweet.
Before taking the risk to live on freelance writing, she has worked in PR and in newspapers considering community journalism the best there is.  Now going on three years as a freelancer, she has a retainer from Reuters, and has been on the front page of the Wall Street Journal for covering the Moore tornado. Most of her work though is smaller and she said last year she wrote about 500 articles. Hard work in addition to all her other activity, including running a belly dancing school.
Here are the class debriefing remarks, recorded by @SydOKC: 

  •  “She has got over 100 jobs from tweeting.” 
  •  “Talent is as common as raindrops so you have to beat out the other competition through hard work.”
  • “Interesting that she uses twitter to connect with people.”
  • “You have to start today. One day will never come."
  • " You cannot wait for things to come to you.”
  • “When you have to succeed you will. She seemed driven.”
  • “We spend a lot of time thinking about what others think. Do not waste your time. Be yourself.”
  • “Don’t be someone’s bitch.”
  •  “As a writer, you need to be reliable.”
  • “She had a balance between business with social and fun side with belly dancing.”
  • “In regards to being personal, tone down, but stay genuine.”
  •  “Don’t let fear stop you.”
  •  “Have value in yourself. Don’t cut yourself short.”
  •  “Beat the deadline.”
  •  “Don’t settle with just meeting deadline.”
  •   “In general, she inspired us to go on.”
  • “People's opinion doesn’t count unless it pays your electric bill.”
  • “Don’t meet the deadline, beat the deadline.
  • “Be confident in what you do with your work.”
  •  “Don’t write for free unless it helps you."
@okieprof tweets:

  • "I discovered that twitter could change my life.
  • "I'm no longer in twitter high school or twitter college."

Prowling rural cemeteries

Prowling cemeteries on the backroads, I find all kinds of stories that should have been told. 
You can tell the years when a flu or other epidemic hit by the common death dates. You can find how hard life was for early settlers by the large number of infant graves. You can discover segregated graveyards, across the road from each other, and determine races by the poverty or richness of the gravestones. You can find the immigrants graves by their ethnic names. 
On my drives through the country, away from suburban traffic and noise, I've found five rural graveyards within less than 30 minutes of Edmond. I'm sure there are more.
I always stop and walk through them, drawn to the veterans' graves, impressed that after many years, even in neglect, some relatives still decorate them. On this Memorial Day weekend, they bear silent witness to service, and love.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Decorations and stories amid the gravestones

Santa Fe National Cemetery, the Sandias in the distance
Today there will be American flags on thousands of veterans graves in America and around the world.
Santa FE Cemetery
Cemeteries beckon me inside their gates, especially National Cemeteries and small rural ones. When I'm traveling backroads and see one, I invariably stop, get out and wander through them, reading the names, the dates, wondering about the stories. I don't think I'm morbid, though as I get older I'm more aware of mortality, but that's not why I'm so fascinated.  They are emotional experiences that prompt my imagination, curiosity and wonder.
And on this Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, I'm more aware. I've visited six national cemeteries--Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Fort Smith, Arlington, Punchbowl in Hawaii, and Santa Fe. On my bucket list is Normandy, on D-Day. I hope next year. I've also visited Confederate cemeteries at Manassas and Vicksburg. As a Southerner, I'm in awe at all of them.
I'll admit a special fondness for Santa Fe, where we buried my late favorite uncle, Michael Henry Clark, almost four years ago. Wish I was there to put a flag on his grave.
Unusual grave of a Spanish American war vet at Santa Fe.
Unfortunately, I can't find my photos of Gettysburg, or even Vicksburg, but they remain vivid in my mind. The past is not dead in those places, but talks to you.. 
As I travel the backroads just around here, I've come across many graves of veterans, of black and white  Americans who served their country in many wars, including scattered graves of Confederate veterans. These add to my sense of stories lost and untold.
So here are photos. Listen and you can imagine taps being played, caressing each grave. Next, the private cemeteries.


ConfderateVeterans Rest, Vicksburg, where only 1,600 of 5000 graves are known
Union unknown at Gettysburg National Cemetery
Santa Fe

And here are the concluding lines of "Thanatopsis," by William Cullen Bryant, that I memorized in high school long ago. Seems fitting. Salute those flags today.

"So live, that when thy summons comes to join   
The innumerable caravan, which moves   
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take   
His chamber in the silent halls of death,   
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,   
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed   
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,   
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch   
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day amid the graves

A Civil War veterans grave in rural Oklahoma, decorated for Memorial Day
I didn’t know Buster, but I wish I had.
JUNE 30, 1922 SEPT. 24, 1944
I don’t know how he died, but this 22-year-old Oklahoma paratrooper with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne fell in Europe not long after D-Day, fighting for freedom, when I was home safe, a few months old. His name is etched in marble on one of the headstones in the U.S. National Cemetery at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
This Memorial Day there will be speeches and flags and flowers and 21- gun salutes and prayers and Taps at this cemetery just across the border from Oklahoma. There will be similar services in other cemeteries all over America, saluting the veterans.
Roses the color of blood grow on the fences, as about 9,500 grayish-white headstones of veterans from frontier days to the Gulf War sweep over the grassy green hills, like the white stripes on the American flag, gently rippling in the free breeze.
JUNE 2, 1932
NOV. 28, 1950
Most of the headstones are uniform, 24 inches out of the ground, 15 inches wide, gently oval at the top, 3 feet from the next gravestone to the side, 10 feet from the ones above and below it. On some there are small crosses above the names, the service, the dates. Simple. Sparse, Military. The precision is perfect and from any angle the headstones maintain perfect rank order--marching like rows of men going into battle--only here there are no more gaps where comrades are cut down by enemy fire. Here the ranks march on forever, into eternity.
JUNE 16, 1919 APRIL 13, 1944
The cemetery office doesn’t have biographical records on how all the veterans died, but some stand out. Like Lt. Pogue of Fort Smith, missing in action since April 13, 1944 over Europe. German historians and the pilot who shot down Lt. Pogue’s P-38 fighter  located his remains a few years ago. They were buried with full military honors on Dec. 21, 1996--52 years later. His widow, who never remarried, couldn’t attend because she was in a Ft. Smith hospital, and she’s since died. But his son, Walter Wayne Pogue Jr., who probably never met his daddy, received the folded American flag with triangle of stars showing as his father was laid to rest with 21-gun salute.
JUNE 29, 1920 JAN. 1, 1945
There is a section where men who were buried at sea, and those whose remains were never recovered, are buried. Those graves are closer together, clustered for companionship. They may have died alone, but they’ve joined more than a million other American veterans who’ve died in the defense of their country.
1834 SEPT. 11, 1863
This is one of the few national cemeteries where Union soldiers are buried alongside Confederates, because the South occupied the Fort in the War. Most Southerners are buried in Confederate cemeteries or in thousands of private cemeteries. More Americans died in the Civil War than in any other, and people still put flowers on those graves.
1924 1986
About 350 graves a year are added to the Fort Smith cemetery. Any veteran may request burial in a national cemetery, and the surviving spouse, or a child who dies under 21 years of age, may join him. Every veteran receives the regulation tombstone, and the folded flag for survivors. Retired veterans and those who were killed in action receive full military honors, including the 21-gun salute. A fresh bouquet of red carnations was placed at Pvt. Deason’s grave recently. People remember a long time in a national cemetery.
And there are more than 100 Unknowns in the ranks of these headstones--no stories, no names, no dates--of men who died and are forgotten, except for a marker in a graveyard of heroes, ordinary men who fought and died in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Air Corps, Coast Guard. All are equal in the cemetery--officers rest beside enlisted men.
The cemetery is quiet but not deathly silent. In the spring and summer, meadowlarks and mockingbirds add their songs to the air. The sky is hazy. There is the smell not of bodies cut down, but of fresh-cut grass. Life. In autumn, breezes swirl falling  leaves into garlands on every grave as a year slowly dies. And winter brings snow to bury the graves in dignity and silence once again, over the gentle swells, up and down the long ranks of graves, past the etched names of states--Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma--past the years--1819, 1864, 1918, 1943, 1950, 1969-- preserving the order of march, marshaling forces for a final charge.
I wish I’d known them all. Don’t you?
At the two-story brick house that serves as cemetery office and headquarters, a plaque carries President Lincoln’s words as he dedicated a national cemetery at Gettysburg 147 years ago. Hallowed ground. Above, the Stars and Stripes wave in the breeze over the grass patterned with headstones.
Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day, started in 1868, three years after America's bloodbath. Survivors and families began decorating the graves of those brave men who died, with flowers and flags.
The practice continues, not just in national cemeteries but in public and private ones all over America. 
Every day at 5 p.m., the haunting, plaintive notes of Taps echoes across the green hills, caressing each white gravestone.
Goodnight, Buster. Goodnight, Lt. Pogue.
And thanks.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this was a newspaper column of mine.

Friday, May 15, 2015

From an 'F' to the top of #clarkclass

@rcrissinger talking to my students on the stairs
My students' eyes got wide when Rob Crissinger @rcrissinger  told them today that I'd flunked one of his writing assignments (He went on to ace the course). That was 2004.
Today he's one of the edgy top PR professionals at Bumbershoot PR @BumbershootPR, changing the arts and entertainment world of OKC, using social media among other tactics.
The lights came on as the lights went out--the power went out 10 minutes before he arrived, so we congregated on the stairs as he told how he got to where he is as one of the early adopters of twitter.
Close up--student photos by Devyn Frazier and Brittany Robinson
(He got an F because I told him no first person writing and he could revise it. He didn't and handed it back. He got the F--in retrospect, he was right.)
He continued to wow the students with not only his personal stories but the stories of how he and Bumbershoot use twitter and serve clients. They're a small agency that doesn't hold meetings, that has clients and H&8th, Dead Center Film Festival and many more. 
After he was gone, and the lights came back on in the building, as usual, we debriefed. Here's what the students said, recorded by @SydOKC
@okieprof #clarkclass photo by Gary Parsons

  • “You can do what you want. Don’t give into the game everyone else is playing.
  •  “I got the vibe that he strives to be the best in PR. He was really driven.” 
  • “I like that he hit on the percentages of Twitter. 80% personal and 20% business.” 
  • “Twitter is only effective if you’re listening and broadcasting.” 
  • “Rob’s Twitter page changes and before hand it was silly and fun, showing his personality. He doesn’t worry about always being professional.” 
  • I think part of what attracts us to media is not having to always being professional.” 
  • “He doesn’t think he could do his job without Twitter. That blows my mind. People within my circle don’t use it professionally. Hearing that Twitter got them a job, it blows my mind that this silly social media side is impactful.” 
  • “I like how he said he likes the fun side of Twitter.”
  •  “I like that he makes Twitter fun.” 
  • “Today isn’t about being better; it’s about being creative.” 
  •  “Twitter is changing the rivalry between PR and journalism”
  • “The definition of news is what people are talking about. It’s really true to Twitter. People don’t post what they aren’t interested in. They post what they think is happening. “
  • "Networking is the key to success in any career.”  
  • “Everything happens for a reason.” 
  • “Interact with someone on Twitter. You can talk to one person in a certain manner that grabs their attention and you’ve reached many.” 
  • “Favorite and retweet.”  
  •   “Twitter helps you amplify your voice.” 
  • “He does a 'shit-ton'  of research.” 
  • “He really went inside and showed you how he orchestrates with any project. He plans ahead. He preplans 20 steps down the road about what the sparks will be. I’m going to apply that myself.”
  • “Media never sleeps, clients never sleep and therefore he doesn’t sleep.”
Grump and Guru--Adam Ropp photo
@Okieprof tweets during Rob's discussion
  • Social media is the fuel to get people to other media
  • PR is people art
  • Social media is the great equalizer
  • We are in a world where information hits you from all sides and never stops.
  • PS. My students make us look good.
(If you want other student comments, search #clarkclass on twitter.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An enthusiastic storyteller of twitter and life

If you're not excited about journalism, or life, you should talk with Mike Sherman, The Oklahoman's sports editor.
A 1986 grad of UCO, Mike is always a repeat visitor to #clarkclass because of his upbeat outlook, his humor, and his enthusiasm. 
He's a storyteller. Rather than just talk or give dull lectures, he is a constant stream of stories about people and events. 
He gets engaged with the students, looks them up digitally, wants to know about them, asks them questions. He knows a lot, about sports and much more.
Here are some comments from the students as we "debriefed" after he left yesterday, recorded by @SydOKC:
·      “The fact that Twitter was a big search engine. You can do advance searches. Also, the pros and cons to twitter are similar to life.”
·      “I don’t love getting on Twitter, but I realize I must get into it within the workforce. “
·      “If you can know it you should know it because with the age we are in there’s no excuse for ignorance.”
·      “Twitter isn’t a positive or a negative. Networking is how you really make your connections.”
·      “There are no non-public facing jobs. If you have any social media, anyone can find anything out about you. You’re not two people, you’re one person.”
·      “I liked how honest he was with Mr. Unreliable (headline). Very truthful and wasn’t trying to sugar coat things. He honestly cared about his viewers.”
·      “I like that he said, we don’t go after things, things come to us.”
·      “He wants to hire someone that has something to teach him. There’s no business without Twitter.”
·      “Twitter is not the end; it’s a means to the end. It should be there as a tool. It’s a bridge; it’s not the actual relationship. It shouldn’t be your only source, but to help connect with others.”
·      “Twitter is more of a listening device rather than broadcasting tool.”
·      “It’s important to get connections through Twitter.”
·      “If you can know it, you should know it because the resources are available.”
·      “I related to was the fact that he doesn’t love Twitter, but he loves the connectivity of Twitter.”
·      “When you’re on Twitter you think of this person as a specific person on Twitter. It should relate your real life. Use the tool to be open and honest.”
·      “Being able to look things up on advance search from Twitter whenever you’re not actually there is very convenient.”
·      “Twitter is the biggest connector.”
·      “He talked about the viral effect with ISIS. They had 200 followers and being able to reach so many people.”
·      “I like that he’s a story-teller. He gets all the information in there. He used Twitter to tell story.”
·      “I liked how he talked about the three of his employees were hired off and found new ones by blogging about it and tweeting about it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to find a job on Twitter. I could use Twitter to find a job in the future.”
·      “Do your homework.”
@okieprof tweets:
  • "Mobile is our satellite truck."
  • "Rapid change--our business is like changing tires on a moving car."
  • The bible and twitter: "'All that is hidden shall be revealed,' (Luke)--sounds like twitter."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brave life lessons and metaphors with twitter in #clarkclass

Shere's new life coaching twitter account

While many of the  speakers for my twitter for Media, #clarkclass, return each time, the lessons are never identical. 
That's because twitter is constantly changing along with the lives of these professionals.
This is certainly true of amazing our first speaker today, Sheri Guyse, a  former student of mine who is one of the most remarkable people I know. She's worked in PR, managed social media for the Good Egg Restaurant Group, and now is staring her own life coaching career. 
Along the way she's started a Rotary club with members devoted to the arts. She hosts monthly house concerts. She's a single mom.
Thus she brings many perspectives to social media and many stories also. 
She's one of the most quotable people I know with natural metaphors every time she talks. She does with with energy and a big smile and ideas galore.
After her session, we debrief, and each student has to comment and what they gained. She sat in on this today, and often commented, adding tot he conversation.
I'm struck that my 20 students rarely mentioned twitter, but emphasized character traits  and life lessons.
Here are some of the comments, recorded by student @SydOKC:
  • “Follow your heart.”
  • “I like that what you said about being real and transparent. It’s hard to do. It’s easy to be fake. Just be real.”
  • “I like the quote that you said from Theodore Roosevelt, “It’s not the critique that counts it’s the brave person in the arena.”
  • “I like whenever you were talking about being transparent. If you’re going to show up, show up. Don’t half ass it.”
  • “I like what you said about being transparent, too. Be passionate about it.”
  • “I like that you said, “Be brave!”
  • “I like that how you said your thoughts create positive energy.”
  • “I’m impressed by your patience.”
  • “I like the fact that you were uncomfortable with your job, but you had to make the decision about getting a new job that put you where you are now.”
  • “I am impressed at the fact that you went out and made your own job. It’s inspiring.
  • “I’m all about the positive energy!”
  • “Sometimes you need to be generous. I like that you said to put forth the effort.”
  • “Be generous and good things will happen. Also, I like what you said about knowing your calling.”
  • “You seem like a prime example of someone who takes initiative.”
  • “My favorite quote from you was about being brave means showing up and being seen. Also, being vulnerable.”
  • “Being positive can be difficult, but I really felt like today was everything behind the scene. It’s neat and adds a little bit of hope.”
  • “What I learned today, but forgot, was to advertise for free. It’s a big thing! We are creating our own brand.”
  • “I like what you said about not looking at it just as an advertising platform, it’s also about relationships. I’d always knew that it was good to be nice and win favor, but to actually look at it as a funnel strategy is what stuck out to me. “
  • “I like that you said whenever once you have and idea, go after. That’s impressive. Going after what you enjoy doing and finding what out what you like is interesting.”
  • “I like that you truly care about all the people you come in contact with. I think it’s very important that we make sure that it’s important.”
@okieprof comments, previously tweeted, quoting Sheri
  • "My name is my currency"
  • "Everybody has a story. I want to help people re-author their stories."
  • "When you numb the dark, you numb the light."

Sheri's main twitter page; a Journey fan, but also symbolic of her life
  Previous comments on Sheri in earlier twitter classes:
If you wish to follow the class day by day, check the class blog, #ClarkclassUCO

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Coffee with Mom on Mothers' Day

My tires crunched across the gravel lane at the Waurika, Oklahoma,  cemetery  this Mothers’ Day. It's my annual pilgrimage to Mom's grave, where I plant real flowers.
Every year I drive down to plant some flowers, to remember, to talk to Mom. I know she's not there, but that's where I talk to her.
This year, I brought scarlet and purple Petunias...it takes hardy plants to survive southern Oklahoma weather and the almost constant prairie wind. The south wind sweeps up the prairie hill west of the little town, full of memories, especially memories of the last years of her life.
It comes up out of Texas, across the nearby Red River, like she did to live with us years ago, Francis Faye Culp Clark.

Clouds scudded across the sky above  the little Jefferson County seat where we once owned the newspaper. 
I bring a jug of water for the planting, but for the first time this year, it wasn't needed.  Yesterday's storms  and those earlier than that have saturated the ground. Creeks were full, water was standing in fields, and when I used the trowel to dig, it sank easily and mud sopping with water came right up.
Today her gravestone is almost 35 years old, and it records her name and the years of her life.

The Culps--"Sissie, " ET, Mom, Ima, "Son,"  and Gladys
But it cannot record the life she lived, this child of East Texas, one of four sisters, now all dead, and two brothers, also dead. The girl who played high school basketball at South Park High School in Beaumont, the girl who got the good job with Ma Bell, and who helped the rest of the family through the Depression, the girl who gave baby brother—now deceased—25 cents a day for school lunch. It can’t record her marriage and the birth of two sons and the joy of holding and raising them. It can’t record the pride in their successes, the tears in their failures. It can’t record her love for grandchildren. It can’t record her strength in divorce, nor her sense of humor and most of all her unselfishness. Nor her faith in the face of death.
And I can’t either, except from too few memories, and looking back through black and white snapshots, and from stories my uncle and cousins have told me.
But I can imagine more now, as I watch my daughter—who looks remarkably like her grandmother--holding and feeding and cuddling and talking to and laughing with and disciplining her daughters and son. I see the eye contact, the touch, the strongest bond on earth, and I learn what I experienced—what every fortunate son and daughter experienced—before they could remember, but not before they could know deep in their souls.
I saw the same bond recently when a tall, 60-something  man slowly led his frail mother, by the arm,  into a restaurant to have dinner with her, listening to her chat away.
I wish I could do the same, but I can’t. But I will do the best I can. Today we talked about my brother and I, and our memories, and how proud she'd be of her grandchildren and now her great grandchildren, one of whom carries her name.

And we shared a cup of coffee, spiritually at least. Mom always loved coffee. Wish I'd shared more with her when she was here. I finished my cup, and told her I miss her, and I love her. And drove away down the gravel, out the gate to US 70.
I hope you can talk to your mother, face to face this Mothers’ Day. Don’t wait until it’s too late.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Words of wisdom to stegdaughter and groom wedding

It was my pleasure, and honor, to officiate at the wedding of Alexx Amy Reger and Jake Alan Harms today. Both of their fathers are dead.  I am more than pleased to be asked to officiate.
Included is a video of Alexx dancing after the ceremony. Her mother, my wife  Susan Reger Henry Clark,  has worked and stressed herself in the past months to make this happen.
This was scheduled at Will Rogers Park in OKC, first with threat of high temps, and then with rain and storms. It worked.
More photos later perhaps. But here is the text of my message to them and their families:
"    ⁃    Alexx and Jake, Jake and Alexx--hold hands
    ⁃    Your family is here --grandparents, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, families and friends are here--a testimony to your love and life together. Turn and look
    ⁃    Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by  such a great cloud of witnesses, let us shed anything that hinders us, and let us begin our journey"--That's a liberal Clark translation
    ⁃    These are among the witnesses--a great cloud, plus the genetic witness of two families merging  again into another genetic family. I also know that in that cloud, as spiritual people, you know others are here, in spirit and presence...you carry their genes and spirits  too…your fathers Edward Harms and  Mike Reger.
    ⁃    You are spiritual people, believing in eternity, strong individuals who break the mold of ordinary, an energy flows from both of you. I'd say you're edgy.
    ⁃    I've tried to find wisdom  that fits you both, that is edgy and I believe it is in the Old Testament in a book you never hear preached from, or mentioned in churches--the Song of Solomon or Song of Songs.
    ⁃    That's probably because it is the most sensual, sexual book in the Bible…considered poetry and wisdom, but while physical, recognizing in inseparable spiritual reality of lovers. Really it's a play, a conversation between two lovers and friends. As with any couple, there are problems, but the story is of intense love.
    ⁃    It so fits the two of you. I've chosen some lines I think you'll identify with. Listen to the beauty of some of the words of the poet--don't worry, I'll not repeat the erotic, juiciest parts, but use your imagination on the symbols of wine, and gardens and flowers and more, as the poet speaks to you.
    ⁃    First speak the friends--your witnesses--
    ⁃    "We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine."  That's a lot of praise
    ⁃    The lover speaks: "How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves."
    ⁃    The Beloved responds: "How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.
    ⁃    "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys."
    ⁃    The lover responds: "Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens."
    ⁃    Now it may not surprise you Jake that it seems the woman has more to say than the man, but I think you're used to it by now.
    ⁃    The Beloved says: "My lover spoke and said to me, 'Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come…Arise, come my darling: my beautiful one, come with me."
    ⁃    The lover says: "You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride…" It gets better.
    ⁃    The beloved says: "My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn my lover and be like a gazelle, or like a young stag ."
    ⁃    The lover says: "my lover, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her."
    ⁃    Near the end of the eight chapters, the beloved say to her lover: "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for loves is as strong as death, its jealously unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
    ⁃    "Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away."
    ⁃    When I was talking to you the other day, having known Alexx longer than Jake, I told you Jake that I believe you rescued Alexx, gave her purpose and direction and a sense of dignity and being herself. And Jake you said that Alexx rescued you too--giving you direction  from wandering without meaning. If there's a word that describes both of your best traits, it is loyalty. 

When you've been rescued, you know. That's how you two have proven your love over the years.
    ⁃    High in the New Mexico mountains in the Pecos wilderness there's a snow- and spring-fed brook that's clear and pure, making beautiful music as the water gurgles over round rocks. Those rocks used to be jagged, but millions of years of water flowing over them have smoothed them out, and they help keep the water clear and beautiful, and the banks verdant with grass and life.
    ⁃    When  I was talking with you about being rescued, Jake said, beautifully and poetically worthy of Solomon:
    ⁃    "Our relationship is like a babbling brook, smoothed stones covered with flowing water."  Alexx chimed in for emphasis: "flowing water, and music."
    ⁃    Jake said: "Without the two of them together you just have hard rocks, and just water. 

" Together, you make beautiful rescued music."
    ⁃    Please face each other.
    ⁃    Now Jake, you wish to speak to Alexx: vows xxx

  • You Alexx: vows to Jake. xxx.
  • Jake, you have a token of your vows, places it on her finger and repeat after me:
    ⁃    I Jake take thee Alexx, to be my wife
    ⁃    to have and to hold
    ⁃    in sickness and in health
    ⁃    for richer or for poorer
    ⁃    and I promise my love to you forevermore."    ⁃    Alexx, what do you want to tell Jake, as you place a token of your love on his finger:
    ⁃    I, Alexx take thee Jake, to be my husband
    ⁃    to have and to hold
    ⁃    in sickness and in health
    ⁃    for richer or for poorer
    ⁃    and I promise my love to you forevermore.
    ⁃    "Jake, your token of your vows. Place on her finger and repeat after me:
    ⁃    Alex, your token of your vows, place on his finger and repeat after me:
    ⁃    I Alexx take thee  Jake to be my husband
    ⁃    to have and to hold
    ⁃    in sickness and in health
    ⁃    for richer or for poorer
    ⁃    and I promise my love to you forevermore."

  •  Upon the authority of your love, I pronounce you husband and wife. You suggest you kiss each other.
    ⁃    Turn and face your witnesses.
    ⁃    Rise
    ⁃    I present to you mm Jake Harms.

And here's Susan, dancing with her daughter