"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.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

State of the blog in pandemic--a record

Blog readership, at year's end, not recording 2009, 2010

"Lesson--the pandemic has been an impetus for my blog and my painting--and thus my survival."--Retrospective realization as I look back over, and evaluate, the year in my pandemic journal for today. 

At year's end, this blog, now going on 12 years, ties the most December  posts in its life--47--the most since the first year, 2009-- and it's third highest yearly posts--285, barely behind 2010 at 292. 

That's a turn around from last year, with its lowest point of 112 posts. In retrospect the revival is largely due to the pandemic that has enabled, inspired, driven me to paint and write more.

It began as a journalist/professor's blog in May 2009 with no idea how long it would live, and gradually changed through the years kept alive as I taught blogging at UCO. 

But as its changed with art, art has also helped rescue it. This December's postings, including this one, helped it tie 2009's December as an all-time monthly high.
Total posts this year, again thanks to watercolors, ranked it behind only the first two years. And my blog traffic reached more than 332,000, up 34,000 from this time last year--which is almost 3,000 visitors a month. 

Speaking of that, the most read blog posts go all the way back, but Blogger's "improved" stats make totals impossible. Most popular, with more than 4,500 readers--"Toasting the Passage of Time," December 27, 2009
Here are the facts for this year, and for the record.

Traffic, posting  facts--
  • 332,000+ page views since May, 2009 
  • Highest monthly 2020 traffic, June, 3,619
  • Lowest 2020 monthly, January, 1715
  • Lowest annual monthly traffic--May, 2018--638 
  • Most 2020 monthly posts, this month, 47
  • Fewest posts in a month this year--January, 8
Posts per year--
  • 2020--285
  • 2019--109
  • 2018--149 
  • 2017--158
  • 2016--137
  • 2015--136
  • 2014--276
  • 2013--252
  • 2012--203
  • 2011--134
  • 2010--292
  • 2009--339 (started in May)
2020 total page views by countries--
What I have failed to do this year is keep up with readers from new locations. I know it's probably the same, at about 153 or so around the world.
Top page hits this year--Changes from last year, China and Turkey dropped off the list, and Russia plunged from number two, though it is still second overall, Ukraine third, Germany and then China. (Why? )
    United States
    United Kingdom

    Pandemic journal, five months survival

    Today closes the pages, 127  of them, written over the last 154 days since August 1 when I began this second pandemic journal, wondering if I'd survive.

    The first book, begun April 1, which ended July 31 at 169 pages covering 122 days, missing only one day.

    I've never been disciplined enough to maintain a daily diary, though I'm pretty good on journals of trips and so forth.

    But this was different. I missed only two or three days in the last five months, and obviously wrote more some days,  than others. 
    Some entries are longer, up to two pages, while others are mere fractions of pages. 

     I've gotten in the habit of getting up early, recording my weight and outdoor temperatures and weather. I keep track of paintings, and books read, and comment on every day life, including family happenings, a trip to Colorado, and the pandemic news. 

    There's not much on politics, but it's hard to ignore in this crazy election year with the unstable nut in the White House trying to become a dictator and overthrow the election. 

    I still wonder if I'm going to survive--the question I asked as I began both journals. The new more contagious variant is here in the US., I am aging, and wondering if I'll get the vaccine in time.

    I do see personal value in this. I go back and read the earlier pages, a few at a time, marking them up, thinking. It's like reading a personal history book, reminding me of things I'd already forgotten.

    Will I continue this journaling? I'm aware I'm following the example of Pepys journal of the plague year in London, though mine is not as bleak, yet.  Probably, but my handwriting is getting worse, and I'll have to find a new book to write in. This one, a journal given me earlier this year when I did a writing workshop for the Oklahoma Pork Council,  has only a few pages left.  

    Splintered year, and paintings of a year

    "Splintered Year," 8 x 10 brushless watercolor, 140 lb Canson cold press

     The brush pile from the October ice storm----splintered trunks,  twisted branches, decaying leaves--still looms in our front yard, and will probably for at least another month, as it will all over Edmond.

    It seems an apt metaphor for 2020  around the world, and especially in America, as I close out this year in painting.  The pandemics of disease, outright hatred and violence, intolerance, fear, and political chaos  from a wanna-be dictator have splintered this country more than ever, since the Civil War.

    Today's watercolor, 8 x 10, closes out a prolific  year for my painting, which for me at least has been something positive out of the mess we're in. I think this painting is probably about 244 of those attempted since January. 

    "Dance," a 3 1/2 x 5 favorite from July, teenage memories
    Most have been small, most haven't been very good--and that doesn't include the many attempts I consider failures--but they've all helped me cope and survive quarantine, stress, worries and the splinters of this country. And they don't include numerous sketches.

    The number of paintings has certainly been boosted by about a little more than 100 greeting cards during the holidays and for special occasions. 

    There has been a lot of experimenting on my part--including painting with sponges--as with today's. I've developed monthly slide shows. I've read and watched videos from watercolor masters, and tried to adapt. 

    January had the fewest paintings, five. December, the most at 39, followed by July (World Watercolor Month) with 32, and April at 31. These were days when I was determined, almost daily, to bring some light and color and joy into the world to offset the darkness.

    I hope they helped. They did me...including today's.

    End of the line, in 2020

    "End of the Line," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

    the pandemic year ends, and my annual greeting card project, there's one final card to share.

    I've long been a fan of, actually fascinated by #cabooses--since childhood actually-- and have written about, photographed  and painting them many times. And I got to ride in one a few years ago near Park City, Utah.

    I wish I lived where I could buy one, put it in the back yard, make it a studio. Search the word on this blog and you'll find plenty of examples of previous posts.

    So it's more than fitting, and symbolic, that today's Christmas card is for a fellow train buff, great friend and his wife, my former colleague and good friend, Roy and Jill Kelsey.

    Wednesday, December 30, 2020

    Favorite blog posts this year

     As I look back over this tumultuous, largely negative year,  the pandemics have helped rescue this blog, though I didn't realize it until recently.

    "Te Ata portrait," back in January
    I began going back, month by month, to choose my favorite posts, which in some ways was like reading a diary, a journal of a plague year, where I found, painted and wrote about much of the beauty still here. It became a purpose, a cause, to provide color and thought to offset the horrors. 

    My posts and paintings helped the blog set a record. More on that tomorrow. But I also found that the more I painted, it spurred me also to write about the art, leading me to more reading, and more metaphor and thought. I painted more than ever, spurring my learning, as I put together slide shows of the work.

    So here are some of my favorite paintings and articles, month by month. Scroll through them for a look back in time.

    January--My first portrait: Te Ata

    February-- Trees ; Manners

    March-- The virus

    April-- A new word ; Magic tree ; OKC bombing

    May-- Pandemic journal-1 ; Granddaughter's graduation ; Edmond Sun execution (one of five editorials/sketches)

    June-- Pandemic poetry ; Bitter icing on Edmond's cake

    July-- Pandemic journal-2 ; Rocking & Rolling watercolor

    August-- Pandemic poetry ; On the Llano ; Fort Reno chapel

    September-- Art show ; Chimayo

    October-- Back roads poetry

    November-- Americans voting ; Uncle Mike

    December-- Truchas inspirationTruchas dreams

    A bear of a year, but

    "Grizz," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

    2020 closes out, a year of biological, racist and political pandemics, it'd be fair to say it "was a bear of a year."

    That however, some of us believe, is an unfair stereotype for "ursas," in its many species, and for me and two of my sons, especially Ursa Horriblis, the grizzly.

    If we have a totem, and definitely a favorite animal species, it is the grizzly. My two oldest sons, Vance and Travis, spend two summers  working at the lodges in Glacier National Park, where the bear still roams. We've all seen them in the wild. 

    We'd also note that Native American beliefs consider ursa and sapiens linked, even related.

    We even root for the bears, especially when unfortunate, or careless or stupid, hikers in Alaska or even in Canada and isolated portions of the U.S., make fatal mistakes in their country. We make jokes about them too. "You can't outrun a grizz, just outrun who you're with."

    In my studio/office as I type this, there are about nine photos, paintings, statues, images of grizz. And it's perhaps not an accident that my sometimes gruffness get's me labeled as "an old bear."

    So as the year ends, along with my annual watercolor holiday greeting card project, here's a special card for my son Travis, who looks remarkably like Grizzly Adams. 

    Tuesday, December 29, 2020

    Moon Memories

    "Iowa Moon," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

    moon again tonight, the last of this pandemic year, a year when we need beauty, stability, promise more than ever. Such is a full moon.

    Memories, photos, paintings, writings, travels, histories, and more through the ages--most of them intensely personal for countless people. In the past 11 years on this blog alone,  I've painted the moon, and/or written about it and its effects, its tides, on me alone, more than 20 times.  You only have to search the word on this blog to see.

    As the year nears end, and my annual holiday card project, there have been some certain cards for special people. So it is with today's post.

    "Iowa Moon," 5 x 7 Christmas card, from memories of years in Iowa, and of a specific farmhouse for my friend, Iowan Mary Carver.

    Monday, December 28, 2020

    Tree wisdom and art

    "Trees," 8 x 10 watercolor, 8 x 10 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper

    has beautifully named trees, 'rooted men.' In many ways they excel man. A tree seldom, or never encroaches upon the liberty of another tree, if it can be avoided. Usually 'both parties' settle equitably and without 'process.' A tree recognizes that its liberty ends where the next tree's liberty begins. a tree never wastes its growth in unnecessary cavortings of display, nor in frivolous waste of energy. If a tree is seen to twist and turn, it does so by reason of choice, tempered by necessity. These turns and twists are intimately connected or in rapport with, the turnings and twistings of some equally charitable neighbor. This it is that engenders that certain rhythm of flow of related lines in a wood." 

    Those words, written 97 years ago in a chapter of painting trees Elementary Principles of Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson, are eerily of today's science, learning that trees talk to each other and support each other--see The Hidden Life of Trees, for instance.

    He keeps going: "Every tree is a personality, and possesses within its specie a tremendous latitude of expression...A tree is a highlight of organized entity, which, when functioning in its realm, becomes beautiful."

    "It is curious how one's feelings about trees change, in proportion to one's appreciation of their importance and dignity as living beings. We discover trees to be of royal blood, rather and apologetic parasites!" (Even Tolkien knew this, as in The Lord of the Rings.

    Then he writes about trees in art:

    "A tree reaches for light with its every leaf, ....."

    "Trees are the most personal objects in a landscape. We feel distinctly related to them."

    "To the artist, the woods is an asylum of peace; ...an eloquent silence made up of a myriad of pleasant sounds seems to hang on the air."

    I read these words this weekend, after a walk in Hafer park, thinking  that's why I don't listen to music or anything else when walking in the woods.


    Bookends---my readings in 2020

    Last books completed in 2020

    is a favorite song of my favorite singers, Simon and Garfunkel, and the title and mood fits as I think about the books that have helped me survive this pandemic year.

    I finished the last two books of the year yesterday, bringing to a total of 49 completed. When the pandemic got serious in March, I determined to read a bunch of books I should have read and hadn't...and early on I accomplished some of that. 

    But these last two are about art. One, At Home on the Great Plains of Texas, by Laura Lewis and Christina Mulkey, is a Christmas gift from my daughter Dallas Bell, owner of Burrowing Owl Books www.burrowingowlbookstore.com in Canyon and Amarillo. 

    It features some of the dramatic paintings of West Texas, an easy read, but inspiring. She proves you can find beauty and subjects to paint anywhere, if you just look and see, even on what many people consider the monotonous Llano Estacado.

    The other book, a gift from beyond the grave from my Dad, is Elementary Principles of Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson. I first wrote about 10 years ago this month. You can read about those discoveries on the post linked below. But this time, I read it all the way through, part of my continuing Do It Yourself art school, still learning.

    This book was first written 97 years ago; my Dad bought it in February, 1943, and inscribed it to me in October, 1969. 

    From both of these gifts, I've learned much, and found more inspiration for the coming years.

    The other books I've completed since early November:

    • This Tender Land, novel, by William Krueger.
    • The the Days of Our Unrest, poetry, by Nathan Brown, written about yesterday.
    • Ghost Ways, non-fiction about two unsettling places in Britain, Robert MacFarlane.
    • Black Sunday, poetry, Benjamin Myers, written about yesterday
    up the year, I read:
    • 7 books of poetry--plus three partial which don't count
    • 9 art books
    • 12 novels, plus one unfinished (Moby Dick--half read--too wordy)
    • 2 books of short stories
    • 13 books of non-fiction plus two unfinished which do count
    • 4 books of inspiration and wisdom
    • 1 book discarded after one page--doesn't count

    keep track of these in my little Book Journal, purchased about this time last year from bestofbooksok.com in Edmond. Highly recommend. You keep track up to 100 books, and then there's a section for more details and comments, etc.

    I buy most of my books from Best of Books, avoiding at almost all costs  the A*****n monster.

    P.S. There are three already just begun books, two novels and one history that will begin my new year.
    Most recent, again from my daughter for Christmas, is Stephen Harrigan's monumental, 850+ page history of Texas, Big Wonderful Thing (a quote about Texas from Georgia O'Keeffe when she taught in Canyon)--as a Texan I've naturally already read the chapters on The Alamo and San Jacinto; and two novels from Best of Books, The Tinderbox, Lou Diamond Phillips, and  Below Zero, C.J. Box 

    Here's the lint to the post about my Dad's book:

    Here are the links to two earlier posts on my readings this year:

    Readings to November

    Mountain Moods

    "First Snow on Lone Cone," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

    you grow up around mountains, they get into you, become a part of you, even if you move away.

    Certain ones become more than landmarks--magnets, favorites that pull you. Mine are the Truchas and Sandias in New Mexico. 

    The moods of mountains continually change, with the light, with the seasons, with the viewers' locations and memories. You just really never get tired of looking at them.

    We need that stability more than ever in this year of pandemics, and fictional mountains were recurring subjects in my holiday greeting card project. But then, as the year nears end, with thoughts of Western mountains in fall glory with aspen and early snow,  there a few specific  cards for special friends. 

    Thus "First Snow, on Lone Cone," southwest Colorado, for Sherry and Gary Sump.

    Sunday, December 27, 2020

    Pandemic antidotes--a year for poetry

    It's been a year of poetry in my pandemic reading, as I look back over the 49 books attempted.

    Seven of them were complete books of poetry, with selected portions of other books.

    Ray Bradbury said to read poetry every day because it stretched muscles not ordinarily used. I didn't make every day, but this has been a year of quarantine, or stress, trials and more, when stretching muscles, especially mental  and spiritual muscles, is essential to mental health.

    Four of the books are from three friends and Okie poets. The most recent was a rereading of Benjamin Myers' Black Sunday, a collection of sonnets, no less, and a short story, all about a few Okies surviving the Dust Bowl. Stories of people with grit, applicable today.

    Two new ones by Nathan Brown are like reading a day-by-day diary of the pandemic. His Pandemic Poetry Project contains a poem a day, by date, beginning in March, suggested by sponsored prompts from his readers. 

    In the Days of Our Seclusion  (March-May) and In the Days of Our Unrest (June-August)One poem in the second book was my prompt, "back roads." It's about a lonely highway in New Mexico. But most are wrenching reality and insights into our 2020 journeys. You can buy them direct from him, $15 plus shipping. Brownlines

    He has two more books continuing the series forthcoming. You can listen to him reading from the poems in his periodic "FirePit Sessions" on his Facebook Page. 

    Ken Hada's Sunlight and Cedar. I reviewed in August on this blog. You can read about that earth-deep poetry here. A Geography of Pandemic Poetry

    Actually, you can order from Ken and Ben directly as well. Contact them: Ken Hada or @BenMyersPoet on twitter. Or at bookstores of course, but if you want yours inscribed....

    These are all mind- and soul-stretching antidotes for the messes we're in this year.

    The other books: Mary Oliver's Devotions; Mary Ruefle's Dunce and Charles Bukoski's Betting on the Muse.

    The partial readings? A closing poem in Wendell Berry's The Art of Loading Brush--a collection of agrarian writings, and then skipping around in The Big Red Book by Rumi, and another poet I know you've heard of, David, in Psalms.

    Profound poodle

    "Profound Poodle," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

    the phrase "Going to the dogs" isn't such a bad thing, I thought yesterday, walking in Hafer Park.

    People who are out walking their dogs, of all varieties (humans and canines), seemed pretty friendly, a lot more so than the poisonous vitriol  of the still-current political and pandemic chaos. The dogs seem well adjusted, and their owners.

    "Beautiful dog. Cute pooch. "Passing people in the park, I always compliment their dogs, and get a smile and a "thank you." Yep, going to the dogs.

    I took this photo this week of an old guy (probably my age) on a walker, with his little dog. No hurry, no acrimony, just enjoying the outdoors on a mild December day. Friendly. We need more days, and years, of going to the dogs.

    So as the end of the year approaches, and my annual holiday greeting card project as well, I want to post one of the cards made especially for some special friends.  

    I used to be a dog person, still am deep down. I originally wanted an indoor-outdoor dog and my wife said no, she wanted indoor cats. So we compromised. I am now owned by two indoor cats

    But our friends are indeed dog people. I'm sure Carlos is a profound poodle. Today's card, Carlos, for the Brekkes.

    Saturday, December 26, 2020

    A season for healing

    "A time for healing," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

    Christmas past, the pandemic still raging, with the year near end, I thought of favorite Bible verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

    From "To everything there is a season," the phrase that hangs in my mind at this time is "a time to heal."

    A few of the many holiday watercolor cards I paint are specifically intended for certain friends and relatives, because of subjects, common interests, histories.

    These next six cards as the year ends are among those, starting today with another rendition of El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, site of the miraculous healing dirt, a place of power and meaning to me and others I know. 

    A little of that healing dirt is in a antique bottle in front of my computer screen--it even heals spiritually and mentally because of the precious memories it brings every time I see it. 

    Here is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

    To everything there is a season,
    A time for every purpose under heaven:
    A time to be born, And a time to die;
    A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
    A time to kill, And a time to heal;
    A time to break down, And a time to build up;
    A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
    A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to gain, And a time to lose;
    A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
    A time to tear, And a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
    A time to love, And a time to hate;
    A time of war, And a time of peace.

    Friday, December 25, 2020

    The light

    "The Light," 5 x 7 digitally altered watercolor

    " In him was life; and that life was the light of all mankind.

    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

                                                                                         --John 1: 4-5

    Thursday, December 24, 2020

    Christmas Eve pilgrims

    "We are all pilgrims," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. Canson cold press

    Eve  should remind us that we're all pilgrims, just as the magi in the New Testament following the fabled star.

    The word "pilgrim" originated in Middle English about 1200, describing a person traveling to a holy place, as penance or discharging a vow or seeking spiritual guidance. 

    It also came to mean a traveler, a wayfarer, from the Old French  pelerinperegrin "pilgrim, crusader; foreigner, stranger"  from Late Latin pelegrinus, "foreigner, stranger," probably from the proto Indo-European  "per" beyond, and "agro," "field," or "land."

    More than you want to know, but I had to look that up to add meaning and perspective to my inspiration and art today. 

    Sometimes images come in the middle of the night, and I though of those pilgrims making journeys today to holy sites around the world, or anytime of the year, any religion. 

    One of the famous ones is at the Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico in Holy Week--Good Friday to Easter--when thousands of the faithful walk, up to 90 miles, to worship.

    "Christmas Eve," 5 x 7 card
    Today's larger watercolor is therefore fictional, visualizing  that as happening during Christmas, but I hope it captures the spirit, the essence of being a pilgrim. 

    Still, many make pilgrimages to their churches on days and nights like this. Many will travel and gather this year with technology, digitally or on TV. While it's not quite the same socially, it is still a pilgrimage of the spirit. 

    I had painted a traditional Christmas card for this day, but this took over my brushes this morning...in a year when we're all more aware than ever that we're pilgrims, of how precarious and precious life is. Here they both are.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2020

    Great Plains Winter

    "Great Plains Winter," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

    Winter is on the horizon.

    It's a cold, windy day here on the edge of the Great Plains in Oklahoma.

    Outside the wind is howling around the corners of the house, whipping the trees and grasses, sweeping the sky clear of clouds.

    The farther west you go, the windier, the colder. There's an old joke about days like this:

    "There ain't nothing between us and the North Pole but a barb wire fence and two strands of it are down."

    It isn't that cold here--yet. But, on the horizon.

    Today's gritty watercolor, for that kind of weather. I love the texture of rough press paper, it fits the day.

    When the way is up--2 days 'til Christmas

    "When the way is up," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas greeting card

    a season of churches, and even though "church-going" may be impeded in this pandemic year, the iconic structures of houses of faith with tall steeples and spires reaching toward the sky mirrors the painted symbols of the Christmas star reaching toward earth. 

    Last night, I was rereading E.B. White's classic 1947 book, "Here is New York," and came across a passage about New York's vertical landscape. He compared it to churches:

    "...what the white church spire is to the village--the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying that the way is up."

    Already  thinking about the origin of the words spire and steeple, I found reasons being the beliefs and architecture.

    A steeple is not a spire. Spire comes from old English spīr  meaning  ‘tall slender stem of a plant’; related to German spier ‘tip of a blade of grass’.

    Steeple comes from proto-Germanic staupliaz, "that which is steep, a tower."

    What about "aspiration," or "aspire, which fits the idea of looking up? Not related to "spire." It comes from late Middle English, from French aspirer or Latin aspirare, from ad- ‘to’ + spirare ‘breathe.’

    Today's watercolor, a steeple, topped by a spire, pointing humans to aspire upward, toward the stars.

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020

    A door opens--3 days 'til Christmas

    "Opening," 5 x 7 watercolor Christsmas card

    Solstice is past. 

    The "great conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn, has lapsed, as is this year. Christmas nears.

    Stars are doors...doors of creation, of dreams, of direction, of imagination...of increased light.

    Red and green and turquoise door and adobe and snow...to me are  all the same metaphors and realities.

    Today's watercolor, metaphors for rebirth.

    Monday, December 21, 2020

    Solstice Light

    "Solstice Mood," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

    Darkest, longest night in a dark, long year.
    When light is more rare, more precious. Metaphors for 2020 pandemics of disease, racism, violence, hatred, and political chaos.
    "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming," a famous Baptist minister, Tony Compolo, https://www.tonycampolo.org/ once preached about Easter...but it fits in all dark times.
    Light begins to return tomorrow, darkness begins to wane. More metaphor for our future, our present.
    We need to remember the words of John about the birth of Jesus, "and the darkness has not overcome it."

    Sunday, December 20, 2020

    When Darkness Closes In--5 days 'til Christmas

    "If Winter comes," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmast Card

    "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

    When darkness closes in, as it has throughout this year, and the shortest day of the year looms, we need more light and warmth, especially mentally and emotionally.

    Light and warmth are vaccines for survival in such dark, isolated times--if we accept them. Look at the stars, at the Christmas decorations...enjoy the brief moments of interaction with polite, kind people.

    Treasure each moment, each memory, knowing that after tomorrow and as the year ends and a new one begins,  after medical vaccines and political changes, the light and warmth of sunshine begins to return, even if slowly.

    Saturday, December 19, 2020

    Following stars--6 days 'til Christmas

    "Following Stars," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

    "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through...."

                                                            --Gospel song.

    This season reminds us we're all on journeys, some intentional, others unawares, just because we're living creatures, following stars.

    This season of stars should not only remind us of memories of past journeys, but more, more than just beckoning.

    In our walk through daily living, we can lose sight of the stars, especially in dark years like this. 

    May they remind us that we are all sojourners in eternity, and of the Bible's admonition to treat all sojourners well, especially in these years of fear, racism and locking up children of immigrants.

    May the stars remind us this year how important each step, each moment, each fellow sojourner, is. The darker the nights, the brighter, the more important the stars.

    "Only in darkness can you see the stars." --Martin Luther King Jr.