Tag Archives: life choices

Religious Liberty and the Flying Spaghetti Monster: Mandatory Pasta Wednesday Everyone!

There seems to be some confusion over what religious liberty means.

Religious liberty means that I have the ability to believe whatever I want to believe in the privacy of my own home.   I can buy whatever books support my religion, I can watch whatever TV shows support my religion, and I can go to any place of worship without fear of being arrested, harassed, or any repercussions.  It’s my faith.  Since faith is a private issue and I am a public servant, I can do whatever I want in my home but I am not allowed to impose my faith upon those I work with – or for.  I am guaranteed religious liberty by our constitution and if I invoke the document to protect my private faith practices, then I must absolutely invoke it equally to all citizens of this nation and allow them their private faith practices.  As a public servant, I do not get to choose which clientele to help based upon my beliefs, the constitution guarantees all citizens equal treatment in public circumstances.

Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage_566_356_c1

Touched by His Noodly Appendage, featuring the Flying Spaghetti Monster, was originally created in August 2005 by the Swedish designer Niklas Jansson as a parody of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Courtesy JewishJournal.com

I’m an unofficial member of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). For reasons I’ll forego here, I’ve chosen this particular faith as my one true religion.   I say the daily Pastafarian Prayer and faithfully eat only pasta for dinner on Wednesday nights as decreed in The Holy Book of Colander, received from His Noodly Appendage and set forth verbatim by Chef La La Foutaise, Chapter 12, verse 3, I think.  I’ve even managed a few times to ‘fast’ according to the Holy Book of Colander, which involves a strict diet of only Manchurin noodles and red wine – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   According to tradition, Chef La La Foutaise set the standard fast at the typical hero duration of forty days, I managed to last two on the rare occasion I was reaching for spiritual enlightenment. “But fasting is certainly not a requirement in order for His Noodly Appendage to appease one’s requests. Our Breaded Entity doth heareth thy pleadings for more Olive Garden restaurants anyhow.” Chef Foutaise, probably.

Because of the guaranty of the constitution, I can do whatever I damn well please with regards to my relationship to His Noodly Appendage – within the four walls of my home and/or local meeting place of fellow church members, uh, Olive Garden.  What I don’t get to do is insist that everyone else eat pasta on Wednesday nights because I am convinced that my religion is the one true religion and Our Breaded Entity the one true god.   What I don’t get to do is refuse to do my job as a public servant because you refuse my religion in the private realm.   I can’t refuse your marriage license, wedding cake, ability to adopt children, right to buy flowers, or right to live according to your faith simply because pesto and breadsticks do not make up at least thirty percent of your diet (as suggested by His Noodly Appendage for robust health – and for the prevention of zombie attacks).

Religious liberty is a private matter.  When we enter the public sphere where we’ve all accepted the premise of democracy through the exercise of equal rights and equal opportunities, we are bound by the constitution to a certain degree to leave our private matters at home.  With religion this idea must be especially true since beliefs and faiths vary across a wide spectrum. Thanks to the constitution we have the ability and permission to believe whatever we wish to believe within the four walls of our home and cranium.  So have at it.  Have fun!   But when we meet at the coffee shop or bakery or courthouse, I expect us to serve each other to the best of our abilities.  And I won’t hold it against you if you don’t eat pasta on Wednesdays.

Yours with a serious snark…

Frankie


On Water, Wolves, and Wind : Civilized Compromise

Human civilization is often forced to compromise with mother nature, there isn’t much choice in the matter.

I live in northern California where water is a serious issue right now and salmon are exacerbating the problem. Shasta Dam is the cornerstone of the Trinity Dam Project that supplies power and water to much of the region, but it comes at a high price:  dams block centuries old salmon runs in the San Joaquin delta.  As a compromise, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has long had water release rights to the Dam during spawning seasons in order to keep the runs viable. In years of severe drought however, releasing sacred water for ‘fish’ doesn’t seem like the brightest idea in the box and there have been some protests over the issue.

The issue of releasing wolves back into the Yellowstone Park environment caused a lot more protests, most from area farmers who were concerned about their livestock.  Wolves were hunted to near extinction early in the twentieth century to protect valuable farm animals. But that also meant that wild grazing animals were protected as well and before the century’s end bison and deer were overpopulated to the point of devastating the park.  Creeks and rivers were unable to form banks because the trees and shrubs required to do so were being eaten or trampled.  As a compromise, wolves were brought back to the Park to hunt grazing animals.  The grazer population returned to a more balanced number which in turn created healthier water banks and greenery.

Healthy air is the motivation behind wind turbines.   In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and take advantage of a morewind sustainable energy source, turbines are proving to be excellent generators of electricity.  But there’s a significant backlash to their presence:  people complain about wind turbines ruining the visual landscape of an area.  I can understand the argument to some degree, but we currently have miles of wire running through older neighborhoods with big wooden poles every hundred feet to keep them elevated so we are quite accustomed to a skyline full of man made objects.  In the long run, wind turbines save our planet and air quality. So even if they do take some enjoyment out of our horizon gazing, implementing wind energy is a compromise we must make as civilized human beings interested in keeping our atmosphere clean.

Each day I am amazed at the way we homo sapiens can manipulate nature and make it work for us. But in our advancement, in our quest to create a high-functioning society we managed to strangle nature at some very serious junctions. We’ve had to learn to give a little along the way as a matter of consequence.  That is as it should be.  We are the conscious party after all, we have a certain accountability to  other living beings on the planet.   So while water gets released during drought years, and the first wolves have recently made their way to California, and wind turbines continue to provide clean energy, we ourselves must make adjustments to our perceptions by understanding that the cost of civilization comes at the price of compromise with mother nature.

Yours,

Frankie


What’s Your Element?

One of my favorite things to do is watch someone in their element, doing what they love most to do.

I had a dog whose element was swimming.  She would swim for up to an hour at a time.  On a few occasions I worried that she’d cross the small lake we frequented, come out on the other side and wonder where I was!  She was happy though, oblivious to the family she left on the shore, and content to paddle along without any direction in mind. I couldn’t help but marvel as I watched her in her element, doing what she obviously enjoyed most.

I have a son whose element is on the gridiron.  Since he was eight, something happened whenever he put on his pads andcamp2 helmet and stepped on the green field. The gentle boy with a wont to please disappeared; replaced by a fierce competitor that took this mother a couple of years to get to know.  He’s a junior in high school this fall, playing starting defense and his passion has only increased.  Over the years I’ve watched him discipline himself to go on early morning runs, hit the gym in the off season and during summer break, and absorb the stories of his heroes on “A Football Life.”  Tonight we kickoff the season with the traditional scrimmage and as I sit in the stands and watch him play, I’ll do so knowing he’s happy to finally be competing, content in the challenge to do his best and lead his team. Completely in his element.

For some of us, writing is our element.  Tucked away from the world in order to create an imaginary world for others, we spend countless moments absorbed in a thesaurus or staring out the window in search of just the right words and phrase.  As grueling and demanding as the process of editing is, we find immense satisfaction in the activity of creating the perfect sentence (I am thankful to live in the computer age. There’s something seductive about highlighting a group of words, capturing them with my mouse, and moving them. Poof!  Magically the sentence I struggled with now reads and flows with elegance.  It’s like Lego’s with words!).  We writers are never happier than when we are agonizing over vocabulary or the structure of our next work, because we are in our element.

But what if you aren’t in your element?  What if you aren’t doing what you love to do and what you are passionate about? Then I challenge you to make a change. Life’s too short kids!

Yours,

Frankie


In Absentia

Dark is the absence of Light

               Evil the absence of Good

Cold is the absence of Heat

                   Laziness the absence of Will

Still is the absence of Motion

                                     Selfishness the absence of Compassion

Empty is the absence of Matter

                                 Ignorance the absence of Knowledge

Black is the absence of Color

                      Timidity the absence of Living

Death is the absence of Life

                                      Nothingness the absence of Awareness


Time For an Adjustment: Social Constructs, the Duggars, and a Pew Study

I’ll not forget the struggle I had reading modern philosopher Michel Foucault in graduate school, but I am thankful for the enlightenment it brought to me, especially with regard to an element he termed “social constructs.”

Social constructs are the framework within which a culture decides to build and operate a society.  They emerge from a myriad of sources, (religious texts, scientific discoveries, philosophy – to name a few) and are informally adopted by a society’s members over the course of generations. For example, the US has a unique construct with the marriage of capitalism and christianity which emphasizes an individualistic doctrine.  The Chinese are uniting their elements of communism and an emerging middle-class to produce a more cooperative environment (see John Perkins “Hoodwinked”). Overall, social constructs provide guidelines for citizens of a particular society to follow.

The thing that impresses me most about the idea of social constructs is that they can be changed. They aren’t set in stone. They are subject to new information and therefore malleable, adjustable.

I assert that Americans are learning that some of our current social constructs are in need of adjustment.

While we’re probably all up-to-here with the story of the Duggars, there is one theme that stands out from all the noise surrounding the issue:  willful ignorance and keeping something so wildly instinctual as our sex drive confined to unnaturally narrow definitions necessarily provokes problems. The abuse that’s occurred within the catholic church and the jehovah’s witness sect is a manifestation of the same premise. We can’t ignore our instinctive sexual hunger any more than we can ignore our need to drink water. Yet we’ve agreed to adopt a social construct with a rigid interpretation of sex – based almost entirely on a flawed document  As I read the comments and even a few articles reflecting on the Duggars, one thing seems certain:  the current is changing.  We are seeing the negative effects of this particular social construct and we are ready to realign it to more reasonable, and honest, interpretations.

Giving the current a significant boost in velocity is the discovery that many in the US are turning away from religion and the flawed document it is based upon as noted in the recent Pew Research publishing.   By leaving behind an outdated document, by eliminating it from the foundations of our social constructs, I contend that we should expect adjustments to include instead more science, academics, and probably humanistic tendencies.

Change is painful, it is messy, and it is oftentimes violent.  As we move forward together, we must be conscious of the struggle incurred by adjusting and redefining the social construct of sexuality.  It will help us to be patient with one another.  As we move forward together, we must acknowledge that work is involved, awareness is required, and stubbornness is appropriate so that ignorance no longer has a place within the new frameworks.  It will keep us focused.  As we move forward together, those of us who aren’t a part of the millennial generation need to provide them with exemplary discussions and elevate the standard for hashing out new precepts.   It will give them tools to manage their own adjustments.  As we move forward together it behooves us to keep in mind that social constructs are not permanent, they are pliable and influenced by new concepts.  It will enable us to embrace change.

Here’s to healthy adjustments,

Frankie


Leap: A Conversation Between Two Friends About Leaving Religion

“Oh look at you!  You look great!” Grace said as she gave Sophie one of her best hugs, Sophie noticed that her friend was still using the same lemony scent as always.

“Thanks, I’ve been working out again and it makes a difference, doesn’t it?” Sophie sat down across from her long lost friend and wondered if she’d have the nerve after all to ask the question she wanted to ask.

“Yes, for sure.  It’s tough to get back in the habit if you fall off the wagon, way to go.”  Grace said and sipped on her usual triple-shot-latte.  They caught up with kids and work and husbands – or exes, as it was with Grace, and in a bit of a lull she asked Sophie how so-and-so from the church was.   Last she heard, their mutual friend was diagnosed with a treatable form of breast cancer.

“I’m not exactly sure, to be honest.  I’ve sort of not been to church for a few weeks now and I don’t have any more information about it than you do probably.” Sophie relaxed, an open door for her question!

Grace took a moment to process Sophie’s words. Not going to church?  She wasn’t sure she heard right.

“Well, then, so much for that bit of news.  But what’s up with skipping church?” Grace asked.

It took a few seconds and she plunged right in. “I don’t know how you did it Grace.  How did you manage to leave?  Are you glad you did?”

Grace was surprised by Sophie’s questions and thought for a moment before she answered. There was a tone of desperation in her friend’s voice as if she were fishing for something specific.

“Well, it wasn’t an easy thing to do, first off, and anybody else I’ve spoken with says the same thing.  It’s a process, but, yes it’s worth it.” Grace said

“But I mean, did you miss everyone?  How did you survive without your friends?” Sophie blurted out the questions.

“Um, yeah, I did miss people.  I still miss some.  Some, like you I’ve managed to be able to keep in touch with.  It all depended on how people reacted to my change of heart.  I knew I would lose some friends in the process, but I went on to make new friends too.”  she answered, and then added, “What’s going on with you, what’s with the questions?”

Sophie fiddled with the lid to her coffee while she spoke, “I just don’t think I have the faith anymore.  You know Bill has always been passive and he finally quit church over a year ago.  I didn’t bother him over it, I figured he’d come back around at some point. I asked him about it a few times and he said he got tired of the politics. He said there was enough of it at the office, he didn’t need at church either.  And, well, we both started reading other news sources, Bill wanted something with another perspective, and I was shocked at the differences. In some instances the stuff I was reading from the church was quite at odds with the real world.   I started to just watch and listen and I came to see Bill’s point about the politics.  People vying for places of position and keeping things secret. I read some of the books Bill was reading and I came to realize just how outdated religion really is, and well, science does a better job explaining the presence of things than religion does. But it seems difficult to make a final break, like I’m abandoning my friends and who will take their place?”

Grace thought about her friend’s questions for a long moment before she responded.  She recalled being in a similar place when she declared her own atheism.  It was scary and unsettling and god how she wished she had someone to speak with.  She was glad she could be that someone for Sophie, in this moment.

“Well, like I said, you just have to figure that some people will write you off.  It’s hurtful and you’ll be angry over it but you can’t resent them for it.  Honestly, I think some of the people that react the strongest are the ones who would leave as well if they had the strength.  It’s one of the toughest things to do, to leave such a tight knit social group. We all have a deep desire to belong somewhere and often times we think ‘the church’ is the only option.  There is a bit of a grieving period, a kind of loss that goes with the process. But it doesn’t last forever.   There are alternatives too, ya know.  I’ve joined a couple of local community projects that provide the same sense of belonging, and I feel like I’m contributing more than I was sitting in church three hours a week.  At least that’s been my experience.  Does that answer your question?” Grace took a sip from her quickly disappearing latte and sat back, allowing her friend time to think about what she just said.

“It does.”  Sophie began slowly, “I was afraid you’d say exactly what you said.  That I might lose some friends forever.  It makes sense what you said about belonging and come to think of it, I am already finding my own alternatives, I just didn’t know why or what it was about.  I’ve started to form closer friends at work the past few weeks I’ve been out of church.   You know, in church we spend all our energy focusing inward and excluding anyone who doesn’t believe exactly the same way.  I am finding out as I get to know some of the girls I’ve excluded that they are genuinely nice and care about issues and one another.  All in all, it seems that the world is a much less frightening place than the church makes it out to be.”

Grace chose not to respond to the last comment and she let her friend keep control of the conversation.

“I suppose I just have to make the leap and admit that religion and I are no longer compatible. It’s a big leap after a lifetime of thinking just one way. But then I see you and a couple of others who have made the same choice and they haven’t been struck down by lightening and they really do seem happier.  I want that.”  Sophie said.

“Then it seems you will have it, you are well on your way already.”  Grace said.

“I think I just needed to hear some things out loud.  You really helped to affirm what I was already thinking.  And now I have to go pick up kids from a birthday party.  Thanks for meeting me Grace, it was good to catch up and good to know my feelings are normal.”  Sophie said.

“Anytime.  We should get together again soon.  I know I would’ve loved to have someone to talk to when I left religion.” Grace said.

“I would like that very much, I’ll send ya a text early next week.”  Sophie said.   The friends gave each other a couple of parting hugs and left to do their errands.   Sophie had more peace about her decision than ever.   It is a leap, but it just might be worth it.

Frankie

*I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about the need for us as atheists to understand the innate desire to belong and feel loved. I surmised that many who might leave religion do not simply for the sense of belonging that the church provides. This short fiction story is a twist on that idea. As a writer I wanted to explore what a conversation might be like between two friends: one who had already admitted to atheism and one who was considering the idea.   I thought it would be helpful to have some sort of visualization about these kinds of conversations – they are important in the scheme of things and we must allow compassion and empathy to guide us.

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your own knowledge.”  Kahlil Gibran


Thank You, And Keep Your Head in The Clouds

The Apology

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

groveandglen

Think me not unkind and rude

That I walk alone in grove and glen;

I go to the god of the wood

To fetch his word to men.

Tax not my sloth that I

Fold my arms beside the brook;

Each cloud that floated in the sky

Writes a letter in my book.

Chide me not, laborious band,

For the idle flowers I brought;

Every aster in my hand,

Goes home loaded with a thought.


There was never mystery

Bu’t is figured in the flowers;

Was never secret history

But birds tell it in the bowers.


One harvest from thy field

Homeward brought the oxen strong;

A second crop thine acres yield

Which I gather in a song.


Emerson understands that a creator, an artist, is necessarily bound to walk with nature and daydream.   We simply cannot function without the secrets we find tucked away and disguised.  They are our inspiration.   We don’t work the same way that others work, but please don’t hold that against us.  We are each twice blessed with a physical harvest from your work and the soulful harvest from our work!

Kahlil Gibran put his own twist on the idea a few decades later while discussing Buying and Selling in “The Prophet.”

And suffer not the barren-handed to take part in your transactions, who would sell their words for your labour.

To such men you should say,

“Come with us to the field, or go with our brothers to the sea and cast your net;

For the land and the sea shall be bountiful to you even as to us.”

And if there come the singers and the dancers and the flute players, – buy their gifts also.

For they too are gatherers of fruit and frankincense, and that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams, is raiment and food for your soul.

We artists are as much worker as any who would toil with their body instead.   Ours is a soulful work, full of investment and bleeding and daydreaming in order that we can share a second harvest – one of imagination, thoughtfulness, and beauty. In our world today, it feels as though we sometimes have to fight to carve out the ability to dream, but that’s okay.   This place is better off for all our efforts, I am certain of it.

Oh! And Thanks!  I’ve just reached one hundred followers.

Heads in the clouds kids…

Frankie

*photo is my own, taken recently in one of my favorite local hiking areas.


Thanks Brittany, For Defining Life for Us….

There’s quite a bit of bruh – ha-ha going on about Brittany Maynard and her decision to end her life at her choosing rather than at the behest of a brain tumor.

She’s been labeled a coward.  A loser.  Ignorant.  And most of all godless (my guess is most of these accusers have not sat by the bedside of a comatose loved one and wiped the bile from their lips, change their soiled sheets, and clean their soiled bodies for days on end until finally the last breath is drawn).

Brittany’s decision gave me courage because it reaffirmed something I’ve long thought:  We define LIFE as a society not by quality, but by quantity.  Consequently, I propose, we cheapen life – and what it means to live.

The reasoning is based on the idea that if the sanctity of life is so broad that no matter how mal-formed, no matter how dependent, no matter how irresponsive, no matter if a life is more full of doctors and therapists and pokes and prods than actual living, no matter how tightly bound a soul might be within a prison of useless limbs and organs, then we do ourselves a disservice because we misplace the fact that life should also have a certain level of value – and health – if it’s to be truly cherished and worth something.

I originally took my cue for this thought from Nature.  Nature doesn’t really let the diseased or malformed or ill survive.  It can’t. Nature has high standards – grade AAAAA – when it comes to quality control, and it doesn’t fudge very often.   We humans forget this.  We’ve gotten far removed from nature and therefore do not necessarily act ‘natural’ towards life…or death.

The reaction to Brittany’s death exemplifies this.  We would condemn her to weeks of pain and suffering, loss of body control, loss of appetite, withering away, loss of consciousness…ad in fin….because it doesn’t matter her quality of life, only her quantity.   As Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, put it Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and toward those around us.”

Brittany wasn’t “saying no to life and everything it means” she didn’t have a life to say ‘no’ to.

Instead, she chose to say yes to life, but within the strict confines of quality control that Nature operates.  She chose to value life as having meaning and participating in it fully, instead of just existing for existence sake.

So thanks Brittany, for defining life for us by keeping a high standard of quality.  Your afterlife is secure.

Here’s to Life….healthy, full, and vibrant.

Frankie


I find I have many bibles….

…you know, books that I turn to on a regular basis for nurturing to my soul.   As Christopher Hitchens writes “literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and the soul.”

Some of them I read on a regular basis:  Ishmael (Daniel Quinn) and The Red Tent (Anita Diamant ) for instance.  They are quick reads, yet their deeper truths never fail to resonate within my soul, and provide something for my mind to wrestle with.

Other works I take in a bit at a time, “The Portable  Jung” for example, or Nietzsche’s “The Genealogy of Morals”.  These give me an academic perspective and helps me to maintain a bit of objectivity about our humanity.

Then there are a few that I turn to every day almost, Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” for instance, HDT’s ‘Walden”, and of course a certain hero of mine, Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Each of these keep me grounded, focused on the higher purpose of contributing to my fellow humans and effecting change in this world.

We are fortunate indeed, in this day and age, to have access to a wide variety of literature available to us, enriching our lives, pointing us to higher purposes, and challenging us to think and grow.

What sorts of works do you turn to?  Which books are your bibles?

Be Well,

Frankie

 


The Meaning Of …. An After Life

“The spirituality of certain death requires acceptance that our stake in the future springs, not from an afterlife, but from whatever ideas and creativity we can muster and then pass on – through our family, friends and work.  The greatest joy is to challenge ourselves to contribute.”    Sean Faircloth

There is nothing like impending death against the stark relief of life to drive us to search for meaning to both.

In a few days I’ll make a short flight to Boise Idaho where I will spend a week with my terminally ill brother.  Probably the last few moments of his short time on earth.  He’s only 55. He is the first of six siblings to make this journey.  My heart is broken.

As I prepare to tell him goodbye, I am like all humans, transfixed upon the finality of death and the force with which it makes us contemplate our beliefs, our sentiments, and our maturity towards life and its ending.  As I try to come to terms with the idea that my time left with my brother is brief, I also find myself subconsciously bringing balance to his approaching death by reflecting upon his life. Doing so has allowed me to acknowledge that my brother will live on well past his physical presence on this earth.  As Mr. Faircloth muses …”our stake in the future springs…from whatever ideas and creativity we can muster and then pass on through our family, friends and work.”  My brother’s afterlife, his personal stake in the future, lies in all that he has done as a man with his short time on earth.

My brother’s stake in the future lies within the hearts of two sisters, both of them quite a bit younger, whose older brother managed to take time out to teach them football and the art of spitting between one’s teeth.  The same brother would later invite me to Genesis and even later give me a much-needed survival talk before I moved to California.  His Robin Williams-esque humor has given us many wonderful laughs and will always be the topic of family conversations.  These two sisters, and the rest of his siblings, will keep their brother alive in their hearts, his future is secure in their memories.

His stake in the future lies within the potential of my second son, who became my brother’s namesake.  No matter where he goes, what he does, and how he does it, my son will carry on my brother’s name and affect his own circle of lives.  I am always reminding my son of the man he is named after and the example he provides and the responsibility he has to carry on the name in good standing.   My brother’s stake in the future is secure in the form of my son.

My brother’s stake in the future lies also in the three children who have had him as a step-father.  I know his love and adoration for them is unmatched – and unsolicited – which makes it even more significant.  I am certain that each of those persons have learned what it means to be a father, a husband, a gentleman, a provider, and a friend …all from my brother.  His stake in the future is secure in the lives of the children who’ve been lucky enough to have him as a dad.

His stake in the future lies in the life of his wife as well.   For several years now, my siblings and I have watched as he has cared for his wife through her own health struggles.  His devotion and love, not unnoticed from a distance, stand as a testament to all of us and reinforce that our wedding vows really do mean ‘in sickness and in health.’  He could have scattered to the four winds long ago and left the care of his wife to others, but that’s not his style.  His style was in being there for every appointment and conversation.  His style meant clean sheets for his wife when she got home from a major surgery.  My brother’s stake in the future lives on in his sweet wife whose current health is a direct result of his diligent care from yesterdays.

His stake in the future lies also in his work.   During this rough time, his boss and cohorts have extended support and advocacy towards my brother and his wife in only the way that us compassionate humans can, and WOW, they’ve gone way beyond anything that could ever be asked of them.   Why?  Because of the way he’s lived his life and contributed himself to everything around him, even in his job.   His stake in the future is secure even in the lives he has touched even in the workplace.  We should all be so fortunate.

In the past, we have relied on the idea of an afterlife as a means to bring peace and a way to cope with the finality of death.   But our afterlife does not exist in some far off, mysterious place.  Our afterlife exists here on earth, in the thousands of ways, positive or negative, that we contribute to life and those around us.  It exists in the lessons we pass to others, in the love we share with others, in the memories we create with others.  I can say with all conviction that my brother’s stake in the future is well guaranteed here on earth.  There is where I find my comfort and peace, and death’s sting is made much less painful because of it.

Be Well, and LIVE your life!

Frankie