It will be next year when you read this on Sunday, but I am writing it on New Years Eve to make the paper deadline. I have some “house cleaning”, and musings to share with you.
We have a hole in our hearts with the news about Dr. Durretts retirement. He has done so much for so many with kindness, compassion and great skill. Our hope and prayers are with him. I have never had a better friend. He and I have discussed what we built in Hoisington and how wonderful the staff and facilities were and are at Clara Barton Hospital. Jan Hipp would have been proud. These are really hard thoughts for me personally. I had a huge loss on June 5, 1997. Garry Dassow (who I barely knew and have never been to his church) appeared at my door one day and handed me a book “When Bad Things Happen To Good People”. It is is only today that I can express my gratitude for his act of kindness. I have never forgotten him. I have wondered and read lots of discussions about that topic. My friend, Wayne Guglielmo, who is a professional writer from New Jersey and one of the smartest, kindest men I have ever met--crystallized my muddled thinking with this observation that explains it in the best way for me. “I’m continually astounded by the random cruelty of the universe. It makes no sense--at least no sense that we can discern”. Maybe our religion- whatever it may be- exists to combat and heal us from that “random cruelty”. I have no other answers. I think each of us has to deal with it in our own personal way.
One of my friends sent me a note and said that he had driven through the Bottoms and didn’t see what I describe when I write about the events of the Bottoms. He asked if I had “special roads” or access to areas of the marsh that are protected from most human contact. Karl would probably cut off his left arm before he would give anyone access to those areas. I only go on the roads that are public access. The things that I do to see and hear what I share with you are two-fold. I go early and late, and I have no time constraints. I can sit for 30 minutes and just soak in the moment. Not having a job is a terrific asset. I also have a decent pair of binoculars and a big lens on a good camera. That makes me dangerous. You can do the same thing.
As I consider the new year and it’s possibilities, I think about the bright eyes of this young man and envision him looking at his future. He is a youngster learning to hunt from his dad and older brothers. He is a terrific athlete and student. He is happy and loved. Some of his friends are not as blessed. It is our job and privilege to make the schools and our place in this world the best we can for every kid. Their success and happiness reflect our commitment to them and ourselves. Staying connected to our natural world and the wonders of our Marsh is a big part of it.
I am grateful to each of you who read this and mention it to me. Thanks for your support!