Monday, October 12, 2009

the bottom of a mountain

Spotted a post on the challenges of writing on a friend's blog, and just had to share it:

Read that, and then return for my reflection:

Jones is exactly right: every story, every writing, is unique; and while more experience may seem to help (and it does help, in often indirect ways), the best writers realize that a blank page is like a field of untouched snow: awaiting new markings for a path never trod before.

Not just another romantic comedy

I had low expectations when I agreed to go see "Love Happens." The reviews for the 'romantic comedy' starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart were lukewarm at best.

I found the movie to be better than I expected...because it wasn't what I expected. The plot focused on a man who lost his wife in a tragic accident and has used that experience to help others dealing with crippling grief.

Mind you, I brought a different perspective to the cinema, because I wrote about and co-authored a book with Robert Rogers, who miraculously survived a flash flood on the Kansas Turnpike that killed his wife and four children. I couldn't help but think of him as the movie unfolded.

I must say a rather pivotal plot point seemed rather shallow and obvious for a "pivotal moment," but otherwise it rang true in many ways.

I guess the reviewers were frustrated or disappointed because the film didn't follow the standard romantic comedy formula. But to me, that was a strength. There was no stereotypic happy ending, which I found to be a relief, not a disappointment.

It's not a movie that will join the pantheon of cinematic classics, but I'd still give it a solid thumbs up. Frankly, I suspect it had audience members reflecting on how they've dealt with losses in their own lives as they left the theater.

For some, that might be a real downer......but it may be something they need to do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another name for the memorial

The Law Enforcement Memorial of Sedgwick County isn't even finished yet, and organizers will need to add another name.

The newest name on the memorial is one of the newest deputies with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department. Brian Etheridge graduated from the most recent class of the law enforcement training academy in December. He was 26, and he never saw the man who killed him. He had been on solo duty for about 7 months when he was shot in the back by a man hiding in the shadows of a back yard on the last Monday in September.

Now his 2-year-old daughter, Natalie, will never get to see her daddy again. She'll grow up without really knowing him, except through pictures and stories that her mommy will share about him. Sarah Etheridge didn't take her daughter to the funeral on Friday. How could she possibly comprehend all those flags, all those people standing up stiff and straight, all those tears...

It almost certainly hasn't sunk in yet that daddy isn't coming home. Not today. Not ever. All because he had the bad luck to be dispatched on a seemingly harmless call to collect information on a theft reported at a house just east of McConnell Air Force Base.

One day, though, when she is older, Natalie will watch the video of her father's funeral and see how much people cared about him and what he meant to the community. She'll read stories and talk to his academy classmates and fellow law enforcement officers and he'll become more than a memory.

And one day she'll go to the corner of Central and Main and sit in the quiet space where the names and the shoes of the fallen officers are on display and reflect on their courage and their duty and their sacrifice. There, perhaps more than anywhere else, she may sense her father's spirit, and why it was so important to him to protect and serve his hometown.

Her hometown.

And she'll be proud.

And now, a joke

This joke is in honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, whom the Catholic Church long ago declared the Patron of Animals.

I've been to Assisi, in the mountains of Italy, and the sense of peace there is palpable. It's remarkable.