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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Inspiration from a palm tree

Sitting in the lanai of our vacation home today, I pondered the beautiful palm tree pictured here and remembered that one year ago it seemed we might never return to Florida. But through the selfless love of many, conditions changed and here we are. This tree reminds me of a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier called The Eternal Goodness. It expresses exactly how I feel this year, and perhaps it will resonate with you, too.


"I know not what the future hath of marvel or surprise, assured alone that life and death His mercy underlies. I know not where His islands lift their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift beyond His love and care. And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen thy creatures as they be, forgive me if too close I lean my human heart on thee." Whittier

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease

Some kids play soccer or lacrosse or basketball. But in Peru, Indiana, children have another choice. They can join the circus. Each spring, 200 students (mostly girls) practice four days a week, four hours a day, for six months before a week of performances in July. Circus families must forgo summer vacation. So why work so hard? "Tiffany Rush, 18, is one of half-a-dozen flying trapeze performers. She says, "It's true you give up everything, but you....fly."


The few boys who perform are often "fly-catchers," hefty guys who powder their hands and hang upside down from a swing to catch female trapeze fliers. This is usually one of last performances each day. Trainers far below on the floor use whistles to signal when the flier and the fly-catcher should start swinging, some distance apart. We all know there's a net to catch anyone who falls, but as they swing back and forth, faster and faster, everyone prays he'll catch her wrists. Finally the whistle blows. She takes one final swing, releases the bar, twists in mid-air and reaches out hopefully. More often than not, he catches her, and the audience goes wild!! After all, these are just local kids who mow lawns and work at McDonalds. If you'd like to see them perform, here's the link. Opt for full-screen, and turn the sound up loud.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjEj6uPRocw

Monday, April 27, 2015

Son forgives mother for discarding him at birth

It happened in November, 1989. Michael Bueina was a police officer in Santa Ana, CA. One night he heard a faint sound coming from a trash bin. Curious, he began sifting through the trash until he found a baby with his umbilical cord still attached. The baby was four hours old and weighed 4 pounds, two ounces. "He still had all that mucus and stuff," Bueina recalls, "and all the trash was sticking to him. I tried to give him a little bit of breath, and he reacted a little bit." Later, Bueina hoped to adopt the baby, but another family adopted him. They named him Robin Barton. "I hoped I would see him again," says Bueina, and recently they had an emotional reunion. Robin is now 25.


After Robin was rescued from the trash bin by Officer Bucina, his 19-year-old mother, Sarina Diaz, was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for child endangerment and attempted murder. She now lives in Mexico and would like to know him. So how does Robin feel about his birth-mother today? He says he was blessed by a great family who raised him, and hopes to meet her. "I'm not angry or upset with her, and I forgive her, because she was a young woman in a very compromising position," he said.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Changing lives one person at a time

Rosie Swale Pope, 68, is running across America. She's jogging from NY to San Francisco and touching the hearts of those she meets along the way. Why? Ten years ago, her husband Clive died. She wanted to do something to make a difference. So she runs ten or more miles a day, and often sleeps in the 9-foot cart she pulls behind her. She calls it the "Icebird." It may look cramped, but after running 10 miles or more, she has no trouble going to sleep. She stops along the way to make speeches, raising money for cancer research.


What is her philosophy of life? "I believe good is stronger than evil and hope is stronger than despair. If your day doesn't work out, make someone else's day. At my age, you can't wait for the world to come to you. You have to come to the world."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Announcement to readers...

Since it began last August, "Crumbs of Comfort" has registered over 8,000 page views from readers in the United States, France, Pakistan, Australia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, India and the Netherlands. It is also featured on the online editions of four newspapers in Pennsylvania, USA. Readers have welcomed over 250 "crumbs" which are archived on the right side of the blog page to be enjoyed again at your convenience. Thank you very much for your interest!

For the next few weeks, new posts will appear occasionally instead of daily. Subscribers will still receive each new post by email. Expect daily posts to resume after May 12.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Semper fidelis (always faithful)

Robert and Heather Wood had few funds when they arrived in Eugene, OR, last February from their former home in Alaska. They'd saved money on the Alaska Highway by pulling off at night and sleeping in their car. They decided to try the same thing their first night in Eugene, pulling into a neighborhood park and cuddling their two sons for warmth. Heather was also pregnant with their third child. Police Lt. David Natt found them at 10:30, and told them the park closed at 11:00 p.m. But when he saw how the family huddled together against the cold, he offered Robert two nights at a local hotel. Robert protested, saying he was a former Marine and didn't like to accept charity. Lt. Natt was also a former Marine, and they served in the same unit, ten years apart. When Lt. Natt offered the room for the third time, Robert accepted. He thought a fellow Marine was paying for it from his own pocket, but the money came from a unique source.


Five years ago, members of Eugene's University Fellowship Church decided that, instead of buying gifts for each other, they'd pool their money into a fund to be spent at police discretion. The cash they donated to the Eugene Police Department still has not run out.

"I have tears in my eyes, but they are good tears," Wood said on Facebook. "Tears of hope, gratitude and renewed courage to continue becoming a better man for myself, my family and the world around me."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

10,000 love notes = 1 happy marriage

Does your significant "other" ever leave you a love note? Bill Bresnan, 74, of Toms River, NJ, has sent his wife more than 10,000 during almost 40 years of marriage, and he hasn't stopped yet. Each note is signed with an "infinity" sign, since his love for her is infinite. Some notes are just chatty, but a few, like the card below, are unforgettable.


Did I mention that she's kept all his love notes? They're filed chronologically in 23 boxes in their home. "They are essentially a love diary," he says. Have they made his marriage happier? He thinks so. "We've never had a fight in almost 40 years of marriage. We might disagree on something, but we talk about it rather than argue."

Bresnan notices how "youngsters" today sit across from each other at restaurants focused on their smart phone screens but never talking or looking at each other. "I want them to enjoy the time they have with each other and treasure it," he says. Why not start with a love note?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Two eager baby-sitters

Parents often wonder how their children will react when told that a new baby is on the way. Will they feel threatened, or indifferent, or just surprised? Or will they explode with love and joy? In the video below, an expectant Mom made special cakes for each of her two daughters. One cake said "Big sister again" and the other said "Big sister." Her husband filmed the moment the girls opened the packages containing the cakes. How they responded will touch your heart. My favorite part is when the older girl hugs her younger sister and says, "Now you'll be a big sister too!" Prepare to smile when you open the link to this unforgettable moment. If it does not start at the beginning, just use your cursor to slide the button at the bottom to the left end of the timeline.  www.youtube.com/watch?t=122&v=3qDlcfO9WIU

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Terre Haute's youngest police officer

Terre Haute, IN, police chief John Plasse calls Perry Edington, Jr. a hero. Perry's family agrees, and cheered when Plasse presented Perry with badge No. 802 and an ID card, making him the youngest honorary officer of the Terre Haute Police Department. How did Perry earn his shield?


"He did what any hero would do," said Plasse. In 2014, when Perry was 8, he was living with his Mom and younger sister at a motel in Terre Haute. In April, a convicted child molester grabbed his sister and attempted to molest her in a motel room. When Perry realized she was in trouble, he pounded on the door, but when that didn't work, he rushed to tell his Mom and other adults, resulting in his sister's rescue. Plassse said Perry's quick action probably saved his sister's life. But that's not all. 

"He was fantastic at the trial," said Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts. He testified against the suspect, who was sentenced to 114 years in prison. "Perry doesn't realize the enormity of what he did in a society where too many people don't want to be involved, he sprang into action that day," said Roberts.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

來自中國屑 (A crumb from China)

Yin Yunfeng, 27, is a Chinese soldier stationed at an isolated outpost in Tibet. He only sees his wife, Zhao Mai, 26, for a few weeks each year. She lives in the city of Anshui in China's Guizhou province, where she's a very busy middle-school teacher. In fact, she's so busy that she doesn't always have time to prepare supper for herself. When Yin learned this, it made him sad, so during his last visit home, he went on a cooking spree. To make sure his wife was well fed, he prepared a year's worth of suppers, including 1,000 dumplings and about 40 gallons of her favorite noodle soup, plus dozens of homemade meals, each neatly packaged and stored in their fridge or at the homes of friends.


And her hubby didn't stop there. In case Zhao needed cheering up, he hid sweet treats with handwritten love notes all round their apartment. He'll reveal their whereabouts in phone calls and letters through the year. In his first letter, he wrote, "You can find a bag of raisins at the back of the sofa in the living room."

"I have to admit his food packages help me keep going," Zhao said. "In some way, every time I have a meal, I know he's with me." Her meals are literal crumbs of comfort.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Real friends don't count extra chromosomes

Springtime is prom season in the United States -- a time for students to celebrate completing another year of high school with a formal dance.  Guys rent tuxedos and girls wear the most glamorous gown they can afford. But for Mikenzy Snell and Matt Pliska of Waupaca, MI, it was an opportunity send a message which deserves to go viral. "Real friends don't count extra chromosomes."


It all began when Mikenzy went on a fifth-grade field trip. Each child was assigned a partner, and her partner was Matt. He was already a leukemia survivor, and had Down Syndrome, but Mikenzy didn't notice that. She saw the real Matt, and she liked him, a lot. They have been best friends in every grade of school since that trip. "He's such a positive person," says Mikenzy. And how does Matt feel about her? He says, "Honestly, I love."

Matt got elected to Prom Court at the dance, and nobody was surprised. Asked about their future, Mikenzy predicted, "I think it'll be a forever friendship."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

God fixed up her life

Joanna Gaines and her husband Skip host the popular HGTV program "Fixer-Upper." From their home in Waco, TX, they help customers buy and renovate homes in need of m-a-j-o-r repairs. Skip handles real estate transactions and demo. Joanne handles the reno, with her unique style of "timeless country" decor. Here they are.


Few viewers realize that, as she grew up and as an adult, Joanne has spoken to God and heard His guidance more than once. Prayer is a private part of anyone's life, but she was willing to record her experiences with God in a 4-minute video which you may enjoy. Here's the link. www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7iPEDnqwm0

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

He asked her every year to adopt him

Today's crumb comes from an alert reader in Redlands, CA, USA. A lady named Connie Going, 52, is an adoption case worker in St. Petersburg, FL. One of her "cases" was a child named Davion Only. Connie first met Davion when he was seven, but he'd been in foster care since birth since his real mother was in jail. When he was 13, after he learned his birth mother had died, he spoke to a local church asking for adoption. "I know God hasn't given up on me," he said, "so I'm not giving up either."  His plea went viral and over 10,000 people called to ask about his case. He was assigned to a family in Ohio, but it didn't work out and he was returned to Florida. That's when he asked Connie the same question he'd asked every year since he was seven. Would SHE adopt him?

                                                                              Photo by Melissa Lyttle/Tampa Bay Times

She was divorced, and had declined every year, feeling that Davion deserved more than she could offer. But this time was different. "In adoption there is a 'claiming moment' when you know (someone is) your child," she explained. "When he asked me, my heart felt this ache and I just knew he was my son. I want him to know he is unconditionally loved for who he is, the way he is," she said. "He is home."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Consider this when filing taxes

Wednesday is the deadline for filing 2014 income taxes in the United States. Last minute filers may feel short-changed, unless this platitude defines their attitude.


Monday, April 13, 2015

How sweet it is when kids care

When Paige Miller was in second grade in Evansville, IN, she heard about people who had cancer and decided to raise funds to help find a cure. She dug up weeds, hoping to grow and sell them, but her Mom Crystal explained nobody buys weeds. Finally they decided to bake and sell cupcakes. "We thought this will just be a cute little thing....we were expecting maybe 20 dozen orders," Crystal recalls. The first year (2012) Paige raised $1,200. In 2013 she tripled that total, donating $3,600 to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. The Indianapolis Colts honored her with the team's 2013 Student All-Star award, giving her $500 to help with 2014 fundraising.


Paige is now 10, and in December 2014 she and her family moved from Evansville to the small town of Mitchell, IN. Crystal wondered how the fundraising effort would be received in Lawrence County, but Paige's teachers and fellow-students embraced it. "I have been blessed to have her in my class this year," said her new teacher, Sara Russell. "She's a tremendous role model for other girls. She has demonstrated how perseverance can really pay off. Every student in our class knows they are Paige's friend. I hope my daughters can be as loving as Paige."

Meanwhile Paige, who likes to dance, hunt and do metal detecting with her Dad, can't explain why she decided to raise funds, but she loves doing it each spring. "The best part is giving the money away after," she says.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Appreciating sacrifice

Gene Cogan, 92, was only 21 when he was wounded while storming Omaha Beach on D-Day. "The night before," he recalls, "the captain pulled us on deck and told everyone to write a letter home. 'For some of you,' he said, 'it will be your last.'" Cogan does not think anyone was fully prepared for the next morning. "The ships got us in close to the beach at about 5:30 a.m. A machine gun opened up and I dove into the water. Cannons lit up the sky." As he reached the water's edge, he saw French townspeople huddled in caves near the beach for safety. Soldiers were falling all around him. He was wounded first in the arm, then the shoulder and then the hip before he fell on the bloody sand surrounded by dead bodies, where he lay until the next day, when a squad leader collecting dog tags from corpses found him alive. He was honorably discharged after a year-long hospital stay, and awarded the Purple Heart. France honored him with the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War). He returned home to a marriage which lasted 52 years, and a 25 year career as a school teacher, principal and basketball coach. Because of his experience, he respects what young soldiers achieve today.

As if remembering Gene Cogan's sacrifice, a reader in Indianapolis sent the one-minute video linked below. Food City is a southern grocery store chain with headquarters in Bristol, TN. This is their 60-second commercial. Not a word is spoken, and none are needed. Very few commercials deserve to go viral, but this one does. Gene Cogan would understand it. I know you will too. https://www.youtube.com/embed/uoABty_zE00?rel=0

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Welcome, Wayne county readers!

Since it began last August, "Crumbs of Comfort" has accumulated 150 posts and almost 8,000 page views from readers in six nations. Recently it was added to the Web site of the Wayne Independent. Established in 1878, the Independent has a circulation of about 4,200 and is published in the Wayne County seat, Honesdale, PA, the birthplace of American railroading. Back in the '60s, as a counselor at Camp Elektor on Lake Teedyuskung, I often took campers on hikes to Honesdale, where we enjoyed bowling and lunch at Kreitner's Restaurant or Steve's Diner, and played on the wobbly chain bridge across the river. At camp I realized it's not the trophies or awards that matter most. It's the friendships, which often last an entire lifetime.


Half-a-century later, I realize it's not Christmas gifts or birthday parties that matter most to my grandson. It's the time we spend together -- hours when he's the most important person in my life. Whether we're playing a game or watching TV, he records every moment in a treasure chest of memory that he'll cherish even more decades from now, when I too am a recollection.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Feeding hungry children

Boys and girls in Warrick County, IN, are sometimes hungry when they come to school on Monday morning. To fill their tummies and help them focus on learning, Oakdale Elementary School and Loge Elementary School launched a Weekend Backpack Program. It sends kids home with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks for Saturday and Sunday. The schools let children contribute to the cost of Backpacks. One Monday, kids could ride trikes and scooters in the hallways for $1. On a recent Thursday, students who dontated $1 were taught to dance and when music came on the intercom, they danced as a flash mob. Or they could send a candygram for $1.


But these are only token donations. The program is funded by a $6,000 grant from the well-known Christian Science Society Trust. When the Christian Science church in Warrick County disbanded in 1994, its assets were converted to a trust. Income from the trust is awarded annually as grants to non-profit charity, civic, educational or community organizations in the county, including those that administer to the needs of those less fortunate. To read the trust document, visit http://www.ptsb-in.com/docs/PTSB_TrustServices_App.pdf

Thursday, April 9, 2015

He didn't walk, he bounced.

As we approach the second anniversary of the April, 2013 Boston Marathon attack, today's crumb remembers the youngest fatality of that tragic day, eight-year-old Martin Richard. The explosion melted his pants and nearly took off his left arm. His Mom, Denise, stood over him screaming his name as he lay mortally wounded. Few believed any good could come from his loss.


Martin was the grandson of Bob O'Brien, who lives in The Villages, FL. O'Brien will never forget Martin's last visit to The Villages, two months before his death. O'Brien's friend Ruth Burkhardt, who also lives in The Villages, remembers the boy well. "He didn't walk, he bounced," she said, and he loved rooting for Boston teams with his Grampy.

So far, O'Brien has received over 1,000 sympathy cards from around the world, and last year joined his family and Vice-President Joe Biden for a wreath-laying ceremony. He also watched Martin's 13-year-old brother Henry finish the children's relay before the 2014 Boston Marathon, cheering from the sidelines as a pack of runners took the course in Martin's honor.

"When I pray," said O'Brien, "I tell him how much I miss him and say 'I'll be with you someday.'" Meanwhile Martin's parents have started the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation. To learn more about this very worthy cause, visit http://www.firstgiving.com/TeamMR8

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Does spiritual wellness really matter?

"Every aspect of health is related to devout religious involvement," says Harold Koenig, director of Duke University's Center for Spirituality." So it's no wonder folks live longer in central Florida at The Villages, America's fastest-growing retirement community. In 2012, a survey of 33,000 Villagers found  81% consider themselves spiritual. Coincidentally, the lifespan in Sumter County, FL, is two years longer than the national average.

The Villages Cheerleading Team

Attending weekly religious services can add seven years to your life, according to a 2014 University of Texas survey of 22,000 Americans. More than 100 other studies suggest regular prayer in connection with a faith community can lower blood pressure, enhance recovery from illness, and improve sleep. A 2013 Columbia University study found spiritual practices can thicken the brain cortex to defend against depression. And church attendance also offers secondary benefits. Church goers are 29% less likely to smoke and 45% less likely to use alcohol, the third leading cause of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Koenig says seniors should focus on spiritual wellness. "At this time in life, there is no other factor that has the potential to provide meaning, peace, hope and health, beside religion," he said. See you in church next Sunday?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Don't mess with Mister In-Between!

Today's crumb is adapted from an article in the Vancouver (Canada) Sun.

The health-care industry is beginning to consider shifting its focus from "disease management" to "health creation." Evidence is accumulating that a focus on disease does not improve health. Similarly, problem-focused negativity on the news, social media and many movies can darken the way we see life. A study from the United Kingdom monitored the mental attitudes of 360 heart patients for one year. Believe it or not, it found that patients willing to surrender negative attitudes had better health outcomes. 

There is no pill to cure negativity, but it can be reduced as we take time to notice the beauty around us. Appreciating beauty nourishes hope. Children know this.


If you have a day when everything (even your own attitude) feels negative, make a choice to remember one or two moments of beauty. It's never too late to weed out negativity. How? In the words of composer Johnny Mercer, "You've got to accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mister In-Between." If you've never heard this song from the 1944 movie Here Come the WAVES, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z45EB4TiYz4

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Splicing the breaks in our life

As Alice tossed her wet laundry into her automatic dryer, her thoughts went back forty years. Before she owned an electric dryer, she always carried a heavy basket of wet clothes outside to the wash line in her yard. One day the pulley squeaked every time Alice pulled on the line, attracting the attention of a telephone repairman on a pole nearby, who sent her a neighborly wave.


Later as she made lunch for her toddler son, she could hear the clothes on the line snapping in the breeze when suddenly there was silence. The clothesline had broken and most of the clothes were laying in the garden. She went to fetch her laundry basket, and as soon as she stepped outside, there was the phone repairman. "Saw the whole thing happen, ma'am, so I came down the pole to give you a hand. Free service and a lifetime guarantee." With a few twists of his pliers, he mended the line.

Now, forty years later, she still remembers the stranger's kindness. It reminds her of another "free service and a lifetime guarantee" -- God's promise to all his children. God comes unbidden to help us splice the breaks and put the broken ends of life together. Sometimes He's hard to recognize in a hardhat and overalls.   (adapted from a 2005 issue of Guideposts Magazine)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Jeremy's Easter egg

Jeremy was born with some mental retardation and a chronic terminal illness that would prevent him from reaching adulthood. At age 12, he was still in second grade at St. Teresa's School, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, suggested to Jeremy's parents that he go to a special school. She had 18 other children to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. After pleas from his parents. she agreed to let Jeremy stay, and try to be more patient with him. That spring, the students were excited about Easter. She gave each student a large plastic egg and asked them to go home and fill it with something that shows new life. The next morning, 19 children dropped their eggs in a basket on Mrs. Miller's desk. She opened them one-by-one. The first one contained a flower. "Oh yes, that shows new life," she said. The next contained a plastic butterfly that looked real. "We all know how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly," she remarked approvingly. The third egg contained nothing. She was about to put it aside and reach for another when Jeremy spoke up. "Don't you want to talk about my egg?" he asked. "But Jeremy, your egg is empty," she said. He looked into her eyes and said, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty too." When she could speak again, she asked him if he knew why the tomb was empty. "Oh yes!" Jeremy said. "Jesus was killed and put in there, but the Father raised him up." The recess bell rang, and all the children ran outside, but Mrs. Miller wept. Her impatience with Jeremy had melted away.


Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 plastic eggs on top of his casket -- all of them empty.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What does it mean to be a coach?

Former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith died last February at 83. He was the first coach in the modern era to treat his players as a family. There was nothing he wouldn't do to help them, whether they asked for help or not. It didn't matter if you were Michael Jordan or the team manager -- Coach was always available. He helped players get jobs. He helped them manage finances and solve marriage problems. He insisted they earn good grades, and most of all, he preferred that nobody talk about him. He liked being in the background.


Smith was so highly respected in North Carolina that when UNC played Duke soon after he died, both teams observed a moment of silence. But even after death, he made sure to thank his players one final time. In his will, he directed his trustee to give $200 to every letter winner who played for him during his 36 seasons as head coach at UNC. Checks were sent in March to 180 letter winners, and each check came with a letter instructing the player to "enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith."

Serge Zwikker played for Smith from 1993-1997. He said his wife opened the envelope and handed it to him.  "At first I didn't know what it was, but when it hit me, it put a tear in my eye," Zwikker said. "Even after he passed, he was still all about the players. I don't know if I can cash this. If anything, I will donate it to a good cause."  Godspeed, Coach Smith.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Have you seen the babe?

For many decades, a life-size painting of Simeon and the Child Jesus, similar to the one below, hung in the lobby of The Christian Science Publishing Society in Boston. Bible students will remember the story from the Gospel of Luke. Simeon lived in Jerusalem, and God promised him he would not die until he saw the Lord's Christ. He happened to be in the temple when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus "to do unto him after the custom of the law." Simeon saw more than a newborn boy. He knew in his heart that this baby would grow up to become Christ Jesus, so he took the babe in his arms and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."


As a new Monitor employee, I didn't know why the painting hung in the lobby. Later I learned Mary Baker Eddy was in her 80's when she started the newspaper with its unique mission "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind." When the first edition was delivered to her home in Chestnut Hill, MA, she may have glimpsed its future. The day was gray and rainy, but she said it was really the brightest of all days, for this was the day "our newspaper goes forth to lighten mankind." She died a few years later, and never saw the Monitor become widely respected international daily paper with several Pulitzer prizes to its credit. But like Simeon, she was thankful to have "seen the babe."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jury duty

Back in the 20th century, when I worked for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, MA, I received a notice for jury duty. At that time in Suffolk County, jury duty lasted two weeks. So there I sat in the jury lounge of the county courthouse at Government Center, hour after hour, day after day.

 Typical jury lounge, where pool members wait to be called.

I was questioned and excused from one panel that was to hear a drug possession case. Another jury pool member said I was lucky to be excused, but I was bored waiting in the lounge. I almost got picked for two other trials, but again I was excused. As soon as my two weeks of waiting were over, I complained to a lawyer friend that "I sat there for two weeks and never even got on one jury. What a waste of time!" But my friend said my role was important. He said participating in jury selection is critical to getting a fellow citizen a fair trial even if I was was never chosen. "You did serve," he said, "just by showing up. People can fake that they care, but they can't fake being there."

It reminded me of what Woody Allen once said. "Showing up is 80% of life."