It was Saturday, and that meant pizza and homemade ice cream night at the Lavender-Mulkey home. It had already been a big day for Gracelyn—a playdate that morning with her new Evergreen friend Eleanor at our place, then an outing to the French Broad River with her friend Julian, his sister Ellie, his mom Katie and a few others. Gracelyn had had a great time, but she came home tired and it showed in her irritability and terseness when she spoke to us.

Keli-Keach-Photography-IMG_8643

Gracelyn, Shonnie and me

As a light breeze blew from the west, we set up dinner on the wrought iron table on the front porch and all sat down to enjoy pizza and salad. Then we began our evening gratitude ritual. On this night Gracelyn wasn’t really up for it and refused to join in. She nibbled her pizza circumspectly while Shonnie expressed her gratitude: “I’m grateful that my parent coaching program is going so well. Almost one-hundred participants signed up so far!” “Well, I’m grateful for this yummy meal and this pint of Wicked Weed ale,” I said. Before long Gracelyn abruptly left the table without a word while Shonnie and I continued eating and chatting, including a few words about Gracelyn’s weariness and the need for an early bedtime.
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For your viewing pleasure on International Day of Peace.

I wrote this op-ed for the September 15, 2001 edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times.


As you read this my wife, Shonnie, will finally be home. That will never be said again for thousands of our fellow citizens.

I sit here by myself early Thursday morning. Over the past two days, I have moved from shock and numbness to a place of deep sadness and grief. I mourn for those who lost their lives or were injured in the suicide attacks. I mourn for those they left behind. I mourn for our nation. I mourn for those around the world who face the violence of terrorism on a daily basis.

I am lucky. Shonnie is en route from Denver to Asheville via Greyhound (a 36-hour journey) after having been stranded there because of the FAA’s no-fly order. But she is coming home.

What happened on Tuesday was impossible for me to fully comprehend at first. I watched the 767 crash into the World Trade Center, but it was more like a rerun of some action flick than reality. Yet every time I heard a siren outside my Biltmore Avenue office, I was startled, thinking an attack might be underway in Asheville. Shonnie called from her dad’s in Denver. I called my mom in Tennessee. She had talked to my daughter who lives outside Washington, D.C. and reported that she and her family were OK. I couldn’t get through to any of my friends or relatives in the D.C. or New York City areas. I prayed they were safe. Folks in my office suite gathered to watch the tragic events unfold. Not much work got done that day. (more…)

I wrote this on December 31, 2010 and am reposting it in honor my daughter Gracelyn’s 6th birthday today.

* * *

“What is your purpose in life?” the guardian of the gate at the men’s retreat demanded.
“To work toward a more compassionate, just and sustainable world,” I immediately replied.
“You may enter!”

I guess I’ve known why I’m on this planet for 15 years or so,
And at first I organized workshops that encouraged folks to wake up,
To get off automatic pilot,
To live and love more fully.G-2-5

Later I took to writing,
Hundreds of op-eds for a variety of publications,
On peace, simple living, climate change, treating our children well, the connection between us all,
Taking a few potshots at George Bush and his pals in the process. (more…)

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