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Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Different but Divine

Edited by Charles D. Brockett and Heather Toseteson

What does joy mean to you? In this new book from Wising Up Press, which releases August 15, 43 authors explore how joy surprised us. My story, "Different but Divine," relates how Dr. Frank Stern and I realized we had more similarities to build a bond with, than we did differences. This seemed unlikely when we first met.

The Table of Contents of this stunning anthology concludes with this quotation by George Bernard Shaw. I read this to Frank this morning, and he agrees that Shaw's words capture the philosophies that have guided each of our lives:

Sketch by Harry  Furniss
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."
-- G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman

Here are the opening paragraphs from my story, which concludes the chapter on Community:

In Jewish history there are no coincidences.” – Elie Wiesel
 “I don’t expect you to become Jewish,” Frank said. “I’m only asking you to stay your own curious and open-minded self and come to a synagogue with me for Sabbath.”

My mouth dropped open. “But they’ll be speaking Hebrew,” I sputtered. “I don’t know a word of that language. I won’t have any idea what’s going on.”

He laughed and patted my hand. “It’s easy. It’s a Reform temple, so the sermon will be in English. Do what everybody else does. If I stand up, you stand up. When somebody says something to you, repeat what they say back to them. Works every time.”

Easy for him to say. After all, my new boyfriend was a retired university professor who’d taught the history of Judaism. “Four thousand years in fourteen weeks,” he’d quipped of his introductory course.

Though I harbored serious doubts, I agreed to go. During my childhood in rural Oregon, I’d won a New Testament for faithful Sunday School attendance at a tiny Friends Church. The Quaker philosophy stuck with me. I’ve always relied on my “Inner Light” to help me distinguish between good and evil, and to reassure me of the infinite love of God.

Friends Church, Scotts Mills, OR
In adulthood, my church-going mainly has been limited to weddings and funerals. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’d dropped in on a few services here and there: A Harvest Festival at the “Scots” St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Belize City; a nondenominational Easter observance at the Episcopal Cathedral in Santo Domingo; even a Christmas Eve candlelight ceremony at Immaculate Conception in Victoria, Seychelles.

Frank at Church of the Foothills

Want to read more? You can order copies of this anthology here: or

Here's the table of contents, should you want to browse:,_Intro.pdf

Sharing our visions of Community

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