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Back on January 23, 2012, I attended a Key West discussion in the UU One Island Family meeting room. The Rev. Randy Becker gave this introduction, acknowledging that it had been 40 days since the Newtown Massacre: One of the time-honored formulas of many religious traditions is the “40 days and 40 nights” one. Time to sit, live, walk, sleep, dream with the emergent realities of any situation for that period of time, allows for a necessary movement from shock through anger and depression to something more creative. That period is happening, more and more -- one was the Pittsburg high school stabbings. Rev. Randy said that such violent acts bring up questions about our culture, system of rights and privileges, our quest for security and our values.

“Songbird Hunter: What We Each Could Notice in Order to Help” - My thoughts in fictional form


Tom, my younger brother by nine years bursts in the kitchen door, rifle in hand and shivering.

“Want hot milk, Tom?” We both remember this loving warm-up tradition Mother often fixed for us. I pour milk for two into a saucepan when I see Tom’s pleased expression. He has the same charming, lopsided smile our father had. His dark blond hair is attractively tousled after taking off his neon-orange hunter’s hat. It thrills me to know Tom likes me to mother him. He has a kind of nerdy, vulnerable sweetness that brings out my nurturing instinct.

In the warm coziness of our kitchen-table-togetherness, I ask (since the information isn’t volunteered), “Did you get any game for our larder?”

Out pours the story of his hunt as Tom talks to me as if I were Mother. “I think I covered every inch of our 213 acre Ridge, trudging up and down all the trails. There were deer droppings on Turkey Trot Trail that gave me hope for all the effort I’d spent. Then I flushed out a quail, but I didn’t have time to even aim. We need the meat, but I wasn’t good enough to get it! As I silently tracked and, then sat for half hour silent spells, over and over again, I realized what a loser I am. I pictured the guys at the gas station snack machine making fun of me, as usual. Then they’d get into bragging about who had shot his deer limit and how many points the racks had. I couldn’t face losing again; so I shot a mockingbird I scared off its nest in a barberry bush.”

“Oh no, Tom! Tell me that it’s not true! That was just an innocent little songbird that spreads such joy!

Tom puts his head down on his arms on the table. “I know. I felt so powerless, though; I had to find something more powerless to shoot.”


Author’s Note: May our hearts go out with warm connection toward those who are bullied or suffering from being “out of it”. Our healthy empathy can have a healing effect. However, if you find the person is the sort who cannot connect on an empathic level with other living beings, be sure to be self-protective and protect others. If you are in a good and safe position, call upon resources for the person to be evaluated, preferably, by a mental health practitioner to determine if the person is at risk to commit a violent act.


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