Count 'Em
Count your blessings, as the old aunties like to say. Every day can feel like church to me at any second, so I am keeping a running blessings-tally at all times. Lest I forget that 18,000 children a day starve to death. Lest I forget that I have a roof, a floor, a bed, a stove and TV. Lest I forget that I can afford to give good food to dogs and cats. Lest I forget that no death squads are coming for me or my family, that no-one is coming to torture us. Lest I forget the snow is pretty, a hassle when I want to fly out or wneh I have to shovel, but doesn't mean I will lose fingers or toes...or will freeze to death on a Chicago corner.

I made you a promise that I would kick off the Save the World Tour at the end of this bad year, looking toward 2010. We have been lucky so far in our efforts. That stuff is below, a couple of postings back. You can check it if you want. But we have been able to continue using my small career to goose charity events. That's good. We were able to send Pastor Von (Across the Wire, By the Lake of Sleeping Children) a couple of g's. Today, I'll surprise Negra from those same books with unexpected Christmas $.

Von tells me that in 50 years on the border, the missionaries have not felt fear...until now. Poverty, despeair, madness is in the eyes. The Big Fear that grips Juarez today is spreading like a toxic spill, puddling in gutters and canyons, flooding valleys, seeking the low points as it drools across the landscape.

Read all about it!

Wanna help? Well, Von has a website, you can go look and read and think about it. I'd say, $5 is better than $0. Maybe you can help out. They have good pictures there.

We went to Fedd My Starving Children again. I'm happy to say it's a major Naperville desitnation. People may not always have the extra $5 to give, but they have arms and hands and feet. They can pack food. This time, we managed to pack 19,000+ meals. Last time, it was 23,500+.

Fishtrap is running out of money, too.

What do we save? Kids? Arts? Animals? Trees? Water? Darfur? The homeless? The economy? The environment?

Rather than getting overwhelmed, I am thinking about the possibilities here. If My small family, with nour scant resources (yes, OK, I'm doing great--but not compared to the Stephen Kings of the world, or the MacArthur genius-grant winners, or the movie stars), but if we can sit back at the end of our hardest, saddest year and tally up the many substantial changes for the good we have been able to wring out of it...why, the possibilities are endless.

Even a good review placed at the right time, in the right place, can help a writer's career path. A good class, taught well, can reach a sorrowful student and open a small window of light. A thoughtful gift at a difficult moment might offer hope, and who knows what the next day might bring. There was a time, not that long ago, when I was at the end...nothing. Nothing at all. At the end of my rope? Well, I was planning to hang myself, so yeah. Funny how cliches make sense when you get to their roots.

But I didn't. Wanted to see what would happen. The cynic in me wanted to see how bad it could get. It's like working out: the trainer tells you this one is going to hurt, and you laugh, because you can't believe life gets this sucky, but you want to see if you can take it. Look what happened! Everything happened, that's what.

I just showed up and went to work.

That's my plan. It's foolish. It's naive. But I say: dare to be naive. dare to be ridiculous. Show up, go to work, think about all the small clues, and Save the World. One tiny drip-drop at a time.

When I told Von I was worried about publishing Across the Wire because it might make unwelcome waves for him, he said: "Never be satisfied with ripples."

We're goin' on vacation now. I'll tell you how we figure out the Sacred Lift-Offs while on a cruise. Ain't a saint 24/7--ain't even a saint once a week. Just a servant. Might drink some of that demon rum.

"Are you hearing me like I'm hearing you?
I'm seeing waves breaking forms on my horizon,
Yeah, I'm shining.
I'm seeing waves breaking forms on my horizon,
Lord, I'm shining." --The Chemical Brothers

Here's to 2010. Give thanks. Put out your hands. I'm reaching for you now.


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