Door On The Shore by George Merrill

I’m routinely in and out of all sorts of things, but none more than doors.

Doors are a signature feature of daily life. We meet one at almost every turn. I would reckon that in the course of my lifetime, I’ve come and gone through millions of doors. Yet I never take notice of them. For something as omnipresent as doors, they remain surprisingly invisible. And so, in reflection, it seemed surprising to me one day some time ago, driving along Rt. 50, I noticed several doors. It wasn’t as though I had to pass through any of them. I simply found the sight of them compelling, enough so that I pulled my car over to take a closer look. The doors were hanging in an old derelict motel located just north of Easton on Route 50. At first glance, the doors were a sorry sight.

The motel was brick, a one-story stretching out like a set of row houses and arranged in a semi-circle forming a courtyard in front. There was surprisingly little rubble in the courtyard but hardly a pane of glass remained in any of the window frames. Inside the units I saw junk: old furniture here, some wire there, metal cabinets there and in one unit, a small stove. A couple of plastic chairs and a mattress in another unit suggested that maybe the motel still provided a modicum of hospitality to some less fortunate on their journey to and fro on the Shore. My eyes were drawn again and again to the doors, most of them still intact, half open, their fronts lit by the sun, highlighting the darkness within as if in its terminal condition the motel was declaring that even in its twilight days it was still game to do what it always had, that is, providing hospitality to tired travelers.

In summers, up and down the Peninsula, motel populations swell with happy vacationers on their way east and south, “downee ocean” as Marylanders say. Cars are packed with bags and toys for the beach while kids repeatedly ask ‘are we there yet,’ all seeking the sun and fun of the Delmarva coastline. Folks come from Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and other cities as they have for years. For the last several years they will have passed an abandoned motel just north of Easton and never seen it, in the way a motorist’s eyes hardly notice road kill. After a while, on long drives, one becomes inured to the passing landscape except for more garish sights, like those monolith road signs up and down the Eastern Shore that display advertisements for restaurants, motels, casinos and lawyers.

The small abandoned motel certainly had its day – not even its sign remained – and the only functional witness left to honor its contribution to the life of past summer migrations to the Peninsula were its doors. The doors still hung on their frames, able to open and close. A few locks worked so some doors could still provide one of a door’s most important historic functions, that is, to safely secure it’s inhabitants for the night.

For many, the word, “motel” doesn’t imply class as say, the word “hotel” or “Inn” does. The Inn of colonial times may have provided you a bed, but no shower. Forget running water. You’d get a chamber pot or use a privy, and probably share your bed with a number of strangers, some of whom may well have been lice infested. Our modern motels, however marginal, have a leg up on any Inn of old. Comfort beats class for most of today’s travelers.

Of all the doors at the old motel, it was the one at room number ‘9’ that enchanted me most. I imagined that the face of that door, like the face of some wise old man or woman for whom each wrinkle that time had etched into it, told a story. And indeed the door face was heavily wrinkled and rippled with weathered wood and peeling paint. I wondered as I watched shadows play around the curled folds of paint, what those stories may have been that the door had overheard, tales told by people who had once come by to stop and to rest on their journey ‘downee ocean.’

I’ve often had similar thoughts when I’d come across abandoned houses in the more rural areas of the Shore. Many sagged under the weight of time like people do but unlike people who feel self-conscious about it, for an old house long forgotten, no remedial measures are available. On the inside, one might see a lone pot or a mouse eaten chair or a two-legged table. Just who were the people they once served and where did they go?

As there are old men and women who are full of years but now marginalized, and yet have seen it all, there are doors like that. Doors, like such people, rest tentatively on the tired hinges they have that still move while wisely keeping their own counsel and the secrets they’ve overheard a long time ago.

Am I the only one who sometimes wonders where the trillions and trillions of stories go that humankind has told since we developed language? Do you suppose they are like the beams of lightless stars traveling into the eternity of the cosmos?

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Beyond the Grave by George Merrill

Out of my studio window I can see the upper reaches of Broad Creek. It’s a wide shallow. At the ebb during extremely low water, I can see the jetsam that the flood waters normally hide like rotted tree limbs, cans, shotgun shells and plastic bottles. I saw a mound in the shallows the other day. It was a deer, a dead buck. I don’t know how he died.

During low tides buzzards descend on the deer to feed. One day an eagle, circling above spooked the buzzards. The buzzards vacated their seats at the feast deferring to the intimidating presence of the eagle. They returned for a later sitting.

Such scenes are common in the natural world. However, they can be disturbing to watch. Birth, death, transformation and rebirth is nature’s way. Nature, however, is unceremonious and perfunctory about the whole business. Strictly no frills. We on the other hand are very ritualistic about death, and over the years have devised all kinds of ceremonies and rites to commemorate the event.

We’ve been burying our dead for one hundred thousand years. Exactly why, is not certain.

I conducted funerals as a young clergyman. The services from the old Book of Common Prayer were typical of many funerals; solemn, sober, dignified, accompanied by melodic hymns and traditional classical music. Sometimes these funerals were regarded as inordinately depressing, funereal as some put it. During Christian funerals, the resurrection was proclaimed but I’m sure at such moments only a few were in the mood to believe it.

Our treatment of death is changing, partly because greater longevity has provided many of us much more time to consider it. Today, more people actively plan for death, beyond just tending to wills and estate issues.

We once went to funerals. Today we are more likely to attend ‘Celebrations of Life;’ rites of passage with a very different tone than those of yesterday. They are geared more to commemorate the life of the deceased than to make a statement of faith although sometimes both occur. Eulogies, although they are meant to be kind, we know are not always representative of the deceased. True or false, they remain an important part of the ritual.

A significant number of my ancestral family on my mother’s side are interred at Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. It’s located on the highest point in Brooklyn, with gorgeous trees and gaudy, imposing mausoleums, along with gothic masterpieces that attest to the wealth and prestige of old New York. It’s also a commentary on the ironies of human pride, our need to make a statement that survives us beyond the grave.

In the same cemetery as my grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles are interred, also rest luminaries like Pierre Lorillard IV, the tobacco giant; Henry Steinway of piano fame and Samuel Morse, of “What hath God wrought?” renown. Horace Greeley, newspaper tycoon is also buried there among many other famous historical names

Founded in 1838, Green-Wood is traditionally non-sectarian but was generally considered a Christian burial place for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of “good repute.” Undesirables (?) and criminals, at least in principle, were denied plots. I’m assuming my ancestral family members were of good repute. Even if they weren’t, or were undesirables for that matter, given the cemetery’s unusual history and arbitrary admission practices they still may well have secured eternal rest there.

On closer examination, not everyone resting in Green-Wood’s bosom were exactly choir boys or girls during their earthly sojourns.

Fanny White, a fallen woman is a remarkable resident of Green-Wood. She was one of the most successful madams ever to run a high-end brothel in New York City. Believed to have been sexually abused as a child, she not only survived, she triumphed. She took great pride in her entrepreneurial skills. She hosted an especially discriminating clientele, name dropping her clients – not by name but by profession – “merchants, Congressmen, and many belonging to the Diplomatic Corps residing in New York.” She was entertained by New York’s finest. At the time of her death she was loaded and owned fashionable Town Houses all over the city.

“Boss Tweed” the nefarious leader of Tammany Hall that once steeped the democrats of New York in graft and corruption, rests undisturbed at Green-Wood. Just why is unclear since he was hardly of good repute and in fact had criminal charges against him, which should have automatically precluded him a plot at Green-Wood. I guess being a democrat in those days opened more doors than it does today.

Joey Gallo, professional mobster or Albert Anastasia, the renowned contract killer for ‘Murder Incorporated’ are also interred at Green-Wood. They either made Green-Wood an offer they couldn’t refuse or perhaps being Christian or just Catholic was sufficient to gain them admission. Who knows?

I remember three distinct visits to Green-Wood. The first was in nineteen forty-eight, when my grandfather was buried next to his parents. There was a marker designating a mysterious infant named Hattie. I was never sure who she was except from a funeral card I discovered in a family bible. Its poem indicated that her death was heartrending. I was not that close to my grandfather but the grandeur of Green-Wood’s mausoleums and the lush landscape awed me. At the time it seemed magical, a wonderland of antiquity.

The next time I visited was early in the fifties when my grandmother was buried. That’s a painful memory. I loved her a lot. The day we buried her was cold and wet with a misty rain. I felt totally desolate as I watched the coffin lowered into the earth. It seemed as if we were abandoning her. Green-Wood did not seem grand that day. It was dark and ominous, filled with the pain of loss.

I made my last visit in the seventies. I went with a friend who had an interest in its history. I wanted to photograph the family gravesite which I did, including the site where the mysterious child ‘Hattie” was interred.

The trip was a sentimental journey, the kind inspired by nostalgia. I viewed Green-Wood with more detachment that day. The majesty of the landscape was the same. I grew curious about just who these people really were who have now returned to dust. I wondered how, if they could speak to me, what might they tell me about who they were; they could tell me stories of the New York that once existed, that has since died, been transformed and is being reborn in a new world.

Speaking of transformations, I read only this week that for the next twenty-five years, visitors to Green-Wood will be able to write down their most intimate secrets and bury them in a special grave designed by an artist. The cemetery will also be hosting moonlight tours, cocktail parties, dance performances and yoga classes.

My grandfather was a staunch Baptist, eschewed alcohol and I suspect disapproved of dancing. When he went to his rest at Green-Wood, the world was a very different place.

I’m glad he did not live to see his resting place, swinging.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

The Day of the Iguana by George Merrill

I’m sitting again on a beach on the east coast of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria struck with full force only five months ago just south of here.

The damage is apparent everywhere. The resort where we have stayed for years has less than a third of the native residents including its regular Yankee snowbirds. Many of the units have suffered significant destruction, some completely boarded up. Many palm trees were felled; others look shorn of their fronds, standing like tall skinny kids with brush cuts. The mountain sides, once hiding homes amidst luxuriant foliage, now reveal the small cement structures that their greenery once embraced.

People with means can get workers to rebuild. They pay in cash. People with little cannot find workers. Local contractors, although desperate for work, know that insurance claims drag on and that if they do a job dependent on insurance they stand a good chance of being stiffed. Many have no insurance. Puerto Rico is in turmoil both for the damage it sustained and the complex economic and infrastructure problems that have plagued the island for years. In a very real sense, Maria was the perfect storm when all the destructive elements converged in one event. The people are remarkably sanguine given the circumstances. They survive. They go on, many still without electricity. Like people familiar with deprivations, when you ask them how it’s going, they smile wanly, shrug, and extending empty hands palms up in resignation, say “you know.” I really don’t.

Where we stay has electricity most of the time. We have water, and access to markets. Even as the island and its inhabitants suffer the ravages of nature’s caprices, and years of political corruption with congressional complicity, the island continues to be exquisitely beautiful, and properly called, “The isle of enchantment.”

I feel uneasy being among people whose lives have been upended, while I’m living at a resort. I am insulated from the deprivations that the people endure daily. In the large markets, lots of locals are milling about shopping as we do at home at a Walmart or Sam’s. They are not dressed in the way I’m accustomed to seeing at home in malls and marketplaces. No one is dressed up. It’s the dress of perpetual summer and limited means.

This is not to say Puerto Ricans take no pride in appearance – there’s a dignity in the way people carry themselves – but there is no mistaking the poverty that limits the choice of luxuries or even amenities available to them. The money is just not there and when it is, it’s in short supply.

I am always surprised when in various encounters with local residents, that they seem easy and friendly. Why shouldn’t they, I guess is the question? I’m projecting my own anger, here. If I were a native Puerto Rican, and saw privileged Yankees where I was shopping and I had to squeeze every penny I had, I would feel resentful of the good fortunes these mainland vacationers enjoy. I would imagine their image of the mainland was not helped when Trump contemptuously threw Scott Towels to a large crowd of people, like tossing bones to dogs. Puerto Ricans were demonstrating for more stateside assistance, not paper towels. They needed power and water, basics. The people were frightened and felt vulnerable.

There’s an old spiritual charge given to those who would seek to love their neighbors: in the Buddhist tradition, we’re encouraged to look for the Buddha in every stranger we meet. In Christian lore, it’s to find the Christ in everyone.

In the town of Humacao, there is a big box supermarket. It reopened shortly after the storm. My wife, Jo and I went shopping there. The market was mobbed.

With a full cart, my wife and I looked for a checkout line. The lines, impossibly long, snaked all over the store. We eventually located the end of one and took our place.

A couple settled in behind us. I would not have noticed except the man and his wife stood so close that one step back and I’d be stepping on the man’s toe. Irritated, I tolerated the intrusion. Finally, when we arrived at checkout I began putting our goods on the conveyer belt. As I was doing this I figured that if I placed one of those metal bars down that separate one party’s purchases from another, he’d give me some space. This way I thought I could get some distance from the couple.

Then I had a good look at the couple. He was short, bald, disheveled. His sweatshirt was riven with holes. He hadn’t shaved recently. His wife was taller, but gaunt, with a tooth missing and gray hair that appeared wild and untended. I felt mild disdain, the kind you have when you’re feeling superior. I didn’t like the feeling I was having. I tried to disown it and then something happened. I was about to meet the Christ and the Buddha.

As I put down the metal bar on the belt, the man looked at me with the kindest smile and thanked me profusely. What I had intended as a distancing maneuver – basically a hostile act – he took as a gesture of kindness. He interpreted my actions as a way of helping him to facilitate his check out while I was going through mine. His wife quickly joined in with thanks and then asked us where we were from, how long we’d be there. She reached out to us with a good heart.

You might say that the couple not only broke the arrow of my snobbery, but detoxified the poison in its tip. It was through the grace of that couple, in that moment, that I was redeemed.

My first reaction was shame. I felt an irrational weepiness then relief as if a burden had been lifted from me and finally a surge of deep gratitude emerged. We went our way.

On a walk one day in Palmas del Mar, I passed under a Cieba tree. On one branch, I saw a large iguana, close to five-foot long. They are common here, harmless, like squirrels are to the states. If your unaccustomed to seeing one, they look scary and can frighten you. This one, comfortably hunkered down on a branch had these words that someone had written boldly on its side with a magic marker.

It read “Dios es amor.”

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Einstein and a Hole in the Ground by George Merrill

I am sitting on a beach in Puerto Rico. Watching the waves break, my thoughts rise and fall. They can’t seem to be still. I’ve been reading about Einstein’s beliefs concerning religion and spirituality. He doesn’t believe in a personal God. He feels awe and a profound reverence for the mystery of nature and the workings of the universe. He calls this his religious feeling.

I look up briefly from my Kindle. I see a ghost crab digging a hole in the sand nearby.

The hole is perhaps twice the size of a silver dollar. His eyes appear as black dots affixed to the end of two stalks that extend prominently from his head. He emerges half-way out of the hole and then stops.  He’s eyeing me to see what I will do. I wave my kindle to test him. He shoots down the hole in a flash and is gone. A minute or so later he reemerges. I remain still so as, in a manner of speaking, not to spook the ghost crab. He is not but three feet away from where I sit. I am suddenly at a ringside seat, enthralled, watching first-hand what a ghost crab does during the day.

Unlike the Chesapeake’s bluecrab that scampers sideways on a flat surface, the ghost crab stands up on all 10 legs or if speed is required, just two.  He can move laterally at amazing speeds. He’ll turn on a dime while capable of doing 10mph.

I watch. He emerges from the hole again, assumes this same posture – half in, half out – but this time he makes a lightening quick gesture with the claw that had remained half buried in the hole. In a flash and in one swipe, he tosses out deposits of sand with it. The excavated sand looks round and as it land, like small marbles several inches from the hole. He remains still for a moment – not a twitch – as if perhaps to see what my reaction will be. I am amazed not only by the speed with which he tosses the sand up and out, but by the distance he throws it. The sand pile is tidy. This crab is no rooky. He knows how to throw a fastball and aim it just where he wants it to go

The sun shines on him from behind. He looks delicate, almost diaphanous, and as the sunlight shines through him he appears translucent while glowing a faint yellow. He appears otherworldly, as though he was molded of gelatin. Perhaps his transparency is one reason why he is called a ghost crab. The other is that ghost crabs are typically nocturnal.  I enjoy the good fortune to catch his performance in a rare matinee appearance.

He has captured my complete attention. I sit stone still. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Every forty seconds or so, he goes through this same drill: disappear down the hole, emerge, pitch out the sand he’s accumulated, position himself half in and out and then dart again down into the hole. No doubt about it; he is digging a tunnel efficiently and skillfully, the envy of any convict who ever dreamed of a subterranean escape from his confines.

I find that watching other creatures up close is a kind of otherworldly experience for me, like entering an alternative universe. The exotic ways of other critters, in this case the ghost crab, although he addresses the same needs to live as I must, he goes at it in a way I can only describe as mysterious.

I understand he prefers his big meal at night and goes out to eat most of the time. There no candlelight here. He can see in the dark with eyes that are situated above him that see 360 degrees. He gets the big picture in a flash. It would take me longer.

I know this may sound sexist but the females, when digging their tunnels do not perform their tasks in a workman-like fashion. They’re really messy. The male, as he digs his burrow, leaves the excavated sand in a neat pile on one side of the entrance. The female on the other hand doesn’t care a whit about being tidy and flings sand out in all directions like toddlers playing in a sand box.

However, the maneuvers grow more complex.

It’s not just that the male is more disciplined in his work habits, but his actions are informed by a darker purpose.  He is in fact sending a message to two parties. To would be intruders, his tidy little sandy mound tells them to buzz off. It also informs females that they are welcome to drop in at any time.

I note that the issues of personal privacy and availability to females are of the highest priority to the male ghost crab’s life style. The same selective frame of mind dominates the subject of conversation among crabs just as it governs their work habits in tunneling.

Ghost crabs do communicate by sound but are not great on small talk. They never gather to gossip or just shoot the breeze, like geese. They’re painfully single focused, always agenda driven.

On its right claw the ghost crab has what’s called a Stridulating organ. When the ghost crab strokes this against the bottom of its leg, it emits a squeaking sound.  I’m assuming it’s like the violin, able to produce a variety of notes. The repertoire, however, is severely limited.

Even in the aural communication the male ghost crab has the same agenda that’s reflected in his digging habits; leave me alone; females, excepted.

The ghost crab may be a loner but I suspect he’s also a swinger.

I had been watching him dig and tunnel in and out for about twenty minutes. Then he changed the venue and emerged coming all the way out. He stood still just inches from the entrance. I knew he’s was checking out the landscape. I assume he felt safe to wander from home. Then I saw him take off for a short distance down the beach. To think of a crab as graceful or to describe his short excursion as if it were executed with the sylph-like motions of the ballerina, you might think I’m exaggerating. I am not.

He skittered across uneven sand for a short distance with a fluid- like movement as if none of his appendages ever touched the ground. He stopped and stood still and I could see the little black dots of his eyes, unmoving, but taking everything in. He made a kind of pirouette and took off for a short distance at a forty- five- degree angle from his first direction.  He stopped abruptly maybe ten feet from me.

I felt that by having patiently held still and respecting his space I had earned his trust. He felt safe with me. I was enjoying a communion with this creature from a world so close to and yet so far from my own. I felt part of his world as though he were sharing it with me.

Above me four pelicans fly overhead.  They cast shadows between where the ghost crab stands and where I sit. In a sprint, so fast I can barely follow him, he makes for the entrance to his tunnel, darts in and is gone.

I don’t see him reappear.

I go back reading about Einstein. I think I’m getting his point.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.


Op-Ed: A Disease of the Soul by George Merrill

“I’ll give you the gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands.” This statement has appeared variously over the years. It’s been canonized (no pun intended) in America recently when then president of the NRA, Charlton Heston concluded a fiery speech with this same phrase while he triumphantly raised an old flintlock in his hand high in the air.

The message is clear, but the deeper meaning of it is more hidden and insidious. I have not read or seen any media coverage of conversations about where the passion originates for owning firearms, especially the kind designed exclusively to kill other human beings. They are not for target practice, skeet shooting or for hunting deer or rabbits. The assault weapons are for war and conquest, not for a for a day’s shoot at the gun club. Their primary purpose is to kill an enemy efficiently and quickly.

If you’re not in combat where the passion for having the gun makes sense, in a civilized society this passion seems odd, out of place, as if it’s addressing an unacknowledged need that has been kept hidden and only expressed obliquely.

Is there some driving force about this disturbing trend in gun violence – so far perpetrated exclusively by men or boys – that has not reached the light of day? I suspect there’s a strong possibility that some of the same priapic obsessions that have recently come to light as the sexual abuse epidemic has exposed wealthy and powerful men, also relates to the sense of power and dominance that owning and shooting guns may produce in some gun enthusiasts. Men are three times as likely to possess guns than women, and from all appearances, the ones mostly inclined to use them in mass shootings.

As vigorously as the NRA tries to recruit gun ownership among women, guns remain a guy thing.

Human sexuality has always been a delicate matter to examine openly. Historically women have been more candid than men have and Freud’s revelations, while informing us, rocked society for generations. If human sexuality was a tidy matter, it would not be coming up today in ways that expose how little we have known about it and how our sexuality insinuates itself into all aspects of our lives, not infrequently through violence. In common banter, a man accused of shooting blanks is an insult to his virility. All of the variations in the themes of our sexuality are slowly being recognized and discussed but not all are comfortable in recognizing our discoveries or even talking about them.

What has characterized all the mass shootings is the powerful exercising their power over the powerless. The shooters are all male and each seems seem driven by dark forces of the soul of which they remain unaware. Essentially, having the weapon empowers the shooter. The victims have little if any means of protection. They’re sitting ducks. I suspect such power can be the ultimate aphrodisiac. Although not lethal, the sexual predator demonstrates a similar power by exercising his will over those who, who for a variety of social or professional reasons, cannot resist or fight back.

The mass killer and the sexual predator have this much in common: in addition to being male, a dread of psychological and social impotence and very likely other kinds as well.

I think we are talking here about a disease of the soul that is becoming a national epidemic.

Montaigne, the wise observer of our human condition wrote this four hundred years ago.

“ . . . the diseases of the soul, the greater they are keep themselves more obscure: the most sick are the least sensible of them . . . they must often be dragged into light by an unrelenting and pitiless hand. . . from the caverns and secret recesses of the heart.”

In order to treat diseases, they first have to be identified and then the public alerted and remedial action taken. Our congress may be our best hope right now. Congress has a majority of men with extraordinary social and economic capital who can exercise significant power on behalf of the powerless . . . like our children.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

The Playroom by George Merrill

My mind is slowing down. It’s retaining data more selectively. The missions I assign to my mind take longer to complete than before. The whereabouts of a misplaced pen, the glasses I just put down, determining why I went from the den to the living room; although irritating, fortunately these quirks are not crippling. Negotiating life’s basic tasks just takes a little longer, that’s all. And then, of course, living life is all about our use of time, anyway.

As my thought processes slow down, I’ve grown more interested in just how my mind performs for me, in the way we pay greater heed to our dwindling resources than we did before when they were plentiful.

As I was searching my mind for ideas the other day, I drew blanks. This happens regularly. The process always leads me to wonder about the creative process itself and how it works. I think people associate creativity with the arts or sciences but I believe the phenomenon is universal – a part of our humanity – and it appears in varying degrees in all of us. The laborer is creative, as is the salesmen, the politician, the artist, the clergyman and of course, writers. Then there’s the stay-at-home mom whose capacity for creativity is tested every minute. With a house full of kids, all of whom require strategic interventions of one kind or another, mom’s creativity is stretched to the max. Children, however, have the greatest capacity for creativity. They are the least likely of any of us to place constraints on their imagination. Kids love to just let it rip.

Of all our spiritual attributes, creativity is the most arbitrary. It doesn’t do well when forced.

My potentially creative imagination invariably bombs if I go at it full bore and try to squeeze it for some immediate project. In my experience creativity is activated the way seeds grow. First you plant them, let them be for a while, until you see something emerge. The fruits of creativity arise from imagination and surface only at their own pace.

Take creativity as it’s demonstrated in the biblical book of Genesis; the creation narrative proceeds ex-nihilo; it comes from out of nowhere, from nothing. God seems matter of fact about his momentous achievements of creating a universe but most of us would greet such special creative moments with ecstatic expressions like, ‘Eureka,’ or ‘Hot damn.’

In 1950, the legendary science-fiction writer and author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, wrote “The Veldt.” In it he describes a playroom “with television monitors lining each wall and the ceiling. Walking into such an environment, a child could shout: River Nile! Sphinx! Pyramids! And they would appear, surrounding him, in full color, full sound and why not? Glorious warm scents and smells and odors . . . All this came to me in a few seconds.”

Whimsical? Kid’s stuff? Absolutely. He’d had that vision in his mind’s eye since he was a small child. As an adult, it all came back to him in a flash, “in a few seconds.”

Augmented reality has long sounded like a wild futuristic concept. I read recently in the New York Times that Augmented Reality is here to stay and The Times is offering it on line. AR is all about superimposing computer-generated images on top of our view of reality, thus creating a composite view that augments the real world. In effect, excepting for smells, this describes Bradbury’s playroom to a T. And I bet smells will soon be on the way.

This is one among many instances of our mind’s capacity for the kind of imagining that reaches well beyond exigencies of time and place to see into a reality that has not reached its moment in history. In Bradbury’s case I would say his Playroom vision was a byproduct of wonder. Our minds have an insatiable appetite for awe and wonder. They feed on it.

There are people whose imaginations have the capacity for a special kind of creativity. They are able cut through the illusions which imprison us and see clearly into the future. They, too have visions of wonder, but their kind is more about hope. There are three biblical prophets I immediately think of who shared a similar vision pertaining to the future of the Jewish people. I read it also as a vision of our destiny as a human family. The prophetic proclamations are introduced with the phrase: “In the last days” meaning these proclamations are to come about at a future time. It is a vision of the way the human family will ultimately live together, but only after time.

Especially today, in the climate of war mongering and national arrogance, this prophetic chapter from Isaiah I find simply stunning.

“And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Similar visions appear written in the prophetic books of Joel and Micah, as if the idea captured the minds of the ancient world which was as contentious and war-torn as ours is today.

The bronze sculpture “Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares,” created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich, was presented to the United Nations on December 4th 1959 by the Government of the USSR. The sculpture, depicting the figure of a man holding a hammer aloft in one hand and a sword in the other. It’s an inspiring work of art.

This remarkable vision of hope still lives in our human consciousness after first appearing around 800BC. That’s a long time ago.

Do you suppose as Bradbury once imagined his ‘Playroom’ as a young boy, and saw it realized as an adult, and that Isiah’s vision, conceived early in the life of the human family will be realized “in the last days? “The vision is now indelibly planted in human consciousness. Generation after generation the vision keeps reappearing. It may not be realized yet, but neither after all this time has it gone away.

I believe it will have its day when the right time is here.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Oops by George Merrill

There was an incident years ago, when my son was ten. I handled a situation with him poorly in a way that I have been not been able to completely forgive myself. When I think of it, I feel the sharp pain of remorse. He was needy and confused then and as we had recently moved, was trying to figure out his relationship with two of his new friends. When I look back, I can see that I didn’t get it – all the more ironic since I am a clergyman and psychotherapist. I treated his concerns casually. Rather than taking the matter more seriously and encouraging him to talk about it I didn’t hear what he was trying to tell me. It was a lost opportunity. Simply put, I blew it.

He has not forgotten it nor have I. Time and a frank discussion years later have alleviated much of the pain of that time for both of us. And even though I know that blaming myself is not helpful either for him or for myself, when I think about it I’ll still instinctively castigate myself for not getting it right.

I’ve often wondered why it is so difficult even though I may know God will forgive me, and for the most part my son has, that I find it so difficult to forgive myself. It’s as if I hold myself to impossible standards of perfection. I should never make mistakes. I’m supposed to get it right all the time. Even as I write that sentence it sounds absurd. As I think about it, there’s a perverse pride in such thinking. Taken to its logical conclusion, I’m actually saying I’m perfect, or if not, I should be.

Getting it wrong, making mistakes of all kinds is so fundamental to the human experience that rites of forgiveness have been central to religious practices for centuries. For Catholics, there is the sacrament of confession and in Judaism, the observance of Yom Kippur. Both rites help penitents to own their failings, express their contrition with others, and to put things right with self, with God and our fellow man. Each of these rites has an implied assumption; not only am I never going to get it right every time, but my efforts are probably better spent in managing my mistakes with a combination of contrition and a gentle spirit.

I characterize my routine mistakes simply as ‘oops.’ These are the annoying glitches that insinuate themselves into daily life; the lost key, the grocery bag left at the market, missing receipts, forgetting to lock the door, stepping in dog doo and the like. I shrug, get irritated, mutter under my breath and feel relieved that no one else has noticed. After making the appropriate corrections, I go about my business as usual. To make case in point when I wrote about stepping in dog manure, I wrote it first as ‘dog dew.’ My wife said I was mistaken, that it was ‘dog doo’ that I stepped in. For a moment, I wasn’t sure I had it right and I felt slightly intimidated. I googled it. In fact, I had stepped in both.

Strangely, inadvertent mistakes (the one’s committed in total innocence, with not a hint of guile and even with good intentions) can go badly and cause pain to others as well as to one’s self.

Not getting it right can be a mortifying experience. People often remark that when they suddenly realize they’ve really gotten it wrong they wish they had died on the spot or that the ground would have opened up and swallowed them. That’s one powerful emotion.

Kathryn Schulz, in her thoughtful book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, tells a story of a mortifying incident suffered by a journalist friend of hers. He was a seasoned writer on environmental issues and attended a lecture by a prominent environmentalist.

She made a brilliant presentation although pessimistic in content. He noticed how although her prognostications for the future of the planet were grim, that she was also pregnant. In his write up he commented that she was pregnant indicating that what he saw was her affirmation of life despite the gloomy picture she painted of the future. His article was published, made first page news and was widely circulated. Great, except the presenter wasn’t pregnant. Forty years later and he was quoted as saying “Truth is, I’m still mortified when I talk about it.” It turned out the woman was gracious about it but the journalist could never quite forgive himself for an innocent mistake, kindly disposed as it was.

I suspect that deep down many of us are aware of our failings, but try hard to disown them because we ourselves are not easy with them. The result can be that we’re intimidated by people who come across to us as on top of their game, competent, all together. It’s as if their togetherness were a judgement on us. The word ‘loser’ that has become such a popular insult today I guess underscores the contemporary obsession that in order to be of any account, you have to always get it and be winners no matter what.

Regarding mistakes, a look at how scientists behave may be instructive for getting along with our mistakes more skillfully. Many scientific researchers will routinely publish results making them accessible to other scientists knowing full well that what they’ve put out there may be flawed. That’s part of the strategy. If flaws can be identified so much the better. In the long haul, they’ll stand better chances of getting their project right.

So, since we are never always going to get it all right, what do we do? Ask for help if our mistakes have been harmful to ourselves or others, if we can. If not, accept, shrug, forgive, and keep a sense of humor.

Remember, to air is human, to forgive, divine.


Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

The Yellow Brontosaurus

I’ve had the blahs for a couple of days. It’s a disagreeable feeling. It comes on suddenly like a runny nose or a cough. The cause of the blahs is unknown.

When I have the blahs nothing I can think of energizes me. And then, if something does, it feels like a lot of work to follow up on it for the little return I imagine I’ll get. The other part of this is that a million things go through my mind, but I don’t land on any one. I’m all over the place.

Routine things for which I’d normally given little thought, now seem onerous. I don’t feel much like engaging with people, but the thought of being alone is not appealing either. There is one thing that I instinctively do when coming down with the blahs, and that is to figure out why I have the blahs at all and particularly, at this time. Normally that’s good self-psychotherapy, but when dealing with the blahs I’ve found it useless. It’s a little like sitting around and trying to figure out why the fire started, but that really doesn’t help to put it out. In fact, the inaction may just feed the lethargy making things worse.

The blahs are common. Most everyone suffers the blahs. I guess it’s mostly in the western world, a society while obsessed with money, power and politics, doesn’t ’t really know how to just have fun. For a person like me who has fun writing personal essays and leans heavily on energy that ideas generate, with the blahs I feel like a runner with an ailing foot. What he wholly depends on is suddenly malfunctioning. I want to fix it, but the blahs have a life of their own. They’ve developed considerable resistance to “giving myself a good talking to” and other common-sense remedies.

For addressing the malady, psychologists suggest the equivalent of ‘take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Get yourself going, they advise, get off your butt, walk the dog, call a friend, fix the flower bed, polish the silver and the like but, see, that’s the thing about the blahs; you don’t feel like doing any of those things. People with the blahs will frequently make others impatient and it’s common to hear someone tell them, “Get over it.” It’s a rather insensitive comment and I don’t know that it works, certainly not for me.

Do a kind deed for someone you know or may not know at all. This bromide is frequently offered as a sure cure. Promising, perhaps, but it usually goes full circle; you still have to mobilize the energy to think of what would be something kind and to whom you’d direct it. You’re back to zero.

When I’m seized by the blahs, I’ve noticed this much: I do a lot of “yeah, but” thinking. That’s the kind where you have an interesting thought and then knock it down, like playing whack-a-mole or swatting a mosquito. So, is there any way, if not to cure the blahs, at least to limit their duration?

I listened to a talk once given by a seasoned writer, an essayist, who offered this thought: The essayist can write about the things he knows best, or he can write about something he knows nothing about but wants to learn more. I wondered if by writing about the blahs with no clinical understanding of the condition, I might stumble upon something significant that could mitigate some of its effects and even contribute to the well-being of others.

With that slight spark of energy my thought inspired, I decided to go for it.

One thing occurred to me immediately. Having the blahs is a little like being a child for whom we can do nothing to please. Children in that kind of mood can drive parents nuts; adults having the blahs can drive themselves nuts. I recall several instances of that with my own children. I once made up a trick to head it off. It worked most of the time.

Imagine a petulant little boy, my son, half in tears and fussing, disagreeable for no apparent reason. Immediately my instinct was to offer him possible options.

“Would you like to play with Eddie?”

“No!” he’d reply emphatically shaking his arms and legs in protest, his lower lip prominently protruding to underscore his point.

“How about Sally?”

“No,” again.

“Would you like a cookie?”

“Nooo, I don’t want a cookie,” and so it would go. This was a dead end and I knew it.

Then it came to me out of the blue, an epiphany, and it turned out to be a decidedly inspired idea.

I suddenly held my hand up, palm forward, opened my eyes just short of popping them from their sockets as if I were alerting my son to something terribly urgent, and looking beyond him into the distance I said in a hushed voice, “Did you see that?”

His petulant look vanished. He turned around to look, and turning back to me asked quizzically, “What.”

“The Brontosaurus, only this one is yellow, not green like Freddy, the one in your book.”

“Well, where is he?”

“I think you may have scared him off when you turned around. He can’t be far. Let’s go find him. We must be very quiet, come on, follow me.”

And off we went, hunting. It was the day of the yellow Brontosaurus.

I know just what you’re thinking. This guy is full of guile, a deceitful father, disseminating fake news to this vulnerable and innocent child.

I’ll tell you this; of course, we didn’t find the yellow Brontosaurus. He was nowhere to be seen. We called off the hunt. However, by then not only did the cookie begin sounding great to my son, but so did the idea of having Eddie over to play. The search alone began to give meaning to his day.

A strong case can be made that the means justifies the end.

What has any of this to do with the blahs? This much. I think the blahs are exacerbated by the way the condition can keep us unfocused. I know with the blahs I go from thought to thought dismissing them all, straightaway.

I don’t want to give credence to the school that advises “get off your butt and do something.” I find that solution questionable. But, instead, I’d advise focus, stay with just one idea of the many orbiting around in my mind. Soon it would lead to some kind of action like hunting the yellow dinosaur with my son. You don’t have to find the dinosaur; just looking for him is enough. The search is more energizing than the finding or as the saying goes, the journey is more important than the destination.

Nothing is quite like finding a purpose; it’ll make your day and beat the blahs.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

That They May All May Be One by George Merrill

This essay’s title is from the Gospel of John. It’s statement of Jesus’ vision for universal reconciliation.

I watched a talk show rerun recently. Former vice president Joe Biden was being interviewed. He discussed his book, “Promise Me, Dad,” dealing with the death of his son, Beau. One of the women present conducting the interview was Meghan McCain. Meghan McCain, Senator John McCain’s daughter, is a former host on Fox news, a cradle Republican and one of the hosts of the talk show called The View. Biden’s book (I have not read it) is a grief work of hope that describes the profound sense of loss Biden felt for his son and the obligation he felt to honor his memory.

The interview was poignant. It told an important story of its own.

In the initial minutes of the interview, Biden and Ms. McCain were seated with a person between them. As the conversation developed, Biden spoke of how his son (who died of the same brain cancer that John McCain suffers now) had always found comfort in Meghan’s father’s bravery. As he spoke, Meghan grew teary. Biden then rose and seated himself next to her. He took her hand and shared with her some fond memories he and his son had of her father. In the political arena, John McCain and Joe Biden had done battle with each other. Each had great respect for the other. They were political adversaries and very loyal friends. They enjoyed a relationship with dignity.

I do not recall being moved by anything recently as much as I did watching this interview. Certainly, talking of our losses touches us all deeply; mourning is the one feeling that stabs us to the core and a feeling every one of us understands. Perhaps even more than laughter, grief is the universal emotion we all share. However, there was something else about the interview that haunted me. I couldn’t identify it right away.

Joe Biden, by most all accounts, is a decent human being. Professionally, he is regarded as an honest man and a skillful politician. He has a sense of humor, engages people in respectful ways and has passion for his ideas. He has integrity, is clear but gentle in his opinions and has a deft manner of handling complicated feelings tactfully – whether they’re political or emotional. He possesses that redeeming quality of being able to poke fun at himself. He talks freely about his big mouth in the way president Obama used to speak of his own big ears. It’s the kind of playful self-denigration people who are secure in their own skin are able to indulge.

Joe Biden knows about loss. Meghan McCain knows that for her, the final curtain of her grief will fall. They mourn together. They grow close.
One of Joe Biden’s character traits is his personal warmth. When he got up and went to sit next to Meghan McCain, took her hand and spoke softly to her as she wept, I almost wept, too. It was an image of male tenderness in a powerful man that is so different from the images reported in the daily news we hear or read about. We are besieged with relentless tales of abuse that men with wealth, social capital and political influence inflict on others. It seems to be a trickle-down effect, originating from the highest echelons, seeping through the political fabric and down into the various major and minor industry captains and entertainment celebrities. The frequency of the sordid reports would seem almost to testify to behavior now become routine, the kind we’d once have called unacceptable.

Who is left for any of us to look up to, to inspire us?

In that brief exchange between Biden and McCain I saw a possibility, a hope for the way we can be with one another. Tenderly and kindly. I am confident that for anyone who saw Biden take his seat next to Meghan McCain in that clip, there was no way this could be construed as posturing. It was a genuine gesture, based on a history of trusting relationships, demonstrating the kind of authenticity that has been in painfully short supply in the political figures we are confronted with daily in news media. There is so little trust evident, so little tenderness.

While women today may be witnessing to the ideal of dignity and respect we need to emulate, it’s the good men that are hard to find.

My attempt here is not to lionize Joe Biden or Meghan McCain. I want to cite his decency and McCain’s grace and to suggest how people, who do have power and social capital, are fundamentally honest and compassionate. These people can create good will and facilitate personal and collective healing. They become agents of reconciliation.

The core of the Christian message is a drama of reconciliation. The tale recounts the struggle to achieve reconciliation with God and with each other. We become reconciled to God by reconciling to each other. It isn’t accomplished by mouthing pious clichés nor by overlooking differences or even by accommodating political, religious, racial and ethnic distinctions. It’s by sharing our vulnerabilities and our humanity with each other.

When we are able to see in others the wounds and brokenness we have known in our own lives, we meet each other in deeper and more loving ways. I believe I saw in that clip some a tender and respectful moment between a man and a woman, a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat, a devout Catholic and a practicing Baptist.

In our lives today, our alienation from each other weighs heavily on us. We hunger for closeness, to be able to share our true humanity with one another.

My hope is that one day we may all be one.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Solitude by George Merrill

I walk frequently, more so recently. The prevailing anger and dissention in the atmosphere I find debilitating. I walk to settle my mind. I feed my soul by reconnecting with the beauty and goodness that permeates the world.

One path I like runs along the perimeter of St. Michaels. The other day, while walking, I saw a large dog trotting along by itself. The dog had a beautiful coat of thick white and gray fur. He watched me walk by, interested in my presence. It’s unusual to see a dog alone or not on a leash. I felt momentarily cautious when, after I passed him, he ran to me. He scrupulously sniffed me out – I guess I smelled acceptable because he then pranced around and started jumping up on me. I gently urged him down. I stroked him under the chin, mumbling totally mindless endearments. I knew that he heard music in my words, sensed my pleasure in the meeting and so the words were really peripheral to our encounter. The dog knew that I liked him. Words weren’t necessary.

I walked on while he wandered off into a stand of trees on the side of the path. I kept thinking of his gray eyes. This dog’s eyes were beautiful to see, like the soft and unblemished slate gray one sees on the undersides of clouds on sunny days. Was it the friendliness of the dog that determined how I felt about his eyes or were they simply lovely eyes?

Occasionally I’d turn around just to see if he were following me. I hoped he was. I saw no trace of him so I assumed he was off to make another acquaintance. For a moment, I felt let down.That day was particularly cold. I was alone on the path. Typically, there would be others I’d acknowledge with a nod – fellow walkers, many of whom would be walking their dogs. This was mostly a solitary occasion.

Solitude is an occasion for heightened awareness; Strangely, in solitude I’m made aware of how connected I am to all the life around me. I don’t believe I’m reclusive – I do not like feeling lonely. Solitude, however, is different from being lonely or feeling isolated; on the contrary, in solitude I find the space – inner and outer – to experience my solidarity with the life around me.

There’s something about meeting a creature other than human while alone; it could be a bird, bugs, foxes and even turkeys that have recently proliferated the woods around St. Michaels; it’s as if the meeting of the two worlds is unencumbered by distractions, or the need I might have to attend to another person who’s with me. We can be with each other, these strangers, in every sense of the word. Adam must have had great fun naming the animals.

Years ago, during the great ice storm on the Shore I had a similar encounter with a deer. Ice was building up everywhere, making paths slippery and downing tree limbs. It was dangerous. My neighbor Dot, who’d lost one leg to diabetes, was eighty plus and housebound. I walked through the woods to her house to see that she had food and kerosene for her heater. Power was sure to go. A deer appeared on the path in front of me. Ears as erect as antennae, she stood in the path and looked straight at me. I stopped. I moved toward her. She backed up, but didn’t bolt as I expected. Then I stepped back, and she moved forward. She seemed young and appeared to want to play. She appeared to limp.

I started muttering endearments to her: “Hey Bambi, what’s a gal like you doing out on a day like this?” She cocked her head to one side as if she hadn’t heard me correctly or thought I was a nut. With a kind of retreat and advance, we stepped toward and away from each other in concert until I made my way to Dot’s house. The deer retreated back into the woods.

Dot was in good shape. “Thanks, George, but got plenty of kerosene, bourbon and cigarettes,” she assured me. No better way to face the elements, I’d say.

Walking back through the woods to my house, I saw how the storm grew worse. The wind increased, the rain froze on all it fell upon. Rain ran down on the inside of my slicker chilling me. Walking was treacherous.

There was the deer, as if waiting for me. She was off to the side now. I walked slowly, babbling to her all the while, but not stopping. She didn’t move, but watched me pass by. She followed me for a few steps. Before entering my house, I saw she was looking at me, as if to say, ‘Stay out and play with me for a while.’ I waved goodbye and went in.

The wind howled that night. I heard trees falling; first a painful groan and then a thunderous crash. It was nasty.

In the morning, the sun shone. It illuminated the accumulated ice on tree limbs, on everything, and the world appeared as if sculpted by a glazier. Everything sparkled brilliantly in the sunlight, a scene set against a deep blue sky.

I went outside looking around. By the small stream between Dot’s house and mine, I saw the deer. She was dead. She had a twisted hoof. I could see she was crippled. I don’t know how she died.

I stooped over her. Her eye, deep and dark, reflected a billowing white cloud high above her as if she could now see something well beyond the constraints that life had imposed on her. She saw an open and free space that went on forever. I had a regret. I wished that the day before, I’d stayed out a little longer and played with her.

Solitude, in unexpected ways, makes us friends with those with whom we share this planetary space.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.


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