by Sharon Stevens

While reading the story about Anne Frank recently I came across mention that she and her sister died and were buried in an unmarked grave. No one knows where her spirit ceased here on this earth. Doesn’t matter to me. I can always read about where she lived and breathed and what brought her joy among the horrific pain of her life.

With so much in the news lately about Don Carthel and WTAMU I have been doing a great deal of soul searching within myself. I know without a doubt that Carthel is facing an injustice of the highest or lowest order according to how you look at it. He is a good, GOOD man as are his players. He was fired not because of his “ethical behavior” but because he represents something the college has to get rid of to hide their own “unethical” pursuits. But that’s my own opinion and I stand strong in those beliefs. And I have the right of the Freedom of speech under the Constitution to express my views. Just as Pattilou Dawkins did about Judge Ted Wood about the cost overruns of the Randall County Jail.

Tonight represents the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In researching I read where it is celebrated in 2013 from sundown September 4, to nightfall September 6. and that “Though Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year”, the holiday actually takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishre, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This because Rosh Hashanah, one of the first new years in the Jewish year is considered the new year of the people, animals, and legal contracts. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah makes the completion of the creation of the world…The Mishneh refers to Rosh Hashanah as the “Day of Judgment” and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die.”

Our son-in-law, William Keller is Jewish and he has been so wonderful to share his heritage with our family. And as a chef  we are doubly blessed. I will always remember when he made the sweet bread with honey for us as he told the story behind its meaning. What a true treasure!

As writers we always have to struggle with ethics whether we know it or not. When our stories are written we worry about what will it really convey, who will it inspire, who will it harm? What do we really mean when we write the words and will it come across that way or will it fall flat on its face. Or will it be debated in a court of law if we crossed the line we truly never meant to cross. So many doubts.

When we were out riding with friends of ours Hamblen Drive through Palo Duro Canyon we stopped at the overlook and sat under the awning over the picnic table. I glanced beside me and someone had written in black magic marker in huge letters the word “UNCONDITIONAL”.

This was a message to me that everything I write and everything I do needs to be unconditional. Inside my heart I know I have an ethical compass and that I would never cross the line intentionally. My heart is always burdened with who I will hurt if they take what I say and do the wrong way. I need to spend the rest of my life unconditional, not worrying so much or hiding in the shadows. If something is wrong or unjust I need to follow it through, without question.

Likewise if something is tremendous I need to shout it from the rooftops no matter who is listening.

I came across a book written by Elie Wiesel in 1970. “A Beggar in Jerusalem”. I have never read a more powerful but beautiful book in my life.

“The tale the beggar tells must be told from the beginning. But the beginning has its own tale. Its own secret. That’s how it is, and that’s how it has always been. there is nothing man can do about it. Death itself has no power over the beginning. The beggar who tells you this knows what he is talking about….Meanwhile don’t be afraid to come closer. the beggar will do you no harm, he will cast no spell over you. Do come nearer. Do his eyes disturb you? They are not his, and he doesn’t know it. His lips? They move-yes-as though repeating tales heard or lived a day before, a century before: he no longer remembers. for him, you see, time has no meaning.”

THIS is my celebration of the New Year and how I can celebrate the heritage of ancient traditions. I can do no less. As for Anne Frank, even though she lives in an unmarked grave with her number branded on her arm, I am sure that with “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” the ink is no longer visible, long gone from her body and that of her sister. Now as far as Hitler or his SS, HE will carry HIS stain through eternity. It will never fade. His ethics are burned in HIS soul. Look what good it did for him.

Oh, and my favorite quote about ethics…”Emphasizes the needs of a larger community. What is good for the community is good for the individual by being good for the community.”



“What was I scared of?”

Dr. Seuss

Sharon Stevens


Our carton of milk outdated today, June 12, 2013.

That doesn’t mean it needs to gurgle down the garbage disposal drain. This just means if I leave it in the refrigerator for another day or two the milk may sour, spoil, decay, or become odoriferous. I don’t know about you but spoiled milk is not palatable on any level, not even for cooking.

The outdate occurred on the same day I read in the Amarillo Globe News that this was the anniversary of the birthday of Anne Frank. But more lovely than that was the mention of this day in history that it was the time Anne received her diary, really an autograph book, on her thirteenth birthday in 1942. Her very first writing…“ I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”

The day my milk outdated also coincided with the funeral of Mary Huntington. Mrs. Huntington was the librarian at the old Canyon Public Library for so many years. She is the one who kept the library going when others felt it needed to be closed. Also she, with the help of her volunteers and co-workers transferred and adapted all the codes from the Dewey Decimal system to switch to the computer database for the Harrington Consortium. She also volunteered at her daughter’s elementary class to help the kids with their reading, and the whole family pitched in and taught the children chess.

Mary meant more to me than anyone can ever know! When our girls were small I would take them into the library every week and we would check out a mountain of books to read at home. I told Mary that I was a failure as a mother as I just couldn’t seem to read Dr. Seuss. So even though I didn’t discourage the girls from checking out his books I didn’t encourage them either. She was such a tiny, mild mannered, little munchkin, and she looked at me sweetly and kindly and told me. “It’s because you are trying to READ Dr. Seuss”. Then she went on to explain that Seuss is not one you can read. She encouraged me to enjoy, and sing, and use expression and it will all come together. It worked and I have loved this man and MOST of his writings ever since.

As I pour out my milk and replace it with a new carton in the refrigerator I will remember Anne Frank and Mary Huntington. And I don’t mean this in a bad way or any disrespect. Quite the opposite. I know this is a lousy way to express endearment, but please bear with me. Milk, fruits, vegetables, dip, canned goods, etc. will always carry an expiration date of a time that will end. Nothing can last forever that we put in our bodies. Our brain, bones, and organs need sustenance that will separate what we put in our mouths to what can be broken down and used for fuel.

Books are different. Once they are written they NEVER expire. The stories they carry will last forever and never get old, a tangible expression of so many letters chained to words, connecting to sentences, linking to thoughts. They can be read over and over, and then read again. Books can be shared and dissected, treasured or argued, once and again.

Isn’t that a lovely sentiment? Timeless. Everlasting. Forever. Never a death, never an expiration date. Heart and soul always intact. Never spoiled, never soured. Right there on the page in front of me. What treasures, what a gift!

The only problem is, so many books, so little time. I’m the one with the expiration date.