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.”



By Sharon Stevens

As I am writing this tomorrow will celebrate the 4th of July. Amazing that it comes around every year at the same time of the month, year after year. Each cycle falls on a different day, but the meaning is the same regardless whether it occurs during a week day or weekend. Red, white and blue are the same colors through centuries and generations. Uncle Sam never ages.

I read General Colin Powell’s Fourth of July wish, and was caught by something he wrote. “Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th of July as we once again celebrate the MIRACLE of our democracy, and the WISDOM of our founding fathers.

Miracle…Wisdom…Two words that you wouldn’t associate with fireworks and festivities. But then again these expressions are the perfect reminder of why we celebrate our American Flag and our Freedom. I was rereading the Bill of Rights and Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and by jove, these are miracles. When you think of what it took for a group of men to come together for the Common Good, and then to write the first draft, and the second, and the third until they got it right, you can appreciate what a miracle this truly is. These people left the comforts of their home and the love of their families to travel, and then to argue together to find the wisdom shared together. This must have been monumental even for them. I can’t imagine the fireworks of these spirited souls.

Tomorrow I will watch the parade from the vantage point of our local business, the Buffalo Bookstore, surrounded by friends, neighbors, family, tourists, visitors, WTAMU students, and everyone in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that I will cherish the MIRACLE that is my Freedom, and treasure the memory of the WISDOM of the founding fathers.

As a writer, AND as a citizen, they are NEVER just words to me.

I can’t leave this blog post without celebrating the life of Margaret and Ples Harper, and Margaret and William Moore, the founders of the musical drama TEXAS. Both of these families were veterans of World War II and professors at WTSU, now WTAMU. Margaret Harper read an article about Paul Green in the July 1960 edition of Reader’s Digest. She invited the Moore’s over for supper and they discussed if it would be possible to do an outdoor drama in Palo Duro Canyon. They decided to write to Green and ask him to come to see what he could do. The date of the original letter was July 3rd 1960. I can only imagine the pageantry that they were anticipating as Canyon prepared for the next day festivities. They must have agonized over their correspondence until the mail went out after the fourth. I wonder what date Paul Green received this simple note at his mailbox, and if he knew where Canyon Texas was?

Truly a MIRACLE any way you look at it!

Happy July 4th everyone. Celebrate family and community, please be safe!