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Circles of a Future Politician

Year 8, Week 18

We are late. It would not have mattered if we were on time. The church was full an hour before the service started.

We park our pickup truck about four blocks from the church. Lots of parked cars on the streets. We walk to the church's parking lot, which has been turned into an outdoor amphitheater. An outdoor theater screen is against the church wall. Everyone sitting in the chairs in the parking lot can see the services inside. Four police cars are parked around the church.A camera crew is outside; the outdoor screen shows another crew inside.

My wife and I find a couple of empty chairs near the back of the parking lot. The preacher is talking as we settle in. There is a light rain. My wife and I are wearing our felt Stetsons. Stetsons are great in rain.

My wife made me wear a dress shirt and tie: "Eli, it's part of their culture." Funny how I didn't even know I had a dress shirt and tie.

The choir starts singing. We stand, in respect.


Oh Lord, My God

An interesting choir.


When I in awesome wonder

A female dominated choir. But one lone male bass voice makes a unique sound.


Consider all the worlds |

My wife is hanging on to my arm, almost clutching.


Thy Hands have made

The brim of my Stetson is shedding water drops in front of my eyes.


I see the stars,

I watch one water drop form. I wonder about one water molecule in that drop.


I hear the rolling thunder

By the way my wife clutches me, she too recognizes this is a special choir.


Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Where did that molecule come from? What is its story?


Then sings my soul,

How long was it in the atmosphere?


my Saviour God, to Thee

How many times did it rise as a gas, fall as a liquid, and warm back up to turn back to a gas?


How great Thou art,

How many times did it go through that circle?


how great Thou art

The bass voice really makes this choir unique.


Then sings my soul,

Did the evaporation/condensation circle last just a few days?


my Saviour God, to Thee


Or did the circle last years--only to find my Stetson as the last rung on the ladder down to finally reach the ground.


How great Thou art, how great Thou art


What body of water did that water molecule leave to become a vapor?


how great Thou art


Atlantic Ocean? Pacific Ocean?


And when I think

Maybe it left the Battenor River yesterday.


Of God, His Son not sparing


Maybe it left a farmer's field in Battenor County


Sent Him to die,


One of the police cruisers repositions itself to turn street traffic away from the church.


I scarce can take it in


The circle of cruisers around the church protecting us. Are we in danger?


That on the Cross,


Scientists say if a water molecule enters the western end of Lake Superior, it will take 270 years to find its way to the Atlantic Ocean.


my burden gladly bearing


Maybe my water molecule was almost through that journey, watching the Great Lakes build great cities. Then it evaporated and came to Riverbend.


He bled and died


Or maybe it was locked for thousands of years in Antarctica in a glacier.


to take away my sin


The glacier recently broke into the ocean, releasing the water molecule. It evaporated and found its way to my Stetson.


Then sings my soul


I really like that bass voice.


My Saviour God, to Thee


Maybe that water molecule briefly spent time in the lungs of historical figures. Like Jesus or George Washington.


How great Thou art,


Or maybe some of my ancestors. Maybe it saw our demise.


How great Thou art


Or maybe in the lungs of thousands of ordinary people.


Then sings my soul,


The water drops from my Stetson are collecting at my feet.


My Saviour God, to Thee


Only to join a trickle finding its way downhill out of the parking lot, into the street, and falling into a storm sewer.


How great Thou art,


And on to another journey of many more journeys.


How great Thou art


This water molecule is at the funeral of Thelma Delgers.


The outdoor screen shows the preacher introducing Lenard Pash, who will begin the eulogy. I have known Len for four years. A man who would prefer to be fixing fire trucks than public speaking. A man who doesn't say much, but people listen when he speaks. Len too is wearing a tie. First time I've seen that.

"I first met Thelma eight years ago. At Rich Ridell's house. She joined our TDG group shortly after it started. A great smile, a willing participant, youth to balance out we middle-aged people. None of us really understood what this Tiered Democratic Governance was about. It was just some untried political theory that thrust itself on a group that were unlikely to be seen in politics. So many other activities young Thelma could have taken on. But she stayed with us and the TDG.

"At one of our first public meetings, Holger Peters asked her to speak about the TDG. She had the right facts, but she was not a good speaker, quite nervous, not someone who could bring in new members. Then Holger asked her to speak at another meeting. She was a little better, and I could see a confidence was settling in. She grew with the TDG as it asked more of her."

I see water drops shedding off the people in front of Sky and me. Their umbrellas and rain gear quickly usher the water molecules to the pavement. Many water molecules have come to Thelma's funeral. Maybe that is the reason for the rain. They would tell the story to other water molecules.

Len continues: "We all grew together in those years. We all needed to grow to make this TDG work. Each of our growths fed the growth of everyone else. We were so connected. Yet, at the time, we felt like we were only attending meetings.

"Our growth put Thelma in a position to be an unwitting target. Like many other people here, I could not see our TDG becoming a target at this time. We really weren't that influential in today's politics. Why us now? Why Thelma?"


I see a policeman on his walkie-talkie. What could he be saying in this time of remembering Thelma?

Len moves on: "I think it's important to let the authorities conduct their own investigation into Thelma's murder. Let's not speculate too much on the reasons why today. Rather we need to look to the future, regardless of what the authorities find."

Len's voice is starting to break. His wife Jackie comes to his side. My wife clutches me harder.

"What would Thelma want us to do? We are building a new way of governing. We learned so much in the last eight years. We have more lessons to learn. I know Thelma would want the TDG to continue. That will be Thelma's legacy to Riverbend, to our state, to the USA, and to this world.

"I will remember Thelma as a servant of the TDG. Whatever it asked of her, she willingly and happily did it. She could have so easily gone down another path eight years ago.But she chose the TDG. Let's continue her work."   

Len and Jackie sit down.


Thelma's uncle gave a more personal eulogy after that. More hymns and teachings from the Bible. Following the coffin, Thelma's family made their way out of the church and through the parking lot to the waiting hearse. The funeral entourage passed by us. It was still raining lightly. Drops still rolling off my Stetson.

The hearse and limousines took Thelma and her family for a small private service at the cemetery.

Len and Jackie found us in the parking lot: "Eli, Sky, it's good you two came. Thelma would be honored to see you here." We helped stack some chairs for the cleanup crew.

I said, "I wish I knew her family well enough to say something to them. But I'm just a stranger to them. They've got so many people to grieve with."

Jackie said, "I have an extra card in my purse. Why don't we go for coffee and you two can write something. I'm sure they would appreciate something from the Tankosin Nation. Len will get it to them later."

Gus's Restaurant was nearby. We ordered coffee and muffins. It was hard to talk. I commented on Len's great eulogy. It's always hard to talk when a young person dies. I wrote a few notes on the card about my TDG encounters with Thelma.I didn't know her that well. Sky added a few words to the card in the Tankosin syllabus even though she never met Thelma. Maybe women are better at these things than men. After about 20 minutes, it became too uncomfortable to sit in the restaurant with awkward silence. Sky and I gave our farewells,Jackie gave us a warm hug, and we left for home.

We live in Sky's parent's house, where Sky grew up. A simple bungalow on the Reservation. Needs paint. One bedroom window boarded up. Otherwise livable. Sky and I have the boarded bedroom. Sky's sister and her two boys have the big bedroom. Her partner left her two years ago, not wanting much to do with the boys. Sky's parents have the third bedroom.

Sky's father usually has a drink in his hand. Most times he keeps it under control. But once every couple of weeks, he goes off on a happy drunk binge. Not violent or abusive. But still hard to be around. Happy drunk people believe other people want to be around them. I usually go off to our room or pickup truck to do some reading. I let Sky's family deal with him. He was in control today when we got home. That was good. I wasn't in the mood to play happy drunk games.