In Orlando and throughout our land, we hear the prophet's voices of lamentation and bitter weeping as we absorb the horrific news of 50 lives lost and 53 more seriously wounded. Our hearts break for all the dead, wounded, and traumatized by this carnage, and pray for God's strength and consoling mercies.
It was a few days before the beginning of Lent when I spotted the tree, a valley oak standing at the trailhead. I was on retreat at the Bishop's Ranch, a bucolic spot deep in California wine country and I had intended to take a brisk solo hike in the woods. But the old valley oak, its deadness, stopped me in my tracks.