Lovecraft Country and the Great “I Am”

HBO’s Lovecraft Country, based on Matt Ruff’s provocative novel, is not for the faint-hearted. Part sci-fi, part horror, it features savage monsters and a copious spilling of blood. But its plot, its cast, and its exposé of America’s horrific racism are gripping!

One of the characters is Hippolyta Freeman, a brilliant woman adept in mathematics and astronomy. She is also a devoted mother and wife to her late husband George, having worked with him to produce The Safe Negro Travel Guide, a fictional counterpart to The Negro Motorist Green Book.

After George’s death, Hippolyta embarks on a multidimensional voyage of self-discovery. She unlocks the secrets of an orrery, takes the key it offers, then travels to Mayfield, Kansas, the place where George died. There, within an observatory, she finds a machine right of out of H.G. Wells that fits her key. It launches her to what seems like a space ship, where a towering black woman looms above her.

“Who are you?” asks Hippolyta. The woman answers, “I Am.” “Am I in prison?” asks Hippolyta.  “No, you are not in a prison,” responds the woman. “Name yourself! Where do you want to be?”

What follows is a beautiful journey of a soul becoming unbound. Hippolyta first goes to Paris to dance alongside Josephine Baker, letting the sisterhood and bohemian nightlife unwind her. She tastes new freedom, and at first it angers her. She describes it this way to Baker:

“All those years I thought I had everything I ever wanted, only to come here and discover that all I ever was was the exact kind of Negro woman white folks wanted me to be. I feel like they just found a smart way to lynch me without me noticing a noose … Sometimes I just, I wanna kill white folks. And it’s not just them … I hate me, for letting them make me feel small.”

Hippolyta then zooms to a dimension where she learns swordplay, preparing her to command a band of Amazons (fitting given her name). She leads her sister warriors into a savage victory against Confederate soldiers. Finally, she revisits George in a touching bedroom scene, this time confronting him with an awareness that she diminished herself by always putting him and his activities first.

In each of these realms she connects with an essential part of herself, naming it, giving it flesh, setting it free in the constellation of her personality. And each time, what sparks the transition is her acclamation of “I am Hippolyta. I am Hippolyta. I am …HIPPOLYTAAAAAA!” 

Yes! I am!

Discovering the sacred nature of our own humanness is at the core of our planet’s best spiritual teachings. This dawning realization awakens our unique identities. We learn to cast off shackles, employ our gifts, actualize our destinies. It is from this sacredness that we come to cherish and protect the Imago Dei, image of God, in other human beings. Symbolically, this clarity arises as we voice the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush, claiming it for our own lives: I am what I am!

Part of the blasphemy charges leveled at Jesus in the Gospel of John came from his well-known “I Am” statements. We usually translate the Greek words ego eimi as “I am,” but they carry the connotation of “I am what I am.” One of my favorite professors, Herman Waetjen, often said that Jesus was not only intentionally voicing the name of God; he was calling each us to say “I AM” with power and dignity.  

On this level, Episode 7 of Lovecraft County, speaks to all of us in our struggles to rise above the acculturation that clips our wings and does violence to our personhood.

May we all learn to say with Hippolyta, “Now that I’m tasting it, freedom, like I’ve never known before, I see what I was robbed of back there.”

May we all learn to say with Jesus, “I am what I am!”

(For further reading, I wrote a poem called I AM that you might find interesting)

“They Want to Take Our God!”

Our neighborhood has a Facebook page, and when I saw Republican politics shaping the posts, I could have ignored it. Instead, I shared this comment about signs in my neighbors’ yards I find disturbing.


“One of the things I love about our neighborhood is the presence of our children and youth. We see them playing in the streets, riding bikes, walking to catch the bus. Now they encounter this message: ‘God, Guns & Country.’ Three words strung together as if they make perfect, harmonious sense. I respect freedom of speech, but I keep wondering. What does this teach our youth about the state of our nation? What does it teach them about faith? Powerful words of Jesus come to mind, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’”

As expected, I got a flurry of comments. They are familiar but nonetheless chilling.

  • It was Christians that miraculously founded our country, and the Democrats want to cancel that history.
  • What about abortion? The thought of a baby’s neck snapping at nearly nine months makes me sick to my stomach.
  • We have the right to bear arms, especially to defend ourselves against a government that wants to force socialism on us. Leftists will take our guns!
  • The ungodly protests in our country are happening in cities controlled by the Left.

One woman requested a session of private messaging. She asked me to explain what I meant by my post. I told her it would require a longer conversation, but here was the gist:

“There is a brand of American Christianity that believes God favors our nation more than others. It allies itself with gun lobbyists, calls for increased expenditures on military and police, and turns a blind eye to the non-violent message of Jesus. 2,000 years ago, Jesus himself challenged the nationalism and violence of his people. These yard signs teach children that God is partial, and that God protects certain Americans by any means necessary, including violence. I believe in a God of all peoples, all nations, who ultimately desires unity and peace.”

She responded with a host of internet links cited out of context, including a ranting letter-to-the-editor published online in The Intelligencer: Wheeling News Register. I have to hand it to the author. His words are a masterpiece of religious bigotry. At his frothing crescendo, he blames Democrats for divorce, school shootings, riots, rape, unwed mothers, gangs, and the “Sodom and Gomorrah” abomination of same sex marriage.

The woman summed up her position by saying: “The Left is trying to take our God!”

Her abject fear struck me, and I think I understand some of the psychology behind it.

In his Stages of Faith, James Fowler called Stage Three a “Synthetic-Conventional Faith.” It is often enculturated into children and becomes part of their tribal identity. When its rightness is challenged, people lash out in anger and fear rather than work through doubts and ambivalence to courageously examine larger questions. They hunker down and become “defenders of the faith,” as if God need champions to protect God’s chastity.

Where does this fear come from? Fowler put it this way:

When we are grasped by the vision of a center of value and power more luminous, more inclusive and more true than that to which we are devoted, we initially experience the new as the enemy or the slayer – that which destroys our “god.”

I believe that for a moment, many “true believers” get a scary, vertiginous view of something grander, something that tugs at the threads of their conviction. Rather than moving forward, they patently reject this new knowledge and retreat to militant orthodoxy.

If this woman and I had a longer conversation, I would say, “No, we are not trying to take your God. The sanctity of each person’s faith and conscience is sacred. But if you mean that we are lifting up a vision more powerful, more luminous, more inclusive than your tribal deity, I can tell you this:

We will not stop!”

Decolonize Our Minds!

2018. As an investigative journalist, I visited the Navajo Nation. I went under the aegis of the Presbyterian Church (USA), an institution I served for decades, one that still supports “missions” among the Diné.

A question with profound implications guided me. Given how white Christians historically savaged the Navajo—armed attacks, land stealing, forced relocation to Bosque Redondo, broken treaties, reeducation centers—had my denomination learned from its past? Or (inconceivably!) does it still engage in practices that disrespect the Diné’s indigenous identity?

You can read the article here. It grieved me that one of our supported pastors, a full-blooded Navajo, called traditional beliefs of his people “the work of the Devil.” A young Navajo Park Ranger at Canyon de Chelly put it succinctly as she spoke of Christians in her extended family.

“I have attended their memorial services,” she says, “where the message is loud and clear. Unless I follow this Jesus, I have no salvation on this earth and I’m not going to heaven. I cannot accept this kind of thinking!”

One afternoon, I drove out to Shiprock Peak. In Navajo its name is Tsé Bitʼaʼí, “rock with wings,” after a mythic bird that brought the Diné to their present lands. Along a lonely stretch of desert road, I came upon this deserted building.

Decolonize your mind! To the Dine, this injunction has power and immediacy, a call to resist the forces of European colonialism that are still aflame in white America. But it is also a phrase that challenges each of us.

Why? Because history is repeating itself in our troubled nation. There are still malignant outposts of racism, homophobia, sexism, and nationalism in our collective psyche. It is especially crucial for white people to understand the systemic biases of privilege and to join with others as we tear them down. Yes, tear them down!

But just watch how the colonial beasts rise up! Our own president stoking racial fears with his base, many of whom call themselves Christians. People waving confederate flags, blaming the victims of police brutality, or openly spreading messages of hate. Others who think they are tolerant, but who still trumpet American Exceptionalism and the monopoly of their own brand of faith.

Quite simply, our future is at stake. We must decolonize our minds.

If you are a Star Trek fan, you remember the chilling assimilation of Jean Luc Picard into the Borg Collective. This reasonable, compassionate, free-thinking human being—sworn to protect life throughout the galaxy—becomes Locutus, a cog in the Borg mind hive.

It’s an enduring metaphor, because all of us can succumb to group-think. It happens in American classrooms where history is taught from the perspective of oppressors. It happens every time the incessant ads of corporate America convince us to become more materialistic. It happens when any racial or homophobic slur goes by unchallenged. It happens every time a politician gets us to focus on an external “enemy” rather that the inner foe of our twisted thinking. It happens every Sunday as preachers in antiquated pulpits proclaim their truth as the only way. It happens when we toe party lines—right or left—without carefully examining every tenet.

Now, as always…now, more than ever…we must decolonize our minds. Replace hatred with love, privilege with partnership, intolerance with inclusion!

The Dalia Lama is right: “A spiritual practice is a constant battle within, replacing previous negative conditioning or habituation with new positive conditioning.”


The American Dream belongs to…

On November 7th, 2012, the day after Barack Obama’s reelection, a cowardly, anonymous writer posted some racist vitriol. Not unusual in America. These particular words have circulated the internet since that day, attributed to various people like Franklin Graham. I’M EMBARRASSED TO SAY THAT ONE OF MY EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS SENT THEM TO ME A FEW DAYS AGO. IT IS HIS RESPONSE TO THE POSITIVE CHANGES AND HOPE RIPPLING THROUGH OUR NATION. I was both pissed off and acutely aware that any reply to my white relative would fall on deaf ears. So, what did I do? I framed them and highlighted a better message in yellow!

New collage


Growing Wings

Surely, you’ve heard this cry: Live from a perspective of abundance, not scarcity! It’s a rainbow truth, a call to renewal, the lodestar of many a spiritual teacher. One of my favorites, Wayne Dyer, spent a lifetime liberating people from limited thinking. As he famously said, “Change your thoughts and you change your life!”

The art with any powerful guideline is to apply it daily. This may require the painful dismantling of cultural conditioning heaped on our minds and shoulders. Personally, I have had to unburden myself from two heavy influences.


A popular form of Christianity: I know there are Christians who uphold the essential worth of humanity. They believe that their “God” created us in “God’s image” with an inner core of goodness.

But the Christianity I grew up with—a faith practiced by millions—teaches the opposite. Focused incessantly on the “fall of humanity,” it repeats the mantra that we are born sinners, we remain sinners, and that we need a savior for our redemption. Many churches claim that they celebrate victory—the past is gone, the new has come—but this is only because an external character, Jesus of Nazareth, “paid the price” for their freedom.

My daughter calls this an “outsourcing of authority.” I agree with her. It’s a clear message that we are fundamentally flawed, lacking the inner fountain of life. Too many institutions traffic in doctrines that prescribe, control, and limit. We ALL know what can happen when we cede our power to others.

I raise a different banner. We are unique and wondrous beings. We hold within us the keys to our enlightenment. It may take many years to peel back the layers of acculturation masking our divine identities, but the effort is worth it.

Sue Monk Kidd, a woman who did the hard work of emerging from theologies of scarcity, says it beautifully with her own set of metaphors.

“Here is where our real selfhood is rooted, in the divine spark or seed, in the image of God imprinted on the human soul. The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.”

The disease model of recovery.  Alcoholics Anonymous helped me rise from the ashes of my addiction. For this, I am eternally grateful. I also sympathize with the warnings from those who have seen loved ones return to deadly compulsions. Don’t grow complacent! Once an addict always an addict! Your disease is doing pushups in the dark, waiting to pounce again if you allow it!

I still attend AA periodically. I enjoy the no-bullshit atmosphere of people who have experienced the bottom and are now increasingly grateful for life. However, there is a moment at the beginning of each meeting that makes me cringe. A member reads from the Big Book, including this phrase: “We are like men (sic) who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.”

What a crippling of declaration of scarcity and woundedness! I have a heartfelt response to this cursed phrase.

I am not an amputee. I am not a prisoner of my disease. I am a man who has realized a stunning new power and freedom. I am flawed, certainly, but the spiritual process of my daily growth has revealed a metamorphic truth. I am not only growing new legs; I am growing new wings.

I urge you to transcend ANY familial, societal, or religious notion of scarcity that is holding you down. If a person or institution is communicating that “you are not enough,” shed those lies starting now.

I pray we will ALL learn to soar!

Unsung? Not Today!

I first heard the word “elegy” in a high school class called Great Books. Our teacher, Bill Cole, introduced us to Thomas Gray’s beloved poem from 1750: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The poet wanders among gravestones, pondering the unsung virtues of people who lived and died in obscurity, summed up in these beautiful verses.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air

I have a deep affinity with those outside the limelight. People faithful to values they cherish, fighting the good fight, running their courses with courage and fidelity. During my three decades as a pastor, I gained privileged admittance to their inner circles.

An elegy is too somber on this Father’s Day, 2020. Instead, I offer this tribute to unsung fathers everywhere! Your love and labor may go unnoticed, but your character matters in the lives of your loved ones!

I had a powerful experience this week. I sat and read the entirety of my father’s memoirs, notes begun in 1950. It’s a remarkable odyssey. He grew up on a Wisconsin farm during the Depression with no running water or electricity. Decades later, he would rise to be a key player in America’s Apollo Program, then serve as the CFO of a multinational corporation.

It’s not his stellar career feats that I celebrate this morning. It’s a moment captured in these words from 1957. I was 16 months old.

I’m writing this about 9:30 p.m. after watching a program on our 21-inch TV. Marilyn has gone to a church meeting and Krin is sleeping. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator in the background and smell the blossoms of the orange trees from the grove just in back of our house.

Why did this memory move me so deeply? Because it captures a father at home with his sleeping child—ME! —keeping vigil. In the ensuing years, my Dad would sacrifice family time for work, an issue we resolved long ago in our loving relationship. But this moment in 1957 reminds me of his steadfast presence in my life.

All you fathers know what I mean. Changing diapers, braiding hair, helping with homework, reading books, cooking, paying bills, chauffeuring, listening, doctoring scrapes and bruises—all the small things that sum up faithfulness on a daily basis. You’re the best!

I also give a shout out to my ex father-in law, Don Oseid, who died many years ago. He consistently nurtured my interest in writing, acting as a mentor and second father. I remember one evening when he came to me holding an anthology open to a particular poem. It was Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden, the first black American to serve as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a title now changed to Poet Laureate.

You can read the entire poem here, a son remembering how his father, after a week’s hard labor, got the fires blazing on Sunday mornings, even polishing his son’s shoes. The final words speak volumes.

What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

To all you fathers who inhabit these offices, remaining faithful to the daily tasks of loving your children, I say…

Thank you and happy Father’s Day!




The Middle of Nowhere

Rowena collageOn a lonely stretch of highway north of San Angelo, Texas, Donna pointed into the distance.

“Look at that steeple,” she said.

It rose above a smattering of low-slung buildings, its elegance out of touch with its nondescript surroundings. We love impromptu detours in our marriage, so I said, “Let’s check it out.”

As I turned, a faded marker welcomed us to Rowena, Texas, clearly a place long past its prime. Shuttered businesses lined the main street, signs faded with age and neglect. No tourist attractions here—just a dusty, forgotten pitstop.

Then we came to the sharp contrast of St. Joseph Catholic Church. It was immaculate, every brick and painted surface reflecting pride of ownership. Catholic parishes, unlike their Protestant counterparts, leave their doors open during the day, so we parked and walked inside.

The interior gleamed, stained glass reflections slanting across the floor and pews. In the center aisle, an elderly white man, his head bowed, was conversing with a younger man who looked Filipino, dressed in shorts and sandals. I doffed my cap in respect and detoured around them towards the altar.

I tried not to eavesdrop, but the gentlemen’s voices carried in the acoustically sensitive space. I couldn’t make out the older man’s words, but the other man was unmistakable. He listened to his elderly companion, replying with gentle phrases. “I understand.” “It’s going to be OK.” “I’ll help you take care of everything.”

I noticed Donna edging closer to the men, which made me a bit uncomfortable. I exited out the back, sat in our truck, and while I awaited her return, I googled Rowena.

Texas land developer, Paul J. Baron, platted the township in 1888, naming it Baronsville. German and Czech settlers convinced the Post Office to rename it Rowena in 1904, after the wife of a local businessman. Rowena reached its population zenith of 800 in 1930. Today it has less than 500.

I also discovered that Rowena was the birthplace of Bonnie Parker, born in 1910, living there until her father died and her mother moved her to an industrial suburb of Dallas.

With both windows open, noisy grackles in the trees, I glanced right and left along nearby streets: abandoned buildings, rusty cars, old farm equipment, pavement ending quickly as if dissolving into the earth. I thought of how historical figures often rise up from the middle of nowhere. This time, a woman whose crime spree of 1oo felonies with Clyde Barrow became legendary, whose death at age 24 in a fusillade of bullets is seared into our national psyche.

Donna snapped me from my daydreaming as she opened the passenger door.

“That was so touching,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“Those two men,” she said. “It was the priest talking to one of his members. That old man lost his wife of 69 years just a couple days ago. Because of COVID-19, he had not been able to see her at her convalescent home for a couple months. But they finally let him back in and he was with her when she died. He and his wife lived here their entire marriage. I just wanted to hug him!”

69 years of dreams, joys and sorrows, a wealth of memories lived out in a place that, to me, seems so remote. A loving, sensitive priest, giving honor to his post in obscurity.

“I told the priest how beautiful the church building is,” said Donna. “He pointed east and said there’s another one about 10 miles down the road.

“In the middle of nowhere, he said.”

What Do You Expect?

Too many of us traffic in half-truths. We find a sensationalized headline, or a social media misquote, then use it to wield our worldview. We cling to worn out creeds without challenging their relevance on a regular basis.

Half-truths stymie our maturation. Who is willing to investigate, to dig deeper, to find the truest version of the “truth?”

I’ve been pondering some wisdom from AA, the Twelve Step fellowship that helped save my life. These sayings hang on the walls of meeting rooms. One day at a time. Easy does it. Live and let live. First things first. Progress, not perfection.

One AA motto has gripped me this past week of national turbulence. Let go of expectations, because today’s expectations are tomorrow’s resentments.


This is only half true. We all have legitimate expectations. In my life:

  • I expect justice, and when I see racist brutality in our country, I will vehemently protest and work for change. The death of my expectation for justice would equal the death of hope.
  • I expect my wife to meet me halfway in the partnership of managing our home and raising our specials needs son. This is our contract of love.
  • I expect my closest friends to be interested in my life, just as I am in theirs. If they remain self-centered, I will choose to spend less time with them.
  • I expect performance from collaborators on a project. If they slack off, I will likely not work with them again.

Having said all this, I know that expectations can also become attachments leading to grief, anger, and resentment. It happens in my life when:

  • I expect certain behaviors from others even though history teaches me otherwise. This is especially hard when I long for understanding or acceptance from certain members of my extended family.
  • I expect an external factor—some accomplishment or acquisition—to give me lasting happiness, leaving me ripe for disappointment.
  • I expect a response from my Higher Power (God, Spirit, Tao) on my timetable, ignoring that waiting is a potent part of spiritual growth.

Ultimately, learning what to expect and what to relinquish is an art, summed up perfectly in the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Letting go; this is key! I leave you with words from Richard Rohr, because their truth has continued to ripen in my life.

Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go…letting go of our false self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right–which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.

How about you? What are your expectations? Are they legitimate expressions of your hopes, dreams, and personal dignity? Or, are they attachments causing you to suffer?






What Have You Learned from Your “Pets?”

I’m a connoisseur of fine quotes. Here are some choice words about the “pets” in our lives.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.Anatole France

Without a word, my dog taught me the meaning of love.Leila Grandemange

I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach, and far from being burdened by an inability to speak, they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear.Nick Trout

I have needed more than my share of teachers, so I try to hear the creatures in our family’s menagerie. We have two dogs, a cat, fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, a tarantula. We call them “pets,” but that’s a weak word. Webster’s defines it as “a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility.” I surely agree with “pleasure,” but our “pets” have a definite utility. They are guides to important lessons.

If you are reading this post, I invite you to share what you have learned from your own family members of another species. Here are a few examples from ours.


Be fiercely loyal! We found Remy (pictured here, now deceased), a Blue Heeler, at a roadside stand in Mineral Wells, Texas. After a few months, something became very clear. My wife, Donna, was his human. He tolerated me, but his fierce devotion was to her. If he was lying near her and I approached, he would give a low, throaty growl. He never got aggressive. I was in his circle of trust. His message was simply, “You may be the Alpha dog, but I will do anything necessary to protect this woman.” It annoyed me sometimes, but it also caused me to ask a question. Do I have fierce loyalties that are more important than my own life?

Stop and enjoy the belly-rub! We’ve all heard that “dogs have owners, cats have staff.” Yes, cats can seem aloof and imperious, but I have found a bond with them that runs deep. Our current feline, Ryder, often comes to my room in the early morning, jumps on the bed, then waits for a belly rub. Sometimes, I have other things on my mind, preoccupations with my daily schedule. Then Ryder rolls over, exposes his belly and waits. As I begin to stroke his soft fur, his paws curl and uncurl. This is a version of “stop and smell the roses,” and it centers me in the present.

Do your homework! Imagine my chagrin when I woke up one morning to find my beautiful Zebra Tarantula lying on her back. I thought she was dead A little panicky, I reached in and flipped her over, but she was still sluggish. I called my favorite exotic pet store and told the guy what I had done. “Oh no!” he exclaimed, “she’s just molting. If you move her it can be harmful, even fatal.” My only recourse was to turn her upside down again and pray for the best. Thankfully, she emerged hours later like a butterfly from her chrysalis. My lesson: do your homework when caring for another living creature! Too many animals have been neglected, harmed, or abandoned due to ignorance about the full responsibility of their husbandry.

I could offer other lessons, but I want to hear from you. You can respond here on WordPress or (preferably) under this post on my Facebook page.

Enjoy the animals in your lives! They are clever teachers in disguise.

Slow Dissolve

It happened on the Pinnacles Trail of Big Bend National Park.

View from Lost Mine Trail WP

I sat down to drink some water and soak in the panorama of rock spires. It was still, serene, just a whisper of wind in the junipers. As I absorbed a landscape carved over billions of years, the mental and spiritual pollution of human society began to slowly dissolve.

Slowly dissolving…

The trappings of modernity. Plastic bags, plastic smiles, laugh tracks on sitcoms, tickers of every world stock exchange. Social and unsocial media. TV ads, phone apps, Wi-Fi signals. Parasitic technology that consumes our time and spirit.

Slowly dissolving…

Our human divisions of race, religion, class and gender. Every creed and doctrine that separates us. Crosses, grenades, and crusades. Barbed wire, border walls, and the barriers within our hearts. The dueling dualities of partisan politics and their currencies of greed and corruption.

Slowly dissolving…

The most stubborn vestige, my emphasis on Self, the definitions and attachments of identity. Hamster wheel worries and obsessions. My trafficking in words. The Ego gasping for air as it sank away.

A deeper stillness enveloped me, a primordial wellspring of time and place, until I felt merged in kinship to our ancient ancestors. Those who raised their faces to the heavens from Olduvai Gorge. The original people of Big Bend, hunter-gatherers of the Folsom culture.

For a few moments they were gazing with me into the mysteries of eons.




A form of communion so rare in daily life…

Sharp peals of laughter from the trail below snapped me from my reverie.