bunt sign

February 13, 2000

For once the dreary gray sky seemed right. According to the local weather channel, Santa Rosa got nearly half of this month's rainfall today. It would be a depressing setting, if it hadn't felt so fitting to the news we woke up to this morning that our most celebrated citizen, Charles Schulz, had died last night. (The link is to the notice in his hometown paper, The Press Democrat.)

"Peanuts" is part of the lives of millions of people around the world, but the reserved, self-effacing man who created the comic strip was a part of our community. He and his family have contributed heavily to local arts, education and charitable causes. In return, we allowed him the space to lead the life he wanted, with the dignity befitting the serene philosopher he was.

Most of the obituaries will focus on the comic strip and its characters, and that's as it should be. That's how the man wanted to be remembered, after all. When Santa Rosa was looking for a way to honor him on his retirement, he vetoed any ideas of naming a street after him or erecting a statue of him. This summer the city will commission a statue of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Reading "Peanuts" as a child, I identified with Charlie Brown, and not just because he, like me (and like Schulz) was the son of a barber. I admired the quiet dignity with which Charlie Brown accepts his bad luck yet kept striving. He puts a baseball team on the field every spring, even though they never win a game. He always allows himself to believe that Lucy won't pull the football back.

The resilient faith he always shows in basic human decency is the best gift "Peanuts" leaves with the world. Naïve or not, this faith is what has made the strip so widely loved and admired. Hope will forever be a commodity that enriches our lives, and it will be hard to replace the fount of hope we've just lost. We need all the inspiration and encouragement we can get.

Flood warnings

On a day like this, I am conscious of the good fortune I've had in my life. There have been times when I haven't allowed myself to benefit from the blessings I've been given. I complain, and chase some elusive fantasy of a better life, but I could so easily have been born into a family without the advantages I've had. We weren't rich by any stretch, but neither were we destitute or homeless. I could have been born in another place or time, when I wouldn't have had the freedom to get as far in life as I have. I have the enrichment of a college education, the security of a job that allows me a comfortable life, and the freedom to make choices that are unavailable to many people.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm glad to have a roof over my head on a miserable day like this.

However, it's expected to rain almost constantly all week, so anything you're likely to find in this space should be taken in that context. I'm a summer person. I choose to live in a place where winter is less severe than in many other parts of the world. Even when I don't complain about the weather, I tend to let it affect me. Since I'm aware of the problem, I can concentrate on overcoming it. I will seek the inner sunlight and try to let it shine through here. Amen.

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