Thursday, March 27, 2014


When religious persons control private, for profit businesses, what rights do they have over you as your employer?

Could they make you go to church on Sunday? Could they make you kneel in prayer five times a day?

But this past Tuesday,  March 25, (CLICK HERE) the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing oral arguments about whether private businesses with devout owners should be exempt from providing health plans to employees under the Affordable Care Act that include access to contraception.

It's sometimes known as the Hobby Lobby case, named for one of the companies that sued because its religious owners believes that God prohibits contraception.

That Hobby Lobby would take this matter all the way to the Supreme Court tells me those owners truly believe they would end up in hell if they obeyed that law.

So the court has a tough decision to make. They really should have refused to hear this case and leave things as they are.

The Supreme Court is not above God, although some of the Justices seem to believe that they are god like, but I don't imagine it wants to be seen as forcing Americans to do what sends them to hell.

I should also point out there are many things that can get you sent to hell. We all know religious persons who feel that one or two recent wars that they were forced to pay for, as well as our entire nuclear arsenal, are a clear violation of at least one of the major commandments.

So if the Supreme Court is going to protect one person's religious sensitivities over how the government forces them to spend their money, wouldn't they have to do the same for everybody?

I doubt that would happen, as our so called unbiased legal system in the United States is dysfunctionally unequal when it comes to providing equal justice for all.

Religion has no place has no place in the US Supreme Court. Religion, or the lack thereof, is such a deeply, deeply personal thing. People who think they've got a personal pipeline to the divine make me nervous. People in power who think they've got a personal pipeline to the divine make me even more nervous.

Religion has been used in this country to justify all sorts of evil things, hatred of people who are "different", intolerance, ignorance, edifice complexes of expensive buildings while the poor are often ignored, massive coverups of children being abused by those who wear the cloak of god  It encourages revisionist thinking, like the Texas Board of Education's reshaping American history in its textbooks.

And unless you've pulled some mystical magic trick, died, crossed over to the great beyond and come back again, how do you really know what God's thinking? If, that is, He/She exists at all.

Well the Supreme Court is going to eventually tell us their answers to these questions and it will become the law.

No doubt in my mind, that win or lose, a whole lot of innocent people will be going to hell thanks to whatever the Supreme Courts decision will be.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Sometimes I have a blog story to post but I cannot bring 
myself to write it. 
My blog is often an extremely emotional experience for me to 
write, especially when it is about other victims, young victims 
who have died. 
They all remind me of my son Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff 
and become too painful to write because I know what the 
parent(s) of the other child are feeling, the pain of
living with and the unforgettable memories of their 
son or daughter who is now gone forever.
I have avoided writing today's Blog because it pains me 
very much to do so,but it is now time for me to write 
about Meghan.

I had previously written a Blog Story-CLICK HERE,  
when Meghan Murphy died at the age of 30 years, on 
February 5th 2011.

Recently I read a beautiful but terribly sad Journal entry -

CLICK HERE-- on a memorial site for Meghan.

This journal post entry below was written by Meghan's mother, 

Marcia Murphy and reprinted here with her permission. 

It is a poignant window into the world of parents 

who have lost a child. 
"A Snowy Day"

 Journal Entry Posted: Feb 13, 2014 6:00am: 
"Unable to sleep and being overcome with the feeling Meghan wants me to make an entry in this journal, I'm reaching out to all of you who did so much to help us get through those last few months.
I want to share a few thoughts and something that has happened which I know Meghan would be very happy about. 

This is a week that takes me back to an unhappy time, Meghan's passing and burial.  

So many thoughts of those last few months I spent with Meghan have been running through my mind.  Her presence, her attitude, her smile, all somehow transforming that heart wrenching experience into a time with so many uplifting and warm memories.  

It is a time that fills my heart with every emotion possible for a human being to bear.  I cling to the moments that give my heart joy and search back in my memory for all the wonderful hours spent with Meghan from the minute she was born.  I'm fortunate to have so many wonderful memories to cherish, but nothing really makes me feel the slightest bit better about this loss.  

Three years have passed.  I am convinced that for a parent there just isn't any amount of time that will heal our sorrow.  Everyone who has lost a loved one has a sorrow all their own. With the loss of a child each individuals sorrow is something no one can share or understand.  I think of Meghan telling me so many times that we just have to accept what is happening, and I'm still striving to do that. 

I still get notes from friends in her past; a Lantern placed on the Ganges in India in her memory, books have been dedicated to her, a walkway brick placed in the sun at Agnes Irwin's and donations to the school in her memory, donations to Heifer International,  a marathon run and Women's Swimming events completed in Ithaca in her memory.  

Knowing that others are remembering her is  comforting to me.  There were so many friends at Meghan's burial service whom I didn't get a chance to speak with. I wish I had spoken out that day and thanked everyone and asked everyone I hadn't spoken with to send me a note telling me how they knew Meghan.  I'm proud that she is such a loving person and had so many friends.

It is snowing here this morning.  We already have at least five or six inches. It makes me remember a day many years ago when I awoke to a day such as this at our home in Pennsylvania.  I got dressed to go out to shovel our driveway.  I found Meghan and our dog Muffin were outside enjoying themselves.  Meg had already shoveled half the driveway.  She said she didn't mind because she loved a snowy day, and there was something magical about being out in a new snowfall.  She was having such a good time.  It was contagious.  We finished the driveway and took a walk with Muffin.  

That was just the most wonderful morning.  I thought of that day at her burial with the snow swirling around us at Greensprings.  I knew Meghan was loving mother nature's added touch. 

I knew that someone had asked permission to film Meghan's burial.  I thought they would be doing this for some footage to use on Greenspring's website.  I truly don't remember seeing one person with a camera that day, but they were there. 

I've checked Greensprings Natural Cemetery web site often to see if they added any of Meg's burial. I thought they just decided not to use it.  

When I spoke with the Director of Greensprings a few months ago, he mentioned that the documentary about green burials was coming out and it included some footage from Meghan's burial. 

I didn't understand that the people filming were doing so because they were making a documentary on green burials not for the web site.  

I have to say, I was a little shaky on this type of burial.  It was Meghan's idea.  She and her friends planned all of it.  It truly was a very spiritual and mystical experience for me that day.  It certainly was just perfect for Meghan.  

So as it turns out the group filming the documentary have used footage from Meghan's burial to open their documentary (A Will for the Woods) on green burials.  I missed a showing in Syracuse, but hope to see it when it gets to Ithaca in the spring. (The producer of the film sent me a CD with the opening of the movie)  The film opens with the horses coming through the snow pulling Meghan on the sled. The snow is falling and it is a beautiful site.  

The footage is less than a minute, but it ends with Meg being lowered into her final resting place. The producer said many have commented on the opening scene and how moving it is.  

To think that the last few seconds of Meghan's bodily presence here on earth are part of a documentary encouraging something that many feel is better for the environment makes me smile.  

Meghan isn't even here and somehow has managed to get into a green documentary.   

I always thought she was amazing but this so much more than amazes me.  I know she would be happy about this, and that makes me feel excited for her.  (My dearest Meg, it just makes my heart feel light, even skip a beat.) 

I know Meghan would think this is just the greatest.  I'm sure she wants me to share this with all of you, and I thank you for being there for us all those months so long ago as well as now.    
 I know Meghan wants us all to be happy.  I have so many happy memories because of her.  

I just try to think of those times as often as I can and it really does help. 

Remember to be kind and forgiving to those you love.  

Try to understand the differences in all of us and embrace your loved ones with a  hug or kiss you can remember and carry in your heart. 

Wishing you happiness,

My thoughts after first reading Marcia's amazingly honest, yet tragic experience of living with Meghan's loss, is how much courage she has and that is something all of us who have lost a child share with her.
We each cope with our loss in different ways but there 
is an understanding of what we feel that those in our 
situation can only truly understand. It is so true as 
parents of children that we have lost, how the grief 
and sorrow can never go away.
I can't feel how it could since we loved our Meghan 
and Steven so very much. They have always been part 
of who we are as human beings and their tragic deaths, 
the reality of suffering they bravely endured, only make 
them even more missed by us as every hour, day, week, 
month, year passes. 
We see their friends getting married, having children, 
experiencing the simple wonders of every day life and 
our children will never have a chance to live the rest
of their lives.  
It haunts me all the time that I am here, and Steven 
is gone forever. 
It should be the other way around but it isn't, such is 
our sobering, ugly reality. 
The feelings of losing a child are indescribable to 
anyone else, except another parent who has also 
lost a child. 
It is the worst nightmare of a parent come true and 
no one except people in our "club" can truly 
understand how we feel, no words, no memorials, 
no tributes, nothing can give us back our beloved 
Meghan and Steven. 
Marcia conveys these feelings in her post in a way that 
makes my heart ache.
It is one of these rare written feelings that anyone 
who reads her words should feel within themselves.
We will always remember 
Meghan Murphy and Steven Nathaniel Wolkoff. 

Monday, March 10, 2014


Don’t Be Fooled By Me

                     by Charles C. Finn, 

Please hear what i'm not saying
Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask,
a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me,
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.

My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.

But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.

So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.

I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings-
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator-an honest-to-God creator-
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.