“TAKES MY BREATH AWAY” LOVE FILMS

I’m as drawn to love films as a beautiful and majestic horse is drawn to water. I create so much about and from the notion of love that it sometimes is hard for me to take a decent, deep breath. Here are 10 (actually 11) films about love (or the lack thereof) that “take my breath away” and heal my still-sometimes-very-broken heart (BOTH!):

  1. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998):
Shakespeare in Love - Wikipedia

This would indeed be my all-time favorite love film because it’s got Shakespeare and it’s got that message: “Love is the ONLY inspiration.” This film is inspired by a great and awe-inspiring love for acting, writing, directing, and how passion engages all of these things in one love film. Even if this film was not an ode to why Shakespeare wrote sonnets in the first place, the scene where Viola is onstage in a staged production of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET and William is lovingly looking at her from the wings is more than enough of a reason why I adore this love film. Viola loves William, William loves Viola, and the music takes us away to just this one moment of two looks and two smiles all looked and smiled in the name of a beautiful, all-encompassing love. That scene alone “takes my breath way” every time I see it. Even though this film is #10 on my all-time favorite films’ list, it is solidly #1 on my all-time favorite love films’ list (I guess you could say, “so the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” [Matthew 20:16]). 😉

2. SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973):

Scenes from a Marriage - Wikipedia

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman is not known for gushy and silly love films, but this film IS a very serious love film because Bergman gives us both the glory and grime of a marriage dissolving. In true and typical Bergman fashion, each scene of this film is a very serious “take my breath away,” because the truth and turmoil at the heart of this marriage ending are about as real as my hand in front of my face. Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson as Marianne and Johan give towering performances. I will never forget the scene where Marianne and Johan go to the lawyer’s office to sign the divorce papers and literally get into a fist fight. After the fight (and the marriage) is over, they both with their tattered hair and hearts sign the divorce papers. This film is as stunning as it is sacrificial. Marriage IS sacrifice and when that’s not there, stunning is any marriage’s dissolvement. I probably could have listed a handful of Ingmar Bergman films that explore the theme of this kind of intense love, but I have to keep this list as brief as possible.😉

3. MARRIAGE STORY (2019):

Marriage Story - Wikipedia

Very much like SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, this film is haunting and often horribly uneasy to sit through. Scarlett Johansson as Nicole and Adam Driver as Charlie give exceptionally riveting performances as a married couple with way too big egos (she is an actress and he is a theatre director and if that’s not “way too big egos,” I don’t know what is). I will never forget the scene where Nicole goes to Charlie’s apartment and they are in the throws of so much anger and so much hurt that the walls of Charlie’s apartment are about to come down. Johansson’s Nicole delivers to Driver’s Charlie the line that is THE line where love hoped to save this marriage and love can’t save this marriage intersect, “You’re so merged with your own selfishness, you don’t even identify it as selfishness anymore!” That line “took my breath away” because I totally identified with it. A marriage on its way to a divorce is all about selfishness unidentified anymore. The proclaimed egos of both partners “win out” and when ego “wins out,” everything is “lost in” a marriage war of two “way too big egos.”

4. THE DANISH GIRL (2015):

Hairdresser at Lilly's maison - The danish girl.

It’s so cool that this film is #4 on this list, as #4 is my spiritual number. It’s also cool that this film is #4 on my all-time favorite films’ list, as well. The story of Gerda and Einar (Lily) Wegener is what love films should always be about: The sacrifice one partner needs to make for a marriage to survive (often times in a marriage, both partners have to make sacrifices). Gerda makes the ultimate sacrifice by accepting that her husband, Einar, believes he is a woman and wants to have an operation to become Lily, the woman he always was on the inside. Anyone else that I can think of in Gerda’s position would have said in response to this, “no way, no how….this marriage is OVER!” Gerda loves Einar so much that she is willing to do just about anything (and she does) to keep their love alive. Alicia Vikander (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress) is an absolute and complete revelation in her performance as Gerda, and Eddie Redmayne completely and totally seals the deal in his performance in this film to make him my all-time favorite actor next to Joaquin Phoenix. I swear I could go on and on about how this film “takes my breath away” at every twist and turn where love is concerned but, once again, I’m needing to be brief here.😉

5. YENTL (1983):

Yentl (film) - Wikipedia

Very similar to THE DANISH GIRL, this film is not your conventional love film. It’s about a woman who loves this man who thinks a woman is a man, this man who loves another woman who is also a woman but since he can’t have this other woman, the man asks a woman to marry this other woman so he can be close to this other woman, and a woman who this man thinks is a man marries this other woman, and if none of that “takes your breath away,” I’m not sure what ever would! This film “takes my breath away” because it’s simply about the lengths and heights and depths we find ourselves reaching for in the throes (or thrown) of love. And because I am a huge Barbra Streisand fan and this is Barbra’s best film EVER, I can’t think of any other love film that pleases and excites me more than this one. And never mind that it is mainly because of Barbra Streisand and my love for her that helped me to believe that I could ever be someone someday who could love someone someday. Now, that “takes my breath away.”

6. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966):

Amazon.com: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard  Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis, Agnes Flanagan, Frank Flanagan, Haskell  Wexler, Mike Nichols, Sam O'Steen, Ernest Lehman, Edward Albee, Ernest  Lehman: Movies &

While most in a million years would never call this film a “love film,” I do because it’s a film about the absence of love in a marriage, the absence that is SO common in a lot of marriages, and an absence so penetrable that the married couple in this film actually make up that they have a child to keep the marriage bearable. Edward Albee’s play and Mike Nichols’ film adaptation are what I love most about stories where love has flown the coop (if it was ever in the coop in the first place), i.e., the dissection and probing of the insides of people who are losing their identity because love has become nonexistent while brutality and mean-spiritedness are what’s left to exist. Elizabeth Taylor, known for her striking beauty, goes from “riches to rags” in her physical beauty and gives us an “ugly” Martha, a force of nature who is as forceful as she is vulnerable. Taylor, Best Actress Oscar winner) gives what I consider the very best female performance ever captured on film. Richard Burton as George and George Segal as Nick are also excellent, but it’s the other female performance of Sandy Dennis as Honey (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner) that makes this love film truly one that “takes my breath away” every time I see it….and I’ve seen it a lot!😉

7. TESS (1980):

Tess (1979 film) - Wikipedia

If there can be any love film that is truly lovely to look it, it would be this film. Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel of the same name, Roman Polanski directed this film that makes the novel come breathtakingly and beautifully alive. This film “takes my breath away” not just because it’s pretty to look at but also because it is rapturous and daring to expose seduction between a man and a woman as actually rape, and how that one act of domination produces shame that stays with the victim. I know that one’s shame is to be nailed to The Cross of Jesus but for some, death is the one way, and maybe the only way, to be rid of that shame. Nastassja Kinski as Tess might not be the best actress who ever lived, but Polanksi knew exactly what he was doing by casting her in the title role. Because Kinski was a relative unknown and maybe because Polanski knew she wasn’t the greatest actress around, it was precisely these two very things that allowed Kinski to inhabit Tess as bright-eyed innocent, and naïve. A well-known and a great actress would have destroyed these precious traits, so thank God Polanski and Kinski didn’t. There’s one scene of a closeup of Tess with the brightest yellow sun behind her that to this day, every time I see a sun like that, it “takes my breath away,” and I call it, “the Tess sun.” LOVE THAT! ❤️

8. THE WAY WE WERE (1973):

The Way We Were #VHS Tape NWOT #BarbaraStreisand #RobertRedford Vintage  #Drama. | Romantic drama film, Indie movies, Love movie

It certainly makes sense that I would have two Barbra Streisand films on this list but even if I didn’t love Streisand, this film would be on it anyway and probably most others’ “love film” list. It’s the ultimate love story of the girl over there and the guy over here and how there and here come together and we are all the better for being present to witness that. The odds are that two beautiful actors like Redford and Streisand couldn’t possibly go wrong in a beautiful love film that ends with a closing scene that still “takes my breath away.” Streisand’s Katie and Redford’s Hubbell are looking at each other after having separated when famous Streisand takes that famous hand and famously brushes away that famous hair from Redford’s famous face. “See ya’, Katie.” “See ya’ Hubbell.” See me balling my eyes out.😥😥

9. CASABLANCA (1942):

Casablanca (film) - Wikipedia

While not the film I would have included on my “take my breath away” love films’ list, I’m including it because it’s on the top of the list for two of my favorite people and because any film with an actor or actress with the last name of “Bergman” should be on any film list I compile (see #2 for that “other Bergman” film). That said, I have seen this film and I remember loving it very much. Many “love film” aficionado’s are divided into two camps where this film’s ending is concerned: One group wants Rick to let Ilsa board that plane to Lisbon with Laszlo for The Resistance, while the other group says, “C’mon! Rick and Ilsa forever! We’re not talking about The Resistance here! We’re talking about love!” This film reminds us that love doesn’t always end as victorious as The Resistance, but what we cannot “resist” is that we loved in the first place. That is usually enough for any kind of love to take flight.

10. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) and SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980):

It Happened One Night (1934) - IMDb
Somewhere in Time (film) - Wikipedia

I admit I was torn between which of these films to include to round out the top 10 “take my breath away” love films, until it dawned on me that both films have something very much in common: The element of time when and where love is lost and/or found. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is simple enough to say love can happen one night, whereas SOMEWHERE IN TIME says one night is fine, but true love cannot be contained by the element of time. Love can happen one night, sure, and then more nights can happen after that, but sometimes you have to go “somewhere in time” to find that love again. Whether one night or “somewhere in time,” love alters us to our very core and we do search time and space to find it, but there are no guarantees that the Jericho Walls (reference to the ending of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) will stay up or come down when love happens in just one night or “somewhere” outside of space and time for a lifetime.

Now, I’m not currently in a love relationship (unless you count Jesus) but if I were, my partner would need to have seen AT LEAST one of these films. If not, watching AT LEAST one of these films is essential if any partner who loves me expects to “take my breath away.” 😉❤️

MIRACLE WORKER

Spaying and Neutering: A Solution for Suffering | PETA
Be your pet’s miracle worker today! Please spay and neuter your pet! No nonhuman animal (or human) should ever have to know what homelessness and hopelessness feel like.

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in my Miracle Worker, The Friend Christ, working out miracles for me today, this daily leavened [Home is High Him!] bread.”)

You got God working miracles for you

or do you think you are miraculous?

You got God who works out every “can’t do.”

You add 1+1 but God’s Calculus.

I got God which is all my miracle.

Given my past, I should have got madness.

My miracle is Jesus lyrical.

My song now is, “He heals me to gladness.”

“I am your Miracle Worker, My child,”

says God. “Jesus is how I heal your hurts.

He on The Cross is for you when exiled.

Home is High Him; down here, lost in outskirts.

We got an enemy here, a lurker.

We got The Friend Christ, Miracle Worker.

picture at: https://www.peta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/kittenseason-602×602.jpg

WHAT WOULD AN “INN & SUITES JESUS” DO?

(a blog post at DISCOVERY INN & SUITES by Timothy J. Verret)

https://discoveryinnla.com/blog/f/what-would-an-inn-suites-jesus-do

I must say as a front desk clerk, I am given many opportunities to ask myself the question when encountering a troubled guest, “What would Jesus do?” I’m going to write about such an opportunity I had recently and since I work at DISCOVERY INN & SUITES, I’m going to make this blog post a hotel question: “What would an “inn and suites” Jesus do?” The answer lies in wanting to help someone but wanting to help someone with Jesus’ reservations (pun intended).

This particular guest was a very friendly man yet a very troubled soul. Ironically, he kind of looks like the man with Jesus in the above picture. When he was a guest, I talked to this man and after hearing his plight, I wanted to help as best I could as Jesus could. But from the very beginning of wanting to help this man, I had some personal motives and some personal pay-offs that were at play. I made these all known to this man I was helping right from the get-go. As far as “inn” goes as Jesus would do, I did let this person “in” my home for a couple of days when he said he had no place to go. As “inn” as I was willing to be with this man, this “inn” came with some “outs.” I told this man that in no way did I want him using drugs or alcohol “in” my home (“out” of my home would have been okay, I guess) and, more than anything, an “out” I told him was that if he hurt my dog, Blue, or my cat, Conrad, I would kill him. That “out” was a little harsh, I know, but hurting the ones (Blue and Conrad) that I love was “in” no way going to allow this man to stay “inn” my home. He would be most definitely “out.”

Speaking of “suites,” I was as sweet as I possibly could be (Jesus could do so, I know) in talking to this man honestly and sharing honestly with this man about my own experiences I found very relatable to his troubled story. His troubles reminded me so much of when I had so many troubles. That said, troubles can’t be resolved in any relationship of any kind when one person is being honest, as I was, and the other person is being dishonest, as he was. As honest as I was with this man, he kept being dishonest with me, though he didn’t believe so. Honesty and dishonesty are very inappropriate bedfellows (not sure I wanted to admit that is a pun intended). I don’t think an “inn and suites Jesus” could possibly have a relationship with anyone where lies existed. Jesus would help anyone who came to Him for help, for sure, but if lies were at the Hem of Jesus’ Garment, Jesus would have picked up His Hem and moved on to find another who was of the truth.

It all culminated in a lot of unnecessary drama and while I confess I can be a major “drama queen,” there are limits to what kind of drama I care to play a part in. I’m an onstage actor but care not to be an offstage actor. And it all culminated in a night when I had to stop what I was doing with this man, as I deemed Jesus would have stopped doing what I was doing, as well. This man was active in his addiction, bless his heart, and it all culminated in him wanting me to take him to a “crack house.” This, for me, was when I stopped doing what I wanted to do and started doing what an “inn and suites Jesus” would do. Jesus would NOT have taken this man to a “crack house,” and yet I was doing just that. I stopped the car when I knew Jesus had enough of me having enough, and I told the man this was as far as I was willing to go with him. “It is finished because Jesus has finished it.” I took out the man’s suitcase and told him this was the end of the road for me with him. He called me a “drama queen,” which was so ironic as this man’s entire life that I had in so short a time with him was nothing BUT drama. And I think “drama” is key here, because for there to be any kind of drama onstage or offstage, all the actors have to play their parts. Shakespeare got this when he wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” (As You Like It, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII Line 139).  What I refused to do at that dramatic moment with this man was be a player in this man’s dramatic play. The drama was over for me and “drama queen” or not, I looked to the King Jesus of Healthy Drama and knew this drama with this man was “finished.”

When I got home that night, I felt bad because as a recovering codependent, I felt that I failed this man. But it was more important for me at that moment to NOT fail Jesus. With all my good intentions and my Good Samaritan “acts,” it was essential to me that I live in reality by not sending this man to his death. While that right there might be a very dramatic statement, it could very well be a very true statement for this man. This man didn’t know that he was going down a path and a spiral that very well could spell his death, but Jesus had me see that I was indeed helping this man go to this depth of death. Jesus had me stop that car (literally and figuratively) at that moment, because the relationship with this man was up to that point a “drive and put on the brakes” relationship and while this person’s death was possibly imminent with so much starting and stopping, so was my own death imminent. That right there was way too high a price to pay for me helping this man.

My lessons learned? Help someone in a healthy way who really wants healthy help. Healthy help is not possible if one person doesn’t want healthy help. That can easily be spotted when that one person you are trying to help tells one lie after another. Always be “inn and suites” as Jesus would do with one needing help but, at the same time, always surrender to God what God would have one do in helping another. When I knew this man I was trying to help was taking me down a very dark and twisting and turning path to destruction, I prayed to God to PLEASE tell me what to do because while this man was spiraling down, so was I and I didn’t want to go down that deadly spiral with this man. It was God who answered my prayer when I stopped the car, told the man to get out with his suitcase, and that I could do this helping (hurting) him no more. Helping someone in need is EXACTLY what an “inn and suites” Jesus would do but once again comes with reservations (pun intended). These reservations are you can’t help anyone who is not wanting to be helped in a healthy way. Taking this man to a “crack house” was NOT helping this man at all, and it certainly wasn’t helping Jesus to help this man at all. Please dance the “suites” dance of compassion with anyone who needs your help UNLESS that anyone is not looking to “suites” dance but rather die a slow and painful dance of death.

And how could I possibly know any of this? Because I used to die a slow and painful dance of death. 

Love and Blessings Always,

Timothy J. Verret, Front Desk Clerk and Creative Marketing Rep

DISCOVERY INN & SUITES

PS (Post “Stupidity”): It has been brought to my attention that many at my workplace discovered what I attempted to do in helping the man of this blog post. The consensus so far has been, “what were you thinking, Timothy?” which, of course, translates to “Timothy, we really do care about you!” That is indeed what an “inn & suites” Jesus would say and do!

picture at: https://www.godisreal.today/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/pictures-of-jesus-greg-olson-lost-found.jpg

SHAKEN

Can dogs predict when earthquakes will happen? | Salon.com
Evidence abounds of animals exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an earthquake. Might animals exhibit strange behavior weeks or HOURS or seconds before Jesus Comes? Interesting….

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in remaining chill and calm [never shaken] when doing God’s Will [never shaken].”)

You’ve been shaken from too much your free will.

You’re in an earthquake of your own swaying.

Your consequences are tremored downhill.

God is Who and How you climb up praying.

I’ve been shaken from too much “about me.”

I’ve been “quaken” from so much weighted “self.”

The calm in a storm (or earthquake) is He,

Jesus Christ, The One “Self” shake can’t “unshelf.”

“You won’t be shaken with Me beside you,”

says Jesus. “No quake will jolt Jesus. Chill.”

We’re chill and calm with God as our Breakthrough,

The Only Quake that quiets when we’re God’s Will.

No chance in a trillion we’re forsaken.

No 4″llion” gods but God never shaken.

picture at: https://mediaproxy.salon.com/width/1200/https://media.salon.com/2019/10/doggo-doin-a-concern.jpg

INSTRUCTS US

MAN’S BEST FRIEND: “Instruct us, Jesus. Your Hand on our heads is our healing when we get to kneeling.”

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in taking out my Bible this daily leavened bread as a pupil of Jesus and NOT take out the world’s book to be the world’s pupil.”)

You need a teacher who will instruct just,

a professor of power for truth stuff.

The truth lesson is this: Learn love, not lust.

Learn lust not what you want, learn love enough.

I need one who will teach me to love me.

“Am I that bad?” No, just hurt, just healing.

The teacher tells me: “Today’s lesson! FREE!”

The school bell rings and I get to kneeling.

“I will instruct us the way to learn Me,”

says Jesus. “Take out your Bibles, pupils.

We’re gonna learn about a Love Lordly.

When ‘it’s finished,’ no longer world’s scruples.”

The world is the wrong book. It’s fuss and cuss.

The Bible is how Jesus instructs us.

picture at: https://images.7news.com.au/publication/C-771220/67a203df07c642b9cbbcc995ad8c740caa4d3b06.jpg?imwidth=1024&impolicy=sevennews_v2

THINK GOOD THOUGHTS

lamb-me by Laura Zalenga | 500px | Visages humains, Photographie, Oeuvre  d'art
My “think good thoughts” today? “Love God, love myself, and love others (humans and nonhuman animals).”

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in thinking good thoughts today, this daily leavened [Jesus’ Thoughts Rose Good] bread.”)

You think bad thoughts about your good feelings.

You think good thoughts about your bad intend.

Don’t you know if you wrong them, no healings?

Bad thoughts harm you, not the ones you offend.

I think bad thoughts about my good God’s Grace.

I think good thoughts about my bad ego.

Don’t I know I’m loved by God human race?

Good thoughts I have about all are “hello!”

“Let all you think be thought of as loving,”

says Jesus. “Bad mouth no one, Good mouth Me.”

A good thought is a thought of “Christ is King!”

A bad thought is a thought of “unworthy.”

We’re not thinking about our “shoulds” and “oughts.”

We’re thinking about Jesus. Think good thoughts.

picture at: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/8a/6e/3b/8a6e3bf79b5159d3f572cfee47050e27.jpg

“SAFE?”

Building Foundations to Keep Animals Safe

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in safer times in but NOT “of” this world that wants me as a ‘worrier warrior.'”)

You lie awake, awake to a lie, “Safe?”

Do you love yourself well to even care?

Unsafe is who you are when self-hate chafe.

Safe is who you are when God is Lord’s Prayer.

“Am I safe?” My guess is, “Not when I’m fear.”

Unsure is lying on my couch. Go home!

Unsafe is all the rage of my career

as “worrier warrior” when I roam.

“Fear NOTHING! Why would I leave you right now?”

asks Jesus. “Now is how you surrender.”

That’s right. Fear NOTHING! Just pray and allow

God to “safe us” when we’re needing splendor.

In this world, NOT “of,” we are unsafe waif.

Of God’s Kingdom, NOT “in” yet, we are safe.

ELEPHANT TEARS by De’Andre S. Holmes

Elephant Tear, Do Elephant Cry? Krabi Elephant House Sanctuary

A good writer friend of mine on THE WRITE PRACTICE wrote this beautiful story that I fell in love with immediately after reading. I call it a take on THE LION KING. So, I guess Holmes’ story is THE ELEPHANT KING. Enjoy!

“Is it water from the seas that fills the Godly Nile River…”

Thunderstorms are unsettling for most animals in the African Kingdom, but none more than
the lone elephant, Mwamba. During a sporadic thunderstorm, lightning strikes an acacia tree near
a parched watering hole, where his herd drinks, setting it ablaze. Before the family could realize
the danger, the tree falls between the herd and its mother, Akua. The family, befuddled, trumpets
hysterically to anyone or thing to save its Matriarch. The thunderstorm continues to bellow and
the fire around them intensifies. Akua is desperate. She peers around for a possible escape until
she makes eye contact with Little Mwamba. As the herd stomps around frenziedly, Little
Mwamba stands completely still, his eyes dilate with fear. Akua senses his heart fluttering
through his chest and imagines his world without her. To leave him was not an option. She rears
back, trumpets gallantly to the night sky, and charges through the hollowed tree, determined to
reach her family, her son. The smell of her charred flesh laced the air, filling the herd’s trunks
with the pungent scent of vulnerability. Rain soon follows the thunderstorm and extinguishes the
fire. The family — grateful to the deities that heard its calls — showers Akua with soft touches
from their trunks.

As the days following the traumatic event pass, Akua is ravaged by pain. Her skin tissues
are being cooked by the unwavering African heat causing her strides to lag in comparison to the
rest of the herd’s. The herd will usually only move as fast as its Matriarch but with the dry
season upon them, finding water as quickly as possible is key to its survival. Deeply sorrowed,
the herd treads ahead of its Matriarch. Mwamba, refusing to leave his mother’s side, wraps his
trunk around her tail as if to infuse his energy and strength into her. His family slowly passes as
he watches each of them brush up against his mother in a show of love and appreciation. It isn’t long before the last elephant makes their way past them. Before Mwamba realizes it, the herd’s
mass turns to blurry speckles of dark grey dots in the glare of the African sun; eventually he and
his mother lose sight of them altogether. Akua’s spirit limps in pace with her steps. She’s failed.
But she must focus on stilling her heart to keep Mwamba from losing track of his. She grumbles
a tone only elephants can hear, coaxing him to let go of her tail and walk on his own. In this
moment, he learns just how estrange love and survival are. How much he must learn to love in
conjunction with how much survival interferes. The two instincts vying for control of Mwamba’s
small but swollen heart. Love & Survival.

The evening casts a bright moon over the mother and son unit; it reveals the transcendent
tether that bonds the two together. A slowly dying willow tree provides a suitable shelter for the
night. Akua grunts and moans as she struggles to lay under it. Mwamba, half her size, uses what
strength he has to help her position herself for the long cold night. Adjusting to the prickly
branches of the tree, the two snuggle close together for warmth and safety.

As the night simmers down, Akua falls sound asleep. Mwamba gazes into the stars above
him. The Serengeti is harsh and unforgiving during the day, but at night it’s a dream. A dream
that lingers in and out of Mwamba’s conscious carrying him to a place where love is paradise;
where survival has a life without limits; where his family can be together again, united under his
mother. So, Little Mwamba dreams… He dreams until the last leaf falls from the Willow Tree,
until his eyes weigh from the heavy burden he must carry alone: Akua. The night has brought
him peace.

Mwamba dips into a deep sleep. The light breeze carries his dream across the land, only
stopping to pick up the dreams of other elephants suffering during the remorseless dry season.
The night is still with only the sounds of crickets’ chirps carrying through the darkness. All seems to be in order until an unfamiliar ruffle in the bushes startles Mwamba, causing him to
suddenly twitch and awaken Akua. The slimy snickering of hyenas silences the sounds of
crickets. The two try to find their footing before the hyena’s laugh surrounds them like a barrier
of false joy. Mwamba jumps to his feet prompting his mother to do the same, but she is too
weak. The hyenas jolt out of the bushes and growl ravenously at the sight of an easy meal.
Mwamba trumpets viciously to hold the scouting troops off until his mother finds her
footing but she collapses. The earth-shattering tumble sends vibrations through the ground letting
the hyena clan know its dinner is ready. Akua trumpets in distress as Mwamba, again, tries to
help his mother to her feet. Soon more hyenas join the chaos and overwhelm Mwamba. Still, he
fights for as long as he can, thrusting his trunk and premature tusks violently at the assailants.
Mwamba and his mother are cornered against the willow tree while the hyenas are
closing in. He searches frantically for an escape and from the corner of his eye, he sees an
opening in the hyena’s formation. He knows he has the strength and speed to run through it with
little to no injury. But he looks at his aching mother and guilt instantly fills him. His instincts
want to propel him but his love keeps him buried in his tracks. The hyenas growl and launch a
full-on assault towards them. Mwamba gives up his chance to escape and stands next to Akua,
closes his eyes, and prepares for the final and most fatal strike from the hyenas. But it never
happens.


Mwamba opens his eyes to see the hyenas cowering in front of him. The thuds of
something huge is making its way to the battle. His confusion leads him astray; he’s never felt
such a powerful presence before. The sound of an elephant’s trumpet erupts from the bushes and
a huge male elephant crashes through commanding respect from everything in his path. He
stands on his hind legs and trumpets louder than any elephant Mwamba ever heard, before slamming down to the ground generating shockwaves that disorientate the hyenas and send them
scurrying away. Akua, bewildered and spent, fixes her vision onto the familiar smelling elephant.
The enormous elephant turns to look at the family behind him; Mwamba’s eyes are
gapping with a jubilant shine and Akua is lying still on the ground— breathing heavily. He walks
over to Akua and the two intertwine their trunks like a snake wrapping around a branch. Slowly,
the two release their grip from each other. The male elephant kneels on his two front knees until
the bowl of his head touches Akua’s underbelly. He knows she will not survive the night. The
old elephant has fought her last fight in the battle for survival. Mwamba admires the bull from
afar; it’s not until he allows the male’s aromatic scent to penetrate his six-foot trunk, did he
realize it smells similar to his mothers. Mwamba’s tail wags incessantly and he releases a series
of fanatic trumpets. Before his excitement could be felt, the male elephant saunters in the
direction of the hyenas, determined to put an end to their plague on the land.

The next morning, Akua lays in the same spot lifeless. Mwamba stays next to her
throughout the day until the sight and smell of his old herd arises. They’d heard the distress
trumpets Akua made and sacrificed precious time and energy to save one of their own. Mwamba,
unsettled, nudges on Akua’s abdomen with his feet, tenderly at first and then more violently after
he realizes she is not awakening. His family surrounds him and gently caress Akua with their
feet and trunks; her sisters, daughters, and cousins all pay respect to the old elephant. After a few
hours, the herd is ready to continue on its search for greener pastures. Mwamba looks back one
last time at his mother’s body as it lays still in the sway of the desert wind.

A few days pass without a single drop of water. The young and the old collapse one by
one and the rest of the herd doubt the new Matriarch’s decision to go back for Mwamba. The
tension rises as frustration permeates throughout the family. But then, a faint smell; the sweet smell of freshwater embraces the air. In a frenzy, the elephants traverse three miles at a hurried
pace towards the everlasting sanctuary. With each step they inhale the fragrant aroma of eternal
life. Mwamba rejoices at the promise of survival throughout all the odds. He thinks of his mother
and how she would have trumpeted signaling the end of famine and the wake of fulfillment to
her herd. Instead, his aunt does. When they reach the watering hole, they are greeted by another
elephant family whose smell they recognize. Each elephant splashes and wallows with each other
in the shallow pool of water; this is their first drink and bath since the last week.

When the rains return the foliage blooms and the mighty Mara River washes away the
stench of death. Mwamba is coming of age and his time with the herd is almost over. During the
next dry season, his family suddenly becomes aggressive towards him and chases him away.
Each time he tries to return, the herd stands its ground and forces him away again. A sad reality
that all male elephants face to prevent incest within the family. Mwamba directs a low grumble
towards his aunt hoping she would relinquish this rule just this once for him. She stands firm and
chases him further away time and time again. He has no choice but to navigate this world
without the support of his family. As he ambles in the direction of uncertainty, his aunt’s eyes
glisten with the mirrored image of him trekking into an unfamiliar realm. She trumpets towards
him, prompting the herd to do the same. They are all celebrating Mwamba’s independence,
showing their love by wasting energy to cheer him on. This is the last time he will see any of
them again. Mwamba is now and will forever be a bachelor male elephant, searching in and out
for adoration and companionship.

Mwamba is making his way for the first time in his life alone. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the
dry season is ending and there is a thunderstorm brewing in the distant lands. As immense as
Mwamba is, he sought shelter and comfort from the herd when nights like this hit the Serengeti.
As the storm looms, so does all the memories of Akua. She’d hum a melody that would
put Mwamba in a trance. The tune combined with gentle strokes from her trunk is a spell mother
elephant’s use to console their frightened offspring. Mwamba closes his eyes and imagines his
mother humming the harmony until a spark of lightning flashes her translucent body in front of
him. He peers around anxiously, frozen to the land his feet touch.

The thunder gains in ferocity as the storm closes in on him. Each occasional lightning
strike illuminates the land and makes it possible for him to get a glimpse at his mother’s
iridescent frame. He trumpets and chases the illusion of his mother trying to get her attention.
With each strike, she appears further and further away from him. He is so focused on getting her
attention that he forgets about his fear of the storm. A large streak of lightning hits the ground
just yards away from Mwamba and a downpour of rain drenches the land. The sound that follows
the strike makes Mwamba trumpet in fear and he runs in the opposite direction. Another strike
hits the ground, and then another, and then another. Another strike hits even closer this time and
he veers back in the direction from which he came. A final strike illumes the land long enough
for Mwamba to get a peek at a majestic tree emanating a mystical charm. He makes haste
towards the tree while preparing for the roaring thunder that trails the lightning without fail.
Mwamba makes it to the tree; its branches and leaves drape the ground making it softer
than the dry grass around it. As the storm continues to ravage the land, Mwamba indulges on the
succulent leaves, gorging himself to relieve stress. A lightning strike hits the ground close to his
tree and he cowers further into it. Walking backwards, he steps on something sharp that did not feel familiar. He turns to look at the object and waits for a lightning strike to light the ground
again. When it does, it reveals a glance of an elephant tusk. Suddenly, lightning bugs, thousands
of them, revivifies the entire tree and that’s when he sees it: the elephant bones that lay in the
same shape of his mother when she died. Mwamba stares at the bones for a moment and after
realizing it’s Akua, he carefully grips each bone with his trunk.


The thunderstorm subsides and the royal Willow Tree gleams in the sparkle of the night’s
stars. Mwamba steps outside of the tree and looks into the sky. The stars begin to form a
constellation that resembles Akua and Mwamba together under the tree. He carefully studies the
stars, rearranging them until he sees her face staring back at him. He now knows that in order to
find companionship, he only needs to look into the sky of dreams and lose himself. He returns to
his mother’s bones and carefully cuddles next to them only allowing his body to slightly touch
her skeleton. Mwamba finds himself chasing the lightening bugs with his eyes, reaching out with
his trunk every so often to grab one. It’s not long until he drifts asleep imagining the soft branch
rubbing against his underbelly is his mother’s trunk pulling him closer to her spirit.
The next morning, Mwamba marvels at the tree’s magnificence. Akua’s soul is now one
with the once withering Willow Tree giving it new life and abundance. He looks around and sees
other trees standing firm and healthy during the unrelenting dry season. Do all the elephants who
perish souls inhabit these trees? With each drop of rain, Mwamba can feel the essences of the
many departed elephants before him; the epic saga of life and death infused into each droplet.
Life & Death.

“…or is it the release of mournful tears from elephants’ ancestors?”

-The End-

TIMOTHY’S REVIEW AND CRITIQUE:

What I love best about De’Andre S. Holmes’ ELEPHANT TEARS is how he writes the “human” into this nonhuman animal story. As an animal lover, I’ve been told by countless others not to anthropomorphize animals, to which I always respond, “Why not? What’s wrong with that? Aren’t nonhuman animals very much like humans?” And, of course, the answer is a resounding “YES!!!!” That’s what Holmes explores in such great detail in his story, i.e., the beauty and pathos of growing up and just plain growing, both emotionally and spiritually. He gives all the elephant characters human souls with human feelings and human ways of looking out at the world. On this basis alone, ELEPHANT TEARS teaches all us humans to acknowledge and appreciate the complexity of emotions and circumstances nonhuman animals have to go through and experience in such an oftentimes frightening world. Holmes also never refers to any nonhuman animal character as an “it,” something other writers will do which is a HUGE pet peeve (pun intended) of mine. Nonhuman animals are not an “it,” but a “he” or a “she.” Holmes gets that, and I’m so grateful he does. There are so many tender, serious moments in ELEPHANT TEARS that brought me a tender heart of serious tears. When Holmes writes about how Mwamba “carefully grips each bone (of his mother Akua) with his trunk,” I’m a tender and serious blubbering mess! It’s Holmes exploration of love and survival and life and death in ELEPHANT TEARS that makes this story one for all ages and one for the ages. I’ve probably learned more about my own human interactions through Holmes’ nonhuman animal interactions in his story than I’ve learned in all my years of therapy. Holmes writes with great attention to nature and how nature shapes and molds us and how nature holds us. “…Or is it the release of mournful tears from elephants’ ancestors?” Once again, how human is that?!?! The mournful tears we shed from our ancestors, from generational hand-me-downs as a kind of curse, from a place of trickling-down where the trauma of our ancestors can be the healing of us now. So, can elephants cry? I didn’t take the picture above, but that is a real picture of a real elephant really crying, so do I need to even answer that question? I won’t, but Holmes does in his captivating, courageous, and compassionate ELEPHANT TEARS.

Blessed writing,

Timothy J. Verret

picture at: https://krabielephanthousesanctuary.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/elephant-tear-300×300.jpg

PAIN BODY

The Exotic Animal Traffickers of Ancient Rome - The Atlantic
I have a body of pain for any animal slain. I have a pain body for the pain of animals slain.

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in Jesus taking away my pain body whenever I’m slain by those who despise me.”)

You’re at ease, please, with what is pain body.

You’re at rest, best, with the chaotic past.

You can be happy. You’re anybody

just as deserving of joy from harassed.

I am pain, gain, as one who they despise.

I am known, unknown, by one and for all.

I can be joyful. I’m epitomize

of Jesus: I’m His Ache, His Hope, His Call.

“In this world, unfurled, you have pain body,”

says Jesus. “But take heart, smart, I take pain.

They nailed it to My Cross. If somebody

needs their pain gone, look no further: Me, Slain.”

This discomfort is us, Jesus, hold on.

This pain body, somebody, is bygone.

picture at: https://cdn.theatlantic.com/thumbor/5TT_UPCx3vK34AoWTtmHH6pGJYM=/481×127:5554×2981/720×405/media/img/mt/2016/03/42_39239791/original.jpg

THE EVIL EYE OF ENVY

Green-Eyed: The Benefits of Envy | Dalmatian dogs, Black and white dog,  White dogs
BLACK AND WHITE DOG: “Why does that dog in the middle look so different than us?” DOG IN THE MIDDLE: “I don’t see the world as black or white as you dogs do. I see BOTH!”

(God’s Sonnet by Timothy J. Verret; “it’s how I cope to hope in closing the evil eye of envy forever more [or at least this day, my daily leavened bread].”)

You’re stye of the evil eye of envy.

You ask, “Why’d they get what I deserved most?”

Your God doesn’t see it that way. Then He

graced you free, others He graced without boast.

My evil eye of envy is “unfair.”

I worked long hours and they worked but a few?

God said, “Stop that! Drop that! I know that glare.

Your hours I clocked in for your Heaven’s Due.”

“You’ve borne the burden and heat of the day,”

says Jesus. “You’ve received for My Acclaim.

Go now, fine servant. Let this matter lay.

My Father rewards equally, the same.”

There’s not much time left for us for “when free.”

When we whine, the evil eye of envy.

picture at: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/02/ab/12/02ab12ad54022a1b15fca0a4c0f76ab5.jpg