In my foyer there is a Grandfather’s Clock dating from the mid eighteen hundreds. Its origin is German. Before it came to me, it belonged to my husband’s uncle, a chaplain and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. It is a beautiful clock, and temperamental, but if I keep it wound, its gong is clear and loud and steady with an echo that resounds for nearly a full minute throughout the house.

On top of a china cabinet in my dining room, there is an Arsonia Mantel Clock that belonged to my grandmother, also dating from the eighteen hundreds, and may have belonged to my great-grandmother who lived through Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War. My grandparents had it when my mother was born in Savannah, GA, and it traveled with their family to Panama City Florida, and finally to Dothan, Al. I remember my grandmother’s daily ritual of winding it. I wasn’t allowed to touch it then, but today, I’m the performer of that ritual and the receiver of its chiming. 

Over the years, these two old clocks have evaluated time for over a century. They have broken silence as they struck through births and deaths, through happiness and sorrow, and through all in between. In hours, minutes, and seconds, these clocks have measured out the lives of many people, some of my family and some unknown. And as people died, the clocks continued to tick along, echoing the past, echoing the lives of those people.

There are many clichés about Time: Time is of the essence. Time heals all wounds. Time is money. But what is time really?  To understand, we might consider its opposite.

As human beings on Earth, we cannot experience the opposite of Time, which is timelessness, or eternity. We cannot fathom ‘No Beginning. No End.’  Our everyday lives are full of schedules and the ticking of clocks.

Some lives tick slow and heavy like the pulse of the Grandfather Clock. Others are quick and lithe as in the tick of the Mantel Clock.

But if Time is how we measure out our lives here on Earth, then what we do in those hours and minutes and seconds we have, must signal something awfully important.

Just as in the ritual of winding the old Mantel Clock, we have a great deal to do with how our time on Earth will be spent and perceived. And as with the Grandfather Clock, there will surely be an echo.

What sort of reverberation will my Time on Earth create?

What will my own echo be?

On May 13, The Distance Between High and Low will be officially launched on

Book Buzz, Net Galley, and IndieBound.org.

BUT it is now RELEASED on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll take a look, and hopefully leave a review in time for the launch.

A Finalist in The William Faulkner/William Wisdom Competition, and Finalist for The Tuscany Prize for Fiction, The Distance Between High and Low is a Southern Gothic novel about the consequences for two young people who set out to learn the identity of their father. Teenaged twins, Lizzie and Peck live in the house of their eccentric, widowed grandmother Pearl–a house of history and secrets– along with their unstable, drug-addicted, artist mother, Lila, and Izear, a half-Cherokee Indian devoted to Pearl who took him into her house many years before. Often with dark humor, the story focuses on the strivings of complex characters in the fictional town of Highlow, Alabama from the 1960’s into the 1980’s.

PRAISE for The Distance Between High and Low:

With masterful control and skillful writing, Kaye Park Hinckley boldly explores a wide range of wounded souls, ultimately finding love in the unlovable, and grace in the sufferings of a complex world. –Cassandra King Conroy, Tell Me A Story: My Life with Pat Conroy (coming in October)

Once again, Kaye Park Hinckley has written a truly Southern novel, deeply rooted in a small town yet universal in appeal. Strongly wrought characters wrestle with half-understood desires, half-articulated questions, half-intended sins – with emptiness and fulfillment, love and anger, sanity and absurdity. All in all, this is a wonderful book that struggles with the imperfections of our human condition. — Arthur Powers,The Book of Jotham (2012 Tuscany Novella Prize), A Hero for the People (2014 Catholic Arts & Letters Award)

EXCERPT:

We all got our customized cravings, our particular drugs you might say; habits, traditions, our routine ways of coping. Even Pearl has strong inclinations. Take her Fine China, restored with Super Glue to keep up her Highlow family, yet Pearl was powerless to fix the genuine break in her grandson’s heart. I like to think it’s fixed now. I like to think that Sister Perpetua flew down from heaven, took Peck back up with her, and told him what she once told me, “You may not know it, little fellow, but Jesus loves you. Oh yes, He does!” Then I think about my own Fine China, that drug I used to crave. Lila thinks I killed her son, but the thing that took Peck was the simple narcotic need for a father. It was his own customized craving that killed him. Not me. No, not me.
— Hobart McSwain, The Distance Between High and Low

POLITICS: The art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government.

MORALITY: Beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.

POLITICS or MORALITY???

Standing against abortion. Is that politics, or morality?

Standing against the selling of a pre-born baby’s body parts. Is that politics or morality?

Standing against the killing of aborted babies who live through the abortion. Is that politics or morality?

Standing against sex outside of marriage because of God’s commandment that it is wrong. Is that politics, or morality?

Advocating that marriage is created by God as a sacrament between a man and a woman. Is that politics, or morality?

Advocating that drugs harm not only the physical body, but the human soul. Is that politics, or morality?

Advocating that lying–especially under oath–is a sin. Is that politics, or morality?

You may be able to bring up other similar examples that are referred to as political, but are actually moral questions about what is good, honest and true.

Do you see an underlying–and current–problem here? Topics that have long been considered part of morality are, today, suddenly political questions where the answers are made wishy-washy enough to be voted on as morally correct behavior. And worse— it is politically correct to adhere to them, even when they are morally wrong.

This is called propaganda–because it fuzzies up Truth. In fact, it tries to diminish the Truth by using terms that intimidate or make a moral person seem small and petty.

What is the next step? A complete elimination of morality, and an assumption of evil over goodness?

Well, that bothers me. Does it bother you?

Today’s politically correct idea of morality reminds me of the fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The people are propagandized with pre-planned slogans about how wonderfully dressed the emperor is–-and so they believe it. But in truth the emperor is parading around stark naked. And everyone is afraid to say so because it’s hard to be one of the few standing against the crowd. It’s hard to be David fighting Goliath. It’s hard to do what is right when it costs something. It’s hard to say no, and to walkaway from the propagandists. It’s hard to fight against evil, because evil means to hurt us–not one, but all of us, for its own self-aggrandizement.

But if we don’t stand up to the fight, what sort of country will we have left to live in? And what sort of soul will we eventually carry to the God who carries us?

To Kill a Human Being

Posted: April 6, 2019 in World On The Edge

Capitalism or Socialism???

Posted: March 27, 2019 in World On The Edge

One of the reasons this is even a question in America is that over the last three decades our education system has failed to teach the abominations of Socialism and Communism; in other words TRUE history. Please watch–especially if you are one of those who were fooled.

In the past some admirable politicians intended that their life’s work be their monument, but in this age of power hungry fame junkies far too many politicians make it all about the monument, and not about the work. Too many politicians, especially on the hard left, are examples of self-idolatry. Too many power-hungry politicians put themselves above us. Too many corrupt politicians seek to make their undignified, and even criminal, lifestyles seem the norm, not the abnormal. Where are the admirable words that ought to apply to our leaders, such as honest, noble, trustworthy, and selfless? Those words have nearly disappeared, and instead WE are supposed to settle for those who somehow propel themselves to fame through outrageous and plainly stupid platforms that do not help, but harm Americans.

Self idolatry stems from the weaknesses within all human beings. Catholics call them the seven deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Envy, Lust, Anger, Sloth, and Gluttony.

Each of the seven deadly sins is a form of Idolatry-of-Self. We all know people who may be in danger of destroying their own lives in selfish ways through one or more of them. And they are the way of the today’s world. Just look around. But it is the politicians WE vote for that hold a huge part of OUR individual lives in their prideful, greedy, envious, lustful, angry, lazy, and gluttonous hands. Where are the GREAT leaders?

Well. . . we do have a few.

Just as we–and the politicians–have the capability of sin, we also have the capability of virtue. The seven virtues are: Faith, Hope, Love, Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice.

Are these virtues the way of our world today? Good news; many times they are, because whenever there is great evil, virtuous people will fight. Sadly, the reverse is also true. If a person is known to have virtue, there is usually someone to tear him/her down–even to crucify him.

President Trump is admittedly not a saint, but he is a great leader who is concerned more with the United States of America than with himself. Does he have an ego? Who doesn’t? Yet, he also shows an example of the seven virtues. He has faith in America and her people. He has hope for the future of Americans. He has love for God, his family, and the American people. He has an unusual amount of prudence and temperance. He is courageous, and I believe he is just. But because he is all this, there are plenty who want to crucify him for it. And of course, they do attempt to crucify him daily, as well as those who promote his message.

The Democrat slogan–we are stronger together– sounds good, but it is hypocritical, for they have only succeeded in dividing us. They have pitted races against each other, religions against each other, male and female against each other, parents against children, and now, they are attempting to push America into Socialism. Just take a look at what Socialism is.  Check it out: https://thefederalistpapers.org/us/capitalism-vs-socialism-brilliantly-explained-for-dummies

This is NOT the sign of leadership. They are not the party representation America needs, or wants.

If you are thinking of voting for what the Democrat party presently advocates, then watch this eye-opener!

file2321234734336Everyone wants to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. But did you know Saint Patrick was a slave? Here’s the story from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to  God in prayer. He wrote

“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same.” “I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave  Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why a shamrock on Saint Patrick’s day?

Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God can be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.

Unhappy with Your Life?

Posted: March 13, 2019 in World On The Edge


I don’t have….

I wish I had……

If only he/she would…

I am sick—why me?

I lost a child…..

My marriage is not like theirs…

Why did he/she have to die?

Smile? I have nothing to smile about!

Most of us can identify with unhappy, bitter thoughts–with lots of I’s and me’s. How do we make those bitter thoughts become better thoughts? How do we capture happiness for ourselves?

These four levels of happiness came from one of the Catholic Forums. I apologize for not remembering which one. But they are very telling.

The first is, “Getting what I want when I want it:” Instant gratification is the lowest form of happiness. A new car, a new pair of shoes, a filet mignon, sex, are all things which give us instant gratification. This is very self-centered happiness, and short lived.

“Praise for what I have done.” Personal achievement is a higher form of happiness than gratification of our desires. Getting compliments for our behavior or for things we have done, the plaque on the wall and the award at the national meeting, mother of the year award, etc., but they are still fleeting, and can be self centered, though we do start to reach out beyond the ME to touch others.

“Helping someone else.” Doing things to help others provides a higher level of happiness than personal achievement, but if it is not united to Christ, it sometimes feeds our pride. Philanthropy does draw us out of ourselves, away from our own carnal desires, to touch other people’s lives, and so it provides a higher level of happiness than the previous two.

But real happiness comes from this:

“Unification with God who made us and seeks us. ” The closer we unite ourselves to Our Lord, the happier we will be on earth. Just ask someone who has surrendered their life to God.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.–St. Augustine

Finalist: William Faulkner/William Wisdom Competition.

Finalist: Tuscany Prize for Fiction

The Distance Between High and Low is a novel about the consequences for two siblings who have never known the identity of their father.

Teenaged twins, Lizzie and Peck live in the house of their widowed grandmother Pearl–a house of history and secrets– along with their unstable, drug-addicted, artist mother, Lila, and Izear, a half-Cherokee Indian devoted to Pearl who took him into her house many years before.

Peck is a somber boy who sees a symbol of his father in an elusive Osprey which he tries to capture. Lizzie’s disposition is much lighter. She is very protective of Peck and quick to judge anyone who might harm him.

Next door to the old house are the neighbors. On one side is Hobart, who himself was fatherless, and as child, was virtually kept in a cardboard box by his mother, until he was adopted and brought to Highlow craving to belong in a town that did not accept him.

On the other side of Pearl’s house, is Little Benedict with his own dysfunctional parents–his socially conscious mother, his father who doesn’t want to rock the boat so goes along with his wife, and Little Sister, who is finally brought home from the institution where she was born and has lived most of her life. It is Little Sister’s innocence that makes her the genuine truthteller in the novel.

What most of Highlow wants is what Pearl already is: the epitome of old Highlow blood. But Pearl has dark secrets, too, known only by her first cousin, THE JUDGE–who takes notes on most everyone in Highlow, because The Judge is responsible for conclusions, so he needs to keep track of the circumstances leading up to them. 

When a tragic automobile accident claims her beloved Peck’s life, Lizzie’s sunny disposition sours to spitefulness against Hobart, who was driving the car. She vows to leave Highlow to find the father she and Peck never knew. Yet, when she does, it ends in misery.  Marrying a young doctor to get away from home doesn’t help either–her new husband is unfaithful, and Lizzie’s tendency toward revenge grows even larger–until something even more drastic happens. Personal guilt over the event takes Lizzie back home to Pearl’s house for reparation. There, she finally learns her father’s surprising identity, as well as the consequence he will have to pay.

Ultimately, this novel reveals the undeniable importance of fathers to a family. Over the years, there have been many published studies on the importance of fathers. Without a father a child is much more likely to engage in activities that are abusive or harmful. In an article entitled The Plight of Fatherless Children from Gazette.net the following discoveries were noted of children without fathers:

•Sixty-three percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.
•Eighty-five percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.
•Eighty percent of rapists are from fatherless homes.
•Seventy-one percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.
•Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers are from fatherless homes.
•Seventy percent of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes.
•Eighty-five percent of youth in prison are from fatherless homes.
•Seventy percent of pregnant teens are from fatherless homes.

These are startling statistics–and yet, there is hope and redemption, as there is in my novel. Read the following quote from Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners–in southern jargon, of course.

Every person that comes into this earth … is born sweet and full of love. A little child loves ever’body, friends, and its nature is sweetness — until something happens. Something happens, friends, I don’t need to tell people like you that can think for theirselves. As that little child gets bigger, its sweetness don’t show so much, cares and troubles come to perplext it, and all its sweetness is driven inside it. Then it gets miserable and lonesome and sick, friends. It says, ‘Where is all my sweetness gone? Where are all the friends that loved me?’ and all the time, that little beat-up rose of its sweetness is inside, not a petal dropped.

Why Are We Shocked By EVIL???

Posted: February 18, 2019 in World On The Edge

Evil exists in the world. Who can deny that? We see it in the news every day. Often its inexplicable, and we are shocked when we see the ugliness of it. But evil is lurking in all of us. It’s just that some, especially today, seem to welcome it and then, wallow in it like pigs in mud.

The reason we are shocked at evil is because it goes against the grain of the image in which we are made, the image and likeness of God who is goodness itself. Because God created us in His image and likeness, He is within each of us here on Earth and we are meant to return to Him in Heaven.

Still he loved us enough to give us Free Will. We are free to love Him back, or not. When we do not love Him, when we ‘mess up,’ when we sin; we have chosen to do evil by our Free Will. And the reverse is also true—when we recognize our faults and ‘clean up our act,’ that decision also comes from our Free Will.

But evil–Satan–doesn’t desire to give us a choice. “Cleaning up our act” is not something Satan wants us to do. He twists what is evil into an apparent good, making it seem sensible for us to choose wrongly. He is a liar and a charade.

Maybe you say, “I don’t believe in Satan.”

Well then–you’re just who he’s after.

Don’t be manipulated. Satan is real. That beautiful fallen angel once loved by God has always been real. And he is among us now. Look at the state of our world, the demise of our culture, our disintegrating values. Look at the lying, stealing, killing, raping, selfishness, all around us.

Based on the teaching and example of Jesus (Mt 4:1-11; 12:22-30; Mk 1:34; Lk 10:18; 22:31; Jn 8:44), the Catholic Church has always held that the devil is real, not a mythical personification of evil. Pope John Paul II, in his general audience of August 13, 1986, expounded at length on the fall of the angels and, in speaking on the origin of Satan, said:

When, by an act of his own free will, he rejected the truth that he knew about God, Satan became the cosmic “liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). For this reason, he lives in radical and irreversible denial of God and seeks to impose on creation–on the other beings created in the image of God and in particular on people–his own tragic “lie about the good” that is God.

Satan does all he can to get us to deny God and His commandments to us. And of course, it works.

Some of us deny God in what might be considered small ways. Others of us go whole hog. But any small chiseling away of the goodness God set within us is a danger–to ourselves, to others, and to our world.

God has a beautiful plan, a plan of goodness, and He’s showed us what it is. Satan has a burning plan for evil, enough evil to destroy us and our world with it. Satan disguises his plan as a “good for us) because he understands our human nature. He understands that we choose what we perceive as a good. So he makes evil appear as a good.

How can we fight this? First, we have to be able recognize evil as evil, no matter how it is disguised. We do this by prayer, by reading God’s word, by listening to truth from the mouths of those we know we can trust, and then be open to God’s grace.

Next, we have to consciously make the decision–indeed thousands of little decisions throughout our lives– to reach for the grace of God (for without it, we can do nothing) and use that grace to do battle against evil in OURSELVES and in OTHERS.