I attended the “Open Mic Night” at A to Z Books last night. I even worked up the courage to share my favorite Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem. “Earth is crammed with heaven…” For me this was not a night for plucking blackberries. The poetry, prose, music and stories were food for my spirit. There in the center of North Platte is a treasure. The gifts people brought to share from the center of their own lives were moving. George invited people to the mic. “Who’s next he’d ask?” One man who helped us move into our new offices is a Cowboy Poet with an eye for the finest elements of our Nebraska life that had me shaking the dust off my sandals. Another poet shared a poem about his sons’ use of his tools. Faith shared a story of relationships and the name of an author she has come to admire. We sang and listened to ballads and during the break one musician played a polka on his accordion. As the Cowboy Poet said, this is a place to practice and take risks. I regret I don’t remember all their names but I do see their faces and their stories touched my heart. I’ll join the gathering next time. I already have several ideas for my contribution. As I sat listening I found myself thinking, here, in this place we are creating our own entertainment. Here in this place we celebrated life in its fullness some joy, some sorry, some frustration, some cynicism, some humor and above all much hope. Thank you, I will be back.