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Arriving at the end of another tumultuous year, the rearview mirror magnifies an ever-present need to speed toward joy - by any means necessary. We also see the reflections of transitions, change, and loss.

Our one foot forward was recently thrown two steps back by the December 7th passage of Greg Tate and the December 15th transition of bell hooks. In my Seattle community, joy ambassador Kenny Joe McMullen claimed his angel status on December 13th. Though no longer physically here with us, we can feel their form; an ancestral drumbeat sparking a thought, a memory, a smile, an inspiration, and hopefully some joy.

(L) bell hooks courtesy Wikimedia commons & (R) Greg Tate courtesy Nisha Sondhe/Duke University Press

In this issue, we are so fortunate to have guest writer Paul r Harding's "Farewell to Greg Tate" that is touching, honest, and a joy to read. Please do take a moment to experience Paul's eloquent recollection of Tate.

Gratitude is also ever-present in our minds these days as we take stock of the things we still have intact. The holidays can be especially challenging to find and embrace gratitude and joy when there are empty chairs at gathering tables. But still, pointing our eyes to the times we shared with those lost and the gifts we received from their love, scholarship, and culture is critically important.

As the holidays provide many of us with a time to relax and reflect, I am grateful for a bell hooks reminder of what delicious can be, beyond food - "My idea of a delicious time is to read a book that is wonderful. But the ruling passion of my life is being a seeker after truth and the divine."

Remembering Kenny Joe's enormous smile and his introductory questions to size up someone upon first meeting and bring an immediate smile, "What's your name and who are your people?", is another reminder of the connectedness of grace, gratitude, joy, history, and relationship.

As we prepare to end this year and enter the next, we must also remember that in the words of Frankie Beverly and Maze, "joy and pain, are like sunshine and rain." One cannot exist without the other.

At Arté Noir, we are so grateful for the time you have spent with us these past 8 months since we launched. It's been a joyful experience and one that humbles us. We look forward to continuing our relationship and extend our best wishes for a wonderful, restful, and reflective holiday season!

Cheers to you, Kenny Joe. Your smile and laughter are everlasting! (Kenny Joe McMullen, photo courtesy of Marie Kidhe)


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