Sometimes, words fail us. It may be when we’ve looked at a spectacular sunrise or sunset or when we’ve laid on out back under a starry sky and feel the immensity around us and our own finiteness, adrift in the massive ocean of the universe.

At other times, we may be dumbstruck when gazing into the face of a loved one for the first or the zillionth time, for such things know no season.

I can find myself speechless when looking at animals. I see their grace, their power, their color, their mystery…hidden behind eyes that see but mouths which can form no words. I wonder what goes on inside the brain of an animal like one of the great apes. Do they form words but just lack the capacity to verbalize? Do they think in pictures? What might they be thinking about as they gaze at us?

Take this great gorilla from the Atlanta zoo, for instance. Double click the image to see it in greater size and look at the eyes.  What is happening? The mouth seems down-turned into a never-ending frown, forlorn of hope. I don’t know, but I must say this: I find it heartbreaking that such a magnificent creature is sequestered in a holding habitat instead of roaming the misty hillsides of Africa.

On Saturday, I went with one of my sons and his two little girls to the zoo and got some wonderful photos of these magnificent creatures, including today’s photo. I’ll share more with you in a few days.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  on this day in 1885, a 19-year-old man named John Lee was sent to the gallows in Exeter, England, for the murder of Ellen Keyse, a rich older woman for whom he had worked. Although he insisted he was innocent, Lee had been convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. However, after the noose was put around his neck and the lever that would release the floor beneath his feet was pulled, something malfunctioned and Lee was not dropped. Strangely, the equipment had been tested and found to be in working order. In facts, weights used in a test run plunged to the ground as expected. The hanging was attempted two more times, but when Lee stood on the trap door, and the lever was pulled, nothing happened. He was then sent back to prison. On November 15, 1884, Keyse, who had been a maid to Queen Victoria, was found dead in a pantry next to Lee’s room. Her head was severely battered and her throat cut. There was no direct evidence of Lee’s guilt; the case was made solely on circumstantial evidence. The alleged motive was Lee’s resentment at Keyse’s mean treatment.

The authorities, mystified at the gallows’ inexplicable malfunction, decided to ascribe it to an act of God. Lee was removed from death row, his sentence commuted, and he spent the next 22 years in prison. After he was released, he emigrated to America. The cause of Lee’s remarkable reprieve was never discovered.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  it is believed that a male silverback gorilla is stronger than 20 human beings combined. Thankfully, they are largely docile and only fight or attack when absolutely necessary.


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