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Showing posts from 2009

Enough Said - Merry Christmas

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And the big day has arrived, what we’ve been waiting for, it’s Christmas. So many writers, poets and songwriters have made attempts to pen the meaning of Christmas. Here are a few of the classic examples of songs we sing during the Christmas season, attempts to state in melody the significance of the birth of Christ: • Away in a Manger • The First Noel • God Rest You Merry Gentlemen • Hark! the Herald Angels Sing • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear • Joy to the World • O Come, All Ye Faithful • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel • O Little Town of Bethlehem • Silent Night, Holy Night • We Three Kings • What Child is This? Of course, there are also many movies, books, poems, and the like that attempt to tell the story of failure, rebirth, and redemption in modern terms, or in what were modern terms when written. Like so many “rewrites and remakes”, the original is often the best, and probably also the most simple. The Gospel of Luke tells the story in this way, “And an angel of the

Super Spy?

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Our fascination with spies and covert operations seems to come and go, as evidenced by the television series throughout the ages, which also seem to be driven by the movies of the day. It is probably safe to conclude as well that this fascination is also feed by the world climate and conflicts between nations. I can remember looking forward to the weekly episodes of “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, sharing the excitement of young boys the next day with friends. It seemed spies and espionage trickled into many night time shows and many actors took their shot at being a super spy. And of course, the ultimate spy of all time is the one and only Bond, James Bond, 007, licensed to kill.  You can almost hear the famous music in the background, the popular song from your favorite episode ringing in your ear. There are varying opinions as to what actor was the best and greatest James Bond of all times (Sean Connery would be the answer, of course). Bond was famous for bravely and courageously walking i

Oh, For The Love Of God!

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In my solitude, when I can get it, I find at times drifting back mentally; reviewing the many paths I’ve walked in my life. Truly, none of them cause me great regret or remorse. Sure, there are paths of embarrassment, hurt pride, foolish acts, memories I’d rather not have, but no real regrets, as each road, each path, has taught me the true road towards life, towards Salvation, towards God. I still walk roads that will lead to future memories I’d rather forget before they occur, but in my humanness, I know that these roads will need to be traveled. In those moments of solitude and contemplation, I can rest in my serenity and appreciate the changes God has orchestrated in my life, and thus, in the life of those I encounter. Most of my friends of the past or my family of the present would never have imagined I would be were I’m at in life right now, and in that statement, rests the true power of God. And yet, the reality also exists that inside me lurks a beast that if I’m not careful,

Not Retired Yet

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Besides having a day off to relax with the wife and daughter, it was a day with no real expectations. A nice drive on a nice sunny, yet cold day, to a town in another state, only about 90 minutes away, to attend a retirement ceremony for a distant in-law, an uncle of my wife’s, whom I’d only met on three other occasions. From what I’ve gathered, he’s a nice enough fellow, big, tall, that left over hippie looking guy who really isn’t, more of an academic superstar who excels in everything he attempts, with a sense of humor that never appears to stop. Like I said, nice enough appearing fellow. One of those guys I wish I’d known more of and known more about, spent more time with. I assumed I’d encounter other academic likes and military personal as well; officers I would gather. And, upon arrival, I was right. The setting was smaller than I’d figured, and more formal. We were greeted and escorted to our seats, the second row of seats from the front row, name tags on our chairs, feeling

NO, NO, NO

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So many of us in our lives have came to that point when we began our search for a mate, a partner, a spouse to spend our lives through eternity. And as our marriage grew, so did our desires, and the eventual desire to add children to our family. After conception, we share our news with our family and friends, begin to read our books, take our courses, prepare the nursery, have our showers, buy what we and the baby will need, and celebrate the eventual birth of our new baby child. We care, protect, love, and wait for those exciting days when our child will begin to coo, roll, crawl, and utter those first words. Our little angel looks up to us one day, in his post-infant toddler stage, and firmly states, “NO”. And the world of “no’s” begins, from the mouths of our baby to the attitudes of toddlers to the defiance of preteens to the rebellion of teens and on and on. We grow up and begin to experience the reality of the “no’s” of the world, from teachers, from those we are interested in

No Thanks, I'm Just Fine

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Have you had those moments when you’re walking through life just fine, not really up and not really down, just minding your own business, not really connected to much but not severely disconnected either. Life is just life and in such moments you just are what you are, or as Popeye the Sailor would say, “I yam what I yam”. Something happens, someone engages with you in this way or that way, the environment impacts you, an injustice occurs, etc, and an event or person just has to throw that symbolic wrench into your complacency, messing up your “just fine” to anything but “just fine”. Have you ever noticed how God tends to do that throughout His history? People of old are going along just fine, minding their own business, comfortably wrapped up into their own worlds of complacency, minding their own dysfunctional lives, doing just fine, and God throws this wrench into the middle of it all. Adam and Eve are just fine; they only wanted a little fruit from this little old tree. Noah is o

Oh, That Beautiful White Death

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Oh, the beauty of snow, white fluffy flakes, fills the skies, falls upon our earth, a freshness and visual splendor for our eyes to see. Snow fills aging hearts with the memories and wonder of their long past youth, reliving for just a moment the child like joy of falling snow. Snow excites and energizes millions of youth who pray to stay home from school and enjoy endless hours of white filled fun. Snow covers the landscape with beauty and awe, a canvass of fresh paint from a Skilled Master Artist. Oh, the beauty of snow. Oh, the horror and misery of this white torture, falling all over the roads, making life miserable, another struggle of endurance in an already difficult journey. This white death that covers the winter and causes so much agony for so many people, just wish it would dry up and go away. Oh, the dislike of snow, wondering why God fills the day with this awful stuff. I’m sure there are multiple degrees between the above two descriptions of snow. Life brings us some

Yeah, You've Got One Too

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Have you ever noticed in the seasons Christmas movies there is always a villain. Some shifty character looms behind the scene, his whole goal to mess up Christmas for all others, giving himself total pleasure. We had the Mr. Potter in “It’s a wonderful life”, the magician in Frosty, the Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol, and of course, the great Boris Karloff telling the story of the Grinch. All these characters whose sole purpose is to bring as much doom and gloom, the very condition of their hearts and souls, into the lives of everyone they encounter. I feel relatively safe to write that most of us, my readers, have our own Grinch’s who darken our doors, spewing forth their foul stench to sadden our spirits during our own Celebration of Christmas. They wear the frame of family, bosses, situations, commercialization, and memories, to mention a few, ever to happy to sew misery into our joy. They are like the leaky pipes hidden behind walls, causing slow and gradual, unknown and unseen da

The Family, Not The Law

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A factor that is part of the Christmas season, whether it is one of joyful anticipation or worried concerns of anguish, is in-laws. Some we travel to see and some travel to see us, or both, in the same season. Some of us are blessed that we have grown from an attitude of “us and them” to us as a family, by blood or law, the meaning being the same. Others have the continued emotional and behavioral struggles of “us vs. them” encounters which affects the majority of personal relationships in a family unit. Such struggles can rock holidays in all ways but the good ways. In a bigger sense of a religious world view, we are at the same time all related and all adopted into the same family. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are “adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ”, telling us that God has adopted us as his children, having full birthright as any natural born child. Passing a church today, a sign read, “Advent is a time to reclaim our inheritance as children of God”. Have you found yo

Choices, Choices

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The life of us humans is full of choices, and their related consequences. We do not always like the consequences of our choices, and in our pride, ignorance, and/or stubbornness, we often refuse to accept the consequences of our bad choices, repeating errors, hoping that continuing to do the same thing over and over will somehow deliver us a different result. Accepting the positive consequence of good choices is what we desire and can reinforce the habit of positive choices. Oddly enough, negative choices can be reinforced as well when we allow denial, rationalization, our low self worth, and our faulty and irrational perceptions to get in the way. In other words, when we live in a world of emotions, ignoring reality and refusing to adapt and adjust to reality, we are often doomed to eternal misery. This is not to say that emotions are negative, as Love must surely be the most significant and most sought after emotion we humans have. To Love is to truly be, united, complete, satisfie

That Same Old New Story

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The family has all returned home, the turkey has been devoured and no more leftovers, all has been cleaned up, the travel is done…or at least, for now. Thanksgiving is over and the goal now is to lose the 5 pounds gained before the feasts of Christmas and New Years. Being with family during the holidays can have its ups and downs. The best part of being with family is the stories. All families have stories and all families like to tell their stories. Sure, some stories get more interesting with each passing year, and even with each passing decade. I enjoy the stories shared with family during the holidays, even if I’ve heard them all my life. Stories are a rich part of who we are as a people, as a culture, and as a family. They are the oracles of time, passed down throughout generations. Some cultures value the spoken historical stories more than others. Some families tell stories of struggles, overcoming obstacles, first loves, memorable events, and the passing of loved ones. My chi

Thanks God

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The turkey, and everything that goes with it, all set up, ready to eat, ready to gain that extra few pounds, belt loosened and pants with the expanding waistband on, visions of a long afternoon nap on the couch as sounds of college football ring in the ears, family surrounds, both functional and dysfunctional; it must be Thanksgiving. We focus on the food, the joy of seeing family we like and trying to maintain with the family we’re not quite as fond of, spending the day like every other Thanksgiving. The day, the beginning Holiday of the Holiday Season, followed by Christmas and New Years, comes and goes, and many forget to reflect on the meaning of being thankful. Life being what it is, doesn’t deliver only gains and success, but intertwines struggles, pain, disappointment, and the like, throughout our lives. We have become a culture that is obsessed with being happy, relieving pain, avoiding discomfort at all costs. Take this pill, drink this liquid, do this exercise, practice thi

Slow Down, Don't Move Too Fast

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An infant is just that, an infant. His primary focus is basic survival, to eat, drink, be clean and warm, and most of all, to be loved. As he gains awareness of self and environment and as his body grows, he begins to crawl, exploring his world. He later learns to walk, and then, all changes for him and his family. Walking turns to running and the race to grow up begins. Infant to toddler to child to teen to adult and eventual senior living. In Greek mythology, the Sphinx asked a riddle of travelers. If the traveler failed to solve the riddle, then the Sphinx killed him/her. If the traveler answered the riddle correctly, then the Sphinx would destroy herself. The riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening? Oedipus solved the riddle, the answer being man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age and the Sphinx destroyed herself. We as humans jump oh so early into the r

Dark or Light

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On a dark and clear night, a man was traveling with many children down a rural unlit highway, on his way to a retreat center, for a youth filled weekend. The long stretch of highway ascended up the rolling hills of Kentucky and descended down the other side, driving up the peaks and down the valleys. The night, even though early in the evening, was especially dark, being late fall, with no gas stations or stores along the roadway; dark and lonely yet loud with the voices of youth ringing throughout the van. The van was filled with joyful voices of youth one minute and fearful excitement the next, as smoke began to billow from under the van, filling the valleys with what appeared to be fog in the blackness of night. The needle reading the vehicles temperature quickly reaching the red of being overheated, and then surpassing the red mark and screaming to the driver, “I’m dying, pull over”. But the man behind the wheel continued to force the van forward, searching for a safe haven for t

Let Us Not Forget, What Has Made Us Great

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Have you ever pondered how wonderful it is that you don’t remember everything that has happened in your life? Sounds odd, doesn’t it, but imagine if every single event, every trauma, every joke, every time you skinned a knee, every rejection and every joy, every tear and every laugh, were vivid and active in your memory, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every month of every year, and on and on. Sounds pretty overwhelming, doesn’t it. Now, I realize that some memory loss is unwanted, coming from growing old, dementia, and various illnesses and diseases. Those types of memory loses come unwelcomed and unexpected. We try to delay these loses as long as possible, through nutrition, exercise, vitamins, and other various attempts to slow the aging process down. Funny how we as humans so often desire to not be human, to be as gods, attempting to avoid the inevitable humanness of physical aging and death. And then there is memory loss that occurs throughout the ge

On the Bridge, Or Over the Edge?

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There was a man who had given much thought to what he wanted from life. He had experienced many moods and trials. He had experimented with different ways of living and he had had his share of success and failure. At last, he began to see clearly where he wanted to go. Diligently he proceeded to find the right opportunity. Sometimes he came close only to be pushed away. Often he applied all his strength and imagination only to find the path hopelessly blocked. And then at last it came. But the opportunity would not wait. It would be made available for a short time. If it were seen that he were not committed, the opportunity would not come again. Eager to arrive he started on his journey. With each step he wanted to move faster, with each thought about his goal his heart beat quicker, with each vision of what lay ahead, he found renewed vigor. Strength that had left him since his early youth returned and all kinds of dormant desires reawakened within him. Hurrying along he came upo

Oh Man, Not You Again

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Doesn't it feel great to accomplish something, to meet that goal, to make some progress? After 2 years, I finally finished my deck, with great help from my son. All last winter I felt sorry for my little dog and my big greyhound, slipping and stumbling, going down and up the deck, slipping on the moss covered steps, which can become quiet slick when wet. I also felt somewhat defeated looking at the unfinished deck over the past 1-2 years, wondering “why didn’t you get that done”. Accomplishments are great things that boost our self esteem and our concept of self. In life, there are many dreams and desires, and not all come to fruition. Some dreams are passed by because in time, they are no longer important, no longer desired to achieve. Other dreams just wither away with the sands of time. Some of our dreams, our goals, are difficult and have deep routed struggles, like the deep root of a weed that flourishes, remaining green, in the hot summer as the grass around it browns and d

Now That Really Angers My Fear

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Have you ever noticed, while driving, minding your own business, enjoying the drive, how easily motorists can become angry. I remember a friend many years ago telling me that as he was driving, a man cut him off, and in my friends anger, he showed the other driver one of his fingers for that other drive to observe. My friend told me that what happened next surprised him, the other drive pulled up a gun, pointed it at my friend, and waved his gun at him in much the style a mother would wave her finger at her children, pointing out displeasing behavior. Needless to say, my friend no longer displays his one finger in agitation to other drivers. Anger is not a destructive emotion on its own. It is when anger becomes coupled with rage that it becomes dangerous, either in a verbal, emotional, or physical manner, or even more commonly, in a manner that includes all three. Anger can be an emotion that is so easily passed down from generation to generation, like an old family heirloom. Rejec

That Intention Thing, You Know

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You’ve heard that old saying about good intentions; the road to hell is paved with them. My life can be so full of good intentions. I plan on this and that, to call him or her, to visit this person or that person, go here or there, and never quite achieve it. And then again, like Thomas Merton is known for saying, and I paraphrase, I don’t always know where I’m going and even if I’m going in the right direction, but at least I’m going and trying. Relationships are very much most significant with me. I have to admit that my failure to follow through with intentions is very much tied to my desire for relationship and my belief that nothing is more important than relationships. I feel blessed that I was raised on Indian Time, even if the residual effects are an occasion habit of being late. Indian time is I’ll get there when I get there, focusing more on relationship with the Creation versus time. In discussing this with my mentor one day, who is African American, she laughed and said,

All You Need Is Love

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The eyes of a child are like windows of authenticity, lacking the influence of the world, untainted by its reality. Their eyes are full of wonder, and the emotions that shine from them, whether that emotion is pain or joy, is pure. Their eyes search our eyes, looking for security, hope, love, and comfort. Their eyes look for assurance, for guidance, for acceptance, and for love. The love of a child is just as pure, in its most simple form. There are no demands, no conditions, no stipulations, just love. When we witness the love a child has for its creature of comfort, whether that is a blanket, a teddy bear, a stuffed dog, whatever that creature might me, we see the love a child has in his best friend. In time, that love and trust and comfort is passed on from his bear to his parents, to his siblings, to extended family, and eventually, to a family of his own. Love is such a powerful emotion, and at the same time, an equally confusing emotion. There is so much in life that affirms

The Monster Within - Happy Halloween

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One of my favorite holidays as a child was always Halloween. A time to be anything I wanted to be, what I’d imagined for myself throughout the year, fulfilling those fantasy day dreams. Halloween is a time when a child can be anything he wants or anything that he can dream to be. And of course, all the free candy is every child’s dream. The resulting tooth decay and toothaches, well, that’s another issues. Halloween is a time of being a child again for adults as well. We get to dress up in creative ways, maybe reenacting our childhood or being what we wish we could be, much like our child counterparts. For me as an adult, Halloween is a time to watch joy shining from the eyes of my children, entertaining the children of the neighborhood, contributing to the dental bills of their parents. Some in my neighborhood thrive on Halloween, decorating their homes showing their holiday spirit. But of all the elements of Halloween, I have to say the most important for me, back as a child and