Monday, October 18, 2010


What was his good idea, you ask?

Talking to God.

If you've seen the movie "Fiddler on the Roof" you know what I'm talking about. His first person commentary/narration was partly the breaking of the 'fourth wall' and partly relating to God all of his troubles, whines, and thank-yous for being one of the 'chosen people'. A constant pouring out of his heart into the one ear who had all the time in the world to listen.

Understand, for a peasant farmer/dairyman in Czarist Russia, he was learned, at least about the history and tenets of his faith. He knew his was a history of 'Us against the rest of the world', and being poor was a way of life. Perhaps not the best way of life, but...

But he talked, prayed, if you will, constantly, about the big things, certainly, but also about the small things. He even had the kind of relationship that would stand up to wisecracks.

Do you have that kind of relationship with God?

After getting home from work this morning, I looked over the whole of the household, asleep, and started talking. Okay, since I was talking to the 'Big Guy' we can call it praying. But not that formula you were taught in Sunday School, but just an outpouring of one's soul to one's friend. He and I don't often do that. That is to say, I don't often do that.

I'm too caught up in the middle of the flurry of the moment, or the weariness of the world to take the time to just talk to God, much less listen to anything He has to say. And I need to take the time, like I did this morning. Time to read, time to attend worship, time to listen. Time to talk, like a son to his Father, and shake things out, and gain some perspective.

I apologize, but today's blog seems to be all about me. But, perhaps, I've touched a sore spot. My wife is in the other room, listening to a Bible reading, and reading along with it. It is well past midnight. My primetime, her sleeptime. We'll muddle through.

And tomorrow we hit it again.

Tevye had the right idea.

Time to take some time to talk with God.

Yes, I can.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grudges, and What to Do About Them...

This is going to be brief. The subject really needs no elaboration. We all have grudges, and to a greater or lesser extent they tear us up inside.

Note: the ones' against whom we hold these grudges aren't being torn up.

Just us.

So, a new mantra to help us break on through to the other side and to peace:

Take the Chip Off Your Shoulder.
Forgive Others.
Forgive Yourself.

Yes, You Can.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who Do We Remember?

Is this a field of dreams?

We all have loved ones who died. What dreams sleep with them, that they would have wanted to see completed?

The worst place to start writing is from the position of not knowing what to say to them.

My father lies beneath a modest marker of marble with the shield of a veteran with a dark patina of age upon it, indicating his status as one who fought for this country's freedoms. My stepfather now rests in a similar state, having passed away rather more recently.

Both men gave their best to this nation in its day of desperate need some sixty years ago. But what do the deeds of the past have to do with today?

I mentioned in passing to the grocery checker, as I was dating a check Dec. 7th, 20__, that this was an important day in history. I got an 'Oh?' by way of a reply. I elaborated that Pearl Harbor was bombed and got the reply: 'Oh, well I wasn't born then.'

That startled me. I suppose it should not have, but it did, nonetheless. Nonplussed, I said that neither was I, but we should know about them.

I have stood beside the graves of my father and my stepfather, each of whom fought in that mighty conflict, one in Europe and the other in the Pacific. Each stood in harm's way to repel and conquer those who would remove our freedoms from us.

It is interesting to note, historically, that both Germany (West Germany, before the wall fell) and Japan both became economic forces to be reckoned with, in part because we extended the hand of forgiveness that Lincoln taught us to use: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with power to do what is right, as God gives us the ability to see the right..." We helped bind the wounds of our enemies, having seen what the consequences of not doing so can bring; Hitler's rise to power might still have happened had not Germany been in such economic turmoil after the first world war, but he would have had a harder time of it.

So, what do we the living do now? Do we ignore what has gone before? Or do we do our best to learn from the mistakes and successes of the past?

The future holds a much different pattern than we have seen in the past. Some people say, and not without merit, that whatever the past can teach us, it has little to do with the current present, and the future, both near and far. Yet, whatever our global connectedness brings, people are still people. Singly, and in aggregate, people have their own self-interests and desires; it is ever thus.

I haven't written much in this blog of late, mostly I haven't thought I've had that much of importance to say. I still don't. But the lighting flashes now and again, and I try, in the brief shining moment, to write down what I see.

This moment's flash: learn of the past, the triumphs and tragedies, the loves and relationships. Learn from the past, throwing out the dross and gathering the gold an silver, not to mention the occasional pearl of wisdom.

Interesting; why is the pearl, of all gemstones, chosen to represent wisdom? I believe it is one of he few gems that have an organic origin, being made by shellfish, and one that takes time to create. And, perhaps most importantly, it is what the oyster does in response to something that causes it pain.

It's the oyster's way of making lemonade from the lemons in its life.

What is in the long past that you can learn from? What is in your immediate past? What can you make lemonade with? What can you make a pearl with?

What can you be proud of?

I am proud of my ancestors who wore the uniform of this nation, who fought and won through.

Remember those who gave their best. Remember especially those who gave their all.

Yes, you can!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progeny and Peach Trees

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second-best time is today."

That sums up the best view of the whole "regret" thing. You can wish that you thought to plant that tree (like I did, in a rare moment of foresight, and with thanks to my Father-in-law) years ago, or or you can plant it today for your children and grandchildren (and even maybe you) to enjoy twenty years later.

And those peaches (from the tree planted with Papa-in-law's help) are some of the sweetest I've ever tasted. It's not the tree's fault that Colorado springtime weather can play naughty tricks on it.

What prompted this?

I sat down and had a talk with myself: "Self," I said, "If your child grows up with just these qualities," I listed the sure-thing qualities the young one has, "Will it be enough?"

I didn't want to answer myself.

Every parent wants their child to grow up to be {President, Rich, Famous, Smart, Able to Leap Tall Buildings, etc.}.

But what if the child is destined to be loving, kind and sweet? Just loving, kind and sweet.

Does that mean I write off everything else? Don't encourage her to stretch her wings and fly as high as she can? Be as smart as she can? Be as athletic as she can? To explore all the possibilities within her reach, and beyond it?

Do I write off all those things?

The difference between an Olympic Gold-Medalist and an also-ran is often the stuff of inches, or seconds ... or milliseconds. The eighth-place finisher is still faster than I'll ever be.

But, the spotlight will only be on the ones standing on the podium. And while we remember Michael Phelps (or, in a different decade, Peggy Fleming and Jean-Claude Killy), most of us are hard-pressed to remember even the other medalists, let alone the ones that hadn't stood to receive the prize.

But, to be strong enough, fast enough, skilled enough to even compete, is it enough?

If even that pinnacle is far out of reach, is it enough?

A wiser man than me once told an Olympic hopeful: "If you aren't enough of a man without the Medal, you won't be enough of a man with it."

The peach tree has borne a peach or two, one year and another over the years. Squirrels got most of those. Once, a few years back, the Colorado spring had mercy on it, and we had the most glorious peaches in the world.

Yeah, I'm partial.

But, only for that one year. We haven't had even a single peach since.

So, do I cut down that tree, because it has not repeated the performance?

Of course not.

Spring frosts have prevented the tree's repeat performance, not its willingness to produce. Meanwhile, it still puts out leaves, making the sugars and starches needed to grow the peaches, storing them in it's roots. In its way, the peach tree is planting itself for later, literally "Making hay while the sun shines," not letting what opportunities it has get away.

It expects to fruit out again some day. Better be ready. Grow those leaves, make those sugars, hide it all away. It will produce fine peaches again.

But, never a pear, no matter how much I encourage it, despite how much I like pears. I like peaches, but I really like pears...

So, is it enough?

Is it enough for the peach tree to be a peach tree, to bloom and bear fruit when its preparation meets opportunity?

Of course.

Is it enough when my child does all she is capable of, admitting no limit until thoroughly tested, to bloom and bear fruit of her own?

Of course.

It is enough for me to have her grow as strong as she can be, in all her strengths, even if my pet desires are not achieved in her?

Yes, I can love her for what she is (it is most certainly enough), and be content.

Yes, I can.

(Movie to watch with your kids: "Kung Fu Panda". No, really. Do it.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods

(link: Tiger Woods Apology commentary)

Now that I have your attention, I wish to point out that what has happened to Tiger can happen to anyone. "How the mighty have fallen," is the phrase applied to such cases as Tiger's. If you Google that phrase, you find many people's take on the mighty, usually someone above the author's station, being taken down a notch or few.

While these people are the most visible, due to their success, I remind you that theirs is not an exclusive malady.

We are all prideful. We all wish, at one time or another, to be up on that pedestal of fame and glory.

In Tiger's case (from the news this morning), he will be taking some time away from golf to put his life back together.

Think of that, those of you who think that money buys happiness. A person whose personal success has brought him a 7- no 8-, or is it a 9-figure income needs to put his life back together.

So, what does a rich person like Tiger need to do to put his life back together?

The same thing you (and I) need to do: ask the person in the mirror two questions:

1 - What is the most important thing in my life?

The answer to this question is not "What I tell people on Oscar night...". No fibbing, stretches-of-truth or out-and-out lies allowed.

2 - What should be the most important thing in my life?

There are many good-sounding answers to this question. Many such answers are the stuff of Oscar night, or beauty pageant personal statements. They are the sweet-sounding lies we tell each other and ourselves when we get backed into the corner. Sometimes we ourselves believe them.

But, I'm asking for honesty here. The questions demand it, as our souls and our happiness depend on the answers.

My answers to these questions are ..., but wait a moment.

My play list needs to be updated. Most people listen to their favorite music in the background. Me, too. But, I also listen to old time radio, stories, history, philosophy, quite a number of things besides music. I haven't changed the list in a couple of months.

"So what?" I hear you asking.

Well, when I sat down, a reading of Locke's words was playing. Now, fittingly, it is the Mercury Theatre's rendition of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". Perhaps you've seen or heard a rendition of the story this past Christmas season.

If Scrooge were asked these questions before his visitation of spirits, how would he answer, do you suppose? And on the following Christmas morning, how would he answer?

And the most important question - and answer - is:

What difference does it make?

Well, does make a difference?

Mr. Woods has had his own version of the ghosts visit. This reminds us of a lesser-known, but no less important, quote:

"Be sure your secret sin will find you out."

Some of us don't believe in sin, secret or otherwise. Many of us live in fear of it, harboring the guilt. A few of us live timid lives because of such a fear. The secret sin often occurred because the answer to the first question differed from the the answer to the second.

For some of you, the concept of sin is a non-starter. Let us call it the ethic of the Golden Rule: would you be happy if someone had done such a thing to you?

Yet, this still answers the first question badly, because it answers the second question badly; the focus is inward, not outward.

So, chuckle up your sleeve, whisper down a well, and, alone, face that person in the mirror:

What, in your heart of hearts, is the most important thing in your life?

When you distill all the answers, what most of us get is a version of: Me, Myself.

The answer to the second question points the way. Many people answer it this way: Others.

The best answer is: God.

The 'Others' answer is the purported message of "A Christmas Carol". And it is a good answer. For those of you who disagree with my best answer on principle, it may be the only answer. But, my God sacrificed Himself for us, before we even truly understood what was going on. If we let him rule, and follow His rules, we cannot go wrong.

His example of loving and giving is the best we have to go on.

Can you do it? Can I?

I will give it my best shot. So must you.

Yes, you can!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010



We've come such a long way.

We have so much choice that it often renders us unable to choose. From Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors of ice cream, to blue jeans that are other colors, cuts, fits, styles, even including "pre-distressing" for those of use who don't wear jeans to work in, but want to 'look that way'.

Our culture values choice highly...

...Except making the 'wrong' choice, the 'politically incorrect' choice. Then we are derided, and attempts are made to stifle our say.

The captains of the 'Pro-Choice' camp are proving they are anything but pro-choice.

A woman's choice to choose an abortion is proclaimed, yet, when a woman chooses, against all advice, to not abort but maintain the pregnancy, she is thought, at best, to be backward. And if her not-aborted son becomes something of a success?

He Must Not Be Allowed To Tell His Story.
(if you feel differently, please click here -->

I guess because doing so threatens the position of the 'Pro-Choice' crowd. But that can only be if, instead of choice, they were really 'Pro-Abortion', and not really for choice at all.

Thus we come to Pam Tebow, and her son, Tim.

Pam made the hard choice, against all recommendation, to carry Tim to term. This young man, successful in his life, chooses to tell his mother, publicly, "Thank You."

NOW doesn't want that, and in fact has raised a ruckus to have the Super Bowl advertisement removed from the list. They want to censor his speech. In this day, when flag-burning in protest is allowed, and Mapplethorpe's photographs are heralded as the best part of freedom of expression, a man is not allowed to say "Thank you," to his mother, "For deciding to bear me and raise me, in spite of the reasons not to."

Why not? Who is offended? Only those with an agenda that does not celebrate life.

Apparently NOW doesn't celebrate life. Its wishing for choice is only for those who choose to remove 'the product of conception' from their bodies, not for those who choose to keep it, bear it, opting for life in that choice.

Am I reading NOW's collective mind? No. I can only judge their intent from their actions. This action is consistent with past actions of backing only one side of choice. It is not surprising, merely sad.

For myself, I choose life whenever and wherever I can. I encourage you to do so as well.

Yes, you can!