Goofs and Greatness

Goofs and Greatness

Detours in Life

Pentecost 172


Yesterday’s post was numbered incorrectly.  It should have been 171.  I erred.  It wasn’t the first time and it will not be the last, I am sure.  The thing is, life is full of missteps.  They should not be stop signs but rather, detours into possibilities.


“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  It may seem strange to begin an essay/blog post about dreaming of a better you or me with words from the American feminist Gloria Steinem but really, the feminist movement was all about empowerment.  Some would claim it was designed to destroy the fabric of a nation and indeed, in some areas of the world, equality is seen as that – a destructive tool.  Empowerment is about strength and two strong people are much better than one – unless that one is too scared to have another strong person beside them.


The characters of comic books and sci-fi movies are delightfully entertaining but alas, we have no people with the ability to neither soar through the atmosphere unaided nor leap skyscrapers in a single bound.  No one person can turn themselves into a super strong block of ice nor cloak themselves in invisibility.  In short, we have no Superman.  What we do have is the potential for super men and women.


It is imperative that we dream about a better tomorrow and more specifically, a better self.  Nothing else can move forward until we do.  The comic book characters and movie representations of those characters enthrall us and also offer some wonderful life lessons.  They give us hope and, at the same time, serve as reflections of our fears and dreams.


At some point, most of us have felt invisible.  It seems thrilling for someone in a story but to walk among the crowds and feel invisible is actually very painful.  We want to belong, not be ostracized.  The character Wolverine is seen as handsome and strong.  Having become a mutated human through a tragic accident, his claws are as steel and he can rip his enemies apart.  We often feel ripped apart by the words of others and have probably been tempted to respond in like fashion.  I ask you this, though:  Have you ever seen Wolverine smile?


The first step to a better life is a better being.  It is a process and it takes time but first we must envision it, envision a better self.  The journey can be rough and tough-going, as J.R. R. Tolkien eloquently described.  “All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost.  The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.”


Two of my favorite quotes about this come not from writers but from scientists.  It may seem strange but what after all is science but the envisioning of a better world, based upon the past and the present?  Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  We often forget to apply that in our lives.  We may go to bed at night not having accomplished our goals for that day but we did not fail.  We simply learned other lessons, some of which were things not to repeat again.


My other favorite quote is something Albert Einstein once said.  “A human being is part of the whole called by us [the] Universe, a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself; his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by weaning our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


We need to embrace ourselves as part of nature’s beauty, envisioning a more positive self-image and believing we can be better than we are.  In short, we need to dream a better self.  Harriet Tubman was born a slave and spent her life seeking a better self, difficult since she lived under laws that sought to suppress her becoming that.  “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”


When we dream and believe we can be more than we are, we open the door and take the first step towards making it a reality.  Once accomplished, even in small increments, the better you will lead to a better world.  So go ahead and revel in that mistake you just made.  See it for what it is – a life lesson in becoming a better person.




Scrap Metal and Big Foot/Egos

Scrap Metal and Big Foot/Egos
Detours in Life
Pentecost 165

Recently I attended a meeting during which all those present had to stand up and introduce themselves. It was the third such happening of that sort I had attended in the past month. At each event my first thought was like many present: “There isn’t much to tell.”

As we enter into the holiday season, many will experience depression and a feeling of being little more than scrap metal. We tend to think of scrap metal as garbage but it really does have value. First and foremost, it comes from a useable resource and secondly, it still has value. Scrap metal is generally sold and while it may not have the same monetary value as it once did, the resulting material still has many uses.

Personal identity becomes paramount during the holidays. Whether it is because we are attending more events than usual and are dressing ourselves for presentation or because we share greeting cards and those lovely, usually exaggerated notes of what transpired during the past year, we find ourselves in a competition of sorts. Far too often we fall short and feel like nothing more than scrap metal. We seemingly just are not good enough.

“We have this need for some larger-than-life creature.” It may seem a bit ironic that one of the leading authors of a book on a giant, human-like mythological creature that may be real is actually an expert on much smaller animals. Robert Michael Pyle studies moths and butterflies and writes about them but in 1995 he also penned a book about the supposed primate known, among other names, as Yeti, Bigfoot, or Sasquatch.

The giants in the American Indian folklore are as varied as the different tribes themselves. It is important to remember that although they are grouped together much like the term European, the designation of American Indian applies to many tribes, most of which are now extinct. Many millions of Americans over the past two hundred years could and should claim American Indian ancestry. The story of Bigfoot is the story of their ancestral mythical creature.

The Bigfoot phenomenon is proof that there is a real place for mythologies in the present day. The past several years saw people viewing a popular television program, “Finding Bigfoot” which aired on the Animal Planet network as well as being replayed via internet formats. A group of four traveled the world, speaking and exploring the myths about a large, here-to-fore undocumented bipedal primate thought to be a link between the great apes and Homo sapiens. One member of this group was a female naturalist and botanist but the other three were educated men in other disciplines. To date, the three men have yet to convince their female scientist companion of the existence of the myth known as Bigfoot although she has dedicated several years of her life to searching for something she claims not to believe exists.

Even the more popular terms are modern additions to the myth. A photograph allegedly taken by Eric Shipton was published with Shipton describing the footprint as one from a Yeti, a mythological creature much like a giant snowman said to inhabit the mountains of Nepal. Several years another set of footprints was photographed in California and published in a local newspaper. This time the animal was described as “Bigfoot” and a legend dating back to the earliest settlers in North America had been reborn. The interest in such photographs is proof of the opening quote of today’s post.

The Lummi tribe called their giant ape/man mythological character Ts’emekwes and the descriptions of the character’s preferred diet and activities varied within the tribal culture. Children were warned of the stiyaha or kwi-kwiyai who were said to roam at night and steal children. There were also stories of the skoocooms, a giant race which lived on Mount St. Helens and were cannibalistic. The skoocooms were given supernatural powers and status. A Canadian reporter also reported on such stories and he used a term from the Halkomalem and named the creature “sasq’ets” or Sasquatch. Rather than to be feared, though, some tribes translated this name to mean “benign-faced one.”

Mythologies of such giant creatures can be found on six of the seven continents and if mankind had been able to survive on Antarctica for thousands of years, there would probably be some from there as well. We do seem to need to believe in something larger than life, as our mythologies bear witness. What if there was proof of these creatures? What if they really did exist and perhaps still do?

The Paiute Indians, an American Indian tribe from the regions between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains also had folklore of such a character. Their legends tell of a tribe of red-haired giants called Sai’i. After one such giant gave birth to a disfigured child who was shunned by the tribe, The Paiute believed the Great Spirit of All made their land and living conditions barren and desolate as punishment. Enemies were then able to conquer the tribe and kill all but two – Paiute and his wife and their skin turned brown from living in such harsh conditions.

In 1911 miners working Nevada’s Lovelock Cave discussed not the guano or bat droppings for which they were searching but bones they claimed were from giants. Nearby reddish hair was found and many believed the remains were those of the Sai’i or Si-Te-Cah as they were also called. However, some like Adrienne Mayor in her book “Legends of the First Americans” believe these bones and others found nearby are simply untrained eyes not realizing what they are seeing. A tall man could have bones that would seem large and hair pigment is not stable and often changes color based upon the conditions in which it is found. Even black hair can turn reddish or orange given the right mineral composition in the soil in which it is found.

What the mythologies of the world tell us is that mankind needs to believe in something. In ‘The Magic of Thinking Big”, David Schwartz writes: “Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.”

Maybe you believe in the yeti or Sasquatch and maybe you believe in the disproof of them. We create giants in our own minds every day – those problems that seem insurmountable or the dreams that seem impossible. The only Bigfoot that matters is that one foot that takes a big step towards progress, towards peace, a step taken with hope. The dawn of a new day requires us to take a step forward. If we believe in ourselves, that step will have purpose and accomplishment. The longest journey really does begin with a single step.

The best thing to believe in is you. Let yourself be your creature to believe in today. Walk away from fear and detour into your bright future, a future in which you believe you can do anything. The reality is you can do whatever you set your mind to doing. Turn your fears into lessons and steps toward success. Believe in yourself. You are amazing! This holiday season detour from depression and move toward remembering that we all have value and a purpose. Life is not a race. Life is best lived when we find our comfortable pace.

Detour from Stress

Detour from Stress

Detours in Life

Pentecost 164 – 170

Mega Post 14


A good friend once told me “If it doesn’t burn calories, then stress has no place in my life.”  Great thought but … how do we manage that?  The fact is we should avoid stress.  Our bodies thrive when they are subjected to and survive stress.  That’s how we build stronger muscles and even immune systems.  Stress, however, is often that which breaks us down instead of building us up.


Pentecost is called the “Ordinary Time” and the series last year was about making this ordinary time something extraordinary.  I discussed over three hundred ways to make things we do in our daily lives better and impactful but I kept getting comments about all the stress, particularly from people in the United States.  Those comments have continued this year.  This has been a very tumultuous year for many people.  We have had terror attacks and political negativity.  Natural disasters have wreaked havoc on people’s lives and gun violence has created fear and distrust.  We do not need the countless scientific studies that exist to recognize the danger stress can present in our lives if it overwhelms us.


This year our Pentecost series has been about detours in life, detours that often also present stress in our lives.  William James once said “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”  Can our best defense simply be our thoughts?  Is the key to living extraordinary hours simply a matter of thinking differently?  We can use our thoughts to detour away from stress.


Our brains are made up of over one hundred million neurons or cells which interact with each other in over one hundred trillion different ways.  Each of these connections can link up at 10 different levels – there are 1,000 trillion possibilities or, in laymen’s terms, endless possibilities of connections.  What does that mean for us?


Studies done on children living in high stress situations for prolonged periods of times such as those in Middle Eastern war zones of African famine conditions have shown us the effects of long-term exposure to high levels of stress.  Their ability to plan, concentrate, learn quickly, think ahead and act decisively has been compromised as a result of long term flood of stress hormones into the body and brain.  The part of their body, the hippocampus, that allows us to learn and remember is severely affected.  On the other hand, British researchers also found that, while chronic exposure to high levels of cortisol damaged hippocampus, the right amount of this hormone could actually enhance learning and memory.


Muscles that are never subjected to stress do not grow and even atrophy.  The brain is, at its core, a muscle that uses almost twenty percent of the oxygen in our body.  Pacing ourselves and teaching ourselves how to respond to stress can be the most extraordinary gift we give ourselves.  It is as easy as simply taking a breath.


Relaxation is a key step towards defeating the negative effects stress can have on our bodies.  A study conducted at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine which is part of Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that just eight weeks of relaxation practice can counter the damaging effects of stress.  Deep breathing, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and even repetitive prayer lead to progressive muscle relaxation and healthy eustress which is positive stress on the body. 


We have the power to detour away from the stresses in our lives.  I am beginning a 30-day challenge to myself to do just that and not give into the stress and fear that detours present.  So take a deep breath and start living in an extraordinary way.  Learn to think positive and be grateful for all you have.  Your body will thank you.  We cannot control the world or certain aspects of our lives but we can control the stress instead of letting the stress control us.





Evil and Grace

Evil and Grace

Detours in Life

Pentecost 158-163

Mega Post 13


Recently I have been silent on my blog out of respect for those who lost their lives in natural and manmade disasters.  A Middle Eastern earthquake was unavoidable, although loss of life might have been prevented with better housing and warning systems instead of monies spent of war.  Then in the United State of America there was yet another instance of a mentally ill white male obtaining too much firepower for his fragile mental state, resulting in injury and death to innocent people.  If we treated the threat from active shooters like we do from pesticides … well, suffice it to say that we have less threat from dying from DDT than we do at the hands of an angry gun owner.


Evil is a nebulous term and we have a better chance of defining a black hole than a definitive answer to what evil is.  Over the weekend it was announced that convicted criminal Charles Manson had died.  The response to this news did not speak well for the faith community.  Many see Manson as an evil man, the very definition of what a devil would be living in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Their faith that bespeaks of all mankind being children of God seemingly flew out the window, much like those politicians who want rules for everyone except themselves.


The world can be a tumultuous place at times.  How we respond determines what we really believe. Maintaining grace in all times is not easy but very necessary.  While others are ranting and raving, someone needs to carry on the good fight, do the good works.  A good person is not the one with the loudest voice.  A good person is the one that does the most good.


Sometimes people are just good people.  In 2015 the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award was awarded to John and Tashia Morgridge.  John became a part of Cisco Systems as president and chief executive officer in 1998 and quickly led the company into becoming a publicly traded company that was known as a technological powerhouse.  Tashia had studied at the University of Wisconsin and was a special education teacher.  As a couple, they became known for their charitable giving.


Quoting from The website which announced this award, given each year by the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Morgridge’s philanthropically have sought to improve education worldwide, “and they have done much of that giving through the TOSA Foundation, named after the high school where they met. The Morgridges have supported the University of Wisconsin’s research facilities, special education programs and scholarships, founding the Morgridge Center for Public Service and establishing the Morgridge Institute for Research, a biomedical institute. They are also generous supporters of literacy programs in East Palo Alto, Calif.; Tashia has long devoted herself to improving educational opportunities in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  Internationally they donate principally through CARE, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty, and The Nature Conservancy.”


Other people need a wake-up call.  Jon Huntsman, Sr. is well known as the founder of a global chemical manufacturing company.  What might not be as well known is that he gives away a great deal of his income.  He became a serious humanitarian in 1992 after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.  En route to the hospital, he wrote a one million dollar check to a homeless shelter, another to a local soup kitchen feeding the homeless and poor, and half a million dollars to the clinic that first diagnosed and discovered his tumor.  He later began his own cancer foundation at a cost of over one billion dollars.


This humanitarian has long been giving away his money, which totals well into the billion dollar range. Founder of a global chemical manufacturer, his serious giving days began in 1992 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. On his way to the hospital, he gave a one million dollar check to a homeless shelter, another million to a soup kitchen, and $500,000 to the clinic that first found the malignancy. Huntsman would go on to found his own cancer foundation, which cost him more than one billion dollars alone. His donations have even gone so far as to knock him of the Forbes list of wealthiest individuals.


We have already discussed ways to help with local educational projects on this blog in the past three years.  Volunteering to be a mentor or, if you do not feel academically capable, volunteering to help behind the scenes at such locations, is a perfect start to living your beliefs and helping your local community.  Baking or providing cookies is an easy first step.  Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is another and these programs have training sessions to help you get started.


If making hats or weaving plastic bags into water proof mats is more your style, your local homeless shelter would be happy for donations of your handiwork.  One of the easiest ways to make a blanket is to purchase a yard of flannel and then fringe each end.  That is done by cutting slits five inches long on either end.  The strips become fringe and the blankets is an easy yet warm addition to any homeless person’s bedroll, lightweight yet a good layering insulator for cold nights.


Our faith and spirituality is really put to the test when someone like Charles Manson dies.  Do we simply say we are glad he is no longer a drain on the coffers and our psyche or do we respond with the faith we profess to have?  Where was the resounding “May the Lord have mercy on his soul” that one cannot argue he desperately needed?   Evil done by others should not be our compass.   We all have the ability to help another and when we live grace, we receive grace.  Life is really just that simple and we all should exercise the grace to do whatever good we can.

Life Interrupted

Life Interrupted

Detours in Life

Pentecost 154-157

Mega Post #12


Another detour yesterday as I sat down to post to my blog.  Word came of a shooting in a church is a small town south of San Antonio, Texas.  San Antonio is the eighth largest metropolitan area in the United States.  The town where the shooting took place is tiny compared to it.  I found myself just outside this small town in January of 2002.  I had followed a detour sign that, instead of taking me to downtown San Antonio, had instead taken me to a new part of the area’s interstate system.  Whether some prankster had turned the sign around, a strong wind had done its damage, or maybe even an errant bull had scratched its back on the signage, I had followed the arrows to an undeveloped rural area.  On a Saturday in the largest state within the Continental USA, I was good and lost in the darkness because I had followed a detour sign.


One nice thing about my being lost that winter’s night was that the skies were clear.  I looked up and was entertained by a celestial show of twinkling lights.  It was as if the heavens had decorated themselves just for me.  I slowed down, the only car visible for miles, and enjoyed the view, hoping my fear would diminish and the gas in my car would not be all used up before I found civilization again.  Then I saw a neon sign. 


The neon sign was affixed to a fast food restaurant and I happily turned into the parking lot.  It is never fun to admit one is lost but this evening it really was the lesser of all my imagined evils.    One customer was leaving as I parked and she waved and gave me a big smile as she got in her car, arms full of what I can only suppose was her family’s dinner.  Inside was the owner of the only other car in the lot, a four-door pick-up truck.  He explained he was waiting for the apple pies to cook and that I should feel free to order.  I ordered a drink and then explained my dilemma.  The server and the man both smiled.  It seems I had been patient in following the detour signs… almost thirty miles patient.  The man offered to take me back into San Antonio and within two minutes I was on the road again, this time following a complete stranger on a dark and desolate stretch of concrete that I fervently hoped headed back to the city that boasted the Alamo.


The trip into the city took about twenty minutes and as we pulled into the parking lot of the Convention Center, my Good Samaritan waved and headed back towards the small town he called home.  Yesterday another gentleman in a pick-up truck helped track the shooter when a gentleman ran up and told him what had happened.  It apparently is a town of good Samaritans, a fact that makes the shooting and murder of almost thirty people yesterday even more tragic.


Calling such shooters names accomplishes little.  Taking positive action is what is needed.  Funding for mental health programs and continuation care, expanding the health system for veterans and those discharged from military service, ensuring that probation services have the necessary funds to do follow-up supervision….These are the actions that will bring about a better world.  Calling someone evil is about as effective as saying someone is not fit to run for office because they are so vain they color their hair.  Neither makes real sense.  Vanity may be a symptom but it is not a legal diagnosis, neither is the term “evil”.  Being a member of a political party simply means one is either wealthy enough to receive benefits from such affiliation or too insecure to live and vote without such.  The only good thing about these shootings is that we continue to gather statistical data that proves it is not a matter of color, age, nor socio-economic background or professional career service.  Whether a Congressman (and yes, no women were allowed) playing ball at 7 AM or a five-year-old child singing hymns just before noon, we are all victims of a flawed gun ownership policy that benefits no one except rifle companies and the NRA.


I have a cousin serving in the US Senate.  I have a friend from high school whose husband is a Baptist minister in Texas.   I have family and friends who attend movie theatres; even more with small children attending schools.  I used to work for a social services agency and yes, attended holiday functions.  I shop at public stores, some in shopping centers and others in large malls.  I attend church.  There is no safe place to prevent our own lives from being irreparably interrupted by the need some people have to be able to fire multiple rounds of ammunition within five seconds.


Prayer from PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizing:

“Merciful Lord, we come to you heavy hearted, for we have heard the cries of the slain calling to us from the ground. We come remembering all the lives lost to the weapons of war that have flooded our communities. We come reminded of the many bodies locked in jails and prisons all across this country. And we ask for your mercy.

“Although we find ourselves in a broken world – a world in which hurting people hurt other people, it is no mystery that you are a God capable of healing our world through justice and fairness. Your own revelation has shown us that you stand firmly with those people whose backs are against the wall. Your own life demonstrates how you came from heaven to earth to redeem creation, our communities and our own lives. So we ask for this same redemptive power to be unleashed among us as it was on the day of Pentecost. May we be empowered by your Spirit to reverse the conditions that produce young men and women who are driven to resort to violence and destructive behavior in their fight to stay alive and struggle to remain free.

“We know that you have no pleasure in the death of anyone, so we boldly come to the throne of grace today dear Lord, seeking your wisdom as we create strategies that provide pathways and lifelines to hope and healing. Help us to remember we are all your children, created in your image, and we are connected by a single garment of mutuality and destiny. Cause us to never forget how our needs are the same and our calling to address these needs is the same.

“We cry out to you, heal our souls from this scourge of violence. Endow us with the courage to step down from the pulpits and out from behind our desks to seek the peace of the city. In the coming days and weeks as our leaders debate solutions, Lord we ask that you grant us the voice to speak truth power and demonstrate sacrificial compassion to the hurting.

“Teach us your ways, O God. Bless us with the wisdom and strength to put down our swords and be peacemakers. Use us, work through us and, if necessary, work in spite of us to mend our nation’s brokenness.  We thank you for your protecting embrace and unfailing love.”



Rejoice or Mourn

Rejoice or Mourn?

Detours in Life

Pentecost 153


AS we travel life’s highways, we encounter detours and stop signs. Our reaction to these often determines the rest of our journey.  We can treat a detour much like a speed bump, something that slows us down but does not deter us, or we can let it be a dead end.  The choice is ours – rejoice or mourn – and it all based upon our perspective and subkectivity.


Subjective probability is an individual person’s measure of belief that an event will occur.  Most of us believe in the eventuality of our own death and the death of every other person living.  Death is the natural order of things begun with our birth.  It is the belief of what happens after our physical bodies cease their function that separates people into groups.


Without sounding trite, there really are two sides to every coin.  A famous hymn written for the upcoming Advent season speaks of this.  “The time of grace has come, what we have wished for… Where the light is raised, salvation is found…. Therefore let our preaching now sing in brightness.”  The hymn these words are taken from is titled quite simply, “Gaudete”.  It was published in a collection of Finnish and Swedish tunes in 1582 in a collection known as “Piae Cantiones” although it is believed to have been a chant used at least one hundred years earlier. 


The structure of the hymn is simple and reflects most of things written during this period.  A four line stanza composed the verse with a two line stanza being the chorus.  Today the chorus of a song is the part everyone knows and generally sings the loudest.  In the sixteenth century, though, such a two line stanza was known as the burden because it carried the song from verse to verse.  The difference between “chorus” and “burden” would be…you guessed it, subjective, in our modern times.


Generally about now, parents are running out of patience and time for upcoming holiday gatherings and chores is in short supply.  Meanwhile, children seem to pull energy out of thin air.  One does not have to believe in the meaning behind Christmas to feel the effects of the season.  As winter sets in, people are taking every chance they can to complete outside chores and get ready for that “long winter’s nap” known as “too cold to be outside” weather.  While lights adorn buildings and houses twinkling with glee, tempers become frayed and money woes abound.  There seems to never be enough time, money, or grace.


In selecting the themes for this blog, having decided to organize my posts by using a liturgical calendar, I tend to be a little bit tongue-in-cheek about things.  During Epiphany one year, Epiphany being the liturgical season which speaks of the recognition by nonbelievers and those not of the same culture of the true purpose of the man known as Jesus of Nazareth, I wrote about the epiphanies men and women had.  These epiphanies led to some very common and amazing inventions.  One Advent, the first or beginning season of the liturgical calendar year, I wrote about creation stories, those tales about the first people and first lands.  Last year, though, I went to the very heart of Advent for my theme.


Advent is known as the time to prepare and it is fitting since it falls at a time of year when the season are changing.  Depending on which hemisphere you are in, you might be preparing for summer or for winter.  Regardless, change is coming and we need to prepare.  Once we have prepared, though, what comes next?  After you get up and get ready each day what needs to happen once you are at your destination – whether it be the kitchen counter in your own home or the office?


The answer to that is the true meaning of our living.  It is not just the coming – the coming of a new day or the coming of a Messiah – of which Advent bespeaks.  Advent is about grace, grace received and grace shared.   We do not all perceive nor share that grace the same, however.  For some an incident is a time for rejoicing and for others, a period of mourning.  Advent reflects not just that time during December but actually every day of our living.


Subjective refers to personal perspectives, feelings, or opinions entering the decision making process.  It is easiest to understand this approach if we use an example of investing in stock.  Let’s say your best friend owns a company and you want to invest in it because you like your friend.  Objectively, though, the company is not performing very well. 


Investors that are successful make their decisions based on hard analysis of the facts. They select a stock option with the best return for their money or that best meets their objectives. When making investing decisions it’s always important to make sure you think about and consider whether you are letting subjective thoughts work their way into the process.


Should we use that same approach when investing in people, when we engage in a relationship with others?  The empirical approach to grace is based upon observation while the classical was based upon known theory.  For instance, if someone slapped another with a glove in the sixteenth century, it was considered an invitation to a duel.  Using a classical response, the two would meet at a specific time and place and with chosen weapons.  Using an empirical response, the person slapped would select said weapons based upon his opponent’s skill with the options.  A subjective approach might consider the reasons for the slapping and one’s basic instinctive feeling about the sincerity of the fight.  After all, a perceived insult might just be a matter of misunderstanding.  This is where grace would be of great help.


History is full of pages and pages of interactions without grace evident at all to the observer.  To those participating, it might be all about grace, grace and respect.  This week I hope you take a moment to truly approach your situation and the detours life places in front of you.  I hope you can find the grace in such situations, not just for yourself but for everyone involved. 


It is easy to get angry and to mourn.  It takes courage to find the joy and rejoice. Life, like Advent, is about grace, grace received and grace shared.    Faith and generosity overcome impossibility.  Poverty and persecution reveal glory.  Life is a journey of believing, in spite of detours. 



Life Interrupted

Life Interrupted

Detours in Life

Pentecost 146-152

Mega Post #11


When I first began this blog several years ago, I never thought about when I would not post out of respect for lives lost.  As an optimist, I tend to think happy thoughts.  Life interrupts such a practice, though, and it soon became apparent that perhaps respectful silence was in order.  Thus, at times of terrorist mayhem, I have not posted.  Sadly this week required yet another detour from my schedule.


My life is not perfect and there are times that I get frustrated.  This Pentecost has been a time of detours for me and Tuesday afternoon as I prepared to post, word came of a disturbed young man driving through a crowd of people.  I quickly gave thanks for friends in the area of the tragedy who were safe and chastised myself for my trivial frustration of being mildly inconvenienced. 


Most of us go through our day on a schedule of sorts.  We take pride in adhering to that schedule and are happy when our agenda for the day is met.  Too often, though, that schedule becomes our purpose and our focus for living, instead of merely a means to live better.  The space we occupy can become disoriented as far as what we profess to believe and hold dear and what we actually place in top priority.  As we travel through our life, we sometimes forget just exactly what we are traveling toward, what space we are seeking.


In 2012 Eric Weiner wrote: “TRAVEL, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places.


“It is, admittedly, an odd term. One could be forgiven for thinking that thin places describe skinny nations (see Chile) or perhaps cities populated by thin people (see Los Angeles). No, thin places are much deeper than that. They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the “Infinite Whatever.”

“Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a “spiritual breakthrough,” whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.


“It’s not clear who first uttered the term “thin places,” but they almost certainly spoke with an Irish brogue. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.”


When we experience or read of terrorist tragedies, our world seems to become smaller and the spaces between ourselves and the chaos very narrow.  We think of spirits as being able to traverse solid structures.  The saints of time seem to live high above the rest of us mere souls trying to get through the day.  Suddenly we wish for a way to travel through those divisions, a map for finding those thin spaces the Celtics believed existed.  Perhaps in such thin spaces, our life would not be such turmoil and we could better cope with the inevitable interruptions.


In the wee hours after which we have placed candles in our pumpkins to guide the departed home, we easily envision such a thin space. Halloween is the prelim of a day set aside to honor all those who lived noble lives.  All Saints Day follows for those who have endeavored to lead goodly lives and leave a legacy of benefit to all.  Today, All Soul’s Day, is for the rest of us.


May today we detour from the norm to seek that connection between the past and the future. Today is our present, both meaning the here and now and a gift. Let us value our space today and the living we create.