A Bridge to Tomorrow

A Bridge

09.07.2020

We are in that time of year known as a bridge, a time when the weather hints at what is to come while still giving us a taste of what has been.  It occurs four times a year but this time of year, the bridge between summer and fall seems the most… I’m not really sure what to call it.  For those that are generally in the path of hurricanes, it can be a time of waiting and praying.  For those who have eagerly anticipated the return of American football, it is a time of rejoicing.  For those who thrive on holidays, it is the beginning of three heavily celebrated in the United States – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa. 

Of course, this year we have had to learn to celebrate a bit differently than in years gone past.  The SARS-CoV2/Covid-19 virus has required that we find ways to enjoy being at home and, perhaps the hardest of all, being with ourselves.  Still, while it seems like so much has changed, much as remained the same and nature continues its calendar of seasons and, at this time of the year, providing us with a bridge.

It is that time of year that spans a period of laziness and summer vacations with the start of many school terms, much like Egypt spans three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Egypt is the world’s only Eur-afra-sian country since it is bordered by the Mediterranean on the north as it shares a northern border with the Gaza strip and Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the south as well as Sudan, and Libya on the west.  It was an area that connected the earliest beginnings of man with the spread of mankind, both to the Far East and to Europe and beyond.

Egypt is located in what historians and anthropologists call the cradle of civilization.  Its history is as long as any nation and it became one of the world’s first cultural and ethnic entities while at the same time becoming one of the first actual political and geographical countries.  At one time or another, Egypt has been ruled and influenced by Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European cultures.  Its eighty-nine million residents were some of the first Christians but Islamic conquests during the seventh century made it an Islamic nation. 

Many of us only know Egypt from the big and small screen.  Movies about the early Christians with the actor Charleston Heston and later music videos by Michael Jackson starring comedian Eddie Murphy and supermodel Iman do little to tell the true story of Egypt.  The ancient name for the country is from a word meaning black soil, and is best written as “km.t”.  This was to distinguish the land of Egypt from the desert area or red soil.  The English version of the country’s name comes from an ancient Greek word “Aigyptos” which dates back to the French “Egypte” and Latin “Aegyptus”.   Early Greek tablets show it written as “a-ku-pi-ti-yo” which became the Coptic “gyptios” and the Arabic “qubti”.  The official name of Egypt is “Misr” which translates as metropolis, civilization, or country.

Bridging the three continents and the various cultures involved has resulted in a history full of conflict.  It has not gotten easier as time has progressed.  We must learn to build figurative bridges and join all the cultures of the world if we are to move forward and have a future.  Egyptian-American writer Suzy Kassem explains: “It is up to us to keep building bridges to bring the world closer together, and not destroy them to divide us further apart. We can pave new roads towards peace simply by understanding other cultures. This can be achieved through traveling, learning other languages, and interacting with others from outside our borders. Only then will one truly discover how we are more alike than different. Do not measure anybody strictly based on the bad you see in them and ignore all the good.”

May are starting the school term at home.  Today is often a last rite of passage for summer, bridging of summer and fall.  Weather forecasts have guaranteed warmer weather will continue but many have predictions of an early snowfall for this week.   With the world still caught in the throes of a pandemic, , the opportunity to cross the bridge from summer to fall with a last hurrah of beach-going and partying has been lost.

Often life gives us chances that somehow seem to fall flat.  If we could only tweak the timing or change just one little decision, we might have become something better or greater, something extraordinary.  It often is hard to see past our disappointments to find the positive, to bridge one hour of our life to another.  A shaman was quoted as saying, “A story is like the wind: it comes from a distant place and we feel it.” 

Today you will write the story of you.  You may not have control over the setting, the characters, or even the action to a large part, but you do have control over yourself.  We make a choice each and every hour whether to act or simply react.   We each have had the opportunity during this pandemic to go forward in faith and with a positive attitude safely or to simply give in to fear and the senseless scamming of faux prophets.  Many have disregarded the scientists and medical professionals even though they have put their lives on the line to help us all.

We need to make a bridge for ourselves – a bridge between what we would rather be doing and what is safe to do.  WE need to accept that we are the only ones who not only can build that bridge but also walk across it.  The best cure for this pandemic is responsible behavior, not selfishness and frolicking with disregard to reality.

Steve Jobs said it best:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 

Challenging Behavior, Changing the Future

2020.09.04

Last year, during the time of Pentecost, a liturgical season whose name means “Ordinary Time”, I took part in several challenges In August and they all came together because of a television program I viewed.  The program “Expedition Unknown” was discussing new findings regarding the archaeological discoveries known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The 14,000 fragments of cloth tell the story of a deity and the followers of such.  Known today simply as God, belief in this deity led the charge for monotheism, the one deity referenced by the three Abrahamic faiths as “Elohim Shophtim Ba-arets”.  The name means “the God who judges in (on) the Earth”.

I am not particularly fond of this name and the reason for my displeasure is not really the name but rather the context in which it is used.  You see, it appears in the Book of Psalms and references faith in the deity judging one’s enemies.  Because one is considered faithful, it is assumed that one’s enemies are not and will be judged and punished accordingly.  I should note that some of those fragments that comprise the scrolls contain the earliest writings of the Psalms, and other writings that comprise the Bible such as the book of Genesis and Leviticus, as well as other stories and writings never seen before being found in caves in Qumran.

My problem is that this name seems to imply a deity that shows favoritism.  What if I am the one in error and not my enemies?  Being faithful does not make me perfect; it makes me a believer.  Another word for this deity is “El Nekamoth” or “the God who avenges”.  Obviously I am not bloodthirsty and so seeking vengeance on someone is not a hobby of mine.  I believe that I have enough to do trying to live my own life and I really don’t try to live others for them.  These two names do raise some interesting questions, however, and I think we should give them consideration, especially in light of current events and killings.

What exactly falls under the prevue of “justice”, the purpose for judging someone?  How do we define “avenge” and is it something best left to the spirit(s) or should we attempt such?  Is there a difference between seeking revenge and avenging?  The website “diffen.com” clarifies the issue for avenge and revenge by stating “Avenge is a verb. To avenge is to punish a wrongdoing with the intent of seeing justice done. Revenge can be used as a noun or a verb. It is more personal, less concerned with justice and more about retaliation by inflicting harm.”

Once synonymous, the two words today have different meanings.  Avenge today implies the process of obtaining justice while revenge is a more personal active physical deed, almost always involving pain or harm for the purpose of retaliatory recompense for real or imagined damages.  In the usage of these two names, the deity is expected to protect the faithful by avenging ill will and/or wrong doings, thereby carrying acts of revenge to assuage the injured party or parties.  Such beliefs allowed the people to bear the hardships brought upon them by their faith and I fully understand that.  I just have a problem with a deity being both a god of love and revenge.  For some, revenge is not only pleasurable, it is a form of love. 

In an article for the Association of Psychological Science, Eric Jaffe wrote:  “A few years ago a group of Swiss researchers scanned the brains of people who had been wronged during an economic exchange game. These people had trusted their partners to split a pot of money with them, only to find that the partners had chosen to keep the loot for themselves. The researchers then gave the people a chance to punish their greedy partners, and, for a full minute as the victims contemplated revenge, the activity in their brains was recorded. The decision caused a rush of neural activity in the caudate nucleus, an area of the brain known to process rewards (in previous work, the caudate has delighted in cocaine and nicotine use). The findings, published in a 2004 issue of “Science”, gave physiological confirmation to what the scorned have been saying for years: Revenge is sweet.

“A person who has been cheated is [left] in a bad situation—with bad feelings,” said study co-author Ernst Fehr, director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “The person would feel even worse if the cheater does not get her or his just punishment.  Theory and experimental evidence shows that cooperation among strangers is greatly enhanced by altruistic punishment,” Fehr said. “Cooperation among strangers breaks down in experiments if altruistic punishment is ruled out. Cooperation flourishes if punishment of defectors is possible.”

In other words, the possibility of justice being meted out in the form of retaliatory punishment encourages cooperation because it instills an expectation of fairness.  Although a bit complicated, this is a concept I actually can understand and feel it makes the naming of a deity based upon an avenging demeanor more palatable. 

There are also two other similar names used for this deity of these three monotheistic religions.  They are “Jehovah Hashopet or “the Lord the Judge” and Jehovah El Gemuwal, “the Lord God of Recompense.”  I freely admit I like recompense better than revenge.  Recompense implies fairness in compensation while revenge denotes punishment and pain to me.

I wonder if my conundrum, the enigma of whether I want my deity to be an avenging deity or a compensating deity, was felt by those early believers.  Perhaps it depends on how recently one feels to have been wronged or the extent to which one felt wronged.  As of this date, I have not found a name for this deity that translates into “God of Fairness”.  Maybe the key is in how one defines what is right and what is wrong.  But then, the context comes into play and we should consider that what is right for one might not be right for another yet not necessarily be wrong enough for the need of revenge or recompense. 

In early 2001, a research team led by Cheryl Kaiser of Michigan State surveyed people for their belief in a just world by seeing how much they agreed with statements like “I feel that people get what they deserve.”  Sadly, the events of September of that year changed the minds of many and more and more people wanted revenge for the bombings and murders of almost three thousand innocent victims from over eighty countries.

Michael McCullough, author of “Beyond Revenge: “The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct” states:   “You have to have some way of maintaining relationships, even though it’s inevitable some will harm your interests, given enough time.”  Revenge began as an altruistic punishment but, McCullough and his research team believe, a secondary system of human interaction has evolved.  The act of forgiveness is a system “that enables people to suppress the desire for revenge and signal their willingness to continue on, even though someone has harmed their interests, assuming the person will refrain from doing so again in the future.”

My problem with revenge is that it is not an answer that permanently solves anything.  It may begin with an attempt to right a perceived wrong but it just invites payback which requires more revenge which invites more payback, etc., etc., etc.  What is the best revenge is a change in behavior – of all of us?  Wrong will never be corrected if change does not accompany behavior.  In remembering the past we need not commemorate the wrongs committed.   I like forgiveness as a practice for human interaction much, much better.  There is another name for the deity of those scrolls – El Nose, the God who forgives.  This is definitely a belief I hope we all practice. 

Captains of the Hook

2020.09.03

In February of this year, a year that will certainly have its place in history, I decided to take a sabbatical.  I wasn’t really running away or tired, I just had been posting daily for six-plus years and thought it was time to take the time for some perspective.  Five days later I broke my right foot in two places.  Living in a country with left-hand driving, this meant that I was forced to abide by medical advice to stay home since I could not drive and operate a car effectively.  Thus I began my quarantine six weeks before everyone else in my country. 

This also meant I was probably much safer than most, having not been exposed to the general public since mid-February.  Covid-19 has become the news for the Asian continent and those Americans traveling in the area on cruise ships or for business.  The nation’s total borders are 12,248 kilometers (7,610 miles) long.  While the USA is not the largest country, it does share the longest border, that with Canada which measures 8893 km.  To close all borders in the USA actually does violate US law, going all the way back to the Monroe Doctrine but realistically, it would require all the armies of the world to accomplish.  Thus a virus invaded and wreaked havoc on my sabbatical and the psyche of all.

I think it prudent to pause and review just what this invader truly is and how one should combat it.  Yes you may think you have heard it all but trust me, you most likely have not.  The terminology gets muddied because scientists and medical professionals do not speak plain English.  A virus is a leach of sorts and cannot exist without a host.  Smaller than the average germ it must be transmitted to have life and because it is a part of the natural world in which survival of the fittest is the law, viruses become adaptable in a microsecond.  So smaller than imaginable and able to alter quicker than the most horrid shape shifter of anything Stephen King could suggest, this virus became known in the world because it caused the death of thousands.

Viruses are nothing new and probably were the result of mutations going back to the earliest of Creation.  Regardless of whatever Creation story you believe, there is simply no faith tradition that defies viruses.  They exist whether we can see them or understand them or not.  They are fact.  Thus they have become classified, organized by their characteristics.  As such, this 2019-20 virus came under the microscope, literally, in Asia in 2019 and was classified in the Corona class of viruses.  They are six or seven such classes of Corona viruses which, like many things, have another name. 

Think about beans – yes, I mean the vegetable beans.  Except, they really aren’t vegetables, they are legumes.  Legumes, however, are seed or pods that are actually the fruit of a plant.  So while we consider beans vegetables and one finds them in the vegetable section, they are really the fruit of the plant.  They are a fruit, however, that contains a particular nitrogen-fixing bacteria.  Bacteria?  Uh, isn’t that unhealthy?  Well, yes and no.

Back to Covid-19, a term given to this new virus which stands for CO from Corona, VI from virus, d for disease-causing, and 19 for the year it was discovered.  Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Colloquially known as simply the coronavirus, it was previously referred to by its provisional name, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and has also been called human coronavirus 2019 (HCoV-19 or hCoV-19).  Like beans, this virus has several names and, also like beans, it affects people in different ways.

Because viruses need a host in order to stay alive, the best way to combat them is to dent them a host.   Much like the carbs we all try to avoid, the best solution is not to have them in your kitchen.  In an effort to isolate and thereby kill this virus, people were advised to be physically distant and someone in a very unwise move, decided to term this behavior, social distancing.  People were also told to wash their hands which I find to be very icky.  Why do we need to tell adults to wash their hands and keep their living and working areas clean and healthy?  It will never be a commercial aired, but I called all my offspring and said – quite literally: “IF you did not already have Lysol spray and Clorox wipes in your house, I have failed as a parent.”  They assured me they did and were staying safe and clean.

The fact remains that we in my country have done an abysmal job of following those three simply rules to wear a mask, physically distance of at least six feet (the length of a twin bed), and sanitize.  We learned than very few understand spatial concepts and practically none can estimate six feet.  We learned that we like to judge by appearance and are uncomfortable when the mask prevents that.  We also learned that personal space is a concept no one followed in the USA even though we criticize the French for “getting too close”.  We were all, worldwide, seeking an escape from the year 2020 and its top news stories and Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2/Coronavirus and the deaths it caused.  We also learned that our leadership had no concept of the meaning of the word leadership and instead relied not on scientists and medical professionals but on whoever had the best soundbite.    Not surprisingly, we wanted to escape the stress and fear.

Enter Captains of the Hook.  A project begun by a Chicago woman last fall asked crochet fiber artists worldwide to contribute their artistic projects to a charity helping domestic violence victims in the Chicago area.  As 2020 snuggled in, these fiber artists were busy making shawls, mittens, bags, and hats.  We were also asked to make stress balls – something no one though was really a crochet or knitting project.  Often given away at health fairs, stress balls in my own opinion were best given to kids while traveling across the country.  They were squishy and soft so when thrown at a sibling, they relieved stress but caused no harm.  We slowly began to add stress balls to our repertoire and then by spring we all understood their purpose and kept a few back for ourselves.  One wonderful lady made one with a mask – the hallmark logo of 2020 in my opinion.  I cannot wait for her to post the pattern.  It will be my Christmas present to all this year!

When you read the title of this post, though, you probably did not think about crocheting.  Like many, you thought of JM Barrie and his delightful character Peter Pan.   Having performed the musical adaptation of Barrie’s wonderful storyline several times on stage, I delight in both the music and the characters.  Peter Pan has become a cultural icon symbolizing youthful innocence and escapism. In addition to two distinct works by Barrie, the character has been featured in a variety of media and merchandise, both adapting and expanding on Barrie’s works.  Even now, I can see Robin Williams in the more recent film adaptation and every time I began to work with my yarn, I hear the Lost Boys chant echo through the forest… “Hook; Hook; Hook”.

Captain Hook was the Captain James Hook is a fictional character, the main antagonist of J. M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up and its various adaptations, in which he is Peter Pan’s archenemy. The character is a pirate captain of the brig Jolly Roger. His two principal fears are the sight of his own blood (supposedly an unnatural color) and the crocodile that pursues him after eating the hand cut off by Pan. An iron hook replaced his severed hand, which gave the pirate his name.  I have played one of Captain Hook’s pirates and while doing so, met a man who was named for a pirate.  (We will celebrate thirty-plus years of marriage later this fall!) I also had to stay clear of a robotized crocodile weaving its way across the stage and backdrops.

I sincerely wish we had a crocodile that could attack the Covid-19 virus and then slither away into some deep lagoon but, viruses being the scrappy little germs that they are, I know it would only come back better than ever.  In fact,  this virus began its existence in an animal so my thoughts of a crocodile as I picked up my own hook – a crochet hook, were not that wise. 

I have spent the last seven months of my sabbatical crocheting and most recently, put together a blanket of crocheted squares donated by fiber artists worldwide.  We were physically distanced, working in clean environments (and I let the box of squares quarantine for several days enclosed in a plastic-wrapped condition in a hot area to kill any germs), and when necessary did wear a mask while crocheting.  But while we were physically distanced, we were connected – connecting with not only each other but with those who will benefit from sleeping under the blankets made from these squares.

Humanity is not just about what we can see and get close to, what we feel comfortable with, and what benefits us.  Humanity is about living the best life we possibly can.  It is not about being perfect but about trying to make the world a better place, knowing the world will never be perfect.  I joyfully became not just one of the many pirates on stage this sabbatical but I became a captain of my [crochet] hook.  I am not yet a hero but I know a group of fiber artists who, in my opinion, are.

To hook something is to grasp it, to reach out for it.  What if instead of succumbing to fear we grasped hope?  What if we became Captain of the Hook of Hope?  I will be forever connected to those I will probably never meet by intentions and yes, yarn – 165 squares of it.  (Picture posted on my twitter feed)  Together we on this planet can weave a tapestry of hope and by doing so, live each day with good intentions and make positive change for the future.  That is a future I look forward to with joy and yes, hope.

Identity – Who Dat?

Identity – Who Dat?

Epiphany 2020

02.20.2020

 

Who are you? When I first began writing this blog, someone asked me that very question. Then I was asked to complete a profile and again, that question came up. What is your identity? More importantly, what do you want people to remember about you?

 

We’ve discussed in past blog posts about “Who dat?” I know many New Orleans Saints NFL team fans want to believe they invented this phrase but, alas, history proves it predates the National Football League. It was first sung as a line in a song in an operetta written by Dunbar and Will Marion Cook entitled “Clorinda: the Origin of the Cakewalk”. It was presented as part of the 1898 “summer Nights” show produced by E. E. Rice.

 

US service men picked up the catchy phrase and it was often heard over plane radios as servicemen radioed each other. One of the lines of the original song asks a question we might all ask ourselves: “Who dat inside who’s dat outside; who’s dat inside who dat well outside?”

 

Several years ago the Anglican Communion voted to sanction the Episcopal Church of America. The issue was the Episcopal Church’s interpretation of the Bible which, in the Episcopal Church’s view, states that the creator known as God loves all equally and so should man. In his response to this action, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, a man quoted in this blog from time to time, asked: “By what identity do we want to be known?” In other words, when it comes to believing and sharing God’s love, do we want to be picky and choose only certain ones?

 

George Orwell once wrote “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” As a child, I was often mistaken by some as being of a different race. It was a time of segregation and so, when in the company of my red-haired, freckle-faced mother, I had no difficulty in using the same restroom and water fountain as she did. However, when alone or with a group of children, I would sometimes be directed to the facilities marked “colored”. I felt no shame because I was curious.

 

We all wonder what is on the other side of a closed door. The enticement of the unknown affects us all. To my surprise and, yes I admit it, to my disappointment, the other side of the door looked just the same as the room marked “white”. The water fountain used the same intake pipes to bring water to the spigot and the drains went into the same outtake pipes. The only differences were the markings, the identifying signs designed to separate and discourage acceptance.

 

Who do you want to be? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr wanted to be known as a man. He wanted his children to be just children, not identified by color but by their being. They had names, not shame. They were God’s own. Maybe not in the eyes of the Anglican Communion way back when but now…Who dat?

 

Who are you? What do you believe? What is evidenced by how you live? I remained me whether I used the “white” restroom or the “black” restroom. I did not change because of another’s perception. And whenever someone asks me who I am, my first thought is “a child of God.” Of course, just saying it doesn’t make it so. I have to live it. That is what gives me my identity. Not what someone else thinks or sanctions but my own actions. My identity is what I do, what I say, how I evidence my faith in my life.

 

We humans are a curious lot. I am certain someone famous has said that but tonight it is my own quote. In an effort to avoid schism within the Anglican Communion, the Communion created a schism with itself and the Episcopal Church. The issue is about who qualifies as a child of God and is thereby entitled to respect, love, and forgiveness…all those things we humans expect. It should be noted that the very things that created such schism would later be adopted and today there is little difference to note.

 

It makes me wonder if the Anglican Communion thinks we have invented a new breed of mammal – the homosexual Christian. It really is not about who the outcasts are. It is completely about who we become with such decision. What identity do we then take on when we fail to recognize these as children of God, or the Creator, or Allah, or the Supreme Being, or any of the other one hundred common names for the Creator Spirit?

 

There is a national holiday declared as Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the U.S.A. He had a dream that one day all people and children would be seen as just that – people and children. “Who dat inside who’s dat outside; who’s dat inside who dat well outside?” We cannot be well in our identity if we fail to see the inner soul and respond to the being within. Recently those who work in the nation’s capital seem to have forgotten the purpose behind this holiday. Instead they use their positions as an excuse to engage in name calling and acceptance of those who commit illegal acts.

 

I am proud to be a member of a group of people who have chosen their identity to be open to envelope in God’s love all the souls of the earth, regardless of color, creed, race, or status. My identity is not that of God nor am I any better than another. Who dat? It’s me, a child of God, a child who still hears the echoes of Dr. King’s words.

I, too, have a dream, a dream of a world in which respect is given to all living things. My identity is based upon equality and the hope that we will someday truly realize equality for all. When it comes to acceptance, I don’t think anyone should be left outside.   Who are you?

Control and Determination

Control and Determination

Epiphany 2020

02.19.2020

 

Ask any student that has ever taken a mathematics test. Simply answering the question is not giving a complete answer. One must be able to show the work to explain how the answer was obtained. In other words, the student cannot simply guess; computations must give evidence of how the answer was determined.

 

In 1956 Kurt Godel wrote a letter to John von Neumann and, basically, asked if he thought a computer could determine answers to certain problems from scratch. Computers had already proven quite successful at verifying answers; Godel wondered if they could posit the answer all on their own, especially regarding those problems that were easily verified but not so easily solved. This question was put into mathematical terms fifteen years later by Stephen Cook who wrote “P versus NP”.

 

The questions involved in the P versus NP debate are, simply put, questions whose answers cannot be determined without testing every possible answer. In 2000 seven mathematical problems were named Millennium Prize Problems by the Clay Mathematical Institute. Anyone solving one of these seven would win a million dollar prize. To date, only one of the seven has been solved; six are still unsolved.

 

These are not the only unsolved problems that exist, however. Even in mathematics, there are still a host of problems in each specialty that continue to challenge mankind. One of my favorites is found in Discrete Geometry – solving the happy ending problem for arbitrary . The problem itself has nothing to do with marriage. It states “every set of five points in general position contains the vertices of a convex quadrilateral.” There are quite a few theorems but none have been proven and proving is what solves the problem. In other words, the work must be shown. By the way, two mathematicians met while studying the problem and married; hence, the name.

 

The Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 was a gentleman named Stephen. A prominent theoretical physicist and often called one of the greatest scientific minds of all times, Stephen illustrates a great deal of unbelievable control for many people. He served as the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, was a most successful author and a fervent supporter and fan of quantum mechanics. He was also an avid supporter of SOS Children’s Villages in the United Kingdom.

 

The SOS Children’s Villages support vulnerable children who have lost their parents or have parents that no longer reside with them. The agency provided family strengthening programs, health, educational, and psycho-social support. Emergency relief programs are also available and the organization works within the intention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as working with the UN Economic and Social Council.

 

For me, though, one of the most astounding things about Stephen was his own lack of physical control that so many of us take for granted. Those that knew him claimed he had an incredible amount of determination or obstinacy, the perspective being determined by whether or not one agreed with him. He serves today as an example for us all in what hard work can accomplish since he did not come from a background of wealth or privilege.

 

For many just the fact that he was still working illustrated the P versus NP issue. You see, Stephen was Dr. Stephen Hawking, a man who in his mid-20’s contracted ALS and lived much of his life in a wheelchair and unable to communicate naturally. As he lost control of his muscles and movement became limited, his geometric insight seemed to increase and he began performing equations in his head that most people could not solve with pen and paper/chalk and chalkboard.

 

All too often we write people off based upon their background. This is especially true for children who have grown up in deplorable conditions without a proper mentor or example set for them. We consider those that manage to become successful as anomalies, not the norm. We assume the children of Poverty will never Negate Poverty, that these People will not ever be Noticed People. They are the P versus NP problem of the world and by simply continuing to do what he once set out to do, Stephen Hawking has proven that life can be lived.

 

We seek to control so many things in our lives and yet, we often become our own enemy, our own handicap. Dr. Hawking let nothing prevent him from being and by doing that, he maintained control over his handicap. So how can we follow his example and how do we help the children he so proudly supported in his own humanitarian efforts?

 

I cannot imagine someone ever rushed into the building that housed Dr. Hawking’s office and complained about too much, especially if he was rolling into the building in his wheelchair at the same time. He served as a role model simply by being present.

 

Each of us does the same, although certainly not to the extent of Stephen Hawking. We can help children in our own areas by being a mentor or role model for them. So many children, especially those living without a great deal of positive parental involvement, need to simply see an adult being a functioning adult.

 

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do to and succeed at.” Those are the words of Dr. Hawking. They are words that you can help a child discover by manifesting your faith and living your beliefs. We each put forth an image every time we encounter another. Six days ago Stephen Hawking turned 74. His life was the proving of a theory he proposed at his graduation from Oxford over fifty years ago: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

 

We might think control and adaptation are two different things just as five points might not seem like they would make a four-sided figure or quadrilateral. Yet, though not yet proven, the happy ending problem in Discrete Geometry exists. When teach control when we teach children how to adapt and we do that by helping them. This is something you can do. Be a hero to a child and you will help yourself in ways no computer could ever count. Charity really does begin at home.

Winning

Winning

Epiphany 19

02.16.2020

 

Peyton Manning and Bangambiki Habyarimana may not seem to have much in common. One spent today playing a football game, the American Football League Championship game in Denver, Colorado. The other was either writing another of his books, having already published eighteen, or working with young adults, educating them about HIV Aids as a community worker.

 

This is not the story of two distinctly different men although they are. It is the story about two men who are helping children and young adults win in life. Winning is, whether we admit it or not, something we all seek. We might not all be trying to win a spot at the Super Bowl in two weeks but we all want to win at something.

 

Bangambiki Habyarimana writes books about personal growth, inspirational books and happiness and self-help. Peyton Manning puts a more private face on his work with youth. One lives in affluent areas of the United States while the other works in his native homeland on the continent of Africa. Yet, the both are winning the same game of life. I think Quarterback Peyton Manning would applaud author Bangambiki Habyarimana’s words: “When you say you can’t, you stop the creative powers in you; when you say you can you free them.”

 

The point of this blog discusses how we manifest what we believe, how we show the world our faith in our actions. It may not seem like much, this game of American football. Certainly it has had its fair share of scandals and even Peyton Manning has been the subject of accusations and claims. The ramblings of someone attempting to get his ten minutes of fame cannot erase the good deeds of the man, however.

 

The players and owners of American football teams have a long history of charitable acts. Manning played for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos.   The Denver Broncos is a team owned by the Bowlen family with Pat Bowlen being the major stockholder. Born in Wisconsin, Bowlen is an attorney and member of the Canadian Bar, among other things. Born into a family that became wealthy while he was still a child, Bowlen set about making his own place in the world.

 

Under his ownership the Broncos have won seven AFL Championships and two Super Bowls, all since 1984. More impressive, they have raised millions of dollars for Denver’s poor and homeless populations. He is also one of the largest contributors to the University of Denver, helping to promote educational opportunities for all students.

 

Manning, as I mentioned, does not flaunt his charitable work. He never mentions that fact that there is a hospital named after him, the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Even after leaving Indiana and moving to Colorado, Peyton Manning has continued to support the hospital and, perhaps most importantly, continued to interact with the young patients there. Once he has the parents’ approval, Manning calls the young patients and then lets them talk.

 

The PayBack Foundation in Denver provides Thanksgiving meals to low income families in both Denver and Indianapolis and yes, Manning is heavily involved in it. His foundation gives over one million dollars annually to various groups. Manning donates time and energies to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as the local Community Development.

 

Living on a continent where there are countries where it is illegal to speak with people with Aids or HIV, Bangambiki Habyarimana risks it to help young adults stay alive. Every day he goes out makes him a winner. As American rodeo cowboy and barrel racer Doug Firebough once said, “Winning is life is more than just money; it’s about winning on the inside and knowing that you have played the game of life with all you had….and then some.”

 

Winning does not instantly happen, though, and sometimes that is exactly what we think should happen. One of my favorite quotes from Habyarimana is this: “success sits on a mountain of mistakes.” IN other words, you have to accept that you are not always going to win. What makes a winner is that failure is just a step towards winning, not a dead end.

 

We all can be humanitarians and help others. First, we must help ourselves. That starts when we adopt a winning attitude. Perhaps each step will not result in what we wanted but we can make it successful as long as we keep trying. As writer Johnnie Dent, Jr reminds us: “God will not allow you to add the words “Next time” to now faith. Sadly for Pat Bowlen, his time is now spent battling Alzheimer’s. For Habyarimana and Manning, today was a good day to be a winner. Make tomorrow yours.

 

Believe

Christmas/Hanukkah 2019

Believe

12.27.2019

 

Today is the third day of Christmas, a time for three French hens according to the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”. It is also the sixth day of Hanukkah. We have no true diary of the feelings of the Maccabees as they rebuilt their temple but one can imagine that as the sun was setting on day six, anxiety about the oil that lit their lamp which provided light so construction could continue began to rise. What we do know is that on the sixth day of Hanukkah there was a belief that the third day of Christmas contradicts, at least according to the song.

 

The oldest breed of fowl in France is the Crèvecoeurs. It is not a breed one could rely on for food. That needs to be understood before we continue. Although they are quite rare, Crèvecoeurs are primarily used as show birds and make quite the fashion statement with their unique crests. They are black birds and a rich dark green coloring can be found on the crests, hackles, and tail feathers of the roosters. By the nineteenth century, however, there were also black and white variegated versions of the breed.

 

Today we will continue to get news of politicians posturing, much like the French hens would do, about the upcoming or lack thereof impeachment proceedings of the current sitting President of the United States. Much like a gift of fowl that seems to enjoy posturing rather than being productive, these politicians are strutting about and crowing with little thought of actually doing their appointed jobs.

 

Today more than four times the number of children remains isolated from their parents in detentions camps on the USA-Mexican border than were the number of Jewish captives in 1943 on this same date. These children are within USA borders illegally but is that a reason to deny them basic human rights, especially during a season which proclaims love and happiness? Or is this just more posturing without swift resolution or productivity?

 

The miracle that Hanukkah celebrates includes action. One cannot simply light candles, say or sing the accompanying prayer, spin the dreidel, eat any won gelt, and then go to sleep. One is expected to continue building a temple – a life based upon family and community action. Sadly those in Washington, DC who were elected by a large conservative Christian coalition seemed to have forgotten the message of Christmas. They are celebrating the birth of one child by incarcerating many others.

 

It becomes an issue of what we believe and how we live that belief. Today is also the third day of Kwanza, a celebration primarily of the African-American community but open to all. It is not historic, having its roots in the twentieth century but its message transcends time and races. Kwanza celebrates one’s cultural and ethnic heritage without specifying denomination or religion. It is perhaps what all holidays should represent – peace, pride, love, joy, and happiness in a communal setting.

 

The importance of having something to believe in is profound. What we believe controls our behavior. Our beliefs control all our decisions and influence what we think. They often influence the quality of our thoughts and determine our actions. We translate the world as we see it through the filters of our beliefs. Whatever we may identify with spiritually, including not identifying with any one group, affects everything we think, do, and say. Those who believe only in themselves and their own superiority consequently become their own deity.

 

  1. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur defined the American as an immigrant who has become the exact opposite of his own European past. “The changes that came when the immigrant came across the sea eliminated all of the prejudices and the habit of kowtowing that he had learned in Europe”… or so Crevecoeur believed. He was born December 31, 1735, to a family of minor nobility in Normandy. In 1755 he migrated to New France in North America. There, he served in the French and Indian War as a cartographer in the French Colonial Militia, rising to the rank of lieutenant. Following the British defeat of the French Army in 1759, he moved to the Province of New York, where he took out citizenship, adopted the English-American name of John Hector St. John, and in 1770 married an American woman, Mehitable Tippe.

 

Becoming famous for his books on being an American farmer, Crevecoeur later returned to France so he could inherit his father’s lands and it was in France that he later died. Crovecoeur found himself in America after serving in the French Militia which was on the losing side of a major war at the time so perhaps his beliefs and statements are understandable. Certainly in his native country, he would have been imprisoned as being one of the enemy but in America he became a citizen. Sadly, those opportunities are no longer believed in today.

 

Though the breed of the three French Hens given supposedly on the third day of Christmas share the same name, they were not related to the family of St John de Crevecoeur. The family name translates as “broken hearted” and one can only imagine why the name was given to this breed of fowl. Was it because it was believed they would give plentiful eggs or was their strutting around deemed important and yet disheartening?

 

On this third day of Christmas and Kwanza and sixth day of Hanukkah, we have a choice. Do we believe in the goodness and hope of mankind and enact effective policies to create a better tomorrow or do we believe that posturing is all that really counts? The day before the French hens, the song celebrates turtle doves, known as a symbol of love. The day after the third day, the fourth day of Christmas, mentions four calling birds. Perhaps on this third day we are to stop strutting about and prepare for a calling to beliefs that would encourage effective behavior and action. The future will be determined by what we believe. There is no one else who can meet the task of building a better tomorrow than each of us. Perhaps the real miracle of any belief is that we act upon hope and a belief in tomorrow.

Connecting Advent and Christmas

Connecting Advent and Christmas

Advent 2019

2019.12.23

 

Not posting to pay my respects to those killed in gun violence has resulted in very few posts these last six months, I am sad to report. The loss of life is tragic. The failure to prevent such is inexcusable. In the past thirty days the following gun-related incidents occurred:

 

Incident Date State City Or County Address # Killed # Injured
December 22, 2019 Maryland Baltimore 225 Park Ave 0 7
December 22, 2019 Minnesota Minneapolis (Spring Lake Park) 8407 Plaza Blvd NE 1 7
December 22, 2019 Illinois Chicago 5700 block of S May St 0 13
December 21, 2019 Mississippi Waynesboro Turner St 1 6
December 20, 2019 Alabama Tuskegee 2900 block of Davison St 2 2
December 18, 2019 Texas San Antonio 2418 SW Military Dr 0 4
December 17, 2019 Montana Great Falls 1701 10th Ave S 4 1
December 15, 2019 Georgia Columbus 600 block of 32nd St 1 4
December 14, 2019 California Ivanhoe 15700 block of Paradise Ave 0 4
December 12, 2019 Missouri Saint Louis 9900 block of Lewis and Clark Blvd 1 3
December 10, 2019 New Jersey Jersey City 223 Martin Luther King Dr 6 3
December 8, 2019 Texas Desoto 200 block of W Wintergreen Rd 2 3
December 8, 2019 Louisiana New Orleans 3801 Washington Ave 1 4
December 6, 2019 Florida Pensacola 280 Taylor Rd 4 8
December 4, 2019 Alabama Montgomery 500 Eastdale Rd S 2 2
December 1, 2019 Louisiana Cotton Valley 116 Hawthorne Loop 2 3
December 1, 2019 Louisiana New Orleans 2000 block of N Dorgenois St 2 2
December 1, 2019 Illinois Aurora 700 block of S 5th St 1 4
December 1, 2019 Michigan Kalamazoo 6300 block of Proctor St 1 3
December 1, 2019 Louisiana New Orleans 700 block of Canal St 0 12
November 30, 2019 Arkansas Hensley 6500 block of E Sardis Rd 0 5
November 29, 2019 Texas Amarillo 2650 Dumas Dr 0 7
November 27, 2019 New York Bronx E 153rd St and Courtlandt Ave 0 5
November 25, 2019 Florida Brownsville NW 29th Ave and 44th St 2 2
November 24, 2019 Alabama Birmingham 7 15th St W 1 4

 

For the past five years we have explored the connections we have with others. We’ve woven stories, explored through literature, exchanged recipes, and traveled the world seeking sacred places and artifacts. Advent is a time of preparation but it seems to have been a time this year of obliteration.

 

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”  The spiritualist Rumi gave us our challenge. However, I am not so concerned with you changing your views on gun ownership as I am about you finding value within yourself. We are all uniquely made individuals and we all have value. We each bring to the world special talents. Yes, women generally are the ones who bear children but men also bring unique abilities. Historically, though, men got all the attention.

 

In his book “Make the Most of You”, Patrick Lindsay quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” Lindsay mentions that there are three actions we all can participate in: leave everything better than how we found it; wear our scars proudly; unleash our own song. In this series, I want you to plant thoughts that will help you blossom. I want you to sing and sing your own individual song as it becomes harmonious with the rest of mankind.

 

Being an individual in this world is not easy. One of my favorite philosophers of the twentieth century was not a philosopher at all. She was an actress, the late and magnificently great Katharine Hepburn. “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

 

Colombian writer and reporter Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in his book “Love in the Time of Cholera” explains what we must realize in order to grow a better version of ourselves. We have to understand that “human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

 

Too many people go through life believing they are not good enough. Our journey is valuable and everyone’s presence on the planet is a gift. What we accomplish, though, is ours to make happen. Whether one works at home or on a global platform, is highly educated or has learned of living from life, we all have value. Every life matters. Life itself is a previous gift given to everyone, if they are lucky.

 

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings. In a fourth century translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate, each of the verses contained within what we call the “beatitudes” begins with the word “beati” which translates as happiness or blessed. Many use this group of scriptures to decry religion since they address groups normally isolated or rejected.

 

The Beatitudes show us that everything is good in its own way. The quiet have time to learn. Those that grieve had something or someone of value they loved. Those who seek righteousness will find it. We all have value. We all are good enough when we seek life in all its glory. Religion is not about separating and judging. It is, quite simply, about acceptance and embracing life – all of it, the good and the bad.

 

Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” We often look for the meaning of life and our purpose in exotic, extravagant, external environs. We really should just look in the mirror. None of us is perfect and none of us is a Supreme Being. To honor your own uniqueness does not mean to equate yourself with being a deity or with being egotistical or selfish. It does mean living according to your faith and celebrating life – the life within all of us.

 

You, like all of us, have much to offer and the world is waiting for it. Turn your back on doubt today. It serves no purpose. Focus on the positive and let your self-worth be the seed you plant to day in growing a better you and a better world. You are good enough to be the start of a better future for us all. You are a gift to the world. Celebrate yourself and find joy in living, please. Our world is waiting to celebrate you.

 

 

 

Grace: Defining the Future

Grace: Defining the Future

2019.11.12

 

In the nineteenth century philosophy became something of a tongue twister at times. According to Arthur Schopenhauer, “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.” Georg Hegel believed in what he called a “system” of philosophy but maintained that reality was a historical process, examples of changes in the Spirit as a whole. Ludwig Feuerbach believed almost the opposite of Hegel. He believed in no spiritual realm and felt reality was, in the end, immaterial.

 

Interestingly enough, these different viewpoints formed the basis for a huge shift in political thinking and laid the groundwork for the history of the twentieth century. A student of Hegel rejected an individualistic state of nature and believed that mankind’s life was social. Thus, human nature was an expression of labor and activity, all done for the benefit of mankind or, in the trendy term of the period, society. He expressed Hegel’s theories in terms of material rather than spiritual terms. History to this student was a series of class struggles and his vision for the future was to create a classless society. His name was Karl Marx.

 

Born to German Jewish parents who then converted to the Lutheran faith, Karl Marx believed “criticism of religion is the foundation of all criticism.” Marx wanted to make history a science and believed that in doing so the problems of the past could be alleviated. “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

 

Throughout its history philosophy and religion have been together – as friends and as enemies. Since the beginning of philosophy was man’s quest to determine what life was, what the world was, and what mankind itself was, the various creation theories and/or myths that exist had to be considered, studied, and related. It is simply impossible to separate philosophy from belief and yet, for the most part, they seem to be at odds with each other.

 

For many, philosophy strives to explain an anguished existence in an irrational world. For others, philosophy seeks to prove what they believe through faith. I ask you to ponder this question for today: Is philosophy what we believe or is what we believe contradictory to the study of philosophy? For some, the study of philosophy is blasphemous. For others, it is a refreshing proof of their beliefs.

 

As you try to answer that question, I ask you to consider how you show grace rather than using how we live as the answer. Philosophy is the science of thinking but life is the art of doing and what we believe is evident in what we do. If I say I have love for my neighbor, based upon Christian beliefs, then I cannot hate those who are different. If I say my life is dedicated to Allah, then I must live the peace the Qur’an speaks of in my daily living. If I believe I am a child of persecuted children of Israel, how can I fail to have sympathy and empathy for others who are persecuted, even if they are of another faith?

 

In all of these examples and if you consider yourself to be a spiritualist, then what part does grace play? Karl Marx is famous for having said “Religion is the opium of the people.” Having absolute certainty in one’s knowledge might also be said to be addicting, even lead to the ego-driven state Marx so harshly wished mankind to avoid. We all believe in something. Does our manner of living and interacting with society bolster those beliefs and make them evident thereby defining us correctly, or do they seem at odds with our words, making a mockery of both our faith and our living?

 

In 1726, Daniel Defoe wrote in his book “The Political History of the Devil: “Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.” In 1789, writing to a friend in France, Benjamin Franklin wrote, in giving an update on the newly formed country and US Constitution: “…nothing is certain except death and taxes.” All we can be truly certain of is what we are doing in the here and now.

 

There are many ways to define living and most of them do involve spiritual and/or religious beliefs. However, what really matters is that we have tried to live as we believe. Whatever our philosophy is, we need to make sure that it ascends to the primary core of our actions, that it is the reason behind those actions. Then our personal philosophy will be one we support and believe.

 

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: ““Your beliefs become your thoughts; your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your values; your values become your destiny.” I propose to you that to whom and in what manner we show grace defines who we are. Thus grace and how we live it becomes our defining moment.

To Retreat, Remain, or Grow

To Retreat, Remain, or Grow

2019.10.21

I have affection for coffeehouses and the wave of humanity that comes ashore in them.   Although I usually order tea and not coffee, the throng of humanity found at a coffeehouse is delightful. Add children to that and you have a writer’s mall for thoughts and conversations. In short, at a recent visit, I found myself in a compositional heaven. A recent visit solidified my penchant for both coffeehouses and children.

I had just sat down when I noticed the table across from me. The grandparents were at what appeared to be their regular Bible Study/Social meeting and the young boy that had accompanied them was obviously a grandson. His delight at the large-sized orange juice his grandfather had ordered for him was heart-warming. “I’m gonna grow big and strong with this!” he exclaimed. His grandmother offered him a spoonful of her coffee upon his request and the expression on his face made everyone laugh. “That cannot be good for you.” He advised his grandmother. “You need to drink more orange juice.” [Somewhere the Minute Maid Company had just loss a great commercial idea.]

Introductions were made to the young lad as others joined their group. I was impressed with the “adult” way they introduced themselves to him. After all introductions were made, he then asked if he could repeat their names. It was clear no one expected him to do so but he did. Upon saying the name of the last person, his grandfather began to open their meeting. The young boy politely told the grandfather he was not finished talking. Chuckles were heard and the grandfather pointed out he had named everyone, correctly.

The young boy looked around the coffeehouse and then leaned over to his grandfather. “I just learned their names,” he explained. Now I need to ask them something.” The group seemed amenable so the grandfather sat back and encouraged his grandson to continue. The wide young person then looked at the first he had named and asked: “What are you?” The gentleman began to say he was s retired teacher when the boy interrupted him. “No, that is what you did. What are YOU?”

I recently attended a retreat and this week I found myself wondering something similar. That is the question I hope you ask yourself this week. What are you? In past series we delved into the question “Who are you?” in our attempt to improve and grow some self-love. This week we cannot improve our self-worth without knowing what we are. More importantly, what do you want to be?

Any good gardener knows there are various things that need to be done in the process of growing a garden. There is the cultivating and tilling of the soil, preparing the soil, nurturing the soil with water and perhaps fertilizer and plant food. The list might seem endless to a non-gardener but to those who believe in growing things, the list is simply a part of daily life. Essential to gardening, though, is knowing what one is planting.

I have stated here in past posts that I do not have a “green thumb”; that is to say, my talents do not include being a master gardener. The truth is that I can grow a nice garden, whether it is flowers or vegetables. What hinders my success in gardening is my lack of interest in learning about the plants themselves. I can bore you to no end about the difference between a xylophone and a marimba because I am interested in those things. The nutritional needs and their differences between a cauliflower and a bell pepper hold no interest for me at all. For one thing, I am allergic to bell peppers and mildly so to cauliflower. Ask me about tomatoes, though, and I am right there with answers. You see, I adore tomatoes.

Life cannot be lived just eating tomatoes, though. While they hold great nutritional value for our bodies, we do need other things. I have come to learn how to grow carrots and cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and kale, and attempt to grow beans, although pole beans and legumes are still at the “getting to know you” stage with my gardening skills. Corn and I have an on-again-off-again relationship and I have never attempted fruit trees although I do love to eat their bounty.

Clearly, if I had to grow my own food I could survive but I would have to alter my eating habits and pray for good health and weather. I rely a great deal on the convenience of shopping at local markets and stores. I can grow an avocado plant but cannot get it to bear fruit. Life for me without avocadoes is unthinkable and I am grateful for imports from other states and neighboring countries. The same is true for olives. I am something of a cheese-a-holic and yet, having a herd of cattle and goats would not yield me any cheese homemade. Again, I am grateful for those for whom making cheese is a talent they share.

When it comes to growing my soul, I also rely on others. I myself can only do so much based upon my skills and knowledge. I reference many things and listen to many people. Just as with an actual gardening, there needs to be some weeding out of the information we have available. Not everything is beneficial and unfortunately some people are more interested in creating followers than helping people grow. Albert Camus once wrote: “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” This past weekend I did just that. Past retreats included one in a beautiful country, wooded setting where no cell phones or electronic devices were allowed. Time was something measured jokingly with a ruler. It may sound funny but I took the time this time to be on a retreat to make sure that I did not remain, getting stuck in the whirlwind that our lives can become.   I agree with Anna White and this quote from her book “Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith” when she writes “I want my heart to be the thin place. I don’t want to board a plane to feel the kiss of heaven. I want to carry it with me wherever I go. My most recent retreat was actually a conference but the setting was so serene it felt more like a retreat for the soul than a taking care of business. Perhaps there is a lesson in that last statement as well.

 

I want my fragile, hurting heart, to recognize fleeting kairos, eternal moments as they pass. I want to be my own mountain and my own retreat.” Kairos is a Greek word dating back to antiquity and it refers to an opportune moment, that right and critical moment in time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a critical action.   Many times we are so busy reacting to the world that we fail to take the time to deliberate about our actions and what they represent. We are so busy being that we lose sight of what we are or would like to be.

My most recent retreat/conference was not a time of hearing but rather a time of listening. To be sure there were presentations and discussions but there were also times of meditating and truly hearing what all of creation was offering. The serene setting, fullness of life experienced, and the sharing of emotional, spiritual, and physical gifts provided encouragement to move forward, not just remain caught in the busyness of everyday living.

I hope this week you find your own sources of nurturing to help you grow in this endeavor we call living. Sometimes we must retreat from life to move forward in our living. Take a detour from your usual path and you might just find yourself.   More importantly, I hope you find and increase your self-worth and are then able to answer to the question: What am I?