Saturday, November 2, 2013


The following is an excerpt from the book, "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand.

The crash of the Green Hornet (B-24 Liberator) had left Louie (Zamperini) and Phil (Russell A. Phillips) in the most desperate physical extremity, without food, water, or shelter. (they had endured 47 days on a raft after their plane crashed in the Pacific) But on Kwajalein, (nicknamed Execution Island) the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: DIGNITY. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind. Men subject to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain. Without dignity, identity is erased.

...On Kwajalein, Louie and Phil learned a dark truth known to the doomed in Hitler's death camps, the slaves of the American South, and a hundred other generations of betrayed people. Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.

I ask that you examine your behavior when it comes to the homeless, a man like Alonzo, or a teen like Shane. I believe this weeks message is abundantly clear; we do not honor our fellow man when we look past or through them. Ignoring them, or worse labeling them, leads to dehumanizing them. If labels like "loser" or "worthless" pop into your mind when seeing certain elements of society, know you have "missed the mark." You look with eyes that do not see.

I ask that you give them what we all have to give. A smile. A wink. A nod of acknowledgement. I ask you give them what they may have misplaced...their dignity.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Laus Deo

Latin for "praise God." Poses a dilemma for me. How do I praise what I am so uncertain about? Not that "It" doesn't exist in some form or other, just that "It" goes so far beyond my understanding. What do I make of this suggestion? How do I go about praising God?

Admitting to pure speculation, what other way than expressing my appreciation for the life I live and the world around me?  I always fall back on experience to guide me. As such, what is it that I want, need or feel, when someone "praises" me? What I feel is: 1) support 2) validation 3) appreciation 4) concern 5) warmth 6) a "connection."

And it is # 6 that seems operative in this particular case. When I "laus Deo," I am establishing a connection with Life itself. And as I've expressed elsewhere, Life and God are synonymous for me. Where else and how else am I to experience God if not through living? Be-ing? If that is the case (which it most certainly is for me) then how I would "praise God" would be through my thought, word and deeds. Do they reflect what I aspire to? What I want "me" to be?

Example: Do you wish to be a friend, partner or spouse that is honest? Trusted? Reliable? I think all would say as much. If we step away from those qualities and act in a fashion that contradicts them, what do we feel? How do we act? If our self-image is at odds with our actions, discord follows. We wrestle with reality. (Life) We exert tremendous effort supporting a perception that is at odds with what we think, say and do. And down deep we know it.

So, in the end, my ability to praise God seems to be how well I am able to authentically express myself. A validation of sorts comes from the Greek definition for the word sin (hamartia) used in the New Testament: "to miss the mark." (target) In Hebrew sin (chatta'ah) is to "miss the way." (although there are other variations with different meanings; pesha, avon, etc.) When we are less than we can be, less than we had hoped for, we have missed the mark. Conversely, when we manifest who we truly are and what we long to be, we have "hit the bulls-eye." For some reason, that's all the praise I think the Creator needs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And Baby Makes Three

I never married and have no offspring. So the clip that follows is somewhat of a mystery to me. Is it as eye-opening as it seems? Or do babies astound their parents in a multitude of ways? (wait! that is a rhetorical question) Of course they do, especially the first. I have seen the pictures, home movies and endured HOURS of conversation. Let me be more specific: I know babies often smash the "adorable meter" all to hell. I know babies laugh, giggle, and gush until you think you're melting in pure bliss. But have you ever seen anything like this?

I wonder. The emotional depth this baby seems to demonstrate lends itself to the motif that has developed on this blog over the last week. Through Alonzo, Shane and now Mary-Lynn Leroux, (the baby) Life seems to be insisting we take the lesson to heart. Words matter. Pitch, tone, modulation, emphasis and rhythm all play a part. As I said in 'Handle With Care' (10-24) "...words can be a medium to create an object of beauty."

Let the artist within come forth.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sticks and Stones

Last Thursday I wrote: "As children we were told; sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. As adults we know little else can hurt us more."

In elementary and high school I was the popular kid. Played sports, dated the best looking girls. I say that for one reason only--I was STILL as insecure a person as you would ever want to meet. Every slight a scar. Every opinion from Mount Sinai. Every event a crisis. I was told early and often; don't be so hard on yourself. But I knew if I let up even for a minute I would become more exposed, more vulnerable, more susceptible.

I want you to meet Shane Koyczan. He is going to share what it was like from the other end of the spectrum. Shane is far braver than I will ever be. He has overcome far more than I ever will. But we were never as different as appearances seemed...

If you wish to teach your children, nephews, nieces or grandchildren some genuine values through  storytelling, please consider purchasing my book, "The Last Enchanted Forest." It is available in e-book form and can be found by hitting the BOOK tab at the top of the page.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crossroad at the Crossword

I love doing crossword puzzles. Been doing them longer than I care to admit. And there is something inexplicable that often happens when I do them. I'll get stymied--stuck--flummoxed. I'll have no further answers. I have been bested. So I set it down and go about my business.

The "inexplicable" happens when I pick that crossword puzzle up again. Much more often than not, I go on to complete the puzzle. How can this be? I am certainly no smarter than before. Its not that I even RECOGNIZE a particular answer that may fit the puzzle. (often they are Latin or archaic terms) But by horizontal and vertical referencing, I know for a certainty that my answer is correct. Where did this "information" come from? Is it my own subconscious mind? The Universal Mind? Thin air?

I share this simply to encourage you to examine your problem solving process. Setting down a problem for a period of time doesn't mean you've quit on it. It just means you cease the frustration and possible anger that can arise when you become thwarted. The intention is; I am blocked. I will return to this issue later for resolution.

Religious people sometimes term this "letting go and letting God;" in-so-far as personal problems are concerned. I have no trouble with this perspective because I believe all of Life is a manifestation of God. I would add, though, I don't believe God gives two hoots or a holler whether I finish a crossword puzzle or not. So, for me, the answer isn't so much that God took an active interest in my specific problem as He set up a "dynamic" that is available to one and all. We just need to recognize and utilize the inherent, universal technique. Kind of like tuning in a radio---we need to find the proper frequency.

It has been suggested elsewhere on this blog to "enjoy the questions while you wait on the answers." I am sincere with that thought. If someone had figured all of life out, we would certainly have heard about it. (religions not withstanding) The blueprint would be overt and easily recognizable. Everyone would be utilizing the same playbook. But that is not the case--therefore we can infer an individual (personal) road is encouraged within generalized (impersonal) parameters. Of course that is only my opinion. What you think (believe and manifest) is the road that you are on. Here's hoping we cross paths.

Tip: If you have a notion to try a crossword puzzle, know they get progressively harder as the week goes by. (assuming you find one in your local newspaper) Monday's crossword is far easier than Thursday's, for example. The exception is a Sunday crossword. While challenging (and large!) it does not compare with the difficulty of a Saturday crossword.