Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bunny Prints and Chekhov's Gun

"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." Chekhov’s gun is a literary admonition to not include unnecessary elements in a story. If the rifle isn’t going to be used then it doesn’t belong in the story. Everything becomes condensed into what is essential to the plot. Tonight the radiant moon, the last moon of the year illuminates fresh bunny prints on the snow. I pause and ponder the attention, awareness and willingness required to notice the details of life yet stay present with life’s story and unfolding plot. Happy New Year to you my unseen bunny, I noticed your prints. It is exciting to think where they will lead in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


      I hit a wall today. It was one of those days when you feel like Jim in the old “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” TV show. You remember Jim. He was the one wrestling the very angry crocodile or rhinoceros in the mud or brambles while Marlin Perkins was safe in the helicopter describing the animal and what they were going to do with the truly irritated animal. Marlin always made it sound dangerous, but no big deal. You had to wonder if Jim ever yelled up to the helicopter “Hey Marlin, you come down here and do this!” Yes, today I was Jim trying to capture a very angry animal called month end results and poor performance while Marlin sat in the comfortable helicopter of “we’ve always done it this way” wondering what the fuss was all about. It would be so easy, when you bounce against the wall, to just walk away. You would give me way too much credit if you thought I did not consider that as a viable option. 
      As I slipped and glided across the ice between the buildings I pondered this option and this in-betwixt time of this week. The sacred holiday is over, the love and cheer have been celebrated and life has returned to normal. We’ve moved on to the anticipation of a new year, a new beginning and the farewell of the old and possibly shattering 2009. One down and one to go. In-betwixt. That is perhaps the wall I really hit. I may not be where my heart and vision say I should be but where I am matters. Tomorrow may hold my dream and visualization of being a writer or one who gives voice and hope to others but today’s experience, attention, willingness and rows and rows of Excel formulas are the paint that brush will need. Christmas on one end and New Year’s on the other end and in-betwixt is where I am. Do you think Marlin ever said “Hey Jim, you’ve got a bit of mud on your face”?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Forever, Christmas Eve

I believe in the grace of the baby lying in a manger. I believe in the power of the menorah to quench the darkness and radiate hope. I believe in the vision of a man named Buddha. I believe in the jolly red suited Santa. I believe in the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes. I believe in scrooge who kept Christmas in his heart every day. I believe in this sacred holiday we’ve carved into time. I believe in the hope, love and gathering of this time. I believe in the weariness this time casts as our hearts and energy disperse to loved ones, friends and strangers in need. I believe in those who work this holiday to service, protect and care for our needs. I believe that belief is seeing. I believe that belief is faith unseen. I believe that belief is a sense of knowing. I believe that belief is the voice in my head that says “On this day” and goes no further for I have but now. I believe that belief is the voice in my heart that says “On this day a child” and goes no further. For a child I will be, full of wonder and innocence and arms outstretched. I will have no prejudices, no judgments and no past. I will trust all who reach out, especially those in need. On this day. On this day a child. I believe in my soul it will remain, forever, Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowflake Mentors

Packages, children and parents fill the four wheeled sleighs. They dash away dash away before the storm. Unlike Santa’s reindeer, which fear neither blizzard nor ice, they have no red nose reindeer to lead their way. The shimmering illumination of electronic snowflakes and icicles dance with the early snow scouts preparing the way for the Christmas show. Inside, the stockings are hung and the tree is lit. Presents from home have ended their journey and sit beneath the tree awaiting the day. All is quiet. Tis a silent night save for the snowflakes fluttering like angel’s wings. Their arrival and departure tease my waiting for all we have is now, this one glistening moment, this silent shimmering now. All I want for Christmas are two large front teeth to bite into life and catch snowflakes with a smile.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Journey's Hope for Hope

      Oblivious to the wind chill, heat, rain, snow and holiday preparations they travel. There are no brats, hamburgers, nachos, grills or beer when they meet and they have no team colors. They travel the miles up and down the interstates and back roads to pick up and deliver their cargo. Unlike the postal service their hours are not set and their deliveries require 24/7 care and handling. Their work has no 401k, no paycheck, no benefits or time off. They go when called sacrificing their weekends, holidays and time to rest from their full time jobs. The caravans of cars, SUVs, vans, Jeeps and trucks rendezvous at rest stops, mall parking lots and strangers’ homes. Some are identified only by an email describing their car, what they will be wearing and the time of their arrival. Others have done this before and exchange the greetings of old friends. There are no photographers, no cheering crowds or applause when the exchange is successfully made. The thought of such recognition would never occur to them, it is what they do.
      For some, it may be a once in a life time encounter with the cargo which lasts only a few hours or sometimes a night. For others the exchange of the cargo may begin a journey that spans a lifetime. Each traveler is a single link in the chain of life and hope dotting the highways day after day rescuing dogs. The rescues take place at shelters where the time for adoption has expired, puppy mills or dog auctions where they have one last chance to live if they are sold, sometimes for less than a dollar, before they are killed. The links come from all walks of life, backgrounds, rescue groups and volunteers forged by the steel of compassion. With each exchange the links are connected and the chain extends the hope that their precious cargos will find their forever home and know forever the love and sacrifice that transported them. Hope for hope, the chain of life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snow Vision

I love the snow. Snow is my spy camera capturing what was but went unseen. In the snow I see the prints of my beloved bunnies. The bunny dance in the backyard leaves its trace in a labyrinth of circles and twists. Sometimes my eyes move up the trunk of the evergreen tree from the snow and back down to the bunny prints that stop right in front of the tree. Each scan acts like a pulley drawing the corners of my mouth upward into a smile. Squirrel footprints adorn the snow and snow covered steps leading up to the bird seed on the deck. Two very excited dogs create a necklace of paw prints. All of these prints, dances and life are here every day but remain hidden until it snows. Maybe if I could have one Christmas wish, or perchance the grace of another falling star, I think I would wish for snow vision. With snow vision, I could see the footprints, dances and play that pass through my life. I could see the prints of those whose prayers, love and kindness walk in front, behind and beside me as they lead, guard and offer companionship. I think of snow vision and I chuckle to realize it exists in the eyes of the heart. It is the eyes of the heart that go through my day casting snowflakes of trust, hope and faith wherever I walk. I have but to look and see with the eyes of the heart, with snow vision, the prints of friends, family and humanity that walk with me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't Fight the Wait

     The sound of thunder claps. I jump. My little weather alert computer icon is flashing. We have a blizzard warning. The blizzard bunkering begins and we wait for the wind and snow to arrive. The blizzard hits with the expected force and drifts. We wait for the winds to subside and the plows to roll. The next morning the streets are passable and we all prepare to return to work. The wind and snow are gone leaving behind below zero temperatures as a “thinking of you” greeting card. 
     The next morning we run outside, crank the car and run back inside to wait for the car to warm. From eight in the morning until after one in the afternoon a parade of meetings march through my day like storm troopers. I sneak a look at my watch waiting for the first opportunity to let my blood sugar know I haven’t forgotten to eat. The car crunches the remaining frozen snow in the driveway as the week has ended and the snow blowing number crunching warrior has returned home. I pause and ponder the stops and starts of the day and how similar it was to the rush hour traffic when I lived in California. 
     I laughed to think of the “stoppage time” that would be added to a day for all the waiting and pauses. I think of Advent, the time of waiting and consider the paradox – one is seen as a disruption and one a celebrated sacred holiday. Why the difference? Perhaps the difference is the object of the waiting. One waiting period stops the flow promising a brief reprieve that you know will be followed by yet another compressed box of time with more demands. The other waiting period says I am Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end. I am the joy and belly laugh of a pot bellied Santa bringing gifts. I am an interjection into your Timex Rolex world and I come with singing, smiles and laughter because you are worth it, you’ve been good and you are loved. That’s not a message we easily accept or believe. Maybe that’s why we have to wait. We need to let it sink in and give us time to believe. What would my day be like if every wait, every disruption became a trigger to stop, pause, ponder and remind myself to believe?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Power of Hands and Advent

      It is Advent and just under three weeks until Christmas. So much to do and I find myself staring at my hands. I remember plunging my cupped hands into the white beach sand, lifting the cradle and watching the sand sift back to the beach. I remember the ladle they formed offering my over heated body a cool drink. I remember my hand waving good bye to my mother on my first day at school and years later the last time I saw her alive. I remember how heavy it felt both times when it dropped to my side. I remember their excited clutch when the diploma was placed in my hand after years of night school. I remember waving them high in the air when I completed my first marathon. I remember their warmth clasping my mug of coffee long before the caffeine is desired.
      It is not the meaning of Christmas I ponder. I’ve become fascinated with my hands. What is the power of hands that when cupped together they can cradle life or reach into the ocean and draw a drink? What is their power that carves your mark upon the world when they grasp a pen? The power of hands can hold a brush and palette and with a single stroke freeze heaven’s creative fire for all eternity. What is the power of hands? Outstretched the hand can draw a drowning person to safety, establish a bond of friendship or dry a tear. Clenched the hand can bruise, maim or even destroy a life. The hands say hello, are the voice for some and with an imperceptible glancing touch say “I love you.” Hands give belly rubs to dogs, change a baby’s diaper, hold the key that opens a door as well as praise and plead with God.
      If I were an artist I would paint two softly roughened, aged but strong hands cupped together, as if they were holding a ball, extending down from heaven to earth piercing through the dark night sky. Between the two hands there would be a soft circle of light radiating like the harvest moon. It would be my picture of Advent, the period of waiting for Christmas when the hands of God became like mine.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saying "Thank You"

To say thank you means I accept. I accept the gift whatever it may be. The gift could be someone passing the salt and pepper my way, a door opened, a present or a compliment. Whatever the gift my thank you means I accept and acknowledge the giver as the source of the present. The giver has done something for me. The giver has helped, honored or bestowed something to me. So why do I never say “thank you” to myself?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


“No mas. No mas.” The boxer stepped back and quit. What would cause someone, who spent their life training for this moment, to just quit? What would drive him to step back in the middle of a fight and say “No more”? He could have canceled the fight. He could have taken a dive but he chose to quit. The news photographs froze the moment in time. “No mas” would remain etched forever in the sports world. Of all the photographs of myself that I would love to destroy thinking they make me look fat, my eyes are closed or look too tired, this is one photo of myself I will never own or have to hide. I will never quit. I will never take a dive. When my earthly walk should come to an end I will embrace with grace the next journey. Until that time I shall never quit. I will never give up. I will never raise my hand and utter “no mas.”