Monday, May 31, 2010

Gratitude Trumps Understanding

     The span of generations makes a difference on how you see war. My generation was the first to see war live and up close every day, every night in all forms of media. It was part of eating supper at night. Vietnam did not need as many movies as the prior wars; we saw it first hand, including the dead wheeled off the planes. How pronounced was the media’s impact upon our fear as young teens watching this event. We watched the lottery, called the draft, on TV wondering if "their" number would be drawn. We watched the social turmoil wrapped around it that divided a nation and made those returning, in whatever "shape" they were in, from where they were given no choice but to go, both celebrated and vilified. I will always remember the words of my mother’s friend from France describing World War II, “Anyone who has watched the tanks roll through your streets during an air raid, the city blacked out except for the light of missiles will never vote to go to war.”
     I do not understand war and perhaps Vietnam has made my generation skeptical, not to mention the camouflage uniforms hide the black and white hats. One message rings clear through all the skepticism, fear and lack of understanding-today someone stands or walks a perimeter alone, someone lies wounded in the dust of battle or a sterilized hospital bed, someone went through their final wishes with a loved one before being deployed, someone believed and stepped forward. And for every ‘someone’ there are many more in the comfort of their homes hoping to see them alive and well. Such sacrifice I do not know, I cannot imagine. The plowshares are still outnumbered by the guns and it is not safe for the sheep to lay down with the lions. And so today simple paragraphs to say until that time “God bless and keep them safe” and thank you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good Morning

     A slow coffee kind of morning. One of those mornings where, despite the warmth and wake up taste of the coffee, somehow you forget to drink and the coffee grows cold. Just one of those mornings where you sit and watch the sun wake up. Like me, it turns the light on and walks across the sky in those slow sleepy kind of steps that say “do not operate heavy equipment.” I wonder, does the sun drink coffee? Is that why it takes time for the sun, like me, to know it’s safe to really stretch? The sun has stretched. It's one of those arms behind your head, back bent slightly and then the arms slowly reach out with fists and then open hands. Yep, the sun has stretched and is ready to warm the earth.

Good morning!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


     Needing a breath of fresh air, I headed out for a brief walk outside. The corporate world, sometimes, can get a bit overwhelming. A group of plant employees, dressed in their protective Kevlar clothing were gathered near a picnic table. A few I knew and the others were temporary employees I did not know. They looked like laundry hung out to dry but now clumped on the ground when the clothes line broke.
     I confess, at first I thought it best if I adjust my walk to avoid them, telling myself they didn’t need someone who worked in air conditioning around them. In the end, I could not, and wandered over. Only one or two even acknowledged my presence with a weary head nod. They all had worked six and seven days in a row for a month now and these last two weeks their hours were topping 60 hours a week easily. The exhaustion, the heat and the type of work we do was really taking a toll. Not even the best protective equipment can shield that type of weariness.
     It was not the time for small talk. Not talking to anyone specific, I told them to hang in there, they were getting a well deserved three day holiday. Today and tomorrow was all that was left. I told them about the new crews we had just hired and how we were trying to smooth out scheduling so they could go back to normal hours. I tried to explain. Finally, I congratulated them on what they had accomplished. A couple of eyes looked at me but most just stared at the ground where their shoulders were resting along with their overworked backs.
     We stood there in silence, my eyes now focused on the ground with theirs. Knowing I needed to get back inside, I looked at them and said ‘thank you.’ As I turned and walked away I overheard the following conversation.
     “Who was that?”
     “I don’t know man, but she said ‘thanks’”
     Opening the door to the building, I could not help but chuckle. I went over to lift their spirits. They had schooled me. No wiser words have ever been spoken.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


    This is my favorite time of the day, this hour between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Most of the human world is still asleep but nature is awake and joins me in my morning coffee.
    Years ago this was the time I would run. One morning, in Florida I set off on my morning run. My route started on asphalt and headed to the beach where I would pick up my running partners - the pelicans and sea gulls. One morning the timing was perfect and like a nuclear bomb exploding in the pre-dawn darkness the sun crashed across the horizon of the Gulf. As the sun exploded a group of pelicans, their black silhouettes only, crossed its path. Time and my feet stood still and watched the dance. I was never blessed to again time my run with the sun's awakening and pelicans' flight. I no longer run.
     The coffee mug warms my hands as I stand to greet the day. The morning doves are calling each other. One dove is just above me. The other I cannot see. One calls. Pause. One answers. The other birds are their orchestra serenading their song. The morning is alive with song and life. No orange explosion this morning, the sky is cloaked in clouds threatening rain. The sun's arrival is more like one of those dimmer lights slowly turned up.
     I notice the clock and realize I am going to be soooo late getting to work. My bad. But, you see, there was this sunrise, pelicans and morning doves and ... well .... gosh .... they called my name. And with that, I do have to run.....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bowing from the Neck

    So what is it called if 'sacred' is not the word? Is the answer in the quest to understand the sacred and profane?And why does just the sound of those two words 'sacred' and 'profane' conjure images of beauty and ugliness, of the transcendent and the heart of darkness? Does my 'sacred' by definition relegate yours to 'profane'? Can there be more than one sacred? Is there more than one 'holy'?
     I can bow from the waist and not bend my neck. I readily admit I was born a willful child and learned early how to bow without bowing. Does such a bow make the sacred profane? When the ornamentation of the sacred passes by do I desecrate it when I do not avert my eyes? I mean no sacrilege, I only want a glimpse of the face of sacred. And if I want to transform the bread and wine into the sacred but wear not the robes or title is it an act of heresy and ignorance? What if my only desire is to feed those who know a hunger and thirst beyond the wheat and grape?
     And what of the times, when, without thinking I bend my neck in wonder and awe, caught in the feeling of "smallness" in the presence of "grand"? What of the sunrise that always makes my neck bend? What of the morning doves that call to each other before sunrise, one above me and one distant, trading their songs back and forth? What of the first night snow in winter? What of the gentle hand stroking the forehead of a loved one who is ready to move on to the next life? What of those who leave family and jobs to clean oil from the birds and the once white sandy beaches? What of the one who stood in front of a tank in China and changed the world? What of those who brought nations to their knees without raising an army, firing a gun or dropping a bomb? What of the poem, the painting, the song that both suspends time and transports us across time? Are these not sacred?
     Perhaps sacred is that which I notice. I set apart and keep in the forefront of my every day life. I pay attention and do not take for granted. I tend to it. I nurture it. I give it honor by bending my neck. It is both within and without, a part of me and a part of the world around me. Perchance what is truly sacred is that which does not divide or command but unites and offers.
I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. I honor the place in you where, if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us. Namastè
I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. I honor the place in you where, if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us. Sacred.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Favorite Poet

Words have always been my sanctuary. In my "About Me" you will find a very deliberate and intentional self portrait:
Along the way I pause to absorb the metaphors and images of this life, which are so precious. Here you shall find me brave, you shall find me pondering, you shall find me searching, and you shall find me collecting the images and metaphors like shells upon the beach.
Some days, you do not have to look very far. From miles away the precious Gulf Shores in my mind, reaches out and leaves at my feet shells that require no words.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Raining Acorns

     I do not believe the saying “into everyone’s life a little rain must fall.” To say “I believe” means I have the choice to not believe, to disbelieve the saying. The reality is, whether the physical rain or the metaphorical rain of life’s challenges and disappointments, rain, yes, will fall. In the end, it is not a matter of belief or disbelief. The rain, simply, is and the nature of rain is to fall. 
     I may not like it and pout or rail against the rain. Alternatively, I may embrace it with the fullness of hope. To curse or question the rain that falls and not also mourn the seed’s husk that is shattered, when the sprout seeks the sun, suggests my focus is not so much on the nature of rain or growth but what happens next, what I see. One rains on my picnic and I’m not pleased. The other, the seed’s husk cracking wide upon, is masked and unnoticed by the beauty of the flower. I do not tell the acorn that is shattered, so that the oak may grow, that into every acorn’s life a little rain must fall. No, it is the wonder of the beauty and strength that springs from the tiny seeds and acorns that arouses the poet’s heart.
     Do I dare to think both are the same- rain and the husks of seeds?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


     You cannot really call it duplicity. It’s not that one is speaking truth and the other a lie. They are simply speaking their own truths in the only language they know. Unfortunately, they speak different languages which can disguise the similarities and the unison of their truths. No, one cannot call it duplicity when one compares the words of the mouth or pen with the words of the heart. One has learned to speak in the constructs, structure, slang and metaphors of their environment and education. The other has no such shackles.
     Trying to hear their different dialogues can, at times, be like trying to carry on an intimate conversation at a sporting event, a bar, a convention hall or a rock concert. You can’t hear above the other voices competing to be heard. You strain, you yell or you lean in turning your ear to their mouth so you can hear not just the voice but the words. You feel like you are in a commercial repeating those infamous words “Can you hear me now?” Language, or words, has learned to write which gives it home field advantage over the heart trying to be heard above the static.
     Poets, mystics, sages, philosophers and romantics have long struggled with these two different conversations and dialogues. A poet’s heart explodes trying to use language to describe love. And how, wonders the mystic, can words describe the partner in this conversation – the heart? So, when I sit and try to hear, translate and reconcile these different whisperings, truths and nuances I’m not sure I believe I can discern the answers where they have not.
     Perhaps, just a tiny little perchance, a chink in the armor of disbelief raises its head. Maybe it’s not the translation, the interpretation, the reconciliation that is required. Maybe it is simply the recognition of the two languages, to see the shackled and unfettered that is important. For if we fail to wake up and see that the two exist, different, unique, and indescribable what need would we have of poets, mystics, sages, philosophers and romantics? What reason would we have to stop the rhythm of life to stand speechless and watch the sunrise or a full moon?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Water Threads

     I have scooped the ocean in my hands and watched as more returned to the ocean, trickling through my fingers, than was given me to cool my face. I have cupped water in my hands from rivers and streams to cleanse the sweat from my face and instead gave drink to the earth. Pressing the lever with one hand I have tried to steal water from a stingy water fountain to quench my thirst but alas returned the treasure to the fountain. 
     I think of my former neighborhood, my friend’s houses and the businesses I frequented now underwater in Tennessee. Upon the same earth, in Australia, Africa and other areas, the sound and taste of water has almost been forgotten. I think of my sanctuary, the Gulf, proving the adage that oil and water do not mix. Throughout the earth life in all forms cries out in need for the water that is or is not.
     These contrasting images collide and repel. Like water itself it is easy to be dazzled by the images’ shimmer and texture so that what you see is not what is. I know their current leaves lessons to be learned. Some of the metaphors are obvious leaving me thirsty for what lies within the flood and drought and the ungraspable. Of course, there is always the possibility that this quest for meanings and connections is like water trickling through my fingers.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Propagating Waves of Light

     I, like a lot of people, have always avoided the phenomenon of a propagating wave of light being thrown back from a surface. Lovers see the beauty in the other while the beholder always sees their faults when they see their reflection in a mirror. The indissoluble core of any reflection is a wave of light (or sound) thrown back from a surface. The interpretation of that wave cannot take place until it bounces back. Which leads my little brain to ponder, as the sun prepares to go to bed, not my reflection, but the surface against which the wave of light boomerangs.
     My mother thought if she made me read Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette that somehow I would absorb the gene of refinement that was missing in my DNA. A voracious reader and student, surely this would be the medium which would reach me. Alas, that level of refinement was not me. It was a book of rules. It was the wrong surface. More Teflon than iron skillet, it simply did not stick.
     Thursday and Friday I was in a lock down with the finance department – corporate and my division. I work with numbers ten to eleven hours a day. The reality is every cell in my body recoils from numbers and math. I never cared what time the train would arrive, I was taking a sail boat or writing about the moon. Numbers are simply finance’s granite surface from which I peck away until I find the story reflected in the block of cold stone. I chip and sometimes blast away until I understand the why, the how and the impact upon the people. I tell stories. I sculpt the surface of squiggled and straight lined numbers to reflect the faces of people and obstacles vanquished or fortified. For sixteen hours our very different surfaces clashed with brandished shields trying to find the real reflection.
     At some point during day two, trying to suppress the desire to physically destroy every clicking ball point pen in the world, I thought of Wednesday’s walks through the plant. I wandered in and out of racks containing hundreds of thousands of square feet of glass. For some reason, I stopped in front of a rack and saw my reflection. I could see my reflection but I could also see through my reflection. It was faithfully sending the light wave back while simultaneously allowing my light to go through and bounce off what was beyond the original reflecting surface. A different surface created multiple reflections from the same light. Reflection squared.
     The interpretation of that reflection is, I confess, still a journey, and sometimes my steps may not be so sure. Sometimes it feels like running downhill upon an uneven, rocky path that threatens to twist your ankles or send you sprawling forward until you land face down in the dirt. Other times that interpretation is the phone booth from which I, like Clark Kent, emerge like superman. I can leap tall buildings with my red cape flapping like butterfly wings around and behind me. But that reflection is, quintessentially a propagating wave of light being thrown back from a surface. Choose a different surface and the waves that crash back for me to interpret gifts so many more alternatives. 
     The sun went to bed last night. It has now awakened with intense rays of light like lasers between the curtains. I squint as I try to read what was written the night before. I put my headphones on intentionally selecting the music I wish to hear. I choose my surface.