Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Default Setting... LOVE

Diane asked me a question that I believe has remained unspoken by many who know me. I admire and respect her courage and candor in asking “so are you truly in love with all your readers? do you dislike anyone?” Well… the very nerve! [Yes I am kidding] But the questions are very important ones and deserve more of an answer than my initial response to them. So, here ‘tis.

First, my being “in love with all (of my) readers” is a matter of selective choice. I (just as you) have available to me the full range of possibilities for my response to the lives whose paths intersect mine. And I have made a conscious choice to make my “default setting” for my personal response to the world… LOVE. It really is that simple (as it must be for me to make it… ‘complex’ gives me a headache.)

Yes… (to answer your reflexive question) I have most definitely been hurt… disappointed… abused… taken advantage of… misunderstood… misquoted… (need I go on?) by others in life.
But my choice remains to have my initial response to others set on LOVE. And the rewards for that choice more than outweigh the total weight of all of the accumulated emotional scar-tissue from all of the unhappy occasions (and there have been PLENTY!) of my past. And do not even begin to voice your “well, if you had ever experienced what happened to me” stuff. My “stuff” is as legitimate to my life as anyone else’s is to them. Stinko is Stinko in the nostrils of the individual doing the inhaling. (How’s that for a profundity?)

And what about… rejection? That is probably the biggest fear of all who would entertain the thought of venturing into the land of loving. OK… Yes I have had and still have my loving of others rejected. So what?! Rejection is a valid option for anyone’s election. I respect and easily allow the rejection of my love. I do, after all, offer my love as a gift… not as a preconditioned, expectation-bound, negotiated device. I give it… you are perfectly free to accept, reject, or even ignore the gift… it is, after all, yours to do with as you please. This is the nature of a gift. And the consummate beauty of this gift is that it is self-replenishing. The more that I give… the more is regenerated… FREE!

Second… the other (dislike anyone) question… YES.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES through the gracious courtesy pf Jon Sullivan, PDPhoto.org

Monday, May 29, 2006

My Dialect

When I speak… I speak in the dialect of my interlocutor.
When I write… I write in the dialect of my soul.

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Desire

When asked, recently, how I would express my heart’s desires to the Person who I thought had the potential to be “That Special Someone” in my life. I gave it thought… and, to Her, I would say this:

I desire…

to read poetry to you and watch your eyelids float to your cheeks in serene rest…

to listen to your breath and sense your peaceful comfort in my presence…

to awaken you with kisses lingering at every line, curve, shadow, and highlight of you from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head…

to greet each new day with the awareness that it is to be another together… you and I…

to listen to my spirit, in a moment of solitude, as it communes with your spirit… wherever you are…

to walk through Life’s gallery applauding, celebrating, and reveling in the beauty of all of Creation… knowing that Life’s masterwork is forever in the chamber of my heart…

to look heavenward and say, oft and joyously, “Thank You!”… at the thought of you…

You to know in every fibre of your existence; in your now and in your forever, that we are One in eternal intimacy.

This is what I desire.

Posted by Picasa IMAGE:Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,FreeFoto.com

Friday, May 26, 2006

"Named" STORMS

We are entering the “Hurricane Season” here in Florida, and the weather prognosticators are issuing their dire predictions of the number of “named storms” that we can anticipate this year. This set me to thinking about this business of identifying these weather phenomena with a name… and that name then linking them, for all future reference, to their power and effect.
It occurs to me that we are all in our own “storms of life.” In fact, we too are known to the world about us by not only our name… but, even more significantly, by the power of the forces around us and the effect that our “individual named storm” has our world. “Oh you know, he is the fellow who___" and then a description of all the swirling circumstances that constitute our knowledge of “him” (or “her.”)

Cases in point: Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Here we have four people of radically differing personalities… politics… circumstances… and backgrounds, who all distinguished themselves by their clarity of personhood in the midst of their particular life storms. All about them, others were caught up in the force of circumstances that these individuals harnessed and directed toward an effective and world-changing outcome. They became the “Eye” of their respective Life Storms.

Allow me to make note, today (with further elucidation tomorrow), of the import of the storm’s “eye.” It is here that the effectiveness and the direction of the particular “named storm” is measured. It is in the eye of the storm that the power and significance of each storm is known. And it is here (in the eye) that peace, quiet, and stillness is found. The stronger the storm swirling around… the more clearly defined and absolute the eye.

And so it was for each of the four exampled individuals. All with vastly different circumstances surrounding them… but all four with a determined, quietly resolute, and firmly clear identity in the center of their particular tumult. The admonition to “Be Still and Know” was exemplified in their exercise of their unique steering of the forces around them toward meaningful and significant accomplishment. Their identity became the label… the name with which we know of momentous happenings in our history.

Today, I ask that you not allow yourself to be caught up in the forces that encircle you. Insulate your precious Self in the center of all that you are living with (for those circumstances will NOT simply go away.) Strengthen your resolve to BE the marvelous individual that you were created to be with no reference to, nor reflection on all of that noisy encircling madness. And embrace your own purpose to be… for just this moment… and then just one more moment… and then… the name identified by all who look at your life (firstly in your own mirror) of a storm that moved over the face of your world and made meaningful and positive changes for the Good.

Posted by Picasa IMAGES: Various Public Sources

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Set of the Sails (Or Not)

There are times, in life, when it simply does not matter how much sail you put on…
Times when all of the navigational skills in the world are for naught…
Times when destinations and goals are of no consequence.

It is in these times that the wise, prudent and seasoned sailor embraces the reality of the circumstance…
And commences scraping barnacles and mending lines.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: Ian Denney, BBC

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To: The One With Whom She Now Walks

Is there some part of Her that you are willing to lose?

Which, if any, of the characteristics that comprise the totality of Her would you not miss if they were absent?

If there exists some area in which you would (if you could) make a deletion of or alteration to her present being…

Then perhaps you can single out some lullaby that could be removed from her past that would alter her development to be more to your liking.

Or, perhaps, a teacher whose influence, when eliminated, would have produced a more satisfying Her.

Might you edit from her repertoire some music that shaped her spirit and soul… or poetry… or books… or perchance a play or movie?

Might you even wish it to be possible to delete her past relationships that, to this very moment, cause you anxiety, uneasiness, and even self-doubt?

But then, who would that person (known to you as “Her”) be today… and how different would the foundation upon which you are building your tomorrows be?

Please allow me to encourage your acceptance… no… even more than that, your exuberant celebration of all that has been combined by Life to make Her just exactly who she is at this very tick of life’s clock… including Me.

John-Michael/ 08 August 2001

Posted by Picasa IMAGE: Michael Poliza, National Geographic Magazine

Monday, May 22, 2006

Scenic Overlook

There are, along the way, places set
aside… not destinations in and of
themselves, but places for pulling over;
taking a respite from the pace of the
journey; and reflecting, in the
momentary interlude, on the majesty,
grandeur, and all-encompassing scope
of where we have been ... are now ...
and are going.

These oases are dubbed
“Scenic Overlook” by the signposts
announcing their proximity and
availability. While taking advantage
of them the traveler is afforded the
opportunity to survey his place in
the scheme and 'landscape' of his world, as it is, at that moment.

I realize that I am a “Scenic Overlook”
in the life journey of many, whose
paths have been directed my way.

I am not registered on their itinerary
nor am I considered as one of those
places of note when they recount
their travels to others. But I, when
utilized, present to them a new
perspective on their pilgrimage,
provide new appreciation for their
past, make available a fresh awareness
of their present, and project hitherto
unknown possibilities for their futures.

This is my ministry… my calling…
my gift to the world that I am allowed
to embrace.

IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Elizabeth's Adventure

My Very Dear Reader,

This is a rarity. I am giving you someone else's experience and thoughts. This is an e-mail just as received two days ago... and with the permission of the sender (after just the tiniest bit of begging and hardly any groveling)... here is Elizabeth's adventure in her words.


I just had to tell you that your "open up to strangers" worked last weekend.

I was in the mood to break my solitary tendencies and dressed up to go to the book store. Now...dressing up is not a big production, merely applying some mascara and brow pencil to recapture the eye window treatments gone south with age. [:-)]

So... with snappy music plugged into my car's cd player, I sang my way to the Borders. When I parked my car, I noticed an older gentleman waiting in the shady spot next to me. He was just sitting in his car with the windows down, and I noticed the large, fluffy, new looking steering wheel cover he was handling. It was the incongruity of the thing that struck me: Clean, classy Volvo sedan- dapper, well groomed older man and this big-woolly steering wheel.

I got out of my car and bent down just to say, " Wow...I just wanted to say that I love your steering wheel cover - it looks very comfy!" That comment elicited a 5 minute story from him. I was charmed by his words: He'd gotten it at Wall Mart, on sale, and it was REAL sheepskin. His wife's hands got sweaty in the hot weather so they thought this would keep them dryer, if not cooler too. I added that it would be nice for winter too, and then he told me alllllll about how they drive to Vancouver Island every summer to be with their son's family - how they take a different route each time up and back to see new places - how the car had been a reliable, pleasurable automobile- how he and his wife have driven all 50 states- and a few other little details. (I added little things to make it a conversation.)

I thanked him for the interesting discussion, told him that I thought his travels with his wife were inspiring and wonderful and wished him good luck on their next trip.

On another day, I probably would have just THOUGHT ...haha.. funny cover for that man/car ensemble...and left it at that, but because I ventured into that man's life for what I anticipated was just a moment, I left him feeling really good and I hope he felt a little better too.

It wasn't 5 seconds later that, as I stepped up onto the sidewalk by the cars parked in front, that I slowed down. A young girl and her mother were approaching one of the cars in a full line of parked cars. The girl stopped- looooked at her car. The manor in which she assessed her car and the neighboring cars... I assumed she was looking at some new damage done to it. I couldn't see anything amiss. Just as I was almost to her, She said to her mom, " Uh- oh." Her mother replied, kindly and with unspoken understanding of her daughter's dilemma," Would you like ME to back it out?" "No..no....it's ok, I think I can do it - just watch out for me."

HAHA>..OHhhhhhhhh so the girl was a new driver with her permit, the car had probably been there alone when she parked it and now was surrounded by Big Metal Things, and she was wondering how she'd get hers out of there.

I caught the mom's eye, gave her a smile, nod and a 'thumbs up'. She smiled, shook her head and then told her daughter, "You'll be fine, Honey, just take your time."

Two little people happenings, and it made my whole day.

Thanks for the reminders to look outside myself and take in the humans around me.

Much love and appreciation

With that, I bid each of you a rich and full Satuday/ Sunday. Lovingly, John-Michael

Friday, May 19, 2006


“It’s intimacy!”


“Intimacy!… that’s what you found in the chance encounter with the stranger in the office.” I offered. “You and he connected in a personal, immediate, and un-cluttered, spontaneous intimacy which, obviously, you both had a very ready yearning for.”

Then… silence… and tears… and a complete shift in the dynamic of our meeting. We were no longer sharing in the “magic” of the recounting of a mystical and wondrous happening. Now we were suddenly immersed in a reality moment.

“That is what We had… what drew Us to each other… what I have missed and wanted back, but didn’t know the name of until right now. And now, now that you have identified the element of my yearning, I want back what We had… with Him… not someone else.”

And for the first time in my own personal conscious awareness, I, My Dear Reader, was confronted (by that source known to the ages as “Muse”, or “Still Small Voice”) with the tangible character of Intimacy. Not something that is done… neither activity nor planned exercise, but a state of BEing. For, don’t you see, we can only BE intimate, intimacy is not something “done.” Intimacy is a state of being that creates its own ecosystem. There is an environment that lives… colours that vibrate… life forms that flourish in a state of intimacy that would wither and cease to exist outside of those elements that are particular to intimacy.

So, today, in this moment of your consideration, I ask that you sweep aside all of the detritus of life’s “Doing Stuff” and make a place for Being intimate. First with yourself… “Know Thyself”… honor thyself… respect thyself… be intimate and allow an awareness of your true yearnings. Then permit a barrier-free state of intimacy to happen with a trusted “Other.”

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IMAGE: Courtesy of R&K4everloved, The Lens Flare

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My "Wish-I-Had" Rule

After far too many years of looking back at the moments passed with regrets and frustrations resulting from opportunities lost, I initiated what I have dubbed my “wish-I-had” test.
I remember, quite clearly, the moment and even the location where I confronted myself with the declaration “If it has the potential to be an ‘I wish I had done or said that when I thought of it and/or had the opportunity to’ then I am going to act on it right now and avoid the creation of another potential "WISH-I-HAD.” This self-commitment was in direct response to the prodding of my Spirit-induced inner voice to tell a gentleman in my life how much he meant to me while I had the opportunity. He was the interim minister in my church and a very imposing figure. I was, at that time, not at all comfortable with such open statements of my feelings and the prospect was very daunting. But even more daunting was the prospect that he could pass from my life without ever knowing how much he had touched me. That potential “wish-I-had” was not acceptable; so on that day, at that moment, I made a life altering change in course and began what has now become my very nature… to tell every person with whom I have even a brief passing contact, how they have effected me.
I will get up from my table in a restaurant, and go over to another table… address the gentleman there “Please forgive my intrusion, my friend, but I simply must tell you what a beautiful family you are blessed with.” Then I immediately turn and return to my table so that he feels no obligation to respond. Why would I do such a thing? Because I have seen that the man has that far-away look in his eyes telling of the burden of life on him and he is missing the blessing of that moment with his family. I know that I can give him a free gift of the moment if I am only willing to be the messenger. And I will not say, to myself, later “I ‘wish-I-had’ encouraged that man when I felt the inner-urging to."
“Please forgive my intrusion, my friend, but I am compelled to tell you that the kind and caring spirit that is clearly revealed in your eyes, has touched and blessed me.” And it was with this statement that I first met, and have since become friends with, a wonderful gentleman at my neighborhood YMCA who had truly touched me with his gracious presence. Always at the direction of my constant companion… that inner voice, I now have become quite comfortable to speak. And I have had none of those unhappy "I wish that I had..." moments for many years now.

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IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ivor Bond, BBC

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Morning Concert

The silent eloquence of your eyes,

The gentle melody of your smile,

The tranquil sonnet of your spirit,

Orchestrate to greet me with…

A morning concert of YOU.

29 October 04

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IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Some Vast Wilderness

Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,

Some boundless contiguity of shade,

Where rumour of oppression and deceit,

Of unsuccessful or successful war,

Might never reach me more.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 1.

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IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britten, FreeFoto.com

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Right To Be...

Embracing a perspective that runs contrary to what we see as “fact” is not a natural function of our psyche. I offer here, a valuable tool for the sometimes-challenging task of accepting the hard-to-accept. This “device” was a gift from one of my favorite people. The Reverend James Ellenburg was the Pastor of my church some years back. His background of work in fabric mills and raising a family while answering the Call to the ministry and attending college gave him a delicious, earthy spice of perspective on life.

I enjoyed, immensely, watching him when he delivered a particularly bothersome point of instruction in a message. He would lean on the pulpit, look out across the congregation, and allow a slow, gentle, almost-impish grin to spread across his face. “I can see, by the redness on some of your faces, that you do not like what I am saying to you. That’s alright… you have the God-given and constitutionally-guaranteed right… to be… wrong.” He would then chuckle with an irresistible kindness that made his point even more profound.

Many times over the past years, I have used Jim Ellenburg’s humorous truth to cope with a challenging person in my path. “It’s O K, you have the right to be wrong.” silently spoken to myself, puts a smile on my face while defusing a potentially unpleasant moment. What makes it work is the imbedded truth that they do have “the right to BE” whoever they are. I can honor that even if I need a little humor to make it palatable.

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IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Friday, May 12, 2006

Life's Sculpture

Translating an inner vision… a spiritual sense… into a practice of life is a difficult thing to explain to the world around you. One of the best attempts that I am aware of is the one made by George Washington Doan (Born 27 May 1799; died 27 April 1859.) I share this… his expression… with you.
Life Sculpture

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light the sculpture shone, -
He’d caught that angel vision.

Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own, -
Our lives… that angel vision.
My hope for you, Dear Friend, is the recognition of… and joyful fulfillment of that “angel-vision” in your life.

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IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Touching My Personal World

I received, just yesterday, a plea from a friend who is burdened and feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of mankind’s currently demonstrated disregard for others. The meanness, cruelty, and abuse reflected in the news is discouraging her heart. “What hope is there? How can we make any difference?” her wounded spirit cries. I can offer these two snippets from my own past as demonstration of the little, easy, and readily available ways that we can reach out to the world close to us.

My sensitivity to this matter of opportunities in my immediate personal world came into play the day that I entered an elevator in one of the up-scale office towers in the mid-town business district. There amid an assembled group of up-and-coming ‘corporate wannabes’ was an elderly gentleman of very slight physical stature who, in contrast to the group of “GQ” trendies parading their fine “haberdasherie“, was quite “off the rack.” It was immediately obvious that the man was more than a little uncomfortable in these surroundings and I was acutely aware of his discomfort.
To add to the dynamic, the group around him were all much taller than he and looked down at him with more than just a physical air of disdain.

“Please forgive my intrusion, my friend” I began, (I love the gift of this means of introduction… Thank you Leo Buscaglia) “but, if you will allow my interference, you are only one small adjustment from being perfectly tailored.” I then reached over without a moment’s hesitation and, as though I did this sort of thing as a routine matter, turned down the standing collar on the back of the neck of his suit. After smoothing the wrinkles away, I declared “there you are Sir, quite dapper. And, if I may say so myself, perfectly ready to enjoy your lunch.” (For the elevator was on its way to the top-floor restaurant.) The gentleman looked up at me and said (to the accompaniment of the warmest and most gentle eyes imaginable) “You are from around here, aren’t you?” Knowing that he was trying to communicate a felt sense of community with me, I responded “Yes sir, you and I are a couple of local folk and I am happy to know you.” He responded with a smile and as he exited the elevator with a sense of confidence and belonging, bade me a good day. And it was, indeed, a good day.

In that same building, there was (at the top of the entrance escalators) a desk for the use of the building’s concierge. At this desk a young woman fulfilled the role of attending to the needs (some real, but far too many supposed) of all coming to that place to conduct business. Day after day I observed this person as she greeted each passing person with a genuine smile that never wavered nor faltered no matter the lateness of the hour or the crush of the masses.
Many were the times when I exited that conveyer belt of humanity to have my spirits lifted by her gracious “Hello.” Then, one day, for no particular reason that I can now recall, that Little Voice (within my spirit) said “she needs encouragement today.” No further discussion was required.

To the floral shop (around the corner from the concierge desk) I went. Having secured a small bouquet, I attached a card upon which I wrote a note expressing my appreciation for her uplifting and encouraging contribution to my work life, and with a “Please forgive my intrusion” I delivered it to her and promptly took my leave. I have no idea what matters she was dealing with that day. There could have been any of innumerable difficulties that she was confronting. The point is that none of that was my business. It was only my responsibility, to that Power that spoke to me, to respond in a caring, human, but unassuming manner. Herein lies my personal voice as I have discovered and learned to respond to it.

In the smallest of ways, you and I and love can change our world… just wait… just watch… you will see.

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IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It Was All About Being An Onion

Many years ago, I was offered the opportunity to research the impression that my clients had of me, as an individual, through a device known as a “social profile.” The intent was to provide us (the brokers and agents in the financial planning firm) with insights that would equip us to better relate to our clients. I sent a lengthy questionnaire to the six people who I felt knew me best and awaited the “profile” results. What a disaster! I was not disappointed… I was (quite literally) devastated. The person that my closest and most intimate acquaintances saw me to be was a JERK. I was appalled! This was the beginning point in my journey of self discovery and self realization. I gained, over time, a disjointed and jumbled accumulation of test results and data that provided more frustration than resolution.
To the rescue; Dr. Edwin O. Timmons of L.S.U. (Louisiana State University.) Now settle back a bit and consider, with me, what Dr. Timmons had to offer. He illustrated this conflict between the ME that I suspected myself to be and the ME known to others… as an ONION. That’s right, your garden variety vegetable (or whatever an onion is.) It was his idea that if we were to chart a description of our natural Creator-given traits and connected the points on that chart with a line we would have our true inner selves represented by what he called “our inner zigzag.” Pretty high-tech stuff huh? Bear with us now, it gets better, I promise. Let’s suppose that when we first make some expression of our little “zigzag” our expression is met (probably by Mommy) with some form of rejection or reproof “no, no mustn’t do that…” We, for the first time in our fledgling experience, modify our behavior to gain acceptance and/or approval. This “layer of behavior” Dr. Timmons referred to as an “onionskin” of behavior put in place to protect our ever-sensitive “zigzag.”
Over the years of our lives, we develop, through countless experiences with innumerable persons in myriad circumstances, an infinite number of these layers of behaviors that insulate our inner-selves from any chance of hurt to ourselves or offense to others to whom we feel responsible. So what my friends recognized as ME was the carefully accumulated “onion” that I, with the best of intent, had painstakingly surrounded my fragile self with. This is what they perceived from without.

What the Meyers-Briggs temperament evaluation brought to my awareness was that, theretofore unidentified, zigzag that explained the conflicts that had so-troubled me for so long. This test validated and reinforced the results of the 16PF [personality factors] test, grapho-analysis [handwriting analysis] and many other self-examination systems (I have, over the years, accumulated a file of prodigious girth filled with these instruments of evaluation and measurement.) I could then begin the liberating (for me… confusing and bothersome for others) exercise of peeling away my layers of uncomfortable and binding onionskin. I could then elect my choice of behavioral “skins” for re-employment (as I deemed appropriate for the purposes of honest presentation of myself in a form suitable for the setting.)
Think not that this was all accomplished overnight or over many nights for, in truth, the finding of the key tools and contributors in my pilgrimage of self-discovery has spanned a couple of decades (you are having it all served up on a paper ‘tray’.) But, my Friend, do not be so silly as to expect a fast-track to painless and/or easy self-establishment… it is, however, a most enjoyable journey. For, through the loss of career, the loss of marriage, the loss of church affiliation (I just told you that it would not be painless didn’t I) there evolved the life that I now breath, and touch, and taste… hear and ingest into my spirit with every moment. And it is GENUINE. My outer “Zigging” is in complete harmony with my inner “Zig” and the same holds true for my “Zag.” My “onionskins” of behavior are translucent and merely magnify the Me at the core. My life is the ME as created to BE and I am fully accountable for the living of it.

IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

OK... I Will Tell You

You have repeatedly asked countless times over many years (usually silently... with a look, or gesture, or hesitancy) “Why do you do that? Why do you insert yourself into the lives, circumstances, and private space of total strangers?” OK… I’ll tell you. It is because I have been alone for most of my life and I see their aloneness.

Yes, we (you and I and they) have been surrounded by friends, colleagues, family, fellow worshippers, and companions, both passing and lasting. Yet we have been alone in our most intimate concerns, fears, doubts, wonderings, and apprehensions. I see us when we are in the company of others who defer to our charisma; acquiesce to our projected confidence; still themselves to hear our voice; encourage our humor so that they can laugh safely out of the limelight of prominence. And my heart hears the beat of all of our hearts as they pound out a message of ‘S.O.S.’ in a struggle with an isolation that is completely alien to the awareness of all about us.

I recall from my own storehouse of accumulated pain the need that we all have for an answer to our spoken and unspoken supplications to Life as we have sought some word of comfort; some note of acknowledgement that Life is aware that we are struggling. “Here I am” I can now offer “You are heard… Life is with you… You are never alone… You are forever loved.”

This is my mission; my quest; my calling; to let you know that Life knows you; hears you; is responding to you; has help, instruction, and encouragement for you. This I allow Life to use me to do… for you. When I see your name in my address book; when I see your eyes in a crowd; when I see you across a busy restaurant; when I pass you in the market; in all of my life’s moments I am sensitive to you and available for you. I am yours… because I gave myself to you long before we ever knew of each other. Our actual meeting was but a simple detail that I entrusted to Life. And here we are… in this moment… neither of us ever again alone. If we but accept the gift that is ‘Us.’ (“Thank You Life”)

IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com

Magic... Music... Movies

Magic has always been a fascination for me. To watch the skillful performance of a talented illusionist is a thing of wonder and amazement. I am so intrigued by the practice that, many years age, I involved myself in the art as a hobby. Learning the mechanisms that produced the “magical” effect was fun and presenting the “tricks” to others was an enjoyable experience. But the knowledge of the methods employed in producing the effect removed the “Magic” from the whole business. Gone was the wonder and amazement of being mystified by inexplicable feats. What replaced the wonder was a sense of appreciation for the “mechanics” of the presentation… the skills, the dexterity, the commitment of hours of disciplined practice that were required to bring about the desired “WOW!” from an observer. I was left with the same emotional effect as the one experienced when watching a motion picture without a musical background or “soundtrack.”

The music creates the same wonder in my soul that the mystery creates in the performance of the illusionist. In each instance, the “ungraspable” or intangible element leaves the spirit as if hanging in mid-air… supported by some unseen, undefinable, but very strong force that exhilarates. While I can certainly appreciate the story being presented in the soundless movie… (the artful portrayals of characters… the convincing scenery and staging… the “mechanics“) the movie loses some of its “Magic” without the music. And, mind you, there are distinctly different degrees of effect produced by various levels of musical applications.

We are all familiar with the effects created by the playing of a piano to support the emotional themes of the old ‘silent films.’ With this primary form of musical manipulation of our senses, we could ‘feel’ the message of the story more completely. From those rudimentary beginnings, we can now have every nerve ending and molecule of our being stimulated, vibrated, and dislodged to move us in whatever direction the movie-maker wants to take us. Musical soundtracks not only enhance and support the story being presented; they take on a separate and independent life of their own. So it has been in my personal romantic relationships.

In my first discoveries in the world of interpersonal exchange, I most often had my understanding of the true nature of the exchange’s character clouded by the bombastic “music” of youthful desires and expectations. If there was, indeed, any ‘music’ behind the moment, it could scarcely be heard over the din created by my own heart’s expression. Time and painful experience worked together to educate my “listening” skills. This is not to say, however, that I have accomplished some “advanced degree” in recognizing the “music” behind every encounter. Even at the ‘advanced’ age of fifty-eight years (a short while ago), I was swayed in my perceptions by the clouds of predisposition. I, met a very special Someone whose very being told such an overwhelming story that I became swept up in her presentation of herself and began to hear a symphony of transcendental proportions (and though that may sound grandiose to the extreme, those of you who have been caught in the rip-tide of romance know that I understate the inestimable.) Knowing myself to be the ridiculously romantic idiot that I am by my very nature, I repeatedly asked if she was “hearing” the same soundtrack that I was aware of. (I will grant you the fact that we were working with the challenge of a French/English language barrier.)

Yet, still, I was receiving repeatedly positive responses to my attempts to clarify the nature of our “music.” And there was, most certainly, a magical presence felt at each consideration of even her name. Such is the consequence of passion. But, alas, the language and distance barriers were overcome and clarity provided the awareness of reality. What was romance to me is an intense friendship to her. We have agreed to the joys of a satisfying “Soul-Friends” communion and I now see accurately the mechanisms at work in our relationship. That insight clears away the “magic” element; the “symphonic” soundtrack; the over-the-top choral accompaniment… and leaves us with a realistic and genuine treasure that is legitimately “us.”

It was a tremendous revelation to me when I learned that the vast majority of the world’s population does not share my innate yearning for romance. I now fully understand and appreciate the fact that a comfortable and conflict-free functioning of the “mechanics” of a harmonious relationship is all that most want. But I will never envy them their security of emotion. While I do respect the ‘sanity’ of their safe approach to life, I would never exchange (were it even possible), for any consideration, my own zest for the magic of the full orchestration of romance. This is Life’s gift to me and I am abundantly grateful for it. I can happily say that I have been fortunate enough to experience the mystical and magical effect of a symphonic accompaniment to a relationship. That gift will be revisited in the gallery of recollection for the rest of my days.

So, My Friend, I write to you with a two-fold purpose. First, to encourage you to develop the skill of recognizing the nature of the ‘movie’ in which you find yourself performing with each person with whom you share a moment. I entreat you to enhance those opportunities by discerning the kind of music accompanying each encounter. Know the pleasure of a simple ‘harmonica’ playing behind a casual meeting. Savor the ‘string quartet’ that enhances a friendship. March to the tempo of a ‘band’ giving a Sousa feel to the camaraderie of those unique relationships. Sway to the intimacy of ‘chamber music’ in chambers appropriate to the occasion. Permit yourself to be fully immersed in each encounter. Secondly, it is my desire to equip you with some new language… perceptions… tools with which to better take responsibility for, manage, and enjoy the full spectrum of your own life’s plethora of magical, musical, and potentially entertaining theater of relational possibilities.

IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com
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