Sunday, December 31, 2006

Will He Ever Forget?

On this, the last day of the year 2006, whilst all seem to be drawing our attention to what they perceive as moments worthy of permanent recollection... I cannot help but wonder if Prince Harry will ever forget (or be allowed to forget) the rather obvious delight enjoyed by his grandmother, the Queen, in her ability to bring a radiant blush to the cheeks of her grandson as he graduates, as an army officer, from Sandhurst this year. Regardless of station, strata, or position... Family always knows where those "buttons of response" are just waiting to be pushed.

I bid you, My Dear Reader, your family, and those whom you care for and about, the happiest and most congenial of new years... as I faithfully remain, Your willing Servant and constantly caring Friend,

IMAGE: Dylan Martinez/ Reuters/ BBC NEWS/ In Pictures

Friday, December 29, 2006

So... How Was YOUR Day?

I simply couldn't help myself... this one made me smile, and I HAD to share it! (Her expression is PRICELESS!)

Edith Hoeltenschmid cuts bread as she sits on a chair fixed to the side of a house in Hagen, Germany, as part of a performance by artist Angie Hiesl.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Getting Away... Far, Far Away!

You have, since 13 December, seen no postings here... because I had no access to a computer whilst in hospital combatting a "staph" infection that (in a matter of a few days) went from a small insect bite to involving my entire abdomen. The monster's name is METHICILLIN RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS but is referred to as MRSA (pronounced mersa) by the medical specialists. I will have much to say, in coming months, about the health care industry as a result... quite an education! But, for the moment, I just need to "get away" from it all and invite you to join me (courtesy of Jon Sullivan's skills and talent as a photographer) in my escape.

My need for getting away is further heightened by the response that I received from one of the management members at the Tampa Tribune (who I have delivered newspapers for for the past 18 plus years without a day missed [365 each year]) to thank them for my supervisor's attendance to delivering the paper on my route and his reassurances that all was well and my only concern needed be for improving my health. The response from the management person was, quite simply "that route is no longer in your name... it is someone else's route now." As you can imagine... this occurance gives rise for an immediate need for emotional and spiritual respite.

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sensible Dining

I awoke this morning fascinated by the workings of my subconscious mind. With the awareness that our subconscious uses the time of our sleep to process the accumulated “input” of data from all that we sense during our waking hours, I find the catalog of subject materials amazing in its scope. This morning, for instance, I was conscious of the incorporation of Tony Bennet and the mafia in my pre-waking moments. Reflecting for an instant, I recalled seeing Tony Bennet on an afternoon chat show (Oprah, in fact) and later that same afternoon, a report on BBC (I think) about the apprehension of “The Don of Dons” in Sicily. And there they were… in my dream. How about that brain! Is it not an amazing device? It records all that we elect to introduce into our awareness with a complete trust and confidence in the prudence of our willful choice of matter to be stored in it. Our faithful subconscious has no reservations in welcoming all that we allow access to. Which set me to thinking.

It seems that, in this age of diet consciousness, we are being inundated with all sorts of admonitions regarding our eating behaviors in the complete absence of any note being made as to our ‘feeding’ of our other senses and the effect of our careless abuses of them. I can not recall anyone presenting news reports on the current trends in data dieting… the care and nurturing of our minds through responsible listening, or reading, or visual stimulations. Yet, are we not just as susceptible to overindulgence and/or bad choices leading to poor attitudinal health and mental stagnation? Is it not true that we ingest so much stuff, in the course of any given day, that we find ourselves so bloated with imagery, sound-stimulation, and other sensory overload that we cannot function with any degree of effectiveness? Or is it just me who has to create times of “sensory isolation” when I simply cannot allow any sound… any conversation, any new imagery of any sort to have access to my “Sensory Processors”? For I am, in those moments, completely overloaded with all that I have taken in and have not had adequate opportunity to “process.”

And is this not the very same dynamic that brings us to a point of physical bloated-ness? Do we not grant out taste mechanisms the freedom to run rampant in the pursuit of satisfaction, to the demise of those trusting bodily mechanisms that operate in the understanding (or misunderstanding) that we are applying some measure of appropriate proportion in our intake? And, just like our minds, our bodies accept and store all that we collect relying on our wisdom of choice. While it is lacking in glamour and romance, it seems to me that some measure of prudent selection can benefit our minds as well as our bodily fitness. Hence, as you may have noticed, I present an assortment of offerings here. Following a thought that may be a bit ‘heavy’ in content, I try to post something that is a bit easier to the sensibilities… then an occasional treat for the pure enjoyment of the moment. Trying to be ever sensitive to our abilities to comfortably ‘ingest’ it all while serving your best interests.

All too often, I encounter individuals who are in unharnessed pursuit of some measure of peace and satisfaction for their troubled souls and minds. It is the frequent case that these folk cannot bring themselves to “sit at the table” and have a pleasant “dining experience” with one course of thought. They, instead, place themselves in an endless and altogether unsatisfying pursuit of sensory remedy that races from one “cuisine” of thought and ideology to another with only a cursory sampling of the essence of any one potential answer to their quest. They pursue a course of ‘fast-food’ moments, experienced at an assortment of ‘drive-through’ windows of opportunity. Then, completely exhausted and frustrated from the expended effort, they throw up their hands in hopeless despair and proclaim that they are forever lost. All the while, they have ploughed through countless chances for contentment and peace… had they only allowed themselves the gift of “digesting” any one or more of many possibilities blown through in haste.

So, My Dear Reader, I offer this bit of insight in the hope that you have not “scanned” this page… but have granted your mind… your spirit… your soul, the chance to reflect on and take notice of your care of yourself… mind and body. Please give consideration to and have patience… yes, most especially patience with the presentations given you by Life today. Permit yourself to take in just a bit… just enough to adequately allow complete and satisfying “digestion” for the nourishment of your whole Self. For, as I was reminded this morning, it is all recorded and will be processed in some way. Every element of stimuli that we grasp has the potential to fuel healthy growth and function… or be stored as harmful and slowing excess. I bid you a healthy and fulfilling day today… and in all of your tomorrows as you exercise responsible exposure to life’s wondrous array of possibilities.

Monday, December 11, 2006


In that moment when you feel that your surrounding circumstances render you insignificant...


by the overwhelming magnificence and wonder of it all…

Consider this…

Perhaps you are so very significant that Life has presented this mural of overwhelming beauty and majesty as a gift,

for your personal edification and enjoyment…

Because You are worthy of nothing less!

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Idealists and Others

In response to the number of my Readers who are of the Idealist (the definition of Plato’s term; “noetic” , and [following the observations of Hippocrates] known to Galen as “Cholerics”, and then, [a generation after Plato] Aristotle’s “Ethikos”) temperament, I am presenting a brief taste of Keirsey’s work describing the perspectives, intentions, and behaviors of Idealists in their interpersonal relationships with “Significant Others” of all kinds in life.

If you are indeed one of those said Idealists, I offer this insight in hope that their will be understanding, validation, and encouragement for you in it. Should you be one of the remaining 88% of humankind, it is my desire that these insights into the core of these special individuals will enhance your respect for as well as your understanding, acceptance, and embracing of them.

Should you be uncertain of which of the four major groups of personality/ temperament you are created as, I offer this LINK for you to click on… taking you to Keirsey’s site offering a quiz that will provide that definition for you.

Idealist Courtship
(a minimally-paraphrased excerpt from David Keirsey’s
Please Understand Me II, [ISBN 1-885705-02-6] )

The Idealists’ desire that their relationships be deep and meaningful (that is, intense, enduring, and all-important in their lives) is very much in evidence in the way they go about dating. They do not usually choose to play the field to any great extent, but prefer to go out with one person at a time and to explore the potential for special closeness in each relationship. Never casual or occasional about dating, they typically look past surface relations to more deeply felt connections, and they lose interest, rather quickly, with dates centered around social events and physical activities. Idealists can enjoy this skin-deep sort of date for a while, of course, but they usually try to find their own kind of enjoyment as the evening wears on. At parties, for example, they will often look for a quiet corner where they can talk with their date (or someone else) on a more personal, intimate level. And at amusement parks or sporting events, they will eventually separate themselves mentally from the rides, the sights, and the action, and begin to observe the people around them, wondering about their personalities and engaging in imaginings about their personal lives.

Indeed (and this is a surprise to others of other temperament styles), Idealists would usually rather talk with their dates than do things or go places, although chatting about concrete, literal, or factual things doesn’t particularly interest them either. They want to talk about abstract matters… ideas, insights, personal philosophies, spiritual beliefs, dreams, goals, family relationships, altruistic causes, and the like… inwardly-felt topics that break through social surfaces and connect two people heart-to-heart. Idealists love to talk about movies or novels that have touched them deeply, but they don’t want to describe the plot so much as discuss what the story suggests between the lines, the aesthetic or moral issues involved, and how the characters’ lives symbolize their own experience or the wider experience of mankind. They will talk enthusiastically about art, music, and poetry, particularly about a work’s significance to them. The ability to communicate comfortably with their dates in this imaginative, meaningful way most often determines whether or not the Idealist can become serious in a given relationship.

Finding that rare person with whom they can share their inner world is difficult for Idealists, a painful process of trial and error, and often they vow not to date at all for periods of time rather than go through the search. For Idealists, dating someone means far more than physical fun or social experience; it is an opening of their heart and mind to the other person, in some cases a baring of their soul, and carries with it both a promise and an expectation of deep regard and mutual understanding. And because they are offering so much of themselves to the other (and expecting so much in return) Idealists are highly sensitive to rejection, and can be deeply hurt when spurned by another, or when feeling compelled to break off the relationship themselves. The trauma of breaking up can be so difficult for Idealists, at times, that they will avoid getting involved with others for fear of things not working out, or, at the other extreme, they will remain in a relationship longer than they should just to put off the soul-hurting experience of rejection.

However, once the special person comes their way (the man or woman of their dreams), Idealists can be carried away with their feelings, and give almost all of their attention to pursuing the relationship. For the Idealist, not just a compatible marriage but an all-consuming, undying passion is in the offing, and so the courtship becomes the center of his or her world. Just as the Possible rather than the Actual lures Idealists in other parts of their lives, so do the possibilities in relationships inspire them, and they see in each new relationship the potential for bringing them the perfect love that will fulfill them completely. Idealists have a flair for dramatizing their courtships, and they spare no effort or flight of imagination to win the heart of their loved one. Often a story-book flavor permeates their courtship behavior, and they are not afraid of using imaginative language, even poetry, and quotations, to give voice to their feelings. Idealists can also be romantic when expressing love through gifts, though they are likely to present the gift in private, and to select with extraordinary care something with special or even symbolic meaning… a beloved piece of music, a favorite book of fiction or poetry, or a treasured picture. In a sense, Idealists go about turning their courtships into works of art, which is not surprising, since one of the arts at which they are most skilled is that of creating the romantic relationship.

Idealist courtships are marked not only by romantic gestures, but also by the idealization of the relationship. In the early stages of a romance, both Idealist males and females are likely to be blind to flaws in their beloved, and to believe in the illusion that life together will proceed happily ever after (although the details of this “happily ever after” are rarely explored in depth). Idealists hold dear a compelling though often vague inner-vision of what their ideal mate will be like, and they tend to project this vision of perfection into their all-too-human loved ones. Thus, at the slightest suggestion, Idealists will see soulfulness and poetic sensitivity in the people that they have fallen in love with… whether or not they are, indeed, soulful or poetic. At the same time, Idealists believe that everyone has the potential or spiritual growth, and in many cases they use their love to develop this latent mystical side of their mates. Needless to say, most human beings cannot live up to such romantic ideals, nor will they often sit still to have their spirituality nurtured in such a way. Many Sanguine/Hedonic/Artisans (38 % of the population) react with good-natured sarcasm, many Melancholic/Proprietary/Guardians (38% of the population) seem impatient with such foolishness, and the view of the remaining 12% of the population made up of the Phlegmatic/Dialectical/Rationals is skeptical, at best, about this soulfulness. Idealists who attempt to make their loved ones live up to their ideals are, sooner or later, faced with disillusionment in their relationships.

Although many Idealists are reluctant to admit it, such a romantic projection… and such disillusionment… are most often a problem in cases where there is a strong sexual attraction. Idealists can be deeply divided about their sexual feelings. On the one hand, they insist that sex must be an expression of love rather than lust. Even the word “sex” seems a little crude to the Idealist; “love” puts the relationship on a higher plain. But make no mistake, for all of their “other-worldliness”, Idealists are very intimate, warm, and even passionate people who are highly responsive to physical beauty and sexual attraction. Now, the problem for Idealists is that, with their rich idealistic projections of life, they tend to idealize physical beauty and to project their own poetic nature into the object of their sexual attraction. They also tend to romanticize sex as soulful communion. In other words, Idealists tend to fall in love with a dream of beauty and passion, only to be rather painfully disillusioned by the flesh-and-blood imperfections which they eventually encounter in their loved ones. Many Idealists are not fully prepared for the moment of truth when they come to see the imperfect reality of their lovers, and some relationships are unable to survive the truth. Fortunately, both male and female Idealists have a capacity for deep affection and caring over and above sexual expression, and out of this capacity can grow lasting, intimate relationships.

With the presentation of these insights, I trust that we can come to know ourselves, those around us (most especially those who look to us for encouragement, validation, and acceptance), and, from that knowledge enjoy more fully an intimacy born of respectful appreciation for the marvelous creation that we each are. To that end, I remain, as always, Your faithful Friend and Servant.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Best If Used

I mourn. Today and for the passed week of days I mourn. I mourn the passing of a Friendship. A friendship celebrated for but a year, but one that was born as Life’s gracious gift, and lived in a place particularly special in a way of celebration and enjoyment in my life. I tell you this because loss and mourning are inextricable elements of fact in all of our lives… and there may be a nugget of insight, a thread of hope or understanding, or the slightest breath of relief for you, in your personal experience, in my perspectives on my own loss.

Firstly (and perhaps most importantly) I allow myself to mourn the loss. Please do not fly by this statement on a breeze of assumed awareness. For, unfortunately, what we are most readily encouraged to do is to “move on” as if this event, this circumstance, this occurrence is nothing more than some meaningless whim of an impersonal fate that has no value or merit for our living. Quite to the contrary, I insist that this loss, yours and mine, is ripe with Life Meaning if we will but do what our environment encourages us not to do… stop… recognize… embrace… and live the moment. And, in so doing, I am aware of a few insights that have redeemed this “claim check” of circumstance for me.

I did what we always do. I reflected, reviewed, questioned, doubted, and analyzed the words, behaviors, and motives that I mixed into the recipe of the friendship. “Should I have been that open with my remarks?” I asked myself. “Is that what I should have done?” I queried. And in the gentle, sweet voice of my inner awareness, Life responded “Were you genuine and honest or were you cautiously and calculatingly careful in your comportment?” Well!… those of you who are even the least familiar with me can answer the answer that I gave to that one. I was always candid and respectfully transparent in every element of my participation in the friendship. And the freedom to be so… genuinely Me… was the richest core of the relationship.

But then the voices of Many began to echo in my mind “Lighten up!” as I have been repeatedly told in the past. And self-doubt raised its destructive head from the murky mire of uncertainty. Now here is where I ask that you take note, My Dear Reader. For it is here that I have a treasure to hand over to you. This morning, as I did my work in the pre-dawn darkness and stillness, Life made it simple for me (for Life knows that “simple” is what I must have in order to make use of it.) Having neither heard nor read this from any source… I had, presented to me in the elementary picture-language that my mind requires, a fresh awareness… Life said “Check the ’Best If Used By’ date (as found on grocery items in the market) on your emotions, feelings, and energies. They are all ’Best If Used’ … NOW! For now is when they are fresh… and Fresh is the best state to realize the highest potential of “flavor” for this immediate experience known as Living.” I considered this seemingly silly idea for a while and began to see the unquestionable merit of it. I have always been most interested in Being genuine in every circumstance and every moment of interplay with everyone in my world. This commitment is what chafes some to the point of urging me to “Lighten up!” But I enjoy a gourmet level of experiences with life that is directly attributable to the implementation of the freshest of ingredients employed in each immediate response that I offer my life. To do the “lighten up” thing and store away some emotion… preserve some feeling for another unknown time or opportunity, that may or may not ever occur, is (for me) to lose the freshness of that gift that is that instant. And I do live with an almost zealous urgency about the infinite value of each moment offered by Life. I recognize a responsibility to myself and to Life for every opportunity and gift that is presented as the path of my living intersects the path of another. The messages from my heart filtered through the care of my spirit are “Best If Used” when presented. So that answered those concerns that I had about my role in the friendship (and, hopefully some of yours as well.)

These considerations brought me to the renewed realization that… by the same measure that I mete out pleasure, I also mete out pain. So, Dear One, if I am passionate in the celebration of the pleasant… I must, unavoidably, know pain in an equal measure of awareness. Thusly… I must consider if I would ever be willing to confine my realization of pleasure in order that I might mitigate the inevitable occurrence of pain in my life? Would I be willing to accept a “toned down” happiness to ensure a muted misery? My personal response to this question is, has always been, and will continue to be “Not no… But HELL NO! (Please forgive the language… but, again… I emote!) I have determined that to live a “safe” life in absence of excessive highs and/or lows is akin to the life reflected in the heart monitor that has no highs or lows demonstrated on its screen… that result is a straight line… and a straight line on the heart monitor in the operating room says one thing… “You Are Dead!” And as long as Life keeps me living, it is my choice to not be among the living dead.

So, My Darling Reader, I mourn… and I feel it intensely… and I do not enjoy it… nor do I like it in any way, save the way that has rendered me available to the insights presented to me by Life… that I now forward to you, in love, and in the knowledge that this love is “Best If Used… NOW”

Sunday, December 03, 2006

a Cathedral of Autumn Colour

I bid you “Join me” as we immerse ourselves in the serene beauty of what I perceive as a Cathedral of Autumn Color, captured by the artistic skills of Ian Britton. To accompany the visual bliss of this scene, I offer the words of Elsie Natalie Brady in her work entitled “Leaves." Please permit yourself a moment of reflective joy and celebration as we allow these gifts to minister to our souls' yearnings.

By Elsie Natalie Brady

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground

To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,

Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.

Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.

Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

Friday, December 01, 2006

One... Body Human

Because I have had this “kettle of fish” simmering on the proverbial “back burner” of my mind for so long that it now occupies nearly all of the “burners” of my mental stove, I am going to serve it up lest it spill all over my personal attitudinal kitchen. As much as I try to avoid network news and discussions, the proliferation of rhetoric addressing the “situations” that boil in conflict today has made avoidance impossible. My major difficulty in acknowledging these problems is with the arrogance, disrespect, and sheer ignorance (coupled with a determined refusal to be informed) paraded by political leaders and religious pundits regurgitating their self-righteous nonsense at the expense of peoples affected by their stupidity who suffer hourly due to prevailing political choices. (I warned you that it has been simmering for a while.)

When these religio-political performers present their well rehearsed (but not so well reasoned out) views, there is a disattachment from reality that demands some clarification. To that end, I present some requisite definitions of terms that you and I have heard bandied about ad nauseum.

Sect: A group… forming a distinct unit within a larger group… by virtue of certain distinctions of belief or practice.
Sectarian: One characterized by bigoted adherence to a factional viewpoint.

Fundamental: Of or relating to the foundation or base; elementary.
Fundamentalist: One adhering to the practices of a usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

Inasmuch as a sect is, by definition, something that is a part of something larger, it seems (to me) that the obvious extrapolation of reason is to discover the identity and nature of that ultimate “whole” that is the larger group. And, after years of consideration of the matter, (triggered into active life when the president of the Southern, Protestant, Christian sect [aka denomination] that ordained me as a deacon, declared in a much-publicized speech “God doesn’t hear the prayers of the Jews“. My “inner voice” immediately spoke up and said “I do not worship a Deity that is limited by some theological hearing impairment.“ And I began looking, asking, and listening.) I have reached my own personal conclusion that the larger whole is Humankind. All other subdivisions are but sectors of the Human Whole… or, if you will… The Body Human. And the intolerance of and bigotry between various members of this universal Body Human, is (by definition) an exercise in self-abasement. And these attitudes are, most certainly, not something of recent, regional, nor “modern” construction. (History will demonstrate that the USA was brought into being as a direct result of groups seeking refuge from just such pressures.)

In the year 58 (as nearly as can be determined) the apostle Paul, while in Corinth (completing a fund-raising drive for the benefit of the poor in Palestine) wrote a letter to the church in Rome. A portion of that letter deals with (in very elementary language) the attitudes that he wants the members of that church to understand as basic to their core values. Now, this was a goodly number of years ago… yet I can not help but hear the apostle addressing the very same attitudinal conflicts and challenges that we are living in the midst of today. So, I offer this portion of that letter to your consideration as we reflect, together, on the sectarian conflicts that affect every part of today’s globe (inclusive of our own neighborhoods.)

“For I say to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

For as we have many members in one physical body, and all members have not the same function:

So we, being many, are one body in belief, and individually one with each other.

(I will interrupt here to acknowledge that the apostle was addressing his intended audience which was the “body” of Christian believers in Rome. But it is my considered conviction that the Truth that the apostle translated into that group’s interest, is a Truth of far more universal applicability… for, I submit, no Truth is only true in the confines of a limited sample… it is validated when proven in unbounded application.) Paul continues…

Having then gifts differing (according to the circumstance that is given to us) let us exercise them accordingly: whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Or service, let us wait on our serving: or he who teaches, in his teaching;

Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with liberality; he that rules, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good.

Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; giving preference to one another in honor;

Not lagging behind in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving your God;

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; devoted in prayer;

Contributing to the needs of the saints; practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Be not wise in your own estimation.”

Now, am I missing something… or is there not an absence of ANY of this instruction coming from the pulpits, rostrums, or podiums of our political, social, national, religious, or global centers of influence? And are not those who fly the flag of Judeo/ Christian belief carrying, tucked firmly under their arm on their way to and from their worship exercises, the book that contains this letter. Therefore ignorance is not a viable excuse. What then gives us license to wag our collective finger toward the Balkans, the Middle East, the Far East, Europe (“old” or “new”), or any other point of geo-political-religious conflict while we carry an “instruction manual” that prescribes that all of us are of “one body”? Is our sectarian bigotry of some sort of acceptable variety as opposed to the unacceptable form that we condemn in others. For crying out loud people!… let’s get off of our “high horse” of what the apostle referred to as “haughty in mind”, “wise in our own estimation”, and embrace the completeness of our one body… whatever headdress it wears (be it of feathers, whalebone, scull cap, or turban)… or name it assigns its place of worship… or name by which it recognizes, respects, and worships our common Creator.

Within a smiling deference to Norah Ephram as she defined blogging as one’s expression of what they perceive as truth on the day of their blog’s posting and subject to the winds of change with each new day… I submit this… my Truth as seen today… for your consideration.

As I bid us all “Welcome to our One Body of Humanity.”

Definitions from: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright© 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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