Saturday, February 28, 2009

Be Mindful ... The "Peaches"

Grand-Daddy had a way of cutting off a conversation that irritates, long past his passing, to this day. He had a stored arsenal of maxims and adages designed to state a point, and deliver a truism … while disallowing any response, and negating any discussion. I always found it a practice that struck me as disrespectful of whomever was the target of his comment. And, I am convinced, even now, that this was his, perhaps unconscious (but nonetheless insensitive), intent. He did enjoy having the “last word.” Unfortunately … those damn quips still linger on in my memory. And I was reminded of one of them when I asked Mom a question, some while back.

I had been curious (a mild but persisting curiosity that had lingered and pestered for many years) about the source of my name. Mindful that my younger brother (both my brothers, and my sister, are, in fact, all younger) was named for two biblical characters of some note … I wondered how my middle name was elected. It seemed reasonable to draw the conclusion that my first name was in honor of my Dad’s having John as his first name. But I knew of no ‘Michael’ for whom I might have been labeled. So, with all of the explanation that I just recounted to you, I asked Mom.

I was intrigued by her little snicker in response to my interrogatory. Having the understanding that she has always been something of a “Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes” with a background of extreme conservative religious piety and “proper” upbringing … I could not imagine why a snicker would be generated by a question that, I assumed, would produce some noble, and/or righteous, response. “Well … before you ‘came along,’ I read one of those drug-store romance novels that you never want anyone to know that you read.” she began. (I began to feel that this was NOT going in any direction that I either intended … or welcomed!) She continued, “The ‘Leading Character’ was a romantic and dashing man whose name was ‘Juan Miguel.’” (I became very uncomfortable!) “I decided that when I had a son, I would name him John Michael, after that dashing and passionate character.” she concluded. I was aghast!

“I always thought that because Dad’s first name was John, you named me after him.” She smiled … “That worked out well … and I never had to tell him or anyone else the truth.” she confessed. “OK! … if this Character was of such an impressive consequence that you named your First-Born Son after him … what is the name of the Book … so that I can get it from the library and see what the heritage of my name is?” I followed. “Oh, no!” she responded. “I have no idea what the book was! It was some cheap throw-away thing that I forgot about long ago.”

“So … you are telling me that I was named after some sleazy, paper-back romance-novel, Gigolo, who you found in a completely forgettable piece of literary Trash ... that you can’t even remember!”

“Well … I had never thought about it THAT way. But yes! … I guess that’s so.”

So, My Dear Reader, I found myself recalling one of Grand-Daddy’s lousy sayings …

“If you don’t want my peaches … don’t shake my tree!”

Serves me right for asking the question!

What a Bummer!!

[great BIG ol' silly grin]

IMAGE: “August Peach Tree” Moise Paintings

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kinship in Spirit

As I enjoyed the televised travel show … I was impressed with the ceaseless supplications transmitted by these Prayer Flags, on the pathway up to the Bhutan's
Taktshang ("tiger's nest") monastery. I was glad for a better understanding of the concept of ongoing Prayers being carried heavenward on the bits of constantly-disintegrating fabrics. And, I was reminded of the scriptures’ “Pray without ceasing” admonition. In these Prayer Flags, I saw a physical manifestation of that directive. I find further personal enlightenment, in hearing the Commentator’s explanation of the Belief that each Individual achieves “higher Karma” through their commitment to climbing upward, in their arduous ascension toward the ‘Holy Site’ of this Monastery. And here I found a like Truth in “Take up your burden and follow …” as presented in so many various forms of exhortation, toward disciplined Discipleship, in scripture. I saw Unity in intent, purpose, and expression here.

My ‘virtual’ pilgrimage served (through the presentation by “Travel to the Edge”), to weave, yet more tightly, threads of Truth, into the Fabric of spiritual unity between Faiths. Truth, offered through the perspectives of authors of the Bible … in complete harmony with the very same Truth demonstrated in the utilization of these Prayer Flags placed by faithful followers of the Buddhist Faith. Both aware of some whispered inner Voice that communicates to them the Message that says, “It is good to always maintain a reverential and prayerful attitude toward that Power that created Us ... All." And Each responding, in methods and forms, in keeping with their particular worlds.

How beautiful is this demonstration of our kinship in spiritual awareness! And how blessed we are when we can accept personal growth and validation of our cultural and societal interpretations, and expressions of our individual spiritual sense … through one another’s shared methodologies. Prayers … whether expressed in whispered words, or bits of flags that send their messages heavenward … are one and the same. Our Souls’ expression of all that we know the need to render. Ever more clearly … we are Kin with each other. Or so it seems to my Understanding.

IMAGE: National Geographic Society

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The View ... Through a Keyhole

How very unfortunate is the experience of that Poor Soul, who insists on the absolute correctness of his View of Life … when that View is framed by and constricted to, the limitations of a Keyhole of Ideological Dogma, defined by his religious sect, political party, family tradition, or social attitude.

For he, in all of his zealous fervor, is denying himself the wondrous scope of Beauty that thrives just outside … in the diverse perspectives, opinions, and visions, of All who are celebrating the World of acceptance, and honor of one another … just across that Threshold defining His chamber of chosen confinement.

All that hinders Him from enjoying freedom of thought and expression … is that locked door … whose governing Key is His own free will and choice.

Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee,
That wilfully will nother here nor see.

[1546 J. Heywood ‘Dialogue of Proverbs’ ii. ix. K4]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Celebrating Life's Banquet

I am having the most fun imaginable …
stealing Tidbits from my Future.

I am sneaking past the impediments of Now …
and sampling more.

More than what the Present would offer …
tiny portions of Then.

Awakened to the Truths of Time and Space …
I play with both.


I have witnessed the regrets of those
who have reached Dinner’s end.

Their eyes sad when the Meal’s
dessert Course is served.

Their longing for time to enjoy another serving
of an Appetizer …

Clouding their ability to celebrate the majesty
of Life’s Finishing Dish.


In response to Observation’s lessons,
I have learned to nibble ahead.

A small sip, of what we all know as,
our mortal Futures …

I savour Bliss, as a tease, with promise
of much more to come.

Visiting Time’s kitchen … I inhale
Eternity’s simmering fragrance.


Thus, I know neither fear nor trepidation
in awareness of Life’s Repast.

For I have learned the beauty of taking
some of Dessert’s sweetness …

Midst bites of my Main Course’s robust flavours.

Each Element of Life’s buffet … I allow to reside
in Memory, Anticipation, and Moment.


So, Dear, Fellow Diner, speak not to me
of dread, of Tomorrow.

Nor tell me of longing, for Yesterday.

For you are speaking to One who is
examining, tasting, and visiting …

All of My Banquet of Life … Past known …
and Future, gleefully sampled.


Trust your Creator …
lean not, on your own Understandings.
In all of your Ways (Past, Present, and Future),
acknowledge the Truth that is in
All being by design …
and your path will be lovingly guided.

The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3, Verses 5 and 6
(Rendered in accordance with John-Michael’s Spirit)

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Two-Year-Old's Morning

Through the prism of one tiny Dew Drop,

She discovers the spectrum of a new day’s Sun.
Her perspective … the same height as the Plant’s,
She is perfectly focused on Wonders unseen to me.

Introduced, by my Dad, to the ‘Night crawler’ Worm,
She boldly takes its wriggling, squirming Form in fingertip hold.
Then, to the shock and disgust of all of the ‘Grown-ups,’
She examines it further … with a bite.

Made aware of the individual character of Leaves,
She touches each, in turn … Plant by Plant.
Noting; some jagged, some smooth … rigid, soft.
And the Nursery becomes a Place of diverse wonder.

Such is a day’s exploration of Life and her World.
Such is the opening of awareness and consciousness.
In the eyes and sensitivities of this delicate Beauty …
As this two-year-old embraces Living ... and Life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Words, Language, and Being

I have had, for some while now, the words of Gandhi, at the head of my blog. His statement “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” shapes my intentions for my life. And he accomplished this, not only with his actions, but primarily with his words. His words have shaped change in lives and nations from his first utterances to this very day. I attempt to see his message through the interpretive perspective of my own Spirit … and share the resulting thoughts with you, here.

Words, when hitched together by the bonds of my Intention, Inclination, Imagination, and Inspiration … become the Language of my Self. I demonstrate what lies deep within my Being. I display, for my immediate audience, an unfolding image of what I desire to be known as, and how I wish to be perceived. Even within the gaps, the pauses, and some rare, staunch declarations … I reveal my uncertainties, while testing my prevailing suppositions.

The colours and brush-strokes applied to this canvas (my Self), are all created with the tone and particulars of the language that I employ. And the entirety of the work is showcased within a framework of my spirit. Whatever my portrait, however I am introduced, is understood and interpreted by the hearts, minds, and Spirits of Listeners, Readers, and Observers, within the definitions of my Spiritual Frame. This is the “Be”ing that Gandhi is referring to. He is telling me that if I want to change the tone, spirit, and context of my minute part of the World, then I must “Be” the embodiment of whatever kindness, respect, generosity, grace, gentleness, and Yes! even niceness, that I would desire to affect upon my World.

Intellectual content, technical detail, theological persuasion, academic insight, humorous perspective, romantic sensitivities, political convictions, and even neighbourly consideration operate within this framework of our demonstrated Character.

I can be enlightened by grand profundities delivered by an angry man, yet be more impressed and affected by his unfortunate choice of Character, than by the weight of the monumental message that he speaks. I can be profoundly stirred by the gentle Grace of a humble person sharing the most rudimentary of thoughts or comforted by a sweet, caring Soul who has nothing more to offer than, “I am so sorry!” All of the philosophical, religious, and even physical Truths, delivered by an unsympathetic voice leave me with neither relief nor solace. The “right” words or answers, spoken by an unkind Spirit, are easily discarded in favour of “no answers at all” offered by the One who is willing to be open to the vulnerabilities innate to being Nice. That person is brave, courageous, and infinitely more effective in their ministrations.

So, my friend, I offer this, my little blog, not as a source of answers, revelations, pontifications, or enlightenment. But simply as a spot where folks can say an occasional “Ahhh … that’s nice” or “Whew! I needed this little break!” A respite from whatever is pulling and tugging at their Spirit. A place to not have to think too much … to just be still and smile for a moment. A tiny harbour that offers some relief from the buffeting of life’s daily demands. And this I try to do with some thoughts that seem to me to be good. Some images that spark nice feelings and emotions to bring a smile, a sigh, or a tiny chiming within your Being. I offer whatever I have stumbled upon in the hope that I can lessen someone else’s “stumblings.” In this way, I am consciously Being “Nice,” because (in keeping with what Gandhi said) Nice is the change that I would see in the world. The very idea of a Nice World makes me feel good!

I hope that my relaying this brings us closer and makes our fleeting moments more comfortable and enjoyable … and your journey easier and more fun.


Edited by N. Suzanne

Friday, February 06, 2009

It Made Me Smile ...

I simply think that it is cute ... so I am sharing it with You.
I do hope that you enjoy it! [smile]

The Peel 50, the world's smallest road-legal car, sits parked between two vans in London's Piccadilly Circus.

IMAGE& TEXT: PA/BBC “Day In Pictures”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Colouring "Within the Lines"

The sensation of intense focus, as I paid mindful attention to ‘the lines’ in the colouring book, is still fresh. “Stay within the lines” was the always pervasive challenge. I clearly recall the feeling of mastery that accompanied my achievement of the ‘advanced level’ found in outlining each area with a bold application of the crayon. Now! That will surely facilitate tidy and proper colouring! Such was the exercise of those early years. Looking back now, I can see the training element that the colouring book presented. For, as I grew and learned more at more ‘sophisticated’ and mature levels … “staying within the lines” was something that the larger society (and indeed, the world at large) valued and required of each of us. “To know One’s place … and to stay in it” was something that my parents stressed. And it was against those attempts to confine, that I felt myself straining.

For, My Dear Reader, I am, at the core of my Being, not a “Stay Within The Lines” kind of guy. My temperament is inclined, innately, to be more of an Impressionist, or, perhaps (on those unpredictable, spontaneous moments) even an Abstract Impressionist. My Spirit is not ‘at home’ within the ‘lines’ of prescribed behaviors and expression. I am all about possibilities … not conclusions. My Soul cries out for the Infinite, and avoids the Defined like some kind of bitter fruit.

I know, and respect, the fact that most folks are comfortable within those lines. I appreciate the safety and security that is found there. I simply do not find those benefits for my Self in the same bounds. I am not an ‘emotionally tidy’ person. In fact, I would probably be considered, by many, to be quite a 'sloppy’ person … in the emotional department. And, not only do I enjoy the freedoms and liberties known in my “impressionistic” expression of my life’s colouring of the living experience … but I offer those possibilities and potentials to those whose lives I am blessed to touch. I linger for that short instant that looks the Other in the eye with a smiling, bemused, raised brow that says, “Why not?” And I often leave the passing company of friends, and strangers alike, with that exposure to an alternative way of living, lingering in their awareness. A seed of something new and fresh for them to reflect on. Maybe they too, can be just a bit more free with their recognition of and responses to the world around them. This is the message that I hope that I leave, ‘hanging in the air’ as I retreat.

Such is my simple reflection today. A basic recognition of something as basic and rudimentary as a child’s colouring book. But isn’t that what we are each doing with every moment of our lives? Colouring the perceptions of Others. Shading and giving definition, to the canvas of that World that we each touch, with the brush of our individual influence. With respectful deference to the individual who is most comfortable living within the “paint-by-numbers” life … I would encourage an occasional departure from the cozy confines of “the lines” … and whisper an invitation to give themselves some liberty … and venture outside into a soul-freeing experience of self-expression and Spirit-acknowledgement. Go ahead! Let those walls of your habitual 'box of behavior’ down … and taste the sweet nectar of openness and freedom. Let yourself speak the “I love you” words. Touch a Soul that is hungry for the Gift of your emotional involvement … if but for an instant. There is a world, just beyond 'the lines,’ that yearns for that colour that is only available from the palette of your individual experience, and care. I lovingly encourage you to share that joy of “going beyond” with someone today. I do love You, you know!

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~
(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)


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