Thursday, May 21, 2015

BLESSED ASSURANCE




Memorial Peony I & II, Jamestown, NC

A planting of this peony was brought to Salina, Kansas over 100 years ago by my wife's grandparents. We took a split of it after her grandmother's funeral and planted small splits in three homes in Kansas City and a split traveled in the back seat of our car when we moved to North Carolina.

My grandmother planted these flowering plants around family plots in cemeteries back in Kansas. She chose these plants mainly because of the impeccable timing of the blooms around Memorial Day every year. The plants are very hardy and they seem to survive without much human intervention. Like so many of us, she wanted the cold stone markers that say so little of those they identify to be decorated with some small measure of the beauty of these departed souls.

But perhaps we have things totally reversed. Could it be that these bright reminders are actually overseen by those we’re memorializing, so that when we mortals infrequently visit in quiet remembrance, the colorful blooms are there for us with a beautiful assurance that "all is well"?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CRAYONS & CREATIVITY


Craft Still Life, Jamestown, NC
Crayola Presence, Jamestown, NC


I stumbled across a comment recently that noted the author had only just regained the creativity he had as a child using a box of crayons. The crayons had been replaced with books on history and algebra and being responsible and earning a paycheck and paying his bills and obeying all the traffic signs and saving for retirement and exercising and eating healthy and he wanted his crayons back. I actually remember going through that stage with the introduction of coloring books. The new goal was to stay within the lines and “create” a colorful picture. I now know that it was a great way to keep me occupied and generally out of trouble in the long dog days of summer vacation. But it still did teach me the discipline of doing a good job and the persistence of seeing it through to the end. I recall looking at a lot of unfinished pages that were started by some of my young nonconformist peers including erratic crayon marks that were defiantly way outside the lines! Even then we were all seeking our own paths in life.

As with most things in life, there always seems to be a need for balance. We can be left brain creative as long as we have the common sense to also employ the right brain discipline to pay our bills for the craft materials on time. Or perhaps at least have the sense to employ a right brain who will do it for us! And being totally right brain focused leaves a lot of room to let our hair down on occasion. I remember the story of a young girl that was busily working on a blank page with her box of crayons. As the teacher walked around the classroom monitoring the children, she asked the girl what she was coloring. She told the teacher that she was creating a picture of God. When the adult teacher told her that no one knows what God looks like, the young girl quickly responded, “Well, stick around for a few more minutes and they will”! (I asked a young girl if she would create a picture of God for me and without hesitation she quickly used her crayons to produce the image above).

The young girl was unencumbered by all the filters and biases that we adults accumulate as we muddle through life. No one had told her that God couldn’t be pictured so she didn’t know it couldn’t be done and her creative mind knew exactly how God should look. We adults need to be reminded of this, especially those of us who have seen many moons and many seasons and accumulated lots of baggage along the way. Perhaps we simply need to start with another blank canvas when life gets boring and open that creative box of crayons that’s still tucked away in our left brain to re-energize our life once again!

This blog has manifested into my box of Crayolas with an endless supply of colors!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

INTERBEING


First Iris of Spring, Jamestown, NC

In his book Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh makes the point that a flower is made of only non-flower elements. He writes that “When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain, and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flower elements; it has no independent, individual existence…When we see the nature of interbeing, barriers between ourselves and others are dissolved, and peace, love, and understanding are possible. Whenever there is understanding, compassion is born…

In Buddhism, faith means confidence in our and others’ abilities to wake up to our deepest capacity of loving and understanding. In Christianity, faith means trust in God, the One who represents love, understanding, dignity, and truth. When we are still, looking deeply, and touching the source of our true wisdom, we touch the living Buddha and the living Christ in ourselves and in each person we meet.”

I've also read that when we really look deep into a blooming flower, we look into the face of God.

Friday, May 1, 2015

SPIRITS RISE



Wispy Cirrus Spirits, Jamestown, NC
Vaporous Lake Spirits, Jamestown, NC


Vaporous spirits rise
above the lake's surface,
soar into the heavens,
and spontaneously morph
into an unrehearsed dance of life.

Friday, April 17, 2015

HAZY GOLAN HEIGHTS


Golan Heights, Israel

Snowy Headwaters for the Jordan River & Sea of Galilee

SPORTS STARS & FANS


Sports Stars, Internet

The sports pages have been singing the praises of Jordan Spieth since he won this year’s Masters Golf Tournament. I hardly knew the young man until then, but I’m now much better acquainted with him. And there’s a lot to like. The phrase we’ve been hearing all week is that the young 21 year old is “wise beyond his years”. His family was gathered around the 18th green for his final winning putt. But his father reminded Jordan to lap the green and thank the fans who were applauding him. Everyone close to Jordan was there except his 14 year old sister whose neurological condition places her on the autism spectrum. He’s repeatedly stated that she’s the one special person in his life that keeps him grounded and he’s in constant awe of how she and her friends embrace life. She’s always expecting him to win and is so vocal on the course that she unfortunately wasn’t present last Sunday. But she’s obviously Jordan’s constant reminder that he’s playing a sporting game while she’s dealing with the tougher realities of life. The folks at Under Amour are still smiling, as they recently renegotiated his contract with them to a new ten year deal. The wire-to-wire four days in Augusta is estimated to be worth about $34 million in free advertising for starters. He really doesn’t seem to have any “kinks in the amour” either--with the possible exception of yelling at his golf ball like a craps player yells at the dice.

And then this morning I turned to the sports section of USA Today and quickly saw the pathetic headlines that read “Ego, Excess Bring Hernandez Ruin”. The follow up headline on page two read “Hernandez story a cautionary tale”. Aaron Hernandez had signed a $40 million contract before his 24th birthday. He was a super star throughout his football career. He threw it all away as a convicted murderer. The "unconditional adulation of us sports fans, the absolution of his handlers and the delusion of celebrity" led to his spiraling fall from grace. Surprisingly, Aaron was raised in a loving and stable environment. But he seemed to start going off the rails at 16 when his father died as he started his ascension in football. As life evolved, his Florida State Gators won a national championship and his New England Patriots reached the Super Bowl in 2011.

Both of these young men were born with a very special gift to excel at the top of their chosen sport. In Aaron’s case, the article concluded that “It’s an important reminder for every athlete. But it’s even more important for the coaches, agents, hangers-on and, yes, even fans who feed these athletes’ egos, enabling their boorish behavior. They might not have pulled the trigger, but they all had a hand in making Hernandez believe he could”.

Isn’t it ironic that we humanoids always seem so surprised when sports figures that we’ve elevated to god-like idols turn out to be flawed human beings? Since these gifted athletes are likely not well grounded, I suspect that they’re probably more surprised than we are at the time. I’m convinced that Jordan is standing on solid ground. I kinda thought that about a tiger I first met in 1997 when I got his rookie autograph in Florida. But then his father died too and the rest is history. We fans should do our best to keep any sport and its stars in the same perspective as this new young Phenom for the sake of us all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MELONCOLY HAIKU



Window Pane Rain Drops, Chicago, Il
Two Rain Drops, Jamestown, NC


Listening to the Stan Getz cut of “Spring Can Really Hang you Up the Most” while April rain drops on the window pane complete the perfect expression of melancholy.

Window pane rain drops,
and meloncoly sax notes,
hang you up the most.