Thursday, March 9, 2023

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Pinocchio: Art Credit, Disney
If ever there were a time for a national "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire" award, it's now.

And certain Fox "News Anchors" would certainly win, hands down.

Take, for instance, Tucker Carlson. Who, on air, for the past five years, has been rabidly behind the former (45th) president.

Especially in the months prior and after January 6, 2021, Carlson was going full steam in promoting the fantasy that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Carlson is so skilled at truth distortion, that if there were an Olympics for Lying, he would handily grab a gold. If not make Pinocchio turn green with envy.

In fact, he's so good at divorcing himself from reality that even while he was spreading falsehoods on air, he was admitting the election had been lost, off-camera.

As a result of  the $1.6 billion-dollar defamation lawsuit that Dominion Voting Systems has filed against Fox, emails have been shared that were generated behind the scenes from various Fox "anchors."

For example, those reported by the New York Times, between Carlson and his producer Alex Pfifer, pointing to the discrepancy of how Carlson felt about the 45th, and the claims of election fraud, off-air, shortly after the November election:

Alex Pfeiffer:Trump has a pretty low rate at success in his business ventures.

Tucker Carlson:That’s for sure. All of them fail. What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that.

Carlson:I had to try to make the WH (White House) disavow her (referring to Sidney Powell), which they obviously should have done long before.

Laura Ingraham:No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying.

Carlson:But they said nothing in public. Pretty disgusting. And now Trump, I learned this morning, is sitting back and letting them lose the senate. He doesn’t care. I care.

Credit: Pinocchio, Disney
Or this exchange, a day or so after the January 6 insurrection:

Carlson:Trump has two weeks left. Once he’s out, he becomes incalculably less powerful, even in the minds of his supporters.

Carlson:He’s a demonic force, a destroyer. But he’s not going to destroy us. I’ve been thinking about this every day for four years.

Pfeiffer:You’re right. I don’t want to let him destroy me either. [REDACTED]. The Trump anger spiral is vicious.

Carlson:That’s for sure. Deadly. It almost consumed me in November when Sidney Powell attacked us. It was very difficult to regain emotional control, but I knew I had to. We’ve got two weeks left. We can do this.

And here's another text, reported by the NY Times and other news organizations:

Pinocchio, Disney
“The whole thing seems insane to me,” he wrote. “And Sidney Powell won’t release the evidence. Which I hate.” Ms. Powell, a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, was “making everyone paranoid and crazy, including me,” Mr. Carlson added.

Carlson kept on beating the stolen election drum, even though privately insisting it was insane to believe it.

As late as March 7th Carlson continued to defend his fantasy, as he offered heavily edited videos of the January 6th insurrection in an attempt to plug it as peaceful and meek.

Included in the NY Times coverage is a gem of a quote from Carlson, showing he is still promoting what is basically a lie: “In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy (referring to false claims of election fraud). Given the facts that have since emerged about that election, no honest person can deny it.”

And so Carlson has, at last, ascended the Mt. Everest of Irony, claiming to be honest. As a child, I remember hearing the saying, "two-faced liar," to indicate a person who was caught telling whopper-sized fibs. 

I think Carlson has crossed the line into polycephaly.

Of course, there is a moral component to all of this untruth. Some Bible verses that discuss lying are quite interesting.

For instance, Proverbs 26:28: "A lying tongue hates those it hurts."

Or Ephesians 4:25: "Stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth..."

Or Exodus 23:1 "You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand."

And how about this one from Proverbs 12:19, which neatly sums up the end result of telling fibs. "Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed."

The Jewish Talmud forbids lying or deceiving others. "The Holy One, blessed be He, hates a person who says one thing with his mouth and another in his heart." (Pesahim 113b). 

The Buddha was also against lying. "The Buddha made 'not lying' one of the fundamental training practices of self-transformation... He made it clear he believed that there is an essential connection between truthfulness and personal integrity. If one goes, so will the other." 

Sikhs place a high value on truthfulness as well. "There is a famous saying of Guru Nanak's: 'Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living. By this he means that living truthfully, showing devotion to truth through one's behavior and actions, brings one closer to spiritual awakening and to God. Righteousness and morality are central to the practice of Sikhism." 

Maybe it's best to conclude with something that speaks to the power of love and its connection to loving the truth. It's from 1 Corinthians 13:4-6. "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth."

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Preparing for Lent - Meditation on Breaking Down Walls

Christine Sine (Photo Credit Hilary Horn)
Christine Sine and her husband Tom are two folks who have, for decades, been in the forefront of social justice (especially in regard to climate issues) and hospitality. 

I had the privilege of interviewing Christine almost a year ago. For the Sines, living in community is essential to growing in relationship to God.

Christine maintains a Godspace Light Community website and Facebook presence, which I've found to be an excellent meditative resource. 

Recently, Christine wrote about getting ready for Lent. (She points out that the traditional Western Culture Christian timeline for the season begins on February 22nd. Yet she's encouraging us to prepare ahead of time.)

In her Meditation Monday of February 6th she writes that her theme for this Lent is Breaking Down Walls.

Sine makes the point that breaking walls can be a violent act. But it's necessary.

She writes:

" is my experience that bridges can only be built when walls have started to fall. I think of some of the walls I have seen fall in my lifetime. The Berlin Wall, which I visited in the 1980s and kept a piece of until recently when I gifted it to a friend, taken from the wall by a German friend, who together with others prayed for years for the breaking down of the wall. The statues of Stalin in Poland, some of which I saw torn down after the country’s release from the Soviet Union. The wall of silence about black deaths at the hands of the police in the U.S., the barrier to people crossing from Mexico to the U.S., our confrontation with the consequences of climate change are examples of wall that are still in the process of being broken down.  Unfortunately none of these walls came down without violence, even though the crumbling of the walls themselves were not violent acts. In fact they were acts of freedom and liberation."

Christine & Tom Sine
She continues: "Sometimes we need to break down walls so that we can build bridges. If we build bridges when the wall still exists, we still have barriers to peaceful, freedom giving action. What we need to work towards is a society of justice and understanding and compassion in which walls are not thought to be necessary."

I believe that Sine is making a powerful point.

Especially in regard to the necessity of breaking down the walls of resistance to "peaceful, freedom giving action." 

Sine also points out that the breaking down of walls involves listening carefully and respectfully. 

Last week we commemorated the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was a leader in non-violent action, but the protests he led were not always peaceful. His own death was tragic and violent. 

Centuries before Gandhi, Jesus of Nazareth, also a practitioner of non-violence, actively resisted the social injustice of his day. He was crucified.

Frederick Douglass (Credit: Courtesy of W.W. Norton
A few years before the Civil War noted African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass said that "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

In all these cases, violence was encountered that resulted in bridge-building. 

The implication is that positive change occurs at the price of challenge. Most often, that challenge is resisted by those in power. But as walls are being torn down, bridges are being built. 

As for an action plan, Sine encourages us to consider:

1. Preaching a theology of inclusion

2. Encouraging actions that help us get to know our neighbors

3. Being open to change

4. Sharing in the pain of  those excluded

This Lent, I'm going to be meditating and, hopefully acting on Sine's suggestions!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Henri Nouwen on Inclusivity and Compassion

Photo Credit: Henry Nouwen Society
In 1995 Henri Nouwen gave a talk at Noroten Presbyterian Church in Darrien, Connecticut. The topic was "The Truth about Inclusivity and Compassion."

Decades before the prevalent push towards these topics, Nouwen's focus was very unique, in that it flowed from a deeply spiritual place.

Nouwen began by admitting that he was an insecure, nervous and anxious person. "I'm such a nervous person," he said. "I like saying 'this is mine, and not yours'... I love God, but I struggle."

He mentioned that he found a solution to this struggle by stripping off of safety in anything, except God. He said that this was a life-long process that was often painful.

But as Nouwen began to shed the boundaries put up by his insecurities, he found that it was the people living on the margins - including the unhoused, the undocumented, the mentally distraught and people who didn't look, think, or believe like him who "brought me back to the center of God's heart."

In his talk, Nouwen grew excited as he made the point that "the incredible mystery is: God loves all people with the same unconditional love." 

By this time, Nouwen had been living for a decade at two different L'Arche communities, for nine months in France, and then for nine years in Canada.

It was the L'Arche experiences that caused Nouwen to learn and grow in his spiritual journey. "Jesus came to reveal to us what it means to be safe in God's embrace." 

This embrace, observed Nouwen, causes great freedom. "We don't know what it's like to live without judging, evaluating or condemning... But Jesus is saying 'Let your heart be as inclusive as mine.'"

This freedom allows us to hear God's voice "where you'd least expect it. You'll be able to see the belovedness of yourself, and of others."

Simply put, Nouwen explained that recognizing this belovedness helps us to claim our true identity as a child of God. 

And it leads to an ability to be inclusive as we claim our true identity.

Nouwen concluded this portion of his talk by saying: "Every human being is searching for a home."

Like Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis who spoke two decades before him, Nouwen touched upon the idea of a beloved community, where everyone recognizes the intrinsic worth of themselves and of everyone else.

Nowadays, there are many who are calling for healing of the divisions that cross political, religious, and societal lines.

It seems like every nation on the face of the earth is going through a time of deep hurt. 

Many critics are quick to point to the fault lines that separate us. 

Few remind us of our common humanity. 

Fewer still are honest enough to admit to their own insecurity, anxiety or nervousness. 

But a few prophetic voices point to our spirits and to the solution to bridging the social canyons that usually blind us to each other and the path ahead.


To watch the 27-minute video of Henri Nouwen's talk, titled "The Truth about Inclusivity and Compassion, click here.

Nouwen died about a year after giving this presentation.

For a shorter version of the above video, focused on "Being the Beloved," click here.

To learn more about Henri Nouwen and the L'Arche community, click here.

To learn more about Henri Nouwen Society, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Come Visit the Battle Creek Regional History Museum!

Doug Sturdivant
“We want to develop a museum, where, when you leave, you say, ‘wow!’ and you’ll want to come back,” says Doug Sturdivant, Board President of the Battle Creek Regional History Museum (BCRHM).

A recent tour underscored this overall mission.

The BCRHM is housed in the former Battle Creek Equipment Company, itself immersed in local history, having made equipment used in the former Battle Creek Sanitarium. At its height, the Battle Creek Sanitarium was a world-class health facility run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

Doug was eager to meet me at the entrance of the BCRMH and proceeded to proudly show me around the 49,000 sq. foot facility. The Museum’s exhibit display area will be located within 13,000 sq. feet of the building.

The area immediate to the entranceway holds most of the items currently open to the public. Like an exhibit commemorating the SS Battle Creek, a sea-going vessel commissioned by the Navy during WWII. The ship was one of many “victory ships” that transported material to Europe during the War. 

Right next to this exhibit is a mannequin dressed as an African-American soldier, circa WWII, and a photo of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African-Americans in the Army who were trained as fighter pilots at the Tuskegee, AL flight school. Doug points out that Oliver O. Miller, who was from Battle Creek, was one of those Tuskegee airmen.

There’s also a large photo of Camp Custer (AKA Ft. Custer), built during WWI as an Army training facility. 

As you round the bend of this area of the BCRHM, you’ll find photos of the Post Tavern, which opened in 1901, becoming one of the premier downtown hotels.

Post Tavern Exhibit
The Post Tavern was built by C.W. Post, founder of Post Cereals, to make up for what he perceived to be a lack of luxury accommodations for guests coming to Battle Creek.

There’s a recorded talk that offers more background on the Post Tavern, featuring the voice of Dave Eddy, (AKA Battle Creek’s “Morning Mayor” heard for decades on WBCK radio). To anyone who grew up in the Cereal City during the 1950s and 1960s, Dave’s voice is instantly recognizable.

Near the information on the Post Tavern are scale models of the Kellogg Manor - the former summer home of cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg. There’s a scale model of Mr. Kellogg’s home in the city as well, which currently stands near downtown Battle Creek.

As you’d expect, there’s memorabilia, mostly advertising panels of cereal boxes, from each of the Big Three cereal makers (Kellogg, Post, and Ralston). At this point in the tour, Doug points out that at one time, there were 101 cereal companies operating in Battle Creek.

Cereal Company Exhibit
Doug is quick to note that the cereal industry spawned in Battle Creek started with cornflakes, for use by Battle Creek Sanitarium patients as part of a healthy diet.

Any history of Battle Creek wouldn’t be complete without mention of Sojourner Truth and the BCRHM offers a good number of artifacts in the exhibit that honors her legacy. Sojourner came to Battle Creek to be part of the Harmonia community, which was located in the current-day Ft. Custer Industrial Park. 

Sojourner Truth Timeline
Sojourner Truth lived in Battle Creek for 26 years before she died on November 26, 1883. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. One of her daughters, Diana Corbin, also lived in Battle Creek and is buried in Harmonia Cemetery in Bedford Township.

Tommy McLeichey, a fifth-generation descendant of Sojourner, donated artifacts and a storyboard that traces the life of his famous ancestor. 

For years, Michael and Dorothy Martich collected stories and artifacts related to Battle Creek’s African-American history. Many of the folders that the Martich’s collected were donated to the BCRHM. (More of the Martich’s archives are available in the Michigan Room of the Willard Public Library.)

Downtown Battle Creek
Along the hallway leading from the main hall of the BCRHM to the Sojourner Exhibit room, there are several historical photos of downtown Battle Creek. Doug says that there are plans to have a touch screen that provides the historical background on some of the more prominent buildings.

A separate 13,000 sq. foot History Education Room holds 90 seats and a stage for various presentations. This area of the BCRHM is already being used for special events, like the sold-out Tales of Christmas Past event, which was a partnership among Union City, Olivet, and Battle Creek actors. 

“We want to build a museum that will continually draw people back,” says Doug. And part of that vision includes rotating exhibits, artifacts, and presentations.

As we walk out of the History Education Center, Doug comments: “We welcome anyone to come to the Museum. We’re very excited about what we’re doing.”

Part of the plan for continued growth includes the establishment of the Battle Creek Regional History Museum endowment fund held at the Battle Creek Community Foundation. Another part of the vision is collaborating with other historical organizations in the area – like historical societies in Albion, Athens, Hastings, Homer, and Union City, as well as the Kingman Natural History Museum and the Seventh Day Adventist village. 

But the diversity and inclusion don’t stop there. “It’s very important to share Native American history along with African-American history of the Battle Creek area,” says Doug. “We need the voices of all of the groups that make up this region.”

Attention to the various cultures of Battle Creek underlines the importance of continuing the remembrance of the regional historical legacy. Of course, education plays a big part of that process. “Young people are beginning to lose sight of how we got our beginning,” says Doug. “We want to work with the schools to provide a place for students to come and learn. They need to understand the history of Battle Creek and the regional area. Battle Creek didn’t form itself on its own. Battle Creek’s history is a regional history.”

As we are winding down our tour, Doug mentions, “Being a regional museum is very important. And collaboration is too. Each town’s story may be different, but it’s still important!”

Battle Creek Historical Mural
Doug finishes the tour by taking me outside to view a huge mural, located on the West side of the BCRHM, that depicts Battle Creek in its early manufacturing years. The mural used to be located on the Battle Creek Unlimited building in the Ft. Custer Industrial Park and was donated to the BCRHM. It was completed by Conrad Kauffman in 2008.

Walking back to our starting point at the main entrance, Doug smiles, offers a handshake, and emphasizes, “We are in the process of building a regional museum that will give people a reason to come back!”

The Battle Creek Regional History Museum is located at 307 W. Jackson St. It is open to the public on weekends: Saturdays from 10-5 and Sundays from Noon-5. You can find out more about the Battle Creek Regional History Museum by visiting its website:

Watch Be Scene On Air interview with Michael Delaware.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

What Did Jesus Mean When he said, "Come follow me?'

Artwork by Friar Robert Lenz
Author's Note: What follows is a simple reflection on G-d. I'm not a theologian or a minister. So this is offered humbly, for what it's worth, mostly as an effort to deepen my own, and possibly a few readers' understanding.

A lot has been made of a saying, attributed to Jesus, "follow me."

For some, it's taken as a blanket stamp of approval from Jesus, that their own particular take on Christianity is the one true version.

It should probably be noted, upfront, that Jesus never started a new religion. He was Jewish. He worshiped at a synagogue, and he adhered to Jewish tradition. He also lived in Galilee, meaning Jesus was immersed in middle-eastern culture. He didn't have a Western mindset.

In these current times, religion has come to be a source of division. Even among Christians who claim to be following Jesus.

Maybe we begin to heal by being humble enough to admit that our own version of G-d isn't complete. And that the process of understanding G-d is a life-long journey.

Especially with a journey of faith, this includes doubts. Could it be that faith, without doubt, isn't really faith? Here's one definition of faith from Merriam-Webster: "Belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; firm belief in something for which there is no proof."

Absolute proof doesn't exist in the realm of faith. 

And for some reason, we seem to have forgotten that key point.

In Western society, we're becoming increasingly uncomfortable with recognizing and admitting that there may be more to the story than we can comprehend. Where any doubt is seen as heresy. And it quickly follows that if you simply say, "I don't know," it's taken to mean you have no faith at all.

So, what could Jesus have meant when he said, "Come follow me?"

Maybe he wasn't talking about a particular religion as much as a way of life.

Is it possible that we could begin to connect the dots by mentioning another quote attributed to Jesus? Once a lawyer asked Jesus: "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?" (Matt. 23:36). Jesus answered: "Love the Lord your G-d with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt. 23: 37-40).

Jesus didn't mention belief. He mentioned love as a way of living.

[It's interesting that Jesus tied loving your neighbor to loving yourself - implying that, to the extent that we truly love ourselves, we will be able to love our neighbors. Jesus also explained that our neighbor is everyone. Not just those who look like, think like or live like us.]

When Jesus said, "come follow me," it's possible that he meant, very simply, love as you see me loving. 

I'm not sure that Jesus intended to start a new religion. During his own lifetime, he seemed perfectly content being a Jew and going to synagogue. 

What made Jesus radically different was the way he lived. Not a particular organized way of believing. 

In another parable, Jesus said that our life can be summed up in the way we treat others. It's found in the 25th chapter of Matthew

Jesus welcomes those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the unhoused, and visit the sick and imprisoned. (Matt. 25: 31-46).

"Peace Be Still," by James He Qui 
In fact, he stated that people who do these things will inherit "eternal life." Not those who believe in a certain brand of Christianity. So, those who are his closest followers might be those who adhere to a lifestyle of loving. Keeping this in mind, it's entirely possible for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and those practicing no formal religion to go to heaven or inherit "eternal life."

This understanding can be truly humbling, breaking down many of the religious barriers between different faiths. It should give us cause for great hope.

Monday, December 12, 2022

An Interview With Kristi Nelson, Executive Director of a Network for Grateful Living

You’re the Executive Director of a Network for Grateful Living. Could you give us a sense of the mission of the organization? 

We offer support and guidance for people to practice living gratefully, for the practice of grateful living.

You were diagnosed with Stage IV cancer over 29 years ago. In an interview on the Grateful Living website, you mention that this experience was life-changing, causing you to see the benefits of being grateful in a radical way. You said that being grateful “not only changes your life but also extends beyond your intimate sphere. It gives rise to compassion, kindness, forgiveness and empathy…" Could you help explain the connection between gratitude and these benefits?

One of the things that’s important is we’re not talking about gratitude as a self-satisfying proposition. Or a fleeting emotional response. But it’s an orientation to life. Living gratefully every moment. Every day could be your last day. We’re not in control of how long we live. Every single day is a precious gift. A good way to live is not to squander that opportunity. It encourages us to live with great fullness of heart. Gratefulness of heart is a much more open-hearted way of life. It gives you an immediate opening to forgiveness. Living gratefully puts us in immediate touch with what matters, so we tend to live much more intentionally, taking much less for granted. You don’t assume there’s more time to repair relationships and show the people you know that you love them. You’re more likely to live your heart out loud. It (living gratefully) makes me much more content. I’m busy staying in touch with being content with what I have. I feel much more interconnected. It leads to greater engagement. 

You also mentioned that gratefulness can drive social action. “Whether it’s the environment, democracy, or your community, when you feel grateful for something, you notice what it needs and you do what you can to take care of it.” I’m wondering if you see cultivating gratefulness as a part of the solution to our current state of polarization in the US and around the world?

I believe that it can lead to higher levels of cooperation, coming out of a sense of interdependence. When I’m in touch with my values, my values are very much concerned with preserving our planet, civil rights, and peace. All these things orient me in a particular way. It makes us more active towards the things we value. If you tend what you value, your values thrive. Tending what I value makes me more engaged in a world worth living in. I don’t think it promises to heal the divides, but it would serve the world if all the people who cared about the environment, diversity and civil rights acted on these things. Acting on our values will serve the world, but not necessarily heal it completely, because there are very big value divides in our world.

In another interview on the Grateful Living website, you talk about being aware of the present moment. “You know when you are so present and feel so grateful you just want to cry? When the gifts of the moment are truly moving and turn you inside out? That’s the kind of gratefulness I’m talking about.” That is one of the most powerful definitions of gratefulness, and living in the moment that I’ve come across! Would you like to describe one of those moments in your own life?

I feel this way every single day, whenever I say goodbye to someone I love. For me, living gratefully means I live in that awareness of poignancy. Poignancy means everything. Preciousness of life and uncertainty of time. If you live that way, your heart is always on the outside of your body. Because I’m taking nothing for granted. It’s living fully awake. It’s an extraordinarily powerful way to live.

You also make a connection between vulnerability and the ability to be grateful. “When you live fully inside your vulnerability, feeling grateful for the gift of life, you’re much less likely to say and do the things – or not say and do the things – that will lead to regret.” I’m curious to know how you discovered this connection? For one thing, being vulnerable means opening yourself up to experiencing everything of life, including pain and suffering. So, vulnerability could be seen as a two-edged sword.

Non-denial means when you’re in grief, you’re in grief. One of the biggest regrets people have is not being true to what is true to them - love, sadness, or love and sadness in the same moment. We tend to think of emotions as compartmentalized, but they’re not. If you don’t take life for granted, you’re less likely to put off things you want to do. Putting off things makes room for regret because we’re not being true to ourselves. Living gratefully compels us to be fully alive now. It’s a better way to go through life, rather than waiting until the conditions are just right. 

In this same interview you said that the “biggest lesson from cancer for me is that we don’t get to control everything.” Which can come down to asking: “What can I do in this moment?” You go on to say that “There’s a way to dance with this mortality and truth.” Again, the idea of striking a balance between not being able to control everything and focusing on the present moment.

I think it’s a great paradox of life. When we accept our mortality, the truth of our mortality, and the uncertainty of when we will meet that state, we come most alive.  It brings forth that quality of aliveness in us -the ultimate paradox, which is in and of itself enlivening. 

Here’s another bit of wisdom you mention. “Nothing is promised us… it’s liberating… my aliveness is so connected to taking nothing for granted… It’s a radical practice.” I love this idea, this connection! 

That’s the whole thing – the practice of living fully, being fully engaged, in the presence of all of the uncertainty that we have, combined with taking nothing for granted. It’s very liberating. Empowering. Clarifying. I try to make it worth the risk. 

Speaking of this connection, here’s a huge tip you offer: “Cultivating perspective is important to maintaining gratefulness.” Would you care to elaborate a bit?

Cultivating perspective is critical to maintaining gratefulness. It’s the centerpiece of the practice. We gain and lose perspective constantly. Being able to know how to find perspective when it’s elusive is a core practice. Knowing what are the things that bring us perspective. We have to know what we need to remind ourselves: What are the larger truths that get us out of our little minds? I call the practice spiritual musculature. How to get back to living gratefully. Sometimes it’s getting out into nature, or knowing what to read (poems, meditation), movies, music, quotes we can remember. Questions we can ask ourselves that can guide us back. It’s the greatest tool of all. 

Towards the end of this interview on the Grateful Living website, you say that your greatest wish is that “love would be the dominating currency.” And then you encourage viewers to “Love big, love generously, love hard with your heart, banging on its hinges. Because it matters and this moment is all we have.” That’s a deeply spiritual thing to express.

I believe that we are made of love, made for love, made to love. Fulfilling our purpose in life is almost always connected to the essence of that. The more we can connect to that reality, the more beautifully alive and fulfilled we will be and the world will be. It’s catalyzing. We bring ourselves and our planet toward the possibility of healing. It moves me. Love is what’s important.

For more information on Network for Grateful Living, click here.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

On the Occasion of Emily Dickinson's Birthday

Photo Credit: Wendy Macdal The Boston Globe
Today (December 10) is Emily Dickinson's birthday.

There's a mountain of biographical material about Emily, so I'm going to refer readers of this blog to an excellent all-encompassing biography, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation

But what would be fun is to share a few of her poems - some well known, some not so much. 

I'm using The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, originally published in 1960, by Little, Brown and Company.

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Untouched by Morning -
And untouched by Noon -
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection -
Rafter of Satin - and Roof of Stone!

Grand to the Years - in the Crescent - above them -
Worlds scoop their Arcs -
And Firmaments - row -
Diadems - drop - and Doges - surrender -
Soundless as dots - on a Disc of Snow -

I reason Earth is short -
And Anguish - absolute -
And many hurt,
But, what of that?

I reason we could die -
The best Virtality
Cannot excel Decay,
But what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven -
Somehow, it will be even -
Some new Equation, given -
But, what of that?

I gained it so - 
By Climbing slow -
By Catching at the Twigs that grow
Between the Bliss - and me -
It hung so high
As well the Sky
Attempt by Strategy -

I said I gained it -
This - was all -
Look, how I clutch it
Lest it fall -
And I, a Pauper go -
Unfitted by an instant's Grace
For the Contented - Beggar's face
I wore - an hour ago -

This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me -
The simple News that Nature told -
With tender Majesty

Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see -
For love of Her - Sweet - countrymen -
Judge tenderly - of Me

Photo Credit: World Future Fund
I prayed, at first, a little Girl,
Because they told me to -
But stopped, when qualified to guess
How prayer would feel - to me -

If I believed God looked around,
Each time my Childish eye
Fixed full, and steady, on his own
In Childish honesty -

And told him what I'd like, today,
And parts of his far plan
That baffled me -
The mingled side
Of his Divinity -

And often since, in Danger
I count the force 'twould be
To have a God so strong as that
To hold my life for me

Till I could take the Balance
That tips so frequent now,
It takes me all the while to poise -
And then - it doesn't stay -

These Strangers in a foreign World,
Protection asked of me -
Befriend them, lest Yourself in Heaven
Be found a Refugee -

Estranged from Beauty -
For Beauty is Infinity -
And power to be finite ceased
Before Identity was leased.

My best Acquaintances are those
With Whom I spoke no Word -
The Stars that started come to Town
Esteemed by Me never rude
Although to their Celestial Call
I failed to make reply -
My constant - reverential Face
Sufficent Courtesy.

After a hundred years
Nobody knows the Place
Agony that enacted there
Motionless as Peace

Weeds triumphant ranged
Strangers strolled and spelled
At the lone Orthography
Of the Elder Dead

Winds of Summer Fields
Recollect the way -
Instinct picking up the Key
Dropped by memory -

Let me not mar that perfect Dream
By an Auroral stain
But so adjust my daily Night
That it will come again.

Not when we know, the Power accosts -
The garment of Surprise
Was all our timid Mother wore
At Home - in Paradise.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Pinocchio: Art Credit, Disney If ever there were a time for a national "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire" award, it's now. And certai...