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It Only Sleeps

12 Mar

It Only Sleeps

Not very attractive, is it?
It could be, and will be, when it’s shaped up and decides to look like the lovely oak tree that it is. Not wanting to chop on it here and there myself, I sent this same photo to a tree landscape specialist who answered my email in this way: Your tree is obviously dead. For $25 we will consult with you about removing it.
Dead? I don’t think so.
What he could not see at a distance in a photo are all the green shoots covering the barren looking limbs. My oak tree is ready to burst into new bloom. I can see it myself. I can see it because I stood close to it when I snapped the picture. I got close enough to see what’s really happening to my tree.
Too bad, isn’t it, that some of us make judgments at distances without getting close enough to see the green shoots of promise or hope or possibility? Making judgments at arm’s length about people or circumstances so often distorts reality and sends us off on twisted paths of fear or anger.
The budding life of my oak tree was affirmed the day I took this picture by two tiny objects that you cannot see in the picture. The very top of the tree is cropped off in the picture, but sitting on the delicate threads of branches at the top are two finches. They were singing their hearts out in that moment, probably telling the world that something new and wonderful is about to happen. New life is coming back into the old frame. Green shoots in the warm sun are about to unfold as lush, green leaves.
Stand close before you make up your mind. It is not dead…it only sleeps!
Sing on, birds!

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Just Like A Mom!

19 Jan

Just Like A Mom!

I read too much these days about Moms and Dads who neglect or abuse their children. Perhaps we should take a lesson from the wonder of creation. For instance, in the dry desert where I live it is not unusual to find a mesquite, or palo verde, or ironwood tree embracing a saguaro cactus. The cactus, fragile at birth and tender, grows up under the caring protection of the “nurse plant”. The tree provides shade, nourishment, and stability as the saguaro matures. It cares for its little neighbor, even though they are very different. It’s nice to see things care for each other. Maybe we ought to pay attention.

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Waiting For The Wonder

4 Dec

Waiting For The Wonder

No, I don’t get it either.
But it’s worth wondering about, isn’t it? How often do you see an upside down metal man with spikes coming out of his body? I’m waiting for the Freudian light to come on or the metaphorical meaning to slip into focus.
While waiting, though, let me just suggest that pondering the unexpected or unexplainable is time well spent. Who knows what wonderful insights might be slightly hidden behind the bizarre.
So, the next time you encounter the unusual…whatever it might be…don’t pass it by too quickly. Sit with it for a little while. Wonder about it. Let it say something to you.
I still don’t get it…but I’m waiting.

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56 Cent People

28 Nov

56 Cent People

No, it’s not a political sign. It defines safe travel not political persuasions. I think, though, it might encourage us to do “the right thing” as we dance and stumble through life. To do “the right thing” means one is informed by values, ethics, moral principles, or religious beliefs…or all of them. Values drive behavior.

That’s true in this morning’s news report about the sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, who has decided to save money in his budget by reducing the cost of the Thanksgiving meal given inmates to 56 cents per person. Do you know what you get for 56 cents per person? Not much. Some soy mixture, the article said. I think I’ll pass, thank you.

Nobody believes inmates ought to be treated like guests at the Hilton. Too many believe they ought to be humiliated and treated as if less than human until they’re turned back onto the streets repentant and rehabilitated. So in the name of saving money in the budget, let’s diminish their humanity even more and reminded them again and again that they are worth 56 cents on Thanksgiving Day.

The fallacy of letting inhumane values drive rehabilitation is that the anger and even rage produced by such money-saving brilliance, pent up in months or years of jail time and aimed at any form of authority, explode again on society when the cell door is opened and the 56 cent person is back in contact with the rest of us.

I’ve heard it said that prisons, where dignity and human values are lost, can become the best training grounds for deeper hatred and more violent behavior. Those places become school houses for violence. Maybe the wise philosopher of the comic strip, Pogo, got it right: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

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One Way or The Other

14 Nov

One Way or The Other

Some days are like this! Coming or going?

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My Day

7 Nov

My Day

Some days start out so good!
I feel fine.
I dance and sing.
I smile at the world.
And then
The phone rings or
the doorbell calls or
the cat throws up or
the dishwasher decides to die or
I step on my glasses.
I didn’t plan any of this.
Go away, Unwanted.
Get lost, Unexpected.
I end up in a place
I didn’t plan to be,
Somewhere
Between exasperated and enraged.
My boat that set out on calm waters
Is stranded, held captive,
Useless and helpless in the arms of futility.
And then, with clearer eyes
And calmer breath
I discover that the view is pretty good
From here.
I can see new horizons,
Broader landscapes,
Roads that were lost
In the confusion
And
Flowers blooming on a distant hill.
My plan is history.
My day is hopeful.

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One Way

29 Oct

One Way

Polarized people worship at the altar of “OneWayness”…and we’re getting better at it all the time.

Is there only One Way to do religion, or politics, or bake an apple pie, or make a salad? If you are a sports fan and listen to the stunning variety of National Anthems sung before the first pitch, you know that one song can be sung many ways…unfortunately. For some of us One Way means my way, and, of course, that’s the right way. But that inflexible One Way usually leads to frustration and defensive fear. The One Way sign on my street is meant to ease congestion, provide safety and and keep us all moving, but it’s just one approach…there are other routing systems that might work as well. Traffic circles, or Roundabouts, accomplish the same goals and they have multiple entry and exit points. They are more like a dialogue than a stern pronouncement.

I remember hearing as a child an old saying that was meant to make the point of diversity and variety: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!” I understand the point, but I wonder if we don’t often pay a lot more attention to the skinning than to the cat.

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Kind Words

26 Oct

This photo was taken in a local hospital…yes, a hospital…inside. Beneath the photo are the words: “you are now in a No Passing Zone”. A few more lines remind hospital workers that no one is to be overlooked or passed by without a greeting. No one passes a room with a call light on. No one is too busy or too much in a hurry to answer a question, give directions, or make someone else feel welcome and valued. Everybody is responsible for hospitality.

Those of us who have been passed by or overlooked or ignored know the uncomfortable feelings associated with that kind of behavior. Imagine what it must feel like to experience that every day because you are poor, shabbily dressed, uneducated and unwanted. So let’s establish No Passing Zones everywhere we go…starting today. Everyone deserves courtesy and a kind word, and that kind word might be the very thing that transforms the giver as well as the receiver.

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Through The Fog

8 Oct

Through The Fog

Bridges serve a good purpose. They span otherwise impassable places. They are even beautiful sometimes. And even when the fog moves in, bridges can still speak of strength and connection. So many dots need to be connected in this world…so many dreams need to be linked up…so many chasms need to be spanned. The human bridge of compassionate understanding is always under construction. It will finally lead us all where we need to go if we persist in building it.