About Michael Doran

I have been encouraged and inspired by many throughout my life, and seek to do the same for others. My blogs and photographs reflect who I am and what I am thinking or seeing at the moment I post something. I hope what I share brings pleasure and meaning to others. Thank you for viewing my posts.

Rolled

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Did you “roll out of bed” this morning? Have you ever “rolled your own”? How about “rolled your eyes” at something someone said that you have heard a dozen times before ? As a child did you “roll down hills” or perhaps, played skeet ball or boccie ball where you “rolled a ball”  hoping to have it land at a specific spot? Have you witnessed one sports team “roll over” another in a lop-sided competition ? A funny sight is to watch a lone vehicle tire “roll down a street” for a long distance as if it had a driver.  Then there is the song “Rollin’ Down the River”…not sure how one does that, but it’s a great song. CCR and Tina Turner made it memorable. And, who can forget “roller skates”?

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A farmer rolled these round bales of hay. Actually, they are rather large and heavy. After his tractor rake gathers the hay and his baling machine rolls the hay, they are wrapped in a fiber net to hold them together. When a roll is moved a tractor with a long pointed pole impales the center and hauls it off to feed livestock.

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This year produced a productive crop of hay and bales. When you see an entire field of many acres dotted with these round bales, it appears as though they lined up to fight or to play a game of sorts. Imagine this scene fifty times larger.

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As you can tell, Autumn is beginning to reveal herself in the Midwest. Foliage is changing colors, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are starting to drop. This is also harvest time for several crops. The squirrels are going crazy stockpiling their winter food source which can be in a hundred places per squirrel. I’ve always wondered how they know exactly where they buried their nuts and seeds. They are fun to watch. In conclusion, I completely enjoy this season, and hope you do, too.

Is Harmony Possible ?

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Is this photograph of an old Episcopalian church adjacent to a modern office building in Montreal, Canada odd? I hope not, although I clearly comprehend the contrast. While visiting Montreal several years ago, I saw how that city melded the new with the old, and was pleased the community did so, and accomplished it very well. Harmony.

Today my heart is heavy, as so many of yours are. After the senseless mass murder of people attending a concert in Las Vegas on Sunday night to school shootings in America and bombings of subways across the Atlantic. How will we end this madness? But, let us not simply stop there. Look at the mini-wars taking place all over the globe: Russia and Ukraine, China and India, several countries in Africa (it seems to never end on this beautiful continent) to the potential war between North Korea and the USA. Of course there is Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East in serious conflict.

Even in America we are subjected to the war which is still occurring between the north and the south (not with guns, but by abusing our civil liberties), the redefining of traditional marriage and relationships which results in clashes between opposing sides, and of, course, the color issue and the reality of police brutality (most police do not condone nor participate in these tragic acts).

One of my observations is that far too many instances of injustice revealed by social media are biased. I long to see the day when those in positions of influence will set aside their own agendas and simply report all of the truth and not just pieces which support a particular viewpoint or distort the facts. What we need is an urgent sense of honesty in reporting rather than the bias of organizations and influential individuals (on both side of the aisle).

Many will say that I simply don’t understand or cannot relate to the plight of others who are abused and mistreated. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am the son of an immigrant (my mom wasn’t from a black nation, but that doesn’t disqualify me from understanding). I grew up in a broken home, lived at poverty level for several years, struggled with severe asthma throughout my youth and never had the resources that my friends and neighbors did. However, I had several things instilled in me as a child: love for others (regardless of race or religion) respect for America, the value of hard work, and taking personal responsibility for my life. I still believe in these.

So, I ask myself, why can’t we have more harmony? I don’t need political answers because I have heard far too many of them, and have even spoken a few myself. What we need is a change of heart. For me this occurred when I invited Christ into my life. I readily admit I struggle with many things, but I believe I can be forgiven of my transgressions and grow from them. Even in the midst of personal, national or global crisis’ I find hope because I believe the future has already been determined.

I realize that everyone won’t understand or agree with my position…another benefit of living in a free nation. I respect that. Please know that I love and appreciate all people groups everywhere-starting here in our country- and extending throughout the entire world. For instance, I don’t hate the North Koreans, but I despise their leadership (sometimes I despise our own leaders!). I genuinely feel empathy for the masses of citizens who have little choice in their country’s affairs or in their daily lives. Even different religious beliefs or ethnicity don’t deter my love for others.

There is, and always has been injustice in our world. Simply accepting this doesn’t make things right, of course, but it allows us to understand and then strive to change things for the better of mankind. Please join me in being considerate of others, respecting those whom you disagree with, accepting lawful justice , assisting the down-trodden and ultimately loving one another. Can we live in harmony? Only each one of us can decide the outcome. I continue to remain hopeful and to strive for harmony.

Four Seasons

Much has been written about the four seasons of our lives and of nature. Hence, even the calendar is based upon the stars and seasons: Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox & Summer Solstice. I list these as they come at this time, and since summer is officially over (at least in the northern hemisphere) we enter the season of Autumn or Fall. Our lives correlate to nature’s seasons rather well.

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Actually, all life begins in the spring season when we are conceived, born and we begin our early years of development. I realize that some creatures begin their lives in different seasons, but I am basing my dialog on human beings. At this stage of the cycle of life we are filled with wonderment and often joy. I know, there are so many children whose lives appear to be anything but joyful. However, I have seen children in slums who find joy in the most dire circumstances. They inspire me.

Then comes Summer which welcomes the developing years of one’s life. This season is filled with activity, learning, and blessings. The later part of Summer involves adolescence and the challenges and excitement which accompany this season of life. Funny, how so many of us reflect upon this season most fondly as we grow older. Based on experience, please enjoy, but be careful as risks are often taken without any thought of danger…I am a living example!

Autumn comes next as these are the middle-aged years of one’s life. I now have two grandchildren which “knock my socks off” when I get to spend time with them. This is a joy-filled, and a reflective season, and is usually accompanied by many memories of raising our children. I believe it to be my most favored season …especially because I relate to nature so closely and the change of this season is so dramatic.

Winter follows and we experience the cleansing of new fallen snow and arctic blasts of air which cleanse the mind and spirit. It is also when we realize that this is the last season and we best make the most of it. Family and friends are most important during this time. Far too often we succumb to physical and mental illnesses which cause alarm among all who care. However, we were never promised an eternal life while enveloped in these bodies of flesh and bones.

This photograph was taken a few days ago and reflects nature’s changing personality during the season from Summer to Fall. I captured this image with my cell phone camera and admit it is nothing spectacular. Yet, I like it because it reveals an authentic representation of our reality, and of our seasons. So, whatever season of life you find yourself in, I encourage you to stop and enjoy it. As is so often stated, “Time flies”. There are no do-overs in life, only restarts!

CLOVE

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For a some reason that alludes me, I chose to post this marigold again. It was one of several photographs that I included in a post a few blogs ago. However, this time is a bit different as it stands alone. Before, it was one image among several others.

There is something captivating about it. This is not about me…I did not create this beauty, God did. Yet, I feel honored to have been a part of it’s development…to capture it’s image.

I call it Lava because that is what the colors and intensity reminds me of. Do you ever see or hear or smell something from yesteryear that suddenly becomes present in something else? It is a fascinating journey of the senses. As much as we marvel at the things we see, and often hear and read; it is the fragrance of something that really jolts me into remembrance of things gone by.

I can’t really explain it, but maybe it is because we rely so much on our eyesight, words and sounds that odors take a back seat. However, I bet if we were to consult a deaf and blind person, the sense of smell would become paramount. That dynamic happens to me occasionally when I catch a whiff of something that transforms me back to that time and place. Case in point; I gave platelets and red blood cells yesterday and one of the techs stopped by to check on me. She had a fragrance which smelled of cloves. I asked her about it and said it was some sort of Essential Oil product. I told her it reminded me of cloves, and in particular clove chewing gum which was available when I was a child. She thought that strange and I guess she is right, although it was somewhat of a novelty at the time. I don’t think it is available anymore.

Anyway, for a moment I was transformed to my childhood when, on occasion, my dad would allow me to buy a pack of clove gum. I can still taste it.

Blocking the Vestibule

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I had just exited the doctor’s office on the ground floor of the medical office building when a rather large man in a wheel chair was peddling backwards in a straight line, directly center of the bi-folding vestibule doors. I quickly caught up to him.

He never looked to the left or right as he slowly traveled. He paused in the vestibule to catch his breath. That’s when I said, “How is it you can move backwards in such a straight line without a mirror?”. “Plenty of practice”, he responded with a chuckle. That’s when I noticed he was on oxygen and had a difficult time breathing. I understand this all too well, as I grew up with asthma, as did my children. My dad died of chronic lung disease due to smoking for over forty-years. COPD.

So, I stopped and talked with this man…he black and me white…made no difference. He said he never smoked a day in his life, but lived in households all his life where smoking was constant…a second-hand-smoke victim. We chatted some more about various things, blocking the center of the vestibule as people came and went for over twenty minutes. They didn’t seem to care, nor did we.

I felt inspired to share with him a book I had just read which might encourage him. When I began to suggest this book he told me he never learned how to read. Without skipping a beat he said he followed sports to the extreme. We then talked about American football and the Kansas City Chief’s upcoming game with the New England Patriots, last years champs. He said KC will blow them away. I said I hoped so, although I knew it would be a tough game. We bumped fists and then wished each other our sincerest blessings. He continued to smile and wave as I walked toward my car.

That night the Patriots and Chief’s were almost tied at half time. The third quarter saw both teams put up a few points on the board. Then the fourth quarter came and KC blasted New England with three unanswered touchdowns and won 42 to 27.

That’s when I knew I was in the presence of a prophet, and had made a new friend !

TORN

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All week we have had Monarchs gathering nectar in preparation for their long flight to Mexico. I can’t fathom that such a small creature as a butterfly can fly up to 3,000 miles (4,800 KM) from Canada to Mexico to escape winter temperatures. From my home the distance is about half of that.

This Monarch has a torn wing…damaged goods is what some would call him; not much good for anything now that he is broken. Typically a tear such as this would keep the insect from flying, but he seems to do just fine. I hope he makes it safely. Butterflies can’t self-repair torn wings like a lizard can grow a new tail, but I read where some people actually do this for them!

I realized many years ago that all (not most) humans have some form of tear or tears. Sometimes these tears are physical and quite obvious, but for most they are hidden from others or they are revealed through words and actions at specific moments. With all of the self-help books published, it is clear that people are striving to repair their brokenness. We may have some success, but we will never completely heal without the aid of our God.

So, the next time you look in a mirror, stop long enough to acknowledge your torn body or ego or mind…maybe even a crushed spirit. Upon doing so resolve to accept what can’t be changed and seek help with what can. I’ve looked into a mirror enough times to know that I need assistance quite regularly. I also know that I, and you, are wonderfully made creatures in God’s image. So, be hopeful and joyful. And, please look above for the ultimate healing.