The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Iris Rising

Something about Spring awakens the deep senses within us. Beauty sprouts from a long Winter’s rest and the soul becomes renewed.

I think of Charles Dickens 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, and recall his famous opening paragraph wherein he states, ” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…”.

It seems to me that we are living in a somewhat similar time as Dickens’ described  London and Paris during the French Revolution. Rather than referring to cities and war, I suggest this pandemic has changed people everywhere. From immense generosity and sacrifice to political pandering and greed, all is exposed.

My hope is that we may see more generosity, sacrifice and kindness each and every day, and become such people ourselves.

Time to Wake Up

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Wake up ! Not just to sunrises, but to the injustices and corruption taking place in DC and other governments. To the violence and poverty in Chile, Haiti, Brazil and beyond. To the ravages of war all across the globe. The abuse of the elderly, the weak and the little ones. Global warming (regardless of the causes). The loss of human rights in many countries and cities. Greed which knows no boundaries. Poverty.

Also, wake up to the many wonderful people and acts of kindness and generosity taking place throughout the world. People ignoring old prejudices and bringing about harmony. Pulling someone out from the gutter. Speaking up for shared and well-grounded values. Loving one another regardless of differences. Honoring God. Putting others before self.

We must be aware of what is going on around us and become agents for change. We can all make a positive difference. Watch another sunshine and wake up to another day full of opportunities. Certainly challenges await, but as Winston Churchill stated, “Never, ever give up”. Defeat is not inevitable. Victories in so many areas will and are being won.

Bless as you have been blessed. I certainly have been. I seek forgiveness for not doing more, but I still have more life to live to make amends. Pressing on.

Leader of the Band

In America we celebrate things such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and many more. This Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day. It is a time of family gatherings, visiting parents and grandparents or simply doing something nice for dad.

I have thought quite a bit about this year’s Father’s Day, probably due to the fact that Cheryl lost her father in January, and a brother (who is a dad) last year. I lost my Father thirty-three years ago, yet I still miss him. Also, friends of ours just lost their dad to cancer. So, it really doesn’t surprise me that this particular Father’s Day has impacted me. I was going to write a tribute to fathers, but recalled a song which has always resonated with me. I hope it does for you, as well. The lyrics are below, but I also encourage you to listen to this song via YouTube or other audio/visual website; it is soothing and thought provoking.

The singer/songwriter is Dan Fogelberg. He wrote and recorded this song in 1981 as a tribute to his father who died the following year. I dedicate this song to all good fathers- alive, fallen or off to war. And for the many souls who have never known a father or who may have had one who was mean-spirited or only there in form, uninvolved. Bless you, and may you find someone who will be a father to you. And most importantly, we have a loving Father above. Look to Him.

Leader of the Band

An only child, alone and wild, a cabinet maker’s son, his hands were meant for different work and his heart was known to none. He left his home and went his lone and solitary way, and he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay.

A quite man of music, denied a simpler fate, he tried to be a soldier once but his music wouldn’t wait. He earned his love through discipline, a thund’ring, velvet hand. His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

My brother’s lives were different, for they heard another call. One went to Chicago and the other to Saint Paul. And I’m in Colorado, when not in some hotel, living out this life I’ve chosen, come to know so well.

I thank you for the music and your stories of the road. I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go. I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough. And, papa, I don’t think I said “I love you” near enough.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band…I am the living legacy to the leader of the band.


Floral Artistry

7-8-14 002I am of the opinion that nature produces the most breathtaking artistry known to man. And, flowers are near the top of the list when it comes to sheer variety and beauty. I am also of the opinion that I am most fortunate to enjoy every facet of God’s creation. Not everyone is so lucky.

If I couldn’t see this yellow flower, then perhaps I could touch it. But if I couldn’t feel it, then maybe I could smell its fragrance. If I couldn’t detect it by smell, then someone would have to describe it to me. Should I know only silence then I would be in a real pickle. I can think of one solution to this dilemma; a kind person would have to pick this flower from the base of its stem and gently brush the bloom across my face. Once I know it exists in softness and glorious fragility, the kind individual would put it in a vase for others to experience. Just because I couldn’t fully comprehend or enjoy the presence of a fresh flower doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. So, go ahead, inhale, feel the unopened blooms, touch the stamen, admire the form and color of this blossom and be so bold as to taste a droplet of water clinging to the chiffon petals..

Then, plant a seed or bulb for the next sojourner to enjoy. Natural beauty is too precious not to share and celebrate. And, should you come across another who is limited by physical or mental disabilities, be creative and share a portion of the art that surrounds (or is in) all of us, especially the art of a kind and compassionate soul.

It’s Never Too Late For Lilacs

??????????When I was a child, my mother shared a tradition with my two sisters and me which continues to serve-up fond memories at this time of year. Mom was from the country formerly called Yugoslavia.

Every May Day (May 1st) was a day of celebrating the end of a long winter, the promise of a fruitful summer, and a pinch of kindness. The act of kindness which our mother taught us involved flowers and anonymity! The flowers were usually lilacs because our home was blessed with a row of bountiful lilac bushes. These bushes often produced bumper crops of the largest, most colorful, and fragrant lilac blossoms I have ever seen. Simply to view them from afar and catch a whiff of their scent was pure joy.

Rather than call our sharing of these wonderful blossoms a random act of kindness, it was actually a deliberate act of kindness. Randomness has no place in my way of relating to kindness…either you are kind and perform acts of kindness on purpose or you don’t. Simple, but that’s how I see it.

This particular act of kindness went something like this; we made construction paper baskets with paper handles. The colored construction paper was decorated with warm messages and the best child drawings we could create. Mom would encourage us, but left the designs to us. The ‘baskets’ were shaped into a curve to hold the flowers. We would select the biggest and most colorful blossoms, clip them from the bushes and fill our baskets to the brim. Sometimes we would make three or four baskets each.

Next, we would give serious consideration as to whom would receive our treasures. This took some effort as we graded our neighbors based on their kindness, perceived need, whether they received a basket the previous year, and so on. Again, mom would offer her input, but left the final decisions to us.

Then came the exciting part. We would stealthily walk the neighborhood, hiding behind cars, trees and bushes until it was time to strike. I shudder to think what would happen to us if we did such a thing in today’s culture of fear. Back then we were free. When we thought the ‘coast was clear’ we would run to the front door, hang the basket on the door knob, ring the bell and scurry to hide…and wait…and watch.

The anticipation of waiting for the door to open was exciting. As the lady of the house opened the door she would look around for someone. Upon seeing no person, she would notice the basket of fresh blossoms, take them from the door, glance around once more and then retreat inside. The smiles on the recipient’s faces was worth every ounce of energy and time spent on creating these gifts.

The simple joy of blessing someone anonymously still warms my heart and brings a smile to my face, too. Mom knew something wonderful and chose to share it with her children: giving is far greater than receiving. And, for that eternal truth, I and my sisters are forever grateful. Thanks mom for teaching us how to give without expecting something in return, except for the satisfaction of ‘making someone’s day’ !

P.S. I posted a photo of Tulips because Lilacs haven’t bloomed yet. It’s not what is given that really matters as much as why and how the gift is offered.