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To Survive Joyfully

The Bit I Know…and GREAT LENT

“Great Lent is intended to be a’workshop ‘ where the character of the believer is spiritually uplifted and strengthened; where his life is rededicated to the principles and ideals of the Gospel; where fasting and prayer culminate in deep conviction of life; where apathy and disinterest turn into vigorous activities of faith and good works. ”  __WIKIPEDIA

Even though my father was an Orthodox priest, life distanced me from the life I lived before leaving home.  The tapestry is intricately woven with stories created by choices.  We can all take responsibility for some, maybe most.  The colorful and the shadowed defining moments of our lives,  stand to deliver outcomes we revisit.  In the ancient Orthodox Church, the believers aim to obey the Sacraments, and it is daunting to explain without appearing to be on a mission to convert people to the first Christian Church.

My intent is to invite you to meet my understanding about the misunderstandings of Christianity even among Christians.  Since I am not a theologian, please excuse my seemingly shallow though heartfelt observation.  It all begins with the realization that all humans are flawed.  We love one another despite our hurtful ways that cause the chaos we certainly witness in our present society.  Despite the phenomenal technological and scientific progress, humanity is in the process of revisiting the history being denied to be taught as it truly happened even at the fall of the Roman Empire.  Humans have souls in progress and yet due to unknown forces, be they evil or good, we join together in disagreements as well as in agreements with others.  We surrender to survive.  Our minds hold the tools for our survival, and our hearts align with whatever we consciously and unconsciously choose to believe.  The concessions we make along the way through the years have all to do with our upbringing.  Therefore, parents and guardians bare a huge responsibility. Keep Reading

The Mystery in CONUNDRUM

We are perpetually expressing ourselves to form a relationship between ourselves and someone else, or the world at large.  The mystery of the CONUNDRUM may sound like the march of soldiers yet it is merely the pull and push of words to specifically address the difference in similarities.  Okay, I’ll try again.  According to my old, dearly beloved Webster’s Dictionary, one needs to consider the difference between a JEWELER and a JAILER.  It is truly a riddle of sorts and oh,  how I wish educators would focus on the finer, extraordinary nuances in learning to operate more kindly in life.  Well, as it turns out, everyone already knows the difference between the jeweler and the jailer.  One sells watches while the other watches the cells.  Webster says conundrum is “a riddle whose answer contains a pun”. Why would anyone waste their time playing video games that harm the brain instead of creating ones that would magnify learning ?  Take the challenge.  Imagine creating games that teach something constructive.

I totally recommend pushing and pulling the “be star-shine daily” routine.  It may actually lead to a more fruitful destiny.  How about taking the reins of the inevitable to actually widen our prospective in life and thinking ?  It seems too many have lost control and are being ridden to ride society into an unrecognizable blurt of nothingness.

Good grief I saw the prettiest young lady on Tucker Carlson last night seriously discussing the need to take the word MAN out of the English language.  It portrays another attack on vocabulary.  What an ugly proposition to make as an equally insignificant priority in most lives, and perhaps particularly harmful to our biological differences by design.  I like men and I love the word “man”.  I have heard how mailman is offensive and mail lady is not a good enough distinction so as to change it all and forever to mail carrier.  That is just absurd. Keep Reading

OUR WORDS

Our Words…

They are indeed good

For they feed us

Mentally…

Emotionally… Spiritually…

They make all the difference…

In how we perceive…

How we relate…

They express us…

I can’t get enough of the words that

Heal… Inspire… Engage…

Inspire…

Engage…Heal…

I recognize the difference they make.

I search for words that cleanse

My mind, my heart, my soul, and yours…

Words attract or dispel.

They connect and disconnect…us…

Hurtful phrases flung leave a mark.

Loving ones do too.

I know the marks.

I wish to give you only

The ones that spark a joy

In you, and yours…

Words bear their ware.

We freely gather, compare, and share.

We are the carriers of the serving trays…

The celebrants arrive to a feast that beckons response.

Will you respond ?  I too must choose the ones

with you in mind,from my heart,

in God’s Holy Spirit, always first, and

name them our words.

 

(The photographed labyrinth was constructed by a father and son just passed Lahaina on Maui…

It is designed to be walked on serenely as an exercise of becoming centered in prayer.)

Sometimes poems …emerge…  Have you written poems ?  Please let me read your comment…Thank you…

THE MYSTERIOUS COINCIDENCE

How many significant coincidences can you recall in your life ?  I wish we could pull up a chair at my round table and have some tea to reminisce and maybe get goose bumps.

I have told this story repeatedly.  It’s old.  For those who don’t know me, it will still carry the point.  For those who have heard it, skip it unless you like the detours.  In fact, as I begin to tell it , I know I should write a blog about the essentials in moving because I did so far too many times.  Maybe you wouldn’t want to hear it.  I say to pack a suitcase with books, and one with seven days change of clothes.  I wish I had done just that.  One can be an established minimalist by realizing the freedom of not spending precious time packing and unpacking and making things fit where they don’t, won’t, and shouldn’t.

Let me just say that BEFORE the ninth move, the address number was 1198.  My heart goes there because I actually painted twelve gates in a glorious garden surrounding a pool.  Each entrance then with a panel had two sides.  I felt inspired to paint zany designs coupled with cherished quotes.  Oh, I wished to write a book and could never muster the time t concentrate, to be organized, to fully cross the t’s and dot the i’s…

Coco Chanel muttered one sweet day, “Gentleness doesn’t get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.”  We actually had three on the path behind this gate…  Though we now have seven hens and one rooster, I’m not certain a hen lays two eggs.  Cocoa Chanel of course must have regarded the value of elbow grease in getting things done…  She had a point.  Moving requires the strength of an ox.  No wonder my mother once said I reminded her of a horse.  She thought she was being complimentary.  I didn’t get it then.  I do now,

I decided both sides of the panel to the gates would be a chapter and thus began my solace in life to finally pursue the unfulfilled dream.  Make plans gingerly in life because the scales may tip delicately off balance.  That is the kindest way I can say our bed and breakfast was shut down along with five hundred others overnight eight years ago.  No matter the details except to avert to the fact that the least predictable twist of fate made the last move feel like an eviction. Keep Reading

WELCOME TO LIFE AN OPEN HEART

Take a moment to consider the day you were born.  Your business was to breathe and to continue to teach as you learned.  We were all there from the start yet our circumstances clearly different, unique as our fingerprints.

There is evidence that we learn and teach from the moment of conception.  Growth amasses change; Keep Reading

AS DUSK SHADES APPEAR

As Dusk Shades Appear Revisited in 2018

The longest I lived anywhere in sixty-eight years was in Maui, Hawaii, for over two decades.  I still call it home.  At the end of 2013, I wrote  a few paragraphs entitled “As Dusk Shades Appear”.  In retrospect, the following verse from the Bible expresses the experience best:
“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand…how long, how wide, how deep, and how high His love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it.”  __Ephesians 3:17-19

In 2013, I wrote a few paragraphs entitled “As Dusk Shades Appear”:It is the beginning of the evening. Some cooing and chirps call for feathered tweeters to settle on branches and are slowly more sparsely heard from afar; nearby, some flutters ruffle the monkey pod tree leaves good night.  The palms barely sway to wave the breeze gone by.Upcountry the island is quiet and tonight I feel the ache of an imminent goodbye. Gazing down the mountain, I whisper: farewell Aloha State.

‘Ke Akua Hoomaikai Oe’…  God bless you.  A hui ho…  see you later.

In 1992, we were the “haoles, ” a name given to the whites.  Ironically, it was actually a name meant to describe the whites that had landed on the islands for their actions, for being in a hurry.  Certainly after twenty years, the lull of the sway in every task is second nature.  Let me wave  the “shaka” sign meant to say “hang loose” though the mere thought tightens my throat to a noose.  Let me hum instead a melody of  I promise you “Love and Honesty,” and as I say good bye, let me meet with friends and let us sing again “Let’s Talk Story.”….  To even think of saying “A hui ho”  hurts because see you later may be much, much later than tomorrow.  From “mauka” the mountain side to “kai” the ocean side, love is a present present.

 In grateful step with the lace capped waves, the keepsake of memories will linger like the senses awakened in the salt perfumed air.  With a feast of its daily blue, Makena beach buffs  a turquoise buffet of colors majestically present as a God given portrait…  Now that I have become one in the allure of the shore, how can I be elsewhere forever more?  Listen to the colors of each word.  I cannot step away anymore than cousin Nick at that hour in that day for a stroll that here it stays.

The island overflows with love. However, its devilishness slithers because it is after all a place on earth inhabited by us, humans. To weigh the good against the bad upon God’s scale, no doubt lifts us as “better than bad” because to live Aloha is more than a greeting. As I said, Aloha becomes us.

To have missed a day of Maui’s splendor is by choice.  No matter what troubles fall upon us, God cuddles us with intricately designed flowers, fruits and herbs.  Even the weeds appear too pretty to pluck from the rich soil.  When the sun glimmers on these, unnamed hues appear, and heaven is nearer than I thought, I think.

Here days and months feel like reflective moments in time when we come to know much of what we wished to have known from birth.

It seems obvious that living here is a blessing bestowed by our Almighty. Whether born here or not, being a part of this community invites cooperation, and we do like sticky rice in a bowl.  Friends,family, and acquaintances are always excited to meet in a store.  The reunion is cause for chit chat with laughter.  I regard the meetings heart handshakes.  I pray all lessons learned can appease us and others.

The ginger in pink emerges from its foliage vase on so many walks…and life unfolds as barefooted we go like kids in school with no hallways, just the outdoors.

How will I say farewell greenery splashed with peach, pink, purple, yellow, red, white, and blue blooms?  They are the pearls of leis and I have known their  sweet, subtle aroma like from a warm cup of milk and honey.

Like the Mariner “In the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” I will be telling “guests” someday how in Hawaii lives a favored paradise on earth where people like us, imperfect humans, strive like all others all over the world, to survive.

This is the harbor where immigrants from Asia speak English.  How can I forget the groups of elderly men sitting around a square table with a pile of pennies at each corner, head down, and playing a game of cards like children in the playground with marbles?  How about the milk caps?  All of them nodding with or without hats and in unison accents enjoying the game, so grateful to be having some fun together next to Ah Fooks Grocery Store, in the Kahului Mall.  There is no question these Hawaiians add an ounce of familiar joy in our lives.

This is where some have come to live while others simply to die, to be that much closer to the splendor here ever after.

Like Samuel Coleridge’s mariner, as I feel we may be leaving, I pray to remember to tell about the shape of a woman’s profile island of Maui.  I pray she be kept serene, be safe from thievery, corruption, and misguided beliefs.  May its people wake each morning grateful for its pristine land, the “aina.”   May Haleakala, the House of the Sun, oldest dormant volcano on earth, continue to magically pour its light of pearly gold.  May the water here and there and all around be clear and bright and like a hedge of armor placed by our Lord, protect the locals and the visitors.

May the graceful hula play a part in every dream as a means to arrive in style, in step, in accordance to God’s will.

As dusk shades appear to blanket the parade of foliage and flowers in our garden, I pray the stars that light the sky so brightly tonight, remain in my heart as the light of God I saw in the people of Maui.  Mahalo means Thank you…

Aloha is the sound of the breadth of Love, of saying Welcome, greeting Hello, and finally Farewell…

Maui No Ka Oi…Maui, we are the best…”

Those reflections seem as fresh as yesterday’s laid eggs.

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One’s Unique Star-Shine

 “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

__Joy J. Golliver

 

The first memory of viewing the moon in the sky surrounded by millions of stars appears on the stage of every starlit night.  The recognition wakes the familiar.  Similarly, to lie on a trampoline wrapped in a blanket staring up at night calls for a whisper. I remember such a night with my dear friend Rae Whitney, a writer of hymns.  We watched for falling stars…  They were meteorites…  No words can capture the whole of the Nebraska midnight blue.  The embrace felt in grace led me to thank God again, and again, and again.
Years earlier, on a starless night alone at my desk with the intention of writing the graduation speech I was asked to give for the Senior Class of Maplewood High School in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, I turned to God to ask for help.  With pen in hand, I wrote : “The sky can never have too many stars; there is room for everyone to shine, including you.”  
No one could have known the enthusiasm these words stirred in me.  Was it a coincidence?  What do I mean?
 The irony is few would have known how the phrase that came through me for others, in turn would help me.  I asked God on their behalf for inspiration, and the answer came as in a love letter for everyone to own.  No one’s light is diminished by the light of another.  With humility or with pride or with simple certainty, the beam of each soul shines.  I pray we can be encouragers as opposed to discouragers for others to trust in their abilities, their skills, their visions, and their talents…  I ended the speech by spilling the quirkiest line… “Shine each moment to a shine, you can do it Class of 1979!”
 One of the greatest honors in my life was to be a High School English teacher.  The classroom electrified me as I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the students to love learning the material covered.  To this day I think about Munchkins who read, discussed, wrote, memorized, gave speeches, and participated in all the lessons presented.  Nothing was perfect yet I respected their presence to listen and learn.  I hope to have been the encourager they may have needed at some point in their lives.  Even after numerous moves, I keep a decoupaged plaque with a poem written to me by Michael Woods, a student.  It’s entitled “The Happy Maker”.
 My parents were the models of my prayer life. They sought answers through prayers and I attended churches and synagogues where others did the same, so I naturally engaged in conversations of pleas with God the Father.  My Dad was an Orthodox priest and he told me Jesus was the greatest Jew that ever lived.  I was terrified by the stories of the Holocaust survivors.  I cannot understand the madness of 9/11 because I know God and His Son Jesus Christ could not have willed the tragic, untimely loss of lives.  If anyone lacks faith despite all they have seen, they must not understand Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote:  “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”  Heaven will welcome those who seek the light of the Lord.  I say we can seek to merge with His light.  It is not easy being human; we are imperfect.  We all fall short of the grace of God.  Yet, we are blessed to “arrive” at the moment when we “will” to live by God’s Ten Commandments.

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At the Heart of It All

Of One Heart…

Simply struck by the chord where the heart is purest, I snapped a photo to capture the awesomeness of hope and love.
Sealed moments of love’s expression are ingrained in our minds.  They invite us to want more, for ourselves, our loved ones, and ultimately for the world.
The fairy tale lives in our hearts as it does at the heart of God’s creation, and regardless of the ease with which we enter and stay in a relationship, the dance takes work and practice.
Between Princess Kate and Prince William, I see a heart, and within it, ours.
Love stories never really end as relationships sometimes do.  Why?
Once love is felt, love continues to live, not even just as a memory that engraves our hearts, but in the very spirit that embraces its own reality.

The spirit of love lives forever.
The soul encases a beam of God’s Holy Spirit as an ever source of pure love.  While a representative of our very own being, the soul carries the legacy we provide back to our Maker.  The soul within us is the life and light of God; it’s as if we borrow the possibility to live on earth as it is in heaven, and though all our conditions are unique, our free will is given to us with a purpose to fulfill our best possible gift to the world.  In the journey of life, we search to discover our ultimate good.  We are then at peace.  I believe we are free to choose but the lessons we learn cannot be avoided.  We teach what we model.

At the heart of it all, I wish to give you the following for consideration.

I encourage you to exercise true silence.  To make time to be focused on the moment silently.
Journal your mind’s observations…  Write to preserve whatever surfaces in your mind in silence.
Write your heart’s mirrored emotions in phrases, sentences, or one word at a time.
We know far more than we realize.  Our subconscious gathers a fountain of observations.  Our subconscious nudges us to recognize the obvious.

If we can practice being alert to our breadth, we can feel relieved, and slowly let go of what keeps us from grasping better, wiser opportunities.  Therefore, step into the parlor of your thoughts and see what you know to be true, to be just, and to be honorable.

At the heart of it all, I wish to give you more tips.

Resolving conflicts begins with a splash of silence.  Take the moment to write it all down.
Search for observations and call them known facts, write them on paper.  Read them. Tuck them as the treasures of your thoughts.
Scoop, and dust all emotions on a page and call them feelings.  Call them honestly and embrace the obvious taking deep breadths.

Embrace yourself, close your eyes, and ask for pointers as you breathe in and out.

At the heart of all is a reason.
At the heart of all is an emotion.
At the heart of all, our Holy Spirit never leaves us.

 

A Glimpse at  Lady Diana…

On April 29, 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, at the balcony with onlookers below, glanced heavenward.
I am so happy to have captured the moment as I stayed awake all night to view the ceremony, and embraced a book entitled, DIANA.
I share this with love for all that is good and pure at the heart of all in life.

 

The photographs were taken during the live broadcast in my home.

Hospitalitea

The essence of preparing for a tea is a celebration of sorts.  The secret is unraveled by the setting intended to release an instant “Ah hah!”  Taking time for tea is a pleasure acquired by choice because its formality beckons attention.  All truth be told, tea time indulges in harmony due to sincere conversation.  Therefore, it is no wonder a lot of understanding is steeped over tea.  For anyone unfamiliar with the experience, an invitation accepted may be a way to a lifelong friendship.

Two proper tea cups will do, four or more invite added conversation.  The outpour of black tea such as Earl Grey or Lipton green tea from a china tea pot, serves sensible sips to be savored.  All subjects really matter to the hearts that choose to come together.  Ladies and gentlemen of all ages from five to one hundred and five may gather to share a designed moment over tea.  That means it is planned in advance with joyful anticipation.  These are the moments we later recall privately.  That is the point of joining with others for the ceremony of tea.
And, when we take sitting down seriously to partake in tea, I like to quote Charles Dickens : “To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature.  I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”  This is precisely how I feel about tea time with friends or family.  In general, we converse of happy things to lift all hearts.
  Heavy burdens too can be released by sipping tea with tears.   It is indiscreet to be offended by a friend’s discreet confession of a sorrow.  The mere gift of time to chat over tea gives way to a comfort not forgotten.  It is more than something to do.  It is something to think about when it is happening.  The focus is on having created a space in time for remembrances.
Tea time is an exercise I wish I had started with my four sons at an early age, back when I could have fluttered their magic imaginations with smiles and kisses.  I simply did not consider it for boys.
Fortunately, however, soon after we moved to Maui in 1992, God granted our two “kiddles in the middle” a friend whose Mom, Mrs. Thomas, sweetly scheduled time for tea in the mid of their play, mid afternoon.  Well, not the kind in tea rooms, but nonetheless a break from the trampoline romp for a revitalization of spirits with water and treats.  She called it “tea time”.  One of their happiest childhood memories will always be treasured in the company of a friend whose Mom called them in for tea.  This is a priceless gift for you to share with others as well.  A mug will do with sweet tea too.
 Hospitality offers a labor of love for anyone arriving for a visit.  I can assure you hearts open like the floodgates of heaven in the cozy of trust.  The blessing of my friendships have been in circles of many who gathered to take tea.  Above is the photograph of my dearest friend Jeannette testing the pouring of tea unto a proper tea cup.  The stories poured.  Cream added.  A sugar cube, or nude (as a Russian lady surprisingly said once), or a double dab of honey, reflected personal preferences in taste and that without judgment.   I served homemade scones and mini sandwiches… Each prepared with love.  This was, and still is, my ultimate gift for friends and family.  I noticed eyes of all ages dance from cup to cup, and lips lick savory tea treats.  I witnessed words appear as if freshly written on wet sand.  The company of two, four or more was and still is an inspiration for “hospitali-tea”.

 

 

Doesn’t awareness have a whisper of divinity?  It’s as free as the air we breathe…  Life can be a celebration while taking tea.
I chime with Chaim Potok who so tenderly said,”Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things”…

Angel Paw Prints

Consideration of pet ownership is much like the commitment made in a marriage.  No kidding.  The responsibility of caring for the needs of the animal is after all a lifelong step towards a healthy relationship.  The fulfillment of needs is important.  Tucked in the hearts of the friendship between the pet owner and the cat or dog, are angelic qualities.  Isn’t it love?  Isn’t is compassion?  Isn’t it kindness?  Read on to recognize the star shine owner’s manual.

One’s illustrious daily service is paid back in full by a tender canine or feline soul.  Both have demonstrated tremendous deeds beneficiary to humans equally young and old.  See star shine to this path?  I do.

The price of ownership is in the mix to feed, to water, to train, to vaccinate, to groom, to walk, to keep comfortable, to pamper, and to love as many years ‘till death do they part.  The pet most often provides free fur for all. The pet provides an ever-present affection when brushed regularly coupled with licks and/or purrs.  The “To Do” list is ironically twofold.  Not long ago, a post appeared of cats wearing cone hats made out of their own fur.  The creative master mastered making lemonade out of lemons.  The chase of fur on every surface has made poodles and other like genetically distinct breeds of dogs, popular and expensive.  Cats too must have distinguishing fuzz features to go with varied lengths of tails.  Just sayin’.

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