Tag Archive: Buddhism


Heirs of Our Actions

What distinguishes humans from other species is our inherent ability to examine our character, to decide how to view ourselves and our situations, and to control our effectiveness. To be effective one must be proactive. Reactive people take a passive stance — they believe that the world is happening to them. “That’s just the way I am.”

Yet sometimes, fate intercedes.

The ‘average joe‘ calls it ‘Karma.’

Thirty years ago, I visited a major shopping mall in Schaumburg, Illinois a few days past Thanksgiving. Being just at the start of the Christmas season, the mall was crowded, and I parked quite a distance from the store.

Walking down a parking row toward the store I came upon an older woman in Cadillac waiting patiently for an owner to enter her vehicle back up and leave. With blinker on, she just started rolling forward when a younger driver in a Honda CRX skidded into the parking space.

Flummoxed, the elderly lady rolled down the window, “Young man. Didn’t you see I was waiting for that spot?”

With a sneering laugh and the flick of his wrist, he waved, “Well, that’s what it’s like to be young and quick.”

He turned and continued walking. Fifteen seconds later, there was such a loud crash that nearby shoppers stopped in their tracks and looked. The young man turned, mouth agape and noticed his Honda CRX was completely smashed.

Running to the Cadillac, he screamed, “What did you do?”

The woman calmly rolled down her window. “Young man,” she lectured with a twist of her finger. “That’s what you do when you’re old and rich.”

For a Buddhist, Karma is the law of moral causation and is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today.

The Buddha once explained:

All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.”

In our world, proactive people recognize they can choose how to respond to a given stimulus or situation.

Hence, the significance of the Buddha’s statement is that “We are the heirs of our actions.”

I close with the following story.

When a bug crawled across his desk, an adult education teacher gave an impromptu lesson in safety. The teacher had an unusual paperweight: a 40-mm shell he found when hunting. Using opaque reasoning, he assumed the ordinance had to be ‘inert.’

As the bug crawled across his desk, one would presume the teacher would use a flyswatter. Nope. Instead, he lifted his ‘inert’ artillery shell and slammed it onto the insect. 

The impact set-off the primer.

The resulting explosion caused burns and shrapnel lacerations on his hand, forearm, and torso. Fortunately, no one else was hurt. To the teacher’s consolation, the bug was killed.

So, was that an act of God, fate or karma?

How about inheritance?

Laughter is Essential

By Friday afternoon, most employees were simply exhausted. A week of constant interruptions and emergency meetings for this crisis or that crisis occurred regularly. I liken these moments to ‘interventions’ hoping to salvage what’s left anything good.

A coworker handed me a resume of a potential applicant he thought would fit.

Hey.” He called, handing me a resume. “HR thought this person might be a good fit.

I glanced quickly and winked, “Nah.

Huh? Why not?

Well, when an employment application asks who is to be notified in case of emergency, in this operation, they need to write, ‘A very good doctor.’

I seriously didn’t deny the applicant. I merely requested the application and resume be placed on my desk for review.

Krista Tippett noted humor lifts us, but underscores what’s already great; our connection with others. And like everything meaningful, it’s complex and nuanced — it can be fortifying or damaging, depending on how we wield it. But as a tool for survival, humor is elemental. Much like the Buddha, laughter is a powerful medium for communicating the unsettling truths in life.

For instance, when I was six years old and my brother was seven, we were in the backyard of our Schaumburg, IL home playing war. My brother was in the third branch of a Weeping Willow Tree, with all his G.I. Joe soldiers and weaponry. On the ground was my band of mercenaries, align and prepared for an elongated siege.

Without warning, I ran to the garage and emerged momentarily with a lighted M-80 Cherry Bomb and badminton racquet. With the flick of the racquet, the M-80 soared high into the bright blue sky. A second or two later, “KABOOM!” And simultaneous with the sound, a puff of leaves, half the Weeping Willow Tree, including my brother and army tumbled down.

Sipping ice tea from a porch chair, my father squinted. In momentary disbelief, he glared.

What happened to the Willow Tree?” he pointed.

In usual kid refrain, “I don’t know.

Sternly, he looked at my brother and I, “WHAT happened to the Willow Tree?”

Well,” I said, “We trimmed it for you.

I don’t believe my father ever learned I launched and detonated an M-80 into his Willow Tree. But as a professional manager, I cannot tell you how many times laughter has connected me with all different kinds of people throughout the country, of all kinds of political persuasions. And I honestly think that out of laughter, comes love.

And as a manager, friend, and son I found that no matter how happy people are with the success of getting a great job, we get consumed by the competition, the workload, the hassles, stresses, complaints. Yet, if I can laugh with you and we can see a commonality in humor, I can see you, and I can respect you, and I can love you.

During a recent one-on-one session with an employee, I commented that society needs to laugh more.

How will we accomplish that?” he asked.

Drink tea. It nourishes life.”

Huh?”

Through every sip.”

A wave of confusion circled him.

With the first sip… joy. With the second… satisfaction. With the third, peace. With the fourth, a Boston Eclair.

He smiled approvingly.

Laughter is essential.

Several days ago, a friend asked a favor and requested if I could take her to the airport on the way to work.  “Of course,” I replied. I agreed to pick her up at 7:30 AM. At 7:40 AM this morning, she stumbled out of her condominium. I carefully placed her luggage into the back of my vehicle and off we went.

I checked TSA wait times just before picking you up,” while navigating my car through a series of curves before entering the main thoroughfare. “The current wait is 11 – 21 minutes. I don’t believe you’ll have a problem today, but you should be cognizant of wait times on your return.”

Why?

Well,” I explained. “Due to the shutdown, if TSA agents aren’t paid this week, many may call in sick or become unavailable. An absence of TSA Agents could delay your processing time through TSA lines.”

Exasperated, she muttered “I don’t get these TSA Agents. They’ll all get paid. When the shutdown ends, they’ll get paid.

Yeah,” I momentarily fumbled. “But the agents need to pay landlords, car payments, medical bills and other items today. So, at the moment, they are not getting paid and have to make ends meet.”

“No,” she countered. “TSA Agents are not working for free. When the shutdown ends, they’ll get paid. If that can’t handle that, then they need to find another job.”

Driving 65 miles per hour, I sat stunned. Coming from a Christian educator, her response was dismissive, as if to say, “Tough toenails, toots.”

I guess Trump would be proud.

For many of us in the world, it doesn’t matter what position you have, going without two paychecks, especially families with children, food, rent and other necessities becomes critical. These are people who never imagined that they’d have to stand in line for food. Imagine what that’s like — for someone in uniform to come through a food pantry door … and say, “My children are hungry.”

Like my friend, many US Legislators are clueless. US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross expressed confusion at reports that many unpaid federal were having such a tough financial time during the government shutdown, suggesting instead that those people could take out loans to survive the partial government closure. Likewise, Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife, had a different message for the more than 800,000 federal workers going without pay, it’s “a little bit of pain” but your children will thank you later.

In other words: suck it up. Uh, yeah sure.

Is this the price these workers have to pay … for an idiot president who won’t give in for fear of looking foolish?

In my heart of hearts this morning, I personally wished my friend would lose her job. Then, I could say, “Find another job.” Or, maybe the TSA would strike and she would have to rent a car and drive back. I said neither. Instead, I quietly dropped her off and drove to work.

So, here’s what I did.

I read of one impacted government worker today – Alecia Lane. Ms. Lane’s story is as follows.

“I am single mom with 2 boys (ages 12 and 8). We have been impacted by the government shutdown, I thought I was prepared but I wasn’t prepared for it last this long especially so soon after Christmas.  It has taken me days to ask for help through GoFundMe.  I haven’t struggled like this since I was growing up.  My kids don’t know the kind of life I had cause I never wanted them to grow up the way I did.  I’ve never wanted to tell my kids we can’t do this or eat this because I don’t have the money.  This shutdown became really real when we missed my first paycheck and we are about to miss the next one.  I am retired Navy and blessed to at least get a retirement check, but I still have bills to cover.”

I donated (click on picture).

Ms. Lane’s story is not unique. A quick search of the term “Government Shutdown” in GoFundme revealed 3,978 results. From here on, until the shutdown ends, I will donate to a needy family or organization.

As a Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, or whatever, donating to those in need is the right. It’s just. Donate anything. Any amount will help.

Selfishly, totally un-Buddhist like, donating is my way of saying ‘F*** You’ to the “Tough Toenails, Toots” naysayers.

covingtonOn January 18, 2019, Covington Catholic High School faced heavy backlash after a group of predominantly white students was filmed harassing and insulting Native Americans participating in an Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington, D.C. The students were visiting to participate in the simultaneous anti-abortion March for Life, which attracts many Catholic groups. Many of the students wore “Make America Great Again” hats.

In one of several videos of the incident, a student wearing a Covington Catholic sweatshirt is seen smirking and blocking the path of Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran who was playing a ceremonial drum. The students reportedly chanted “build that wall“, while others stood in a circle nearby and chanted “CovCath is the best.”

There’s several ironies. First, all of this comes days before Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Second, students attending the anti-abortion March for Life seem to subversively claim, “We march for life, but we impugn the life of anyone notwhite.”

Go figure.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:

I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.

Love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. Unfortunately, love requires effort.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

“Next,” Sheila called.

The African American woman was a beauty. At five-foot 7 inches, neatly tucked hair, smooth complexion and deep black eyes gave way to a wonderous smile. I placed my phone face down on the electronic reader. “Bobink,” sound the familiar signal while simultaneously lighting green.

“Thank you sir,” Sheila replied.

For Sheila, this common interaction probably plays hundreds time a day. In the several hours prior to my flight, I watched Sheila from my gate, interacting easily, with a level few could exhibit. In wake of burning hours and no salary, she continued to perform her job.

Sheila is a TSA Agent.

I’ve never met Sheila. More than likely, I will never see her again. In prior flights, this interaction would have been greeted with a warm simile and quick hello. Truthfully, TSA agents like Sheila would remain unnoticed. Yet today, I was in the ‘moment.’ I quickly grabbed my stuff, looked her in the eye, and complimented her for all her effort, even in spite of an ongoing government shutdown share all facets of legislatures willingly play chicken.

I’m confident President Trump will never meet Shelia. I don’t believe he would care enough to go out of his way to engage her in any meaningful conversation. I presume Trump only revels in a game of win at all costs – never back down, never surrender. In Trump’s mind there’s only one path to this shutdown – it’s victory. Complete and unconditional surrender.

Objectively looking, there are two wars. The White House have drawn battle lines on many fronts: internally, with the GOP and of course with new House leadership. Each war increases the number of victims, often termed as collateral damage. People become fractured. Friends become enemies. And battle hardened leaders must address a war never imagined, one of the heart and soul of America. Trump’s war can only be won through fortitude, unity, coherent messaging via Twitter and the willingness to fight.

Shelia experiences a far different war. She’s not out for accountability. Neither does she search for blood. Her war involves keeping millions of travelers safe. Finding weapons, suspicious packages and other illegal items is a minute-by-minute battle, fought on the front lines in local airports.

However, in the midst of this shutdown, she’s required to fight hunger as coworkers fight homelessness. Maybe she’s denying herself required medication. She forgoes an electric bill payment, a school payment, or a mortgage payment. The battle is on all fronts and extremely complex.

On January 11th, on the 21st day of the shutdown, TSA agents arrived at work with the painful reality that their biweekly paycheck would not arrive. Many government employees live paycheck to paycheck. Yet TSA agents, like many other government employees are required to work. And still, Sheila can smile. She treats every passenger with respect and dignity.

I am not sure if my words made any difference to Sheila or not. But I stoped and said:

“Thank you so much for all you do. I know you’re going through a difficult time. I just want to say thank you.”

Sheila is one of many selfless employees who are the heart and soul of America. They deserve better. America deserves better.

I awoke to stifling lower back pain. A quick glance of the clock, ‘1:46 AM,’ Christmas Day.

Stumbling to the bathroom, located some Extra Strength Excedrin, swallowed three and nursed myself to a rocker overlooking the valley below. “Christmas Day!” I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the sparkling lights from the valley below.

As a kid, there were many times I sat waiting to surprise Santa. Armed with a Pentax K1000 35mm camera, surely Santa would be doomed by my conniving nature, as I would be the first in a couple hundred years to snap artwork of ol’ Santa. And like those days of yesteryear, I sat shrouded in the mystery, briefly revealed by an occasional flicker from below.

In waning decades, not much has changed from such days. Even today, adorned by all our gadgetry, motion detectors, instant photo cams, city web cams, and Ring doorbell systems, Santa remains elusive. Today, I’m armed with the best of smartphones. But age has dulled reaction time as well as my ability to capture the red guy.

Ah,” I smiled. “Christmas Day.”

Looking back at the kid from years gone by, I was merely caught in gifts. Yet, by the age of 9, I started to keep the traditions of ol’ Saint Nick, having unknowingly moved from the spirit of Santa to a spirit of faith. What I had hoped for the world – more specifically, my world – was something bigger than just our world. I wanted to experience the beauty of love, in celebration and embracing one another. It was a world of faith that both Christ and Buddhist would have been proud.

In essence, all the presents in the world mean nothing without a faith for love and a faith for life. As such, the questions I reflect upon include ‘What difference did my faith and love for life make to me yesterday? What effect did my faith in love have on what I did yesterday?’ Much to the disparagement of some traditionalists, my personal faith is genuinely nourished by more than one religious tradition, by more than my home ‘root’ tradition.

One inquisitor queried, “What then, is your great way?

Love,” I replied. “Many people can follow a ‘great way.’ Only a handful understand and follow the small way.

Just as in years before, I fell asleep shortly after my search began. A welfare check from a friend wakened me early morn. Alas, Santa silently sleighed by in the night. There was no Mercedes-Benz in my driveway, no WeatherTech Floor mats, nor any diamonds from whatever jeweler. Just a new day … and new opportunities for love.

What I’ve realized though, is that Santa is bigger than any one person. His life of love has gone longer than any who’ve lived. What he does is simple, but powerful. He teaches how to have belief in something unseen or touched. As such, all of us remain students of the real Santa, the real Christ and the real Buddhist.

And the lesson?

Love.

Last night a friend texted, “Have you seen the moon? Beautiful, isn’t it.”

At the time, I couldn’t see it.

However, pushing and pulling the bed, just past 1:00 AM Christmas Eve, I was able to maneuver near the window. Wow. It was a beauty. Over the years, the moon has been my true companion. It’s always there. Steadfast. Guiding. Loving. I suppose this year be no different. I’ve never heard its rotational voice, but I’ve always understood its imperceptible power.

Christmas Eve. Made nearly another year. Not sure how, but I did. Gazing at the brilliance, I remember astronaut Bill Anders looking out a window of the Apollo 8 spacecraft on Christmas Eve, 1968 and snapping a photo of earth (titled Earthrise)– to which the poet Archibald MacLeish offered:

To see Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence as it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in that eternal cold.”

I thought of MacLeish’s elegy after reflecting upon my last 12 days – 12 days since my last blog. Many remain unaware how difficult the last 12 days have been. A single cell phone calendar note states it all, “Awoke – unable to move.” Cheating life’s natural wavelength, I’ve out-maneuvered spinal and heart problems for three decades. Until December 13.

As the days wore on, I regained use of my body, I remember my father battling like mad to fight from going mad – he never quite recovered from surgeries a year earlier. The anesthesia seems to have spun his brain like an emcee spinning balls on Catholic Bingo night. He never came out quite ‘right.’ Thus, upon discharge, I caught an American Airline flight to Tucson, AZ to visit my father.

It doesn’t matter who he is, it matters only how I remember him. Doesn’t matter if I die first or should he. We are unified in love. He is my father, but he is my brother. We are riders on the same earth.

Contemplating Anders’ photograph, noted authors and dignitaries attempted to invoke a similar sense of humankind’s spirituality. Not sure we succeeded. Alas, the Christmas Eve message from 1968 and today remain the same – that Christmas is not solely about a child in the manager. Of course, it is. And it isn’t.

Christmas is about the unity my father and I have – about the unity humankind should have. Millions of people saw Anders image, with Gary Lovell saying, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” And what we have is awesome. It’s awesome, because you help make it awesome.

During this Christmas (and any other time), let us adopt a similar attitude. Let us follow after real courage and understanding. Lay aside whatever may be disturbing us today and forevermore and attune ourselves to all that the Christ within represents – we are loved. And we are one.

Reaffirm your faith. Remember MacLeish’s “To see Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence as it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in that eternal cold?” There’s a smidgen more, often omitted “… brothers who now know they are truly brothers.”

This Christmas, be the ‘brothers who now know they are truly brothers.

I haven’t watched much of the news since starting my publication of the last 18 letters. I found three remaining letters, all addressed to God, written back in 2009. I may dare myself, open the letters, and publish one or two.

Sorry, I digress – back to news.

I haven’t listened to Trump in some 20 days. All-in-all, seems rather damn refreshing. However, I’ve read tidbits of the New York Times (NYT). One item that caught my mind was that worldwide voter turnout peaked in the late nearly 30 years ago, back in the 1980’s.

Unfortunately, the percent of electoral success in building and redevelopment is abysmal. To highlight, in February 2018, President Trump released a $1.5 trillion infrastructure financing plan that called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to repair and rebuild highways, bridges, airports, seaports, and water systems. But a relatively small amount of that funding would come from the federal government. This plan shifts the burden for raising infrastructure money onto state and local governments.

Likewise, import tariffs imposed by President Trump are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of building homes. That squeezes homeowners seeking to rebuild quickly after natural disasters, such as the California wildfires.

Compare that to the destruction. Trump wrecked any semblance of an immigration policy right out of the gate. Trump also filled two Supreme Court nominees. Significant Judicial accomplishments were processed since the GOP refused to confirm Obama’s lower court nominees for the last two years. The administration took significant steps to chip away at the foundations of the Affordable Care Act and suspended payments to insurance companies that helped control the costs of insuring poorer, sicker Americans. Changes to the tax code has been estimated at $1.5 trillion over 10 years with individual tax reductions expiring after eight years.

We cannot count on the Trump’s of the world to invest in us. As a whole, America has not invested in their most important asset: the incredible diversity of its people. Both GOP and Democrats discuss empowerment every few years during an annual/biannual election. But while all that happens, in the backdrop of ballot boxes, one third of the earth’s population lives in slums.

Where’s our humanity?

People … our global citizens are dying. As I, myself, dies, I’ve looked back upon my 58 years and witnessed so many amazing souls who live a life of service, adding massive value to the lives of others, yet they neglect to take care of or know how to handle adversity in their own lives. Thus, the trick to rebuilding is moving people from a ‘must serve mentality’ to ‘serving globally.’

Whether we’re aware or not, we’re all mentors. If the Trumps of our world will not invest in us, then we must. Only through global living will the halls and windows we’ve looked through would will change. It’s requirement? Invest in ourselves and each other. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

In this place where time stands still it seems like everything is moving. Including me. I can’t say I know where I’m going nor if my bad deeds can be purified. There are so many things I have done that I regret. But when I come to a full stop I hope you understand that the distance between us is not as great as it seems.

~ Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet ~

Humanity is about movement. So get moving. Invest and make the world you want.

Several days have past since my last post. I’ve felt ill these past several days – not from the previous eighteen letters – but from my body. A body zooming past the highest point of life’s roller coaster. I will soon bid adieu and go forth in nature. With that being said, someone asked via private email if I learned anything from opening and reading my previous work.

Of course. Yes.

First. I keep thinking just how badly I constructed those early letters. Like most writers, I don’t have the benefit of an editor. Never been paid for writing. Thus, it’s hard to write, rest, edit, write, rest, edit and publish. But I think all who write – anything – should take the time between writing and submission. Editing is critical. It’s the key to success.

Second. Maybe it was good these letters were never written. Ha! At times, I thought of Harry Chapin’s quote:

“In the sixties I wrote about four hundred songs before anybody even paid any attention. They were my protest songs – to which, I was known, as ‘Gapping Chapin”’

And, uh, my songs had the implications that if only the world was as truly wonderful as I, there’d be no problems …”

Reading through, I sometimes thought I appeared as Mr. Wonderful. And truly, in all confession, eight years ago, I was not all that wonderful.

Third. Most importantly, there were some brilliant expressions of love I wished she could have read. Who knows? Maybe she will. Or, maybe she does.

So, what happened?

In reality, people breathe their own work, their own life. And often times, in our world, one cannot sustain anything that one cannot make use of – relationships included. Often, a weaker personality gives way to the stronger. This dominant personality can work flawlessly in life’s macro-level. However, such divisiveness is not endearingly palatable at the micro-level. Thus, those eagerly willing to please initiates the downfall.

Humans are complex beings. Each of us has inner conflicts, both with life and in our relationships. Truth be told, not every relationship works. Not every boy gets the girl. Not every girl gets the boy. Sometimes, you end up with someone else – someone better. As such, in her world, I know I would have been out of place.

The fact that I (maybe even we) still think of her (of each other) shows our relationship had some level of substance. And yet, like most sea-bearing Captain’s whose lost a love, I was too stupid to return to harbor, too fearful of sailing dry land. Yet, as I give way to nature, I accept that the extraordinary days of loving her will probably be my last. She could pierce my eyes, and cleanse my soul. I miss the beauty of her hair, its wave against gentle summer breezes and her radiant smile.

I recently visited the home I stayed in upstate New York during the Fall of 2010 and Winter of 2011. Looking past the Hudson River, up upon a Waxing Gibbous, I remembered the changes of fortune in both our lives, thinking of the many people who worked to make us whole, to return us to our inner home.

And … I wonder what tomorrow may bring.

When I started this project (opening all these unread letters from yesteryear), Letter 18 was held for last and remains the last handwritten letter written.

I never heard from her again.

After reading the message, the message remains true. Maybe, I should have posted it sooner. Thematically speaking, it’s a holiday message – God is love. That’s all my letters were about – Love.

Fast forwarding from eight years ago, I happened to catch to what I believe was a 1999 rerun of the cable TV show “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” If you’ve seen it, you know the basic idea: James Lipton invites celebrities to talk about their careers and how they do what they do. He always ended each episode with the same question:

If you believe that God exists, what do you think He will say to you when you finally see Him?

It can make for an interesting examination of conscience.

Lipton asked Spielberg, “What do you hope God will say to you when you finally see Him?

Thinking for a moment, Spielberg replied, “Thanks for listening.

Thanks for listening.

So much of the Christmas story is, truly, about two things: listening and loving. In essence, that’s what this blog is about – ‘listening’ to my thoughts and understanding the love I tried to instill.

If any one of the past eighteen letters help any of you, then my words were not for naught. I hope all these letters add some value to your holiday. Each reader, each follower, is important and I honor each one of you so very much.

So, I thank you for listening. And I thank you for all your love and inspiration.


My Dear Love:

When I was younger, I used to be enriched by the holiday spirit. Eyes sparkled with the excitement of the season and as Christmas carols played in the background. I had an overview of Baby Jesus, a lowly manger, and a couple of shepherds. Not sure if the real things were as glorious portrayed.

Let’s face it, I didn’t have great Biblical story role models. Ha. So, I settled upon a vision of God and Christmas Eve drawn from movies. My best all time movie? A classic. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ There’re several lessons I learned many years ago. One. When we are in pain, we tend to feel we are suffering alone. But that’s rarely the case. When someone we love hurts – we hurt. Two. Character speaks louder than cash. Always. Third. There’s always a Mr. Potter. Don’t let the buggar win.

In truth, there’s always someone who’s going to be different. May even put up a sign, “Bah, humbug” or “Go Grinch.” I read of a little girl who climbed onto Santa’s lap. When Santa asked, “And what would you like for Christmas?” the girl looked up and replied, “What do you mean? Did you not get my email?”

I really did envision angels coming to help the average soul. In fact, Christmas Eve 1978, God gave me His greatest gift – himself. I saw his transcendent beauty of faith and love. His purity of light and grace remains amazing. There were, of course, doubters for my experience. However, over the years, I learned to never let another man create your world for he always creates it too small. And neither should we create God’s world, for we always tend to create God’s too narrow.

My vision of God’s world evolved significantly, yet remains absolute. Many years had passed before learning God does not appear in the grand hall of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable. Not in power – but simplicity. And maybe as I write this, I just learned that’s the angle portrayed in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Funny how God’s angle is never our angle, nor is God’s angel ever like our angel.

God does come on Christmas Eve. He’s in that recovering alcoholic who walks by a bar, hears the laughter, but keeps walking. He’s there in the silence, when the one who used to share your life and your home is no longer there, and you find your heart full of sorrow and longing and memory. He whispers “You are not alone. I am with you.”

This Christmas, I am so blessed for you, someone so beautiful, so capable of delivering love without condition. You seem to overcome any obstacles. I meditate and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. When I am with you, I am home, full of humility and gratitude for having shared this life, my life, with you.

This Christmas, regardless what anyone else does, be true to what’s inside – the goodness, kindness, a loving nature and joy. Ultimately, God knows these qualities cement real change. Christmas exists to remind the world of His love. He gives us His love so we can be part of the solution.

You, my love, are my Wonderful Life.

With all my love … W

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