Tag Archive: Spirituality


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.

Letter 15 was written on ‘Mentoring Day.’ I attribute my entire success and my multi-decade career to mentoring. The reason I believe so strongly in mentoring is because those key individuals will tell you the truth. If you have a good mentor, they are brave enough to tell you what you don’t necessarily want to hear but need. For me, those key mentors helped me see a clearer path by clearing out the noise.

There is a saying, alternately attributed to Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni and the Theosophists: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I first heard the phrase from Wayne Dyer. Regardless of who came up with it, I think it’s a key concept. In my own life, I “went it alone” for years. “I am a rock. I am an island” was my mantra. Even though I had friends to lean on, I never did. Not only that, when I felt challenged in my life, it took years to realize that’s not what I needed. As such, over the decades, even the most unintentional connections turned into mentoring situations.

For me, my mentors lit the way. However, I had to walk the path. As a Buddhist, I have realized that anything and everything is a teacher in this world. I wrote this letter to my love in an effort to reminded others when they made a positive impact. The role my love had in my life, regardless of how long or how brief, how positive or negative, how ordinary or extraordinary, shaped my world for the better. Some would claim spirituality guided me. Maybe. But not quite. In truth, it was her that guided me through the ebbs and flows of life, and made an irrevocable impact on who I am.

A mentor should be life’s samurai. Cut the crap, “separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Always thank your mentor. This letter was meant for that.


My Dear Friend:

I am no longer the island seen from afar. It’s neither because God called me for a higher purpose nor for missed adventures. Simply understood, it’s because I know you are my port of worship.

Your willingness to expand horizons – to include me – ensured my existence. You are, bar far, the most influential person of my life. I am surprised to hear the multitude confused by your compassion. However, I can hear your heart from thousands of miles. Your eyes shine. Your heart beats. Your care sparks raging infernos. You make everyone possess the “well of possibility.”

I didn’t have enough life experience to know how special you were. You provided a wealth of growth that encouraged me to be the best person possible. You’d ask deep personal questions. And even though I didn’t know how to answer, I wish someone would ask me the same today. I was an unlovable monster. Yet you loved. I was often confused. still, you guided. At times, I was heartbroken. And you comforted. When I was me, you proved that was enough. You got so tangled up in my life’s web that you became my mentor, my love, and my friend.

I’ve been open and drank every glass of wisdom. I tasted your ups and downs, glory and peace. You peered into the crystal ball and gave me your best advice. I only hope my brain properly recorded and stored these thoughts forever.

I promise to continue chasing my dream, but I understand it will be hard. My journey will not hand success without sacrifice. I will be humble, charismatic, reserved, and learn to blend in. I will ensure the world sees my heart, mind, and yearn to understand how the flame within will be harnessed and used wisely.

You have influenced me to transform lives. I will transform lives.

You have influenced me to transform communities. So. I will transform communities.

You influenced me to transform myself. Yet, I hope I can transform you.

God hadn’t called for a higher purpose. I called myself.

With Love, …. W

The fourteenth letter was written in reference to the question, “How will I find you if you’re not here?”

Reading this letter after so many years, I honestly can reinforce that no one can show you one true method. And self-help guru’s offering a technique offer only a program that had somehow worked for them. But watch yourself. When you talk to someone, are you aware of it or are you simply identifying with it?

A key to knowing someone is “watching.” Is that person aware of their anger, happiness or peacefulness? Can they study their own experience and attempt to understand it? Where did it come from? What brought it on? I don’t know of any other way to awareness. I belief one can only change that which is understood. As noted in my letter, one has to get to the middle to ‘know.’ For me, I’ve found that which is not understand is often repressed. But when you understand it, it changes.

I believe the key to finding someone is through that person’s love. Another way of saying it, perfect love casts out fear. In my letter I make a series of statements – a guide if you will – on finding me. In other words, to find me when not physically present is to experience pain yet be able to dream. One can also find me by being foolish for love and shout ‘yes’ (thank you) to God upon the shores of a lake. To find me you must be true to yourself. To find me, regardless of what life throws at your door, get up and help someone in need. Do those things and you will find me?

What I tried to provide was a compass. There were no demands, no expectations, and no dependency. I did not demand that my love make me happy or that my ultimate happiness lay in her. I provided a guide … for her … on how to find me. Maybe, just maybe … such a guide might work for you.


My Dear Love:

You once asked how to find me. In truth, all of us are constantly changing and we continually search, assess and rediscover ourselves. Even though I have a passion for life, for the few close friends who’ll stand beside me, for passions captured and passions missed. Still, does anyone really know me? Do I even know myself? The more I see, the more I believe I’ve remained a mystery, even unto myself.

While we are profoundly emotionally deep and rich in our belief for each other, just how do we attest to knowing? Often, I look upon myself with great curiosity, even wonderment. Robert Frost’s poem The Secret Sits is a simple couplet where its meaning is left unto the mystery of the reader.

“We dance around the ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

All of us have spent our lives dancing in a circle while simultaneously contemplating life. And in the end, maybe the ‘secret’ is God. Only god knows the secret to all which exists. Another interpretation could be that the world we live is often left open to interpretation. We, as stewards, are given the right to interpret the world upon our own experiences.

However, to truly find me, can you understand ache while simultaneously dare to dream? If you wish to find me, will you risk looking like a fool for love for the adventure of being alive? To find me, can you sit in pain without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it? To find me, can you be in joy while dancing under a moonlit, start-filled sky? To find me, is it possible to live momentarily live in the space between disappointing another while remaining true to thy own self? Is it possible not betray your soul? Is it possible to live with failure and while standing at upon a lake’s shore and shout, ‘Yes?’ To find me, can you find grief and despair, experience being weary and bruised, then get up, and do what needs to be done to feed the poor?

In essence, to find me, you must find yourself, for ‘I’ am in the middle.

While deep and rich, I treasure our friendship and love. Our exchanges are extremely important. I suppose one could muster old fashioned boundaries, but that may impede our spiritual growth and love. Whenever the world bogs you down, wherever the compass takes, you can find me in my words, letters and love.

Find me and I shall find you.

Love … W

The eleventh letter focuses upon the beauty of reflection. One day prior to New Year’s Eve, my love and I sipped Starbucks coffee and discussed the past year. In discussing self-reflection, I realized that one’s internal reflection process is extremely important. Rarely is it performed properly, for authenticity is quite difficult.

The reality is that all of us will face many different risks throughout our life, and the process of identifying them can sometimes be critical and yet complex.  Emerging risks are ever present, and much like my generation, the situations faced by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles may not have even comprehended what we face today.

So, just as you see a changing world, the importance of reflection is critical. Yet, many of use are bogged in the quagmire between arrogance and confidence. I have learned more from times of failure versus success.  My hope for you is that you take time to learn the importance of reflection how this one skill will assist you in triumphing more than falling.  Recognize failure, however so slight, and learn from it.

Moments of self-reflection is both dynamic and powerful. Self-reflection is how we can transform society. Transforming society happens one person at a time, by our willingness to be kind to ourselves, and our willingness to be kind to one another. Please self-reflect. Learn to feel worthy and to connect with human goodness.


My Dear Friend:

Self-reflection, in and of itself, can be extremely difficult. Spending time self-reflecting can allow self-efficacy (belief in our abilities) to blossom. The point of self-reflection is to see progression in your thinking and understanding of what you’ve learned – either about yourself or something else. Make changes accordingly.

However, over time, you will grow to be your own best friend and your biggest enemy, but I know you will balance it out as you go. Your face will change and it won’t be as soft. I want you to know you’ll only get more beautiful as time passes, and I’ll need you to believe it, for every day, a new world awaits, filled with new people, waiting for just you.

Some days, it feels as if time passes. Comes and goes. As Heinrich Harrer wrote:

“… even in a world in which time stands still, everything moves.

I don’t 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.”

Some claim my best work is accomplished alone. As I move across the country to work with the best, I am seen by many as having a good amount of success. The importance is that being alone doesn’t stop the tasks at hand. And constant reflection is the compass by which I move. I am connected and interconnected with a higher truth of guidance.

Reflect. Crave change. Nothing is perfect and no timing is never right. So, act anyway. When crap hits the fan, remember reflection and compassion is the Kevlar that will ensure your life. Therefore, be fearless in your pursuit of your life, your love, your truth, and purpose. There’s no harm in not knowing it all. You never will. So, trust me, it’ll change anyway.

Reflect my love. Reflect – for the distance between is not that great.

This letter was written during a moment of doubt.

Like many, my friend struggled with achievement on occasion. Or, as the question was often phrased, “Do I do enough?” The crux of the concern was ‘achievement‘ –  how one defines it and how hard it is for a female to achieve anything recognizable in the business world.

Throughout the years, I recall all of those key mentors who just happened to appear in my life, as required. Still, reflecting back through the years, one key mentor after another passed on, as had many other heroes in my life. Skiver, Vogel, Navarro, Huff, Robinson and so many others. Gone. From their eyes, each expected more of me than what was seen. Each gave their best, freely admitted to my worst, often put me in my place, then rehabilitated me, and forgave for things I either said, did or did not do.

Still, my lover was also a wonderful mentor. After all these years apart, she remains unforgotten.

If she had read this letter, she would have learned a little of smidgen of Buddhist philosophy. The chief lesson being that life has taught that there’s a significant difference between well-known and known well.  To say someone is well-known merely places an external label connoting some level of notoriety.  This could be attached to someone popular, maybe well-skilled at something, or just notable for something that draws the attention of many. Known well, however, is a whole other story.

Read on.


My Dear Friend:

Over the years, almost all look upon our mentors in awe. Yet, for many, achieving one’s pinnacle is filled with exhaustion and, at times, desperation. In truth, you’ve wondered whether you’ve made a difference, gave something back to the community you’ve long served.

In truth, you’ve delivered more than most ever expected.  And regardless of the darker days of self-doubt, you’ve pushed harder than others. Passion for those whom you’ve led flows through your veins.

Of course, times of momentary fear, the fear of losing control, the fear of losing commitment and the fear of rejection has crossed your path. As such, we too, have had our ups and downs. Still, I thank you for all the moments we’ve been together. Because of you I gathered the courage to open my soul, to find the strength to get involved for the community members, to join action for that which is important to the next generation. I learned to stand up, for to have stood up and get shouted down is far better than never having stood at all.

Your biggest achievement? Me. You have instructed well. You have brought the very presence of spirituality to my life. I know God has touched your soul in many special ways, in ways that you are able to deliver His presence to others. I know this to be true, because I have experienced every time we’ve talked.

As you taught, genuine relationships involve being well-known and known well.  Quality relationships with colleagues, friends, customers and business associates go beyond what just being well-known can bring. Yet, you taught me the spiritual – the desire to find common ground for personal, professional, and maybe even a deeper level of connection with others. Thus, the lesson? Seek to know others well and allow yourself to become known well.

Thank you for all of the important lessons you taught me. Thank you for loving me, even when I failed. Most of all, thank you for being the female mentor I always needed.

The following is the second of two love letters.

The ending verse contains the word ‘Shringara’ (rapturous intimacy). I found Shringara thumbing through some ancient Sanskrit on a rainy afternoon at the National Library of Ireland. I remembered the word then on.

It has been said that Shringara Rasa can simply be translated as erotic love, romantic love or attraction or beauty. There are other levels used to describe love, but none can match it in its scope and variety. It is erotic love or passionate love and has been traced to the pleasure of love. The term literally means to decorate, or engage in a love talk. The playful exchanges between lovers or spouses, all evoke Shringara.

From a Buddhist perspective, all lovers must evoke Shringara.


My Dear Friend:

As we dined today, your eyes, lips and love smoothed the soul and nurtured my spirit. We kissed and felt the power of love between us, as if we could fend off anything unforgiving. Your caress sped my heart and I trembled in awe. I sleep in you, and just maybe, you sleep in me.

My eyes hold their breath. Shall we turn back? Should we? Shall we move ahead? Should we? I know, that if we ever lose this moment, I will etch your eyes. Thus, we I will find you again, and again. Like always, where ever we run, there will begin. There will always be another journey. There will always be another embrace.

Tonight, we can be what God has meant us to be. Somewhere close, the warmth of your breath smolders, your aroma. Ah. Your aroma. Passion. Death. Love Rekindled. Resurrection.

Restless, I dream. Dipping my fingers unto thy heart. There is no wilderness, no mountain, no horizon that can set our sun. We shall sit, waiting for the moon. Waiting for another resurrection. Our resurrection. Come find me. And I will find you.

In vain, the moon tries to paint your face. It fails to catch your grace. Can the caress your ecstasy? Can it kiss thy fruit? Shall it feel the heat of your skin, to taste mammilla, to taste the garden? I quiver. You are a forest of love … a forest of my life.

You are my Shringara.

Love LetterThis is the first of two love letters. You may already discern that many of my letters were ought-right expressions of love. Yet, there are firsts in one’s life that aren’t meant to be forgotten.

As such, there was this natural anticipation to write such a letter. I hadn’t read this letter since sealing it years ago. Now, I read it again. Once the message starts to sink into your heart, I wish this letter had been read, then answered.

So why the “Love” Letter? If there is a Buddhist message, it would be the following:

Love is not something we can hold in our hands. It’s more than an emotion we hold in our hearts. Love willingly gives part of ourselves to one another. I’ve experienced them, both in heart and soul. I tend to liken these as gifts to God, to love and myself; it helps me understand my love for God.

In truth, for many of us, its been a lifetime since we have told others how much they are loved. And so, to all my readers, I want you to know you are loved.


My Dear Friend:

We are separated by time and distance. Yet even in upstate Michigan, the stars are no match for thy beauty. I wish to be swallowed by your aurora. The prospect of living another day without your voice brings me no pleasure.

I there are few promises in this world. Maybe before the divine bids me adieu, I will know thy touch once more. Hypnotize me by your breath. Engulf me in your love, by the fire. Course through my soul and brand my soul in love.

Of all the dreams, I believe only them of you to be most true. Yet, each dream unfolds another truth of the serene, a gift from a hidden heaven. I can feel you in my arms. I can confess my soul’s longing. You are perfect. Majestic.

When I am lost, I fast. In your fragrance, I am intoxicated. The bed you sleep upon is blessed. The rain that bathes you is holy. For I have seen within thy bejeweled eyes. Come walk in the garden by moonlight. Stir me by day, satisfy me in the dark on the river. Rest softly and sweetly in my arms … forevermore.

This letter was a blessing to reread. Originally written on a winter’s night at Mark Twain Lake, located in Ralls and Monroe County, Missouri. I was amazed at the level of interconnection – just how present I was in the moment.

In general, there are two different views of how we perceive the world. The first view is that all beings exist independently, that the world is a collection of independent beings. The second world view is that all beings exist in relation to other beings. From a wider view, we can see our connection to others.

Buddhism views that everything in the world is interconnected. We are not only connected to other people, but to the air through our breathing and to the universe through light. As such, I misunderstood how deeply ‘present‘ I was in the moment and how deeply connected I was to Mark Twain Lake, God, Christ, spirit, eternal love, spiritual lust, the body, sparrows, oak ledges, midnight, tolling bells, the wine, wind, my thoughts, her breath, her eyes and love.

It’s a shame we never see these connections in real life. Had we, how so much more beautiful could our world could be?

And now, this letter is connected to the world, for all to read.

Enjoy.


My Dear Friend:

I sit upon the shores of Mark Twain Lake as the bells toll midnight. The wine nips my lips and I etch out this letter, breathing life from my soul. And I extend this missive in place of my heart, hoping, that as I write, you are well.

I notice something simple, odd really. Tree Sparrows have taken amusement of my existence. Pecking and hobbling among the oak ledges adjacent to my room, the distant lights appear like decorating ornaments of life’s backdrop. Having the need to escape for at least a night, I find myself briefly playing our own home movie, the rumble of bygone days laid to rest. A newer love of life surges. No, my dear love, for my eyes gaze southwesterly toward you and align to thy heart.

You have often worked for the beauty and benefit of others. Our lives are not our own. I am bound to you, as you are bound to me. We are bound to others, bound to our past, our present, in kindness and in love. We are interconnected. The crux of our stories touches all we’ve met.

Yet, as I constantly travel, I wonder how to carry all the love you’ve given. More so, I wonder to thirst for you in life, in death, and in life evermore. I cannot think of a more powerful way to honor either Christ or God. Loving you us a fulfillment of heavenly vision, a divine interconnection. And it is in our connection, that the ‘spirit’ comes and rejoices.

Should the Tree Sparrow be willing to tarry a message, it would be simple. This pottery is kiln fired. I am stronger the marrow stands firm against the wind.  And my heart longs to inhale the inner fire and dance in the peace of your heavenly blue eyes.

The wind briefly rattles! What say ye wind? What? “Folly or fool?” Oh, dare ye foolish wind! I am overwhelmed with beauty, I am bewildered by spiritual sweetness, this weary mind turns for refreshment as a dusty traveler might sink onto a soft grassy bank. Wherever this refreshment goes, even if it is for only a moment, I am blessed to have known its caress. Your love is my gift; your love will be my treasure.

Maybe our time is a brief rest, but also, maybe these moments remind us of the power of eternal love – that we are loved – that we can be loved. Regardless, I am encircled by your breath and I entrust our spiritual lust will draw near, in whatever way possible and to the way that’s right.

Second ChoiceMy Dear Friend:

The Bible inspires the following thought: where your treasure is, so shall your heart be. Sad to say, much of my life has been lived in ‘second’ place, with sputters of third and fourth interwoven.  I was personally confronted by my weakness this afternoon at a Manhattan restaurant.

“What are your priorities?” asked one woman to another.

“Family, school, work, the future, other,” replied the second.

“And your husband?”

“Oh. He’s lumped in-between ‘Family’ and ‘Other.'”

Just like this woman’s husband, I’ve lived a life of second. For several decades, someone else’s opinion of who I should be and what I should become became my life’s plan. I willingly swallowed a life of inequality. Of course, there were a few moments of bliss where I found myself. Other priority swallowed whatever had planted.

Be earnest” you claim. “Be devoted. Risk yourself.” And late at night, as I wrote, “Be bold when faced with a blank sheet. Befriend it. Mold it.”

Ah, my love, you’ve set me free. And now, I can see whether near or far, our priorities intertwine. I forward with hope. You’ve pierced my soul. Awoken the embers of an ancient flame. And like an Olympian, I shall carry this torch unto the finish line of thy heart. You are my divine. You are my peace. You’ve melted the ice. The sky is anew.

You are my inexplicable love.

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