Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carl Jung and his Secret Book (The Red Book)


Recently, friends of mine from Texas sent an article from the New York Times on an as yet unpublished book by Carl Jung and his personal quest for spirituality.


Many know Carl Jung is one of the fathers of modern psychology, taking Sigmund Freud’s ideas beyond sex and early development into spiritual enlightenment. Dr. Jung was a student of the early Gnostics and proponent of spirituality outside of organized religion.

But what less than a handful of people knew, was that Jung had written and illustrated a significant work of his own spiritual search. Secreted in a European bank vault for over 20 years, few have actually seen the book; the NYTimes article quotes the few who have.

I have great expectations of this rediscovered work and will report back as soon as I have had a chance to read it. The book is expected to be out in early winter from W. W. Norton. Here are some of the details:

“The Red Book” by Carl G. Jung

Hardcover - 416 pages - $195 (on sale at Amazon for $105.30 - 12/4/2009)

ISBN - 9780393065671

The web site for norton the publisher of the Red Book is www.wwnorton.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Religion as Path


I heard recently that over 70% of people surveyed characterized themselves as spiritual, and 40% as religious. This should not be surprising. If you look closely at our diverse religions, they were founded in a tradition of spirituality, based primarily on human spiritual experiences. In my mind, each religion has developed a unique path to a spiritual life. While each of the religious paths may be distinctive, while the spiritual destination may have slight differences, I see more likenesses than not.


The spiritual seeker will choose a path. There are many. The great religious traditions each offer such a path.


When the destination is achieved, when spirituality is realized, the path will have served its noble purpose.


A spiritual life is the objective; religion can serve as the path to that destination.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Search and the Struggle



After the spiritual search has begun, there will come a time when the destination feels so close you can touch it. This may go on for some time.

I characterize it as a vague feeling of frustration. It comes from an inability to solve what seems like a riddle in a language you don’t understand. It is an uncomfortable feeling that you want to stop, but may represent progress.

I liken this to a vibration or energy that builds without an avenue for release. It is like the feeling you get when you forget a name or are reaching for the right word. It is just beneath the surface.
Can this be the personality fighting your pursuit of true nature? Does the personality foresee its own decline and the resulting rise of the true nature?

I call this the struggle within. It is a sign of progress toward the destination. It signals a building realization of truth versus perspective, of true nature versus personality.

Life’s Answers


Some look to the horizon
The liminal zone
Seeking, searching for hope.
Only to find fortune has
Moved to a new distance.
And we are back
To a similar place
Without the reward.
This treasure is found
In a much closer place,
Right here where we started
Not far, but near
Inside, within.

Consciousness – Upside Down?

We call it the unconscious, but it is actually our true consciousness, however hidden it may be.

What we typically call consciousness is the personality, the voice in the head; the egoic, racing, monkey mind that we have become. This is just an acquired illusion; an act we play out everyday on society’s stage of false reality.

Is it any wonder we are confused? Not knowing consciousness is the definition of ignorance, not in a pejorative way but by definition.

There are those who are enormously impressed with educational credentials, high society’s imprint or inherited treasure. They may make jokes of or look down at others with less of society’s fallacious stamp of approval. The joke is really on these people, for the precious inheritance of consciousness is one that we have all been given, coincident with the miraculous gift of human birth.

The spectacular presence rises out of the shadow of the ego, returning to its rightful place. What a simply beautiful reality, that by quieting the acquired language of personality, we liberate the magnificence within.

We find that the more complex and educated the personality, the far more removed that ego is from the truth. How could we have let this happen? The shame is on us for repeating this mistake generation after generation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Simple Truth


Does it make any sense to you that your true nature would be hard to find? Does it make any sense that you would need to ask some other person, see a miraculous display, or think a fabulous thought?

Isn’t your true nature your inner knowing? Isn’t it the precious gift that you received with your auspicious human birth? Do you really need to see a sign, dream a dream, or travel to some exotic place?

Is your inner spirit far away? Is this the search for a complexity beyond a complexity or a riddle within a riddle? Does any of that make any sense?

The simple truth is that your true nature is just beneath the surface of who you think you are, waiting patiently for you to find your way home.


Simple Is


As simple as it is
No simpler please
That is what we seek
For the ego loves the puzzle
The master of complexity
A storyteller, who
Lives from the crowd’s reply
To stoke the ego’s fire
But this is just the magician
Hard at work again
Pulling the rabbit out
Good for a laugh
Part of the distraction
The illusion of it all
If we only knew that
The true reward is
The simplicity found inside.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meaning

When I was a young man, I was proud to know the meaning of a thing. Of course that pride was in remembering what someone had taught me. Later in life, I was proud to find the meaning of a thing on my own.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that all concepts of meaning are made up. There is no inherent meaning to a thing other than what we give it. That is not to say that something can’t have meaning. It is just important to know our role in what that meaning has become. Remember this the next time you are upset over spilled milk.

Our Words


The use of language is part of our socialization. While words are a powerful way of communication, they can be terribly flawed in their effect. How we use words, how we choose words and how we interpret other’s words is part of our personality.

Whether we misspeak, are misheard or misinterpreted our words are limited in their ability to communicate our truth. Our words are the equivalent of pointing a stick in the direction we are going.

Then there are the words not spoken. Whether we are trying to be polite, have a limited vocabulary, or have made faulty assumptions, the words not spoken are equally dangerous or informative. We don’t typically factor in these considerations. We say something and fully expect our true intentions to be immediately understood. Of course this is not necessarily the case.

This makes speaking the truth particularly difficult. If our true nature does not think in words, if words arise from the ego, how is it possible to speak the truth? If true nature were to work through ego, then an ego translation of true nature would be possible. Of course, true nature would have to be particularly robust in order to overcome the many years of living in ego.

This is why we see inconsistencies even in some of our most enlightened writers. We must be forgiving when their ego breaks through. For in this case, the ego is interpreting true nature, acting as a translator of sorts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Moments when the songbird sings to me

The coyotes

Last night I heard them once again; first just one, then another and then an entire chorus. It is hard to know how many; maybe four, maybe more. It is the howl of a dog, but then for sure not a dog; more of a high-pitched wail, a pitiful song. And then the realization comes, it is a band of coyotes! I shiver in the cool air and retire inside, glad for the safety and comfort.

The honey bees


It is said that a hive of honey bees acts as one being; an orchestra playing its own melody, to its own rhythm, without conductor, without words, yet all in synchrony, nature’s perfect music. My neighbor keeps two hives of bees in my lower orchard, pollinating the fruits and vegetables, producing their honey, achieving their destiny in the quiet stillness of their parallel of the universe. He stops by to report on their seasonal struggle and progress; I love to hear of their achievements.

Birds and their houses


This is that time of the year when the new season approaches, the nights become cooler, the days shorter. This is when the birds finish the raising of their young. The houses will soon be empty, to be used as gathering places of warmth in the approaching cold of fall and winter. I remember this year’s productive summer of cooler days and heavier rains. Yes, the summer of 2009 was a good one, one of recovery for the flowers, the birds, the bees and the trees.

And soon they will gather

As they do every year, on the side of the house and barn. The nights cool into the low 50’s and they appear out of nowhere, dozens of preying mantis and walking sticks. Striking in their unique appearance, this year I will finally remember to take their pictures.

As she looked deeply into my eyes

I tried to understand her silent request as I awoke slowly from an afternoon nap. She had just moved onto the sofa, next to my favorite chair, bringing her within inches of my face. She trembled with great intention, wordless in her approach, a low whimper the only sound. The Grandfather’s clock then rang 5 times, and it dawned on me, it was dinner time and the dogs were hungry. It is time to be fed, now! The message came into sharp focus as I lifted my rested body to perform the nightly ritual, truly an honor and privilege. Every moment is so precious.



Nothing like a hot bath

After a hard day’s work in the garden, there is nothing like the delicious moment of sinking into a hot, sudsy bath. The soothing heat on tired muscles is like a gentle massage of gratitude for the day’s work. Sitting in the quiet stillness of the rising vapor, empty of intention or need, everything is right once again.


The first snowfall

There is something very special about the season’s first snowfall. The hot days of summer not far behind, the autumn leaves spread across the ground and now the sudden stillness and quiet of the falling snow. I especially love to wake up to the surrounding whiteness, and then witness the dogs’ bewildered surprise on its first discovery. It is just around the corner.

Desire

Desire originates in the acquired mind of personality. Desire has an irresistible nature, and for some of us, is the most difficult challenge in achieving our true nature. Within our egoic mind, the yearnings of desire are based on the false belief that satisfaction of a desire leads to happiness, only to find that it satisfies nothing and only leads to the next desire.

Desire is much like unrequited love. It leads us nowhere and is a figment of our egoic imagination. Watching desire rise and fall without acting, forms the starting line to our true nature.

The End of Desire

The end of desire is
The end of a life lived in illusion
The end of jealousy, insecurity and fear
For desire leads us only
To the next desire
The endless search for fulfillment
While that treasure can only
Be found within.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Five Whys

I first encountered this effective technique in the red Fieldbook to Peter Senge’s best selling business book “The Fifth Discipline”. I have used it successfully in many situations. The idea is to ask the why behind the why, five times, each time digging deeper, to better understand a subject.


The Question

When we understand

The Why, that is behind

The Why, that is behind

The Why, it is then

We find the real question

That reveals

The greater treasure

Not just the answer

That first appears.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What is in a name?


I sometimes wonder that when it comes to giving a person a name; the Native Americans had it right. In some traditions, each child was renamed at adolescence and adulthood in recognition of some experience or expectation. There is something quite magical in that tradition. I guess it is too late for us now, but it seems to me this is one of those missed opportunities to embrace a wise tradition and make it part of our own.

“Isness and Notness, It All Begins with Struggle”

There are those that suggest the spiritual seeker start with “I am”. This is an affirmation of truth and aliveness. There are others that suggest the seeker find what she is not. By removing falseness and illusion, we are left with the truth. These are both right-minded.


They are also both problematic in that we do not yet know the truth from the illusion. If we do not know the difference, aren’t we back to where we started? Is this the reason why we struggle so hard?


Let me say this, the first step is allowing the struggle to begin. Until we struggle, we live in ignorance. I do not mean innocence, I mean ignorance. Until we start the inner struggle, we live in the illusion of our personality, an actor on the stage of acquired ego.


The Struggle Within

If only true

That we listened to the call

Beyond the ego

Beyond the personality

We have become.

A struggle denotes possibility

No matter how remote

That the truth may be heard

That peace is at hand

That the kingdom of heaven

Is not far behind.

Not some faraway place

But close at hand

For if there is a struggle within

The truth will overcome

Desire, fear, illusion

In full retreat

And then?

As the gateless barrier

Cracks open, the

Ego enlisted as co-conspirator

In a trinity of

Body, mind and soul

United in truth.

Freedom at hand.

Oh, what a happy day.

In this brave new world.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Composting


It turns out that this is quite a science, balancing nature’s bounty with the right constituents and modifiers. I make my own compost from weeding activities, kitchen scraps and garden losses. I am also fortunate to have a good local source of horse manure compost. Combined, these provide the fertilizer for my ever expanding garden. As in everything else in this world, life lives off of life. Today’s flower becomes tomorrow’s flower food; completing the circle of life. Check out Rodale’s pamphlet at http://www.rodale.com/topic/composting

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nature’s lesson


While there may be many lessons in nature, the one I am most struck by is in its simplicity. Nature mostly just is. There is no ego or personality to nature. There is no illusion or judgment. There is only truth. In a world of only truth there are no lies.

The simple beauty of nature is its majesty. Without human judgment, there is a simple integrity completely immersed in only peace and grace.

Perhaps, a lesson for us all?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What is it about a garden?

It is quite a privilege to be able to walk outside and gather fresh fruit and vegetables from my garden. Each week something new is available. It provides such a deep feeling of connection and thankfulness. As an organic gardener, I know exactly how my food was grown. Did you know the so-called organic fruit and vegetables in our stores may not be so? Each of the organic farms has a certification process which actually allows them to use pesticides; they only need permission of their inspector to do so. I have been able to grow spectacular fruit and vegetables without pesticides or commercial fertilizers. It just requires a few extra plants.

During the colonial times in Virginia, there were rules associated with receiving a land grant. There was a requirement to have at least a quarter acre orchard and garden. While not a big fan of government regulation, this actually makes good sense to me. But you can do it without that. If you have space, consider establishing an edible garden. Here are some great books that can get you started “The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping” by Rosalind Creasy, “The Apple Grower” by Michael Phillips, “Uncommon Fruits” by Lee Reich, and “The Berry Grower’s Companion” by Barbara Bowling. And if you are looking for inspiration, check out Wendy Johnson’s “Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate” at http://www.gardeningatthedragonsgate.com/

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seasons as Metaphor


Some parts of the world do not have the full complement of seasons. Southern California has spring and summer, no fall or winter. Nebraska has a winter and summer, not much of a fall or spring.

I have come to appreciate the full four seasons after living in areas with-out the full complement. There is something missing, unbalanced when a season passes you by.

I think it is like that in life. One sees some of these child actors who never had a childhood. There is the sense that they are reliving a missed time period. You can see it in some who marry and start families early. Later they may feel like they missed out on something. Is this what causes a mid-life crisis?

There are those who want to rush into the future. The next time this happens, we should step back and fall back into the present. The future will come soon enough.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time

We typically think of time as a scarcity, however, we actually have an abundance. The problem is in how we think of time.

Many perceive a second in time as a moment in time. Yet a second is a measurement, much like an inch. An inch can be divided into a half, a quarter, an eighth and so on. The same is true of the second. We see this in the Olympic Games when the difference between gold and silver can be measured in thousandths of a second.

If we were to perceive a moment as a fraction of a second, the number of moments could climb from 86,400 seconds in a day to billions of mo-ments in a day. The numbers are not as important as the idea that we have much more time than we think.

I like to look across the landscape in a rainstorm and imagine the mo-ment when each raindrop falls. Try it sometime.

Furthermore, if we can appreciate the present moment of now, anticipa-tion of the future and obsession with the past disappear. This frees us to be fully present in the only moment that actually exits, now.

Monroe Institute’s Music


The Monroe Institute is down the street from me on Robert’s Mountain here in west-central Virginia. You may have heard of Robert Monroe. He was one of the first to write about his out of body experiences. He formed an Institute before his death, where they hold retreats and work on a special technique of recording music. It is specifically designed for headphone listening; its objective is to balance the sounds in a way to produce a quiet mind. Check out their MetaMusic at http://www.monroeinstitute.org.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Search (mine)

It came out of a feeling of contentment. I had reached all of my professional goals at a fairly young age. And for me, this was enough. I have never understood the old battle axes like Donald Trump, Abe Greenberg (AIG), and Jack Welch (GE) who seemingly go on and on. Is it that ego and desire for more money and attention never ends?


There were many coincidences; the friend who sent books on spirituality, the guy on the plane who recommended further reading, the convenient timing of personal freedom to pursue the search, to name a few. Maybe these coincidences are always there, but our eyes and ears are not open to them.


Unlike some others, I fell into this search from a position of contentment, not of despair. I was open and listening for the call. So maybe, if my experience is relevant, you do not need to come to this out of a fall,.


There were many messages, most of which were helpful. I was lucky early on to realize that in the world of words, I needed to be careful. I realized words travel through personality and ego, limiting their usefulness and interpretation, no matter the level of spirituality. Many of the readings were translations incorporating additional error and potential for misinterpretation. Over time, I developed an ability to expect this, to listen to my inner self, and understand the intended direction of the words. Specifically, here is what I found most helpful, ranked by priority:


In H.W.L. Poonja’s “Wake and Roar”, I heard the truth. This was not in long-winded explanation, but in demonstration of inner being. I was not ready for this until later in my search.


In Dennis Lewis’s “The Tao of Natural Breathing” and Bruce Frantzis’s “Relaxing into your Being”, I heard the integration of body and soul. I learned the role of breathing and energy cultivation in spirituality.


In Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Voice of Knowledge”, I saw my personality and ego for the first time. This allowed me to surrender to the song of H.W.L. Poonja, to hear its truth.


In Dainin Katagiri’s “Each Moment is the Universe”, I realized the present moment. This realization shifted time from scarcity to abundance. And then there are the other favorites:


Thich Nhat Hahn “Peace is Every Step” Inner grace

Meister Eckhart “From Whom God Hid Nothing” Early spirituality

Charles L. Moore “Synthesis Remembered” Our magical, mystical nature

Brian Hines “Return to the One” Plotinus’ ancient wisdom

Sri Aurobindo “The Life Divine” Masterpiece of spirituality

David Hawkins “Power versus Force” Science merged with spirit

Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now” The search for present moment

Ken Wilber “Sex Ecology and Spirituality” Modern masterpiece of integration

Marianne Williamson “Everyday Grace” Inner grace and power of prayer

Dzigar Kongtrul “It’s Up to You” A songbird of truth

Arjuna Ardagh “The Translucent Revolution” Spirituality rising today

Thomas Merton :Book of Hours” Power of prayer and inspiration

Foundation for Inner Peace “A Course in Miracles” Distinctively inspiring song

Shechen Rabjam “The Great Medicine” A songbird of truth

Khenchen Thrangu “On Buddha Essence” A songbird of truth

Erving Goffman “Presentation of Self ” Ego’s stage and our part on it

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What happened on Turk’s Mountain today?

The strawberry plants arrived today. I will plant them tomorrow; rain permitting, adding 200 to the 600 already there. These are all June-bearing varieties expanding on the ever-bearing ones. The June-bearers seem to produce larger and sweeter fruit. I need extras as I have had to learn to share with the expanding population of rabbits. Of course, they may resent me as much as I do them.

I refrigerated the last of the Indian Blood Cling peaches – about 50. They are so sweet. I had some peaches delivered from Harry and David’s yesterday just in case I missed this year’s crop again. They may be bigger, but they are nowhere near as sweet as mine. The Asian pears, persimmons, pears and apples are all looking good. There are a few more weeks to go before they are ripe. The blueberries, gooseberries, brambles, plums and nectarines are all done. The paw-paw and quince did not bear fruit this year.

The tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons are at their peak right now. They are coming out my ears. Luckily I have some of nature’s helpers taking what they need and leaving some for me.

Still trying to find where the hummingbird bees have gone. I hope they aren’t gone until next year. We haven’t been having the sunny days. Maybe that is what they are waiting for. I took some nice pictures of the colorful sunflowers in the orchard.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Teacher

There is honest disagreement about the need for a spiritual teacher. For me, it is very clear, there is only one teacher that can show you life’s purpose, that can bring you home, and that is you. You are the only one. You must find the strength. You must find the way. You must hear the song. It is all up to you. It starts with one desire, the desire for freedom. It ends with no desire at all, in a world without words, where you have always been, nothing special, the simple magnificence of being and grace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moon Time


Scientists believe that the Moon was created 4 billion years ago when a Mars-sized planet crashed into the Earth. Can you imagine the violence of such a collision?


Born in violence, our Moon has become a stabilizing influence on the Earth; to its tides, to its weather, to its rotation. Without the Moon, it has been conjectured that we would have tides rising to 100’s of feet tall, weather that would be wildly variable as the Earth would come off of its stable tilt of 23.5 degrees. The Sahara might one year be encased in ice, while the Arctic would finally melt. There would be no more seasons; food would become nearly impossible to grow without predictable weather.


Without the Moon, Earth would be a very different place, uninhabitable to life as we know it. The next time you look up to see the Moon, be thankful for all the many blessings it bestows on us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Warrior in Life

One of the continuous themes of Joseph Campbell’s books is his robust discussion of what he called the hero’s journey. I think that for Mr. Campbell, the hero’s journey was his phraseology for the spiritual search. He discusses the myth of the hero as a journey of inner knowing instead of what might be more commonly assumed as a series of stupendous feats.


As an unmatched expert on myth and metaphor, I think that he believed that this is the purpose of life, our highest calling. No less than George Lucas credited Mr. Campbell’s hero’s journey with inspiring his story line in the Star Wars’ movies.


This really speaks to me; that there is something within us that can take us to a higher place. It says that within us is a magical, mysterious gift to be found. The journey is not one of distance, but a journey deep within. The idea is to engage with great passion in your life, that when the question comes, say, yes, to it all, as a warrior in life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ego and Personality

I use these words interchangeably. In psychological terms they may be different, but to me these are distinctions without a difference. The personality is who you became after socialization. It is not who you are in truth, it is who you are in society.

When we use the word ego, we typically mean big ego, someone who is full of themselves. Again, this is who someone is in societal terms not who someone is in truth.

Dogen Zenji said everyday we swim on the surface of the ocean, yet our feet can walk across the bottom. This suggests that while our daily lives seem superficial, our true na-ture has great depth.

Finding who we are in truth is understanding our true nature, this is enlightenment. We then will reset our priorities, shed previous thinking and habits, and understand how we fit in the world. This is the purpose of our life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

From Page 45 of my book



Pileated woodpecker working in the back yard.
Native to this area, these magnificent birds are about 2 feet long. Their call is distinctly tropical. No matter how many times I hear it, I stop in my tracks and think how did a toucan get loose? When they hammer a tree it sounds like a construction crew is at work. There are several breeding pairs close by. I feel deeply privileged to share the world with these impressive beings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Time, Athletics and You

Have you ever watched our greatest athletes? Maybe you have been one yourself. The best ones operate in the present moment. They don’t think about anything.


They don’t wonder how to shoot the basket, hit the ball or throw the pitch. They just move to the music of their athletic soul, in complete mindfulness. They operate in the pivot of time, the absolute moment of now. When they stop to think about anything, the music stops, and the performance suffers. They fall back to earth and become imperfect once again, mere mortals living in their minds of illusion with all the rest of us.


Does the lion wonder whether he will chase down the gazelle? Does the seed need to be told how to sprout? Does the flower know when to bloom? We are so busy thinking about how to correct the past, or anticipating the future, that we forget the only thing that is real, the present moment of now. Be the lion, or be the seed, or be the flower. They remember what we have all forgot.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What happened on Turk’s Mountain today?


The cling peaches are all beginning to ripen. Last year the crop was monitored and stolen by a secret competitor(s), probably raccoons and/or opossums. One day at 5 o’clock the peaches were there, later that night when I went to get one, only the pits scattered on the ground were evident. This year I have been removing the crop early.

The tomatoes and peppers are coming in, later than usual. I will have to decide what to do with all the extras. My order of plants had been replaced by the mail order, but the original ones mostly recovered, so now I have more than I can use.

I went out to take some pictures of the hummingbird bees today. They were everywhere last week, but with all the rain, I haven’t been able to find them. They are actually a moth, but look like a cross between a hummingbird and a bumble bee. I hope to have some pictures before frost.

I started preparing three new beds; one large bed near the front entrance which will have redbuds, spirea and barberry, one long row of 20 rose of sharon against the garden fence, and a long row of 50 shrub roses on the inside of the garden. I still have to decide where to plant the mulberry and elm trees. I won’t put the plants in until October.

The attached picture: Late summer climbing roses trellised on the hay shed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The hardest thing

My greatest challenge has been the need to always be right. I don’t know if I acquired this over the years, or whether I have had the problem for a long time. I can remember a time when I was na├»ve and innocent, when it did not enter into my mind whether or not I was right.

I discovered the problem only recently, when with certain people who really irritated me. The source of the irritation was that they felt they were always right. After I had some time to consider this, I realized that while it may be true that they had a problem, it was me who had it worse. What a terrible insight. The source of my irritation was really me.

I cannot say that I have mastered this beast for ever more, but I have slaughtered it a few times. Each time has led me to greater vigilance. I am more aware when it starts to sneak up on me once again. I consciously watch it sneak out of the ashes of where I burned it last. I let it rise up and then watch it go, without giving it voice. I am thankful for the strength one more time. Attention, attention, attention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From the time I was a child

I was amazed by how everything seemed to come together. I would sit by the front door and watch the milkman deliver fresh milk and eggs, the bread man deliver their fresh goods (early 1960’s Virginia), followed by the dads leaving early for work. How did it all happen? How did they all know what to do? Why did it all seem to be so perfectly orchestrated by some invisible conductor? What was the purpose of all this activity? Later, in elementary school, I wondered whether we were really better off now or in some earlier time when we actually had leisure time, sitting around the campfire, looking out into the night’s sky, weaving gigantic tales about the constellations. Fifty years later, I still feel the same. Why have we made ourselves so busy? Why have we ceased to wonder? Why have we failed to appreciate our many blessings?

What is Grace?

I once was very confused by this word. I knew it was an important word, I knew it was a good word. Yet, what exactly was grace? There are those who use it to denote a period of time as in a “grace period for payment”. Others use it to denote beauty as in a “graceful dancer”. And there is the song “Amazing Grace”. All I have ever remembered about that song is “who saved a wretch like me.”

I now understand why it was so difficult. Grace is a location, captivating an entire landscape of words. No one word really does it justice. Grace is beauty, peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, benevolence and much more. Most importantly, grace is who we really are, it is our true nature.