Monday, December 1, 2014

Repeat as Necessary! Religious Fanatic !

I believe in the value of tradition and as my friend Bernie would say “Not to post this blog post again from December 2009 would be a ‘violation!’ ”


The following is an excerpt that first appeared in the Second Chance Dance Blog Post from December 2009.

“We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I mean by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others.”
-       Thomas Merton

One of my favorite comic strips is “Peanuts.” It is a vehicle that helps me laugh and be reflective at the same time. In one particular strip that appeared around this time of year Charlie Brown asked Lucy why she was so happy. Lucy explained how it was "Christmas" and she explained further that this was the time of year to "spread joy, caring, compassion, giving and love." Charlie Brown wondered to Lucy, "Why do we just do these things at Christmastime and why can't we do those things all year round?" Lucy yelled at Charlie Brown "What are you some type of religious fanatic?!"

Every Christmas Eve both of my girls reminded me to put out milk and cookies for Santa. When they were old enough they dictated a note I had to leave for Santa to accompany the cookies and milk. They chose each word carefully and made sure that their message was clear and complete.

“Dear Santa

Here are some milk and cookies for your journey. Thank you for stopping by and leaving us gifts but please do not forget all the poor children who need food and clothing this Christmas and all year round.

Love you…

Lindsay and Leigh"

I was and remain moved by their continued  “fanaticism” and pray in hopefulness for them all ways…) 


                     Whats So Funny about Peace and Understanding( Smart phones click on link)



 As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

Cause each time I feel it slippin away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

Cause each time I feel it slippin away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What's so funny bout peace love & understanding?


                                   Band Aid (1984) - (smart phones click on lik)



It's Christmastime
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer

Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world

Feed the world

Let them know it's Christmastime again

Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again


Here are some of my favorite Charities:











 Have a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy Holiday!





amdg

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Emmaus Dialogue: Act Three, Part Three “ Goin’ to The End of The Line”



The two pilgrims who have been trying to make their escape to a place called Paradise. Suddenly the two do not recognize anything on their passage. Most things and people they encounter are unfamiliar. Pilgrim One starts to show signs of anxiety while Pilgrim Two starts to flip through a book he has in is knapsack.

Pilgrim One: What the heck are you doing? How can you begin to think about reading when we are at the precipice of self-demise? Can’t you take anything seriously?

Pilgrim Two: I am quite serious and this is just not any book.

Pilgrim One: Oh, I expect that this book is the one and only “ Good Book?”

Pilgrim Two: Well, it is a good book in a way. It is one of the journals I have been keeping. As a matter of fact this particular journal is one in a long line of meditation and reflection filled pages.

Pilgrim One: So, do you have a map in there or some great insight that will put us on the right path again?

Pilgrim Two: Well, yes and no. Years ago I met a wise man from the Big East who gave me some advice.

Pilgrim One: Don’t tell me you took that “Course on Miracles” and these are your notes! Don’t you realize that …

Pilgrim Two puts up his hand to signal, “stop” as he interrupts the wound up Pilgrim One’s queries and confrontation….

Pilgrim Two: Hold on a minute will ya! No, this is not that text on “The Course in Miracles: To Find Peace and Happiness” but in a way it is an elementary method of discerning one’s blessings and being mindful of the sacred in all things. This wise man I spent some time with used to quote Einstein for me , “ There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” So, years ago I started to try o be aware of all the miracles and blessings in my life. Then I started to write about these observations and meditations in a journal.

Pilgrim One: What are you talking about? How does this help anything? How does this help us now?

Pilgrim Two: If you let me finish I will tell you. Every morning I sit in wonder and am overwhelmed with humility that the great grace is filling all things in the universe. This wonder-filled canvas of pure peace and love surrounds us and it fills up my spirit.

Pilgrim One: A little simplistic isn’t it? You are not going to lecture me about God, heaven and all that again.

Pilgrim Two: I really don’t care what you label that energy of great love that has caused all existence through magnificent peace and love. By the way, for the record, I don’t believe in your concept that heaven is really the same as some theme park at Disney world or grand resort on the Riviera located above the stars. All one needs to do is look, see and feel. No thinking is required, you know.

Pilgrim One flailing his arms screams out

Pilgrim One: Where are you going with this? How is this going to help us get to where we need to go? I don’t understand.

Pilgrim Two: In the pages of this journal I have tried to write what I am sensing or experienced when I attempt to be present. Sometimes I feel as though great secrets of the universe are revealed. Sometimes I experience a consolation so great that I believe I am a part of the expansive canvas of pure peace. Sometimes the tranquility comes from the stars. Sometimes I can hear to sweet serenity in the songs of the pre-dawn birds welcoming the sun. Sometimes the waft of salt air form the sea along with the lapping waves on the beach are all part of the harmonious symphony of serenity.

Then sometimes I drift and contemplate to wonder of existence : Love, intimacy, compassion and mercy. The miracle of conception and birth comes to mind. Where does that spark come from that initiates all life? How does that happen, really?

I think of how there are no accidents.  Einstein was to have said that,
“ Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Whoever and whatever God is I don’t think that this universal magnificence is passive at all.

Then sometimes I drift again and write about true happiness. I reflect on how I have never read a story or poem or heard a song or have seen a movie where the one who has the most possessions or biggest bank account has found authentic happiness or peace.

Pilgrim One now with his face in his hands whimpers

Pilgrim One: I don’t understand. I don’t understand. How is this book and all this going to help us get to where we need to go?

Pilgrim Two:  You see I believe that the help, this gift is all about love. Love is the origin of everything. Love is the reason for existence. Love is that which fills the universe and every moment we love we are experiencing the sacred. We become the divine when we love, as all that is love is divine.

So, we really do not need to get anywhere. We really don’t need to own anything. If I feel lost or feel alone and can’t connect with that which is truly important I look into my journal’s writings and discover that I have witnessed true peace and that miracle of love. And, in this witnessing I realize somehow mysteriously with all my imperfections I am participating of this miracle. Heaven is not a destination. Heaven is where love is. Heaven is here and now.

Pilgrim One: I guess I know what you mean. In the movie “Field of Dreams” the main character meets the spirit of his father who asks
‘Is this heaven?’ and the main character responds that it is Iowa and asks his father’s spirit if there is a heaven and the father says ‘ Oh, yeh, it is the place dreams come true” and the main character looks at his wife and daughter on the porch of their farm house next to a ball field in the middle of his cornfield and smiles saying “Maybe this is heaven.”

The two find a half finished bottle of Merlot and a baguette in their sole knapsack and the companions begin to celebrate.


"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God's gift, that's why we call it the present."

(Final Scene Field of Dreams- smart phone click link)

( Awaiting on you All - G. Harrison - smart phone click on link)



(Looking for My Life - G. Harrison- smart phone click on link)

( The End of the Line - Traveling Wilburys - smart phone click on link)




 amdg

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thats The Way It Goes


Then there was the time the pilgrim was trying to reach out to old friends and anyone who might want to listen. There were stories about the illumination of how perfection is not attainable and parables about how busyness does not mean happiness ready to explode from within. He had rolled the dice and found himself singing to himself and writing reflections, lyrics to songs and poems only he would hear or read. It seems simpatico spirits had either made an early departure or  were preoccupied with their own searching sojourns.

He sat soothed by the sea softly swaying as soaring gulls swept just above the waves with the sun soaking every satisfied soul that savored the sacred serenity of the hymns of the silence. The clouds blew away. Another season about to change once again. The oft dreamed about distance grew nearer. Safe harbors departed.  Concern about that which lies beyond the horizon evaporates. Regrets and receipts of fares paid of yesterday are logged, stored and shelved. The voice of quiet one echoed
“ its a game, sometimes your cool, sometimes your lame.”

Then he remembered how in the great book even the Sons of Thunder were chastised for wanting the beat the crap out of those who closed their hearts and minds. Gratefully smiling he returned to that which was burning within singing “That’s the way goes”


The Way It Goes- G. Harrison  ( smart phones clock on link) http://youtu.be/Furq2vP4h3A

You Can Lead a Horse to Water - G. Harrison( smart phone click on link)
                                          http://youtu.be/-Vpov5SOTEI



Any Road Will Get you There - G. Harrison (Smart phone click on link) http://youtu.be/FyzQF4Y8dGA?list=PLYYHjo7xYmk8HLgtJH1XUQJXq1q2qDTmw






Amdg

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Coasters Revelation

 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
          Mark 8:36-37

There they were unpacking remnants of memories; posters, paintings, cd’s, vinyl records, books and more books and loads of glass and cup coasters. There were so many coasters from so many places and so many events and so many remembrances. Some were square,  some round, some stone, some wood and even a few leather ones.There were probably as many coasters as there were glasses, mugs and cups to be unpacked!

Another dilemma, ”which coasters to save and which one’s to discard?” There is limited space in the new safe harbor home. ”Too many coasters”, she proclaimed. “ It is time to sort through this abundance of stuff”, she added. Self-righteously he retorted,“ You can’t just get rid of memories. These are treasures. ”

Stalemate.

The two concurred to retreat to the beach as a getaway and for some sort of sacred discernment about sorting and unloading . The sand, surf and sun sometimes provide relief if not answers. Usually there is just a lot of sun and sand and nothing more on these retreats. But, at this point in their move to the next chapter they believed, “what have we got to lose?!”

Mysteriously without warning or anticipation a friendly storm worn face appeared near the shores of salvation . It was friend from another lifetime when he and his companion had first set out on their odyssey together. Just seeing this face of a woman and hearing her voice fueled the furious flames of memories . Hugs and kisses were followed by her sober stories woven with tragedy and redemption. That sandy storm of the century had completely demolished everything that this friend and her family possessed on their piece of paradise on their island in the stream. A distant voice confirmed to the pilgrim that if there was to be a survivor it would be this good friend. Her things were washed forever but not her love, her faith or her memories.

This meandering pilgrim was one known for never lacking in words and yet he was speechless. He wanted to say how sorry he was for his old friend’s troubles. He wanted to say something about how if there was anything she needed that he would do what he could for her and her family. But, by her demeanor and  soul-filled inner strength he knew that she needed nothing of what he could provide save a  silent prayer. He wanted to tell her how grateful he was that she and her family was safe and well and  how he was grateful to see her again.

But there was only a sweet simple silence.

A brief exchange of semi-genuine promises to stay connected concluded the encounter and just as mysteriously the old friend was gone from sight. He wondered “Was she real? What just happened?” as he and his companion retired from the sands of time to their new chapter home.

The sun went down and rose again as it does consistently. The new day brought a summoned local plumber to repair this and that at the new place as the two continued their bickering about what needed disposal and what really needed to remain. As the plumber wrenched the problem away he echoed a journey similar to the one the two had heard the day before. It wasn’t déjà vu but it was a close second. The man recalled how his home had been washed away by that great storm that had devastated the home of the couple’s friend. No photo albums, no family heirlooms, no furniture or rooms where his wife, children and even grandchildren had lived and celebrated a multiple of fond occasions had survived the great storm.

“All I had left was my truck and my job” the plumber said with a prideful bitterness “but it didn’t destroy my memories or my hopes and dreams. It will cost everything I have and more to start over again. But it’s only money and it is only things, right? ” He continued and shared how a 1,000 homes on the mystic island had been lost.  A  1,000 homes of 1,000 families with a million memories. “I am one of the lucky ones.”  With  a heartfelt wish to the two for “good luck and good health” this fixer’s spirit disappeared off  somewhere into the unknown horizon.

The pilgrim’s contemplation “Was this fixer and old friend angels or coincidences?”

Sitting somberly the eyes welled up as the pilgrim reflected on his concern for things and attachments. The debate about salvaging coasters and memories seemed supercilious as he humbly grabbed for an empty box.

“Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.”

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”




“Don't you know what's wrong with me?
I'm seeing things I don't want to see.
Sniffing things that ain't no good for me.
I'm going down fast, won't you say a prayer for me?”
    - E. Clapton


Got to get better – Clapton ( smart phones click on link)


"There's a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door's thrown open
I can hear the organ's song
But the congregation's gone
My city of ruins
My city of ruins"

-B.Springsteen

City of Ruins Bruce  – (smart  phones click on link)





amdg




Friday, August 1, 2014

Ineffable: The Road Not Taken (An Anniversary Reflection)


“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
                       
            - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

So what is it about fire pits, cigars and a glass of vodka on cool summer nights that lead to discourse on roads not taken, coincidence and time?

His first mate said, “Not everyone has had the life changing event that fueled a metanoia, a re-evaluation of life’s purpose and conjuring a deeper appreciation of the journey.”

He thought privately, “Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
(CABG) changes everything.

The Florence Nightingaled one counseled, “… Maybe there was a reason your business unraveled. Maybe if you continued down the path you were on the heart would have failed. Maybe there is a greater hand at work with different plans.”

Finally joining the conversation the pilgrim chimed in, “Maybe it was that accidental invitation twenty four years ago to contemplate on the patch of holy ground on the bluffs over the big muddy, just a mere 930 miles from home, is where a baptismal immersion onto the grace-filled Odyssey commenced? Storms were brewing in the distance; this vessel was being prepared for an unknown sea. Then just as mysteriously a second invitation surfaced to another sacred safe harbor where spiritual guides would help this pilgrim navigate the oceans of mercy. What would have happened to this breaking heart if this pilgrim had not been lowered into the presence of redemption and healing by his new companions?”

He postulated further “So many incidents and connections altered directions and plans. A faithless private troubled associate pleaded me to maintain courage and introduced me to the wizard of St. Mary’s where my heart was repaired and allowed me to continue. It seems as there is an abundance of “what if’s” and “there but the grace of God go I” contemplations. It is so tempting and easy sometimes to get lost in a wilderness of worry, isn’t it? But, there is something ineffable about the letting go and being present. ”

“So, here we sit in a new safe harbor that was never part of the plan. A place we passed a thousand times but maybe we were not ready or maybe it wasn’t ready for us. Then when we thought we were ready a storm rose and suddenly we unexpectedly found ourselves in exile, a state of limbo. Maybe we weren’t really ready? Maybe there was something more at stake.”

The first one chimed in convincingly that “ Your exile’s purpose was to keep me company during me recent rough seas at work. Having you staying with us helped me.”

The Pilgrim added “Maybe the time in limbo was a sacred gift where we would be eased into the transition into the next chapter? Who would have dreamed that after all the twist and turns we would end up this side of paradise?”


 “Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right”
       - Here Comes The Sun, George Harrison

  Here Comes the sun ( Smart phone click on link)



“Tonight this fool's halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell
And I feel like I'm comin' home,
These are better days…”
           - Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

Better Days (Smart Phone click on link)



“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude




CABG August 4,2008

amdg


Monday, June 30, 2014

Fourth of July: Little Egg Harbor, NJ



(The F. Scott Fitzgerald Model home
Little Egg Harbor, NJ)


“Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

   -Ulysses , Alfred,  Lord Tennyson  


“Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City”
    - Atlantic City, Bruce Springsteen

“How does one become a butterfly? They have to want to learn to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

Fot most of the forty-year Bloomsday passage
On this side of paradise,
The two of them had
Rockawayed the days and nights.
Wondering if the green light at West Egg was real
They were “simultaneously enchanted and repelled
by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
That ancient aging ticking clock
And tattered calendar indicated
That time finally had arrived.
They sang together
“Everything dies baby that’s a fact,
Everything that dies someday comes back.”
Unlike Alice who didn’t care much what path to follow
These wanderers launched out again-
They  “beat on, boats against the current.”
The baggage they carried
Was heavy, rich and not a burden.
Multiple graces and so many friendly faces
Find favor in their memories.
Whyte’s journey prayer echoes
 On their passage to hope
“You are not leaving but arriving.”
And a sign strategically placed
By some greater hand
Calms the ambiguous sea,
“Heaven is a little closer
in a home
by the water.”
The first one said softly
“The aurora is rising
behind us.”
The second one said
“Meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”
It was their Independence Day.  *


(* Thanks to Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Boss, Lewis Carroll, David Whyte and of course Joyce and FS Fitzgerald for the inspiration)

So much to say …. My own words inadequate ....I will let the songs below do the talking…. Enjoy!

Smart phones click the link if you don’t see the music videos on your page.

 One of these Days – Neil Young
                                             http://youtu.be/_RuuyZYGSzU

 These are the days – Van Morrison
                                                        http://youtu.be/_lyve_egY8o
                                                
Rockaway the Days – Bruce Springsteen
                                                 http://youtu.be/U7GOkZFOsq4
                                                                   
 Cousin Caterpillar – The Incredible String Band
                                                      http://youtu.be/nu0brlGGQ2Y
                                                

Watching the wheels – John Lennon
                                                  http://youtu.be/qp9dc9im3-M
                                              


 Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters
                                               http://youtu.be/EPEqRMVnZNU
                                              
Fourth of July Asbury Park – Bruce Springsteen
                                                http://youtu.be/KgFHM8HMbWQ
                                               

Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen
                                                      http://youtu.be/g2TmSB8ccLY
                                                

                                                   
Wishing blessings to my Jersey Girls, family, friends and neighbors ….

Always Grateful,
John

amdg

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Inadequate Gratitude


"At the Day of Judgment we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done." ( Thomas A’ Kempis , The Imitation of Christ, Book I, ch. 3.)


How does one say farewell to trusted friends who have been with you every step of the journey so far?
How can one express gratitude for the inspiration, the comfort, the illumination, grace and mentoring these companions have provided?
Is it important that others are aware of the significant impact of the ideas and insights that these compadres provided?

All that has resided in the cluttered attic can’t continue on the passage to the next chapter. It feels like Sophie’s choice. It is unfair to choose.Anger swells against the pilgrim partner who insists that there is no room for many of the friends.

Advances in technology and the prospect of collecting a digital compendium are not the same and an unsatisfactory solution.There is something to be said about touch and physically grasping, if not caressing gently, the confidantes and mentors. Just knowing that they are at an arms length is comforting.

“Not to decide is to decide”

But the moment of reckoning occurs and reality wins where only a few will join the pilgrim onward. A divine breath speaks silently of a somewhat solemn solution …some poetry, some novels, some educational texts, some sacred tomes, some historical records…. and so it goes. Refusing to say “goodbye” to those left behind this reflection then will be a humble “thank you” to each one.  Also, let it be known that each one…yes, each one. …these sacred gifts ….every page…every word…every idea…every concept will remain as an integral part of burning flame in this heart.

I will never forget. I will try to find a way to honor  the words... of the poets, the authors, storytellers, spiritual masters, saints and  inspirational teachers .... and how they have blessed me.







amdg