Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Endless Summer Reflection

“'Cause down the shore everything's all right

You and your baby on a Saturday night”
 - Jersey Girl , Bruce Springsteen

What is this place that draws pilgrims,
Sailors, fishermen and sun worshippers
To the unending expanse
Of this ocean of mercy ?
Here is the mystical wonder
Where the boss’s aurora rising illumination,
And wonder-filling warmth, is born
Again and again,
Over and over,
Until the pilgrims get it right.
Unionized gulls clock in
Beginning their work
Accompanied by prancing Bishop sandpipers,
Present and proclaiming their pious purpose.
Is it any wonder how
Children naturally delight at the beach’s edge,
Nurtured at the breast of mother earth?
Who is this magnificent artist magically making
A perfect peace-filling paradise for souls
Seeking satisfaction and solace?
The island troubadour’s voice
Can be heard, if one listens,
Of Atlantis’ sending ships
Spreading the promise of the universe.
But what of the source of
The origin of the song’s spirit ?
The constancy of waves,
The Surf’s up, sacramental sands
Sharing the simple sacred secret
Satiating every discerning heart .

These are the Days- Van Morrison (smart phones click on link)

Surfs Up – Beach Boys ( Smart phones click on link) - (for the member of the band)


Monday, June 1, 2015

The Way - A Reflection on Life Journeys


                                      “You don't choose a life. You live one.”
                                                   - The Way (movie 2010)

                       “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
                                           -  “Beautiful Boy “, John Lennon

“What is it in many sentient beings that compel them to construct elaborate contrivances in order to maneuver themselves to form what they believe to be self- defined actualization? Often the perceived ambitious intention and step by step action plans contain a significant expectation of an achievement resulting in self serenity that in reality is rarely satisfying.”
                                             - Unknown

As a young boy I was asked to write a paragraph on where I saw myself in twenty years. Of course I wrote a few paragraphs. It was first person account of the musings of a truck driver with a job that took him from town to town around the country, a picaresque hero of sorts. Sister Bastinda wrote a note to my mother saying how that I needed a direction, a realistic goal and how I wasn’t living up to my potential, whatever that was.

The only real personal dream I had was when in high school was to play the guitar.I loved playing music. It was and still is a Zen experience for me, losing all sense of time as I played. (I have a similar experience now when I write.) Back then I fantasized that my friend, David, and I would be singing and playing our instruments on some family entertainment program on television, Actually, we asked our reliable Ouija board and it confirmed that we would someday be on TV. Still waiting.

Over the subsequent years I meandered the maze of education and career paths. Half listening to Frost’s choice of travelled roads and half listening to the Cheshire Cat’s retort to Alice’s query I took the path that seemed most interesting and adventurous at the time. It wasn’t until I met my Obe Wan, Kirk, who told me of his own accidental Odyssey that led him to becoming a medical doctor and eventual therapist. His Ulyssian episodes highlighted for me the power of being present and letting go as well as the importance of how we live while on the journey. What really mattered he said, “was how we responded to those we encountered, how we loved and lived with compassion and integrity.” My spiritual guide who advised on the Ignatian way of living as a loving grateful faith-filled contemplative in action complimented this counsel. I then added to my lesson mantra “never take myself too seriously.”

So it is no wonder about how upset I can get at times when I hear or see the great marketers preaching the promise that buying into their special unique goal and how achieving it will result in personal success as defined by them.

Though I never became a truck diver nor did I appear on TV playing my guitar I am grateful for the paths I followed, my family ,  people I have encountered, the places I have been…and the life I have lived…. so far.

Sub note: It is not unusual then that I like journey poems, books, songs and movies. I have often fantasized about taking a pilgrimage on the "El Amino de Santiago." Recently I saw a simple movie called “The Way” about a man’s journey down the El Camino de Santiago. It seemed coincidental that I saw this as I planned this blog post. 

The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
                                                           the only life you could save.

Edith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien ( Smart phones click on link)

‘Til I Die – Beach Boys ( Smart Phones click on link)

The Way – Movie Trailer (Smart Phones click on link)

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; 
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

 - St. Ignatius Loyola


Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Day Morning Meditation

“The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the Master, “God is Unknown, the Unknowable. Every statement about Him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the Truth.”

The disciples were bewildered. “Then why do you speak about Him at all?”

“Why does the bird sing?” said the Master.
Not because he has a statement, but because he has a song.
The words of the Scholar are to be understood. The words of the Master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.”

     - “The Song of the Bird”
         Anthony de Mello S. J.

The pilgrim wonders if this bird singing before the first light of day proclaims or celebrates the forthcoming illumination and warmth. He meditates in questions. Is it a song of anticipating something really great and magnificent? Is it the song of farewell to the darkness and aloneness of night? Is it an aria of hope and gratitude? Is this a prayer that echoes my own heart’s yearning? Does gaining any understanding of the motivation of this song or the nature of this feathered co-pilgrim make a difference in life?  Listening to the wind or being present to the simple gentle swaying of the new born leaves in the not quite dawn mystically fills a void in a way no other experience can fuel his fire with a genuine equanimity of love.

The absence of the sweet morning songs during the previous barren grey season is quickly consigned to oblivion. Seasons change. Impermanence. The swift V formation of geese gliding piercing the morning sky celebrate as they honk their way north while the union gulls are diligent in their work effortlessly making their announcement that the tide is in and the beach is now ready to welcome sun and sea worshippers alike.

An unseen owl continues her repeating query as the pilgrim attempts to let go and let the May morning fill his soul. “No more questions,” he says. “No answers .No solutions.” Being present without distraction is truth, is life. After what seemed to be an endless wait-filled moratorium the morning sun finally makes her unpretentious yet majestic appearance above the horizon on the ocean of mercy. The pilgrim exhales and is humbled and free , 

Morning Phase - Beck ( Smart phones click on link)


Will there really be a morning – Conspirare ( Smart phones click on link)

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

  - Mary Oliver


Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Easter Reflection - Happy ( Joy )

                                       Ode to Joy- Cell Phone users click on link

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso once told a group the following story that went something like this….

“I went into a green grocer where I saw a piece of fruit that was my favorite. I knew that I would be absolutely delighted if I purchased that piece of fruit and would be happy to taste it’s sweetness. I had more than enough money to buy it but I left the store without purchasing that fruit. I really didn’t need to have it so I could be happy. I can be happy without it.”

Recently after what seemed to be a hard few days on a business trip I returned to be welcomed at the airport by my oldest daughter. The fatigue I had felt earlier on the plane seemed to diminish when I saw her smile as she greeted me and drove me to her home. There my wife and son in law seemed to be slightly frustrated, as my half asleep two-month-old granddaughter seemed restless and whining. I reached out and they placed the baby in my arms and within a short exhale between whines the baby looked up and realized and noticed a new adult was now holding her. It was Nonno! (That’s what the family fondly calls me.) Just like that the baby smiled a smile bigger than her face could hold and quietly rested her head on my shoulder.

My daughter smiled and said, “she is so happy to see you!” I wondered about what is this happiness that the baby is experiencing. I thought, “ What is it within this recently created human being that sparks the flame of happiness or joy? How can she know happiness? What is it that she is really feeling?"

I have read books and heard lectures on true happiness and peace of mind but I decided to do some research from a more scientific perspective. But after reading pages and pages about neuroscience and oxytocins and behavioral stimuli and such and on and on and on, I thought of what causes me to really feel happy.

Just as I have found from my own experience, there is a common thread amongst all cultures that the desire for and attachment to things often brings temporary satisfaction but not a sustainable pure sense of happiness.

Whether the happiness I have felt surfaced when in connection with another person, or stimulated by a beautiful sun filled day, or the song of a morning bird, or walk on a beach at dawn or sunset, or the sweet soothing sounds of a new or familiar song or of course the smile of granddaughter there is something mystical, spiritual …no, sacred that is present. Some common source that connects everything to everything and lives in everything is that essence that fuels our happiness or joy. That pure true happiness is love.

This morning in my journal I began a litany of what fuels my spirit with joy and happiness. I then thought of all those I know and love and who are seeking happiness. I hope they know, as I too must often recall , that it is within us and around us all ways.

                              Why are we Happy- cell phone users click on link

Happiness Factor- watch video in the story – cell phone users click on link

from" Hector in the Pursuit of Happiness"- cell phone users click on link
                 Pharrell- Happy cell phone users click on link

                   Happy – Rolling Stones – cell phone users click on link


I wish you all Happiness and Joy!


JF Sobecki LLC - 2015 -All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Muse - A Birthday Reflection

"Te Voglio Bene Assai"
On that one birthday morning waking as if it were for the first time the pilgrim wondered if was a dream or a dream of a dream or something much more mysterious.

Eyes wide opened it seemed as if that which appeared was being seen for the first time. As a matter of fact all of his senses experienced the same “this is the first time” phenomena. The initial anxiety over the newness of everything quickly evaporated and was transformed without forethought into wonder. Genuine awe was the new sense that was all consuming. New sounds, sights, touches and all smells. Fragrances were sweet and some seemed like unusual odors.

Slightly flailing the limbs moved this way and that almost uncontrollably. The head limited also in movement moved left and right but it was almost impossible to lift. Immersed in a sea of wonder that which surrounded and filled everything was unfamiliar and was more invigorating than threatening.  The ambiguity fueled the fire of delighted inquisitiveness.

It seemed that this was some form of commencement; an origination or a launching with the only thought of what went before was beautiful in its genesis. Being present to this continued magnificence in all aspects of what was being experienced fueled the spirit. Love, peace, joy, beauty and that inexplicable wonder were the sole essential elements filling each moment marked by beats of the heart and each breath.

No plans. No desires. No worries. Only a desire to reflect and share that unconditional love that sustains life was all that mattered.

Suddenly with the blink of an eye the pilgrim realized he had found himself while being lost in an eternal moment as he held his new baby granddaughter in his arms and he too was reborn by her love.

Caruso ( Te voglio bene assai)- A. Bocelli - ( Smart Phones click on link)


( Dedication- for Lindsay, Joe and Caroline)


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Old - Random Reflections


                 Old – P.Simon ( smart phones click on link)

So with just weeks away from another birthday I have had a number of reflections and ideas about a blog post bouncing round and round in my head. I have drafted at least four separate posts but I thought I would highlight just some random sections from these drafts as the post today.

* Less than a week has gone by since my 20 something daughter and fiancĂ©’ gathered to celebrate the music of the not-ready-to-retire original members of Fleetwood Mac. There in the oceanside city that refuses to die, where lost sheep seek dreams and gamble their fortunes is where we found ourselves. It was observed that “The Mac still got it and time ain’t got nothing on these players!” The congregation of pensioners and newbies danced and sang the night away.

“Everything that dies some day comes back. Meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”

* So there is a friend who is telling me that he is getting concerned about his age as he moves forward in his second career, which in all truth should have been his first. But that’s for another post. This friend and I know of a peer of ours who has posted his age as being ten years younger than he really is. Hmmm? A recent 6-week bout with sciatica as a result of two bulging discs reminded me that I couldn’t do the same things the same way I did years ago. (Hey now…I am talking about golf!) While in pain I couldn’t read, write or even play music. I did worry for a while but the worrying didn’t change anything. Physical therapy and prayer helped!

* There are some Buddhist monks who spend days carefully creating intricate works of art called “Mandelas” with millions of colored grains of sand only to brush away the work of art when their work is done. They believe that the “art”, the sacred experience is in the doing…in the “creating”, in the being “present.” Being present is to be lost in the moment of the task at hand and all that fills the spirit. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow mystery and the present is a gift.” All is impermanence some say. There is no need the boast about what was finally completed. It is being present to the moment that matters. I like to get lost in the doing and the flow...

* The pilgrim was asked to create a profile that featured his experiences, achievements and credentials. He wrote down that he is most proud of his two daughters. The newly designed automatic electronic digital form that was to collect his input wouldn’t accept that response. So he tried again. This time he wrote about his family, friends, playing music, running marathons, meditations and walking on the beach at Cape May watching the sunrise. Again, big red letters appeared “ERROR: NOT VALID ENTRY!” and wouldn’t accept his input. There were designated spaces about educational degrees earned, work titles and employers and memberships to organizations. “That’s not who I really am”, he thought.

* A dear friend sent me this quote in response to some correspondence about my letting the winds and waves carrying me to where I need to be…. Coincidence or a greater plan, who knows?

“Perhaps the best river runners are Taoists at heart. Taoism considers someone wise if they accommodate themselves to the rhythms of the universe.”

* Becoming a first time grandfather recently has changed everything. All of a sudden the sacred has exploded like some beautiful fragrant flower in the middle of the winter of my life and even I feel reborn.

* I read the quote below years ago and only recently did I begin to grasp it’s meaning. I am not sure if I am correct but it doesn’t matter in the end does it?
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” ~Zen proverb

        Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac  ( Smart Phones click on link)


           Atlantic City – B. Springsteen ( smart phones click on link)


Friday, January 2, 2015

Caroline's Letter

On December 27, 2014 Caroline Olivia Malone was born to Lindsay and Joseph Malone.

Sweet Caroline,       

Welcome to the universe. I wish you could tell us what is it that makes you smile . Your lips gently move puckering up and down and in and out as if to tell me about the secret of your origin and the first moments or your development in your mother’s womb. It seems obvious what new sights and sounds delight your innocent spirit.

Is it really hunger or is it just the unusual smelly mess in your diaper that causes you to cry out? Is it feeling your mother’s heart beat again next to your body and the firm and gentle protective loving caress of your father that brings you comfort of unconditional love? 

Somehow I think you sense that it was love that caused the spark bringing you life and that it is love  that brought you into this world . I wonder if you know that you are a gift of the divine and that your life is proof of the sacred as it is sacrament. I think your “GG” is convinced you are a special angel.

What is it that I can tell you? Here are a few things I tried to teach your mother and your zia. I am not sure how successful I was but I hope they know I tried.

Though there will be days of fair weather of warmth and sunshine there may be nights when some storms will seem endless. You are never alone and you are loved more than you will know. Listen to the wisdom of your mom and dad. Be present and live each moment in gratitude as it is a gift. Be mindful of the wonders of the universe .Be authentic and never be afraid of being precisely who you are meant to be. Mistakes happen as they are proof of our humanity. What really matters is how you live and not what you do to “make” a living. In order to respect and love others completely you need to respect and love yourself. Tell the truth and live in truth. Success is living with integrity , compassion, hopefulness and mercy. Accumulating things might delight you but they don’t really bring you peace or happiness. Don’t forget that there are those in this world who need your help, your love and your prayers. Never take one moment or one thing or person for granted. Cherish all of nature…the sky, clouds, the sun, rain, snow , trees, flowers, river, lakes, all creatures, oceans , sunrises and sunsets as they too are of God . If your faith is ever challenged just remember the love you have felt and been given as that love is God. What we call heaven is ever present as it is in your heart. Prayer works.

If you are to be serious about anything be serious about being yourself and living life with passion and joy. Music is a unique gift and let it bring joy , share the joy, let it console you when you are sad don’t ever be afraid to let go and dance! If you play a musical instrument just let the music flow . Sing always, it is freeing! Play with abandon and if you play a sport play with all the joy of your spirit.

Read as much as you can. There are so many good books with so much wisdom and fun and there is so little time. Write whenever and whatever you can and remember that writing is knowing . Art and the creative spirit in all the arts is the sacred being exposed to the world .

Trust your intuition. 
Be amazed by life and know that you will amaze others.

Te voglio bene assai


Dance ( smart phones click on link)

Love and Happiness  ( smart phones click on link)

Sweet Caroline ( smart phones click on link)