Tantalizing

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Tantalizing by jwill9311
Tantalizing, a photo by jwill9311 on Flickr.

Long Live The War on Christmas

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I keep hearing a lot about a war on Christmas. I don’t know that there is an active war on Christmas as much as there is a burnout and frustration with Christmas. Before Halloween was over this year there were already Christmas layaway ads, decorations in stores (even earlier at our local Hobby Lobby) and people posting to Facebook about putting up their trees. Now I know that when most people use the phrase war on Christmas, they are meaning a war on the celebration of the birth of Jesus. They are upset that other religions and cultures would expect respect for their beliefs and rituals.

I hear people upset that they were greeted with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. I honestly don’t understand the resentment. There are several Holidays – religious and secular – at this time of year. To be upset that a person is being inclusive seems arrogant. They aren’t excluding Christmas, they are being inclusive of all people.

I hear complaints about the removal of prayer and the Ten Commandments. Again, the frustration and ire is at the removal of Christian-Judeo traditions. If we were going to allow a Christian prayer before school, we would need to allow sand or water for Muslims to cleanse their hands and feet before prayer. Are we going to allow the Muezzin to call them to prayer? An imam to lead them in their prayers? What of Hindu students? Will they have time set aside for their prayers?

Would you be upset if there was a large crescent on the town hall? An Aum painted on billboards all over town? Christians get so upset about the “invasion” of America by other religions – read heathens. Odd for a group of people that traditionally came to this New World to escape religious persecution.

Christianity seems all too willing to grab on to the scripture “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV) while ignoring the words of Philippians 2:12 – Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (KJV)

The fight against war on Christmas is a sad cause for Christians to take up. There are so many other things that need our attention: poverty, disease, homelessness and inequality. Perhaps if we worried as much about the greeter at Wal-Mart as we did about his salutation people wouldn’t be so burned out on our religion. The pre-Halloween commercialism of Christmas… I hope the war on that never ends.

Stillness

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The leaves are beginning to fall to the trees.  The wind and the colder weather of the last few days have really accelerated the process.  There is beginning to be more of a dampness in the air.  I can feel it in the mornings in my joints.  My knees and shoppers are sore when I first wake up.  It takes a few minutes for me to get going.  But after a cup of coffee to lubricate my joints, I am usually good to go.  I have been pleasantly surprised this fall.  There has been more color in the tree leaves.  The last few autumns they have simply fallen to the ground without ever really changing color.  It has been nice to see the bright yellows the vibrant reds.  Also nice has been the crunch of dry leaves under my feet as I walk through the yard.  It has also been very enjoyable to watch the birds rustle in the leaves as they look for seeds and insects.

I have begun to put out some seed for them.  I try to do that every year so that I can condition them to know where to come look for the food in the winter.  There is quite a collection of birds that arrive in the winter.  There are cardinals, blue jays, finches, a pair of mated doves and several chickadees.  It really is a joy to see the variety that arrives.  It is also nice to see when the deer come to the yard.  We leave several of the apples and pears on the ground to attract them.  It is rare that the rabbits will venture very far out of the brambles.  They seem to be rather secure in their personal kingdom.

It is nice to see all of the animals that is that the yard in the winter.  Winter is always thought of as a time of quietness.  We seem to think that everything has hunkered down and is hibernating throughout the winter.  I always think of winter is a wonderful time.  The trees are bare.  Sometimes there is a blanket of white on everything.  There is a calmness and peacefulness to everything. All the distractions of summer are removed. Gone are the flitting hummingbirds, buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies. The chaos of colors and falling leaves that is autumn are gone as is the rush of squirrels and bears to gather food and fatten up for the winter. Rushing waters are trickles of their former selves. Lakes and ponds freeze.

It is in this time of year that I find myself most comfortable. The world lays in darkness for several hours every day and the night air carries a crispness. The winter sky is alive: a brilliant collection of pinholes in a black velvet canvas. Sound carries in the stillness. The coyotes seem to be at your feet as their mournful calls float endlessly through the peace. Somewhere a dog is called backed to his primal roots and joins the cacophony.

 I feel sorry for those people that lock themselves in their homes and miss the glory of nature at this time of year. Frost on grass glistens in the low morning golden glow. The trees bare a starkness that showcases their strength and form. No rounded balls of leaves. Steam rises in wisps and hugs the surface of ditches, streams, creeks and rivers. Cold fog hugs lakes. A crane takes flight in the distance and then all returns to stillness. A V of geese cross the sky.

Yet it is all missed by so many. They are cocooned with the light of an electric fire, the sound of hissing heat from the registers and sounds of canned laughter from the television. At this time of year, our separation from natural world is at its most apparent. No working in the spring garden, mowing the summer yard or raking the fall leaves. Secure in our homes, we miss all that is winter.

In our lives, there are periods of quiet and stillness that overwhelm us. We seek to fill them with noise and light. We delight in the chaos that distracts us. Busyness calls us away from the solitude that would allow us to think and reflect. We cannot bear to sit still. The hustle and bustle which we always bemoan are really welcome. In the winter times of our lives are those places that we don’t want to go. Those places of life scare us. The structure of our lives are laid bare of leaves and our structure is exposed, the baying of the coyotes of doubt are seemingly everywhere around us and the foggy gloom hides the hopes and dreams taking flight. We long for the joyful rebirth of spring: a renewing of our spirit. We seek out the light of the energy of life around us that warms and brightens. We can even accept the beauty of slow decline. But there is something about the quietness that frightens us.

We fear a cold, slow death exposed to the elements. The pinpoints of light in that velvet blanket hold the prying eyes of friends, family and strangers. The rustling in the dry leaves are the whispers behind our backs. We fear. We dread. We hide. We fail to see the nourishment laid before us. We miss the opportunity to rest and reemerge refreshed and hungry to devour all that is set before us.

Embrace the cold and dark. Relax in it, hidden in the brambles. Secure from the predators. Fearless and content in your lair. Relax and breathe the refreshing crisp air. Let it fill your lungs expelling the staleness. Let your skin tingle afire with exposure. Sit deep in a cocoon of insulating ice.

Use these winter times to prepare to attack anew the world before you. Seek to cherish that which others see as depression. Do not be condemned by the thoughts of others that your lack of a smile and laughter is a illness. Take a few minutes to drink that cup of coffee and give the stiff joints a moment to limber up. Then begin the new day refreshed.

On Being Wrong

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http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html

Who Are You

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We sometimes take time to evaluate our lives.  Usually seems that this is in a time of severe difficulties in our lives.  It may be the death or illness of a loved one.  It may be the loss of a job, a divorce, or other negative situation in our life.  It is sad that it takes such a profoundly sad moment or us to revalue way our lives.  I should be a time in each of our lines when we take it upon ourselves to explore ourselves and make an honest evaluation of the person that we have become.  Are we truly who we think we are?  Are we as kind as we think we are?  Do we really have compassion for other people?

It seems like we’re afraid to answer these questions about ourselves.  We become defensive and angry when others tried to point out our deficiencies.  We seem to have the foolish misconception that we’re perfect.  We will not admit to coming up short.  But if each of us will take a serious look, we will find places that we have come up short.  We’re not the fathers, brothers, or uncles that we meant to be.  I do not know it is what keeps us from evaluating ourselves.  Do we not want to admit that we’re not living up to the standard we have set for ourselves?  Do we have such a furor sale your that we do not want to even think about it being possible?

We are all beings.  As one of the things that we must learn to accept about ourselves.  The letter how much other sprayed on us or how much we think highly of ourselves, in each of us and one there is a failure of some sort.  It is only one would begin to accept this fact that we can begin to correct this fact.  By not examine ourselves we are condemning ourselves to continually be a failure.  All it by self examination an honest interpretation of what we see are we ever able to improve ourselves to become better.

Many of us go to the gym to improve our bodies.  We study to improve our minds.  We meditate to bury our study scripture to improve our souls.  All of the things we’re willing to do to improve ourselves.  Why is it get local and for us to sit down and evaluate ourselves in an honest manner.

I am not aiming to make us look down from ourselves that have low self-esteem, I am simply wanting us to see ourselves as we truly are and not in some high and lifted manner.  I think that each of us could improve ourselves it would just simply take the time to evaluate ourselves.  We need to take an honest look in the mirror.  We’ve really cannot expect others to be honest with us if we’re not going to be willing to be honest with ourselves.