Archives for the month of: December, 2015


Are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions? And keeps them? I have not been one to do so. However, this year is different. I am sharing my process in case you’re on the verge.

It began with an image that surfaced on a run Christmas day. Water running off the hillside from spring like temperatures and recent rains created a melodic chorus, and my thoughts flowed with it. My resolve: to live more mindfully in the moment.

Given major conflicts in the world and the politics of the year ahead, I know I will be triggered often. Committed to deepening my spiritual path and knowing that the only things we control in life are our attitude and our effort, I identified three prompts to sustain my intention.

Pause for a questionWhen my buttons are pushed or I am perplexed, I will ask myself, “what wants to happen here?” In the instant of confusion or frustration this liberating question from transformational coach, Alan Seale invites answers that propel us out of our conventional responses into new and more expansive possibilities.

Look for the light. It is usually easier to dwell on our shortcomings and those of others rather than recognize and honor our respective gifts. The festivals of faith surrounding the solstice provide a seasonal reminder, as do the familiar words, “you are the light of the world.”

Be accountable. To help me hold myself accountable I will wear a wristband to recall my promise when the dark side appears. I have chosen one imprinted with Mike Dooley’s message, Thoughts become things – choose the good ones. I am also going public with my intention! Hence this post.

Are you making any resolutions for 2016? Can we support each other?


Prompted by the strident and polarizing rhetoric of political campaigns, conversation with friends this past week surfaced the lack of comity in our nation’s social and political discourse.

With its root in the Latin word for friendly comity means the cordial recognition of the other person and/or the other person’s position. In international relations comity acknowledges the sovereignty of another country and its representatives. It is also associated with decorum, the ground rules for debating differing positions and points of view.

Comity is under siege today. One symptom is the rebellion against compromise, which for some means meeting in the middle to solve problems; to others it connotes capitulation. Political correctness is another challenge to comity. Embraced by some to foster inclusiveness, it is vilified by others who feel muzzled by a progressive agenda.

Each year at this season the questions surrounding compromise and political correctness surface in another way. Why can’t all of us just greet each other with Merry Christmas? After all, the prevalent religion in this country is Christianity.

As with our politics our response to that question relates to our world view. Do we just need to get back to the ways that served us well in the past when life was simpler? Or, do we need to learn how to integrate the inevitable changes coming our way, including the influx of a growing number of people from diverse cultures, the requirements of justice at home and abroad and the environmental threats to the sustainability of our land, water and food?

Resurrecting comity may help us bridge our divides. After all, the baby whose birth Christians celebrate called us to live lives of love and reconciliation. The way we treat each other is the medium of the message.


The younger man sat across from me, and we explored a dilemma he’d brought to share. Words and feelings flowed back and forth, gradually filling the space between us like gentle waves of an incoming tide.

We belong to a group that has been meeting monthly to support and challenge each other with what it means to live our lives as men. Our ages range from late 30s to early 70s. As sons, spouses, fathers and some of us grandfathers, we are eager to learn from each other how we define ourselves at our various stages of life, how we nurture our most important relationships and how we manage our livelihoods.

Conscious or not in the moment, each of us knows we bring our own father with us into the room. Not surprisingly our father-son relationships run the gamut, informing each of us in the ways we show up in life.

Robert Hayden writes of one such relationship, revealing that the “offices” of love can sometimes be hidden in the raw reality of routine, or under-appreciated in light of conflicts. For those of us in cold climes who heat by wood, the image is particularly poignant.

Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

 I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well.

 What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?



It is a cold rainy night, weather to suit the somber reality of yet another mass shooting in the news. Seeking more than a meal, I wind down the road to the only restaurant in our small town. It is one of winter’s Wednesdays at the pub where folks gather to unwind mid-week, laugh a bit and enjoy our local musicians.

The warm smile of a familiar face asks if I’ll be having the usual. I opt for a change and she transitions smoothly – “I know you like one or the other.” I thank her for her attention.

Some friends are already here; others arrive as the evening unfolds. Hugs and happy repartee create a soothing background hum.

We are blessed with very talented musicians in this rural hamlet. For two hours they perform, transporting us through personal memories and shared experiences. Increasingly the patrons’ attention focuses forward on the music and the shades of our human journey. Collectively we settle into the warm embrace of our community.

The final song encapsulates the scene. Written by Karla Bonoff, known best from Bonnie Raitt’s cover and sung beautifully by our friends, it portrays the sense of belonging and return to the place of heart we call home.

Traveling at night, the headlights were bright. But soon the sun came through the trees around the next bend. The flowers will send the sweet smell of home in the breeze.

 And Home, sings me of sweet things. My life there has its own wings to fly over the mountains though I’m standing still.

Winding my way back up the hill, I am refreshed, heading home from home.