An Ode To He Who Makes Me Lie Down in White Pastures

Soft and gentle the pure flakes float from heaven

—they must come from there—

My mind the periodic skeptic but my heart the hopeful romantic.

—I know. I’ve always known—

Millions of microscopic crystals form in opposition to entropic principal…

Like life,

fighting against disorder.

Snowflakes are a miracle: Life keeps fighting.

Activity unseen under a veil of blessed respite.

Draw together molecules…hold fast for the descent!

–knit in the womb…lookout world!–

Ten thousand feet of existence!

Two miles until you are broken, dissolved, or lost forever…

–like a vapor is the life of man. Vanity—

Surely You feed the sparrows and the valleys are the epitome of aesthetic clothing.

Beauty, love…so mysterious. So divine.

What makes us smile at nothing in particular? Your presence.

All around us are Your signs.

–I pray you always make known Yours and keep me from “Dead Ends”—

This season touches my soul.

This pearly world of gentle rest calls, and I hear You.

The deepest in me.

Your spirit in me.

Bids me shed a tear at the alabaster presence of frozen vapors.

Grow in me, breath in me…breath of God.

Lest my white soul sublime away and leave me a shell.

—I know You’re there—

Frosted peace drifts down from on high

…peace from the pieces…

…piece upon pieces…

Accumulate Your form.

And cover me.

Under the silvery blanket I will sleep

like the trees.

Absent leaves—

not lifeless—

only dormant.

I will slumber and dream of the time to come.

Men are made of such dreams.

Season gives way to season,

Your clock—

if there is such a thing—

it never stops.

This is the season of somnolence and rest.

I am eager, but not restless, for the awakening.

The end of this waxen age.

Come with fire.

May Your hot saltiness

melt this heart of stone and ice.

May my saltiness

melt Your love on me.

—Flow into the cracks—

Let me drink it in.

Guzzle the river of life forever.

Your water need not be filtered or bottled.

I pray it flow free as this ivory flurry falls

…for now, at least, in drowsy aspiration.

Blessed art thou oh Lord

who teaches the wintry crystals to form

and fall

My heart to take respite

with the trees

and my mouth to praise you

a tender hum among the snow flakes.

Gratitude for the Granted (2) Mobile Music

It wasn’t very long ago that if you wanted to listen to an ensemble of any genre, you had to either sit in a conference hall, listen to a crackling am/fm radio, or load a large plate-like record onto a crate-sized player finding the right “track” on which to put the needle to hear your desired tune.

The 20th and 21st century have seen many advances in technology, but few, I would argue, have enhanced the human emotional experience as intensely or as frequently as the mobile music device. From portable fm’s with their random and commercially controlled playlists, mobile music has evolved to walkmen to cd players to the tiny little mp3 player and with it has evolved the sheer level of epicness of every moment of the day.

Commuting in traffic and someone cuts you off? Feel the anger welling up inside? You can press play on disturbed or linkin park, (metallica or iron maiden for you oldies) intensifying the emotion and prolonging it so that your primal brain can relish in the delicious venom of rage for a few moments longer than your limbic system would normally have allowed.

Walking across campus after your boyfriend breaks up with you? Taylor swift, bruno mars, toby keith, (the righteous brothers or boyz to men if your feeling old school) will keep you company, assure you HE made the mistake, and even cry with you if that’s how you’re feeling.

Working out and cant stand to focus on the fact that its only been ten minutes and 50 more is what you need to make it through? Punch up the volume on your tunes, audiobook, movie, or whatever audio journey helps you pass the time purposefully and quickly.

Music is a powerful medium it carries on highs and supports us on lows. It even breathes in the background while a day carries lukewarm through time and memory providing focus and meaning when otherwise there wouldn’t be.

Whatever your in the mood for, turn it on. Breath it in. Let your mind focus, wander, ponder, despair, rejoice….and drink it in. Be thankful for your mobile music. Everything is better with a sound track.

 

Gratitude for the Granted (1) Air Conditioning

I am starting a series of things I experience often but overlook and forget to be thankful for them.

Air conditioning is amazing. Is there is anything more refreshing than coming home from a long day at work or outside to an air conditioned apartment or house?

Muggy air stifles you as you come to your door and fumble with your keys. Your fingers are damp so they slide around in your pocket and its difficult to get a good grip on the one metal piece that matters out of the 20 on your key ring (do you really ever use half of those?). Your skin is damp and you feel sweat beading on the small of your back and forehead. Its irritating. You didn’t notice that you were perspiring on your way from your car, through your yard, parking garage, or apartment hallway because you were walking and the air passing by pulled the liquid from your skin before it could collect. But standing still, waiting to open the door finds you becoming uncomfortable, agitated, and impatient. The key goes in, you turn the lock, and open the door. Heaven flows out to great you. Whoosh comes a soft, but strong flow of the most inviting envelopment we experience daily: filtered air chilled to perfection and as if shaken with ice cubes prior to your arrival and carrying the fragrance of home embraces you saying “Welcome Home. Come on in!” The sweat that had collected on your body now cools rapidly making everything feel polar and refreshing. Ahhhh–

Stop in the door-way, take a deep breath, and savor that moment. Out of the many crazy, stressful, hot, and busy things we can be a part of during the rest of the day, these are a few seconds to be thankful for.

Honeysuckle Breeze

A client of mine and I were running together recently. It was a beautiful spring day here in Central Texas. The sun was beating down on us, we were running uphill, and the wind was against us as we put one foot in front of the other up a long hill. This was the farthest my client had ever run and we weren’t done yet. Sweating, struggling for breath, legs and lungs burning, she says, “man that wind is killing me! Feels like I’m running against an impenetrable wall!” She was right, the wind was gusting right in our faces pushing against us. It really could make you feel like you were going nowhere fast…but wind blowing against me during a run always brought me back to my childhood…and I told her a story about honeysuckle…

When I was young, we lived in a farmhouse on a couple acres of land in Michigan. Momma kept a garden in our yard with tomatoes, melons, peas, carrots, corn, and all kinds of other plants and she’d always have us in the yard working with her in the summer. I picked up some inspiring life lessons in the garden with her: when you pull a weed, get the root or it will grow back (address underlying issues when you want to fix a problem or you’ll find yourself working much harder controlling symptoms). Corn gets planted in hard, rocky soil and tomatoes get the soft, smooth stuff. (Every seed, like every dream, is different and needs the right environment to thrive. Place yourself in the right conditions for your dreams to grow or they won’t…no matter how hard you work.)  Things like that tend to stick with you.

Another thing about momma’s garden is that it was a florist’s oasis. Surrounded with rampant wildflowers, my momma’s roses, and a beautiful apple tree, anyone so inclined could delightedly skip from plant to tree to plant smelling, looking, picking (except the roses, you’d get in trouble for picking those) to their heart’s desire. The most memorable flower of all was the honeysuckle bushes. They grew up over the fences near our driveway and the road. We used to pull the stamens out through the back to produce a drop of honeysuckle nectar to drip on our tongues…a single drop of liquid, but it was the perfect taste; delicious, refreshing, and light. The perfect summer snack in the middle of playing when you didn’t want to go inside because you didn’t want to have to do chores if you showed yourself inside. Sometimes during the summer a south/southwest breeze would wisp gently over our land and into the garden carrying with it the one-of-a-kind aroma of those sweet little flowers.

One summer day, I remember working in the garden with momma. I think I was looking for tomato worms when I asked momma for help identifying the critter I’d stumbled upon in my search. She didn’t answer. I called again, “Momma, is this a tomato worm? Momma. Momma?” I looked up and saw momma had stopped everything she was doing, nose upturned, to take a deep breath of the gust of air passing over the garden. I walked over to her, grub in hand, “Momma. Hey mom. What is this?”. Sweat from the sun and the heat of a  day in the garden dripped down her Cherokee brow reddened from the sun. She had dirt and soil spots on her clothes and caking her fingers that were gripping her gardening trowel tranquilly. She was just finishing her deep breath when I shook her arm, demanding her attention—kneeling at my level, she smiled at me. “Al, do you feel the wind?”. “Yeah, momma.” There’s always wind on a Michigan summer day. I didn’t know what was so special about it. “Do you smell that?”. I mirrored her technique: nose upturned, body still, and took a deep, slow breath. My lungs began to fill with the warm summer air, I smelled fresh soil and freshly pulled roots. I closed my eyes and kept inhaling, I smelled momma’s hair, a plethora of feminine shampoo and conditioner fragrances. The breeze tickled my ears, cooled the sweat on my neck, and gave the that goosebumpey feeling that makes your spine tingle and your lips smile and that’s when I smelled it. “Honeysuckle? I smell honeysuckle momma.” She smiled at me and squeezed my hand. “God’s in the honeysuckle breeze, Al.”

When I am running and it seems like the world is against me. The heat is beating down, the air seems thin, the hill doesn’t end…and then the wind blows. The wind is a good thing that reminds me that I’m not alone and that I can keep going. The wind gives me the strength to go on because it reminds me why I am working so hard and that I am not set up to fail. “God’s in the honeysuckle breeze”.

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An adventure in positivity

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I believe that there is good in everything and that sometimes we must make an effort to find it. With so much negativity in the world and a cultural/social focus on either our discontented present, our underprivileged past, or our bleak and dismal futures as American citizens, I have decided to share the things I have to be positive about.

With that being said, this is a positive space. There is no room for nay-saying, caterwauling, whining, putting down—really anything negative here. You’ve heard the old adage, If you don’t have something nice to say… laugh if you must, but I am serious.

I hope that you find this uplifting and inspiring, and I invite you to share your own positive thoughts here as well.