Friday, February 29, 2008

The test of a reader

I had to read this a number of times before I understood, but I think it is very insightful.

"The gift of reading, as I have called it, is not very common, nor very generally understood. It consists, first of all, in a vast intellectual endowment -- a free grace, I find I must call it -- by which a man rises to understand that he is not punctually right, nor those from whom he differs absolutely wrong. he may hold dogmas; he may hold them passionately; and he may know that others hold them but coldly, or hold them differently, or hold them not at all. Well, if he has the gift of reading, these others will be full of feet for him. They will see the other's side of propositions and the other side of virtues. He need not change his dogma for that but he may change his reading of that dogma, and he must supplement and correct his deductions from it.

A human truth, which is always very much a lie, hides as much of life as it displays. It is men who hold another truth, or, as it seems to us, perhaps a dangerous lie, who can extend our restricted field of knowledge, and rouse our consciences. Something that seems quite new, or that seems insolently false or very near dangerous, is the test of a reader. If he tries to see what it means, what truth it excuses, he has the gift, and let him read. If he is merely hurt, or offended, or exclaims upon his author's folly, he had better take to the daily papers; he will never be a reader."

Robert Louis Stevenson Photo by Jose A Gallego

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I think

I think everything good comes from God. I think the nurturing of a mother deer for her fawn comes from God. I think both good and evil men love their children because it is God’s design. I think all love comes from God and it is his gift to all creatures; it is part of being “made in his image”. The capacity to love is because of him and no other. When I see someone doing an act of love, I see a demonstration of God, because God is love.

I think it is the most wonderful gift he could give, and it gives us comfort, counsel, security, unity and hope, just to name a few.
I believe we can learn of God in everything because wherever love is, there His nature is on display. Pagan or Priest, prince or pauper; if I see acts of kindness and love I see the hand prints of God.
I don’t believe Christians have a monopoly on love, but only a fuller understanding of its depth and width as well as its author.
When I see a non-Christian mother gently caressing and cooing with her babe in arms, I bless God for his design and gift of loving. In believing this it makes the whole world a classroom to ever remind me of His presence. That’s what I think.
Painting by W. Bouguereau

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When faced with the breakup of her parents’ marriage, a hurting teenager named Kimberly used the following word picture in this letter to her father.

Dear Daddy,
It’s late at night, and I’m sitting in the middle of my bed writing to you. I’ve wanted to talk with you so many times during the past few weeks. But there never seems to be any time when we’re along.
Dad, I realize you’re dating someone else. And I know you and Mom may never get back together. That’s terribly hard to accept – especially knowing that you may never come back home or be an “everyday” dad to me and Brian again. But I want you at least to understand what’s going on in our lives.
Don’t think that Mom asked me to write this. She didn’t. She doesn’t know I’m writing, and neither does Brian. I just want to share with you what I’ve been thinking.
Dad, I feel like our family has been riding in a nice car for a long time. You know, the kind you always like to have as a company car. It’s the kind that has every extra inside and not a scratch on the outside.
But over the years, the car has developed some problems. It’s smoking a lot, the wheels wobble, and the seat covers are ripped. The car’s been really hard to drive or ride in because of all the shaking and squeaking. But it’s still a great automobile --- or at least it could be. With a little work, I know it could run for years.
Since we got the car, Brian and I have been in the backseat while you and Mom have been up front. We feel really secure with you driving and Mom beside you. But last month, Mom was at the wheel.
It was nighttime, and we had just turned the corner near our house. Suddenly, we all looked up and saw another car, out of control, heading straight for us. Mom tried to swerve out of the way, but the other car smashed into us. The impact sent us flying off the road and crashing into a lamppost.
The thing is, Dad, just before we were hit, we could see that you were driving the other car. And we saw something else: Sitting next to you was another woman.
It was such a terrible accident that we were all rushed to the emergency ward. But when we asked where you were, no on knew. We’re still not really sure where you are of if you were hurt or if you need help.
Mom was really hurt. She was thrown into the steering wheel and broke several ribs. One of them punctured her lungs and almost pierced her heart.
When the car wrecked, the back door smashed into Brian. He was covered with cuts from the broken glass, and he shattered his arm, which is now in a cast. But that’s not the worst. He’s still in so much pain and shock that he doesn’t want to talk or play anymore.
As for me, I was thrown from the car. I was stuck out in the cold for a long time with my right leg broken. As I lay there, I couldn’t move and didn’t know what was wrong with Mom and Brian. I was hurting so much myself that I couldn’t help them.
There have been times since that night when I wondered if any of us would make it. Even though we’re getting a little better, we’re all still in the hospital. The doctors say I’ll need a lot of therapy on my leg, and I know they can help me get better. But I wish it were you who was helping me, instead of them.
The pain is so bad, what’s even worse is that we all miss you so much. Every day we wait to see if you’re going to visit us in the hospital, and every day you don’t come. I know it’s not over. But my heart would explode with joy if somehow I could look up and see you walk into my room.
At night when the hospital is really quiet, they push Brian and me into Mom’s room, and we all talk about you. We talk about how much we loved driving with you and how we wish you were with us now.
Are you all right? Are you hurting from the wreck? Do you need us like we need you? If you need me, I’m here and I love you.
Your daughter,

More than two months before writing this letter, Kimberly had watched her father, Steve, walk out of his family’s life with plans to divorce his wife and pursue a relationship with another woman. The heartache that Kimberly, her mother, and her brother felt was indescribable. But the anguish also extended to Steve. Only a few weeks after leaving, he began to second guess his decision.
That’s the impact of divorce. It appears to be a solution when in fact it brings only pain and new difficulties.
A few days after receiving Kimberly’s letter, Steve appeared on his family’s doorstep and asked to come back. He realized that divorce wasn’t the answer to his family’s problems.
James Dobson – Night Light

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"I was common clay till roses were planted in me."

I've been reading a chapter called The Inspiration of Goodness, by Samuel Smiles; I have included part of the chapter here. It is an inspirational chapter for me, to hear of good people that have influenced others by their investment into other's lives. I like hearing about it, it encourages me and motivates me to give more. As I look at this picture of a girl named Naw Paw Blu, with what is obviously a heavy load for her, I know there have been loving people in her life that have mentored her, and taught her the grace of loving. Here is an 'onward Christian soldier, marching as off to war'. It reminds me of the lyrics of a song from the '70s; "He aint heavy, he's my brother".

“Dr. Arnold’s own example was an inspiration, as is that of every great teacher. In his presence, young men learned to respect themselves, and out of the root of self-respect there grew up the manly virtues. “His very presence,” says his biographer, “seemed to create a new spring of health and vigor within them, and to give to life an interest and elevation which remained with them long after they had left him; and dwelt so habitually in their thoughts as a living image, that, when death had taken him away, the bond appeared to be still unbroken, and the sense of separation almost lost in the still deeper sense of a life and a union indestructible.”
“Hence it is that the life of every man is a daily inculcation of good or bad example to others. The life of a good man is at the same time the most eloquent lesson of virtue and the most severe reproof of vice.
Dr. Hooker describes the life of a pious clergyman of his acquaintance as “visible rhetoric,” convincing even the most godless of the beauty of goodness. And so the good George Herbert said, on entering upon the duties of his parish: “Above all I will be sure to live well, because the virtuous life of a clergyman is the most powerful eloquence, to persuade all who see it to reverence and love, and at least to desire to live like him. And this I will do,” he added, “because I know we live in an age that hath more need of good examples than precepts.”
It was a fine saying of the same good priest, when reproached with doing an act of kindness to a poor man considered beneath the dignity of his office --- that the thought of such actions “would prove music to him at midnight.”

Izaak Walton speaks of a letter written by George Herbert to Bishop Andrews about a holy life, which the latter “put into his bosom,” and, after showing it to his scholars, “did always return to the place where he first lodged it, and continued it so, near his heart, till the last day of his life.”

Great is the power of goodness to charm and to command. The man inspired by it is the true kind of man, drawing all hearts after him. When General Nicholson lay wounded on his death bed before Delhi, he dictated this last message to his equally noble and gallant friend, Sir Herbert Edwards: “Tell him,” he said, “I should have been a better man if I had continued to live with him, and our heavy public duties had not prevented my seeing more of him privately. I was always the better for a residence with him and his wife, however short. Give my love to them both.”
There are men in whose presence we feel as if we breathed a spiritual ozone, refreshing and invigorating, like inhaling mountain air, or enjoying a bath of sunshine. The power of Sir Thomas More’s gentle nature was so great that it subdued the bad at the same time that it inspired the good.
Lord Brooke said of his deceased friend, Sir Philip Sidney, that “his wit and understanding beat upon his heart, to make himself and others, not in word or opinion, but in life and action, good and great.”

Happy Birthday Micah!

I have to confess, that when it comes to remembering birthdays, I am the least of the Grandfathers. I think I have forgotten every family members birthday this year. Maybe it's my age, or who knows; but, even though this is two days late, I want to give a big birthday wish to my grandson Micah. Micah is a fun loving, handsome boy with a big heart and imagination.
I chose this picture to represent him.
Micah, Grandma and Grandma love you!!!!!!!!!
painting by Greg Olson

Monday, February 25, 2008

In the chapter of "The Power of Good Women", Samuel Smiles tells this story about President Washington's mother.
"George Washington was only eleven years of age, the eldest of five children, when his father died, leaving his mother a widow. She was a woman of rare excellence, full of resources, a good woman of business and excellent manager, and possessed of much strength of character. She had her children to educate and bring up, a large household to govern, and extensive estates to manage, all of which she accomplished with complete success. Her good sense, assiduity, tenderness, industry and vigilance enabled her to overcome every obstacle, and as the richest reward of her solicitude and toil, she had the happiness to see all her children come forward with a fair promise into life, filling the spheres allotted to them in a manner equally honorable to themselves, and to the parent who had been the only guide of their principles, conduct and habits." Painting by Alma Tadema

"Epictetus once received a visit from a certain magnificent orator going to Rome on a lawsuit, who wished to learn from the Stoic something of his philosophy, Epictetus received his visitor coolly, not believing in his sincerity. "You will only criticise my style," said he; "not really wishing to learn principles." --"Well, but," said the orator, "If I attend to that sort of thing, I shall be a mere pauper, like you, with no plate, nor equipage, nor land." -- "I don't want such things," replied Epictetus; "and besides, you are poorer than I am, after all. Patron or no patron, what care I? You do care. I am richer than you. I don't care what Caesar thinks of me. I flatter no one.

This is what I have, instead of your gold and silver plate. You have silver vessels, but earthenware reasons, principles, appetites. My mind to me a kingdom is, and it furnishes me with abundant and happy occupation in lieu of your restless idleness. All your possessions seem small to you; mine seem great to me. Your desire is insatiate --- mine is satisfied."

Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them. Painting-Weiss
"What should we think of one who had invented flowers, supposing that, before him, flowers were unknown? Would he not be regarded as the opener-up of a paradise of new delight? Should we not hail the inventor as a genius, as a god? And yet these lovely offsprings of the earth have been speaking to man from the first dawn of his existence until now, telling him of the goodness and wisdom of the creative power, which bid the earth bring forth, not only that which was useful as food, but also flowers, the bright consumate flowers to clothe it in beauty and joy!"
Samuel Smiles -- photo by Simon Kims

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the moment

This is a painting of a father enjoying his family on a Sunday afternoon. He’s been reading the paper and having a cup of coffee, and he’s just paused to look over at his wife and daughter enjoying themselves in the old porch swing…A moment in time that passes and is too often forgotten. To see the smile on the face of someone you love...To hear the sound of their happiness...To breathe in the sweet, fresh air and smell life...What did we ever do to deserve something so precious? - Jim Daly.

Afghan Girl

This is the famous picture of the "Afghan Girl" taken by Steve McCurry, (who has a web-site where you can see all his work), they say it is the most viewed picture in the world. There were thirty originals offered for sale. I ran across one in a gallery in San Diego three years ago. It was priced at $3,500 and it burned on me to buy it. I didn't and opted for the $35.00 poster. I visited the gallery three weeks ago and was amazed to find that a mere three years later it now sells for $65,000. And worth every penny.
A modern day Mona Lisa if you will. Personally, I like it far better. I was at a site where they were discussing the picture and there were posts where people gave their thoughts. There was a wide range of opinion. Everything from appreciation of her beauty to those who saw the horror of war, fear, those that thought she was a good actor and the occasional soulless idiots thoughts.
I have this picture in my den and look upon it nearly every day. I never tire of it, and it never ceases to rivet my soul. As for me, I see the suspicion that nearly every Afghan person has when ravaged by war. This is not a girls trust that is easily won. The picture below is a common scene and no doubt the Afghan girl has witnessed scenes like it with her own eyes. That is the expression I see in her eyes, seen too much, for too long and at thirteen, she is doing her best to live life without hope.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

You want to what???

The following are strong words to young men who are considering marriage. Oh that we had pre-marriage counseling such as this!

So, you want to marry?--- "What, you have had one life to manage, and have failed so strangely, and now can see nothing wiser than to conjoin with it the management of some one else's? Because you have been unfaithful in a very little, you propose yourself to be a ruler over ten cities. You strip yourself by such a step of all remaining consolations and excuses. You are no longer content to be your own enemy. You must be your wife's also. You have been hitherto in a mere subaltern attitude; dealing cruel blows about you in life, yet only half responsible, since you came there by no choice or movement of your own. Now, it appears, you must take things on your own authority. God made you, but you marry yourself; and for all that your wife suffers, no one is responsible but you. A man must be very certain of his knowledge ere he undertakes to guide a ticket-of-leave man through a dangerous pass; you have eternally missed your way in life, with consequences that you still deplore, and yet you masterfully seize your wife's hand, and, blindfold, drag her after you through ruin. And it is your wife, you observe, whom you select. She, whose happiness you most desire, you choose to be your victim. You would earnestly warn her from a tottering bridge or a bad investment. If she were to marry someone else, how you would tremble for her fate! If she were only your sister, and you thought half as much of her, how doubtfully would you entrust her future to a man no better than yourself?"

Robert Louis Stevenson

In the moment

"One thing in life calls for another; there is fitness in events and places.
The sight of a pleasant arbor puts it in our mind to sit there. One place suggests work, another idleness, a third early rising and long rambles in the dew. The effect of night, of any flowing water, of lighted cities, of the peep of day, of ships, of the open ocean, calls up in the mind an army of anonymous desires and pleasures. Something, we feel, should happen; we know not what, yet we proceed in quest of it. And many of the happiest hours in life fleet by us in this vain attendance on the genius of the place and the moment." Robert Louis Stevenson

Don't you love how this little piece brings up so many memories. As I age, I know the importance of being in the moment where ever I am, not to suggest that I have mastered the art, far from it but it is a goal I seek.
I've been reading from a book of "William Penn's Maxims", he is described in the post below this one if you have forgotten about him. I wanted to quote him regarding his thoughts about ruling slaves. Many of the founding fathers owned slaves, which seems antithetical to the rest of their actions and lives, but I remember reading about a man travelling abroad from Europe to the colonies, and he told his friends that, 'he never once saw a slave mistreated in all his travels'.
I bring this up not to endorse slavery, but simply to state that many true Christians treated their slaves better than some employers treat their employees today. I'll let him speak for himself---

Masters -- Mix kindness with authority; and rule more by discretion than vigor.
If thy servant be faulty, strive rather to convince him of his error, than to discover thy passion; and when he is sensible, forgive him.
Remember he is thy fellow-creature; and that God's goodness, not thy merit, has made the difference betwixt thee and him.
Let not thy children domineer over thy servants; nor suffer them to slight thy children.
Servants -- Indulge not unseemly things in thy master's children, nor refuse them what is fitting.
A master may be defrauded many ways by a servant; as in time, care, pains, money, trust.
But a true servant is the contrary; he is diligent, careful, trusty. He tells not tales, reveals no secrets, refuses no pains, is not to be tempted by gain, or awed by fear, to unfaithfulness.
Such a servant serves God, in serving his master; and has doubled wages for his work; to wit, here and hereafter."

Yes, some slave owners paid their slaves for their service and showed compassion even though they felt no guilt about ownership. Strange as it seems today, I can liken it only to a good person having an abortion, the culture they associate with approves it and they buy into it.

"And masters, treat your slaves in the same way, Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."
Ephesians 6:9

William Penn

William Penn was the first great hero of American liberty. During the late seventeenth century, when Protestants persecuted Catholics, Catholics persecuted Protestants, and both persecuted Quakers and Jews, Penn established an American sanctuary which protected freedom of conscience. Almost everywhere else, colonists stole land from the Indians, but Penn traveled unarmed among the Indians and negotiated peaceful purchases. He insisted that women deserved equal rights with men. He gave Pennsylvania a written constitution which limited the power of government, provided a humane penal code, and guaranteed many fundamental liberties.
For the first time in modem history, a large society offered equal rights to people of different races and religions. Penn's dramatic example caused quite a stir in Europe. The French philosopher Voltaire, a champion of religious toleration, offered lavish praise. "William Penn might, with reason, boast of having brought down upon earth the Golden Age, which in all probability, never had any real existence but in his dominions. "
Penn was the only person who made major contributions to liberty in both the New World and the Old World. Before he conceived the idea of Pennsylvania, he became the leading defender of religious toleration in England. He was imprisoned six times for speaking out courageously. While in prison, he wrote one pamphlet after another, which gave Quakers a literature and attacked intolerance. He alone proved capable of challenging oppressive government policies in court--one of his cases helped secure the right to trial by jury. Penn used his diplomatic skills and family connections to get large numbers of Quakers out of jail. He saved many from the gallows.
Despite the remarkable clarity of Penn's vision for liberty, he had a curious blind spot about slavery. He owned some slaves in America, as did many other Quakers. Antislavery didn't become a widely shared Quaker position until 1758, 40 years after Penn's death. Quakers were far ahead of most other Americans, but it's surprising that people with their humanitarian views could have contemplated owning slaves at all.

"Nothing does reason more right than the coolness of those that offer it; for truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders, than from the arguments of its opposers.

Zeal ever follows an appearance of truth, and the assured are too apt to be warm; but it is their weak side in argument; zeal being better shown against sin than persons, or their mistakes." William Penn

Friday, February 22, 2008

I love this guy's art. His name is Nelson Boren, I have seen some of his original work at Cannon Beach, and you can smell the leather and hear the spurs.

"In the dusty, sun-baked lands of the West, water is scarce and large bodies of water are even scarcer. The harsh rays of the sun drain the color from the landscape, drying up vegetation and inhabitants alike-but one cowboy will not surrender. He leans casually against a doorframe, showing off the vibrant blue water and leaping yellow fish on his Cowboy Fishin' Boots . Artist Nelson Boren's portraits of cowboys take their inspiration from the sweeping landscapes of the West and then hones in on the little details that comprise a cowboy's life. His detailed studies of the trappings of the trade impart a romance and a gentle humor to what is commonly depicted as a hard and lonely existence."

I’ve been reading some quotes by Winston Churchill; he is quite the inspiring man.
I read his biography some years ago and it is most impressive. He has a no quit attitude and overcame great obstacles. I think this quote kind of says it all—

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

It would be pompous if it weren’t true. He was likened to a bulldog in his approach to the trials of life but there was humility inside—

“I have never accepted what many people have kindly said, namely that I inspired the nation. Their will was resolute and remorseless, and as it proved, unconquerable. It was the nation and the race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar?”
And roar he did.

He was a realist and gave no false hopes as this quote demonstrates—

“This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

I like his keen insight and of course this quote I approve of whole heartedly—

“It is a thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations….The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.”

I’ll leave off with this last quote—

“When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when The enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Trade" the movie

I watched the movie
"Trade", with Kevin Kline.
Powerful movie about human trafficking.
This is a must see movie, a bit too raw for teens, I think? but see it first for sure; it is one you could watch twice. Very informative and action packed, full of drama.

I also watched a fun movie the other night, called "Across the Universe". Let me see if I can describe it, It seems as though they took the Beatles music of the sixties and seventies and created a historical account of that time through the lyrics of their music. The Beatles music isn't sung by them, it is reinterpreted in contemporary style, very good I might add. So, you have a movie about the sixties narrated by the words in the Beatles songs. Catchy, and done very well. I think the movie "Once", is the closest thing to it I've seen but not that close. It also leaves out the extremes of the era, which is refreshing, and I can't think when I have seen a movie that takes you back so accurately thru a drama, romantic story. Good ending, and great acting. No one I know, but their voices are exceptional. I think it fleshs out the sixties in an understandable and reasonably unbiased way. Certainly it is what I lived through, and I don't think I could describe it as accurately as they unfolded it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"There is no state more contrary to the dignity of wisdom than perpetual and unlimited dependence, in which the understanding lies useless, and every motion is received from external impulse.
Reason is the great distinction of human nature, the faculty by which we approach to some degree of association with celestial intelligences;
but as the excellence of every power appears only in its operations, not to have reason, and to have it useless and unemployed, is nearly the same." -- Samuel Johnson

"The desires of man increase with his acquisitions --- every step which he advances brings something within his view, which he did not see before, and which, as soon as he sees it, he begins to want.

Where necessity ends, curiosity begins; and no sooner are we supplied with eveything that nature can demand, than we sit down to contrive appetites."

Samuel Johnson

'Errors,' says Dryden, 'flow upon the surface'; but there are some who will fetch them from the bottom. ----Samuel Johnson

Ps. 141:4
“Let not my heart
be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds
with men who are evildoers;
let me not eat of their delicacies.”

The Lord spoke to me through this scripture today; after spending a week at a trade show in San Diego.
It is a rare person who comes home as well spiritually as when they left.
I am not the exception.
I spent a day in Tijuana by myself; and Tijuana is not known for its morality. Wicked deeds are there for the asking, and often openly solicited. I sensed a covering of the Spirit and enjoyed the culture without eating of the evildoers delicacies. But it made me think how in our culture evildoers produce a never ending smorgasbord of evil. The poisons flow freely, though the recipes may vary with each generation. Women; painted, pumped, and preened; illicit cocktails to be slurped, smoked, or shot; evil deeds by evildoers purveying their delicacies. May we as Christians echo David’s sentiments—“Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers.”

Sunday, February 10, 2008

'Who listen to the voice of society...

I always love to hear a testimony of how God has delivered someone out of the depths of sin, but there is a far greater safety in being reared in a Christian home, where sinful habits and patterns of living are never begun, because, no doubt, those early indulgences can follow a person through all of their life. The following piece from Plain Living and High Thinking, speaks to the difficulty of an immoral upbringing.
"What is wanted for the regeneration of society is that moral courage which shrinks from even the appearance of evil, which unflinchingly sets aside all shams, pretences, and unrealities; the moral courage which dares to act up to the teaching and humbly to imitate the life of Jesus Christ; which will cultivate chastity, and truthfulness, and generosity, and brotherly love.
Is this sublime form of self-denial and self-content impossible?
Yes, to the weak and selfish, who from their youth upwards have fought no fight against temptation, have yielded to the lowest motives, and conceived no lofty purpose; who listen to the voice of society rather than to the impulse of conscience; who have become incapable, from long habit, of raising their thoughts above the petty objects and idols of the world; -- to all such it is impossible."
I would not go so far as to say "impossible", but that last paragraph describes the lifestyle of many Christians and too much of my mine.

I'm not a big fan of tattoos, especially on women, but this is kinda cool.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Joint discovery by huntsmen

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s book of wisdom, there is a chapter on talk. Not superficial conversation, where masks are worn, but true connection. He punctuates the importance and values of good conversation. I’ll begin his thoughts as he leaves an afternoon performance of “The Flying Dutchman”.

“I remember at the ending of an afternoon performance, coming forth into the sunshine, in a beautiful green, gardened corner of a romantic city; and as I sat their and smoked, the music moving in the blood, I seemed to sit there and evaporate with a wonderful sense of life, warmth, well being and pride; and the noises of the city voices, bells and marching feet, fell together in my ears like a symphonious orchestra. In the same way, the excitement of a good talk lives for a long while after in the blood, the heart still hot within you, the brain still simmering, and the physical earth swimming around you with colors of the sunset. Natural talk, like ploughing, should turn up a large surface of life,…..”

Next he gives further illustration by addressing the subject of art.

“I think, in talking art, talk becomes effective, conquering like war, widening the boundaries of knowledge like an exploration. A point rises; the question takes a problematical, a baffling, yet a likely air; the talkers begin to feel lively presentiments of some conclusions near at hand; towards this they strive with emulous ardor, each by his own path, and struggling for first utterance; and then one leaps upon the summit of that matter with a shout, and almost at the same moment the other is beside him; and behold they agree, a mere cat’s cradle having been wound and unwound out of words. But the sense of joint discovery is none the less giddy and inspiriting.”

Next he qualifies those whom good conversation may be had.

They must not be pontiffs holding doctrine, but huntsmen questing after elements of truth. Neither must they be toys to be instructed, but fellow-teachers with whom I may wrangle and agree on equal terms.

Most of us, by the Protean quality of man, can talk to some degree with all; but the true talk, that strikes out all the slumbering best of us, comes only with the peculiar brethren of our spirits, is founded as deep as love in the constitution of our being, and is a thing to relish with all our energy, while yet we have it, and to be grateful for forever.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

“Two men I honor,” says Thomas Carlyle, “and no third. First, the toil-worn craftsman that with earth-made implements laboriously conquers the earth and makes her man’s. Venerable to me is the hard hand, crooked, coarse, wherein notwithstanding lies a cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of the scepter of this planet.
Venerable, too, is the rugged face, all weather-tanned, be-soiled, with its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a man living manlike… Toil on, toil on; thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may; thou toilest for the altogether indispensable, for daily bread. A second man I honor and still more highly; him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable; not daily bread, but the bread of life…
These two, in all their degrees, I honor; all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth. Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united, and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man’s wants is also toiling inwardly for the highest.” Plain Living and High Thinking

And I think the following quote dovetails nicely with the above sentiments---

“You insist,” wrote Perthes to a friend, “on respect for learned men. I say, Amen! But at the same time, don’t forget that largeness of mind, depth of thought, appreciation of the lofty, experience of the world, delicacy of manner, tact and energy in action, love of truth, honesty, and amiability – that all these may be wanting in a man who may yet be very learned.”

“ We shall never learn to feel and respect our real calling and destiny, unless we have taught ourselves to consider every thing as moonshine, compared with the education of the heart.”

The last two quotes come from my newest addition to my library titled “Happy Homes and The Hearts That Make Them” by Samuel Smiles, the man most instrumental in inspiring Orison Swett Marden

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I ran across this picture of our Savior that Ihad not seen before. I like the raw and violent portrayal. I posted it to simply state that regardless of what is said about the virtues we need to develop and cultivate, without the issue from his hands and feet and wounded side, we can do nothing. It all begins and ends in his work, but as we should stir one another to good deeds and to use the spiritual gifts he has given us, we too, should not neglect using this miraculous machine we call body and mind, to glorify him in practical endeavors of everyday life.

"Oh, do not think the game of life is easily played; that all the trumps will turn up in your hands; that your masterly skill must surely win it. Remember that Circumstance is an awkward opponent, and that when you think the game is all your own, it has a way of trumping your court card and covering you with confusion." W.H. Davenport Adams

This excerpt from “Plain Living and High Thinking”, is in the chapter on Moral Courage and Self Culture, it discusses some of the necessary attributes we must learn growing up to be the best stewards of our life. This piece is on perseverance in school, but the application for all of life is easy.

“In addressing young men, I cannot conceive it to be necessary to repeat the usual copybook maxims in praise of industry. No one would undertake the work of self-culture who was not prepared to pursue it diligently. It is not the idler or the saunterer who feels any desire to discipline his heart or expand his mind. But I may at least insist upon the necessity of Perseverance.
I have known young men begin, like soldiers setting out on a march, with a flourish of trumpets. Books are painfully collected; a most elaborate and admirable scheme of study laid down – upon paper; a few problems are solved or a few questions answered; and then in the path of the would-be scholar springs up a giant difficulty. Immediately his heart fails him; he retreats. The books are thrown aside and the plan of study is abandoned on the plea that he is not clever enough for “that sort of thing”; he had overrated his talents; the work is above and beyond him. But what should we say if a general, on investing a fortress, drawing his parallels and designing his lines of circumvallation, suddenly withdrew because his men, in digging the first trench, came upon a hard soil? No; the student must persevere. Of course he will meet with difficulties; not one or two or half-a-dozen, but with a legion; only, as he advances, he will find each one easier to conquer than the last, and his continual successes will give him a spirit of easy confidence".

The picture is of Edward Gonzalez, 9, was born April 5, 1996 without legs for unknown reasons, leaving him with only a deformed foot. Soon after, his parents divorced and his mother Blanca Rascon was diagnosed with Lupus. As a baby his mother worked with him to get him to rollover and later crawl. Instead of sheltering him she encouraged him to achieve his goals. "If I would have felt sorry for him or did everything for him when he was little, he would not be where he is right now." Blanca said. Watching Edward move on his hands, get his own supplies in class or climb onto a counter for a glass of water is a result of that upbringing. More than his agile abilities, Edward is caring and positive and always looking after others. While spending time with Edward, I learned a lot about myself. How quickly problems seem trivial when following a boy only 31-inches tall who believes his life is perfect.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Prickle and bristle

Learn, finally, to control your temper. It is well to glow with sacred indignation at the sight of wrong, fraud, or oppression; but it is wasteful and imprudent to be at a white heat at all things and all times. Be angry and sin not. A calm, equable temper facilitates work; it is a sign that a man's intellect as well as his heart is in the right place. Who are we that we should expend our irritablilty upon others? Some persons bristle all over, like a porcupine, with prickles and points; touch them where or how you will, you are sure to wound your fingers. Learn to deal calmly with men and manners; take the accidents of life as they come, patiently and without complaint. Let nothing ruffle you out of the equanimity which is based on a sense of duty and a belief in an overruling Providence. To bear and forbear is half the philosophy of life, and to a strong man there is no difficulty in it. The meanest, poorest life may be made noble and beautiful by investing it with the sweet serenity of patience." Plain living and High Thinking.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


“Noodlin’! We called it noodlin’ boy, and we’d drag some whoppers outa them holes...... wade along the creek bank and stick our arms into them holes under water and pretty soon yank out about a thirty-five pound catfish! Hafta watch them water moccasins though, they’d hide in there too.”

And Grandpa would start another great story. I loved those late summer afternoons when we’d sit out on the porch before supper. I’d smell the chicken frying and ask Grandpa a baited question that would start him off on one of his stories; those fabulous stories I loved to hear. Years afterward, people would smile and say to me, “That Grandpa of yours’ was, without a doubt, “The World’s Greatest Storyteller!”
This is a picture of the aritists Father-in-Law, he passed away and he painted this picture as a tribute to him.
This post and the one under it are a reminder to me to stay in touch with the world children are in, regardless of the stage of life. Coincidently as I was sitting reading this morning the story by Robert Louis Stevenson below, and his childhood follies, my 5 year old grandson was in the other room speaking a language, I know not what, and seemed to be filled with glee about it. So as I hear him even now, althought the dialect has changed, I think I will go in and join him in Bengali or Russian or where ever they speak that tongue.

Make believe

"In the child's world of dim sensation, play is all in all. "Making believe" is the gist of his whole life, and he cannot so much as take a walk except in character. I cound not learn my alphabet without some suitable mise-en-scene, and had to act a business man in an office before I could sit down to my book.
Children are even content to forgo what we call the realities, and prefer the shadow to the substance. When they might be speaking intelligibly together, they chatter senseless gibberish by the hour, and are quite happy becasue they are making believe to speak in French. And it goes deeper than this; when children are together even a meal is felt as an interruption in the business of life; and they must find some imaginative sanction, and tell themselves some sort of story, to account for, to color, to render entertaining, the simple processes of eating and drinking. What wonderful fancies I have heard evolved out of the pattern upon teacups! -- from which there followed a code of rules and a whole world of excitement, until tea-drinking began to take rank as a game. When my cousin and I took our porridge in the morning, we had a device to enliven the course of the meal. He ate his with sugar, and explained it to be a country continually buried under snow. I took mine with milk, and explained it to be a country suffering gradual inundation. You can imagine us exchanging bulletins; how here was an island still unsubmerged, here a valley not yet covered with snow; what inventions were made, how this poulation lived in cabins on perches and travelled on stilts, and how mine was always in boats; how the interest grew furious, as the last corner of safe ground was cut off on all side and grew smaller every moment; and how, in fine, the food was of altogether secondary importance, and might even have been nauseous, so long as we seasoned it with these dreams."
The picture by Byerley has this caption underneath --

"Back when I was a child, neighborhoods had wonderful Trash dumps. People would throw marvelous items away. These items became the creative building blocks of our ideas and projects. Practically anything from the dump could be used to build an airplane. We worked almost half of one summer on our lighter than air contraption and were convinced that with a little luck and a strong tailwind we could clear the trees behind Garrison’s tool shed. At the moment of truth a strange phenomenon occurred. A band of magical fairies appeared out of nowhere and gave us the final vote of confidence we needed to try out our flying machine. We were airborne for most of that morning and landed only when our Mother called us for lunch."