Together

Once there was a land where the great rivers flowed from the mountains onto rolling hills and across fertile plains. Blue skies, red sunsets, amazing vistas and abundant wildlife abounded. Freedom loving, hardworking people came and for a hundred years and they worked together and built upon the land. The tilled and seeded, raised livestock and built cities and more freedom loving hardworking people came to join them. They mined, felled, drilled and dug the bountiful natural resources and built a strong caring community. A community where cowboys cared for children and city dwellers supported farmers. A community where each person accepted responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbours grew. If a barn was razed, it was rebuilt. If a road was impassable, it was cleared. If someone was troubled, they were lifted up. If a barrier was identified, it was overcome – together.

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There was a bounty shared by all who cared to join the inhabitants of the land. The blessings of opportunity, promise and hope teemed in a measure equal to the material blessings that were created. Hope was born out of industriousness and inclusion. As hope flourished, unimagined opportunities manifested themselves and unexpected forms of providence appeared.

Neighbours didn’t always agree but they lived together with honour and respect. They debated passionately but held space for the opinions of others.

A man came into the land and saw all that was good and he was jealous. Envy and despair grew in him and he set out to undermine and destroy what the people had built.

Saying to one here “you deserve more” another there “ why work so hard” and another “ that isn’t your job” At first his prodding was ignored and the people kept living together in community but the man’s voice was joined by many others with the power of print, radio, and TV. Their message began to take root. “Why worry about your neighbour. Was he there for you?” “Leave that for the next guy to do. You have done your share already”. “Let’s hire someone to do our work and we can relax in the sun”.

After a few dozen years or so, the passion and purpose that built the land was forgotten and the language of self-reliance and responsibility was erased and replaced by delegates and servants hired to look after every need. The sky darkened and neighbours built fences of fear. Trust evaporated and was replaced by rules of entitlement. People still came seeking liberty but they didn’t find freedom and opportunity and the sweat of their brow or the power of their skills wasn’t appreciated. A community turned into a group of individuals who happened to live in the same place. The man and his ilk said ” Our economy is strong”, ” we have too many freeloaders”, ” we need to protect ourselves”, ” we can’t let more people come here”.

Soon neighbour threatened neighbour. Disagreements were handled by the court. Prisons were built and filled and more prisons were needed. Debate became vitriolic rhetoric full of untruths and logical fallacies. Distrust turned to disgust and then to hatred. Hope evaporated and opportunities disappeared. People stopped coming and started to leave. The man and his bloc were satisfied that their jelousy had poisoned the community and they packed their carpetbags and moved on to infect another place with their economic arguments, their prejudice, and their fear.

This story is written by someone who observed the shift – a child born in the midst of abundance and caring who now nearly 30 years old, sees scarcity and greed. Her great wish is for a return to ‘the good-old-days’ but realizes that fear has its foothold and is gaining strength. It would take leadership, commitment and comp[assion to restart the journey towards hope. She can’t do it alone but she can do her part with a challenge; “I leave you this story, how it continues is up to you ..”

Happiness

Three weeks ago you weren’t ready to hear the secret about happiness but as you have worked through breathe, appreciate, kindness, to useful you are now ready to hear it.

” Happiness, like almost everything, is a choice”. There are days when I find the secret hard to believe and I have been practicing and living it for 10 years. On those days the reminder is important. I can choose to be happy or choose to be miserable. People, circumstances, health, money have nothing to do with the choice. In fact the opposite might be truer. Happy people find themselves surrounded by happy people. Happy people discover all new forms of providence in their circumstances. Happy people are healthier. Happy people have more opportunity to acquire whatever they need through their initiative and efforts.

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You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on  your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. ~ Dr Seuss

The Last Sunday of 2016

Another year is coming to a close, another chapter, with lots of loose ends is nearly written and I ponder lasts this morning. What were some of my lasts of 2015? Was there someone I spent time with that was the last time I will see them? Did I go somewhere that I will never return to?  Did I eat something that I won’t taste again? Did I do something that is completely in my past?

I remember my oldest son saying ” we do such a good job of recording our kid’s firsts – first steps, first word … but miss all the lasts. When was the last time that one of the kids crawled into bed with you, after having a bad dream? When did they last come to you crying about a broken relationship? When did they …

I don’t know what to do with the awareness that there are lasts. Maybe every day. I am going to be observant for the remainder of the year and try drink in the ‘lasts’ as much as the busyness allows.

Make Today Remarkable, for someone unexpected,

B

Happy Valentine’s Day

I readily and happily admit that my life is so much better because of   my partner, my wife, my beloved.  I am indebted for her patience, amazed by her tolerance and blessed by her caring. She fills a lot of the holes in my life. I love her.

My kids and grandkids let me know that I am loved , in direct and indirect ways. A smile when I enter the room, a cuddle when we  need it, a kind word even when they aren’t feeling well are reminders of how I should behave. I love them.

Good friends have and meet high expectations. I am not always attentive or responsive to their needs and can be disappointed when they don’t meet my unspoken ones. I love them.

As a follower of God, in the way of Jesus I try to live a life he would please him. Every day when I don’t live that life I still feel I am forgiven and cared for. I love Jesus.

“Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”
(originally by The Four Aces)

Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose
That only grows in the early spring
Love is nature’s way of giving
A reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing

Be the Author of Your Story

I have had times where I was being defined by others and accepting their depiction of who I was and what value I brought to my world. I didn’t like it. I didn’t even recognize it.

When I found myself in social, business or family situations that didn’t resonate with who I was, I began to understand that my story was being written by others. I don’t think any of the writers had malicious intent but they sure had a power. I began to wrestle back my story by interjecting edits, clarifications or retractions when a conversation or circumstance made me uneasy. This does take focus and courage. Rather than letting it slide, I needed to step up and own my story, state my case, and firmly hold my personal position.

I try to live my life holistically – in every situation, I am who you see and know. But pressure to conform to other’s expectations found me living in silos where my tone, persona, and choices were more a reflection of other’s than me. Worse if they saw me in a different silo, they might not recognize me.

Breaking out was/is a process of awareness of yourself, some form of articulation of yourself, public affirmation of yourself, and courage to resist the push/pull from peers and family. There are consequences, good and not so good. For me the good far outweighed the other.

Make Today Remarkable, by being the best you that you can be,

B