20 February 2018      

Hello again, and thank you for being here with us today!

Keep Going
Joseph M. Marshall III

Creative Reading
Wilferd A. Peterson

Our Lack of Leaders
tom walsh

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Life is not something to be lived through:  it is something to be lived up to.  It is a privilege, not a penal servitude of so many decades on earth.

William G. Jordan

Life, like any other exciting story, is bound to have painful and scary parts, boring and depressing parts, but it's a brilliant story, and it's up to us how it will turn out in the end.

Bo Lozoff

Life is a moment-to-moment happening;
any attempt to possess it, save it,
or store it, is to lose the present moment.

A Spiritual Warrior


Keep Going
Joseph M. Marshall III

The young man had one more question.  "Will I ever understand life and death the way you do?"

"If you live long enough, yes," replied the old man.  "There are times when I wish that I could understand some things more clearly.  But my journey is not yet over.  So perhaps I have something more to learn.  I do know this:  If you understand life, you understand death."

"What's to understand?" the young man retorted.  "As far as I'm concerned, my father dies before his time.  Why couldn't death have waited?"

"Death is not to blame," pointed out the old man.  "It was the disease that took your father.  Death is often the consequence of choices we make.  Someone decides to drive under the influence of alcohol and misses a curve he has driven hundreds of times.  But, in truth, we begin dying the day we are born.  That truth frightens most people because they have been taught that death is the enemy.

"My father--your great-grandfather--was a healer, in the old ways of our people.  Before he died he told my mother he only wanted to be buried in a coffin made of wood.  My father wanted his body to return to the Earth from which it came, without impediment.

"Many people look on death as the end.  He looked on it as the end of one journey and the beginning of the next.  He believed that a metal coffin is a denial of death, because it prevents remains from returning to the Earth.  If you visit just about any cemetery in this country, you see that this society denies death.  People bury their loved ones in marble, granite, or steel crypts, thinking it's a final act of love that they can give.  Because of what my father taught me, I see it as preventing the end of the Earthly journey.  And it affects the spirit's journey to the next world.

"My father was not afraid of death, though I think he was sometimes afraid of life, as we all are at times.  He was afraid of failure, of illness, of life without my mother.  He was often afraid that perhaps he had not done his best in one situation or another.  But he was never afraid to die.

"We may die by accident, disease, in war, from old age, at the hand of someone, or by our own hand.  The manner of our death is often the last judgment others make of us.  But I think if we are to be judged, it should be for how we lived.

"Your father was a good man; he lived a good life.  You should not waste effort on anger over the way he died; celebrate the way he lived instead.  That is his legacy, not the manner of his death."

The old man and his grandson sat quietly in the shade of the old cottonwood, listening to the gentle breeze rustling the leaves.  The young man was awed by his grandfather's enormous strength of spirit, and grateful for the words that had given him peace in his time of anguish and confusion.

"I can't thank you enough, Grandpa," he said.  "One day I hope I can be half as wise as you are.  Thank you for all you have said."

"My grandfather spoke much the same words to me many times during the course of my journey.  He reminded me often, as I remind you now; there is another Grandfather.  Remember that in our language Grandfather also refers to the Great Power others call God.  The words I spoke are really from that Grandfather, because of the journey that He gave me and helped me to make.  The journey that has been my life is the source of what little wisdom I have gained.

"That Grandfather is all around.  He is in the storm that challenges you, and in the strength that enables you to face it.  He is that whisper of hope against despair, and the sunshine on your face when you meet each day.  He is there with you in your victories and embraces you when you suffer defeat.  He was there when you came into this world to begin this journey, and He will be there when you leave it to begin your next one."

Once again the young man sat silently absorbing his grandfather's words.  Then he whispered, "Thank you, Grandfather."

And he would always remember how the breeze grew stronger and rustled the cottonwood leaves louder, even if only for a moment.  In the rustling of the leaves he thought he heard a soft, strong voice speaking to him in a lilting rhythm.  As yet the words were not clear to him.

"Grandpa, do you hear the voice in the leaves?" he asked.

Old Hawk smiled.  "Of course," he replied softly.

"What is it saying?"

"It is life speaking," replied the old man.  "It says simply to Keep Going."

more on perseverance


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Creative Reading
Wilferd A. Peterson

Every great creative thinker is a great reader.  They are constantly saturating their minds with great thoughts.  They approach books in this way.

A book lets you set the pace.  If you want to stop and think about a word, a sentence or a paragraph the book will stop with you.  If you want to close your eyes and meditate about an idea the book gave you, it will be there when you open your eyes, ready to move on with you.

A book synchronizes with your thoughts.  It becomes a part of you.  The author enters your mind.  You can relax and fall asleep over a book and not miss anything, because it does not move until you turn the page.  You are in personal control when you read a book, you can accept or reject, agree or disagree and a book won't talk back.  A book is your servant.

Books are also a form of immortality.  The words of people whose bodies have long since become dust still live in their books today.  Plato, long dead, is as fresh and alive in his books today, as when he walked the streets of ancient Athena.  All the great thoughts that men and women have put into books are instantly available to you.  All the great lives that have been lived are told about in books.

A book becomes a part of you, and helps to shape your thinking and your character.  The past and the present live in books to guide you into the future.

The spirit of people, the lives of people, the discoveries of people, and the history of people can all be found in books.

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Love is never abstract.  It does not adhere to the universe
or the planet or the nation or the institution or the profession,
but to the singular sparrows of the street, the lilies of the field,
“to the least of these my brethren.”  Love is not, by its own
desire, heroic.  It is heroic only when compelled to be.  It exists
by its willingness to be anonymous, humble, and unrewarded.

Wendell Barry



Our Lack of Leaders

It's very unfortunate to say this, but we're living in a country with very few effective leaders these days.  This isn't an effort to get political, and I'm not trying to stir up any anger or resentment, but the fact has to be faced:  those of us in the United States are living in a country with extremely poor political leadership, and our country is not doing well because of this fact.

Part of the problem, it seems, is that we have so few public servants any more, and many professional politicians who are doing their best to make a career of their political positions--not necessarily because they want to do what's best for their constituents while they hold office, but because they want to have the power and financial gain that come with their office.

I've seen this also in the public schools in which I've taught--so many of the teachers are unable to be leaders; rather, they feel that their job entails "classroom management," a term that has come to be equated with control of the students.  The truth is, though, that a leader rarely has to exercise control over others because the others are too busy trying to achieve what they need to achieve to be disruptive.  They feel a sense of independence and possibility when they work, and their goal is to do their best at the task at hand.


People make history and not the other way around.  In periods
where there is no leadership, society stands still.  Progress
occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize
the opportunity to change things for the better.

Harry S. Truman

One of my biggest frustrations is when I go into a store to buy something and I encounter people who have absolutely no clue how to answer my questions.  While from time to time this may have more to do with the person being new, most of the time it has to do with poor leadership on the store level--the managers are more concerned with making themselves look good than they are with actually training well the people who work for them.  (And a good leader would hate those last four words--they really should be "who work with them").  We have a management crisis in our country, and one of the reasons for which the huge stores are able to take over so easily is because so many of the smaller stores are managed so poorly.

Is this the fault of the young people?  Absolutely not.  It's hardly a secret that they've had very few examples of true leadership in their lives, unless they've been very lucky to have parents who understand leadership, or unless they worked at an early age for someone who did.  It seems that now more than ever, workers view their bosses as someone who may fire them, not someone who's going to mentor them and help them to succeed.  Students so often see teachers as adversaries, people who give out grades to punish or reward and who send you to the principal's office just to get rid of you.

The worst part of this seems to be that the upper management also has horrible leadership skills.  They fire managers for the performance of the people below them even when they don't give them enough resources to get the job done.  Nowhere is this as evident as it is in the schools, where teachers regularly get low evaluations based on student performance even though they don't have nearly enough resources in the classroom to help to raise that performance.  The leaders at the upper level are punishing the leaders at the lower levels because they need scapegoats--that department isn't functioning well because the manager wasn't doing his or her job well, but things will be better once we replace that person.

The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day
you have stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence
that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.
Either case is a failure of leadership.

Colin Powell

And what this ultimately comes down to, of course, is the leadership that young people experience in their homes, coming from their parents.  What many parents don't realize is that their children need them to be strong leaders, and actually appreciate it when they take on that role.  Yes, they may balk at times and they will probably complain when the leadership is strong, but a strong leader in the home--preferably two strong leaders--help the kids to feel secure and to learn about boundaries that are normal parts of life in human communities.  If they don't learn about expectations at home, they don't learn about them at all unless they're fortunate enough to have relatives or teachers who help them to learn.

So what do we do about this?  I think that one of the most important things we can do is to acknowledge and accept the fact that we all are called to be leaders--usually in very small ways for most of us, but this is a truth that cannot be denied if we're being honest.  We aren't just expected to be leaders--we're obligated to be leaders.  Unfortunately, many of us abdicate that responsibility and allow others to tell us what to do, how to think, how to respond to different things, and our lives don't improve when we do so--nor do the lives of those for whom we care.

Being a leader, though, can be quite simple.  It doesn't necessarily mean leading an army into battle or leading a corporation into profitability.  Sometimes leadership can be as simple as:

Making a decision that you know is right and sticking to it.  (You've been on the computer long enough.  Go outside and play.)

Remaining true to your ethics.  (They gave me too much change, so I'm going to return it.)

Listening to and seriously considering the input and ideas of others.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more,
do more, and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

Sharing compliments and encouragement that are deserved, not just complimenting someone for the sake of complimenting them.

Sticking to your guns and not bending just because someone else is putting pressure on you--but also being willing to bend if doing so is justified.  And learning how to tell the difference between situations that demand rigidity and those that demand flexibility.

Taking the time to teach others how to do things that are difficult for them.  Taking the time to teach the right, even if it takes six or seven or twenty tries.  Letting them know that the extra time is always worth it if the finished product is to be something they can be proud of.

Being a good listener.  Not a listener who only wants to give advice and "fix" things, but someone who truly listens to understand an issue or a problem.

Leading by example.  Never being someone who says one thing yet does another.  Your example is your strongest message, and the one that will be emulated.  Words very often mean very little.

Many of us don't see ourselves as leaders, but as followers.  The truth is, though, that we all are leaders, even if the people we're leading are few.  Take the time and make the effort to be an effective leader, someone who cares and who shares love and compassion, and you'll be contributing much to this world that has a dire need for people who are willing and able to lead.

More on leadership.




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To love means being 100 percent responsible for your experience of living, to not be a victim or a martyr, and to be 100 percent accountable for the quality of your life, which includes the amount of love, joy, and growth you create in your relationships each day.  To love is the ability to remain strong, stable, and committed through difficult times, changes, and challenges.  It means being gentle, kind, and supportive of your potential, goals, and aspirations.

Harold Bloomfield

I received a letter from a parent who wrote:  "Mister Rogers, how do you do it?  I wish I were like you.  I want to be patient and quiet and even-tempered, and always speak respectfully to my children.  But that just isn't my personality.  I often lose my patience and even scream at my children.  I want to change from an impatient person into a patient person, from an angry person into a gentle one."

Just as it takes time for children to understand what real love is, it takes time for parents to understand that being always patient, quiet, even-tempered, and respectful isn't necessarily what "good" parents are.  In fact, parents help children by expressing a wide range of feelings--including appropriate anger.  All children need to see that the adults in their lives can feel anger and not hurt themselves or anyone else when they feel that way.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers


Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get--only
what you are expecting to give--which is everything.  What you
will receive in return varies.  But it really has no connection with
what you give.  You give because you love and cannot help giving.
If you are very lucky, you may be loved back.  That is delicious,
but it does not necessarily happen.

Katharine Hepburn




A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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