Is There No Room Left For Joy?

 

Fatigue sets in.

It’s deep enough, sometimes, to devour my soul. The day, born anew, hours old, hastily sketches out another draft of those sometimes.

Dullness trades places with pain, resignation with despair. The stoic (that I pretend to be) is nothing more, really, than a storer – holding on, pushing down, locking up, all of the grievances, all of the sadness, most of the aches.

Is there no room left for joy?

Nothing, save nothingness, in view.

One battle is lost while the explosions rage on.

This is war.

A blood-drenched, double-minded, uncivil civil war, pitting heart against head, soul against body.

I desire your light to perceive the darkness.

I seek your silence to eavesdrop on your words.

I need your stillness to shove me back home.

Peace

Copyright 2017

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

 

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Uncrushed Soil

 

I walked.

I dreamed.

But now

I hide.

Nights

And

Days

Have

Become

One.

Darkness

And

Light,

Suddenly,

Are

Interchangeable.

Time stands

Still

As it surges

Passed.

Stones crumble.

Delusions dissolve.

Flesh corrodes.

And my footsteps,

Once heavy,

Once deep,

Now leave,

Uncrushed,

The soil

Beneath my feet.

Peace

Image Credit: Pixabay

Copyright 2016 – 2017

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So As A Flower, So As A Life

 

Abandon

today’s

moment,

and

Seize

tomorrow’s

destiny.

For all that

you

hold dear,

For all that

you

desire,

Is much

too

Delicate

and

Coercive,

and

Consuming.

Free your

Heart,

Hush your

Mind,

Acquit your

Soul.

Enter

here.

Begin

now.

Peace

Copyright 2017

Image Credit: Own Photo

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A Circle Completed, A Cycle Begun

 

A love given over, without condition, without reserve.

A child, then two, absorbing everything all around them. Emotions, and language, and prejudices, and failures, and perseverance, and anger, and charity.

You mind your words, your manners, your values, your heart.

From candied lipstick to fashion lip gloss, from pony tails to highlights, the days remaining slip away, faster and blurrier.

Then you see them off, one by one, hoping that you’ve done your best, fearing that you haven’t.

But signs slowly began to emerge, one here, one there.

Degrees, and jobs, and responsibilties, and recognition, and friends, and love.

So you take a deep breath, and rub the redness from your eyes only to find – standing right there before you – two young women.

Two smart, and secure, and capable, and loving, young women.

And they still call, and text, and occasionally FaceTime (and even answer yours).

A circle completed, a cycle begun.

A love given over, without condition, without reserve.

Peace

Copyright 2017

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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Graduation Daze

It’s hard for me to believe that this was written over one year ago, when my youngest graduated from Boston University. But the sentiments remain very much the same for the class of 2017!

May brings with it closure to college campuses.

Yet, that closure comes, as well, with a soft promise, if not a hard guarantee. I’m watching, presently, even as it happens.

Young adults who left as children – it seems just several blinks ago – step forward, now, to exchange their cheap jeans and expensive parchment for a chance to move the world, a chance to more than earn their keep, a chance, simply, to fit in.

A few will exceed their wildest expectations. Most will find their way well enough. But all will find themselves – whether consciously or not, whether deliberately or not – on a life-long quest for beauty, for love, and for all things infinite and true.

It will not be easy.

Of course, it never has been.

They will enter, today, a world in some ways more open and tolerant. But that, no doubt, has come at a very steep cost – one that is both dizzying and chaotic. For what was once solid ground feels more like quicksand. What were once guiding principles seem to have been fully abandoned, yet to be replaced.

Yet I maintain hope. I always do.

And rightfully so.

The young adults that I, at least, have come to know display great personal integrity, offer deep compassion and empathy to those around them, and seek often to make things better – in some ways, through choices, perhaps, at best misguided, subject to future refinement, but in other ways in what appears, already, to be innovative and perhaps even more effective than we may ever know or live to see.

So I offer my congratulations and my prayers, today, to each of you in the graduating class.

May you find what you seek, and may all that you seek be good, and peaceful, and wise, and joyful, and true.

Peace

Copyright 2016-2017

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Merton On Freedom and Slavery

 

No unshackled man is fully free until he believes that he can willingly surrender everything – and recognizes that he ultimately must.

Our everyday choices, together, first form the substance and depth of our lives, and then either empower our movements or anchor our feet.

Driven largely, as we so often are, by our own addictive behaviors, enslaving routines, trivial obsessions, and empty commitments, free will becomes little more than an exercise in consumerism and nextism – gathering unto ourselves neither eternal treasures nor simple daily awakenings.

Many of us die long before we are buried.

And the decisions that lead us to that place slowly trash our birthright, insult our lives down to our very DNA, and mock the one who set it all in motion.

Habits and routine are all good to the extent that they free our time, energy, and attention for eternal pursuits. But they are extremely poor substitutes for contemplation, and growth, and spontaneity, and choice.

If all we have left when we reach the end are these mortal remains and a handful of material rewards, our free will, such as it is, will have deceived and failed us.

Freedom of choice is not, itself, the perfection of liberty. But it helps us take our first step toward freedom or slavery, spontaneity or compulsion.

The free man is the one whose choices have given him the power to stand on his own feet and determine his own life according to the higher light and spirit that are in him.

The slave, in the spiritual order, is the man whose choices have destroyed all spontaneity in him and have delivered him over, bound hand and foot, to his own compulsions, idiosyncrasies and illusions, so that he never does what he really wants to do, but only what he has to do” – Thomas Merton

Peace

Copyright 2017 (my verses)

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Thoughts About Mother’s Day

 

In an age when the decades-long race towards the Kardashification of our culture has finally been won – or is that lost? – I think that it’s time to bring our focus, and our thoughts, back to the fundamentals.

Back to the basics. Back to the home front.

Few things in this world are more unreal than reality tv. It seriously distorts, cynically warps, and mercilessly mocks so much that is good about us. (And, truth be told, some that is not so good, as well.)

And the very word selfie could not, to me, more ironically describe, or better define, what has risen up over time and replaced the greatest generation, the one famously known for its very sacrifice of the self.

But, really, it’s unfair of me to characterize an entire generation in this way.

Because there are those, still, whose every waking moment of every waking day, remains a selfless giving over of themselves, wholly and completely – often not without real pain and a constant, deep longing for something less physically and emotionally demanding; something much more sophisticated and worldly.

Always exhausted, forever under-appreciated, often not even noticed, they are the ones who – mostly still – take on the major yet humble responsibility for nurturing, disciplining, bandaging, encouraging, shaping, and, ultimately and inevitably, letting go.

I speak, of course, of our moms, whether still living or long since passed.

And it never gets easier for them, does it? Especially when they watch, often helplessly, the mature product of their own selflessness take on – sometimes willingly, sometimes not – its own hardships, anxieties, and burdens.

They are after all, always and forever, mom – whether at age 20 or 120.

Yes, it’s true that dads never quite relinquish their hearts either. But nothing can ever compare to the connection, both physical and emotional, of a mom; a bond, rugged and unbreakable, formed at that very first, spectacular instant inside, ending only upon her very last breath out – and, who knows, perhaps even some point beyond.

No, none should ever be called a superhero.

There really isn’t such a thing, of course. That’s as much a fantasy as any reality tv show; at least as far as we know on this side of human experience. They are always much too human, often much too impatient, sometimes much too anxiety ridden and prone to render such a fictionalized account to the world.

But, oh, that unspoken, unadulterated, unyielding love.

Therein lies her true strength, therein lies her real heroism.

And so yes, they do, in reality, affect and move our world.

And – dare I say it? – they save it too.

One child, one family, at a time.

So, here today, a big thank you to my own mom, with much love, this day and always. I am forever grateful to you!

And one wish for all of you as well:

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

Peace

Image Credit: Pixabay

Copyright 2016-2017 (Originally Published May 7, 2016 as Superheroes Need Not Apply)

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Justice . . . Once And For All

The underlying facts revealed in this updated and recently re-circulated story from 2015, For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man, are stunning, shameful, and frightening.

At least they should be:

[Former] prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.

When I first posted this on my personal Facebook page, I said this:

Prosecutorial powers are indeed mighty and, in the wrong hands, can be unjust, vengeful, and tyrannical.

As I lawyer, I have solemnly taken on the burden of representing each of my clients zealously, within the bounds of the law.

But there’s much more at stake, for I have also sworn an oath that I will

support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of attorney and counselor-at-law, according to the best of my ability.

The prosecutor in question, and every other bad actor out there connected to this case, not only violated this oath while further degrading a once noble profession, but also committed egregious felonies against the accused – stealing away his very life for 25 years.

Moreover, he committed violence against humanity, virtue, grace, and mercy itself – disgracing, if not eviscerating, the US Constitution in the process.

I generally lean somewhat conservative politically. And I am always deeply grateful for those men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives every single day.

We all should be.

But until perfect justice exists (it will one day, I believe), the government – every single branch – is no better than the people who serve within it. And while most are assuredly public-spirited, some are corrupt, and all are flawed, as are we all.

That’s one of the key reasons why I believe that the death penalty, in most instances, is no longer practical and no longer good practice: it’s far too rickety and uncertain and flawed a mechanism to mete out even minimal justice, never mind perfect justice (or revenge for that matter).

This case, in particular, clearly illustrates the substantial flaws and failures of law enforcement and the judiciary, as well as the human heart (if not humanity itself).

And it is one that can all too easily be repeated.

As egregiously as Michael Morton has been harmed – and there is no monetary compensation substantial enough to repay him for all that was wrongly taken from him – had the death penalty been imposed because of the actions of this vicious prosecutor, there could never have been any human or humane recompense.

That would have been a travesty beyond any words or understanding.

So for now, at least, some minimal form of justice has been set in motion. Let’s work together to prevent such horrendous failures from ever occurring again.

Finally, let’s disabuse ourselves of the idea that we can never become wrongly entangled within this all-too-human system. For it can, and does, happen here.

Peace

Copyright 2017

Image Credit: Pixabay

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A Lifetime Of Gifts, One Minute At A Time

 

Daily routines form a lifetime of movement.

The greatest of our accomplishments are often chipped away at, one deliberate blow at a time.

Sometimes, we strike hard and effectively and can pound away at our target, moving ourselves forward in the process.

More often, though, we can find that we are absorbing, directly or indirectly, some of the very blows that we, ourselves, have initiated.

We stumble.

Often we hesitate.

Sometimes we fail.

Responding, we can weep, shout out about the unfairness of it all, and give up.

Or, we can weep, shout out about the unfairness of it all, and get up.

It’s a daily choice.

No, actually, it’s a minute-to-minute choice.

And today, this very second (as you read these words), I’m tired.

Really tired.

But I’m still here.

And so – I’m still compelled to choose. (Deciding not to choose is, obviously, just another choice by default.)

Truth be told, I don’t really want to face any of this.

But I recognize that each of these moments, each of these choices, together, constitute what is really a lifetime of gifts – ones specifically given over to me.

So I am getting back up, deliberately choosing.

And hoping that you may feel compelled, just enough, to do the same.

The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts – Blaise Pascal

Peace

Copyright 2017 (my verses)

Image Credit: Pixabay

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CONTINUING ADVICE TO MYSELF, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

 

Rekindle the flames of your own heart before attempting, yet again, to set the world on fire;

Respect the fears that drive you, but don’t purposefully give over your time, your energy, your talent, or your trust to any of them;

Seek wise counsel from the many, draw conclusions from within;

Solitude, down time, contemplation, and rest are essential to a healthy body and soul;

Lend your time, your money, and your heart to those things which enhance and compound life, joy, compassion, and love;

Interact with respect, react with charity;

Acting with integrity is never wrong;

Understand that wisdom and kindness outlast gold and power;

Truth is discoverable, and your daily choices lead either to or fro;

Trust in the one who infused your spirit, the one who assembled the dust of the earth.

Peace

Copyright 2017

Image Credit: Pixabay

Originally Published February 2017

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