Michael Scott
Reflections of the Month Archieves
 
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March 1998

The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by its betrayals or
have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful,
be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't matter to me if the story you are telling is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it is not a pretty day,
and you can source your life from God's presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver
of the full moon, "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what
needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you are, or how you came here.
I want to know if you will stand in the middle of the fire
with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
 


April 1998

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

             I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidwalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

             II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep whole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the sane place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

             III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

             IV

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

             V

I walk down another street.
 


May 1998

Butterfly Kisses

Source Unknown

We often learn the most from our children. Sometime ago, a friend of mine punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier over reaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty. He yelled at her, "Don't you know that when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside of it? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh Daddy, it's not empty, I blew the kisses into the box, all for you Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness. My friend told me that he kept the gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who put it there.

In a real sense each of us as parents has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold!!
 


June & July 1998

Because I don't want you to worry, I will eat more sensibly. Because I don't want you to know fear, I will drive with more awareness. Because I don't want you to feel jealousy, I will dress with more compassion. Because I don't want to shatter your tranquility, I will not misunderstand so quickly. Truly I want to be a comfort in your life, not a source of distress. And above all I want you to know the peace of God. Therefore, I will at least try to weigh the effects of everything I do, of every word I speak, of every line of thought I pursue. If I am your friend, how can I do less?

--Hugh and Gayle Prather
 


August 1998

A Story by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Once a religious Jew came to an important Rabbi and said, "Every Friday evening, (The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday evening), at dinner my wife insists on taking off my wedding ring, before the ritual washing of hands and raising them in prayer. Of course I know this is according to our laws and custom, since our hands must be bare to the water, but it wrenches me nevertheless: it feels as if she is putting our marriage into a place of uncertainty, even nullity. It frightens me. What can I do?"

The Rabbi closed his eyes and thought. Finally he smiled and said: "Tell her that each Friday night, when she takes the ring off that she is putting your marriage in the hands of God. She must say to herself, 'Who knows what will happen next? Perhaps he will divorce me!!'"

"Then when you have both returned to the table, when you have put your hands in God's keeping, when you have blessed God and you have eaten the first morsel of the bread, pick up the ring she has taken off. Ask yourself, 'Do I wish to marry her? Am I angry -- and yet I wish to marry her? Am I sad - and yet I wish to marry her? Am I ecstatic and yet I wish to marry her? Am I filled with love -- and so I wish to marry her?'"

"And if you wish to marry her pick up the ring again and put it on her finger, and repeat your wedding vows."

"Only if she gives the ring away can she receive it. Only if you agree that she gives it away can you give it once again. Only if you trust in God that this marriage between you comes from God, and offer it back to God each Sabbath-- only if you take this risk -- will your marriage come alive again."
 


September & October 1998

Standing in Her Place

by Ellen Grace O'Brian

That morning when I turned
back toward our bed,
the light was on your face
and I saw him.
He was three, or four,
his arms stretched out --
eyes, hands, mouth, legs, feet,

open, his whole body smiling.
Then, I saw her, too.
She was there, too,
standing by the side of the bed
arms folded across her chest
deciding once again
whether to withhold or to give
tell him yes, or no.
It must have been no.

Then he says, "I didn't do anything wrong."
He says, "I was just being
happy." When I hear this
I cannot breathe
I hold very still, I'm afraid
I am standing in her place.
I know he has returned

to hear the yes.
It is a sacred trust,
I do not turn away.
 


November 1998

It's easy to convince people that children need to learn the alphabet and numbers.... How do we help people realize that what really matters is how a person's inner life finally puts together the alphabet and numbers of his outter life. What really matters is whether he uses the alphabet for the declaration of war or the description of a sunset, and his numbers for the final count at Buchenwald or for the specifics of a brand new bridge.

--Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)
 


December 1998

The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.

--Alden Nowian


The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in the task. The most selfish and hateful life of all is that of two beings who unit in order to enjoy life. The highest calling is that of the man who has dedicated his life to serving God and doing good, and who unites with a woman in order to further that purpose.

--Leo Tolstoy

 


January 1999

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, with the same person.

--Mignon McLaughlin


A Story for the New Year

I dressed and went down to the water's edge. My indiscreet desire of that morning to pry into and know the future before it was born suddenly appeared to me a sacrilege. I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand. That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm. I sat on a rock to absorb this New Year's thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way.

-- Nikos Kazantzakis, from Zorba the Greek

 


February - June 1999

In sandy earth or deep
In valley soil
I grow, a wildflower thriving
On your love.

Narcissus in the brambles
Brightest flower-
I choose you from all others
For my love

Sweet fruit tree growing wild
Within the thickets-
I blossom in your shade
And taste your love.

--Marcia Falk, from The Song of Songs

 


July 1999

For Deborah & Dan

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way...

...and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs to yours.

--David Whyte

 


August - December 1999

I am convinced that almost a decade ago, on a fine candlelit evening in August, God was setting me up.... I have never been so serious about cultivating a relationship with God as I have been for almost a decade of marriage. I have learned things about love, fidelity, commitment, gentleness, and forgiveness that simply weren't possible when I was single. There was no compelling reason to do so. But now that I am smack in the middle of matrimony, trying daily to learn how to love this one man, to do it right (and if not right, then, surely, decently), wedlock has driven me straight back to God.

Marriage stripped me of the luxury of hiding who I really am. I can no longer hide from myself, from God, and from another human being. The constant, daily effort to be present, open, honest, transparent, defenseless before another stirs up the urge in me to withdraw and hide. Strange, the push and pull of intimacy, the wanting to be close but not that close, needing to be near but not so near, praying for companionship but not wanting constant company. It makes sense now why the Hebrew prophets used the marriage bond to capture poetically the joys and struggles of the union between God and human beings. I ran away from God because I couldn't bear the intimacy, the accountability, the living under God's constant gaze. And now I find myself scurrying to find my way back to God because I know I need a power greater than my own to stay in this marriage.

...And because we're utterly incapable of keeping so preposterous and vast a vow, we need a marriage ceremony to make us accountable to the community. We need witnesses to remind us what we promised. We need God to teach us by God's own nature what really is love, fidelity, grace, and mercy.

--Renita J. Weems, from Listening to God

 


January - May 2000

This is the journey that men make to find themselves. If they fail in this it doesn't much matter what else they find. Money, position, fame, many loves, revenge are all of little consequence and when the tickets are collected at the end of the ride, they are tossed into the bin marked "failure." But if a man happens to find himself, if he knows what he can depend upon to do, the limits of his courage, the position from which he will no longer retreat, his boundaries, the degree to which he can surrender his life to some woman, the secret reservoirs of his determination, the extent of his dedication, the depth of his feelings for beauty, for honesty -- then he has found a mansion which he can inhabit with all the days of his life.

--James Michener


My Love Poem to God

I have been too long in the wilderness
Your prodical daughter
Wandering from heart to heart
Too confused to settle into my own
But finally, at last, there is nowhere else to go,
But to that inner sanctuary
Where you waited for me all along
How now to make amends for my long absense
How to seek the comfort of your embrace
And trust that it belongs to me
At least to say -- I love you, God
And wait for your reply

--Marci New

 


June - October 2000

I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

--Frank Herbert


We all must do just what Christ did. We must make our experiement. We must make mistakes. We must live out our own vision of life. And there will be error. If you avoid error you do not live.

--Carl G. Jung
 


November 2000 - February 2001

Be well assured that if these solemn vows are kept inviolate, as God's word demands, and if you steadfastly endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Creator, God will bless your marriage, will grant you fulfillment in it, and will establish your home in peace.

If, if, if--a few months into the marriage we've already broken those vows a hundred times. Sleeping with another person would have been the kindest thing we could have done to each other. But we chose the crueler route. We've fallen in and out of love with each other a thousand times. If our hearts could speak, they'd confess that we've walked away from each other untold times. We've failed to honor each other with names we've called each other to each other's face and behind each other's back; cursed each other for not recording checks; felt revulsion for each other's bodily sicknesses; and have gone off in our minds and married, bought homes, and had children with others fitter and finer than the ones we're wedded to--all of this we have done zillions of times.

And we've returned to each other again and again, remarkably, mysteriously, begging each other's forgiveness, sheepishly, desperately, earnestly, disrememberingly what it was that drove us away, pledging again to talk before giving in to the urge to walk away.

We keep coming back to each other. To keep a vow is not to keep from breaking it but to keep trying to recover its meaning. It takes only a few minutes to make a vow but a lifetime to live it....

--Renita J. Weems, from Listening to God
 


March 2001 - May 2001

THE GOOD FAIRY

by Vicki Gabriner

I sent out a prayer to the Universe..."It's too painful, I can't take it...and she came to me, the power of my mind, the Energy of the Universe, in blue like the Goody Fairy In the Wizard of OZ, waving a wand. I sat cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom, looking up, about five years old. She said, "Sweetheart, here's the deal. There's too much going on here and I don't have the power to make it be gone, to make it be okay, or even to help you cope with it in a way that's not going to cause you some pain. What I can do is help you get through this time now, help you forget it as it is going on, so that it will come back but it will come back to you at a later time when you're able to handle it." So I said, "okay", because I can't take it.

She waved her wand and said, "I'm going to send things that are happening into different parts of your body and they are going to hold them for you like a treasure chest, like a dowry. I am going to have to tie up your pelvis and have it lock in a lot of your sexual feelings because you think they're getting you into trouble. And your belly and pelvis will feel dead and they will also hold in your rage and a lot of you fear. I'll also have your thighs be very tight to hold in the energy coming from your genitals. And your heart, your heart is broken and I'm going to have to let your rib cage close in around your heart and let your heart constrict so that you don't feel the pain of your heart breaking. And I'm going to really tighten up your neck and let it be a fortress with very thick round walls so that what you're feeling doesn't get up to your mouth and you can't speak words, you can't cry out for help, you can't scream out in rage, you can't breathe too deeply to feel what's going on in your body. And that fortress will keep the knowledge of what's happening in your body from connecting with your head so that you will not be fully conscious of what's going on. And I will tie up your ears so that you hear but don't take too much in."

"I want you to be fairly still as a child and not very athletic so we don't interrupt what we're going to put very carefully in place. And it will stay this way. You will have trouble feeling and being close to people, but it will be your way of surviving. And you will be a fairly functional human being in spite of all this pain because you have a strong mind and you can hold all this in. And I will be helping you. You will not forget everything. You will remember just enough to always know that something has happened. And I will leave a voice inside of you that will urge you to reconnect with your whole self, to find this person who you are now, who is calling out for help and whose heart is totally breaking. It may not be clear that it's a voice. It will manifest as an urge inside of you, but it will be me speaking as I can through your frozen muscles to come back and find yourself."

"At the time of your second Saturn cycle, you will begin to open up. It will be a very long process. It may take you as long to heal as you've been in pain and the frozen place. Finally, your muscles will no longer be able to hold all this in. They will begin to give way. You will feel an urgency to do physical work, and that will begin the process of really unwinding your body and releasing what it will have been holding all these years. There will be physical as well as emotional pain in this process. But by then you will be strong enough and old enough to bear the truth and you will have a network of friends around you, mostly women, but some men also, who will hold you as you find yourself again. You will not be a very physical person for most of your life; you will have come to accept the frozenness and rigidity of your body. As it begins to unwind you will struggle to re-learn the language of your body/mind and come back together wholly. But you will do it because you are a strong person full of love. I don't know exactly how it will unfold, but the universe will move you through it. You will have to be very patient, very brave, very courageous, but it will be your training, your fire walk, your healing. And when you are through it, you will be a whole person; new but still the same."

"Now I want you to go back to bed. I will wave my wand and you will go to sleep and when you wake up you will forget I was here. You will forget you asked for help and you will forget your daily pain. This is the only way I know to get you through this. You are a beautiful child. I don't know the reasons for the pain, but I love you and the universe loves you and, in fact, even your parents love you even though they're incapable of showing it to you. You will have to love yourself enough to heal so that the last half of your life will be strong and powerful and full of light. The pain will be there, but it will all be in proportion. One day you will have it all again. Until then and for always, I love you.

 


June 2001 - July 2001

When a woman awakens
The mountains will move

-- Chinese Proverb


Marriage is not a love affair,
it's an ordeal.

It is a religious exercise, a sacrament,
the grace of participating in another life....

...If you go into a marriage with a program,
you will find that it won't work.

Successful marriage
is leading innovative lives together,
being open, non-programed.
It's a free fall: how you handle
each new thing as it comes along.

As a drop of oil on the sea,
you must float,
using intellect and compassion
to ride the waves.

-- Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion
 


August 2001 - October 2001

EPITAPH

When I die
Give what's left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give to them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I've known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands.
By letting
Bodies touch bodies
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn't die,
People do.
So, when all that's left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

-- Merrit Malloy

 


November 2001 - December 2001

Jai Guru Deva, Om...
All Things Must Pass

"Thank you George."

Here Comes the Sun
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

-- George Harrison

 


January 2002 - June 2002

Now, let us say that I am Niagara Falls. Up to this moment I have been believing that all there is to me is right here and I have been using it up or drawing upon it. I believed that I was living in and of and through Niagara Falls and that all there was of me was Niagara Falls; I was not aware at all of Lake Erie back of me. But..., I now learn that Niagara Falls isn't so much of itself, but that Lake Erie is really the substance and the totality and infinity of Niagara Falls.

I, as an individual,...believed that the visible me is all there is to me and I drew on my own brain power; I drew on my own experience, my own education. For my strength, I drew on my muscle and on my amount of sleep and on the food that I ate. I tried not to use up more strength than I had taken in as calories and vitamins. But..., I have learned that this really isn't all of me--it is the least part of me! Back of me is an infinite ocean.... I am in and of that tremendous ocean.

--Joel S. Goldsmith, Consciousness in Transition

 


July 2002 - September 2002

THIS ONE IS MINE

Someone put
You on a slave block
And the unreal bought
You.

Now I keep coming to your owner
Saying,

"This one is mine."

You often overhear us talking
And this can make your heart leap
With excitement.

Don't worry,
I will not let sadness
Possess you.

I will gladly borrow all the gold
I need

To get you
Back

--Hafiz, The Gift



STOP CALLING ME A PREGNANT WOMAN

My Master once entered a phase
That whenever I would see him
He would say,

Hafiz,
How did you ever become a pregnant woman?"

And I would reply,

"Dear Attar,
You must be speaking the truth,
But all of what you say is a mystery to me."

Many months passed by in his blessed company.
But one day I lost my patience
Upon hearing that old refrain
And blurted out,

"Stop calling me a pregnant woman!"

And Attar replied,
"Someday, my sweet Hafiz,
All the nonsense in your brain will dry up
Like a stagnant pool of water
Beneath the sun,

Though if you want to know the Truth
I can so clearly see that God has made love with you
And the whole universe is germinating
Inside your belly

And wonderful words,
Such enlightening words
Will take birth from you

And be cradled against thousands
Of hearts

--Hafiz, The Gift

 


October 2002 - April 2003

An Excerpt from A Pale Blue Dot
by Carl Sagan
Co-founder of The Planetary Society

Carl Sagan's thoughts on seeing our world as a "pale blue dot" set in the vastness of space might provide some perspective on the events of the past weeks. This excerpt was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan's suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Image: JPL/NASA .

Earth, as seen by Voyager 1 at a distance of 4 billion miles.
Click on image for larger view.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home.That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

 


May 2003 - September 2003
The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar. As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back." Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me."

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again."

He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But you'll get there. I'll see to that."

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town.

Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make away out for me. "When you finish college, Son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again...unless you want to."

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born; we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild.

Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. "She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins.

I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak. This truly touched my heart.....I know it has yours as well.

Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks UP.

 


September 2003 - June 2004

THE LEAF AND THE CLOUD

If you are in the garden
I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea
I will slide into
that smooth blue nest,
I will talk fish,
I will adore salt.

But if you are sad
I will not dress myself
in desolation. I will present
myself with all the laughter
I can muster.

And if you are angry
I will come calm and steady
with some small and easy story.

Love....is an opera
a history, a long walk
that includes falling
and rising, falling and rising

while the heart stays
as sweet as a peach,
as radiant and grateful
as the deep-leaved hills.

--Mary Oliver

 


July 2004 - September 2004

AMARNATH

The water lily rests
upon the lake
and opens
The heart makes
the body radiant
Radha lives only for Krishna
And me? I am
because of you.
Can you imagine me
without you?
Impossible!

--Ellen Grace O'Brian



MORNING XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadows and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to our love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I, does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

--Pablo Neruda (Translated by Stephen Tapscott)

 


October 2004 - March 2005


One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing
you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

--Rumi, The Essential Rumi, (Translated by Coleman Barks)


Even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

--Aeschylas
 


April 2005 - September 2005

DISTURB US LORD

Disturb us Lord
When we are too well pleased with ourselves
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little
When we arrive safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us Lord
When with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the Waters of Life
Having fallen in love with life
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us Lord
To dare more boldly
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery
Where losing sight of land
We shall find the stars.

We ask you push back
The horizons of our hopes
And to push us in the future
With strength, courage, hope and love.

--attributed to Sir Francis Drake - 1577
 


September 2005 - April 2006

In Many Houses

In many houses
All at once
I see my mother and father
And they are young as they walk in.

Why should
My tears come,
To see them laughing?

That they cannot
See me
Is of no matter.

I was once
Their dream
Now
They are mine

--Author Unknown
 


April 2006 - December 2006

Because you and I are men, I will describe it to you as a man. This is the state of mind when you think deeply of a woman. No, it is not thinking about making love to her or her earthily charms. It is thinking about her as a beautiful and totally necessary part if your life. Her smell, touch, voice, movement and presence are as important to you as your breathing. She is ageless. The both of you endure each other’s survival and in the bottom of your hearts you know that you will travel together forever. She is that one missing part of you that has made you a whole person. Every sunrise begins in her eyes.

--"Silent Messengers of the Arctic," by Norman Hallendy. Parabola, Spring 2006
 
 
My inside,
listen to me,
the greatest spirit,
is hear,
wake up,
wake up!

Run to his feet--
he is standing close to your head right now.

You have slept for millions and millions of years.

Why not wake up this morning.

--Kabir (translated by Robert Bly)
 
 
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

--Groucho Marx
 


December 2006 - August 2007

I am from an old wicker rocking chair that rocked me into peace
from long car rides and moments of silence
I am from the old willow tree, from the days when we used to feed the garden, from the
wire framed airplane that eventually flew away one day
just like me

I am from cold mornings huddled by the one heater on the living room wall
from magnets on the refrigerator
from soul music, jean jackets, and rediculous hats

I am from the Babylon captivity and prayers by candle light in the desert, from skin that
worships the sun and eyes and ears that have seen and heard too much.
I am from Rachel and Leah. I am from Harry and Jacob

I am from vegetarian sausage and bacon, from miso soup and gouder cheese, from the
days of microwave macaroni and pizza delivered straight to the door

I am from oy veys and corny Jewish jokes that make you feel so fahklempt you have to
smile

I am from bedtime stories and honesty, from those far away places with strange sounding
names calling to me... and you wonder why I must go

I am from notes in my lunchbox reminding me to make someone smile, laugh, and learn
something new everyday, from handwritten notes to emails, they still exist

I am from people wandering the desert seeking the promise land of milk and honey,
from their bondage and freedom

From the desert to the mountain to the ocean and back again

From the pictures of us, from the notes we have saved, from the tears we have shed
from teaching each other how to be human beings
I am from those moments

--Heather Cline-Scott
 


August 2007 - June 2008

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who next will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done.

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear – only a common desire to retreat from each other – only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek – as we do – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

--Robert F Kennedy, April 5, 1968
 


June 2007 - July 2008

But it's not this random life only, throwing its sensual astonishments upside down on the bloody membrains behind my eyeballs, not just me being here again, old needer, looking for someone to need, but you, up from the clay yourself, as luck would have it, and inching over the same little segment of earthball, in the same little eon, to meet in a room, alive in our skins, and the whole galaxy gaping there and the centuries whining like gnats — you, to teach me to see it, to see it with you, and to offer somebody uncomprehending, impudent thanks.

--William Meredith 1919-2007
 


August 2008 - June 2011

To My Teacher

An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill,
Overrun with rank weeds growing unchecked year after year;
There is no one left to tend the tomb,
And only an occasional woodcutter passes by.
Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair,
Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River,
One morning I set off on my solitary journey
And the years passed between us in silence.
Now I have returned to find him at rest here;
How can I honor his departed spirit?
I pour a dipper of water over his tombstone
And offer a silent prayer.
The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill
And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines.
I try to pull myself away but cannot;
A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.

--From "Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf" Zen Poems of Ryokan translated by John Stevens

 


July 2011 - January 2013

GURU'S GRACE

In the process of making a pot, the potter places the clay on a wheel and spins it round and round. With the outside hand, the potter shapes the clay little by little smoothing out all the impurities and blemishes. With the inside hand the potter guides and supports the clay to perfection. After the clay is molded, it is put into a very hot fire. Only then can it hold the divine nectar.

You see, the Guru is the potter, and we are the clay. At times our egos feel bruised and beaten by His (Her) guiding hand, but we must always remember that while one hand is molding us from outside, the other hand is supporting us from within. When all the impurities are worked out, our ego is transformed in the fire of knowledge and we become fitting vessels for the nectar of Divine Consciousness.

-- Freely retold from a story be Shri Jagadish Pande at Shri Ram Ashram February 2001

 


January 2013 - February 2017

Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe?
Expediency asks the question: Is it politic?
Vanity asks the question: Is it popular?

Conscience asks the question: Is it right?
And there comes a time one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular -
but one must take it simply becasue it is right.

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 
 

Michael Scott is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a child custody mediator. He has been a therapist since 1982 and maintains a private practice in Santa Cruz, CA. Since 1985, Michael has served as a child custody mediator for The County of Santa Cruz Superior Court. He is an educator offering workshops both nationally and internationally on marriage, divorce, parenting, education, personal and professional development, conflict resolution, and the developmental needs of children.

                                      333 Church St., Suite B * Santa Cruz, CA 95060 * (831)423-0521


 

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