The current fervor surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and intimidation by men of power and position in a variety of different industries and vocations highlights a situation that’s been with us since the beginning of gender relations.
Sexual misconduct is of particular interest to many in society, however as with all transgressions between people when harm is perpetrated, remedies are sought for adjudication and relief. While legal actions and resolutions are often conducted between the parties, for many there is a larger and more lasting consequential stake at issue.
Act(ion)s which require forgiveness most often involve a breach of trust. Regardless of the action(s) driving a wedge between the parties, at the core of our emotional damage or loss experienced is the abrogation of trust, not necessarily the particular act itself. The manifested act does expose the emotional betrayal that brings about a human response. However, it’s this breach of trust that severs the ‘spirit of connection’ between the parties.
Whether we are the transgressor or the harmed party, forgiveness is a both responsive and reconciliatory action. It’s both the process and the remedy to regain trust that has been damaged or lost. The steps in the forgiveness process are always the same: Recognition, Responsibility, Regret, Remorse, Redress, Repetition, and Repentance.
Forgiveness is always tied directly to the last step (Repentance) and is essential for reconciliation and any reparation of trust. A heartfelt renunciation of the act(ion) must be given by the transgressor in conjunction with actual changed future behavior in order for true forgiveness to occur. Only when Renunciation and Repentance have been initiated and accomplished can the parties expect reconciliation. The parties should both understand their relationship may never return to its ‘pre-action’ state.
Forgiveness and Repentance are part and parcel of the same process, however in this redemptive process all seven steps must occur. Repentance (as evidenced by actual future changed behavior) is the unequivocal step. Without it forgiveness should not be given and cannot be granted.
As the transgressor, nothing can happen until he/she is prepared to apologize and renounce the aggrieved act(ion) by; (1) Recognizing the offense. Once recognition takes place the process may continue. The transgressor must then take (2) Responsibility for the action or act(s) committed. Next comes acknowledged and heartfelt (3) Regret followed by (4) Remorse in order to formulate some form of (5) Redress and an understanding that (6) Repetition of the act(s), action(s) or offense(s) cannot take place in the future under any circumstances. Finally, (7) Repentance (as shown by actual changed behavior from the previous inappropriate and/or harmful actions.) Successful implementation of these seven steps requires and must deliver a secession of old pattern behaviors and act(ion)s. When changed future behavior is actually in evidence, forgiveness may be considered, given and received.
Repentance is imperative for it’s the new action needed to reestablish a modicum of trust. To truly be repentant the transgressor must actually change his or her future behavior in every new opportunity or similar circumstance. Without repentance the other six steps are for naught. Without actual and true change in future behavior there can’t be true heartfelt forgiveness.
The sole and separate difference between forgiveness among individuals, and between God and the individual is God’s unconditional love. His unconditional love allows forgiveness to be complete and total in spite of the transgressions (rebellious moral or ethical disobedience [sin]). Forgiveness is the consummate act of God’s unconditional love for each of us. Forgiveness of our mortal ‘sins’ is accomplished through His unconditional love, and compassion.
The goal in the process of forgiveness should be that we might grow spiritually to do all three; dismiss the act, accept the repentant transgressor’s remorse, and forgive (with [unconditional] love.) If we were to establish a spiritual state of unconditional love for those who have caused us harm, damage, or loss, we could better understand our spiritual selves as recipients of God’s grace and mercy.
In the “Forgiveness/Repentance” model recognition of a ‘transgression’ goes hand-in-hand with emotional remorse as preparation for completion of the steps previously described. God’s unconditional loving spiritual nature and character always makes His forgiveness attainable.
The physical and material world demand our daily attention and participation. Even when we have surrendered to a new spiritual relationship with God it doesn’t mean our tomorrows will not be peppered with temptations, moral and ethical tests or faith challenges to our new spiritually guided choices.
Spiritually grounded or not we remain influenced and assailed by the material world’s tempting offers. No matter our place on the spiritual path we each walk a tightrope between responding as encouraged or expected based on past experiences of need and approval, or guided by a new choice to respond more Christ-like.
Should these people of power and position be forgiven? That decision is best laid at the feet of those involved, however when we see the plank in our own eye before pointing out the speck in another’s we will better understand the link between forgiveness and compassion in our own lives.
All the best,
It now appears obvious from his words, demeanor and behavior that Mr. Trump is unfit to carry out the duties of the Presidency. Throughout his campaign, and now in his elected position he voices attitudes and beliefs outside the bounds of civil decorum. Only a self-indulgent narcissist would engage in such public rhetoric without giving thought to its impact and reactions. Or, he just doesn’t give a damn and feels entitled to say or do whatever the hell he wishes, in any and every situation. That’s not confidence, it’s delusional arrogance.
The manner in which he ran his presidential campaign has to be examined in light of Mr. Trump’s incessant need to be in the spotlight, no matter the consequences, for he must believe such antics will boost not only his visibility, but his revenue stream. For ‘the Donald’ it’s all about ‘branding’ plain and simple. So his foray into political life was merely a self-aggrandized jaunt into peoples’ homes and lives via the media. Since sex, tragedy and bad news are sensationalized 'news' fodder Trump decided to take advantage of free television coverage ad infinitum for self-promotion. Watching such behavior on display one might hypothesize that he; (A.) Never thought he would get the GOP nomination, (B.) Never thought he would win the election, (C.) Has no idea as to the responsibilities of the office of President. (Or perhaps he possesses the mental facilities of a fourteen year old male stuck in junior high school.)
His announcement and run for political office, as was in his campaign, merely opportunities to increase his brand recognition and subsequently his personal pursuit of wealth and status. With this goal in mind, from the outset he wallowed in himself at every turn. Hearing him say the most incoherent and outrageous things that came to mind as he believed them was/is frightening. (The truly scary part is apparently he truly believes the trash and bull shit that tumbles from his mouth.)
As with every megalomaniac, Mr. Trump’s singular aim is to increase his own glorified presence and thus, profit from it. For Trump and his ilk, it’s all about money and perceived income, not redemptive value. The thing Mr. Trump fears most is the world will finally have proof positive, in black and white, that his “fiscal net worth” is nowhere near what he portends it to be. For this information would once and for all show him to be the con man, thief, and liar we all innately know him to be.
Racism, misogyny, xenophobia. All have been part of mankind’s behavioral modus operandi towards various (other) members of societies since the beginning of civilized communities. There are always those economically better off than others in any group or collection of peoples. Envy and animosity are part of the genetic code for humans, therefore none of these shall pass from our thoughts, tongues or hands easily or soon enough. Only when we as individuals and groups decide to stifle and eliminate the angst and anguished caused by such detrimental “isms” can we begin to make a difference whereby all people can earn the respect of their fellows.
The taproot to overcome destructive behaviors embodied within the three primary hatreds described above, and thus making them reversible are encapsulated in two words; Truth and Love. If one has any spiritual grounding or edification in their lives or background they will recognize these two as the foundational pillars emanating from and by God. For He has been described in scripture as both; Truth and Love. Love is His character, Truth is the nature and means by which His character is enacted and engaged in the physical realm of reality.
If one chooses to live fully by emulating their God they would do well to come from truth and love in their dealings with others. Sadly for all of us the most powerful position (certainly in our homeland and possibly for much of the world) is occupied by an individual who has no interest in either truth or love. Mr. Trump, who claims to be a “Christian” is consumed with money and all it represents. Matthew 6:24 succinctly draws both a line and distinction between the spiritual and physical choices each of us face; “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Mr. Trump continues on a daily basis to show the world where lies his heart and the designs of his desires. When one chooses to “serve” the interests of the people in his charge, in a civil capacity, he or she must relinquish their quest for the time consuming activities of avarice.
Mr. Trump is merely ‘the tip of the iceberg’ regarding corruption in today’s politics, which has been exacerbated by the influx of ‘big money’ from wealthy individuals, corporations, lobbyists, capitol cronies and thieves. However, everyone who has occupied the “Oval Office” has had to and must in the future ultimately decide whether he/she will be devoted to the interests of the people or to the cabal of sycophants he or she surrounds him/herself with and becomes beholden to for their election funding. This includes all congressional and presidential candidates. (I digress into wishful thinking.)
After six months of a Trump administration the answer for this President seems obvious. Perhaps it’s time for (real) leaders, both in business and congress, to demand this man relinquish the reins of power and resign from office. After all, it is turning out not be the kingship he envisioned or dreamed of to expand his brand.
From a political stand point would a ‘President Pence’ be any better? Probably not, as his holding the office of President would surely spur the GOP congress immediately to work on eliminating all or as many ‘social safety net programs’ as possible. So there’s that. However, a President Pence would not be such a ‘maniacal wild card’ and could easily be neutralized in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections by voters turning both houses of congress over to the Democrats.
In the end, what does it all mean? It means we as voters must start to take that right and privilege (voting) seriously. We must go to the polls in every election and vote to keep fascism, radicalism, greed, and corruption out of elected office. By turning a blind eye, doing nothing, or acquiescing to those currently wielding power we will have home grown radical extremism at our doorsteps and a regular part of our future daily lives. Is that the legacy and country we want to pass to our children? One of fear, hate, intolerance and death?
Practice coming from truth and love every day. Within yourself, with your family, community, region, state, and in your travels. Your world will become a better place in which to live and every life you touch will see and recognize the difference in you. Live by example. Be that example. No excuses. You can do it. We can do it.
All the best,
If you follow this ‘blog’ section you’ve noticed I haven’t posted for quite some time. This is not for lack of desire or thoughtful attempts over these past months. I have grappled with many potential subjects, yet have discovered with each choice, a reluctance in putting ‘pen to paper.’
Like many of you I have been dismayed, amused and simply awed by the state of affairs in our country. It’s as if our downward spiral into the abyss for lack of truth’s acknowledgement or enactment has paralyzing gripped us by the throat. One self-evident aspect of chaos we see and hear daily is that ‘big lies’ have become forthright, blatant and acceptable at their pronouncement. More astonishing is the fact these falsehoods and ‘fake’ absurdities go unchallenged. Outrageous indignation and thoughtless sniping producing potentially lethal actions and consequences continue to march unabatedly forward on a quest to become victorious without ‘a shot being fired’ in defense of common sense or honesty.
It’s interesting that the very labels used to describe these tantamount lies (virtually everything coming out of the mouths of those associated with today’s Oval Office cabal) are themselves spun as if to hold veracity in the face of those who know better. And yet no one, not one, takes on this self-deluded push towards the precipice of freedom’s abrogation. Where are the ‘leaders’ (particularly opposition leaders) to the present rise of ‘neo fascism’? Neo Fascism, not about “skin heads” and ultra-right antics. A Neo Fascist “new world order” of interconnected global individuals, groups and institutions controlling the means and distribution of wealth, products and services.
The anomaly coinciding with this takeover of the ‘economic playing field’ is the numbers of people who either don’t care, or are unaware of the dangers lurking in the shadows of our future. As is often the case by the time these revelations come to the fore from behind the veil, it’s too late to respond efficiently or coherently.
We have seen these tactics and the assault on individuals and their rights before. Germany in the 1930’s is the most recent mass application. Yes, most of that generation have died, however, history books and audio visuals are wrought with evidence as to its progressive nature and outcome. It’s not as if this were untrodden ground. The technology may be different, but the words, deeds and actions of a power hungry ‘elite’ (at the expense and cost of liberty) are the same; income, gender, and racial inequality.
So, what’s the answer or response you and I can choose to abate this trek to dystopia? To reiterate what we have talked about before, we have control over only two actions. First, to vote in elections. Every election has the potential to impact our everyday lives. Therefore we must take them seriously and remember that those we put into office as our representatives, at every legislative level, are making and abridging ‘laws’ that can change our lives and livelihoods. The easiest way to rid ourselves of those in office who have their corporate donors’ interests, not ours, in their minds and subsequent agenda actions is to remove them from office. Vote!
Second, and just as important is how, where, and with whom we spend our money. This world is about economics. Not social standing, politics, or religion. Especially now when “avarice” and “acquisition” are the bywords of today’s envious ‘living large’ attitude of excess. Every dollar you withhold from Wall Street banks and corporations hurts their bottom lines quests of "profits before everything else." With very little effort you can replace their goods or services with a smaller and more local or regional providers.
Do yourself and your family ‘a solid.’ See the truth of what our elected officials, in the palms of the wealthy, are trying to accomplish at your expense. Fight back with the two responses at your disposal. Or face the consequences of inaction.
In every life exists a line, a door, or a wall. To encounter any one or more of the three requires time, energy, devotion and commitment. Crossing this line, opening this door or scaling this wall will initiate and release a new world of reward and understanding. Standing in the way blocking our endeavors to challenge these obstacles are conflicts and struggle which often cause us to shrink back from the opportunities represented by these three. Our perceptions revolve around a misunderstood belief that these three holding us back are at the beck and call of others. We think our ability to cross that line, to open that door or to scale that wall is controlled by others. Many believe it’s others who precipitate and cause our struggles. Nothing could be further from the truth. These three barriers are internal constructions. To achieve dominance over one, two or all three requires us to address and deal with them while putting aside our fears.
This line of demarcation, this closed door, this insurmountable wall represent our chosen inability to break free. Breaking free allows us to look beyond our immediate limitations to see the total scope of our past, present and future. A past we can’t change, but can learn from. A present we can change, but only as it relates to our future. A future that will rely on the choices we make in our present based on the things we now know from experiences in our past. Past, present and future are interrelated more than we might imagine. Until we recognize and accept this, the line will remain uncrossed, the door will remain closed and the wall will be too high.
In each day there exists only enough time to accomplish the tasks and challenges we have set before us. The energy, devotion and commitment necessary to challenge the struggles that hold us tightly in their grasp must be generated by and from inner strength and confidence. There are methods to effectively eliminate or reduce personal chaotic struggle and conflicts. However for each method employed one common theme is found as an essential element of this success. A focus on balance. Balance between physical wants and spiritual needs. Between mind and body. Between one’s soul and identity. The amount of energy, devotion and commitment needed determines how close, how quickly, and how successfully the line will be crossed, the door opened or the wall scaled once and for all.
With maturity comes an awareness of time excised or wasted. With age comes a realization of dreams lost or abandoned. As death draws nigh there may dawn a reluctance or desperation to challenge the line, the door, the wall. Whether one dejectedly gives in or steadfastly determines to forge ahead, both may wonder what waits on the other side? Is it worth the effort needed to find out? Are we willing to take on the struggles representing roadblocks to our latent desires? Is it really worth it? And ultimately, are we worthy of this new or last effort? Many believe they’re not and merely give up. Taking a last breath filled with despair and remorse. Never to be heard from again is not an endearing exit. Many are convinced nothing can be done that might change the inevitable extinguishing of their presence. So why even try? Some reflect on where they have been, what they have done and what the results their past efforts surmised. Good, bad or ugly they recognize it’s never too late to address what waits on the other side of the line, the door, the wall. Not necessarily to conquer, but to at least to accept and understand. In this way making sense of the time, energy, devotion and commitment having been invested over time.
An acknowledgment and acceptance of the potential tranquil relief to be released by crossing the line, opening the door or scaling the wall will wash away the residue of resistance that has repeatedly fomented as conflict and struggle. It’s adversities that keep us focused on self and hold us back from accepting a grounding of truth in ourselves. Relief, peace and tranquility (and often enlightenment) await on the other side of our fears. It’s here that clarity of vision comes into being. We begin to see the folly within precipitated by our insecurities that enveloped us as life unfolded before our very eyes. With new knowledge and understanding there now exists absolutely no reason to wait. It’s time to discover what has been hidden in plain sight for an entire lifetime.
To sidestep the drama and trauma of daily life represented by the conflicts and struggles we experience is a goal of many. Sadly there are many who see the end of life as the only way to stop heartbreak and disappointments. It need not be the solution, for there are others. Like the fluid or oil in a hydraulic system which replaces itself in order to complete its task of providing power to move an object, we must discover how to replace the consequences of our struggle with inner tranquility. Meditation works for its practitioners, as does yoga for others. Some philosophies provide thoughtful options and methods for dealing with or overcoming the sense of despair often associated with turmoil. In western cultures mental entanglements are often relieved (temporarily) by spending money on frivolous ‘things.’ So be it, but consumption rarely fills the longing for any depth of extended satisfaction.
So, what will fill the void? Interestingly enough it’s satiated when our mental attention is cognitively attune to who we are and the steps we are taking to become who we aspire to be. The relationship between us as individuals and by extension with others is highly influenced by this balance within our own nature. Remember; mind and body, soul and identity, spirit and humanism. We are each made up of a variety of dichotomies. It’s difficult be one totally and successfully contribute in today’s world. Functioning balance should be our goal. We’re each a cumulative combination of all the oppositions that make us the person we are. We need preparation to cross that line, open that door or scale that wall. In doing so we can expand better understanding of ourselves and how we best fit into our world. In this way we can start down a pathway which expresses more love and compassion to and for those important to us.
The test in this exercise of growth is grounded in the fact we must traverse the gap between who we are, and who we would like to become. That is, from this side to the other. For it’s only on the other side of the line, door, or wall that we are released from the onslaught of daily conflicts and struggles. The good news is, it can be accomplished. However, like crawling and then walking before we can run, our triumphs come through progressive and success building blocks or steps. So when we begin we start at the beginning. The farther we travel, the faster our efforts show positive and reassuring results. That is, growth sustained produces peace and tranquil understanding which can translate into behavior and responses in our world of challenges and demands. Subsequently more understanding is revealed.
How do we initiate and go about this transformation? We start by accepting ourselves. Who we are, right here, right now. Then by having a vision of who we would like to become. What new and different character traits and behaviors do we want to have as our own? Each of us has a myriad of examples in our lives of character and traits we wish were ours. Just look around. Surely there are people in your world you admire and want to emulate. What traits are you looking to copy and make your own? Are the traits and characteristics you desire one’s that will help you become a more balanced individual? If not, what’s the point? If you just want more wealth and possessions then understand that the quest for things of the world comes with the world’s consequences. (Those being struggle and conflict, because the very nature of human existence is survival of self at all costs and regardless of the consequences to others.) That’s why the rich and powerful continue to prosper at the expense of the many. Their avarice drives them to acquire wealth and its trappings irrespective of damage or loss incurred by others. It’s been this way since the beginning of tribal communities and will continue to be as such in the future.
We transform ourselves only by accepting who we are, right now, and then using that strength to overcome, or transform, our weaknesses. Where do we get help to accomplish this growth? On the other side of that line, behind that door, beyond that wall. You’ll notice these three ‘obstacles’ appear to be different as to their levels of difficulty. This is because they represent different levels of change needed to accomplish our transformation. It’s much easier to cross a line than to open a door. And scaling a wall is always harder than the other two. At least one of these may represent the depth and breadth of struggle or conflict holding you back from more fulfilling relationships.
All life is a series and combination of relationships. Whether they are personal, family, business, friends or acquaintances. Each relationship you are in has different intensity and dynamics. So the line, door or wall can be different or even fluctuate. Each relationship we have can generate challenges and is represented by the line, door or wall.
The goal is to make everyone of our relationships a process of positive reciprocity in order to aid in our development establishing growth leading to greater balance. In doing so we become a more trusted and valued friend, business associate or family member. In this way our transformation unfolds. Like the budding flower we begin to bloom, slowly at first then more rapidly as the positive energy we give and receive is welcomed in our small world. As we reduce the struggles and conflicts in our life and relationships, those which linger still causing difficulties will soon be replaced or discarded.
As our transformation evolves we begin to realize we don’t need or want the drama, trauma and negative energy hampering or delaying our progress. As balance starts to become our reality we begin to more easily accept the presence and role of truth in ourselves and in our life. At the same time we start recognizing truthfulness or lack thereof in our relationships and in the immediacy of the world surrounding us. We can now actively compare and contrast the peace and confidence of our transformed decisions and behaviors. As we become more balanced continued growth and confidence provides strength to overcome the obstacles on our path which held us back; our line, door or wall. The rewards that accompany new growth and confidence can and will change who we are, who we thought we were, and who we now know we can become.
Welcome and recognize the reality of your line, door or wall. But know they are your constructs. Look inward to see you now have the power to cross, open, or scale these obstructions. Embrace this opportunity to transform who you are into who you will be.
Acts of God or Accident?
“Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”
As we acknowledge the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 “Twin Towers” attacks in New York City, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit this critical question so often asked when trying to ‘justify,’ make sense of, or understand the untimely loss of a loved one.
There is a lesson for each of us in the terrorism of our world. It is not however a lesson in conflict. It is not a lesson in economics. It is not a lesson in politics or religion. It is a lesson in none of these.
God’s activity or inactivity in our lives is of His choosing and His timetable. Suffice it to say, all events we experience up close and personal or from afar can be tests of our faith and beliefs. Events and consequences of the choices we make or experience can come in three forms:
1) According to God’s plan for our lives.
2) By accident.
3) By actions perpetrated by forces of the world, or forces of evil in our world.
This answer may or may not be an adequate explanation around the water cooler or in the classroom, but what about for everyday real life? “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Christian believers say that they trust in the words of Jesus Christ. So, let’s look at what He has to say. Jesus explains for His listeners, “No one is good, no not one, except God alone.”
Jesus is telling us something very important about people who perish throughout the world under all kinds of different circumstances regardless of the particular day or event. He is also telling us something very important about ourselves. Not one of the people who has perished in the turmoil and tragedies of our day, whether in New York City, Iraq, Timbuktu or elsewhere are good, “No, not one.” Each of them had complex lives, just like you and I. We know nothing of their individual situations or how they acted or behaved in their lives behind closed doors. What we do know is that those lives cut short by events unforeseen can serve as a reminder to be heeded.
The only one who knows when your last day and hour will be is God. When He is ready for you, will you be ready? Were the people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001 ready? Were any of them ready? We have no way of knowing. The single blessing for those who might have realized their deaths were imminent was they had an opportunity to make their peace with their God.
This is a lesson for us as survivors. It is not one of economics, religion, politics or terror. It is a lesson of personal choice and personal action. It is a lesson which is twofold: First, “None of us is good, No, not one.” And second, only God Himself knows the last day and hour. The world’s and each of ours. When He is ready, will you be? Make your peace with God and you’ll be blessed here and hereafter.
A Child Knows
“The Truth of Innocence”
The enjoyment of each autumn season for Dave was found in the weekly broadcast of ‘Monday Night Football.’ Just as he had lived for Friday during his bachelor days, now as a married man with a young daughter, his seventh day solace was found in front of his big screen plasma television watching the NFL’s premier ‘Game of the Week.’ It was this Monday evening which he had anticipated all month, for his favorite gridiron gladiators, the Green Bay Packers were squaring off to face the team Dave loved to hate most, the Dallas Cowboys.
Completing his own pre-game preparation of all necessary snack and beverage needs, Dave settled into his favorite chair and hit the remote control button. Leaping to life across the high definition screen a camera panned the scantily clad figures of silicone implanted bodies and cosmetically painted faces of the famous Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. “Ah” Dave thought to himself, “Now this is what Monday night is all about! Hard bodies, on and off the field.”
As Dave’s coy smile began to stretch from ear to ear, into the living room of their small house walked his wife and daughter. Carol planted her little girl down beside Dave and exclaimed, “Honey, I need to go to the grocery store and I’m leaving Cassie home with you.”
“Oh No,” groaned Dave. “Green Bay is playing Dallas and I don’t want to be interrupted.”
“Well, you know how difficult it is for me to get through the store with Cassie wanting to grab every toy and candy bar in sight. I don’t want to be gone any longer than necessary and I can complete my list faster if she stays here with you” Carol stated.
“But Carol” retorted Dave, “You know how long I have waited for this game and Cassie will do nothing except bother me constantly. Just take her with you.”
“No Dave,” Carol calmly replied, “She is staying here with you. Just give her something to do that will keep her busy and you can watch your precious game . . . and cheerleaders” Carol added softly as she turned toward the door.
“Carol” Dave said raising his voice an octave but by that time his wife of ten years was out the door and gone. “Great” thought Dave, “the most important game of the season and I’m babysitting.”
At that moment six year old Cassie came to Dave and asked, “Daddy, will you read me a story?”
“Not now Cassie, the game is about to start.”
“But Daddy” the little girl said, “I want you to read me a story.”
“Not right now Cassie” Dave replied adamantly. “Find something else to do.”
“I want to hear a story,” his daughter insisted once again.
“Look” replied Dave, getting irritated. “Go get one of your toys or a doll to play with.”
“Mommy said that you would read me a story from my new book if I would stay home with you.”
“What is this?” Dave thought, “A female conspiracy?”
“All I ask is that once a week I get to watch a little football and have some peace and quiet” Dave muttered.
“Daddy,” Cassie said breaking into his thoughts. “I want to hear a story.”
“Look here Cassie” Dave said. “Go get one of your toys and play with it.”
“I’ll read you a story in a few minutes, okay?”
“Okay!” replied Cassie.
“Now” Dave said to himself, “time for some football” as the kicker on the screen launched the pigskin into the end zone. Three plays into the game Cassie was standing in front of Dave once again. “Daddy, will you read me a story now?”
“Cassie,” Dave said, his tone rising in exasperation. “The game is just getting under way. Go!”
“But Daddy, you promised.”
Dave glared at his daughter.
“Cassie, go find your new doll and play with her” Dave said emphatically.
“I will read to you in a little while.”
Looking down dejectedly Cassie walked away.
Within a few minutes Dave noticed that Cassie was on the floor in the corner twisting the arms of her new Barbie doll up and down as if the two girls were waving at each other in animated conversation. “Finally” Dave thought. “Now if she’ll just stay busy until Carol comes home or until half time, everyone will be happy.”
Early into the start of the second period, Cassie appeared in front of Dave once again.
“Ok Daddy, I’m ready for my story now.”
“In a few minutes” Dave told her.
“Daddy, you promised,” she said.
“Yes Cassie I know, but the game is just getting interesting.”
“Green Bay is about to score” he said as if that made a difference or mattered at all to his little girl.
“I want to hear a story,” Cassie exclaimed.
“Good Lord” thought Dave, “the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to women in this household wanting to get their way.”
“And to think, if I was still single I could be down at Burt’s pub with the guys, really having fun.”
“Daddy,” said Cassie, interrupting Dave’s conversation with himself.
“You said you would read to me.”
“Yes Cassie, I said it and I meant it. I’ll read to you when I am ready.”
“Here” he said, glancing at the open travel magazine on the coffee table, which Carol apparently must have been reading earlier. There before his eyes, was a map of the world with all the continents pictured. He reached down grabbing the magazine and tore the page out of the book.
“I’ll make a deal with you Cassie,” Dave told her.
“You take these pieces of paper,” as he slowly ripped apart the global image, “and put them back together again in the right order, and I will read you your story.”
He handed the now torn puzzle pieces to his daughter thinking, “This will keep her busy the rest of the evening until Carol gets home or she falls asleep.”
Taking the scraps of paper from him, Cassie asked, “You promise me Daddy, when I put the puzzle together, you’ll read to me?”
“I promise” Dave said, crossing his heart in a solemn gesture that he knew to his daughter meant that his word was now beyond reproach.
“Okay” she shouted aloud with a smile on her face and off to the corner of the room she went with the pieces of paper and the magazine, which he had given to her to use as a small stable base.
“Come on Pack, break the backs of those stinking Cowboys” Dave muttered to himself, seeing Cassie out of the corner of his eye as she busily worked with the paper puzzle. He was soon lost in the action of the game unfolding before him. It was as if he were in the stadium stands watching the players pummel each other. Suddenly he noticed movement to his right and there stood his daughter, magazine in hand.
“Ok, Daddy, I’m done” she said smiling up at him. Holding the magazine in front of her between the two of them the paper world was reassembled once more. Staring at the picture Dave was mesmerized. There it was, just as it had been when he first saw the map on the coffee table; every continent in its proper place. “Wow,” thought Dave, “but how did she figure it out?”
“Cassie” Dave asked, “How did you fit the puzzle pieces back together again? How did you know where to put each of the pieces?”
“It was easy Daddy” she replied.
“On the other side of the page was a picture of a man. I just put the man back together again. And when the man was right, the world was right.”
People often ask, “How is it God can have a relationship with some and not with others?” Or, “How can He care about some and not others?” The answers are relatively simple, for just like you He interacts with those who interact with Him. As creator, God has an innate relationship with all of creation but He has given mankind a special opportunity to connect with Him spiritually.
Think of it like your own address book. There are people you have a special bond and personal contact with, then there are those you interact with on a regular basis, others more infrequently and finally the rest, with whom you have no interactions. It’s the same for God.
God has neither contact nor relationships with those who refuse, deny or are uninterested in His existence and presence. Does this diminish His love or interest in their well-being? By no means. He remains available and ready to embrace all with open, loving arms of acceptance and protection whenever and wherever one may be in life.
These are followed by multitudes who turn away from Him in disgust, ignorance or rebellion. Including vast numbers who by choice, tradition or inclination invest their faith elsewhere. Next, He has little contact with those who may plead with Him incessantly for assistance on occasion but quickly move on. That is, those plagued by ‘trouble or turmoil’ who subsequently turn to Him for momentary relief and abandon Him just as quickly. Out of unconditional love He may or may not respond. For as much as one may want or desire, it’s actually best in the long run to resist helping those trying to force ‘a round peg into a square hole’.
Next are those who have heard, studied or perhaps been exposed to God’s Word but have decided they neither want nor need Him in their lives. These are often labeled, ‘the fallen away’. They’ve heard God’s words but refuse His Spirit, preferring to rely on the ‘little god’ of self living within.
Then comes believers who acknowledge and claim trust, faith and invitation. This group would include vast numbers who profess a personal relationship with God’s Trinity. Friends and acquaintances with regular holiday and/or special occasion contact. These people recognize and realize that fundamental contact can have and produce blessings and rewards on many levels. A fullness of this relationship with God’s Trinity gives both hope and courage for here and hereafter.
Finally there are those who accept and consider themselves to be part of God’s family. Those who have an unbreakable spiritual connection strengthened by blood. The blood of Christ. Those, who through thick and thin, through trouble and tumult, through long and short, rely on each other as family. Do they have bumps in the road? Sometimes, but unconditional love and acceptance are the cornerstones of this relationship. Unconditional love that comes from and through God’s living spirit, represented by Christ’s presence in both heart and soul blessed by God himself.
You can see how the total growing number of earth’s inhabitants may in fact be reduced quite substantially to a manageable number who truly desire and pursue a personal daily relationship with God. It’s not like He doesn’t have time or ability for He is God to and for those who believe in Him.
If you wish to have a spiritual relationship with God; Father and Son, through His Spirit, simply ask and then respond. Although you’ll be doing the leg work, He will do all the heavy lifting.
All the best,
Recently I was invited to sit down with poetry editors Maureen Clifford and Loretta Leslie of The Australia Times Magazine of Queensland, Australia. The interview can be seen and read in the upcoming edition at their website; www.theaustraliatimes.com
As a sneak preview for our followers, we are posting the text of that interview here:
You were born in Osaka, Japan. What are your memories of living in that country?
None, as we were only there in my infant years. I was lucky however that my father was an avid photographer who recorded our time there on 8mm film. Watching those movies now accentuates the starkness of post war Japan of the late 1940’s.
You have travelled extensively growing up. How did that influence who you are?
The opportunity for exposure to varieties of cultures, peoples and places is priceless. Travel can both broaden and deepen an appreciation of the commonalities and differences we all share in one manner or another. I hope those experiences are identifiable in my works for many readers.
Branch Isole’s writing world is where Mana'o takes shape as short stories. What does Mana’o mean?
Mana’o (pronounced, Ma Na O) is Hawaiian for “Thoughts, Ideas and Opinions”.
Living on the island of Maui, Hawaii when I started writing, “Mana’o” aptly portrays the ‘Observation/Commentary’ style of my short story poetry.
Voyeurism Poetry has been used to describe your work. How did the title come about?
To be a ‘Voyeur’ is to be one who observes. My works are a process of ‘Looking Out, Seeing In’ and realizing we are not alone in our struggles. The best and the worse of what we observe globally lives embroiled within each of us. Our challenge is to change the world by changing ourselves for the better.
What does it mean to be a Voyeuristic Poet?
To be a ‘Voyeuristic Poet’ is to be a writer who observes commonly shared life themes and emotions, and then comments on its distillation to encourage reflective identity for and by the reader. Unlike most poets my works are not autobiographical. The focus on my story characters and emotions are those of my readers. My erotica pieces are written in first person (whether the main character is female or male). In this way the reader becomes the Voyeur.
Your recent blog post starts poetically: “The door to success hangs on two hinges. Insecurity and security.” What is your conclusion to this?
Insecurities are the bane of our existence as individuals. Each of us is plagued by doubts and issues concerning ourselves or our place in the world. We often magnify these to levels that hold us back like a closed, locked door hindering our growth opportunities. Overcoming insecurities by recognizing our true nature allows us to oil the hinges, open the door and move forward in life. My works are designed to aid the reader in this effort.
“Only poetry has the capacity to create with each line, a new fate.” How does this influence your writing?
Every line in poetry has power in its singularity and as part of the whole. Poetic versatility of changing a word, even a punctuation mark, can alter the tone or meaning of a poem. Each story line embodies an opportunity to express or change everything for the writer and for the reader. This writing power is untouched and unmatched by any other form of prose.
Barking Geckos is the name of one of your poetry books. Tell us why you are enamoured of the gecko.
Geckos are a prolific part of the Hawaiian environment and lifestyle. A symbol of good luck, their size and color renditions brighten and decorate many households. The geckos’ endearing presence in Hawaiian culture prompted its use as the cover art for my first book of short story poetic prose.
“As with life’s finer things, poetry is created to be savoured, not consumed.” How does this translate to your work?
Poetry offers unique opportunities to read ‘between the lines’ for meaning or nuance. As such, depending on the reader’s state of being, well written poetry can provide multiple impressions with subsequent readings. My works employ twists and turns of plots, scenarios and characters designed to leave the reader saying, “Wow” when they’re finished. If I’ve done my job, each time they come back to re-read, they may experience a new revelation, depth or emotion from the piece.
Who is your favourite poet? Please quote a verse.
While admiring many across the spectrum of poetry, my favourite poet is Anessa Blaine. This verse is from her poem; “i give him me”
wet and curled,
i toss and burn in placebo abandon
and lull myself into sleep. . . .
i embody, already, tomorrow’s memory
and yesterday's malady.
...and all my unknown life,
outside, [it rains
inside] without restraint.
i sw.allow certain indulgences
like my fingers silent tracing of mimicry panes.
My thanks to The Australia Times for recently publishing four of my poems and for the opportunity to speak with them and to their readers.
Questions or comments are always welcome from our readers and followers. Please use the contact link, Meet the Author.
All the best,
I received an email from one of our followers and thought I would post it on the blog. It is a theme I often hear from readers who are trying to navigate their way on the new path of a spiritual relationship.
In a message dated 11/18/2015 12:27:11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
"I just love the reads I get from you, and it is wondrous how perfectly timed they are. Thanks for being so tuned in...And for caring ...especially for TRUTH! For God’s sake!. The world is so full of nastiness and I am not choosing to focus on all the negativity.....I just want to ignore it all...But NOOOOOO....I want to know....So my pain body was even recognized in church last Sunday when trying to fill myself with Holy Spirit..
I believe, I am saved, but I can’t say I’ve had that special wallop of being in filled with the Holy Ghost. Any advice for this blundering Christian?"
It's always a joy to hear from you. You are right on target in your observation regarding both the world and ourselves, and you are not 'blundering'. We are all encouraged to be led astray by our world and society, so it is not unusual to feel stress and pain, confusion and chaos on many levels of existence. Therein lies both the reason and purpose for our quest of truth; to bring us back to a pivotal position of mind, body and spirit balance, whereby we may again respond with love no matter the situation or circumstance. It is only at this state of understanding do we recognize reality for what it is and in so doing embrace true realty hidden by the veil of truth.
If one is (voluntarily) on the path [and from your description, you definitely are!], then the spirit of God dwells within and you have nothing to fear. The struggle for everyone (on the path or not) is encapsulated in faith that what one holds to be true. That's where the presence of God's Spirit is revealed. It is a slow process (at first) like learning how to stand upright and walk. We scoot, then we crawl, then we look for something to hold on to as we stand and acquire initial balance. This is the point in our journey when we have the opportunity to (acquire and) accept God's presence in spirit. Prior to this moment God is merely an illusory concept or "carrot and stick" perpetrated religion. For those who are ready, a first step can be taken. Some stumble and fall, finding it unrewarding or not what they expected, while others continue to stride forward, gaining strength through fulfillment.
Like an infant moving to toddler stage, the neophyte believer gains strength and purpose to propel her/himself even if they misstep off the path momentarily or sporadically because a realization begins to set in that God always has their best interests at heart.
You are definitely on the path. God's spirit is definitely at work guiding and protecting you. Your faith and knowledge of this personal spiritual relationship between you and Him will continue to grow as you see the truth in all and everything around you. You will also start to recognize where it is void, and thus knowing, may now simply disallow those people or energy to invade your space attempting to suck the life out of you. Initially this may lead to a sense of aloneness, however the peace and love of God (that transcends all understanding) will be yours. Others (not on the path) will not understand the new you, but that will no longer matter. The struggles of life will begin to melt away and the clarity of your existence will make itself known.
The door of success hangs by two hinges; Insecurity and Self-Assuredness. Success can result from either. It's possible to be so insecure that perceptions of others drive us to do whatever is necessary to succeed in our chosen field of endeavor. Or, we can be so self-assured that nothing others may believe will influence or deter us from our focused goals.
The insecure, regardless of their success often remain insecure. For them it is insecurity that continues to push them ever onward. For many not as accomplished, insecurities can have the opposite effect, by keeping success at bay.
Those who have shed their insecurities or have overcome the hardships insecurity represents are no longer held hostage by what others may think. These people believe themselves ‘worthy’ regardless of their situational efforts and outcomes. Being secure within they are not concerned or bothered by setbacks. More importantly their energies are not attached to others’ perceptions of their efforts. This produces a confidence to understand they’re not unblemished and will not win every time. Life being what it is, no matter what may happen they know they will most likely have another opportunity.
Take the example of a baseball or a solitary (card game) player. Both know they will continue to get another chance (at bat/at cards) as long as they participate in the game. It’s understood they will not ‘get a hit’/win each hand every time. With this in mind they can approach each game knowing they have a chance to get a hit/win every time because there is no pressure not to be successful. In baseball accumulated at-bat statistics over three hundred (and up to five hundred) is considered highly successful. And that’s only three (to five) out of ten!
Eliminating pressures to succeed (in someone else’s eyes, or for another’s approval) one can mentally approach each game reaffirming, “Today I will get three hits”. By practicing the skills that produce success one can begin to recognize patterns that lead to successful achievement. This cognition of patterns reinforces the knowledge that even though one may not get a hit, the patterns of success will show themselves again and again, which begets opportunities for greater success.
We all know (of) or recognize someone who is at the top of their field, industry or business. We should also recognize their extraordinary energy and effort invested to get to the top, and then to stay there. And good for them because the world needs “movers and shakers.”
What about the rest of us? What of those whose dreams have been cut short or altered by life somewhere, somehow along the way? What of those in situations that preclude the kind of singular focus required to do 'whatever it takes’ to attain the top and stay there? What of those whose dreams were attached to another's approval, or love? What about when fear of failure is greater than the anticipated joy of success? Or when negative outcomes overwhelm (or are perceived to be) a more powerful response than possible success? What of those who have put aside their dreams?
Potential success dwells deep in the psyche as ‘acceptance worthiness’ and it is generally blunted by insecurities. Shadows of disappointment past and present housed as encroaching memories (by parents in their own failures) can vicariously effect the support, demands or efforts of our children. Too often recalled patterns of unfulfilled expectations can become an emotional “Damocles sword” for parent and child. When fear of failure is more intensely tied to “How I (or my efforts) will be perceived by others, my focus is realigned from “I will get three hits today.” The joy for the participant is getting the hits.
Our challenge is to overcome feelings of inadequacy spawned by fear of failure and instead learn the power of triumph in the effort, which is reflected by our successes. The reward is our response to the challenge, not others’ perceived approval or anticipated disappointments. When one is secure their efforts become a testing ground for self-improvement, not leverage of another’s acceptance, love or praise. Failure’s condemnation loses its powerful grip when the mirror’s reflection can say, “I did my best and will again.”
Don’t be afraid to fail. A new attitude will allow you to stay in the game and continue to take your turn at bat. Encourage yourself to recognize the patterns of your successes. Start to use these patterns again and again. As your efforts bear fruit your insecurities will start to melt away. Your worthiness will no longer be tied to anything (or anyone) except your own participation and goals. Then, transfer this acknowledged worthiness to every effort and relationship in your life.
The door of success hangs by two hinges; Insecurity and Security. Both can spur accomplishment. One set will keep you focused and on task for as long as you are physically, mentally or emotionally able. The other will allow you to succeed at the joy of living, while experiencing the success of your efforts in accord with your goals, for as long and at every game in which you choose to participate. Your opportunity is to make both hinges the same in order to open the door to your success.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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Please be advised that works by Branch Isole are written for adults, containing adult material and language, some of which is sexual in nature. All works are
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