Soldier’s Prayer

My intent it not to honor war or the politics that often fester their eruption.  My purpose here is not to talk of what to do about foreign tyrants or those that carry out evil against their countrymen.  This is not a monologue of what is right and wrong and what should have or should not have been done.  What I put here today, one day after Veteran’s Day is my tribute to the men and women who willingly have gone into the darkness of battle and conflict in the name of country, family and countrymen.      

A Soldier’s Prayer By Joanna Fuchs
Lord, wrap your arms around me
In this hostile, brutal place;
Let me draw peace and comfort
From your restful, sweet embrace.

Help me do my duty
To uphold what is right;
Give me strength and courage
Each day and every night.

Lord, hear this soldier’s prayer
To You in heaven above;
Protect me with your power,
And sustain me with your love.

Often I have thought it was good fortune not to have been drafted to serve in the war of my youth: Vietnam.  My friends and family who went came back mostly whole, but for so many that was not true.  Well aware I am of how the men and women who were called to go there never received the credit, honor or respect due them.  I was against that war, but never against those who served.  Any time I see a Vet wearing something that indicates he/she served in ‘Nam I always thank them for their service.  To a person each and every one has been grateful.  Every single one!  Far too little appreciation has been given to those people.

Taken from “Welcome Home and I Love You!” by Eileen Breedlove  
When you pass by a Vet
that made it home,
or hear of a brother
that is lost in Nam.

Open your hearts
and show them respect.
They gave of themselves
and they did their best.

Taken from “In Your Honor” by Anonymous
Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers.
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold, your dreams, your lives.

On foreign soil, you found yourself planted
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.

Without your sacrifice, their cause would be lost
But you carried onward, no matter the cost.

When it was over, you all came back home
Some were left with memories to face alone.

Those who survived were forever scarred
Emotionally, physically, permanently marred.

With a hand upon my heart, I feel
The pride and respect; my reverence is revealed.
Every day, I give my utmost admiration
To those who fought to defend our nation.

For all U.S. personnel who served in Vietnam or were deployed before or after to fight, protect or advise in places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq, Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Serbia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and all the other locales known and the ones we likely will never know:  THANK YOU.  You have my deep respect and gratitude.

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.  
José Narosky

First Posted on November 12, 2011 

Letting Go of a Hot Iron


One of the more difficult insights to grasp has been that it is largely pain within a person that causes him/her to hurt me. Long did I believe those who caused me grief without cause, or pain far beyond what I deserved, were simply mean-spirited people. Experience has taught when someone is rude, mean or inconsiderate the vast majority of the time they have unresolved issues within.

Anger, heartache, resentment or some other harbored pain is festering inside most hurtful people that they have yet to face, cope with or overcome. As difficult as it can be, the last thing such a person needs is for me to make matters worse by responding angrily. My human ‘fight’ instinct first kicks in and only with strong intention can I keep from dishing out venom equal to or greater than the poison spewed on me.

When I react badly to someone who has treated me ‘less than’ any momentary feeling of satisfaction dims quickly. I end up tasting a bit of my own toxins I’ve thrown on them. Fire plus fire equals a bigger fire. It’s never any different. Even when things settle down and apologies are given and accepted a touch of bitterness always remains. Sadly, often those leftovers become catalysts for a later resurfacing of the clash.

Refusal to play the game by saying, “I am not going to fight with you” or “I’m not going to give you something to blame me for later” often makes the other person’s emotions flare further. But by sticking to my truth and doing just that will disarm the person eventually. Some time the absolute best I can do for both parties is to put temporary distance between me and him or her. No, it’s not easy but it is best.

Forgiveness is a gift I give myself. The other person need not even know I have forgiven them. Often its impossible to let them know even if I want to. To forgive someone is to give myself the antidote for another’s poison that’s been injected into me. If I don’t, at least in part, I give someone else control over my life. Forgiveness is about setting myself free.

When someone hurts me, I have to let it go or I end up contaminating my mind, heart and soul with the poison that belongs to someone else. Holding my tongue is not easy, but afterwards letting go what was said or done is even more challenging. Knowing they have done it out of their own distress takes time to settle in. Stephen Richards wrote, “When you initially forgive, it is like letting go of a hot iron. There is initial pain and the scars will show, but you can start living again.” That’s about as good of a perspective as I have been able to develop.

Being a normal human being, its impossible for me to always practice full forgiveness where and when I need to. However, I am grateful for the awareness that I should forgive that has made shorter the length and weight of bitterness.

Forgiveness is really not about
someone’s harmful behavior;
it’s about our own relationship
with our past. When we begin
the work of forgiveness,
it is primarily a practice for ourselves.
Gina Sharpe

Casting Shadows


It’s difficult not to be critical when I see someone misbehaving, treating others badly or acting like they are the only one that matters. It has become my practice to try to replace being condemning with a thought like, “you don’t know what this person has gone through to get to here or how hard their life is. Just say a silent quick prayer for them and move on”.

To judge others is to bring judgement to myself. The more I am critical about people the more I train myself to be hard on me! My discovery with intentionally trying not to judge others is I have become less critical of me. It has become apparent that the same disapproving part of me used to condemn others is the same part that can be hyper-critical about myself. That way of seeing was in fact polishing a mirror I used to judge myself.

If we knew the cards and crosses
Crowding ’round our neighbor’s way,
If we knew his little losses,
Sorely grievous day by day,
Would we then so often chide him
For his lack of thrift and gain?
Casting on his life a shadow
Leaves on his heart a stain?

If we knew the silent story
Quivering through some hearts of pain,
Would our human hearts dare doom them
Back to haunts of guilt again?
Life has many a tangled crossing,
Joy has man a change to woe;
And the cheeks tear-washed are whitest,
As the blessed angels know.

Let us reach into our hearts,
For the key to others’ lives,
And with love to erring nature,
Cherish good that still survives;
So that when our disrobed spirits
Soar to realms of light again,
We may say, dear Father, judge us
As we judged our fellow-men.

I am far from perfect and find myself judging and casting shadows on others more often than I wish. But I am grateful more often than not I catch myself. I redirect my thinking realizing that every time I condemn someone else, I am in fact setting me up judge myself.

Judgement prevent us from seeing
the good that lies beyond appearances.
Wayne Dyer

Love Is Always the Answer


Today… an older gentleman walked in.

Carla asks if he has any questions, to which he responds:

“I have all the answers.”

So I ask him what the meaning of life is.

He says, “Love.”

He continues:

“All faiths have one goal.
To establish YOU in love.
Today, tomorrow and forever.
An establishment of love forever into eternity.
You will be loved forever and ever and ever.

All faiths pursue the same ideal.

The trouble is, you don’t get there too well sometimes.
Love is a difficult thing to maintain.”

Yes, love is difficult— but anything worthwhile is.
Yes, you will be loved forever and ever and ever.
Yes, love is the answer. 

Have faith. Love is always the answer. Sufey Chen

Thank you, Sufey.  I follow your blog and keep track of you on Facebook. Your radiant happiness and joy for life amazes me. I am grateful for the days when reading what you shared has taken an ordinary day and made it better.

To be yourself in a world
that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love More


There is a desire within each of us,
in the deep center of ourselves
that we call our heart.
We were born with it,
it is never completely satisfied,
and it never dies.
We are often unaware of it,
but it is always awake.

It is the Human desire for Love.
Every person in this Earth yearns to love,
to be loved, to know love.
Our true identity, our reason for being
is to be found in this desire.

Love is the “why” of life,
why we are functioning at all.
I am convinced
it is the fundamental energy
of the human spirit.
the fuel on which we run,
the wellspring of our vitality.

And grace,
which is the flowing,
creative activity, of love itself,
is what makes all goodness possible.

Love should come first,
it should be the beginning of,
and the reason for everything.
From “Living In”
By Gerald G. May

All that matters on this earth ultimately is people and love. Everything else exists to support and make possible those two things. The utter simplicity of that thinking escapes me most of the time, but with each reminder a little more of the knowing remains behind. I am grateful for each little smidgen of that wisdom!

If you love and get hurt, love more.
If you love more and hurt more,
love even more.
If you love even more
and get hurt even more,
love some more until it hurts no more…

They Get Better When You Get Older


A Friend
by Edgar A. Guest

A friend is one who stands to share
Your every touch of grief and care
He comes by chance, but stays by choice
Your praises he is quick to voice.

No grievous fault or passing whim
Can make an enemy of him
And though your need be great or small
His strength is yours throughout it all.

No matter where your path may turn
Your welfare is his chief concern
No matter what your dream may be
He prays your triumph soon to see.

There is no wish your tongue can tell
But what it is your friend’s as well
The life of him who has a friend
Is double-guarded to the end.

Friendship comprises of many human values such as sympathy, mutual understanding and compassion, but above all it is about honesty, trust and love with a degree of intimacy. Friendship is undoubtedly a central part of our lives, due to the concerns we have for our friends and also because our friends can shape who we are as a person. Most of the times we need friends for companionship, conversations and laughter, but the real virtue of friendship lies in the support that we get from our friends, and the concern that they show.

The value of friendship is something that not many people take time to ponder over and appreciate… we often take our friends for granted. Often we only realize the value of friendship when we find ourselves in need of a friend: when we are confined with problems and need a shoulder to rely on and to get advice for our complicated issues. If we find ourselves to have lost a close friend we understand what we have truly lost, and understand the importance of friendship in our lives. We have many people entering our lives, some for a short time, others longer, each on a varying scale of personal relationships from associations to intimate love and marriage. We form a bond of true friendship with only a select few, those that move with us through the stages of our lives. Mahfooz

The gravitational pull of individual friendships can have an enormous cumulative effect on the quality of our lives. Friends can link us to broader social networks, and help enrich our lives. A friend can be the emotional oasis that makes all the difference. The good news about friendships is that they get better with age, says Karen Fingerman, professor of human development and family science at the University of Texas at Austin: “It almost doesn’t matter what relationship you’re talking about. They get better when you get older.” Chicago Tribune

I will be spending the day with a dear friend of many years. A genuinely true friend like him is rare. His presence in my life is a true blessing I am enormously grateful for.

In poverty and other misfortunes of life,
true friends are a sure refuge.

No One Gets Too Much Love


The loneliest days are the ones where you keep company with someone you love who can’t hear you. Holly Robinson

It’s become a quirk of mine to watch couples and how the two interact. What I see all too often saddens me. Many hardly interact at all. Watching a middle-aged couple in a restaurant recently words like indifference, boredom, faded love, apathy and even coldness came to mind. Wedding bands said they were likely passionately in love once upon a time, but apathy and inattention looked to have taken their toll.

…no eye contact…

…no talking…

…no touching…

…no stolen kisses…

…no smiles…

…no eye contact…

…sitting without a word spoken…

…feeling numb…

…feeling lost…

…feeling alone together…

Life is hard. Love is harder. Both are highly worth what it takes to live them well. What I learned with experience is all love is priceless, but amazingly simple to lose. The type that causes two people to want to make a life together is among the most precious. It is also love lost the easiest.

Loving and losing is the classroom where the value of love is taught. My living regrets have over time morphed into hard learned knowledge I am grateful for. No one gets too much love. Most of us barely get enough to get by. If two people truly love each other there should be no restraint in its expression to keep love alive. Love is a fire that must be fueled continually to stay strong and lasting.

Indifference and neglect
often do much more damage
than outright dislike.
J.K. Rowling,

Mother and Father of Love


In 1987, a 74-year old rickshaw puller by the name of Bai Fangli came back to his hometown planning to retire from his backbreaking job. There, he saw children working in the fields, because they were too poor to afford school fees.

Bai returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking a modest accommodation next to the railway station. He waited for clients 24 hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he found. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education.

In 2001, he drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last installment of money. Nearly 90 years old, he told the students that he couldn’t work any more. All of the students and teachers were moved to tears.

In total, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies. In 2005, Bai passed away leaving behind an inspiring legacy.

If a rickshaw-puller who wore used clothes and had no education can support 300 children to go to school, imagine what you and I can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world!

It is beyond my wildest dream to be as giving as Bai Fangli. It is humbling to realize in comparison I am selfish. But I can become more giving and with inconsistent starts and stops I see myself becomes more so.

Practice giving things away, not just things you don’t care about, but things you do like. Remember, it is not the size of a gift, it is its quality and the amount of mental attachment you overcome that count. So don’t bankrupt yourself on a momentary positive impulse, only to regret it later. Give thought to giving. Give small things, carefully, and observe the mental processes going along with the act of releasing the little thing you liked. Robert Thurman

Once upon a time there was a little boy who grew up to be an introverted, inwardly troubled and unsettled man. Over time, life and intention taught him peace, openness and a sense of self that could only be learned through much heartache, grief and challenge. That man is deeply grateful and lives today with a sense of happiness beyond any he dared once imagine. I am grateful to know about him. I am that man.

Gratitude is the creative force,
the mother and father of love.
It is in gratitude that real love exists.
Love expands only when gratitude is there.
Limited love does not offer gratitude.
Limited love is immediately bound by something,
by constant desires or constant demands.
But when it is unlimited love, constant love,
then gratitude comes to the fore.
This love becomes all gratitude.
Sri Chinmoy

The “Just War Theory”


On a semi-regular basis I attend a local Unitarian church and always benefit from each visit. This morning the minister talked about a concept I had not heard of called “Jus Ad Bellum” which in Latin translates to “The Law to War Theory”. Some refer to it as “The Just War Theory”.

At a time my country is considering making war in another country (again) I hope many will go through the seven criteria for a “Just War” and come to their own conclusion concerning possible new military action in the Middle East.

Just Cause: The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot therefore be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.

Comparative Justice: While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other

Competent Authority: Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war. “A just war must be initiated by a political authority within a political system that allows distinctions of justice. Dictatorships are typically considered as violations of this criterion.

Right Intention: Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose… correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.

Probability of Success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.

Last Resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical..

Proportionality: The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms. In modern terms, just war is waged in terms of self-defense, or in defense of another (with sufficient evidence).

“The Just War Theory” has Catholic roots, but in my mind stands as wisdom unbound by any dogma. War is something that has always been difficult for me to sort out and I often been a fence straggler. I have grateful that “Jus Ad Bellum’ has been made known to me. It will a useful yardstick from now on when the politicians and generals start talking about making war, not matter how limited in scope.

There is no such thing
as a little war.
It’s like trying to say someone
is a little pregnant.

Another Heart Whispers Back

Woman whispering in man's ear

At a time in history when we are communicating more rapidly than ever – via texts, tweets and email volleys, one after the next – it seems there is hardly anyone among us who couldn’t use some tips to facilitate more heartfelt communication for our in-person interactions with the people we care about most.

1. Tell them how important they are, often. Here’s a wake-up call for you: No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it. Loving someone and having them love you back is the most precious phenomenon in the world, and it should be expressed as such. Be straightforward. If you adore someone today, show them. Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.

2. Communicate your feelings openly. Express how you truly feel. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Give the important people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Express your fears, tears, doubts and insecurities – let your loved ones experience YOU. Have the courage to be yourself in front of them. To be fully seen by someone, in raw form, and be adored anyhow, is what love is.

3. Speak the truth. As a wise man once said, “I tell the truth because it’s the easiest thing to remember.” Living through a facade puts an incredible burden on your emotional well-being. Speaking the truth, even and most often when it hurts, frees mental space and increases your ability to connect with the people you care about.

4. Ask thoughtful questions and listen intently. Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused. Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring – one which has the potential to turn a life around. Listening is a sincere attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another that both attracts and heals, perhaps without ever saying a word.

5. Let your actions speak for themselves. Actions often speak much louder than words. When you love someone you have to act accordingly. They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term. You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t.

6. Touch has a lasting memory. Sometimes reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a beautiful journey. Sometimes a long hug speaks louder than all the words in the world. And sometimes, quite frankly, a moment of touching is the difference between hopeless despair and the ability to carry on. Physical touch can make or break a relationship and can communicate respect or ridicule.

What’s here was taken from an article at a website called “Marc and Angel Hack Life”. It’s filled with good advice for living, loving and flourishing. I am grateful to have found it and recommend it highly.

Every heart sings a song, incomplete,
until another heart whispers back.