Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Blog

While it has been my greatest joy to have walked with you on this particular path where there was an outward focus, for the new year, I invite you to walk with me on a different journey, where we explore the inner space within each of us. The address for the new blog is: http://asceticway.blogspot.com ----------I invite you all to check it out, newly just begun. And, if interested, do sign up to Follow, or just continue to check in to the new blog from time to time. ------Heart speaks to Heart.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Life...

My dearest reader, it has been an honor and a privilege to have walked with you during this past year. We have both cried and laughed together. We discovered the story of a town. We discovered the stories we had in common, as well as the stories that made us unique.

Walking with you on this journey inspired me to love, more fully, consciously, authentically.

From my heart, I thank you.

But, there comes a time, when every Artist must step away from the canvas. One last long look at the painting, and the following words can be spoken with confidence, "It is finished. What I have set out to do, I have done."

This blog ends today, in its present form. If you would like to receive a free quarterly news-letter kindly leave your email address.

Though this blog ends in its present incarnation, the Journey itself is everlasting.

I am a collector of stories. Each human being has their own precious personal legend to share. May I be granted the grace and the wisdom to remain Present to all that are placed in my path, as we seek and discover the Sacred in the every day.

Blessings to you all, today and always.

Pax, Shalom, Namaste.

Happy New Year!

with love,

your little brother

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Morning...

December begins with festivity. Main Street is decorated with tiny bright multi-colored lights. The shops are decorated in pine and garland. The large tree in the center of town has been topped with a silver star. Yesterday, I went shopping for holiday cards, and there was a chorus of carolers. It was a scene right out of Dickens.

The merchants were beaming with holiday cheer. People meandered, despite the winter cold, gazing through shop windows specially decorated in holiday themes. Gold reindeer, miniature trains, frosted glass, and fur wrapped porcelain dolls. The smell of roasted chestnuts was in the air.

What is it about this time of year that brings out the very best in our human nature, and would that it could last year round!

The sun is shining today, though all remain huddled against the bitter wind. December also represents year's end. We are living through difficult economic times. Some shops are closed, never to be re-opened. Boarded up stalls sober those who pass by.

Even in our little town, foreclosed houses dot the landscape. Public services have been cut, even further. Pantries empty, people go hungry. The homeless live in makeshift camps in the deep woods.

Who are these homeless? Please, place all caricatures of rail-riding hobos out of your mind. The face of homelessness has now become that of families. Entire families in tent cities, eating soup from cans, washing tin plates by creek water. This too brings to mind images of the Victorian era. A great and ever growing impenetrable chasm between the poor, and the diminished wealthy.

Dear reader, for this entire year, I painted the portrait of an enchanted town. In so many ways we were safe, protected from the plagues of big city strife. But, at wonder's end, we have become one with the rest of the country. The mists of enchantment that surround our evergreen hills have thinned.

Time has finally made its way through our protective veil. If quaint little towns, such as this, should disappear throughout the land, we would lose something precious, treasures from our shared and distant past.

Modernity for all its advances and technology is no more beautiful, idyllic, or content with itself than the sepia-toned images in our nation's lost and forgotten photographs.

Perhaps, this is one of the reasons God chose this as my place of exile. Perhaps, I was meant to search through steam-trunks in web-covered attics for the specific purpose of finding old postcards of grinning faces, neighbor helping neighbor, a kinder, gentler age. Perhaps, I was meant to remind us all of our humanity. If we were once compassionate, we can be so once again. If we were once able to be present to one another, we can be present yet again.

If we were once content with simpler pleasures, then perhaps we can learn to be so again.

The bell tower tolls. The echoing sound from the center of town can be heard even from where I sit, so far removed at the edge of the historic cemetery.

There was a time, when during great suffering and hardship, we all came together as a nation, when the generous and loving spirit of Main Street, U.S.A. was not the anomaly but the norm.

In this season of lights, I wish you all happy holidays, and a brighter and better New Year!

Pax, Shalom, Namaste.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


November, in all its sweetness, has arrived, gently guiding us to our better nature, in which sharing and giving of ourselves lights the way over the river, and through the woods, to that heartfelt place called Community.

At the market, my nurse and I surprised each other by the pumpkins, then again, by the apples, then again by the bread. We embraced each time, as if for the first time, big bear-hugs, with adoration and joy.

During this holiday season, we celebrate the abundance of the harvest, sitting and praying together for a communal meal.

We are not alone, for no one is ever less alone than one who is alone with God. In this month, we begin to honor and celebrate our inter-connectedness. The holiday season lasts well into the New Year. Themes of family, and fellowship glow in significance.

Life on Main Street is alive with hope-filled anticipation and excitement. Shop windows are decorated in festive ribbons, and autumnal wreaths.

Merchants come out to the paved sidewalk and greet customers, and those passing by, with laughter, and appreciation. And, yes, with warm embraces, and tightly-held hugs!

So, dear reader, I, as town crier, do beseech thee, to open purse, and give freely, generously of coin. Support our local merchants who sacrifice so much of themselves year round for the life of our town.

And, for all of you who live far and away, a request kindly to remember cherished ones.

At table, now, you my most bosom companion and kindred spirit, are with me, even as I sip my chamomile tea, and bite into the freshly baked pumpkin bread.

With all my love!

Your little brother.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Which the Librarian Led the Way

The nearest local library is an hour bus ride away. I can't always make the long trek, so my local librarian and I have developed a correspondence. For example, I might write, "Dear Nancy Drew, I need you on the case again. I am searching for a rare or hard to find book. Please help."

She in turn, and her first name really is Nancy, might respond, "Am doing my best to keep up with your eclectic taste in books. The search continues!"

"Dear Nancy, I have no doubt, super sleuth will strike again."

"Dear Secret Squirrel, your books have arrived via the Library of Congress. How will I recognize you when you come in? I'll be dressed as a super hero."

My dearest reader, you should be aware that the title of Super Hero comes with a pair of green tights and a cape! When was the last time your local librarian took so much trouble to help you? Our local library may be small, but our library staff truly cares. Krystal, the other front desk clerk, was nominated best local librarian! She often breaks out in spontaneous song and dance numbers in homage to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies. Yes, my local librarians make me smile, and laugh with joy, but more importantly, they inspire all of us to be heroes in our daily lives.

"Reading is the key." Nancy reminds me, glistening in Jerusalem jewelry. She is a grand mother. When I was young, grandmothers wore shawls and walked with canes. Nancy is the new breed of grandmother, young, fit, full of verve and vigour. She owns a cape and Wonder Woman tights, and she is not afraid to use them, not if they will help her in her quest to help the citizens of our town find the books they seek.

I live in a faraway land of colorful characters, but basically they are good at heart. They seem to genuinely relish the idea of being of service to one another. Always, after making the long trip to the library, I hike thirty minutes to our market. In our quaint community, merchants know all the town folk by first name. The market clerks provide the most excellent customer service. I enjoy looking at the rows of fresh produce. But, mostly, as time is paced slowly here, customers and staff alike meander, visiting with one another, yes, and we do speak of "cabbages and kings, and ceiling wax, and things." Quite literally.

Hugs all around, I board the Whistle-Stop express and head for home.

God has a way of making crooked paths straight. We are led out of our desert places, into lands of promise. It may take us a while, in our all too human endeavor, but eventually, if we remain open and loving, we find a way.

We cannot repay what we have never stolen. But, in time, character shows through in our actions towards one another. Truth is made manifest. The exiled find a place of solace. And, all is good with the world. Amen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The leaves have changed color, and are falling, gently. Time passes. Seasons change. Green becomes yellow. Gold becomes orange. Colors fade away, slowly. But, nature is merciful. We are given time to remember each subtle hue.

Life on Main Street is all a stir as the Apple Hill season is under way. Tourists come from miles away for all things apple; pies, crisps, doughnuts, caramel covered, chocolate covered. Apple delight!

The Local farmers benefit greatly from the tourist dollars. Main Street merchants smile as they work tirelessly, selflessly on behalf of the life of a town.

Ode to farmers! Ode to merchants! Ode to Main Street U. S. A.! Our country is blessed with many such little, out of the way towns. They exist. They matter. They contribute to the greater good.

Big cities are beautiful and necessary, bastions of culture and industry.

What does the diminutive Main Street offer the world? Perhaps a glimpse into our collective past, reminders of what and who we were, once upon a time?

I sit underneath the wooden shingle of a tea shop, sipping egg drop soup. People in their best attire fill their baskets. Laughter on the pavement competes with roaring engines in the street. I feel like calling out to the drivers in their fuel efficient cars. "Pause a while. Visit with us in quiet fellowship." David Foster Wallace defined compassion as the choices we make as adults. Let us strive for a compassionate life, with kindness, and empathy. As I place myself in your shoes, I am less likely to judge you, or to wish to convert you to my ego-centric way of thinking. In your shoes, I understand your human effort, and your ineffable worth as a physical and spiritual being.

My soup is getting cold. I finish it, to the last drop. I savor the sweetness at the bottom of the porcelain bowl.

Dearest reader, I celebrate you, and all that you are, and all that you have the potential to be. Yet, even as I celebrate you, I celebrate me. We each working together, in our own way, compliment the other, until the line that divides us dissolves, autumn into winter, then into spring.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Love Letter...

When the mailman falls asleep in the late sunny afternoon, does he dream, I wonder, of letters gone astray, or of packages yet to arrive?

"I dream of fish!" He exclaimed. "I like to eat them!"

Duly chastened for disturbing his well deserved rest, I continue on my way towards Main Street. The Mercantile draws me in. I enter through the looking-glass, back through time. The darkened wood of the floor boards are original to the 1869 structure. The mercantile as it is now has been family run and operated since 1916. Mother and her adult children greet customers at the door with blessings of joy.

Fenton glass, naturally scented candles, newspapers from around the country, magazines, stuffed animals, and dolls, miniature figurines, art supplies, jewelry, stationery, even homemade popcorn, and old-fashioned candy fill the store. One can spend hours just browsing, or is it that time passes slowly within the mercantile? I purchase scented tea-lights, ordered special just for me. I thank Mother, son, and daughter, bid them farewell, and take my leave.

"Wait!" The mother calls out. "Try these." She offers me a package of hard caramels, made with real cream and sugar. "The challenge is to allow them to melt. Resist the temptation to bite down. Enjoy!" She smiles as she waves.

Caramel in my mouth, I continue walking down Main Street. I peer through windows. The sun continues to shine brightly. The Wise Women from the used bookstore come out and surround me in a circle. They sing the birthday song, as Carolyn (the Wise Woman with darkened hair) sways her hips, and flails her perfumed locks, bathing me in lavender scent. "We have a gift for you!" They chant in unison as if a choir. I open my gifts, a card, a book. I thank them profusely. They remembered my birthday, and I keep walking as if in dream-state, amazed.

Judy, from the flower stall calls out next. "I have a gift for you too!" She tenderly wraps a green bamboo shoot, and a bud vase, and places them in a brown bag. "Are you going straight home?" She asks. "Yes." I answer in a whisper. "Good. Don't over water. And, not to worry if you do. We always carry fresh bamboo."

Dazzled by light, and love, I float the rest of the way home. My birthday was on October 4th, the feast day of a young man from Assisi who left comfort and society to more closely follow God. Recently, I heard a lecture given by Rabbi Mark Golub on the subject of Moses and the burning bush. The Rabbi stated that there are burning bushes all around us, every day. We have only to remain open, and follow the light. How many of us could be like that man from Assisi, or like Moses, having once experienced the personal, forever changed, moving forward towards God, never looking back?

I arrived in this small town, in the cold, in the rain, no possessions other than a black knapsack. Saying "Yes" to God, we never know where that "Yes" will lead. Leaving everything we know, or thought we knew, to make our way toward a burning bush, we go through fire and water, becoming strangers in a strange land. Encounters with burning bushes in the world change us. But, if we remain open, and loving, the change need not be for harm, but for our ultimate good. We remain loving, and love returns to us a hundredfold.

Caramels, candles, cards, and books, and life-giving green; providential gifts, which we are encouraged to accept in humility and gratitude.

Thank you, dear reader, for continuing to walk with me on this journey to places unknown. The soul is an uncharted landscape, perhaps best navigated through heart and hope, but never alone. We are One.