20 February 2018
Life is not something to be lived
through: it is something to be lived up to. It is a privilege, not a penal servitude
of so many decades on earth.
William G. Jordan
like any other exciting
story, is bound to have
painful and scary parts,
boring and depressing
parts, but it's a brilliant
story, and it's up to us how it will turn out in the end.
is a moment-to-moment happening;
any attempt to possess it, save it,
store it, is to lose the present moment.
M. Marshall III
The young man had one more question. "Will I
ever understand life and death the way you do?"
"If you live long enough, yes," replied the old
man. "There are times when I wish that I could
understand some things more clearly. But my journey
is not yet over. So perhaps I have something more to
learn. I do know this: If you understand life,
you understand death."
"What's to understand?" the young man
retorted. "As far as I'm concerned, my father
dies before his time. Why couldn't death have
"Death is not to blame," pointed out the old
man. "It was the disease that took your
father. Death is often the consequence of choices we
make. Someone decides to drive under the influence
of alcohol and misses a curve he has driven hundreds of
times. But, in truth, we begin dying the day we are
born. That truth frightens most people because they
have been taught that death is the enemy.
"My father--your great-grandfather--was a healer, in
the old ways of our people. Before he died he told
my mother he only wanted to be buried in a coffin made of
wood. My father wanted his body to return to the
Earth from which it came, without impediment.
people look on death as the end. He looked on it as
the end of one journey and the beginning of the
next. He believed that a metal coffin is a denial of
death, because it prevents remains from returning to the
Earth. If you visit just about any cemetery in this
country, you see that this society denies death.
People bury their loved ones in marble, granite, or steel
crypts, thinking it's a final act of love that they can
give. Because of what my father taught me, I see it
as preventing the end of the Earthly journey. And it
affects the spirit's journey to the next world.
"My father was not afraid of death, though I think he
was sometimes afraid of life, as we all are at
times. He was afraid of failure, of illness, of life
without my mother. He was often afraid that perhaps
he had not done his best in one situation or
another. But he was never afraid to die.
"We may die by accident, disease, in war, from old
age, at the hand of someone, or by our own hand. The
manner of our death is often the last judgment others make
of us. But I think if we are to be judged, it should
be for how we lived.
"Your father was a good man; he lived a good
life. You should not waste effort on anger over the
way he died; celebrate the way he lived instead.
That is his legacy, not the manner of his death."
The old man and his grandson sat quietly in the shade of
the old cottonwood, listening to the gentle breeze
rustling the leaves. The young man was awed by his
grandfather's enormous strength of spirit, and grateful
for the words that had given him peace in his time of
anguish and confusion.
"I can't thank you enough, Grandpa," he
said. "One day I hope I can be half as wise as
you are. Thank you for all you have said."
"My grandfather spoke much the same words to me many
times during the course of my journey. He reminded
me often, as I remind you now; there is another
Grandfather. Remember that in our language
Grandfather also refers to the Great Power others call
God. The words I spoke are really from that
Grandfather, because of the journey that He gave me and
helped me to make. The journey that has been my life
is the source of what little wisdom I have gained.
"That Grandfather is all around. He is in the
storm that challenges you, and in the strength that
enables you to face it. He is that whisper of hope
against despair, and the sunshine on your face when you
meet each day. He is there with you in your
victories and embraces you when you suffer defeat.
He was there when you came into this world to begin this
journey, and He will be there when you leave it to begin
your next one."
Once again the young man sat silently absorbing his
grandfather's words. Then he whispered, "Thank
And he would always remember how the breeze grew stronger
and rustled the cottonwood leaves louder, even if only for
a moment. In the rustling of the leaves he thought
he heard a soft, strong voice speaking to him in a lilting
rhythm. As yet the words were not clear to him.
"Grandpa, do you hear the voice in the leaves?"
Old Hawk smiled. "Of course," he replied
"What is it saying?"
"It is life speaking," replied the old
man. "It says simply to Keep Going."
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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Every great creative thinker is a great
reader. They are constantly saturating
their minds with great thoughts. They
approach books in this way.
A book lets you set the pace. If you want
to stop and think about a word, a sentence or a
paragraph the book will stop with you. If
you want to close your eyes and meditate about
an idea the book gave you, it will be there when
you open your eyes, ready to move on with you.
A book synchronizes with your thoughts. It
becomes a part of you. The author enters
your mind. You can relax and fall asleep
over a book and not miss anything, because it
does not move until you turn the page. You
are in personal control when you read a book,
you can accept or reject, agree or disagree and
a book won't talk back. A book is your
Books are also a form of immortality. The
words of people whose bodies have long since
become dust still live in their books
today. Plato, long dead, is as fresh and
alive in his books today, as when he walked the
streets of ancient Athena. All the great
thoughts that men and women have put into books
are instantly available to you. All the
great lives that have been lived are told about
A book becomes a part of you, and helps to shape
your thinking and your character. The past
and the present live in books to guide you into
The spirit of people, the lives of people, the
discoveries of people, and the history of people
can all be found in books.
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x 800 - 1440
is never abstract. It does
not adhere to the
or the planet
or the nation or the institution
or the profession,
but to the singular
the street, the lilies of the field,
“to the least of these
brethren.” Love is not,
by its own
desire, heroic. It is heroic only when
compelled to be.
by its willingness to be anonymous, humble,
Lack of Leaders
It's very unfortunate
to say this, but we're living in a country with very few
effective leaders these days. This isn't an effort
to get political, and I'm not trying to stir up any
anger or resentment, but the fact has to be faced:
those of us in the United States are living in a country
with extremely poor political leadership, and our
country is not doing well because of this fact.
Part of the problem, it seems, is that we have so few
public servants any more, and many professional
politicians who are doing their best to make a career of
their political positions--not necessarily because they
want to do what's best for their constituents while they
hold office, but because they want to have the power and
financial gain that come with their office.
I've seen this also in the public schools in which I've
taught--so many of the teachers are unable to be
leaders; rather, they feel that their job entails
"classroom management," a term that has come
to be equated with control of the students. The
truth is, though, that a leader rarely has to exercise
control over others because the others are too busy
trying to achieve what they need to achieve to be
disruptive. They feel a sense of independence and
possibility when they work, and their goal is to do
their best at the task at hand.
People make history and not the other way
around. In periods
where there is no leadership, society stands still.
occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize
the opportunity to change things for the better.
Harry S. Truman
One of my biggest
frustrations is when I go into a store to buy
something and I encounter people who have absolutely
no clue how to answer my questions. While from
time to time this may have more to do with the
person being new, most of the time it has to do with
poor leadership on the store level--the managers are
more concerned with making themselves look good than
they are with actually training well the people who
work for them. (And a good leader would hate
those last four words--they really should be
"who work with them"). We have a
management crisis in our country, and one of the
reasons for which the huge stores are able to take
over so easily is because so many of the smaller
stores are managed so poorly.
Is this the fault of the young people?
Absolutely not. It's hardly a secret that
they've had very few examples of true leadership in
their lives, unless they've been very lucky to have
parents who understand leadership, or unless they
worked at an early age for someone who did. It
seems that now more than ever, workers view their
bosses as someone who may fire them, not someone
who's going to mentor them and help them to
succeed. Students so often see teachers as
adversaries, people who give out grades to punish or
reward and who send you to the principal's office
just to get rid of you.
The worst part of this seems to be that the upper
management also has horrible leadership
skills. They fire managers for the performance
of the people below them even when they don't give
them enough resources to get the job done.
Nowhere is this as evident as it is in the schools,
where teachers regularly get low evaluations based
on student performance even though they don't have
nearly enough resources in the classroom to help to
raise that performance. The leaders at the
upper level are punishing the leaders at the lower
levels because they need scapegoats--that department
isn't functioning well because the manager wasn't
doing his or her job well, but things will be better
once we replace that person.
day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day
you have stopped leading them. They have either lost
that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.
Either case is a failure of leadership.
And what this
ultimately comes down to, of course, is the
leadership that young people experience in their
homes, coming from their parents. What many
parents don't realize is that their children need
them to be strong leaders, and actually appreciate
it when they take on that role. Yes, they may
balk at times and they will probably complain when
the leadership is strong, but a strong leader in the
home--preferably two strong leaders--help the kids
to feel secure and to learn about boundaries that
are normal parts of life in human communities.
If they don't learn about expectations at home, they
don't learn about them at all unless they're
fortunate enough to have relatives or teachers who
help them to learn.
So what do we do about this? I think that one
of the most important things we can do is to
acknowledge and accept the fact that we all are
called to be leaders--usually in very small ways for
most of us, but this is a truth that cannot be
denied if we're being honest. We aren't just
expected to be leaders--we're obligated to be
leaders. Unfortunately, many of us abdicate
that responsibility and allow others to tell us what
to do, how to think, how to respond to different
things, and our lives don't improve when we do
so--nor do the lives of those for whom we care.
Being a leader, though, can be quite simple.
It doesn't necessarily mean leading an army into
battle or leading a corporation into
profitability. Sometimes leadership can be as
Making a decision that you know is right and
sticking to it. (You've been on the computer
long enough. Go outside and play.)
Remaining true to your ethics. (They gave me
too much change, so I'm going to return it.)
Listening to and seriously considering the input and
ideas of others.
actions inspire others to dream more, learn more,
do more, and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
and encouragement that are deserved, not just
complimenting someone for the sake of complimenting
Sticking to your guns and not bending just because
someone else is putting pressure on you--but also
being willing to bend if doing so is
justified. And learning how to tell the
difference between situations that demand rigidity
and those that demand flexibility.
Taking the time to teach others how to do things
that are difficult for them. Taking the time
to teach the right, even if it takes six or seven or
twenty tries. Letting them know that the extra
time is always worth it if the finished product is
to be something they can be proud of.
Being a good listener. Not a listener who only
wants to give advice and "fix" things, but
someone who truly listens to understand an issue or
Leading by example. Never being someone who
says one thing yet does another. Your example
is your strongest message, and the one that will be
emulated. Words very often mean very little.
Many of us don't see ourselves as leaders, but as
followers. The truth is, though, that we all
are leaders, even if the people we're leading are
few. Take the time and make the effort to be
an effective leader, someone who cares and who
shares love and compassion, and you'll be
contributing much to this world that has a dire need
for people who are willing and able to lead.
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means being 100 percent responsible for your
experience of living, to not be a victim or a martyr,
and to be 100 percent accountable for the
of your life, which includes the amount of love, joy,
and growth you
create in your relationships each day. To love is the
ability to remain strong, stable, and
committed through difficult
times, changes, and
challenges. It means being gentle, kind, and
supportive of your potential, goals, and aspirations.
I received a letter from a parent
who wrote: "Mister Rogers, how do you do it? I wish I
were like you. I want to be patient and quiet and even-tempered,
and always speak respectfully to my children. But that just isn't
my personality. I often lose my patience and even scream at my
children. I want to change from an impatient person into a patient
person, from an angry person into a gentle one."
Just as it takes time for children to understand what real love is, it
takes time for parents to understand that being always patient,
quiet, even-tempered, and respectful isn't necessarily what
"good" parents are. In fact, parents help children by
expressing a wide range of feelings--including appropriate anger.
All children need to see that the adults in their lives can feel anger
and not hurt themselves or anyone else when they feel that way.
World According to Mr. Rogers
Love has nothing to do
with what you are expecting
you are expecting to give--which is
everything. What you
in return varies. But it really has no connection with
what you give.
You give because you love and cannot help giving.
If you are very lucky,
you may be loved back. That is delicious,
but it does not necessarily happen.