October 28th, 2006

Book Cover

Early Morning -

    I am awake in the night, alive with wonder.  I finish reading the book Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado with Vince Rause.  It is Nando's story of the airplane crash in the Andes thirty years ago, where he and others survived at 12,000 feet above sea level with few supplies and no way to get help.  He survives 72 days and walks forty-five miles through impossible circumstances for help.   It is an astonishing story, and he feels his survival as an immersion in, a belief, in love, and, that comes from an acceptance of death.   He is at peace because "the Andes gave me the simple insight that has liberated me and illuminated my life: Death is real, and death is very near."

    "In the mountains, there was never a minute that I did not feel death at my side, but the moment I stood on the summit of the mountain, and saw nothing but towering peaks as far as the eye could see, was the moment all my doubts were swept away and the certainty of my own death became viscerally real.  The realness of death stole my breath away, but at the same time I burned more brightly with life than I ever had before, and in the face of total hopelessness I felt a burst of joy.  The realness of death was so clear and so potent that for a moment it burned away everything temporary and false.  Death had shown its face, dark, predatory, invincible, and for a split second it seemed that beneath the fragile illusions of life, death was all there is.  But then I saw that there was something in the world that was not death, something just as awesome and enduring and profound.  There was love, the love in my heart, and for one incredible moment, as I felt this love swell - love for my father, for my future, for the simple wonder of being alive - death lost its power.  In that moment, I stopped running from death.  Instead, I made every step a step toward love, and that saved me.  I have never stopped moving toward love."

    Parrado learned that the best way to find faith is by having the courage to doubt.   He says that though he didn't feel the personal presence of God, he "did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky, that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good.  If this was God, it was not God as a being or a spirit or some omnipotent, superhuman mind.  It was not a God who would choose to save us or abandon us, or change in any way.  It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity.  It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence.  I feel this presence still when my mind quiets and I really pay attention."

    He says that each of the survivors "came down from the mountain with a new way of thinking, a deeper appreciation for the power of the human spirit, and a profound understanding of what a wonder it is - for us, for anyone - to be alive.  The ability to be truly alive and aware, to savor each moment of life with presence and gratitude, this is the gift the Andes gave us."

    What did the survivors learn and gain?   "Each of us realized, with a clarity that is hard to describe, that the only crucial thing in life is the chance to love and be loved."

    He learns that our suffering creates a wisdom that touches others.   "Against all odds, an ordinary person can endure."

    He concludes the book with these words. 

    "In the Andes, we lived heartbeat-to-heartbeat.  Every second of life was a gift, glowing with purpose and meaning.  I have tried to live that way ever since and it has filled my life with more blessings than I can count.  I urge you to do the same.  As we used to say in the mountains, "Breathe.  Breathe again.  With every breath, you are alive."  After all these years, this is still the best advice I can give you:  Savor your existence.  Live every moment.  Do not waste a breath."

    I read these words, and wonder if he didn't miss noticing a few moments.  I feel changed by this year, and sometimes, I slip, and mostly I am aware of the wonder and majesty in the soar and fall of breath.   Breathe love.   It's real.

Book Cover

Hafiz -

    Be kind to your sleeping heart.

    Take it out into the vast fields of light

    And let it breathe.

Book Cover

embrace -

People often view the spiritual path as a search for the light. In truth, spirituality asks us to bring light and darkness together in  wholeness. And in fact, this is the only possible solution. In our world of duality, any effort to focus all attention on the light only serves to increase the power of the darkness. Our aim is not to deny  or reject anything but to embrace it all.

When you are able to contain both the light and dark together, that is a very enlightening state. It means that you no longer have to choose one experience over another. You do not have to choose love OR hate, blame OR forgiveness, sadness OR joy, anger OR openheartedness. 
You are no longer polarized; no particular feeling boxes you in and keeps you from the light of true self. You then have access to the full range of human experiences you came into this life to embrace."

-- Martia Nelson
Book Cover

Issa -

    In the cherry blossom's shade
    there is no such thing
    as a stranger

- Issa  

Book Cover

To remember -

We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances - to choose one's own way.

    - Viktor Frankl
Book Cover

Such a day!!

We drove down to meet with Jeff and Jan and look at the house they have purchased.  I think they have done well.   We all are pleased.   The house needs work in the area they want to work - the yard.   They can create what they desire and they have a view, and a beautiful kitchen which is a must for they who so love to cook.   We are thrilled.   I see my grandchildren being born in this house, and there is a room for us when we visit.   It is quite the day!!

I was just sent this and I love it.   Enjoy!!

When Insults Had Class.

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

      -- Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."

    -- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

     -- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

    -- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

     -- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."

     -- Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."

      -- Abraham Lincoln

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

      -- Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

      -- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

    -- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."

      -- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

     -- Winston Churchill, in response

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."

       -- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

     -- Paul Keating

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

     -- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on  it?"

   -- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

      -- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."

       -- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."

      -- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
Book Cover

Spring ahead, fall behind -

Sunday morning is the great day where we all get an extra hour of sleep.    Sort of!!

I saw children in Halloween costumes today and it was fun.   Perhaps, you are at a Halloween party this very minute, this very year, this very year, according to columnists, of the risque. 

The moon was a tasty treat tonight and now seems to have set.   Enjoy the night served on the plate of day!!

Happy almost Halloween!   Boo!