Transfixus Sed Non Mortuus

Here I Stand, Pierced and Transfixed

Browsing Posts tagged peace

Dear Santa

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Dear Santa,

As I’m sure you are aware, I’ve been way better this year than last. A lot of the improvements and efficiencies I implemented at the beginning of last year are producing results. My net niceness (shown in blue on the graph below) has definitely shown improvement over the last 11 months.

I know there’s plenty of room for improvement, but I think we both can agree that you should DEFINITELY put me on the “Nice List” this year. Right? Maybe? Well, when you are checking the list twice, please note that this month should be a new record in terms of net niceness!

Now that we’ve got that little presentation out the way, here’s this year’s list:

1. Sandra Bullock with a big red bow (as you may recall, I have put this as my number 1 since I was twelve…)
2. World Peace
3. Louis Garneau Power Seal Shoe Covers (Size Medium)
4. Some more energy and time management skills
5. Spanish-English dictionary
6. For people to learn more about the environment and work to protect it
7. Blackburn Voyager Bike Light or Blackburn Flea USB Plus Solar
8. More love and compassion
9. Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
10. Health and Happiness for all my family and friends
11. Tea Infuser and some loose tea leaves
12. Music CD’s or iTunes Gift Cards
13. Irish books, music, etc.
14. A Good Scarf
15. A gift certificate to Running Fit
16. Reflective Gear, such as long running pants, reflective bands to hold my pant cuff off my bicycle, etc.

But of course, I will be happy with whatever you think I deserve, Santa.

I hope you and the missus have a great holiday, and I hope to see you soon.

Sincerely yours,

John Walsh

One of the things I’ve started to learn is that my own inner peace tends to have a “shelf life” that is highly dependent on the things that I do as well as the things that I experience. Before, I used to strive to reach a certain level of peace with the implication that once I reached that level, my life would be “complete” somehow.

There were quite a few times in my past where I said to myself, “This is it! This is what I have been searching for!” Yet, I was disappointed over and over when I got dragged down in the moment, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. If I thought about it, I knew that things like “love” take a lot of work to continue to grow or that I had to show up to work every day that I wanted to get paid. However, for some odd reason, I had the idea that I could rest on the laurels of my own serenity indefinitely. That was the wrong tack to take.

I’ve learned that when I do a “good” deed, I feel better, and when I do a not-so-perfect deed, I tend to feel worse. However, the newest thing I’ve learned is that if I do nothing, I also tend to feel worse. Like a gladiator in the Coliseum or charioteer in the Circus Maximus, I cannot rest on the laurels from a race that I have won in the past. Instead, I must continue working towards a new sunset and expectantly await a new dawn every day that I have breath in me.

For me, that means that I cannot concentrate so much on what level of serenity I have from day to day because my serenity ebbs and flows like so many waves on the shores of Lake Michigan. But the height and volume of those waves are highly dependent on what I do in terms of being of service, building a spirit of compassion, building a community, healing the hearts of the broken, and doing my best to be a channel of peace, even when I do not necessarily feel that way myself.

To sum up, if I take a break from building those things that make me a better person, my serenity begins to spoil like fruit on a sunny window sill. Serenity has a “best if used by” date and must be ever replenished and fresh in order to continue its usefulness to me!

This past weekend, I was able to go on a camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Glen Arbor, Michigan.

My friend John and I were coming from Ann Arbor, and Gordon was going to meet us at the campsite. So, around 10:30am on Friday, John stopped by my apartment. We loaded up, went to his parents’ house to load up some more items, and then we were on our way.

Along the way we passed by Frankenmuth, and John started talking about how he had never had the chicken dinner from Zehnder’s. We thought that maybe we should stop, but we decided that we would wait and see if Gordon wanted some on the way back. Nevertheless, all that talk of food got us hungry, so we stopped at Cracker Barrel for some respite.

Kimberly, our waitress, was quick and efficient as she brought us our appetizers and drinks. I got a the cranberry apple iced tea with corn muffins, which I really enjoyed. For the main course, both John and I had the chicken fried steak, which was most excellent!

Soon, we were on our way again. We continued on I-75 for a long way till we reached Grayling, where we cut off onto M-72, which pretty much took us all the way to our destination. We did stop in Traverse City for groceries, and after spending a small fortune for our two-day trip (which is pretty standard, it seems), we were on the road again.

We reached our campsite number 57 at DH Day campground between four and five in the afternoon. The rain had been sputtering the whole ride up, but it had stopped for a few minutes by the time we arrived. So, we rushed to get a tarp/lean-to up before the next storm rolled through. The wind battered the tarp as we assembled it and we were a bit concerned about the tarp’s integrity. There was little that we could do about it anyway. We set up the tent during this period as well.

After we had gotten everything in order at the campsite, we took a stroll down to the beach. The rain had started sprinkling again at this point and the wind had really started blowing down across Sleeping Bear Bay. It was actually a beautiful sight in its power and majesty, and it was certainly a sight of the bay that I had not seen before. Large waves heaved and crashed on the shore while the clouds swirled and swayed overhead. Through it all, a strong wind blew. It was awe-inspiring.

After our walk, we got back to the campsite and started a fire. Within a few minutes, we had a lovely fire going that kept out a good bit of the cold and filled our nostrils with the lovely smell of burning wood. Our lean-to tarp held up fairly well against the buffeting that the wind was handing it, but we noticed that a few of the rivets had started to pull away from the plastic tarp material. We made a few adjustments to help ease the stress a little bit, and before long, we were fairly safe and comfortable once again. I must say, though, we didn’t trust the tarp all that much and were ready should it fall down.

We ate a dinner of hot dogs and brats that had been cooked over the fire. It was completely delicious and tasty!

Gordon showed up a while later for desert. He made a banana boat while John and I made a reese’s-peanut-butter-and-marshmallow “hobo pie.” It was all incredibly amazing and yummy!

We then sat around the campfire and talked for a while before retiring for the night. I woke up quite a few times as the wind and rain howled around us. Once, I had a dream that the one of the tent poles was blowing away. I sat up with a start, practically hyperventilating, only to find out that it had been a dream!

At last dawn came, and though the sky was still quite cloudy, John and I set out for a morning jog up to Alligator Hill. We ran for quite a while and when we couldn’t run much further, we stopped. However, about thirty steps from where we stopped was our destination: the first overlook of Alligator Hill. It was beautiful to see Sleeping Bear Bay, though the chill of the air and the sweat on my brow blended to cause me more than a few shivers. We took in the sight for a little while, and then headed back at a much slower pace to cool down.

We met up with my friend Emily around midmorning, and then we went for a few hikes around the area. Emily is a really cool friend of mine who works for the National Park Service right there [she’s in the youtube video I posted earlier this month]. Because she’s stayed in the area for the past few summers, she was able to lead us on a few really fun hikes and show us some really cool places I had never been before. The weather also cleared up by the afternoon and it turned into a remarkably beautiful day.

That evening we had dinners wrapped in tinfoil that we cooked over some of the hot coals from the fire. I browned some beef and chicken, and then we laid out all kinds of great vegetables to blend in, like carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes. We didn’t go hungry, that’s for sure!

We sat around the campfire for a while and Gordon entertained us with his awesome musical repertoire. I cooked another reese’s-peanut-butter-and-marshmallow “hobo pie,” but this time I added apple pie filling, and it was deliciously good! I will have to remember that one! Emily cooked a few s’mores as well, and overall, I think it was a great fall campfire!

We took a long walk on the beach in the moonlight after the fire had died down, and that was amazing as well. The stars were out, but the bright moon held many at bay and out of sight. Nevertheless, the wind blowing in and the waves crashing on the shore only added to the beautiful twinkling ambiance of the moon, stars, and lights across the bay.

We then went back to our tents and crashed. I slept till after sun-up, and since John didn’t want to take a run, I took a long walk in the morning light. I took a few pictures with my camera during this walk that I really liked as well.

After my walk, we cooked chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, and got ready for our return trip. We picked up and cleaned up the area, and within an hour we were on the road. Our original plan the night before was to go for one last hike before we headed for home, but Gordon didn’t have time for that, and we had already started thinking about the Zehnder’s chicken dinner that we had promised ourselves at the outset of the journey.

So, we headed back towards Ann Arbor, and stopped at Zehnder’s along the way. John was duly impressed with the meal, and I know I was gentle, happy, and well-filled by the time we were done with it all.

We got back to Ann Arbor, and said our goodbyes. I then got ready for the new week, but with a certain lightness to my step. The weekend had really brought a lot of peace and happiness to my heart. Even as I write this, I still have that little spark of joy that must have been fed like a fire in a gentle wind. I feel like I saw so much beauty, and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how beautiful it all was to me at each moment along the way. What a great feeling!

We Are All Connected

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I think it is really beautiful to think about the connections we can draw amongst the rest of this wonderful world. Too often, it’s easy to think and live as if we are divided from the rest of the world, as if there is a glass of consciousness that separates us from the other organisms around us, human or otherwise. Yet, we are not so different from the rest of the Earth.

As far as humans go, I feel that we live in a world where we have lost a lot of respect, not just for the environment, Earth, or its animals. Indeed we have lost respect for those things, but we have also lost respect for each others sameness, our humanness. Deep inside our hearts is the fundamental idea of love, life, and joy. Those things sustain us and bring us together into a superorganism (if we let it). However, I find more and more in my life that some people expect you to respect their diversity, and will fight for that until it becomes easy for them to forget their humanity. They want so much to be a unique piece of this biological puzzle that they forget where they fit in the enigma.

I am learning where I fit in this world, and I find more and more that our own connectedness matters. Our own abilities to live depend on respecting the hearts of others. I would love to see a world where the respect we have for each other went beyond lip service to the point of serving the heart of others’ and their true needs.

Who knows, maybe someday…

A few years ago, I thought I had an accurate and true trust in another human being. I had a deep and abiding faith that things would be fine especially because I felt our friendship was strong from moment to moment. I began to expect that my feelings of trust would continue growing and developing.

What is still strange to me is how just a few things I did (and a few things the other person did too) caused the friendship to stress and bend like a metal spring. Before I knew it, the metal was fatigued by fear and distrust, and it just fell apart. The worse part was that I didn’t really see it coming until I was at the stepping off place. As I held what was left of the friendship in my heart’s hands, I didn’t see any way to fix what was left. I didn’t see any way for me to trust that the same stressing and bending of my heart wouldn’t happen again if the die was recast. I was afraid.

In my fear, I chose to stand still. I held myself away from the friendship for a time and tried to sort those distrustful feelings out, but the time only made my fear grow. I felt disconnected and disjointed, like a kneeless giraffe that wants to run, but knows that it cannot. I stayed there in the silence of my soul for a while, cocooned from the hurtful words, pleas, and demands of the other person who couldn’t understand what I was trying to communicate nor what I was doing.

At last, a change happened in me and I emerged from the cocoon in my soul, willing to try to reshape the metal of that friendship again. But, I came to realize that the friendship wasn’t just broken, it was also only memory now as well. The other person wanted to hurt me in return for my previous actions. So, I wished the other person well, and worked to grow in the spirit of unselfish love.

Later, the person tried to rebuild the friendship, but this time there were situations beyond my control that disallowed the rebuilding of the friendship right away. So, I tried my best to put it all out of my mind and see if the roads of life would lead me back to that friendship again. I searched and grew in ways that I never thought possible. Like a butterfly unfolding its wings, I started to see things in new and interesting ways. I often thought of my friend from before and how I would have wanted to share these new skies’ grace with them.

Whenever I saw that person, my feelings were still confused and fearful, like I was struggling in a dragonfly net. My friend couldn’t see the change in me, and the descriptions I used to convey those changes were judged by the words I used and how I had used them in the past. The person was just hurting due in part to my actions, and I knew that I shouldn’t (and couldn’t) pull them up from this hurt. I could only try to amend the past in whatever way made sense.

This strange simile story isn’t complete because I don’t know the ending. I have a heightened awareness of things today, but I see that I am still easily trapped in the webs of my own dreams, instead of reaching for sunlight and letting others reach for me and with me. I see that I need to continue to grow and develop, but most of all, I need to learn to trust that as long as I do what’s right in terms of my head, body, and emotions, then the right thing will happen in the end.

Perhaps a friendship can be mended or perhaps not, but I do know that I must have faith that whatever happens, I will be loved and cared for. I must trust these new wings that I’ve been given by emerging from my cocoon of self so that I may reach the grace of the sky, and dance on the winds’ wings in the sunlight. That must be where I put my faith and trust…


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I once dreamed of beautiful things, but they were full of untruth.
Then came the dreams of nose rings, so bull-headed and uncouth.
I touched the channel catfish, and broke down my own sadness,
but those were just dream-wishes, steps on my way to gladness.
I worked up anger in me, and found the old lightning rod.
I knew that ferocity because my soul was a god,
but I came to understand what was beneath the dream.
For in that hot desert sand, I saw some peace near a stream.
My mind, neither rich nor poor, is filled with shadows and dust.
Patience and truth is the door, and I must above all trust.