The Stuff We Stay Alive For . . . Helping Us Be More Fully Conscious!


zen stones


My favorite quote from the movie “Dead Poets Society” keeps resurfacing in a variety of life situations and helpful applications:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.”  ? N.H. KleinbaumDead Poets Society

I’m a growing writer and don’t think of myself as a poet…..but there are times when I have such a strong, overpowering feeling that is difficult to convey in prose alone. There needs to be a combination of just the right words that go beyond the mundane, like colors of paint and musical notes, touching the heart, absorbing it’s truth in the only way livable. To me, that’s poetry. Perhaps that’s why song writers often do their best work during deep losses/depression in their lives, finding just the right combination which opens the healing floodgates—for themselves and us!

But don’t take my many words for it, here’s a great iTunes App I found just last night advertising on my Facebook page:

poetry App


Even if you have the slightest interest in poetry, its a BEAUTIFUL app that not only gives you a number of favorite classical poems, but is user friendly, even allowing the writing and audible recording of ones own poems. And best of all…..IT’S FREE! 

Again, don’t take my words for the POWER of poetry, here are some delicacies of my favorite poet, RUMI:

best rumi painting


rumi 1



rumi 2




rumi 3



rumi 4


rumi 5 field out there



rumi 6 repeat field out there



And a few more below to peruse that illustrate to me the very truths that I have held dear for years, being pounded into my mind and heart through losses, accidents, joys,  sadness and sorrow—healing balm for a growing and more fully awakened heart and life!

Enjoy…..and Keep Shining even more brightly as you apply ‘the stuff we stay alive for!”

~ Ken.


“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 


“What you seek is seeking you.” 


“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” 


“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” 


“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” 

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”


“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” 


“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.” 


“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” 

My Friend Jim . . .




     My good friend Jim of 20 years died just a few months ago on March 9th, 2013. He was an enlightening-inspiration to me ~ always upbeat, spiritual, a first class conservationist of God’s creation—a kind of Renaissance Man and always a soft spoken gentleman…..a real gentle man.  (You can read more if interested from the link at the bottom of this page).     

      For the past twenty years I would stop by his cluttered ‘junk shop’ that housed so many special treasures he collected on his thousands of walks in the woods during his life—he was always out walking, and so much more. I often say he was responsible for restoring the bluebird population in our area by building and installing dozens of bird houses along the Beaver Islands Trail. He also replanted hundreds of trees in the woods near his home and beautifully landscaped the river across the street where his little shop lay—and that’s just a tiny fraction of his outdoor generosity!

      Not only have we spent time together in the Boundary Waters, but he assisted a number of my friends in installing new windows in our 3 season porch—he was always giving, always talking about a new hiking adventure and always growing in his faith and God’s creation around him. When I wrote my book this past year, he and his shop were an inspiration one morning as I walked in and saw the new sign he had written. Here is that opening excerpt:


New-Old Signs In My Life
This morning I read a new sign that Jim, an amazing elderly friend, had written and was displaying over his workbench:
Jesus, help me get to know your voice so that I can stay in the safety of your fold. Thank you for your unfailing and faithful love. 
I liked that, but I liked the one below it even better:
Whatever you are doing, find God in it.
Our resources for devotions are as varied as
our imaginations.
     This past week I went back to Jim’s shop for the first time since his death….it was like he never left. As I walked into the crowded, magical space, this same sign, in his own handwriting, was waiting to greet me, welcoming me back. I was moved, and brought it home to that same porch Jim worked on, displaying it in the center of my ‘altar’ area.  It is a treasure! Today I took this picture:
3 season porch pic
       For the past twenty years, I could drop by anytime to visit Jim in his shop, and when he wasn’t there, I’d leave a note, and for years he responded. That old clip board was still on his work table, loaded with our notes back and forth . . . It reminded me of a verse in Revelation that is so fitting for Jim:
       Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)
       Blessed is Jim….he is resting from his labors…finally HOME. Blessed am I for knowing him, as his deeds have followed, deeply touching my life and the lives of so many others. 
       Having almost finished reading the near death experience of Dr. Eben Alexander in his book Proof of Heaven I have no doubt that Jim is fully free,  taking his greatest hikes, encountering the most incredible vistas!
     Dear Jim, I will not say goodbye, but I will say ‘Aufwiedersehen’ ~ “I will see you again!” 
Your friend in time….and beyond….
~ Ken. 




IN THE MIDST OF ALL OUR SUFFERING, there are sermon series and college campus fellowship gatherings…..trying to understand it all………




As almost always happens when I take the time to pray and seek daily reflections for strength and understanding in the midst of life’s tragedies, the ‘answer’ is right there, all around me, in the midst of everything. 

Today is the week anniversary from the carnage, blood and suffering of the Boston Marathon explosions, as well as a few days removed from the incredible death and maiming of so many in West, Texas, almost overlooked in the light/darkness of Boston. But then it gets closer to home, as a former church member shared with me a book after worship this past Sunday regarding the brutal killings of her sister and her children years ago. And I will be attending the releasing of balloons this Wednesday honoring the memory of beautiful Carolee Sjodin. “forever 17.” Along with this, my sister in law shared this morning on Facebook her sadness attending the suicide funeral of one of her former high school students…….

“Where is God in all this suffering?????”



……..So I turn to today’s reading, April 22nd, in Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening ~ Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the life You Have”. Mark spoke directly to all of my wonderings by sharing the inner healing in his own life of near death and transformation. He writes:

Book of AwakeningApril 22 ~ It Is Enough

If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.

One of the most difficult things for us to accept is that beneath all our dreams and disappointments, we live and breathe in abundance.  It is hard when in pain to believe that all we ever need is before us, around us, within us. And yet it is true. 

Like leafless trees waiting for morning, something as great and as constant as the Earth holds us up and turns us ever so slowly toward the light.  Our task is only to be rooted and patient.  

Never was this more painfully true for me than during the aftermath of my first chemo treatment. I was in a Holiday Inn at five in the morning after twenty-four hours of vomiting every twenty minutes.  I was slumped on the floor, holding the space of a rib that had been removed three weeks earlier.  And my wife–in anger, in panic, in desperation–called out, “Where is God?”  And from some unknown place in me, through my pale slouched form, I uttered, “Here . . . right here.”

The presence of God has never eliminated pain, only made it more bearable…..Mysterious as it is–no matter our pain or excitement, our drama or circumstance—all that we could hope for is here. We lack nothing…..”

Having it ALL!Psalm 23:1 comes to mind, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing!” He prepares for me a table in the presence of my enemies, anoints my head with oil, helps me lay down in peace with His presence, and gives me the hope that not only is He with me now but I will dwell with Him forever!  He’s there to carry me on some days and help me to carry others on many more . . . 

Mark Nepo and his wife, in the midst of their death, dying, and depression, react much as did Job and his wife in  her pain, yelling out to her husband, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” Jobs amazing answer was  “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:9-10)

job and wife

In his pain and depression Job cursed himself and the day he was born, but he stayed open to the ongoing healing power of God in his life and could triumphantly shout, or whisper, the words we sing on Easter morning:

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet[ in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 25:17-19


He’s right here, in the midst of it all, helping us bear it because He bore it on the cross. In the midst of senseless killing, murder, and violent acts we are right to question and cry and yell out . . .where is god now = VIOLENT SHOOTING

. . . but our God is there . . . is here . . . helping us not only bear the pain, but to be transformed by it . 

Sharing the Gifts . . .

I just sold a tea pot at my shared gallery space ~REVAMP~ in downtown St. Cloud, MN.    I gave my card with this website with the gift, and it made me realize it’s been a long time since I posted any created pottery pieces here ~ A sharing of the gifts, of writing, art, spirituality, and more . . . Each of us inspires and brings out the gifts of the other when we share our God-given-gifts
…..Love & Light……..Ken.

Stoneware Tea Pot

There is a great conversation/debate/discussion about “What is Art?” In this discussion the differences between “art” and “craft” surfaces. Is a craftsman an artist? Is an artist a craftsman? If a piece of art is utilitarian does that make it less a work of art? Can a piece be fully ‘functional’ in everyday usage and still be art? I love the idea that perhaps the ‘best’ art can be the most utilitarian, i.e. a Japanese teacup created by a Master / Living Treasure that feels and performs as beautiful as it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I have a number of art pieces, like beautiful platters that can be hung on the wall as a painting would, or taken down and used to serve food at a gathering.



And does functionality NOT make a creative piece a work of art? Or is a creative work only art when it is purely decorative and not utilitarian? Many of my pieces are ‘functional’ for daily use, many others are decorative, whimsical, or whatever it ‘becomes’ in the creative process. As one phrase goes, “I do not have to ‘prostitute’ myself by only making functional pottery” (dishes, plates, casseroles, etc.), great ‘bread and butter’ pieces, though only part of what I am inspired to create.





 . . . So be it . . . ’nuff said . . . Let the creative juices flow and let the domestic needs and desires acquire and flourish. “Its alllllll good”, as beauty truly is ‘in the eyes of the beholder’.

Closing this post with some Artistic Bread and Butter Country Art.



Love & Light!   ~ Ken. 

Broken, Held, Healed

      Lao Tsu's comment about being deeply loved

“Broken (Surrendered), Held (Loved), Healed (Completed).” I can just hear the responses to this title: ‘What do you mean “Broken”??? Do you think I’m broken, or need to be “Held” or “Healed”??? YES!!!!!! We all do!

       This title carries multiple meanings as we survive and thrive in the trenches of daily living. It implies both a physical and a spiritual application. The former is our body, mind, and emotions in response to major crises: an accident, disease, unjust offence, and you can add your own personal trauma.  All of us have or will go through such brokenness— it’s the way of all flesh. We take the worst along with the best of what life has to offer, and develop healthy ways of recovery.  The heart of this healing is spiritual transformation.


light shining out of cracked meditating woman sculpture



       The spiritual application is where “broken” becomes “surrendered,” “held” becomes “loved,” and “healed” becomes “completed.”  Whatever we call it—strong will, wanting to do our own thing, not wanting to depend on anyone else, captain of our own ship—we are like wild horses—it’s human nature.  Sailing our fragile ship in rough waters often gets us ship wrecked! The LIGHT-house is there warning us, but we avoid it, thinking we know better. Then surfaces that over used phrase Dr. Phil often says to the consternation of his dysfunctional guests: “How’s that working for you???” Perhaps true spiritual growth arises when we no longer have to wear bit and bridle in order to know which way to go.

       Surrender is often the last resort, usually when we are on our backs, looking up. It came to me with blood flowing down my face, knocked out and lying unconscious in a ditch. I was awakened by flashing ambulance lights, while my beautiful motorcycle was strewn about hell’s half acres! “Surrender,” is one of the “S-words” in the outward spiritual disciplines, joining “submission,” “solitude,” and “simplicity.” It’s the first step in true, deep, lasting healing. It’s being HELD. It’s willing to be held; it knows that the one set of footprints are definitely not ours.

     light shining through cracks in door



        We all long to be held, cradled in the protective arms of the One who has all power and all love. This longing may be the core need of our being, implanted when we are born, ignited when we are born again, and eternalized when we are finally Home. We can look for love in all the wrong places, hoping to find such an embrace. How ironic that the loving Father waits for his wander-lusting-children to return home, naked and destitute, realizing that loving embrace has always been there, waiting.


difficulties not to destroy but bring out potential



       As with physical healing, we can also heal spiritually. That God-shaped- vacuum inside our being can be filled, and we can be complete—reaping a harvest of peace and serenity. Does that sound easy or too simple??? As in recovery, it’s a simple program but it is not easy—it demands our death, the daily killing of our self-destructive, prideful natures.  As the Notre Dame priest declared in the movie Rudy, “I know two things: There is a God; and I am not Him!”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoes the same as he writes in his classic The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  This is not suicide by our own hand; it is a gracious intervention, placing us on full Life-support.

       This is God’s grace—our Higher Power’s surgery meets us as we lay dying in the intensive care units of our own making. We can be healed. We can feel complete, like we belong, like we are finally home—at least a preview of coming attractions.  


mosaic broken heart

Our Last Day On Earth (Book Excerpt 12)



What if I knew this was my last day on earth? Our retired neighbors lost the largest and most beautiful of all their trees in their front yard last week due to heavy rain

miscellaneous 003

and eighty-to-one hundred-mph straight winds. In the midst of his cleanup I yelled across the street, “Are you going to plant another tree?” He called out in quiet futility, “What good would that do? I won’t be here to enjoy it.” I could not help but walk slowly toward him and say, “Martin Luther was asked what he would do if he knew this was his last day on earth. He responded by saying, ‘I’d go out and plant a tree.'” My neighbor just shook his head and kept splitting wood from the fallen tree he had personally planted over forty years ago when he built his house.


I have used this end-of-our-world question in teaching spiritual truths to students over the years: “What would you do today if this was your last day on earth?” Many of them say things like: “I would tell people how much I love them”; “I’d pray a lot”; “I’d forgive anyone I could think of.” One woman said, “I’d write down all the things I do, because after I’m gone my husband would not have a clue.” My obvious response after all the sharing was, “Well, you don’t know if this is our last day or not, so why wouldn’t you attempt to do all things you just shared?” Is it because we don’t want to deal with this very real reality? I believe the phrase: ‘Until we begin to deal with our own deaths, we cannot begin to truly live.'”


On January 24, 1988, my father-in-law was teaching his wife’s Sunday-school class in northern Minnesota. He asked the young students, “If you were to die today, do you think you would go to heaven?” He went on to share how he felt strongly that he would, because of his faith in God and in God‘s promises to him.

Dad late 70's

That afternoon, in the middle of a winter storm, my father-in-law went out to check the roads for his family who had called him as they drove home from Wisconsin. A snowplow ran into him and he died in seven minutes from internal bleeding.

Ft. Snelling (1st year)


This past winter, as I shoveled the sometimes beautiful and often brutal snow from my driveway, this question had a way of surfacing. If I knew this was my last day to live, would I be shoveling this snow? Probably not, but it was a good thought—I’d like to be advanced enough in life to have the calm and peace of being present, enjoying shoveling snow for the last time on Earth. Perhaps some of you are thinking, “What a blessing to shovel snow for the last time!” But I think I’d know where I’d be—with all my siblings, family and loved ones, talking, praying, laughing, hugging, maybe even eating those better-than-sex homemade bars and cakes that are as decadent as they are addictive, not worrying about calories, extra pounds, or bad cholesterol.


About fifteen years ago, our neighbor Dave was diagnosed with cancer and was told he had only a year to live. It was tragic. He was only forty years old, had a loving wife named Karla, was athletic and strong and worked as the physical education teacher at a local junior high school. But Dave was amazing and his faith and zest for life were even more so. While he was still coherent and his spirits high, he invited a number of us in the neighborhood to his home just to say goodbye—to talk about life and things he loved and how he appreciated us all. We bought three six-foot evergreen trees and planted them in Dave and Karla’s back yard.


Dave died that spring, but I often think of him as I walk the golf course and look over at the three evergreen trees we planted, now standing over twenty feet high. How good it was to tell him how much we loved him before he died, when he could fully receive it. Why does it sometimes take a funeral to get us to share our heartfelt words?


I know that for many people, the depths of recovery have been a death and a resurrection—living their days like their last! I pray for myself that my Higher Power can help me do a better job of that.

The Prodigal Son / The Loving Father ~ Book Excerpt ~ 11

Coming to his senses

Coming to his senses








Prodigal Son (b) Rembrandt's  Return of the Prodigal Son 1662 The Prodigal Son (1) Pompeo Batoni (1773)



Home Coming!

Home Coming!

The Prodigal Son / The Loving Father

With one of my usernames on a recovery blog site being “prodigal returned,” I cannot not comment on today’s Twenty-Four Hours A Day reflection. Yes, I have squandered my Father’s resources, indulged in “riotous living” and ended up sleeping with the pigs, longing to go home, not even worthy to be called a son, but just wanting a place to call home. Certainly one of my favorite sections in Scripture is this portion in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. This solid-gold chapter includes three “lost but found” parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

One of the most difficult things we will ever do in recovery, and in life, is to humble ourselves, push away our pride, and deal with our resentments by making amends. The only way we can truly do that is to remember where we have come from. We can forgive another and ask for forgiveness because we have been forgiven.

Thankfully, and grace-fully, these words are not so much about the lost son as about the loving father, who welcomed his ragged, smelly son home after watching and waiting for him for so long. It was right that he should celebrate and have a huge feast because his son, who was spiritually dead, is now alive! He was lost and is now found! It doesn’t matter that his son’s self-righteous older brother hated him and could not understand such unconditional love.

In 12-Step language, we could say that the older brother still has not completed Step 1, as he is failing to realize his own life is unmanageable and out of control through his prejudice and self-righteousness. He cannot move on to Steps 2 and 3 and come to know a God who loves him no matter what he‘s done or where he‘s been sleeping. The loving father understands, forgives, heals, and welcomes his resurrected son home.

 AA Thought for the Day

The Prodigal Son “took his journey into a far country and wasted his substance with riotous living.” That’s what we alcoholics do. We waste our substance with riotous living. “When he came to himself, he said: “I will arise and go to my father.” That’s what you do in AA. You come to yourself. Your alcoholic self is not your real self. Your sane, sober, respectable self is your real self. That’s why we alcoholics are so happy in AA.


 Have I come to myself? 


Think About Such Things . . .

"The always juggled heart between fire and ice . . ."

“The always juggled heart between fire and ice . . .”

The apostle Paul has a powerful and practical verse in Philippians 4:8-9b:  

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things………And the God of peace will be with you.

escorting leah at her wedding

Walking my daughter Leah down the isle at her wedding!

This post is simply a combination of things to “think on” such as beautiful photos, phrases, and thoughts. In such a world of violence and non-stop inundation by the media, we need to think on things that empower and inspire us as well. And, there is a blessing attached in this verse to such thinking, meditating, and reflecting: “….the God of peace will be with you.” 

Blessings on your ‘thinking’………..Ken.









Our granddaughter Nora Jean (12-8-10)


Holy Land Pilgrimage. In front of the Treasury Building with Joan on camels in Petra, Jordan.

Holy Land Pilgrimage. In front of the Treasury Building with Joan on camels in Petra, Jordan. (2006)

cs-quote.0011spiritual experiences 3

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

“Peace of Mind”

“Everybody wants p-e-a-c-e….peace of mind.” (Loggins and Messina). 

Trying to get my confirmation students to open and read their Bibles on occasion, I would ask them:  “How often would you open and read your Bible if  every time you did a fresh, five dollar bill would appear???? Duhhhhh??? Yes, a no-brainer. How about you? How about me??? And it doesn’t have to be a bible, it can be any kind of inspirational book that encourages you to let the light shine through you in a greater way—reflected words that give you a little extra strength to let go and let God.

This was my experience this morning, and almost every morning that I live out my New Year’s resolution to read at least 5 devotional readings throughout the week. Earlier this week, I caught myself singing the great bluesy-song “Peace of Mind” by Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina. I hadn’t thought of that song for years, but there it was, encouraging me, almost sub-consciously; I was lightly humming the tune and that was it. This morning I turned to one of my readings and there, serendipitously and synchronistically, it was, “Peace of Mind.” Let me quote this short reading:

“‘Tis peace of mind, lad, we must find.”  (Theocritus.)

What could be more valuable than peace of mind? With it, no other valuables are necessary.  Without it, all the  valuables in the world aren’t enough. Truly, no human condition is more desirable.  All languages have words for the profound sense of serenity that is peace of mind.  Liberians talk about peace of mind in words that literally mean, “My heart sits down.” In other parts of Africa, peace of mind is called a “body song” or “where the cool water runs.”  In any tongue, the sentiment is the same.

Peace of mind isn’t something we go out and get.  It’s the result of something we do and keep on doing.  Peace is the reward for turning our lives and our wills over to the care of God as we understand Him, so we can do what is necessary.  When our response to shame is not a food binge, the afterglow is peace of mind; when we want to run from a relationship but don’t, we have earned the sensation of peace; when we want to hide but we extend a heart and hand, we have won peace.

Today, I will prepare myself to receive peace of mind.  I will thank God in advance for giving it to me. 

(From, Days of Healing, Days of Joy)

So, how many crisp, clean, freshly minted five dollar bills am I going to collect this week? How about you?  Blessings, and Peace of Mind………Ken.

New Years Resolutions??? Keeping it Simple, Keeping it Real!



There’s a lot of hype surrounding the beginning of a new year and the annual question of making resolutions. There was a time in my non-growing-slowly-self-destructing-years that I would curse the thought of any kind of resolutions that were doomed to fail through lack of discipline and unrealistic expectations. I would look at it as a big joke:

new years joke 2 like i won't screw that up right awaynew years joke 3

     Fitness centers must be drooling on this New Year beginning knowing how many people will join and only a minority will stick it out………But I’ve changed. There’s ongoing healing, hope, wisdom, understanding and joy in living each day, growing in seeing the simplest of occurrences as miracles and sources of wonder.

     Therefore, I do have New Year’s  resolutions, but they are simple and all that I need: 

1) To pray daily that I may be able to live as much in the present as possible, not fearful from the past or anxious about the future—to have that child-like wonder, not missing the mysteries of all that surrounds me;

2) To be able to read at least 5 life-giving readings a week from a host of tried and true sources, and stay as open as possible to new material that will be given me when I need it the most. With these two resolutions I believe I will be sustained and blessed to both hear and act for my growth and others.

    To this end, and since I have this New Year’s day off with more time for reflection and sharing, let me give you three reflections I read this morning for this New Years beginning. Take what works and leave the rest.

      The first is from Melody Beattie’s book, ‘The Language of Letting Go’ (Hazelden, 1990)


    The New Year: January 1st ~  Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year.  This helps you do your part.  It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.  Goals give us direction.  They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level.  Goals give our life direction.

   What would you like to have happen in your life this year?  What would you like to do, to accomplish?  What good would you like to attract into your life?  What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you?  What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?  What would you like to attain?  Little things and big things?  Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love?  What would you like to have happen in your family life? 

     Remember, we aren’t controlling others with our goals–we are trying to give direction to our life.  What problems would you like to see solved” What decisions would you like to make?  What would you like to happen in your career?”  What would you like to see happen inside and around you?  Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your times, and write it all down–as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.  Certainly, things happen that are out of our control.  Sometimes, these events are pleasant surprises; sometimes, they are of another nature.  But they are all part of the chapter that will be this year in our life and will lead us forward in the story.  The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.  We can help write that story by setting goals.

    Today, I will remember that there is a powerful force motivated by writing down goals.  I will do that now, for the year to come, and regularly as needed.  I will do it not to control but to do my part in living my life.


My second January 1st reading is from Earnie Larsen and Carol Larsen Hegarty’s book, “Days of Healing, Days of Joy” (Hazelden, 1987).


 “You are loved. If so, what else matters? –Edna St. Vincent Millay

     It is a critical task of recovery to get our priorities in order and keep them that way.  Sometimes as we trudge the path of recovery, we find that our priorities have gotten out of whack.  We can overextend ourselves in our efforts to learn to play, exercise, develop a prayer life, or acquire some of the material things what may have been missing from our lives for so many years.

As worthwhile as all of these efforts may be, they all work toward the same goal of helping us be people more capable of love.  If we are truly loved and capable of functioning in loving relationships, what else really matters?  What else is there?  We may never have all the things we once thought were justly owed us, we may never be as able to play as we think we should, we many never know all we think we should know.  But if we are able to glory in and share in the love around us, then we shall have found the key which makes life worth living. What’s important to me is changing.  My wants are becoming fewer as I realize that my needs are already met.


Lastly, a unique book composed of what some may refer to as stories of fate or coincidence, while other would call them miracles. Hence the title: “Small Miracles, Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life” by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal (1997, Adams Media Corporation).

 small miracles

     Allen Falby, an El Paso Country Highway patrolman, and Alfred smith, a businessman, met for the first time on a hot June night when Falby crashed his motorcycle.  He was racing down the road to overtake a speeding truck when the vehicle slowed down to make a turn. Unaware that the truck was slowing, Falby slammed full throttle into its tailgate.  The crack-up demolished the cycle and nearly amputated one of Galby’s legs. 

    As he lay in agony on the pavement, a pool of blood began to form beneath his shattered limb.  He had ruptured an artery in his leg and was bleeding to death.  It was then that fate brought Falby and Smith together.  Smith had been driving home along the road when he saw the accident.  Shaken but alert, he was out of his car and bending over the badly injured man almost before the sound of the impact died on the night air.  Smith wasn’t a doctor but could see what had to be done for the dying patrolman.  Whipping of his tie, Smith quickly bound Falby’s leg in a crude tourniquet.  It worked.  The flow of blood slackened to a trickle and then stopped entirely  When the ambulance arrived a few minutes later, Smith learned for the first time that he had saved Falby’s life. 

     Five years later, around Christmas, Falby was on highway night patrol when he received a radio call from headquarters to investigate an accident along U.S. 80.  A car smashed into a tree. A man was in serious condition, and an ambulance was on the way.  Falby reached the wreck well before the ambulance.  Pushing his way past a group of frightened bystanders, he found the injured man slumped unconscious across the torn car seat.  The man’s right pants leg was saturated and sticky with blood.  He had severed a major artery and was bleeding to death.  Well trained in first aid, Falby quickly applied a tourniquet above the ruptured artery.  When the bleeding stopped, he pulled the man from the car and made him more comfortable on the ground.  That’s when Falby recognized the victim.  He was Alfred Smith, the man who had saved his own life five years before. 

    Fate had brought the two men together again–and both meetings had been for the same purpose: for one man to save the life of the other in exactly the same way. “Well,” Falby told Doug Storer of the National Tattler; who first reported the story, “you might say, it all goes to prove that one good tourniquet deserves another!”

Comment:  When passing someone in need of help, people frequently think: “I’m busy, let someone else stop; it doesn’t have to be me.”  But what if the person who needs the help is really you, only the time hasn’t come yet for you to see that so clearly?