Some thoughts today on the upcoming new year.

Beginnings always have an expectation.
What happens next, where do we go from here.

There is an old saying that says we attract to us what we fear the most. If that’s true, then it is time to acknowledge that within each of us is an immense creative energy that can find a way out of the fear, the sadness, the despair, the negative conditions for which we often blame others.

Perhaps it is time we see ourselves as creators. Not only the creator of things, but also of attitudes and personal conditions.

We often constrict our creative self by placing limits. We often inadvertently deny those in need by believing security is having more. Sometimes we delude those we say we love by only loving ourselves through them and not honoring their choice and sacred self.

Perhaps it is time to listen to the life force of our hearts, for it lets us hear the trees, the oceans, the plants and animals and even strangers when they speak to us.

That life force is unconditional love, which translates to respect, courtesy and kindness.

It has never been tried on a mass scale.

It seems to me we have nothing to lose.

The Bush Legacy

My continued philosophy in these posts is to offer an alternative thought, a non-attacking way of looking at an issue, an event, or even an experience. Today’s post is an opinion.

Yesterday on the Sunday news shows Mrs. Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared on separate programs defending the President’s legacy from critics who say it is one of the worst in history. It seems they too have a different way of looking at an issue, an event and an experience.

Initially I thought Mr. Bush would be a good president. I voted for him the first time around even though I knew vice-president Al Gore personally and liked him and what he stood for. I was, however, disappointed enough in his lack of environmental actions and moral condemnations during his Vice-Presidency under Bill Clinton that I could not give him my vote.

But then came Florida and the “hanging chad” debacle and an election that was decided by the Supreme Court and not the popular vote.

I think the fact that Vice President and candidate Gore chose not to contest the election for the good of the country was one of the most patriotic acts in our history. Contesting it would have shredded the political fabric of this nation; his was the right decision. History is filled with that kind of grace; it is only that we forget most of it.

I think it is admirable that Mrs. Bush stands up for her husband. Truly, what else could she do or even would she do. Secretary Rice is still the Secretary of State, serving Mr. Bush and there was not much she could say given the circumstances of political and diplomatic protocol. I suspect once she is out of public office and writes her book there may be a hindsight acknowledgment of flawed presidential decisions.

Both women intimated that history would be the judge. Yes, history will make its adjudication, but we all live in the “now” and history is the future. Right now, the Bush legacy is not good.

We live in a country with fewer freedoms than we had eight years ago. We live in a country in a deep economic crisis. We live in a country that is no longer respected by most nations and peoples of the world. We live in a country that is spending our national treasure on two wars, one of which is suspect and the other very difficult to win because of terrain, terror and regional tensions. We live in a country where our national leadership uses fear to enact ill-advised laws and rules and even though we’ve spent trillions on security we are not really safe.

No one and no country is safe against the diabolical, the fanatic, and the delusional of the world that are willing to die for their delusions.

Mrs. Bush and Madam Secretary I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Bush Presidency. Like you, I’m sure President Bush’s original intentions were based on a hopeful outcome. That’s as good a compliment I can give him at the moment. I am one American citizen who is glad he is leaving office and I’m fairly certain I won’t be around if and when history might offer enough evidence for me to change my mind.

Touch Hands

I’m trusting that those of you who celebrate the ritual and holiday traditions of Christmas had a joyous gathering and a sacred ceremony honoring the Christ Conscience that buds and abounds in each of us.

I did, but this year it came through the evidential kindness of courtesy and humor.

I was fortunate enough to be with family, both biological and extended and it was wonderful.

Here’s what I noticed this year. It does not mean it did not occur in other years, but only that I noticed it this time.

Actually courtesy and humor have always occurred in the biological group I call family, but somehow this year the resonating grace vibrated through my aging and experienced nerves and I became more aware of it.

Here’s what I noticed: Attentiveness to the other; I watched it from young to old and from old to young. Where the child says thank you without the prodding from parents and where the elder chooses to become the child for a moment of shared joy in a game, in a silly action or from learning from the child in how to do, or put together, or connect, or program a seemingly simple task. Simple for the child, but complicated for the non-electronic minds of the elder.

There were also the other gentle courtesies of, “may I get you something” or “here try this, I thought you might like it”, or the magnificent power of a touch, a hug, a smile or even the shared laughter of genuine appreciation.

The humor part is the genesis of the laughter and we had plenty of that at my Christmas gathering. At times it was raucous and belly lifting. It was also subtle and coupled with a smile, and polite and sincere. It was the laughter of knowing the end of a thought, the end of a joke, or the end of a story since it had been told several times before at various family gatherings always at the knowing expense of one family member or another and everybody laughs again.

I think the most important part of these family gatherings and in fact of all family gatherings, yours or mine, are the memories we each take from them.

In the children it builds traditions and perennial expectations. In the elder it strengthens and confirms family and tweaks memories of what once was and what might never be again.

Children think it never ends and the old know it does.

There’s a poem by James Patrick Erdman I’d like to share with you as we celebrate the joys and happiness of this season.

The poem is called Touch Hands.

“Ah friends, dear friends, as years go by, and heads grow gray. How fast the guests do go.
Tough hands, touch hands with those that stay.

Strong hands to the weak, Old hands to young around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget. The foe forgive. For every guest will go and every fire burn low and cabin, empty stands.

Forget! Forgive. For who may say that Christmas Day may ever come to host or guest again? Touch hands.”

Again Merry Christmas to all.

Twas The Night Before Christmas

By Clement Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”