Contention

Look at the reality television shows today masquerading as redeeming entertainment. Watch the violent talk shows, listen to the argumentative broadcast pundits. Read the headlines, look at the covers of the national news magazines. Most of what we see and read is based on contention, conflict, and conquest.

Perhaps we have become a society of contentious citizens, of non-compromising ideologues; a land of absolutists. If so, we might want to rethink our stand, for cemented thought always hardens into a shape that may not fit the future.

Our founding fathers demonstrated that noble ideals and practical principles are to be incorporated into the rule of law with compromise and even compassion and valued for their contribution to the whole even though their singular intrinsic value may be less than desired.

Shared ideals are the essence of collective growth, for they are not only the building blocks of freedom, they nurture hopes and wishes and encourage individuals to let go of demeaning selfish evaluations and dangerously passionate certainties. When that is done the two things left are reason and common sense and with them comes the understanding that grace and elegance are the only ingredients that can raise us individually and collectively to the realm of greatness. I suspect the choice is easier that we think, we just have to remember that it is.

JFK


The tributes will probably be few on Thursday. It is John F. Kennedy’s birthday. It is the day that the Kennedy family would prefer people remember the slain president, but most remember November 22nd, the day he was assassinated in Dallas. The family understands the need and desire of many to honor the fallen president, but they prefer the memory of JFK be focused on the day of his birth, May 29th.

That may take a long time, for there are so many of us alive today who remember that November day nearly 45 years ago. Only when the generation is gone to whom the torch was passed, might the the memory move from his death to his birth.

We honor Lincoln on his birthday and not the day he died.

Very few remember that assassinated President James Garfield died on September 19th.

William McKinley’s assassination date is now generally forgotten. He died on a September 14th.

It takes time to bury pain and change an ache to honor. It takes time to have tragic memory stand without sorrow. The Kennedy family has learned, through many tears, that once you acknowledge the death, you must let it go and remember the life.

Memorial Day


We used to call it decoration day, for it was a time of placing flowers and flags on the graves of America’s war dead. Later it became know as Memorial day to honor all those who have died in the service of their country.

The idea for a day of honor began with James Redpath, superintendent of Schools in Charleston, South Carolina. In the spring of 1865 he became very upset after a viewing a field of only partially buried union soldiers in nameless graves. He organized a memorial day that took place on May 2, 1865. Some ten thousand people participated honoring the dead from both the North and the South.

Three year later, in 1868, the man who most historians credit with starting memorial day, General John Alexander Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared May 30 as “Decoration Day”.

As it must, even the memory of Memorial day celebrations change with each generation. A few, but not many, can remember years ago when the bent and grizzled veterans of the Civil war were treated to places of honor at the head of every small town parade.

Then came the Spanish American War Veterans, then World War One and World War Two. Today Korean and Vietnam War Veterans are the new senior citizens of Memorial Day Parades. It time it will be the Gulf wars one and two and Afghanistan, to say nothing of the many clandestine operations of honor that took American lives, but left no legacy or information. If no American dies in war from this time on, then the number of those we honor this Memorial Day Weekend for having died in America’s wars, starting with the revolutionary war, will stop around 2-million, 768-thousand 103.

The Storm Across The Valley

What a glorious time for me. I was outdoors most of the day and saw playful storm clouds tease the mountains with dancing light and shadows as on and off passing showers spread a few sprinklings to the valley where I stood in awe.

The distance, as a singular and sentient entity, used the Sun as a Hollywood director would and lit the far off mountains with a colorful purple brilliance that few see in a lifetime, let along in a single day. The light was a prayer with no words. It was a personal caressing with no touch. It was a symphony with a score of shadows and crescendos’ brilliance.

And then I moved to another place of peace and there, as if it were a package tied, decorated and ready to be unwrapped by all who saw it was a high definition opening in a canopy of green to the heightened May blue of sky.

High, very high, and circling was a Golden Eagle. I do not know whether it was male or female. It did not matter for the Sun’s reflection on its under-wings made it a precious idol, an auric icon of the Great Spirit’s manifestation on the earth and that was enough for me.

I have seen and felt the same God-presence in the beauty of a Rose. I have seen and felt the same spiritual connection in the fragrance of a pine forest after a summer rain and in the drifts of sparkling snow as they pillow white softness upon the earth. I have seen and felt the same oneness in the tunes of little birds when they sing their songs.

The eagle is now gone and so is the light on the mountains, but not the beauty, not the fragrance, not the aroma, not the sparkle, nor the songs, for they are forever, not only within my heart, but within my words.

I wish you could have been there!