Babies Show Us Who We Really Are

A Baby is God's Opinion

Thought for the  Week

“Making the decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone

“I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.” ~Vincent van Gogh

“You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” ~Psalm 139:13

“Diaper backward spells repaid.” ~Marshall McLuhan

“If you were to open up a baby’s head–and I am not for a moment suggesting that you should–you would find nothing but an enormous drool gland.” ~Dave Barry

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” ~Leo J. Burke

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 18:10

“Every child begins the world again.”

~Henry David Thoreau

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More Like Him

More Like Him

“We are His children, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.”

~1 John 3:2

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Not Caring Is Hard Work

'Head in the Clouds' by viKING (deviantart.com)Artwork by ViKING

The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.Wishing Title (logo only)

While Zack was searching for his sister Gina, Liulah, who’d tried to turn him into a cloud shepherd like her, was rediscovering her own humanness.

There was a daily Nongathering for young cloud shepherds (sylphs), the opposite of a “gathering,” which would mean they cared—something strictly forbidden in the sylph realm. Liulah had gone to it regularly at one point, but the Facilitator had suggested she stay away until she developed an appropriate degree of disinterest. Now, ironically, Liulah thought she might be able to gain a proper sense of detachment by attending the non-event.

By the time she arrived at the big nimbulous chamber, a dozen young cloud shepherds were already there. They ranged from early to late teens. Most were staring placidly, enjoying the sensation of being completely unaffected by the presence others, but a few were speaking softly among themselves. Liulah knew she should emulate the detached sylphs, but she couldn’t help herself; she ambled over to the conversation group and sat down.

“Mmmm, I feel so deliciously alone,” a thick-bodied female susurrated.

“Keep it to yourself,” a willow-thin boy whispered.

“If you were truly experiencing your own peace,” a bluish female corrected, “you wouldn’t even have noticed hers.”

“I said it for the benefit of those who have not yet arrived at the level I’ve attained,” the boy hissed.

“Shhhh, I’m forgetting…” the original speaker admonished. Silence ensued for several minutes. Finally the bluish female opened her eyes and said:

“Forgetting what?”

“Yes, what?” the boy inquired with urgent disinterest.

“Now you have to tell us,” a fourth girl said, “so we can forget about it too.”

“Rain it, girl!” blurted Liulah. The others shot offended glances at her.

“Well, yesterday,” the thick-bodied female said, “a human was seen falling from the sky into the Frengan Light Forest!”

There was a collective gasp. The boy said, “Falling from the sky? But that’s imposs—”

“Shhhhh! Quietude!” the Facilitator impered.

“Girl or boy?” Liulah demanded. Disinterested heads popped up all around.

“Girl, I think,” the thick-bodied female replied. “All humans look the same.”

“It’s Gina!” Liulah screamed. She, jumped to her feet and ran across the chamber, shouting, “It’s Zack’s sister!” Then she let out a piercing, “Woo-hoo!” a noise no sylph had ever made before, and jovially explained, “That’s what humans do! You all used to be human, you know!” She exploded out of the chamber through the cloud wall.

After a few moments of stunned silence, the Facilitator made a gesture with her finger tips to symbolize removing troublesome thoughts from their minds and throwing them away. The young sylphs nodded and quickly re-entered the stream of perfect peace. Only now the quietude was even more delicious. Because now they had something really juicy…

Not to care about.

φ

Thoughts: Have you ever concluded that your system of beliefs (or non-beliefs) might be founded on half-truths? What did you do about it?

Ten Kingdoms of Ismara (mitchteemley.com)

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Falling Toward Winter

The big statements of the seasons are easy to read: fall’s brief blaze of color, winter’s frosted flashes of beauty. But most of the time the seasons, like our lives, are in transition and full of subtext. Yet we’ll find beauty there, too, in the mixed statements and mid-seasons of our middle passages, if only we take the time to look for it. These photographers have looked for and found the subtext in the transition from autumn to winter.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show.

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Don’t Use Me

Flirting (youngisthan.in)Note: this post includes frank talk about sexuality.

Five years ago, in the fall of 2017, following revelations about movie mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo Movement exploded into public consciousness. Since then, many women (and a some men) have spoken openly about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. This has caused a lot of men to reconsider “the rules” of sexual behavior, and to wonder if they have ever crossed the line.

As a student, I was once cornered by a university department head who started massaging my chest and began working his way downward. (Even if I’d been gay, I’d have been turned off—he had hideous breath.) This was harassment. A few years later, an inebriated audience member at an improv performance dove onto me, jamming her tongue down my throat and her hand down my pants. This was assault. I wasn’t particularly traumatized, but I completely understand why others, especially women, are.

Two years before I met her, my college sweetheart had been a naïve 18-year-old who still thought she could get pregnant by French-kissing. Three weeks into college she was set straight by a theatre prof who introduced her to drugs and sex—on the same night. Two months later she had an abortion. I was the first person she’d ever told. Even though she’d said yes, under the influence of drugs, this was blatant sexual coercion (the professor should have gone to jail). But it’s not always so cut-and-dried.

Coercion is the grey zone. There’s a squishy, unofficial set of Sex and Dating Rules that goes something like this: 1. Attraction is established—laughing, flirting, kissing; 2. Kissing turns passionate—this could be a yes; 3. Therefore, hands are allowed to wander experimentally; 4. If hands are not pushed away, they are allowed to wander further; 5. If hands are stopped with minimal assertiveness, this could mean, a) no, b) yes, but not yet, or c) receiver hasn’t decided yet; 6. Therefore, after a polite pause, hands are allowed to wander again; 7. If they’re not rejected this time, all systems are go; if they are, it’s a final no. For some, this scenario goes too far. For a few, it doesn’t go far enough (“Women want to be persuaded,” they argue). So, when does it become sexual coercion?

Stop!

I’m going to suggest a Rule change that would have been laughable to me as a young, promiscuous (pre-conversion) man: Sex should never be transactional (“you give me something, I give you something”). That was Harvey Weinstein’s rule. For humans, sex is inextricably entangled with self-worth, and with the need for emotional intimacy and commitment. Even if it isn’t that way for you, it probably is for the other person. To assume otherwise is to do so because it’s to your advantage–truth disintegrates when the “I want” monster enters the room.

So here’s my Replacement Rule: Never, ever use another person–even if they’re willing to be used. That’s not what they’re made for, and it’s not what you’re made for.

And it’s not just about sex. It affects every facet of human relationships. I’ll spend the rest of my life learning to undeceive myself enough to live consistently by this Rule. But it’s worth it. So I’m in.

You?

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The Weeds

CaptureMy Featured Blogger this week is Rose Perez of Poet Rummager. Rose, who sell collectibles and art online, often finds things that, as she puts it, “have hilarious and, at times, dark stories to tell.” And finding these poetical prompts too “thrilling (and) creatively random” to ignore, she simply has to tell their stories.

Poet Rummager

I don’t make wishes anymore.

They float away.

Unrestrained

Clutching the earth

Sinking teeth into dirt

Sprouting into monsters

Once held in captivity

Now wild and rampant

Behold the weeds of my iniquity.

_____________________________________________

Psalm 51:5, KJV: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

——————————————————————-

Photo by -FlyTrapMan– Click on his name to see magic!

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The Year I Invented Myself

My first actor headshots, age 14

My Real Memoir

Almost the moment we hit our teens, we become sentient beings. Before that we’re racoons: too clever for our own good (or at least our parents’ good), and basically untamable. Not that as teenagers we’re any more tameable—less so, really—but the difference is that now we disobey with a sense of being right. And since we’re obviously smarter than our parents, or any adults for that matter, the onus is on us to figure out who and what we are.

And so, as I entered the second half of my 8th Grade year, I began to invent myself. I think of it as having been given a Car when I was born. The Car is my life—my body, my mind, my soul (or will), and maybe, just maybe, a mysterious transmitter/receiver of some sort.

Of course, being a child, I didn’t understand what the Car was for, or even that it was for something. I slept in the back seat, swung on the doors, hid in the trunk, played with the knobs and shifter. As I got older, I discovered I could turn on the lights, store treasure in the glove compartment, and listen to the radio!

And then, at puberty, I found the key to that big thing in the front: the motor. When I first turned it on, it scared me. It made the whole Car shake, and got really hot! But it warmed me, and I could cook on it. Then I discovered that, if I moved the shifter while the motor was running, the Car would move! Forward was best, backward was kind of boring (only older people liked going backward).

And so I was off! But to where? Didn’t know. Didn’t care. I had a car, My Car, and I was driving! By age 13, I’d discovered storytelling, art, movies, music, guitars and kissing. I loved roaring around in My Car. It didn’t matter where I went (if there even was a “where”). I was in love with my car and in love with driving!

By spring, I was taking guitar lessons and getting my first actor headshots done at a place called the Children’s Screen Actors Guild, who’d informed my mom that I had “rare talent!” (they were later busted as a front for an overpriced photography studio). I’d also taken over our school’s barely-supervised Advanced Drama class, and chosen our spring drama production. It was a Danny Thomas Show episode, not one that had been made, but a spec script written by my Hollywood writer/producer/actress-wannabe grandmother (yes, I’m a chip of the old grandma-block).

I cast myself as Danny and the prettiest girl in class as my wife. Then I tried to direct, but two things got in the way: 1) The class didn’t see why their fellow-student should be in charge, and 2) I had no clue how to direct a play, especially with a castful of ex-racoons. I just wanted to make people laugh, and to kiss the girl. Neither happened. The spring production dissolved like fertilizer in the school flower beds.

And yet I remained undaunted. I still had My Car and was determined to keep on driving. I mean, that was what you did, right? That was life. It didn’t occur to me until a decade later that I hadn’t actually created My Car, only how I used it, and that if Someone else had, then maybe, just maybe, there was something more to life than simply driving until I ran out of gas…

Something like a Destination.

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So Many Holidays, So Little Time!

monkprayer“Look, brothers, I painted a selfie!”

Thought for the Week

Hey, it’s Cyber Monk Day–why is everybody shopping online when we should be deep in spiritual contemplation…about all the money we’ve spent? Yes, I know it’s Cyber Monday. It’s just that there’s so much spending going on I figure we’re all going to have to live like monks to pay our credit card bills!

Last week (after Thanksgiving), we had Black Friday the biggest buying day of the year, which I propose, given how many people regret their choices, should be followed by a new holiday called Misgiving.

And now it’s Cyber Monday, the second biggest buying day of the year. Since Misgiving hasn’t caught on yet, I suggest we call the day after Cyber Monday Destitute Tuesday.

Or better yet, assuming we do have some money left…

Let’s embrace Giving Tuesday, a very worthy holiday founded ten years ago and officially co-sponsored by the United Nations. You can even tie it to your traditional holiday gift-giving. Many charities (e.g. World Vision and Heifer International) have holiday catalogues that allow you to make donations in a friend’s or relative’s name.

Baby Lamb (hallmarkcards.com)Suggestion: Add a token item to the gift card, such as a small stuffed animal or figurine to remind them of the baby chicks or goats or farm implements (or?) that you’ve donated in their name. Because, face it, holidays come and go, but…

Love is here to stay.

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The Perfect Church Service

“The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” ~C.S. Lewis

“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD. They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart.”

~Jeremiah 24:7

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It Hurts to Care

Fantasy Project by Anthony Green (domestika.org)Artwork by Anthony Green

The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.Wishing Title (logo only)

While Gina was being celebrated as the new Dragonmeer of Rennou, her brother Zack, with the help of the immense bird Aviar, had resumed his search for her. Meanwhile, Zack’s former captor, Liulah the cloud shepherd, was rediscovering her humanness.

Aviar swept down over the foothills and then, gliding on thermals, swung out over the steppelands of southern Gerd. They flew so close that Zack could make out patterns in the tall grass. He watched stately elk lope across the hilltops, the grass parting around them like chevrons of water around ships; he saw goat-like creatures bounding on heavy kangaroo legs toward protective stands of trees, and was a bit rattled when one looked up and cursed in an actual spoken language.

Neither Zack nor Aviar had had any idea where to look. They knew Gina would not likely be in the Northern Mountains, so they headed south. Once they reached the grassy plains, Aviar approached his feathered brethren. It was no use speaking to the smaller birds—they would faint dead away at the mere sight of a giant Sheya—but when he saw a hawk or a raven, he would call out in reassuringly throaty “ch-wooks” and “ch-roos.”

Once it they were assured he meant no harm, Aviar would execute a falling gesture with his wing, and make sounds that represented “human” and “girl.” But each answered with a discouraging “no.” They flew for hours, but always received the same reply:

“Girl-falling-from-sky? No.”

———————————–

Liulah had encountered more revelations than most sylphs experience in a lifetime: she’d captured a human boy and thought for a time she might be able to keep him; she’d learned that she herself was once human, with a brother who, according to Mother and Father Cloud, had abandoned her; and in the process, she’d discovered that Mother and Father Cloud were not her real parents. Come to think of it, she’d never actually heard of a sylph giving birth. Did all sylphs (cloud shepherds) start out as humans?

She’d always wondered why the younger sylphs seemed so human while the older ones, like Mother and Father Cloud, seemed so, well, not-human. The oldest sylph, the one known as Great-Grandfather Cloud (only younger sylphs have names), had no body at all, just a wandering set of eye holes. Other than that, he was indistinguishable from his cloud, and seemed to like it that way. If a sylph could be said to “like” anything, that is, for the goal of all sylphs is to rise above temporal feelings, just as they rise above the earth.

All sylphs but Liulah. Letting go of Zack had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. On the one hand, it seemed appropriately sylph-like to release something she cared about—care was attachment, and attachment was bad. On the other hand, she’d done it for the wrong reason: it had been for Zack’s sake, not her own, and far from feeling detached or peaceful, she’d felt horribly empty inside. But maybe, she thought, maybe I can be cured…

Of this awful caring.

φ

Thoughts: Have you ever thought, “My life would be so much easier if I simply didn’t care about anyone?”

To read the next episode, click here.

Gerd (mitchteemley.com)

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