December 31 – At end of the year

At end of the year
At end of this last decade
where are my footprints?

Paging through a book on Mount Everest, I came across these two photos taken by Edmund Hillary.

The 1st photo was of the summit ridge, the path to the top of Mount Everest.

Hillary was within 300 feet of the top.

When Hillary took the photo, no one in recorded history had walked there before.

The 2nd photo is the same shot but a couple of hours later.

Pretty much the same view, but for one thing.


Fifty years ago footprints were also left on the Moon.

From the last year, from the last decade, where are my footprints?

My thoughts immediately go where, but to the beach.

10 years ago, I had never heard of Tybee.

Yesterday, when Leslie and I had a day to ourselves, I asked her, “Why AREN’T we going to Tybee?”

Left lots of footprints.

All them, washed away in seconds.

I am okay with that.

December 30 – If I have only

If I have only
one life, let me live it as ….
you fill in the blank.

A … blonde?

In 1961 a copywriter named Shirley Polykoff was working for the Foote, Cone & Belding advertising agency on the Clairol hair-dye account when she came up with the line: “If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde!” In a single slogan she had summed up what might be described as the secular side of the Me Decade. “If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a—!” (You have only to fill in the blank.)

So wrote Tom Wolfe in his New York Magazine Essay, The “Me” Decade and the Third Great Awakening, August 23, 1976.

The ‘Me Decade’ refers to the 1970’s.

I was 10 years old.

I can verify I was pretty self indulgent.

But I was born blonde.

How do I answer the question today?

December 29 – bleak thoughts end the year

bleak thoughts end the year
better, worse does not promise
fifty-fifty split

I was paging through a history of Mount Everest and came across this picture taken by Edmund Hillary from the summit of the mountain.

The picture looks back at the path he and Tengzin Norgay had just walked to reach the top of Mount Everest.

The caption on the photograph reads, “Looking back from the South Summit at the knife edged Summit Ridge. The footmarks of Tengzin Norgay and Edmund Hillary can be clearly seen in the snow, tracing their progress back from the Summit. On one side of the ridge was an 8,000 foot drop; on the other side, one of over 10,000 feet.

The difference between better or worse in this scene is quite dramatic.

When offered a better or worse proposition, it would seem that the the proposition’s promise is at least a 50 / 50 split of better or worse.

I know it doesn’t work out that way.

I do not mind that it doesn’t work out that way.

I am not shocked that the bad times seem to outweigh the good times.

But the knife edge between the two.

The depth of the plummet off of either side.

The unexpected change, slip and deep drop from one to the other.

God arranges odd little moments for me throughout my life.

I wake up today feeling this way and the Bible verse of the day email reads, ” Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. “

That is 100% on the better side.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3 NIV

December 28 – in the way of truth

in the way of truth
unworthy authority
hinders every one

Adapted from, “There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.

Which is attributed to the English theologian, philosopher and Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon, who lived over 700 years ago.

700 years ago?

700 years ago!

That the example of weak and unworthy authority was an issue 700 years ago is both worthy of remark and at the same time, not unexpected, especially if you have read the Old Testament and the books of Kings.

Clearly, plus ça change, plus c’est la même.

But please notice that we play a role in this as well.

the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge .”

This is the scary part for me.

So many friends and family say they just do not know what to think any more.

Who can you trust?

Who can you believe?

I respect those folks who come forward and admit, they don’t know.

For them, off the top of head, I can come up with a few points from the Bible.

By their fruits you will know them.


For my friends who want to hide ignorance, I would say, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

To close, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 NIV

December 27 – need for distraction

need for distraction
start a jigsaw puzzle with
no time to finish

15 years ago the devil brought iPhones into the world.

Prior to that if I was in my car and someone needed to reach out to me they had one option.

Call either my home or my job and leave a message.

Thinking back, I can come up few things that really, and I mean really, that would have been beneficial had anyone been able to get a hold of me.

Today I take that stupid iPhone with me everywhere.

I am more connected.

I am more in touch.

I am at peace with the thought that I am ‘on the grid.’


Or do I have anxiety that I might miss some message.

Do I have more anxiety that I might not be in touch?

Does my anxiety go up when I lose WiFi and I have to measure my connectivity by the bars across the top of my screen.

Viscous, viscous cycle.

A short cut to insanity.

I am here to tell you a secret.

It is okay to DO NOTHING.

It might be better to DO NOTHING.

“… get used to doing activities that have no end goal and don’t offer instant gratification.” said Mr. Guy Burgs as quoted in ‘No tricks. No mantras. I just want to learn how to do nothing’: my quest to stay still by Sam Delaney in The Guardian.

Delaney writes, ‘I get in touch with Timothy D Wilson, a professor of psychology and one of the authors of the self-electrocution study.

He and his team published recent research suggesting that regular “thought breaks” in the day can reduce stress and might help make you more productive.

Meditation often asks you to clear your mind of thoughts, but I prefer to fill my mind with the right kind,” says Wilson.

You need to learn to fill your mind with pleasurable and fulfilling thoughts. It is another tool in the mental tool box.”’

I like this.

I really like this.

I am going to try this.

I am going to try this today.

Do something not based on time available or connectivity.

Maybe start a jigsaw puzzle I know I will have to pick up before its even started.

Maybe nothing at all.

I think of my hero, Peter Gibbons in the dystopian-reality, if that is possible, movie, Office Space.

Peter plays hooky from work and refuses to answer his phone.

Asked later what he did, Peter responds, ” I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.”

December 26 – too much food, candy

too much food, candy
drink, gifts, fun, friends and family
but too little sleep

I celebrated the Christmas Holiday in the American tradition of excess.

The one thing I did not get too much of is sleep.

At the time, it was a small price to exchange sleep for the traditions of staying up to midnight to pack stockings while Christmas at St. Peter’s is on the TV and getting up way too early on Christmas Morning.

Then the cooking.

First that Turkey in the oven.

The only prep work I do is remove that bag of parts and the neck, rinse the whole thing best I can, put an onion inside and tie up the drumsticks.

The breakfast with bacon, eggs and freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

Then back to Christmas Dinner.

Mashed potatoes.


Sweet Potatoes.

Bread Stuffing or dressing or whatever you want to call it.

Congealed Salad, or as we called, Jello with fruit.


Black eyed peas.

Deviled eggs.

The lack of sleep is being felt, especially in my knees, but the arrival of Grand Children perks me up.

Dinner and dessert eaten.

Gifts passed around.

The day starts to lag.

Lack of sleep now hitting everyone.

I think this won’t last, this can’t last much longer.

The time comes and the guests depart.

We get to that moment, side by side on the sofa, drinks in hand.

Tired out.

Tired out a lot more than we used to be.


But, lack of sleep was a small price to exchange for the many excesses and blessings of the day.

December 25 – steps taken in faith

steps taken in faith
seemingly small, insignificant
world of difference

Above the noise and clamor for term limits, Queen Elizabeth II shows that experience can play a role.

“As a child, I never imagined that one day a man would walk on the moon. Yet this year we marked the fiftieth anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission. As those historic pictures were beamed back to earth, millions of us sat transfixed to our television screens, as we watched Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind — and, indeed, for womankind. It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps.

This year we marked another important anniversary: D-Day. On 6th June 1944, some one hundred and fifty-six thousand British, Canadian and American forces landed in Northern France. It was the largest ever seaborne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather. I well remember the look of concern on my father’s face. He knew the secret D-Day plans but could of course share that burden with no-one.

For the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of that decisive battle, in a true spirit of reconciliation, those who had formerly been sworn enemies came together in friendly commemorations either side of the Channel, putting past differences behind them.

Such reconciliation seldom happens overnight. It takes patience and time to rebuild trust, and progress often comes through small steps. Since the end of the Second World War, many charities, groups and organisations have worked to promote peace and unity around the world, bringing together those who have been on opposing sides. By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honour the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost.

The challenges many people face today may be different to those once faced by my generation, but I have been struck by how new generations have brought a similar sense of purpose to issues such as protecting our environment and our climate.

My family and I are also inspired by the men and women of our emergency services and Armed Forces; and at Christmas we remember all those on duty at home and abroad, who are helping those in need and keeping us and our families safe and secure.

Two hundred years on from the birth of my great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great grandchild into our family.

Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem. But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding. Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.

As Christmas dawned, church congregations around the world joined in singing It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Like many timeless carols, it speaks not just of the coming of Jesus Christ into a divided world, many years ago, but also of the relevance, even today, of the angels’ message of peace and goodwill.

It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

And so, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

Elizabeth II, December 25, 2019

December 24 – eyewitness accounts

eyewitness accounts
angels, shepherds, a stable?
read it for yourself

Let me get past the big question first.

I accept the Bible as fact.

Maybe not without errors but I am confident that any errors are errors in transcription or translation.

With that out of the way, look at the Christmas story in the book of Luke.

Luke starts out his book with “I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account…”

Tradition has it the Luke was a Doctor.

Probably a Ph.d and not an MD.

But I think that at this point, he is a doctoral candidate or just a grad student.

Luke has this ‘account of things’ and he is going to investigate and talk to people who were there so that his readers ‘may know the certainty of the things.’

I feel that in this short thesis statement, Luke is say that he wants to get to the bottom of this ‘Messiah’ story and like a good investigative reporter, down deep, he wants to blow the lid off the story and expose it as a fraud.

Okay, remember this is just me talking.

I think that Luke went and conducted oral history interviews with who ever he could find who might have information on this ‘Messiah’ thing.

I wanted to be a history teacher.

I studied the art of the Oral History Interview.

I studied the practice of weaving the information from an interview into my narrative.

Often you can study another’s narrative and make a very good guess at who supplied the information in the narrative.

Let’s examine the book of Luke.

Luke describes the meeting between Mary and the angel, Mary and Elizabeth, Mary’s song, the trip to Bethlehem, the birth in the manger, the trip to the temple and other events in the life of Jesus.

Who did Luke talk to?

Who is the common thread in all this, besides Jesus?


In my mind, Luke tracked down Mary.

History is of the opinion that Luke wrote his book some 60 years or so after the birth of Jesus.

History is also of the opinion that Mary was about 14 or so when Jesus was born.

In her 70’s Mary would have, might have been living in the home the Apostle John in Ephesus.

I think Luke tracked her down.

I think Luke tracked her down and went to interview her with every intention of disproving her story.

Then he met her.

Then Luke met Mary.

Like all those scenes of realization in movies.

Luke met Mary and realized something.

Luke realized.

Luke knew.

The stories were all true.

The stable, the song of glorification, the words of Simeon.

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
The Visitation, 1640
Detroit Institute of Art

The stories.

The story.

The story as told to Luke, by Mary.

Luke writes, “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart .”

When you read the book of Luke, it is not the words of Luke you are reading, but the words of, the memories of Mary.

A first person account.

An eyewitness account.

You can read for yourself.

December 22 – Are there no Prisons?

Are there no Prisons?
Workhouses? Treadmill? Poor Laws?
Who lines up with Scrooge?

Is the story of Dicken’s Christmas Carol as well known as I presume it is?

I, myself, cannot remember when I didn’t recognize the name Ebenezer Scrooge and all that it the name involved.

The story has been in print (and never out of print) since 1843.

The story popularized the saying, “Merry Christmas!”

It has been made into over 20 movies, TV presentations and specials.

Know the story and the scene where Scrooge is called on by two guys raising money for the poor has to stand out.

Mr. Scrooge berates the two guys and lists all the ways he is already forced to help the poor.

Scrooge answers their questions about a donation with:

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”

But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Who can read this or watch this scene and say to themselves, ‘ATTA BOY, EBENEZER!’, ‘THATS TELLING THEM, EBENEZER!’, ‘MAKING IT GREAT AGAIN MR SCROOGE!’

Who wants to line up with Scrooge?

Who chooses to line up with Scrooge?

So I am dismayed.

Reading and watching the comments, statements and opinions of people who I respect, people who I love, that to me, are lining up with Scrooge.

Look to the heart of the matter.

Look to your heart.

The last line that Dickens’ writes in this scene states, ” Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.”

The Christmas Carol then tells the story of how a friend of Scrooge arranges a journey of realization so that Scrooge can avoid the fate that awaits him

What fate?

Curiously enough the only other book in the English language that has never gone out of print is the Bible.

In the book of Matthew, Chapter 25, is this warning.

Jesus (get that, JESUS) said, “

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 41-46 NIV)

Like I said, who wants to line up with Scrooge?