Look Alive

03 February 2012

A Children's Story

"... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham. ..." 
I missed an important call this afternoon. A loved one wanted to tell me about a book she'd read and wanted my feedback on. Eventually noticing her e-mailed follow up, I didn't feel too badly about my delayed response, because the book didn't exist to me and my unfounded opinion might not have been helpful. Besides, my godson had commissioned my time straight through the night with episodes of "Adventure Time" and "Good Luck Charlie" and  a DVD of the neo-rock 'em, sock 'em robot film "Real Steel". I would've preferred to see how the box office newbie, "Chronicle", picked up on the power-hungry "Jennifer's Body" antagonists' misguided allegiance with a harmful, dark place, but I obliged. These are important years and we've been good about weathering the occasionally awkward or challenging to find the golden, by any means.

As it turned out, "Real Steel" wasn't all that bad. The kid's got taste! Well, his dear mom isn't a goat so he's not a kid per se, but the young man's choice proved pretty cool all the same. Amidst almost two hours of heavy metal punches (unfortunately against animals at first!), aimless buying and selling on the road to learning true value, Anthony Mackie's smile and requests to later explore "Ripley's Believe It or Not" footage, his company was no terror but enjoyed with the steadfast nature of the mare on this night. There are times to alert and snatch people from the proverbial fire just as there are times to gently approach what is contrary if need be. In this case, it was a blessing to look beyond his healthy curiosity, answer or encourage what questions I could and see the best in him: a strong investigative ability developing along with a heart of compassion. Lord knows I've got idiosyncracies of my own. May God look past these in all His children to see the best in us as we grow to fit the Vision.

01 February 2012

By the Time I Get to Phoenix

Almost ten years ago, a visionary acquaintance saw fit to inform me that "when a prince is born, a king is dethroned". I had no idea what he meant then because, however inverse to the phrase's dynamics, significant time would pass before my son did. That king & I have parted romantic ways. There weren't children of any gender before or, to date, since.

While running some errands this morning, I enjoyed a candid duet by Angie Stone and Prince on the radio. Old as I later learned the song is, the collaboration between these two favorite artists was brand new to me! A few moments afterwards, an announcer informed listeners that the first king of the 'urban' audiovisual showcase was found dead in his Los Angeles home. The specific meanings behind the adage and his passage are unknown, but the coincidence was remarkable enough to stir the memory.

Mr. Don Cornelius was the creator and host of the legendary Soul Train television show that (initially) featured live performances by funk, hip-hop, R&B and soul hitmakers of the '70s through this millennium. Even when the times went a-changin', Don stopped hosting and music became much more of a modeling runway with vocal tracking than a medium highlighting vocal, instrumental and writing ability, the Soul Train rolled with it and remained a place generations trusted for quality music, dance innovations and fun trivia. Actually, the famous "Soul Train Line" still connects the equal-opportunity-but-show-me-whatcha-got steps of varied celebration attendees across the globe!

Besides the Saturday fascination I held for many of the genius dance & style couples and a sister I was certain had knee-length hair, the program also served as a prototype for the extremely popular video and live artist-to-audience offerings that fuel all of today's major TV networks. [A friend said that his local radio station would host what they dub "the world's longest 'Soul Train Line'" later this evening. Wonderful footage is quite likely to be available somewhere, so I hope to amend the post with a pertinent link in due time.]

Echoing Life's occasional reality, the reported causes surrounding his physical death are not delicate nor do they deserve to be focused on, because only our Creator knows the intricacies of the Great Mystery. As with the mythical bird that lives only for a purified release of the soul, the real fate of all our bodies is finite. By God's grace, I am incarnate right now. Until my soul's natural arrival at the phoenix state of Being, however, I will continue to appreciate the p(e)ace that music can bring and remain eternally grateful, most importantly, for the Lover of my soul.

30 January 2012


A treasured mentor of mine would criticize that word or at least call stern attention to it. "Expectation is the root of all suffering" was a common phrase the elder would often assert -- to me and anyone employing it in conversation or 'class' with him.

For the most part, I understood the lesson he tried to impart. It appeared in the root of scriptural teachings to be anxious for nothing ala Philippians 4, one of William Blake's views on humanity and divinity and, to some degree, the adage that "beggars can't be choosers".

At the same time, it almost seemed to oppose inspirational lines such as "shoot for the moon so if you miss, you'll be among the stars" and, essentially, faith itself.

Defined in Hebrews 11:1, the Young's Literal Translation likens faith to "confidence" and "conviction" whereas the next verse credits it with building the positive reputation of elders.

My mentor may have disregarded that (part of the) memo yet we agree that believing in, aspiring towards and standing for nothing is probably supreme ignorance. It could also represent supreme innocence as with the newborn, who carries its apparent unawareness comfortably.

For all we know, s/he just can not stand and has no desire to hitch onto anything except the nourishing breast. Truth is, s/he reaches by instinct and in response to stimuli, not necessarily with a fixed goal anyone else understands. From that innocent ignorance, s/he receives instruction within then somehow tells us if, when and how s/he's able to do whatever "It" is we're expecting. Even elders watch and wait for this.

What of a compromised woman with child? Barring cases of great danger, do we tell her not to expect when she's, well, expecting? If her heart is fixed, can we with any effect? Even if the clinician, midwife, loved ones or woman herself come to realize the baby will not arrive as planned, something -- be it grief, a reversion to an old diet, the desire to mother others around her or a new perspective on time & space -- certainly will. Something is all-ways to be expected. The Spirit in which any of us do so, however, may hold the key and turn over what could otherwise be a closed encounter of the Divine kind.

If we look past the following "I"s, we might notice that even when our best work efforts are combined with the affirmations, sometimes they just don't prove to be true.
* I expect to get A's on every test.
* I expect everyone to tell the truth to each other & treat each other with respect.
* I expect emptiness to be filled and overgrowth to disappear on their own.
* I expect love and kindness, because I am loving and kind.
* I work hard and mean the best for everybody, so I expect to live without hardship.
If those weren't seeds for suffering, I don't know what is!

Maybe what my anti-expectant friend had been telling us all along is just like a lyric to the classic gospel hymn, "Hold to His Hand (God's Unchanging Hand)". That, if we must have them, we should build our hopes on things eternal. For example, 
* I expect the Light of God to make plain sense of darkness whenever in its presence.
* I expect different patterns of weather to present themselves in the atmosphere and Earth, all of which are subject to harmonize with or cancel each other.
* I expect every one having a human experience to encounter the constructs of ignorance, ill will, dis-ease and poverty as well as understanding, benevolence, wellness and providence at some point.
* I expect(orate) when mucus is on my chest and if food or drink have gone down the wrong way.
* I expect that the inner, personal choices of p(e)aceful mind and purpose are readily available to help all crawl, stand up, walk, jump, dance and otherwise journey with innocence.

Above all, I expect Love never to leave me alone, although there are certainly things I can not change, even for Love's sake. It will find a Way to reach even places forgotten and unseen whether the seed of hope is watered by tears, sweat or the overflow of Grace. Believe it or not, there will always be energy, thoughts, words, deeds, voids and vessels for it to fill. Test it. Look around if the mirror begs to differ for the moment. It never fails.