Tuesday, December 20, 2016


There is no sun without shadow – Albert Camus

I spent some time in South Africa with my daughter Rachel.  We were captivated by the natural beauty of the region and one tree in particular drew us into its mysterious shadow. We later learned its name – the Ziziphus mucronata or more commonly known as Buffalo thorn tree and the tree of life.  According to Ian McCallum, author of the captivating book, Ecological Intelligence, year-round the leaves are a combination of colors – green, yellow, and brown which are equated with the phases of aging: youth, young adult and older adult. The tree itself is resilient and provides food for man and beast. But it is in the unique placing of its thorns that the life lesson is most profound.

The thorns grow directly opposite each other in pairs – one points out and the other curves back toward the branch. The thorns symbolize a familiar message - we must look ahead, to the future, but we must never forget where we came from.   However, McCallum takes the parallel further, the thorns are an image of what he calls the Human-Nature split:  the thorns say yes and no, they are poetic… forward represents the push of the human spirit and the pull of the soul - complementary opposites – a crucial tension.  Practically speaking I think of  Exercise & Eating; Outdoors & Indoors; Spiritual & Intellectual; Work & Leisure; Reading & Writing as all complementary opposites – kept in balance and your travels on life’s path can continue with joy and peace until the final balance of Life & Death.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.  Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Yes, I am finding the cliche true that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I still have to learn.

While working on my thesis, I accumulated a mountain of facts and organized them into orderly charts. As I read and re-read the data, I formulated theories of my own based on the research and conclusions of others before me. I compiled the first draft, submitted it to my academic advisor, then plunged into weeks of late night editing. 

I remember the all encompassing pursuit of formal knowledge that would colminate in a advanced degree.

I worked full time in a rehabilitation facility, eluded sleep, and my exercise routine had become past tense. My body rebelled and branded me with inflamed nerves visible as a blistery, painful rash - known as herpes zoster or shingles. I followed traditional medical advice by taking the medications nerotin and prednisone for 5 days while adding time in the sunshine, calamine lotion, sublingual B12, B-complex supplement, and extra anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables. I was studying health but neglecting my own, I was forced to listen to the wisdom of my body.

That experience slowed me to a crawl. Yet, after days of relentless misery, I was renewed. An unexpected, unexplainable edgy calm, reminisce of the feeling I get when I hear an owls screechy call, was mine.


Be kind and merciful [compassionate]. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.   - Mother Teresa

I am beginning to understand the profound wisdom in Mother Teresa's simple words. To be kind is to be generous with our time and resources coupled with compassion (feeling). It means to take into
consideration the burdens that our neighbors, world wide, carry...

To me this translates first with basic care of the one body I have so that I will have the spiritual and physical strength to demonstrate compassion. To be mindful of my dietary and economic choices so as not to harm neither the earth nor living beings cumulating in actions of goodwill.