Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Picture cooperation

I've told you this story about cooperation before, but I really like it, and since cooperation is such a great thing, I thought I'd share this story again.
It's about a man who was taken on a tour of both heaven and hell. In hell he was shown a banquet hall filled with diners seated at a table that was covered with all kinds of delicious food. Each person’s back and left arm were tied to the chair so that bending at the waist was impossible, and the left arm could not move. The right arm was stiffened so that the elbow would not bend. The people at the table could gaze at the delicious spread and they could smell the aroma of the food, but they were starving.

In heaven, the picture was exactly the same – backs and left arms shackled, right arms stiffened – but the diners were feasting and rejoicing, because each diner used his stiffened right arm to feed the person to his or her right. It was a picture of people working together – a picture of cooperation. Working together as a team, we can do so much more!
Think about it.  How wonderful this world would be if we all worked together!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ripples from the other side of the world

Wherever you are in this world, you can make a difference! Today, I want to tell you some stories from Singapore because I was very moved by them myself. Singapore is a very young and diverse country with many languages, religions, and cultures. Although English is commonly spoken, so are Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and a number of other Chinese dialects, including Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese. The video I want you to see is in English. Click HERE to watch.
I love seeing programs where folks do good things for others.  If you noticed at the end of the video, there was a link to an organization in Singapore called Care and Share, a national fund-raising and volunteerism movement led by Community Chest.  There are some heartwarming stories on the Community Chest website at that I hope you will check out.  There is also more about Care and Share HERE.  Share this with your friends too (especially on twitter or facebook).
If you are just reading along and did not watch the video I mentioned above, I urge you to go back and take a look at it.  In it, a family struggles to pay for their purchases. A young man is reminded then of his childhood and does something quite remarkable.  Watching it warmed my heart.  It's right HERE - you can have your heart warmed too!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Smile, what's the use of crying?

One of my favorite song lyrics says "Smile, what's the use of crying?"  Indeed.  Charles Chaplin, John Turner, and Geoffrey Parsons gave us something very special in that song they wrote.  I can almost hear it right now.  I love Petula Clark's version, and even Michael Jackson's,  but the best known of course is from Nat King Cole.

Song lyrics can change our mood, and so it's those happy words that I want to hear the most of!  Our little road trip from San Francisco has features a lot of happy songs and a lot of singing.  I'm even getting a little hoarse. (Chaplin, by the way did the music and the words came from Turner and Parsons).  You certainly can't go wrong when the title is Smile!  Smiling is just about the happiest thing a person can do! 

The last three simple lines of that song really say it so well! 
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Missing piece of the puzzle

Somehow I never really got into the jigsaw puzzle thing.  Mom loved them and I remember her having them laid out on a card table when I was little.  It might take her a while because she stopped to do other things, but when she found those last pieces, it was an accomplishment - especially that last missing piece of the puzzle.
Sometimes our lives are like that.  It doesn't mean we are unhappy necessarily, but we are looking for something that just is not there.  When it comes:  WOW!  It seems somewhat like finding those missing puzzle pieces.  (Now of course if you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you actually look for those pieces.  In life we might not even realize that something is even missing).
So what do we do?  Well, keeping our minds and our hearts open to new possibilities is always a good thing.  Listening to others and realizing that "our" way might not be the "only" way is a start in the right direction.  If we think there is a missing piece that we'd like to find, there is nothing wrong with asking for help too. Perhaps our puzzle pieces are a bit more fluid than those of the jigsaw puzzle.  Perhaps in some cases, there is nothing really missing at all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

the importance of voting

Some places on this earth do not let the people have a say in pretty much anything. Then there are countries, like ours, where the people do have a voice, but sadly don't always use it.  It's not Election Day just yet, but most places allow for early voting, either by absentee ballot or by voting in person at the elections offices.  Just a few short weeks from now will be Election Day itself.
Why does this matter?  In the United States, the people decide who holds office.  The people choose their mayors and governors and legislators and sheriffs and of course we the people decide who will be our president.  We have the power!  State and local propositions are there for our consideration too.  There are important things for us to decide on.  Sadly, some folks never even register to vote and of those who do register, many don't even bother to cast a ballot.
It's sad when we have this incredible right and we ignore it.  To be able to shape our towns and states and our country is a great privilege that, as I said, folks in many parts of the world cannot do.  Let's all step up and let our voices be heard!  VOTE!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Be Yourself

Be yourself.  That might seem like a tall order, or it might seem pretty simple.  At least you have something to think about today.
The great poet, essayist, and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson said "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Indeed.
His words seem to ring even more true these days.  We all can resist though, what others may want us to do.  It shouldn't really be that difficult to  simply be ourselves!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Walking across the country for equality

One of the most incredible people I have ever met is Helene de Boissiere-Swanson, Founder of Katrina's Dream. There are so many things that make Helene the amazing woman that she is. I suppose the top of that list is love. I never have met anyone who is so full of love. I haven't known her for that many years, so I don't know how much might have come from her late husband or from her in-laws. I do know that the entire family is one where love has always been present.

I first met Helene's father-in-law, Father George Swanson, an Episcopal priest serving in New England, many years ago. Father George's late wife Katrina, was also an Episcopal priest. In fact, as one of the Philadelphia 11, she was one of the very first women to be a priest in the Episcopal Church back in 1974. So perfect too for her to be among the first because justice and equality were so important to her. When I met George and Katrina's son William, I could see immediately that he was from that family. He was full of love and commitment. Meeting William's wife Helene was an almost magical moment. The passion and the love were so visible! After Katrina's death from cancer, her husband with son William and daughter-in-law Helene founded Katrina's Dream.

Now I could spend a lot of time telling you amazing things about Katrina's Dream and about things that all three of them have done. I could tell you about Olof’s Brothers’ Love Feast and some truly inspiring things in Sausalito, California. There are many stories to tell though and I want to get back to Helene, so please check out some of the facts yourself by visiting the Katrina's Dream website at and consider making a donation to them too (which you can do through the website).

Last year there was sadness once again when William died in an accident, leaving Helene with the whole weight of an equality mission that she had been working on since long ago conversations with Katrina. Father George Swanson is in advanced years living on the East Coast, and still cares deeply about their mission too, but isn't physically able to do as much as he once did. Now Helene seems to be superwoman! Nothing slows her down and she certainly has had some obstacles in her way. She has also had a lot of supporters. Right now she is walking across the country!

Some people might not realize it, but the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was never passed! On March 8, 2014 Helene launched her cross country pilgrimage for the ERA on International Women’s Day with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then she has been going from town to town and from church to church and politician to politician and an effort to FINALLY get the ERA passed.

If you would like to give her a hand (and there are a number of ways you can do that), click HERE.  You can also follow her remarkable journey at