Friday, December 22, 2017


There are many folks who cannot for one reason or another be home for Christmas. Those serving in the military and humanitarians serving those in need are certainly the ones we think about this time of year. We have empathy for the emptiness their families are feeling.

This poem is for all who are away from home this Christmas. It is a piece I wrote entitled, "Away Again."

I am away this Christmas,å
but I will send my heart
to ring each bell you hear
when reason keeps us part.

I can’t be with you now
to sit there by the fire
and hold your hand in mine
and fill my heart’s desire.

When you awake my love
You’ll feel my Christmas touch.
Know it is my message -
I love you very much.

I can’t be home this year
to hear the season sing
nor be with you to smile
at every little thing.

I can’t be home this Christmas
to decorate the tree
So hang a stocking too
At heart of hearth for me?

When morning comes at dawn,
with every breath I take
I'll hear your sweetened laugh
to take away my ache.

I can’t be home this Christmas,
if only it weren’t so.
Hear my special Christmas wish -
Never again to go.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Touch Hands

There’s a poem by James Patrick Erdman I’d like to share with you as we celebrate the joys and happiness of this season.

The poem is called Touch Hands.

“Ah friends, dear friends, as years go by, and heads grow gray. How fast the guests do go.
Touch hands, touch hands with those that stay.

Strong hands to the weak, Old hands to young around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget. The foe forgive. For every guest will go and every fire burn low and cabin, empty stands.

Forget! Forgive. For who may say that Christmas Day may ever come to host or guest again? Touch hands.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A terrible memory

On December 21st, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland. 270 people were murdered by a terrorist bomb.

The plane originated in Frankfort, Germany and had one stop in London before heading out across the North Atlantic taking many home for the holidays.

In the nearly thirty years since this tragedy most people have forgotten it for new tragedies, new pain, new terrors, have replaced the Lockerbie incident.

I remember it vividly, not only because I reported on the crash during the nightly news for weeks, but because of one act of sympathy that will always stand out in my heart.

Shortly after the crash, there was a large bouquet of red roses sent to Lockerbie officials. There was a note pinned to the flowers. It said, “To the little girl in the red dress who made my life so enjoyable from Frankfort to London. You didn’t deserve this”.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


A few years ago on a peaceful street in a small Pennsylvania town, the spirit of the holiday season was ripped from its bucolic revelry.

The homes on Water Lily Way in Newtown were few, only eighteen, but they were festooned with colorful decorations of lights and garland and blinking wishes of peace on earth.

One house was different. The Markovitz family was Jewish and placed a lighted menorah in the window. It was one of those years close when Christmas and Hanukkah come together on the calendar.

About three O’clock one morning, while the Markovitz family slept, someone smashed their front window and frame, and the menorah was destroyed.

Neighbors who heard the commotion rushed to help. The police were called, and the Markovitz’s memories of relatives lost at Auschwitz surfaced once again with the shock of how could this happen here.

The collective human morality of what is right always responds with positive individual action. One Neighbor rallied the other 18 families, and besides helping the Markovitz family fix their window, they all contributed emotionally to fixing the Markovitz spirit damaged by hate, prejudice, cruelty, and cowardice.

Less than 24 hours after the incident, the Markovitz family was coming home from dinner at a relative’s home. It was Dark. All the Christmas lights on the street were lit and blazing in a cacophony of color, but there in the window of every home along with the Christmas lights was an illuminated menorah.

Happy Hanukkah.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Card Galore

Are you receiving your share of Seasons greeting and holiday wishes from family and friends this year? The greeting card people figure there are about ten thousand different Christmas Card designs and they expect over three billion cards to be sent this year.

Christmas cards probably descended from what was once called "school pieces" or "Christmas pieces" which were popular from the beginning to the middle of the 19th century.  They were sheets of writing paper, sometimes surrounded with elaborate pen flourishes and scrolls.  They were used to school children at the approach of the holidays for carefully written letters telling about their progress in composition and showing their penmanship.

The Christmas card itself had a tentative origin in 1846.  Joseph Cundall, a London, England artist claims to be the publisher of the first Christmas Card, but he acknowledges the idea belonged to another.  Writing in the London Times of January 2nd, 1884, Cundall said the idea came from Sir Henry Cole.  He added that the Christmas Cards were printed in Lithography, and nearly a thousand were sold.

It was not until 1862 that the Christmas card custom started to gain popularity. To begin with, the cards were small in size, a little larger than a business card of today, and they were inscribed simply with " A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." Later the cards got a little fancier adding artwork of holly branches and landscapes.

Today not only are they works of art, but we have them with musical micro-chips that play a carol to go along with the season greetings or say Ho Ho Ho.

I love it.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Santa once had a wagon.

Santa Claus has quite a history. An ancient Teutonic festival had a person called, "the old man of the woods" dancing around a burning log;  a log that came to be known as the Yule log. The old man was characterized as having a red-nose, a white beard, and is a jolly old boozer who danced around the fire proposing toasts.

When Roman missionaries began to Christianize the lands to their north the Teutonic festival blended with the celebration of Christmas. The old man of the woods got a new name and became "Kriss Kringle.

Enter Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop, noted for his kindness and gifts. He became Saint Nicholas and blended with Kriss Kringle. Eventually, Dutch settlers brought his legend to the new world, but dialects distorted the Dutch name Sint Nicholas to Sinterklaas that in turn became Santa Claus.

 It was a Washington Irving story in 1809 that probably helped the legend develop even further. He had a jolly Saint Nicholas, smoking a pipe,  flying through the air in a wagon dropping presents down the chimneys.

 Several years later, in 1822, Clement C. Moore, wrote the poem "The Night Before Christmas".  The wagon became a sleigh and reindeer-pulled it through the sky.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tis the Season

First of all.
Bravo to Alabama. Bravo to the black contingent of Alabama voters who came out in force to save the state from global embarrassment.

Once again.
Shame again on Donald Trump for supporting the accused predator Mr. Moore. It is just another rung on the ladder of impeachment. In my communications with people who are living in other parts of our glorious world. We (The USA) are the subject of ridicule, surprise, and immoral innuendo.

The elites of a Republican Congress have hidden and forced a tax bill on the American public that is unfair, unconscionable, and under-handed to the average tax-payer.

What’s good.
It’s the Christmas season where goodwill should prevail. Let us all pray for and envision a commonality of compassion, a congeniality of compromise, and a Congress of courage to finally do the right thing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Time

Christmas Time
© 1995 Rolland G. Smith

Some poetic thoughts on Christmas.

Christmas time surprises as it jumps out from the cold
to warm the late December days with frankincense and gold
It heralds in with music, in the silent of the night,
and when it wakes the child within my memories are bright.

It’s wrapping hearts in holly green and Rudolph red with bow
and standing ‘neath a berried sprig of kissing mistletoe.
Dancing dreams of sugarplums and minted candy cane
bring visions of a Christmas tree and a circling tooting train.
I harken as the angles sing with distant family near
and I love to hear a child say the names of eight reindeer.
Patina thoughts of Christmas past and shinny ones of new
remind me of the Magi three and a child named Jesu.

There’s jingle bells and icicles and packages to tie
with ribbons tight and wrappings bright of sleighs up in the sky,
There’s hugs galore and candy more and kids with favorite toys
and shirts and socks and building blocks for little girls and boys.

There’s cards and calls and carols and candles fill the room
and tins of sugar cookies shine by red poinsettia bloom.
Christmas time indeed surprises in a special, wondrous way
in winter and forever it’s my favorite holiday.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Stories and Legends

Some thoughts today and for the next several days on the customs and stories of Christmas.

In England, it is still common to hear someone say that the cock crows for Christmas. Legend has it that the roosters crowing would frighten away the bad spirits from the holy season.

Other superstitions are wonderful in their imagery. One is that bees can sing at Christmas and sheep walk in procession to commemorate the visit of the angel to the shepherds.

In Canada, there is the story of an Indian creeping through the woods on Christmas, watching to see the deer kneel and look up to the Great Spirit.

At one time in the German Alps, it was believed that cattle had the gift of language on Christmas, but it was a sin to eavesdrop.

In Poland, the story is told that on Christmas the heavens are opened, and the scene of Jacob's ladder is re-enacted, but only the Saints could see it.

In Scandinavian countries. Goodwill is the order of the season. Old quarrels are balanced by forgiveness and feuds are forgotten. In each household, members place their shoes in a row to symbolize that during the year the family will live together in peace and harmony.

Let us visualize all the shoes of the world in a row this year.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pearl Harbor

    There was a time, over dinner many years ago, that a friend of mine, a retired naval officer, now a successful businessman, wanted to talk to one of my sons about attending Annapolis.

    My friend was a good man, a survivor of Pearl Harbor, but he had a powerful hatred for the Japanese. He hated them so much that he took every opportunity in business, in public, and in private to say so.

    During our conversation I told him, I hoped he would understand, but he could not talk to my son unless he let go of his hatred, for I didn’t want a then seventeen years old influenced by such a long-festering anger.

    When you hate you create a bond almost as powerful as love, and it won’t release you from your pain until you consciously let it go. Wisdom teachings suggest that hatred will eventually destroy the hater.

    My friend thought about our discussion for several weeks. One day he called to tell me he was going to visit Pearl Harbor…on his way to Japan.

    He asked when he got back could talk to my son. I said “yes.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Birthday

Seventy-Six years ago this morning I was born. Thank you! I know what you just said. Like everybody my years had their ups and downs, but overall a magnificent life with family and profession. As far as I know, I’m healthy. I have a few activities that are age-related restrictive and a few I’ve discarded voluntarily.

Spirit Diver
© 2001 Rolland G. Smith

I saw my soul, before its birth,
Upon an image deep in space
And dove, from high, down to the earth
To again breathe the breath of race.

Through a tunnel, I did steal
Into a womb of warmth and love.
A strange forgetting I did feel
While on the passage from above.

My leap was silent till my cry –
Awakening in birthing strife.
That must be when I said good-bye
And died into the new of life.

When I awoke with earthly breath
And density to comprehend,
I knew that birth is like a death
Each is the same; there is no end.

Now that I’ve written my celebration, looking at the news, I am saddened and alarmed at the fires in Ventura, California; so many are hurting from the Santa Anna Ill-winds of destruction and Mr. Trump’s ill-advised decision to move our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. I can’t remember a more disruptive time in our history primarily caused by our elected leaders without a moral compass or a sacred understanding of America’s history.

i.e., Alabama’s Senate race and Trump’s and the RNC’s endorsement of Roy Moore an accused child predator running for Senate from that state.
i.e., The current tax bill now in a conference committee.
i.e., Trump’s ability to fire investigators probing his potential illegalities.
i.e., Trump’s ability to pardon accused felons and liars.
i.e., Trump’s continued denial of what he is quoted as saying and his denial and alteration of truth.
i.e., I could go on…..

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


      There are probably as many definitions of enlightenment as there are people who experience it. Enlightenment is unique to each.  All can achieve it, it's a simple choice, but getting simple is difficult.  The process involves meditation, prayer, intent, selflessness and learning to identify with that part of you that is a spiritual being.

         The concept of being "enlightened" is Buddhist in nature, and one who is "enlightened" is also "awakened."  The Buddha, in fact, means, "the awakened one."  Other religions and spiritual teachings throughout the ages have used the image of "light" to denote a condition of awareness or transcendence.

         The Hindus perceive enlightenment as "God-realization."

         In the study of Zen,  enlightenment is called Kensho.

         Some Christian sects use the word "gnosis" for enlightenment. Gnosis is Greek for "knowing or knowledge."

         Also in some Christian Icons or paintings, saints are depicted with halos of light around their heads.  The halos are a representation of one's Aura, an emanation of energized light that portrays one's state as an enlightened or holy being.
         I read somewhere, "an enlightened person is not somebody who has reached the topmost rung of the ladder. Enlightenment is getting down from the ladder;  getting down forever and never asking for any ladder again, becoming natural."

        So how do we become natural?  By being unconditional love.   Unconditional love is the manifestation of God's light, through us, as us, to another and God's light is the precipitate of Divine oscillation, the Sacred Vibration of The One.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

I'm Not Sleeping At Night

I know I am like many Americans who are appalled at the lack of dignity, decency, and diplomacy from Mr. Trump. His trampling on sacred rights, his denials and alterations of truths, his disrespect of women, his recent tweets of hate and prejudice against Muslims, his bellicose rhetoric with North Korea and his tax plan to embellish the corporate rich of America is leading this country into a cemented position that does not fit our collective future.

Where are the noble ones in Congress to stand against lies and misuse of power and the increasing possibility of nuclear war? Where are the righteous ones to put aside political positions and stand against the usurpations of freedoms and rights?

Impeachment is a process positioned by our founders to right the innocent wrongs of the electorate and the unethical choices of demented leaders. Where is the clarion call in Congress for what is right, not for what is politically expedient?

All of us have the right to personal opinions and to speak for them. The right, the left, the middle, any ideology, does not have the right to impose their absolute position on all. America is not a base core of partisan and minority beliefs; it is an amalgam of legislation through the consensus of compromise and the rule of law.

If we forget it and decline to act, we lose and so does our republic.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How the turkey got its name.

I mentioned my Thanksgiving Turkey in yesterday's post.

So why do we call it Turkey? There is a reason, and as happens so many times, the all-American bird got its name somewhat by mistake.

The tale begins with the British Empire which had stretched itself into Africa during the sixteen hundreds. Along with diamonds, the British exported a wild eatable bird back to England, but to get the shipment to the British Isles the cargo was routed through Turkey and supposedly that is how the big bird got its name.

When the sharp-eyed settlers spotted a similar winged bird strutting through the American colonies, they called it a turkey.

Scientists who study these sort of things tell us the bird that lives in Africa, that was imported to Europe by way of Turkey, is not the same bird that is native to America.

We probably ought to call our bird " Meleagris," that's what the turkey is known as in scientific jargon, and that comes from the Greek. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of the Meleagris comes from Aristotle. Just think, if the bird had first been exported from his country we could be sitting down to a Greece dinner with all the trimmings.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

This Thanksgiving time

I am thankful for clean water and air. I am thankful for the right to protest the actions of our President and the actions of Congress. I am thankful for the discourse of discussion, but not the argument of absolute opinion. I am thankful for flowers, the scent of a pine forest, the crispness of fall and piles of wood ready for a fire, and the love of my family and friends. I give thanks to the Turkey who gave his life so that we could celebrate this holiday with a feast of abundance and I thank you for tuning into the blog from time to time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Esoteric wanderings of a quiet mind

I think all of us quest for spiritual truth in our own way.

I also think it is essential for us to think about our individuality, as we move through life and accept response-ability for it.

Searching for Truth is an individual improvisational action, rather than a definable and patterned absolute. Each of us does it differently.  There is not one path to God; all path's lead to God.

Religions think they have the whole Truth and some give credence to only their doctrine.  This practice discounts experiential awareness and obscures the truth of an inner knowing perceived beyond dogma. It is called by many names, enlightenment, nirvana, rapture, and visions, depending on our discipline, and it comes from within when we extinguish or are forced to let go of the egoic “self.”

Remember a time you felt connected to something greater than yourself?  That connection was "experiential awareness."  You experienced it, you absorbed it, and it became yours. It was awe.

Philosopher Kenneth G. Mills says, "When act bears its fulfillment -- AWE!"  During this awe, it may have seemed like you were suspended from time and you probably felt a welling peace, resonance, as it blended from your senses; that feeling is an "inner knowing."  A profound awe.  And if you stayed quiet for a few moments, to hold on to the awe, you heard the sound of the Universe. Scientists call it the din. The spirit knows it as "OM." It is the perfect sound of balance in chaos.

In the fullness of inner-knowing, the Divine within us assimilates these kinds of connections as appreciation of the All That Is.

 Life's simple experiences: sunsets, rain, music, poetry, a touch, a smile, all engender appreciation. When you see them as a creation of love, for all things beautiful are a manifestation of love, you have what is called a revelation. There is no explaining a revelation; there is only the aware appreciation of it as it is processed through the Spirit, Mind, Body as surprised joy.  Philosopher and teacher of myth, Joseph Campbell, calls a revelation the "ah ha" of the mind.

Joy, by its direct connection to the divine, alters the minds frequency to a faster rate, and so the mind loses its rigidity and subsequent fear.  Your spirit then fills the now vast space between each thought with the truth. When that happens, awareness transcends and your perception of the Light increases as well as your feeling of joy.  Joy also encourages you to appreciate all experience without judgment, either of self, of God or others.

When a judgment is absent, pure joy is present as Love, and it not only surrounds us, it is us. We are part of it, by choice, not affliction.  All we need to do is remember LOVE is an individual choice.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Lesson from 1988

    Humanity is a confusing species.  We can kill one another in war or alleys.  We can hate and hurt what we don't know and never even tried to understand. We pollute and foul our home, and we always choose to change something or somebody else, never ourselves.

   And then we do something great.

    For a small moment in time, back in 1988, the world linked to rejoice in the freedom of two trapped baby gray whales from the Alaska ice.  To rescue the young of another species, governments put aside mistrust,  environmentalists and oil workers, suspended argument to labor together for a common good and Eskimos did everything they could to save what they usually hunt.

    Two little gray whales, either by accident or design, helped us teach ourselves that the essence of life is cooperation, not competition, compassion not conflict, saving to be saved.

    There is a lesson to what happened in Point Barrow, Alaska.  I’ll bet the whales remember.  Do we?”

Friday, November 17, 2017

I'm Curious Alabama!

Just how many women must come forward for you to say “enough” and realize Mr. Moore does not reflect the values of decency in America, to say nothing of morality, ethics and the rule of law.

Some of the excuses said on Moore’s behalf are ludicrous. The man has a problem. The Alabama GOP has a problem, and Alabama has a problem if Moore is the kind of man you send to Washington to represent your beliefs, your desires, and your goals.

Many of you embrace Evangelical Christianity. Not all, but many evangelicals support Moore. As I understand it, the term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word “euangelion” meaning “the good news.”

A Moore candidacy is not good news for Alabama or America nor does it, or he follow accepted evangelical convictions. There is a big difference between prayer and preying.

Alabama if you want to support Moore and forgive his indiscretions, please do so in your state. Don’t send him to tarnish America any more than it already is.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It Could Happen

Here’s a scenario.

Moore drops out of the Senate race with expletives to the GOP.

Sessions wins a write-in vote for his old Senate seat.

Sessions resigns from his AG position relieving Trump from firing him and takes his place in Congress.

Trump appoints a new Attorney General to his liking and perhaps bidding.

The new AG fires special counsel Mueller.

All hell breaks loose.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Is anybody listening?

A friend of mine asked the other day, do I ever feel like I’m shouting into the wind. I answered.

“I think truth has always been shouted into the wind for it is then blown back into the cradled face of thought for discernment.

I am reminded of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Act 3, Scene 1
“Bids the winds blow the earth into the sea or swell the curled water ‘bove the main, that things might change or cease.”

Truth does not shout into a zephyr wind for change or ceasing. In my view, it prefers the tempest as a carrier back to the source for constant examination, but it also benefits those in the lea of the wind who hear the fragmented muffled sounds of something different and get curious.

And so I shout!”

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Long-term care

Long-term care homes are not an uplifting place to visit, but they should be. When one is approaching the end days of their productive lives because of a debilitating illness their surroundings should be filled with bright colors, music, and art; easels of canvas and posterboard with trays of washable paints should be everywhere so when inspiration strikes any one of the patients can express it.

Visiting a friend a while ago in a long-term care facility I walked several hallways in which the infirm, the halt, the lame and the chair-bound patients were starring into the mindless space of blank walls; boredom is killing them more quickly than a disease.

What I'm suggesting is a change of internal scenery and sound in all long-term facilities. Let comforting music echo through the halls of hope. Have a sound-proof room with a karaoke machine.  Let the brightness of color festoon the rooms and passageways. Let the drab garb of the dedicated caregivers reflect the lightness of life, instead of the medical seriousness with which they must contend every day. Why can't we make their uniforms in fuchsia, celadon and cerulean blue, decorate them with colored lights and flashy trinkets? Distraction is often better than medicine.

My friend told me of one elderly woman who had not left her room for two years. She has no family and few friends. Being alone is a condition that seems to be a curse of old age when you outlive most of your generation.

This is America. We can correct this. All it takes is "intention" and action will follow.
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