Tuesday, May 21, 2024


I discovered this poem in Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue. It speaks so  hopefully to me at my stage in life that I decided to share it. I hope it will speak to you as well. Max

                                  A Blessing for Old Age


May the light of your soul mind you.


May all your worry and anxiousness about your age

Be transfigured.


May you be given wisdom for the eyes of your soul

To see this as a time of gracious harvesting.

May you have the passion to heal what has hurt you,

And allow it to come closer and become one with you.


May you have great dignity,

Sense how free you are;

Above all, may you be given the wonderful gift

Of meeting the eternal light that is within you.


May you be blessed;

And may you find a wonderful love

In your self for your self.


                                                John O'Donohue, Irish Poet


Sunday, April 7, 2024


The Past: Visiting Times Limited

      I have a picture in my mind's eye of a family gathering in what appears to be an idyllic setting. The grandfather is settled comfortably in his chair in the living room. Family, including adult children and grandchildren, are there. They have come to hear stories and to fill in the blanks of what they want to know of his past. Someone asks about the tornado. A granddaughter wants to know about the time he spent in the Army. One of the questions is about his growing up years. There are also questions about his college years.  And so, the questions continue well into the night. It is a perfect setting for a sentimental journey.

    I  pause before I place myself in that picture. I enjoy telling old stories. However, when I try to fill in the blanks of my past life, there is just too much I simply don’t recall. And that really bothers me. I know a lot of folks say pretty much the same thing about remembering the past, but it really is a problem for me.  

Another reason I hesitate about taking my place in the picture has to do with what I call emotional undertow.

Once, a long time ago when I was in my teens, I was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico at Destin, Florida. I swam a good way out and all of a sudden, I was aware of a current pulling me even farther out. It startled me but I was able to turn and head back to shore. When I told Dad what had happened, he explained that there is often a current of water below the surface of the ocean moving in a different direction from the surface current. It’s called an undertow and while it seems weak at first, it is strong enough to pull even a strong swimmer out against his will.  If I hadn’t turned when I did, I could have been in serious trouble.

          A trip to the past can and should be heartwarming but it can also be an emotional undertow if we use it to avoid today's challenges. I am reminded that when I do travel to the past, I should have a very good reason, pack light and return home as soon as possible. If I stay too long, the trip will not only lose its value but distract me from the joy of the present. In the community in which we have chosen to live, we see that conundrum daily. That is why I always say that the past is a good place to visit, I just don't want to live there.

So, I'm thinking about a paradigm shift. I will change the picture above to include stories from the present, stories which everyone present can share. That being said, I’ll take my place in it and celebrate the moment.



Friday, July 21, 2023


Dancing Lessons


            In her book, Many Winters, Nancy Wood records the wisdom of the old Indians of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico:


All of my life is a dance

            When I was young and feeling the earth

My steps were quick and easy.

The beat of the earth was so loud

That my drum was silent beside it.

All of my life rolled out from my feet

Like my land which had no end

            as far as I could see.

The rhythm of my life was pure and free.

As I grew older my feet kept dancing

            so hard that I wore a spot in the earth.

At the same time I made a hole in the sky.

I danced to the sun and the rain

And the moon lifted me up

So that I could dance to the stars.

My head touched the clouds sometimes

And my feet danced deep in the earth

So that I became the music

I danced to everywhere.

It was the music of life. 

Now my steps are slow and hard

And my body fails my spirit.

Yet my dance is still within me and

My song is the air I breathe.

My song insists I keep dancing forever.

My song insists I keep rhythm

With all of the earth and sky.

My song insists that I will never die.


            In the community I have chosen to live there are more of us who rely on scooters, walkers, wheelchairs and walking sticks than there are those who walk upright without help.  All the more reason to reimagine dancing as keeping rhythm with the creative Spirit.  We can all tune our spirit to sing of grace, if we so choose. The music of Life will keep us dancing. It will keep us open to the joys of the present and the hope of the future.

Monday, July 10, 2023


Scars and Stars


        Don Quixote, a quiet middle-aged country gentleman, somewhat mentally deranged, set out in a second-handed suit of rusty armor to roam the world and set right whatever wrongs he might run into, all in the name of social justice and personal honor. His quest was “...to live in the world as it is traversed by man as he ought to be.”  After a series of misadventures, Quixote dies as the author says, “having gained his reason and lost his reasons for living.”

         The misadventures of Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza are  comical and misguided. We cannot take the mad Don's exploits seriously, but we can't help but be inspired by his courage to live his life passionately no matter what others think.

        It is that passion I choose to take away from Cervantes' story. We can't ignore the presence of evil in our world today, nor can we pretend human suffering is not real. We need to change our focus. There is a darkness of the spirit that will take control if we but let it. But the light of healing and wholeness has not gone out. The power of love and compassion still burns brightly and that is where we should focus. Instead of turning and running away from that which threatens to devour us, we must realize that we have the power to take hold of the spirit that allows us to take charge of our own destiny and act accordingly. Let others keep score. We will keep the dream alive.

         In the time that I have I am determined to “to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far and dream the possible dreams.”

        My suffering will not define me, my dreams will.

        Actually, I find that reasonable.


Saturday, December 24, 2022


Holy Ground


            I was assigned to Guam for two weeks of active duty with the Navy in the summer of 1986. One day, I heard that a resident Buddhist priest had summoned fellow priests from Japan to hold a Daigoma Himatsuri service at the South Pacific Memorial Park on the island. The holy fire service was to honor both American and Japanese soldiers who had lost their lives on this very spot forty-two years previously. It was to bring peace and happiness to the living and the dead. As The Rev. Mitsuzo Tani and the other priests began the service, the assembled group of about one hundred and fifty prayed in silence. I reflected on what had taken place here forty-two years before.

            Below the ground on which we now stood, there had been a network of interlocking tunnels that formed the Japanese Command Post. In mid-August, 1944, Japanese soldiers had gathered for a final stand against the Americans. When that battle was over, 18,000 Japanese soldiers had died. 1700 Americans were killed and another 6,000 were left wounded. Their blood was soaked into the soil on which we now stood. Despite the warmth of the day, I felt a chill.

             It is now December, 2022 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is already perhaps the largest war in Europe since WWII. Will wars never cease? Maybe not but neither will the peace-forming of the faithful. “The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” John 1:5

Essential Peace

When we concede that

    war is required and

        peace is an illusion

We suffer an evil that

    cuts off the bloodflow

        of compassion

We mask the stink

    of the killed and the

        agony of the killers

If we honor warriors fallen we

    must also succor veterans

        returning from battle

We wound  ourselves by

    limiting patriotism

        to parades and medals

We must also hear from those

    whose conscience dictates

        we serve our nation differently        

War deepens the

    cut that only

        peace can heal

Trust rekindles hope

    respect reknits bonds

        as we weave peace

Wars may persist

    Peace must prevail




Thursday, September 1, 2022


Sisyphus Wises Up

The name Sisyphus may not strike a chord with you but almost every maturing adult will know and identify with the story of the man who is condemned by Zeus to push a rock to the top of the hill only to have it roll back down for eternity.

I met Sisyphus, so to speak, when I returned from the Korean War, at a time when I was not sure that life had any real meaning but when I was also looking for hope. A professor introduced me to The Myth of Sisyphus, recently published by Albert Camus. I was intrigued by the fact that Sisyphus found no meaning in life but was unwilling to completely give up—to commit suicide. Sisyphus continued to live with me, and several years ago, I began an internal dialogue with him. I created a reporter and gave him access to Hades in order to interview Sisyphus, who I also imagined had the ability to observe the world as it now is.

I have always found it interesting that while Sisyphus found no meaning in life he never complained and never seriously contemplated suicide. There is strength and integrity in that. I found that admirable. Now in my later years I've decided to challenge Zeus's power to keep Sisyphus chained, so to speak, to the rock and give him a chance at hope beyond. With  apologies to Camus, this is how I imagine it.

Unbeknownst to Sisyphus, all the time he had been struggling with his rock, Eleos, the Greek Goddess of compassion, had been watching him from her vantage point at Mt. Olympus. After years of watching, she decided to defy Zeus and help Sisyphus if, indeed, he wanted to be rid of the rock. There was just one problem with this decision. If she really wanted to enter Hades and interact with Sisyphus, she would have to become human and give up her goddess status. That's just the way it is because that's the way I have written it.

Her decision made, here's what happened. One morning as Sisyphus woke and was getting ready to push his rock, he noticed a tent had been erected at the bottom of the hill. Curious, he ambled over to where a woman was busy setting up a coffee bar. She greeted him and said, “Hey, I know you're on a tight schedule but the coffee is just about ready and I've got an idea I think you will find interesting.”

“I'll take the coffee; what's on your mind?”

“Here's the deal. My name is Eleos. I've been watching you all the time you've been pushing that rock. I have to say that I'm impressed that you've made your peace with the whole rock thing and I know you think that life is essentially meaningless, but what if I told you that I am willing to help you push the rock over the top, if you're interested. That's a serious question because I know some folks don't really want to give up their burdens, even if they may say otherwise."

Sisyphus was skeptical of the idea but was willing to give it a try. So when they had finished their coffee, Eleos put away the coffee cups. They approached the rock and started off up the hill together. Sisyphus would push the rock by himself until he felt he had to let go off the rock. At that point, Eleos would step in and help.

They didn't talk much at first as each was considering what this decision would make in their life. Sisyphus thought sure, he would be glad to be rid of that infernal rock, but he had gotten used to dealing with it and did he really want to give it up for the unknown? He thought, "Am I really up to life without it? Do I really need Eleos' help? Maybe this time I'll be able to get the rock to the top by myself. Why is she really doing this? This is the first time anyone has ever offered to actually help me. Am I worth all this?"

While Sisyphus was pondering these things, Eleos was thinking of what the decision to become human in order to help Sisyphus meant for her. She had given up all the power and prestige of being a goddess. She knew she could never go back. She thought, "Was I too hasty in trying to help Sisyphus? Is this really necessary and should I have intruded?"

Meanwhile, the hill was getting steeper. Sisyphus began to give out. He called for Eleos to help. Together they struggled until they were within a few feet of the summit. With their last bits of strength, together they pushed as hard as they could. The rock moved ever so slowly to the summit where it tottered for a bit and then settled on the top of the hill!

Now before them loomed a large bottomless chasm. Eleos found a smooth rock ledge and invited Sisyphus to sit with her. Sisyphus said, "In a moment, but first I have to get rid of this.” He walked over, got behind the rock and with one more push sent it bouncing down the hill and into the chasm. Then he joined Eleos on the ledge.

Eleos asked, "What did the rock mean to you?"

"More than anything else, I think, it represents my regrets, my guilt," Sisyphus answerd.

They sat there in silence for a long time until Sisyphus whispered, "Captive no longer!”

Eleos responded, “No longer a goddess. What now?”

As they stared in silence at the chasm, they felt a soft breeze and then from the wind came a voice, “I am beyond. Stand up!”

Eleos exclaims, “What is that?”

Sisyphus answers, “I've heard that voice before but it has been a long time ago. I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. Some say it is the voice of God, others say it is the Voice of Love. Maybe they both are right.”

Eleos thinks before responding. “Well, what do you say? Are you ready for a surprise?”

They stand up.

Will Sisyphus and Eleos assume new names, new identities to face their future? I am turning the story over to you at this point. If you choose, you can answer those questions and more. Since it will be your story, anything you come up with will be right. I would like to know what you come up with. You can email me at sisyphus2015.mh@gmail.com


Saturday, March 5, 2022


Words for the Young

(no matter how old you are)


Last night I dreamed I

          was a butterfly struggling

                   to get out of a cocoon

Let me tell you it wasn't

          easy I was exhausted

                   by the time I got out

I woke to a warming sun drying

          my wings as they took

                   shape and structure

Oh my wings were

          beautiful did I tell you

                   I dream in color

Basking in the moment

          as the dream morphed into

                   metaphor I waked to

The existential question will I

          have the courage to fly

                   when my wings dry

In normal times there

          is enough suffering and

                   sorrow to stifle adventure

These are not normal times naked

          evil stalks heart-wrenching

                   loss punctuates

Yet beauty hits us right

          in our face kindness hums

                   in the background

Truth is still spoken daring

          takes its turn goodness

                   will not be denied

Troubled souls still wake to

          wonder love has not

                   lost its power

Then and Now don't have to trade

           places are you ready

                   let's fly