Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot Chocolate

During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives.

Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said:

“Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.

While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

The cup that you 're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups.

And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this:

Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups.

They are just tools to hold and contain life.

The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality
of life you have.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us.

God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything.

They just make the best of everything that they have.

Live simply. And enjoy your hot chocolate!!”

ya'll take care…. Ric

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beverly Underwood

Today, I pay my final respects to the memory of Beverly. Today, I remember with gratitude her life and I give thanks to God for those things she did to make our world a better place.
When I think about Beverly and the times I was around her, a couple of things come to mind.
The first is honesty. She was as honest as the day is long. She didn’t hide her feelings.
And I remember how she loved life. She loved people. She always made me feel special, and I think she had a way of making everyone she was with feel that way.
I know God blessed me when He sent her my way, for a few hours or a few days, here and there over the years. To just be around her for a little while was uplifting….energizing…she was going to make you smile.
I know she faced special health challenges these last few years. She knew her share of hardship, struggle and uncertainty. She tried her best to keep going in spite of all she endured. She always was filled with hope, hope for the best. She had a cheerful confidence that life would bring good things. She had an abounding optimism. She demonstrated great strength and courage. Today I say goodbye to a gallant lady. She never gave up and never gave in. Strong. Brave.
She always carried herself with a decency and attention to small kindnesses that also defined a good life. When I remember Beverly, I will think of a woman characterized by sweetness and the sincerity of a good Christian woman. All in all, I remember a lady, a good lady and a good person.
I’ll share with you a great quote I came across;
"One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been."
And in Beverly’s evening, her light burned bright with open and wise prescriptions for us all. Today, as we take her to rest, as we seek to measure her life, it is clear how truly splendid Beverly’s day has been.

I would like to share with you a reading about death. The popular passage comes from a sermon on death written by Scott Holland, delivered in St. Paul's Cathedral on 15 May 1910

Death is nothing at all. It doesn’t count.
I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no air of sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for our family. Let my name be ever the household word that is always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without a ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well with my soul. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

I believe that. Ric

(I was going to close here, but on second thought, decided to add another of my favorite poems.
May you be blessed by it.)


When tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day's the same way
There's no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times
You did some things
You knew you shouldn't do.

But you have been forgiven
And now at last you're free.
So won't you come and take my hand
And share my life with me?"

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.

Author Unknown

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are you feeling lucky?

Is hard work really necessary?

We see in the media:

-politicians and beauty queens who get by on a smile and a wink

-lottery winners who turn a lifetime of lousy jobs into one big payday

-sports stars who are born with skills we could never hope to acquire

-Hollywood celebrities with the talent of being in the right place at the right time

-Failed CEOs with $40 million buyouts

It really seems (at least if we believe the media) that who you know and whether you get 'picked' are the two keys to success. Luck!

The thing about luck is this:

We're already lucky.

We're insanely lucky that we weren't born during the black plague or in a country with no freedom.

We're lucky that we've got access to wonderful tools and terrific opportunities.

If we set that luck aside, though, something interesting shows up. Delete the exceptions--the people who are hit by a bus or win the lottery, the people who luck out in a big way, and we're left with everyone else. And for everyone else, effort is directly related to success. Not all the time, but as much as you would expect. Smarter, harder working, better informed and better liked people do better than other people, most of the time.

Effort takes many forms.

Showing up, certainly.

Knowing stuff (being smart might be luck of the draw, but knowing stuff is the result of effort).

Being kind when it's more fun not to.

Paying forward when there's no hope of tangible reward.

Doing the right thing.

You've heard these things a hundred times before, of course, but I guess it's easier to bet on luck. I think we've been tricked by the stories of lucky people on the top of the heap. We see the folks who manage to skate by, or who get so much more than we think they deserve, and it's easy to forget that:

a. these guys are the exceptions
b. there's nothing you can do about it anyway.

While luck may be appealing, you don’t get to choose luck.

But you can choose effort. If you want to stand out, you will have to do more. Suggestions?

Exercise or get on a diet. Read relevant non-fiction (trade magazines, journals, business books, etc.) Send thank you notes. Learn new computer skills. Volunteer. Teach someone something you have learned. Spend time, make time, for being with the people you love. Spend less, save more.If you somehow pulled this off, then six months from now, you would be the fittest, best rested, most intelligent, best funded and motivated person in your office or your field. You would know how to do things other people don't, you'd have a wider network and you'd be more focused.

Or, then again, you can do like me and just hold out to win the lottery.

I am hoping for Good Luck! Good luck to you too! Ric

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Needs of the Soul

We do have a soul. Our souls have needs.

We human beings are not conscious of our souls in the way we are conscious of our bodies. The reason that there is a controversy over whether human beings have a soul at all is due to the fact that no one has ever seen or met a soul. No one can point to their soul as they can to their body and declare, "You see, there it is!" No doubt the soul can exist even if we are unconscious of it, but it is legitimate to ask, of what use is a soul that you are not conscious of?

To sum up the difficulty: The soul is the only part of us that survives death; our eternity is experienced through our souls.

Because we have no direct experience of our souls, there is no way for us to practically discover the soul's needs -- what sorts of activities make the soul sickly and weak, the inputs it requires to be healthy and strong, what sort of things will injure it or even destroy parts of it.

What can it do for you? What is its purpose? What are the soul’s needs?

All people have needs. There are physical needs of food, clothing, shelter. There are emotional needs of nurturing, acceptance, esteem, and security. And there are mental needs of intellectual stimulation and the use of imagination. Underneath the physical, emotional and mental needs lies a longing for wholeness, for union. These longings go beyond the time and space we experience in our outer lives and dwell within the recesses of our soul.

When neglected, life seems flat leaving the individual searching for more. You can have all the clothes of the latest style you can imagine. You can live in the greatest of homes and eat the best of foods. Yet there is still a gnawing hunger inside. What the soul pines for is something the best of foods can't satisfy. The most beautiful of clothes and rich jewels fade in importance when compared. The hungers and thirsts of the soul must be fed for life to have depth, meaning, and richness. They are what bring life to life.

The needs of the soul go beyond culture, time period, race, or sex. It doesn't matter if you are a peasant in Japan in the 1600's, a prince in Ethiopia in 1000 B.C., a pilgrim on the Mayflower or a world traveling executive today, the same inner urgings drive you to a sense of fulfillment.

So, what are the needs of the soul?

First is the need for structure and order. There is an order in the Universe whether we are aware of it or not. And there is order that Man has created to make his world predictable and stable. I noticed a glimpse of the order of the universe most profoundly one time while flying in a plane. As I looked down from the window there were perfect squares and rectangles separating fields and pastures from each other for as far as I could see. I was astounded at how perfectly straight and square the lines of the fields were. What I saw was an order to our world and universe. There is the need for order as man superimposes his own order above the plan of nature. So we have rules…laws. When there is an order in our lives we are secure; we know what to expect. What brings us order is discipline and love. The love of Truth, the love of the ideals causes discipline to come from within us rather than being administered from outside us.

Second there is a need for focus or vision. When you focus you have an aim, something to shoot for. Aspirations or ideals are examples of a visionary focus which cause your aim to be high and ever-expanding. A basic form of focus is goals, either short term or long term. A visionary focus offers a structure around which your life is built. It relates to how you form your identity.

In day to day life, the focus is the career, raising a family, what you want to do with your life. You go through school to prepare to be a well-rounded person and good citizen, but also to prepare for a career. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is a common question adults ask children. When these children think about what they want to be they think in terms of a career. This is a physical role they will follow whether it's to be a nurse, banker, teacher, or computer programmer. For example, if someone says they want to be a teacher they will do teaching in order to build an identity around what they think a teacher is. This is a physical orientation to life.

Spiritually the focus will be the assignment or mission in life, an inner part of you that you need to give. This is not something that you need to do, or a role you will play in society but something you need to be in everything you do. For example, you can be forthright or steadfast as a friend, a parent, a student, a lover, a professional and so on. The physical role or situation doesn't limit your ability to express this quality. The answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" will change to "What are you being?" The answer will be a quality of being such as patient, faithful, or joyful.

Our focus is formed from ideals, something to aspire to, something for inspiration. In day to day life that inspiration comes from people, places and things. Maybe there's a person who truly inspires you that you want to be like, and you want to have some qualities like, or there's a place you've been to that has a certain quality to it that you want to bring back to where you are. Or maybe there is an experience you have had that has changed your life, and you are a different person as a result of it.

With spiritual focus, we will be more aware of our inner urgings and the wisdom that lies within. That is not to say that we will no longer use our physical experiences for inspiration. We will, in fact, use them more for that purpose than ever before. The shift to an inner vision will come from the increasing desire for a direct grasp of Truth. Aspiring to know and live Truth is the catalyst for enlightenment and that means being a beacon of light for others.

Third there's a need to learn. As we grow and mature we use our five senses to gather information through a variety of ways. This can be by reading; it can be by a verbal explanation; it can be by watching, and so on.

Once the information is received the next step is to apply it in some sort of practical application. We cannot understand an idea until we have put it into a practical application in life. There must be a way to have an experience with the information, not to use it once, but many times and through a variety of ways. Children naturally use a variety of experiences to understand the information they receive. They may pretend with their animals or dolls; they may draw a picture; they may make up a song or a story.

All people, no matter what their age, need a variety of experiences to understand a concept. The more experiences we give ourselves and the more we repeat the experiences, the greater the learning. The more one causes his or her learning the more control they have over it.

As we move from believing to knowing, experiencing becomes very important. Believing is accepting the information. It is a function of one or more of the five senses, the brain and the conscious mind. Saying "I know that" when we have only accepted the information without the experience is a fallacy. Accepting information is the first stage of learning. Those who are reaching for more want to experience it for themselves in order to know. Applying the information is what births knowledge, through experiencing over and over again in a variety of situations and circumstances. The direct grasp of Truth comes from an inner knowing.

To truly understand and gain wisdom, you graduate from experiencing to teaching. After a certain point, the way that you learn the most is through giving what you understand to be true, so you teach it. And again, you don't teach it just once, you teach it many times to many people. By understanding, then experiencing, and finally teaching you find the universality of the idea --- that it works not only in your life in many areas but in many people's lives in many areas.

The fourth need is to belong, to be connected to something greater than the self. Our sense of belonging is with family and the lineage of the family, culture, country and so on. It is a belonging to something physical like clubs and organizations, churches, and school teams. As we mature, the sense of belonging becomes more expanded where you see that you are part of and belong to the planet, solar system and universe And beyond that, there's also a belonging inside us, that we are all spirit and come from the same spiritual parents, and that our home is not a physical place but a sense of peace within us that is rooted, solid and stable.

The fifth need is to create and to give. I think of creating and giving as synonymous. A true creation is a gift to the world. In the beginning the focus is the object of your creation. What is it you are creating? This is the result or product of the action of creating. These are ways we can give and create in a physical way. As a result of spiritual growth the shift is toward the process and purpose of the creation. The process of creation and or giving becomes more important than the actual result. How do you create? How do you give? What are the steps? The purpose reflects who you become as you create or give and how you are transformed through your creative and giving acts.

Sixth is the need for silence, reflection and contemplation. This is accomplished through prayer, through meditation, through thoughtfulness. It is more going into the silence, having a real experience of stillness and the silence, having a still mind even in the midst of activity. A still mind means you can have the direct grasp of Truth at any time.

The seventh need is the need for fulfillment which relates to sacrificing your energies to something greater than yourself. Early on, this is reflected in having a family so we have offspring to continue a bloodline. Once, it was important to pass on the family name, to have many children so your lineage would continue past your generation thus giving something physical to the world.

In wars people sacrifice their lives for something that's important to them such as protecting their country or to protect an ideal. That's why people fight wars. (That may not be the reason that wars are started and why people declare wars, but that is usually the reason why people fight the wars.)

In satisfying this need for fulfillment, through giving of yourself to something greater, you are sacrificing your ego in service to humanity. You recognize that your thoughts, your actions, your words penetrate the universe. They reverberate and have an effect everywhere. There's a greater sense of responsibility with what you do and the way you think.

These inner hungers must be fed through a person's life. At every age we must satisfy the needs of the soul. Adults have a deep and joyous responsibility to feed the souls of those young people around them, by offering structure and order, directing the focus and giving a vision, offering a variety of learning experiences, making a place to create and give thus giving them a place to belong, creating a space for reflection and contemplation. When these are given, young people will reach for fulfillment and their souls will be fed, producing much happiness and well-being and progress. When all are present, peace, contentment and security flourish.

So we benefit now, and in the hereafter. To the degree we are successful in nourishing the soul, we grasp Truth, we attain Wisdom and we expand our Loves to include, loving not just those closest to us, but the weak, the needy, the oppressed and even the enemies. God is Love, and as we mature spiritually, as we seek God and draw close to him (Seek and Ye Shall Find) we become more God-like and Christ-like in these ways. Again, the soul is the only part of us that survives death; our eternity is experienced through our souls. This experience will go one of two ways. We leave this body and this physical world behind, free at last and soar away in a soul, prepared and designed and nurtured to take us into the new realm, the spiritual realm, a soul that radiates the beautiful person we have become. And then of course, there is the other side of the coin, in which the soul is lost. It was never nurtured in life.

“He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”
Psalm 23:2

Often blinded by the business of life, we fail to stop and catch our breath. Psalm 23:2 reminds us to look to God to restore our soul. Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m around water of any form…rain, ponds, lakes, creeks, etc.. There’s something cleansing and refreshing about it. I do feel restored. I encourage you to take a step back from “life” and everything you feel that you have to do in order to “make ends meet.” Give due attention to the needs of the soul, find the “quiet waters,” reevaluate what matters most to you, and restore your soul.

take care…..Ric

"He who creates character in himself produces a masterpiece of far greater worth than one created out of paper, canvas, stone or wood. He who develops his mind and soul accomplishes the highest work of genius,—the loftiest achievement possible for man on earth or in heaven. Nobility of soul is the most valuable acquisition, and this is neither negotiable nor purchasable. It is obtainable only through moral, mental and spiritual endeavors."

(Frank L. and Lydia Hammer An Eternal Career, 1947)