Holding in Reverence


January 9, 2023-

I revere sass, to a great degree.

Sass shows strength, independence of thought and commitment towards speaking truth to power.

I admire grit, under all circumstances.

Grit shows perseverance, detachment from the opinions of others and a supreme self-confidence.

I prize fortitude, especially in dire straits.

Fortitude could be surviving on one meal or less, making one’s way with scant resources or few friends, enduring persecution, even false imprisonment-or the gallows.

Maybe this is why I am drawn to adolescents and young adults, special needs children, outliers, rough people with good hearts, even those with whom I start off on the wrong foot.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like liars, grifters or wirepullers, con artists who say anything with a view towards transactional success. I despise those who do nothing for themselves, then blame everyone else for their plight.

Those I adore the most are those who stand up for themselves and their loved ones. They owe me nothing, except to give their all, to meet their goals.



October 26, 2022- Buddha’s smiling countenance greets all who walk into the sanctuary. The door to the large and welcoming home is open. I quietly enter and take the most obvious seat, as the reader of a sacred verse intones his selection. Other readers of sacred verses follow. Then we have a discourse, on the life and legacy of al-Bab. A delectable repast does not interrupt the flow of this discussion. Ice cream and cake guide us out of the session, though, as they remind us that this is a birthday celebration, albeit in honour of a Being Who left this Earth 172 years ago. The event is a testimony to the centeredness of the hosts.

The delighted twelve-year-old shows her increasingly organized and comfortable new home. It is probably the best residence she has ever known. It is, above all else, proof of the diligence and fortitude of her grandmother, who will never give up on her, or on her brother. Only the centeredness of that indomitable woman, and her own mother, both of whom I have known for over thirty-five years, makes things like this happen.

The tall, well-groomed gentleman takes his place as a senior non-commissioned officer, in the reserves of his branch of service. His wife of nearly four years stands proudly at his side. His father, far off in a different state, nonetheless reflects on the success of his only child. It is the centeredness of the family, especially of the young man’s grandparents,that transferred to him, and saw him through one of the toughest challenges he has had to face, in a good many years.

The little girl, in a far-off theater of combat, asks her father if all will be well for them. He stifles tears, and assures her that no harm will come her way, as long as he draws breath. The occupying soldiers look at the two of them, and are somehow reminded of their own children, in a more peaceful place. They let the two of them pass, and the father remains centered on the safety of the most important person in his life.

Centeredness, presence are far more basic gifts to any one of us, than we sometimes recognize. They are what truly connect us to the rest of the Universe. They are the true manifestations of this thing called love.



July 15, 2022, Amarillo- The young lady had to be coaxed out of the women’s restroom, by her supervisor. Not knowing her situation, and seeing that it was none of my business, I just sat patiently and waited to place my order. Of course, had it been another twenty minutes, I’d have paid for my beverage and left, but there is a certain period of time that one can use for the exercise of patience.

Many of us, myself included, have variously been given to fits of beating ourselves up and being fearful of other people, who may or may not represent a danger. Most of the time, I have found that, in the first instance, a course correction is far preferable to self-flagellation. In the second case, a mix of fortitude and prudence carries the day.

The woman mentioned above seemed to lack self-confidence, and had to pull herself together to do the basic task of taking an order for a meal. She managed, as millions of us before her have managed, by just taking a few deep breaths and going forward. There simply would have been no other way, other than fleeing back into a “safe haven”, which probably would have cost her that job. My meal was competently delivered, as was the bill, once I had finished eating.

Truth be known, there have been all too many instances, in which I have timidly approached tasks which thousands, if not millions, of others have done-and done well, over the millennia, or at least over the past hundred years. Novel tasks also crop up, regularly, thanks to advances in science and technology-and I have looked at them gingerly, as well. A very small part of this has been because of people in my life who have cast doubt on my ability to walk and chew gum, simultaneously. About seven years ago, though, having come back from a visit to Europe and having managed to not get thrown in jail, or out of any given country, it really started to occur to me that just maybe sometimes the Boo-Birds in my life were wrong-deflecting and projecting their self-doubts onto little old me.

Then, I started to look at my life in its totality, up to that point. All the things I’d done right came flooding into my consciousness-and many of them were things that I would only have messed up by overthinking, or by wondering-“What would — do?” Some were huge things; most were small matters that just added up. I am now in the last stages of the longest road journey I’ve ever undertaken on my own, in a solid motor vehicle that some questioned would even make it to the halfway point. (It did, and there was the moderate maintenance that one would expect of ANY vehicle.) Newfoundland, and all points in between, were worth it. The affirmations I have received, from people who know cars better than I do, far outweigh the aspersions cast by those who doubt my abilities, or my judgement.

I hope young V is able to cast out her own demons. She did well tonight, in spite of her doubts and fears.

Keeping the Fire


January 29, 2021- One of the things about the pandemic is that those of us who are officially retired from work are still needed in our professions. This is the sort of thing which happens, especially to nurses and physicians, but also to teachers, EMTs and a variety of people in supporting roles. So, I have gone in, to cover for those sidelined by COVID-19, those who have pandemic-related medical appointments and a few other situations.

One of the features of working with children, in the present environment particularly, is what I see as the need to encourage young people to stand their ground, to speak their truth clearly and not be cowed by any attempts, by ANYONE, to intimidate them into letting go of what they know is deserved. This does not mean that a child should be taught to act in an unbridled and irresponsible manner.

When a person, of any age, does speak the truth to a situation, it is the mark of authenticity, for anyone who hears that truth, to have the speaker’s back. In this school, particularly, those who have stood up and insisted, properly, that matters be handled a certain way have been my greatest allies and have made all the difference between the good days I have had and days that might have gone off the rails.

Even in the rough-edged years, of the 2000s, I still recall those forthright children whose outspoken and compassionate manners bridged the gap between my shakiness and being able to pull things together , not wasting the class’s time. With all to which this generation of students is being asked to endure, that forthrightness, that fortitude that flame, needs to be enkindled more than ever before.

I remain on call, for this, and other acts of community service.