Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Thanksgiving Prayer

As Chaplain of the United States Senate in 1947, Peter Marshall had an extraordinary talent for prayer. To him the morning prayer was not just the opening part of the services, but the most precious moments an individual spends with the Lord. When he clasped his hands together, the prayers seemed to flow from the depths of his soul. Dr. Marshall did not write down his prayers, but there were those in his congregation who did. In 1954, his daughter, Catherine Marshall, published the edited prayers in a volume entitled simply, The Prayers of Peter Marshall.

These prayers have sustained and lifted me through difficult times in my life. They have humbled me and reminded me to be more patient, more understanding, and forgiving to one another. In one of his last prayers before his death, he uttered the words, "We are standing on the threshold of time."  These words are as true today as they were in 1948.

As the searing tongues of misunderstanding and hatred leap out at us from the far corners of the world, it is far to easy to put our own self-interest and pride before all else and become complacent. Dr. Marshall's great concern was for the plain homespun virtues of honesty, integrity, and goodness of the individual. He saw clearly that we can never achieve nationally what we are unwilling to accede to individually.  Over and over he kept calling us back to these basic realities.

As we approach this holiday season, let us look forward with a true sense of gratitude for all the mercy and blessings in our lives. May we get on with the job of creating not only a nation but a world in which all men shall have the right to seek happiness. Let's make this season a time of rededication, when we shall think not of how much we can eat or what gifts we want, but of how thankful we are for what we have.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seesaw Relationships

In a previous blog ("Dreamers vs. Realists: Magic or Toxic", 5/24/13) I reflected on the magnetic draw between dreamers and realists. Since completing my novel I have come to believe that that we are all seeking a balance in our relationships.  We are initially attracted to those who fill a void in our personalities so that our lives can achieve equilibrium that we believe will bring us happiness.

Relationships can be likened to a child’s seesaw in that they are balanced as long as the weight at both ends is equally distributed. Sometimes one end might be up, sometimes the opposite end might be up, but in order for it to work at all, there has to be equal weight on each end.  In relationships we are magnetized to each other because we see in the other person something that we need to achieve the balance. We strive to meet someone’s need and fulfill our own need at the same time.  This is true of friendships, work situations, and partnerships of all kinds.

In our attempt at balance, we often attract others that are on the same continuum as we are.  If someone is aggressive, he may attract someone who is meek.  In fact the meekness may bring out the aggression in that person.  To achieve balance, one needs to learn to set boundaries and the other to respect boundaries. Holding on to resentments only causes them to build until, finally, the relationship breaks.

In the case of dreamers and realists, the balance is often achieved when both parties move toward the center or the extreme together. However, if one party begins to move toward the center and the other does not, the balance is thrown off and the relationship begins to tilt to one side resulting in disharmony and disillusionment.

When relationships are in full bloom, there is energy about it.  There is enthusiasm and communication as each party learns what the relationship has to teach them. Then sometimes, for no apparent reason, all the energy goes out of the relationship.  There is no enthusiasm for the job, the people at the job, a particular friend, or partner.  This seems to indicate that we may have learned all we can from that relationship, and it may be time to move on to another one of life’s lessons.

In Windborne, the three women who are the central focus of the novel are also seeking this balance in their relationships. When the relationships end, they must reflect on what really makes them happy and what doesn’t.  They must learn to apply the lessons they learned from their relationships and pay attention to any red flags that come up in the future.

They must learn not to be afraid to be alone for a while if that’s what life has in store.  In spending time alone, they are actually giving themselves the opportunity to get to know themselves as individuals and to incorporate and integrate the experiences they have had into their new sense of self. They must learn that one of the most important relationships they will ever have is the one they have with themselves.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Legend of the Stone House

The house was once part of an early settlement called Neosho City, founded by a group of religious zealots from the East who bought the land on speculation and offered the lots to anyone willing to follow the charter rules they set out.  The settlement was to be a "city of no sin" and the inhabitants were to follow a strictly vegetarian diet.  They were to eat nothing they couldn't grow themselves and they were not to use any medications to cure or prevent illnesses.  Death was simply God's will and they were not to interfere.  The women were to tend the fields while the men attended religious meetings and prayed for God's blessings upon the community. This, they believed, would ensure their prosperity. But Mother Nature didn't get the message.  A few summers into the settlement a severe drought ruined the crops and left the settlement to suffer through one of the hardest winters on record with no food.  Starvation and sickness descended upon them and the aged and the children were the first to feel the effects.