Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wanna get lucky? Meditation for 7/25/14

Myrtle Beach SC
“Luck is where preparation, awareness and opportunity meet.”  - Anon

“I am a great believer in luck.  I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.”   - Thomas Jefferson

     If the first quote is to be believed, then could we say that being unlucky is where procrastination and distraction conspire to have us miss opportunity?  We often hear people talking about luck, but when we talk to people who have achieved things of lasting substance in life we see the result of planning and persistence.  The key phrase here is “lasting substance.”

    There have been numerous studies about people that have been “lucky” enough to win big lottery prizes. The five year outcome?  The vast majority are miserable.  Many say they wish they had torn their ticket up.  In fact a high percentage say that they think that winning the lottery was a curse – not a blessing.  It goes to show us that we really don’t know what is good for us.  But of course our ego says that instant gratification is the only way to go.  We are constantly tempted to cut corners in the pursuit of some shiny trinket.  And when something we are working at seems to be taking a lot longer to develop than we wish, how often do we drop the ball?  How often do we allow the things we “know” we should be doing sit stagnant while we chase illusions of a quick gain?

     When we honestly look back at our lives, the things that of the most value to us today were usually those things that we were reluctant about initially.  And the things that have brought us the most pain are the things we “had to have.”  The point is that if we are looking for a legacy we need to abandon the notion of luck.  And when we start doing what our intuitive voice tells us to do we start finding those coincidental things happening in our life that other people refer to as “luck. ”   Then one day we come to realize that there aren’t any coincidences – and there isn’t any such thing as luck either.

Today, may I be prudent. 

Happy Friday !!

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What do you want? Meditation for 7/24/14

Myrtle Beach; SC

“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the prerequisite for success.”  - Maxwell Maltz

“Instant gratification is not soon enough.”  - Meryl Streep

    Not only do we struggle with the desire for instant gratification on the personal level, we live in a time that it seems to be worshiped.   Instant this and urgent that – our culture glamorizes immediate access to any pleasure at any time.  As a result we have tried to smash most anything that is sacred or cherished; full flow pleasure is the way to go.  It is easy to look around and see that it has not worked – all we have accomplished is to erode and denigrate the very institutions that built the culture to start with.   But where does that leave us as individuals struggling to have meaning and value in our lives?

     There is a difference between living in the moment and living for the moment.  Being aware of ourselves, our situation, our goals and our resources is essential – but to indulge our whims just because we want to feel different right now cheapens that which we indulge in, makes us miss opportunities for growth and costs us big in the long term.   Both indulging impulses and practicing restraint become easier each time we do them.  The snowball effect comes into play and we either need bigger “fixes” or we build momentum ever more rapidly toward long term goals.  

     Practicing restraint gives us time to gain perspective on what we really want – the things we acquire quickly rarely bring satisfaction and often bring much unanticipated grief.  It is a mark of maturity and self-control to learn to patiently strive toward things.  Then, once accomplished, we are able to truly savor the rewards of our efforts.  Ultimately, it is a choice between building appreciation and value into our lives or being caught in ever escalating traps of distraction and frustration.  We make the choice, one little decision at a time.

Today, may I control my impulses.

Happy Thursday !!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

So you want to help me? Meditation for 7/23/14

Brookgreen Gardens; SC

 “And then the day came when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  -  Anais Nin

“Out of vulnerability comes strength.”  -  Sigmund Freud

     There are numerous stories of the struggle that an Emperor Moth goes through during the stage that it goes from cocoon to moth.  At the caterpillar stage, its weaves a cocoon whose composition is such that it is waterproof and very tough.  The caterpillar then remains in this stage from two to five years – sometimes even as long as ten.   For someone who has been watching for such a long time, signs that the moth is going to emerge can be exciting.  But when this time comes, the struggle for the moth to emerge is long and tiring.  It is a common mistake for someone to try to assist the moth by cutting the cocoon.  But, alas, a moth cut out of the cocoon emerges with stunted and useless wings.  You see, the struggle itself is what strengthens them to the point that they are useful.  If the moth is not allowed to go through this effort it will never know what it is to fly.

     In life, it is often very difficult to watch someone else struggle when we are in a position to help them.  The answer to their problems seems so obvious to us, and we think that by helping them we are improving their situation.  But are we?  Who among us has the wisdom to know when someone needs to skin their knee today so that they do not break their leg tomorrow?  How can we be sure that rescuing the alcoholic or addict before they reach a point of misery deep enough that they seek help themselves won’t end up killing them?  How can we just stand by and watch as our child foolishly makes purchases on credit, thus mortgaging themselves long term for a short lived happiness?  How do we know that when we step in and try to tell others they are getting involved in a relationship with an unhealthy person that we are not denying them the pain they need in order to prepare themselves for a much better relationship later in life?  Examples abound, but the question remains, how can we know if we are helping someone or are denying them the pain they need in order to grow?

      Of course, if something is life-threatening we need to intervene as best we can – which in some cases will not bear any fruit anyway.  But this is where we must learn to trust our intuitive voice.  For if we nag them now in an attempt to get them to see things “our way” we will probably have completely alienated them when the time comes that they would have been prepared to listen to our guidance.  It is tricky territory, but when are tempted to intervene in another’s life we need to ask ourselves – are we merely enabling the person’s behavior or are we actually being of service?  This is one area of life where wisdom is much more valuable than good intentions.

Today, may I be prudent.

Happy Wednesday !!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Who aren't you talking to? Meditation for 7/22

Murrell's Inlet; SC

"Those who give have all things; those who withhold have nothing."  - Hindu Proverb

“Money is like love.  It slowly and painfully kills he who withholds it, and enlivens the one who turns it on his fellow man.”  -  Gibran

      As I was walking along the beach the other day I overheard and argument between two children.  It seems that they were fighting over a toy bucket and shovel – common enough toys for the beach.  Surrounding them were numerous other toys – kick-boards, floats, balls and the like.  But they both wanted the shovel and bucket to themselves.   When the larger child refused to allow the smaller to have them, the comment made was: “I don’t love you anymore.  I am never playing with you again.” 

     How often do we threaten to withhold love?  Worse yet, how often do we follow through on our threat?  How do we handle it when others threaten us this way?  First of all, unconditional love does not know alienation or separation – it remains regardless of circumstance.  So we can safely say that where ever love is “with-held” it didn’t exist in the first place.  And of the times in our life that there was a grievance with one who we were close to before a wall developed, how often is it that the “incident” over which the split occurred was as equally trivial as the children with the bucket?  I heard a story not long ago about siblings who have not spoken to each other for years after a fight broke out at the funeral of their mother.  It seems both daughters wanted to do the make-up on the corpse in her own way.  But I heard another story about a man who had alienated his father for years – a man who blamed every struggle in his life on his father.  This man forced himself to go through his life and straighten out all his relationships – and when he took an honest look at his father he realized his father had always done the best he could.  He realized that it was he who had withheld love because his father did not fit the imaginary image of what he thought a father should be.  Since this realization, he approached his father and apologized for the years of short-sightedness, and the relationship since has been a blessing in his life.

     Life is short.  We don’t have the time or the energy to both fulfill our purpose on this earth and carry grudges.  We can either nurse the grudges and convince ourselves we are victims or we can humble ourselves, approach those in our life whom we have had grievances with and set them right.  And in the process, whether we think we were right or wrong, we free ourselves.  And as to one who threatens to with-hold love from us?  We can view them with genuine sympathy, because the impoverished soul has no idea what love is in the first place.

Today, may I be genuine.

Have a great Tuesday !!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Want to make better decisions? Meditation for 7/18/14

Folly Beach SC

“If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.”  - Alan Cohen

“Quit reacting.  Start Responding.”  - Anon

    Learning to pause is an important skill.  Often it is just a split second between a stimulus, or event if you will, the arising of the corresponding impulse our brain gives us, and our acting on that impulse.  It seems that the closer the stimulus affects one of our deep seated fears, the more impetuous and vehement our reaction is.  Our fears usually translate into anger and for that moment our brain convinces us so thoroughly that retaliation or flight is the answer that the notion that there is any other way to respond eludes us.  This usually results in problems more difficult to overcome than the issue that started the whole thing.

     If we are ever to break free of our thinking mind, the first step is to learn to create gaps in our thinking so that there is space for an intuitive thought to come through.  Since when taken by surprise we will revert to reaction habits we have developed, if we want to develop self control it makes sense that we start when we do not feel threatened.  A good way to do this is to start practicing the automatic discarding of the first thought that comes to our head in situations.  We learn to pause before doing things and ask for a better action to meet our current situation.  We might even ask a second or a third time as other thoughts come and we realize that they are perhaps still not the best action we can take.  Often we realize that no response is the best one, completely contrary to what our first notion was.  Learning to do this – to actively challenge our brain and try to create a gap for inspiration to come through carries benefits beyond just the quality of our actions.

     This exercise is one of the first ways that we can begin to detach from our ego, and what a blessing it is if our mind is determined to obsess about something.  Over time as we develop this “third person” within ourselves we gain much perspective on ourselves, and we begin creating longer and longer gaps between thoughts.  At the same time, we develop a stronger awareness of that small voice within that would guide us through these intuitions and inspirations.  Before we know it, our ability to create a space between our thoughts has developed to where we are able to meditate, or to quietly just “be” in any circumstances – far more aware of what is actually happening around us than ever before yet not nearly so erratically emotionally invested in it.  It is one big step that we can take away from ourselves and toward the deep and abiding love and peace that dwell in the spirit within – and it pays dividends from the first time we practice it. 

Today, may I pause.  

Happy Friday !!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Are you happy yet? Meditation for 7/17/14

Hamlin Sound; SC

“If your happiness is contingent on anything, it will always be contingent on something.”

“He who lives upon hope will die fasting.”  Benjamin Franklin

     To desire that things turn out a certain way is natural, hope may be the only thing that gets us through an otherwise intolerable situation.  Some of mankind’s greatest achievements were accomplished by people who were exhausted and frustrated, but held out that the desired result would be attained.  What else can pull the foot soldier through the horrors of war, the prisoner through the torture of confinement and isolation, the cancer patient through the poisons of chemotherapy and the drug addict through the torment of early sobriety?

     Yet hope has close cousins; expectations, feelings of entitlement and closely following these are sure to be resentments.  While it is human and sometimes a matter of survival to have hopes and desires for the future, the fact remains that all of our life it will remain the present moment.  It is in this moment that we must find contentment and serenity within ourselves, regardless of the chaos around us.  After all, if it is always NOW, what we do NOW is what we are doing with our life.

Today, may I live in gratitude rather than expectation. 

Have a great Thursday !!


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Want something different? Meditation for 7/16

Murrell's Inlet; SC

“Change itself is easy, its resistance to change that causes pain.”  - Seneca

“Any change, even a change for the better, is accompanied by setbacks and discomforts.”  - Arnold Bennett

     We have all been motivated to make major changes, say at New Years or perhaps after some pain made it clear that we needed some adjustment and launched on a rigorous course of action.  So often though in short order we are back right where we started – doing or not doing what has been ingrained from years of use or disuse.
     How do we make lasting changes?  The mental illustration of a large ship reversing direction at sea can help.  There is vast momentum moving in a particular direction, and capsizing will happen if a turn-about is attempted too quickly.  It must be turned bit by bit, a degree at a time.  A complete turn-around is 180 degrees, and not one of them can be skipped.   But soon, without being obvious and without losing momentum, the ship is heading in a completely different direction.

     If we make small adjustments towards goals over a period of time each has a chance to become ingrained as we attempt further adjustments.  Instead of saying we are going on a diet, how about cutting out one fatty food and not replacing it with something else?  Instead of saying I am going to spend more time with my family, how about planning just one regular activity for right now that we will not miss?  Making vast sweeping statements about changes that I am going to make has never served me well in life.  The lasting changes have been made bit by bit, adjustment by adjustment, just today, one day at a time.   Otherwise, I am soon discouraged and fully back into the behavior I am comfortable with from years of reinforcement.

Today, may I find the courage to continue changing the things I can.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

What is the current trend? Meditation for 7/15/14

“Nothing stays the same.  You are either moving forward or falling back.”  - American Proverb

“The first lie is the hardest.  After that they come easier and easier.”  -  L.R.E. Montgomery

     How often do we “dabble” with negativity?  The little “white lie” here or there that makes life a bit easier this moment.  The bit of gossip that wins us a sympathetic ear.  The self pity that we toy with when we isolate ourselves.  Allowing ourselves to act in anger knowing we are doing it just to intimidate someone and get what we want.  Flirtation when we have no business engaging in it.  Holding onto a grudge or two and using them to our advantage later.  The list goes on.  When we have done any work to improve upon our spiritual condition we start developing those “alarm bells” that go off when we first start engaging in a behavior that will ultimately bring us harm.  In many cases, we are simply re-awakening them after years of ignoring that small still voice within.  But one thing is for sure.  The first time we hear the voice we have to make a conscious effort to over-ride it.  With each subsequent time the voice grows fainter and fainter until we don’t even hear it anymore.  And each time we indulge in the negative behavior it seems to escalate – we justify slightly worse behavior each time because the consequences didn’t seem that severe the last time.  Before we know it that few white lies have turned us into a liar, cutting a few corners has turned us into a thief, indulging in self pity has led to a victim mentality and sharing a juicy tidbit now and then has turned us into a gossip.  There is only one direction these behaviors seem to go – they get significantly worse as time goes by.  And the worst part?  The fact that we have rationalized them time after time as they have escalated has us in complete denial about what we have become.

     These certainly are not “sins” like murder or armed robbery.  But there is a cumulative effect both within ourselves and on those we interact with most.  Over time we gradually erode the respect and trust in all of our relationships, including that relationship we have with ourself.  We begin withholding love and using our attention as a bargaining chip to get what we want from others.  And yet, who among us is as clean as the driven snow?  None of course.  We all fall short of the ideal – and we all do it on a daily basis.  This is why it is so important to take a bit of time each evening to review our day, looking for those times when we cheated ourselves and others of what we could have offered.  Over time, these small course corrections have a big impact on the direction we are heading in – a much bigger one than any grand decisions or “resolutions.”  And it is not a big deal to do – after all, we don’t need to do it forever.  We just need to do it today.

Today, may I be vigilant. 

Happy Tuesday !!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Got a plan for living? Meditation for 7/14

A fish that can fly at Murrell's Inlet; SC

“.. When self-examination, prayer and meditation are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.”  -  William Wilson

“If you do not define the role that people, places and things play in your life they certainly will define you.”  - Anon

     In the first quote, the author points out the three key elements that lead us to a soundness of mind and body.  But when we do the work to come into synch as an individual, we still need a plan for living that allows us to deal with the world and yet still “wear it like a loose garment.”  So it is of great value to us to examine our attitudes about the things outside ourselves that we interact with.

     People, places and things.  I think this pretty well covers the gamut of the things temporal that we deal with.  Outside of our own spiritual condition, is not the cause of our worry and angst almost always related to one of these three?   Is there a plan for living that will allow us to operate in these arenas without being drug down in the mud or drawn into fantasies of grandeur?  I think there is, and as always the solution is simple.  If we are working to maintain synchronicity at the individual level, we can extend this harmony into our environment through service and stewardship.  For people the answer is service – for places and things it is stewardship.

     When dealing with other people, if our intentions and actions are service oriented we will eliminate virtually all day to day issues that plague our ego.  But we first have to understand what service is.  Doing courtesies and niceties, as admirable as they are, do not constitute service.  Service is doing for others what they cannot do for themselves, which usually boils down to encouragement.  Encouragement is not cheerleading – it is giving another the tools they need to act in the face of their fears and obtain the growth they need to move further along on their path.  We can give them the tools, but unless they take the action nothing will improve.  So we train ourselves to constantly be aware of if and how we are being of service to those people in our life right here and right now.  If we are unable to be of service to them at this moment, is there someone else we are able to be of service to?  Of course this is a broad topic and much needs can be said about it, but realizing that being of service to the others in our life will lift us above the battlefield of petty competitions and bring meaning and value into our lives is the first step toward a life of freedom and serenity.  And when we take the posture that our job is to be of service to our fellows, what they think of us is no longer our worry – in fact we realize it not only is none of our business, it is totally irrelevant to what we are supposed to be doing.  In this way we protect ourselves from being defined by “what we think other people think of us.”

     Likewise, stewardship is a much misunderstood concept.  Stewardship is a state of mind we take when we reach a level of maturity that we realize that things are just things – they will remain and we will be gone.  Anything “temporal” in our life is indeed “temporary,” and making the mistake of feeling we “own” anything puts us in the state of mind that the things in our life define who we are.  And if you want to be miserable, start gauging your worth based upon where you live or what you have.  It is a bottomless cesspool of “keeping up” and “needing more.”  But when we view each material thing in our life as being something that is entrusted to us for a short time and something which we are thus responsible to take care of we experience a huge shift in the way we look at “things.”  More “things” = more “responsibility” and thus less freedom.  So we winnow down the things we are going to allow into our life to those things we cherish enough to truly look after or those things we absolutely need.  And in this way things no longer have the power to define us.  Synchronicity, Stewardship and Service.  How can I improve, who can I help and what needs attended to?  It is a plan for living that will season any storm that might come our way.

Today, may I know harmony.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

When are you going to grow up? Meditation for 7/11/14

Resurrection Ferns on a live oak in Hobcaw Barony; SC

     “A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply disturbed emotionally, who has learned there is both good and bad in all people and things and who walks humbly and deals charitably.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.”  Douglas Englebart

     Emotional maturity and spiritual maturity require both pain and effort, and the path of spiritual growth cannot begin until there is a solid foundation of emotional maturity.  Thus, it is absolutely necessary for us to do the work required to develop as emotional beings if we are to begin to experience the spiritual.

     For myself, I would define emotional maturity as the point where one’s view of themselves matches the facts, the reality of whom they are.  This is often referred to as humility – having an accurate enough view of one’s self that one loses the self-centeredness necessary for our survival as infants.   Only after escaping the need to constantly think of one’s self can one become spiritually aware of all that exists outside their own head.  Since self assessments are typically far from reality, it is crucial that we allow trusted others in our lives with whom we keep no secrets.   If we trust their wisdom enough we will listen to their criticism, knowing that even if it is “embarrassing” now and then, we will have a much more accurate assessment of ourselves to work with than by working with our own perceptions alone.  Only then can we begin to truly get rid of those parts of ourselves – guilt, shame, greed, lust, envy, fear and the host of others that block our spirit and keep us from spiritual birth.  It is in those moments that we can allow the false (our ego) die that we can be resurrected as a spiritual being.

The best part about this is that we already have everything we need spiritually within us.  The road to spiritual awakening and ultimately enlightenment is a journey of eliminating the false so that nothing but the true remains.  Think how difficult spiritual awakening would be if we had to manufacture, borrow, copy, steal or otherwise acquire a spirit. It is right here and right now within us, just below the surface yet fully available to us at any time.  All we need remember is that “self-removement” is the path to “self-improvement,” and that with a bit of steadily applied effort we can find that path that is our life’s work to follow.

Today may I make a bit of spiritual progress, however small it is.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What zone are you in? Meditation for 7/10/14

“Doing the will of God leaves no time for disputing his plan.”  -  George MacDonald

“There are no “ifs” in Gods will.  And no places are safer than other places.  The center of his will is our only safe place…”  Corrie ten Boom

     The benefits of following the intuitive voice of spiritual guidance are many – in fact compiling a “complete” list might be impossible.  Experiences that used to be mundane as we learn to see the meaning in them.   We see that life is worthwhile and that all the effort it requires really does work toward a greater end than we are capable of seeing.  We develop a deep calm within that does not get ruffled – even though occasional storms may ruffle our surface.  We develop honest and meaningful relationships.  We do not get frazzled or whipped into a frenzy anymore, and as our efforts are put into meaningful things rather than selfish gratification we begin to build a meaningful legacy.  Yes, we see the benefits clearly, but getting into and staying in the zone is much easier said than done.

     There are a few common things that inhibit us.  The first one is the fact that we often react to things – completely forgetting to just pause and ask for intuitive guidance.  In fact, sometimes it seems we have a “built-in” forgetter.   The best thing to combat this is a good morning routine and evening routine that we do not let slip by.  In the morning we set the tone for the day, reminding ourselves that things will go far better if we get our ego out of the way today.  In the evening, we review events and look where we fell short.  In this way things do not build up and slowly drag us down.

     Another common problem is projection.   We ask for and follow guidance, and amazing things start to happen.  We become so pleased with things that decide we have figured out where things are going and we take control of the situation.  The next thing we know everything is falling apart and we can’t figure out why.  This is compounded by the fact that we seem to be slow learners – we can make this mistake time after time, resolve that we are not going to do it again and yet when the next occasion arises we are as quick as ever to start taking credit for the ideas we were given, projecting the direction things are going and then developing expectations of the outcome of the efforts.  Once again, the best antidote is a routine where we force ourselves back to our intuitive baseline regularly – whether we think we need it or not.

     And the third of the most common is just plain old rebellion.  Often we want what we want and we want it right now, and will sacrifice much greater things in order to get our way.  Our ego dies hard and flares back to life in a flash.  If we have spiritual people we make ourselves accountable to, we are likely to get cued in to when we are getting off track much more quickly.   But it always comes back to the same thing – am I doing what I am supposed to be doing right now?  If I don’t know what I should be doing, have I paused and sought guidance?  It sounds simple on paper, but it takes constant diligence to stay close to the zone.   The rewards are certainly there, and what will we do today?  What are we doing this moment?  A moment at a time, a day at a time we alone determine what path we travel.

Today, may I keep God near.

Happy Thursday !!

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Wanna start something? Meditation for 7/9/14

“Any fool can start or perpetuate conflict, but only genius can wage peace.”  -  Anon

“Be the change you want to see.”  - Ghandi

    What does it take to start a conflict?  What does it take to perpetuate conflict?  Any of us beat the drums of war both on the global scale as well as the individual scale – the two do seem to go together.   How much intelligence does it take to expound upon the differences between ourselves and others?  How much courage does it take to send other people’s children into the mind and bone crushing juggernaut of mechanized war?   How much integrity is involved in whispering behind the scenes about our neighbor’s shortcomings?  We all have this capability – this capacity to wage hostility.  Is the one who is happy to just perpetuate the conflicts he has already engaged in any better than the one who wants additional new conflicts as well?   Compelling arguments can be made that both are cowards and fools, but does that attitude not just increase the volume of poison that is being spewed about?

     When an individual awakens to their true spiritual nature, the world no longer is a hostile place.  Primitive irrational fear-based actions diminish and are gradually replaced with actions rooted in faith, love and wisdom.  This is all great, but we still have to live in the anxiety riddled world we are in without despairing. 

     Perhaps we cannot change the world, but we can certainly exhibit the behaviors that represent the changes we would like to see.  And this requires true courage, intellect, prudence, wisdom and faith.   We can choose to be a channel of peace, but it is a decision that we must make and stick to.  Can we call the gossip on their behavior in a way that encourages them to behave differently?  Can we work to seek common ground for opposing groups that chafe at each other in our own neighborhood?  Can we resist the temptation to pre-judge and label when the war mongers work to profit by whipping up conflict on the international level?  We have that choice every day – do we engage in the cowardice of divisive behaviors or do we work to be a channel of peace?  Waging peace is a much taller order than creating strife, but it is the only path to integrity and valor.

Today, may I seek harmony  

Happy Wednesday !!

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