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Echoes of Life – A Melody In The Making


Self_ImageAdmittedly, the vast majority of our life is unavoidably spent focusing inwardly, as we plan, perform, procrastinate and hopefully, pray.  Reflection, however, can be an amazingly powerful and insightful activity to spur personal growth, if revisited on a frequent and regular basis; and if conducted in an authentic and candid fashion.  It provides that “out of body” experience which enables us to see ourselves in the 3rd person, from the outside looking in.

“Just as you utilize and reference a map during a long trip; first, to plan your way and then, to monitor your travels toward your destination of choice, the “art” of reflection can serve as a life echo, if you will, a sounding board, which will, when attended, reveal much about who you are at this instant, as well as who you were yesterday, last year, as a child… and most importantly, who you are becoming and will be tomorrow, next year and ultimately, when your horizon meets the sky.”

To be sure, reflection has the potential to be painful, yet equally, it can be breathtaking, refreshing, satisfying and revealing; if we have the Destiny_1courage to send out that call and then, wait for the echoes of our life to speak to us and reveal who we truly are; at the spiritual level.

Reflection is a pervasive thing in our world.  We keep track of the score in sports, our bank account, the gas in our vehicles, the clothes in our closets, the color of our hair.  We are obsessed with constantly working to improve our (physical/mortal) self, while primarily paying lip service to our spiritual life and soul.  Even more ironic, is the realization that our soul is eternal, whereas our human lives are temporary.  One would think our priorities should be reversed, yes?

And this is precisely where reflection can aid us in correctly setting those priorities.  Just keep in mind, it won’t always be pleasant because we are imperfect beings.  However, we are immortal souls and reality founded in faith is the medicine we need to survive post-death.  Yes, forever is a long, long, long time.   Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated it best, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”.

compass_mapTake the time to plan for reflection in your life.  It may seem unnecessary, perhaps even a bit dry, however, if it is, then so is your life.  The benefits far outweigh the time spent.  Your spiritual self will thank you; anxiety, worry and stress will flee your mind like leaves blowing in a strong fall wind.  You will love yourself more, respect others more, know yourself better.  Great medicine, if we will only be brave enough to take it.

Remember, Without Winter, there can be no Spring.  Be well.

The Second Amendment of the Soul


we the peopleOver the past several years, there has been an increasingly vocal “voice” across the web and in the media regarding the importance of the United States Constitution, specifically, the Second Amendment.  For those unfamiliar with the Constitution, the Second Amendment represents the Right of American citizens to “Keep and Bear Arms” and likewise, protect your physical body from injury and/or violence.

“In much the same fashion, and in light of  similar attacks upon Christianity, I offer that there is also a Second Amendment of the Soul, which acknowledges that every human being has the Right to ‘Keep and Bear Faith’ in an unencumbered fashion, and to protect their Spiritual Body against a Tyrannical Government, Society and Evil forces.”shield-of-faith

Throughout time, Christianity has been persecuted by others, out of hate, jealousy, contempt or fear.  People are largely uncomfortable addressing subjects and issues they can not touch, directly see or explain.  Faith is a very personal subject and indeed, many do not even possess a complete awareness of their own beliefs about it.

Yet, as difficult as it is to contemplate faith, eternal life, and an omnipotent God, it is likewise critically important for all of us to come to grips with it at a personal level.  Self-awareness refines and strengthens our core values and beliefs and subsequently, reflects in our thoughts, actions and behaviors with and toward others.

Some of us prefer to deal with faith in a “concealed carry” fashion, holding it ever so closely within our hearts and resisting, even avoiding discussion or dialogue about it with others.  And for many others, we willfully choose to “open carry” our faith for all to see.

Regardless, however, of the method we manage our faith, one thing is certain; each of us has the God-given right to believe and practice whatever faith we choose/commit our lives to witness, so long as doing that does not harm others or adversely impact the world around us.

BelieveProtection of our faith, at all costs, is an unalienable right, and must be treated as such.  Faith defines much more than the book we read, the worship location we attend and the behaviors we choose to exhibit.  Faith encompasses our very reason for existence, our foundational values as human beings and our being into the future; as in eternal life.

Personally, both the (physical) constitutional Second Amendment and the (spiritual) Second Amendment of the Soul represent my most empirical philosophy of life and accordingly, receive my utmost attention regarding my life and how I choose to live it in this world.

As Alexander Hamilton so succinctly stated, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.  I prefer to stand and determine my own future in this world, guided by God, while preparing for the next life, following my faith as a Christian.

Bottom line, Government and Faith are Inextricably Intertwined…  And logic dictates that the basis of Law must be Morality… and the basis of Morality is Faith in God’s Law.

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Parallel Paths – The Intersection of Life and Death


Ying_Yang_2From childhood and on throughout our lives, we develop and maintain the mindset that life and death are mutually exclusive states.  I’m here to tell you that they not only coexist, yet further, simultaneously exist in each of us.

“The moment we are born, we begin dying and the only thing we control is to what extent we live while we are breathing.  Death has this context of inevitable finality about it, yet it is exclusively a result of not knowing anything about it; or worse, being unwilling to learn its nature and invite it into our lives, so we can better prepare for it.”

Each of us have friends, family, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and yes, pets, that have ceased to live, yet are Destiny_1vibrantly alive in our memories.  We create this righteous attitude of sorrow for their death, yet in reality, the sorrow we create is selfishly directed at OUR loss, not theirs.

Likewise, we are very good at identifying the right things to say to our loved ones, but only AFTER they cease to live, as we know it.  The challenge, you see, is to identify these right things to say, and then say them, to these special lives, while they are still breathing!

And life goes on, with new life being created and existing life exiting this place we call our world.   Beings coming and going, sometimes intersecting with others, at other times, traveling alone; much like molecules bumping into each other in a chemistry beaker.

And as random and insignificant as life sometimes appears to us, it is truly, so very special, so magnificent and such a gift that it behooves us to celebrate it with every breath we take in, lest it be our last.

LightningThe world today contains so many distractions, from life, from our spirit and soul, from each other and from God.  Yes, at times we need that bolt of lightning to remind us of our priorities.  Consider this article that little nudge to refocus your priority list, rekindle that spark and zest for living, remember to smile and greet everyone you encounter with goodwill, and lastly, to revive your gratitude for the gift of life you are enjoying as you read this.

Yes, much like the tracks that we know with certainty are parallel, we Railroad_Tracks_Convergeequally know as life embraces death, the tracks converge and eventually intersect, transporting our spirit into eternity, anxiously reconnecting with all those vibrant memories which then become our new reality.

You see, we’ve got it all wrong.  Death is but a door, a transformation of energy and a portal to our future.  It is not to be feared, but importantly, prepared for and anticipated.  Until then, live with passion and practice compassion for others; live your conscience and Look for the Good.  I’ll be watching.

 

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If My Soul Could Speak


Gary Alan Nelson

Gary Alan Nelson

In the whispers of majestic White Pine trees as brisk gusts of wind caress their soft needles, one can hear the breath of a baby, the admonition of an elder, and even the sails of a schooner on the open sea.  Indeed, we utilize our imagination in many ways, yet when presented situations like this, rarely do we explain what we hear as imaginary.

Our senses translate and perceive what we hear as Real, moreover, as Meaningful.  When one believes there are no coincidences in life, such as this writer, many occurrences and experiences in life hold special, specific or significant meaning and can be associated with events of our past, symbols of our future and warnings of potential danger ahead.

Imagine, then, what one might hear if my soul could speak!  It may tell of faded memories of family who’ve passed on, or fears of my childhood, or the dreams of a righteous father for his children.  Without question, however, my soul would speak of Truth, of Gratitude, of Humility and Perseverance of Faith.  And it would definitely speak of the Glory of God and the unimaginable beauty, peace and love of something known only as heaven.

My soul, you see, is my conscience that guides my thoughts and actions, that inner voice that

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

reminds me of the “right” things to do.  It is my “true north” as I travel through life, it is the supportive embrace that comforts me in times of need.  Most importantly, it is my Voice to the world by my actions, interactions, intentions, hopes and dreams.  It defines me to others and protects me as I journey toward eternity.

“My soul is the essence of Who I am, how I think, what I believe and the “rules” I follow as I grow throughout my earthly life and existence.  It is my reference point for every thought I create, my cookbook for this recipe called humanity.  As you’ve undoubtedly read and heard many times, my soul is my Alpha and Omega, my personal universe.  And ultimately, my soul is what remains when my physical vessel can pulse no more.”

I believe the soul is inextricably connected to our physical bodies until that moment of separation that occurs throughout the death process.  The soul is pure energy that is encapsulated within our bodies and then peels away and vaporizes into yet another form of energy as our spirit lives on at death.

Death_Ascension_Spirit

Spirit and Soul

You see, I’ve witnessed first hand and experienced so many occurrences and situations that I simply could not logically explain, other than being the direct result of some divine intervention, whether a guardian angel’s influence or perhaps the actual embrace of God upon my life.  Experiences that resonate of goodness and godliness, that indelibly mark my soul as witness and testimony to the “Truth”.

So, in the whispers of majestic White Pine trees as brisk gusts of wind caress their soft needles, listen attentively and you will hear the drama, joy and deliverance of your life, and perhaps others lives.  And make no mistake, it is anything but your imagination at work, but rather, the voices of angels and divine feedback from numerous dimensions of magnitude above what we know as human life.

In those moments of truth, make sure you search for the essence of your being, the path you are travelling and the destination at which your physical life will ultimately arrive.  I ask that age-old and classic, yet oh so relevant of questions…..  WHO ARE YOU?

Be well.

Beware Of Darkness!


Van_Gogh_Starry_Night

Van Gogh – The Starry Night

There is no doubt that many of us have witnessed evil in our lifetimes.  Evil is so hideous, in fact, it leaves long-lasting memories, perhaps better called nightmares, with anyone that has experienced its realm.

Like being “broke”, however, in the financial sense, evil really does not exist as an entity.  It is what remains when Truth and Light are removed.  More aptly, evil is a vacuum, it is the unwanted, unattractive filth that remains in the absence of God.

When a person is in financial straits, we say he/she is broke.  In reality, however, being broke is the vacuum that is created when one loses their financial wealth.

“And so it is with darkness.  Darkness is not anything tangible that you can touch, measure or quantify.  What we experience as darkness is merely and simply, the absence of light.  Darkness can assume many different forms in life; it can be violence, it can be hopelessness, it can be fear and despair.  At its foundation, the common denominator that defines darkness and enables it to be experienced, is the absence of God”.

Similarly, light can manifest itself in people in many ways.  Light can be reflected by the words a person speaks, the facial gestures thatTree_Shadow indicate compassion (smile, caring, joy, empathy; yes, even tears), the behaviors that demonstrate and witness the goodness, humility, peace and forgiveness of God.  Notably, the presence of God is evidenced by Love.  Where there is love, there is God.

Light is fueled by noble, positive and caring thoughts, actions and attitude/demeanor.  Each of us creates Positive Energy by choice.  It’s all about “intent”.  It’s how we choose to think, act and importantly, react.  Each of us is responsible for our actions.  Each of us is likewise accountable for those actions.

Without ever really knowing it, we have become conditioned since birth to associate evil with darkness.  Fears of going down into the dark basement; anxiety of walking alone down a dimly or eerily lit block at dusk; frantically searching for a flashlight or candle when the power goes out at home.  Whether these examples truly reflect evil is not the point, the point is that darkness creates fear as darkness equates with evil.

Waterfall_SunshineNow then, how does one go about confronting something that really does not exist?  Easy!  Evil (darkness) is confronted and vanished by Light (positive thoughts and actions, optimism, morally-based behavior, decisions and intent).  Core values steeped in moral and ethical behavior, worked over time into the creation of habits; the anticipation of positive events in life that directly impact each of us; gratitude, humility and faith for the good things when they do occur.  This is the foundation of Light and Truth.  It it the Invitation for God to enter our soul and enrich us as human beings, it is our fate; if we so choose it.

As complex as reality and the human condition have become, when we wade through the murky water of life and relationships, it all boils down to the fundamental concept of Darkness and Light.  How wise is God to have chosen this simple yet effective metaphor to illustrate who He is and what He desires for each of us?

One thing that is paramount in life is that details matter, down to the most minute and up to the most obvious.  To walk in the Light, we must be ever so vigilant to take notice and deliberately choose all our thoughts, words, actions, relationships, behaviors, etc., so that they align, support and yield the results we intend, for ourselves and for those we influence.

Christ-the-Redeemer-overlooking-Rio-De-Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer – Rio De Janeiro

There is indeed a real sense of responsibility, accountability and impact each of us must accept as Christians.  Being a Christian is not analogous to a light switch, where we consciously turn it on and off.  Like life itself, breathing and our heart beat; it must be continuous for it to work as intended.

In the future, make sure to remember that every little thought, decision, action, intention and influence we create is like that small ripple in the water that is created when a stone is tossed into a lake; from the point of entry, a small wave begins and travels outward forever, impacting everything in its path.  Let’s make each of those interactions we create with others, positive and well-intended.

With absolute certainty, those actions, like the boomerang, inevitably return to us in due time.  Remember, All Things Must Pass.  Be well.

 

Reflection – The Spiritual Selfie of Your Soul


Bullet-on-Air-WallpaperWhen a bullet is fired from a gun, its trajectory is determined primarily by the skill and aim of the person shooting it, and a bit less by the physics and mechanics of the firearm, i.e., inertia, wind, grains in the slug, caliber of the firearm, etc.  Consequently, the degree of success that is realized by the bullet as it hits its intended target is one of repetition, focus and technique.

The same logic applies to our lives.  In finance, we regularly review our investments and insurance to determine if we are “on target”, realizing expected benefits and whether any changes are necessary.  In our homes, we regularly review the condition and level of maintenance required to maintain the foundation, exterior and related surroundings.  In our jobs, we regularly review our level of satisfaction and accomplishment, along with our compensation.

Collectively, in most aspects of our physical lives, we recognize, value and act upon the need to regularly assess various aspects of it; all with the end-game of leveraging our success, objectives and “happiness”.happiness

In the larger mosaic of our spiritual and eternal lives, which, by the way, are astronomically greater in importance than our physical lives, most of us pay precious little attention and time to the care and feeding of our spirit and soul.  Enter reflection.

“Reflection is little more than a feedback mechanism, however, it not only provides valuable information, it stimulates further and deeper analysis and thought, and it sharpens our spiritual focus and technique; and exactly like any physical accomplishment, improves with repetition.”

The proverbial Elephant in the Room, then, is poignantly, “Why do we not spend more time reflecting on our spiritual being?”  As essential to our true well-being as an awakened, aware and sensitive soul has proven, it is largely neglected by most people in a chronic fashion.  It is in effect, treated like a pair of socks that are stuffed into our dresser drawer and closed, only to be opened when the drawer requires cleaning or in the event we are searching for an item we cannot find.

diamonds-sparkleReflection, is that Spiritual Selfie that should be as popular and recognizable as the selfie on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.  It can be distilled down to core values, priorities, initiative and responsibility.  Much like our personality and character are developed in waves or a building block scenario, our souls likewise develop and mature via focus, technique and repetition; the precise outcome of reflection.

Let’s reflect on that for more than a moment, shall we?

Life is complex.  Let your inner Light illuminate the world.  Choose to be who you are meant to be inside.  You are Beautiful!   Be well.

One last question….  Who Are You?

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Letting the Light In – Achieving Personal Harmony


beautiful_forest_scenery-wallpaper-1366x768If you’re like most people, there have been times in your life when you noticed or had the feeling that something was just not right.  Has this happened to you?  In truth, all of us at times, struggle with attempting to figure out the source of that uneasiness and become frustrated when we simply can’t place our finger on it.

Scenarios like this occur as a result of a misalignment between our inner core values as human beings and our resulting or reactive behaviors, words and thoughts.  Indeed, it may be the classic struggle between good and evil playing out in our lives.  Or, it may empirically represent when we fail to live our unique values within our souls.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with going through these experiences.  To the contrary, they serve as indicators to alert us that our love-lifethoughts and actions have wandered off the path of our soul and only serve to move us away from who we truly are and who we will become.  Worthy of note, the most essential aspect of these moments in life is that we recognize when they occur and acknowledge what they are based upon.

And you know it comes back to faith; it’s presence, influence, acknowledgement and its truth.  Society has conditioned and encouraged us to equate having faith to being damaged, to being weak…  and that is simply wrong.   I ask, how can denying our inner values and feelings be wrong?  It is not.  In Truth, inner strength is all about leveraging the alignment of values and actions.

The most exhilarating and liberating feeling in the world comes as a result of consciously (and by choice) thinking and acting in alignment and harmony with our soul; the essence of who we are.

“And this balance is not limited to our minds, but extends to include our bodies as well as our physical, emotional and psychological health; it can best be described as a musical instrument being perfectly tuned and playing an epic symphony.”

Ying_Yang_2Faith and prayer reflect our ability to understand, communicate and ultimately like who we see in the mirror each morning as we begin each day anew.   Listen to the voices in your mind, accept the goodness of who you are, choose to think and act in support of your spirit, seek Love.  Then, and only then, will alignment and harmony exist in your life and consequently produce/create peace, love and joy.

Feel the warmth, relish the peace and experience the harmony of life.  Be yourself; Let the Light In; Experience the ultimate symphony.

My Amazing Life is… Not in Vein


You knew it was coming and the only question is when it will be available…

Not_In_Vein_Cover

I am (still) writing my first book, a memoir, spiritual journey and personal manifesto of sorts.  It strips away all of the brain matter, the personality, the education, the knowledge and life experiences, to reveal why it is important for all of us to know who we are at our most intimate core.

Not in Vein – Miracle within my Soul

It is literally the “bright light at the end of the tunnel” and it presents all those questions, ideas and challenges that are worth and deserve exploring as human beings, or perhaps those that should be considered “required reading”.

I hope you enjoy it and benefit from it.  Just maybe, it will spark the fire within you to journey for the answer to the most critical question of your Life; “What does it mean to be Me?” or perchance, “What does it empirically mean to Be?”

Profound questions don’t always require complex answers…  Perhaps it can be as simple as acknowledgement, acceptance and gratitude.

As my book develops, I’ll be offering portions of it for you to visually and philosophically consume.  And, by all means, do not hesitate to ask me questions, extend your comments, ideas and suggestions and most importantly, your support!

I hope you “Like” it…  Be well.

Michael

ps. If my soul were a song, it would be perfectly captured by this masterpiece as performed by the late John Denver on his blockbuster album “Rocky Mountain High” in 1972.  The song is entitled “Late Winter – Early Spring“.  It was the fourth “spoke” in a five-part wheel of the Cycle of Life as depicted by the seasons; Summer, Fall, Winter, Late Winter – Early Spring, and Spring.   Peace.

Casting Off the Layers


As I contemplate my life today, a visual presented itself to me as an allegory illustrating our tendencies as human beings, along with the defense mechanisms we have created to retain our sanity, focus and understanding of this precious thing we call Life.

Grand Canyon National ParkI see the epic perceived age of our planet, with strata of sediment that have accumulated as the seasons, years, storms and epochs have weathered the Earth into a resilient mass of life.  All the while, doing so quietly, steadfastly, powerfully and yet helplessly and in a seemingly suspended manner when viewed through a divine or universal lens.

I discover the age of a grand Red Pine by counting the rings that emanate from the core of its trunk.

I feel the warmth of life retained in my body as a result of the layers of garments I have chosen to wear to protect my health.

I taste the gratifying and succulent flavor of an onion in the meal I’ve prepared to nourish and maintain my existence as I peel back and Onion_Layersoff the intelligently designed covers that signify growth, evolution and protection.

I hear the endless scale of sounds ranging from a single shrill call of a hawk, to the melody of the wind as it caresses and envelops the pine trees that adorn the landscape of my yard, to the vibrant and piercing claps of thunder as spring waltzes into season like a ballet dancer, to the unmistakable whir of the chopper blades as they support and carry a critically injured child of God to the trauma center at the local hospital.

Grief_LossI experience the humor of friends, family and acquaintances as they attempt to diffuse the stress of everyday life or mask a hurting or healing heart and restore it to its caring and loving nature.

I empathize with the anger of the sons, daughters, brothers and sisters as they attempt to rationalize, comprehend and accept the untimely or tragic death of a loved one.

I touch the lives of those around me by my attitude, demeanor, emotions, behavior, words and most importantly, intent.

And in contemplating these facets of existence characteristic of human life, I have come to realize that regardless of the situation or context of the many types of layers each of us encounters and more importantly, creates in our unique and special journeys toward Eternal Life, the common denominator present with every condition is the essence of what lies at the center of it all; our spirit and soul.

Our being and consciousness incomparably defines us to each other and incomprehensibly, to ourselves.  This fact alone guarantees Finger_Lifeand unequivocally demonstrates that life is not an accident, random occurrence or mutation that has evolved from some primordial organism.

Rather, life is not an entity, but a robust and magnificent continuum of energy with no beginning nor end and witnessed simply as it transforms from one state to another, forever in eternity.

Be well today.

 

Miracle Within My Soul – The Eighth Sense


chrysthanthemumsWhen I was a child, there was nothing that interested, pleased and occupied me more than appreciating the world that immersed me via my core senses.  My path was one of appreciating the visual beauty of a vase of daisies, chrysthanthemums (mums), azaleas and african violets.

I reveled in listening to the soothing sound of a warm summer breeze, yet equally enjoyed a boisterous thunderstorm, or that unmistakable ring of the oven timer, letting me know my mom’s tuna noodle casserole was ready to be devoured.

The pleasant aroma of a fresh rain against the sidewalk and the intense and sweet bouquet of our backyard lilac shrub tickled and motivated my senses like a piercing ray of spring sunshine.  Contrarily, the musty and damp fragrance of my camping tent during a weekend with my fellow Boy Scouts after an overnight deluge, seemed to stick in my nostrils far longer than invited.

During my middle and high school days, I took refuge in metal works, woodworking and learning to repair cars, leveraging the fine motor skills, sensitive dexterity and muscle control I had developed during my youth to effectively create, fix and add/refine beauty as I knew it to the world around me.

Most likely as a result of my mom’s cooking and baking talents, I savored her oh so special Bread Pudding, Cream of Potato Soup, Pancakes and especially our family’s traditional Baked Ham after midnight mass on Christmas Eve as we Walleyed_Pike_Dinnershared opening the gifts under the  Christmas Tree.  Likewise, having been born into a family of fishermen, the unique and full of texture pan-fried walleyed pike and lake perch still excite me to this day as delicacies to be thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.

As an understatement, my life has been blessed with positive and pleasant experiences of the use, development and appreciation for all of the physical senses I have come to know and depend upon.  Yet, the true treasure and fulfilling experiences I have come to know, cherish and protectively guard in my extensive adult life, cause my physical senses to pale in contrast to them.

body soul spiritSpecifically, I refer to these additional senses as my “Trinity of Truth”.  They include my Mind (I like to call it my mantuition), my Body (health, strength, equilibrium and balance) and most notable and essential, my Soul (faith, conscience, duty to God).

Together and collectively as an orchestra playing a symphony, these eight senses empower my spirit to learn, flourish, help others and allow me to passionately and deliberately live and use my Life as an offering of sorts to give glory to my creator in anticipation (and full expectation) of the eternal life that awaits me when I approach, greet and ultimately pass through “death’s door”.

Let me make one thing crystal clear: I AM READY.  Are you?  Be well.

 

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