Saturday, December 15, 2012

For The Little Ones



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Breathing In Advent

First of all, like I just wrote to your cousin Lily, sorry for not writing for a while. It happens.

We spent Thanksgiving at your house Alice, watching you enjoy your new deck and backyard and all the holiday lights your daddy hung up.
And now here it is the beginning of the second week of the Advent season.
Sometimes I find myself measuring my life in seasons in the since of waiting for the next holiday this or holiday that. I guess it is the kid in me filled with expectations but now days it's more the grandfather, expecting the next visit with my grandchildren.

But there is also a part of me which knows that everyday is a holiday if we pay attention to this life we are given.

Learning to just breath in this day, this hour, this moment. Recognizing the holiness of each season of my breathing in and breathing out.

Seasons are important Alice. Holiday seasons tend to point to what matters.

It would be really nice to have the discipline to recognize every day and every breath as a holiday, as a holy day, as a holiday breath, as a holy day breath.

That takes a lot of practice.

Breath deeply the seasons of your life Alice.

And remember, seasons come and go, just like your breath.

So pay attention.
Advent II 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Are You Looking For And Where Do You Find It?

I had a conversation with my Zen teacher this morning via email. I told him I thought I was going to take a vow soon to "not read any books for three months". I spend a lot of time reading Alice. Now that is not a bad thing but there comes a time when what you are looking for in the "spiritual life" (and all life is spiritual Alice) cannot be found in a book. Now this is not some new revelation for me. I have known this for quite sometime. But every now and then I have to remind myself again.

I think what is to be found is actually closer to me than I am to myself.
Here is part of my teacher's response to me. It was given in the form of a Zen poem:

sick of names
sick of whatever it's called,
I dedicate every pour to what's here now.

- Ikkyu

And I think it's found in silence, solitude, community, joy, pain, suffering, and maybe even in that dirt you are looking at in the above picture.
It's ironic, the thing I am looking for I really can't get away from.
So why look?
Maybe because that is the only way we will ever truly SEE!

What does that "looking" look like?

Come ask me some day and I will show you.

And then we can talk about what "it" is that we are looking for.

Yeah, I know, this all seems a little mysterious.

Don't you just love a good mystery!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God, Grampa and Boxes

The last time we were together you decided to put me in a box. No problem.

You can put me in a box,
And you can take my socks,
I’m your Grampa.
You can put me in a box,
And you can make me eat lox.
I’m your Grampa.
You can put me in a box,
And even take my crocks,
I’m your Grampa.
You can put me in a box,
And fill it with rocks,
I'm your Grampa.
But never, ever, ever, ever, ever
Put God in a box!
God is spirit,
(is that a word? It is now.)
Bigger than you,
Bigger than me,
Bigger than any box!
And that’s a good thing.
Love you,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Sometimes in caring for another human being, no words are needed, just a heart to heart hug can make all the difference in the world.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation where one of your friends or family members is really hurting and you say to yourself, "I have no idea what to say!", that just may be the very time only a heart to heart hug is needed.

Words quite often get in the way, as much as I like them.

From my heart to yours Circus Girl!!

Thanks for the hug!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Circus Circuit?

Seems you have been on the road quite a bit lately, down to the beach and this past weekend up in the mountains. If you ever do runaway and join the circus, the traveling should come easy for you. Your adjustment skills are marvelous.

I pray you always get to go where you want to go. But if life ever decides to take you to a place you would rather not be,  try not to get hooked into being  a victim in that. Just try to learn something from it. And as soo  as you can, change directions and move on.

Like I said, you seem to have great adjustment skills. Don't you forget about that gift.

I love you Alice!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Let Your Life Be A Dance Alice

Sometimes Alice, I just need to let  your life speak. 
What could Grampa possibly add to this!

The Dancing Queen!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

In Between Places

There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes


Look for this "Way" Alice.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Do You Call Me Circus Girl Grampa?

So I anticipate some day you may ask me why I call you circus girl. 
Well, for one thing you are always putting on a show; dancing in circles, climbing up stairs, sitting in boxes, standing in boxes and oh yes, running away somewhere all by your lonesome. 

You seem to be quite the adventurous spirit Alice. 

But will you promise to do Grampa one little favor? 

It seems you got all the above scrapes and bruises on one of your "running away somewhere" events.

Be careful Alice. Please?

But don't you ever lose that circus girl spirit you have!
And don't you ever let me try to stifle that spirit because of my own fears!

You are the Circus Girl!

And Grampa loves you for that!

But please, be careful!

Love you,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On The Bench/Sitting This One Out

Sweet Alice,
There will be moments in your life when all you can do is sit on the bench and wait it out. This is not an easy thing to do. And from what I can tell about your spirit, it may be very difficult for you.

I would like to be able to say , "Don't worry about it, life is just a game" but life is not a game. 

Life is not about keeping score, life is not about winning and losing, life is not about being number one.

What is life about, you say?


Maybe part of life is about knowing when to sit one out so you can get a better perspective, rest your body, soul and spirit and realizing that being on the bench might be the best place at the time.

Maybe when life gets tough find a bench and sit it out for a while.
This is part of that silence, solitude, contemplative thing I alluded to last week.

Bench Prayer!
Why not?

Then get back in the game.

But it's not a game.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Descending To Get Where You Need To Be

Sweet Alice,
Your mom posted this picture with a title that said:

"Lessons In Descending".

As soon I saw that title I was moved to the spiritual meaning. 

You will find in your life that there are numerous lessons about "Ascending", making it to the top,

but there's not a lot "in the world" about "Descending".

What do I mean by Descending in a spiritual way?

One thing I mean is the work of dismantling your ego, moving from your head to your heart. It's a stripping away of all the conditioning that shapes us in our lives, all the conditioning that forms our sense of a self.  All of us who love you are doing that to your right now, in good ways and unintentionally in bad ways. Our wounds we give you are because we too are still working on this descending and dismantling. It's a life long process Alice and sometimes becoming parents and grandparents brings the best and the broken out of us.

This dismantling is a DESCENDING in spiritual terms. It is going to that place that Thomas Merton calls "the virgin point". That place were we see we are made in the image of God. It's what the Buddhist call "your original face before you where born". Paul Tillich my call that place "the ground of being".

So as you get caught up in this world's "ascending" (and you will), remember there is a way to be in this world and not of it. And if you begin that journey of DESCENDING,  you just might find your self "on top of the world". There are many paradoxes in the spiritual journey Alice.

How is this done?
Some hints: Silence, solitude, contemplation.

I will, if I haven't already, talk about these later.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Writing Matters

Here I sit,
Wanting to be a writer.
Not great novels
Of far away exotic adventures.
I just want to write to you about life.
I just want to write to you about what matters.
So many things don’t matter in this life. 
I don’t want you to get the things that don’t matter confused with the things that do matter.
So I am a writer,
Writing about the things that matter. 
I am your personal writer about the things that matter.
It may take you awhile to see what matters and why what matters, matters.
You may end up disagreeing with me about these things that matter.
That won’t necessarily be a bad thing. It means you are thinking for yourself.
But that does not mean that they don’t matter.
All I ask is that you give them some consideration.
With time you may see the matter of the things that matter.
I have said at times that nothing is permanent. I guess maybe that is a lie.
The things that matter, the things that really matter, permanent indeed!
You matter!
And don’t you ever forget that one!
Not because you are more special than anyone else.
We all matter. We just need to let go of the need to matter.
That will be when we matter the most.


Sunday, August 19, 2012


photo credit
Elinor Scott-Sutter


 Good poetry begins with the lightest touch, 
a breeze arriving from nowhere, 
a whispered healing arrival, 
a word in your ear, 
a settling into things, then, like a hand in the dark, 
it arrests the whole body, steeling you for revelation. 

In the silence that follows a great line, 
you can feel Lazarus, 
deep inside even the laziest,
 most deathly afraid part of you,
 lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

Whyte, David (2007-01-01). River Flow: New & Selected Poems (p. 136). Many Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.

Sweet Alice,
David Whyte is a recent discovery of mine. Read poetry Alice. Like he says in the one line:

"In the silence that follows a great line,
you can feel Lazarus,
deep inside even the laziest,
most deathly afraid part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

There are poems that speak to intimacy with "the lightest touch",
and there seems to me to be a great mystery about intimacy which wakes us up to the light that lives inside of us. In fact, maybe that experience of intimacy is the "Light" which lives in us.

Maybe I have said this already to you earlier but it is worth saying again,
"Read poetry Alice!"


Friday, August 10, 2012


Sweet Alice,
Many minutes, hours, days, weeks and months between us right now. As life would have it,  that is just the way things have been recently. And Grampa just has to sit with that. 
If we wanted to look at this thought from a spiritual perspective, it’s the spiritual discipline acceptance. Dealing with what unfolds in one’s life, instead of always trying to control everything. This may, at first, feel like a passive stance – just accepting- but learning the upaya (skillful means) of acceptance can become a very valuable spiritual tool because there is so much we don’t have control over anyway. 
Sitting with just what is…
No judgments
No opinions
No good
No bad
Just this
Something to ponder in your journey.
Love Grampa

Sunday, July 29, 2012


My thoughts to you today are simple but most important.

Make this man the most important man in your life until you say "I do".

Grampa and Big can be next in line, if you see fit!

Love you,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grampa Is Available Support

It has been four weeks since I have seen you. It's obvious that things are on the decline, according to the above picture. Please know that if you are in need of assistance you can give me a call. I will do what I can to make sure you have regular baths and regular meals. Oh, and clean clothes too.

But seriously, enjoy the freedom of just being who you are.
The time will come soon enough we you think you have to be what others want you to be.
That's when Grampa wants you to give him a call.
I can help with that one.

Love you Circus Girl,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Truth Is Truth...Where Ever You Find It

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
IN work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

From The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8; 
translation by stephen Mitchell

I don't know. What do you think?

Seems like one's whole life could be directed by such wisdom as given here.
I'm not real sure about how to interpret that first line but:

Nature, common sense, civility, authority, not power, find your passion, paying attention to what matters.

Here is another translation of that same verse:

In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In daily life, be competent.

Either way, seems these are words you could take to heart daily.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gramp's Poem

I've been reading and listening to poems this morning, so I wrote this just for you.

Would, that I could,
be a poet too,
spending my days, wording my love to you.
But I'm just a grampa,
Loving a granddaughter.
And what a great poem that is!

love you,


Saturday, June 30, 2012

It Never Dies...

In his book The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself To The Love You Need, Gerald May, in his very first chapter and first paragraph says:

There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake. It is the human desire for love. Every person on this earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire.

Wow Alice! 

Desire for Love! Never dies! Our reason for being! 

What is love Alice?

The scriptures say God is love!

What is God? Who is God?

God? Love?

Important questions to consider Alice.

Grampa, at 62, still considering, wondering...

A life times work...

Be patient Sweet Alice!

I love you!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Climbing Into Your Second Year


Please be careful!

I am now into my second year of writing to  you, and like your cousin Caroline, I will spend most of this second year offering quotes from things I am reading or have read and  a reflection on those quotes. In doing this I will also be sharing with you the people I read or have read, who have become spiritual mentors for me in some way. I pray there come a time we you can look at these words and do your on wondering about life, love and relationships.

And I pray you continue to be willing to position yourself in ways that will give you a unique perspective on your surroundings!

But please be careful!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grampa's Confession

Dear Precious Ladies in my life,
Grampa has spent the last ten days with both of you at the beach and I want to confess something.
I don’t know how to be with both of you at the same time. This is all new for me.
When I am with one of you I feel like I need to be with the other, so please be patient with me. But the truth is both of you could really care less who I am with and that’s a good thing right now.
Anyway, one thing is for sure, I have plenty of love to go around and will do the best to share that love with both of you every chance I get.
In the meantime, 
I love you both so much!!!
Your Grampa


Sweet Alice,

 Being with you this week at the beach has confirmed for me that somewhere in your ancestry there must be some gypsy blood. The reason I have come to this conclusion is that you never stay in one  place very long. You are always on the move circus girl! Grampa does has some Irish blood in his family line. Maybe you got a good dose, who knows.

"Not staying in one place" very long is not necessarily a bad thing. 
In fact, "staying in one place" all the time can close off your vision, both physically and spiritually.

 Of course it's good to have a place to call home, a place where your roots can grow deeply, a place you can always return to but:

 stepping over the fence, crossing the line, moving outside the box, even thinking outside the box, these are things which can open up whole new vistas for you.

So I don't mind that you don't stay in one place very long. 
Maybe it's a sign of a very curious mind, a mind which will be OPEN!

No Alice, you cannot walk across the ocean! At least I don't think you can.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Expressing Your True Self

(google images)
Lala and Grampa spent last weekend with you celebrating your first year of life. What a surprise when we arrived to find you sick with an ear infection!
But you were true to form again, remaining "The Circus Girl" even while battling a fever of over 101 degrees, raising your head when you could, trying as best you could,  offering a smile to whom ever would look your way.

What a wonderful teacher you were for all of us. Not having been conditioned to have a certain attitude at your very young age, you just letting things be what they were and making the best of what was, expressing your true form.

There's an old zen saying:

"Without any intentional fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself as you are, is the most important thing."

I pray you can carry that into the rest of your life. It is the truth that sets us free!

Happy Birthday (May 31)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

True To Form


This is the picture which was published on the very first blog I wrote to you on April 30, 2011. You were born five weeks later on your dad's birthday (now yours too), May 31, 2012.

Who would have known how "true to your form" this picture was to your vibrant physical self!

And now here you are getting ready to celebrate your very first birthday in just a few days, true to form, pushing a big pool across your deck all by yourself!

You are "The Circus Girl"!

Grampa just loves that about you!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Who Or What Are We

Looks like you have been working out in the gym Circus Girl! 
That's good and that's important. 
Physical attentiveness is part of a responsible spiritual life.

How we tend to our bodies says something about us being responsible human beings.

But the truth is WE ARE NOT OUR BODIES!

I'm not necessarily one to consult on this truth, because I am so "body conscious" at times that it probably becomes a therapy issue.
But I am aware of this sickness of mine. 
I would love to tell you that I have it all together but I don't.
Most everything I write to you comes out of my brokenness and not my wholeness.


 if we are not our bodies, who are we?

If we are not our bodies, what are we?

If we are not our thoughts, who are we?

If we are not our thoughts, what are we?

Answering these questions requires a lot of time in the spiritual gym!

Love you,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happiness vs Meaning

Ok Alice,
This is another one of those pictures of you that just arrests my heart.
In other words, I'm captured by it.

One big HAPPY FACE !

I pray there is much happiness in your life. 
But something to remember about 

Happiness is temporal. Happiness is passing. Happiness is something that happens in a moment of time, just like this moment of time snapped in your picture above.

It comes and goes.

And if you are only seeking "happiness" in your life, you will always be looking for the next "thing". And in the end you will have many moments of discontent.

May I encourage you first to seek meaning and you will discover something deep inside you that feels settled. Something that satiates the deepest part of you. That part made in the image of God.

Seek first the kingdom...which is not out there...but closer to you than you are to yourself Alice.

Some people describe it as the way your face looks like before your parents were born.

And it will make you smile, just like you are smiling in this picture!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Can Only Be Where You Are

"After all, his only goal has been to help his companions along the road to discover the treasure of their own lives right where they are, moment after moment, time and time again."
Roshi, Jakusho Kwong (2007-12-18). No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen (p. 20). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

One reason Grampa writes these little thoughts to you is summed up in the quote above. 

We can spend our lives always looking across the road, over the hill and even through a wrought iron fence, thinking, " there is where I need to be", when all along there is a profound treasure in your own life, right where you are.
Your life. Right where you are!
Look and see Alice!

Love you,

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Which one would you pick?

Grampa will always pick you beautiful Alice!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seeing Before Labeling

Dear Alice,
There's a spiritual teaching that talks about that moment when we see things without our minds labeling them. This is supposed to be an experience of pure reality. And I think an experience of being one with reality.
I kind of think it's like watching fireworks. When you have your first experience of fireworks, I think you will understand what I am getting at here.
Pay attention to the responses of those persons around you. All you will hear is "oooo", "ahhh", no words really, just people having the pure experience of something beautiful.

When I look at the above picture of you, I have a fireworks experience!
Pure Experience!
No words!

I love you Alice,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Moment In Time

Dear Alice,
Here you are looking and seeing with Lala.
What a precious moment this seems to me.

There are little opportunities like this happening around us all the time if we would simply take the time to look and see, like you and Lala are doing in this picture.

Teach us to look and see with you Alice. 
And when you become distracted by all the trappings in this life, take the time to look at this picture again.
And when you see me distracted, just say, "Remember the picture Grampa!"

May it bring us back to the now, to this moment, the only place where our real life is happening.

Look and see here! Right now!



Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Haiku For Both Of You

There's a story told
Of bunnies, eggs and strange things!
It happens in Spring!

Happy Easter Ladies!


Grampa found this bunny in his yard last night!