Effective Listening

Just as peace is more than just the absence of war, effective listening is more than simply eschewing the bad habit of interrupting others or anxiously awaiting an opportunity to make your point.

Effective listening involves being at rest while another speaks – until they have completed their thought – and allowing the spirit which infuses their words to be acknowledged. It is an active process of abiding which respectfully allows the truth in another to be recognized.

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus

Autumn is such a wonderful season, such a beautiful time of the year. It’s baskets are filled with the rich and deep hues that declare the mellow musings of nature’s soul. Autumn is a time of reflection, like that special time in the evening when the air is stilled, the birds are hushed, and the colorful leaves are doubled in the mirror of a quiet pond.

There is an autumn in every year, and autumn in every lifetime, an autumn in every day. If you bemoan the autumn, either out of dismay at the passing summer or dread of the coming winter, you will miss the fact that every autumn is in fact “a second spring” where “every leaf is a flower.”

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Light and Love

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Whether you talk about wars between nations or petty arguments between people, the truth of the matter is that only light and love can remedy the situation at its core. Any other approach does little more than alleviate the symptoms.

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“Poems of Friendship, Early Friendship” by Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

The half-seen memories of childish days,
When pains and pleasures lightly came and went;
The sympathies of boyhood rashly spent
In fearful wanderings through forbidden ways;
The vague, but manly wish to tread the maze
Of life to noble ends,—whereon intent,
Asking to know for what man here is sent,
The bravest heart must often pause, and gaze;
The firm resolve to seek the chosen end
Of manhood’s judgment, cautious and mature,—
Each of these viewless bonds binds friend to friend
With strength no selfish purpose can secure:
My happy lot is this, that all attend
That friendship which first came, and which shall last endure.

When I think of the opportunity my sons have to remain life-long friends, I cannot help but think of my own brothers, and the privilege of the enduring friendship I have shared with them through the years. Friendship matures, as individuals do. If nurtured over time, friendship evolves and becomes more resilient, especially if it is constantly buttressed by compassion and forgiveness.

Friendship is one of the primary means by which invisible, formless virtue is given visible, tangible form. In religious terminology, it is a primary channel through which the things of heaven manifest on earth. In other words, it is a vital mechanism for the the will of God (which is, in essence, love conditioned by truth) to be done in earth, as it is in heaven.


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Eternal Peace

Living in this world is not always easy. Life is navigation. Courses are charted by decisions. Everyone makes them. No one can escape them.

Nevertheless there is peace in the midst of life, for each and every one. But peace must be chosen. It must be declared boldly in the face of great challenges, against the tide of human misery, the agony of defeat.

What will you say to your world today? How will you greet it? Bowed and bent or erect and dignified? Rise up, dear readers, rise up!

“In Salutation to the Eternal Peace” – Sarojini Nayadu

Men say the world is full of fear and hate,
And all life’s ripening harvest-fields await
The restless sickle of relentless fate.

But I, sweet Soul, rejoice that I was born,
When from the climbing terraces of corn
I watch the golden orioles of Thy morn.

What care I for the world’s desire and pride,
Who know the silver wings that gleam and glide,
The homing pigeons of Thine eventide?

What care I for the world’s loud weariness,
Who dream in twilight granaries Thou dost bless
With delicate sheaves of mellow silences?

Say, shall I heed dull presages of doom,
Or dread the rumoured loneliness and gloom,
The mute and mythic terror of the tomb?

For my glad heart is drunk and drenched with Thee,
O inmost wine of living ecstasy!
O intimate essence of eternity!

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“Dewdrops”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

Dewdrops on the grass
Dangling in the first light―
Like the poet’s verse.

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