Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The balcony at opryland.

We enjoyed balcon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole. Streamlining was necessary due to the North Pole's loss of dominance of the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels and mail order catalogs have diminished Santa's market share. He could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated.. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press. I am pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated;

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked;

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order;

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded.. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one;

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement;

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line;

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals, and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing) action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.

*Thanks to Pastor Tim for this joke!*

Christmas 2009

Why is it that Christmas arrives so soon? It just seems to get faster every year, doesn't it. Only 3 more days. On the front page of newspapers it use to say, "ONLY 3 MORE DAYS TO CHRISTMAS." It doesn't say that anymore. Guess it is to costly to add another sentence.

Yes, I am thankful for Christmas. A couple of memorable ones: when I was 6 I ended up in the hospital for a couple of days with hypogycemia. Then there was a snow in 1986 that was memorable.

The first Christmas I really remember was when I got a RCA 5 tube radio and a pocket Bible. 1954 it was. Back then TV was not necessarily a happening. I can remember in 1951 watching a test pattern on the TV and it only came on at 4 pm in the afternoon and closed down by 10 at night. 100+ channels? You must be kidding.

This year was important. We went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. That was a memorable experience I will never forget for several reasons.

And having a grandson, Jack, has been fun. He likes to come to Grammy and Poppa's house and play with the animals ("fun animals").

And there are some tough times for some of my friends which breaks my heart but I don't know what to do about it. In some areas there are no jobs and no room in the inn. I still remember an anonymous check for $1000 which came one year when I had been unemployed for 9 months. It was so meaningful at that time. So, how do we bring hope to the hopeless? How can we really experience the joy of the Christmas time?

On my desk is a bell my mother brought got from Jerusalem. I ring it in memory of her. She died ten years ago tomorrow. That is something one does not forget. But there is thankfulness to for the life I have because of her and my Dad. That thanksgiving for what they gave me means more than anything.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


THURSDAY, December 10, 2009


Thomas Merton (Father Louis) entered the Abbey of Gethsemani on December 10, 1941. He died via an accident on December 10, 1968. This being the day most associated with him, we dedicate this day as a day of recollection, prayer, and renewal.

Everyone is welcome to join. Meditations associated with the Liturgy of the Hours will be a part of our reflections this day. Please feel free to add comments and words that our Lord might have spoken in your heart.

VIGILS - a time to anticipate the Coming of Christ

"The night, O My Lord, is a time of freedom. You have seen the morning and the night, and the night was better. In the night all things began, and in the night the end of all things has come before me.

Baptized in the rivers of night, Gethsemani has recovered her innocence. Darkness brings a semblance of order before all things disappear. It is my time to be the night watchman, in the house that will one day perish.

And here, now, by night, with this hugh clock ticking on my right hip and the flashlight in my hand and sneakers on my feet, I feel as if everything had been unreal. The things I thought were so important - because of the effort I put into them - have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered.

O God, my God, the night has values that day has never dreamed of. Now is the time to get up and go to the tower. Now is the time to meet You, God, where the night is wonderful."

Scripture for reflection: Psalms 47, 33, and 34

Thoughts to reflect upon:

1. What is the night like to you? Do you seek Christ? Do you find him?

2. What is God saying to you?

(Note: For me, the vigils hour is to pray for the most important items on my prayer list, so tonight I pray for those of us on the journey.)

THAT WE MAY BE STILL......How shall we really hear, O Lord? So many foolish things to fill our ear...Lead us to prayerful quiet...Cover us in a precious silence...Let solitude come and be our companion...Give us a stillness as the desert where You spent, sometimes, the whole night in prayer...let us come, even without images if that is possible for us...let us revel in the quietude...Let us bow down with all the angels in silence and in awe..."How majestic is Thy name in all creation." From Don Brennan

LAUDS - a time for greeting the dawn breaking upon the world of darkness.

"The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is "answered," it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God."

Scripture for reflection: Psalms 8, 90, and 92.

Thoughts to reflect upon:

1. What do you hear when the Sun rises in the east.

2. Where is the word of God in your life? Do you hear it?

(Note: For me, lauds is a time of thanksgiving for a new day and new life. A time of joy to see the sunrise.)

TERCE -- A time to pray for God's guidance during the day.

"Today would have been Thomas Merton's 68th year at the Abbey of Gethsemani if he were still alive. Wow. That is hard to imagine. He entered Gethsemani on December 10, 1941. He died December 10, 1968 at 53 years of age.

One of the things Merton and I have in common is the love of nature. Many times in his writings, especially in his journals, he will describe the beauty that surrounded him at Gethsemani.

As I prayed today's Morning Prayer, I couldn't help but to pick up on those verses from Psalm 8:"---=MORE AT THIS LINK --GREAT READ

1. Scripture - Ps. 8

2. Reflect on the beauty and opportunities for this day. Look at Abbeyphotographs while you meditate.


One of Merton's most interesting comments on prayer to me is: "What is
the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little
confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to
our prayer?"

As we pray today, may we be willing to believe, wait, and let God do
His work.

Reflection by Dan -- As I have read Bryan Sherwood's post many times this morning it has reminded me of the beauty of nature. The best Merton book about nature is from Kathleen Deignan titled When the Trees Say Nothing. Here is one of her quotes from Merton:

"Yesterday the first snow of the winter fell and last night before the Midnight Mass someone made me a furtive sign that it was snowing again. And so this morning is very beautiful, not because there is so much snow....nor is it beautiful because the sky is bright, for the sky is dark. But it is beautiful because of Christmas."

It is a beautiful day here in Tennessee. Sunny. Cold. A time of quiet to hear God's voice.

Thought: What is God saying to you in nature today?

SEXT-A time of rest and thankfulness

During the midday one spends moments in rest. Alan Creech has added his beautiful meditation. His picture of Merton is fabulous. LINK

From Wayne Burns

"I say over and over again: my prayers have no merit in themselves; nothing that is mine has any merit at all. If I had been praying all my life to become a Trappist, I would have no right to expect to become one -- no right to demand, as a return, that I be accepted by the Abbot!

Yet I fall on my face, in tears, and beg God that I may become a Trappist at all hours of the day, not because I think I deserve anything by that, but because I believe that if He wills, I can be admitted to the cloister -- even as soon as Christmas."

RUN TO THE MOUNTAIN THE JOURNALS OF THOMAS MERTON, Volume One 1939-1941,page 468. Merton wrote this on December 3, 1941.

From Father Patrick Collins

-Ah, the irony of it all...27 years years in the world and 27 years in the monastery - dying on the 27th anniversary of his entering to become one of Christ's "burnt men." Another irony is that I was the same age as Merton when he died - 53 - when I visited Gethsemani for the first time during Holy Week, 1991 - the 50th anniversary of Merton's first visit to Gethsemani himself...Ah, yes, coincidence, sychronicity, serendipity -GRACE


NONE - A Time of blessing

This morning I received a phone call from a person who lives approximately 15 miles from me who has just discovered Merton via my website 2 days ago. He offered to buy me lunch and we spent time talking about Contemplative Prayer, Merton, and whatever. It was a SURPRISE and a time of blessing that only God could have provided.

Scripture Reading: Psalms 85,72

Reflection: When was the last time God provided a surprise and blessing to you?


VESPERS - As the evening light casts a golden glow which illumines the landscape as if from within, the monk attends Vespers asking for forgiveness and healing from the days journey."

When all the monks come in with eyes as clean as the cold sky
And axes under their arms,
Still praying out Ave Marias,
With rosaries between their bleeding fingers,
We shake the chips out of our robes outside the door
And go to hide in cowls as deep as clouds,
Bowing our shoulders in the church's shadow, lean
And whipped,
To wait upon your Vespers, Mother of God!"
---(Dialogues with Silence - page 37)

1. Scripture reading Ps 27, 104A, and 104B

2. Reflections - What has your day been like. Are you tired? To many events? Where has your journey led you?

Seek God in the tiredness, bow your shoulders, be thankful.

COMPLINE - As the darkness draws near and as weariness becomes the order of our day, we gather for the final hour of our Day of Prayer With Thomas Merton.CLOSING THOUGHTS FROM ARLEN HANSON'S BLOG

"How terribly ironic that a monk who had taken a vow of stability should die a thousand miles from his hermitage. How painfully ironic that the body of a committed pacifist should return home on a military transport plane scheduled to ferry home body bags from the Vietnam War. How curiously ironic that his heart should stop beating on December 10, exactly twenty-seven years to the day since he had been accepted as a choir novice at Gethsemani. Yet how marvelously appropriate that in a light snowfall at dusk on December 17--his simple work shirt, boots, and cowl cast aside; his pilgrimages from Prades to England to New York to the Far East at an end--Thomas Merton should take his place beneath his beloved Kentucky clay in that long line of "jubilant dead...just about to sit up and sing" (Entering the Silence. p. 256)."

1. Scripture Reading - Psalms 134, 4, 91

2. Reflection on the day - How has this day been meaningful to you? How has God worked in your life today? Have you made new friends? Have you sensed God's presence? As you prepare for sleep be at peace with yourself.


"Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we make keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace."


May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

AMEN and thank all of you for participating. May God Bless !!!


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Emailing:87 yr obituary.doc

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Getting back in the groove after a few days off. Just some thoughts. My friend steve mcclure is having heart surgery today, prayers for him.

Tallskinnykiwi will be without a job in january. What a worthy servant and inspiration he has been to many.

It was 26 degrees this morning. Heavy frost. Cold.

Am listening to dinner jazz excursion. Added several new stations to droid favorites.

Have several really sick people to visit today.

Am doing better on droid keyboard.

Still studying the six day war.

Trying to get organized. I have thrown away lots of trash but do not seem to be making much progress.

Saints looked good against patriots.