22 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Love


Greetings Dear Reader,

I am not going to talk about romantic love.  I am no longer sure I get that.  I know that it is not the primary meaning of love and needs to take a back seat to the more intentional kinds of love.  I will return to that thought in a moment.

I am grateful for the much rarer and more coveted love that transacts between two humans when both put aside their own wants.  It is the love that transcends race, social status, and nationality.  It crushes barriers and tears down isolation. 

Genuine love souses the fires of anger.  It can quell the need for vengeance.  It can show the way to hope and faith.  It is, I believe the most powerful force in the universe.  We, however, fail to harness it. 

At times I get to show that love and I am grateful for it.  It is not always easy.  It is always right.  It almost always costs me something but it is worth it.  I am grateful for the hard deck that it provides.  If I measure all things by this thing then events will unfold as they should.

It is in this stance that we can consider the aforementioned romantic love a possibility.  Romantic love cannot be sustained without a foundation of human love.  It takes too much energy and ends up being one-way eventually.  Marriages die because the human love is not put first.  It is not the hard deck.

Beyond all of this is the idea of loving and accepting the love of God.  He loves us, full stop.  You do not have to believe it or believe in God.  He loves you anyway.  He loves us at our very worst and gives us every opportunity to be better.  It is the power to find peace in our pain if we allow it. 

I am grateful for the kind of love that demands that we love every single human no matter our opinion of their faith or practice.  It does, however, have to be a verb to work.  I am grateful that love requires action to be evident. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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21 May 2018

Second Thoughts ~ Centipedes

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you, Dear Reader.

For the unfamiliar there is a creature called the American House Centipede.  Back when I hated them I called them “demon bugs”.  Since learning that they are very beneficial I call them “alien bugs”.  They are still one of those creatures that evoke a visceral response for me.

They look very similar to one of the creatures that has haunted my dreamscape since I was a child.  The ones in my dreams, however, have always been monstrously sized.  My aversion to them is one of those responses that makes the blood cold and the heart race. 

I have learned to respect them but I still fear them.  I just do not let the fear be in charge.  I have not seen one in over two years until today.  I was preparing lunch in my small kitchen.  On the counter, by the toaster-oven there he sat. 

He was not moving.  That is no big deal.  I have seen them be very still, then seem to disappear only to reappear a meter from where I spotted them. They are stealthy and fast.  I grabbed a cup and approached determined to relocate him were he alive. 

As I got close enough to capture him I was shocked.  It was not a centipede at all.  There on the counter by the toaster-oven lay one of my Daughter’s fake eyelashes.  I will not pretend to know how it got there.  I took a picture and left it for her to find when she visits. 

I try to embrace the unique beauty of all creation.  Some things still frighten me.  It is refusing the let the fear be in charge that is my obligation.  I do think, however, that it is not a good idea to have free-range eyelashes roaming the kitchen.   

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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Gratitude ~ Work


Greetings Dear Reader,

So often I hear people complain about work.  I did not plan for this to be written on a Monday but here we are.  Even so, my news feed is filled with people posting about how much they hate, avoid, and eschew Monday. 

I realize that many people hate the jobs they work.  Having been out of a job for a year now I am grateful for work when I have it.  I would have it be true that everyone did the job he or she loved.  I think we should all pursue that.

I pursue writing being my sole source of income.  I work at it every day.  Since I am not there yet I have to do other things to sustain my earnings.  I am grateful for the other skills that I possess that allow me to work. 

With so many people in desperate need of income it is wrong for me to not be grateful for work.  It is wrong for me to not be willing to work.  Even when I had a steady job I did not complain about the job I had.  I understand the process of provision and to be grateful for what I have.

I hope that you have work that you love Dear Reader.  If you do not, I hope that you are chasing what you desire; working to get there.  Even when we are working to build our dreams we can be grateful for each step that takes us there.  They may not all be pleasant but they are stepping stones and hard work does provide reward.  What dream are you working toward Dear Reader?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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20 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Real Life Conversation


Greetings Dear Reader,

How often do we see or participate in this exchange?
“Hi, how are you?”
“Great!  How are you?”
“Oh, I’m good too.”

This is just one of many variations of our social contract of interaction.  So often this passes without either person listening.  I have stolen Dave Ramsey’s response to the how are you question.  I respond with “better than I deserve.”  It is true.

We use so many empty words.  At times, however, we get to have real-life conversations.  When we do something changes.  Something is moved.  Perhaps something is mended.  At times things get broken.

There are so many reasons for avoiding real conversation.  It makes us vulnerable to our faults and blind spots.  It forces us to face fears and failures.  It takes time.  To really talk to people requires that we invest time in it.  Given the risks it is little surprise that we do not do it more often. 

Sill, when it happens we need to have gratitude for it.  When someone opens up about real things we need to show them love and compassion.  We need to be there to hear and empathize.  We need to be grateful for the trust offered.

We also need to be real conversationalists.  We can be real about how we feel without whining or complaining.  One say what is going on without vitriol or drama.  Imagine the gratitude we could feel if we mastered being honest without drama.  I am grateful for real conversation.  How about you Dear Reader? 

Tin Man ~ America

Sometimes late when things are real
And people share the gift of gab between themselves
Some are quick to take the bait
And catch the perfect prize that waits among the shelves

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad
So please believe in me

When I say I'm spinning round, round, round, round
Smoke glass stain bright color
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsuds green like bubbles

Oh, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please believe in me
When I say I'm spinning round, round, round, round
Smoke glass stain bright color
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsuds green like bubbles

No, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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19 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Writing


Greetings Dear Reader,

I do believe that had I not found writing I would have at the least gone mad.  I write because it is compelling for me.  It is a discipline to write in the morning after first taking in a little wisdom.  I write because it helps me sort things out before I interact with real humans.

There are also stories I need to tell, adventures that need chronicling, and people I need to kill.  I get to work that all out without harming anyone.  I can tell the tale, accuse the guilty, and destroy the evil without violating my obligations to be loving and kind. I get to weave mystery and intrigue in the lives of my characters without concern for what others think. 

Then there is the great adventure.  There is the message I weave into every tale that is one of hope and life.  Long after I am gone one can trace the path of that message through my books and this blog.  One can also find my final message.  I hope to live much longer but I have woven a message into my books that requires a bit of cryptography to unravel. 

Each of my novels contains a message that leads to a larger one.  I promise it is not a reminder to drink your Ovaltine.  There are clues that one can find.  I am grateful that writing reminds me of the greater mystery. It is the one that requires and recieves my faith.  Happy reading and hunting Dear Reader.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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18 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Jethro Tull


Greetings Dear Reader,

I am grateful for music in general.  It helps me feel things that I avoid feeling.  It is solace in times of woe.  It can punctuate my celebrations with exclamation beyond my skills.

Since I was nine a man and a band have been my favorite.  It helps that the man is the leader of the band.  I speak of the band Jethro Tull and the man Ian Anderson.  His music danced into my life just as my Grandfather heeded the call of the piper to that undiscovered country.  The music I first encountered was from the album Aqualung.  It is a fine place to start if you are seeking to acquaint yourself with this very fine music.

One of the things for which I am grateful is the depth of this music.  Fifty years later I still find new thoughts and new questions as I listen to the various albums.  When I was nine I was already reacting to the pains in my life by asking hard questions.  With my Grandfather gone no one seemed inclined to listen or give me real answers.  Songs like Hymn 43 and Wind Up posed and answered some of them.

The later albums tilled the soil of my mind for the vital encounter that would come five years down the road.  The music of Tull also required me to keep thinking instead of choosing and closing my mind.  As the years slipped through the glass the band and the man continue to challenge me to think.  The music remains complex and the lyrics require one to pay attention.  One does not passively listen to Tull.

The band is still together.  They will be in my state this summer.  I do not think a day passes where a Tull song does not dance through my thoughts.  I am most grateful for the lessons they teach me about God.  He is not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.  What music reaches you Dear Reader?

Wind Up  – Ian Anderson

When I was young and they packed me off to school
And taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
Or if they said that I was just a fool.

So I left there in the morning
With their God tucked underneath my arm
Their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.

So I asked this God a question
And by way of firm reply,
He said -- I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
Before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers --

I don't believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines

How do you dare tell me that I'm my father's son,
When that was just an accident of birth.
I'd rather look around me -- compose a better song
'Cause that's the honest measure of my worth.
In your pomp and all your glory you're a poorer man than me,
As you lick the boots of death born out of fear.

When I was young and they packed me off to school
And taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
Or if they said that I was just a fool.

So I left there in the morning
With their God under my arm
Their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.

Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines --

When I was young and they packed me off to school
And taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
Or if they said that I was just a fool.

So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
Before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers –
Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines --

I don't believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong --
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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17 May 2018

Second Thoughts ~ Death’s Outlook


Greetings Dear Reader,

When I say “Outlook” here I am referring to the calendar and communication software used by so many of us. I spent most of the day yesterday with Death.  Like upper management, he dropped in unannounced with a few agenda items to discuss.  I will review his agenda in reverse order.

My eldest son texted me asking if I knew Jamie (Last name withheld).  I responded gleefully that I did and that she IS awesome.  He immediately considerately called me.  He explained that she passed away suddenly and that the visitation and funeral were imminent.  I worked with Jamie many years ago.  Although it radiates through all of time and space, the brightness of her life can be encapsulated in a moment:

Years ago, I was very discouraged over the health of one of the people we served in our work.  It was unlike me to show these feelings openly.  Jamie put her hand gently on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “We both know that things will work out as they should.  It will be OK.”  She believed it and knew that I did too.  That moment plays through my mind whenever I am discouraged.  That story seemed to help her grieving family last night.

Death’s second agenda item, still moving from last to first, was the death of someone I do not know.  Her name is Summer.  Like any eighth grader she was on her way to school on a rainy Georgia spring morning.  Hydroplaning on a wet road and a head-on collision with a school bus took her life.  The reason this matters, other than the fact that every death diminishes me, is that she is a dear friend to my niece Jade.  My sister Ivy, Jade’s mum related that Jade is devastated. 

The first agenda item on Death’s outlook for me was already scheduled.  My sisters Jade, Amy, and Echo were burying the man they really knew as a father, Gordon.  This followed close on the heels of losing their grandmother.  Due to the kudzu nature of my family the relationship would take more explaining than is relevant here.  The essence is that Death was there already in my day as I prayed for my sisters.  I love them more than they know and get to be with them less than I wish.

As I drove back from the visitation last night, having met Jamie’s husband and telling him how much she meant to me, it occurred to me that a day filled with Death has something to teach me.  Death reminded me that his appointments are set and that neither of us gets to reschedule it.  We may not even get a reminder of the appointment.  The sand moves through the pinch and we cannot stem or stay its flow.  What we can do is remember to have the proper perspective of life and death.

You see, Dear Reader, I also mean “outlook” as a perspective.  If you want to understand my view of Death you may wish to read Chronicles of Thanatos the Reaper.  In short Death is there to look out for us.  He gets us to the clearing at the end of the journey.  He ushers us into that undiscovered country.  He follows the direction given him by the Father and needs no permission or understanding other than that.

It is up to me to see the purpose and accept it.  It is required of me that I represent comfort and hope to the bereaved.  When Death stops by he never lets me know when he will return.  We first met when he came for my Grandfather.  He has visited to pick up a Sister and a Daughter as well.  He always has something to teach me.  This needs to compel me to see all life as precious.  I must love every person I encounter to honor the likes of Jamie, Summer, and Gordon.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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Gratitude ~ Expressing Gratitude


Greetings Dear Reader,

This may at first sound circular.  I am grateful for the idea of gratitude.  When I mentioned this as a test idea to a friend she said that I was running out of things to say about gratitude.  In truth, yesterday was a day spent with Death and he reminded me that gratitude is vital to life.

I will write about my day with Death this evening but I want to seriously express my gratitude for gratitude.  It is something that energizes me.  When I feel genuinely grateful for something and express it properly it makes a huge difference.  Showing real gratitude has benefited me greatly over the years.

There are people who are my friends simply because I made it a point to show gratitude.  Genuine gratitude surprises people but it should not.  I once made it a point to go to someone who had worked late to get some data for me.  I thanked her for working so late when she was already tired.  She told me that it was the first time in sixteen years at her job that someone sought her out to personally express gratitude.

I am motivated to show gratitude.  I am happy that I have been taught to appreciate others and what they do.  The process of expressing gratitude is a gift to those who share it.  It is a source of joy for the truly grateful to bestow that gratitude on the deserving.  I need to express gratitude.  It makes the journey richer.  How about you Dear Reader; what does expressing gratitude do for you?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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16 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Diners


Greetings Dear Reader,

My earliest memory of a diner is sitting in one with my Grandfather.  He would order his eggs over easy and eat around the yolk.  Then he would gingerly place the yolk on a corner of toast and eat them together.  I still do this.

Wherever I have lived I have sought out a diner.  It takes time for me to find the right one but I always find it.  My current diner has been “my diner” for sixteen years.  I am deeply thankful for it.

My gratitude for diners goes beyond good food at a fair price.  I find it to be a solid reflection of the idea of community.  One can sense a community there; even get an aspect of it values and personality. 

A diner is one of the great aspects of independent business.  Someone chooses to get up early and cook food for others.  I once visited a diner that opened at four in the morning.  It did so because it was less than a block from the local police station.  The night shift would take a “dinner” break there and the day shift would go in for an early breakfast.  The diner served the community.

I am grateful for a hot meal at a fair price.  I am grateful for waitresses that call you “honey” even when they do not know your name.  I am filled with gratitude that anywhere I travel I can find a diner with unique but common flavor.  I try to always try what they recommend on my first visit. 

I think that when I am at a diner It fuels my desire to be kind to others.  It reminds me how hard people work and how many different flavors of life there are.  I am grateful for the reminder of the people who need love and kindness on the journey as they stop off for coffee and food.  I strive to give everyone I encounter a large plate of that kindness.

Johnny’s Café – John Fischer

Wasting the day down at Johnny’s Café,
All kinds of people there with plenty to say,
If you got nothing to say to folks at Johnny’s Café,
You got nothing to say at all.

Walk in any day and you’ll find a slice of life at your table;
One man leaving his wife another wishing he was able,
An old man trying to forget a young one looking for a label,
And the stories they tell you can’t tell if they’re true of they’re fable.

And the lady pouring coffee she knows the regulars by name.
If she doesn’t know you she calls you “honey” just the same.
And we all love to hear it,
Even if she has to fake it,
‘Cause it’s nice to think that someone really cares;
Someone cares.

Go spend the day down at Johnny’s Café,
All kinds of people there with plenty to say,
If you got nothing to say to folks at Johnny’s Café,
You got nothing to say at all.

Half a mile down the road you’ll find a church with a steeple.
And on Sundays the pews are full of well-dressed beautiful people.
There’s a leading politician whose wife is a musician in the choir.
A corporation head who is trying to get a little bit higher.

And the preacher pouring sermons he knows the regulars by name.
If he doesn’t know you he’ll shake your hand just the same.
And we all love to hear it,
Even if we have to fake it,
But it would be nice if someone really cared;
Someone cared.

Go spend the day down at Johnny’s Café,
All kinds of people there with plenty to say,
Now if Jesus were here I think we’d find him today down at Johnny’s café.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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15 May 2018

Gratitude ~ Emergency Services


Greetings Dear Reader,

Where I live I can sometimes hear sirens going down the motorway.  I can usually distinguish between police and fire/rescue sirens.  I try to always pray for those in need and those on the way. 

Do we really show gratitude to those who stay up all night and work the holidays so that we can be safe or obtain emergency care?  I am concerned that we do not understand the level of sacrifice they offer to serve us.  I become more aware each time I speak with my brother who is a paramedic. 

I am blessed that I have only needed emergency services a few times in my life.  In those times I have received excellent care.  None of those time was my life in danger.  Still, I need to have gratitude on behalf of the secondary benefit I receive. 

Last week I walked out of my door on the way to my car.  I found myself surrounded by uniformed police officers and detectives.  I immediately stopped, put my hands in clear sight, and asked if they needed me to do anything.  One of the uniformed officers politely told me that if I could show him my ID it would be helpful.  I did.

There were seven police vehicles, a forensic unit, and a few detective cars.  They were keenly interested in my neighbor.  After they verified my identification one of the officers walked me to my car and wished me well.  I thanked him for doing his part to keep us safe.  I asked him to pass on my gratitude to the team. 

As I drove away I again thanked God for those who serve us and protect us.  I prayed for my neighbor.  I still do not know what the issue was nor do I need to know.  What matters is that I am grateful for those who protect and serve and save.  I am thankful that I live in a place where people still pull over for emergency vehicles.  I have great gratitude for those who sacrifice so much just to keep us safe.

I thank them when I can.  I offer kindness whenever possible.  You would not believe the level of smile you get when you thank an officer blocking your driveway for enforcing the four-way stop sign on your corner.  How do you show your appreciation for emergency personnel Dear Reader?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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