Frowning on Greed

Human beings will be happier, not when they cure cancer, or find their way to Mars, eliminate racial prejudice, or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.

–Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

When I think of these kind of communities I think of small bands of people who are interdependent. Shame works. Shame encourages behavior that’s good for the group, fosters civility, reduces possessiveness, and frowns mightily on greed. Behaving shamelessly will cause you to be left behind.

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Abundance

When will
these arms and legs,

these fingers that hold
the pen, or the pen itself
for that matter,

along with each new day
I’m allowed to use them,

miracle enough?

I like poems that remind me of healthy states of mind like this one. A sense of abundance counters my common fears that there won’t be enough or that I’ll somehow be deprived.

From  Less Is More, More or Less. Nathan Brown

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Tragic comedy

I found this story amusing though I suppose for the wrong reasons. 

Yaakov, a farmer living in Israel’s Galilee region, was giving a tour of his farm to his new mother-in-law. The newlywed farmer genuinely tried to be friendly to his new mother-in-law, hoping that it could be a friendly, non-antagonistic relationship. All to no avail though, as she kept nagging him at every opportunity, demanding changes, offering unwanted advice, and generally making life unbearable for Yaakov and his new bride.

When they were walking through the barn, Yaakov’s  mule suddenly reared up and kicked the mother-in-law, killing her instantly. It was a shock to all no matter their feelings towards her.

At the funeral services, Yaakov and his wife sat as well-wishers paid their respects. The rabbi, however, noticed that whenever a woman would whisper something to Yaakov he would nod his head “yes,” and say something. Whenever a man walked by and whispered to Yaakov,  however, he would shake his head “no,” and mumble a reply.

Very curious as to this bizarre behavior, the rabbi later ask Yaakov what that was all about.

Yaakov replied, “the woman would say, what a terrible tragedy, and I would nod my head and say, ‘yes it was.’ The men would then ask, ‘can I borrow that mule?’  And I would shake my head and say, can’t. It’s all booked up for a year”

Excerpt from  Experiencing Spirituality: finding meaning through storytelling by Ernest Kurtz

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Taking Time to Respond

I thought this was a cute story about listening, priorities,  and being a mom: 

The mother was at the kitchen sink, washing the intricate parts of the cream separator and the little boy came to see her with the magazine. 

“Mother,” he asked, “what is this man in the picture doing?”

To my surprise she dried her hands set down on a chair, and, taking the boys in her lap, she spent the next few minutes answering his questions. After the child had left, I commented on her having interrupted her chores to answer the boy’s question, saying, “most mothers wouldn’t have.”

“I expect to be washing cream separators for the rest of my life,” she told me, “but never again will my son ask me that question.”

Excerpt from Experiencing Spirituality: finding meaning through storytelling by Ernest Kurtz

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Haiku

Note left: I love you
Beside the coffee maker
Delight beats caffeine

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