There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
The story is all over the net. I simply wanted to express my a) appreciation for this story, and b) desire to see this story passed on through the generations. One man made a choice to think beyond himself, beyond his world, and to respond with a prolific, uncommon, creative, action. Here is an oversimplified glimpse of the Santa Tracker, with hopes that you will check out one of the two links below.
NORAD is the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD, inside Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado Springs, CO. One night, in 1955, a call came in on a red phone at NORAD, a number known only by two people: a four-star general in the Pentagon, and the U.S. Air Force colonel who had that red phone on his desk. The caller was a child, who asked “Is this Santa Claus?”
How the U.S. Air Force colonel responded is … quite profound. So, here are two links to choose from:
The following post, rooted in my imagination, should not be taken literally. Imagination has always been a highly valued resource for me. As I become older, I try to remember to practice that imagination. ‘Hope you enjoy. And, have a stellar Christmas.
His appearance changes, and there are some odd theories out there, about … where … the man might be, at any given time. Steven Wright’s theory:
Yuletide Man: a man, a healthy girth, covers much ground, much air space (without being shot down), undeniably a mysterious man.
Below left: image from satellite of the SOC (Santa’s Operation Center). Below right: sketching of Santa Claus from a confidential source.
Yuletide Man: a man, a healthy girth, covers much ground, much air space (without being shot down), undeniably a mysterious man.
Visionary, a hope agent, an “other-centered” man; a logistical-minded man, a genius, this “Santa Claus”.
His has organized a system for the storage of multitudes of gifts, the movement from storage to the loading docks, distribution plans … all of this is amazing.
A report from a confidential source, classified, slipped through the cracks back in the late nineties, made its way to my desk, with the request to burn the report as soon as possible. I will get around to that, eventually. The polar regions (North and South) have always been monitored carefully: some men / women are about keeping the North Pole safe, a neutral place, where Santa can work; and others are interested in claiming the north pole for strategic purposes, with some degree of ill intent on their minds.
I attempted to do some research on the security protocols for keeping SOC (Santa’s Operations Center) safe. A few days after I began my research, the dogs started barking, and I knew we had visitors. I opened the front door to see a group of ominous looking vehicles: two black vans, with men dressed like SWAT – guys coming out, guns drawn; and three SUVs with running lights on the top. Long story short: I was asked in depth, about my interest in the security protocols with the North Pole. I was told that this information is classified to protect Santa Clause and the work he is doing, year round.
Indeed, the man is truly elusive; not only the man but the work that goes on there. When NORAD’s Santa Tracker emerged, I experienced some degree of relief, knowing that there are people tracking with SOC. That link, by the way, is: http://www.noradsanta.org/
Spirals (notebooks), collected over years, holding so much of my days, specific hours, moments where writing was the right thing to do. Better writers than I have organized their Spirals (color coding?).
Alas, I am not one of these cool spiral scholars. In the small room at the top of the stairs to the right, a place that I reluctantly call an “office”, I noticed stacks of notebooks in different places. I believe that a small hurricane flew to my office, left its tracks, the notebooks landing in a chaotic posture. These pictures may give you a glimpse of what I am talking about:
Not too long ago, I experienced a different kind of encounter withspirals, on an outing with my son, a passionate young wild man.
My son has a black compass-with-(fold up) binoculars, attached to a sharp looking black lanyard. This week the boy dropped his compass, and one of the binocular lenses popped out, a serious problem to be resolved, immediately. The idea of my son on an expedition through the Yukon, or backpacking into the wilderness of Alaska, or accepting a dangerous mission in the Himalayas … without his black compass-with fold up binoculars is truly a sobering thought.
We jumped into the jeep, found where his black compass-with fold up binoculars could be replaced. After the exchange of old for new, we both looked around. In the Home / Office section, there were …
spirals – – – .25 a piece!
Robust joy, flowing through my being! Opening up a new notebook, never written in, releasing the words that flow down on to that beautiful, white, first, page is an outrageously cool thing. I often think of famous authors, using notebooks, like Leonardo da Vinci.
“It doesn’t look like much … no bigger than a pack of playing cards, yet it is one of the most precious objects on display in the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries in the Victoria & Albert Museum London. The notebook of Leonardo da Vinci which dates from 1490-3 is one of five owned by the museum and it was bequeathed by English collector, John Forster in 1876.” The comments are from Lito Apostolakou, freelance author, historian, and feature writer at Suite101; she also has a fascinating blog on the history of writing instruments, where she writes about seeing one of Leonardo’s notebooks.
I am doing a re-write of a post, from another blog, about an issue I am immensely passionate about. Passion, a strange thing, reminds me of anger. Anger reminds me of a quote about anger, one I heard from my dad.
“Anger is like a sword without a handle: you have to hold it by the blade.”
Passion is sort of like anger (righteous and unrighteous). Passion can be used for good. There are times, unfortunately, when passion is not so good. My anger about this particular issue is passionate. And, as I live and breathe, as I write this post, I hold my sword-like passion and anger by the blade: carefully.
My heart truly goes out to the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of those specific Catholic priests / nuns who are sex offenders. My heart goes out, additionally, to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics … angry and saddened … for their fellow-Catholics sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns. The excerpt below from a recent story in the news, regarding victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, in Seattle, v a l i d a t e s the reality of such violence … a violence that many have attempted to hide for countless generations.
These words, in particular, from this man – – – Pope Francis – – – stir up my anguish:
“The Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”
Sexual abuse … happening in the Catholic Church since … the 1950’s (if not before then?) … And the Catholic Church is now recently expressing this profound observation … that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders. Why the sudden observation? Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”. My reading of this article led me to consider this question: “Is the Catholic Church leadership more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, rather than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?” Another question came up, for me: “If the sexual abuse was not exposed to the American public, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?”
And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes? “Hush Money” (the term) has been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse … to be quiet … about their abuse. “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace. Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been sexually abused? I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way. Many victims kept silent for a long time. Why? Shame? Fear of reprisal? Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”? And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests. For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but now, it is more of a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled. You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do (what does that mean?).”
The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous. Some good news in all of this is that … the “Hush Money” is exposed; sex offender priests / nuns are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known. All of this stands up against the secrets continuing.
Is a predominant theme …
In the depravity / violence of …
Sex offenders …
And the fear / shame of …
When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.
Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.
*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone. *$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month). *$100 million in 2005, January.
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,
“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”
REALITY CHECK, people. Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing for allof these men and women who have been victimized. For some, yes there will be healing. For others, no: there will be little or no healing. And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say … my paraphrase …
“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad. And we don’t want to hear anymore about this. Now, get out of here.”
Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.
The money … d o e s n o t c h a n g e … what happened. The money … d o e s n o t g u a r a n t e e … full healing …
The money does not guarantee that the sexual abuse will stop. So, healing for everyone? No. It doesn’t work that way.
So much written about R.W. Thus, Solomon’s piece, at the core of my writing: “It’s all been said before.”
Here some thoughts of a disc-jockey in “Good Morning, Vietnam”, a professor in “Dead Poets Society”, Mrs.Doubtfire, Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum”, Ramon the penguin in “Happy Feet”, Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace in “August Rush” … Those are a few parts of Robin Williams.
And here are a few parts of who I was, and how I was blessed, and impacted, by Robin Williams, and his art. I was the class comedian, high school; a joke for anyone and everyone. The rush of making people laugh was amazing. I studied the great comedians: Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfield, Steve Martin. Out of these mentioned, and those I have not mentioned, Robin Williams was … at times … present: where I was, what I was doing. I read a magazine interview with Robin Williams, and among the many things I read I remember something that wasn’t so cool. I paraphrase: Williams said that at times, when he was not doing well, he had to go somewhere by himself.
I was blown away by his prolific spontaneity linked up with priceless humor. I also couldn’t shake the idea that there was a dichotomy happening: humor / laughter with melancholy / depression. The mixture of these two forces haunted me a bit … and it was because I wanted my depression that I had struggled with since I was a child to be separate from everyone. I wanted to go to Robin Williams for robust laughter, and I did not want to know that the man who made me laugh struggled with depression like I did. Incidentally, I didn’t know, when I was a child, that it was depression. I didn’t learn that it was depression until I was in graduate school (my late thirties) … Sounds crazy. Robin Williams, to a large degree helped me to release some of my “crazy”, and to be able to sit with all of this, and to laugh through this.
If I could have a discussion with R.W., it might include some of these comments …
“Bro, just to make this clear, suicide, yes, I agree, is wrong.
Just as important, please know that there is no is condemnation coming from me, nor from my God. And, I’ve got no judgment for you.
My heart goes out to your family. I can only imagine that their pain is immeasurable. And its been said that there is no pain up in Heaven. But, I know your heart is good, Bro; and surely you feel some of their pain … But, I don’t know, because I don’t know much about Heaven. And by the way, I hope there are people making you laugh … I’m sure there was pressure, through most of your days, to make people laugh. I know that there are no excuses for ending your life; but there are definitely factors that contributed to your decisions. Our pain, our struggles, our failures, our shame, we are driven passionately away from all of that … toward something that relieves our suffering. And the relief is always temporary. When the performance is over, the Black Dog, depression, remains.”
Robin Williams messed up when he took his own life. I should have permission to tell my close friends when / if they messed up. And my closest friends have permission to tell me when / if I messed up. We can do that without condemnation. Do I condemn Robin Williams for taking his life? NO. Am I angry with Williams? NO, not so much angry, but sad. So, maybe the takeaway is this. We all need to “do” self-care. We need to take care of ourselves; and in turn, we can bless our families. If we are wounded, and we are not doing our own work, then how can we be our best with those we love?
Hey, just wanted to give a heads-up to anyone who reads my blog … ever, at any time. I am re-writing some of my posts, and re-posting them. The reason for this is that I am compiling a group of posts to pass on to my friends and family who don’t read my blog (ouch!). I am also preparing some selected posts for (I hope) a self-published book.
If and when you see a re-write of a post you have already read, then you can save yourself some time and not read those posts … since you have already read them. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? IS THIS AS CLEAR AS MUD?
Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge you who I follow on a regular basis, who I look up to, who I have learned immensely from … not only from your writings, but also about life, about the reality and the redemptive aspects of the human soul, matters of the heart. I am so indebted to you for your contributions to my journey of wanting to become a better writer. Having said that, if you feel any leading … whatsoever … to speak into my writing, my being, in any way please do so. My promise to you is that I will not be offended, no matter what you write. It will not affect how much of a fan I am of your blog. If we are true writers, then we must be in a posture to receive feedback from others, no matter how blunt, how painful, how blatant, that feedback might be.
True, I may have a tantrum, where I throw myself down on the floor, yelling / kicking / screaming. But you won’t see that, and I won’t tell you about it. Thanks! T
Oh, one more thing. I do not know when you will start seeing these re-writes. They are the same posts, just re-written. Nothing really different.