Theme for Our Church This Week is Blessings

A Prayer

The blessings, the beatitudes of Jesus. God bless those who become blessings. You await our blessings.

Blessings to you for earth, sky and sea. Blessings for those who have saved rather than squandered.  Blessings for those In need.  Blessings for those who loved. Blessings for those who Have turned from judging, who chose not to hate.

Love, with all its blessings, let that be us. Let that be here. Amen

Oscar Who?

Oscar Levant said to George Gershwin, “Tell me George, if you had to do it all over again, would you fall in love with yourself?”

It must feel good. Who am I kidding, it does feel good. Don’t all of us fall in love with ourselves at least once?

When does this become  a bad thing? Ever? I suspect if done in excess it would be a problem. A constant demonstration of it and we would appear selfish. When is confidence self love? Can we be confident without falling in love with ourselves?

At least with Gershwin, the result is that most of us know who he is. But who is Oscar Levant?

My Column Today in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

After you’ve confronted the dragon, comes the bliss

Annie Neugebauer graduated from the University of Texas in 2007. A favorite professor devastated her by asking why she hadn’t been in the honor’s program. A question posed even though she graduated with “highest university honors.” The professor thought she had taken the easy road and should have enrolled in honors courses. She had not done so because the regular course requirements fit her schedule. After much self-examination she concluded what she had done didn’t require someone else’s permission. She writes about her experience at

Having just experienced my own commencement in May, I resonated with Annie. During my 10 years of graduate school, I had two C’s. Both bothered me. The first one came about five years ago, and I justified it by thinking I asked for it. The course required memorizing. You might as well have told me to cut the lawn every day. It isn’t going to happen.

When I found out what the course demanded, I gave myself permission to just pass. Just passing for me is a C. Back in the day it is how I did all of school. Have fun, maybe show up for class, and get by. The new more mature Bob sought to graduate with the “highest university honors.”

I just missed. As others were called to receive their diploma “with honors” I cringed a bit. Then I remembered a question asked me by a friend when I told him about my C’s.

“Bob, what do they call a doctor who graduated last in their class?”

I thought about it, but had no answer.

Then he smiled and said, “A doctor.”

His words are how I got over the earlier C, but they didn’t get me by the more recent one. It was the grade given to me for a self-directed course. A course I designed to make up one and a half credits. I even picked the professor. Completing the curriculum demanded that I read four or five books and write a 15-page paper.

The professor gave me a C with the comment that my writing was not academic. He thought my writing sounded more like a sermon. I emailed him that I would like to talk about it. He acknowledged receipt of my email, said he would get back to me, but never did. The next time I saw him was at graduation.

After the diplomas were received, my class exited from the sanctuary. One by one we paraded past the professors. The last professor in the academic line was professor C, a man who has a perpetual smirk on his face. This day he looked particularly smirky. He said nothing, nor did I.

I left commencement with the issue of a C unresolved. It made the event less celebratory. It had me feeling fraudulent.

No matter that I spent 10 years in study and had a grade point average far exceeding C.

It did matter that I wanted this degree in part for self-esteem. Having not been an academic in undergraduate days, I wanted to prove I had the right stuff. For me this meant a report card unblemished by C’s. I wanted all my professors to think I was the greatest student ever.

It took just one professor to throw me off track. It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to be an academic writer. This was about confronting dragons. There should be a course on it.

Then again, I think there is. I took it.

Now its time to apply it to bliss.

Speaking of Arts

From the book Insearch: psychology and religion by James Hillman

“A solution that keeps the intentionality of consciousness yet forgoes its active thrust has been called the art of listening. This art has perhaps fallen into decline along with that of conversation.”

The Kindle edition I am reading was last updated in 1994. Bringing the statement forward and making it as if written in 2014 I ask, “Do you think”

A projection of sort. In 1994 I listened little. Today I feel I do more, but not enough. Still, as I project onto the world my own failings, I claim progress.

Can the world claim the same, even if a little? I think not.

Conversation on a public stage is in remission. My readings tell me that humans do worse in groups. Whatever darkness we have individually are disproportionally multiplied when ever two or more gather as one.

I propose we make listening a graduate degree. I bet those who earn it will become more valuable to corporations than lawyers.

Dancing in The Shadows

In Owning Your Own Shadow, author Robert Johnson writes, “Narrow creativity always brings a narrow shadow, while broader talents call up a greater portion of the dark.”

Most of my life I thought that avoiding my shadow meant success. Now I am distressed to learn how totally untrue this is. It is incredible to me that I have found in my writing a willingness to do just the opposite. More than a willingness, I have an almost panicky desire to dance in the shadows. I can’t get there fast enough.

I hope you learned to dance before I did.

Sometimes It is Over

I have never liked hospitals or nursing homes. Even saying so makes my superstitious side stand at alert. If I want the Red Sox to win when they are not, I go to my local post office where I know a Yankee fan works, and I yell out to him, “Go Yankees!” He smiles.

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Follow Your Dream Ponderings

I once was taught that the mindset of following one’s dream is a good way to go broke.  I know many close to me who would ask ( and not necessarily complimentary) when have I not followed my dream.

There is truth in this, but I kind of did it half heartedly. I think I looked for ways to have fun, but anything deeper was not a requirement. I dared not to dream. Not really.

I am fascinated with people who as part of their dream fought for a cause. My latest fascination continues to be Robinson Jeffers.

Dr. Peter Quigley in his book Housing the Environmental Imagination writes, “Five years after moving to Carmel, California in 1919, Jeffers bought 16 lots for $200 apiece, eventually owning 36 lots, none with a purchase price any higher than $3,000.” This over a ten year span.

Jeffers’s son Donnan reported that in 1977 these lots had a value of $200,000. We can only imagine what Jeffers’s dream is worth today. “Dreams, a good way to go broke.” Can I blame it on my mother?