John 15, Verse 8 - “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
What does it mean to be alive? The mountains and the stars have an eternality about them. The rocks, the grass, the trees, etc. are all living in one sense; they leave an almost eternal imprint. Think of the millions of years that some of these things have existed, transforming, offering resources and land and life to humans and other lifeforms across the universe. God is the “eternal rock” so to speak being our foundation. He is also omnipresent; he is sovereign; he reaches our hearts. He is very much alive. And we too are alive.
Are we alive to do good? I read the book “Chaos: Making a New Science” by James Gleick. The chaos theory is a science based conclusion that explains how a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world affects the weather in another part. Just think of how a human life is one life and is worth living. As U2 puts it, it is “one life, we got to do what we should”, and that is because of our impact. Maya Angelou, a famous writer and poet, states that “words” are alive. She is very careful about her choice of words, and recommends this to others. Being careful with the tongue is also elaborated on within the Bible. Words have value to God. Morals are related to the type of impact one makes. Living a moral life is the type of life worth living.
Christians believe we are alive after death. One of the differences between the atheistic view of life and the Christian view of life is whether we are “alive” after death or not. Some of us picture ourselves like spirits floating around in new bodies, worshiping God and visiting with our loved ones. Is this reality? Christians should know their loved ones in the afterlife. The atheist does not feel value in believing in the afterlife, but are only doubters of the truth, not knowers of it. Dante left the Christians of the day and into the present with a view of hell and heaven that pervades to this day, much of it incorrect. Yet, the few descriptions of hell and heaven in the Bible are indeed symbolic and sometimes literal of what life means after death. We do continue to be alive after death.
Jesus is very much alive. Very few deny that Jesus lived. Most Christians, as they define themselves, accept Jesus as the Son of God. He established the kingdom of God on earth; he left an everlasting imprint - one that means we must strive in our living. He atones for our sins and He is our savior. He taught us we are saved through grace, and to accept the Holy Spirit into our life and be baptized, and to start producing good fruit. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.
Living a good life, striving to make an imprint on the hearts of others, recognizing the beauty of the natural world and putting faith in an everlasting life - these are ways to reduce the cruelty within our own species and to move forward with a better vision of life on earth and the hereafter. Our vision originates with God and Christ and as living Christians we have many promises from God along with responsibilities as one within His kingdom.
Pray a silent prayer along this topic. God bless!
Epigenetics, definition (Google) - "The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself."
Thriving on Super-Experience, Poem by Michelle Murphy
I used to want to be saturated to death with All That Is - and I have been,
I thrive on super-experience.
Yet I’ve been reborn with a love for the small things.
It was all about:
Super-heroes and champions.
Above and beyond.
Tying knots to resolve chaos.
Last minute endings.
Resolving the unresolvable.
Roads that don’t end.
Deep colors of red and purple; black.
Now it’s all about:
Cycles and perfection.
Truth in context.
Here and now.
Roads of contentment.
Fractals of light.
Is something still missing?
Am I done with super-experience?
Or is it game-on?
Guess what? Humans are organisms, or if cells are organisms then various types of cells make us up. From the study of this gene expression within epigenetics, it has been found we can alter organisms and ourselves through gene expression willfully. With the outcome of each memory we make in our lifetime our gene expression is made up; even our ancestors pass down their experiences to us through the gene expression phenomenon. Ways of thinking, visuals, recovery or non-recovery from trauma, nutrition, and attitude can all alter our gene expression. At any moment we can create a positive change, and when positive changes accumulate direction can be changed - we can recover from cancer, our mental problems can diminish, and life can be better enjoyed. We can set new patterns based on old patterns and send positive vibes onto the next generation through birth. We can be reborn ourselves.
For instance being diagnosed with any mental illness, if it is related to any particular gene, should show up under the gene expression umbrella of the DNA code rather than just the code. It appears we can mingle or co-mingle with the present to alter our physical makeup in a way that can re-route us towards recovery. Just knowing we can make a line in the sand and walk over it a new person is encouraging. Here are a few tips related to creating new positive habits from the book Self Discipline by James Daugherty - (1) It takes 21 successful days in a row to develop a new habit, work through the hump, (2) Remind yourself of the goals you feel inspired and motivated to complete, every day. (3) Deny yourself of something to strengthen self-discipline muscles. (4) Visualize and imagine how you will be (picture yourself and your way of being) if you incorporate these new habits for 6 months, 1 year, etc. (5) Remind yourself of what inspired you to set these goals.
My poem, Thriving on Super-Experience, is about a period in my life when I depended on super-experience. Later I was reborn and my life changed. The before and after is given above as best I can explain it. A similar thing occurs when giving up alcoholism and taking on a new life, or the rebirth associated with baptism in the Christian religion; much is expected when giving up one way of life, and then taking on or following a new way of life. Stumbling blocks continue to persist but with confidence and prayer we can boost ourselves to a level that we have finally passed that line in the sand; we can be rerouted to success or recovery and our gene expression can help us as we provide it with better experiences, thoughts and memories. If there are a series of memories flowing through our life as each event goes on each day, then we must develop the framework to make those memories gene-boosting. We must choose wisely what we read and stimulate ourselves with. Wise attitudes are important. Conversations with loved ones weigh into the future.
Dear God, When I was baptized and I dedicated my life to following Christ I had still several stumbling blocks to over come. With time and slow-but-steady dedication I have overturned most of those stones and am finally living the Christian life I wanted to live back then. God, Your hand, is always there to nudge me along and hopefully my joys are Your joys. There are other lines in the sand I hope to cross to alter my gene expression and help me potentially at work and with family and friends. Your creation is full of mystery and wonder. Amen.
Romans 8, Verse 28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
John 15, Verses 9-11 - As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Romans 12, Verse 2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Poem by Michelle Murphy - "About That Feeling That Life Isn't Fulfilling"
About that feeling that life isn’t fulfilling...
I hear about it all over.
Like when you’re married with kids and done everything you thought would make you happy, but something is missing.
Like when you're a high dollar lawyer and partner at one of the most successful firms but just feel burned out - not alive.
My life is chock-full of examples.
I have that feeling… that itch I can’t scratch.
Am I forgetting to count my blessings?
Am I forgetting to make the most of my lot in life?
Am I forgetting to focus on God’s plan?
What is this itch all about and what should we do?
Do we have insatiable drives? Or insatiable desires for bliss?
Are we afraid of anything labeled normal?
Are we afraid of drawing a paycheck? Would we rather be homeless?
Do we want life to be interesting from day to noon to night? And while we sleep?
Are we allergic to routines; should we avoid shaving today or taking a shower to keep it real?
What is this itch about and what should we do?
How do we find what makes us feel alive?
For me, it is not drinking or lush environments.
For me, it is not any particular type of work, so far.
For me, it is not the greatest party which only lasts a day or two.
For me, it is not the adrenaline of lifting weights, shopping, or vacations.
All of that just sprinkles my skin and fades away.
But nature makes me feel alive, when I'm not taking it for granted,
And freedom, when I’m not taking it for granted.
And sprinkling my skin in all its fading glory is a blessing I don’t have to give up.
The cycle of birth and rebirth - trying something new now and then… That does it for me.
I’m onto my next work assignment.
And presenting my poems live is the next pressing thing.
Saving money, working out, planning the future.
It all makes me feel alive.
And that party on the horizon and the vacation in the sun,
Moments with family, and love-making a new way.
Yes it all fades.
Finding myself walking in circles, treading the same footprints…. It drives me nuts, but it’s part of living.
And so that itch is part of being alive,
My insatiable drive and desire for bliss too.
I better count my blessings and make the most of my lot.
The reward of Heaven is the best spade I’ve got -
And so I can appreciate the fading part of life.
Being alive does not equate with feeling alive in a glittery way,
And I can deal with it. I can learn to deal with it. I want to deal with it.
About that feeling that life isn’t fulfilling…
Who cares. Let's be real.
I watched part of a documentary lately about a cult that attracted tons of people in the 80s. What struck me about most of the people who got involved was their "itch" to improve their lives - life seemed too normal and mundane, or their high-dollar profession had them burnt out. They found the answers in possessing meditation, a mesmerizing guru, sexual freedom, and a promise that they were part of a revolution of world peace. I thought how were these educated people falling for this, and then realized that before I settled on Christianity I may have easily fallen into the same pit.
A good part of my motivation and accomplishment has been reared in a search for a fulfilling life - one of purpose and value. So it's important where my values come from in taking on new endeavors. The driven must drive towards the right things. But I've made mistakes. At one time I was embroiled in politics - leading armies of people to state conventions, debating political philosophy with leaders, using social media to share my views, and fighting for national security, foreign policy and energy reform as if it were my dying wish. Today, my endeavors are more Christ-centered and I do Hospice, mentor youth, blog here and share my poetry through multiple venues. Life is much more fulfilling now then it was under the trance of "saving the world". Romans 12:2 is my favorite verse that I forgot to follow - "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Take note of your endeavors and glorify God.
Christianity is not a flash religion, and as Christians we have to deal sometimes with the mundane. For example, avoiding sexual sin is much more mundane than being promiscuous. So is a good work ethic or a clean shaven attitude. But we are rest assured by Romans 8 and John 15 (and throughout the Bible) that God's purpose lives within us, and that hope and joy are big pieces of our faith and long-term dedication as Christians. Christianity historically has been a religion of peace and it offers the world stability wherever it takes root, so as Christians we are part of a peace movement. There are answers within Christianity to the normal and mundane, or professional burn-out; by seeking answers from God though prayer, study and from examples among our brothers and sisters in Christ we can succeed.
Dear God, Thank You for delivering me from the wrong path. Thank You for the answer that sometimes life is normal and mundane and that even that can be a welcome breath of fresh air after things get seemingly out of control. If not, I am to deal with it as a mature Christian. I pray that more non-Christians and youth are drawn towards the Christian way of life for what it offers and what is true. We know You hear our cries, and we should listen for that answer that always comes from You. At times, my life isn't fulfilling and I get that "itch"; it can either lead me astray or head me in the right direction to doing greater things. Be by my side always and guide my paths. In Christ's name, Amen.
Quote by Audrey Hepburn (one of my sister's favorite people) - "I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles."
My sister is pretty damn cool. She handles mom-hood with grace, and is the kind of mom any sane person would love to have. She keeps her marriage going, and welcomes people into her home and life with love. She gives the best toasts over a drink, and can still get down and dance. What she believes is what she practices, and she is a very beautiful woman - inside and out. Lastly, but not least, she has a great sense of humor - it's nice when we laugh together.
When my father died, at his funeral a church mentor of my sister and I told us two that we needed to keep our relationship strong with each other. He explained his close relationship with his brother and the importance it had on his life. I was in college and he had been our Youth Minister when I was young. He was right. And my sister is a big part of my world today. I am very lucky to have a close relationship with my sister, but besides luck, I have also put in a lot of work to keep the relationship at a high level; she has too.
So what was the key from the brotherhood example that inspired this sisterhood example from my life? To be honest, I think it's a combination of witnessing the various mundane to monumental moments in another one's life since birth, and the unique humor that grows up around that into later-hood. Later-hood is first older kids, then young adults, then getting old, and oh my! full-old. Our sisters know us without our masks; they know how we came to be. Having humorous moments on the same page with a sister is part of a life-sustaining journey. Laughter has always been the best medicine in my life, and the laughter of two sisters is more than twice the benefit. This is why everyone needs a sister in life.
Dear God, Thank you for this life sustaining blessing in my life - my sister. Maybe when we laugh the world lightens up around us, even if only very briefly. I pray that as two sisters we can continue to overcome what life throws at us. My sister's kids are a wonderful addition to my world, and I thank you for the wonderful parents they have to raise them and show them the way into adult-hood (they have a ways to go!) Cheers to good toasts, good advice, good humor and beautiful ladies. Praise God! Amen.
Something Outside of Herself, poem by Michelle Murphy
I get my typewriter out
And it says to me, “Push my buttons.”
This is what I type:
Psychosis wipes away the tears
Of frozen words.
You say, “She’s possessed!”
But that does not capture the meaning.
Words are spectrums -
Not concrete shapes.
I say, “She’s also on the spectrum
Of inspired -
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
Mental illness is a bad choice of terms.
I got issues - you got issues.
And hell no! - I don’t want
Your issues instead of mine.
I have abstract thoughts
That have broken me from the
Wrist ties that keep us locked away,
And from reasoning and speaking.
I’ve slipped away enough times
To know I don’t do any kind of
Cocktail that will make me slip again.
It’s a question I’ve faced -
Whether to have a daughter that
Might be a duplicate of me.
I would protect her.
Oh glorious! I’ve climbed a mountain
Before and given a speech to no one.
Oh dreadful! I’ve nailed a semi-truck
And only by God’s grace stand here now.
Oh police! Oh naked in terror
Running down the street.
Sheer terror makes my rides
Not worth any set of dollar bills.
I am older than I look.
I’ve been possessed and inspired!
At war and brought about peace!
I am known in the spirit world
And I have been anointed.
Oil has glazed down my head - my crown.
I put the typewriter down and speak.
I said psychosis wipes away the tears of frozen words.
That cocktails can free us from our prisons.
If you zero in on thousands of years what are ladies still talking about?
The glorious, the dreadful, and the police.
Inspiration, war and peace.
Cocktails, the spirit world, my issues - her issues.
Protecting their daughters.
The woman’s shadow has always been there, it never disappears.
But almost all shadows are worth chasing after.
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
There's a reason women still live in a shadow of what they could be. For American women, today is the age of anxiety, the age of a sure-to-fail expectation of success, the age of general naiveness among the masses, and the age of an explosion in creativity. These all contribute to the challenges of being a woman.
Anxiety is talked about by all the experts; it's a growing problem in the United States. American culture, technology, education, nutrition, genetic expression, and exposure to elements in the environment all play key roles in this discussion. Anxiety affects all sectors of the population. How it affects women is key to who women are; who a woman is, is not arbitrary. But who that is, is not simple. There is a shadow of women from the past that follow us today. In many ways we cast today the same shadow as from past times; we weep together with our past and future, and we sing together.
Today, a surefire success campaign in the public domain will expect a woman to be equal to a man in their shared domain - the competition is this way in many career-fields. Women do this body-double with males plus she is expected to surge in the home, among her family and friends and as a parent. Not every woman feels this bar to compare herself to, but a large number of women in my age-group certainly have - I have.
Even with the age of instant news and information, generations have been steered away from real information through careful news administration, conspired busyness about daily life, and Prussian-style public schooling. This lack of careful study and accurate understanding affects the world-views of millions of women. But, many women escape this delusion by focusing on what is true to their inner circles - women have a tendency to answer back to the war on for their minds.
Women in America are free to create in all sectors, and they score a creative-high in all sectors. Big thinkers, optimistic dreamers, careful students, readers, engineers, artists - all assets to our world. The explosion in freedom and free-markets has sent women into overdrive, some of which we have been unprepared for. The act of being creative usually entails deep employment of the heart and sometimes vulnerability. Yet, many women are not prepared to handle their emotions in a responsible way. It affects work and relationships, our mental and spiritual health.
These are complex and tumultuous times, yet mankind is better off for adding women to the equation in a larger way (as in recent history here in America). Yet many things have to be worked through. Some things stand out like a sore thumb as problems, yet obstacles stand there providing us an uphill battle. It's an uphill battle women will continue to climb.
Pray for a woman in your life.
Philippians 4, Verses 4-9 - 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
With the exception of people like Paul in the Bible or Tony Robbins, we all face challenges with anxiety from time to time. There are a number of ways to respond to anxiety. We often respond to the unknown with unease. The unknown can keep us on edge almost continuously, it can trigger PTSD symptoms, and it can be dangerous to our mental, spiritual and even physical health. When something we are counting on falls through, disappointment turns to grief and then recovery. If not recovery, then anxiety and other negative things.
Don't place your bets on what you think will be with you tomorrow, or what you think you might lose. Place your bets on things like charity, acceptance, wisdom, faith, and hope. Those are sure things, pure things and they come through 100% of the time. Life events do not always come through, and you've likely lost a bet or more before. Rather than projecting the past into the future, the framework needs to be altogether different. Philippians chapter 4, verses 4-9 are very popular verses for Christians, and offer an understanding response as well as solutions to the problem of anxiety. Paul gives two actionable items: (1) to pray requests to God in thanksgiving, and (2) to think on excellent and praiseworthy things.
Look up at the sky. Taste food. Actually get on your knees and pray. Listen or remember a favorite song. Smell your skin. Remember a meaningful hug. Stir your mind to answer the question, "What is excellent and praiseworthy?" from this looking, tasting, praying, listening, touching and smelling. Doing this is grounding for anyone, and something I do to ground myself.
I've learned it is key with anxiety to be gentle with yourself, and with others. Remember your worth and the worth of others. Love yourself properly. Remember to love others as we would ourself. - it's the golden rule.
Dear God, You are most excellent and praiseworthy. I thank Paul for his meaningful words in Philippians and the sacrifice he made with his life and death for the sake of the Church. I will work to focus more on excellent and praiseworthy things. I pray for my nation that has the #1 highest anxiety rate in the world. I pray for our busy, tensed up lives, and ask for more than medication and counseling to resolve the issue. I pray for the state of individuals today. I pray for my state. I am optimistic. With thanksgiving I rejoice because what is excellent will prevail. Amen.
Quote by Michelle Murphy - "Where my mind dwells I must not stay too long - I must keep moving even if my path is cyclical and circular just as the seasons go by. Just keep moving."
Matthew 6, Verse 34 - “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Poem "The Future" by Michelle Murphy
In the future we remove our masks.
The leaders in charge - they challenge.
The church is optimistic.
And more are in love.
Totality is respected in crisis situations,
Which are no longer subsidized.
My health is good,
So is yours and yours.
The chimneys were swept
And replaced with - now,
Water reactors, fresh air.
The skies are alive.
Tired is still here,
And the blues has its welcome.
We experience life - still.
The music is the best.
Blood pumps here,
And they break,
And they sing.
I am amazed with the future.
It is the same and not the same.
For over a decade after I left college I partied on. I re-lived my past lifestyle and was unable to move into something more mature for a long time. I got stuck in a wild past, and nothing seemed to satiate my desire to live carefree, always mingling trouble with my marriage and work. When I met up with people from the past who had moved on, I often prodded them to imbibe in wild behaviors. Often I was disappointed to find myself alone trying to relive my past, settling for large sums of alcohol or pot with strangers, or over the phone calling anyone I could so I wouldn't be a party of one. I've since put that part of my past away and the change has been overwhelmingly beneficial. I am a new person and that hook from the past is dislodged.
My past has also haunted me at times, having been dealt a hard blow with the suicide of my father, a rough car accident and many mental breakdowns with the diagnosis of schizo-affective. Some of the scars from these incidents have served as open wounds - not healing. We all have experiences like this to overcome in our lifetime. We can worry ourselves sick projecting potential problems into the future, based on something we have experienced from the past. Fears crop up. Turmoil in our brain persists. Patterns of thought and behavior set in. I've had to tell myself "no!" to specific thoughts, and submerge myself in fruitful endeavors to shut down the voices haunting me. Sometimes I've had to forgive to move on. Yes - moving on is about moving on to something else. We may always be tested or suffer another setback, but worrying and anticipating the bad have always left me worse off than bearing my muscles for another day, tough, wonderful or in-between. I'm much more ready for it all by living in the present with flexibility and being future-looking without tons of worry.
Long-term and short-term memory serve us well when we are learning in-school or on-the-job. They are not so helpful if they lead us to hold grudges over others or ourselves. When we hold that kind of resentment or ill will it eats at us and brews a pessimistic idea of the future or of another person, or a skewed frame of mind. We may gossip or give in to a multitude of sins because negativity breeds more negative outcomes. When I say "just keep moving" in my quote above, I mean keep moving as if the overall future is bright and people are ultimately connected to us (and that is a good thing). The overall future can be bright, because it is true the glass is half empty or half full - so it's for your deciding. The future will always be somewhat similar to the way things are now, because there is something about creation that as it unfolds, energy may translate into something new, yet fundamentally it is still energy. Translate your energy into something wonderful and let go of the past. Be positive, don't gossip, don't give in, keep moving.
Dear God, One day when I pass away from this life and my judgment has occurred I hope to find myself in a place where worry, sin and turmoil are absent. Maybe Christians are wishful thinkers, but I do see much evidence for the Biblical view of eternity. Thank you for Your prodding to put away a wild past and bad behaviors. Thank You for pulling me out of skewed frames of mind ongoing. Thank You for moving me through the grief process with good success. Some of the past still haunts me and I ask for Your help in letting go. Encourage me to let go of grudges and pessimistic views, and to be positive and keep moving. Anxieties have kept me on a short-lease from time to time, and I pray for Your continued support to heal. Forgive me for the sins I have committed related to gossiping, wild lifestyles and over-attempts to control my own life. You are the guiding light in our lives, and I should consult Your ways more often in pursuing plans. Forgive me for my lack of prayerfulness, and my time-to-time doubt of Your existence. It seems I have a difficult spiritual life, and some of that is my own doing. In the name of the Holiest One, Our Father, Amen.
poem "Musee des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind a tree.
In Brueghel's "Icarus", for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the plowman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky;
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do no go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang in the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death how see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now wiht your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost (1974-1963)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked own one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet known how way leads on to way,
OI doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
poem "Searching for Lines" by Michelle Murphy (born 1978)
Dancing one’s socks off per three cups of wine,
Then skipping lines, circling my name,
And leaving to go yonder
In pursuance of fame.
Questing between worlds and eras
Upon a ship, either sunken, at bay,
Or on water, careening either which way
Without directions or maps
Ordinary to a more average trip
Says one, perhaps.
Meeting flash, bright sunlit square,
Shining upon my platform,
Gave me semblance of favor
And cheer above norm.
Here I filled a line or two,
Making way, scooping up time
And commanding the view.
Idling moments, daytime siestas,
Lasting spells on small boats,
Digging around the onshore castle I once danced in,
Now built to it a moat.
I circled around it, instead of my name,
Reading maps at high noon
And feeling some shame.
Finding a window, I pressed my nose to the glass,
Leaving a slightly original and greased mark,
Returning from yonder, skipping no lines
And erasing my name,
I left to go dancing.
I attended a poets' workshop a few weeks back and there were many depth-ful discussions in a close-knit setting. At first, I wondered the purpose of this form of conversation among strangers. I discovered deep conversations meant to peer into one's soul make for good writing. For every poet I realized carried with them real life experiences, especially ones of sacrifice or sorrow and eye-popping points-of-view. A poet must realize the spiritual world and mix it with the emotional elements of life to conjure the imagination. This allows for poetic expression, and for one to do things that are otherwise less possible as we travel the road of life. Language and writing directed to someone else can jumpstart another to think of personal application; an author has a purpose to get others to feel in their raw gut something real. The imagined takeaway by the author is just that, but the reader reacts and uses his or her own imagination to carry out life, potentially with a new thought in mind.
What should we ponder in order to write and express ourselves well to others? At least some of the following: Do we have compassion or tend to look away? What are our spiritual beliefs? How do we ascertain suffering in the world and what is our experience with it? Are we light-weight sufferers or do we keep getting back up for life? What of the laws of nature and conversation and language? What is romantic to us and whom do we love? What is our experience in being loved back and how have we responded to rejection? What of our life experiences can we put onto paper or express to others? What deeply ingrained reactions can we find purpose in, or retrain for a better outcome? What do you want to say to the world now, even though we know we haven't yet made it fully - but yet we feel in the raw form and we have tidbits of knowing to express? Ponder, express, write.
At the poets' workshop I attended one person asked, "Why did God create anything in the first place?", as part of another question - "Why are we here and what is our purpose?" I ask, "Why does the poet write a poem, or why does any man or woman create anything at all? What is life without the ability for us to create?" And another responded, "So as the artist is a creator, so God created and we may in fact be God's poetry". I challenge you to create your own universe in the form of poetic expression, or any other kind of expression. The language, grunts and murmurs we feel, think and converse with are all part of an expression and interrelated with life all around us. Interaction is the breath of life, and so purposefully interact and express yourself within this world. And do these other few things for me: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." "Take the road not taken." Don't turn your eye to "a boy falling from the sky." Dance. Dance. Dance.
Dear God, Sometimes we are like the young children in the poem "Musee des Beaux Arts" who did not specifically want to be alive and born. We come from different lives and backgrounds and their is torture and suffering to which we turn a blind eye to too often. The roads we travel may not always be fine journeys even if they do make a difference. We know you hear our grunts and groans and also our poetic expressions and prayers. You know our kind deeds where we ought not normally be kind, and you know our warts, addictions and misbehaviors. Today we thank you for Your creation and stand in amazement of it, even if it includes the 10 fingers I have that I will use to express myself on paper. I want to get in touch with my soul, and also feel Your soul. I think of Your soul like the fresh cleansing breath in the wind that sets everything straight at just the right time. For I began to walk up straighter not too long ago and it was this wind I caught - Your doing. I pray for ability in expression - whether a deep and important set of words towards a loved one at a pivotal moment, or in my writing. May there be more poets and readers of poets in the world who find eye-popping points of view on real life experiences worth digging into. We cannot change the world without Your wings, but we do seek to improve it - for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and brothers and sisters period. I pray for uplifting, for wings, for inspiration, for Your cleansing breath, for more than just my 10 fingers but for the whole universe that unravels before us through science and star-gazing. If we are God's poetry, then You, God, amaze with Your creation. You Rock! Amen!
Is There a God? - poem by Michelle Murphy
My faith is strong
And my knowledge Of God in its fullness.
Yet I still ask The big questions
While the details Are filled in,
From life experience, From pondering,
Hard knock discussions, From facing down reality.
Is God for real?
I say there are 2 answers.
I decided on evidence To believe in God
But accept I’ll always wonder a bit.
For I know the angels And demons up close,
But God is so big a deal He’s hard to touch.
The 2nd option Is to not to believe in God
But ponder, If in some minute way only, That He does exist.
To know concretely Is to ignore mysticism
Or be under the heavy influence Of materialism.
Basically a babe Who’s faith has not yet been tested.
We are born into adversity, Into our fleshly bodies.
We must rise to the occasion.
The possibility of God Is a fact.
Some might dare to say The possibility
Of no God Is also a fact.
I dare to believe
And I dare to say.
This is facing down reality.
"Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, Song excerpt
I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right...
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
’Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)
1 Samuel 17 - Goliath’s Challenge, 1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. 4 Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” 10 Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12 Now David was the son of the Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in yearsamong men. 13 The three older sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and the second to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. 17 Then Jesse said to David his son, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. 18 Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them. 19 For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.” David Accepts the Challenge, 20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army. 22 Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. 24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” 27 The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.” 28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.” 29 But David said, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?” 30 Then he turned away from him to another and said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before. David Kills Goliath, 31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued itfrom his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” 38 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. 39 David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them [fn]off. 40 He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. 41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” 48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. 50 Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines [fn]as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. 53 The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps. 54 Then David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent. 55 Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “You inquire whose son the youth is.” 57 So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
Exodus 3, Verses 10-14 - Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Who do you see in the mirror day to day? It is important to have a strong sense of self for good mental health. Else we get swept up in our private realities - realities of depression or pessimism, inflated narcissism, manic ego, psychosis OR anxious viewpoints. Our private realities alter how we perceive "me". We can't avoid being taken over by perverted perspectives at times, but we can avoid having it take us down completely. How? We can develop or will naturally have a strong sense of self that overshadows all our other demented sensory views of "me".
When you're in your right mind, remember and ingrain in your mind your strengths. Write them down, imprint them on your forehead. Maybe kindness, or a good sense of humor, maybe good work ethic, being accomplished at certain things, or smarts and common-sense. Always fight to keep those traits apparent when you face yourself in the mirror. Research says the "stubborn and resilient" recover from trauma, so seek to incorporate these 2 traits into your nature. At the very least be stubborn and resilient about keeping your best strengths and traits. Don't let trauma steal from you who you want to be at the core.
From a Biblical perspective, David believed in himself when others did not believe in him - he knew his strengths. So know your strengths. Moses was built up by God and supported by God to perform his duties as prophet, and then he followed through. So follow through on your callings. Jesus proclaimed with confidence His divine status from the very beginning. So let your light shine before other men and women. We should strive in the direction of David, Moses and Jesus even if we are not great like them, for we do have strengths that build God's kingdom. We should not squander any building up or support we get along the way, but use it to strengthen our core attributes and gifts.
We are not only what we see in the mirror, but what others see and most importantly what God sees. All of those aspects of ourselves dictate the small things to big things of being us. What God sees is a sinner, and we always thank Jesus Christ for an opportunity to be seen by God in a cleansing light. John 3:16-21 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Dear God, Thank you for Your Son and Your love for us. When I look in the mirror I see different aspects of myself... sometimes just a person who needs to fix their hairdo or lose another waist size, but also someone who has major strengths and weaknesses. I have certain God given callings and life duties - some more mundane than others, but challenges nonetheless. I can look tired or excited or in-love when I look in the mirror. All of these looks are of one of Your daughters. I am thankful for my stubborn and resilient nature, because when I've lost myself I've often come back even stronger. I always feel more comfortable in the present and future-looking, than in looking back. My life has been one of growth, overcoming one mistake after another. I thank You for Your blessings and patience, and for the reality check You often provide in Your word and in others' criticisms. It is a wonder of Yours that I am alive today and well. May Your glory abide forever and ever. Amen.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.