There is a wise old saying…an ancient Chinese gem: 

When three people walk together my teacher is among them.


We had a simple dinner with some friends and the first thing I was taught

was if you listen but a little…you’re bound to learn a lot..


I learned a lot about sadness

sadness that our basic foundation seems destined to destroy…

I learned if we are ever to survive that sadnesses

we must discover joy. 


I learned a lot about how the sadness of a natural disaster, 

of divorce

of sickness 

of wars that never seem to end

can be offset by the joy that floats around a table

filled with family and friends. 


I learned in the midst of a sad world

there is more joy than one might think

as I watched the laughter, support and wisdom 

of people sharing food and drink. 


As luck would have it other friends came into the restaurant

It was like a holiday!

They were celebrating their 5th grandchild…

born earlier that day.


I learned although weakness can come from sadness, 

meant to injure, to bruise…to annoy

our courage, our determination…our strength

comes from our faith, our love…our joy.


I learned this simple lesson which I will from this day forward now employ….

I shall not close my eyes to sadness

but I shall open them more…to joy…


Any ancient Chinese scholar sitting in that restaurant would have smiled…

It would have been easy for he…or she…to see

there was more than one teacher in that room that night…


In truth…they were surrounding me.

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While writing the story of his life

when he reached the part where his heart needed mending

how could he have ever known 

she would come along

and write his happy ending.


That she would create his joy

his comfort

would compose his music 

and his laughter

and the rest of the story would write itself



happily ever after.



We thought his rocking horse would only be ridden in the house….

but it was imagination that we lacked….

for he road to castles,

over rivers, 

through the trees…


then to the stars and back.

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No matter what happens in his life…he never speaks of pain

Instead he finds treasures in his troubles and pleasures in the rain.


When asked how he endures his suffering…how so easily he copes  

he answers that he only thinks of love…of happiness and hope.


He thinks of life as an adventure and all the beauty there is to see…

He finds his peace in the kindness of his friends…in the warmth of his family.


He looks at all the beauty in the world…he finds his inspiration in the turtle dove…

for he knows if he’s to thrive in life…he must fill his heart with love.


He says he’s much too busy…to ever speak of pain…

too busy finding treasures in his troubles and pleasures in the rain.


To busy finding inspiration in the flight of the turtle dove...

too busy filling his heart with hope…with happiness and love.


For he knows outward beauty is fleeting…that one day it will depart


and he knows the only lasting beauty…is the beauty in his heart…


When we planned the family kayak trip we hoped it was preordained

that we would be blessed with beautiful weather…that there would be no chance of rain.


As the day approached our excitement became a little more restrained

when we heard the weatherman report…there was a chance of rain.


But off we paddled anyway…deciding not to give in to our fear…

and the weather…it was beautiful…the river…cool and clear.


Halfway through our kayak trip, however, it did begin to rain

but something happened on that river…let me take a moment to explain.


The rain dropped softly from the sky…and onto us as well…

quietly and gently…in single drops it fell.


There was no thunder…no lightning with it…nothing to cause in us disdain…

Just a simple….serene…and mesmerizing…tender fall of rain.


All got quiet on the river…as mother’s, fathers, sons and daughters

were captivated by the sight and sounds of raindrops diving in the water.


I watched a young girl smile…as the rain fell softly on her head…

“I never thought that raindrops could be this beautiful!” she said.


Nature pleasantly surprised us today…on our little river jaunt…

by giving us a gift of something…we thought we did not want….


So next time we plan a kayak trip…you will not hear me complain


if, as the day of the trip approaches,…there is a chance that it will rain.

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I ran across this hat yesterday… 

on a shelf in a store is where I spied it…

and after thinking about it for a moment…I knew I had to buy it.


It’s a nondescript black baseball cap with a message I found clever

It merely reads across the front…

these three words…

best day ever.


I found it while we were with old friends having a truly wonderful day.

It really was the best day ever…so I bought it right away.


Then I remembered the day before…

We were with some different friends…who

we laughed and had a wonderful time with…

It was the best day ever too.


And what about the day before that?

Near as I could tell…it was also filled with wonder…

It was the best day ever as well.


And what about tomorrow?

We’re having lunch with another friend whom Deborah and I adore.

It will no doubt be the best day ever…

just like the day before…


And so I wonder…could each day be the best day ever?

Better than this day…better than that?

If that’s the case then I’m so glad…


for I’ll be wearing the right hat.


Some days when I wake up I like to take the time

(I’ve done this since I was a boy)

To list some things…perhaps in rhyme

that always bring me joy


It always begins and ends with family

Wife, children…grandchildren all

and then there’s the myriad of friends I’ve had

some…from a time when I was small.


I love flying in a plane;

the first glimmers of sunlight;

I love the smell after a rain;

a cricket symphony at night


I love ketchup on my eggs

(some people think that’s awful!);

I love playing mumblety-peg; 

I love ice cream on a waffle.


I love watching a child sleep; 

I love walking along the sand;

I love the softness of a sheep;

I’ve always loved holding hands.


I love the smell of sunscreen;

I love a grandma’s squeeze;

I love a mountain, a valley…a ravine;

I love sunflowers in the breeze.


I love watching pelicans fly across the water

sometimes two and three abreast;

I love walking on a deserted beach

as the sun sets in the west.


Yes, It never fails when I take a moment

and this simple philosophy employ…

List some of the things I love in rhyme


and start each day in joy.

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When I wake up near the ocean…where the ocean meets the land

I marvel at how the water glistens and at the smoothness of the sand.

Some birds soar across the sky…other along the shore will run…

As the clouds are quickly shifting colors with the rising of the sun.

Fishermen are heading out while dolphins jump and play

as the shadow of the night turns into the brightness of the day


When I wake up near the ocean…when I watch the ocean thrive

I can’t help but smile at the wonder…I can’t help but feel alive…



When I wake up in the mountains there is a crispness in the air

The breeze gently awakens the leaves and I quickly become aware

how the clouds are slowly moving off the mountains after hugging them so tight

providing them with warmth and comfort from the coolness of the night.

The birds begin to sing and the animals come out to play

as the shadow of the night turns into the brightness of the day


When I wake up in the mountains…as I watch the mountains thrive…

I can’t help but smile at the wonder…I can’t help but feel alive.


When I wake up in the winter, in the summer spring or fall

In the country, in the city…I can’t help but feel enthralled…


Perhaps it’s not where I’m waking up that has me so enthralled

Perhaps what makes me happy…is that I’m waking up at all… 


Waking up to, once again, begin life’s beautiful ballet

Waking up to laugh and love…to live another day.


Waking up realizing for another day my life extends… 

Waking up to to share this day with family and friends.


Yes, when I wake up every morning…when another day I have survived…

I can’t help but smile and jump for joy…


Because I’m happy to be alive.

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I love discovering joy far away from fortune and fame…

Like last night, as the sun was setting, at a child’s softball game.


She struck out on three pitches…without ever swinging the bat.

She smiled all the way to the dugout…I mean, where’s the joy in that!


Next time up, she got a hit and that same smile crossed her face…

Same smile as she took off running and landed on first base.


She plays the field wearing that same smile…is this an evil plot?

Same smile when the ball is hit to her…whether she catches it or not.


She plays with joy when she does well…or if an error she may make.

She plays with joy when she is perfect…or when she makes mistakes.


I realized the joy she feels must be in her chromosomes…

allowing her to smile when she strikes out…or when she’s rounding third for home.


Yes, as I watched the game last night I suddenly became aware

Her joy wasn’t in how well she did…her joy was in being there.


And mine too, for once again far away from fortune and fame…


I was able to discover joy…at a child’s softball game.

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