If you knew you had only one day left to live…

okay let’s be generous and say two…

In the little time you had left…what would you say and do?


Would you continue to be the same person 

if you found you only had two days more…

or would you look at the world through clearer eyes than you ever had before?


Would your heart be kinder and gentler?

Would you act more impulsive and carefree?

Would you begin to find joy and the beauty in everything you see?


Would you discover the inherent dignity, the virtue

the beauty everyone possesses...

the beauty in each skin color or the way each person dresses?


When you see two people in love…

would it matter to you if they were gay?

When you see someone kneeling in prayer…

would it matter to which God they pray?


If you knew that today or tomorrow would be your final…

your ultimate day…

Would who and what are important come into focus…

while all the other things faded away?


I wish everyone has a multitude of days left to live…

with all my heart I do…

But with all my heart I also wish everyone would act…

as if they only had one or two.

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We'd occasionally see him on our morning walks

that’s how our friendship grew.

Now, we smile and we stop to talk…when Big John comes into view.


We chat about our families, the weather…happy to pause for a minute or two.

Happy to spend some time together…as good friends often do.


Big John likes to tell stories and give advice…because that’s what old folks do

and he has earned that right…because Big John is 82.


Underneath his stories and his bad jokes (believe me he knows a few!)

he shares with us his experiences…his knowledge…

and a bit of wisdom too.


His best advice is to be kind and find joy in all we do

because, he says, when it comes to life…we’re all just passing through.


He says you want to leave behind good memories when you bid this world adieu…

Leave a smile on your friends and family’s faces …when you’re done passing through.


And this advice as stuck with us because as Big Joh is want to do….

He likes his own advice so much….he repeats it a time or two!


But I know for myself…and I’m pretty sure that goes for Deborah too

We always leave Big John with a smile when our visits with him are through.


It’s amazing how he has enhanced our lives

though we only see him for a moment or two…

as our lives occasionally intersect…

while we’re all just passing through.


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It is a story for the ages that generations will long repeat

for when it comes to these two lovers…it was their destiny to meet.


Two ordinary people…nothing more and nothing less.

He was not a knight in shining armor,

she was not a damsel in distress.


But from the moment they joined together…from that wondrous day

oh the castles they would build and the dragons they would slay.


Together they faced them all…monsters…ogres…vandals

wicked witches…big bad wolves…there was nothing they couldn’t handle.


And through all their years…through all their tears

through all their joys and sorrows and laughter…

from the moment they first met they lived happily ever after.


And every time their story is repeated…

it ends the same way…

without fail:

Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life…

love gives you a fairy tale.


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There was a time when we were children

when we loved everyone…indiscriminately…

when we were pouring the foundation 

of who we, one day, hoped to be.


Mixed into the foundation

of who we hoped to be

were the beginnings of a dream

of the world we hoped to see.


When our foundation was completed…when it dried

there we hoped to find 

a house built on acceptance

on being loving, compassionate and kind.


But when we looked around us

at the diversity of our world…and of our nation

we found every house was not built 

upon the same foundation.


And we came to understand and appreciate

what many before us have known:

How every house, no matter the foundation

has a beauty all its own.


And so our dream amidst such diverse foundations 

is that everyone will come to find

a world that is accepting

that is loving, compassionate and kind.


Which is why, as adults, we are so sad today…

when we see so much hate

when we kill each other so indiscriminately…

and we wonder when did our world turned into

the world we never dreamed that it would be.

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Everyone we meet whether a cause of joy or sorrow or strife

writes another chapter into our book of life.


I met Phil and Lee when they were in their eighties.

They were one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever met

and though they both died long ago…their’s is a chapter I’ll never forget.


I thought about them yesterday…my good friends Phil and Lee

a thought triggered by a song…as that is the wonder of memory.


I immediately stopped what I was doing…stopped by their memory

and flipped back through my book of life…to read the chapter on Phil and Lee.


And though, as I get older, the writing sometimes seems a little blurred

when I found the chapter on Phil and Lee…I savored every word.


I found that as I read this chapter from a distance…from afar

It was filled mostly with joy…but with a touch of sorrow…

as I’m sure most chapters are.


Is that not the beauty of each chapter in our book of life

whether we search them out…or something random generates a thought

for the moment we revisit them……we revisit all the feelings that they brought?


I have a wish for everyone as this current chapte’s being written

as we watch our country bleed…

Take a moment every now an then to leaf through your book of life

and find a chapter you’d like to read.


Your own chapter…your own pages

find your own Phil and Lee

To remind you not only of a happier time… 

but also how all chapters end…eventually.


And to remind you there is a balance in these moments that we share

for as friends and family write a chapter in our life…

we are writing one in theirs.

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We don’t often think about it…but deep inside…we know

how we are a different person than we were a day ago.


Each new day brings new experiences that somehow find a way

to subtly change

or drastically alter…

who we were yesterday.


From the time we watch the sun rise until the time we see it set

our hair has grown another day longer…

perhaps a new person we have met


Perhaps we were courageous….

perhaps we overcame our fears

Perhaps we shared some laughter…

Perhaps we shed some tears…


Perhaps we witnessed a baby’s birth

or the first time one walked or talked…or cried.

Perhaps we held somebody’s hand 

the moment when they died. 


Perhaps we learned a little something…

Perhaps we realized there is still so much to know…

Perhaps we are a little wiser today…than we were a day ago.


And if we’re lucky that wisdom will seep into our souls 

our minds 

our hearts…

as we become a different person

when tomorrow starts.



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When the world is moving too fast and it’s hard for me to see

I find some peace and comfort as I sit under a tree.


In the coolness of the shade on the ground as low as I can go…

I give thanks to whoever planted this tree so many years ago.


As I lay upon the ground and watch leaves waving in the breeze 

I begin to wonder to myself how important are the trees.


Without us they’re still beautiful….thet’ll still grow up tall and thrive

but without them we, as humans, would be unable to survive.


Under a tree we ponder the value of our life…our meaning and our worth

Under a tree, if we listen, we can hear the heartbeat of the Earth.


Under a tree is where some poets have been inspired to do their rhyming.

It’s where as children looking up we began to think of climbing.


Under a tree is where couples…looking through the leaves to the stars above

have held hands for the first time…it’s where they fell in love.


As I see the branches of the tree…lifting up…and watch them sway

I wonder if it was under a tree where people first began to pray. 


The more and more you contemplate life sitting under a tree

the more the world begins to slow down and the easier it is to see.







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I was brought up in the Catholic religion…

Catholics…we knew what was wrong and what was right

with the Bible as our guide…everything was black and white.


Then I grew up and learned nothing is as black and white as all religions say…

I learned there are more than two sides to every story…and so many things are grey.


In the Catholic Church with it’s ten commandments…celebrating its communal feast

Grey is looking the other way when children were molested by a priest.


Grey are people in the midst of a pandemic…who refuse to do what experts ask…

Who will not wash their hands, stay 6 feet apart or even wear a mask.


In a country where our leaders assure us our children are important

and protecting them is how they rule…

Grey is doing nothing when a man with an automatic rifle kills them…in their school.


In a country where some people would like to see weapons that can kill so many so fast…

banned this very day.

Grey are the people who legally and rightfully own guns thinking we want to take all their guns away.


Abortion…a delicate subject…everyone has an opinion…a belief…a voice

Grey is on a decision so heart wrenching…allowing the woman to make the final choice.


In a country built by and for immigrants…

where immigration is the cornerstone of what we’re all about…

Grey are the families of all those immigrants we let in…building a wall to keep the new ones out.


Grey is looking out on the artistry of nature and thinking…this does not compute….

And wondering why the beauty of this planet we love…we easily pollute.


Grey is some of us living in a comfortable home filled with fruit and vegetables and meat

while other people have no place to live and have no food to eat.


Grey is knowing you are gay or transgender…knowing it you’re whole life long

and being told you need to be fixed…that the way you feel is wrong.


Grey is how some people are treated differently because their religion has a different spin…

Grey is how some people are judged by the color of their skin.


In a world where we want peace…where we hate every aspect, every element of war

Grey is knowing there are things in life that are still worth fighting for. 


Knowing nothing is ever as easy as it seems…never as simple as black and white

How do we go about changing…how do we make things right?


I imagine the first step is one that would cause both sides a modicum of dismay

We find some way to combine our world of black and white…

and learn to live together in grey.

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I had this dream while growing up…that I’d be a millionaire

l’d live in a beautiful house, drive a fancy car…there’d be money everywhere.


I’d float through a life of happiness…I’d seldom wear a frown.

I’d have no reason to be sad because…I’d be the richest man in town.


It’s funny how life sometimes has other plans…how different dreams unfold

when on a teacher’s salary, now with a family…I put my initial dream on hold.


There were mouths to feed and bills to pay…facts I couldn’t deny

Now I dreamed of health and happiness with enough money to get by.


Yes, growing up I had this dream…as many young people do

but I never dreamed I could be happy if a different dream came true. 


My dream house isn’t as big nor my dream car quite as fancy…

but I found I do not care

I have a beautiful wife, a wonderful family…I have joy and love everywhere.


I’d like to tell you the exact moment when it happened…but I don’t think I can…

when the young boy’s dreams from long ago gave way to the new dreams of the man.


But this new dream I am living…I’ll be the first one to concede

has allowed me to float through a happy life…with everything  I need.


Which is why, after all these years…I seldom wear a frown…

because somehow, even though a different dream came true…

I’m still the richest man in town.