The Inner Light

My favorite episode of Star Trek is “The Inner Light.”  Star Trek has always been a show about what it means to be human.  Yes, it has a lot of flashing lights, special effects, green aliens, esoteric worlds, starship battles and journeys to countless planets and stars.  And yet for all the glitter, the show, at its best, is a grand exposition of the human condition, the human experience.  In “The Inner Light”, Captain Picard is thrust upon a life totally different from his own.  Instead of commanding a starship, he was a man with a wife he didn’t know, on a planet slowly dying.  He didn’t want to be there, but there was this woman he didn’t know who nevertheless tended to him, nurtured him, loved him.  Slowly, the fantasy became a reality and in a scant twenty minutes, Picard experiences a life he had never known.  A love he had never known.  A wife who adored him, children who loved him, needed him and in the end, taught him that being a parent elicits emotions ranging from worry, consternation, disappointment, pride.  All the by product of the most basic human emotion of all.  The ability to feel and to give love.

It is a masterful story and when I need to find meaning in my own life, I watch this show again and remember that all that glitters is not gold.  Kamin was not rich by any means.  His family was but one of many families in a village being ravaged by drought.  Yet the life he was living seemed so much more complete, so much more fulfilled than the life he lived as the dashing captain of a Federation flagship.  And when the illusion ended, when he realized that what he had thought was his life was actually a mental recreation, he did something extraordinary.  He took a flute, sat by a window, gazed at the stars, and he began to play.

We can go through life and be dazzled by the success that we are taught to go after.  We can go through life looking for the next star, hardly stopping to even look at the world that we are in.  We can go through life and experience ecstasy, the heights of fame, the allure of power, the spoils of wealth and yet feel empty, broken.  When we look outside ourselves for validation, we allow others to judge us from their point of view; to tell us that in order to be happy or successful, we must follow someone else’s dream, live the life that someone else envisions.  Is it such a surprise that a life that always looks outward misses the simple joys that life can bring.  A fluttering butterfly.  A cool breeze on a warm day.  A sprinkle of rain blurring one’s view of the world, for an instant.  So many small moments that can bring meaning to a life.  Do we spend the time looking at the world in its own terms, feeling the infinitely small breezes of fluttering wings, feeling the hair on our forehead dance, just a little.  Do we look inward and in our heart find that inner light, the one true beacon that can bring meaning to one’s existence?

It is like the nondescript houseplant pictured above.  Green leaves on a pot.  These leaves have a secret.  They are the leaves that will bring sustenance to this plant, that will eventually provide the nourishment for flowers to bloom.  These are the leaves of a sampaguita plant.  Jasmine.  Beautiful and sweet.  A flower, that to many, symbolizes purity and humility.  It is, in many ways, ethereal.

So as the year ends, I think of this special Star Trek episode.  And of a beautiful flower.  And look inward and see the beauty that the inner light reveals.  It is within all of us.  And when you find it, share it.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Be generous.  In the grace that the beatitudes bring, we experience the greatness of all creation.

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Sometimes, it just withers away

I was looking at some of the pictures I took in the last year an a half and this one caught my eye.  Flowers, no matter how beautiful they are, always seem to have a lifespan.  Even as it fades, you can see the beauty that once was.  It didn’t wither because of lack of care.  The garden was the beneficiary of abundant rainfall.  The flowers were well taken care of.  In their time, their beauty was a reflection of the warm sun that nourished them.  And yet, as with all things, the flowers have an expiration date.

Each thing on earth has an appointed time.  In its time in the sun, each flower provides beauty and sustenance.  They may fade away, but each leaves a mark all its own.   And come next spring, another set of flowers will sprout and grow.  And like the flowers that came before them, they too dazzle the senses.

The circle of life.  Mysterious.  Essential.

Not Quite Sleepless in Seattle

On the way to an unexpected trip to Manila, the first leg of the trip was a stop at Seattle, Washington.  I have never been to this city and I was hoping that there would be a relatively cloudless view of the surrounding area as the plane approached and landed in Seattle.  Well, it was a fortuitous day indeed.  Hopefully a harbinger of good things to come.  And with the Pixel 2 XL in hand, why not post unedited pictures while in the airport.  So here goes.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YMaker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

And a welcome sight after five hours.Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The Seattle music scene (not really, but the guy was good).

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The setting sun, not in focus

Many people obsess about keeping the subject of their photograph in focus.  How every part of the image has to be sharp.  How great the bokeh is.  And all that stuff.  Sometimes, you just have to take a picture that you have in your mind.  And if that means the subject is not in focus, then so be it.  Is everything sharp?  Is that what’s really important?  Photography is about light.  And a photograph is something that makes you feel something.  The sharpest lens on the best camera in the world?  No, but I like what I saw through the lens of my camera.  Pictures of the setting sun, even when though the sun is not in focus.  It makes me appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

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Ephemeral Beauty

I look up a pink hued sky
And my heart beats in rhythm
With nature’s beauty, enveloping me
With warmth in the still cold April day
I gaze upward, and in the midst of the cherry canopy
I see a flower, standing still, yet moving me
My soul trembles with joy
And for a moment, an instant
The spirit of love overwhelms me
And my heart, changed, is finally free
Embraced by an ephemeral beauty
That lasts an eternity

A Message for Easter

The Christian world celebrates the greatest miracle of all – the resurrection of the Son of God, who conquered death and in so doing made life eternal possible for all of us.  When Adam and Eve fell from grace, it was because they disobeyed the Father, the Creator of all things.  God gave them the world He created and yet to them it was not enough.  Pride and avarice lead to their downfall.  They wanted the truth, or so they thought.  What they wanted, in reality, was a world in their image, a world that believed in the things that they believed in, a world that bowed to their whims and wishes.

The Son of Man came to this world as an instrument of peace.  Of humility.  Of love.  The Father so loved His creation that He sent His Son to live among us.  To teach us that humility, peace, obedience and love can be and must be part of our lives.  He did not come to this world to condemn us.  He came to this world to bring His Father’s creation back to the Father.  He died so that we may live.

Today, how many of us judge each other by the wealth that we have accumulated.  How many of us look at the schools that we attend, at the clothes that we wear, at the cars that we drive, and decide that these superficial accomplishments are the touchstones that determine our worth.  How many of us Christians look upon the poor with disdain, that somehow, they are not worthy of our attention.  Or of our love.  How many of us look at our non Christian brothers and sisters and fail to see that they too are created in the image of our Father, the Creator who made us all.  Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian.  All of us, all of us, are the children of the One God who made the universe.  A God who loved the world so much that He sacrificed His own son surely loves each and every one of us.  No matter the faith, no matter the inclination, we are all children of the universal Creator.

This Easter, let us remember that all of us strive for the same things in our lives.  To try to live a life of goodness.  To provide for our families and those that we love.  To share with each other the gifts that our Creator gave us.  To serve each other, to understand each other.  If the Son of God came not to condemn but to love, then we must try and do the same.  In the eyes of God, we are all His children.

If we truly believe in the Resurrection, then we must believe that Jesus gave His life for all of us.  He did not see the difference between a Jew or a Samaritan. In His eyes, we are all Children of God and deserving of His love.  And the love of the Father.  Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian.  We are all created in image of the Father.  We, the men and women of this world, are all God’s children.  And we are all the beneficiaries of the Son’s obedience to the Father.

On this day, I pray with a dear friend – that we see ourselves in others, realize that we all want the same things in life – health, prosperity and happiness.  And love.  That it is in sharing these gifts from the Creator that we prove ourselves worthy of our heritage – a life eternal with the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Father who made us all.

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The Wonder of Creation

When you find someone that makes life worthwhile
You remember that God created all of us for a purpose
And in the wonder of creation, He made sure
That each person can find Him
In the eyes, in the smile, in the heart
Of those that they hold most dear

We who are Created in His Image
Celebrate the true meaning of Creation
It is not to glorify one’s self
Nor is it to seek attention to one’s self
But to give one’s self in service of the other
Selflessness, you see
Is the revelation of the Truth
That above all else in the Universe
It is love, shared, that makes us whole

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