shortbread

short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “vision”

“Smokey the Bear and Catherine of Sienna?”

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Besides being bears, what do Smokey the Bear and Winnie the Pooh have in common?

Wait for it…  Hold that thought…  I’ll tell you in a sec….

It was just another facebook poster:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – Saint Catherine of Sienna  (shared on meetville.com).

The irony—and I didn’t know this till I did a little research—Saint Catherine was/is the Catholic Church’s Patron Saint of Fire Prevention.

I’ve known a few “saints of fire-prevention” along the way.  Self-designated dowsers throwing water on anything vaguely resembling innovation. If it was not in the rule book…if it meant going off the beaten path or over the beaten budget…if it threatened to crack the glass ceiling of “the way we’ve always done it”—the saints of fire prevention just said, “No.”  In church. In business. In society.

Unfortunately, the only way we find the new-and-wonderful is to let go of at least some of the old-and-not-as-wonderful-as-it-once-was.  Nicodemus did it in John 3.  It’s the story where Jesus said, “you must be born again.” It’s a new wineskins for new wine thing.

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Though Catherine received no formal education, and though she only lived to the age of 33, she was recognized as one of the most intelligent theological and philosophical minds in the Catholic world.  Don’t you know the old cardinals loved having this young, female voice swaying the Pope’s decisions?  But she didn’t care. True truth-tellers aren’t bent by winds of popular opinion. She was a mover and a shaker. And despite her later designation as Patron Saint of Fire Prevention, she was anything but in her life on earth.  She was a fire starter, bringing light and hope and joy and new life to a struggling Church.

Her secret?…

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  She was, and she did.

Oh… I almost forgot….

Besides being bears, what do Smokey the Bear and Winnie the Pooh have in common?

…………..same middle name.

It’s a dumb joke, I know.  But becoming who God meant you to be and, setting the world on fire is not.

Keith

5-21-14

http://keithelder.com/

https://twitter.com/keitheldermusic

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JFK…Maya Angelou…Gerry Hearin…and Great Trees

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On this fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I am reminded of an amazing poem by Maya Angelou.  I heard it at the memorial service of Rev. Gerry Hearin, one of the greatest pastor-preachers I have been privileged to know.  You could not read this at just anyone’s memorial service.  It wouldn’t ring true.  But it was perfect for Gerry’s.  It’s a shame it came too late to be read at President Kennedy’s service

“When Great Trees Fall”

–by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence,

their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile.

We breathe briefly.

Our eyes briefly see with a hurtful clarity.

Our memory suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid,

promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.

Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away.

We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die, after a period,

peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.

Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us,

They existed.  They existed.

We can be. Be and be better.

For they existed.

Here’s to JFK…and Gerry…and all the great trees of our lives.  And while we are at it, here’s to becoming the trees we were meant to be for others.  Thanks, Ms. Angelou for putting our feelings into words for us.

Keith

p.s., Go to any online or brick and mortar bookstore to find more of Maya Angelou’s word and wisdom.  I believe you will find, “When Great Trees Fall” in Mom and Me, and other collections of her poetry.

11/22/13

“This is TV… This is Your Brain on TV…”

“Hello, My name is Keith and I’m a TV-holic.”  Well, maybe not quite–but I could be, and if I was, I would probably have plenty of company.

According to the Nielsen folks, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week.  A little statistical breakdown… (not a nerd dance):

“Children 2-11 watch an average of 24 hours of TV a week, or 31/2 hours a day.

That number dips to 22 hours for teens, ages 12-17, then goes back up to 25 for 18-24s.  After that it rises steadily until people over 65 average 48 hours a week, or nearly seven hours a day.” *

Let’s do a little math.  Say you watch even 20 hours of TV per week x 4 weeks per month = 80 hours of TV per month.  Eighty hours!  That is two full work weeks.  Waking hours.  Primetime hours for reading or writing the book, or painting or gardening or learning to play an instrument or getting in shape or going to the zoo with your kids.  You get my drift.  “But,” some say, “I do other things while I watch.”  Maybe…and maybe not.

I was in the fitness room at our local rec center.  There are seven screens across the front of the room and more on the other walls.  It occurred to me, one day, while trying to multi-screen, that it is literally impossible to focus on one screen while trying to keep up with what is happening on the others. We are wired to focus on one thing at a time.  Multiple “screens” fragment us.

Now, add one more screen to the conversation.  That would be the “screen” of your imagination. That place you dream dreams and hope hopes.  That place you see your potential works of art and solutions to problems.  That mental Etch-a-sketch where you conceive new ideas and plans to realize them.

But on other screens across the front of your room, you’re watching The Today Show or ESPN or CNN or “Duck Dynasty” (I know, I know—I just “stopped preaching and went to meddling!”).  Bottom line, the screen of your imagination—your seat of potential and greatness—gets trumped, short-circuited, upstaged by all of those lesser screens.

So, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week.  Might explain why most of us are just average when we could be great.   The great ones turn off the TV—or, at least, they don’t turn it on nearly so often.

–Keith   10-4-13

* If you are interested in more stats: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/americans-spend-34-hours-week-watching-tv-nielsen-numbers-article-1.1162285#ixzz2gkUHR100.

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