Love is worth it

A friend’s grandson recently broke up with his girlfriend. My friend shared this with me and, because it seemed so relevant to those whose treasured relationships come to an end, I thought I’d pass it on-with his permission. Here’s the advice he offered.

Hey Pal,

I hope this note finds you in good spirits. I understand that you and Kayla may have hit a big bump in the road. These things are never easy. Of course, you remember the last time this happened and how it hurt. As I say, it’s not easy.

istock_000002244066xsmallYou might want to share some of what you’re feeling with your Dad. The men in our family are a little short when it comes to sharing feelings-maybe you need to break the mold a little!

Every man I know has been through similar experiences, and very few of them fail to come out on the other side as better men. The only fact I can share is that this will likely not be the last time this happens. It’s sad, but true.

One danger is that some guys let this have a negative impact that could mess up future relationships, closing themselves off to future intimate relationships for fear that they might be hurt again. If you let that happen you will not be able to experience the warmth and thrill of a loving relationship because you were not open to it.

A wise man once said, “It is better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.” This was a wise man: Stay open to loving relationships, give of yourself, trust in others and do not fear being hurt.

There are some truisms to be taken from this even if you can’t see it now:

You will get through this

You will love again

You will grow emotionally from this

You will smile about this in the future

You will help a friend in the future who goes through this with sound advice

You are a really warm and caring person

You will rely on your moral and intellectual foundation to get beyond this

You family loves you unconditionally and for all eternity.

Let me know if you want to chat. Hang in there.

Much love,


Strikes me that my friend’s advice goes beyond allowing a bad relationship experience to harden us to the next one that may be entirely different. What advice might you give? Feel free to leave a comment…

“Praise song for the day”

Much will be written about yesterday’s history-making inaugural of Barack Obama. Two-plus million people crammed the National Mall to celebrate what many believe will be a future brightened by new leadership and a call for political integrity.


Elizabeth Alexander's poem as a "Wordle" or word cloud.

One note, perhaps missed in the chilly 20-degree temperatures, was poet Elizabeth Alexander’s echo of the new President’s challenge for daily labor, responsibility and sacrifice in her poem titled “Praise Song for the Day.” She joins the tiniest number of peers-three others, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams-as an inaugural poet. Her offering consisted of  unrhymed three-line stanzas, and a one-line coda: “praise song for walking forward in that light.”

Such ceremonial poems rarely become the stuff of historic literature. But that’s not to say her poetic tapestry of small details and infinite themes should be overlooked. After all, who would not pause, if only for a moment, to reflect on her question: “What if the mightiest word is love? Love beyond marital, filial, national, love that casts a widening pool of light, love with no need to pre-empt grievance.”

A video is available here; the text follows…


Praise Song for the Day

by Elizabeth Alexander


Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky. A teacher says,“Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot yet see. Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance. In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

The book, its cover, and slowing down

It’s an unusual art project that was recently unveiled in the small town of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. The effort offers learning at many levels, not the least of which is that what we initially see and experience may be quite different upon closer inspection.

picture-32Take “Trust,” Cochrane’s art project, for example (shown on the right).

From a distance, the painting appears to be a young cowboy and horse providing each other comfort and support. But when you look carefully, you find not a single painting, but 216 of them, each a foot square, each a complete painting in itself.

Founding artist Lewis Lavoie calls it a mural mosaic.

He creates a master image then designates panels to numerous artists who are provided color guidelines and, perhaps, some shapes to use. But each is free to create, so long as it fits within the theme of the mural. Lavoie points out that, unlike photo mosiacs which are individual photographs arranged like pixels using a computer, mural mosaics are fully hand painted by individual artists.

To see for yourself, go here. Click on any single image to see the individual artist’s contribution to “Trust.” Creating “Trust” is an illustration of teamwork and of appreciating how an individual’s contribution can be part of a greater tapestry. It’s a lesson in diversity.

It is also an example of what a friend, his wife and I were talking about as we discussed the old admonition to not judge a book by its cover. “I heard a father give advice to his son,” my friend said, “Judge slowly.”

How easily and how often we rush to conclusions about people or events without really understanding them. In fact, the world often rewards decisions and smart conclusions that get us to the bottom line quickly. Even author Malcolm Gladwell pontificated on the topic in his best selling book, “Blink,” in which he concluded that we’re able to make decisions with far less data than we thought.

I don’t mean to argue with a noted author (he gets, after all, big bucks to discuss his blinking theory), I just suggest that we can often miss the richness and beautiful complexity of events and people by judging too quickly.

Without getting closer to “Trust,” would we have looked into the horse’s eye to find a boy who is hang gliding, or at the cowboy’s finger to see a peasant woman gathering grain? Each painting is its own message, yet each is part of the whole—much like you and me.

If we should ever doubt our significance in the scheme of things, we only need to step back to see the bigger mosaic to which we contribute. And, if we think that our significance is greater or lesser than anothers’, perhaps we should think about it from a different standpoint: which is the most important painting in the painting?

The answer is none is more important than the other. In fact, the bigger painting cannot exist without the little ones. And the little ones exist to make the whole. We’re all important, all valuable, all needed.

“Judge slowly,” the father said to his son. Judge slowly.