A Poem For Spring

Walt Whitman miracles poemAs we warmly welcome the bright and cheerful colors of Spring, enjoy the poem below by Walt Whitman – a reminder of all the good and beautiful “miracles” that surround us daily.

“Miracles”
by Walt Whitman, American poet, 1819-1892

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love…
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

March: All Things Saint-ly

“Why were the saints, saints?
Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful,
patient when it was difficult to be patient;
Cathedral in Rome Italy
Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola; Rome, Italy
and because they pushed on when they wanted to stand still,
and kept silent when they wanted to talk,
and were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable.
St. Giles Cathedral Edinburgh
St. Giles’ Cathedral; Edinburgh, Scotland
That was all.
It was quite simple and always will be.”
St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin
St. Patrick’s Cathedral; Dublin, Ireland

Turning to Dylan During The Winds of Change

Bob Dylan The Times They are a-changin'See also some thought provoking quotes from Thomas Jefferson and a powerful quote from Ronald Reagan on the importance of freedom.

One can feel the winds of change and the increasing force with which they are swirling around the 2016 presidential race. With every state primary and every presidential debate, the atmosphere becomes more and more charged and leaves one with the feeling that a revolution is just around the bend.

Indeed, all manner of revolutions are taking place and changing everything – our country, our world and our lives as we have known them. Read more

February: Cold Hands and Warm Hearts

NYC Storm Jonas“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
–William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

The storm of a new year and all of January’s hopes, promises and resolutions have now settled into the mid-winter reality of February – a snow flurry of 28 days when daylight lingers just a little longer. Outside the window one can feel the cold frosty silence of winter’s expanse; inside one searches for warmth – a heater, fire, wool sweater or hot steaming cup of liquid to help ease the midwinter chill.

And so, if you have “such a February face” that is full of frost and storm and clouds, try one of the recipes for spirit warming drinks below. They are sure to warm your hands and heart and bring a little Valentine-red to your winter cheeks! Read more

Illuminating “Mankind’s Moral Sense”

moral sense James Q. Wilson“What Is Moral, and How Do We Know It?”, asked political scientist James Q. Wilson (1931-2012) in an article he penned for Commentary Magazine in 1993. Excerpts from that article were recently highlighted in the Wall Street Journal‘s “Notable & Quotable” section and we thought them too powerful not to share.

Take a moment to ponder the below:

“Almost every important tendency in modern thought has questioned the possibility of making moral judgments. Analytical philosophy asserts that moral statements are expressions of emotion lacking any rational or scientific basis. Marxism derides morality and religion as ‘phantoms formed in the human brain,’ ‘ideological reflexes’ that are, at best, mere sublimates of material circumstances. Nietzsche writes dismissively that morality is but the herd instinct of the individual. Existentialists argue that man must choose his values without having any sure compass by which to guide those choices. Cultural anthropology as practiced by many of its most renowned scholars claims that amid the exotic diversity of human life there can be found no universal laws of right conduct… Read more

January: A Blizzard of Lists

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order – not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.” –Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, 1932-2016

Self-examination booksThe making of lists – whether it be a list of New Year’s resolutions, books to read, places to go, weekly errands and to-dos – is a comforting, reassuring way for us to gain a sense of order amidst the all too often chaotic, frenzied lives we lead.

Particularly in a New Year, as we reflect upon our accomplishments and failures of the year before and the ambitions and hopes of the year ahead, creating lists can help us us clearly define a plan for moving forward and making progress in our lives – whether on a personal, professional or spiritual level. Read more

All Dogs, Great and Small

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours…Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity.”  –John Grogan, Marley and Me

Dog nonfiction books

One could say that Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan, first published in the fall of 2005, played a significant role in the most recent formation of a great wave of dog memoirs that is still going strong today, especially evident during the holiday season. Dog books are prominently displayed everywhere, each enticing and each with endearing pictures beckoning, like a puppy in the window, to be brought home.

Indeed, never has there been a better time on planet earth to be a dog. From boutique dog shops with Swarovski-studded poodle skirts and cashmere sweaters to comfy pillow beds, spas and doggie daycare buses that transport dogs to and from their homes, bed and biscuit boarding “inns”, dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, dogs today truly have never had it better. No longer toughing it out in the distant coldness of a doghouse, they have been warmly welcomed into the luxury of modern day living. Read more

In Need of a Knight or Two

“Maybe he will make thee a Knight of His Round Table – and there is no honor in all the world that can be as great as that!” –King Arthur
“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times…before the Empire.”Star Wars (Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker)

Knights Code of Chivalry It can sometimes feel in these unsettling, turbulent and fear provoking times as though the world has grown a shade darker – particularly as the winter solstice draws near. And in dark times, it is only natural to search for a little sparkling light to guide one through the stormy seas of upheaval and distress that sometimes seems to wash over our wearied world.

Perhaps, when the world is spinning round in these “worst of times,” it would be wise to remember King Arthur and his knights in shining armor who ride into the darkness of the troubled realm, brandishing their swords and vanquishing the dark and evil forces with their chivalry.

One such “brandishing sword of light” is Ethan Hawke’s perfect little stocking-stuffer book, Rules for a Knight, a treasure for all – boy and girl, young and old – who seek a more admirable way of living. Read more

A View of One’s Own

The Elephant House Harry PotterStrolling along George IV Bridge Street in Old Town Edinburgh – a short distance from The Royal Mile – you’ll come across what appears to be “just another” coffee shop…that is, until you read the sign that says “Birthplace of Harry Potter.”

Step inside “The Elephant House” and you’ll quickly discover why J.K. Rowling found a “home away from home” in this warm, cozy little cafe while writing the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.*

With a view of the iconic Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the “Stone of Destiny,” towering above the city’s cobbled streets (see below), it’s little wonder she was inspired to write of a “magical world” of witchcraft and wizardry that would come to captivate the imaginations of children worldwide. Read more

Please note: ATG is “traveling” along a rosy “ridge” in a distant “realm” of sparkling light. We’ll be back at the “table” December 7th.

Grafton Street
Grafton Street; Dublin, Ireland

“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss