Sunday, December 27, 2015


When we are young, Christmas is extended beyond the day, for of course we have received gifts on the day - toys, gadgets - and now we get to interact with them. The hopes that sustained the excitement of the season beforehand have now been realized, if we are fortunate children, and we may enjoy their newness, at least up to the New Year. But when we are older, all the air goes out of Christmas on the 26th (or, if you live in Bali, there was probably not much air to begin with).

Speaking of New Year, however, I seem to have come up with some resolutions for this one, which is rare for me. I find that there are some patterns I have fallen into over the past year that seem now a thankless waste of time, and so I hope to adjust my perspective and expectations for the year to come in a decidedly inward manner.

I wonder, in fact, whether I will even see another Christmas, and count that as a good thing, in as far as the appreciation of the preciousness of day-to-day life is thereby heightened.

In the meantime, I will put a brand new large screen iPad on my wish list and hope each day that Christmas comes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I keep picturing this place with a field of short, tawny grass, a weathered brown fence at the far end, and, far beyond that, a range of low mountains, all beneath a cloudless blue sky. It is a bit reminiscent of the Sisters, Oregon area, but it is otherwise too flat to be Oregon. I'm convinced that I will see this place before I die, but I don't yet know where it is.

A Place for Us

My brother is preparing a place for me. He showed me in a dream last night. It is a big old house, very spacious, but in need of a little work, which he is accomplishing this moment. We will live there together.

Monday, December 14, 2015


How much do we really know about reality? Not really very much, I would suggest. We have, at any given time, our generally accepted scientific versions of the way things are and how things work, but the problem is, of course, that these are constantly changing through time. We are always finding that we were wrong and shifting to the next paradigm, seen now in the development of quantum physics and quantum mechanics. The world would seem to work quite differently from what we had previously declared. And what then after quantum physics? Is it not safe to assume that we will find once again that we were wrong?

On the other hand, religion remains the same throughout the ages. It declares the same truth, adheres to the patterns of a consistent mythology that has unfolded from the beginning of human time. No new discovery can render the mythology false, no adjustments are needed. What is eternally true has always dwelt deeply in the human race. At a certain point, some 2000 years ago, the eternal invaded the realm of time, the natural world, in the supernatural person of Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, the fulfillment of a promise that extended from the very beginning of creation.

Christianity, in short, is the ultimate reality, that which we cannot in our present state fully grasp. It is the end of science, the end of knowledge, the revelation of reality. It is the invitation, in the present time of our blindness, to enter into the very stream of what we do not know, with faith as our conveyance; to enter into a realm far beyond the elementary hypotheses of intellect, a realm where virgins give birth to saviors, saviors overcome the rudimentary laws of the world; where the nailing of one man to a cross satisfies some eternal necessity and saves all; where death no longer holds sway but is subject to the undying principle of life. We must surrender ourselves to the numinous wisdom of the spirit in order to glimpse the true nature of reality. It is really no stranger than is the science now to the man living 100 years ago.

“Now I see in part, as in a glass darkly,” the apostle Paul said, “but then face-to-face.”

The unknowable God, the Ein Sof, as he is called in the Kabbala, will never be described by man. It is man, after all, who belongs to him, not the other way around. We will, however, ultimately ‘know as we are known.’ In the meantime, Christ, who existed with God from the beginning, has made himself known to us, in a manger, on a cross, and through the holy spirit in his resurrection.

Have you been with me this long, he said, and still you do not see? I  tell you, if you have seen me, you have seen the father.

And if you’ve seen the father, you have glimpsed the very essence of all knowledge, which is love.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


We came home, my parents and I, from somewhere one December day to find that Gary had put Christmas lights on the house. Not just a string of lights, but a maze of lights, a shimmering web that extended from the peak of the roof to the windows and doors and thence to the walkway and bushes and to the stairs right down to the sidewalk. It was evening when we arrived and cold and the shoulders of my brothers jacket were flecked with tiny ice pellets. His hands were as red faced as crying babies. He was just finishing with the last string of lights on the iron patio railing.

"How wonderful," my mother exclaimed, cherry cheeked, teary eyed because of the wind.

"Where the hell did you get all of these lights?" my father said.

No one could understand where Gary got all the lights. He did not have a job, but he had lights. Colored lights, twinkle lights, tiny lights and larger lights.

"Have you been on the roof?" my mother asked. "My God, have you been up on the top of the roof?"

"Only way to get the lights there," Gary said.

"But how did you get them to stay there?" my father asked (not really wanting to know, I think, but having to, nonetheless).

"Nails," Gary said.



"For Christ's sake, Gary."


"Do you mean you pounded nails into the wood?"


"For Christ's sake."


We all stood back looking up at the house. The lights made dancing colors on the wet patio and walkway. They danced in the barren branches of the bushes and trees and raced around the wreath on the bottom door. They twinkled with satisfaction in my brother's eyes and glimmered on the icy salting of my mother's cheeks and glowered unhappily in the lenses of my father's glasses.

"The electric bill is going to cost me an arm and a leg," he said.

"Yup," Gary said. "I love you, too."

That was the last Christmas I really remember very well. They've never been quite as colorful since.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bali Road Rules

Bali road rule 52K: When a vehicle slows down in your lane, it is best to suddenly cut across all lanes of traffic to go around said offending vehicle. Don't worry about other drivers. They will watch out for you.

Bali road rule 53: The tukang parkir is not an important person and caution in his presence is not required. If he were an important person, he would not have been reincarnated as a tukang parkir.

#55: If a collision occurs on the road, it is best to instantly stop your vehicle without warning, no matter what lane of traffic you're in, so that it is easier to crane your neck to see what has happened. If you have accidentally gone past the scene of the accident, it is generally helpful to turn around and return against traffic so that you can see. In cases such as this, the entire road can be considered a legal parking area.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Merry Christmas

The latest meme of the absurdist school going around on Facebook tells us that Christians should not object to the removal of Christ from Christmas because Christmas is really a pagan holiday that has nothing to do with Christ. This is so perfectly counterintuitive, not to mention criminally ignorant, that one has to wonder about the mental health of those who would swallow such idiocy. People are certainly welcome to celebrate the season as they wish, and God bless them, but let's keep the general theme in the realm of peace, love and good will, which should be acceptable to all. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Common Illness and MS

Nobody likes to be ill, but we find early on in life that common illnesses, such as the cold and the flu, are something we have to put up with. We agree, through mutual experience, that they are unpleasant, yet have their own place in the whole fabric of life. It has even been suggested that the cold may serve as a sort of periodic reboot for the immune system.

On the other hand, multiple sclerosis is neither common nor natural. And what we get when we combine the common with the unnatural is an uncommonly severe illness, in effect and duration. The last thing we need is any kind of extra blow to our immune system.

The processes of the immune system in MS are already responding inappropriately or in a compromised way on a daily basis. When you throw in a monkey wrench like a cold or flu, two things happen. The first is that the body is not able to respond to the illness in an efficient, focused manner. This tends to result in being sicker than normal for a longer than normal period of  time. Aside from an impaired ability to fight the illness, already existing deficits caused by MS – such as fatigue, muscle aches, numbness, heat intolerance and so on – may become more pronounced.

Secondly, common illnesses may actually ‘jump start’ an MS relapse. The over-excited immune system, striving to address the problem, may actually result in additional problems that have nothing to do with the original illness. Such was the case after a flu I had last year. Upon recovering from the flu illness itself, I found that I had new neurological problems involving severe headaches, impaired vision and a constant ringing in the ears. In short, I suffered an MS relapse.

Now, when I come down with a common illness, I keep a close eye on anything unusual that may arise in concert with the normal symptoms, and I am quick to take a course of methylprednisolone if things seem not quire right. Other than that, the best we can do is try to keep healthy, both mentally and physically, and patiently look to the promises of the future.