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A Saturday morning epiphany…
Why is it that elephants need and have such a great memory? They say that a matriarch elephant can recall and lead the herd to water…at a place she recalls they drank over twenty years ago. In the dry seasons the herd might have to roam many, many miles…perhaps a century worth. Or perish. But she can recall, and so life goes on.

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I thought about that a moment ago and realized that people have the same power of recollection. And when their soul is parched, their hope is dried up, love is lost in a dry creek bed, and smiles are but a dusty and distant memory…With luck, something will lead them again to a cool pool of faith, of restoration, of revival, of love, and a kind breeze of unconditional compassion.
And no matter how long it has been since one has been there at those soft and welcoming waters, there will be a pair of open arms and a safe place to allow life to seep back in…Come back, drink it in. Things will be alright there at the water’s edge…God has a good memory too.

Matthew.

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Living without friends is akin to sailing a vessel without wind. You’re at the mercy of the tides, the currents, and the hours can be oh so lonesome…Moments of gladness, joy, loss and anxious waiting are far better spent with the gentle lifting and urging of the breezes a true friend brings. No sadder sight than a sail left to droop and sigh, without the accompaniment of nature’s companion to set her on the edge of a driving wind…so too is a soul alone and in need of the friendly breeze to fill the heart and send one off with a knowing and warmth inside…

Navigating a sea with no sense of direction doesn’t mean you’re lost. It just means you’ll set your destination after you reach a distant shore…It is called adventure, and without taking chances, there can be no mystery, none of the joy at finding what you never knew you were seeking…Risk a little, wander some, plan to make no plan, and live!

Living without love is having thirst without water. A parched heart is faltered and left in longing of the hydrating drops and bursts of life giving blood, in essence; Love is life, fruitful and merciful. Almost always, a mortal heart will resume to beating when blood returns…That remains miracle, as does love. And a kind love is makes one’s pulse seem to skip a beat…which is the best love of all.

Flying without vision is to sing in a windstorm. Let the gusts and gale accompany your serenading. There will be height; and a soaring sensation, a journey, a giving, a taking. A sensation of all and nothing all at once. To sing to the heavens or glide in them is a gift…but the gift remains only in the heart of the fortunate soul there doing either one. Have faith, open your eyes, rise above the storm, lift your voice, and bask in the moment…Soar.

Walking under sun shrouding clouds leaves one without a shadow. And yet you know that a breeze can part clouds and instantly an accompanying shadow joins in cadence. So too goes faith. One just has to believe and trust you’re not alone, in life or the universe…even in the dark of night or the fury of a storm. The calm follows the gale, dusk leads to night, and the sun emerges to usher in dawn and hasten darkness to hide the land and sea elsewhere. These things are certain, so too should be trust and faith. One can find light in shade, and certainty in uncertainty. Believe.

Living without faith is likened to attempting to fly a kite without string…No matter the design and material of a wind seeking craft, even in a stiff breeze, without the freedom of a binding string; there is no lift, no hope of flight. There can be no sense of a guiding hand nor a gentle tug, or a subtle release of the line, to momentarily remind you that no one makes the journey without a light, a hope, a link…a life line that gives flight and brings you to heavenly heights and gifts a celestial view of the world…surrender yourself and accept strength from above.
Matthew Lyle…(inspired by Lynnclaire, thanks to you fair lady)

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…middle of winter, thinking about June. The sun did shine a little today but at 23 degrees, I cursed the sunset and wish the day didn’t have to end so soon.  But I put extra comforters on my bed, and wished I had a fireplace to sit by and compose words of summer, tales of friends…rhymes of my old loves as the frost descends at afternoon’s end.

Walkin’ the floor, folding my clothes…longing to be able to feel warm grass on bare toes, and having a drink from a garden hose. I watched a man at work the other day, pruning the rose bushes that bloomed till November. Even the flowers that had faded and withered still held onto the breezes of late July, the summer rains, and passers by…as did I.

I thought about sunrise at four am, dreamed about an open window and a nap in the afternoon. I sighed a winter sigh and looked to the west, looked to the sunset and realized that I hadn’t had dinner yet. And I reached into my pocket to find but an empty place, so I took my hand out and reached for you there. And I did find you tucked away warm and smiling in a dusty memory, found you waiting for me as I whispered a prayer. I sang a love song softly to your faded picture there…sang a song of lost loves and solemn days. As a mournful dove joined with me in the chorus before taking wing for a warmer place to sleep away night.

Middle of winter and the music is playing low. January slipping quietly by and reminds me to not wish it away…cause even un-embraced winter days are worthy and needful, and make great memories. And I will laugh of such nights in the July afternoons, but for now, you’re all I have, and I’ll have you along with a warm pair of socks and a James Taylor tune. And I’ll sing our song there in the shower as the suds roll to the drain. And I’ll be quietly reminded, that our time ended too soon.

It’s the middle of winter, and I’m thinking about June…thinking about long shadows and the rustling of leaves, and wishing our time hadn’t ended so soon. Matthew

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Lately I have struggled and searched to join the masses in feeling the joy of the holidays. The spirit was sadly eluding me and I longed for inspiration to find me so that I might write for all of you in honor the celebration just days away.

Yesterday the spirit of the season came to me through a quiet knock on my front storm door. It was above freezing outside, just barely. A meager snow that had fallen the day before had begun to melt some and was slush on the street out front. But in the shadow of my house, the sidewalk there was still in ice and snow.

I opened my door actually expecting to see a client who was on the way to pick up a computer I had fixed for her. Instead, I was greeted by a young boy, who had recently become a neighbor. He stood silent there on my porch. He said nothing, but had a broad smile on his face and snow shovel in his hand, blade to the top. The handle had been resting on my porch, but he raised it up a bit and smiled even broader. I asked him if “he thought I should use it to clean my walk?”, but he just said no. I told him “if he did that for me, I would give him a bit of money”…He just smiled again and turned to walked down the porch steps, still having said but a word or two. And still this great young kid wore that wonderful smile that can win over the day, which was by coincidence the winter solstice.

As I heard the blade start to scrape the concrete and ice, my mind wandered back to another frozen sidewalk…Back to the north a few hundred miles and forty five long years ago. Another boy had shovel in hands, and chipped away at a hard frozen layer of ice and snow, clearing a span of sidewalk without a fee in mind.

The day before, my Momma had been walking on that walk and slipped to fall and broke several of the small bones that joined arm to hand. I felt a duty and need to go make the world a safer place for her to walk, a less hazardous place to weather the British Columbia winter.

So with shovel in hand and winter clothes over all, I set out to honor my due as a boy with a cast-wearing mom. And as I recall, it was likely the first time dealing with such a chore, and I was a scrub of a boy, winded and sweaty as I made safe passage for all that ventured there…perhaps too little too late, but my life as a protector was about to begin.

I was just seven or eight years old then…rather small and in the middle of seven kids born to my folks. It wasn’t a time of prosperity. And having to share the needs and desires of life with so many siblings often left a kid with more of a tendency to spend hours browsing through the ‘Simpsons-Sears” (the Canadian version of America’s Sears and Roebucks) winter “wish book”. And I also recall being more than envious of some of the kids of more affluent families thereabouts who often kindly shared their bounty of gifts with me at play time.

I was old enough to believe otherwise, but I still harbored close the belief in Santa, in his ability to somehow know of my wants and wishes…And perhaps it was that same year that I was again to have my belief validated. Made true in the discovery of a new red bicycle in the living room there on Christmas dawn. I had always ridden well-worn and used bikes until then. It might not have been a Schwinn with a drag slick in back and a springer front fork with a small wheel up front, and banana seat and high bars and a five speed shifter, and all that (I still want one of those)…But it was mine. It was brand new, and Santa had heard me and delivered it to the side of the tree! Whew! I get breathless just remembering.

And not only did I believe in old St Nick. I was also being given insight to the true meaning of Christmas, sent to Catechism on Wednesday evenings, attended services on Sundays there at the Catholic Church in Abbotsford…I even had my first communion during that time in the Western most Province. I was far from a saint and had more than my share of trouble inside…and I needed all the help given my parents and siblings. But I was in truth being given the tools I would need later in life.

I will share that I was a troubled soul even then. I was in fact a bit of a brat. I admit that I often felt perhaps I was less that loveable, at times undeserving of favor by Santa, of blessings by God. I can also share that I was never slighted by Santa, even when I was caught peeking at gifts under the tree and otherwise spoiled Christmas for myself. But Santa came through, and my family and God too still loved me.

And as far as God loving me, I found strong evidence of that when I was riding my shiny red bike along a busy thoroughfare, and somehow got in the way of a very large Cadillac. I was to be sent through the air quite a ways, and deposited on my little melon. But I never lost consciousness, nor did I break a bone. I was treated to a headache and a visit to the hospital directly across the street from the accident scene. And my very bent shiny red bicycle was in turn repaired by my father and put back in service in short order.

While reflecting on the events from my past as that smiling boy scraped snow and ice from my walk, I dipped into the cup in my bathroom where I keep all my change. I pulled ten quarters out of it and joined that boy on the sidewalk. I handed them to him, and told him there were ten of them in his gloved hand. I quizzed him in math by asking him how much they added up to. For a minute we reasoned and multiplied, added and figured the issue successfully. He is a pretty bright boy.

I returned to my house and waited to see if he would end his efforts now that he had been paid. I was rewarded by the resumption of the sounds of scraping and chipping by the shovel wielding boy. And I rewarded the honorable young man by returning to the sidewalk with a couple cookies. I inquired then of his age, and through a smile he replied that he was eleven. I looked at this great kid there in his sweat pants and baggy sweat coat, and mittens, with a mussed up healthy head of hair. I asked what his name was. He told me, “I’m Richard, at school the kids call me Richie, but you can call me Richard or Richie, whichever you want.”

I said, “thank you Richie…you’re a good kid”. He smiled and I went back inside. I felt a sigh while knowing I had found there on my porch in a smiling and earnest boy named Richard or Richie, the very spirit of Christmas that had been eluding me, escaping me. In a ten minute span, I was again gifted through the present and the past my belief in Santa, in family, in Christmas, in the reasons for the season, Jesus and God…and in fact; in ME.

There have been many reminders come flooding to me since those divine minutes of yesterday afternoon, and many good souls have reached out to me to reinforce the spirit of things…

But most of all, I found the young boy in me again through the boy on my porch. And I know that this year Christmas found me standing there on my porch through a boy named Richie with a shovel, a smile, an already admirable work ethic…and a spirit to remind me of what I’ve been missing so far since Thanksgiving had faded in my mind.

Thanks to Richie, to Santa, my parents, and to a generous God, I can wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I remind you to hug your folks, to embrace your family, to thank God for sending us his only Son…and to open your minds, hearts, arms, and doors…’cause you never know what you might find…

Thanks Momma and Dad. Love, Matthew Lyle…

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I have been closely listening to TV commercials, and reading print ads, for various prescription medications. After about twenty or so seconds or a strong paragraph and a dreamy photo, introducing the product and singing its praises and hopeful effects, there comes the avalanche of warnings and possible side effects and dangers according to drug interaction, age, gender, etc.

I appreciate the efforts to adhere to liabilities, laws, insurance policies…and so on. I believe that a lot of these drugs can and do bring a quality to lives without harmful side effects and compromises.

Now I have to wonder about ads for alcoholic beverages. There is little to no truth in any of the ads. They glorify a lifestyle and increase peer pressure to fit in according to the brand and mixer, the container one drinks from, location of the consumption…They all but guarantee the consumer will be sexier, cooler, more successful, socially accepted, taller, prettier, more powerful…And many of the commercials use suave actors or runway quality models in teeny clothes to catch one’s attention…The entire aura surrounding these ads is glamorous,  euphoric, romantic, and pure fantasy. You get my drift.

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Not one possible danger of the endless side effects to those who abuse the drinks, the health effects, lost days at work, violent tendencies, marital problems, mental problems, deaths attributed to driving drunk, killing of the liver, social costs to treat and prosecute offenders of various types of laws, poor judgment…and the fact that booze turns some people into pure assholes. No honesty in any of the advertising as far as I can see.

I’m not saying that no one should drink. I AM saying that a lot of folks shouldn’t because of interactions with prescription drugs, intensifying of depression, bipolar disorders, PTSD…and the fact that many are prone to addiction of all kinds.

There is also the huge negative effect to a person’s financial well-being, and the trickle-down effect of picking up the residual tab for offenders. There is also the obvious fact that families are destroyed by the drinkers and their co-dependent partners and children who are victimized.

I know most souls can have a few drinks and have a good time. I know it helps some to relax in a social setting. I know it is a social icebreaker and gives many something to do while seeking some socialist outlets…It absolutely isn’t all bad. But then, neither are the prescription drugs that are scrutinized so closely in advertising.

I think most folks can have a few drinks with no negative effects or the possibility they will drive and have an incident.

I also know there are those who WILL have problems because they drink, or will drink because they have problems. And one will make the other infinitely worse. And the danger to others is even more so. Alcoholics are a menace to the lives of others.

I have to ask why the commercials on TV and in print ads only glorify drinking and give false impressions and false hope and a euphoric result. I personally am sick of hearing and seeing the widespread issues that arise from drinking and abusing a mix of drugs and alcohol…Why isn’t there a sixty percent ratio of claims VS warnings and side effects and pure dangers to health, society and welfare as a result of drinking by SOME of the population? …Then we might also touch on the suicides, murders, rapes, and physical and mental violence that occur while troubled souls drink and dwell and rage…

I had to finally say something. I myself quit drinking nearly 27 years ago (February 1987), and I am still cleaning up the messes I made when drinking, and dealing with the damage to my career and health, marriage, etc.

The advertisements are not just untrue; they are lies and a menace to lives of some, which soon add up to the lives of the many. I wonder why I rarely hear others complain about this glaring acceptance of unadulterated bullshit being fed to good people, without the possible negative truths and hazards being shared at the same time.

As a recovering alcoholic for over a quarter of a century, I share theses thoughts with well intentions and a deep honesty.  Matthew L Landsman

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Come gather here, on this frosty morn. Invite lost souls, from family torn. Assemble where kettles boil, ovens roast, and fires warm. No matter, if it be a meager meal or something more, come gather around and seek a hand to touch, to warm and hold. Then offer thanks and prayers.

Get together with fond memories, of one who toiled in a kitchen over yester-years. A labor of love began in the dawn of the day, not just to cook, but to beckon, to invite, to hearken back where echoes remain…incited by scent, by laughter, sighs, and a lingering presence from a celestial place. And again I’ll spend the day with a collective blend of all such days once spent, and sigh a sigh of such fondness and sentiment that love for departed brings her to home again…and I’ll look to the dusting of flour for a simple fingerprint left, a whiff of cologne that drifts from a place beyond…and I will smile a quiet smile at just the faint wistfulness of such a divine day…

Come gather here to give retreat for the prodigal, embrace to the chilled. To offer love from thin air where yearnings thrive, and relief eludes.

Come gather here, be it just two, or twenty. And give thanks for the offering of the day, be it in retrospect or hopeful of a cache of fresh inspiration to be dipped into in later days…It is otherwise just another Thursday, but is much more. And linger there on Friday…and even a day or two more.

My heart feels a resigned twinge of the constant barrage of offerings on a Friday called black…a Friday that reminds us to gather for the later giving…but it is time and patience and compassion in need of sharing, contrary to the things one might place in box or bag. It is love, it is promise. It is a pledge to be there in the dark months ahead that should be written in IOU’s for family and friend…It is a black Friday indeed that we look beyond our door to fill what the souls truly need.

I give thanks this year for simple things that find and fill me when I close my eyes at day’s end…and a knowing that all I see behind closed eyes is what accompanies me and gives relevance to not just the day of Thanksgiving, but all the days in between.

I will seek to find you, both to give refuge, and to seek it. Come gather here around tables large and small…and bask in the fires of home, whether from hearth or heart, to chase away the chills and lonesome days.

I call out to the hearts of those close and far, be it by miles or a lack of agreement on life’s issues…I will long for a glad closure of the miles or mind.

Come gather here and offer gratitude to your version of a higher power for the blessings past, present, or in wishful days to come. Gather here and let your spirits flourish and give freely of things which can be found only in smiles and laughter, and essential faith…Come gather here.

Happy Thanksgiving and good wishes in the season ahead.

Matthew Lyle.

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Sunday afternoon…the shadows are growing long. September lingers still with its subtle reminders…and November is about to board at the station of time…Regardless of my wishful thinking, leaves will soon descend and meet me at boot level and give way to the remnants of sunny hours that dwindle as the solstice of winter waits in the wings.
It is a yearly ritual, the dance between nature and I, turning my back to the chilled breeze, my face to the midday sun. Turning my ear to the changing chorus of the winds as the branches empty and the notes of the storms fade from a low moan to an empty sad sigh…
My steps become a bit more urgent, my hands will fill pockets in search of warmth…and dusty gloves will soon be shook free of the warm month’s exile in a coat pocket or seasonal drawer. Longer sleeves soon step back into the fray after months tucked away. And before my breath can be seen in the shade, I will return again to thoughts of friends gathering there around the flames,  around the tables, around the bend where we’ll find each other…hiding behind smiles and handshakes and quiet sighs.
And I will greet the frost with gratitude, with respect and a nod…for it had the strength  to bring the fairer season to her knees, and ushered in the shades of autumn…the passing of days in dwindled hours.
And I will look to you for a warm embrace, a hand to hold, and love the sight of a cold weather tear there in your eyes…and I will tend the fires, in the hearths and hearts…and burn the midnight oils, not in wait of spring and summer, but in gratitude for the one just passed.
I’ll see you in the yard, with a rake there in your hands, and send a wave and knowing smile as we tend to the tasks and glance at the setting sun, and Canada geese on the wing, come home to graze and nest while the darker months pass…Happy autumn friend.

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