The Ghosts Within

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  Please enjoy this original poem by yours truly.  Feel free to leave comments for discussion in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

 

The Ghosts Within

By: Brian Evans

 

Memories,

like ghosts of childhood past,

manifest in my mercurial muse.

Then, like vapors,

vanish into the air of my reality.

Some ghosts are friendly.

 

Like the ones that whisk me away

to eternal Summers and Dog Days

filled with June Bugs

and ice cream, homemade.

Then, away to late-night freeze tag

with family ties and fireflies.

 

Life was then a virgin,

not yet kissed

by the lips of demons in disguise.

Everything is pretty to innocent eyes.

Love was like snow,

freshly fallen and untouched

by the feet of curiosity.

Some ghosts are friendly.

 

Then, there are those

that carry a maddening haunt.

Like the ones that pull me

into cellars sworn to secrecy,

then leave me

to develop in the darkroom of photographic memories.

Some ghosts are enemies.

 

As vapors evanesce, leaving

their condensation on the windows of my reality,

I assent to this one brief soliloquy:

We are now, because of who we have been,

and we will be, because of the ghosts within.

SELAH

Copyright Symbol blackcopyright 2014

 

Published in Words & Images In Flight: Poetry and Visual Arts (Poets and Places).  March 2014

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

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The Chronicles of Marriage Part 3: 20/20 LOVE

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  This is the final installment of my series The Chronicles of Marriage.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Feel free to share your wisdom with us in the comments section below.  See you next week.

I will never forget the moment I realized I needed eye glasses.  I was sitting in my college orientation class copying notes from the blackboard when all of a sudden, everything on the board was a blurred mess.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring anything into focus. 

When I went to the optometrist, he told me that I had Astigmatism.  In other words, the shape of my eyes had changed, and this caused light to be misdirected onto my retina, causing blurred images.  He gave me a prescription for my first complete pair of eye glasses, which consisted of two lenses in a frame.  When I tried on my brand new glasses, it was like I was seeing the world for the first time.  Everything was clear, sharp, and beautiful.  It’s amazing how acuity affects how we perceive beauty, and in much the same fashion, when it comes to love and marriage, we must have a certain level of clarity. 

 

The Lenses of Love

In no way will I even attempt to articulate the meaning of this vast and convoluted thing we call love.  Nor will I try to deceive you into thinking that I have attained a certain apprehension of the laws of love.  One need only pick up the treatise by C. S. Lewis called The Four Loves, to really understand how deep the rabbit hole of love goes.

I would, however, like to submit to you an unusual consideration.  It occurred to me, while contemplating love and marriage, that my eye glasses and my marriage have quite a bit in common.  You may be wondering how.  Well, they both have a frame and two lenses.  The frame of my marriage is love, and the lenses of love are compassion and calibration.  Compassion and calibration work together to provide the perfect image of love in marriage. 

 

The Lens of Compassion 

1 John 4:8 reads, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  We are all familiar with the side of God that loves.  We are constantly recipients of that love daily, even when we’re unaware of it.  As a result of that love, compassion is not a foreign concept to us.  When the average person thinks of Jesus Christ, and how he loves, the most salient aspect of his personality is compassion.  It is the overwhelming sense of wanting to help others.  Compassion is a sympathetic response to someone else’s needs.  When we say “I love you,” at some point it must love must validate itself by action.  In the frequented script of St. John 3:16, God so loved, and the corresponding action was…He gave. 

Our motive in marriage should always be to give to each other.  If each person in the marriage is primarily concerned with meeting the other person’s needs, then it creates an atmosphere of security in the home.  We should be able to detect when something is wrong with our spouses.  The lens of compassion helps us to perceive the void and then move into action.

 

The Lens of Calibration

The second lens of love is that of calibration or correction.  We all need recalibration at some point in our lives.  Correction can be a sensitive topic among husbands and wives.  Methods of correction can vary from external consequences, to internal resolution.  In the sphere of marriage, correction should be approached from the standpoint of calibration.  As a mature adult, we should consistently aspire to improve in all areas of life.  Growth must be intentional.  Relationships have an uncanny way of sparking growth in areas of our lives that would otherwise be inaccessible.  Sometimes, the only way we would know if a personal trait or habit was undesirable is if someone we were in relationship with brought it to light.  Certain traits may be harmless to you, but to others they can be afflictive. 

Marriage facilitates a certain level of correction or calibration, because it forces us to consider another person in all that we do.  Life is no longer all about you.  You now have someone in the passenger seat. 

My wife and I have a “No Judgement Zone” type marriage.  We are so serious about that until we made it part of our marriage vision.  We promised each other that we would always allow room for honesty (in love).  We talk about everything from what made us laugh that day, to what made us angry.  We talk about the things that we adore about each other, and the things that need correction or “recalibration.”  Since the correction always comes from a place of love, we both internally resolve to modify those behaviors within ourselves.  My wife is literally my best friend.

 

Perfect Love

Love is like a complete pair of eye glasses.  The two lenses are compassion and calibration, and love is the frame that holds it all together.  Correction without compassion makes the heart obstinate.  Conversely, compassion without correction spoils the heart.  When we put on complete and perfect love, we are able to see our spouses the way God intended for us to see them, as Christ sees us.  This is perfect love, and perfect love removes all fear. 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE

The Chronicles of Marriage Part 2: What Penguins Taught Me About Love

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  This is the second post in the series called: The Chronicles of Marriage.  Please come back next week for part 3. 

Love ever gives,

Forgives

Outlives

And ever stands

With open hands.

And while it lives

It gives,

For this is love’s prerogative

O give, and give, and give.    by: John Oxenham

The concept of love is multi-faceted in expression and experience.  If you were to poll 100 people for a definition of love, undoubtedly you would likely receive 100 different answers.  Why?  Because we all give and receive love differently.

The salient differences become even more pronounced when discussing how men and women express love.  As men, we tend to get a bum rap when it comes to understanding and expressing our love.  As I pondered why this was, and began to search out reasons for this paradigm, I came across an astounding model of love.  There is a fascinating species of the bird family we’re all familiar with called the penguin, which changed my perspective about a man’s responsibility to exhibit love.

 

Searching For A Soul-Mate

Is there a such thing as a soul-mate?  This question is definitely a hot topic of discussion, especially during this season.  I don’t really subscribe to the vox populi as it relates to soul-mates.  Most people believe that a soul-mate is a singular person that is meant for you, and no one else, and if you don’t find that one person in the whole, wide world, then you’ll never really know true love.  I do believe, in many cases, God gives us the ability to choose who we love, and based on that decision, we grow in love with that special someone for the rest of our lives. 

I am definitely an advocate for monogamy, and this is where penguins shine.  Generally speaking, penguins are monogamous.  Once they choose a partner, they stick with them.  Some species (i.e. the Adelie Penguin) even keep the same partner for life.  It appears that there are certain laws of attraction in play when it comes to choosing a potential mate.  We all have different things that we are attracted to, but there are certain common threads of attraction among the sexes.  Woodrow Wyatt once stated,

“A man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.” 

When it comes to finding a suitable partner, I believe it boils down two things:

  1. Prayer
  2. Attraction

These two things together act as a compass for finding “the one.”  Don’t make it exclusively about one or the other.  Utilize both prayer and attraction to guide you to that right someone.  I remember the first time I laid eyes on my wife. I sensed an amazing initial attraction to her that I couldn’t articulate.  It was like when I saw her, I just knew I had to meet her.  Our first conversation reaffirmed that attraction and the rest is history.  Thinking back to those moments, I ask myself, when did I know I loved my wife?  Was it a feeling?  Was it butterflies?  No.  Although these feelings were (and still are) present, feelings are fleeting; they come and go.  I knew I loved my wife when I chose to love her.  I believe when we mutually chose to love each other, we became soul-mates at that moment.  I chose to surrender to love’s work within me when I first saw my wife, and later realized that it was love in its infant stages.  One day my wife asked me “How do you know you love me?”  My answer:  Because I choose to love you.  I don’t believe in love at first sight in the traditional sense, but I do believe in love at the point of decision, which can take place “at first sight.”  When you choose to love someone, that is the most powerful aphrodisiac there is.  Choosing to love a person, just because you want to, is like Super Glue; it holds you together forever.

 

Submitted To Sacrifice

The penguin shows us a powerful picture of paternal piety.  Once the female penguin lays the egg (usually 1-2), she hands it over to the male penguin, and departs in search for food.  The male penguin incubates the egg carefully by balancing the egg on the top of his feet in a body pouch for up to 70 days. 

During this time, all of the male penguins gather together in a huge huddle and brace themselves for some of the harshest conditions on Earth while incubating the delicate eggs.  Temperatures drop as low as -40 degrees with shearing winds.  Huddling in a group is the only means of survival during this period.  While the female penguins are absent in search of food, the male penguins patiently await their return, which can take up to 2-3 months.  By the time female penguin returns, the male penguins will have gone a full four months without food, and lost roughly half of their body weight.  How about that for sacrifice?  This brings true perspective to sacrificial love. 

Sacrifice requires love, and love is an investment.  When we, as husbands and fathers, invest our love into our families, we reap love compounded, and this is one of the greatest returns on an investment.  Love always softens the blow of sacrifice.

 

Sensitivity To My Spouse

As a husband, I am realizing daily the importance of knowing my wife’s voice.  By voice, I don’t mean the tone of her voice, but rather the heart of her voice.  Can you hear what your spouse is really saying when they communicate certain things to you?  I encourage you to invest some time learning your partners love language. (Recommended reading: The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman) 

The 5 languages are as follows:

1.  Words of Affirmation

2.  Quality Time

3.  Receiving Gifts

4.  Acts of Service

5.  Physical Touch

When the group of female penguins return from feeding, they call out to their mates in the huddle.  Amazingly, each male penguin recognizes the voice of his partner when she calls.  He is so sensitive to his partner, that he knows the sound of her voice among the hundreds of other female penguins.  When we learn this type of remarkable sensitivity, I believe we will fulfill our roles as husbands, and become amazing lovers.

In conclusion, whether you want to admit it or not, your partner is a reflection of you.  You chose your partner based on your value system, because what you value is what you seek.  When you come into contact with that special someone who speaks to your value system, they become irresistible. 

Love is a choice, so let’s take a lesson from the penguin and choose to love for life. 

Feel free to leave comments in the comments section, and as always…

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

Reference websites:

http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/wildlife/animals/penguins/emperor-penguins/breeding-cycle

http://blog.farwestclimatecontrol.com/2012/02/21/the-romantic-life-of-penguins/

BE

The Chronicles of Marriage: Mastering the Art of Aloneness

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  For the month of February, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will be focusing on love and relationships in a series of posts called: The Chronicles of Marriage.   Please enjoy this first post, and please stop by next week for part 2.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single…How are you handling that?

Your answer to this question can determine the time you have left in your single-state.  If you view being single as a negative condition, it creates an aura around you that attracts negativity into your life.  Instead of sulking in your singleness, desperately searching for Mr. or Ms. Right to show up and magically sweep you off of your feet, why not try your hand at mastering the art of aloneness? 

Yes…singleness is an art which, as it turns out, can be very sexy.  You have the power to be magnetic in all areas of your life, from your appearance to your personality all by focusing on, and developing the one person that you can actually control…YOU. 

Interested?  Fabulous…keep reading.

 

The Purpose of Singleness

Being alone affords you a powerful opportunity to learn all about yourself without the liability of another person along for the ride.  What do you like?  What are your pet peeves?  What are your strengths?  How about your weaknesses?  If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can someone else truly get to know you on an intimate level?  When I say intimate, I’m not talking about sexually.  Rather, it’s about going beyond the surface of who you are.  You should have layers that make up the “whole you.”  Layers make you interesting, and those layers should reveal different aspects of who you are as a whole person.  These parts should intrigue and affect people every time they discover a new layer.  Ever peel back the layers of an onion without being affected? 

 

Alone, Not Lonely

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.   Loneliness is a negative emotion experienced as a result of a perceived void.  It’s an emotional flag that something or someone is missing.  Sometimes, this is a natural response when you lose family members, employment, or anything else of great value.  In essence, it’s a phase of the grieving process. 

Loneliness is different.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “alone” actually originates from two words: “all one.”  It simply means “all in one” or “unaccompanied.”  Think about it this way, when you’ve mastered being alone, you become self-sufficient, and everyone that God brings into your life will benefit from the wholeness that you bring to the table.  You have everything that you need already within you.  Spend your singleness developing yourself.  Just because you’re alone right now doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.  Get out and get involved in new activities as an exercise in self-discovery.  Take on new responsibilities and learn new hobbies.  Responsibility increases your attractiveness immensely.  Who knows, you may even bump right into your future mate while you’re out there living life and having fun doing so.

 

Adam, The Garden of Eden, and Aloneness

Food for thought: 

God initially created Adam alone.  Adam never asked God for a wife.  It was God’s idea to bless him with Eve, a mate suitable for him (Genesis 2).  Before Eve came along, Adam was just hanging out in Eden (which, by the way, means “delight”) doing a little farming, naming the animals, and just delighting in his work, when all of a sudden…BAMThere was Eve.  Aren’t you happy that God knows what we need even before we do.  I believe when we spend our singleness discovering and delighting in those things that we are passionate about, it brings life to us and others who are around us.  That’s why I love going to concerts and experiencing the arts.  There’s nothing like observing people in their element who are passionate about their art. 

Your Garden of Eden is within you when you learn how to delight in being yourself.   

 

Love Thyself

Just to clarify, in no way am I saying that if you are single now, you should spend the rest of your life alone.  That’s totally unrealistic.  On a certain level, interaction with others is vital for you to learn certain facets about yourself.  I believe that it’s the plan of God for you to ultimately share your life with that special someone if you desire to be married.  The greatest expression of love, is to love yourself enough to allow God’s love to flow through you to others.   

Remember:

“The secret of attraction is to love yourself.  Attractive people judge neither themselves or others.  They are open to gestures of love.  They think about love, and express their love in every action.”–Deepak Chopra

Let’s talk.  In the comments section, list some interesting things that you have recently learned about yourself.  What were you doing when you discovered those new things?  How has it affected you?  Looking forward to hearing from you…and as always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE

How Your Perception Impacts Your Success

Picture this:

My wife and I are at Starbucks (in a long line of course) in the airport waiting for our order, and right next to us is a woman patiently waiting for her order as well.  As I take a second glance, I noticed she was smiling.  Reflexively, I smiled back at her as she spoke to both my wife and I and asked how we were.  This small interaction led to a longer conversation that brightened the rest of our day.  As we walked away we recounted how nice it was to encounter such a nice person.  As I continued to think about our interaction, a question began to form in my mind:

“When did pleasant people become an endangered species in our society?” 

Think about it.  When was the last time you randomly encountered a nice, genuine person?

Exactly…it takes a second to recall, doesn’t it?

If we’re honest, it seems normal these days for people to walk around in a dark cloud of depression, self-loathing and self-pity.  Let’s not even mention the people who are just plain mad…at everyone.  They go to sleep angry and wake up angrier.  What caused this mass deterioration and dysfunction?  I believe it can all be summed up in one word…Perception.  Yes, our perceptions are the blueprints for how we look at life, and everyone had a different blueprint.  Think of it as our point of reference.  It’s the way we process everything around us as we look through the lenses of our personal experiences and biases.  If our lenses are dark, then our outlook will be dark and vice versa.  What if I told you the reason why you are not producing the results you desire in your life could be the result of your outlook?  One of my favorite quotes from Leonardo da Vinci states, “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”  Whether it’s work, home, relationships, or all of the above, how you view life can determine what you produce in your life.

Perception vs. Perspective

Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news.  First, the bad news (sorry):

Perception and perspective are two different things.  I know you’re asking, how is this bad news?  Well, the main reason is because so many people confuse the two.  They think the way they see and interpret things is the way things really are.  Have you ever encountered a habitually paranoid person who believes that everyone wants to harm them in some way?  How about a person that constantly feels that they have been purposely omitted from a communication or event because no one likes them.  Although these may seem extreme, they are examples of faulty perceptions, and are more commonplace than you think.  The difference between perception and perspective is the fact that perspective is the ability to place a singular event into its proper contextual construct.  In other words, seeing things from the proper point of reference within the framework of what really matters to you.

Here’s a little exercise that reinforces proper perspective.  So you wake up in the morning to encounter Murphy’s Law at work in your life.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  You overslept, the kids are fighting in the car, you’re stuck in traffic because you left home later than usual (you get the point).  You finally make it to work, late of course, so you’re not in the best mood due to your dreadful morning.  However, when you walk into your office you discover that one of your co-workers was just diagnosed with cancer, and another co-worker’s mother died the night before.  Remember that dreadful morning of yours?  Doesn’t seem so dreadful now, does it?  That’s the power of proper perspective.

Now, I promised you some good news, didn’t I?  Here it is:  Perceptions are malleable and can be altered pretty quickly.  In turn, when your perception is positively altered, it places you in a better position for increased productivity.  I like to call it fruitfulness.  I came across an interesting fact that I’d like to lift from an article entitled “Well-Being, Success, and the Gallup Student Poll” conducted in 2009.  High school students who reported consistently experiencing a joyful outlook had better academic records overall.  This proves that people with an overall positive outlook are happier, which could be a precursor to success and impactful results.

Perception and Maturity

Did you know fruit trees only produce fruit after they have reached a certain level of maturity?  Just like fruit trees, our productivity is connected to our maturity, because in most cases our perceptions are rooted in our level of maturity.  Many times our actions are influenced by our perceptions, whether good or bad.  Arising from our actions are the consequences of those actions.  If we’re honest with ourselves we will admit that when we were younger and immature, we made some pretty dumb decisions that we would later live to regret.  What makes us see those actions for what they are (dumb)?  Could it be that time and experience placed those actions in perspective?  Our actions are the seeds that carry the genetic material that produces the offspring of consequence.  That’s why I believe that maturity is the force of proper perspective.  As we mature, we tend to focus more on the consequences of our actions.  Until we mature completely, we will always struggle to maximize our productivity.

So if you are struggling with negative perceptions, here are some effective tools that always work for me when I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.

  1. Diet–   You are what you eat, and food affects mood.  Try to make healthy eating a lifestyle.  When you eat great, you feel great, and when you feel great, you produce great things.
  2. Exercise–  Research consistently shows that exercise improves and hones all of our bodily functions, including perhaps the most important of all…brain activity.  When we’re sharp mentally, we pay attention to detail, which is a guaranteed gateway to increased productivity.
  3. Quiet Time–  Whether you pray, meditate, or just take a short nap, time spent in quiet solitude can relieve stress and change negative perceptions throughout your day.  I encourage you to take advantage of breaks in your day to silently recharge.
  4. Connect–  We all thrive on social interactions with others.  You may not be an extrovert or a social butterfly, but connection with like minds and significant others can greatly reinforce priorities and ideas that really matter to us.  There is nothing like spending time with the people we love to help bring proper perspective.
  5. Travel–  A change of scenery can go a long way when trying to change negative perceptions.  Never underestimate the power of “vacating the premises.”

Be encouraged today and remember, trees produce fruit; fruit contains seeds; seeds produce trees.

What will YOU produce today?

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE