Abundances of the Heart

May we each bespeak the Tone of Love

My Toastmasters club meets first thing every Tuesday morning, where, in addition to presenting our prepared speeches, we share a group exercise called “Table Topics”.

“Table Topics” addresses a general “topic of the day” by calling upon each of us, in random order, to immediately improvise a specific answer to a unique question. This week’s topic, “Halloween”, was timely. I was asked, “Would you rather hug a witch or a ghost?”  

“I would prefer to hug a witch,” I replied without hesitation. “A witch is a real person I can get ahold of!. She is a good, down to earth, loving person who is a symbol of feminine energies so needed, as well as vital essences to be guided in our world. She’s a good witch; I’m for her!” 


Witches can be good; they can be great! They may well be “Angels-incarnate”, able to intercede for our being human. Plus, they can be silent, and still tell us so much by their very presence.

Forthwith, rich abundances of the Heart compel me to bear witness of the Angel-incarnate manifesting and expressing sublime magic through my beloved partner, Melanie!

Melanie epitomizes a patient, humble and kind being who trusts, honors, and protects me, our family, and many others in her world. Her gracious presence is a constant Godsend in my life.

With her, I am privileged to have the blessed honor of loving and being loved. Words spoken are often not needed, because the currents of Love are ineffable (ie. unspeakable beyond words).

When we walk our favorite path along the rolling river, flowing waters over rocks speak to us. Autumn leaves falling from many tree families there create an enfolding carpet under our feet.

And sunlit mountain vistas in the distance silently remind us of both the mighty power and merciful provisions of Mother Earth, when our aware stewardship respects and protects Her. 

There is an insightful, uplifting Bible passage (in 1 Corinthians 18) that imparts these words: “Love is patient, Love is kind. Love does not envy; it does not boast, nor is it proud. Love does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, trusts, and perseveres. Love rejoices in the truth. Love never fails.” 

 “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. May we each bespeak the Tone of Love.

Relishing Creative Change

The only thing that never changes is change

We all live with constant change. These intense times present to us a wide range of “new normals” that change in quick order. Even the term, “New Normal” (especially when the word “normal” is used as a noun) may lose its meaning for us at times when changes are moving at untrackable speeds!

Currently, there is a prolonged pandemic worldwide, record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires, political unrest and mistrust — all bringing change to what has gone before. Experience has repeatedly shown me that — whenever we face changes, whatever their nature and magnitude — it is how we greet those changes that is, in all ways, essential. 

The Eternal Present Moment

While change is always moving in this, our time/space continuum, the cause of change has not often been fully discovered, acknowledged, and accepted by us human beings.

I, for one, am in wonder of the phenomenon of change. Change not only makes living in this present moment real for you and me; it is the cardinal essence of Life itself!

The very nature of our existence in this earthly dimension of manifest Being IS Change — The eternal (unending) unfoldment of the present moment (the ongoing “here & now”).

How is this practical for you and me? I will speak to my own awareness and intentions: 

— I treasure and respect my life here on this Garden Earth, with each sunrise granted.

— I do not fear death, having lived through a so-called “near death experience” (Albeit I’m a bit squeamish about long-term pain & suffering; hence, I intend to give that a miss!) 

— My thoughts, words, and deeds have power; thus, they abide my constant discipline.  

—  Everything else I entrust to the Eternal Present Moment’s ineffable manifestations.  With You, it is my privilege to relish the creative Change that never ceases! — PenDell


The rationale and practice of persuasive public speaking

I have always had an admiration and interest in Oratory. In a BBC News Magazine article, titled “The Art of Oratory”, it was said that “Oratory is as much about the performance as it is about persuading others of the merits of one’s argument.”

 As one who has been a student of oratory for decades now, I agree with that statement, and I do so without cynicism. However, I did not start off as an Orator.

My first “professional gig” earned me $5 cash paid from the Dallas Zoo. (In specific, it was a “Lincoln” bill peeled off the PR guy’s money clip.) I was five years old back then. I sang a jingle with these words:

“All the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you,
Asking you to be sure to plan to visit the zoo as soon as you can

Twenty-something years later: After I (a “workaholic” at the time) had completed three college degrees in Performing Arts; trained to sing opera and musicals; and won that year’s Metropolitan Opera “National Council” Auditions — I traveled around North America on a six-month concert tour as a featured vocal soloist.

Yet, late-night ground & air travel circuits — from one distant city to another for the next evening’s performance — left me with a palpable sense of loneliness, and a longing to discover a greater purpose for living Life beyond my momentary displays of celebrity. 

In a cathartic moment early one morning, I grabbed my personal diary and wrote this: 

“Whereas I have been so privileged to perform the music of some great composers, lyricists, and other singers — I earnestly ask You now, O Universe, to guide me toward actuating whatever is my destiny.

“My intent is to author, compose, perform, and produce my own original artistic creations. In return, I pledge to live, work, and artistically serve in each and every facet of ‘my world’ on Earth.” 

Resulting from my passionate launching of those sincere “rockets of desire”, a remarkable sequence of events began to occur smoothly and quickly. And, along the way, I found myself nurturing a respect and a sense of protection for the art of Oratory.

Oratory calls for precise communication by which one can conscientiously express one’s own unique, self-governed thoughts with crystal clarity and powerful intent. An historic example of someone who nurtured the specific rationale and practice of self-governed thought and compelling public speaking was the 19th-century orator, Susan B. Anthony.

Due to her highly developed ability to put forth iron-clad, logical and reasoned thought, and then powerfully present it, she advanced the course of women’s voter rights from the entrenched past to her present day. Her legacy remains a tribute to the power of Oratory. 

I believe that we follow in the footsteps of tremendous orators. Why does that matter? Because each of us is, by our very nature, capable and hence responsible to bring forth our own individually specific, self-governed thoughts, as voiced through our own unique forms of expression. Those are essences that can and will steadfastly center all the unique facets of our own individual worlds.

And, while at it, as a matter of course, we can and will persuade others — to do what? … To, in turn, focus their own logical, self-governed thoughts, and express themselves by way of their own one-of-a-kind creative voice.

As the ancient voices have always intoned, with each and everyone of us in mind — “So Let the Eternal Word Be Spoken; So Let It Be Done …”

Mountain Sojourn

Experiences, Views, Perspectives

Last weekend, our son, Evan and his lovely wife, Isabel, joined us for a beautiful late afternoon amidst the golden meadows of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park (west of our hometown, Fort Collins, Colorado). We knew we would want to be there at times when the sonorous bugling of elk herds, led by the long-antlered bull elk, would be present in full concert!

Rocky Mountain National Park – Longs Peak and Mount Meeker

As soon as we arrived there with our picnic dinner in hand, we witnessed the elk herd “family” ambling closer — bugling all the while to other more distant herds — an experience that does not occur every year. Hence, our being there and then was a blessed rarity! 

In the evening, the setting sun brought dancing light and shadows to the valley floor; then later, the Dusk made way for a clear, naturally moonlit sky. A vista on the horizon framed the park’s two distant snow-capped mountains, Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. 

Rocky Mountain National Park includes some of the highest mountains in the continental United States. In those high elevations, a windswept land above the trees provides expanses that bridge both sides of the Continental Divide. Therein is tundra, alpine lakes, and forested habitats for a wide range of acclimated plants and animals. 

The Four Elements — Water, Air, Earth, and Fire — are in full force there:

Yearly cycles of iconic summer thunderstorms and persistent winter winds continually shape a majestic mountainous landscape on this one-of-a-kind place on Earth.

And not to be forgotten, Fire — this year, in Colorado, as well as various other places, fire is forcefully impressing itself on all of Mother Earth’s Realms: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, and the multi-faceted Realm of Humanity. 

Closer to home for us here in Northern Colorado is Horsetooth Reservoir, just west of Fort Collins. It collects in the foothills above the town, on the western side of the Dakota Hogback, which borders the reservoir along its eastern side.

Overlooking the reservoir from 1800 feet above, and just to the west, is Horsetooth Mountain — a summit in the foothills of the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. The 7,259-foot peak is located in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, a distance that puts it 7 miles west of downtown Fort Collins, and at an altitude high enough for Melanie and me to gaze at it every evening from the front yard of our blessed home!

And much closer to me, closer than anything else, is a view — not of a mountain, but from a Mountain — A metaphorical Mountain view that feels “closer than hands and feet”.

This Mountain view is an internal process that involves a conscious outlook on Life — one that is available, ready, and waiting for any one of us who chooses to be self-governed enough — in heart, mind, and soul — to see, sense,  recognize, and acknowledge… What?

… The Many Mountains of Blessings — The Opportunities, The Successes and Abundances — The beautiful and empowering Gifts given to One from Others, And One’s Uniquely Precious and Absolutely Needed Gifts meant to be Given to Others.  

In this wise, I have found from personal experience that such an undertaking is so much easier to engage than one might think. Yet, having it intact and safely in hand will take a steady and assured persistence to maintain it.

A first step for me moving forward was to commit — step by step, moment by moment, day by day — to Doing my very Best with the various Things that come up for me; And Giving my Best to the Ones who venture close to me. 

And thankfully, I have discovered that my Best — nothing more, nothing less, moment by moment, day by day — is indeed what is perfect all around!.

The Perils of Moral Injury

Perils of Then and Now

In 1964, when I was 12 years old, new to junior high school, and soon preoccupied with getting good grades, while chewing gum and obliviously gaping at girls, the U.S. Selective Service was  bringing the Vietnam war to the American homefront, by way of its military draft process. 

As I turned 16, new to high school, and quickly becoming consumed with my first girlfriend, the Vietnam war’s largest military campaign was coming into play.

The “TET Offensive” — an unprecedented assault coordinated for nine solid months by the North Vietnamese against South Vietnam — prompted the US military to accelerate its mandatory drafting of male Ameicans 18 to 25 years old. 

Meanwhile, the US media made Americans clearly aware that an overall victory in Vietnam was not at all imminent. That was when my attention turned to media sources that followed the latest news about fellow Americans fighting non-stop in what ended up as a 19-year-long marathon of warfare.

Many of them were only two years older than me, including locals — some of them, big brothers of my high school friends. Scores of men from every state in the Union were called up by means of a lottery process — the first lottery for military drafts since 1942. (In the period from 1964 to 1973, the U.S. military enlisted 2.2 million of those young American men.)

Well, lo and behold — 6 weeks after I was 18, and a registered draftee — I watched, with rapt attention, as the lottery numbers were revealed. I was shocked to receive a startlingly low number which made me one of the first who would be called. Instantly, I saw my college years disappearing, for active duty to my country nearing!

After two solitary weeks of panic-stricken worry and pensive soul-searching, I decided not to petition for “Conscientious Objector” status, out of concern that, in doing so, I would be disloyal to many friends who were dedicated to heartfelt, selfless duty to Country.

Two days after I made that decision, I was grateful when my parents invited me home for dinner. When I arrived, they both were alight with excitement over some good news!

The short version of the “good news” that Mom and Dad were about to tell me is this:

My quite influential grandfather (by some mysterious means not ever to be discussed), had seen to it that my mandatory draft status disappeared, while active study for my college degree  reappeared!

On the one hand, I immediately floated into a blissful trance of grateful relief!

And yet, on the other hand, a few days later, I experienced a deep, self-consciousness shame: I asked myself, “Why am I spared from military service, when many of my friends are already heading for an inescapable “running of the gauntlet”: “Either kill others or be killed yourself”?

Powerful, unresolved emotions profoundly challenged my deepest senses of both mortality and  morality. Each led me to mistrust myself, and at times, to question why I continued to live at all. 

Well, that was “then” (50 years ago); and this is now …

And I find myself recalling those times in a new light, because I recently came upon a mental health condition called “Moral Injury.” That awareness let me know that signs of moral injury had visited me at times; Yet mine were quite mild as compared to those of soldiers active in combat.

In that wise, Rita Nakashima Brock, Director of the Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America, speaks of moral injury, as follows: 

“‘Moral injury’ is a relatively recent term used to describe the internal suffering that results from breaking one’s own moral code — a wounded conscience that soldiers have faced for centuries. Imagine a soldier who takes a life in the line of duty. No matter how much good he does, he believes he is a bad person. He hates himself, hurts himself. Yet anyone can experience it.

“Moral Injury breaks the spirit. It is an ‘undoing of character’ that makes people question their ability to do the right thing and leaves them contaminated with the feeling that they’re ‘bad,’ ‘disgusting,’ or ‘beyond redemption.’ That often leads to self-harm. People turn to alcohol, drugs, and self-isolation to avoid the pain of feelings that leave some emotionally dead.”

I now see that moral injury may well be as perilous to the internal wellbeing of a person as any major chronic disease is to one’s physical body. Maybe more so … 

As to the question of whether conflict is ever a good way to engage with fellow human beings:

I’ll go with the vision of Abraham Lincoln — a man of honor — just, moral, and ethical.

At his first inaugural address, President Lincoln spoke, with a spirit of beneficence and reconciliation, to the Confederate States of America and to people of the South at large, at a pivotal time — similar in so many ways to ours here and now — when political ideologies were polarized, and racial injustice was intransigent. His message was this:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, It must not break our bonds of affection.

“The mystic chords of memory will yet swell the chorus of our Union, when again touched, as Surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”