I agree that we are close kin in regard to faith, godseekers both. And your theory that a person is a cynic in inverse proportion to his former idealism is certainly spot on. But we two are not so much cynics, I suspect, as pilgrims to a lost shrine.
I did read your piece on the crosses in the pines. I’m more inclined to see the hand of God in the pines themselves than in the “crosses.” But you present this well. You write a simple narrative that accomplishes its purpose without being the least insistent. You have a nice hand at painting a word picture, and I like the way, after painting it, you don't hang a heavy lesson on us. You simply hang the picture on the wall and say "Cool, eh?”
To Mary A:
I cannot offer you words of wisdom, for you are now wiser than I. I have never lost a loved one so suddenly and with so little chance to ready my emotions. But I can tell you that you now begin the journey in life for which your mom prepared you, and you must trust that God would not have taken her if He did not feel you ready. You have not lost your mom's love and support; you will feel her love upon you always -- and most powerfully when you most need it -- and you will find support in the memory of the countless encouragements she gave you. You will be quite amazed at the moments in your life when you find her by your side.
To Tyler, a student:
Okay, you asked for it.
By far the greatest influence on me as a young man was Thoreau, not just “Walden” but the essays, “Civil Disobedience” and “Life Without Principle.” I believe Thoreau is more politically relevant than ever today. In Philosophy, you want to go right back to Plato and steep yourself in the Dialogues. As a godseeker, make sure you read Dostoyevsky, especially “The Possessed” and “The Brothers Karamazov.” And, for a real trek into self-discovery, find yourself a copy of Saul Bellow’s, “Henderson the Rain King.”
Thank you for your kind interest. I think that the great happiness in life is to find someone to whom you can express your feelings openly. Indeed, some things, like kindness and gratitude, exist only in their expression.
Thanks so much. Emerson and Thoreau are my gods and C. S. Lewis my favorite Christian apologist. I've also heard of Twain, Einstein and Churchill. Being placed among them is further circumstantial evidence that I'm a dead white male. If you really put my quotes in your husband's lunch everyday, I assume he likes liverwurst (woulda said baloney, but it seemed too obvious.)
To Eric, a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan:
Supposedly, there are no more than six degrees of separation between any two human beings. Whatever the number of degrees between us used to be, it is now just one. I am proud to know you. Thanks for the good-will vibes, and I return them with whole heart. I send you a fellow stranger's sincere wish for your well-being and safety. Thanks much for what you're doing and may the New Year bring you pleasant surprises.
Sometimes my attempts at humor are a little clumsy. I wanted to make clear that I am no more God's agent than anyone else, but that seems to be what you meant, so I'm okay with that. Yes, I accept the existence of God. His presence in our everyday lives is what I'm seeking to get a handle on. Most of my thoughts on God are attempts to suggest such a presence, but, for me, it's still more a quest than a confidence.
Thanks so much. No, there's no previous book. My past work exists only in a few anthology collections, magazine archives and newspaper microfiche. I started the blog with the idea of bringing it all together but quickly diverted to writing new thoughts, which seems to be what readers prefer.
I'm pleased to hear from you. In '61, while in the U.S. Army, I sold a couple items to Reader's Digest and was hooked. Although my writing has always been avocational, I've done it all my life and was able to make a steady side income from it before the internet ended the paying market for the sort of things I do: quips, anecdotes, thoughts, short humor, light verse, personal reminiscence, op-ed pieces.
To my namesake, Bob Brault, the American poet:
Since you asked, I'm 71 but can still pass for 110. I’ve spent my life making the rounds of the Hartford insurance companies, programming everything from unit record wire boards to internet websites -- the whole gamut. Sounds like you turned out pretty well for a beat poet. Were you the inventor of rap or what? You were ahead of your times, my friend. Strikes me that you could be big on today's scene. Grow long whiskers and get an agent.
My first communication with Ken Devine:
I've noticed, looking at your Brittany photos, that you've turned a very French-looking overgrown landscape into a manicured setting -- the British compulsion toward very proper lawns and gardens, I suppose. I think I would have left the grounds as they were, but that's the Frenchman in me, happy to sit in clutter while honing fine sentences.
~~ Robert Brault