short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ask Forgiveness

It is often easier to ask for help than to ask for forgiveness. However, forgiving someone usually brings a sense of satisfaction and even pleasure and being forgiven even greater reward.

How does one go about asking forgiveness? First, expect to be forgiven. Expectation is often the greatest factor in whether or not something happens.

Second, ask simply. Say, for example, “I hope you will have the grace to forgive me,” or even more simply, “I’m sorry.”

Not everyone is ready to forgive, and that is a risk one takes in asking. However, few can resist a direct request. And when they do forgive, they feel good about themselves, and so do you. When this happens, don’t forget to say “thank you.”

My sister, Danielle, says that admitting one’s own humanity (i.e. the frailties that go with being human and the mistakes that one makes because of being human) can go a long way toward defusing hostile situations. Her approach is to say, “Well, that was less than perfect. Some days I just seem determined to prove how human I can be. I guess I get to cancel the angel wings and halo for another week.”

She says that generally people laugh or give her a hug. Even the sternest will relent and say something like “Well, as long as the problem gets fixed…”

Laughing at oneself in the act of asking forgiveness, Danielle, a psychiatric nurse, claims, allows the other person to step away from his or her perfectionism or excessively high standards for a moment and to relax and enjoy being human.

Here is another important part of forgiveness. Give credit to the other person for being “big” enough to forgive.

As a young soldier stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, I found my check missing one pay day, and, it turned out, it would be missing for some time to come because of problems with the financial paperwork associated with my belonging to the Army while stationed at an Air Force base.

Military regulations allowed only partial cash payment in such cases, which put me in a financial bind and would be a hardship for some time to come. I was certain that the error was the fault of the finance sergeant in charge of processing pay information. SSG West (not his real name) and I exchanged some acrimonious words, but that, of course, did nothing to improve my financial situation. A few days later, I learned that the fault was not his and that everything that he had told me was accurate. I returned to his office, told him what I had learned, and apologized for my earlier words. He quickly forgave me and redoubled his efforts to help me. A few months later – and much sooner than anyone had expected – my finances were back on track.

Soon after that, SSG West and I ended up working together, as I was assigned to casual status in the combined personnel and finance office while action was being taken on my application for a direct commission to officer ranks. SSG West became my strongest advocate, and he was as pleased for me when the commission was awarded as he would have been for himself.

There is a tradition in the Army that the first person to salute a newly commissioned officer gets a silver dollar from the officer. After the commissioning ceremony, SSG West jumped up to salute me, but the First Sergeant (Top) of my unit beat him to it. As I handed the silver dollar to Top, I saw disappointment on the face of SSG West. Later that day, I stopped by the finance office and handed a silver dollar to my advocate. You would have thought I had given him a million silver coins, not just one.

My apology in this case led to much more than forgiveness. It led to a special relationship between an unlikely pair of friends: a black guy from the deep South and a white girl from New England, and, later, between a non-commissioned officer and a commissioned officer – a friendship that began with an apology and solidified by a silver coin.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Letter Home from a Redneck Farm Kid in the Marine Corps

Another goodie from the Internet -- 

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you get to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay.

Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.

We go on 'route marches,' which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A 'route march' is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake. I only beat him once ... He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6' and 130 pounds and he's 6'8' and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter ,


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Listen. Such a simple idea. One we all know is important. And yet, one that we rarely incorporate into our busy lives.

We may her many things; we listen to few. Take birds, for example. They have marvelous songs. Each one is so different. Some years ago I spent ten days teaching a seminar for teachers in Chisinau, Moldova. 

We were at a conference center that was very much a resort. It was located in the woods, and each morning before the teachers (my students) arrived, I enjoyed opening the windows and hearing the songs of the swallows that sat on the branches outside and created background music for my instruction.

My very earliest memories of birds’ songs and the joy of listening come from toddler days. My father would come into my bedroom in late evening in the house we moved from when I was three, and we would sit together by the open window each night and listen to the whip-poor-wills. The bitterroot bouquet that came from listening to the whip-poor-wills remained in the toddler’s mind throughout childhood and into adulthood and for nearly thirty years since my father’s death. Although I no longer live near an area where whip-poor-wills congregate, whenever I hear any kind of bird song, I also hear the whip-poor-will, and I am transported back to a special moment.

Listening to people can be equally enjoyable. “How are you?” we often ask in passing, and the expected answer is “Fine.” We do not usually anticipate a response that is detailed, and, if we get one, we are often annoyed that we are being detained from the destination to which we were heading when we asked the question. Yet, when we take the time to ask the question for real and to listen to the answer, we often find out many things we did not know, as well as the ways in which we just might be able to help a friend or colleague in need. If nothing else, we have just made someone feel better because everyone likes to be listened to.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.