Daily Guide — January 2005

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Days 1-2: Work

This is the last day in the “Behavior Toward” series of the Joyous Gard days. (Ref: www.thinkinginink.com/organization). The series heading fits very well with what I want to talk about this morning, you and me.

Here’s what Benson says in a chapter of Joyous Gard he calls “Work” (Ref: www.thinkinginink.com/work):

“I believe that, day by day, we should clear a space to live with minds that have felt and hoped and enjoyed. That is the first duty of all; and then that we should live in touch with the natural beauty of the earth, and let the sweetness of it enter into our minds and hearts; for then we come out renewed, to find the beauty and the fullness of life in the hearts and minds of those about us.”

He goes on to say:

“… it is our business to conciliate each other”

So, here we are, together, thinking and talking about the great things of the mind’s Joyous Gard, influencing others who would hear our words, feel our touch and see our face. I believe that it truly is our business and life’s work to conciliate each other, to make friends and to help smooth out the rough places in life. We need each other.

Here’s a segment from a biography of the late Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s and television commercial icon:

Dave lived by the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. He simplified this by saying, Just Be Nice.

Dave loved quality … and he loved people. To Dave, being nice meant talking to people honestly. It might mean telling them news they may not want to hear. But he knew that if you treat them with respect and dignity they are more likely to accept what you have to say. Being nice also means being a good listener. It’s a sign of respect, and you’ll learn more by listening, he would always say.

Through his television commercials, Dave became an American icon. He met presidents, sports superstars and celebrities, and he could relate to anyone, regardless of background or occupation. He was most comfortable behind the grill – in his trademark white, short-sleeve shirt and bright red tie – talking to the crew. He was always friendly and respectful. He mentioned their name and gave them a lapel pin. It may seem simple, but being respectful and treating others like you want to be treated will be returned to you again and again.

Too often, we are overly serious about things; we criticize and think so little of relationships. Too easily, we cast people aside, citing the nature of competition and survival of the fittest. And too much, we blame the weaknesses of others for the shortfalls in life.

Days 1-2

Maybe it sounds trite to say, but today and tomorrow, “think of others.” What is it that you can give to someone else in these two days – a simple smile, a compliment, or a word of encouragement?

It’s easy to lose sight of “Behavior Toward.” Use these two days to soften your outlook, remove any hardness, and live as best you can by the Golden Rule.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Work, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Days 3-5: Hope

Yesterday, I picked up something at the dry cleaners and noticed a sign hanging on the wall: “I AM AN AMWAY DISTRIBUTOR.” The sign said just that, nothing more – no graphics, color, or anything to really catch your eye; just those words. I suppose that the sign was intended to simply alert people who walked in the door that they could order Amway products from the owner of the cleaners. I thought it was a bit strange.

But I started thinking — what if that sign had said something like this instead: “I AM HAPPY.” Now, that would make you curious, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you want to know what this person was so happy about that he or she would advertise it? Wouldn’t you just be dying to ask that owner, “Why are you happy?”

I remember one day, many years ago, waiting in line at the bank and overhearing a young teller complain to a customer about how long a day it had been. Essentially, she was whining, and the customer, a tall, older man, simply smiled and said this in response: “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, so much to look forward to. Every day is a gift. And when you get old like me you’ll realize that.” He completed his transaction and walked off.

Driving out of the bank’s parking lot, I happened to catch that old man as he was walking to his car. I pulled up beside him, rolled down my window and told him how much I appreciated what he said to that young teller.

“Are you a preacher?” he asked

“No, just a man.” I said. And I drove off in tears of joy to once again feel the significance of life.

Don’t we all want to be happy? There truly are so many ways to enter Joyous Gard, so many ways to find the cool refreshing waters of life. I know that the toil, the disappointment and the stress of living often times hide its doorways, but Joyous Gard waits for our return.

Days 3-5 Guide

The weekend is the ideal time to make the move to Higher Things. Open a door to Joyous Gard and enter one of its many rooms. Find something this weekend to restore your thoughts of Higher Things. Consider all that there is for you to learn, to witness and to anticipate.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Hope, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 6: Experience

For over fifty years, an American flag has marked the corner of this Augusta, Georgia deli, Sunshine Bakery. Their signature sourdough rye bread is baked fresh daily and begins with a starter that has been active now for over thirty years.

Most customers are “regulars.” They come in mainly for a hot-pastrami or corned beef sandwich and a cup of soup but then typically leave with a loaf of fresh-baked bread or a dozen cookies. The days of the week, Monday through Friday, each mark a particular kind of fresh vegetarian soup being served; the menu of this small deli is simple and has changed very little over the years. Why bother with success?

Stability, family, community – these are the words that seem to best describe this local institution. And as one of its “regulars,” I am happy to be a small part of its history.

Too often we look for new things, don’t we? We tend to get tired of repeat experiences, not considering the significance of life’s cycles. And while I do believe that newness is important, I also think that we Americans tend to shop for it. We’re constantly looking for the keys to happiness, almost as if we are afraid of possible boredom. The stillness, the quiet moments and even a steady routine leave us feeling restless and guilty, almost as if others might be getting ahead of us in a race. But a race for what? To where?

Sometimes, I think we have it all wrong, that amidst our prosperity and haste to “go for it” we miss the slow boat of life that provides such a beautiful vantage point. We seem all too eager to “get on with it,” even when the most wonderful things are right there in front of us. Our experience should be that of meaningful times and great moments. I think that our conversations and our relationships should grow deeper and that we should spend more quiet hours enjoying each other and God’s beautiful landscapes. Oh, it’s wonderful to travel the world and to have it all, but it’s simply in vain if in the effort to have that we miss out on the more important things.

Day 6 Guide

Today I want you to think about slowing down a bit. Take your shoes off, hug your children, or handwrite a letter to someone you enjoy. As this year is coming to a close, consider ways to get your life in sync with the slow boat that provides such a beautiful vantage point. Think about building experiences and sweet moments.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, Experience, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 7: Faith

I enjoy hearing my father talk about growing up in the small, middle-Georgia town of Sandersville. As a young boy he worked at the local theatre making five dollars a week. His job was simple: to open up, sell the tickets and the popcorn, start the movie, and then clean up.

My father was a “depression child,” who, until after the war, didn’t realize his family had been poor. In fact, until the war’s end, he knew only poverty. And then, in those post-war years, he witnessed one of the greatest times of abundance and opportunity that this country has ever seen. I’m sure that it must have been as if a new nation had been born, born of that sleeping “spirit of enterprise” that so characterizes our American experience.

In times of great need, like the Great Depression, I believe that people’s mutual dependence must be more apparent; my father even reports that during those times, when no one had anything, people helped people a great deal more. There was fraternity among people, and they spent more time with each other, talking, laughing and crying together and together hoping for better days.

It’s true, I think, that today we live in the “me” generation and that today’s cultural icons speak of abundance, independence, affluence and influence. The skew today is toward the individual and performance, and the quiet spirits of beauty and peace are foreign to many.

Day 7 Guide

You are a beacon to many who want desperately to witness that spirit of a peaceful heart. Continue your course of seeking beauty and of finding joy in relationship, in friendship and in love.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, Faith, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 8: Progress

“If you don’t learn to a program a computer, you’ll be functionally obsolete in ten years.” That was a statement made by a well-known business consultant over twenty years ago, when Apple Computer first introduced the Personal Computer (PC).

The influence that computers have had on the world is truly astounding. And while the thoughts of this particular consultant were a bit overstated, his enthusiasm for computers was well founded.

His one statement about being “functionally obsolete” influenced me as a young man to buy my first personal computer and begin work on a project that would take over two years to complete. I first learned to program that computer and then wrote a software package for my family business, which tripled our operating efficiency and easily convinced me of the awesome power of that machine. And today, thinking back, I find myself excited by the amazing power of that one statement.

The Power of One

It only takes one thing — one word of direction or encouragement, one statement of philosophy, or the sole wind of God’s voice — to lead you in the right direction. The power of one is awesome, and the only requirement for you to tap into it is that you be attuned and sensitive to the subtle and faint voices that would call you.

Day 8 Guide

Today, listen for the call. It could be in someone’s voice. Look around at the world, look at yourself and your situation. Is there something or someone who wants or needs your attention? Listen.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily text, Progress, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 9: The Sense of Beauty

My mother used to have difficulty sleeping. And I just liked to stay up late. I remember that quite often we would spend late nights sitting together in the den watching the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. And even though I would have school the next day, my mother never seemed to mind my staying up. I think she liked the company.

I have fond memories of those early years, of Christmas, those late nights, of bottomless bowls of popcorn, friends, music and dancing. And I find comfort in thinking about those times, even though it’s through the mist of a sweet sadness that I see them.

Lasting beauty is bound in relationships and in the memories of friendships, family, courtship and love. There is great energy in those bonds, waiting for release. And in order to realize its strength you have only to sense the beauty.

Day 9 Guide

Today, ask yourself questions about your surroundings and the people around you. Try to notice the things that you would otherwise overlook, and pay special attention to your friends, your family and your co-workers. Think about the bonds of relationship that exist between you. The key here is to arouse strong feelings that will later adorn the walls of your Joyous Gard.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, The Sense of Beauty, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Days 10-12: The Principle of Beauty

That great song by Carole King, “Up on the Roof,” tells of a wonderful and transforming vantage point of life:

So when I come home feeling tired and beat
I’ll go up where the air is fresh and sweet
I’ll get far away from the hustling crowd
And all the rat-race noise down in the street

On the roof, that’s the only place I know
Look at the city, baby
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof

There’s a “rooftop” for each of us in this world, a place where one is able to not only sense life’s beauty but to be transformed by her as well. And it’s her job, you know — to transform us. But to enjoy her work we must be of a willing spirit, of a soft and malleable heart, alert, listening and watching out for the opportunities of growth.

When I was a boy, I enjoyed climbing up on our garage roof at night; it was just high enough to change my perspective and allow me to briefly escape the world. I’d look up at the stars and marvel at how things so far away could actually exist.

And at night the stars they put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me
That’s what I said
Keep on telling you

That right smack dab in the middle of town
I found a paradise that’s troubleproof
And if this old world starts a getting you down
There’s room enough for two
Up on the roof…

Days 10-12 Guide

Where do you go? Who do you talk to? How are you transformed by the work of beauty? God has given us so many doorways to those unexplained places of the mind and the soul. Even the dark corners of life hold the power of transformation. This weekend I want you to search for those places of sanctuary and change. Where do you go?

When this old world starts a getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space

On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below don’t bother me, no, no

I’d enjoy hearing about where you go; send me an email.

© 2004 Levi Hill

Daily Text, The Principle of Beauty, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 13: Life

The Invisible Hand is a wonderfully rich feature of life that leads and directs those in search of truth and beauty and also confirms that a chosen path is, in fact, the right one. This morning I struggled to find a thought to leave with you on the close of this Joyous Gard cycle of days. And though my efforts seemed mostly fruitless, my belief in the power of this leading pushed me to keep searching. As I turned to a book of poetry for inspiration, it was on page three hundred seven, the first page I turned to, that I immediately found confirmation of the things we’ve talked about. These simple words met my eyes:

We are building ev’ry day,

A temple the world may not see;

Building, building ev’ry day,

Building for eternity.

Listen also to the words of Arthur Benson in the original text of Joyous Gard:

And my last word of advice to people into whose hands this book may fall, who are suffering from a sense of dim failure, timid bewilderment, with a vague desire in the background to make something finer and stronger out of life, is to turn to some one whom they can trust-not intending to depend constantly and helplessly upon them-and to get set in the right road.

Joyous Gard should be a beautiful place of peace and retreat, a place of refreshment for your weary mind. It’s good to pause and think about this wonderful place that you are building.

Day 13 Guide

As we start another series tomorrow consider how you might add on to or improve your Joyous Gard.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Life, Joyous Gard.

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 14: Ideas

During what is exam time for many students the enjoyment of Christmas-break seems so far away. I remember that stressful experience of “cramming” and trying to retain information just long enough to make it through exams. There were so many ideas and concepts to remember: science, math, history, and literature. And now I see it in my children; their eyes speak of that heavy burden of performance.

Many adults feel a similar stress. Readying for Christmas is no easy thing, and it’s hard to consider anything else during this season.

Let the start of this Joyous Gard cycle be a sanctuary for your thoughts. While the scope of ideas and of our reflection will be narrowly confined to beauty, apprehending her presence should inspire a wonderful sense of liberation and largeness that brings happiness and joy.

Day 14 Guide

We are approaching the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. The shortest day of the year will be December twenty first, and as the sun travels its “low road” in the sky, the light is unusual and beautiful. Today, notice the light.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, Ideas: Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 15: Poetry

Poetry as a Way of Thinking

It was this thought that most captured my attention in Benson’s book, Joyous Gard – that in a sense we are all poets and witnesses to beauty. Our human nature urges us to seek that which so deeply moves the spirit.

Underlying the poet’s work is the fact that beauty itself can be suspended in verse. But apprehending her presence is a capacity that we all share. Yesterday, I talked about nature’s light in these latter days of the year. Did you feel its softness?

Solstice light against the trees

Filled with pastel colored leaves

Warmed my spirit on the morn

That cold and late December

Simple things

Simple things – they make up the greater part of life’s drama, don’t they? Mostly, we live by doing and seeing the simple things: opening the mail, eating, getting dressed, driving, or talking. We see school children crossing the street, a bird lighting on the mailbox, rain that soaks the ground, or trees that dance in the wind. We see crescent moons and city streets filled with cars. We sense the sadness of loss, and we feel sympathy for lonely spirits.

There is beauty in every corner of life, in every day. But it’s easy to overlook, masked in simple forms like the soft curves of a baby’s bottom.

Listen to the lyrics of the song “Simple Things” written by pop artist Amy Grant: http://www.amygrant.com/

I dream of simple things
I can believe in
Like the feeling this day brings
True love and the miracle of forgiving
I believe in simple things

Through all the days
The blues, the greys
A ray of light keeps shining…

Day 15 Guide

Today, take a moment to find one thing that at first glance appears dull, routine and generally uninspiring, and identify something beautiful about it. The key here is to acquire the habit of seeking beauty in all areas of life.

© 2004 Levi Hill

Daily Text, Poetry, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 16: Poetry And Life

I’m easily influenced by my environment. And if you’re like me, even the weather affects your spirit. Dark, rainy days leave me feeling sullen, sometimes lost. But the light of a clear day makes me hopeful and desirous.

I love the buzz of a big city. The people, the noise, and the bright neon lights, they energize my spirit. Walking on the streets of New York, between her massive and beautiful buildings, leaves me with an unusual cloistered feeling. It’s as if I’m really not outdoors. Protected somehow.

Even the particular day of the week and the time of day promote different feelings in me. Monday is generally my hardest day, while I feel most alive on Thursday or Friday. I’m most productive from 4AM to 10AM, and then again from 3PM to 6PM. In between I’m tired.

Day 16 Guide

Think today of your environment. Consider the day of the week, the season of the year, and even the time of day to be a part of your “habitat.” In what environment do you feel most alive and energized? In what sort of place do you feel lost and in need of help?

The key here is to understand the influences on your spirit so that you might best create environments to satisfy your soul.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Poetry and Life, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Days 17-19: Art

Last night I had the great opportunity to attend a performance of country music artist and grammy award winner Kathy Mattea http://www.mattea.com/. During the concert she talked a bit about her life, commenting on the ten years that she spent in Scotland. The influence of that culture is evident in her music with its unique blend of guitar, keyboard and the distinctive Celtic voices of pipes and mandolins. The old and traditional sounds carried my spirit to new places. I felt at peace and at home.

It is the intention of great art to transform and then transport its witnesses to the peaceful plains of life. The cadence of that music last night gently rocked the audience and elicited a greater, common spirit, uniting us all in this magical season.

Days 17-19 Guide

Don’t miss the music of this season. Take advantage of every opportunity to soften your heart and listen to the voices that sing of the miracle.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, Art, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 20: Art and Morality

In his classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan introduces the character Christian, whose haunting vision of impending destruction inspires him to immediately evacuate his home and make the difficult journey to the Celestial City. The story is an allegory of the Christian life and demonstrates that just as the main character, Christian, faces obstacles on his journey, so does the believer in Christ bear such burden.

I have a beautiful old copy of this book published in 1877; the inscription indicates that it was a Christmas gift from a mother to her son on December 25, 1878. Listen to the story’s teaching as early in his journey Christian faces the Hill of Difficulty:

I beheld then, that they all went on till they came to the foot of the Hill Difficulty, at the bottom of which was a Spring. There was also in the same place two other ways besides that of the going up the side of the Hill is called Difficulty. Christian now went to the Spring, and drank thereof to refresh himself, and then began to go up the Hill, saying,

The Hill, tho’ high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, Heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, tho’ difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is wo.

The other two also came to the foot of the Hill; but when they saw that the Hill was steep and high, and that there was two other ways to go; and supposing also that these two ways might meet again with that up which Christian went, on the other side of the Hill; therefore they were resolved to go in those ways. Now the name of one of those ways was Danger, and the name of the other Destruction. So the one took the way which is called Danger, which led him into a great Wood; and the other took directly up the way to Destruction, which led him into a wide field, full of dark Mountains, where he stumbled and fell, and rose no more.

Day 20 Guide

Today, think of your life as a journey. Where are you going? And how are you getting there? Are you building relationships along the way? Are your conquering the dark forces of despair and despondency?

Full text: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bunyan/

Pilgrim’s Progress for Children: Little Pilgrim’s Progress

© 2004, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 21: Interpretation

A New Light

For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, today, December twenty-first, is the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. Ancient pagan festivals celebrated this day as the end of the sun’s retreat and the start of its return. And from this point until late June the daylight hours will steadily grow.

The newness of light, or what seems to be the birth of a new day, creates a wonderful image of the approaching Christmas day. Additionally, it should mark a great season in the cycle of your personal growth and development.

Day 21 Guide

This is a day of Interpretation in the Joyous Gard cycle of days. It is the first in a series addressing matters of the Outer Mind. Today is an ideal time to consider your perspective on life.

Figuratively, the word solstice means the furthest limit or stopping point. But think of it more as a pause or a moment to reflect, to prioritize and consider again the elements of your life. Today, find a segment of time, maybe an hour, to lay claim to your life’s desires and your aspirations. Who are the important people in your life? What moves and excites you? It’s a great season for love and friendship.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Interpretation, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 22: Education

“Tell your son to have a great Christmas, and forget about this place for a while. Tell him not to even think about school.”

— Sage advice from a middle-school teacher with older children.

I want my children to take school seriously, but I don’t want them to think that it means everything. I want my children to have great memories, to witness the power of feeling good, to sense the connection of friendship and love. I want my children to be honest, to laugh and smile, to feel sorrow and sympathy for others with unmet needs. I want my children to be well mannered and humble, to believe in God’s power and His plan. I want them to feel comfortable and at home in the world. I want them to witness the beauty of nature and her intricate combinations.

These days, it seems that some schools have an over-zealous emphasis on academic achievement, which sometimes leads to a blinding stress on young people to excel. It seems to me that the current mission of such schools is myopic and threatens attention to the greater scope of education. What really are we teaching our children?

Listen to what Arthur Benson said of education in England some one hundred years ago:

It is all on the lines of an intellectual gymnastic; little or nothing is done to cultivate imagination, to feed the sense of beauty, to arouse interest, to awaken the sleeping sense of delight. There is no doubt that all these emotions are dormant in many people. One has only to reflect on the influence of association, to know how children who grow up in a home atmosphere which is fragrant with beautiful influences, generally carry on those tastes and habits into later life. But our education tends neither to make men and women efficient for the simple duties of life, nor to arouse the gentler energies of the spirit.

— Education, Joyous Gard

And then, listen to this definition of education according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

“Culture or development of powers, formation of character, as contrasted with the imparting of mere knowledge or skill.”

Today, I think it’s especially important that you think of home as a sancturary for your children and consider your particular influence in forming their character and finer qualitites. Teach them how to build their own Joyous Gard.

Day 22 Guide

I hope this Christmas brings you a little needed time to stop and think about the greater sense of education. Your influence is so important; talk often about the greater things – beauty, love and laughter.

© 2004 Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 23: Knowledge

Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.

— W. Edwards Deming

A compelling desire to know should gild the pursuit of knowledge and make the effort a pleasure. And if, according to Aristotle, it is by his very nature that man desires to know, then what limits his pursuit?

Compared to most other times in history, we Americans live in great prosperity. And though we don’t often recognize the fact, it truly is a luxury to have time to relax, to enjoy life and to have fun. But our common tendency is to use all of this precious time for leisure, filling it completely with activities and noise that squander our attention.

For a moment, think of what your life would be like if you used your leisure-time to learn, to pursue knowledge. Maybe you think that such an effort would turn you into a boring person, putting you out of sync and out of touch with your friends. Or maybe you think that such a practice would give you no life at all, and just the thought of it seems terribly dull. Such is the pleasure of learning lost, lost to the wind of distraction.

Day 23 Guide

Give yourself a good book for Christmas this year. Consider it a challenge to finish it in ten days. Make a serious effort to use your “pockets of time” to read. The key here is to get yourself out of sync with the world and back in sync with your nature as a learner and knower.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text: Knowledge, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Days 24-26: Growth

Born in a small corner of the world over two thousand years ago was our Peace, our Joy, our Hope, and our Love. This Christmas I wish for you to be changed by the power of that transforming spirit.

Days 24-26 Guide


Merry Christmas,


© 2004, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 27: Emotion

The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I believe that life is recorded by moments and that our best experience is to bridge time with a chain of great moments. The Christmas experience, especially with children, is most usually filled with such times. Isn’t it wonderful to witness the smiles, the joy and the excitement in the eyes of children, to find them feeling free and full of energy?

But even in the course of normal “business” days we have opportunities to create and witness those great moments. They result from the daily personal habit of seeking beauty, the habit that builds the Joyous Gard.

I think that quite normally people would consider hard work to hinder their search for beauty and that only in times of leisure, celebration, or while seeing the majestic corners of the earth would they think it is possible to witness such beauty.

But think about your daily experience. Most of us engage with people throughout the day, and these contacts are ideal opportunities to open up the treasures of relationship, friendship and love. And love is an important passage that leads to great moments.

Day 27 Guide

Today, exercise the habit of concern, and ask those around you about their Christmas. For some, the holiday may have been a lonely or difficult time, and for them the community of concern offers a great restorative power.

It is a reflective time of year, which makes it easier to pick up on people’s emotions; use that as the opportunity to inquire.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 28: Memory

I was five years old when on the day following Christmas I badly cut my finger. I have some recollection of being rushed to the emergency room and of the doctor operating. Today I’m reminded of the accident by a scar and the slightly limited use of that finger.

I know one young boy whose memory of this Christmas will be of the time that he broke his wrist, and for another boy and his family of the fearful time that a diagnosis of Leukemia was given. Survivors of the earthquake in Asia will deal with the memories of devastation and loss; and even this country, I’m sure, will remember it as a time of mourning.

Our human nature is to remember, isn’t it? I think the purpose of such a faculty is not in order to relive the experiences but to learn to live with them, to wrestle with them, to deal with them. And though sometimes it seems like we’re living in a stream of adversity, the Christmas season steadfastly marks the enduring gift of salvation and peace to a needy world.

Day 28 Guide

Hold on to the spirit and the thought of Christmas in these final days of the year.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 29: Retrospect

I live only six or seven houses down from my childhood home, and so the street that I drive on today is the same street that I rode my bicycle on when I was a little boy. I’m fortunate in that taking a walk is truly a trip down memory lane.

The feelings that I had as a child return to me as I walk, and many of the houses that I pass store rich memories of friends and neighbors. In fact, I live almost directly across the street from a house in which I met my first friend. I guess at the time we were only four or five years old.

He and I become best of friends growing up together. And I remember the many hours we spent riding our bicycles and climbing in trees. I love thinking about those times.

Day 29 Guide

Just before the start of a new year, think about your childhood. If you’re able, visit an old place that brings back fond memories. You’ll find that writing about some of your early experiences in a journal is a great way to release the fragrance of those sweet times.

© 2004 Levi Hill

Daily Text: Retrospect, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 30: Humor

Ten years ago, we took our daughter to DisneyWorldTM. My father happened to have a business meeting in Orlando at the same time, so he, too, was able to meet us for an enjoyable day at the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the theme parks, Disney offers a unique opportunity to have breakfast and meet a handful of their top executives – Pluto, Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and the Three Little Pigs. We signed up for that “character breakfast,” and my father tagged along with us.

A number of years prior to this time I had taken a tour of the “backstage” operations of Disney’s Orlando theme parks and had seen what went on behind the scenes. During the tour, we were told that an employee dressed in a character’s costume was to always remain “in character” while on stage (inside the park). And it was clear that under no circumstances was he or she allowed to speak to the guests; it was an important rule to protect “the act.”

During the character breakfast, my daughter had the opportunity to get Mickey and Minnie’s autographs, and we were also able to snap a family picture as Minnie stood by my father.

It was during the snapshot that Minnie, being the flirt that she is, put her arm around my father; he returned the gesture by putting his arm around her waist. We were laughing and smiling and just before the picture was taken, my father responded to Minnie’s funny flirtatiousness, whispering this in her ear: “Minnie, you feel pretty soft under that costume.” And then, without even as much as a moment’s hesitation, that forbidden voice from behind the costume whispered this back to my father: “Move along sonny boy, I have other children to entertain.”

Some of life’s greatest moments are the ones that include laughter. And I think that among all the human qualities, humor is the most enjoyable, the most liberating, and also the most interesting. The element of surprise makes life fun, it’s the way that we adults seem to play.

Day 30 Guide

I think it’s a great day to consider having some fun. Celebrate the upcoming New Year with a bottle of champagne, and release your “corked up” energy with laughter.

© 2004, Levi Hill

Daily Text, Humour, Joyous Gard

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
December 2004 ~ Day 31: Visions

It is all a command to recognise unseen greatness, to take every least experience we can, and crush from it all its savour; not to be afraid of the great emotions of the world, love and sorrow and loss; but only to be afraid of what is petty and sordid and mean.

— Visions, Joyous Gard

It’s a wonderful prescription for the new year, isn’t it? — “….to take every least experience we can, and crush from it all its savour;”

What we should fear aren’t the great emotions of love and sorrow, but rather those that are so routinely a part of our perspective, those of pettiness and smallness.

Day 31 Guide

On this eve of a new year consider that you are part of something terribly significant and that it’s your privilege to join the celebration of the great animating forces. Enrich your voice to include words that speak of things wonderful and beautiful.

Happy New Year!


© 2004, Levi Hill

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