Daily Guide — January 2006


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
Dec/Jan 2005-2006 ~ Days 29-2 Art and Morality


Do you ever feel like you’re losing control? That’s me — so often caught up in the whirlwind of activity that’s taking me who knows where.  In my world, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And I think if I allowed it, my life would pretty much turn into an endless stream of putting out fires. Maybe you feel the same way. Or maybe you’d like to have more things to do. For you a fire or a squeaky wheel might just be what the doctor ordered.

I yearn for balance. Sure, I want to work and be productive. But I also want desperately to enjoy the beauty in life.  I need time to rest and reconnect with the things I love. I’m on a constant search to find that balance.

The artist leaves portals of escape from the thicket of a hectic world. Images that speak of courage, love, sorrow, and desire, or those that demonstrate the beautiful patterns and design of the universe, they give me pause and needed rest. They reset my priorities and tell me once again what’s really important.

Images

At the end of a busy day yesterday, a friend showed me the photographs taken on his recent relief trip to the battered Gulf Coast region. Amidst the images of homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina were also those of school children from the local area. One child, a girl about 8 years-old, had a beautiful smile. She wore brand new mittens, a hat and a scarf, things she’d obviously received for Christmas. Hers was the picture of life, and the instant I saw it, I thought, “Now that is the spirit that will rebuild the region.”

“What a beautiful little girl,” I remarked.

“Truly so.” said my friend, “Though sadly, it was recently discovered that she has a brain tumor.”

The image that had so arrested my spirit called yet deeper into my soul:  “Yes. Yes, indeed,” I thought. “Hers will be the spirit that rebuilds not only a region but an entire nation.”

Days 29-2 Guide

Does the day-to-day stuff tend to obstruct your view of the more important things? Pay close attention to the images that will give you that needed balance. Don’t let the news of the day bog down your vision of tomorrow.

© 2005, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 3 Interpretation 


God’s Acre

In 1944 L.P. Boylston deeded one acre of his land to God. He said this: “I should return forever a part of which He, my God, has allowed me to possess and enjoy according to the laws of my country for many years, and feel that I should return to Him the most treasured piece of this earth that I have ever owned – in Trust – for the diseased or afflicted to use the precious healing water that flows from this God-given source.”

The natural springs on Boylston’s one acre were thought to have healing powers. They say that long ago the Indians would bring their sick to the springs to taste its power. Another story tells of wounded Revolutionary War soldiers who would return to battle shortly after a visit to the springs.

Today, the site deeded by Boylston is known as Healing Springs, where the magical clear waters continue to flow for the benefit of anyone who wishes to partake. If you happen to travel to Healing Springs in Blackville, South Carolina you’ll likely find several people there filling jugs to take home for drinking water. It’s cool, it’s refreshing, and it’s free – just like Boylston wanted: a gift from God.

Are you enjoying the waters of life, my friend? It’s hard, I know, to enjoy all that is laid before you. But God has a purpose for you. Think of what is within your sight that He wants you to see. What is it that you should do? Is it music or noise that you hear? And what of the wind? Do you feel her wisps as they brush your face?

Consider your life to be one of the acres that God is using to pour out His cool waters into a thirsty and hurting world. What can you do you to help refresh the weak in spirit? Be a strong and Healing Spring. Tell the blind what you see and the deaf what you hear. Let His water flow from your soul and speak of the beauty.

Day 3 Guide

What is your interpretation of the things you see and hear? Don’t let the daily news control your opinion. Make your own news.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 4 Education


Look back on your life and think of the many teachers who have influenced you and given you direction. Maybe your list includes an old English teacher who taught you how to enjoy reading great literature or poetry. Or a history teacher who added life back into the confusion of the many dates and events mentioned in a dull text. It could be your mother or father who taught you the value of honesty and hard work, or a big brother or sister who showed you the ropes. My list of great influences includes figures like these in addition to my children, who have forever changed me as I’ve witnessed the sweetness of young souls:

— Thank you, my son, for showing me such awesome courage and strength in the face of difficulty. I will try myself not to fear the road ahead.

 

— Thank you, my eldest child, for so often reminding me of the life inside, the spirit that puts a smile on your face and makes you dance.

 

— Thank you, my youngest, for demonstrating how to enjoy every area of life, living as if each breath were truly a gift from God. You’ve given me reason to sing at times when there is no music.

 

 — And thank you, my beautiful wife, for teaching our children – for loving them, for guiding them and building them up even in the face of disappointment..

Day 4 Guide

Think of those who’ve influenced you, and affirm their positive impact on your soul. Think of your college or high-school teachers; remember also your parents, friends, or other mentors.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 5 Knowledge


We want to understand; “life means for us constantly to transform into light and flame all that we are or meet with”; we are like Mitya in The Brothers Karamazov – “one of those who don’t want millions, but an answer to their questions”; we want to seize the value and perspective of passing things, and so to pull ourselves up out of the maelstrom of daily circumstance. We want to know that the little things are little, and the big things big, before it is too late;”

The Story of Philosophy – Will Durant

I think it’s routine and habit that sometimes have a blinding effect on my soul. Don’t you ever feel like you’re just “going through the motions?” Well, that’s the blindness I’m talking about. It’s not a debilitating or obvious blindness, but rather one that’s hidden in the subterfuge of activity. And it’s only when my sense of beauty is reawakened that I realize I’ve been lost.

 

Day 6 Guide:

Make it your daily habit to break routine. Do something out the ordinary today, something to remind yourself of the beauty that’s so easily forgotten. Take a vacation from the daily paper and the newscasts. Send an email or letter to an old friend and think about opening channels of thought that could be important starting points for creative opportunity.

© 2005, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Days 6-8 Growth


Above all, we ought to believe that we can do something to change ourselves, if we only try; that we can anchor our conscience to a responsibility or a personality, can perceive that the society of certain people, the reading of certain books, does affect us, make our mind grow and germinate, give us a sense of something fine and significant in life.

 

Benson, Joyous Gard, Growth

Shaken, Not Stirred

I imagine that most men who’ve enjoyed James Bond movies over the years have at one time or another thought of what it’d be like to be Bond for a day. While the stories of Bond are completely unrealistic, the character of British agent 007 casts the picture of a man who is in many ways pretty normal.

Bond is intelligent, charming, and smooth. But like us, he’s not perfect, and he’s not invincible. In fact, he often times skirts death by shear luck, a phenomenon not unrelated to that fact that he was born of the author (Ian Fleming) who wanted to keep him alive.

The movie character James Bond has been played by a number of screen actors over the years: Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, and more recently, Pierce Brosnan. But my favorite – by far – was Sean Connery. In my opinion, his portrayal of Ian Fleming’s character, Bond, best defines the type of man that Fleming had in mind.

Five years ago I had the good fortune of meeting Sean Connery. It was in a small Scottish pub in the town of St. Andrews that my friends and I introduced ourselves and shook hands with the man who for decades has given movie goers some of the great character of all time. He was a bit taller than I imagined, but he maintained a presence that was pure Bond.

I think it’s safe to say that we Americans are all in some way “star-struck.” That Hollywood has created a fantasy world of untouchables is undeniable. But we also like to discover that even they – the stars — are human. We like to see that they have troubles just like the rest of us, a fact that has not escaped the grasp of Hollywood whose latest gimmick is to exploit the sins and failings of these all too human actors.

Stirred, Not Shaken

The mind of Joyous Gard is constantly swimming with ideas of improvement and growth. The man of the Gard looks out and observes life with the desire to develop a healthy understanding of fact versus fiction.

Days 6-8 Guide

Don’t be afraid to think of what is possible, my friend. With your sights fixed on the qualities that you would like to see in yourself, identify the people you most respect and admire. Read books with characters whose qualities speak of the ideals of truth, beauty and justice.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 9 Emotion


My grandmother, “Maffa,” was a strong woman. She and her husband started a family during The Great Depression and struggled – as did most – to make the best of things. I was thirteen when my grandfather died; Maffa lived for ten more years.

When I graduated from the University of Georgia, I moved into a cottage located on her property and got to know her pretty well. She loved people and community, but she was also a very stoic person who rarely showed fevered emotion. She was a Steel Magnolia who was quite opinionated. She would never “sweat the small stuff,” and she wasn’t terribly patient towards those who did.

At times I wish I could face the world with such stoicism. But my emotions generally don’t allow that. I tend toward reflection and reminiscence. I even have a hard time disposing of old things, thinking, I suppose, that somehow I’d be getting rid of a part of myself.

Some people thrive on beginnings. Well, I seem to get stuck on endings. Recently, I saw a snippet of old interview with President Richard Nixon who said that he never looked back. The word regret, it seemed, wasn’t even a part of his vocabulary. He spent most of his time thinking about the future.

I enjoy thinking about the future as well. I love to think about what might be, even though my emotions are wrapped in the past. Like the mythical Janus, I have my sights in both directions.


Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings, especially the beginnings of important events in a person’s life. Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people. (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/j/janus.html)

Day 9 Guide

Emotions can be givers or consumers of energy. Those of happiness provide the needed lift, while those of despair weigh one down and make it impossible to fly. To those who tend to the emotional side of life, focus on whatever poetry gives you wings. Surround yourself with good music, good friends, and laughter – whatever it is that gives you joy.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 10 Memory


Scientists are hoping that dust collected from a comet and recently returned to earth by a space probe will help to unravel the mystery of the solar system’s formation. I wonder if they’ll find God in that dust.

Whatever the findings, some will continue to attribute the design and structure of the solar system to chance while others – like me — will remain certain that the data will offer yet further evidence of the imprint of God’s hand on creation. Just think of it: the memory trapped in those particles of dust will “speak” of conditions as they existed at the moment of our solar system’s formation/creation. Wow!

Day 10 Guide

Marvel at the universe; look at the wonderful structures and design of nature. The memories of those first moments are locked in all these things.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 11 Retrospect


I consider retrospect to be more of an intellectual assessment of the past than a walk down memory lane.  You might think of retrospect as the special human capacity to make sense of the past and learn from your mistakes. Experience is a teacher only in the light of retrospect.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. I’ll bet you have, too. Well, what is it that helps us to not walk down those same roads? It is the light of retrospect — of seeing our errors and doing our best to insure that we don’t repeat them.

“In retrospect, I should have……”

You’ve said that before, haven’t you? The present gives you the benefit of seeing the result of your decisions and your actions. It is not, though, in order to feel regret that you should look retrospectively. It is that you might learn and grow.

It’s quite easy to look back and think of the many silly decisions you’ve made. But remember to ponder your mistakes only in order to repair a current understanding of things.

 

Day 11 Guide

Reminiscence is a view to the past with the intention of pure enjoyment — of trying to arouse the feelings associated with memory. The view of retrospect, on the other hand, carries with it the uncovering of principles that will help to further guide your future. Both are beautiful uses of human memory, and both should be used to carry you forward.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 12 Humor


Back during college my buddies and I decided to go the beach during spring break. We’d heard a lot about spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida so we packed up a couple of cars and took off.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived. There were wall-to-wall students from all over the country. The streets and sidewalks were littered with cars and people, and everybody looked like they were having a good time.

I must confess, however, that I felt a bit awkward. Besides the fact that my skin burned more easily than it tanned, I knew that I was going to have a hard time fitting in with the rhythm of this beach town in hyper-drive. And that first day proved me right.

Shortly after we arrived, we found a cheap hotel room; we put on our swim suits and headed for the beach. Using sunscreen lotion wasn’t’ “cool” in those days so we all prepared for a night of sizzling sunburn. But what did we care? We were in college.

After combing the beach and checking out the lay of the land, my buds and I decided to pick up a chili dog at nearby food stand. I followed my friends, stepped up to the crowded counter and ordered up a super-sized dog along with a beer. Waiting for my food I thought just how much hotter it’d be if not for the presence of a nice, strong ocean breeze.

My food was promptly served, and I picked up the flimsy paper plate weighted down by the big hot dog loaded with piping hot chili; it was a heartburn just waiting to happen. As I turned to walk towards my friends, a huge gust of wind suddenly came on the scene, and that’s when it happened.

The wind lifted the plate from my hand and blew it directly back on to my chest. Like hot tar the chili ran down my bare chest and stomach and then on to my bathing suit causing a pain that was the only thing to save me from feeling total embarrassment. To myself I repeated the theme of our trip: What do we care? We’re in college.

Well, Ft. Lauderdale was just too much for us — too many people, too crazy. We stayed that one night and all agreed that our best bet would be to drive to Disney World in Orlando for the remainder of the break. It was the right thing to do.

Day 11 Guide

Know your limits and trust your judgment. Put yourself in places and situations that give you the best opportunity for having great experiences.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Days 13-15 Visions


During the dry times in life – when things just don’t seem too exciting – I have to push myself really hard. I have to give myself “pep talks,” literally talking my way through the dull motions of life. Do you ever feel like that?

One thing I try to remind myself of is that God’s hand is in every corner of my life and every moment of my time. Even during those arid and monotonous days God, I think, will often introduce something really important. I’m not sure why He chooses such times. Maybe it’s because He knows my mind isn’t racing with thoughts and ideas of a crowded day; maybe He sees this as an opportunity to fill my spirit with something of His own choosing.

At these uncomfortable junctures I try to push myself to continue with the discipline of living — doing the things that must be done. But I also try to pause and look for the things that God wants me to discover. I ask myself this question: “What is it right now that God wants me to see?” And so very often I will happen upon His inspiration.

God seems to put things in my way that I would otherwise ignore. Maybe it’s a person or an image of something beautiful. It may just be a simple thought that I would ordinarily disregard.

Days 13-15 Guide

When life becomes a drag, open your eyes to the things that God may be putting in your way. Envision a God who uses your worst times to demonstrate His power. Prepare yourself for His presence during the dry times.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 16 Thought


Pennies on the Track

As a young boy I would sometimes visit my father at his workplace. There was a railroad track that ran right by his building, and several times a day a slow train would roll by carrying loads of coal or rock. Sometimes I’d just sit and watch as the train passed, counting the number of cars and wondering what it’d be like to jump in a boxcar and “ride the rail.”

A distant sounding horn would give ample warning of the train’s coming, and every now and then I’d run out to the track and lay down a few coins – mostly pennies – on the rails. I guess it must have been “the boy” in me that liked to see things destroyed. It was always cool to run back out after the train had passed and assess the damage.

A shiny new penny would leave the most awesome record of the train wheel’s fingerprint. Flattened to almost paper thin dimensions, the copper “pancake” would shine up to look like a golden mirror. The slight curve of the rail was most always present on the remainder of the coin, and if you looked closely you could still see the faint image of Abraham Lincoln or the Lincoln Memorial. I’d usually buff the edges of the copper piece, shine up the face, and maybe even drill a hole on it so that I could put a string through it and wear it around my neck for a while.

Pennies from Heaven

Maybe there are things in your life you’d like to change. You may have some thoughts or ideas that need only a little work to make them seem new again. Don’t be afraid to change the dimensions of your thoughts; the most interesting ideas are often times those that are a bit out of kilter. It’s easy to just let the pennies tarnish in your pocket. Do something with them and make life more interesting.

Day 16 Guide

Maybe you think the roads that you’ve traveled have left you parked on a track leading nowhere. Reassess your position; look at your relationships; gather your old ideas and consider ways to make them new again. Remember that a smashed penny is sometimes worth more than one cent.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 17 Accessibility


My friend Delbert died last month at the age of seventy-four. A native of Arlington, Texas, Delbert loved the Lone Star state. When he visited us in Augusta seven or eight years ago, he made me an “Honorary Citizen of the Empire of Texas,” and dignified me with a certificate and a state flag. Delbert was a lot of fun and one of easiest people you’d ever meet.

Delbert sold hardwood lumber for a living, and much of what he did involved calling prospective customers on the phone, trying to build relationships. Phone selling is a hard job, but Delbert had a great attitude, and he considered any one particular phone “rejection” to be just one step closer to getting an order. By keeping records of his phone calls Delbert calculated that on average it took twenty phone calls to make a sale. I remember calling him one morning just to see how he was doing:

          “Delbert, how’s it going?” I asked.

          “Well, I’ve had ten rejections this morning already.”

          “Oh, I’m sorry. I hope that’s not getting you down.”

          “Why, of course not” he said. “That means I’m already half way to making a sale.”

There was one particular large prospective customer that Delbert tried calling time and time again. Knowing that he was a really big hardwood buyer, Delbert just wouldn’t give up. But he could never seem to get past his secretary who was obviously screening his calls. Knowing that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with the secretary, Delbert finally tried another tactic. He sent a dozen red roses to the man’s office with a card that read simply, “Love Delbert.”

It was early the next morning that Delbert himself received a call from the elusive man. Knowing that he had nothing to lose, Delbert was prepared to hear most anything that the man had to say.

“Hello thar,” said Delbert in his native Texan drawl. “I’ve been a lookin’ to get to meet you. You musta got those roses I sent.”

“I did,” said the man who sounded a bit ruffled. “And I’ll make a deal with you: if you promise never to send roses to my office again, I’ll promise to buy some lumber from you.”

Well, Delbert and this man quickly became good friends, and he made good on his promise by buying lumber from Delbert most every month from that point on.

 

Day 14 Guide

What have you got to lose? Don’t let the fear of rejection slow you down, my friend. Use the common human elements of love and laughter to open doors. Don’t look for quick results. But be steadfast and persistent in your efforts to succeed.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 18 Sympathy


According to a recent statistic, somewhere in the country there is an automobile accident every five seconds. That means during a typical eight-hour workday there will be about five-thousand-eight-hundred automobile accidents.

How much fear do you think will arise and how many hearts will be broken by the news of a loved one or friend involved in such an accident? And if you could measure it, how much sorrow does such a sad statistic generate? How long does the grief of such news last?

It’s hard to even imagine the magnitude of the present human need for understanding and sympathy. Only God knows. What is clear, however, is that life will include sorrow. And there are people in your midst who are carrying the pain of grief – a grief that may sadly be all too familiar.

Day 18 Guide

At times we should be able to turn ourselves inside out and rely on friends to collect our tears and offer the peace of understanding. Each of us should aim to be that sort of friend – sympathetic and open. Think of how you might wear that invitation of peace so that you are available to those who need you.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 19 Science


I guess it’d be the science of psychology that would answer the questions of how and why simple words of encouragement can work to change the course of someone’s life. Statements like “You’re doing a great job,” and “Thank you” go a long way in confirming another’s purpose or meaning.

In my opinion, having scientific proof of the value of encouragement would do nothing more than to confirm what most of us already know: that each of us holds an awesome power — the power to affect others positively by speaking sincere words of encouragement and appreciation.

Day 19 Guide

Find an opportunity to offer encouragement to someone today. You can do it with a simple note, a phone call, or even a handshake and a smile. It doesn’t take much to change the world.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Days 20-22 Work


“I’m bored.”

“Bored? How could you be bored? Gosh, there’s so much to do.”

“Like what?”

Boredom — it’s a common complaint among children. Don’t you feel like every now and then you could use a little dose of whatever it is – or isn’t – that’s making them so bored? If you’re anything like me, all of your time is spoken for, and it’s hard to even understand a complaint of boredom.

But I do understand why much of what occupies my time would be of no interest to a young mind. So much of my current work depends on earlier experiences and an acquired base of knowledge.

Work, I do believe, is boredom’s primary combatant. But work itself assumes a sense of purpose, skill, and desire. And these things must be wrought. Having something to do, in other words, demands the acquisition of skills, the dedication of practice, and the desire to perform.

Days 20-22 Guide

Boredom is the spirit lacking a sense of purpose and desire; work is one of its most important remedies. Commit yourself to something and stick with it.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 23 Hope


In front of our house, not far from the road, is a retaining wall that stands about two feet tall. I remember the day last summer when my daughter and her friend decided to sell lemonade to passersby; they gathered cups, napkins, ice and set up a table in front of the wall with a hand-painted sign that read simply:

Lemonade

25 cents.

As they operated their little stand, I sat at my desk and watched them through the window. They weren’t satisfied to just sit and let their sign do the selling. Instead, they stood on top of the wall, side by side, and danced whenever a car was nearing. Their dance would end just after the car passed, only to start up again when they heard another one coming. I watched and wondered just how long they would be willing to keep that up. Would they get discouraged if no cars stopped? Would their dance slow down?

A number of cars passed by, but very few even slowed down. That, however, didn’t seem to slow down these two girls one bit. Their dance remained strong and alive. And right up until they finally decided to call it a day, they continued selling with spirits that remained hopeful.

Day 23 Guide

Do your spirits remain strong in the face of failure? Hope gives you that strength to carry on and be fresh. Don’t despair, my friend but keep trying. Keep smiling. Keep dancing.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 24 Experience


I think God really likes to see what we’re going to do with our experiences. Are we going to just pack them away in the corners of memory for later recall and reflection? Or are we going to use them presently and actively to change our tomorrow?

Life sometimes puts us in places and situations that aren’t of our own choosing. You never know for sure what the next day will hold. Like a river, the circumstances of life are ever flowing.

It could be that you are swept quickly away by a strong current, far away from the normal course. And while some will ask why God would send them into the mouth of difficulty or danger, I think that it’s more helpful to simply ask what is it that God wants you to take from your experience. I am one who believes that God never delivers you into danger but rather waits there ahead to offer the safety of His presence.

Day 24 Guide

Experiences — some you will enjoy, and others you won’t. But you can learn from them all. What is it that God wants you to see?

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 25 Faith


“He was such a comfortable person!” as a simple man once said to me of one of the best of Christians: “if you had gone wrong, he did not find fault, but tried to see the way out; and if you were in pain or trouble, he said very little; you only felt it was all right when he was by.”

 

   — Faith, Joyous Gard

Faith – some think of it as the belief in things beyond proof. But I think it’s also the belief in things of the present world – truth, beauty and goodness, for example. Now I agree that it is sometimes hard to have faith in such ideals. The world today claims that truth is whatever you want it to be, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that goodness is a rare find.

But in the stillness of thought, the mind of Joyous Gard finds these great ideas alive and enjoys their rich presence even in the face of complex circumstances. You see it in the eyes of children, in the setting of the sun, or in the smile of a friend. You feel it in the cool of the morning, in the touch of a lover, or in the helping hand of a stranger.

 

Day 25 Guide

Be careful not to overlook the presence of God’s design. Take time to stop and identify the things that restore your spirit and give you faith in the future.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Day 26 Progress


Hee Haw

The 1970s hit television comedy series Hee Haw (http://www.heehaw.com) had an unforgettable cast including names like Junior Samples, Minnie Pearle and Roy Clark. One particular segment of the show would always have a couple of cast members lazing around what looked like an old general store. Typically wearing overalls and straw hats and lying on the ground near a hay stack and an old hound dog, the two would peel off a series of one-liners in a tired Southern drawl.

In a fun, entertaining — yet exaggerated — fashion, Hee Haw managed to capture the way of life in some of the South’s small farming communities. I think it was in part because people enjoyed sensing a rhythm of life different from their own that the show was so successful. The hustle and bustle of the city life was replaced by the warmth and good feelings of the simple farm life. And for an hour, television viewers could just kick of their shoes, laugh and forget about their troubles.

I talked with a friend the other day who told me that she had finally realized it wasn’t necessary to have something to do every minute of every day. She told me that she no longer felt guilty for stealing a little time to read a book or take a nap. That’s what I call progress.

Day 26 Guide

Maybe it’s time for you to settle down a bit. Sure, it’s good to work, to have things to do, and to have goals and plans. It’s good to be involved. But not everything is a competition or a race. Practice suspending the thought that you’re breaking the rules if you just stop for a while to take a breather.

Read a book, take a nap, or just enjoy the simple times of laughing and being with good friends. Remember, everything isn’t a competition.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Days 27-29 The Sense of Beauty


Beams of sunlight broke through the clouds this morning to cast a golden light on a roadside billboard structure. Looking up at the light, I saw a workman on the catwalk tearing off the painted face of an old advertisement. I wondered, “What would replace the old advertisement? What new face would soon be there to grab the attention of passersby?”

For me, morning is an opportunity for a fresh start. The complexities that sometimes seem to strangle my thoughts in the afternoon and evening are mostly gone by morning, as if they’d been removed from the surface of my mind to leave a fresh space for new thought.  I believe that sleep must do a work similar to that of the man atop the structure, clearing out the old to make room for the new.

Day 27-29 Guide

We all need fresh starts, don’t you think? When are you most likely to find your mind ready to generate new thoughts and ideas? Be careful to feed your mind when it’s hungry. If morning is your best time – like it is for me – fill your mind with aspirations before the noontime confusion hits.

© 2006, Levi Hill


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January 2006 ~ Days 30-31 The Principle of Beauty 


Branches

I’ll be first to admit that I’m not very good with directions and maps. Neither is my father. I don’t know, maybe it’s an inherited thing. What do you think?

The classical composer J.S. Bach was born of a musical family. Both his father and uncle were musicians. And while they were most certainly important influences in his life, Bach’s musical talents appeared at a very early age and spoke of a power beyond mere influence.

Science has yet to explain the mystery of genetic predisposition. But many researches are confident that the keys to unlocking that knowledge are hidden within the structure of the brain itself.

The brain is a complex organ offering few visual clues of the electrochemical processes that underlie thought. But let me encourage you with this one fact: there are tens of billions of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, and each neuron produces long branches called dendrites. These branches allow neurons to talk with each other — the more dendrites, the more talking. Furthermore, scientists have concluded that dendrites continue to grow throughout one’s lifetime and that their growth is stimulated by mental activity – reading, thinking, and doing, for example.

Okay, so what does this mean for you and me? Well, the more neurons that are talking, the more thinking, the more ideas, the more songs, the more understanding, the more hope, and the more concepts. Why, I think we even have a better chance of apprehending more beauty with all of these neurons talking with one another. Sensing beauty is often the result of our past connecting (talking) with our present and our concept of the future.

Days 30-31 Guide

Take a look at a deciduous tree this winter. Witness the complexity of the hundreds of branches and the twigs. Now, just imagine the ideas waiting to be born of a brain that is busily thinking – neuron to neuron.

© 2006, Levi Hill

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