Daily Guide — May 2006



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 1 Poetry and Life



In the film “The Trip to Bountiful” actress Geraldine Page plays the character of Carrie Watts, an old woman who wants desperately to revisit her childhood home before she dies. Finding little help from her son and daughter-in-law in satisfying her longing to return to Bountiful, Carrie Watts decides to go it alone and make the arduous trip by herself.

I saw the film many years ago, but even today find myself occasionally thinking about Carrie Watts’ particular desire to go home. I think of how much she wanted to rekindle the memories of her youth in order to reclaim the life that was once hers. It seems to me that she may have wanted to find the entire cast of her life fresh on her mind before she died — a gathering of sorts. Maybe she wanted to sense that her life – like a book – held many chapters and that all of them contributed to a meaningful story. For Carrie Watts, the apprehension of life’s beauty was to know it and sense it all at once – a homecoming.

Day 1 Guide

Let’s face it: we spend most of our time thinking about and building for the future, don’t we? We’re quick to feel that today’s work is important only if it leads to tomorrow’s intended result. And yet many good things come of unintended consequences. We should never forget the many chapters of our lives – even those that may seem dry and unimportant.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 2 Art


A Name

Bowing to the wind,

A candle,

Shown the flickering whisper

Of light.

And glistening trails

Of waxy snails

Crept slowly

On the surface of night.

Then words that danced from

Fingertips

Met

The blotted stain,

Upon the page

That bore your name

That night before

The rain.

© 2006, Levi Hill

Day 2 Guide

Art penetrates the soul to paint meaning for the observer. Look out into the world today and find examples that would move your spirit.



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 3 Art and Morality


My friend Drake is a music lover. He enjoys everything from Bach to bluegrass. But like most people, he has his favorites. One day I asked him what it was that turned him on about music. I knew that he wasn’t really partial to any particular style or genre, that he enjoyed vocals as much as he did instrumentals. For him, hard-rock didn’t take a backseat to classical. He told me that he loved most every type of music. But his favorite selections all had one thing in common: the element of surprise. He said that he wanted to be surprised by the music and that he was always listening for the things that he was not expecting.

I had to think about his answer for a while. Me, I’m pretty simple. My choice of music is whatever makes me feel good at the time. I too like all sorts of sounds. But the element of surprise has never been a consideration in my appraisal of music. I think that for Drake, it’s that tinge of conflict that gives the music its substance. Music that follows the rules of convention doesn’t much interest him – “been there, heard that.” It all began to make sense when I realized that Drake himself didn’t follow the conventional path. He’s an artist who enjoys being out of kilter.

Surprise Sandwich

When I was a young boy my father would sometimes make me a “surprise sandwich.” He wouldn’t tell me what he was going to put on it. But he’d assure me that it’d be the best sandwich that I ever had. And usually it was. I tried many times to replicate his masterpiece, but mine never tasted quite the same. I think it must have been that element of surprise that made it taste so good.

Day 3 Guide

Today, be especially attentive to surprise. Sometimes the best ideas and the best plans are conceived by the least common modes of thought. Change a habit. Do something a little different. You might be surprised.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 4  Interpretation


The Glebe

Beyond the shore,

Across the glebe,

In the room,

He pondered:

Why the sun

Would shed his light

For souls like his

That wandered.

As church bells

Tolled a herald’s song,

A beacon to

Remember

That life beyond

The open sea —

A blessed,

Sweet surrender.

© 2006, Levi Hill

Day 4 Guide

What makes you inquisitive? There’s so much to discover, just outside your window.

GlebeA portion of land assigned to a clergyman as part of his benefice. (Oxford English Dictionary)



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Days 5-7 Education



The hope at present lies in the endeavour to find some source of inspiration, in a determination not to let men and women grow up with fine emotions atrophied;

— Education, Joyous Gard

I love to talk. But sometimes I get tired of hearing my own words, and I feel that I might not do a very good job of conveying my thoughts and feelings. I find it hard, for example, to describe the way I feel when I see or hear something that arouses in me a grand memory. Such feelings are almost beyond description. Ineffable. The best I can do is to try and lead the subject to the very trough of inspiration. See it. Feel it. Hear it.

Day 5 Guide

Education requires a lot of talk. Inspiration, less so. Think today of how you might lead another to the wellspring of great thoughts.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 8 Knowledge


“Knowledge is power,” says the old adage. But love – yes, love can move mountains.

Love, according to the ancient philosopher Empedocles, is the force that combines or brings together, while its opponent, hate, is the counter-force of separation. Together these forces were thought to explain the phenomenon of motion which so clearly pervades the universe.

Using this logic, I would say that love is also the integrating force behind human knowledge. The combining force of love gathers and integrates the fragments of one’s perception to generate concepts and understanding. It’s inspiring to think that God may have created the universe with his Love.

Love is a force. And knowledge is one of its offspring. Don’t think of knowledge as simply the arid and cerebral grasp of matters, but rather the apprehension of God’s creation and the memory of things that might uplift and motivate one’s soul.

“Love makes the world go ’round.”

Day 6 Guide

Witness the power of love as you seek knowledge.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 9 Growth


I think that some people live with the frustration of wanting desperately to create or develop something but not knowing exactly what it is or where they should begin. They thirst for uniqueness and independence but feel uninspired and frightened to move forward. They feel paralyzed and doomed to a life lived short of its potential. Maybe even you have at times caught glimpses of such thoughts or feelings. I know that I have.

Do something. That’s my advice to anyone who has ever felt discouraged or frustrated by his or her seeming inability to move forward. It is what I am constantly telling myself. Don’t wait until you are fully prepared and ready. You mustn’t fear failure. Fear instead the hollowness of inaction.

Locked within the prison of your mind dreams will eventually perish, thereby distributing throughout the body the stress of their passing. You’ve felt it, haven’t you? That pain of unfulfilled desire? Maybe you recognize the scars of death — the bitterness, the anger, the cynicism. My friend, you simply cannot ignore the urge to create. It is one of the most natural reminders of being alive.

Day 9 Guide

If you are one of those who feel the uncomfortable urge to create, don’t expect time to be your cure. Do something.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 10  Emotion


Living happily means many things to me. It means feeling confident about tomorrow, even in the face of adversity. It means having personal and professional relationships to cultivate and enjoy. It means feeling as though I’m part of a family and a community. It means loving and being loved in return, learning and laughing. Regardless, however, of how sure I might be in this knowledge, I still have a tendency to get caught up in the thinking that financial freedom will somehow bring with it the happiness that I seek.

It’s true, fortune can in fact deliver such a great relief from the burden of obligation that one feels as though he’s been set free. But there can remain important and deep emotional voids of relationship, love, and faith in the future. Yes, happiness is much more than the pearls of fortune.

Day 10 Guide

Beware of a sense of life that has as its central value only the things that money can buy. Assume for a day that lasting and true emotional happiness exists outside the circles of money and concentrate instead on resting in the simpler things in life. Ask probing questions. Take an interest in someone’s life or work. Write a letter to a friend or a spouse. Begin to catalog your photographs. You’ll find that the simple pleasures in life add an important dimension to your understanding of happiness.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 11 Memory



How do you in the midst of the noise and clutter of a day elevate your spirit? Memory is one of the most common – and important – paths for reviving those optimal feelings associated with great moments. Think, for example, of your first kiss. What feelings does that memory arouse? Fear? Nervousness? Exhileration? Excitement?  Maybe it’s a combination of emotions that runs through your veins. Whatever feelings you are left with, they are most likely uncommon and magical.

Day 11 Guide

Uncommon and magical – that’s what I want you to experience today. Use your memory to revive some of those one-of-a-kind experiences that might put you back on top of the mountain.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Days 12-14 Retrospect


My friend George

We called him George, the squirrel that many years ago lived in our neighbor’s tree. Most of the time, we’d see him on the ground as we entered our driveway. But the sound of the car would usually scare him off and send him scurrying back up the tree. The few times that he didn’t immediately take off running, we’d sit in the car and watch him dig for acorns under the big oak he called home.

After a while, it seemed like George sort of got used to our comings and goings. “Maybe we could become friends,” I thought. So I forged a plan and asked my mother to buy a bag of bird seed at the store. At home, I carefully poured a trail of seed from the tree’s edge to the steps of our front porch. I sat there patiently waiting, hoping that George would “take the bait” and begin making his way towards me.

It took several attempts, but one day George did finally start to nibble on the seed and inch towards me. It was painful waiting. He’d nibble, stop for a moment, and then inch forward. It took forever for that little squirrel to get near me. But when finally he did, my heart started racing. This time I felt as though he was going to crawl right into my hands. That’s when tragedy struck.

Out of nowhere, a pesky bumblebee started circling my head. I tried my best, however, to remain motionless, hoping that he’d eventually lose interest and buzz off. But after a few passes around my head — each one getting a bit closer — I couldn’t stand it any longer. I slowly raised my hand to give him a brisk swat and George took off like a rocket. Along with him went my hopes of our ever becoming friends. It was on that day that I discovered the meaning of the old saying, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

Days 12-14 Guide

Be careful not to celebrate too early. Things have a way of changing at the last minute. And unless you expect such change, life will always to throw you curve-balls.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 15 Humor


(used with permission of Tom Mullica)

“Tom Foolery’s Magic Bar” was a small theatre/bar in Atlanta where magician Tom Mullica performed nightly. Now, if you’ve never heard of Mullica, just think of Red Skelton and then add magic and illusion to his routine, that’s Mullica. He, in fact, maintained a close friendship with Skelton, which began in 1980 when Skelton himself visited Mullica’s Atlanta nightclub. It was also around that time that I first saw Mullica perform.

I remember first noticing the uncanny resemblance to Red Skelton as Tom Mullica pulled off unreal feats of magic, his most impressive being a routine called “Nicotine Nincompoop” during which he seemingly ate an entire pack (20) of lit cigarettes and then chased them down with a handful of bar napkins. “How’d he do that?” I thought.

Impressed by what he saw in Mullica’s performance, Skelton spent several hours with the magician following the show and told him that if “cleaned up his act,” he could use some of his (Skelton’s) material. Mullica’s performance contained some “suggestive” material that Skelton viewed as purely an attempt to shock the audience into laughter. “Perform as though your mother, a priest, and a nun were in the audience,” advised Skelton. It turned out that their meeting in 1980 was the start of a friendship that lasted until Skelton’s death in 1997.

Today, Mullica travels the country performing a tribute to Red Skelton, reviving many of those interesting characters that Skelton left with us: Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, the Mean Widdle Kid and more. I feel fortunate to have seen Tom Mullica perform in his early years as a magician, and I’m sure that it would be magical to see him again as he carries the baton of Skelton’s legacy.

“From the day we met in the early 80’s, Red and I shared moments of both  happiness and sadness together. Red was kind to everyone he met, he was a touchable person who shared his life with those around him. He lived every  day as if it was Christmas. He gave me permission to use his material, gave me W.C. Field’s twisted pool cue and most importantly, he trusted in me. It’s possible that he saw a bit of his son Richard in me, we were both born in 1948. Red loved the general public and did not avoid being part of the crowd. He kept his eye on the pulse of the world and was always topical. Sometimes I think Red knew he had to put up with the adults just to get through to the children, the ones he really liked being around and playing with. His pantomime skills were without equal and everyone loved watching the world  through his eyes. For example, he learned how to mimic a drunk by watching  little babies learning to walk. Throughout his life, Red Skelton studied the people around him because he knew they were his main source of material. I once told him,”Red, I don’t feel as though I’m contributing anything to life, and what I’m doing doesn’t mean anything to anyone except me.” He said, “Tom, don’t talk like that and never forget that laughter, and being able to evoke it, is a gift of the Gods!”

      – Tom Mullica

Day 15 Guide

It’s healthy to find humor on the stage of life. It’s a gift if you can arouse a chuckle or a guffaw in someone else.

© 2006, Levi Hill

http://www.skeltontribute.com/mullica.htm



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 16  Visions


Do you ever stop to consider just how you view the world? I mean, do you think that you see it in the same way that others do? Or do you think that each of us is the author of a unique perspective?

We obviously carry with us different opinions of the way things ought to work. Our political, cultural and religious ideas are certainly diverse. We have conflicts – even wars – over such differences. Is there truly a spiritual battle raging between the forces of good and evil? Or is it imagined?

Wow! Life sometimes seems complicated and hard. But then there are times when it seems so awfully simple and clean, when the lines of life are curved and continuous. Think of the softness of a newborn child, a dew drop, a single line of inspired music, a poem, the wind and the waves. These are the thoughts that might put your mind back on the right path, the thoughts that clear distortions and speak of a grand design and a higher purpose. The spirit of Joyous Gard calls you to at times consider the simplicity of life and the uncomplicated harmony that makes life feel free and easy.

Day 16 Guide

Living is a pumping of sorts – a pumping between conflict and resolution. Hurdles and complications are necessary tensions. But there is also resolution and relief. Don’t get caught trudging up the hills with no plan for retreat to inner castle of Joyous Gard.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 17 Thought



Just do it? I don’t think so.

There’s a tendency these days to be shortsighted about what is takes to move ahead. We Americans pride ourselves on practicality and common sense. We seem to grow anxious and frustrated if solutions aren’t apparent and easily within our reach. You’ve said it before, haven’t you? “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I seem get anything accomplished? No one but me seems to have problems in making progress.”

Maybe you’re one of the fortunate few who find little difficulty in getting on with life. But if you’re anything like me, most decisions and choices require thoughtful, time-consuming, consideration. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a bit too slow for today’s general pace of life today. I mean, many people around me do seem to gather their thoughts quicker and with greater certainty. Most even talk faster than I do. So, is there an answer to the frustration? I’ll just need a little time to think about it.

Day 17 Guide

Don’t let the rushing winds carry you in directions that aren’t of your own intention. Move into the “right lane” and let the faster traffic move along. It’s safer and more enjoyable to travel at speeds that you can handle.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 18 Accessibility


Occasionally, I tune in to the nationally syndicated “Delilah” call-in radio show. Now, for those of you who haven’t heard of the show, it probably appeals more to a female audience. It’s all about love and relationships, memory and healing. Delilah, the show’s host, plays musical dedications for special individuals introduced by her callers. And from all over the country, people call in with their stories about the people they love or are thinking about.

One person might call in wanting a song dedicated to his or her spouse of thirty years. Another may ask that a song be played for a lost love or for a loved-one fighting the war in Iraq. Callers request dedications for close friends or for those who are sick or dying. I’ve heard callers request songs for siblings and children.

A while back, I wrote to Delilah myself, but not in order to ask for any sort of song dedication; I just wanted to tell her about a neat experience that I had one night while listening to her show. And though I wasn’t really expecting her replay, within hours she wrote back. Here was the exchange:

—————————————————————-

From: Levi Hill
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 1:13 PM
To: d@radiodelilah.com
Subject: Levi

Delilah,

A couple of years ago, while driving home from work and listening to your show, I heard the story of one of your callers, a girl who was asking you to dedicate a song to her son, the light of her life. As she talked about her son, I thought of just how many of her comments reminded me of my own boy.

It was one of those sweet segments in your show – the story of a mother who must’ve just wanted to tell the world how much she loved her son. I was moved to think the same of my child and thought to myself, “if I ever called in, that is exactly what I’d say about my own boy.”

Well, just before the song dedication, you asked the caller for the name of her son. And then, just as God’s mystery will sometimes enshroud a moment, I heard her speak the very name that was on my mind, Levi. You see, that happens to be my son’s name as well.

There’s a certain power in names, don’t you think? I don’t mean anything mystical or supernatural — just meaningful. I like the name Levi. I also think that there’s an uncommon strength in a name that carries with it a heritage. I was born, “Lee,” but had my name legally changed to “Levi” when I was about thirteen. My father didn’t really think I’d like the name Levi. But he was wrong. I’m proud to be his son and honored to carry his name forward to my son.

Just thought you’d enjoy the story.

Levi Hill

levi@thinkinginink.com

www.thinkinginink.com

————————————————————–

I believe there is great power in names, and that when God puts a name on our heart, it is for a reason. All my children have special names, my oldest is Isaiah, the prophet…and my youngest is Zachariah, also a prophet but with a warrior’s heart! Shaylah means “Gift of God”…

The Levites, the tribe of Levi, are the ONLY members of the nation of Israel that were allowed to touch the ark of the covenant, the only ones that were allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies and take their prayers directly to God. It is a great and powerful name, one you should be very proud of!

Delilah

————————————————————–

Day 18 Guide

It’s good that we try to heal each other, attending to the needs of others. But it’s so easy to ignore someone else’s problem(s), claiming that we just don’t have the time. Take time today to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve not talked with in a while. Who knows? It might even be you who finds the joy in his or her voice.

© 2006, Levi Hill

http://www.radiodelilah.com



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Days 19-21 Science


Imagine moving something just by the thought of it. Now, I’m not talking about telekinesis or any other such purported claim of super-human capability. This is real stuff — a technology on the horizon that could possibly help the thousands of paralyzed victims of spinal cord injury.

The journal Nature recently reported that scientists and engineers are working on a novel machine that translates the faint electrical signals of the brain’s cortex into electronic signals that robotic prostheses can then use to perform routine movements. In a nutshell, small probes permanently implanted within the brains of paralysis victims capture the neural patterns of thought associated with particular movements, sending those sets of distinct signals to devices that perform the particular movements.

We live in exciting times, don’t we?

http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/brain/experiments/index.html

Days 19-21 Guide

Great things many times result from the collective effort of people from different fields of understanding and knowledge. Wouldn’t it be fulfilling to think that you contributed to the solution of a complex problem? Well, maybe you already have. Maybe your attitude, your smile, or your encouragement has helped someone to persevere and break through the barriers that would otherwise stop him. Or maybe your simple, common-sense suggestion opened a door to understanding. A little humor is sometimes just enough to overcome stagnation or seeming inflexibility. Don’t sell yourself short, my friend. You don’t have to be a scientist to be part of a solution.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 22 Work


I love watching people work. I don’t mean that I don’t like to work myself. I just enjoy seeing how other people do things. Some people work slowly and deliberately, while others are quick and energetic. Waffle House® short-order cooks, for example, must work fast in order to maintain the flow of customers. A surgeon, on the other hand, takes his time and makes sure that every element of a procedure has been fully completed before continuing.

I also enjoy watching and listening to a good salesman at work. Using his knowledge of the product along with his understanding of people, the salesmen works his way into the mind of a prospective customer and leaves him with a desire to buy from him. Good salesmen don’t let customer-rejection get them down. Instead, they use rejection to sharpen their skills and identify alternate routes that might overcome such objection.

Television is full of shows that demonstrate how things are done: cooking, sewing, home remodeling. I think it’s quite natural for us all to be inspired by seeing other people do things. We like to feel as though we could ourselves accomplish as much.

Day 22 Guide

Take pride in your work and consider how you might improve your skills in the various work-areas of your life. Without the effort towards improvement, things tend to become monotonous.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 23 Hope


No, I believe that we must share our joy as far as we can, and that it is our duty rather to have joy to share, and to guard the quality of it, make it pure and true. We do best if we can so refine our happiness as to make it a thing which is not dependent upon wealth or ease; and the more natural our life is, the more can we be of use by the example which is not self-conscious but contagious, by showing that joy does not depend upon excitement and stimulus, but upon vivid using of the very stuff of life.

         — Benson, Joyous Gard

Go West, Young Man

I sometimes take an evening walk on a quiet, divided street that runs east-west. I much prefer walking west, into the setting sun. After walking the 1/3 mile leg of the street heading east, I make the turn and head back west. That turn settles my spirit and makes me feel like I’m chasing the sun rather than retreating from her. I sense that she’s calling me to follow her as she travels across the sky to shed her light on other lands.

Day 23 Guide

What is your joy? When are you most apt to meet that feeling that you’d like to share with others?

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 24 Experience


I was probably driving a bit too fast. But I was eager to get home. “Why are you in such a hurry?” asked my son.

“I’ve got to get home to catch that wonderful pink sunset.” I said.

“But Dad, it’s just a sunset.”

“Oh no,” I said, “It’s not just a sunset, my boy. It’s an event.”

I love the still and the cool of dusk. I love to stand outside in the glow and watch the sun as she yawns and falls to sleep behind the comfort of the horizon. I love to feel the magical phosphorescence rendered by her retirement as she bids a final farewell to the day.

The experience of sunset always feels new to me. The transition to night re-energizes my spirit and brings to life all of the subtleties that the daylight hides. Thoughts of passion and romantic love come alive in my evening. Fears subside and possibilities abound.

Day 24 Guide

It’s wonderful to never tire of certain experiences.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Days 25-28 Faith


Do you ever feel you can’t see beyond your own life and your own problems? It’s easy for any of us to become myopic, unable to sense the things beyond – things of the spirit and of God. Difficulties harden us and sometimes leave us with little reason to have faith in tomorrow. And it’s then that we need a force or strength to put us back on the right path. We need to see or experience something powerful – something to break through and speak to the guarded spirit.

The winds of Joyous Gard enable you to more easily call up those healing forces that would help you experience the richness and pleasures of life. Time, certainly, is a great healer. But I believe the true healing power comes from faith in a greater purpose.

Days 25-28 Guide

God, I believe, is totally efficient and uses the insignificant events of life to reveal Himself. During those times when life seems to offer little, pray that God would make you attentive to His work. See his power in even the smallest of events.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Day 29 Progress


The Last Train

Do you remember the popular band The Monkees? They had that great hit single, “The Last Train to Clarksville.” Remember? I can close my eyes and hear it clearly in my mind.

Take the last train to Clarksville,

And I’ll meet you at the station.

You can be there by four thirty,

‘Cause I made your reservation.

Don’t be slow, oh, no, no, no!

Oh, no, no, no!

‘Cause I’m leavin’ in the morning

And I must see you again

We’ll have one more night together

‘Til the morning brings my train.

And I must go, oh, no, no, no!

Oh, no, no, no!

And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.

According to a Wikipedia entry, “Last Train to Clarksville” is about a young soldier heading out for the Vietnam War, wishing only to see his girl one last time before he boards the train in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Think of how hard it would be to be so unsure of your future. I know that some of you reading this post may already know the feeling, while others — like me — can only imagine. My thoughts on living in the present assume always that tomorrow will arrive. I think about making progress, about improving, about moving forward. I can hardly imagine the effect an uncertainty about tomorrow would have on my mind.

In the lyrics above, it is love that moves the boy to sing. Of all the desires that he could sing about, it is his yearning for one more night with his beloved that he holds most dear. You can assume that at this particular moment in his life, all of the riches in the world wouldn’t come close to matching the bliss of being with his love, if only for a night.

We take so much for granted, don’t we? We invest so much time in an uncertain future while squandering a most certain present. The comfort we maintain in thinking that tomorrow will arrive comes at the expense of fully savoring today. In our hurried lives, we seem to be traveling in circles around a globe filled with simple desires – desires obscured sometimes by the noise of progress.

Day 29 Guide

Take time to simplify your desires. Make an effort to enjoy – even savor — laughter, love and friendship.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
May 2006 ~ Days 30-31 The Sense of Beauty


When my sister and I were children we used to enjoy turning summersaults down this big grassy hill in the mountains of North Carolina. The hill was actually the fairway of a par 4 golf hole at a nearby course. And in the cool of the late afternoon — when all the golfers had finished – we’d start at the top of the hill and flip head-over-toe in a succession of summersaults, until finally we reached the bottom. Walking back up the hill wasn’t nearly as much fun as coming down. But one time down was never enough. When we made it back to the top, we’d start again.

There’s something about summersaults, turning cart-wheels, running, jumping and skipping that makes a child feel free as the wind. I consider them to be the dances of children — their particular ways of celebrating life.

I remember exactly how it felt to roll down that hill in the moist grass. Even today when I smell freshly mown grass, I think about those wonderful summersaults and the ultimate freedom of my childhood years. It’s good to have known that feeling. There’s a place in my soul where the felicity of those childhood years remains untarnished.

Days 30-31 Guide

Mentally sort through your experiences and select a single time and place where you felt totally free — no bothers or concern, no worries or fear or tomorrow. Use the memory of that time to heighten your senses and try then to bring the light of that moment into the present. It’s important to never forget the sense of wonderful times. Remember the sights, the sounds and the tastes of joy. Never let them go.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
June 2006 ~ Day 1 The Principle of Beauty


It is the temperate use of beauty which we must aim at, and a certain candour of observation, looking at all things, neither that we may condemn if we can, nor that we may luxuriously abandon ourselves to sensation, but that we may draw from contemplation something of the inner light of life.

   — Benson, Joyous Gard

Southern Snow

I’ll never forget the record-breaking 14″ snowfall that we had here in Augusta, GA back in February of 1973. For those of us living in the Deep-South, any snowfall is a big surprise. But 14 inches! Wow, that’s just unheard of.

I was eleven-years-old when my father came to school to pick up me and my sister. Because of the snowstorm, classes were suspended that day. Never before had we seen snow fall so hard and for so long. The conditions were perfect for ground accumulation. It was cold and dry, and the snow piled up quickly, leaving a pristine white blanket across the ground. The sharp edges of the world were replaced by curves and contours that then only hinted at things hidden below. There was an unusual quiet and stillness about the world – a cocoon-like presence that was comfortable, almost natural. I remember walking through the snow and marveling at how the world had changed.

Day 1 Guide

Do you still find things in life that surprise and delight your spirit? Maybe it’s a new friendship, a book, or a song. Search for things to awaken the slumbering mind. Try to see the world in a different light.

© 2006, Levi Hill

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