Daily Guide — October 2005

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 3 Ideas 

The world of ideas is large indeed. But to what small community of thought might the above picture belong? Ideas of beauty abound in the mind, and an example of such thought could very well be this little beach bungalow in Bermuda.

Some twenty years ago, my wife and I were there on our honeymoon, where she bought this little painted piece of wood as a memento of our trip. For her, this small scene of a house by the water is a portal to the sublime, arousing soothing ideas of tranquility and beauty — thoughts that mitigate the noise of the day. And that’s what the place of Joyous Gard is all about – a return to beauty.

The Joyous Gard Program is concerned with helping you to build the habits of often returning to the world beauty – to see the world and life in a golden morning light.

Day 3 Guide

Think today of the various ways that you might find yourself rapt in the world of beauty. Is it music or poetry or pictures – such as the one above – that move you to those heightened feelings of ecstasy?

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 4 Poetry 

Poetry is then in its essence the discerning of beauty; and that beauty is not only the beauty of things heard and seen, but may dwell very deep in the mind and soul, and be stirred by visions which seem to have no connection with outside things at all.

  — Joyous Gard, Poetry

A number of years ago, a friend of mine, Clay Boardman, undertook a project to restore Enterprise Mill, an old Augusta textile mill that had been closed for years and was slated for demolition. Clay wanted to save that building and protect its history, and like many other area residents, I am glad that he did. Looking at the result of his multi-million dollar restoration, it’d be hard to imagine Augusta having lost such a important symbol of its heritage as a textile producer.

Clay wanted to protect the integrity and the original design of this building while also generating a sizable amount of space for residential and commercial dwelling. This was a project born of love and respect for history, not money; it made much better financial sense just to tear it down. But today, the building’s occupants all share the interesting experience of living and working in a place where similar hands supported a thriving cotton trade.

In my estimation, the idea to bring this building back to life must have been wrought by the same desire that conceived the original structure. And inasmuch as architecture is a means for poetic expression, the design of Enterprise Mill seems to celebrate the qualities of work, ingenuity, and human achievement.


Day 4 Guide

Today, look around and take note of architecture and design. Look at houses, buildings, and cityscapes, and think of how such things speak to us.

Visit Enterprise Mill

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 5 Poetry and Life

Growing up, I lived in a house with a full attic — more like a third floor really. Like most people, we kept all sorts of junk in that space. My sister and I each had our own individual areas for books, toys and pictures, and I would often times take the stairs to the attic and rummage for something to do or make. Nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking resulted from my time there, but it was an important place for me. In fact, I still think about it. It was there that I could be alone and stretch my imagination. It was my domain — my kingdom.

It’s interesting to note that the enchanted world of imagination that C.S. Lewis created for the series of children’s books known as The Chronicles of Narnia found its start in an old attic:

As a young child, Lewis’ fascination with myths and legends was fed by his nurse Lizzie’s story-telling. Lewis began to make up stories, centring on his childhood home of Little Lea in East Belfast. Little Lea was a grand, imposing house. To Lewis and his older brother Warnie, the house seemed more like a city than a home. Lewis once said that he was


‘…a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences and attics explored in solitude.


Lewis and Warnie used to play for hours in the attic – writing stories and drawing pictures. They created a strange, imaginary kingdom called Animal Land, which was populated by talking animals, and drew maps of an imaginary country called Boxon – which is now seen as a simpler version of Narnia.

Click Here to read about C.S. Lewis

There’s something inspiring about old things in the attic, isn’t there? They lead the mind to think about the shadows of time and the experiences of those who lived before. I remember my father’s old Air Force uniform hanging in the attic. I’d put on his blue hat and coat, thinking that somehow I’d be able to share in his earlier military experiences.

Day 5 Guide

The paths leading to the apprehension of beauty are unlimited. Consider how best you are able to restore the warm feelings that connect you to greater ideas and people. Take advantage of memory, music and art.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 6 Art 

Most things in nature are painted with curved, non-linear patterns. From the smooth, rounded pebbles of a stream to the delicate aspen leaves, God’s creation consists of bodies that fold back into themselves and present a rounded completeness with few harsh edges.

If nature’s way is mostly curvilinear, man’s way is mostly linear. The straight, triangulated lines of Egypt’s great pyramids surprise the eye, as do the vertical lines of New York’s towering skyscrapers. They seem unnatural, and yet these structures represent some of man’s finest and most awesome creations.

Occasionally, man crosses over and uses the roundness so common to nature. Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of the Guggenheim museum and Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome are examples of this. It’s interesting to note that such a crossover generates that same sense of surprise in the mind’s eye; from men we expect lines, and from God, curves.

Day 6 Guide

Some of the most interesting creations surprise the eye. Look at God’s nature to find instances of lines, and then look at man’s creations to find curves.

Click Here to visit the Guggenheim Museum, New York

Click Here to visit the Buckminster Fuller Institute

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Days 7-9 Art and Morality 

The Artist’s Eye

Look around. What do you see? Look for instances – snapshots – of life that arouse feelings of love, sympathy, joy, sadness or wonder. These are the very subjects that the artist is drawn to capture on his canvas. As if windows on the soul, poetry, song, dance, and fine art lead us to sense greater things. They soften the conscience and remind us that meaning is yet beyond our mostly cerebral, task-driven perspective; they reveal the nature of beauty as a connecting force.

Days 7-9 Guide

This weekend, listen to great music, read a story or a poem, or simply look out on to the world with the artist’s eye.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 10 Interpretation

A Sunny Disposition

If you’re like me, you have a better outlook on life when the sun is shining. Rain and overcast skies tend to drag me down and make me weary. I feel a certain heaviness that makes it hard to trudge on and keep things going.

But I know that if I just stick with it, things will naturally begin to turn and improve. So even on those days when most things don’t seem to be going right, I try to bear down and work to finish my tasks. I know that to break through I must remain disciplined about my work and serious about my goals.

On life’s “gray days” I’m reminded of the importance of interpretation and perspective. I know that my view and general sense of life are terribly important to the way that I deal with the work ahead, its many problems and hurdles. Sunlight seems to be my friend and ally, pushing me forward and then delighting in my success.

Day 9 Guide

What is it that helps to improve your interpretation of life? The spirit of Joyous Gard seeks the light of day even amidst the darkness of difficulty. When times get tough, stick with it, my friend.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 11 Education 

Chapter Two was a great little locally-owned bookstore in Charleston, South Carolina. Susan Davis, the proprietor, made most of the store’s selections herself and so the shelves were filled with an unusual assortment of hand picked books on subjects ranging from gardening to philosophy. Whenever I visited Charleston, Chapter Two was always on my list of stops. But I never felt like I really got my fill of the place; I could’ve easily spent hours handling and flipping through the beautiful selections. Even yet, I would always leave Chapter Two feeling inspired and wanting to “step up” my reading.

I talked with Susan a number of times; she was always willing to order special books and send them to me by UPS – just like Amazon.com (www.amazon.com) but obviously more personal.

It wasn’t long after I graduated from college, married, and started my career that I first visited that beautiful little den of inspiration. At the time — feeling as though I was entering “chapter two” of my own life — this quaint Charleston bookshop inspired me to continue reading and be careful in my choice of books. Life’s too short to read a bad book.

Day 11 Guide

Learning should never stop, and reading should always begin. It’s never too late to embark on a serious reading plan, even though the noise of today doesn’t seem to promote the still and quiet that reading usually requires.

Find a time during the day – morning or night – to commit thirty minutes or an hour to reading. Consider developing a serious reading plan according to your interests or desires.

autodidact – One who is self taught.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 12 Growth

Head or Heart?

The head and the heart join forces within the halls of Joyous Gard, together elevating the spirit to greater heights. The eye of objective identification (i.e. intellect) warmed by a sense of awesome wonder (emotion) creates the ideal condition for the apprehension of beauty, creativity, and personal growth.

Look out on the world, friend. What do you see? By what principles has God designed the universe? And how does man use such principles in his own capacity as creator?

I consider it one of my daily essentials to open the doors of Joyous Gard and allow the powers of intellect and emotion to bathe its halls in a golden light. For in the stronghold of Joyous Gard, matters of business and science meet the rush of emotional energy in what is an interconnected, symbiotic relationship.

Some would argue that there’s no place for beauty in the worlds of business and science and that like machines we ought to generate only results that can be objectively measured and assessed. But to be sure, it is the spirit of Joyous Gard and the apprehension of beauty that give one the vital energy and insights necessary to break new ground.

Day 12 Guide

Let no one lock the doors of Joyous Gard. But keep them open to welcome the weary and wanting spirit.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Days 13-16 Emotion / Memory 

Closing My Eyes

In my mind I can see the corner where I used to sometimes sit in the summertime and eat my lunch. For some reason it was there that I was drawn to thoughts of those who were lonely and mostly ignored. Mental images of that corner bring to mind feelings of sadness.

I remember riding my bicycle around in a big circle on the adjoining patio. I’d try to see just how slowly I could ride without having to put my foot down. My mother would sometimes sit in the middle of the circle and watch me ride; she loved to talk with me and tell me how well I was doing. I think those were some of her favorite times. Mine, too. Her gift was definitely being a mother. I feel comfortable and at home when I think about those times.

The tree in the front yard is old now and missing most of the limbs that made it a great climbing tree. As boys, my friends and I would make sandwiches, take our pocketknives along with a few other tools and head to the big pine. We’d climb to the very top and feel ourselves swaying in the wind. It was quiet and beautiful up there. We’d watch as the cars passed by on the street below. Feelings of peace and freedom are connected with these memories.

Christmas morning was always a huge event for me. I was overwhelmed to find that Santa had actually visited our home. It was as if the weeks of anticipation leading up to Christmas all came crashing in on that one day. The days following Christmas I was left feeling lost and empty. A slight sense of panic would set in, and for a while I would dread nightfall and the end of the day. When “big” things come to an end I still have that feeling.

Days 13-16 Guide

Emotion and memory are intertwined making is nearly impossible to think of some things without arousing the associated feelings. I believe it’s safe to say that when we reminisce, it’s actually in an effort to find those feelings again.

Writing in a journal is an ideal way to consistently stay in touch with yourself, your emotions and your memories. Taking control of your emotions is often times a matter of controlling the thoughts of your life-experiences. The process of writing tends to govern your ideas in a helpful way.

Click here to read about the writing process I call Brainstreaming.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 17 Retrospect

I sometimes grow impatient with things. This past Sunday night, for example, my wife and I were about to leave the house to go to a dinner party when I noticed that our refrigerator was no longer cooling. The ice cream was soupy, the orange juice was close to room temperature, and the leftovers began to seem way too “left over.”

But I wasn’t about to let a dead appliance ruin my evening. I calmly moved all of the stuff into an old refrigerator in the basement, trying to think positively about how lucky we were to have that second refrigerator. Actually I was pretty coolheaded about the whole situation, knowing that things would be back to normal once I finished unloading the ice cream soup and the over-left leftovers. And then the phone rang. It was my sixteen-year old daughter. She had a flat tire.

“Okay,” I thought, “it wasn’t really ‘in the cards’ for me to make it to the party.” I quickly assessed the situation and figured that my night must somehow be intended for other things. So I changed into my old clothes, told my wife to give the party host my regrets, and headed out to meet my stranded daughter.

When I arrived on the scene, I found a nice man, Hank, changing my daughter’s tire. He was there in the church’s parking lot with his own sixteen-year old daughter, who happened to be driving the same type of automobile. He said that he thought this would be a good opportunity for his (and my) daughter to see how to change a flat tire. “What a great attitude,” I thought. My daughter really did need to know what changing a tire was all about.

I figured, too, that this incident was going to force me to do what I’d been intending to do for months: buy new tires for her car, replacing the ones that were rather worn and unsafe. Okay, I was beginning to see the bright side of things.

Hank did in fifteen minutes what would have taken me an hour to do. And in what seemed like no time, we were back on the road heading home. Things worked out so well that I was able to make it to the dinner party in perfect time.

Oh, did I tell you about the refrigerator? It was under a warranty that expires in less than a month. In retrospect, it looks like things turned out okay after all.

Looking Back

Looking back – yes, I believe it’s important to look back. I think it even helps to remove present anxiety by considering that events held in the eye of retrospect will most always appear meaningful, even essential.

Day 17 Guide

It’s hard to see God’s design when you’re down in a hole, isn’t it? Most of the time it’s only retrospectively that you might ever see the value in problems. Today, look back and chart the course of your life. Try to identify the threads of God’s existence and the way that He has chosen to sew together the events in your life. Learn to trust the nature of God as the one who holds you within His plan.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Days 18-23 Humor

Joe was a great salesman. He believed in his product, and he seemed to really like the company he worked for, Milwaukee Electric. Milwaukee is known for it’s heavy-duty, industrial power tools, a brand that has always enjoyed the reputation of being the best in its class.

Joe was originally from Pittsburgh but lived in Atlanta for as long as I knew him; he was a “transplant,” who used his heavy northern accent to his advantage as a salesman here in the Deep South. You see, Joe saw himself as a novelty. He liked the fact that he was a Yankee living in Georgia; his round, balding head and his short, plump figure were also important elements in his sales gig. He was always poking fun at himself, and he did it in a way that made prospective customers enjoy getting to know him.

For sales shows and events, Joe loved to wear his trademark red overalls, which matched the company’s colors (red and white). And in addition to his Milwaukee Electric business cards, he always carried a few extra personal cards imprinted with his name, Joe Mruk, and these words: “I Am An Important Polish Catholic” – just one of his many little gags.

Joe also loved to pass out his “patented” left-handed pencils on which the Milwaukee logo appeared right side up only when you wrote with your left hand. I figured that an advertising person had once made a design error with that pencil and Joe took advantage of it, creating yet another element in his successful sales routine. By the time Joe retired, those left-handed pencils were everywhere; Milwaukee, in fact, started having them printed especially for him.

Joe had a distinctive and strong voice, but in most ways he was as gentle as a kitten. He was always well mannered and interested in the “people part” of sales. He easily would become a friend, and you could tell that his deepest desire was just to enjoy life and the people he met. Whenever I saw him, Joe would greet me with his own special “Milwaukee handshake,” the motion of which mimicked the back-and-forth action of a reciprocating saw, a power tool commonly used to cut wood and steel.

In addition to being a great salesman, Joe was, and still is, a good friend even though I see him only rarely now. When he retired from Milwaukee he moved to the beach and took a job in a men’s clothing store, doing, I’m sure, exactly what he loves, being around people.

Days 18-23 Guide

It’s a great day to lighten up. We take things way too seriously nowadays, always worrying about crossing the line or offending someone. It seems to me that we’re all tied up in knots about wanting to hide our all-to-obvious differences. Try instead to find the humor in our differences. After all, wouldn’t it be dull if everybody in the world ate grits?

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 24 Visions 

Poetry reveals to us the loveliness of nature, brings back the freshness of youthful feelings, reviews the relish of simple pleasures, keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the springtime of our being, refines youthful love, strengthens our interest in human mature, by vivid delineations of its tenderest and softest feelings, and through the brightness of its prophetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life.

William E. Channing

In our haste, we all too rarely enjoy the gentle breeze of purpose that carries us forward in the light of a mighty God. How is it that we are so quickly blinded by the scattered events of a day?  How it is that we’re so easily lost?

The seasons of mind are capricious and generally unreliable in their leanings. Mood and temperament stir both good days and bad, and enjoyment is so often interrupted by discontent and despair.

The life of purposeful intention must be lived daily, my friend. We must find ways to release the mind held captive by the sway of emotion or apathy. It could be a single word, a sound, an unusual light or a simple fragrance that turns the mind towards greater things.

We should practice directing the mind towards the things that will elevate our view of life. We need to see in ourselves and our activities the important relationships and connections with other people and events. We must heighten our senses so that our influence is felt as part of life’s delicate balance.

Day 24 Guide

Affirm this: “God’s purpose for me is constant and inexhaustible. Daily, I will seek the presence of His direction.”

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 25 Thought

How close do you think we will ever really come to understanding the universe? Certainly, we’ve come a long way in understanding how the human body works. And thanks to Einstein we even have a grasp – at least mathematically – of how time and space are interrelated. We know that light travels at a constant speed, and we know that that seems to be the absolute highest speed in the universe.

But do we know why love makes us feel so wonderful? Or why the smile on a child’s face can open most any door? Do we know why music makes us want to dance? Do we really understand dance or music at all? All of us know sadness, yes. But can any of us claim scientifically to know exactly what sadness is or why it affects us so?

I think it’s fair to say that some things in the universe will always be shrouded in mystery. There is simply no way that man will ever be able to look into the heavens and have sufficient answers so as to satisfy all of his curiosity.

While science seems to take the mystery away from some of the universe’s most interesting phenomena, one question will always remain unanswered: why? Why did God – or the forces of nature – make all of this happen?


Day 25 Guide

For those of you who might be in a rut or thinking that you’re stuck in a zero-sum game, look up to the heavens tonight and think. Ask yourself the one enduring question that assures the mind of ceaseless wonder: why?

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 26 Accessibility 

The Eyes Have It

Would you agree that sometimes the world doesn’t see your best side? Maybe you’re preoccupied or worried about something.  You just can’t seem to let go well enough to give the world all that you’ve got. It’s in the eyes, you know. That’s right. People can see it in your eyes. Maybe you’re just tired or feeling a bit down. Whatever it is that’s blocking your hope and your joy, people see it in your eyes.

Listen to the lyrics of the song Miss Sun made popular by singer Bozz Scaggs.

Miss Sun

Been thinkin’ ’bout you all night
Guess you got me in your spell
But I think that I’ll be alright
Even if I don’t get well

Hey, Miss Sun
What could I say
I tried to hold you
but the moon got in the way
It won’t be long before the morning
Has you back in my arms

I can still remember
What you told me with your eyes
One kiss
Now it’s down to this
Guess it’s time you realize

Hey, Miss Sun
What could I say
I tried to hold you
But the moon got in the way
It won’t be long before the morning
Has you back in my arms
Has you back in my arms

[Instrumental Interlude]

Hey, Miss Sun
What could I say
I tried to hold you
But the moon got in the way
It won’t be long before the morning
Has you back in my arms
In my arms
(Ooooooh, yeah)
(Ooooooh, yeah, ah-yeah)

Hey, Miss Sun
What could I say
I tried to hold you
But the moon got in my way
It won’t be long before the morning
Has you back (in my arms)

[Intrumental Interlude]

(One kiss is what I need)
(One kiss give it to me)
(It won’t be long until the mornin’)
(It won’t be long until the mornin’ has you)
(Won’t be long until the mornin’)
(Has you back in my arms)

(One kiss)
(I realize)
(One kiss I can see it in your eyes)

Day 26 Guide


The spirit of Joyous Gard is alert and alive – On Gard. Today, surround yourself with things that make you feel alive. The light is beautiful this time of year; look up in the sky and enjoy Miss Sun.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 27 Sympathy


Close personal friendships are beautifully bound by the ties of sympathy.  I believe that the hallmark of a deep connection is to feel as another feels when he or she experiences joy or suffering. Happiness and grief are not to be solitary emotions. A joy that is shared multiplies, while a grief that is shared divides.

Day 27 Guide

Cherish your friendships. Take them not for granted, and then enjoy the bond of sympathy that calls you to the heart of a friend.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Days 28-30 Science

Even after all these years I’m still amazed to think that we actually went to the moon. Astronauts Schmitt and Cernan snapped this picture in December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission — the last time humans walked and drove on the surface of the moon. The lunar roving vehicle shown is near the rim of “Shorty” crater.

I remember sitting in a chair on our patio hoping that through my telescope I’d be able to see the astronauts walking on the moon.

Days 28-30 Guide

Science sometimes removes mystery, but other times it adds a new layer of wonder to God’s awesome creation. Think today of infinite possibilities.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide                 Archives and Text
October 2005 ~ Day 31 Work 

The other week I saw a television show on the history of pretzel making. I was fascinated to see how modern-day machines tie the dough in perfect pretzel knots. I watched as hundreds of these little perfectly tied dough-segments dropped on to a conveyor belt, which then moved them to an oven.

The television show went on to contrast today’s technology with yesterday’s art. A 1950s vintage film showed a number of workers (mainly women) standing by the same type of conveyor that carried segments of rolled dough. It was there that a human worker, not a machine, picked up a dough-segment, and with her hands, tied it in a beautiful “pretzel knot.” Each newly tied pretzel would then go back on the conveyor and be taken to the oven.

In the course of my work I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of manufacturing facilities. And while I enjoy seeing how production machinery works, I’m always more interested in watching people work.


Day 31 Guide

Enjoy your work today, and pay close attention to the habits and the skills you’ve acquired. Recognize the beauty in your art.

Click here to read the history of Sturgis Pretzels.

© 2005, Levi Hill

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