Big Mommy and Honey

When I was very young, maybe 8 or 9, I made a couple of solo train journeys between Tampa and Savannah.

It wasn’t unusual at that time. My sister and cousin did the same, and probably plenty of other kids as well. The conductor on the Silver Meteor knew the drill: your mother would give him a little extra money, and he would keep an eye on you.

Our destination was our grandparents’ home in Savannah. We would visit them for a month or so in the summertime, singly or a couple at a time. ‘Big Mommy’ and ‘Honey’ were their names. Big Mommy wasn’t big and Honey wasn’t sweet, so the source of the names was a mystery, but there it was.

Fragments of memories:

Big Mommy making homemade biscuits from scratch every morning at 5 am.

Honey proudly pointing out the segregated water fountains and restrooms. He was an unrepentant racist of the old southern school.

Being given bus fare and and spending money (a quarter? a dollar? – can’t remember now) and going downtown, yes, again by myself. I saw a couple of movies. That memory is even more vague. ‘The Blob?’ Or maybe ‘The Day of the Triffids.’ Mostly though, I wandered around and looked at the parks and squares. Downtown Savannah was and is a mysterious and fascinating place.

Playing with my plastic army men (yankees and rebels, what else?) in the living room. There were not a lot of other kids around.

Honey was a plastering contractor. Sometimes he and his employees would come home for dinner. At noon. Say what? Well, dinner was what we would now call lunch. It was the main meal of the day, and they didn’t stint on the food. Around 5 in the afternoon, we would have a lighter meal. They called that one supper.

About those dinners: Honey was white. The employees were black. They happily sat down to a meal together, but they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that in any other situation. Honey hated black people in the aggregate, but he liked these guys. Probably respected them too, because they were out there together doing what must have been really hard and skillful work. He wouldn’t have expressed that, couldn’t have expressed that. Never in a million years. Only much later did I start to understand the paternalistic dynamic that was at work there.

Speaking of the plastering business, I offered once to help. Honey was having none of that; there may have been scoffing and mocking involved. He wasn’t much impressed with me in general. He thought I was soft, which, compared to him, I was. Shit, compared to him, John Wayne was soft. Honey had gone hand to hand with the Germans, and so my experiences in playing Little League baseball didn’t cut any ice him, the tough old bastard.

Big Mommy was another story altogether. Sweet, funny and good natured, but with a little bit of a quirky edge. She had had an unbelievably difficult life. Honey was her second husband, and compared to the first one he was actually a pretty decent guy. Not a high bar: my birth grandfather was a mean drunk who let his family go hungry during the depression. Big Mommy held it together somehow, but her kids, my mother among them, never really got over it.

My mother had tragedies and difficulties of her own, on top of all that. She went on to build a good life in spite of it all. Or maybe because of it, who knows? In their later years, Big Mommy and Honey moved to Florida. They were of a different time and a different way of seeing. When they passed a few years later, their worldview passed with them. Or did it?

I loved them.

(c)2018 Mike Davis

Lent 2018

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved desserts. And not in moderation, either. Give me a choice of several delicious treats at a dessert buffet and I’ll have plenty of each. Take a second pass? Certainly! Load me up! Why? Heck if I know.

My other eating habits are a little more sane, somewhat, maybe. Even so, I’m reasonably fit for the shape I’m in.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I felt a strong guidance to give up desserts for Lent. I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never observed Lent or even given it much thought. But there we were, middle of February, 40 days until Easter. Blessed mystical number! And there are some other big and exciting changes coming up in our lives. The pull was there, no doubt about it, and so I went with it.

No dessert. 40 days. And for good measure I committed to cutting out salty snacks and salt from the shaker. Oh, yeah, and milk. In for 40 pennies, in for 40 pounds.

40 days later:

It appears that I’ve miscalculated: Easter is still a few days away. What happened? It turns out that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. * Who knew? Well, maybe the millions of people who are steeped in the tradition and take it seriously! Ok, I learned something there, and not just about how the days are counted.

The food thing was no sacrifice at all. I was a little surprised to see that I didn’t miss desserts or table salt. For one thing, there’s a lot of salt and sugar hiding in our food anyway. That’s even if you’re going for the healthy stuff. Apparently, much more vigilance, or should I say mindfulness is called for. Another thing learned.

The results overall? I lost a couple of pounds. Felt lighter and stronger in general. I also caught myself, just once or twice mind you, feeling a bit virtuous about the whole thing. Which is pretty much the opposite of virtuous, isn’t it? It’s a little bit like being proud of being humble.

Lent is a deep, deep practice, and I’m starting to get an inkling that the food is the least of it. I’ll be looking forward to Lent 2019. Happy Easter!

*From Wikipedia:

One calculation has been that the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. This calculation makes Lent last 46 days, if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40, if they are excluded, because there is no obligation to fast on the six Sundays in Lent.

(c) 2018 Mike Davis

The Pig and the Brownies


I hit a pig with my car.





At least I think it was a pig. It darted out in front of the car as Paula and I, along with our son Andrew, drove west, at dusk, on a country road in south Florida. There are a lot of feral hogs in that area.

I felt really terrible about hitting the critter, and if I were really honest I’d have to admit that I also felt a little bad about the damage it did to my beloved Scion xB. There were pieces of bumper hanging on by a thread and some bits rubbing against a tire. Two hours from home. We squared it away the best we could and limped very slowly back to Orlando.

The next morning I took the car to Tuffy Auto in Apopka FL. We had recently started going to them for oil changes and so forth and had a good relationship going. They’re friendly and honest, and they know their stuff.

The counter man at the time was a garrulous fellow named Greg. Very knowledgeable about cars, and very good at sharing his knowledge. More than you wanted sometimes, so we had that in common. We got along great.

“Hey Greg, can you have a look at this? The underside of the car is kinda torn up.”

“Naw, we’re not a body shop. You need to go to a body shop.”

“Screw that. I know you guys. I trust you guys. Just go have a look.”

A little more high level back and forth like that, and his curiosity got the better of him. Pretty soon the car was up on the lift and Greg, along with one of the crew, was scratching his chin and considering.

You could see the wheels turning as they started improvising a fix. It involved wire, solder, a couple of bolts, and if I’m not mistaken, some peanut butter and a little wd40. Well of course there was wd40! Did you think we were going to get through this story without it?

“Ok, you’re all set.” Well, actually he said a lot more, but I’m cutting to the chase here. You’re welcome.

“Greg, thanks, that’s awesome! What do I owe you?”

“No charge, go ahead on.”


“Well, hey, l told you we’re not a body shop. There’s nothing in the price book about soldering and peanut butter. It’s cool.”

So I went home with the good news. Paula said, “I know! I’ll make them some brownies.” So she did and we took them over there. Party time at Tuffy! Ever since, for several years now, she’s made brownies for the crew at Tuffy pretty much every time we’ve been there. There are guys working there now who don’t even know the story, but they expect to be fed brownies when we show up for a new battery or an oil change. You know, like alligators.

Greg has since moved on, bless you brother. Ron B, Mark, Brandon and Tyler along with their bay crew continue to run the best shop you could hope for. We’ve since bought a couple of cars through Ron, Mr. Go-To-The-Auction.

The Scion? It ran for 320k, improvised fix intact. And to this day I feel sorry about hitting that pig.

The See Saw

Can you ride both sides of a see saw at the same time?

You live your life in a particular mode for years at a time. You have a career, friends, patterns and tracks in your life. Some of it is frustrating, some of it is rewarding. It’s your life. The see saw is on the ground on one side.

What happens if you start glimpsing another way of being?

There’s nothing at all wrong with the first pattern. But you’re seeing things differently now and the see saw is inexorably moving, albeit slowly. One side is coming up as the other side goes down.

One day you realize that the see saw has touched the ground on the new side.

Playing Meditation Music

I have two CDs of meditation music, and play live for guided meditations and prayers all the time. If you’re accompanying someone who is speaking a prayer or meditation, the sound source and the approach are both important.

Basically, you want a sustaining element and a few color elements that you can bring in and out. A simple synth pad is a good start. Layer it with a very light electric piano and you’re off and running. Other instruments can work too! I just tend to go with keyboard for this type of thing.

Then you just listen. When the leader is speaking, you hold. In the spaces, you move. If you sense a new theme or direction coming, you can anticipate it, maybe change keys or pick up the pace a bit. If it’s someone you connect with energetically, you can definitely create a dramatic arc that means something. You can also slow down a busy speaker, or subtly encourage someone to get it over with, already! But don’t tell anyone I said so.

Also, most leaders will say that they don’t want hear a recognizable melody because it pulls the ear away. This is not the place to sprinkle in quotes from the jazz repertoire.

FWIW, that’s my approach, but some people do it differently and get on just fine. My CDs are more active and have definite themes and melodies, so that’s a little different from doing it live, but even so, I’ve sold lots of them to people who use them for meditation and yoga at home. One couple told that they use them for . . . well, never mind.

Three Ideas for America

… is this still about ‘Raising It Up?’ 🙂 In my opinion, yes. Comments welcome!

1. Have all the congressional district maps drawn by an independent, non-partisan panel. Or let the parties take turns. Or is there another way that will work better?

2. Repeal Citizens United. It’s difficult for people in Congress to to work toward consensus and get things done if they’re always fearing primary challenges from their extreme right or left flanks. It’s easy for people in Congress to put the interests of their biggest donors ahead of the rest of us. That’s a distortion. Do we want to go as far as public financing of campaigns? I don’t know enough about that one, but I’d like to learn more.

3. When people speak of ‘the Left’ and ‘the Right’ as if they were two big monoliths (duolith?) I always rebel a bit. Is it really a good idea for us to voluntarily lock ourselves into boxes like that? And is it really voluntary? Let’s let go of this Blue Team vs Red Team bullshit, even though the Blue Team is actually better. Whoa, whoa, whoa, relax! I’m sorta kidding. Seriously, all it does is freeze our various prejudices into place. By all means, I should promote and work for what I think is right, and I have some clear opinions about that. That is as it should be, because I care about our country and our future. But I can also acknowledge that people who have a different point of view also care about this country. A little listening can only help.

4. Bonus thought: demonizing people who disagree with you is not an effective persuasion technique. Better to promote the ideas you wish to see, or better yet, be them.

The Good New Days

This is a follow up to our most excellent guest blog from Jennifer Sacks last week. With liberal borrowing from her ideas. Hey, credit where credit is due!

What’s your first reaction to this?

If anything can go right, it will.
What’s the best that can happen?
Situation Normal, All Fantastically Unfolding

… had to finesse that last one a bit.

And then there’s this:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” — JULIAN OF NORWICH

Do you think this is true? In a way, it’s a difficult and challenging idea. We look around and we see that, no, actually all is not well. I don’t need to give you any examples.

So here’s the core question, and it’s a powerhouse of a question in my opinion: do prayers change God? Do affirmations change the world?

Or do they just change you? And if they do change you, can YOU change the world?

In the midst of our challenges, I see a lot of people praying with their feet, and I am humbled and inspired by them. I promise to do better with that, and I hope you will too. As Paula Davis said recently. “God’s hands are your hands.”

“All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Peace.

P.S. This week I wrote a song called ‘God’s Hands Are Your Hands.’ I’ll be debuting it at Unity Church of the Mountains in Blairsville GA on March 4th.

Guest blog from Rev. Jennifer Sacks

Jennifer Sacks is the senior minister at Unity of Atlanta. She’s a great friend and a wonderful writer and speaker. Here’s a link to her blog:

Along with an article that might just change the way you think about things:

Years ago I knew someone who often asked, when an uncomfortable situation presented itself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”  He prided himself on living by Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.   One day he produced a product with a fatal flaw.  So, each item was removed from the company’s inventory and had to be reproduced.  Then he was removed from the project, rebuked for both his focus and attitude.

Yes, things in life go “wrong,” break, fail, or get messed up.  Though as Master Teacher Emmet Fox explains, “Life is Consciousness,” and where we focus our attention and direct our attitude usually determines our destination.  Or as many artists say: Perspective is everything.

So, rather than view life from an “Ain’t-it-awful?”/ “What’s-wrong-now?” perspective, we can change our thinking and ask other questions.  Instead of wondering what could go “wrong,” we can instead focus on the possibilities and potential of divine outcome.  This change in perspective also can prevent us from stalling on our life journey, if we’re willing to ask: “What’s the best that can happen?”

Viewing life from this vantage requires tremendous trust because we must continually draw on our inner faith and strength.  In the process, we gain clarity about our own personal power and human will, noticing what we can change and what we cannot.  We consider our priorities, watching for open doors and new opportunities.  We use our contemplation, meditation, prayer, and reflection time to release fear and worry, and await divine direction with assurance and confidence.

This perspective also requires that we release our personal ideas about how everything “should” happen or work out.  It means that we stop giving God directions about what we want and how life “should” be.

It also invites other questions, such as: “Am I willing to:

•Cooperate with God and concede my personal way for God’s way?”

•Remove my hands from the steering wheel of life and cease trying to control everything?”

•Live by God’s calendar rather than my own?”

•Accept that others have different opinions and perspectives from mine, and may never like me or agree with me?”

•Work through old anger, grief, pain, and resentment to heal myself and forgive the past?”

•Remember that someone who loves me now might change their mind or that they will die one day?”

•Withstand silence and be still long enough to truly listen so I know which divine directions are mine, not someone else’s?”

•Sit back and enjoy the scenery, laughter, hugs, love, joy, and delicacies which flow through life in so many ways?”

•Wonder, at least once daily, ‘What’s the best that can happen?’ and then do what is mine to do to let it?”

As we answer these questions, we discover a greater depth of faith.  And when we direct it toward the best people, places, and things for our lives, life has a richer perspective, and we see the best happen.

© 2018 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

The Connectitarians


Who are the Connectitarians?

Are we vegetarians, barbarians, librarians, Hungarians, humanitarians, proletarians, Unitarians or Rotarians? All of the above? Read on.

Matthew 18:20 — “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:19 — “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

“He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.” – Buddha

“Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all , and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.” – Black Elk

“He alone sees truly who sees the Lord the same in every creature.” – The Bhagavad Gita

See some patterns there?

A) The power of prayer energy multiplies when it’s combined.

B) We are interconnected in deeper and more profound ways than we’ve ever imagined: we are all connected, joined at the hip, spiritually, so to speak.

C) Connection is a core truth about us as humans. It crosses time and cultures like nothing else.

Oh, so that’s who the Connectitarians are. We have met the Connectitarians and they are us.

So far, we’re talking about the seeing of this idea; the perceiving of it, the realization of it, the understanding of it.

Does this idea point to a next step? The doing of it? The manifestation of it? The being of it? I think so.

So let me share a challenge with you: If you can see it, you must do it.
If you can see connection, you must be connection. Every spiritual gift brings with it a spiritual responsibility. Deep breath …

Ok, deep breath taken, challenge accepted.

Who are the Connectitarians?

A Breathing Meditation 

Focus, expand. Expand, focus.

Breathe in. Your lungs fill, your throat opens, your shoulders lift, your ribs and arms feel stronger. Your heart is right there in the center. Pulsing, rhythmic, open. It’s your soul engine.

Breathe out. Quietly, steadily, measured and intentional. Pay attention now, and you can feel the energy moving in your whole body. Your heart and lungs, your fingertips, your very toes poise and prepare for the next wave of breath.

Inward, outward. Create space, fill space. Plant, harvest. Regroup, be.

We grow stronger, body and soul, when we breathe intentionally. When we live, move, breathe and have our being in the presence of the divine. So be quiet now, listen to your soul, and breathe.

Focus, expand. Expand, focus.