Wednesday, July 6, 2022 

         Today, lucky for 80-year-old me, I will be like a traveler on a brand-new trail, following a trusted and all-wise guide called ‘life’. My life will be a fortunate ‘finder’ – all day long. Each hour, it will unearth amazing discoveries for me to enjoy, and in every moment it will chance upon miraculous wonders. Small and large displays of goodness will be sniffed out for me to appreciate. Life and I together will stumble upon astonishing surprises – the look of early light outside as I sit at my desk, the sound of Delycia preparing her breakfast in the kitchen, even the soft sounds of our footsteps on the carpet. Life, today, will come across situations never before experienced in the history of the universe, and I will be there to stand in wonder and reverence. What’s truly interesting is that ‘I’ will not be doing the finding. Life itself will be the pioneer and discoverer, and I will be beside it as its fortunate friend, grateful to be in the presence of such an astute and skillful explorer.   


I sometimes wonder if I’m missing certain special signals sent to me occasionally from here and there. Yesterday I was watching a tree as it turned and bent and bowed in the wind, its limbs and leaves lifting and falling, and, as silly as it might sound, it seemed like the tree was sending me signals. It was like small messages made just for me: “Are you there, Hamilton? Are you truly alert and listening to the sounds I’m making with this wind?” Then I saw a seagull sailing in circles above the tree, and I wondered if there were signals there also. Perhaps the bird was sending from the sky the news that nothing is better than right now: “Hammy, happiness is inside you, right there where you’re sitting in the shade with a glass of ice water at 3:37 on a sweltering afternoon.” Then, in the next instant, I found myself listening to the sounds of cars on the distant interstate, and they sent – in soft, almost whispery sounds – the message that I’m an amazing mystery. “You’re astounding,” they said, “and so is this afternoon and everyone and everything.” It seems strange, I know, but I’ll be searching for signals tomorrow, as well. 


The sky stood up one morning
and made a signal to him,
like people might make
when happiness is molding them
into something thankful and fresh.
It was a September sky
with blueness so bright
it brought him permission
as he sipped his coffee,
and he signaled back
to the sky that he too
was happy and hoped
the sky and he
would stay that way.



 Thursday, May 5, 2022

Note: I start my reflection today with a quote from a poem by John Keats. In this poem, Keats writes about how the Spanish explorer Cortez and his men must have felt when, in their explorations, they reached a mountain peak where, to their surprise, they suddenly saw a vast body of water, later to be named ‘the Pacific Ocean’.


“Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific – and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise –

Silent upon a peak in Darien.”

— John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

I’m always hoping to more often feel what “stout Cortez” and his men felt on that “peak in Darien”. Keats pictures them standing on a hill above the Pacific Ocean, staggered by the scene, and I would like to foster more of that kind of bewilderment and wonder in my life. Cortez and his men saw a startling sight, and every day – every moment – I am witness to scenes which, in their own special ways, are just as amazing. Hard as it is to remember during the sometimes wearisome routines of the day, the various circumstances that arise around me are as unique and mystifying as the Pacific Ocean, and really, the only suitable response to them is honest amazement. The life I share with Delycia is my “Darien”, and wherever I happen to be is the “peak” where I can look “with a wild surmise” at the inscrutable magnificence of life. A “surmise” is a guess, a supposition, a hunch, and that’s honestly all I have when it comes to understanding the things I see and experience. In the end, they’re all complete conundrums to me. If you ask me to make clear the mystery of even the simplest circumstance – the look of lamplight on a table, the sound of a car coming past the house, the whole sky shining at 7:00 a.m. — all I could do is make a hit-or-miss guess, a “wild surmise”. A better response might be to stay respectfully silent, like the astonished explorer and his men.


Below … some scenes from our walk on Napatree Beach this morning …

… and here’s Delycia with her next-door neighbor friend …