27 Nov

Do unto others

Thanksgiving morning came too early for me. I had gone to sleep much too late the night before, but my two-year-old son was ready to start the day at 6:30 A.M. So much for sleeping in.

A few hours later I lay on the couch with Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television. I had my eyes closed, hoping a few minutes of sleep would follow. Seeing the enormous balloon characters floating down the street, my son ran to the couch and perched himself on my chest to watch the parade. I kept my eyes shut, still hoping for sleep.

After glancing at the TV for a moment, he turned back to me and asked, “Can you see, Dad?”

I smiled in pride. One simple question, but it told me all I would ever need to know about the boy: he’s someone who puts other people first.

The “golden rule” is part of his very nature, and a father could not ask for anything more.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When something so difficult comes so naturally, tis indeed something for which to offer thanksgiving.

Yes, son, I can see.

20 Nov


It was a grey November afternoon, the air cold but not too cold, the sky dark but not too dark. I sat in my car at the traffic light and a flock of starlings caught my attention. Simultaneously, hundreds of them ascended from a barren tree on the side of the road, black dots starting to the heavens in communal flight.

Skyward they went, circling vertically through the air. Then in unison they swayed left, then right, then circling again. I kept waiting for them to settle on a direction, presumably south, and fade into the distance as black specks carried off by the wind. They didn’t, though. Rather, they kept dancing with the wind in a display of aerial acrobatics.

For a moment I questioned the leadership in the group. Was it indecisiveness that kept them from choosing a direction? Or was it the wind, perhaps too strong or too swirling to keep the birds on course?

Then, as if a conductor signaled the final sudden note of a symphony, the troupe of starlings danced their way back to the empty tree. Blackness covered the branches.

As the light turned green and I shifted into first, a realization came to me. Perhaps these birds weren’t lacking leadership. Perhaps they weren’t noncommittal in their destination. Maybe the wind wasn’t overpowering after all. Rather, perhaps the birds were simply taking advantage of what they were born with – their wings!

To dance with the wind! What a gift – to truly make the most of the gifts given to us!

Dance on, little starling! Dance on!