On Christmas day, when the rush is finally over and it’s time to exchange gifts,  we sometimes get a little peek at what is meant by “on earth as it is in heaven.”

The gift giving of Christmas stirs many thoughts, but for me this year I am considering the magical transformation of ordinary matter, the process by which a tangible material object becomes something that stirs the heart of both the one who gives and the one who receives.

Here are the keys to this alchemy when it actually happens:

1. Thinking and planning done with enthusiasm and care

2. Imagining and seeking something very special

2. Making it personal

3. Presenting it with beauty and good timing

4. Giving it freely with grace, generosity and “no strings attached”

5. Combining mystery, anticipation, surprise and excitement

6. Experiencing the shared joy

Every year, we go through these rituals even though we know very well how much trouble is the shopping, the toting, the wrapping, or the dreaded mailing.

I do believe gift giving and receiving touches places in us as yet unmapped by psychologists and brain scientists.  It taps into our deep needs to be understood, valued, helped and affirmed.   I am relating this to the learning center of our vision, thinking how much it will, itself, be a wonderful and beautiful gift, waiting to be explored.

Instead of a place of “education” that is compulsory, with dry textbooks, workbooks, and lectures about things that can’t be seen or touched, how about a place where real things and real experiences activate the other elusive nervous system receptor sites?

How about a place where caring thought has produced joy, anticipation, surprise, excitement, mystery; a place where true giving and receiving happen every day and are acts from the heart, based on care, thought, love – – personalized, individualized and beautifully presented; a place where learners may even freely choose the gifts most wanted?

How about a place so inspiring that all who come begin to use their own special inborn “gifts” to transform themselves into special gift-givers so they might offer the world a cure, a new tool, a fresh insight, a novel solution, a new invention, needed skills and a host of created works and wonderfully honed talents?

Yes!  We’re not to just pray for heaven on earth, we’re to help it happen.





Please pardon me while I “do Christmas.”

Like many people this time of year, I sometimes feel overwhelmed – – so much to do, so little time. I once heard someone say that at this season we are busy trying to make up for the arrears of a whole year.  There is truth in this.

And yet, despite all the tasks and disruptions of regular schedules, I WILL have it.  I am a “Christmas person” and there’s simply no getting around it.  I love the cheerful decorations, the fun of parties, the plotting of surprises, the receiving of cards from cherished friends.  Most especially I love the exquisite old Christmas carols that touch my heart anew each year and the memory-laden, even sometimes bittersweet gathering together of family for a love feast.

Paradoxically, around this same time each year, I begin to question the rationality of it all and look forward to the stark, barren quietness of January when I will rest, repair, reorganize and return to my work with steady focus and undistracted resolve. But in the meantime, my touchstone is a framed quote by Madeline L’Engle, which hangs on my wall:

“This is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild. Had Mary been filled with reason there’d have been no room for the child.”






We’re doing it wrong.

Humanity is gradually waking up a bit and beginning to notice all the things we’ve been doing wrong:

Polluting the atmosphere

Killing life in the oceans

Adding dangerous substances to our foods

Stockpiling lethal global weapons

Endangering species

The one I am most passionate about is the mistaken way we educate people.

By doing “education” wrong, we’re missing millions of rare and wonderful gifts that have come into the world only to be buried by time and missed opportunities.

By trying to do education from the outside in, instead of from the inside out, we are tragically killing at least 90% of the human potential.

“Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”  W. B. Yeats