The Right Paths

Two Paths Diverted in the Wood

He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil;
for you are at my side. With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.                              
                 – Psalm 23 – King David of Judah

Being guided along right paths is critical to a successful, blessed and fruitful life, isn’t it?  We have been told of all those folks who have chosen “the wrong path”, coined the “road to perdition.”  In an interesting psychological trick, though, we rarely see them as ourselves.

We may also read these words and start looking for the magical right path to be led to as mindless and blind sheep. Hence we develop the idea of “blind faith”.

For many years I read this verse as that quest to find the right single path. Only later did I realize that it says: “He guides me in right paths”.

Two things were new, that there must be a series of “paths” or a number of options in “paths”, and that we are guided “in” them, not before them or after them.

This changes everything, because it now becomes more interesting and active. We actually walk in the path as we find leading, and the paths apparently move and change. And there is not necessarily one correct one at all. It depends on what happens along the way. It is not fixed, but fluid and dynamic.

And now the last part makes even more sense: “With your rod and your staff that give me courage.”  With this protective guide who cares for us and walks with us, we learn to receive and develop courage.

And trust me. If there is one thing that we need in this life, it is courage!

Three Months of Wine and Movie Pairings!!

It has been a lot of fun to find the parallels between wine and film over the past three months or so. I just wanted to put them all in one place to be easily accessed. Have you had a favorite pairing??

Better yet, tell us some of your favorite wines and favorite movies. Maybe we can find a pair. A movie and a bottle of vino really does make the perfect combo!!

Here’s the list, click if any of them  intrigue your palate! Thank You!!

Jurassic Park with Fossil Point Pinot Noir

The Fisher King with King Estate Pinot Gris

Water For Elephants with Chateau des Annibal Rose

A League of Their Own with Mas de la Dame (Farm of the Lady)

Gladiator with Warrior’s Warre Port

Blood Diamond with M.A.N. Chenin Blanc

Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Il Viziato (The Spoiled One)

Twister with Three Brooms Sauvignon Blanc

The Bicycle Thief with Cono Sur Bicicleta

Maverick  with Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir

Scent of a Woman with Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc

Thank You Mexico, From America!

Cinco de Mayo

Contrary to popular American belief, today is not Mexico’s Independence Day.

Today actually marks Mexico’s victory over France ending the Franco-Mexican War, not the day they gained independence from Spain.

The establishments where I worked in Chicago provided some of my greatest bonds, many with people from the country south of us.

In the restaurant biz you are in the trenches together, going to battle every day. In this French guy’s case, I wouldn’t have made it out alive without my Mexican friends. I’m glad we were on the same side!!

Over the years, one of the many things I learned from my friends is that Cinco de Mayo is much bigger in America than in Mexico. They actually don’t really pay it much mind down there!

Today being more of an American celebration is okay as long as we celebrate for the right reasons, and as long as we celebrate the Mexican culture and the wealth of beauty it has given us.

So tonight, while you were eating tacos, sippn’ on a margarita or paloma, quite possibly with a sombrero on your head, I hope you  remembered what today is all about: celebrating a beautiful culture that we are lucky to now have as a part of us.

“Viva La Mexico” y “La Negra”

May the Fourth Be With You

“May the Fourth Be With You” was proclaimed when Margaret Thatcher won the election for Prime Minister of England in 1979. This  echoed the Jedi greeting in George Lucas’ Star Wars: “May the Force Be With You”.

What many may not know was that this further echoes the ancient Christian greeting: “May the Lord Be With You’.  And this  was itself rooted in the even more ancient greeting of Boaz in the Book of Ruth to pilgrims who  wandered through the fields: “The Lord Be With You.”

Today was both the National Day of Prayer and Star Wars Day, making it the best day for those of us who believe in the power of prayer and of imagination.

Thank you, George, for opening our eyes to a new way of understanding this powerful greeting that all of us should give each other whenever we meet.

“May the Force (Lord) Be with You!”

Art…..a Competition?

Art in its Creation

“Our human landscape is overburdened with competitions and contests. Art need not be a contest… your own discriminating connoisseur.” — Robert Genn

Art is not a competition!

As a matter of fact, the idea of art competitions might enrage some artists.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place in the world for competition. As a sports fan, I can tell you that seeing an athlete or team’s hard work result in a championship is a rare and beautiful thing. (Go Cubs Go!)

And of course there is competition in the business world. Some people thrive on it. You know what, good for them!

But there is no room for competition in art!!

Art is a place where we choose our own hopes, goals, and dreams. And when we accomplish them, WE WIN!

Maybe our art moves 10 people, maybe it moves 10 million. Or maybe it just moves US? But when we reach that art goal that we set for ourselves we can exclaim “YES!!!”

And that’s all that matters..

I mean Mona Lisa is a lot prettier with Nat King Cole’s voice behind it!

Gratitude is Not Positive Thinking

Shipwrecked and Lying on the Shore

“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Gratitude is NOT positive thinking. Positive thinking is, quite frankly, far too shallow to be equal to gratitude. It is a denial of suffering and pain.

Let’s face it. There is a lot of suffering and pain in our world. Things go wrong all the time, every day. Just watch the news a little more than you read Facebook posts and you can see that.

So what is gratitude, then? From the Latin core word “gratus”, it means “thankful” or “pleasing”. 

Can we always be thankful and find what is pleasing? I think that the answer is a qualified “yes” if we go deep enough and with enough resolve. But it is not automatic or easy.

I’ve always found it irritating when someone says “Just be thankful this (some other random much worse thing) didn’t happen.” Or the ever-present “Oh, this too shall pass. Look at the bright side.”

I usually say “Yes, it will pass… like a gallstone.” 

And, actually that is a lot more honest and thankful, if you think about it. When the thing passes, it does with great pain and suffering, but the lack of pain afterward can bring a real thankfulness and joy!

Some people that I know have suffered greatly in their lives. I won’t dare to give them the “positive lecture.” But I do notice that some become bitter from the pain, and others become thankful and enlightened through it.

Life hurts. Bring the balm of attentiveness and teach gratitude through caring. These in the end are all choices in framing our own narratives.