The Star Spangled Banner – an Appreciation

The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ is a patriotic song consisting of words and music about the United States of America.  It is the national anthem and thus played and/or sung at important public events.  It comes at the beginning of an event, setting the tone for the people gathered.

Here is a simple piano delivery of the tune:  The lyrics are based on a poem – ‘The Defence of Fort McHenry’ – written by Francis Scott Key in the year 1814.

The first two lines of the poem:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

picture the United States flag as the goal of a quest, a quest to see.  To see it, for Francis Scott Key, meant victory.  In 1814, the flag had fifteen stars on it.  Today, 2017, the flag has fifty stars.  The stars represent the states of the Union.  That Union is an ongoing victory, the achievement of many people becoming one.

USA Flag

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Transmission of Enlightenment in Buddhism

The Buddha held up a flower before his circle of disciples.  All were confused except one, M. (I abbreviate the name), who smiled.  Buddha was happy and announced that M. had received enlightenment and wisdom.  M. alone understood.

‘The Flower Sermon’ is found in the Zen collection called Mumonkan.


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Telling the Truth about Trump

I’d named spades as trump and had 90 points meld, a marriage in trump, pinochle (jack of diamonds/queen of spades) and a nine of spades.  I had double 10 in trump, but no aces in the suit.  The bid was 210 and as my partner had 20 points meld, we needed to make 100 in tricks.  Ordinarily this shouldn’t have been difficult, but my partner had no spades, no trump.  We didn’t make bid.  We went bust or ‘set’ as we commonly say in my family.   Too bad for us, but those were the cards we were dealt.

Image result for pinochle cards

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Looking at the Sky and Seeing Stars

In the night, I was hit by a car and knocked out.   I awoke flat on my back, with a wide sky above and nobody around.  All was silent.  [The end.]

Image result for stars at night

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Writing from Experience

An old man got up from his decrepit chair – watching the Yankee game – to venture upstairs to the computer, his back sore from years of hard physical labor.  He stopped at the back door because it was a fine bright day outside and he knew it would be good just to look upon the scene of his back yard.  There it was, the grass getting tall and slightly swaying, the birdbath in the middle (dry, no birds), the garage with green paint peeling, all bathed in sunlight filtered by a cloud-covered sky and he smiled, twice.  He remembered past times, laying on a lawn chair in that yard feeling the warmth of the sun, sometimes sweating, it was so hot.  Not today though, he felt too old and worn-out.  He shut the door and continued on the way, feeling a twinge of self-pity, but quickly dismissed that, remembering all his brothers and sisters in the human family who had it far worse than he.  This was being alone, like so many others in this world.


Suffering, pain, depression from feeling lonely, this is his lot and he accepts it.  So what?  Add a life to the list of all those gone.

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The World in which We Live

The world in which we live is big and yet small/

We know our place or do we?

We walk and rest and then we’re walking [yet] again/

Are we not lost?

Really, where are we from and [to] where are we going?

Who knows?

a smile and a frown, a laugh and a cry/

be calm, understand, stay, don’t die

(to be cont’d)


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1 Reason Not to Look Back

Jesus of Nazareth said, “one who puts hand to plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9.62).  A person working for God looks ahead to the goal of the mission, not behind which is further away from the goal.

Satchel Paige of Mobile (Ala.) said, “don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”  Do not be concerned with what is behind.  Something may be chasing you, but it shouldn’t distract you.  M.B. Roberts has a nice, concise biographical essay on Paige at

The lesson we’re being taught here is – look forward.  The future is an important place for us to go.


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