Meeting the Ghost

willhWhen living in Japan there is one day that they believe that the spirits of the grave can roam about. People light lanterns to help them find their way home and give them some refreshments for their journey.

Do the spirits of the dead roam about? Some believe that they are the souls of those who cannot or will not go on to their next phase of existence. Perhaps they have some unfinished business that they are trying to finish as in the movie “Ghost”, whose spirit could not be released until his murderer was found.  They may have some information or comfort they need to give to their loved ones.  Perhaps their life ended so abruptly they don’t feel as though they got a chance to complete everything that needed to be finished.

I am rambling through the William Randolph Hearst’s castle. If castles have ghosts, this place surely must have one. Atop the summit of San Simeon, California I walk through this mad mix of jumbled architectural styles, I am trying to make sense of it all.

You have to admire Hearst’s incredible energy and imagination to build this palace but for what and why? What I see is an unattractive hodgepodge of pastiche* *(pas·tiche1. A dramatic, literary, or musical piece openly imitating the works of other artists, miscellany of artistic, etc. borrowings. Parody n.[ From Italian pasticcio]).

Aesthetically some say it is a total disaster. The place looks like a disused movie lot with elaborate stone carvings and classical statues overlooking this castle wannabe. Tourists come to gawk at the opulent extravagance and hear the sad story of a rich man who was really poor. This place is like the man who built it — the American dream turned bad.

Ah, here he is now. Maybe he can shed some light for us on some of these questions.

“Excuse me sir, I have come to do a story on you. Would you mind answering a few questions?“

“And what were you going to call your story? Headlines make or break a story. Take a headline from one of my papers for example – War with Spain? Sure! You have to grab your reader.”


“Well, I was going to call it “The Castle that Hate Built”.

“Isn’t that a bit judgmental? Come on, you could take a more charitable approach don’t you think? I’d like to be remembered for at least some of the good things that I did. You know, like starting Citizenship Day and sympathizing with the immigrants and the little guy and…and…“

“And? Yes, go on.”

“Well this place wasn’t a total waste. The state government is making a pretty profit from the 7,000 visitors who visit every day.”


“True, but you destroyed a lot of people to build it.”

“I’m sorry about that. Really, I am. I’ve had a lot of reconciliation to do over on this side. It’s taking me a lot longer to untangle the threads of my life than it took to tangle them in the first place.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I lived, I was one of the most hated and feared men of my generation. Now, it all seems so futile. I made up stories to defame professors, politicians. I even started wars just to sell newspapers.

“I made a fortune on feeding the fires of hate – I inflamed Americans against Spaniards, Americans against Japanese, Americans against Filipinos, Americans against Russians — All to boost circulation. Circulation was my “god” and I put it before everything else, “news” wasn’t important. People wanted to be entertained, not informed.

Building obsessed me. Someone said of me. ‘Money meant nothing to him, he was a builder.’ True, if I was after money, I wouldn’t have built this place. No, I was not primarily after money. In fact I was 3 billion dollars (in today’s value) in debt by 1929, and this place was only half built.  I was after power, and money was indispensable to get it. If I couldn’t be great myself, I would try to influence great men.

Well, they say a fool and his money are soon parted and that was the case with me. I was like the rich fool who had so much grain that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones. Then what happened to him? He died that night and he met his Maker. I had a few years to enjoy my castle, but actually, I didn’t enjoy it that much, I barely lived in it.”

“What would you say to the media today?”

“Just put down the facts, not the doctored up ones. Everyone has opinions, but keep those on the editorial page.”

“What are you up to nowadays?”

“Orson Wells and I are working on a new project.:

“Isn’t he the…?

“Yeah right, that’s the guy who made the Citizen Kane film about me that I tried to destroy. Well it’s part of the reconciliation process. Make your former enemies your friends – like that. So anyway, this interview is over. “

But, can I just ask you one more question?”

“I don’t think so, I reckon you have gone over your word count already. So, first class in journalism –know when to quit. OK? But let me say something to your readers, if I may.”

“Sure, fire away.”

“Build something that will last – in the hearts and souls of men. Only what you do in love for others will last. The rest is all vanity and the deceitfulness of riches.”


Ghost Stories

As All Hallows’ Eve is almost upon us, it is time forDSCF9117re3 a good ghost story , so here are two  a friend of mine told me.

A friend of ours wanted to build a Christian chapel on his land so people could pray there anytime they liked. He asked his father for permission but his father didn’t think it was a good idea. He felt that it might offend his Muslim neighbors.

Soon after that his father passed away. His sister called a few days later and said that she had an urgent message from his father. She had a dream and he told her to tell her brother that it was all right to build the chapel so he did.


We have a frDSCF8751reiend who is an archeologist whose name is Fatima. She was asked by the ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to check out a site for any historical artifacts before a house was built there. Time was running out because the owner had started digging a meter and a half down. Fatima had the feeling that she would find something as her eye caught a glimpse of something that seemed to indicate that there might have been a religious building there. She even saw a niche there.

In her dream a deceased loved one appeared to her and pointed to another particular site and told her to dig there. The next morning she started digging at that spot and uncovered a very large mosaic floor of an ancient church building. The project was fully recorded and measured drawn and photographed with the dept. of antiquities officially.

Alexander the Biggie and Donatenes

Continuing on the vein of yesterday’s post on seeking for those ‘hot’ ideas and getting them from the ‘source’, I’d like to share a classic illustration of the principle of our King of Kings desire to give is found in the story of Alexander the Great and his teacher.


Donatenes worked for the court of Alexander as a teacher. He taught philosophy to the young men of the court, but now that his pupils had grown up, he was out of a job. He had a large family to take care of and one of his biggest worries was how to put food on the table. One day Donatenes came home hungry and tired after looking for work all day. He found no job and when he came home, he found no food either – again.

He began to complain to his wife, “How do you expect me to have the energy to go out and look for work on a few old carrot sticks and a few pieces of dry bread that have to be shared with four hungry teen boys?”

“Well, do you expect food to appear magically on the table? Why don’t you find a more practical job– huh? A philosopher! What do they do, except while away the hours in contemplation and endless intellectual discussions that get nowhere? What a useless profession!”

“Useless? Not at all! Knowledge is truth. Truth is a lamp for our path though life. Without truth we would stumble in darkness. Why, I will prove to you how practical being a philosopher can be.”

“And how do you plan to do that?”

“I…I…I will find some money.”

“You’ve been searching for a job for months. No one wants to hire you.”

Donatenes answered, “I have been reading from the sacred writings of the prophet Jeremiah.”

His wife was disgusted, “What is worse than a philosopher? – A prophet! That’s what!”

“Let me read to you this verse,

 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

 “So what has this to do with putting food on the table?”

“This verse is talking about praying to God – and he will answer, right?”

“Right! And…”

Well, I was just thinking, Alexander is our king – and if we ask him for our needs he should answer. What’s wrong with asking? In fact the wisest philosopher who ever lived– who was a king himself wrote:

 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he wants to.” 

Donatenes continued, “Besides, if the king refuses our request, we can be no poorer.”


“I will go tomorrow and present my petition.”

The next day Donatenes was at the gate of the palace demanding an audience with Alexander. Remembering the old teacher and the help that he had been to his palace, he was let in.

 “What is it that you desire of me?” Alexander queried.

“O, great king, I must be honest with you, I am in great need of some financial aid. I can find no work and my family is in great want.”

“Is that all?” With this Alexander clapped his hands and summoned his treasurer.

“See to it that this man has all that he desires. Go with him now!”

The treasurer and Donatenes left Alexander’s presence bowing as they went. A little later, the treasurer appeared with ashen face clearly perturbed.

“This man, your Excellency has asked for an enormous sum.”

“How much did he ask for?”

“O king, live forever. He has asked for…” The treasurer seemed to choke on the words and they seemed hard to get out, “Twenty thousand pieces of gold, sir! I cannot pay out so much!”

“Why not? Do we not have as much?”

“Yes sir, but, but…”

“Speak not another word! Give him what he asks for,” replied the great conqueror; “he has treated me like a king in his asking, & I shall be like a king in my giving!”

Donatanes and his family never lacked again. His great faith had been richly rewarded. May we also possess such faith to believe that God can do more than we ask or think!

“Thou art coming to a King,

LARGE petitions with thee bring;

For His grace & power are such,

None can ever ask too much!”

Can getting ideas be as simple as – ‘ask and you will receive’? Yes and no – Getting ideas are the easier part – putting them into practice and seeing them become a reality is what takes faith, hope, and love.

Faith – faith to believe that the inspiration you got is solid, viable, worthwhile, a good one – that’s why it is important to test it first – you have to be sure that it is as it may be a long road to see it to fruition. Once you have found a good idea, you have to believe in it, for it will be challenged. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be molded and shaped to fit the need. Maybe, somebody else will add a missing piece. I have learned the hard way, that it’s best not to be too inflexible.

Screenwriter Jeffrey Katzenberg, wrote a now-famous and still relevant memo to Disney executives. It applies to just about any implementation of a new project.

“In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: the idea is king, If a movie begins with a great, original idea, chances are good it will be successful, even if it’s executed only marginally well. However, if a film begins with a flawed idea, it will almost certainly fail, even if it is made with “A” talent and marketed to the hilt.”

Hope – Why does bringing ideas to reality take hope? I was a bewildered about this as the word ‘hope’ has become somewhat of a ‘weak’ word as in “I hope it works out”. ‘Hope’ has become almost synonymous with ‘wish’. In the original Greek the word used is stronger – more like ‘expect’. Once you have committed to an idea, you have to expect that it will be done. When? It may take longer than you planned. It took about 50 years for C.S. Lewis and Tolkien’s books to become smash hits at the box office. But like cream, good ideas eventually rise to the top. Keeping the vision of what an idea will bring some day is vital to sustain over a long period of time. Not only do we need to begin with the end in mind – we also have to keep it in mind all along the way.

But the greatest of these is love. Love – what a big concept and yet, what a vital reason for all our endeavors! Loving God, loving others, loving ourselves – and loving what we do opens the door to let inspiration flow. O Lord, let it flow – for without a vision, we perish!

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Reservoir of Inspiration

Mt_Bold_Reservoir_DamThe Reservoir of Inspiration


Where do ideas come from? I was having my daily sauna/steam bath ritual when I struck up a conversation with a Bollywood music producer. He had been in the business a long time and knew what he was talking about. “Those that make it are those who look to divine inspiration, and those who don’t are soon left behind.”

Many scriptwriting gurus speak of stirring up or inviting the ‘muse’ to come. Many scientists have gotten breakthroughs by an insight gained from a dream or a vision, though they give it many names. Einstein conducted what he called ‘thought experiments’. In one, he imagined himself riding on a light beam, and the paradoxes he encountered on the way led him to develop his theory of relativity.

It’s a mystery where ideas and inspiration come from? Those who do get ideas and are honest will tell you that it is something they ‘received’. A few good word pictures that have been given are of a reservoir and the ‘receiver’ is a conduit to channel the water to a thirsty land. Another is of a library, where all the creative energy of the past and present is stored which we can access and utilize to apply to our need through the help of the librarians, commonly known as angels.

Dreams and visions – we probably all get them in moments of stillness. These inspirations just pop up in our “inbox” of our heart, mind, soul. Often they are a single image that has such a simplistic beauty that it packs big concepts in small packages – one picture says it all. You may brush this aside as mental clutter, or meditate on them to see if perhaps they are trying to speak to us. Some would say they are our subconscious trying to get through to our consciousness, while others would explain it simply as a divine message of guidance for our soul. Regardless of where you think they originated, you may find, like I have, that it pays to heed them. It’s best to record these as they may soon disappear into mist or be remembered only vaguely. Like a timid bird, they are easily shooed away.

I can tell an inspired message from clutter – the dirt from the diamonds, because they always have a certain tangible positive force to them –it feels like an actual wave of energy flowing through my body. I get excited as these revelations are so vivid. They encourage, guide, instruct, – maybe even warn, but whatever they do, they always do someone some good –starting with me. I would liken them to kisses from the Holy Spirit – and brother, you know when you have been kissed!

One excellent word picture of this is that God’s ideas are like a reservoir. These catch the rainwater on the rare days that it does fall and stores it for future use. Prayer creates a huge reservoir of God’s blessing. Picture a great lake. This is the reservoir of the power of prayer. It’s a moving, flowing lake, alive with the currents of God’s Spirit and the force of His power. It has rivers that flow into it and rivers that flow out from it. Imagine that each river that flows in or that flows out has a gate that releases blessings to us as needed.

So what does prayer have to do with getting fantastic ideas to work with? Everything – It is the seekers who find and the knockers who the door opens to; it is the askers who get the answers – That is what prayer is all about – asking for what you want and need. Oh, by the way, it helps to thank the giver for past answers before asking for something new.  The Japanese have this beautiful tradition of greeting someone with the phrase, ‘konaidawa, domo arigato” which means, thank you for last time.

There are giving prayers and there are receiving prayers. A giving prayer is the kind of prayer in which you pray for strength, help, supply, or anything to be given to another. These are like the rivers flowing into the reservoir.

A receiving prayer is when you ask to receive something for yourself–whether a specific need or a general request for more wisdom, faith, love, whatever. We need or want something and ask God for it. The answers to these receiving prayers are like the waters flowing out from the reservoir.

It may surprise some of us to learn that the Lord is always happy to hear these prayers for our needs as well as when we pray for others. Why? Because it shows Him that we need Him and His power.

How much flows into or out of our prayer reservoir is dependent on our fervency. A half-hearted prayer gets a half-hearted answer. A whole-hearted prayer gets a whole miracle filled answer.

Knowing that Heaven is trying to give us constructive ideas may come as a surprise to some. God loves to give to us more than we do to receive.

Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

                    -James 1:16,17

on our next post see the story of Alexander the Biggie and Donatenes

Being Fireworks

Mfireworksy daughter was really excited about a song that she heard by Katy Perry. When she heard it, she thought I would like it as an inspiration to ‘explode’ – which I interpreted to mean ‘give it all you got’. It gave me some insight into the important creative process. A process, I continue to learn from and benefit from in many ways. It is a good time here in India to share this as Diwali is approaching, which is the celebration of light over darkness – of good over evil.


Here are some kids enjoying Diwali celebrations with us.


by Katy Perry

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Scream but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time you’ll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through-ough-ough

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

– end of song

It reminds me of Jesus’ exhortations for us to put our light on a candlestick and not under a bushel that it may give light to all that are in the house.

I like word pictures because they help to focus on spiritual truths – physical manifestations of the spiritual. This is a common method in movies and story telling.

I thought to do some research into fireworks as I knew little about them. Perhaps I could get to a deeper level than the song intended.

Fireworks are usually used for celebrations. Our lives should be a celebration of life as well.

I saw some commonalities in lamps and fireworks. They both need fuel. It is those unique combination of chemicals that give the explosion its color and shape. It is the type of oil that is used that will give the fragrance or clarity of light. Out of the abundance of our hearts the mouth speaks and the pen writes and we act. Our output has a lot to do with our intake.

Fireworks and lamps both can be dangerous if not handled wisely. Yearly about 4 people die in the US and 9.000 are seriously injured from fireworks. People have to learn the skill of pyrotechnics before putting on firework displays. We have to learn the skill. When we do, we can explode with the music at just the right time with amazing effect.

On the flight home I picked up the inflight magazine and they had some good tips on becoming all we can be.

* Being fully aware of our strengths and weaknesses and developing needed areas to bring it to a higher level. What we do has a lot to do with our mindset as well as our actions. Understanding yourself is essential to reaching your unique potential.

* Strengthen ties and relationships with others. We can’t do it alone. What good is one lonely firework in the sky? Not very impressive. But put together in one show, the momentum builds until the ultimate ecstatic grand finale.

fireworks 2

So ‘baby’ keep exploding and lighting up to go boom,  boom BOOM!

To wrap this post up, here is another song that I always related to as well.


Words and Music: Michael Mountain

Verse 1:

That spark of inspiration

That lights that special fuse,

Of the bomb of great accomplishment,

Ignites the precious few.

Ordained by God’s Own power

Pent up within their souls,

They wait for perfect timing

To really let it blow.

Sometimes they wait a lifetime

Before that fateful hour,

To burst in a blaze of glory

And light the sky with showers.

They change the course of history,

Fulfilling God’s Own plan,

And echo through the ages

To inspire the heart of man.


Change the course of history,

Listen to the Lord,

Heavenly explosions,

Echo ’round the world.

Verse 2:

Job, in all his sufferings,

Was such a thunderbolt,

Encouraging countless millions

With his faith-inspired prose.

And Noah burst his bombshell

On the crest of the raging tides,

When the flood of God’s great judgment

Hurled a holocaust worldwide.

Abraham the faithful,

Hit the road and left his land

When he heard the Lord’s commandment,

Though he did not understand.

His faith began the battle

That will win the victory,

Through the Lord’s own fearless soldiers

Who fight for liberty.

[Repeat chorus]

Instrumental: ——

Verse 3:

The king and psalmist David

Was a ruddy homemade bomb,

When he smashed that burly giant

As he praised the Lord in song.

And Jesus blew the darkness

Back to Hell where it came from,

And He died to set us free

And blow us back to Kingdom come.

Now God is still exploding,

And His bombs are still around,

And like all His kings and prophets,

We can’t help but make a sound.

We’ll blow like Krakatoa

If the world tries to shut us up,

‘Cause we’re filled with God’s hot Spirit

And exploding with His Love.

[Chorus 2:

Change the course of history,

Listen to the Lord,

Heavenly explosions

Echo ’round the world!

Echo ’round the world! [Repeat]

[Around the world!] [Repeat]

happy diwali

Falling in Love with the Farmer’s Daughter


Just saw a documentary “on Dylan that gave me some insight into the creative process. When you hear how he got from zero to ten, it gives you hope that it can happen to you.  Here are a couple of points that stuck with me.

1. He had a ‘king/s’ someone/s who gave him his big break at Columbia Records.

2. He was unique, yet he first started by learning and performing the songs he loved.  He then eventually found his unique ‘voice’. He didn’t try to be unique, it came naturally.

3. He wasn’t afraid to take chances and try new things. He went a lot by his ‘intuition’ what felt right. He was a real ‘seeker’.

4. He knew when to go through an open door. When the door opened he was ready to go through. He was ‘in tune with his time’.

5. He visited Woody Guthrie (who passed away in 1967) and he felt he got his ‘anointing’ or was channeling his spirit. Interesting possibility, some say the departed are like a lending library to assist the living.  Some said it was like he was ‘possessed’. In any case, it seems that one generation has to pass the torch of vision on to the next generation – one candle lights the new one when it melts down to just the wick.

 “Are they (angels)  not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? ” – Hebrews 1:14 

I came across a good quote from Woody: 477px-Woody_Guthrie_NYWTS

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.

I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built.

I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.”[72]

– Guthrie on songwriting

Here is the preview from Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home:

Dylan is 72 and is making his 43rd album when he could be retiring. Who could say or sing it better than Dylan, “”I’m rollin’ slow, I’m doin’ all I know. Old, young, age don’t carry weight – it don’t matter in the end.”


In his story I am looking for connections – the whys and wherefores, hoping I can glean some tips to apply to my own struggle. One common thread from his and other stories I have heard was that they had a brilliant idea that they seized upon and passionately developed. What made them great was they appreciated what they had stumbled across. They knew the butterfly had landed and they caught it in their net. These ideas often came when they had put it aside and were just ‘chilling’ or when they had given up trying to find the solution. But the ideas and concepts didn’t come at random or without coaxing them. The great innovators knew what they wanted and could clearly state the problem. Often they hit a brick wall and nothing worked until the lights came on, often when they least expected it.

Bob Dylan, has had a tremendous influence on modern music from The Beatles till today. For those of you young’uns who don’t know Dylan, let Howard Sounes, one of his biographers, fill you in.

“There are giant figures in art who are sublimely good – Mozart, Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Shakespeare, Dickens. Dylan ranks alongside these artists as simply awesome.”

Perhaps you, like me, are wondering why he is considered with a raspy voice and ungainly appearance?

“He sings with such passion, feeling and conviction that you think this is my life, this is everyone’s life, this is what it is to be a human being.”

“The way he turns a lyric, it’s as if, to paraphrase Dylan himself, every word rings true and glows like burning coal, pouring off of every page as if it was written in his soul.”

I was driving in the car today and some of the lyrics came to me from one of his songs. It confirmed to me the importance of looking forward.


I put below the whole song, but some parts were more applicable to me than others. I read a bit about the background of this and other songs from this period and it was a major turning point in his life (he had several) where he had to start all over again so to speak. The application I got was we can be confident that we have the gifts we need to turn troubles or challenges into something good. We can’t fall or fail because we are in His hands and the law can’t touch us when we live the law of love which fulfills all the law and the prophets. The Egyptian ring is like our spiritual gifts – it makes room for us and sparkles before we speak – our ‘anointing’. The rest I have no idea, but it sounds cool. Maybe you can get something from that – or maybe its just for fun ’cause it sounds good, which poetry often does. It gives a feeling.

She Belongs to Me (Bob Dylan)

Hear Dylan sing it on YouTube:

She’s got everything she needs

She’s an artist, she don’t look back

bob_dylan1aShe’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of nighttime
And paint the daytime black.

You will start out standing
Proud to steal her anything she sees
You will start out standing
Proud to steal her anything she sees
But you will wind up peeking through her keyhole
Down upon your knees.

She never stumbles
She’s got no place to fall
She never stumbles
She’s got no place to fall
She’s nobody’s child
The Law can’t touch her at all.

She wears an Egyptian ring
That sparkles before she speaks
She wears an Egyptian ring
That sparkles before she speaks
She’s a hypnotist collector
You are a walking antique.

Bow down to her on Sunday
Salute her when her birthday comes
Bow down to her on Sunday
Salute her when her birthday comes
For Halloween buy her a trumpet
And for Christmas, give her a drum.

I passed this on to a friend of mine who was going through a difficult crisis in his life. Here are excerpts of his reply:

Dear Peter,

Thanks. I love Dylan. My IPod is full of his music, one of my great joys has been to rediscover this wonderful artist’s music and words. That is the wonderful thing about art, that it ultimately is not backward-looking and one of the reasons it has been such a comfort to me when my world fell apart.

The third verse is where I came to yesterday, not stumbling because I’m already down. We can’t fall when we’re down and crying out to God. I did that yesterday, feeling very guilty about all the ways I had failed my kids, myself, others, and most of all God. And the Lord pulled me through once more since the enemy can’t touch us when we are on our knees before God. The Law has been nullified.

I won’t go so far as to say I live the Law of Love and fulfill all the law and the prophets. I don’t think anyone but Jesus has ever done that. That’s only the ideal, and this is one of the things I came to realize, ‘Right, if we live totally in love, there is no law against what we do,’ but we are weak human beings who fail, without exception, and we will make decisions that are not in love, but when we rely completely on God’s love and His mercy and we keep coming back to Him for His forgiveness, He will make things right.

The ring, the anointing, very true. I have learned, also with some degree of pain, that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Some of the reference letters that people have written me lately brought me to tears and were very encouraging but also humbling, knowing that they were talking about someone who has done some awful, unloving things, things that make me physically cringe when I think of them, and yet they said they had learned lessons from their contact with me.

This is encouraging and I appreciate it, Peter.Bob-Dylan-1965

Thanks a lot.

A friend.

Hi Friend,

Glad it was a blessing in some small way. Like I say, it just came, so I thought it might be useful. Whether we have lived the law of love or not, we can always start right now, or do it more. In any case, I think the message is the Lord loves you a lot.

To get back to my premise and the reason I am talking about Dylan is this:

When Dylan became famous it took its toll on him. He was taking too many drugs and was surrounded by ‘lunatics’ who were also taking too many drugs. He was skinny from insomnia and pills, his nails were yellow from incessant smoking. His skin was a ghostly gray.  He was sick of fame and the media and the hype the expectations of his fans and his own phoniness. It all came tumbling down when he got food poisoning while on a brief vacation in Portugal. This put him up in the hospital for a week, giving him a rare chance to reflect. He described his life leading up to that time:

“I realized I was very drained. I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play. I was singing words I didn’t really want to sing. It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much the dig you if you don’t dig yourself.”

He had no plan for the future and was trapped in the image people had made of his past. When Dylan read about himself in the paper he remarked, “God, I’m glad I’m not me. I’m not that.”

It was then that he told his music manager he was quitting the music business. He was finished with singing and songwriting and going to retire to a tiny cabin in upstate New York in the town of Woodstock.

True to his word when he got home. He hopped on his Triumph motorcycle and drove off to his reclusive cabin in the hopes of finding some peace of mind. He was finished with the whole music scene and didn’t even bring his guitar.

In his cabin he was alone and with no obligations. He had told his manager that he was going to write a novel but there were no expectations – only an empty notebook. After a few days of being fed by the serenity and quiet, a strange and significant event happened – something ‘serendipitous’. He described it with some difficulty in this way: “It was just this sense that I had something to say. For several hours I wrote non-stop what came to me.  I found myself writing this song, this story, this long piece of vomit, twenty pages long. I’d never written anything like that before and it suddenly came to me that this is what I should do.

It was (and is) like a ghost was writing that song. It gives and it goes away. You don’t know what it means but you just have to trust the ghost.”

When Dylan says vomit I think he means that his soul was sick and all that poison had to come out – he had to get empty – just like he had to get rid of that bad food that poisoned him in Portugal that started him on his quest.

Dylan was excited and became passionate once more that he had something to say. It saved his career and he is still in the flow of composing and performing today. He felt the excitement of a divine insight the new thrill that:  “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” The following week, he cut an acetate at Columbia records after just 4 takes. Those 6 minutes of raw music revolutionized rock ‘n’ roll. Bruce Springsteen describes the effect it had on him when he first heard it: “It was one of the most important moments of my life.” John Lennon was in awe of the achievement.

The song he wrote was Like a Rolling Stone:

You hear the original on YouTube:

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but know you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you’d better take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?

So what does Dylan have to do with serendipity and us?

Sure, we have problems a plenty – every creative journey does. We get mighty frustrated because the solution looks nowhere in sight. We’ve done all we could to remedy the problem or find a solution but –  no go no show.  Game over begins to flash in our minds. Or is it?

Could it be that being stumped is part of the creative process? We have to realize that we just can’t do it and we need the help of a ‘ghost’ pronto. Could it be that we need to wrestle with the angel until dawn (Gen.32)  sometimes and realize that the solution is beyond our reach?

Often, it is only after we have packed our bags and moved out to our ‘cabin in Woodstock’ – when we have given up, after we stopped searching frantically for the answer that the answer comes. It has happened to me so many times that this space cannot contain it.


The cool thing is that when the answer comes, it often comes in a shocking completeness. Suddenly, the problem that was once insurmountable has become incredibly obvious if not still somewhat mysterious. The answer is so simple we wonder why we didn’t think of it before.

Simplicity is another subject in itself that I would love to study, but in these studies of innovative insight there is a common thread: The first stage is the ‘impasse’. Before there is a breakthrough there has to be a blockage – and often a big one. Perhaps, that is why Jesus said, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you will say to this mountain remove and it will remove hence.

(Mt. 17:20 If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.)

Before Dylan could write a song which some would call a work of ‘genius’ he had to truly believe he had nothing left to say.

The next stage is the one we like most to talk about – when the lights go on. When it comes there is a certainty that this is significant. We know will rock our world.  I call it ‘feeling the tingle’.

This is the wonderful mystery of serendipity and our search for meaning and purpose. The struggle is not something to hate but something to look forward to for we know the insight is soon to be delivered by ‘the ghost’.

May your message bearer be a Holy ‘Ghost’ for you- Welcome it when it arrives and like Abraham of old (Genesis 18) – offer it some bread, a comfy seat, and a drink. “Would you like your coffee with or without milk? One lump or two?”

And even if you don’t find that ‘needle in the haystack’ may you find the ‘farmer’s daughter’ and fall in love with serendipity.

Conversation Snatchers

break room
Overhearing a snatch of conversation can trigger a story idea. My brother told me:
“I overheard in the break room: “When I was young I wanted to change the world. Now, I’m just happy if I can find a decent parking spot.” —- Alot of folks lose their fire; don’t be one of them!”
This could the beginning of a good story. It would sure be relevant. The story is how he is ‘forced’ into a change the world scenario by some catalyst. Maybe his car is stolen which causes him to look for it and finds more than just his car. This is when the ‘what if’ mechanism of every good imagination starts to kick in. We have the set up, now we just need to work in the pay off. We know the need and desire of our protagonist. How does he get it? Or we want to see how hard he wants it and even if he doesn’t get it, that he gave it a good shot and maybe got something else in the bargain – maybe he was the one that changed most of all. Would anyone like to venture a scenario?
Brak room