Auld Lang Syne

I like to start with a funny story. When we were in college, my friends and I decided to go backpacking in the Olympics for three days. As I recall, there were four of us, all guys. The last part of the drive to the parking at the trail-head was a long uphill stretch. The first day we hiked the twelve miles in, then spent one day looking around, and the last day we hiked the twelve miles out. We were really sore and tired when we reached the car. After we loaded everything in the car, it would not start. There was no one else around and we were deep in the forest. Nothing for miles. Fortunately the car was a stick shift, and it was not far to the start of the long, downhill stretch. Unfortunately it was slightly uphill to the downhill. It was my friend Ken’s family car, so he steered while the rest of us got out and pushed. You can imagine how exhausted we were pushing the car up hill to where it would start to roll. My father had a Service Station, and I worked there starting when I was ten years old. Our Service Station was on a nice long hill. If someone could not get their car started, we would make sure that they knew how to start it, then push the car out sending them down the hill. This had some advantages. There was plenty of hill and once they were on their way, it was all up to them. In case you don’t know, here are the steps to successfully starting a stick shift. You turn the ignition on (using the key), put it in second gear, press the clutch to the floor, and release the brake. You wait until it is rolling and then let out the clutch. The thing that people most often forget is that you have to have the ignition on. Anyway when we finally pushed the car to the top of the hill, we all got back in, Ken took off the brake and the car started to roll. When it was rolling, I expected Ken to let out the clutch. But he didn’t. I asked him if the key was on, he said “Yes.” Got it in second gear? “Yes.” So I said, “Let the clutch out!” But he didn’t. The car continued to roll, gaining speed but still he didn’t let the clutch out. Now the hill was long, and we were rolling fast, but still Ken did not let the clutch out. I started to get worried that we would reach the bottom of the hill. All of us started to yell at Ken, “Let the clutch out.” But he didn’t and we became more vocal. We were running out of hill! Finally, when we were very near the end of the hill, Ken let the clutch out and the car started. After things settled down, I asked Ken, “Why did you wait so long to let the clutch out.” He said, “Well, we are pretty low on gas.” We stopped at the first gas pump we came to.


I want to express my gratitude for being invited to speak and am honored that you are here. Thank you. Here is how I usually prepare a talk: I look at the seemingly unrelated things going on in my life and look for a pattern. I take my “Best Guess” at what is happening and what I might learn.


We just sang Auld Lang Syne. It’s a song I sing without thinking much about the words. Traditionally, it is sung to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. Auld Lang Syne was a poem written in Scots language by Robert Burns in 1788. It was first set to the tune we use in 1799. One reason we know it so well is that Guy Lombardo and his orchestra performed it on New Year's Eve starting in 1929 and continued playing it on radio and TV for almost fifty years. The words are a rhetorical question, “Is it right that old times be forgotten?” The answer is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships. Recently I watched the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The hero, George Bailey is saved from financial ruin by old friends. There is a dramatic scene at the end of the movie where his friends unexpectedly all show up, donate what money they have, and tell the good that George has done. As they gather around George, and the movie ends, they are singing Auld Lang Syne.


When I was young and sang Auld Lang Syne it was more a celebration of the New Year coming with all its promise and beauty. Now it is more of a goodbye. I tend to tear up and have a sad feeling for all the good times that are past, and the wonderful friends and loving family that are gone. Traditionally this is a time for us to pause and take stock of our lives. As a result, we make resolutions for the New Year. Changes that will improve our lives and move us toward our goals.


Making resolutions and keeping them can be a whole subject in in itself. One that can take over. I want to resist that temptation and instead focus on stopping and taking stock.


If I stop and really take stock. Really look. Really deeply cut to the core: Why am I here on Earth? What is my purpose? Some say that we come to Earth with a Mission. If so, what is my Mission? In the description of today’s talk, I promised a, “non-traditional take on the tradition of looking back as we move into the New Year.” This is it, To not just reflect on this year, but to reflect on my entire Life. And above all, to focus on the Spiritual.


Looking over my entire life, my Best Guess is that my purpose, my mission, is the Vision in my last talk. Here is that Vision:


Before I became a Mystic, I was an Engineer. I worked at the Shipyard in Bremerton. I was in a meeting to make an important decision. There were about ten of us seated in a circle in the Manager’s Office. Suddenly the room faded and everywhere there was a person, there was a light in their chest. I heard “This room, this building, these bodies, this Earth will all pass away, but this will remain.” Then the Vision faded and the room returned to normal. Looking around the circle, I realized that I was the only one who had seen or heard this Vision. Over time I have decided that this totally unexpected Vision is my spiritual work. That is, to become aware of The Light Within and to help others do the same.


Jesus says in the Course in Miracles “Nothing Real can be threatened.” If this is true, then The Light Within is Real.


I had this vision probably thirty-five years ago. And I have thought about it from time-to-time. So why concentrate on it now? Perhaps because I am feeling like the time we were coasting down the hill, waiting for Ken to let the clutch out. I am coasting in Life, nearing the end of my Hill. I want to let out the clutch and start the car before the hill runs out. I want to focus on my Mission.


For some time I have had a small wart on my toe next to my big toe. It is on the side and I don’t feel it. It is not at all uncomfortable. I would just notice it from time-to-time. It didn’t seem to get any bigger so I didn’t do anything. I did wonder if it was a plantar wart which I have learned can be cured with duct tape. One day I decided to give it a try, so I started keeping it covered with duck tape. Apparently the duct tape keeps the air away from the wart and it eventually dies. I have done this before and I know that it can work. However, I also know that the process takes time and persistence. I have been doing this for weeks and the wart is getting smaller. Will it go away? I don’t know. But my part is to persist.


I think that this is a lesson for me. I had the wart for a long time, but nothing happened until I consciously paid attention and took action. I have known about the Light Within for over 35 years. But not much has happened. I don’t think that The Light Within has changed. What has changed is my awareness.


A few days ago, I watched a movie on Netflix. The movie was The Next Three Days, released in 2010. Using ten as neutral, my intuition said that it was a thirty. That is, it was three times better for me to watch it. The movie is not the type I usually watch, so I was pretty sure that there was a spiritual message in it for me. The movie is about a man, played by Russell Crowe, whose wife is convicted of murder and put in prison for life. Crowe tries to get the conviction reversed but fails. So he decides to break his wife out of prison and escape to a different country. A complicating factor is that they have a young son. Crowe is a teacher and for me perfectly plays a nice guy that decides to fully commit to breaking his wife out. A key point in the film is when Crowe talks to a man who successfully broke out of prison seven times. Played by Liam Neeson, the man describes how to do it, how much Crowe will have to change, how little time he will have for key steps, and how unlikely it is that he will succeed. Neeson says that it is likely he will be killed. Neeson adds that if he is failing the best thing is to surrender, otherwise they will shoot him and anyone with him. When asked how he got caught, Neeson says he didn’t, he gave himself up because he couldn’t stand wondering when someone would break through the bedroom door and arrest him. It is a short and frightening conversation. Netflix uses it for the teaser. It is a thrilling action film with violence, killing, drugs, suicide, chase scenes, etc. and I had no clue why I needed to watch it, but I did. Then the next day I realized that it was because of a very brief scene where Crowe visits his wife in prison. His wife tells him that she did murder the victim. Crowe is unconvinced. He says that he knows her and that she didn’t do it, no matter what she says. He continues with his plan. This short scene is what I needed to see. Set against the daunting and seemly impossible task, Crowe follows his conviction. He knows his wife is innocent and continues his extreme commitment to break her out and escape.


I believe that this is the message for me. No matter how difficult it may seem, I need to focus on what I believe is my Mission. I need to recognize that I am coasting and it is time to let out the clutch.


In looking at my Spiritual Life, I remembered my greatest fear. That is, realizing that I was to do something, but not doing it. Fear is a good reason for taking extra caution, learning more, seeking help, etc. It is not a reason to not do something. Decades ago I decided not to make decisions based on fear.

Carole Glenn’s mother, June d’Estelle was our meditation teacher and mentor. She was really committed to her Spiritual Work. Her Spiritual Work is of great benefit to me. Even if I didn’t believe some of the things that she had to say. Over time I have come to realize that many of the things that I heard her say and dismissed as “Airy Fairy stuff,” I now believe and embrace.


One of the things that June said is that there is an energy shift between the old year and the new year that takes place around midnight. Apparently that is the reason that it is a good time of the year to make changes. When I have paid attention, I have felt this shift. So now is a good time to make a commitment.


Another thing June said was that Kay, my wife, was a way-shower. That is, Kay could do things that eventually we would experience or learn to do. This seemed to be true. Now, when I go to Martha and Mary, and I see Kay’s back from a distance, she is an old lady in a wheelchair. I remember who she was. One of the fastest readers in the World. Amazing, intelligent, animated and alive. It makes me sad, but I also realize that seeing her this way may be a message for me. I am nearing the bottom of my hill. Time to let out the clutch.


In our Course in Miracles class on Thursdays, we are reading a companion book in which Jesus says that time is an illusion and will not last forever. In fact at one point he says that “Time is the grand illusion.” I have a friend who said that they are tired of hearing how everything is an illusion. I can understand that. In fact, this talk seems a poor time to bring it up. However, Life is like a movie. We are in the theater in the midst of the film. Caught up in the story, drama, emotions, characters, etc. Our attention is riveted to the screen. We can’t put it on pause, we can’t turn away. We are trapped in the Illusion. We may not like someone pointing out that it is a movie. But it is still a movie.


Kay and I lived in Kingston for almost 39 years. We raised our three daughters, remodeled the house, built a barn, and were active in the community. Kay taught at local schools, two of our daughters work in Kingston High School. I sometimes wonder what we will be remembered for. Recently I was at the Grub Hut in Kingston and there was a man there in line with me that asked if I was local. And I said, Yes, I live in Poulsbo.” He said that he lived south of Kingston. I said, “We used to live south of Kingston on Tulin Rd.” He asked, “Do you know Don?” It turned out that the Don he mentioned bought our farm from us in 2010. I told him about this. Later I figured out, that in his mind, I was, “The man who sold Don his farm.” Everything ends. There is no forever in Life.


“This room, this building, these bodies, this Earth will all pass away, but this will remain.” So the Light Within is not part of the Illusion. In the New Year, I am going to focus on my Mission.


I like to wrap up my talks with a bottom line. Here are three things:

1. This New Year’s, look further back than just a year. Perhaps at your whole Life. And focus on the Spiritual.

2. Remember your Mission. if you don’t know it; take your Best Guess. Use the energy change of the New Year to move ahead on your Mission. Or on finding it.

3. Remember and seek the Light Within yourself and others.


Happy New Year!


Meditation: The didge that I feel has to do with Time, and the Bell.



Return to Past Events