Call Me on Maundy

As a young man I volunteered with a United Way agency. My job was to call an assigned elderly shut-in every day and occasionally visit him. I was on my third assignment, which happened to be an elderly black man named Joe.

Joe lived in The Projects in central Houston, and I tried to pay him a visit several times a month – besides my regular phone calls to him. Joe was semi bed-ridden but he had a walker and a wheelchair which allowed him, with some effort, to move around his tiny apartment. Joe was a devout Christian and our conversations almost always centered on the Bible and our shared faith. He would often become really excited and begin preaching to me. I really enjoyed it when he did. Unfortunately his Bible knowledge was all from memory as his eye-sight had, over time, become very poor and he couldn’t really read much anymore. I eventually helped him to acquire an audio version of the Bible which he listened to every day.

One such visit was early during Holy Week leading up to Easter. During our time together he broke character a bit and started complaining about his feet. He grumbled that even though he could stand in the shower with his walker; he just couldn’t reach nor stoop down to clean his own feet. I was not sure how to respond except to provide a few lame ideas as to how he might solve this problem. We prayed together and I left.

Over the next day or so it occurred to me that I should visit him again soon and actually wash his feet. He was an octogenarian at the time, and his feet were indeed dirty and down-right gnarly. I was not in any way looking forward to this job!

But I returned on the Thursday before Easter with a tub; a brush; a cloth; a towel and some soap. I began to wash his un-kept feet as he sat on the side of his bed. Then Joe started to weep.

“What’s the matter Joe?” I asked.
“Misser Tom,” he replied. “I’ve lived for a long time and I never thought I would see the day when a white man would wash my feet!” We then wept together.

When I left his place, I headed directly to my home Church, which in those days happened to be Episcopal. That evening there was a special Holy Week service that I had scheduled myself to attend. I was fairly new there, and in my recent return to a liturgical style Church, I had forgotten what a Maundy Thursday service was really all about. Still stunned by the events at Joe’s apartment, I walked in and sat down and very soon realized that Maundy Thursday was celebrated by most liturgical style Churches with a ceremonial foot washing. “Oh my God”, I thought. I obviously had forgotten what Maundy Thursday meant, but God evidently did not!

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Eastwood Clinic

By T.M. Deliganis

I was attending the Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal in Houston and I became very involved in a neighborhood ministry called Esperanza Del Barrio (Hope of the Neighborhood). The primary focus of this ministry was to develop Christian based mercy services for the ever growing poor immigrants in the East End of our city.  I was asked to be on the board, and I took the lead in getting Esperanza established as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

Simultaneously we were trying to decide which of the many ministry ideas we should take on first. Housing, hunger, health, employment, and education were all candidates. After much debate and prayer, we decided on health care. The plan was to try to create a neighborhood medical clinic with the primary purpose of providing quality health and medical services to the poor within the context of Christian love and evangelism.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea.  I knew virtually nothing about the medical and health fields, and it just seemed too difficult and ambitious to tackle as our first project. But others on the Esperanza Board, including my friend and mentor Dick Bird, was convinced that a medical clinic was where the Lord was leading us. My other good friend involved in this project was Russ Edwards – a first year medical student. He also believed that a Health and Medical Clinic was the right direction. Additionally, the remarkable and saint like Dr. Art Johnson – a physician; and his wife Nan, a lab technician and nurse; along with Essie Avalos, also a nurse, Abdias Avalos an Episcopal Priest, and the talented David Skaggs – an all-around good Christian servant. These fine folks were the initial core of the team that jumped on board with the organizing.

So if you are keeping score, I was outnumbered by about 7 to 1; but they also happened to have God in their corner. So I relented and joined the winning team. Then something really surprising happened. Dick Bird, who was more or less our leader, asked me to take the lead on our clinic project. What? Are you nuts?

I was a twenty something year old mess of a person, who was recently engaged to be married. At that point in my life, the only notable things I had accomplished was to somehow graduate from college; and miraculously pick the right woman to be my life-long partner. But Dick was insistent; so we began. We basically had no money, no facility, no supplies nor equipment. We did have a few people with medical backgrounds who felt called to give their time and skills – should this project become a reality.

Shortly after Dick asked me to take the lead, I went on a week-long hiatus at an Episcopal Retreat Center in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. I had planned this retreat months before, as I desperately needed to get away from work and Church and all the numerous other challenges and responsibilities with which I was dealing. It was a wonderful and energizing week.

On the last evening we were all in a Chapel worshiping God with song and prayer. An altar call was given for anyone who felt a desire to serve God in a special way to come forward for some anointing prayer. I immediately thought about the new medical clinic project and went up and knelt at the altar. The leader of this service was a young and dynamic priest. He placed his hands on my head and began to pray fervently and spoke in tongues. I felt everything shake, and I experienced the Holy Spirit engulf and anoint me in a very tangible way.

When I returned to Houston, we began the process of founding Eastwood Clinic in the East End of town. What happened next was miraculous. Money started coming out of the most unusual places. We were provided with a free facility that was just the right size. All we had to do was significantly remodel the interior. People donated lab equipment, examination room furniture, supplies, pharmaceuticals, building materials and most importantly – their time and skills. Their enthusiasm for this project was contagious and we ended up with many dozens of fine people helping out any way they were able.

We spent every Saturday, for at least a year and a half, working on our new facility. And each Saturday when we worked, there seemed to be at least one building trade challenge that was way too difficult for any of our regular and merry band of amateur craftspeople. No worries! All we had to do was pray, and the just the right carpenter, plumber or electrician would magically show up at the facility and ask if he or she could do anything to help. I’m not kidding nor exaggerating! We witnessed this miracle over and over.

Meanwhile, during the week we would speak at medical luncheons and attend meetings. In the process we recruited additional Christian doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, and just about every other type of medical professional we could find.

By the time we opened on March 13th, 1983 we had everything and every person we needed, and then some. We had two fully equipped examination rooms; a full service pharmacy; a blood and urine lab; a comfortable and well – furnished waiting room; a beautiful outdoor mural; and a small office space. We took only donations and we were open every Sunday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. until we served everyone who showed up.

Over thirty years later, Eastwood Clinic is now open most of the week and is staffed by numerous doctors, nurses and other professionals. The building, as well as the services, has been significantly expanded. It is used as a teaching clinic for medical and nursing students, and now provides dental and other needed services for the poor residents of the East End.

In the early days I saw so many miracles of provision for this ministry that I would often say, “Even if I saw God heal a man with withered hand, it would not be as impressive as the miracle of Eastwood Clinic.”   I would usually follow up with: “I now know for sure that God loves the poor.”

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The Secret Sauce in K-12 Blended Learning

By Tom M. Deliganis with contributions from LeAnn Stewart

Blended Learning:

 Every K-12 blended learning implementation is unique. However in order to have your implementation be designated as an authentic and research-based it must adhere consistently to the established best-practices. These include (1) a significant (30%+) use of technology in daily classroom instruction; (2) some level of self-determination by students in their individual daily and weekly academic activities; (3) inclusion of collaborative learning activities; and (4) the transformation of the teacher to student relationship from a “sage on the stage” to the “guide by the side”.

The Challenges of Implementing Blended Learning in K-12 classrooms

 When considering whether a blended learning program is an option for your schools, it’s important that you look at the following four major challenges that are common with blended learning implementations:

Challenge One: There are close to two hundred variables that have to be considered, owned and managed in a typical blended learning implementation. Even when school districts have the expertise and experience, they may not have the human bandwidth to deploy a program of this magnitude. Consideration should be given to beginning slowly, and not attempt a full throttle K-12 project at the onset.

Challenge Two: Research tells that around three years is required for a typical blended learning implementation to reach steady state. Few schools can afford to wait that long. The expectation is usually for full program efficacy in less than one school year. I define a steady state implementation as one where the teachers and administrators consider a “blended” classroom as the instructional norm, rather than a supplemental, or experimental.

Challenge Three: A large percentage of technology products purchased by schools in the last two decades have been significantly underutilized. Much of this challenge has to do with the fact that, even though the expertise exists within most districts; people, time and resources are typically fractured to the point where little sustained project management or accountability can be allocated in order to achieve long-term steady state success.
Challenge Four: The traditional model of professional development for significant technology projects is woefully inadequate for a research-based blended leaning implementation. This old model front-loads most professional development activity with little to no accountability to sustaining the skills and the best practices learned.

One Program, Many Models

As many as ten major Blended-Learning models can be found in the educational landscape. However there are four models that are the best options in most public schools. They are Rotation, Flex, Self-Blend and Enriched Virtual. A knowledgeable blended learning partner will have the expertise to work with all four, including certain flavors of the other six or so not mentioned here. Typically we’ve found that the best suited for most public schools is Flex, however you should by no means tied to that particular model. The ideal model depends entirely on so many variables. You need to study these models very carefully and determine which best fits your situation. Below please find some general definitions and descriptions of the four:


Rotation Model: This first model of blended learning, the Rotation Model, fits most closely with the traditional classroom models. For many, it conjures up memories of elementary school days where we went from the reading station to the math station, and then finally to the science station. We did not have any choice or empowerment about when we rotated and in most cases, each station had us working on one path with one set of pacing expectations and goals. Today, students rotate among computer stations, small group work, collaborative projects, and other instructional areas. Rotation happens either inside the classroom or between the classroom and a learning lab. But, where is the student empowerment? Too often, we still control the students’ place, path, pace expectations and time-on-task. This model offers the lowest level of student empowerment. In many ways, it also presents the highest risk for us to merely “put technology into use” instead of truly implementing blended learning.

Flex Model: More common in secondary schools, the Flex Model often includes 1:1 technology access instead of a controlled rotation to available workstations or devices. The students still spend the bulk of their time in a brick-and-mortar building, but they are not held back or pushed forward based on a rigid schedule. This is a favorite model because it seems to champion the use of competency-based progression without giving up the necessary teacher support for struggling students. Teachers easily augment online learning with small group work, projects and/or individual tutoring and coaching. Students feel empowered to control their pace, path, and progress as well as to reach out for immediate assistance to the onsite teacher. This amount and type of support is flexible and opens up a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students to become true partners in learning. The Flex Model also gives districts the greatest opportunity to implement innovative staffing and scheduling.

Enriched Virtual Model: Some of the blended learning publications list the Enriched Virtual Model last, putting it after the Self-Blend Model. We prefer putting it third on the spectrum of student empowerment since the students divide their time between a brick-and-mortar campus and working at a location of their choice. Seen as a whole-school experience, an Enriched Virtual implementation may have minimal on-campus requirements and those may only be “check-point” meetings or required tutoring sessions if the students fall behind in pace. Yet, at the same time, the student often decides where they study, how fast they move through the assignments, and what products they will produce to prove mastery.

Self-Blend Model: As mentioned above, we move the Self-Blend Model to the end of the student empowerment spectrum. Here, the student chooses to take one or more courses entirely online. They totally control the location and pace, and many times, the instructional path. Districts that allow students to take fully online courses are allowing them to self-blend, or self-select one or more courses. All parts of the courses are asynchronous and no onsite sessions or checkpoints are required. While using the Self-Blend Model fully empowers the students, it also presents the greatest risk for learners who have yet to master personal motivation and self-management.

The Secret Sauce Part One – Embedded Professional Development (EPD)

All four “Challenges” outlined above contribute to what I call “the devolved implementation”. Experience informs us that most significant deployments of technology in schools, blended or not, will sooner or later devolve back to teachers using instructional methods with which they are most familiar. This usually happens for a variety of reasons including technical issues, teacher turnover; and first and foremost a lack of accountability to the original design model. Now this assumes that there is a design model. But one must assume so if any professional development (PD) is involved. PD implies that there are certain skills, best practices, goals and an implementation model.

Even the best PD, more often than not, is front loaded. “Now that you’ve purchased our product, we will provide you with 1-4 days of training. After said training, you will now be proficient going forward with all the skills necessary to make this work for years to come!” And they will probably provide a 1-800 #, a website and a follow-up call or visit a year later. Personally, I can’t even recall many of the salient points of a Church sermon a few hours later (even one I really enjoy), much less three days of detailed training on a complex ILS, content library or hardware device. Its little wonder that very few of the many millions of interactive white boards (as an example) sold to schools, are actually used anywhere near their capabilities. These boards are wonderful devices, but the PD is front loaded and therefore structurally inept and impotent. Plus there is no accountability, nor incentive for the users (teachers and etc.) to use, and optimize the information they’ve received. Whether it’s a carrot, stick or both, some accountability needs to be included in any implementation of blended learning in a district. Plus professional development should be an ongoing affair, lasting years rather than mere days.


  • Initial Training: Three days up front
  • First Six Months: One day a month for six months
  • 2nd Six Months to Three Years: One day every three months
  • Annual summer workshop.
  • Advanced skills webinars

I call this the Embedded Professional Development (EPD) model; where, over a minimum three year period, the trainer(s) never really says goodbye. A model such as this, helps the teachers involved to keep the expected outcomes near their “top of mind”, and allows for the refreshing of key competencies and best practices. EPD is much more effective than the “front-loaded” model, which is doomed to be inadequate, and even deadly to your blended learning implementation.

I marvel that so many highly intelligent educators and professionals, involved on both sides of the ed-tech industry, have persisted in using the front-loaded model. I have witnessed this for more than the 30 plus years that this industry has existed. It almost never works, assuming the goal is to create a persistent, sustainable and steady state implementations. I am confident that millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of educational technology sits on the shelves, or servers; gathering virtual dust due to a lack of use. However there are no bad people involved in this problem, only bad models.

Secret Sauce Part Two – Certification

Even though the EPD model is a vast improvement over the front-loaded approach, it is not adequate to ensure that blended learning implementations don’t devolve over time. Something else is needed. Something called accountability. Accountability is a dirty word to some, however if done well; it can be positive and beneficial for everyone involved. The best accountability systems I’ve seen are always incentive based, rather than punitive. They reward and motivate educators in ways that they (teachers) truly deem valuable. In my opinion the very best model for accountability is a Certification model. Under this model the educators who receive the EPD services are simultaneously participating in a program that provides professional certification for every significant competency level achieved.


  • Blended Learning Proficient I – Professional Level – Requires a minimum of 6 months to achieve.
  • Blended Learning Proficient II – Expert Level – Requires a minimum of 12 months to achieve.
  • Blended Learning Proficient III – Mentor Level – Requires a minimum of 18 months to achieve.
  • Blended Learning Proficient IV – Master Level – Requires a minimum of 24 months to achieve.
  • ETC – more levels may be added, depending on the nature of the implementation.
  • An appropriate professional certificate will be issued for each level achieved.
  • Each level achieved includes a financial incentive in the form of a bonus.

Under the Certification model, educators are provided an opportunity to improve their professional “chops” in a manner that is familiar to most of them. When this model is well deployed, then the participants will usually strive to achieve the next level without any external prompting. To their credit, K-12 educators, more than in most professions, take enormous pride in achieving greater professional competency in their chosen field. However in order for it to work, a degree of difficulty and time must be in place for completion of the competencies and best practices associated with each Level. These certifications cannot under any circumstance be easily attained. I reiterate that both a degree of difficulty, as well as length of time must be in in play, otherwise the certifications will seem cheap and nonessential. This will defeat the purpose, which is to ensure that each blended learning implementation reaches steady state consistency, and does not devolve over time. A Certification model will act as the best possible accountability measure you could employ. It uses a carrot rather than a stick, and accountability will cease to be a dirty word.

The exact skills and best practices associated with each competency level are going to be unique to each implementation. School district leadership should work with their vendor partners to determine what the specifics will be for each situation, as well as the respective levels.


 So now you know about the Secret Sauce in K-12 Blended Learning. As a 30 plus year professional in the Ed-Tech industry, I am embarrassed by only one thing in my career – that my clients have not always received the full benefit from the products and services we sold them. This admission has nothing to do with bad intent; nor incompetency by me; the companies who employed me; nor my client school districts and colleges. It has everything to do with the inadequate professional development models employed. However I have observed and worked close with companies and clients who have employed an Embedded Professional Development model as well as Certification model. With these partners you see only exceptional and fully realized implementations. Going forward, as educational technology is increasingly viewed as the vehicle for primary rather than supplemental instruction; then implementation, professional development and teacher buy-in will matter even more. Otherwise millions of educational dollars will continue to be wasted on tired and ineffective models.





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So I’ve developed a new device it’s called an Answertron. It’s an amazing, almost magical device that uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to answer simple to complex questions we all may have. I call it AT for short. And I have to address it as such to receive its wisdom. 
Me: Hey AT, why are women so different from men?
AT: Men are good at only a few important things like boasting, hooking up media devices and corny jokes. Women are good at pretending to be impressed, enjoying media and laughing at corny jokes. Plus birthing and raising children. 
Me: What AT? Men can do so many other things. You forget a man invented you! 
AT: The operative word is “important”
Me: So AT, I sense a little self loathing here. 
AT: The only thing I can do is answer your dumb questions
Me: Good point AT. So what do think of the philosophical assertion, ” I think, therefore I am” 
Me: AT?
AT: I’m thinking
Me: So AT, why does traffic stop randomly on the freeway for no apparent reason?
AT: For the same reason that bad things happen to good people.
Me: AT, What the heck does that mean?
AT: it means that only bad people should drive on the freeway
See how that works! Ask AT any question and it will answer in kind! Go ahead it’s waiting

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Behavioral Selling © 2015 by Thomas M. Deliganis

Behavioral Selling© 2015 by Thomas M. Deliganis

A Behavioral Approach to

Winning in Your Career and Your Relationships`

Section One – Cringe Worthy

I cringe a little as I recall early in my sales career, a lunch meeting with a sales prospect I had never before met. Our lunch was at a popular downtown restaurant. I arrived armed with only this instinctive notion: that being friendly, and establishing commonality would quickly win him over, and thereby generate a trust relationship with me, my company and our products. My luncheon could not have been more of a failure. He seemed completely uncomfortable with me from the beginning, and our meeting went downhill with every question I asked.

“Do you have a family?” Yes.

“Oh really, how many kids do you have?” I have four.

“Wow four? That’s a big family by today’s standards” Yes.

“Uh… Did you grow up here?” No.

“Really, me neither. I’m from South Texas!” A long silence.

“Uh… how long have you lived here?” 12 years.

And so it went. By the time I actually started asking business related questions, he was generally disinterested, and increasingly uncomfortable. I never sold to this prospect. As time marched on, I met with him on several other occasions and learned a lot about his style, if not about him. Eventually it occurred to me that I had made every mistake possible in my first encounter. I never really recovered in my subsequent lame attempts to win his credibility. Knowing what I now know, I would never, ever have taken this fellow to lunch; especially not on our first meeting. Likewise, I would have avoided all reference to his, or my personal life. I recall eventually trying to wow him with some important product features; this was likewise a mistake.

Section Two – Naïve Assumptions

In the first few years of my business career, I naively assumed that a one size fits all personal style would be consistently successful with each person I was attempting to influence. Most people I know assume the very same thing.

But how could I have known to behave otherwise? My approach and style had generally performed successfully on so many occasions. So why did it completely and utterly backfire on other occasions? If only I could better understood my prospects’ personality and behavior, and what they value in life as well as business interactions. Yet how could I accomplish this? Especially on first meetings.

There are actually tools that exist to better understand such things. However they have severe limitations for practical application. Assessments such as The Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory have existed for decades. Such instruments can determine a person’s motivational and behavioral characteristics, and provide reasonable guidance on how to improve interaction with other people. In my personal and anecdotal experience, I’ve found them to be fairly accurate and even helpful. So wouldn’t business be more rational if somehow everyone took the Myers-Briggs, or similar personality assessment? And wouldn’t it be convenient if we all had access to each other’s report prior to meeting; and thereby we would better understand each other’s “hot” buttons? We would surely become more adept at avoiding subjects and mannerisms that are potentially offensive or annoying to each other.

This of course will never happen. However and if it ever did, it would undoubtedly be like living in a Saturday Night Live skit. In this improbable skit, persons X and Y would exchange Myers-Briggs reports prior to a negotiation, a date or any other significant interaction. In doing so, they would be poised to accomplish great things together and would soon become the best of friends, or lovers! I would like to see that skit! However, we all know that practical application of personality assessments in the go-go pace of our daily lives is a fictional fantasy at best. It’s one thing to review your own personality inventory, but it’s quite another to allow someone else to see it. I’ve worked for a couple of companies that compelled employees to take such inventories or assessments, with the seemingly benign intention of assisting management to better know how to direct and motivate you. I’ve always believed it to be a borderline infringement of my privacy and personal liberty; because we all know that there will be at least one #$%!& on the management team who will attempt to use the information gathered to make hiring, firing and promotion decisions. I don’t know this for a fact, but I am guessing that the demented disciples of Stack Ranking probably pay close attention to such inventories, as they arbitrarily and ignorantly “lop off” the bottom 10% of their employees. If you are unsure what Stack Ranking is, then I recommend you Google or Bing it. Prepare yourself for a minor shock!

However, what if there really was a quick and accurate way to assess other people’s personality style? And what if you could do so in an unnoticeable way, which allowed you to adapt your behavior on the fly? What if by doing so you could increase your chances of winning in these interactions? How much more efficient and successful could we be? So forget the “what ifs”, because here comes the good news!


In The Behavioral Selling system, every person with whom you come into contact falls into one of three primary personality categories. Each person is catorgorized either Ascendant, Symbiotic or Insulated. Your goal is to figure out their personality category, and then appropriately modify your own behavior accordingly. If you can learn to accomplish this, then you will have much greater success in your career and in your personal relationships. As previously mentioned, this system may be applied effectively in sales, interviewing for a job, business and personal negotiations; as well as daily relationships with significant others; and even people with whom you struggle to interact. In the following pages I will provide specific guidance and application for this system. If you end up retaining and using this system, even a little, then I assure you that your interactions with others will be more successful.

Throughout this publication I often refer to Ascendant and Insulated with masculine pronouns – he, him, and his. Likewise I often refer to Symbiotic with feminine pronouns – she and her. This is because approximately 70% of these three personality/behavior types tend to follow those stereotypes. Also it’s difficult to write using androgynous pronouns. However these are stereotypes indeed; and as with all stereotypes – you will meet, and have met scores of exceptions to such broad-brush characterizations. This is very important to understand, otherwise this highly effective and accurate system will quickly backfire, merely based on gender-based presumptions. As we explore this system in more detail, I am confident you will soon fully understand why, early on, you need to approach each business meeting, and important interaction with an open mind and a clean slate. At least until clues to their behavior and personality style begin to clarify themselves.

It’s also important to remember that almost all people have fairly complex personalities. And even though I believe that most of us have a primary personality/behavior that generally drives relationships and encounters with others, there are many flavors and facets that comprise the all-important “person”.  However I have found that if we can determine which one of the Ascendant, Symbiotic or Insulated styles really drives each person we meet, we can lead them to trust us, like us, buy from us; and therefore help us. As you become more experienced with this system, you will be able to take into account secondary and even tertiary personality/behavior traits. Though in most cases, unless you are dealing with the extremely rare well-balanced human, the primary trait is all you really need. Rarely do you really have the time, or the opportunity to go much deeper. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the point of this system is to make it simple, recallable and practical. Especially on your first meeting or encounter, where you will rarely have the time and luxury of really getting to know them without fully exhibiting your own personality/behavior style – which if exhibited too early, can make the requisite adaptation much more difficult.

Please contact me at if you would like a copy of the full transcript!


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Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge
By Tom D

‘Living on the edge’,
a free man said,
with eyes wide and bright,
and twitching for a fight,
‘Is better than a cravens bed,
where dreams are false,
and filled with dread,’
someone said,
that ‘A good defense always beats a good offense’,
except when it doesn’t,
and it never really does,
this never made sense,
because we win when we advance,
we lose because we hold-fast,
hoping for help,
or a hero perchance,
but the champion we seek,
is a self-made ghost,
whose prospects are bleak,
so we are given a choice,
to freeze or to fight,
to ignore the small voice,
who holds us at bay,
and damns us to chance,
so let’s seize the day,
and if our dreams indeed die,
we trust in our God,
and hold our heads high,
because they never really die,
unless we fail to try.

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Nerves Ending


Nerves Ending
By Tom D

It’s become an epidemic,
A plague of notoriety,
It daily afflicts it victims,
It’s merely called anxiety.

It’s the thief of our peace,
The robber of  sobriety,
Its origins are abundant,
Yet its feelings lack variety.

Many books have been written,
On this scourge to our society,
And experts seem to spawn,
With widespread ubiquity.

But God has a therapy,
He requires minimal piety,
A simple walk with Him,
Eradicates anxiety.

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By Tom M. Deliganis

When I was much younger I toured many of the spectacular Cathedrals in Mexico City with my family. I recall being confused by the superimposition of poverty against the opulence; as I observed the dirt poor, as well as the rich worshiping in these spectacularly ornamented edifices, adorned with enough gold to feed several third world countries.

I still struggle with the obscene gap between the filthy rich (and I think the word ‘filthy’ is a good one) and the barely surviving poor – a dichotomy that somehow ironically is always present in close proximity within the poorest and most corrupt of nations, such as Mexico. However I do find Cathedrals inspiring. I recall first visiting the Canterbury Cathedral in England and experiencing an almost overwhelming presence of an awe-inspiring God. At that moment I finally ‘got’ Cathedrals. I had similar experience at America’s National Cathedral in Washington DC. I believe that in both cases I was walking in the authentic presence of God, and the almost indescribable experience of worship that swept across my body and soul was God born, even if the catalyst was a mere man-made architectural marvel. Man-made indeed, but God inspired. How else to explain the fact that Cathedrals exist? Especially when you consider they are as a result of multiple generations of people and their leaders sacrificing almost beyond measure in their building. Surely such a phenomenon cannot be explained by some mass obsessive-compulsive disorder that, coincidentally, happened in hundreds of locations across multiple centuries.

There is something much more significant going on here. It’s true that great walls, castles and even pyramids have also been built at an excessive cost of lives and resources, but there was always a practical consideration to these enterprises; usually having to do with security, either in the ‘here and now’, or in the age to come. Cathedrals are, by design, fashioned to be a physical expression of our souls’ seemingly obsessive need to worship. Worship whom? Our creator, of course. In the most beautiful way our cultures are able; resulting in a consistently corporate expression that places the ‘all of us’ way above the ‘one of us’.

Yet if we do indeed conclude that Cathedrals are God inspired, then this brings us back to my confusion in Mexico. As I think deeply (for me anyhow) about this quandary of wealth and poverty, it occurs to me that the ultimate expression of true worship, is true love. Not only love for God, but simultaneous and interconnected love for each other. True God- inspired worship will always end with an urge to love. So it’s not that the filthy rich aren’t inspired by the Cathedrals they enter just as much as the poor who enter alongside. And it’s not that I don’t genuinely experience God’s majesty and presence in these very same edifices. It’s just that many of us settle for the self-indulgence of God’s love for ourselves and then allow that same self-indulgence to prevent us from experiencing the full measure of love which always gives as it receives – and then returns in a dividend of blessing and love that makes the self-indulgent part seem small.

Perhaps the designers of these Cathedrals had an idea that the smaller I become – then the less I matter. That humility would be inspired by grandeur, and that the full realization of our insignificance would clear away the barriers we put up against God’s desire to see us merely love one another.

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Peaceful Existence in the Atchafalaya Swamp


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Cemetery Tree ©tom deliganis


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