The Man at the Door
If your soul had a door
With yourself on the other side
Would you recognize who’s knocking?
Would you open wide?
Would you see a person, with whom you would spend a day,
Or only an intruder, you wish would go away?
Would you want yourself to be your guest?
In the stillness of life, when all is quiet and the day is at an end,
Is the person at the door a stranger or a friend?
Recently, I had the joy of playing Santa for about nine hundred kids, for a non-profit my wife and I helped found called Estamos Unidos de Pennsylvania which provides educational scholarships and leadership opportunities for the youth in our community who otherwise don’t have access to appropriate resources or funds. This is my fifteenth year playing Santa Claus.
The organization is totally volunteer-run. The annual Christmas party for the children, called La Fiesta de Niño, started as a sub sandwich sale in the hopes of feeding some people and giving toys away for those who needed a little Christmas cheer. Over the years the project grew beyond what we could ever imagine; there is now entertainment, community-service vendors, and over a thousand gifts are donated and given away to families and children.
La Fiesta de Niño is always the day that Christmas begins for me. It is a day to remember how fortunate I am to have been given so much through my life. I had a stable home, complete with storybook Christmas Eves, tree decorating and Christmas cookies. Toys and gifts abounded and the aroma of food fill every room in the house. I fondly remember those moments. When the kids look into my eyes with such awe, I realize that most of them never will have the Christmas experience I had growing up.
I am in a curious position, being the coroner of Dauphin County. December is busy for me; homicides, drug deaths and accidents always increase over the holidays. Each day I am reminded that as songs of joy and hope play over the radio, and grocery stores and department stores fill up with last minute shoppers, there are others out there just praying for another day of survival.
We must be aware and share the gift of love for those who have never had that storybook Christmas. It is when we give that we realize that this is the greatest gift of all—knowing that we are all brother and sisters.
Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
Over many decades, I have trained in the Okinawan form of karate called Isshin-Ryu. I have practiced other styles, but due to my esteemed teacher Robert Hanula, a retired State Police Captain, who I believe to be one of the best Isshin-Ryu instructors in the United States, I now solely practice this style.
There are many reasons for someone to practice the martial arts: health, spirituality and self-defense, to name a few. All Okinawan karate is based on kata. A kata is a preformed battle that teaches, movement, technique and works both sides of the body. Katas can also be done for health. They say that certain katas are good for certain organs of the body. I don’t know of any empirical studies but I can tell you that kata keeps me fit, limber and has brought me back from serious injuries.
Another reason for doing kata is that it gives you an awareness of your body. You can lapse into a state of mind the Japanese call “mushin” or “no mind.” The body flows and calms the spirit. I believe that you also acquire a peace even in times of stress or danger. You become more aware of the potential of danger and less likely to be involved in a dangerous situation because you are aware of your environment.
Finally, the most obvious reason for kata is self-defense. Physical violence is seldom a resolution to a situation but at times it is necessary. The kata in the video is an old bow kata. There is a certain beauty to bow kata and many things can take the place of a bow, for example, you can use a cane, a stick or a shovel. It is a kata for many possible environmental weapons and situations.
I dislike violence but in my study of violence I conclude that you must be aware of your environment and also the darker nature of man.
To be wise, ultimately, is to be safe.
Have a good and safe week.