Saturday, December 30, 2017


I believe I'm surrounded by wonders great and small, all the time, wherever 
I am.

I understand that many of those miracles lie hidden to first glances.

I will open my spirit to wonder. My eyes, my ears, my heart will follow.

I will make time for awareness, curiosity and wonder.

I will turn off the television, put down the book and start looking, learning and living first-hand.

I will decide for myself what entertains me and, more importantly, what nourishes my soul.

I will notice and celebrate the power of presence.   

I will carefully examine the myth of certainty, and value learning more than knowing.

I will be more aware of the miracle of grace that resides around and within 
every person.

I will shine the light of my own spirit, and will give other people the chance to shine too.

I will try to experience everything as if it were for the first time.

I will approach each day with faith in Nature's instruction, and with gratitude for being Her lifelong pupil.

I will be patient, not just with Nature, but with myself, celebrating small steps in the right direction.

I will seize every opportunity to help a screen-bound child reconnect with Nature. 


Framing example only; frame not included in offer.
Print it out, frame it, or make it the background of your computer desktop.
Give a framed copy to someone you know who's also yearning to reclaim wonder in his/her life.

Thanks for taking the Reclaiming Wonder Pledge! Have a wonder-full day!

Friday, December 22, 2017


I wish all my visitors and loyal followers from all over the world—75 countries so far—the very best of this season. For us Christians, that means MERRY CHRISTMAS! (para mis hispanohablantes amigos, ¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!) For my Jewish friends, it's HAPPY HANUKKAH! For all of us here in the northern hemisphere, it's HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE! 

Whatever your celebration, may these days be kind to you, your families and your loved ones. May they bring you new awareness, wonder and gratitude!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Those of you who have my book, Under the Wild Ginger, may have read my how-to-be-in-the-moment tip number 48, Behold the Cream in Your Coffee.*  It celebrates the simplest of small delights, the way cream billows up from the bottom when poured into a clear glass mug of hot coffee.

Well, as of this morning, I’ve think I’ve reached a new zenith in my ascent of coffee’s small wonders: the layered latte. It’s reported in a Dec. 15, 2017 post on the blog Mental Floss.

While I’ve never even seen it on a coffee shop’s menu, the layered latte apparently is a real drink in which, instead of the steamed milk being poured into the hot espresso, the espresso is poured into a clear mug or glass of hot milk.

If poured at just the right rate and given a few minutes to sit undisturbed, the two substances should separate into these distinct layers, a neat banded gradient from mostly milk at the bottom to mostly coffee at the top.

Here’s how the New York Times has distilled the physics of the layered latte: “When the liquids try to mix, layered patterns form as gradients in temperature cause a portion of the liquid to heat up, become lighter and rise, while another, denser portion sinks. This gives rise to convection cells that trap mixtures of similar densities within layers.”

C’mon, there has got to be more to this than just that old high-school-physics precept “Heat rises; cold falls.” Here, because both liquids start out hot—and, according to the article, the layering sometimes lasts for hours—I have to believe the whole mugful starts and stays at pretty much the same temperature.

Then is it something about the relative densities of hot espresso and hot milk? And what explains why, instead of a uniform blending from light to dark, the concoction settles into these sharply defined layers.

So where do we find the answers? Any of my barista friends out there also happen to be physicists? Or perhaps chemists? Or maybe one of those big shots in the present administration in Washington could just make up something to explain this elegant little surprise of science. Nah...more likely, they’d just deny it; some jive about fake brews. (Sorry.)

* Is there anything so dark, yet so clear, as black coffee? And the smell...oh my, you start thinking of it in the middle of the night.
How could it get any better? Use a clear glass mug, add cream, and watch dusky thunderheads billow in a mahogany sky.
From UNDER THE WILD GINGER – A Simple Guide to the Wisdom of Wonder – Jeffrey D. Willius  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A HOLE IN TOMORROW – Seeing Right Through Mortality

You may have noticed the gradually increasing frequency of my posts touching on aging, death and dying. This is partly due to my perspective, which I can no longer pretend is anything but that of a senior citizen. It’s also inspired by my experiences as a hospice volunteer. (I spend a few hours every week with people whose days are numbered.)

Despite my long predisposition to the present moment, the older I get, the more often I seem to stray to thoughts of the ever-more-precious future. Like imagining how, when the time comes for me to face my own life’s end, I might do so with half as much grace as my patients do.

       In just the past couple of years, five of my 
       family members and friends have faced a 
       cancer diagnosis.

I know, I know…worrying about tomorrow is pointless. While it’s probably more useful than worrying about the past, either way there’s little any of us can do to affect the consequences of time.

But there’s tomorrow…and then there’s TOMORROW. For someone simply living out their last days or one facing a grave health crisis, the term could mean, literally, the next day; one might not dare look ahead much further.

But for those of us still fortunate enough to still gaze out on an indeterminate horizon, the view is quite different.

Yes, there’s still that sense—especially if gratitude is part of your daily spiritual practice—of each tomorrow being a precious gift, one you should appreciate as if it were your last. But even that self-imposed filter doesn’t keep those of us in reasonably good health from fully expecting another tomorrow after that…and another…and another...

How cruelly that expectation must change when one receives, say, a cancer diagnosis. These days, I find myself thinking about that all the time, because in just the past couple of years five of my family members and friends have faced that reality.
        It’s an opportunity to introduce ourselves 
        to our faith—or at least an aspect of that 
        faith we may never have been in the same 
        room with before.

Even as I’ve been writing this post, one of those loved ones dealing with cancer—a dear old friend—has experienced a dramatic change in his condition. Steve had been responding quite well to cutting-edge treatment which aimed to seek out and destroy cancer cells no matter where in his body they lurked.

But now, quite suddenly, the cancer has gained the upper hand throughout his body. There’s nothing left to do for him—at least in terms of cure-oriented medical treatment. He’s entered hospice, and doctors advise him and his family not to think in terms of months, but weeks…or maybe even days.

What a fickle friend hope can be. I can only imagine what he and his family must be going through, given that initial ebbing of the disease’s leaden horizon and then its abrupt rushing in and imminently crashing over them.


I guess this is one positive effect of death—a silver lining, if one thinks broadly enough—in the whole human scheme of things. It causes those left behind to confront the reality of our own mortality.

It’s also an opportunity to introduce ourselves to our faith—or at least an aspect of that faith we may never have been in the same room with before.

It’s that faith that renders the dreadful, absolute finality of death somewhat more forgiving. As if that barrier to yet another tomorrow becomes, rather than a dark, impenetrable, tombstone-granite wall, perhaps more like a fine-mesh screen which, while it certainly inhibits our free, physical movement from one dimension to the other, at least allows the free flow of air and sunshine and spirit between the two.

As death becomes an ever-more-frequent visitor to my aging circle of loved ones, I’m asking myself if my faith is up to the task. Can I, as with any other aspect of wonder, learn to be fully present with my mortality? Might I, if faced with a terminal diagnosis, be able somehow to see beyond—if not right through—death’s dark curtain?

Could you?