Believing In Santa



When I first told my children about Santa Claus, of course I knew there was no actual human being I was talking about. But I told my children he was real and would reward them for being good.

I didn’t care how they envisioned Santa, for there are so many variations of his image, all so innocent in spirit, lighthearted and loving. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care how they imagined he spent his time at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer. It didn’t matter.

We all understood that Santa was real in a different way than our friends and neighbors were real. He was real in spirit, and so we could imagine all sorts of things about Santa and even read conflicting ideas about his life and accept them all without difficulty. After all, nobody really knew for sure.

The specific details of Santa’s existence were not important. It was the underlying truth, that there are larger reasons for good behavior, reasons that could last for a year or even longer. Santa was a power for goodness in the world who would bless you for your honest heart and punish those who were cruel and deceptive.

As a grownup, I replaced the idea of Santa with knowledge. I knew that honesty, no matter how unrecognized it may be among friends and family, fills your life with joy, the kind of joy that is free from shame and guilt. I also knew that those who are dishonest and mean, no matter how long their actions may go undetected, are immediately punished for their sins because of who they become. They have lost the heart of an innocent child.

Heaven and hell are here, and those who are evil live in a hell of their own making, the hell of their own existence, no matter how long they avoid punishment from others.

In this dangerous and unpredictable world there are so many good people who are so unjustly punished by life, by disease, natural disaster, political oppression or just everyday happenstance. Earth is a place where all things are possible, both good and bad. It has something to do with free will. But if we struggle against adversity with an honest heart, we will find higher ground.

So my children grew up believing in Santa, even though they did not keep him firmly in mind throughout the year. But they grew up believing that striving to be honest and good was the right way to live. And even though some of the children they knew did not believe in Santa, they did not fight with them. Some believed, some didn’t. It didn’t matter.

Most of the children who believed in Santa needed no proof. They accepted Santa as a matter of faith, buttressed by the occasional Christmas morning miracle of the missing cookies and nearly empty glass of milk. When my children began to seriously question the existence of Santa, I took them to an old stone church and we sat in a beautiful, vine-encrusted alcove and I explained that Santa was more than just one single person.

I told them Santa was the spirit of giving that lives in all of us who find joy in bringing happiness to others. I told them every department store Santa who gave joy to little children was filled with the spirit of Santa. I told them every parent who wrapped up a special gift with a card that said, “Love to you, from Santa!” was inspired by the spirit of Santa. I told them Santa was more magic than they imagined, that instead of being just one person, Santa was the spirit of kindness and love that filled the hearts of millions, especially at Christmas, and that we should keep his spirit alive every day of the year.

I told them that as we grow up, many of us replace the idea of Santa with the idea of God.

I told them the best parts of all religions were filled with this spirit, and that this is what so many people mean by the word God, that God is a force for honesty, kindness and love in the world. I told them it does not matter how we picture God or how we define God. As long as we fill our hearts with love and charity, then we are doing the work of God here on Earth.

I told them words and pictures are what we use to help us understand the spirit of Santa, the spirit of God, but the words and pictures are not what’s important. It is the meaning behind the words and pictures, the inspiration that fills each heart.

We are all imperfect, we all make mistakes and we all have times in our lives when we are so certain about things that we become blind to our errors. To fight each other over ideas about God is like trying to prove whose idea of Santa is the real idea. To fight each other over ideas of God is to be so certain that we have become blind to our own imperfection and capacity for error.

I told them some people forget that these stories are about meanings, not details. They are intended to open our hearts and help direct the course of our lives. It’s the message that's important, and what it says to each of us.

I told them to respect the religions of all cultures, that whatever ideas of God people believe in, if these ideas open their hearts and lead them toward honesty, compassion and love, then they are on the right path – all of them.

The details are not what’s important. We all speak different languages and have different ways of describing and understanding things. It’s the essence from which all explanations come that is important. That’s what faith is for, to keep the connection strong between ourselves and God because words are not enough.

We all have to start somewhere. Some of us start with Santa. The important thing is to realize that spiritual growth is like any other kind of growth – it requires change. The lessons we learn as children are for children. The lessons we learn at the beginning of our spiritual journeys are for beginnings. To grow a larger soul, we must not get stuck. We must not stop. We must keep going.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.


1 Corinthians 13:11


~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Russ Allison Loar: Christopher & Joshua Loar with Santa
© All Rights Reserved

# 261:

The time an artist spends on being an artist is time finally free from the tyranny of the thoughts of others.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The End























There was a blinding surge of light.

I didn’t even have time to pray.




~ Text & artwork by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Take These Roads, Please!
















Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And glad that I could travel both
And be two travelers
Because I’m schizophrenic.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And glad that I could travel both
And be two travelers
Because I’m schizophrenic.



~ Russ Allison Loar
Apologies to Robert Frost

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# 259:

If death is just a natural part of aging
then I don’t want to grow up.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




It's Been A Long Struggle


Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide

~ June 26, 2015



































~ Click here for the story on the L.A. Times website ~ by Russ Allison Loar ~ 8-5-1996
© All Rights Reserved

# 257:

The constant of this universe
is the eternal now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Meeting Slated
















The Inland Valley chapter of the Society For Clear Thinking will hold an all-day workshop on “How To Make Life Simple” from 10:20 a.m. to 5:47 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at an undisclosed location.

New members are required to attend an orientation session at 7:48 a.m., in the Thoreau Room of the Simple Gifts Meeting Hall at the Southern California College of Agronomy and Moral Certainty.

After the orientation, exit on Walden Avenue South, past Civil Disobedience Drive, then turn west on Emerson Road and make a U-turn at the third intersection past the green/black student dormitories (If you see the black/green student dormitories you’ve gone too far!), bearing to the right onto Harpers Ferry Way to Parking Lot 81, Section 26 (southeastern quadrant), next to the campus greenhouse.

Walk northeast on Campus Loop toward the Transcendental Arts Building, past the Hell No We Won’t Go food court, turning right at the Gandhi memorial bird bath. Walk straight ahead until you see the second unmarked bus stop and wait for bus No. 331, or 28-A if after 9:15 a.m., or any bus between H-9Q and 12 if after 9:33 a.m.

Exit the bus at Tolstoy Street and walk north on Tolstoy, past the King Cotton Laundromat (on the left) to the Thrifty Chick fried chicken restaurant (on the fourth, north-south corner of the traffic hexagon). Enter Thrifty Chick and say: “Sir Larry has come to collect the poll tax,” if the man at the counter is wearing a hat or an eye patch, or “The goslings weep for their mother” if there is another man without a hat and/or an eye patch, or a woman (mature, no eye patch), behind the counter.

You will be led to the rear of the shop and put into the cargo area of the Thrifty Chick delivery van whose driver will blindfold you and take you to my house where I will then drive you to the meeting. The workshop fee is $20 (stamps).





~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 248:

I’m trying to increase
the escape velocity
of my soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Newer Colossus



















Don’t give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
I extinguish my lamp beside the golden door.
Go away.
We’re full.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 233:

Heaven is where you get back
everything good that you lost.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Fly
















H ere,
In this beautiful world,
A fly is trapped in my house.

Trapped.

It's buzzing madly against the window glass,
Certain there must be an opening,
Beckoned by the light of the outside world,
The outside world,
Just a fraction of an inch away,
An impenetrable fraction of an inch.

Here,
In this beautiful world,
Where all things are possible,
This Garden of Eden where life explodes,
Where love and hate contend,
Where joy, real joy is actually possible,
A fly is trapped in my window.

I get a clear plastic cup
Reserved for such rescues
And capture the exhausted creature,
Gently sliding a square of cardboard beneath
To prevent escape.

Here,
In this dangerous world,
Where evil survives and babies die,
A fly was trapped in my house,
And I opened the door
And I let it go.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Artwork by Chris Ezelle aka Boogey Man
© All Rights Reserved




Kids Need Discipline!



















"The school board Tuesday night unanimously approved
the death penalty for dress code violations."





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Paul and Lora Guajardos
© All Rights Reserved

# 267:

You can't put a website on a bookshelf.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 271:

The older I get, the more clearly I see
the artifice of so many human endeavors.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




One Small Candle




When we decide to love,
To fall in love,
We luxuriate in our love,
Our precise, exquisite love,
Denied to so many.

We light one small candle
In a dark room,
Believing the whole wide world
Is ablaze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Christopher Andrew Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 45:

A prayer speaks to the one who prays.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Living In A Tree


























I f the world were filled with people like me,
I’d likely be living up in a tree.

~ Words, photograph and rat by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 100:

So many writers with nothing to say,
who nevertheless say it very well.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 31:

Listen to your imagination.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Tombstones

When I was eight I dreamed I was standing outside my school on the grass with my classmates, waiting for my mother to pick me up. The boys and girls around me began to sink silently into the ground. Where each had stood, a tombstone rose. I was alone, surrounded by tombstones.

Now that I am older, the tombstones are real.
© All Rights Reserved

# 245:

Time is born of a singularity,
tied to the temporal “before and after.”
The cosmological constant is the eternal “now.”



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 30:

If you wish to bring joy and love to others,
you must be full of joy and love.
You cannot give what you do not possess.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




No Regrets
















The butterfly does not miss being a caterpillar.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photograph by Kathy Hardy
© All Rights Reserved

# 17:

Question everything
and perpetuate what is good.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Of This World



















We are not in this world. We are of this world.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
Artwork by Julie A. King ~ website?
© All Rights Reserved

# 82:

Consider how your vision of the world
is created by your emotions.

Then, set your emotions aside
and take another look.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Peter Pantheism



I am a Peter Pantheist.

I have a childlike belief that everything is a component of God.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 93:

People want the security of knowing
and so spend their lives
cementing their beliefs into place,
constructing the impenetrable wall of self.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Pretense




















What you pretend to know,
 closes your eyes to the truth.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Painting "Futile Regret" by Roberto Gonzalez Fernandez
© All Rights Reserved

# 239:

I cannot prove angels exist.
It would hurt their feelings if I tried.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 207:

Eternity will solve everything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





I've Been Busy!


Brian Williams and I were recently embedded in Afghanistan but we got separated from our military escort and were lost for a week at the Kandahar International Airport, living on vending machine candy and coffee.

Then, in the middle of the night, the ghost of Robert Frost suddenly appeared on a luggage carousel, enshrouded in a glowing blue-white mist. He spoke to us:

"Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though," pointing toward the northeast quadrant of the airport. At first I had no idea what this meant, but he kept repeating the phrase in a louder and louder voice: "His house is in the village though," until at last, almost shouting he said:


"HIS HOUSE IS IN THE VILLAGE YOU DUMMY!"

This final outburst awakened Brian and between the two of us we realized Frost was directing us to a part of the airport that would facilitate our escape.

By early morning we'd made our way northeast where we finally encountered the ticket counter. We were a bit embarrassed that we hadn't thought of this before, but wrote it off to battle fatigue. Brian tried to charge our tickets on his NBC Visa card, but for some reason his account had been closed, and so I sprung for the airfare. At least they gave me an Auto Club discount.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 37:

A saint is seldom treated fairly.
It’s part of the job description.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Blackjack




Poor old Blackjack,
Battered with one eye swollen shut,
He comes to my back door and cries for food
But he hurts too much to eat.

He cries to bring me out,
To hear the sympathetic sound of my voice,
To feel the rush of warm air from the open door
Against the stiff chill of early morning.

He comes close to the open door
But will not go in.
Some distant memory of being a kitten,
A house cat,
Pulls him to this place of food,
This place of sanctuary from the larger world,
The more dangerous world
He is now too wild to escape.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Russ Allison Loar

# 14:

What you pretend to know,
closes your eyes to the truth.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




A Lie






I was playing with a baseball I’d found in my front yard when two older boys walked up to me.

One of them said, “That’s my baseball. I hit it over here all the way from the park.”

The park was about three miles away, but I was seven years old and I believed him. I gave him the baseball. The two boys walked away laughing.

Lying in bed that night, thinking over the events of the day, I realized those boys were laughing because they had told me a lie and I believed them. They were laughing at me.

I decided I wouldn't be so stupid next time. Despite my decision, so many years later, I’m still surprised how skillfully people can lie.








~ By Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 54:

We are knee-deep in mousetraps.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 28:

To be in heaven
and not know you are in heaven
is one of life’s great tragedies.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Sainthood


















The road to sainthood
is paved with sin.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by ?
© All Rights Reserved

# 179:

Criticism may be necessary,
but it’s more profound to construct
than criticize.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 111:

I am skeptical of any advice
that contains the words: “You must . . .”



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 164:

There is no greater gift
than the gift of a new day,
along with the health, sanity
and freedom to make use of it.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Lights




















Without love,
Some kind,
Any kind of crazy love,
The lights are out
All over town.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photograph by Julie A. King
© All Rights Reserved

# 67:

If you want help from the angels,
you must listen very carefully,
for they speak softer than sound.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 23:

Too much work strips everyday life
of love and serendipitous happenstance,
oh yeah!



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Poetry























I Remove The Stone

In these later years I sometimes despair
When thought returns to unburdened times,
When moist-eyed remembrance,
Sorted from care,
Makes longing for such pleasant fiction
A stone in the heart.

Shamed by my childish discontent,
My sophisticated selfishness,
I hear my breathing,
I see this world,
I remove the stone.

~~~

I n poetry, the writing is the thing that comes last.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




My Revelation




















For me, this existence, "This," is eternity.

The kingdom of heaven, and hell, and everything else in-between is at hand. Right here. Right now.

Whatever is past and whatever may come, This moment is all about how far along I am as an eternal soul, an eternal being, an eternal something or another, names and labels being limited as they are.

This is my revelation.

So many of us believe heaven is somewhere else, a reward for a life well-spent, our ethereal home where there will be no more strife and struggle.

But what if we died and awoke in heaven and it was a place just like Earth, where we inhabited physical bodies and had to put our spirituality to the test in a physical world of human interaction and social evolution? We might very well doubt we had entered the kingdom of God.

For me, entering the kingdom of God is about awakening, seeing what has always been here. And for me, hell is also here. Wherever there is the possibility of heaven, there is the possibility of hell. It has something to do with free will.

This is my revelation.

I do not know where I will be after my body dies. Perhaps “I” and “where” will no longer apply. Nevertheless, today, I am in heaven. I cannot imagine a more heavenly miracle than the persistence of life, hope and love on this planet, here among the uninhabitable planets of our solar system. I cannot imagine a more heavenly miracle than the birth of a child.

Here in heaven, you put a small seed into the ground and it comes back flowers.




~ By Russ Allison Loar
~ Photograph by Maxine (aka: maxxximpact)
© All Rights Reserved

# 35:

Home is a place in the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 96:

God is another name for the will to live.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




On Moonlit Freeway













On moonlit freeway
I see the weariness in your eyes,
A few stray strands of hair
Around your face
Illuminated against the black
Inside your car.

It is late.

We who work overtime are driving home
In silent, anonymous autonomy.
Though I’ve seen you a thousand times before
In full fluorescent sun,
Numbed by office decor and decorum,
Tonight in my rearview mirror
I see the phosphorescence of your truer self,
Your innocence.

It is the innocence of the oppressed
Who, after overtime is through,
Have nothing disingenuous left.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




# 78:

Most artists are starving,
if not for money,
if not for love,
if not for transcendence,
then at least for attention.

It’s hunger that propels them.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Imagine Your Life





If you are not living the life you imagined,
imagine the life you are living.





~ Text & artwork by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 138:

Now that we have infinite choices of information to ingest in this technological age, there are few, if any, predictable paths to self-identity, to self-realization. Now, each of us can carve out a distinctly original, distinctly personal path to being and becoming. Now that we have these tools, we should be increasingly skeptical of those who would prescribe the course of our lives.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




I Knew A Young Man


















I knew a young man
Who drank warm water
Right from the faucet,
From his cupped hand.

Everything he did,
An act of defiance,
An act of strength,
His way through the world.

They sent him to the war
And he didn’t last a week.





~ Poem and photograph by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 75:

You may call it fiction,
but if you drop a large novel
on your foot,
your toe will hurt.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




One Cup Of Coffee















S o many of us are struggling,
Tormented by work and money,
Dysfunctional families,
Disease and decadence,
Political injustice,
Weather,
Inertia.

Yet each morning,
After only one cup of coffee,
I am glad to be alive
One more day.




~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Artwork by Christian René aka runnerfrog
© All Rights Reserved

# 36:

Hate is a disease of the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Baboon-ed!




















M ethinks
These be baboon-ed days.
For want of suck this curv-ed fruit I entreat.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo from Mongabay.com
© All Rights Reserved

# 5:

I will make a better memory than a man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Boundaries Of Heaven

















We draw the boundaries of heaven
Around the spaces of ourselves,
Marked off by threat
And bluster,
As if heaven were a place
Unwelcome.



~ text and photo by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 217:

I’ve always wondered what it’s really like
to be me.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At The Circus









W hat was I thinking?

Too eager to accept a dare? Afraid to back down?

How absurd it all seems now, about to step out on this wire so incredibly high above the crowd.








~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Artwork by Jolantasketch
© All Rights Reserved

# 200:

Time is fleeting
and there is so much to study and learn.
I am sorely tempted to let the laundry go.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




How Far?





















How far is infinity from here?





~ Text & artwork by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

# 242:

We are living in a test tube of reality.
It’s an experiment.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Other Virus



Trump has a virus.

I do not refer to the coronavirus. This other virus is far more deadly. 

The notion that the erratic course of the Trump presidency is the result of a localized infection centered mostly in the White House, aided and abetted by compliant media outlets and servile politicians, was further dispelled by the anarchistic minions who stormed the U.S. Capitol bearing Trump flags and assorted MAGA accessories.

Talk about a pandemic!

The virus that infected and elected Trump has spread to every nook and cranny of the Republic.  It is a pandemic of willful ignorance, spread by those who believe their certainty inoculates them against rational examination.

Yet even the impermeable Trumplings of America are but a subset of a global pandemic of authoritarianism whose existence depends on the strangling of truth and the obedience of ignorance.

In how many countries has democracy been overtaken by authoritarianism? Too many. Who can stop and reverse this advance of totalitarianism? The United States of America comes to mind. Despite the best efforts of Trump, his minions and his compliant political apologists, our recent elections do indeed seem like a turning point, a turn away from the abyss of another Trump administration and a restoration of sanity.

But let us never forget the names of those who defended the evil untruths of the Trump administration that have torn our citizenry apart.

Sanity, leadership, character and conscience: These virtues are not Republican or Democrat virtues. They are human virtues that must guide the course of our nation. May we defend them against the evil, soulless intentions of those who would subvert our Democracy.

May we call out the defenders of ignorance. May we demand educated, knowledgeable leaders in all walks of life to speak out against tyrannies both small and large. And may the freedom-loving people of the world once again look to the United States of America as an example, not of chaos, but of enlightened governance.

The great work lies ahead. The great work calls us. We must answer.


    What happens in America happens to the rest of the world.
     ~ Maria Ressa, Filipino journalist, author and dissident


Mindings