We have been surprised at the number of people subscribing to the Christ and Claus blog in the last 45 days!

It was originally intended to be a seasonal posting from Thanksgiving to New Years, however, the interest in Plotsky – A Christmas Story, Redemption Can Occur at the Most Unexpected Time in the Most Unexpected Place has prompted a rethinking.

plotsky-and-the-lionsPlotsky arrives in New York City to attend the funeral of his friend and business partner. Plotsky, it would seem, got very disillusioned with the world a while back and hadn’t yet gotten over it. Christmastime did not make circumstances any better. He reunites with family, makes new friends and encounters the spirit of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Plotsky – A Christmas Story, Redemption Can Occur at the Most Unexpected Time in the Most Unexpected Place is a short work of fiction by David Mills. It was first written in 1995. It was published on December 26, 2016. It is available for your purchase here.

We have had a number of new subscribers in the last thirty days and I am curious what brought you to the site. Your comments here would be greatly appreciated.

May the light of Christ and the spirit of Claus burn bright with you in all the days of your year,

David Mills
Morelia, Mexico

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With this observance of Epiphany, we bring to a close the fourth year of these celebration postings of Christ and Claus.

The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches and was a general celebration of the manifestation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It included the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated.

Three KingsChristians fixed the date of the feast on January 6 quite early in their history. Ancient liturgies noted Illuminatio, Manifestatio, Declaratio (Illumination, Manifestation, Declaration); cf. Matthew 3:13–17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1–11; where the Baptism and the Marriage at Cana were dwelt upon. Western Christians have traditionally emphasized the “Revelation to the Gentiles” mentioned in Luke, where the term Gentile means all non-Jewish peoples. The Biblical Magi, who represented the non-Jewish peoples of the world, paid homage to the infant Jesus in stark contrast to Herod the Great (King of Judea), who sought to kill him. In this event, Christian writers also inferred a revelation to the Children of Israel. Saint John Chrysostom identified the significance of the meeting between the Magi and Herod’s court: “The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews. In this way, the birth of Jesus would be made known to all.”

Wedding at CanaThe earliest reference to Epiphany as a Christian feast was in A.D. 361, by Ammianus Marcellinus. St. Epiphanius says that January 6 is hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion (Christ’s “Birthday; that is, His Epiphany”). He also asserts that the Miracle at Cana occurred on the same calendar day. In 385, the pilgrim Egeria (also known as Silvia) described a celebration in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which she called “Epiphany” (epiphania) that commemorated the Nativity of Christ. Even at this early date, there was an octave associated with the feast.

Jesus BaptismIn a sermon delivered on 25 December 380, St. Gregory of Nazianzus referred to the day as ta theophania (“the Theophany”, an alternative name for Epiphany), saying expressly that it is a day commemorating he hagia tou Christou gennesis (“the holy nativity of Christ”) and told his listeners that they would soon be celebrating the baptism of Christ. Then, on January 6 and 7, he preached two more sermons, wherein he declared that the celebration of the birth of Christ and the visitation of the Magi had already taken place and that they would now commemorate his Baptism. At this time, a celebration of the two events was beginning to be observed on separate occasions, at least in Cappadocia.

5th Century Eygptian MonestarySaint John Cassian says that even in his time (beginning of the 5th century), the Egyptian monasteries celebrated the Nativity and Baptism together on January 6. The Armenian Apostolic Church continues to celebrate January 6 as the only commemoration of the Nativity.

This description and its references can be found on Wikipedia.

Until Christmastime 2018 arrives may Christ consciousness become a growing aspect of your being and the joy of Claus gift giving be with you in all your comings and goings.

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12th Day of Christmas – Time and Space

Space TimeSpace-time is a mathematical model that joins space and time into a single idea called a continuum. This four-dimensional continuum is known as Minkowski (Einstein’s teacher) space. Combining these two ideas helped cosmology to understand how the universe works on the big level (e.g. galaxies) and small level (e.g. atoms). Read more at Wikipedia

Clearly, the Twelve Days of Christmas was a human (not cosmic) construct for observing Christmas. Also, my intention to write daily articles for these days was my own idea. Somehow in the very first days of this new year, some situations occurred which induced me to rearrange my agenda, and hence, we have gone from the 7th to the 12th day of these notes.

Martin Daniel, the fictional protagonist of In Search of the Light, had these two things to say about our dealings with time and space. Remember each day is just the sum of your experiments and experiences. Allot some time every day for the unexpected.

Time and SpaceThe concepts of time and space are more real and ever-present at different times of the year. The new year is one of those times for many people. Martin’s words are healthy reminders. None of us knows what the hour, the day, the week, the month, the season, or the year will bring; and so we march on in our routines, constructed agendas, hopes, and whatever other manifestations we bring to the walk.

What we can do is build healthy, vibrant plans remembering the words of Dwight Eisenhower, ‘I have never seen a good plan, but I have never seen success without a plan.’ May those plans bring us joy and prosperity while serving the common good. We can also be prepared for the surprises and detours along the way and have the good sense and instinct to know the best choices and when to choose.

In closing, I share this affirmation and prayer, Awakening To Yes.

Awakening to yes
The love of God
The light of Christ
The divine guidance of the Holy Spirit
I will there be light.

Listening for yes
Eternal as a child of God
Temporal as a human point of light in the tapestry of the universe
Blessed and blessing
I will listen in an attitude of gratitude.

Thinking in yes
Mind never sleeps
Ever-connected it is always transmitting and receiving
How do we know?
Awareness resonates from within.

Behaving with yes
Initiating and reacting are the daily affairs of life
Kindness, respect, forgiveness
The fundamental practices.

Resting in yes
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray dear Lord my soul to keep
But if I die before I wake
I pray dear Lord my soul you’ll take.

David Mills
February 22, 2017

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6th and 7th Day of Christmas – Forgiveness

Moon Landing Christmas Eve 1968We got to the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, at the end of a poor year for this country. We had Vietnam. We had civil unrest. We had the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But we went around the moon and saw the far side for the first time. A scriptwriter couldn’t have done a better job of raising people’s hope. Jim Lovell

Most of us would agree that 2017 generated more than its fair share of damaging events. They have impacted us all on the broadest societal and personal levels possible. This is certainly not to ignore the countless and miraculous acts of kindness and goodwill that mankind manifested. I cannot help recall the opening lines from Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

As we move to the finish line of 2017 tonight there is one thought, idea, concept that is my wish and prayer. It is captured in the word forgiveness.

Forgiveness is such a big idea that it is difficult to wrap our minds around. This definition published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley embraces my understanding well and in as few words as possible.

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you or release them from legal accountability.

Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.

While early research focused on forgiveness of others by individuals, new areas of research are starting to examine the benefits of group forgiveness and self-forgiveness.

– – –

May the Grace of God open our hearts and minds to this forgiveness that we can let go and leave behind what no longer serves us and move into the new year shining a light on every slightest shadow of darkness.

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4th and 5th Day of Christmas – Filters, Chunks, and Levers

2017 2018If you are working on your 2017 close-out and 2018 planning inventory here are some insights that might be beneficial. Some of the categories you might use will be common (my three macro filters are Thinking, Consuming, Contributing) and some will be unique to your circumstances. The concept remains the same. Your efficiency and peace of mind will increase exponentially by filtering your content and agendas.

CREi FiltersEarly in my thirty-five years of developing, owning and managing a complex portfolio of real estate came the realization that you can’t manage real estate. But there are 12 Component Costs of Real Estate (CCR) filters that together define the manifestation and maintenance of every single property. Manage those 12 components and de-facto the real estate is managed.
David Mills, Founder CEO of CREinFocus

Two Second AdvantageChunking, then, is the creation inside the brain of super-efficient mental models that process events in a flash – and it is a huge factor in talent among individuals… If those chunked mental models are responsible for talent in humans, some version of chunking or modeling ought to be a way to build talent into machines.
. . . Talented people don’t need to have a vision of the future ten years out or even ten days out. They need a highly probable prediction just far enough ahead to see an opening or opportunity an instant before the competition. That’s true for athletes, artists, business-people, or anyone in any field.
Vivek Ranadive, Founder CEO of TIBCO with Kevin Maney in The Two-Second Advantage.

Emergent HumanistThen, only in the past few days, comes the notion of levers.
Humanist Future Trends 2020: Peter Vander Auwera by Rudy de Waele was published only a few short days ago. Peter used the term levers in describing five trends that in his words, ‘could enable high-quality advancement for a humanist future.’

Three words and two concepts: filters and chunking; and levers. Put these into play in your own thinking, organization, and doing, and you will be glad you did.

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3rd Day of Christmas – Inventory

Remember each day is just the sum of your experiments and experiences. Martin Daniel

Mat and Dani WaitesWhen I was in the early stages of building a software company Mat Waites, who was a colleague and technical adviser, shared an insightful observation and some advice. He was at the time the CIO for a major dialysis company.

‘David,’ he said, ‘the company I am with has had three CEOs during my tenure in the last nine years. When the second one came on board he brought his own agenda and the way he wanted things done. He was good at sharing his new agenda and focus for the company but what he didn’t do was tell us the things we were doing that were no longer relevant and to discard. The third CEO, who just came on board, has done the same thing. We now have a very confused agenda where things conflict with one another. The reason I’m telling you this is that as CEO of a start-up you are constantly experimenting and changing directions for this and that. Be sure to keep your key team members informed of what to jettison, not just about the new shiny stuff you want them to sell.’

It was powerful advice then and now; and, it reminds me that the circumstance is a systemic problem with individuals and businesses alike.

InventoryGood retailers cleanse their inventory on a regular basis. We individuals would be wise to do the same. 2017 was an interesting, disquieting, and unique year for most of us. 2018 does not need to be left to its own devices. Exponential change with unprecedented velocity is the new norm. If our thinking, planning, and actions are not in sync with those dynamics we are apt to create more problems for ourselves and others than we would like. Many have observed that the annual review is an antiquated notion that is to slow and cumbersome to be effective. Nevertheless, these last few days of the year are a good time to cleanse and purge that which no longer serves our purpose. It is plenty of time to remove the obvious and acknowledge the rest.

I am using three filters to monitor and manage my affairs: thinking, consuming, and contributing. You may have better categories for yourself. The point is mindful action. It is also important to look at deficiencies as it is at excesses.

Please join us at Life Love God and Happy 3rd Day of Christmas!

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2nd Day of Christmas

Twelve Days of ChristmasThe Twelve Days of Christmas is a relatively recent construct. The three traditional feasts (dating back to the late fifth century) that follow Christmas reflect different ways in which the mystery of the Incarnation works itself out in the body of Christ.

We are going to break with tradition here and follow our own conception. From now through December 31st we are going to shift our focal point to close out the year at hand 2017. On January 1st we will shift our focal point again to the New Year 2018.

The Power of NowThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment is a book by Eckhart Tolle. The book, originally published in 1997, is intended to be a guide for day-to-day living and stresses the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future.

The book draws from a variety of “spiritual traditions”, and has been described by one reviewer as “Buddhism mixed with mysticism and a few references to Jesus Christ, a sort of New Age re-working of Zen.” It uses these traditions to describe a “belief system based on living in the present moment”. Its core message is that people’s emotional problems are rooted in their identification with their minds. The author writes that an individual should be aware of their “present moment” instead of losing themselves in worry and anxiety about the past or future.

According to the book, only the present moment is important, and both an individual’s past and future are created by their thoughts. The author maintains that people’s insistence that they have control of their life is an illusion “that only brings pain”. The book also describes methods of relaxation and meditation to aid readers in anchoring themselves in the present. These suggestions include slowing down life by avoiding multi-tasking, spending time in nature, and letting go of worries about the future. Some of the concepts contained in The Power of Now, such as the human ego and its negative effects on happiness, are further elaborated in the author’s later books, in particular, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2005). Read more at Wikipedia including a brief chapter synopsis.

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