Dale (n) a broad valley

I was never quite sure what was meant by the phrase, “Over hill and dale.”

I always thought it was pretty clever, in that old Army song, that we were going to “hit the dusty trail.”

“Dale” was one of those words I replaced in my mind—like inserting a space-filler.

In other words, it wasn’t important enough to look up, so I pretended I knew what it meant and moved on along, since it wasn’t that valuable to me.

Also, I’m not quite sure how the dale—or the valley—ever got such a bad reputation.

What do they say of a dale?

  • A down time.
  • A less-than-prosperous situation.
  • Or even an unfortunate defeat.

How did this happen? After all, when you climb a hill, you have two choices of what to look at. The sky or back down at the beautiful, green, grassy dale.

There’s something in our minds that tells us we have to be at the peak, instead of considering the dale to be our actual residence of achievement.

Doggone it, sweet people, let me tell you: Not all of us are able or prepared to live on top of the hill.

It is in the valley where the waters flow.

It is in the dale that the crops grow.

It is in this tucked-away, secure place that I can certainly find my own peace of mind, without insisting that I need to live high among the birds.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama: (n) formerly the ruler and chief monk of Tibet

Religion reminds me of taking a machine gun to battle house flies, the premise being that the more bullets you have to destroy the varmints, the greater your chance for success.

The problem?

Unfortunately, you destroy everything in sight with your machine gun, just to dispel some annoying fly-bys.

As a human being, I am fully aware what qualities I appreciate in other human beings—and what I do not.

For instance:

I don’t like to be cussed out.

I don’t want to grovel for attention.

I like to be able to speak my opinion and have it heard, if not honored.

I can survive a bit of grumpiness as long as it’s followed by a season of smiles.

I like to be right.

I like to feel healthy.

I like someone to notice when I’ve done good work.

And I like people to forgive me when I’ve stunk up the joint.

What I’ve just shared with you is a summary of the true value found in religion. Everything else is legalism, prejudice, ritual, outlandish oversight, and rules and regulation—frequently about issues that have not been pertinent since the fifteenth century.

They say there is a man in Tibet called the Dalai Lama who is full of wisdom.

I don’t doubt that.

If you climb into my van, I’ll drive you down the street to the nursing home, where we will walk through holy ground and meet many such men and women.

These are the traveling souls who have worn human skin and discovered much foolishness and settled on simple things, like a small squirt of whipped cream on top of their tapioca pudding.

The Dalai Lama may be just fine.

I don’t disfavor him because he is not of my faith.

But I do not believe that his mere lineage from some dude grants him the license for a holy genetic order.

I think we should listen to the Dalai Lama just as intensely and feverishly as we do the Dolly Parton.


Dakota: (n) a former territory in the United States—in 1889 divided into North Dakota and South Dakota.

I spent nine days in the Dakotas.

I only did it once.

Please don’t misunderstand—my singular visit does not portray my feeling about the region.

I just don’t think anybody there liked me.

I’m sure that’s not true—it isn’t like I saw them head over heels in enthusiasm, dancing in the street about anything.

My grandpa would have said they were “sturdy people.”

You’d have to be. Lots of storms. Regularly over a hundred degrees in the summer and below zero in the winter months.

A rural atmosphere.

Close-knit groups, many well aware of each other or even related.

So about five days into my visit, I became a bit paranoid about the treatment I was receiving. I asked one of the sponsors who brought me in for the concert series what was up with the populace.

Interestingly enough, he didn’t say, “Well, what do you mean?” Or, “They seem fine to me.”

Instead, he replied, “To be honest, these people have been alone, abandoned, unnoticed and even made fun of so often that they can’t imagine why anybody from the outside world would choose to come into their area unless that person was an escaped convict or a fraud.”

I crinkled my brow and replied, “So what you’re saying is, they think I’m trouble because I came to their state.”

“They figure if people had a choice, they would never visit.”

He nodded his head.

So I went to my concert that night and tried to address this dilemma with the audience. I would like to report that my dialogue made all the difference in the world.

But it didn’t.

They seemed to resent the fact that I was aware of their insecurity and preferred me to shut up, get back into my van, and travel on to more appreciative places.

Still and all, I managed to learn a lot about Mount Rushmore, and also the Battle of the Little Bighorn, with General Custer, which happened right over the border in Wyoming. Matter of fact, I took a couple of hours and read up on both things so I would seem knowledgeable.

It did increase my conversations by a few more sentences. But then they froze up and once again nervously stared at me.

If I may draw a conclusion:

Perhaps one of the worst things we do to people is make them feel “less” because we don’t think they live where there’s “more.”

What I uncovered in my journey to the Dakotas was this:

There are children born—therefore there are people having sex.

There are radio stations—so music does penetrate the silence.

And the grocery store was filled with all sorts of meat, from cow to bear to rattlesnake. So someone likes to hunt and eat.

You see?

If you work at it, you can find things you have in common with almost anyone, anywhere.

(Pass the steak sauce.)

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain: (n) a series of interconnected or related things or events

 Bigotry doesn’t appear just because human beings are placed on the same planet together.

We don’t naturally hate each other.

Bigotry, intolerance and emotional mayhem are the conclusion of a daisy chain of unfortunate connections.

Since we know where this ends up—a random hatred—how does it begin?

What are the links that lead us to acting like the Missing Link?

When do we lose all our humanity and turn animal, emulating our jungle roots?

There is an unholy six.

When placed side-by-side and linked with false premises, these six generate the kind of treachery that assumes a national need to kill six million Jews or to steal the land of the native population.

It begins with insecurity.

Insecurity is a nasty itch inside us, making us believe we cannot be heralded for our good deeds if others are also being appreciated.

Insecurity loves to link up with jealousy.

Jealousy is foolish because it limits the value of what we do and overestimates the success of those around us.

After insecurity links with jealousy, then jealousy welcomes gossip.

Seemingly, the most civil way to destroy our competition is to verbally discredit them by making all seem abnormal.

When gossip has fully spewed into the atmosphere, it finds a settling place in allegiance.

The allegiance can be religious to God, patriotic to a country, political to a party, or even an exaggerated devotion to one’s family.

After allegiance has been established (on shaky ground) it embraces paranoia.

Paranoia compel us to commit irrational acts, forewarning of treacherous deeds.

We are looking for the villain behind every plot and the enemy around the corner.

Once we are fully paranoid, it is a simple step to allow our bigotry to control every decision.

This daisy chain is strewn throughout history.

But rather than allowing the historians to be the prophets who frighten us away from such foolishness and encourage us to gain security without hurting others, we continue to take all the timidity in our fearful souls and set the daisy chain of destruction in motion.


Daisies: (n) plural of daisy—a flower with a yellow disk and white rays

 There are so many things to figure out if you’re a woman.

Without any doubt, a woman has to do everything a man does and have added to her job list overcoming discrimination, motherhood and childbirth.

Don’t they call that overtime?

Also, I left one out:

Flower selection.

As a gal, you must decide what kind of flowers you’ll accept from your male counterpart on those infrequent times when he decides to be warm and fuzzy and bloom affection in your direction.

Someone has told these male strugglers that giving flowers to a woman is a positive thing. Perhaps they should sit down and talk to the ladies to find out if a floral arrangement is really the doorway to their hearts.

I would think that cash and candy would top the list.

But with that in mind, since a girl has to decide how to be a girl in a world where boys think they should, she must make a very important decision on what kind of flower will be associated with her.

Because one night, in an awkward moment, the boyfriend will ask, “Speaking of bowling balls, what’s your favorite flower?”

Choose carefully, my lady.

Check on the website of your local florist shop and see what the going prices are for the available blossoms.

If you choose orchid, your boy pal will be very frustrated, trying to get enough money together to purchase a gang of them.

How about roses?

Roses aren’t expensive if you buy them off the back of a truck that’s been sitting in the hot sun, with stems covered with thorns. But good roses can set you back a pretty penny.

Daffodils are an odd choice—and many florists don’t necessarily offer them in personalized clumps.

You can choose carnations, which is a safe bet, but it makes you look like a bargain-bin princess.

Then…there are daisies.

As long as you don’t ask something weird of them, they’re pretty inexpensive, okay looking, and are easy for a florist to turn into a bouquet.

Yet, if you do decide on daisies, be aware that your guy will think you love them so much that he will buy you appliances, pictures and even sheets decorated with them.



Dais: (n) a raised platform, as at the front of a room, for a lectern, throne, seats of honor, etc.

 If you want to be pretentious, everything has to match.

If you’re proclaiming yourself to be “up and coming,” then you certainly shouldn’t dress “down and out.”

If you want to appear athletic, then you should avoid all situations that might induce clumsiness.

Years ago, I started a work in Shreveport, Louisiana, which mingled spirituality, artistry, feeding the hungry and trying to answer youthful misgivings.

It was a little bit of nothing—but not in the sense of its mission.

To the outside viewer, we were insignificant–and occasionally annoying because we regularly took a troop of performers into the streets in full makeup, often including dancing.

This might be odd for any community, but for Shreveport, Louisiana, it was the Abomination of Desolation.

Yet quite a few individuals flowed in our direction, some of them offering their hearts and others merely showing up to display their bills.

In the midst of this fledgling effort, a dear, old friend of mine who once had a church offered me a huge, spacious pulpit—a truly holy dais.

He was so supportive, so intrigued with our efforts as young, spiritual investigators, that he took something sacred to him and offered it into our very relaxed irreverence.

I felt compelled to use it.

I wasn’t sure how.

So in our very tiny meeting room, I inserted this huge monstrosity of wooden construction—somewhat like Noah’s Ark.

I stood behind it to share my thoughts and make announcements about the upcoming week’s adventures.

It was a Saturday Night Live sketch—but much more pitiful.

Everybody grumbled.

Matter of fact, a rebellion broke out the first night I used it, with people complaining that I had changed and become a cleric instead of a friend.

I had not changed.

But I had placed myself behind something that was not me.

I tried using it two more times (simply because I was apparently trying to increase the pain.)

Finally, I apologized to my friends, and also to my buddy. I gave him back the pulpit. (He was thrilled, because a church down the road had offered him five hundred dollars for it the day after he gave it to me, and he felt it was wrong to renege on his generosity to me—but now he could take it back without shame and pocket the profit.)

Everybody seemed happy.

I learned a lot from that experience.

Establishing your value based upon where you stand means you have not uncovered the worth of your soul or the depth of your mission.


Dairy: (n) a shop or company that sells milk, butter, cheese, etc.

 It is easy to be health conscious if you’re negating a food you dislike.

I can stop eating frog legs tomorrow.

I have no problem rejecting the value of collard greens.

But when it comes to foods I enjoy I may agree with the prissy righteousness of those who reject them but maintain some faith in my heart for private moments—when I succumb to the temptation to partake.

Actually, food is very simple.

If it occurs naturally—that is, in its present form—you can eat it.

For instance, a cow, cut up into steaks, is not a natural occurrence. Although I may wish to lobby for that cause, cows are supposed to come put together, not butchered.

On the other hand fruits, nuts, berries, vegetables and those sorts of offerings, are right out there in front of God, you, me and every bird of the sky.

That takes us to dairy.

Cow’s milk was never meant to be drunk by anybody but calves, just as human milk was intended for our little bambinoes. But then it deteriorates. Taking that milk, skimming off the fattest portions to make cream, then butter and ending up with cheese is many false evolutionary steps from natural.

This is why these foods are delicious—by devilish design.

I grew up in a generation that believed that milk was good for you and built strong bones. But it wasn’t actually the milk, but the calcium, which is also found aplenty…in broccoli.