Come As You Are

What A Glorious Day!

It has been a while.

It has been a very Full and Rich Year — Too Many Blessings to Count!

As LIVE THE QUESTIONS NOW continues to evolve, much of what we offer has been shifted to GRATEFUL READY OPEN WILLING.

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In thinking about Highlights of this past year, one that stands out is the talk that I got to do for FIND CENTER: COME AS YOU ARE.

I am including it here. May it either conclude this year for you in Gratitude and Appreciation for all that you have, or may it start the Coming New Year in Joyful Abundance and may you be inspired throughout the year, and our Lives, to spread generosity and Create Beautiful Things!

Enjoy!

WHEN THE LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT AGAIN

WHEN THE LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT AGAIN
A Newly Published Book as a Fundraiser for THE ACTOR’s FUND

In this recently published book, we in the Broadway Community express our Longing for all that we have worked our Lives to do – our Faith that we will rise and do it again, our Hope that we can return not only to the fullest expression of our art, but to a new and better version that honors our time away from it and enables us to express even more fully what we have to share – that which we Love.

“But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13

As Biblical Scholars have pointed out, Love is the greatest because it ensures that the quality of our interactions with others is Life-Giving, or put another way, Faith and Hope are our own – a more personal experience — whereas Love, we share among others. Faith and Hope get us to Opening Night, and after that comes the really good part: we get to share what we’ve created with the final and greatest collaborator: the Audience!

Broadway…that Fabulous Invalid!

Those of us who Live and Work in this Community have taken a Beating!

No audience gathered together in the dark to share our work…

It’s been a rough two years!

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Christmas Card 2021

A Story for a wintry afternoon…. As many of you know, my Christmas Card Story usually gets posted in the weeks following Christmas, sometime between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Easter Sunday. This year, this seems the perfect week for it. The temperatures are low and the daylight is short… perhaps a story about this little Bakery in the Italian Section of the Bronx a few years before the turn of the century will help remind us to appreciate how much Beauty and Value can be found in the simplicity of what we do. It is sprinkled with Miracles and Italian expletives!

It has been a wild ride these past two years. Perhaps Showing Up for our Lives is the Miracle!
The idea of sending this out after Christmas is in part to remind us all to celebrate Gratitude, Readiness, Openness and Willingness, and all the values of Christmas the whole year through… The other part is that it takes me a while to write it! 🙂
It is sent to you with Gratitude for our manifesting here upon this planet at the same time, for our paths crossing, for the Life that we share, and with Love…

The Course in Miracles says, “There is no such thing as coincidence and chance plays no part in God’s plan.” The poet, HAFIZ, says, “This place where you are now. God circled on a map for you.”

 And so, inspired by the idea of just how Lucky and Blessed we truly are, I offer the following story…
Perhaps you would like to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, or bubbling herbal tea, or some delightful warm beverage, and take a little time to cozy up and enjoy this Story Adventure…

Un Fornaio Cuoce (A Baker Bakes)

By Arnold J. Mungioli

I. * * * * Mama * * * *

You would have thought her a crusty old lady. Pugnacious and confrontational, Mama was a tough First Generation Italian American Woman from the Bronx with a heart of gold! If you were a child and walked into her bakery, you would often be hit over the head with a breadstick just a little too hard, and then she would smile the warmest smile and hand it to you. It was an act of generosity, as she saw it. She had made the breadstick herself, so it was a heartfelt and handmade gift. Moreover, she never wanted to see any child go hungry. But no kid likes to be hit over the head with a breadstick. Often the children would cry just from the shock of it, not because they were hurt at all. And Mama would dismiss the child disparagingly and unsympathetically as “shpeel la beep’,” “mingherlino” or “affamato.” She didn’t trust skinny people. And she held firm the belief that to spare the rod was to spoil the child.

“Shpeel la beep’” in Mama’s Italian dialect meant literally, “pipe cleaner” and was used derogatorily to insult a skinny person. Growing up as her daughter — a Second Generation Italian American Girl — these dialect expressions would fly by when the families got together – sometimes you would get a translation. More often than not, you’d get slapped for asking because somehow you were supposed to know that it was a dirty word and not appropriate to ask about that one.

Eventually you would learn to just accept that some phrases get translated and others you just have to figure out for yourself – decipher from sequence context. As I tell you Mama’s story, you’ll learn to do that too.

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The First Day of My Life in a World Without Stephen Sondheim

Obama confers the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Stephen Sondheim.

Yesterday morning, for the first day of my entire life, I woke up into a world without Stephen Sondheim. I cannot say that I like it better than the world I have known every day before that. It feels somehow bereft, stolen, less than, without…

Things looked pretty much the same. The Sun was shining 

…”I think about you.” 

There was Sky 

…”I remember sky.” 

The proletariat was going to and from the subway station 

…”and another hundred people just got off of the train.”

So you see, it is woven into the fabric of my being how he helped me see the world. 

…”Take me to the world that’s real. Show me how it’s done.” 

Like so many legendary icons of Show Business, Stephen and I had a few direct contacts but he would not have known me. I do remember when he came to see Richard Maltby’s THE SIXTIES PROJECT. I was seated diagonally in front of him. He was so quiet and polite and unassuming, yet I could not keep my eyes from darting over my right shoulder. 

Just to be in his presence… 

…”All I know is, the minute you turn
And he’s suddenly there,
There won’t be trumpets!”

It got back to me that his only comment on the show was

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All of a Sudden a Fluttering of Butterflies

[Below, a colorful Writing Prompt from SARK’s Happy + Successful Writers Community which begat this Post…]

…emerged from the palm of my hand.

I wasn’t even aware that that clamminess and itchiness I had felt for days or centuries had been some kind of chrysalis. I thought it was just my skin getting older and craggy. Turns out it was about neither deterioration nor loss, but rather an emergence.

I did nothing to earn such a Beautiful Release which did come seemingly from me.

It was simply Grace.

Orange Sulphurs

Menelaus Blue Morphos

Prepona Laertes…

Grace,

As in Something unearned,

Splendor Bestowed,

Without Cause or Reason.

I forget sometimes that we are Beloved Children of God and Good things just keep happening.

Viceroys 

Zebra Longwings

and the Common Buckeye

Miracles Manifest and no matter how downtrodden we feel, we can do little to stop them, or to prevent the Love that ignites them.

From nowhere, and All of a Sudden,

A Fluttering of Red Admirals,

Queens,

And Pipevine Swallowtails

Butterflies emerging…

Rising Up,

Bringing Loveliness to the World!

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Living not in Vain

Our second Springtime since the pandemic began is in full bloom…

I once knew someone who kept a stack of poetry books in the bathroom – a busy man, when nature called, he would use the time to nourish his soul with the Magical Gift of Poetry, succinct, easily digestible, and sometimes in a moment, Life-altering. It always impressed me how poets – all writers really — could rearrange those same 26 letters of the alphabet over and over and over again to make us feel such a range of emotions.

A little over a year ago, we were all buzzing about.

We’d probably begun to hear about some virus, and at least in New York, we had survived SARS and MERS, and perhaps we’d seen some Folks from Asian countries on airplanes wearing surgical masks and thought something might be going on that affected people far, far away…

Most of us had no idea what was about to happen, or the scope of the journey upon which we had already embarked.

The Great World Shift had begun – we just hadn’t reacted to it yet or taken it seriously.

And here we are now over a year in, still wondering what we can do.

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Aut Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam*

How much do we Love a Snow Holiday!

Enjoying a piping hot cup of somethin’ as we look out the window at Nature’s Blanket of Pure White Beauty, making everything new again, as she whispers to us, “Pause. You can start Fresh. Now.”

There is infinite Comfort & Peace in the Breathtaking Beauty of Nature and her most perfect rhythms.

We didn’t have many Snow Holidays when I was a kid – almost none.

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Christmas Card 2020

It’s early this year, I know! For those who know me, my Christmas Card usually arrives sometime in February — but this year, we’ll break with tradition, and celebrate early! 🙂
The idea of sending this out after Christmas is in part to remind us all to celebrate Gratitude, Readiness, Openness and Willingness, and all the values of Christmas the whole year through… Perhaps this reminder is as much needed now as ever. We’ve all been through a lot this past year. One begins to wonder if there is any rhyme or reason to it all. This year’s Christmas Story invites us to consider another perspective on just how much of what we experience is the randomness of time and how much of it — well, as The Course In Miracles puts it, “What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? And so, inspired by that idea, I offer the following short story for a quiet January afternoon.
Perhaps you would like to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, or bubbling herbal tea, or some delightful warm beverage, and take a few minutes to cozy up and enjoy this little story...

The Gift from the Cabinet with the Mullion Doors

by Arnold J. Mungioli

I could tell you what set it all in motion. I was there when the Youth arrived. He had a curiosity and a kind of insistence that comes from decades and decades of asserting one’s free will, and never appreciating the true gift that free will is – or life for that matter. I had never been a fan of free will, myself – not when given to those in the physical realm, anyway. I had always maintained to the Supreme Being that life on earth was too great a gift for a Soul to comprehend, let alone handle their own choices. It would inevitably lead to pain and troubles. It was someone from the physical realm – went by the name of John Keats — who once wrote, “Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul?”

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CHRISTMAS 2020

This Year’s Tree…

I know. I have been unusually silent on here for Christmas time! There are so many wonderful things to be said about this magical holiday season of Miracles! And ordinarily, I cannot stop saying them!

2020 has been an exceptionally Magical year, giving us time to pause, reflect and reassess how we spend the precious little time we have on this Earth. This Holiday Season has very much followed suit. Shaking it up! Giving us a different way to look at things we have grown accustomed to doing some particular way.

For so many of us, the Christmas Season happens by rote. Every Year it’s the same: Shop, Decorate, Tree, Cards, Wrap, Ship, Family, Cook, Collapse… Nope – Not this Year! This Year we will need to find what is important to us and figure out how to hang on to that!

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A Daily Walk

Photo from Social Media

How does one reach across the aisle on this?

The other day, I posted the following comment to a friend from High School who had posted “BIDEN is NOT My President”:

I Hear what you are saying and I am listening to your pain about it. I do think that some of the media in your circles may have spun things a certain way. Really, I know lots of people and Lots of Liberals in the Theater World and various Communities to which I belong. I don’t know ANYONE — I mean, ANYONE — who supports Looting or Socialism or any of the things that I understand that you fear. For most of us, BIDEN would not have been our choice of Candidate, mostly because he seems way too Centrist — almost more toward Republican. In fact, his views are so moderate that most of us think of him as what we perceived Republicans to be before tRUMP. So, in a way, I feel like he is an ideal Candidate for this transition. I know that you supported tRUMP and obviously you saw some good in his policies and what he did. But that may have caused you to turn a blind eye to the indignities many Americans were suffering — People with Disabilities, People of Color, Gay People, Middle Class People… and his handling of the Coronavirus speaks for itself. So maybe consider, instead of pre-paving how awful it will all be, what good can come of a more Centrist Democrat in this transition. I understand that because tRUMP was so extremist, it may feel like a great personal loss, and it may seem that BIDEN is a far flung Leftist by comparison. But maybe some of tRUMP’s extremes were a bit too far. Perhaps — just perhaps — we could begin now to build less walls and more bridges, and maybe that will yield some Good things, as well. I am not trying to convince you or change your mind — just introducing the possibility that a lot of the extreme leftist policies that seem so terrifying to you may not be what this is. It may seem that way, because tRUMP was so far in the other direction, but maybe there will be some good that comes of it. The restoring of dignity to the office of President and having someone who speaks respectfully to others I will consider a great step forward for us all, and especially for your children’s future! XXOO

His response was basically that Liberals have been so mean that they cannot be forgiven – there was a “Not You!” included in the middle of that which I appreciated, although I can be pretty mean when I feel people’s rights are being threatened, as this retiring administration has repeatedly done since Day One. So I am not so sure it’s not me!

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