Summer Re-Run: The Artistic X-Ray Technician: A Story of Possibilities

Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,

Exactly two years ago today I wrote and published this story about an X-ray technician who had a visionary way of looking at his patients.  It remains my most popular story by both comments and repeated visits.  Whether you’re reading it for the first time or for the hundredth time, I hope it leaves you inspired.



The Artistic X-Ray Technician:

A Story of Possibilities


Joseph Anthony

All of the other x-ray technicians said he couldn’t take artistic x-rays. It just wasn’t possible. The gamma-cameras were too precise and exacting. There was no room for any type of artistic anything.

Moreover the doctors said he shouldn’t take artistic x-rays, even if it were possible, which, of course everybody knew it wasn’t. The doctors warned that any artistic flares would jeopardize the integrity of the image.

So he took artistic x-rays anyway.

“How could I do otherwise?” He said during his most recent employee review. “I am taking pictures of people’s hearts and every heart I see is beautiful. I look at the images forming on the computer screen and I see babies instead of hearts. I see clay impressed with the fingerprints of God. I see flower bulbs in glowing soil. I see owls sleeping with their faces covered by their own wings. I see angels bowing their heads. And sometimes, especially in the hearts of children, I see galaxies just ready to unfurl their arms.

“So I am compelled to let the camera linger at the end. I program it to slide, ever so slightly as it completes the image. This creates a subtle blurring of the edges of the picture. It looks as if the image was framed in soft grass or a gentle fire. And if I am really careful with my strokes the whole image–and I reiterate–without compromising the findings of the x-ray–looks as if it were gilded with gold like an old Byzantine picture of the face of Jesus.

“I realize my efforts to create artistic x-rays bothers some doctors, but I’ve done some checking and every single person I have ever x-rayed has had full and complete recoveries or else their hearts were found to be healthier than ever. I believe these findings prove my work is crucial to our patient’s well being.

“How do I account for these extraordinary findings? I think it’s because once the heart is viewed as beautiful, it responds by healing. You see, the heart usually gets seen only when something is wrong or something wrong is suspected. But the heart–the physical form of the heart–is actually the outward manifestation of the soul’s heart. And both forms, the physical and the spiritual, are exquisitely beautiful, and therefore long to be seen, honored, and shared. So in otherwords, when I see the things I see in the images of the hearts–like yesterday, I looked at the heart of a dear old woman who had such a cheerful disposition, and I saw a dancer crouching with her arms folded around her knees, ready to rise up and act out the movements of the dawn–it simply makes the heart happy to be seen in such light.  And she left the room ready to skip down the hallway!”

The doctors couldn’t argue with his findings. Everyone being wheeled back to their rooms reported feeling lighter than air, as if they were kings and queens riding chariots instead of gurneys. They feel like children with futures as bright as the afternoon sun in June.

So even though everyone says it isn’t possible, he continues to take artistic x-rays. In fact, soon he is going to open the world’s first art school for x-ray technicians.

“After all,” he said as his review was wrapping up, “if it works for the heart, it would work for other parts of the body. So when we take pictures say, of the brain, for instance, perhaps if we saw them as bundles of tree roots wrapped in silken cloth, or if, when we x-rayed the spine and saw a glittering Chinese dragon, perhaps the owners of those brains and spines would miraculously heal also. It’s worth a try I think. That’s why I am going to open up the x-ray art school. I’m thinking of calling it The Art Institute of Inner Beauty. It’s motto would be, anything’s possible for the one who believes.”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Summer Re-Run: On the Usefulness of Grief–Gifts from the Child

Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,

This post on grieving was first published 2 years ago.  Each idea about grief is couched in a quote from the Wonder Child.  May this post bring anyone peace and comfort as they move through, and with, grief. 



 my child gives me
brief snapshots of things
he would like me to share. 
This week, as a significant chapter of my life
drew to a close,
my child gave me several gifts
to help me move through,
 and with, my tears.
Here are some of them.

“Tears,” said the child, wiping one from the tortoise’s eye, “cleanse the heart and water the soul. You are so open when you weep.”


“Is there a way out?” wept the wounded man to the child. “Yes, dear one, it’s through your wounds and it’s through me.”


“The sadness is back,” said the old man to the child, “what should I do?” “Embrace it,” said the child tenderly, “and then keep moving.”


“Do not mislead them,” said the child to the angels, “there is sorrow just as there is rain. There is anger just as there are storms.”


“There are tears,” said the child holding the old man weeping. “Let them come. They are healing you, me, the other children, the world.”


“Why fight your tears?” asked the child as the old man wept, “tears are to grief as laughter is to joy. And both are just as necessary.”


“I know you want to take away their suffering,” the child said the man, “but if you did, you would take away their reason to change.”

“So comfort them in their suffering,” said the child, “help them bear it, but let them let it go.  You cannot take it away, it isn’t yours.”

The child came to my bedside in his ship of full of light and said, “It is OK-cry.  This water I sail on is from the tears of the blessed.”

“Come,” said the child to young man weeping, “look at what your tears have grown!”

“Shh,” whispered the child to the angels, “listen to the old man weeping, “his grief is the moving the stars to shine.”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Summer Re-Runs: The Spiritual Aspects to the Parts of Speech, Part III, Adjectives

Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,

A couple years ago I did a little series on the spiritual aspects of the parts of speech. It generated a lot of visits and discussions.  It was also one of my favorites to write. Today I am reposting Part III, Adjectives.  I hope you like it. Let me know, as poetically as you can.  If you want to read the rest of this series, look in the category archives on the left side of this page for the category, The Parts of Speech. 



The Spiritual Aspects

Of the Parts of Speech,

Part III: Adjectives


Joseph Anthony


Adjectives are the painting words in our language.  You could
say, the lion, and that
would technically be a complete sentence, but why not say what the lion is
doing?—The lion roars.  Next, imagine what the lion looks like: The golden lion roars.  Or,
The wild-eyed, golden-maned lion roars with the roar of creation
.  The
sentences with the adjectives are more interesting.  They give you a
better picture.  You could say, the
flower grows
, or, the
dew-dappled, red rose grows
.  See what I mean?

Our handy online etymology dictionary says that the origins for
the word adjective mean to add to or throw
.  What words do you add to the names of things?  Do you
throw in swear words?  Do you add pet-phrases that somehow describe what
you are saying?  Are the describing words you use mostly of a visual
nature?  Do you speak in generalities or can you be specific?

Reflect on the nature of adjectives.  Really play with
them, for adjectives make the creation alive and interesting—they are the
painters and poets of our language.  They are creators and
catalysts.  Imagine, for example, what color God is.  What color is
His/Her hair?  Reflect on the colors of emotions.  What color is
pain?  What color is joy?  Reflect
on the sounds you listen to.  Which sounds do you love?  Which sounds
are grating?  Reflect on the textures of things.  Do you prefer soft
clothes or rough?  Hold someone’s hand today, a friend, spouse, or a
child, and describe what that is like—both the feel of their hand and the
feeling that act brings to your heart.  Reflect on the colors you see in a
given day—or do you see them?  Is your life grey and covered in
dust?  If so, do a cleaning and get out the paint brushes of adjectives
and color your world with beautiful descriptions.  Reflect on the
qualities that describe the Divine.  And let’s not forget about the sense
of smell.  Reflect on the kinds of smells you love.  Describe
them.  What does heaven smell like?  What does love smell like? Try
to use adjectives in every sentence you say today—try and use all the senses
too.  Even if it sounds outrageous and silly—talk like an eccentric
poet.  Have fun and play with adjectives.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls, Part Two of Two, By Joseph Anthony

On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls

Part Two of Two


Joseph Anthony



We talked
last time on building and tearing down inner walls.  We spoke of these walls as stemming from the
wisdom and creativity of children.  What
happens though when we feel like we’re too cramped or need to make some sort of
change?  Here is one way of transforming,
coming out of, and inviting others into your inner paradise.

Gradually.  Begin by clearing out the space of unwanted
and unhealthy clutter: thoughts of self-hatred, shame, arrogance; and start
bringing in thoughts you want to live with: joy, gratitude, generosity,
love.  Add a window or two.  Open them. 
Let the fresh air and light in from mentors and friends.  Build a door—a beautiful, hand carved,
wood-hewn door—perhaps a non-traditional—round-Hobbit door; maybe a triangular
door, or one shaped like a star.  You
pick.  Whatever shape you pick, remember
this: these door opens from the inside. 

Begin adding
art work—beautiful visions and pictures of your dreams and aspirations; vision boards; scenes
of nature, mornings, mountains, trees.  Keep
happy memories tucked away in special places. 
Add a few knick-knack—curious, quirky things that will become your
unique personality traits.  Have a few,
well-chosen books (everyone has at least one book in them).  Bring in some candles or beautiful lamps,
soft blankets, clean bed sheets, flowers, healthy food, clean water.  You decide what these symbolize for you.  I like to think of the healthy food as
positive affirmations, the clean water as living and bathing in the truth, and
so on.

When you’re
ready, open the windows and let the light in; or open the windows at night and
let the fireflies in and the soft gaze of the moon.  Either way, let the fresh air of new ideas in.
Lean on the sill and breathe, gazing at the beauty—imagining the possibilities. 

And when you’re
ready, open the door.  Stand at the
threshold for as long as you need to, and then step out.  When you’re ready invite safe, friendly
people inside to talk with (living or dead), host dinner parties, sing-alongs, or
reading groups.  You get to decide who
and when and how.  You might even invite
people in to make love with.

And yes, you
might get hurt.  You might open the door,
come dancing out, and stub your toe on something someone left lying around
outside—a worn-out  limited belief or a
rusty, old idea.  Some one might say
something mean, break a promise, and so on. 
It is difficult to shield ourselves from all pain. 

When we get
hurt however, we have a safe, healthy, clean, and holy place to go.  We will have a well-stocked medicine cabinet
filled with the healing balms of mantras, prayers, and songs; we will have
ready the elixirs of positive affirmations and creative pursuits; we will have
the healing cures of physical movement—tapping, walking, drumming.  We will have the secret remedies of the prayers
of other people—keep a stash of these treasured somewhere in your space and
replenish them often.  Keep a supply of
the antidote for fear: actions.  Feel the fear and keep moving.  Feel all of your feelings, honor the pain and
its messages of healing; honor your feelings by simply knowing them to be what
they are—feelings—neither mysterious
nor the end all and be all of who you are.

So build
your walls, create fragrant, holy, beautiful spaces—temples of wisdom and love.  Tend the gardens of your body, mind, heart,
and soul.  Know that you can use any of
these as safe places.  Each is inherently
and irrevocably a paradise.  Know too
that you get to choose who comes in.  You
get to open the door.  Lots of people
might come knocking, but only you have the power of opening the door.  And you can stay outside or inside for as
long as you like.

One last
thing: remember to honor your inner child for starting the process of building
a wall in the first place—a process
inspired by play
.  All wisdom is
play, and all play is wisdom.  Connect
with that child with gratitude, express that appreciation by affirming him or
her; and you can express that appreciation for your inner child (or children)
too by appreciating and honoring the children you see around you—your own
children, your students, your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or the children
in your neighborhood or on the train.  Take
a cue from these children: learn to have fun inside and out, and come out and
go in when you see fit.  Learn that
whatever else this wild, complicated life is, it is play—serious sometimes
perhaps, tragic, but it is play.  It is a
dance of wonder and of discovery.  It is
the play of becoming who you are.

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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls, Part One of Two, By Joseph Anthony

On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls

Part One of Two


Joseph Anthony


People build
walls when they need a safe place to live. 
Animals build shelters for the same reason.  Some say we build psychological/spiritual
walls after we’ve been hurt or betrayed. 
Some say the thing to do once we’re emotionally and spiritually mature
is to tear down these walls.  Some people
believe they build walls and never come out, they’re too afraid; they always
stay in. 

My take on
walls is different.  I believe building
walls is wisdom in action.  I believe we
build walls when we’re children not because we’ve been hurt, we build them
before we’re hurt—we build them out of play
Give a child a cloth, a bed sheet, a large piece of silk and watch them almost
instantly build a fort or wrap it around themselves.  Watch them transform the space underneath a
table or in a closet, in a tree—almost anywhere—into a safe, magical
place.  Teens even love their own

In other
words I believe building walls is natural, creative, holy, and necessary.  Inner stress comes when we go inside and have
trouble coming back out, or when we are unable to invite people in, or when we
outgrow the space and don’t make proper renovations, or we don’t tend the space
and it becomes cramped, isolated, filled with shadows.  As this happens over time, our inner space can become unhealthy and we in fact do need to come out
or let people in to help us clean. 
Perhaps we sense our inner space has become too confining, restricted, or
narrow.  It’s now that someone might
suggest to us that it’s time to tear the walls down.  And there are some of us who need that type
of violent gesture to free ourselves and feel empowered.  That’s OK. The walls came tumbling down in
Jericho after all (with the power of commitment and music, no less).

And if you
find yourself telling yourself (and others) that you never come out or you
always stay in your wall and that you can’t come out, know that words like always, never, and can’t, are
simply not true.  If you had never come
out of your wall you wouldn’t know to even want to.  Anytime you genuinely laughed—you were
outside the wall.  Any time you wept in
front of someone you were outside the wall (or you had invited them inside).  So you can
come out.  The way might be cluttered,
but you can, if you choose.

I suggest a
gentle approach to walls—in building and transforming them, and choosing when
to come out or let others in.  It is an
approach infused with the overarching idea that the wall was built in the first
place for a reason, a holy, and healthy reason. 
It was built out of the spirit of play and to keep ourselves safe. Know
that the word paradise means a walled
garden—a safe, beautiful place surrounded by a wall.  Did we use our paradise as a place to hide
and to withdrawal from painful people and situations?  I hope so. 
Did some of us become addicted to the inner space, the isolation?  Did some of us neglect our inner gardens and
let them become over grown with weeds?  Yes.
We all do to one degree or another and at one time or another. But when we know
it’s time to move out or let others in, there is a way to do so that honors
both your wisdom for building it in the first place and the wall itself.  And I will share my thoughts on this process on

For now, be
with the idea that inside of you is a paradise.  That’s a wonderful idea indeed.

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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog