Sunday, June 24, 2018
New Yorkers are a tough breed. Betty Bayley was rich, cute and short. She married rich and had five kids. Good so far. Then not so good. Bankruptcy, sick and then dead husband, five kids stranded with her in Italy. Socially and financially she makes a bad decision. She becomes a Catholic, smitten by the sacrament of Eucharist. Disowned by Episcopalian New York relatives, doors closed to her, she tries to open a school for children in New York. Fails. Moves to Baltimore and starts a school with the blessing of the Bishop there. Buries two of her children. Does she give up? Whine? Suffer paralyzing fear? NO, at least not too much to carry on. She joins with some women to form a group called “Sisters of Charity.” They do lots of good works. She dies. You will see her name on a lot of buildings, schools, hospitals and such. Betty Bayley is better known today as Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born declared Catholic Saint. New Yorkers are tough.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
When you meditate think of it as filling your heart with a precious ointment. You don’t want to spill the ointment, but rather let it seep into your entire body. Therefore, when you finish your meditation time, don’t jump up right away and get busy, but rather move slowly into the next right thing you are supposed to do. Allow the ointment of the meditation to flow into and over your next activity. If you are going to exercise, gently stretch a little. Don’t jump up and run or bike or whatever. You want the ointment of mediation to flow, not spill. Spilling makes a mess. You meditate so that your life won’t be a mess.
Friday, June 22, 2018
When someone begins some form of meditation or quiet prayer, they have some expectations. If they are People of The Book, they believe in God and expect their good feelings and faith in their God to grow, deepen, and satisfy. “It feels so good to love God,” one might hear from the beginner. If you are not a God-Believer, but meditate, say in some Eastern Tradition, you still begin with expectations and feelings. “Buddhist meditation is so fulfilling,” you might hear. But the path is not so feeling-filled as it was at the beginning. In my Western Tradition of God-Belief the time will come when you do not have those satisfying feelings. You even lose a sense of faith. God is at work. Why does God do you like this? Well, God might want you to sacrifice, that is, give up your agenda of good feelings, but carry on loving God in your daily dry and seemingly empty practice. They don’t tell you this in the 11th Step. The goal is to love when the Other, God in this case, seems to not be around, and you are not feeling love in the presence of the Other. It is a decision. I suspect it is the same with Buddhist practice. There are dry and empty times. It is all about self-surrender, moving away from self-focus on “getting”something. Love deepens when it goes beyond feelings and immediate gratification. And if you have a partner, mate, and sometimes do not feel very loving, that is the time to practice love. See if it makes you a better person. If it makes you angry, grumpy and resentful all the time, is your relationship about love at all?
Thursday, June 21, 2018
“God is everywhere,” or so I hear, but this is a hard concept to get my head around, much less my heart. Someone gave me a good image to keep in mind about this “everywhere” thing. Think of the bird that flies. Everywhere it goes, it encounters the air. Nowhere does it fly that is not air. Air is everywhere. So whenever I look and see a bird, I can recall God being here just like air. The bird does not need to reflect on air or believe in air. It just flies and air is just there or here. So go about your life, and when you wonder where God is or if God is, think of the bird that flies. Now, whenever I see a bird flying, I might say, “Oh, hello God.”
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
I think that it is a great gift to have a friend who accepts us in areas of our life where we think we are "average." Many more people will like us for our gifts and talents, since they benefit from such pluses in their lives. Even better is the friend who accepts us in our averageness, but also loves us when we just show up in all honesty in whatever mood might be at work in us. Try fear. How many people can you be with when you feel afraid and let them know you are afraid? Maybe you are in a social situation and you want to appear smart, sharp, engaging, and all you feel is tongue-tied and empty-headed. A friend will allow you to take a breath, which allows some space to let something else come into your heart. A friends allows us to discover hidden talents that come out when we discover we are not doing life alone. We are all feeling like "losers" at something, but friends allow us to know the hidden "winner" part of ourselves. I'd make a great friend! Or at least I can only hope.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
People tell me that they have given up on meditation because they experience it as dry and empty. There is no Power out there to mediatate on, or else they would feel it. Or so they surmise. They use to have a “pink cloud” experience of meditation, a sense of connection with peace and tranquillity. Now nothing! I tell them to be of service to others while they try to let go of their expectations in prayer? What does service and prayer have to do with one another? Well, they are both about letting go of self, of your expectations of how things should be, or your selfish view of the world. Being of service does not guarantee your outcome and it takes away from your personal and isolated agenda for happiness. Letting go of results in helping others, is like letting go of your desire for how prayer should go. Maybe this spiritual force, power, God is at work in your life and giving you a sense of “absence” to make you a better person. Be of service to your Power in prayer by letting the power have its way with you. Was your life better in the past when you tried to go it alone make your will win out? If your life is better now than it was, and your prayer is dry, maybe this is part of the process of growing up into all you are meant to be.
Monday, June 18, 2018
The spider does not kill the bee, but does ruin the honey some with its web and makes it difficult for the bee to do its proper work. So the spider must be driven away by the bees. Are not bad habits the same way? They might not kill us but they spoil the sweetness that nourishes our life. So they have to be watched for and driven away. How? The examination of conscience or review of our day before we go to sleep is a way to see where the webs are being formed, if any, that day, and then make plans, with some spiritual power, to be rid of them tomorrow. Why do you need some Power other than yourself? Well, if the spider is a bad habit or shortcoming, then you alone cannot be rid of a habit. An occasional lie is not the same as being a liar, or having lying be our fall back position when we mess up on a daily basis. Few people gossip or judge others once or twice a year. Generally, these are habits and habits are our spider webs messing up the honey of our life. If you saw a spider in your bed you would act decisively and quickly. Treat bad habits the same way.