Monday, August 21, 2017
Often, when you love someone who has imperfections, you see the imperfections but you accept them. With love, can come the gift of acceptance. If you are always trying to correct someone, to fix them, make them into what "you" want them to be, is that really love? Acceptance is not the last step in this process of love. You next begin to see yourself and your own imperfections. Then you no longer seem to see or focus on the imperfections of the other. This the doorway to serenity. This is the spiritual path of love. Love, puppy love, falling in love, is the first step. We do not control it. But then the deeper journey can begin. After the initial stages of this falling in love, if the relationship is to be sustained and deepened, we have to love the person after our eyes are open to their imperfections, faults, shortcomings, or else we split. Accept or split. As the spiritual journey of love deepens, we spend more time working on ourselves and our shortcomings and imperfections, to the extent we can. A deep union with the other person develops as we no longer seem to notice or focus on their imperfections. Union is not two perfect people admiring one another. Union comes when you see with new eyes. What changed? Certainly yourself, and most likely the other person, given your example of love, has begun to change as well.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Some of my readers say that they simply cannot meditate. They have tried and it has not worked for them. Not to worry. I cannot jump off a high diving board. But that is not the only way into the pool. Think of mediation as a way of getting out of yourself and your problems, pre-occupations, fantasies, mental images, thoughts and so on. Meditation in some sitting position is not the only way to do this. Some people go for a walk and look about. See what attracts them. Maybe they notice a flower. Stop and let the flower be flower for you, not thinking about flowers, just letting this flower grab all your attention. This is another way of entering the "pool of letting go." It is a way to get into the now, rather than the later or the past. Whatever slows down the mind is what will work for you. We are all an experiment of one.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
I remember when I was in my twenties and living in San Francisco as a bachelor. One evening in December of 1970, I was in the apartment of a coworker who had just gotten married that day. I had shared his apartment with him the night before because I had to sub-lease mine, due to being fired for bad behavior. I was in his wedding earlier that day. I felt a loneliness and disconnect at the reception. A drink, food, conversation did nothing to lighten the darkness. I did not even know I was lonely. I thought I was miserable because I had no job, no girlfriend, no apartment while he had just gotten married and was quite happy and successful. After the reception, I went back to his apartment. I was alone. Panic. I felt unsafe just being with me. What to do? Human contact. But with whom? Not just anyone. It had to be someone who cared enough about me. I called my Big Sis Maureen. She was three time zones away and asleep, at least until I called. She did something that was brilliant for me. She knew, even before I did, that I was a person of compassion. So she started to tell me about her difficulties. Why? The pain of others took me out of myself. Maureen seemed to know this even before I did. Maureen told me about her years of miscarriages, after she had birthed two boys. She was finally going to give birth to another child. She had suffered so much over those years. We are not a telephone family, plus I was full of my own life with highs and now lows. I was all about me, until that moment when we talked on the phone in the middle of her night. My misery, from being a jerk, fell away, as we talked about her life and losses. I only lost a job, and apartment. People often ask if Maureen and I ever made friends. Well, that night she saved my life. It began the second chapter of our friendship. You want to keep friends like that. Two months later, I had my epiphany about becoming a priest. Many people say they have been helped by that decision. Don't thank me. Thank Maureen.
Friday, August 18, 2017
When I am judging people I am looking at all their faults, as I see them. I can list their faults. I, of course, do not have the faults I see in the other person. I am making an inventory of all the wrong things they do, their shortcomings, and wrong-headedness. It does not make me feel better about myself though because all their faults are such a pain in my life if and when I am with that other person. This is the weight of false pride and judging others. But I seem to have a better day, if I stop thinking about them and look at my faults, such as my tendency to judge others. If I look at my own inventory or faults, all stacked on the shelves of my personality, then I can go into action. First, I see that we all have shortcomings. Second, I can do something about my own stuff, whereas I cannot do anything about another person's imperfections, as I see them. Third, when I look at myself, then other people don't seem so difficult for me. I get into some acceptance of them. Judgements and false pride change nothing but my mood. The path to wholeness and growth lies within me. I take my own inventory each day. It is better that way for everyone.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
My Facebook page now has the two talks that I gave at Snowmass monastery last Saturday. the topic was Contemplative prayer:Let God Do the Prayer. I put it there on Facebook under Podomatic. The photo image was a mess. I hope the talk is better. They are each about an hour, so good for a walk or eliptical at the gym.
If you believe in heaven there is a cost to get into it. It is not free, nor can you jump over the turnstile and cheat your way in. Heaven begins now, but you don't get to enjoy it in this mortal body without paying the price. What price? Each day you have to pay/give up something. You pay a little selfishness, fear, resentment, fall pride, envy, jealousy, gossip, judgments of others, whining, and so on. You give up a little bad behavior and immaturity on a daily basis and you will get to enjoy some heaven right here and now. I have found it so. Initially, making the payment, call it dues if you want, there might be some wincing. You really take pleasure in the gossip and put downs of others. But after you pay, or resist the temptation, which is the currency of payment for most of us, you will often find that you do feel better. It is a little bit of heaven. Unlike this blog, heaven is not free of payment.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
On this date in 1950 my big sister Maureen said, " Well, the Feast of the Assumption is when a lot of Catholics punch their ticket to hell." I was seven years old at the time and did not understand her. Not understanding Maureen was typical, as long as I obeyed. She had been in Catholic school for four years, so I figured she was a theologian by then. She looked at my blank face and said, "OK, dummy, let me explain." She continued, "The dogma of Mary being assumed body and soul into heaven has just been proclaimed by the infallible pope. Today is the first time that we celebrate this feast as a Holy Day of Obligation. That means you must go to mass or burn. Did you see how empty the church was yesterday, August 15?" In fact the church had few people in it. Maureen was not finished as she added, "It is no excuse that it is summer and people aren't thinking about church or this new feast. They will still burn if they get hit by a trolley before they confess." So spoke Maureen the oracle. It was for me my first experience with this new Holy Day and the actual event of the pope speaking infallibly. I have spent my life since that day, trying to remember to go to church in the middle of a weekday in the summer, and to understand what the Assumption is all about. But I think that my big sis probably mellowed as she got older because some of the people she loved did indeed miss a few Assumption masses. Though the pope may be infallible, I did not think he was very smart to make a Holy Day in the middle of the summer when there was no school. I liked holy days when school was in session because then you got a day off from school. This was not a good reason to like holy days. It is not very pious, so I may have earned some time in purgatory. Maureen thought there were many other reasons as well for her little brother to burn. If you missed mass yesterday, avoid trolleys.