Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Rights

I am standing beside a swimming pool, fully dressed.  I have a right to do this.  No law says I have to be in a bathing suit.  Someone jumps off the diving board and cannonballs into the pool.  Water splashes all over me.  My clothes are soaked.  The other person is evil or thoughtless.  Either way, I am wet.  I can get angry and demand that they respect my rights in the future.  Evil or thoughtless people will not change due to my angry demands.  If their behavior comes from being very self-centered, they will continue to do as they do.

I may say I have rights, but their exercise is limited by the behavior of others.  It is the way an imperfect world.  I have a right to cross the street at the intersection when the light favors me.  But first I look both ways.  If someone is moving into the walk zone with a big powerful car, my rights will not protect me from injury.  Rights can be fragile.  Thoughtlessness and self-centeredness are powerful.  Be careful.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Good Deed

I just found out that if you eat yogurt in the evening before going to bed, you sleep better.  My friend told me this when I went to visit her.  She does not get around very well, so I went to see her.  I did a kind deed and got an unexpected surprise blessing about the yogurt benefit.  Nice, do a good deed out of simple kindness and caring, and there is an unexpected gift in return.  If I am awake in the middle of the night, however, I suspect that you will get a  whinny blog.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Rich Young Man

A fellow comes to Jesus and wants to know what more he must do besides follow the rules in order to get into heaven.  Jesus says famously, "Sell all you have.  Give to the poor, and come follow me."  I am pathetic.  Not only do I have a lot of stuff, but it is a lot of junk stuff that not even the poor would want.  Junk and clutter would keep me from following Jesus.  Well I have a choice.  A dumpster or go shopping.  Habits are hard to break.  I'll put off the dumpster for another day.  I wonder if there is storage in hell?

Monday, May 28, 2012


When I pray to my image of God, I am praying to n idol.  God has no image.  My imagination, my thinking mind has images, but they are just that.  They are not reality.  When someone says to me that they stopped praying to God because "God did not fix things," I say that they are praying to their image of God.  God is beyond anything we can know.  Praying without focusing on my thoughts of God can be touch, but it is the way to avoid praying to my mental idols of God.  If I let my imagination rule my prayer, then I am little better than the Romans who had all these gods they worshipped, or at least thought existed.  If anything, God is a Surprise.  Be open.  Those who are close-minded about God are people who at some point said their image of God does not exist.  They were right.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Source

The mystic who believes in a Source of All, a Divine, A Holy, says that each of us was once part of this One.  For Some religions we were part of God, or one in God.  Then God sent us forth to become human beings.  Because of this, our spiritual DNA always wants to return or stay connected, or find out about the Source.  The mystic would say Contemplation does this.  For some yes.

But this desire to know about our roots or stay in touch with our beginnings seems natural to me.  As human beings many of us have a special relationship with one parent or another.  We stay in touch.  Even adopted children get a yen to know the birth mother.  To be abused or disconnected from a parent is a real tragedy.  It is the unnaturalness of being disconnected from the person(s) from whom we came.  We are meant to be connected.  In the spiritual life, prayer, in whatever form, is the manner of connection with the One from whom we came.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle had the talent to be the greatest baseball player of all time.  He was fast, could hit, hit for power, field and throw.  But in his first season with the Yankees baseball team he tripped on a drain pipe in the outfield and tore up his knee.  Knees were not fixed then the way they are now.  He was never the same.  He played in pain for the next 18 years in baseball.  Ted Williams might have been the greatest hitter, but he spent four of his prime years flying airplanes in war.  Stuff happens and it can set us back or upset our plans, or get in the way of some of our talents/gifts.

It is the same way with prayer.  Stuff happens and we don't prayer as we could or did.  The nice thing is that we can pick up again on prayer and learn from our time away, or our spiritual drought.  Nothing is wasted. We never have to be in a space where we would say, "I wish I had prayed more."  Spiritual gifts are not the same as physical gifts that are finite and become depleted or disappear with misuse or no use.  The spiritual is bottomless.  The past is past.  Today we can pray.  God is never diminished.  The relationship is never gone.  Just for today, be the best.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Being Human

Human Beings pray.  This is something no other thing in creation does.  It is unique to us.  An apple tree produces apples.  It is what makes it an apple tree and not a lake.  Now there might be an apple tree that does not bear any fruit.  That is its only option.  It cannot produce figs.  It is apples or nothing.  There may be bad apples or rotten apples, but they are apples all the same.  It is possible that humans do not pray.  That does not make them less human.  It is a bit like the apple tree that does not produce any apples.  It is still an apple tree.  Atheists and pagans can pray.  There are a variety of praying, like a variety of apples.  There is yoga prayer, stillness contemplative prayer, walking prayer, talking prayer,  thinking prayer, and lots more varieties, but it is all prayer.  It is what humans do.  All substitutes will not fulfill being human.  I've tried them.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Days

Some days I just don't have it when I exercise.  I feel tired, slow, ands struggling.  Today was that day.  Two days ago and yesterday were a breeze.  I was ready to win the elliptical olympics, or run free of effort.  I was ready for a good workout today.  From the get go, it was hard.  It took everything I had just to put in the time.  I was slow and the effort was great.  I have days like this.

Is it not the same way in being a parent, marriage relationship, job, daily chores?  Some days we are super parent, or a most loving spouse, or energized and creative in our job.  Other days, well...everything is a struggle and you want to give up.  You just get through it and hope the damage is minimal, that your child, spouse, boss, or co-workers don't think you a complete jerk or an uncaring person.  It is the same in a life of prayer.  We have those days in which we just go through the steps, the motions as best we can.  Why these days?  It keeps me humble!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sun Gazing

I got to see the eclipse for a few minutes when the clouds moved away.  I used a dark piece of glass.  I can look at the sun through the glass.  I noticed that when I turned the glass plate to look in another direction, I could see nothing but darkness.  Only the bright sun could get through the dark glass.  Is it not that way in contemplate prayer?  You enter into the still silence of darkness.  The only light that can get through is the Light of the Mystical Presence.  Everything else, all your busy thoughts, are put into some obscurity.  In contemplative prayer, the Divine does not want competition.  All our catechism knowledge, answers to doctrinal questions, need to be put aside, so that the Real Light can come forth.  I have found that I am a better person when I do this, and not so good a person when I ignore the Light and try to get by on book learning, or good resolutions.  Resolutions and learning never seems to overcome my faults.  I do what I don't want to do.   But the Light, now that is a power greater than my tendency to bad behavior.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All Knowing

Did you know that about 95% of the stuff of the universe we do not understand?  It is called "black matter" or well, just a lot of black stuff.  We know that something is there, but we do not know what makes it up.  We know that the universe is acting in ways that we cannot quite understand.  I like a science that says it does not know all, and there is a lot to learn.

What about religion?  It claims that it knows God.  This body of knowledge is called dogma.  But if God made the universe, and 95% of that confounds us, then why should anyone or any group say that it knows God?  What hubris!  I like the mystics.  They claim to know nothing, yet they can love God and sense being loved by God, even if life does not work out according to their plans.  Actually, a mystic dumps plans.  Mystics wait, in the darkness.  They see, the unknowable.  They stay open.  They don't burn people at the stake, or imprison them for disagreeing with traditional answers.  Not much love there.  Dogmatists seem to get awfully upset at times.  I prefer the scientists, the searchers.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am waiting for the eclipse of the sun to begin.  There are clouds.  I blame God.  I made plans for the eclipse.  God could end up on my resentment list along with all the people in Albuquerque who will get the full eclipse while I get a partial, if anything, with these clouds.  I have an infantile faith.  I see God as having the sun and moon on a string. He brings the strings together, but then sends some clouds, just to ruin my plans.  Silly, right?

But don't we do this in other situations, with infantile faith.  We have plans.  Something we cannot control gets in the way.  We blame God.  My plans make sense.  If something that does not make sense gets in the way, I blame God, right?  It assumes we know all about God and how God works or should work.  Infantile faith is based upon God doing what makes sense to me.  What makes sense to me is getting what I want.  When what I call bad things happen, infantile faith goes out the window.  Uuh!  Here comes the sun.  Gotta go.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Social Autism

Did you ever find yourself walking along a somewhat narrow sidewalk and several people are coming toward you, walking side by side and talking to one another?  You wait for them to make some room for you to have a piece of the sidewalk.  They do not.  They make as if you don't exist.  You step off into the street and turn sideways.  You stand there.  They do not see you even then.  They just continue on their self-absorbed way.  It is what I call "social autism."  Someone or something is there right in front of you, but you do not see it.  It is more than ignoring.  It is the inability to see another person or situation in plain view.

The opposite is to see the face of God, or in my religion, the face of Christ, in everyone I pass.  This is a stretch.  I know.  I try it when out walking.  Trying to see the face of Christ or the Holy Presence, in each person is like a wave that goes up against my natural tendency to judge, or compare, or to ignore.  My first instinct is to compare and contrast.  At times, when I am self-absorbed, I simply ignore a person.  My belief system says everyone is made from the same Divine cloth.  I work at it.  It beats social autism.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I went to a wonderful restaurant this evening.  I had passed it numerous times and not been attracted to it because the signage outside did not indicate how good the food is.  It seemed like a little dinky place with nothing special about it.  It got me thinking about people and places.  We all have "signage" about us.  People pass us by or see us from some distance and may decide on that whether they want to know more.  I have to keep reminding myself to stand up straight.  I tend to slump though I don't know it until I see a picture of myself.  I tend to grimace instead of smile.  Come to think of it, I don't know why people bother to approach me for anything.  Maybe they are desperate!  I am going to work on my "signage" since I think there is more to me than I advertise.  Well...let's hope so.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I like being sober.  I prefer it over the altered state of beer or whatever is your change agent.  I have found that nothing said when drunk was worth saying.  What comes out?  Self-revelations, insults, anger, poor me stuff and shallow opinions.  It is profound only to one in an altered state.  And so much energy is used up.  You stay up late.  You run around and do crazy things.  Kill brain cells.  What amazes me now from my sober perch, is that people do those things, see how silly it was, and then do it again.  Looking at them, I am humbled.  I see a younger me.  Never dismiss the fool.  They can teach us much about ourselves, where we have been or where we could go, if false pride runs the show.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Rosary

Lately, I have been saying the rosary.  The weather is mild here now, so I go for a walk, sometimes slowly around the school, or around the church and alley.  I say the rosary as I walk.  The beads hang from my hand.  Now and again someone passes me.  I smile and say hello.  I have gotten comfortable doing this rosary walk.  I seem to shift into a peacefulness, or at least shed whatever craziness was going on in my mind.  I think of the mysteries of the rosary, or look at the green mountains in front of me.  I try not to look at the pretty joggers.  A man saying his rosary, you expect more, right?  Anyhow, by the time I return to the house, I am in pretty good shape.  The iTouch has all the prayers, should I forget one or go blank on a mystery of the rosary.  My rosary is coming with me to Virginia.  So is my iTouch, my tennis ball to roll on as I get the kinks out of my muscles, and my jogging/walking shoes.  All the essentials now include my rosary.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On The Road

I am going to go visit my cousins in Virginia and a niece and her children there as well.  These are people I have not seen in many years.  As I get older I realize that "later" might be more of a "now" than before.  My cousins are my age, so we grew up in the same world.  It will be good to see me through their eyes.  I am not taking my computer or iPad, so the chance of putting out blogs in the next few days are slim.  I'll jot down ideas and get back to a computer by the weekend.  It took a lot to get me out of my routines and into visiting relatives. I am not what you would call a spontaneous guy. Runners are people of routine.  But a little change of pace is going to be good for my soul.  Of course, I could go live on the East Coast, where most of my relatives live, but then that would be a drastic move from the West.  I need to be open to Grace, right?  

Monday, May 14, 2012

35 Years

Today is the 35th anniversary of my ordination.  There were times early on in my priesthood when I would forget this date until some one of my classmates reminded me.  But in the last few years, I do not forget.  To be a priest, with all my faults, for 35 years is a miracle.  It is Grace rather than aptitude that has worked all these years.  Today, I quietly celebrate the miracle.

I have found that when I am doing the work or living in a manner that is truly who God made me to be, I am quite kind and compassionate.  When I try to do things that are really not me, out of guilt or "duty" I become unkind, impatient, and whiny.  I cannot be some other priest or a poster for vocations.  I can only be the unique me whom God has called to live this life.  Each day I need to take time out to meditate, to slow down, so that I can ask, "How do you want me to live your gift today, Lord?"  You might try this in your own life, assuming you have figured out who you are and how to live it out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Being You

Jesus said that if you remain in him then you will do what he commanded, and vice versa.  What is this all about?  To me, God made each of us to live a unique way, with our special talents, or gifts.  When we live from our core, our soul, then we are most who God made us to be and we are close to God.  This is the part about "remaining in me."  Living from our truest self we can more easily love, even heroically love, which is the "commandment" part.

This becomes apparent when you have days where you don't feel very loving, you are not very kind or patient or compassionate.  What happened?  Well, you are probably not living true to who your are.  You might be working way beyond your energy level, or doing something that you have no business doing, maybe acting out of "duty" or guilt.  When you live from within yourself, even difficult things become a bit easier.  So, the spiritual journey is not so much about more prayer, more pious devotions.  It is about finding out who you are.  This is not the same as what you do for a living.  You could be an accountant, but be someone who is their best when compassionate, or a good listener.  But if being an accountant is so much out of sync with your true self, then you will be miserable and so will your clients, if you have any!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Cross

There once was a miler named Herb Elliot who had a demanding coach named Percy Cerutty.  Eliot never raced for second place once Cerutty took over his training.  Cerutty would not let him.  Eliot won the 1960 metric mile in the Olympics.  He cruised past everyone else in the race.  He set the record.  The training was brutal.  Eliot was tough.  Tough coach, tough runner.  Soft coach, soft runner.  Jesus says, "Take up your cross and follow me."  Look at his life, and his dying.  Tough God, Tough followers.  No one said heaven was easy.  Whiners need not apply.  But if you know you are a complainer but want to stop, well you have a chance.  Knowing the mess is the first step to conversion.  St. Paul saw this and then he ran the race with Jesus as the coach.  Paul got tough.  Read it in Acts of the Apostles and his letters.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Pain Mask

I went to a sports massage guru with a pain in my hip.  It turns out that the hip hurt because it was the weakest of the muscles and tendons that were all connected.  The problem to address was in other parts of my body that were stronger than the hip, so were able to mask the issue.  So now I have to work on strengthening these other parts so that my hip won't cry out for attention.   In the spiritual life we usually focus on where the pain is.  We say, "I have no faith," or "I cannot pray," or "I am bored" and so on.  These are the presenting issues but not the problem.  The problem with "faith" is that we have the wrong god.  We are trying to believe in a god that does not exist or is an idol.  We need a new God encounter.  God is not an idea or a concept or a thing.  God is Love.  God is.  If you can enjoy nature, or see something beautiful in another person, you have found God.  See it in yourself and you have found paradise!  Whiners are blind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pain But Not Suffering

I am doing some new core exercises to strengthen my tummy and such.  These are hard, but they do not cause pain.  Pain is no good.  Suffering on the other hand is the path to strength and fitness at least in these exercises.  There may be an easier softer way, but I don't think so.  In the spiritual life we grow through some suffering but don't make it painful on your own.  Don't beat yourself with a whip.  Don't starve yourself.  Give up something that your will and self-indulgence wants but does not really need.  Be kind for no reason at all.  Go against self-implosion.  This might cause some suffering, but it is not really going to cause pain.  Unless you are a whiner.  No whining in spiritual growth.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Jesus says, "Rest in me," or "Abide in me," or "Remain in me."  What he means is that we should "relax" with him.  Not all of us can relax with our image of God.  Is God a Judge?  Is God ready to pounce on you for your imperfections, and faults?  Is God far away and impassive about your plight?  If so, then I suspect you won't feel much like "resting" or "relaxing" with that image.  I suggest you get a new image.  When you find an image or sense of God that is comforting, then you will be able to remain in God.  Jesus knew that as long as his followers were afraid of him in his risen body, they would not be able to relax with him.  I find the sense of "Simple, Loving Presence," to be one in which I can relax.  When focused on my own feelings of guilt or shame, I can relax with no one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where Is God?

In Bolivia there is the Virgin of Copacabana.  When you leave the presence of the statue in its shrine, you never turn your back.  You walk backwards until you are outside.  Do you ever turn your back on God?  Well, if you think God is in a place or particular space, then when you are not facing that space, I suppose you are turning your face away from God.  But, if you consider God to be everywhere, as says the Bible, then you are never turning your back on God.  God is always with you, in front and behind.  You are surrounded by God within, and without.  If there is to be a holy space, it is not going to be a building.  It is going to be you.

Going It Alone

I don't know why we try to live independently of anyone else, to depend only on ourselves, to go it alone.  Even God did not act that way.  Jesus often speaks of how he is united to the Father, how he does the will of the Father, how he does nothing without the Father.  Maybe there is a point here for us mere human beings.  Yes, I am the one who does an action, a task, a work.  But which work or task?  Sometimes I have the choose.  Certainly, I am not in control of results.  Lots of stuff can interfere with my plans of how things should work out.  Maybe life is best done in partnership.  Jesus found it that way.  Now, he is always hanging around, waiting to be asked, invited into this project we call "my life".

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Finish

I was watching the Kentucky Derby horse race this weekend.  One horse ran in the lead for most of the race.  He was way ahead of the field with about 300 meters to go.  Then you could see him begin to struggle and slow down.  The others horses began to close the gap.  He lost the race.  I think about the spiritual path as not so much spectacular times each day, as doing something on a daily basis and letting it all add up.  I have seen high school and college age people pour themselves into religion.  They are zealots.  By the time they hit their latter 20s, they have dropped out, or drifted onto the edges of any practice.  Maybe it is a bit like the turtle and the rabbit.  So I try to do something on a regular basis, some regular prayer, but nothing spectacular.  I weave prayer into my daily routines.  I want to be doing this to the day I die.  That is the finish line, is it not?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I forgot how much I enjoy weddings.  I had not done one for about 8 years.  God is Love, so it says in John's Gospel.  I saw God in the love of the bride and groom.  People tell me that they cannot find God.  Are they looking up at the sky for an old man in a beard?  That is fantasy.  God is love.  If we cannot find God it is because we have not found love.  Where there is love, there is God.  It was a beautiful wedding.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Please Listen

A physical injury is my body's way of saying, "You are not listening to me."  I may be running too hard or too often, or not stretching enough, or not getting enough rest.  I am ignoring some signals, so my body gets injured to get my attention, sufficient enough so that I will stop what I am doing.  My will considers it a misfortune because now I cannot run the way my will wants.  But in running, the body rules.  It wants rest, it will get rest, sooner or later.  I am injured.  My body has my attention.  I rest.  I pay attention.  I want to run, but running would be a bad thing now.  Wait.

How does God get my attention?  Misery, unhappiness, frustration, embarrassment, and self-will not getting its way, are just some of the ways that God gets my attention.  There is always a price to ignoring the Divine.  No meditation, no praise, no thank you, and sure enough I will end up having to stop my self-propelled life.  Why don't I listen to my body and to God?  Why do I not pay attention?  Why do I have to have pain and misery before I am willing to change?  Addiction? Original sin?  The human condition?  Whatever, I am going to write a note and put it next to my nightstand.  It will say, "Are you listening?"  Hopefully, I will read it each day when I wake up.  The first waking up is from sleep.  The second is from stupidity.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Perfect Body?

What is a perfect body?  If it had scars would you say it is perfect?  Probably not in our culture where the "outsides" are the playing field of judgment.  Well, Jesus had scars.  He died with them.  His resurrected body had them too.  Scars seem to stay with us I guess.  Maybe they are not so bad a thing to have.  I'll take a resurrected body with scars rather than nothing at all.  If scars, or imperfections, as we might call them in our culture, are good enough for Jesus, then they are good enough for me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Scar

Now for good roots.  When I exercise regularly, running and cross training, I will not see the fruits of my efforts right away.  On the surface, I won't see much improvement.  But I am building roots that are yet hidden from view.  If running becomes a habit, over time those roots will deepen.  Eventually, I will begin to see improvement in my running.  I will go faster and longer and think that it came all of a sudden.  But it was patience and practice that brought it all about.  My body will change, take on a different look inside and outside from the training.  I will be scarred, but in a good way.  All those times of suffering, doing a good thing, training when I did not want to, will begin to bear fruit.  Good deeds, done over and over, become habits.  Habits, called virtues, eventually bear fruit.  We die to old ways that were useless, and live to new ways that give us life.  Does not the cross always produce scars?  I suffer some from the results of my lip surgery.  But I have new life too.  I am cancer free.  The first day of healing is the toughest.  But it passes.  I am on day two and already things are a bit better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Yesterday, I had surgery on my lip to remove cancer.  I saw a tiny piece on my lip that I thought would require a small incision and a couple of stitches.  Wrong!  The surgeon cut much more into my lip and then down below my lip a good inch.  I have a big scar.  He got all the cancer though, on the first cut.  Apparently, the small spot I saw had deep roots.  It must have been growing for a time.  It took a while for the roots to show themselves, or the discoloration I saw on my lip, that seemed not to change, was changing in ways I could not see.

Is this not the way it is with our habits, good and not so good?  When we begin to act badly, there may already be roots within our psyche that are just beginning to reveal themselves in our actions.  The more we do the same messy thing, the deeper we drive the roots and the harder it becomes to stop.  We don't see that in the beginning.  Addiction always starts out as a first time thing.  So does sin and vice.  Or we might begin to do an action that is not good for us.  We see only a minor problem.  As we repeat it however, we begin to drive in roots that are not so apparent, until we reach the stage of habit that we cannot stop.  That is why they call it vice, a bad habit, beyond our control.  Either the roots are already there, hidden, or we make them ourselves, but don't see it.  We keep saying we have control until one day, we realize we are out of control.  The Divine Healer is the only surgeon that can make us clean again.  There will be a scar, but we will be made clean.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This morning I messed up my left hip while running.  It had been coming on, but instead of doing less, I did more.  Anyhow, now I find it very difficult to walk up stairs.  I live in an upstairs bedroom.  My office is upstairs.  I began to realize how precious it is to walk stairs without any pain.  I took it for granted until today.  I wonder how many other things I take for granted when I say, "I am having a bad day!"  A little more gratitude would change my attitude.  I am grateful for all that I can still do in the ordinary moments of the day.  Now, I am hopeful to find someone with "magic hands" to fix my sore hip!