Thursday, March 31, 2016
I am going through a miserable cold. The doctor prescribed for me some sleep aide medicine that was non-addictive. I took it at night before I went to bed. Not much happened for the first hour or two or so I thought. But I found that in the middle of the night when I probably was most bothered by my cold, I was sleeping as well. I had dreams filled with anxious events and moments. I would wake in the late of the night, around 3ish and get up, cough and blow my nose and lay there in some meditation since it did not seem that I would go back to sleep. Then I would sleep into the morning, waking up and going back to sleep. The dreams in the early morning were very peaceful and happy. They were the kind of dreams I would like to go back to whereas the ones from earlier in the night, I was glad they were only dreams. I don't know that dope has anything to do with dreams or if middle of the night deep meditation affects dreams. I only know I had this experience. What do you know about this?
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
In the late 1970s and early 1980s religious order and diocesan priest leaders began to move in on alcoholic priests. The Superior Generals of the religious orders and the leaders of diocesan clergy heard professional speakers talk about the problem of alcohol in clergy. Priests who drank alcoholically were confronted and sent away to treatment centers. When they finished the treatment they were expected to go into daily recovery programs such as AA. They were not simply put back into parishes. They were not cured. They are never cured. That is the purpose of addiction recovery programs. No recovery program and you go back to the booze. The church also heard about pedophiles in the priesthood and some moved in on them and sent them to treatment programs. Those programs said the person was "better" and could be returned to ministry. But there was no ongoing meetings for this addiction. Sex anonymous with a pedophile wing might have been a good thing, but it did not happen. And there goes all the difference. Ask any alcoholic priest in recovery when he got sober and he will tell you most likely, somewhere between 1978 and 1985. By then the seminaries were on the watch for alcoholism and not ordaining them as in the past when there was ignorance or denial.
I just realized that I forgot to do a blog on my birthday. Was this an act of selflessness? Was I really thinking about others instead of me? Then again, am I just getting old and forgetful, confused, and muddled? Well, anyway, I enjoyed the day, and continue to celebrate it for the week. P.S.. There is another blog for today.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
When people tell you that you are wasting your time, it is often because they do not value what you are doing. It has no importance for them. For many people, prayer is a waste of time. They mean the meditative prayer where you sit there and seem to do nothing. Prayer for a parking place, or for a timely reservation at a restaurant, or anxiety-ridden moments are OK. That prayer is quick and to the point. I want. God gives. Meditation is a whole different world to the outsider. Just know that when the next time someone says you are wasting your time. They might just be going off to TV land and Dancing with the Stars, or The Last Survivor. My struggle is to take time to meditate and still watch March Madness! We all have our value systems.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
There was a time when Easter was just another Sunday for me. I was in that period of time, a single bachelor, living on the wild West Coast in the town of San Francisco. Easter Sunday mass was not in my plans if I had any plans for a Sunday. What was worse is that I did not miss it. How I got from there to here is pure grace, a gift. I was the kind of guy who backed into the good when the bad looked like the jumping off point. I "wanted" a spiritual life, but then I wanted a Porche. Now and again, this being Northern California, I sensed God in nature but I did not stay around long enough to listen, should God have anything to say beyond, "Here I Am!" Friends who knew me when, would be surprised that I will celebrate my 73rd birthday tomorrow. Miracles are everywhere.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
This is Easter weekend in my church. It is a big time for focusing on God. Many people get all energized, and do special things, events, church ceremonies this weekend. God is the focus. This is all good for my church and my work. Then comes Monday, the first day after Easter. People are so over celebrations or they want to quietly celebrate the Easter Octave. Unfortunately for me, this Easter Monday is my birthday, March 28. Will anyone take note? If I were spiritually evolved instead of a child wanting to blow out candles, I would rejoice that my day is like the empty tomb, forgotten, given the Resurrection. Oh well, I suppose my birthday could have been Good Friday. Then a party would really be in bad taste!
Friday, March 25, 2016
Some of us have a spiritual life journey that is like "Lost and Found" departments. At some point we are completely lost, though we might not even know it. As a child in a department store shopping with my Mom, I wandered away from her but did not know that I was getting lost. I was not paying attention. I willfully did what I wanted and went where I wanted to go. Then I discovered that I was lost. I cried. I panicked. I could not find my Mom on my own. I needed help. Eventually, I was found. So it is on the spiritual path. I am on the path as a child. Then I get willful. I become all about me. I wander off into people and situations and practices that seem good at the time, but prove to be a disaster. I then realize I am lost. I need help from someone(s). I listen to them. I let them lead me and eventually I have a newfound God. Maybe God lets me get lost so that I will appreciate the journey back and the community that helps me. Anyway, I prefer to be found rather than lost, but I was one who had to do it the hard way.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
When you live in the world with no eye for the transcendent around you, daily life seems so mundane. People ask, "What did you do or see today?" You answer, "Nothing much." We look for diversions from the mundane. Media/technology can be an escape from the dull. It is not so much that one person sees and everybody else does not. It means that one person stops and pays attention, while others go along distracted or self-imploded. A bud on a tree in Spring, a flower opening to the morning sun, can be seen by everyone. But few stop and pay attention. You think Moses was the only one who saw the burning bush? The Transcendent will make itself known when you stop and pay attention. The contemplative life can help here.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
One of the problems for people who are searching for God is that their childhood faith does not have a bridge to their adult experience. A child gets a child's faith. There is a catechism. It has answers to questions asked or not. God is good and loving. Be close to God and you will be fine. God will take care of you. As you grow up you have experiences of Columbine, Newton, tornadoes that kill and destroy, fatal car accidents and diseases that take the life of people in the youth or prime of life. We are encouraged to find God in formal worship but not so much in the everyday of grown up life. The world is divided between the secular and the sacred when in fact God just might be everywhere. People come to me looking for a more contemplative prayer life because they are looking for that bridge. The bridge is what helps them to notice things with a sense of surrounding transcendence.
Monday, March 21, 2016
I met a person recently who had changed a lot, for the better. I asked what had happened? Seems she used to allow herself to be involved with men who she did not understand, much to her misery. She found that out later. She had no particular spiritual life or belief in any kind of a God. Then she stumbled into an insight. The insight was that she had been willing to enter into bad relationships with men she did not understand, so why not enter into a better relationship with a God she did not understand. She says that now she has better conversations with The God she does not understand than the men she did not understand. She has even begun to learn to listen. She has discovered prayer and it has changed her life for the better. So if you have good people in your life even if you don't understand them, why not have a God you don't understand? Understanding is way overvalued.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
I know people who are of one religion or another who follow the rules but are not very loving, kind or compassionate after they have kept the rule. An example from my own religion: The rule is that you go to mass on Sunday or else you sin and could burn for it. So never die after skipping Sunday obligation without confessing. There are some good historical reasons for this rule. But here is what might happen and often does. You go to mass. The singing/choir/songs are dreadful/unsingable, the acoustics are bad, the preacher has a heavy foreign accent that you cannot fathom, and the heat/air is not on because of finances or someone forgets. You come out of church, fulfilling your obligation, but in a very bad mood. You are angry and unkind. Everyone is a pain. Acceptance is nowhere to be found. Organized religion teaches unwittingly that obedience and love do not always go hand in hand. When I am at the altar and pulpit I try to speak slowly, clearly, and loudly enough to be heard, given the acoustics, so as to lesson the pain in the pews. Good Grief!
Saturday, March 19, 2016
I know people who seem very happy, kind and caring, who used to live quite dreadful lives. I think to myself, "They must have wonderful spiritual experiences that keep them living such a full life." I think of my own spiritual practice in which I have days where I just do the "mechanics." I do my prayer practice but feel nothing special. I go on faith. I surrender to discipline, but have no engrossing spiritual experience. When I ask these people what they do, I find out that they too have days in which they simply practice the mechanics. They avoid bad behavior or places and situations where they used to indulge in such behavior. They read a spiritual book, and do some prayers and meditation. Over the long haul, I think it is all about surrender to a discipline. As blah as I might feel on any given day, it sure beats any disasters from dreadful bad habits that I try to keep in the past, the distant past.
Friday, March 18, 2016
I hear people say that they have a God who they understand. It is their personal God in whom they believe. It may have little to do with any church theology. It works for the person, this personal God. So when I talk about contemplation, I am talking about a God beyond our understanding. Dare to go there? Don't worry. You cannot go there on your own power. In meditation, the God of your understanding can take you there, beyond or beneath understanding. It takes a lot of courage and daring to be willing to let go of our God of our understanding, which is why few people ever enter in the contemplative stage. So why do it? The God of our understanding is wearing a mask, the one each of us gave to God. It is a real God, but a masked one. In contemplation, the mask comes off and you have no image to attach to. You may even feel a sense of absence at times. But ultimately, you will feel the intimacy of love beyond all understanding. Would you find it fully satisfying to make love to someone who is wearing a mask? OK, maybe occasionally. But overall, no. Dare to be open to the intimacy of divine love. Don't worry, The Lover will not take you there until you are ready.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Someone said, "Dare to be average." There is wisdom in this saying. Think how many times you enter into a bad mood because you did not feel you are not more perfect, or great or an "A" person in grades. Average is the land of shame and guilt, the land of mediocrity. Lots of labels here to make us feel miserable, no? People are labeled average because they are seen as stupid, lazy, or just plan bad. So to embrace average is a daring act. What might happen? If you embrace it you might feel a new sense of peace. It is OK to be you today, feeling average. No one will be jealous of you. People may find you more approachable and want to befriend you because you are not a threat to their daily struggles. It is hard to be helpful to anyone if you are seen as superior to them. You may have more experience in something, but you are not better than others. The secret that many people keep to themselves is that they often feel average. It bothers them. We need clubs or associations of "The Average." I always feel better about myself, and can even do better when I spend some time with average people trudging along toward happiness. Together, we see the light and it is not always at the end of the tunnel. In fellowship we can enter into the light. Find a community of the average.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Some people fast as a penance for bad behavior, or in religious circles, for their sins. What has fasting to do with bad behavior? It is a matter of the "Will." One can choose to do a bad deed, which is a willful act. Or one might do a bad deed because they have no will power. In either case, the will is damaged as to doing good deeds and healthy actions. Fasting is an attempt to deal with the will. One decides to fast from something, often a food, but it could be a place or people or temptation to do the wrong. Is not sobriety a daily fasting from alcohol for an alcoholic? They have broken wills. That is the basis of addiction. On their own they cannot say no to alcohol. But if they only try to fast from alcohol, they will not be sober. They will only be "dry." They need more of a spiritual solution. Fasting is only the bottom line to a whole program of action. So too, with anyone who fasts to strengthen the will. To just skip meat on Friday does not make one a better person. If anything, it probably makes one more prideful that they "kept the fast." Or maybe they do it simply for health reasons. So now, they are healthy people who practice bad behavior! If we are going to become better persons, fasting can be part of a larger practice that gets at our spiritual innards. Back to meditation. Gotta go!
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Someone said that sobriety was God's time. The person could not give sobriety to themselves. That was their experience. But we can nurture a gift. Sobriety can be nurtured. Faith is not something we can give ourselves. It is a gift, but we can nurture it and grow spiritually. Such people believe in a spiritual path. But then they have to practice it. We cannot make a flower grow. We can plant a seed or a tree but there is no guarantee. But we can nurture a flower so that it might fully bloom. So too, we can nurture our spiritual life, the flower of a faith in something not us. Do that and what might happen? Bloom!
Monday, March 14, 2016
At a recent Sunday morning mass in Vero Beach, I announced to the congregation, at the end of mass, that I would be leaving them. They had been listening to me for six weeks in stories, homilies and teachings. They all clapped. At first I thought it was because they appreciated me and wanted to show it by clapping. Later, someone said, "No, they were clapping because they are glad that you are leaving." Say it isn't so! But my interpretation reveals that I am a rather positive person in spite of my limited talents and goodness. Isn't is better to wake up in the morning and think that you are doing good and being helpful and that the world is happier for you being in it? I guess I think that way. So when I hear that I might be dreadful as a priest it comes as a surprise. I like waking up happy even if it might be delusional. I think that negative person was wrong. They do love my in Vero! I have a happy face.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
My sister Maureen was once the princess. She was the only child. All attention, all toys, all love was hers to have. Then I came along. "Sharing" became operative. Maureen did not share. I simply took. I took space, attention and toys. No wonder that the princess tries to get rid of the prince in fairy tales. Recently my niece had her second child, three years younger than the princess, Juliette. The new child was a boy, Jovon. These two remind me of Maureen and myself. Jovon takes toys, causes chaos in Juliette's space. He takes up space and attention of parents. Juliette no like. Maureen no like. Jovon and Terry are clueless. Well, all this teaches me a lesson for today. Sometimes I have everything the way I want it. I have my own space, TV stations, chocolate, quiet and environmental control. Then someone new comes along. They don't know all these things are "mine." They think they are to be shared, as in "ours." I find myself channeling my sister Maureen. I now understand her better. We don't like people to bother us in our routines our sense of ownership. I need the serenity prayer.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
I like the serenity prayer. It is short and to the point. Basically, it says that I work on what I can change. The rest I leave up to God. I leave a lot up to God. I cannot really change me. I can change what I do. I can meditate. The results I leave up to God. I can clean up my room, but that will not make me less whinny, fearful, or anxious. I can try to behave better or avoid problematic places and people, but the basic me will be changed by God over time. Change some behavior, but basic attitudes, ways of responding emotionally to situations is God's doing. I used to think that if I prayed more I would not be a jerk or act like a jerk. I think that God still has some work to do. Anyway, I guess I am learning patience.
Friday, March 11, 2016
I like this one. I measure myself against the perceived flaws of others. They are the pedestals upon which I prop myself up and thus stand out, at least in my own mind. Sometimes I feel better by the way I judge others. "Thank God I am not like that person," I say. The reality is that I am a miracle. Any good that I do is a miracle because I have a lot of character defects that could very well derail me and send me spiraling into a quagmire of misery. I am not better than other people. Just for today I do not live in chaos. Even then, I suspect that someone is feeling better that they are not like they perceive me to be. Maybe my flaws can make someone feel better about themselves?
Thursday, March 10, 2016
My morning meditation often ends with my sense that I will be more in touch with God today, and be a better person. I won't fall into bad habits of the past, the near past. I have solid resolutions for the day. I feel confident. It is all like the morning dew. It goes away as the day matures. What happened? My Life. My damaged will power. My forgetfulness. Trying to accomplish more than the hours and my energy will allow. Living in delusion about my strengths. In the evening when I examine my day, there can be some wreckage, but usually it has good things that I never did that day. As God is want to say, "My piety is like the morning dew that early passes away."
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Who is your hero? Who do you admire? We sometimes have a person or persons in mind for one or both. I think an equally important person is the person(s) we like to be around. We might admire movie stars, and leaders, but if we met many of these people we would find that we don't care to be around them. They were better seen from afar. People we like to be around are people we have met up close and admire. If you want to become a better person, then why not model yourself and your behavior upon the people you would like to be around. Even monks in silence and solitude prefer other monks who best model silence and solitude. I like to be around my sister Jane because she models a manner of life that attracts me. We vacation well together. Think about that the next time you are thinking about spending money on a vacation with someone(s). Groups of mixed types of personalities are not my strong point. I have extrovert friends and enjoy their company, but I do not want to be an extrovert. When younger, I tried. All I got out of it was a headache!
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Recently, I was giving a parish mission in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I went up to the microphone to begin my talk. The sound was turned off. No one seemed to know how to turn it on. There but for a singular woman usher, the night would have been a disaster. She had watched how the sound was turned on for weekend masses. So she turned it on and the evening was saved from disaster. In prayer we have to turn on our sound system to hear God. Lots of times I forget to do this. I say that I am listening but in fact I am not turned on or tuned in on God's frequency wave. I am too busy talking in prayer or thinking pious thoughts, that I forget to turn on God's sound system in my heart. Secondly, God might want to speak to others through me. I am God's sound system for others. My bad behavior or useless chatter is what keeps the sound system off. Many people say they have turned away from God or a belief in God because of the bad behavior or idiocy of so-called believers.
Monday, March 7, 2016
I think it is one thing to pursue one's plans, agenda, happiness and such. I do this. But in order to avoid me-ism, to remain on an even emotional plain, I need to have these things as preferences in my day. If some evil force tries to prevent my plans, I need the courage to get up and try again. On the other hand, when I get resentful about my agenda not working out, get jealous/envious of others, make life miserable for myself and others by some emotional binge, then this is not OK. This is what I call me-ism. I waste a lot of energy by getting upset and resentful. I have a worse day currying resentment than simply some acceptance with my agenda not working out. Caregiving can cure you of this. Some very nice and loving people have agenda and needs that trump my plans.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
When a person loses conscious contact with the world around them, but is still functioning actively, it is called a "blackout." When asleep you lose conscious contact, but you are lying down at rest. A person in a blackout could be cooking, cleaning, walking about, or driving. Yikes!!! Yes, driving. So, blackouts are not good things for the person or the community in which they are functioning. There can be spiritual blackouts too. Did you ever do or say something, and then say to yourself or others, "What was I thinking?" or "Why did I do that?" At this point bad behavior still bothers us. We have not yet become chronically mean-spirited. These spiritual mini mishaps can be solved by morning mediations, before we enter more fully into the day of activity and relationships. They can be solved by an examination or inventory of our day before we go to bed at night. Here we can reflect on mishaps and see how they came up, what was preceding them, where had we missed a chance to do better and so on. This helps us for the next day. Sometimes my blogs have a spiritual blackout. I will look at one, a day or two later, and say, "Boy, that was dumb," or "What was I thinking?" I lose readers that way. You can be a tough group!
Saturday, March 5, 2016
The purpose of fasting or dieting for monks who lived in the desert was to become more loving. Self-denial for it own sake was a waste of time. All their attempts to discipline themselves was to become more loving persons. So it was not about punishing themselves for their sins, or "offering it up" to get time off from purgatory, or to negotiate something with God. It was all about love. So I ask myself why do I run, or watch what I eat, or cut out sugar? Is it for love? Well, no. It is for more self-focused or ego reasons. If you diet, why? I think I will try to have love as the goal. If I say no to some food will it make me less selfish, less concerned about my own comforts? If it makes me crabby, short-tempered or whinny, I guess I still will have a ways to go to become more loving. But then maybe the desert monks had the same experience. They fasted. They got cranky. They reflected upon their silliness, and then they began to be more concerned about others. I see some Godiva chocolate in my room. Hmmm.
Friday, March 4, 2016
When I am physically out of shape it is because I have not been exercising my body. I have not been paying it any healthy attention. I begin to ache, to "fall apart" or have problems because of this neglect. What is the solution? Simple. Exercise. Pay it some healthy attention. Is it not the same with relationships? Why do we become distant from good and loving people in our lives? Is it not because we fail to pay any attention to these relationships? We do not call, write, or even text. Relationships can suffer from lack of exercise, just like our bodies. Now, I am not much for talking on the telephone, but there are other things I can do to exercise a relationship. I can still write a letter. I can do cursive handwriting, a dying skill. And I can pray for people who are important to me. This keeps a relationship alive and healthy too. My blog is a way to keep in touch though many of my blog readers stay anonymous. Yet, if there were no readers I would not be "exercising" a blog. See, we help one another. This makes for healthy relationships.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
I hear alcoholism is called a disease. If this is so, it is not like other diseases such as cancer. Cancer kills, but it is counter productive for the cancer cells to kill. Death of the host, your body, kills the cancer. Cancer dies when the sick patient dies. So cancer is not very bright when it comes to survival. You might say, it kills you by mistake. Alcoholism on the other hand is much more insidious. It wants you dead. It is very powerful and cunning. You don't know you have it or you deny your have it, and when you realize you have it you just don't care and are ready to die. People who have cancer, when they feel badly, they seek help. They want to be well. Few alcoholics seek help, or make use of it when they find out that there is a way to remission. In the spiritual world, when you feel soul dead, there is a solution. Suicide is a way to end it. But then you die as well, which is the cancer cell solution. I will not feel so bad, but oops, I am dead. Prayer can be a way to feel other than miserable, lonely, useless and insignificant. You don't even have to believe in God. Deep meditation says to stop thinking about God. Non-believers don't much like the god they think about anyway. Meditation is like a therapy for our innards. It requires no thoughts or words, or beliefs. My God can work from nothing. From nothing can come much. Note the Big Bang.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Jews are often referred to as the "Chosen." They would be the chosen few, since there are not many Jews in the world population. Why did God choose them? Who knows? But there are other chosen few too. If you get ebola and live, you are part of the chosen few. Again, we are not sure why some survive and some don't, even with the same treatment. A cancer that kills almost everyone who has it and you live? You are the chosen few. There is one group that is the chosen few, that are not so recognized. They are the alcoholics who recover. Only about 10% of all alcoholics ever get into a recovery program. Most never make it to that point. Of those who get into recovery, very few ever stay for the rest of their lives, alcohol free. If you are one of them or know someone who is, you or they are the "chosen few." Again, we are not quite sure why some make it and so many don't. I suspect that contemplatives are the chosen few as well. There are few who actually take up this prayer and persevere in it for life. Just because no one else around you prays this way, does not make you odd. Just "chosen." Beware of the ego. It loves to be special!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Terrified loneliness may not be all bad. I have met several people who had that feeling, and they did not kill themselves. Terrified loneliness is when you look at a drawer of sharp knives and the thought of exiting life comes over you. These survivors seem to have one thing in common. They decided to reach out to someone. Most made a phone call. I think then, it would be a good idea to have someone you can call anytime and they will answer and help you, maybe even understand you. I have such a person, or persons in mind myself. You never know. These survivors all got in touch with someone, and then decided that terrified loneliness was the result of their solutions to happiness in life. They wanted to find new solutions. They were terrified. Drastic change seems to come after drastic feelings. Suicidal thoughts have led more than one person to find a deeper spirituality. Oops, gotta go. God is dialing me up.