Thursday, June 30, 2016
When Tennessee hired Pat Summitt, basketball was nothing, and Tennessee was a football school. Summit could have done a few years there, had enough success, and then moved on to some "Big Time" sports place. But Pat was a Tennessee gal. If you are from Tennessee, you know what that means. If not, you probably never will. To her, Tennessee was not a "fly over" state that it is for most Yankees and people who live on one coast or another. Tennessee was home for Pat, and she was going to make her teams the best. Knoxville was not a stepping stone for her to some other job in some other state with more money or fame. So ask yourself, do see your present situation as temporary, until something better comes along? Is this your resume add-on job? Is this your temporary home? If yes to the above questions, then you won't be happy where you are and you won't see the potential in you or where your location. Low expectations breed low results. I went to Knoxville from San Francisco. In the morning, San Francisco. In the afternoon, Knoxville. No one was impressed that I was there as the new pastor, but I was not deterred. I poured myself into being in East Tennessee and UT, with appropriate bright orange to go with it. I discovered Dollywood and the Magnolia Festival and a whole lot more. Over my eight wonderful years there, two or three students actually thought I did a good job, and when I left the people gave a big party. Now it may be because they were glad I was leaving, but nonetheless, I had a positive attitude and did not see East Tennessee as a "stop-over" to better things. It was the better thing. Plus, I hired Barbara Lockett. East Tennessee gals can always see the light.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Probably the most famous person I have ever met up to now is Pat Summitt, who died yesterday at the age of 64. She was the head of the University of Tennessee Women's Basketball team for many years. She was only 64. Now a lot of you write off sports as a waste of time, a diversion, unimportant, to be ignored. But I think Pat Summitt showed that sports are anything but irrelevant. She was a pioneer who made women's college basketball what it is today. When she started out as a 22 year old college coach, women's basketball and women's sports in general, were nothing of much importance to college or media. Summitt changed all that. She made it big time. She convinced girls that they could play sports too if they wanted, that the gym and playground courts did not belong just to the boys. She gave lots of young ladies a chance to have a college education. A lot of minority women benefitted from all this. Everyone of her players graduated. Can't say that about big time college football! Pat did not care just about winning, though she did that, but cared about her young players very much, and they knew it. She could be demanding, but loving. She gave this Catholic pastor an interview one time when I called her office. She asked me questions. She did not appear to be in a hurry. At that time she was in her 40s and winning often with championship trophies to show for it. But it was never about Pat Summitt. I miss her.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Continuing with thoughts from yesterday's blog, God created the shoulder to approve the lot of homo Erectus and down the line, the fully human person. We could throw stones at animals. We could also throw stones at one another. Stoning someone to death became capital punishment for some offenses. Religion sanctioned it. Throwing stones could hunt an animal or kill a human person. It came from the creation of the shoulder. Then humans created the gun. Actually, I believe the Chinese figured out gunpowder but it took Western European stock, to actually invent the gun. The gun can hunt animals, or kill a person. I suspect the percentage of total population killed by stoning is far less than the percentage of the total population killed by guns. One thing they do have in common. Anyone can find a stone to throw, and it seems anyone can find a gun to shoot. Freedom, and the right to self-protect for the guns. Stones won't do much self-protection. But then comes Orlando, a far cry and a long distance from the evolution of the shoulder. Assault rifles in night clubs? If this is all part of the evolution of homo Erectus, we are going down a dark road.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Watch a person pitch a baseball overhand. You are watching someone who is working against creation. That is why so many pitchers get injured. Monkeys cannot throw much of anything with any speed or accuracy. But about two million years ago, give or take, Homo Erectus developed a shoulder that was different than a monkeys. Up to then, travel was minimal. You had to go where food grew, which means you did not travel over more arid places to discover new lands. With the shoulder mutation, you could. Why? Erectus could now throw rocks, and then developed spears. They could hunt animals for food. So now they could travel and see the world. At that time you did not throw a lot, just enough to get the food you needed. Eventually, technology caught up with the need for this shoulder. We developed bow and arrow, and then the gun. Shoulder not needed with this new technology. Then sports came along and humans began to throw a lot of things, such as javelins, and baseballs. The shoulder was meant to hunt a little for today's meal, not do all this contortions in sports. So people get injured and need surgery or end up having to quit the sport, and suffer a lot of pain for which they might take pain pills. I think of God as creator who gave us the human shoulder, and we took it into a place it might not belong, throwing baseballs. Whenever my body says, "Don't do that," I think it is a God message. I ignore it at my peril. Gotta' go for my run!
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Silence is counter cultural to technology. When you are alone with your computer, you are not silent, as in being open to an interior insight. Texting is talking to yourself about what you want type or send to someone else. You are editing the text in your mind, though you are not making any sounds. Silence is not the absence of sound. Silence is a quality of being with yourself that is the doorway to solitude. It is the way to an inner world, your inner world. But for many people this kind of silence would give a feeling of loneliness, disconnection with the outside world of "Happening events." Boredom might be felt. Boredom, loneliness, disconnection are seen as things to be avoided, like a plague. I see them as simply small obstacles on the spiritual journey. They are feelings and judgments that pass as you go down the road. Even if someone has no belief in a particular deity, the person still has an interior life. It is how we are put together. If we ignore it, then I think we end up with true loneliness, boredom and disconnection, not with the outside world, but with our own self.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Today is my sister Elizabeth's birthday. You did not know that I had two younger sisters? Well, I do. I was only four when she came along. It meant one more kid in the apartment that my big sister Maureen had to watch at times. What useless siblings we were. Anyway, Maureen turned out to be pretty much like our Mom. She had four kids and was the Mom. Elizabeth became the wild child. I was a wild child but that was when I really was pathetically old for being such. Elizabeth was more the wild child at the appropriate age. Now she goes to church and is a responsible grandma. She lives a quiet life of healthy adult activities in Florida. So, if you have a wild child, it might only be a chapter in their and your life. In time, good things can happen. I have found that out in my own life, one day at a time.
Friday, June 24, 2016
One summer day when I was a little boy I was sitting in our apartment with my big sister, Maureen. I asked her, "Maureen, where is heaven?" "Why do you ask?" she queried. "You are not going there anyway." Ignoring this cold response, I continued, "Mommy says that heaven is where God lives." "Yes, this is true. God lives in heaven with all the people who were good little boys and girls." "I'm good, aren't I?" I questioned. "NO, you are not good. That is why you will have to go to purgatory and be punished." "What is purgatory?" I asked. "It is where you go when you die for not picking up your toys when I tell you." "I pick them up!" I countered. "Yes, but only after I ask you and then ask again, and then threaten to punish you." But she wasn't finished. "This is why I will go right to heaven when I die. My purgatory is here on earth taking care of you instead of being with my girlfriends." I pondered that for a moment. Then the thought came to me, "So, I am helping you get to heaven by being bad, right?" "Hmm," was my speechless sister's response. For her to be speechless was a miracle. So maybe being bad is not all that bad if it helps other people to do their suffering here on earth. If you have someone who exasperates you, makes you crazy at times, does not obey, they may be a gift in your life too. They are getting you off some purgatory time. Jesus traveled around and taught people like that. We Christians are supposed to follow Jesus. So we all need some people who make us crazy at times. You might even have married one, or birthed one, or work with one. Being bad is not all bad. Since Maureen is in purgatory, I guess I was not bad enough!
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Without an interior prayer life, or "inwardness," as some would call it, I believe that I would make Christianity into whatever makes me feel comfortable. If I feel comfortable going to church on Sunday, and obeying the Ten Commandments, then that is what I will call "Christianity." Keep a few rules and laws. But true Christianity is not supposed to make me feel comfortable. Yes, when I am a mess, and ask God to forgive me, this is comfortable. But only for a moment, the moment when I experience forgiveness. The reason I want to be forgiven is because of some wrong I did, and this wrong came from some character defect in me, some ongoing fault let's say. Now Christianity becomes less comfortable because it is all about change. I need to change, but left to my own devices I have not the ability to change. I need God. I can read scriptures and see how I am supposed to be living in relation to my neighbor. I find it daunting. Going to church on Sunday did not make it less daunting or give me the wherewithal to do better. I need God, or Grace. I know what to do and struggle to do it. Christianity is hard when you are not perfect. I get strength from my interior prayer life.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
A person said that she thought she needed to make God a priority in her life, ahead of her marriage, family and job. Wow! I don't think so much about seriously changing my life to prioritize God. I think rather of making God the first thing in my day, as a way of making God be first. I wake up a few minutes earlier than my other commitments demand, and I pray. It does not have to be any specific amount of time. God and I are not on the clock. The point is, that I gave up something, sleep, in this case, to spend time in the God relationship. If you are starting out, then don't overdose early on. Just a few minutes, maybe ten or twelve, to get into the habit. Allow the God hunger to develop and carry you along. Remember, God is in this process with you. I hear about people who burn out because they treat this meditation/prayer time like someone who decides to exercise. They join a gym on January 2. They go everyday for about six weeks. They neglect family, job, and other responsibilities. Their life becomes crazy. By mid-February they have left the club and given up exercise. Be good to yourself and God. Start small. Go easy. The journey is one small step at a time.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Some people fear boredom. The cell phone can take care of that. But if you avoid boredom you may very likely be a person who does not feel comfortable in the world or mediation. Meditation can have boring moments. Boredom is part of the world of solitude when you spend time with yourself, but you are not alone. God is present, but may not be letting you know, for reasons of God. Maybe God wants to see how interested you are in staying with the relationship when you are bored. If you want to be a person who mediates for whatever reason, you will have to accept that there are times when you just sit with yourself, believe God is present, and wait. Phone on mute or silent. The world will survive without you for a few moments. If this bothers you, then you really need this prayer to let go of cyberspace addiction.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Mareen and I were walking somewhere and we came to a street corner in the Bronx. I continued to walk across the street. Maureen pulled me back to the curb. She was big and strong.
"Do you see a stop sign anywhere?" she asked.
I looked on all the corners and saw no stop signs. It was the days when not that many people owned cars. "I see nothing," I reported.
"That means, cars do not have to stop for little boys who are stupid and not watching," she said. "A car could run over a stupid little boy, like you, and crush him to death."
"Aren't cars supposed to watch for people?" I thought out loud.
"This is the Bronx. People can drive crazy here. So always have a stop sign in your head when you come to a corner," she counseled me. "Stop and look first. Let cars pass. Then cross the street when it is safe."
Then Maureen, my first theologian, began to teach me. "If you get crushed, you will make Mommy very unhappy. Plus, God might have a plan for you, should you ever grow up."
"You think God has a plan for me?" I asked as I looked up at her. By now we had crossed the street and were walking along.
"Notice that we crossed the street together, right?" she asked. "Yes," I answered. "You waited for me to walk with you. This was the safer way to go, right?" she quizzed me. "Yes, I suppose so," I muttered. "No supposing from you," she shot back. "For the life of me, I cannot think of what plan God wants done by my baby brother," Maureen said looking up into the sky. "But you never know. I think life is like a street corner. You have to stop now and again, to check for danger, otherwise, if you just push on with your plans, you might get crushed," she concluded. I forget now where we were going, but I never forgot her mixim that "life is like a street corner." Stop and check things out. God might have a plan for me. Meditation is my time to check things out. Some people call such prayer 'Checking in," but I like the street corner image my first theologian taught me. God's plan must have been for Maureen to baby-sit me so I could grow up. She was faithful even if I was bratty. God's plans are not always easy or pleasant. Maybe that is why we don't bother to stop and meditate?
Sunday, June 19, 2016
A problem with all this messaging on cell phones is that we want to be liked. We want people to give us the thumbs up and respond to whatever we say in some favorable way. So we tend not to reveal our humanness, but rather to "perform." We edit our life in what we type out to message, so that people will have a favorable impression of us. To whom then do we reveal our faults and fears, our pettiness, and anxiety? God is one place to take all this, but one must believe not only in God but that God is unconditional love and acceptance. If your God is punishing, you will not go to that God with your difficulties and shortcomings. That God is friendless. I fear that the cell phone does not create true friends since you cannot be yourself with those you message.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Some people refer to the communion wafer as a "cookie." Usually, it is a term of derision. But if God is truly in the host, then God seems to be comfortable with being small and seemingly insignificant to the world. Many of us, on the other hand, fear being small and insignificant. How much time do you spend checking your cell phone to make sure you are not missing out on something important, or or being passed over? How much time do you spend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to make sure you are not forgotten in some discussion? Some of us spend an enormous amount of time trying to feel important or significant. Not so with God. I don't think God has a cell phone.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Bicycle tourers use the phrase, "trail angels," for people who help the bicyclists along the way. These angels appear unexpectedly and just when they are needed. If I am on my spiritual practice, I find that I have a better chance to be one of these angels for people who are trying to find or get a better relationship with God. For one, I am a bit more selfless, that is, I am open to the unexpected person who is in need of some direction or release of anxiety. When I am all about me, skipping prayer, I am little help to anyone. My Guardian Angel has its hands full when I am full of myself. Prayer early in the morning tends to get me out of my own way so I am more approachable.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I like to think of myself as going toward God rather than to God. "Toward" gives me the sense that I am on a journey and there is always more ahead. Not that God is always ahead, but that there is always more to be revealed about God and for that matter about myself. I don't always like what I learn about myself, but I have found that these revelations help to remove debris along the way.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
When I hear people say that they want to "Live life to the fullest," they often mean that they want to go places, and do activities and meet people that are all new to them, or to go back to such events and repeat them. They are often into traveling to places and seeing new things. Beneath it all, there might be a certain restlessness, especially if all their living life events are external. I do not have a real interest in travel to new places. It is not so much that I am a homebody or into routine or even afraid. My journey to new places is an interior one. Without meditation I would become restless and might then look to outside events to fill me up. In some ways you might think my world very small. I think of it as very deep. But then again, I am a from the Bronx. After The Big Apple, everything else is a nice place to visit. Then I discovered San Francisco. A must, even for meditators.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
GPS stands for "God's Plan's, Stupid." It means that I should check on what God's plans are for me before I try to set out with my plans, without God in mind. This is the reason for daily prayer. Not the daily prayer of asking God for stuff, since that is really more of my plans, but the prayer of listening. We spend time here at the monastery in quiet mediation. This is when I open myself to what direction God wants me to go, or the attitude I need, to best accomplish today's tasks/chores. When you decide to go someplace in your modern car, and you are not sure of how to get there, especially if it is for the first time you are going to some specific place, do you not consult a GPS in your car or cell phone? Otherwise, you might become lost, or waste a lot of time and energy wandering around. Prayer helps me to not spend a lot of time lost in my own plans. Each day is new and calls for guidance to live it at my best. God is a good guide. To ignore the guide, is to be stupid. GPS is to check God's plans for me or end up living in a stupid fashion.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Sometimes I am tempted to check my cell phone simply to see who is thinking about me. They may be responding to something I said, or initiating some thoughts with me. I am checking for connections in cyberspace. Prayer is connecting without a cell phone. God is always connected with me and may want to initiate some conversation if I would but stop to listen. Meditation is my time of listening. When I carry my cell phone into my mediation space, I know that I am slipping off the spiritual path. Prayer deals with the fear of being alone in the world.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
What does it mean to be "The salt of the earth?" I used to think that my spiritual life is supposed to flavor the world somehow. But now I think that it means "Don't blend in." Don't become part of a crowd. Salt does not melt into anything it touches. It is still salt, even as it flavors. When I become part of the crowd I subject myself to some common denominator, and this is the slippery road to mediocrity. I start to think, "If everyone is acting this way, then it must be OK." "I am just one person. I cannot do much outside the group." "I feel safe in the group. Past practice guides me." The group tends to snuff out courage, martyrdom, and ultimately truth. I suspect that if you look at religious institutions or spiritual paths that claim a founder you might very likely find that the founder never founded the institution that claims him or her. Just because something is done for a very long time by a whole lot of people does not make it truth or right, or transforming.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
People tend to thank me when I preach openly and honestly about my foibles as part of the Homily message. I sense the reason they are thankful is that they do not have people in their lives who share openly and honestly about shortcomings. It is rather easy to run into people who defend their bad behavior, who lie, gossip, make judgments of others, and are generally self-focused and maybe fearful. I like to get together with people who know they are all or some of these things and more, but who admit to it and then talk about what they are trying to do so as to avoid bad behavior. Honesty, with a solution is very refreshing on the spiritual road. I have found it so. Of course, my sister, Maureen, was very honest about my failings, but I was not ready to hear it at the time. She was "Before my time."
Friday, June 10, 2016
Continuing with the blog (6/6/16) of that hot night in our bedroom in the Bronx, Maureen then asked me, "Would you like to go up onto the roof to see the stars?" We lived in a six story apartment building. It had a flat roof where people hung their laundry to dry. Apartments did not have washers and dryers in those days. I would go up there sometimes but never go to the edge because I am afraid of heights. But our bedroom was hot and the roof might be cooler. Now when it is really dark with no lights, Maureen turns back into a witch. So I said, "Yes, if you don't become a mean and ugly witch up there." "The stars are very bright, so you will be safe," she assured me. Out of the apartment and up several flights of stairs, we went out onto the roof. The stars were very bright indeed. This was before The Bronx got all polluted. An especial good view was if you looked toward Woodlawn cemetery, where there were no lights, you could see a clear sky.
"Come over to the edge," Maureen said.
"You know I don't like heights. The edge makes me scared," I protested.
"Don't be a baby. I will protect you."
Good grief, I thought. All that is between me and certain death six floors below is my wicked sister.
"I will show you how not to be scared," Maureen assured me.
Slowly I moved toward the edge of the roof. The wall was very low. Maureen came behind me and put her arms around me. She held me as I approached the edge.
"Now, look down," she instructed me. "And don't close your eyes. I am holding you."
To look down was a supreme act of trust or insanity. Maureen loves me or is the evil empire. Many of our life decisions come down to these two choices: trust or insanity. I chose trust. I looked down and almost soiled myself!
"Hold me Maureen!" as I tried to ward off panic.
"If you keep looking down and around you will get used to it. That is the secret of overcoming fear."
I began to relax, just a tad, fear ebbing away slowly. But Maureen was to show her wickedness yet.
"Did you know that if you are holy, like the saints, you could fly?" she said
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Holy saints levitate, or rise up off the ground. Sister at school told us of some that did. But if you become a priest you won't become holy."
"I thoughts all priests are holy," I countered.
"Oh, no. Sister says priests aren't holy because they are full of themselves and too bossy to the nuns The priests lack humility."
"What is 'full of yourself' mean?" I asked.
"I am not sure, but it does not sound good."
"Well, you are bossy," I challenged my big sister.
"Do you want me to let you go so you can fall to certain death and never receive First Holy Communion?"
"No, no, Maureen, you are not bossy, never bossy." It would not be the first time I would lie to save myself from peril. There we were, siblings under the stars on the roof's edge. Overall it was a very memorable night.
Year later, now a priest, I know what "full of yourself" means, and what my big sister was trying to teach me long before I entered the seminary. Humility is the way to keep from falling into peril of soul. I am a better priest when I practice humility. When I look up at the stars at night I remember my first moral theologian. Miss her.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Psalm 123 says, "To you Lord, I lift up my eyes." I had an experience of doing that at 3:30 AM one morning at 8,000 feet altitude, outside a monastery. I looked up at a moonless sky and saw all these stars that are always here waiting for me and the right moment of darkness to enjoy them. It is God's vast creation, of which I am a small part, passing through in this body. It is a magnificent view of God at work. Whenever I can lift up my eyes to the night sky, I am looking up at the Creator of it all. This experience gives me the gift of humility. My problems are not so great nor am I the center of the universe. Yet, this same Creator of vastness seems to have time and space to Love me. It is this kind of experience that sustains me, and maybe put some meat on the bones of dogma.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
I came to the monastery again for my thirteenth summer in the Colorado high country. It seems that I have brought with me the theme of "surrender." Whatever plans I have to do this or that, I hope to not make my agenda the center of my summer. I have some likes and preferences, but I know from past monastery experience, that if my agenda becomes central, I will make no spiritual progress. Stuff will happen this summer, for which I did not plan. This stuff will be God at work to test my resolve to surrender to Spiritual Power, and not my need to control, manage fear, or be self-centered. Already there have been some surprises and some past dysfunctional thinking on my part. I keep trying to let it go. People ask me what will I be "doing" up here. What will my work be. It will be surrender. This is plenty enough work for someone like me. Prayers, if you are a praying person. Then again, some people think I am just on a vacation. Vacation is where I successfully get my way. Monasteries are no vacations.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Two pregnant women come together and they are called saints in my church. This is rare. For a woman to become a saint it rarely has anything to do with pregnancy. Having babies seems to have nothing to do with their saint status. But when Elizabeth, and old woman by pregnancy standards, and Mary, with no husband, being pregnant is the focus. If this were a modern scene, the pregnancies would be seen as problematic, having happened outside of anyone's plans. But I know a woman today who went years without getting pregnant, built up a good executive business, a power job, and boom, pregnant. She is over 50 with a third grader for whom she is most happy. I know a teenager who got pregnant and today is a happy grandmother. What makes it work? I think a supportive community that looks upon the pregnancy as a blessing, not a curse, or problem. I see this in Elizabeth and Mary. Mary travels to be supportive of her cousin. Elizabeth praises Mary for her pregnancy. They both see God at work. They both seem to have a faith, not so much focused on doctrines, as in the belief that God is at work in surprising ways. Whenever something happens in my life and I think, "Whoops, this wasn't my plan. I might be in a mess," God just might be at work. The enemy of all this is self-absorption, at least in my life.
I am supposed to be in this monastery for the summer getting holy. Maureen said it would never happen. I think she is right. Instead of getting holy, I seem to keep writing these "Growing Up With Maureen" stories. Now blog readers, which do you want? Stories or my holiness? My big sister said that if I did not get holy, I would burn. You don't want me to burn do you? Is it possible to get holy while writing these stories? Could Maureen stories and holiness be in the same direction? This is not possible. Pray more and write less? What do the blog readers say?
Monday, June 6, 2016
My big sister Maureen and I shared a bedroom in our Bronx apartment. It was a hot summer night and our parents were out for an evening together. I could not fall asleep. "I can't sleep," I said. "Neither can I," added Maureen. To avoid boredom I decided to try for a conversation. I was desperate. "Why do Mommy and Daddy go out sometimes?" I asked, knowing Maureen was all knowledge. Sure enough, she answered, "So that they can be normal." "Aren't they always normal?" I asked. "No," replied Maureen. "Being Mommy and Daddy makes them crazy. They need to go out to be with other adults, eat and have some fun." "Why does being Mommy and Daddy make them crazy?" I questioned. "Because they have to put up with boy monsters like you," Maureen said. "But Mommy says I am her little angel," I challenged. "Like I said, being a Mommy makes her crazy, seeing angels where there are only monsters," responded Maureen. "Are all boys monsters?" I wondered out loud. "Yes, so that is why I am going to become a nun. I don't want to be married to a monster and become crazy with boy kids. I will marry Jesus," answered Maureen. "But Jesus was a boy too," I queried. "Yes, but he was God, so he did not become a monster. That is why he is different from everyone else," said Maureen. "Will you still be a witch if you become a nun," I asked. "Only if I have to teach boys," answered Maureen. "Then will I have witch nuns when I go to school?" I asked. "Of course. Only the girl classes get the good nuns." "Good grief," I thought! "Well, if I marry will I end up marrying a witch?" I asked. "You will find out after you get married," said Maureen. "Well maybe I should see my wife going to bed before we get married to see if she turns into a witch." "You do and you will burn for sure!" exclaimed Maureen. "What can I do?" I queried. "Well, you can become a priest, and avoid it all," she counseled. And so the seed of my vocation was first planted in me by my sister Maureen on that hot summer night.
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Some people say that nothing good can come from a bad situation. I tend to think otherwise. I believe that there is a light in the darkness. For instance, we may be going along in life sidestepping disasters, covering up our messes, and just getting by with a slow, imperceptible downward trend. At this point we "desire" to get better, to heal, to reform, to grow, or to improve. But desire does not seem to have any power to it. Then a real dark disaster comes along. We cannot seem to escape it, push it away, ignore it or fix it as we had in the past. Where is the light here? "Desperation" is the light. Desperation has a whole lot of power to it. Many of us will only act in a desirable way when we are desperate. I have found that if I keep desperate past times in my memory box, it keeps me from sloughing off on the solution when times seem to improve. I am the kind of guy who cannot coast in the spiritual solutions to my life.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
I tend to do some form of exercise on a daily basis. I feel better overall when I do exercise, in moderation. I find the same for spiritual exercise. Prayer exercises my soul. I try not to skip some form of prayer on a regular basis. Just as there are various and sundry forms of physical exercise, there are various forms of prayer. You just need to find the combination that fits you at any particular time in your life. No one form of exercise fits all people. No one form of prayer fits everyone either. I tend to focus more on running/jogging and meditation. But the key is to try and do something each day. For this we need to set aside some time. "Wanting" is a beginning. Try not to make it the end as well.
Friday, June 3, 2016
I don't know that you can love others until you can love yourself. But sometimes, it is the love of another that helps you to love yourself. In the musical, "Once," an Irish songwriter and musician has given up on himself. He will abandon his guitar and songwriting because no one seems interested. His girlfriend has gone to America. He will just spend his life fixing vacuum cleaners in Dublin. No self-love here. Along comes a girl who has her own problems with abandonment. She loves his music, sees his potential and encourages him. She loves him and he begins to believe in himself and then to love himself. He will learn to love another person. Since I have experienced the love from another person when I did not love myself, I try to "pass it on." When people are maudlin, filled with self-loathing, lack of confidence, seemingly empty of heart, maybe even feeling sorry of themselves, I try not to give up. I don't help them to continue that behavior, but I do try to show them that there is something precious within them. Even if they do not get better, I do.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
I was reading someone's spiritual memoir. At one point, the fellow referred to driving home on three wheels. Wow! I suddenly realized that I had done that one time. Of course, no one drives home on three wheels after attending church, sacrificing self in service to others, or practicing sobering behavior. In my case, a nice Catholic boy, I had stayed up all night, sipping beer/wine, and writing a "beautiful" love letter to a girl with whom I was smitten. The letter was full of self-pity, as I poured my heart out. At dawn, finished with the letter, I drove to her house and dropped it off at the front door. Then I drove home. I was "sober" of course. Then why did I start to fishtail my car on the highway exit, go through the exit crossway, slam into a high curb, where one tire blew right off the rim, and keep going across a grass field, to finally stop at a fence? With clear thinking of course, I backed up onto the freeway and drove to the next exit and into my carport, on three tires and a rim. The insurance agent asked if I had been drinking, as I was speeding that early hour of the morning. "Of course not," I lied. Well, maybe I was not such a good Catholic boy. I was a newly hired stock broker. The three wheel experience suggested to me, that maybe I had been spared to do something else? At least to ask the question, "What do I want to do with this precious life that I have?" The brokerage business lasted about a year. There are many far better brokers than I ever would be. But I am an Irish story teller, to the chagrin of my sister, Maureen. But sometimes I can make your day, no? So what will you do with this one precious life that you have...today?
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Some of the best wisdom lessons I have learned, and remembered, is after I think that I know it all, or know enough. The "know enough" is really about a lot of control. I read and therefore I learn. My efforts gain me wisdom. I pray and get "more spiritual." I do good works, be helpful, of service, and my world gets better. I feel better. It is all about, "I do, I get." It is very good and beneficial, but it is not all, not by a long shot. Maybe we take a few things for granted, based upon our efforts, or cut back on our efforts, or just enjoy the good feelings. Then it happens. An event takes place, a loss, a betrayal, a relationship or job gone bad, and I realize I don't have all that much control given my efforts. What to do? Surrender to the spiritual entity that had seemed kind of predictable. Most of us never get this far. I struggle with it on a daily basis. I will never know enough, or pray enough or do enough good deeds to control my world and avoid all unpleasantness. Of course, it will be a better world than when I did few to none of these positive things. But it will no longer give me perfect security, power, control, or esteem, as I thought it would. The learning curve goes up steeply, when I realize that over some things, I am powerless, and my spiritual control programs will not change that. But a new spiritual depth will be discovered. God is at work.