Friday, June 30, 2017

Our Standards

We don't see our behavior worsening until it hits a crisis because we gradually lower our standards to meet our "new" behavior.  This is the only way to fool ourselves that we are normal, justified, correct and OK.  Take lying.  You start out with saying, "I don't tell lies."  It is wrong.  Then you get into a bit of a fix with your parents, friends, co-workers, police, and you tell then one thing when you know something else is the truth.  At first you might feel a bit uneasy.  Then you lower your standards.  "I was justified in not telling the truth."  "The consequences would be more drastic than I deserved if I did tell the truth."  "They asked for too much."  "I will lose my job."  "I won't get this position, job, raise, college of y choice."  "Everybody does it."  Then one day, you lie to your significant other, or some really important person who can punish you with the loss of something.  Your partner says, "That's it.  I am leaving you.  You are a liar."  Or, "You are fired.  You lied and cost us money and hassle with litigation."  The light comes on for you.  "How did I become a liar?"  You kept lowering your standards for one reason or another.  What used to be wrong became OK or even correct behavior.  The light comes on for all of us when our behavior spirals down faster than we can lower our standards.  It is a slippery slope.  If you are single and sleeping around, ask yourself when that became acceptable to you.  I better go and burn my diary from bachelor days.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lower Standards

I stayed up all night writing love letters to a young lady with whom I was smitten.  I sipped beer through the night as I wrote.  In my mind, I was drinking a little and writing a lot.  In my mind.  In the early morning I got into my car and drove onto highway 101 in Marin north to her house.  I dropped off my love letters, and then proceeded to drive home.  Getting off an exit, my car began to "fishtail" that is, swerve left and right from the rear while moving forward.  I could not stop it.  I was going slowly, was I not?  In my mind.  I drove right through the 4 lane cross street and up a curb onto a grassy area.  I finally came to a stop.  What to do?  Drive home of course.  I backed the car onto the pavement and proceeded to drive home, with some loud sound coming from beneath the car.  When I got to my driveway, I realized that I had driven on highway 101 with three tires and a metal rim.  I had completely lost a tire!  What to do?  I went to bed and bell asleep.  Normal right?  When I finally woke up, my friends asked me if I had seen the condition of my car.  They seemed concerned, more about me than the car.  What is the problem?  The problem was that I had lowered my standards faster than I had lowered my behavior.  So my life seemed normal to me.  I was sober.  The car swerved in spite of my careful driving, so my problem was I needed to get the car repaired.  I was not in need of repair.  Some time later, much later, when sanity entered my life, I realized that I had been driving while alcohol impaired, and writing love letters to a women who barely knew me.  I did not see it at the time because little by little I had lowered my standards to match my worsening behavior. As someone said, "you only hit bottom when your behavior spirals down faster than your standards."
More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Continuing with yesterday's blog, my Summer in the monastery is not going to do me much good when I leave here in the Fall.  If I do nothing after I leave here, no meditation, spiritual reading, being of service, I will coast for a few days, and then begin to spiral into an eventual crash.  The downward spiral is caused by my "bondage to self."  I need regular maintenance of my spiritual condition, in which I keep a balance between meditation and being amongst others in a helpful way.  The monastery has a lot of alone and apart time, but it needs to be kept in balance.  For people like me, there is a point where too much alone and apart is lethal.  The monastery gives me a glimpse of the mountaintop, a chance to experience what so many gurus, spiritual teachers, and adepts speak about.  But I need to come off the mountain, yet keep a regular practice pf prayer.  I have two or three people who miss me when I am gone from the valley of service.  Many of my friends are my age, old, and would miss me if they could remember me while I am away.  I wear a name tag for a week when I get back home to the office.  Big letters.  TERRY IS BACK.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Happiness is like a good meal.  You can enjoy it in the moment, but today's happiness, like a good meal, will not serve you well in a couple of days.  You need to eat regularly, but not gluttonously.  Moderation, but on a regular basis maintains satiety in health, and tummy.  Happiness is like this.  It needs to be renewed.  Last weeks joy was last week.  If you tell someone you love them, do you do it only once and figure it is enough forever?  No.  But then you say that your happiness last week was based upon external circumstances that are not present this week.  Well, I believe that happiness is not dependent upon the outsides, the externals.  It is an inside job.  It can enhance the outsides, or even ignore negative outsides.  Happiness is a spiritual condition.  I can say that my life is in ruins, I have not enough work, and am on the way to Debtor's Prison.  Yet I can still be happy because I take time to get in touch with the richness that we all have within ourselves.  I don't have all that much control over the external world, except when I am delusional.  But the insides will not let me down if I take regular time to pay attention.  Yes, there will be some better and worse moments within, but overall it comes through and does not destroy me.  It beats opioids, booze, one night stands, workaholism, and consumerism just to name a few.  Or so I have heard.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Financial Insecurity

MATTHEW 10: 26-33
JUNE 25, 2017

You can learn a lot from the Addiction Twelves Step Recovery Program.  It says that after step nine there are promises.  One of them is that financial insecurity will be removed.  I like that.  You sober up, stop being crazy, and get a good job.  Finances are good.  But that is not what the promise says.  It says “fear” will be removed, not financial insecurity.  Well, I am suffering some financial insecurity now.  I don’t get paid unless I work, such as teaching, preaching and such.  One of my main financial supports told me a few months ago, that it was not going to pay me anymore for my work for them.  What to do?  One thing not to do is the be afraid.  Why?  Because fear is what paralyses us.  With fear, we tend to doubt ourselves in our work: “If I cannot make enough money, maybe I should stop what I am doing, give it up.  I am a failure.”  That is the paralysis of fear in action.  

But failure and obstacles need not stop us if we believe in ourselves.   A professional baseball player can make a lot of money and fail to get a hit seven out of ten times.  That is a lot of failure.  But if he believes in himself, then he keeps at it.  In soccer they run up and down the field for ninety minutes and score a goal of two.  All the other kicks are failures, but the players believe in themselves and don’t give up.  A musician “practices,” and makes lots of mistakes, but believes they will get it right eventually.  Failure and obstacles are always going to get in the way of our inner belief in ourselves and our talents.  

Jesus says to fear not.  His followers are going to have a difficult time of it, as did he.  But if in the darkness of their heart they have the fire to keep trying, then outside obstacles won’t defeat them, and their talents will come to light and bear fruit someday.   Jesus says, “ Don’t worry about those who can kill the body (the outside obstacles).”  Don’t let them destroy your inner passion for the belief in yourself.  The Holy Spirit will be with them.  God takes care of the animals.  God will be with us in our struggles, setbacks and failures along the way.  So believe in yourself, and keep trying.  Don’t let fear paralyze your unique self.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Think of yourself being on stage in a play.  You have lines to say, but for some reason, at this moment, you cannot find them in your memory bank.  You "know" your lines, you have said them before, but at this moment you are empty!  What to do?  You look to offstage for a cue.  The director, offstage, in a stage whisper, gives you your line, and that is all you need to continue on with the play.  Well, meditation is like getting a cue.  Sometimes, you just feel empty.  You know from past meditations, that you have what you need inside of you, but at this moment you cannot access it.  Meditation is the "cue."  You sit and wait.  That inside presence, your director,  whispers the connective line, if you will, and you relax.  Life is like a play.  Shakespeare said something about this.  God is my director, but sometimes I am just befuddled.  So I have to wait a moment, and get in touch with that whisper inside of me.  Then I feel a bit more connected to myself, the world around me, and can be of better service.

Happy Birthday

Today is my sister Elizabeth's birthday.  She just moved into a new place in Del Rey Beach, Florida, right downtown where stuff is happening.  Elizabeth is old but not dead.  She likes to be where things are going on, art, theatre, learning centers.  She still has her brains intact so learning centers work for her.  She is a younger than me, but then so is most everyone else now.  If anyone on Facebook has befriended her, this is your chance to say Happy Birthday, Elizabeth.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Our minds can only think thoughts and concepts.  So think of the Absolute, as beyond all concepts, totally unapproachable by the mind.  Whatever you might think of the Absolute, call it God, or whatever, it is beyond that.  But the Absolute wants to communicate with us humans.  So the Absolute manifests itself to us in our human reality.  This could be Christ, Krishna, Buddha for instance.  They are not all the same, as is obvious from any study you might do.  But each is not a partial revelation of the Absolute.  The Absolute cannot be broken into parts. They are not each pieces of a puzzle, called the Absolute.  Each revelation is the fullness of whatever the Absolute can reveal to our limited perspective of mind, soul, human makeup.  So Jesus is neither a partial revelation nor the only revelation.  Neither is Buddha, Krishna, and Allah.  They are all fullness but in different ways, appealing to different cultures and humankind.  Only the mystic sees something of oneness underlying revelation.  So why proclaim or follow Jesus?  For me, it is the fullness of revelation on my spiritual path.  It is my way of accessing what I call God.  To me he is everything.  I proclaim this revelation to all hoping that it may resonate with some.  But I do not say "I am right.  You are wrong."  Nor is it relativity, that is, "We are all the same."  What I have learned from my contemplative practice is that we do have differences, deep differences.  I have the gift of faith in the revelation of Jesus Christ, but it may not be a universal path for all people.  So why did Jesus say to go baptize the world?  So that we could come across "the other" and maybe through deeper prayer, learn to love one another rather than kill one another for what the mind perceives as differences. Plus, we might learn something more about our Christ from the perspective of adepts in other paths. We might learn to talk to others about our Christ from within their culture.  There is only one Absolute, and it is beyond all paths.  But I for one need a path or I am lost.  My preaching shares my Christian path.  It is expanded and deepened by contemplation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dogma On The Brain

People who believe in dogma say that it is a revelation from God.  Be it so for the believer, dogma is still something that is in the realm of the mind, thought processes, categories and the like.  There is no such thing as dogma sitting out there somewhere in its own space, separate from the mind.  Dogma is a way that the Absolute, who is beyond all dogma, communicates with humans in their heads.  Some people would say that dogma is everything, and is the complete understanding of the Absolute, who they usually call God.  But we know that we are more than our minds.  Mystics try to tell us this.  There is something deeper, and even other, than mind.  It is something beyond mind, and mediation can be the roadway to this.  It is beyond concepts, beyond dogma, and even beyond words, but that does not mean it is fantasy or illusion.  Dogma is all about the Absolute, but it is not identical to the Absolute, who is beyond all concepts.  This is why mystics tend to let go of dogma.  It might have served them for a while in their spiritual journey, but they have discovered another level of reality, sometimes referred to as the really Real.  It is beyond mind and dogma.  My religious path has both dogma and contemplative mysticism.  Dogma appealed to my earlier stages of the journey when I was all about thought, mind, intellect, and being right as opposed to being wrong, heretical, pagan, atheist.  It served me, but it lacked a fullness.  Ironically, I am becoming most ME when I let go of being me.  You can never be one with the Absolute, without surrender of the mind world, ego world, and separate self world.  And you cannot think your way there.  Surrender that control world of imaging, and let yourself be led to something "less," and deeper, beyond.  Happy Nirvana! Meanwhile, I will just keep doing these blogs.

Tough Crowd

Well it looks like nearly anyone was interested in my Mandelbrot blog yesterday and that cosmic stuff.  Boy, you are a touch crowd to please.  You may not like the one tomorrow on interfaith either.  I will see.  I am trying to expand my horizons.  Give me some love!  There is another blog today.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Look up Mandelbrot as in Benoit Mandelbrot.  What the Mandelbrot set says is that you are a replica of the universe.  Say what?  Christians say that each person is in the image and likeness of God.  For them, each person replicates the universal Godness.  In Hinduism, the particular soul is the Atman and each Atman has the identical structure of Brahman, the spiritual nature of the cosmos.  The Bhagavad Gita says, "See the Atman in every creature, and all of creation in the Atman."  So if you are having a bad day, putting yourself down or being put down, remember that you are a walking universe, and if you cannot walk, you are still a universe in miniature.  Aging, unemployment, illness, does not change this.  I feel better already!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Intercessory Prayer

Numerous studies, scientific ones, indicate that intercessory prayer improves the healing of a patient. It does not matter where you are physically in relation to the patient, in the room or in a different country.  It is all part of the scientific "Quantum" world of interconnection.  So if you are praying for someone, don't mind if others call you a simpleton.  Science is scratching it s head over this phenomenon.  What the contemplative world says is that God is everywhere, so we are all interconnected anyway.  Your prayer might send vital, positive energy toward someone.
It helps if the person you are praying for wants to get well.  Some just want their opioid fix, or prefer to wallow in self-pity.  But pray anyway.  Who knows.

Corpus Christi Homily At Monastery Sunday, June 18, 2017

JOHN 6: 51-58
JUNE 18, 2017

         When I was a boy in the Bronx in Catholic elementary school, when the priest came into our classroom we would ask him questions about when the communion bread became the Body of Jesus?  What if the priest messed up the Latin words, would it still be Jesus?  What if the priest dropped dead before he finished the words, would it be bread or Jesus?  And if a person in mortal sin came to receive, would Jesus leave the host that went onto their tongue?  We tried to stump Father. 

         Nowadays there is another way that some of us look at the Eucharist.  Bonaventure said that Christ is in all.  Christ does not enter creation through Latin words, or special vernacular words.  Plus, science is beginning to tell us, with computers, telescopes, that each of us is the universe, that our individual chemistry has what makes up the universe, if you look microscopically deep enough.  There is the talk of Holons, and so forth. 

         With Bonaventure, the Franciscan view, and modern science, when Jesus held up the bread and said, “This is my body,” he was simply saying what is already there.  All is Christ.  So what is Jesus doing?  He is not making the bread his body, it is already that, just as we are, but he is giving it meaning, energy and challenge to all those who dare to eat it.  He is saying that he will always be with us, that he is always relational, and that if we eat of this food, then we need to become and act like his words challenge us to do.

         He says this bread is his body given up for others. Can that be our body too?  Will we give up of ourselves for others in Love.   Will we pour ourselves out for others in a bonded way, forgiving others even when they don’t ask for it or change their behavior?  Will we see ourselves as one with all creation, rather than better or worse than?  Will we selfishly use up creation for our own wants?  Will we ultimately be about others, and “follow” Jesus rather than the easier path of Belief? 

         The question is not when does the communion wafer become Christ.  The question is when do we who dare to eat it act like Christ in he world.  What has to be changed is us?  That is the transformation the world needs. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thin Membrane

Some people say that they don't meditate because they don't believe in God, being that mediation is all about God thinking.  Maybe not.  Mediation, for me, is more about not paying attention to my thinking mind.  So, whether I believe in God or not, is of no consequence.  I try not to pay attention or to focus on thoughts anyway.  Besides, such thoughts are only my thoughts.  So what might happen if I meditate?  Well, a thin membrane, if you will, surrounds my crazy, thinking mind, and sets up a barrier, between my mind and my actions.  After mediation, I might experience the world around me, people, places, and things, with new insight.  Why? Because my mind, which houses judgments, false pride, bloated ego, or wounded ego, negative emotions that have little to do with reality, and so on, no longer get in the way of seeing and experiencing the world in this new post mediation way.  My mind houses and releases a lot of emotions that do me little good in most cases. The thin membrane keeps all this in check.  But it is thin, so I have to meditate regularly.   So, mediation is not so much about God, as it is about emotional sobriety.  I have found it so.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Teenager

The reason I think I am good with teenagers is because I was one for so long.  I had arrested teenageness.  When I fell in love, I became emotionally drunk.  As we know, when drunk, we make silly decisions and do even sillier things.  When not with my beloved, I was unhappy in my own skin, discontented being with me.  This is teenage romance, except I lived it way past chronicle teenage years.  When I got dumped, which was inevitable, I got angry at her and felt deep self-pity for me.  I grieved as a teenager might do.  Then something happened and I began to receive the gift of emotional sobriety.  What happened?  I came to realize that the problem was me.  This is when I began to grow up.  Whenever something bothered me, or I felt wronged, or innocently rebuffed, I asked myself what is my part in all this?  It may be that the event or person in question did register negative on my radar, but often I found this was because I had unwarranted expectations, or was plain ole jealous, or had undue pride, or felt I am the center of the universe, and so on.  When I could get out of my own way, and recognize my part in an emotional wave, I calmed down.  I found that the same so called negative events did not bother me anymore, and often they were not so negative at all.  Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, but you can't, or else I will put you on my resentment list and off my preyer list!  Oops!  Felling like a teen there for a moment.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How We Do It

It is not what we do that makes us holy, but that we make holy what we do.  Mister Eckhart and Krisha said this, for instance.  A lot of people focus on devotional activities thinking that it will make them holy.  Then they wonder why they do not seem to be getting much better in spite of all the time in church, temple, ashram, or their special holy place.  Other people thinking they have not the time for all these devotions, assume they will never become holy.  Not to worry.  A way to holiness is first, stop trying to get holy by direct actions you deem "holy."  Rather, before you do something, direct it to the One, the Source, the Infinite, God or whatever your title.  You might say something simple like, "May I do this for your greater honor, to praise you, and give myself to you.  May your will be done in this task I am about to undertake."  Or some words to that effect.  It brings the spiritual journey into the daily life activities and relationships.  We get away from separating spiritual from secular.  We enter more into the "Allness" of life.  And we keep the Divine, the Infinite, the Supreme, in mind on a more continuing basis.  I do this before entering a blog.  Sometimes, God is praised.  Sometimes not so much.  Keeps me humble.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Relief For Not From

Many a believer prays for relief from pain and difficulty so that they will feel better.  "God, or whoever, I feel so bad, please take away my pain and misery."  Sometimes such prayers add on a codicil, that the sufferer will be good in the future if healed.  I've been there.  A bit self-centered, I have learned from adepts in spiritual growth.  I have discovered a prayer that asks for relief from difficulties, even from bondage to such self-centeredness, in order TO HELP OTHERS!  What?  Yes, it is prayer that began to get me out of myself.  I sometimes feel so compelled to a bad habit, that only the thought of not doing it, in order to help others, makes me pull back from my bad behavior.  That is real change.  So the next time you think of going down the drain yet one more time, your will-power broken, think of being of use to others.  Like who and how?  Pick up the phone and call someone.  Ask them how they are doing.  Have a list of people who might benefit from a call, a sick person, an elderly person living alone, a recent widow or widower, a recent marriage breakup person, or just a friend.  Even us selfish people have someone who is a friend.  Oh the recovery from insanity!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Radio Flyer

The Radio Flyer was a red metal wagon.  I had one when I was a boy.  I loved my Radio Flyer, but there was a sibling issue.  I liked to sit in the flyer when I was little and have someone pull me along.  Who had time for such pulling? My big Sister Maureen.  But Maureen neither liked me or my wagon.  The wagon was kept in the basement of our apartment building with other big toys.  The basement was dark and had monsters when I was little. They went away when I got older.  Maureen did not like the basement.  She was not afraid of monsters.  They were her kind of people.  But she did not like spiders.  Spiders, me and the Radio Flyer were on her avoidance list.  I would go get the wagon and bring it outside.  "Maureen, would you please pull me along in the wagon?" I asked nicely.  "NO!" she replied not so nicely.  I appealed to a higher authority, our mother.  I was spoiled and Maureen knew it.  I became a priest so that mothers would spoil me.  But I digress.  Mom said to Maureen, "If you pull your little brother in his wagon you get days off from purgatory."  What was that?  "I already have Terry.  I am going straight to heaven," she retorted.   I learned later in life that purgatory appeals are the Irish Catholic way of "Offering it up."  We expect suffering and some of us even encourage it, so purgatory makes it all useful.  So Maureen pulled the wagon, but her heart was not in it.  That is why she had to go to purgatory anyway.  It is really tough to be a Catholic.  You have to accept, even embrace suffering, and do it with a joyous heart.  Even now, being still somewhat self-centered, I find it is easy to get pious Catholics, in the post-modern world, to do stuff to make me feel better.  I tell them what my Mom told Maureen.  "You will get days off from purgatory."  Why won't I go to purgatory?  I grew up with a monster big sister.  God knew I would be bad, so God gave me Maureen, to pay now and not later.  Thank you Maureen for the free ride, in my Radio Flyer, to heaven.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father Podachek

 We moved from the Bronx to White Plains when I was 12,  and our new parish, St. Bernard's, had a priest in residence named Father Podachek.  He had a little bit of an East European accent, but his English was fine.  His day job was in New York City working for the Archdiocese in a national or international ministry.  He was "in residence," in the parish.  He was not on the staff.  On weekends, when he was in town,  Fr. Podachek would say Sunday mass and preach.  The other priests were OK to dreadful in the pulpit.  Many of us looked forward to Fr. Podachek.  He was always personable and his preaching was wonderful.  Now, for a few here in Boulder, I have become their Fr. Podachek.  Sometimes, don't you wonder if you make any difference?  And then you think of someone you admire, and make a connection with your own life.  Fr. Podachek married my sister Maureen to her husband Fred.  He was always helpful, and not so focused on the rules.  Children like me admired him.  He had no say about what went on in the parish politics, yet he had a profound influence on our spiritual life.  I think I at times channel  Fr. Podachek.  Right now, me, a "mere" in residence priest, am feeling pretty good about my life and priesthood.  One or two here in Boulder would agree.  Well, it's a start.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dating Me

So you are having trouble getting a date? Or a date you don't later regret?  Why not "date yourself?" I learned to do this.  Rather than sit around missing out on things because I do not have a date, I decided that I can take myself out and see how it goes.  I first went to a movie by myself.  Then it was plays, museums, parks and I found in all this that I could enjoy being with me.  I could decide to eat when and where and what I wanted.  I did not have to negotiate or compromise.  I could see as much of a museum as I wanted, and then leave.  I could walk home from events and not worry about someone else getting tired and needing to ride.  I learned all about public transportation.  I did not need a car for my date.  And I could change my plans spontaneously.  I became a pretty good date for me.  If I truly believed that the Spirit or Power or Ultimate Reality is always with me, than I am not really alone, and I can stop anywhere and meditate as the energy invites me.  All this keeps me from isolating.  It gets me out and among people.  I can chat with someone at one of these events if I feel so moved.  Find out if you like yourself.  Take yourself out for dates.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Brain Drain

Why do people continue running in a marathon when they ought to stop?  Why run marathons at all? It begins with the brain.  The brain is 80% water and receives 15%-20% blood circulation. That takes water to circulate.  When running, the running muscles cry out for water.  Where do they get it?  From the brain.  The result is that the muscles can run a bit longer, but because the brain has given up its water, and blood circulation, the brain is drained and cannot tell the running muscles to stop.  Long before the marathoner hits the 23 mile wall (a marathon is 26.2 miles) he/she should have stopped.  The last three miles are very slow and painful.  This brain drain works in many other areas.  You don't drink enough water, and so the brain is consistently deprived especially if you are "busy" with office work, errands, cleaning and running about.  What happens? You do stupid things and ask yourself, "Why did I do that? What was I thinking?"  You were thinking nothing and working much.  The smartest person in our office is Kirsten Wood.  Why?  Are we all dummies? No, but Kirsten drinks a sufficient amount of water, while we drink coffee or nothing and dehydrate.  Except for Kirsten, our office has various stages of brain dead times.  Drink more water. Become smart.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monastery Life

I arrived at the monastery on a sunny morning.  By the time I had unpacked the car, it was raining.  This is what you would call, "A bad day to hay."  You cannot harvest hay when it rains.  We get a lot of days like this.  Retreatants enjoy the sunshine, and then they go inside to read or pray.  Hay Ranchers like to pray and read too, but not when it is hay time.  God can have early morning, nighttime and evenings for our prayer.  Hay Ranchers wants the daytime, the long summer daytime with no rain, so as to harvest hay.  God does not always cooperate.  Maybe God has other plans?  God made cows, and they want hay, so why does God not cooperate on a more timely fashion?  Hay Ranching Monks need to do a lot of surrendering to God's will, and acceptance while spending all this predawn and evening time in meditation, singing psalms, and loving the God who is quite mysterious.  The spiritual adept monk here is not one who has lots of wise sayings or is well read in mystic spirituality, or who looks caught up in a rapture of spiritual union.  He is a guy in dirty jeans, who shrugs his shoulders when it rains, and just waits another day.  His daytime prayer happens while he deals in grease and diesel fuel.  So when you meditate, and think now you and God are on your plan for the day, or your life, and it does not work out as you planned, just get onto the next task.  God is at work, but not on your schedule.  I hear the distant thunder.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Award

I remember sitting at my High School Graduation.  The time came when awards were announced and the recipient's name was read out for each award.  As expected, the smart guys got called up to receive this and that scholarship.  Since I was not going to get anything, being "average" in my class, I was rather passively listening.  Suddenly, an award, of which I knew nothing about was mentioned, and my name was called.  Me?  What had I done?  Anyway, to my further surprise, it had something to do with being a good, acomplished person, as in better than "average."  I find this kind of award to be quite satisfying as well as surprising.  Don't manipulate or politic.  Be dutiful as yourself.  From time to time in my priesthood people have come up to me and said, "Father, you make such a difference in my life," or "I am so glad that you are here."  As with that long ago graduation surprise, I don't think I do much of anything except be around and try to stay out of trouble.  Amazing Grace!  We often cannot connect the love people have for us with anything we have done.  They just might love us because of who we are, not so much any one thing we did.  Of course, when no one reads my blog then "average" is reinforced.  I will see how this one turns out. Oops! Forgot.  It is not what I do.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


There is a famous prayer that begins, "God, grant me the serenity..." and goes on from there.  I am reminded that the word "grant" means gift.  You don't earn a grant.  It is a gift.  You cannot do much to get it, but ask.  It is a way to keep you right sized.  When you write for a research grant or tuition grant, and get it, you are beholden to the giver, one would hope.  But I have found that what many people really mean when they say this prayer is, "God give me what you owe me for my being so good and working so hard to stay better than I used to be."  I have found that I can be doing the same spiritual stuff each day, or what I call spiritual, and some days I do feel serene and others not so much.  I get to whining about howI  have been abandoned or am being punished for past misdeeds, or God just hates me.  I equate my good deeds with earning an IOU that God should honor.  I miss out on the gift of life.  So much is gift.  Joy comes when I realize how little control I have and how blessed I am inspite of myself.  Then I begin to practice good behavior because it serves someone else, or makes the world a better more compassionate place.  Don't you have days when you simply cannot get out of yourself?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wonder Woman

The new movie, "Wonder Woman," is going to be a big summer hit.  It has two things that interest me.  The power of a woman and her interaction with guys.  It might be a great movie for Middle Schooler girls.  We tell these girls that they have power and can use it to make the world a better place for love, kindness, compassion and peace.  These same girls are at that age when they are coming to discover boys in adolescent stages of intimacy.  How do I dress?  What do I say?  So, at the same time that girls are learning their own inner power, they are learning about their coming of age with guys.  Wonder Woman lives in a land of all women.  Then a guy literally drops in and lets her know that the world is a mess.  It goes on from there.  Now I will be at a monastery where I am supposed to be getting holy.  Seeing Wonder Woman would not be a good fit.  It will be my summer penance.  I could use some power too.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The First Day

I celebrate today because many years ago I had a drink in Vienna.  Why celebrate that?  Because I have not had another one since and only had that one beer, a miracle in itself for me. Today, would never have happened if I had not picked up the phone about 18 months before this Vienna evening.   Back then it was going to be my last day, or the first day of a new way of living.  I did not want any more of the pain of my past/present life, but was scared of my solution.  It was one of the few times that fear kept me around to tell this tale.  I made a call for help, and made a second call to a friend because I did not think it a good idea to be with me, alone.  Alone, I had made too many destructive decisions.  Sanity was breaking in on a party gone stale.  I had many happy and fulfilling moments before all this.  Some would say I was successful in what I did.  But it was never enough.  My dark side just would not stay away.  I had a self-destructive side that disguised itself as "fun."  But grace got me through that day and many more since.  Grace Power.  I have trudged this new way of life, except for the Vienna beer, and it has not been easy.  Vienna taught me the "cravings." You see, wherever I go, I go with me.  On my good days, I see that I am about to act like a jerk, but grace power intervenes and I do not reveal my silliness to those around me. I may think like a jerk, but do not act like one.  Bad days, I am on display in all my messiness.  But since that day long ago, I don't do the behavior that almost killed me.  For some reason, always uplifting, many people seem to like to be with me.  Some even think I am a spiritual guide, a support to their efforts to be better persons.  I used to think they had a low bar for friends, but I have come to realize I am a lot better than my crazy mind thinks.  Well, it can keep me in humility.  And honesty has helped me.  If I get any more honest in these blogs, all the holy people will stop reading me.  Maybe you are just struggling enough, that I can be of some service to you in this missive.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Running To School

I am a big fan of long distance running.  Kenyans seem to dominate in this running distance.  Why?  They live at altitude, yes, but then so do many people in other countries including my own.  They run to school, often in bare feet.  They have to go miles to get to their school.  Interesting.  Think of someone who would run miles in not the best shoes and not the best roads, to go to elementary school.  Mere children.  Are the schools in Kenya the best?  I doubt they are stellar or wealthy with resources.  Now, in this country, there are children who live a few blocks from school, and don't go, or if they go, are not interested.  I don't think I would run five miles to go to school unless I had to.    But 5 miles?  What if my school was so so?  It is not that our schools are so bad and dangerous that you cannot learn though this is a problem.  People are getting killed on the roads and byways of Kenya. their economy is struggling.  I am fascinated by people who will go to great effort to learn when the deck is stacked against them, and others who just give excuses for the same deck.
 But even at its best here, schools with lots of resources and safety, would a kid go run five miles to a school?    And so the Kenyans continue to win.  Want a free ride to a good college?  Start running five miles back and forth to elementary school.  Invest in good shoes too.  As with many things, it depends on how badly you want something.  Kenyans want it.  They challenge me in my own goals.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pray For Me

From time to time I meet someone who says they wish so and so would pray more.  Some people try to model a prayer life for others.  I have seen Moms who practically live in church but their children pray no at all or so it seems to Mom.  What to do?  Well, something that I have found to work is to love someone who you wish would grow in a spiritual life.  Just love on them.  Then, after a while, ask them to pray for you.  It rarely occurs to the non-prayer person that someone good and loving would want their prayers.  And so they begin to pray, haltingly, since they are not sure what to pray for much less how. but it is a start.  You are a focus for their prayers.  They pray for you because you, who love them, requested prayer.  Nagging people is the basis for a miserable relationship on any spiritual plain.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Donut Spirituality

Homily Notes
June 4, 2017

I was out doing errands one morning and saw a sign outside a coffee shop that said, "National Donut Day."  I thought it was a scam to induce people to buy a coffee and get a free donut.  Well, it turns out that June 2 is National Donut Day!  It goes back to WWI in France when rationing made it impossible for women to bake cakes and pies for the soldiers at the Front.  So they invented the donut.  Nothing in the middle.  Imagine no donuts before WWI.  So, June 2 honors the "donut girls."
On Pentecost we are reminded that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, which should propel us to do lots of good for the world with joy!  Some days not so much.  I have days when I feel nothing of God inside me.  I can go to communion and feel no different than if I stayed home.  I feel empty, abandoned, ignored by God.  Yet I have to go out and do the best that I can to be of use and not make a mess of people's lives.  Those are my "Donut Spirituality" days.  I feel empty, like the middle of the donut, but I then try and remember that this Spirit is all around me, like the donut that surrounds the hole in the middle.  Wherever I go, empty as I may feel, the Spirit goes with me, like the donut and the hole.  Whatever surprising good that I might do, it is the energy and power of the Spirit that surrounds me.  I know people who go to meetings, feeling empty when they walk in, and then feel surrounded by love.  It was that same Spirit that got them to the meeting in the first place.  So when you are feeling empty, with little motivation, think of the donut and donut spirituality.  I think I would like to go get me a donut right now!  Yummy.    

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Lost And Found

Remember the Lost and Found Departments or box?  I have felt like a lost item that got found.  I think this can be a good thing, to be lost and then found.  When you lose an item, if it is important or precious to you, won't you go looking for it?  And if it is nothing to you, then you just move on, right?  So, if I feel lost and then someone finds me, then I feel precious and important to them.  In a spiritual sense, I had lost my way.  It was not so much a belief thing or a dogma thing, as it was a "being confused" or feeling disconnected, alone, or maybe not alone, but with others and yet not knowing where to turn or what to do.  I have found that by staying put, a meditative, reflective stance works best.  Let me be found by the one who knows my direction even when I feel lost.  It is not a matter of being broken and running around trying to get fixed.  It is just that sense of being lost.  Be still.  The Great Searcher will find you.  And embrace you with love.  I have found it to be so.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sacred Work

I think that it is good to do household chores, to give children some housekeeping things to do.  Why?  We need to see that work can be holy, especially when it is fulfilling.  What is so fulfilling about making your bed, cleaning your bathroom, and taking out the garbage?  Well, when you are done you can have the sense of accomplishment.  You completed something.  It can enhance self-worth.  That is what work is supposed to do.  When it is slavishly working out of fear of starvation, it won't seem so holy or fulfilling.  Lots of parents blow off making their kids work around the house, but rather take the children to sports and dance, music, singing lessons.  Most of this is called "play."  You play sports.  You play an instrument.  What if you realize or the coach judges you are not very good.  In soccer, you get sat down, or don't feel a sense of accomplishing much of anything.  When you make your bed it is done.  Work at its best is holy because it is accomplishing something.  It is not just showing up and running around.  Kids generally figure out early on that they are not good at something. By the time sports and cultural efforts become work, someone ought to be paying you something or at least that is your purpose for doing it.  And if you are not very talented, but live in the world of delusion that you are talented, this will prove to be very sad someday, and you still won't have a good sense of self.  So make your bed.  Then go practice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Sign

What is the sign that indicates we are on a spiritual path of growth?  For me, it is not that I pray more, or spend more time in church or reading my bible.  The sign for me is that I seem to give back more than I take.  What?  I am less focused on me and my wants, or fantasies, and more focused on giving or being of service to others, and without resentments.  I know people who give while complaining or building up their resentment list.  I have been there too.  I know times when I have meditated a lot and still was all about me or resentful of you...but with a smile.  A dose of honesty helps me to know if I am on the right track when I give or serve others.  If these blogs ever become work with resentment build up, I will stop doing them.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Stationary Pilgrim

Emily Dickinson, the American poet, was referred to as a "Stationary Pilgrim."  She did not go out much or travel, or try to see sights around the world.  Though I am no recluse, I think of myself as a bit of a stationary pilgrim.  Emily sat at home and wrote 1775 poems, that were discovered after she died.  I have friends who love to travel, and some who are quite discontent if they are not going somewhere to see something.  They are pilgrims to geographic places.  I am more of a pilgrim into the inner life.  I like to explore it in books, and listening to people who practice a meditation, or meditate myself.  I travel on running trails where I live.  I do go places for work, so I get on planes enough for me.  I prefer to be in one place of a while.  I like the routine of "home."  Home is where I am most at home with me.  I belong to local museums so I do get to see a world brought to me in exhibits.  I am curious but without the need to go places.  My blog is my ministry and I don't need to go to a lot of places to do this.  Whenever I have a yen to "go somewhere" I ask myself how much of that is because I don't want to be a pilgrim to my interior life.  I see a lot of unhappy, restless, and irritated travelers in my journeys.  I tend to watch people when I do travel.  So much pain is what I see.