Sargent Shriver was the founding Director of the Peace Corps and among the founders of the Special Olympics. Shriver told students to "Go back to your dorm and break some mirrors." Say what? His point was that students should stop primping, and looking at the reflection of themselves. This could apply to social media today. Shriver wanted students to quit looking at themselves and look out the window. Get involved and take the journey outward. He was speaking in the 1960s when tremendous changes were taking place in physical appearances in hair, clothes and the whole physical look. From yesterday's blog, Whippman says that well-being is not so much to go within to find ourselves, but rather to invest in nurturing relationships with others in our lives.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MARK 1: 21-28
JANUARY 28, 2018
What made Jesus change his lifestyle and work so dramatically, going from small town carpenter, to a renowned teacher and healer? I suspect that he might have asked the two questions that each of us need to ask if we want to become all God made us to be. What questions? Both questions are asked of God. First question: “Who are you?” The second question will not be asked until an intimate relationship is developed from the answer to the first question. The catechism will tell you who God is, but that does not seem to build a sufficient relationship to transform your life to its fullest. It is an answer for the mind, but not for the heart.
Jesus realized that his God was one of unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. Jesus felt a oneness with his God, who was not up in the clouds, but in Jesus’ very essence of his being. He and God were one in Love. God is Love. With that, Jesus can ask the second question. This question is never asked by anyone who has merely a catechism answer as to the first question. Second question for Jesus: “What do you want of me?” In other words, how do I live out this relationship of Love? This got Jesus out of the carpentry business and into his more central purpose as an incarnate, human being. Jesus was going to express publicly, this love union he has with the God he calls “Father.”
Well, now for us. “The Kingdom of God is in your midst,” says Jesus. Where might that be? In each one of us, but it will stay hidden and unexpressed, unless we ask the two questions, and get beyond the catechism. If we don’t have an in-depth relationship with God, as did Jesus, we won’t get beyond our egos which are always asking, “What is in this for me?” If your prayer life is a series of negotiating with God the heavenly gatekeeper, to keep us out of hell and get into heaven, the kingdom of God will be rather mute and hidden as Jesus expressed it. So the first thing God may want of you is to get those evil spirits driven from you. Like what? Try selfishness, sloth, envy, lust, false-pride and self-pity. Jesus never whined.
Monday, January 29, 2018
If you find yourself aging to the point where you think you may soon not be able to drive, don't sell the house and go into assisted living. By 2020, only two years away, some CEO types are saying that you won't need a car. If you want to go somewhere you just pick up your smart phone and call for a car. Don't worry about some driver answering the request. There won't be a driver. The car is all computerized. It comes around to your address and takes you where you want to go, church, shopping, social event and so on. You only pay for the miles used on the trip. And if this is so, then why would anyone think about buying a new car to drive themselves? Tech savvy Millennials are not shopping for cars. The car industry is freaking out a bit over this. If you are a senior citizen you probably are not planning on driving all over the country anymore. Car trips will be local and repetitive. Keep the home. Get a smart phone.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
You city slickers, don't make fun of cowgirls as if they are beneath you. I know some cowgirls and they are quite accomplished women. Esther Pariseau is an example. She is a 19th century woman born in Quebec. She becomes a nun and then goes out West, covering a territory to include modern day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and southern British Columbia. She did not go around in a covered wagon. She had to ride. What did she do? She founded infimaries, orphanages, homes for the metally ill, and schools for the Native American children. Her schools were for the poor, without discrimination. She was a pioneer in all of this. She died at the beginning of the 20th century and was eventually inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Cowgirls don't just ride horses. They do a lot more to develop our country, culture and society. Giddyup!
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Dismas is the name given to the "good thief" being crucified with Jesus. I suspect that he had been quite dreadful in his life of crime. One is not crucified in the Roman legal system for petty crime. Dismas more likely was a big time thief who brutalized and maybe even murdered people such that he had become notorious. What interests me about him is that he admitted his punishment fit his criminal life. "We have been condemned justly," is what he says. He may be a notoriously bad guy, but he is not a whiner or a blamer. He does not say his life is the fault of society, culture, bad government or abusive parents. Those may have been all part of his life, but he takes responsibility for his actions. This is the only way one can ever "repent" or change their life for the better. Conversion to a fuller life can never come if you say, "If only they would change." Whoever is the "they" is not about to change. The rewards come only after we admit to our side of the street. Even in a seemingly powerless situation, we can still begin to clean up our side of the street. Being crucified looks very powerless, but change is an inside job. Note that Dismas began the inside work when he was feeling quite miserable. He did not say, "I will do it tomorrow."
Friday, January 26, 2018
Women were very important in the early Christian Church. They were preachers and administrators. Prisca is one of them. She was a tentmaker like her confrere Paul, of whom we know much from his letters in the Bible. She was Jewish too. Her home in Ephesus was where the community of Jewish and non-Jewish Christians met. She had been expelled from Rome by the emperor, so she was more of a traveling evangelizer, who lived in various places. So what happened? Where did these kind of women go? As time went on, Chrisitianity became more formal in its worship, with hierarchy that mimiced the Roman way of male rule. Plus, the Jewish way of male cultic worship became the Christian model. The idea that men should rule because Jesus only chose men, does not wash, since we have women like Prisca who came soon after Jesus turned the Good News over to his disciples. Originally, Christianity had a radical message shared in a radical way. Eventually, the method conformed to the comfort of culture. Once the religion became established, I wonder that the message lost some of its radical power. I think that Pope Francis I is trying to bring back the joy of this radical Good News that bounces up against established ways of living and seeing the world that benefits the few and the powerful.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Today is a very special day for my religious order, the Paulist Fathers. In our church, it is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It celebrates when Paul stopped trying to kill or imprison Jewish Christians, and began to proclaim his faith in Jesus. Paul is our model. One of the ways that we model after Paul is the way that we treat women. Paul colaborated with women in his ministry. He relied upon them to help him in preaching and running the house churches that developed in various towns where he preached. Women preached and were in charge. Paulists treat women more as equals and hire them to be leaders in various ministries. We do not treat them as peons or employees over whom we are the boss. There is more of a sense of equality. Interestingly, the Pope, in his Latin American visit told his hierarchs that they should not treat the lay persons as "peons." Paulists like this Pope.
In keeping with my recent blog on being grateful, I am in Los Angeles at the moment allowing my sister Jane to practice being grateful for having such a nice brother. That would be me. We do movies, plays, home cooking that I get nowhere else, and talk sports. I could be back in Colorado being of service, showing my gratitude for my being an active priest, but I have sacrificed all that to come to LA to enable my sister to practice graditude for ME! Sometimes one must just let go in order to let others enjoy their company. That's me…give, give, give. So what are you doing for someone you love? Today?
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
If you are grateful for something that you have why not be of service to others in that area? How might this work? If are a grateful Mom, be of some help to other Moms who may be struggling as Moms. It might be new Moms with little experience, maybe overwhelmed by baby, home, work stuff. If you are grateful for your being newly married, why not be of service to other newly married persons. You might form a church group or neighorhood club for newly married. If you are grateful for you single life, your career, your divorce from a dreadful partner, your new neighborhood home, why not get together with like people and be of some service to them. Single adults, lawyer women or men groups, divorced, single parent groups, sewing groups, quilting groups are all ways that you can live out your gratefulness and pass it on to others. As someone said, "Service is gratitude in action."
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Lady Godiva was not named after a chocolate. She came first. She was the wife of a rich lord and she wanted him to lower the oppressive taxes that he had heaped upon the people. Her husband said he would do it if she dared to ride through the town village naked on a horse. Because of her compassion for the suffering of her people she did just that. True to his word, the lord lowered the oppressive taxes. So don't be putting our Lady Godiva down for being a nut case and exhibitionist. And if you want the government to lower taxes, well, you have the Godiva example. Of course she was married to the political top person in the local realm. So I don't know that the Godiva solution would translate into today's political realities. Then on the other hand you can always buy me some dark chocolate Godiva bars. It won't lower taxes, but it would make this blogger very happy 😇
Monday, January 22, 2018
We are in the midst of the National Week of Prayer For Christian Unity. What is this all about, especially since I doubt many people in Christian Churches won't be hearing about it. But it is important to people like me and other Paulist Priests since we work in Dialoging with people who are baptized but not Catholic. This dialogue has several purposes. First, it may keep Christians from killing one another. Second, it allows us to learn from each other about our beliefs. Third, it may help us to work together for the common good of the geographic areas where we live near to one another. This often shows up in social services for those who need them. Many people prefer not to talk about religion and politics. Why not? Jesus did. He would ask questions instead of telling people what they "should" do or think. I don't tell someone, "I am completely right and you are so wrong that you will burn." This is not dialogue. There is no listening or respect for the wisdom that others might have to contribute to our religious path. So many people want a religion that is "correct" and so correct that everyone else must be so wrong. So in this week, why not drop into a local church denomination that is not your own, and thank them for being there for the community where you live. It might make someone's day!
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Steven was a NYC policeman. He was shot and paralyzed by a suspected thief. Steven survived but could not move from the neck down. He decided that since the person he was is gone, he needed to replace the old with something new. He chose the way of forgiveness, so he would be free of emotions that prevented him from loving his family and others. He went and forgave the fellow who shot him. Steven was determined that he would not be defined by his disability. He gave public speeches on the power of forgiveness that might break the cycle of violence that struck him with those three bullets. He thought that if you are working to keep your body fit and your mind sharp, why not work on the spirituality of the heart too? So, the next time you are planning your day of physical exercise and mental efforts, why not ask if you have set aside any time to work on the exercise of the heart for improved loving. Steven McDonald died last year.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Referring to a blog on “Holy Family” a few days ago, I gave a definition of “home.” Home is where you can go and receive love and acceptance without having to do anything, or prove ourselves, or be utilitarian. Now many believers say that God lives within each one of us. If so, how do you believers make God feel at home? Are you always asking for something from God? I wonder if God would feel at home where God always has to be doing something to make someone in the home happy? It sure would not feel much like home to me. That is why I think contemplative prayer, where you do not ask God for anything, or to do anything, is the most home-like for God. You are in silence and solitude, simply enjoying being with God. The contemplative does not even ask God to give them a good, warm experience. Just being together is enough. This to me makes the best home for God. Let God be with you without any focus on your self-interest, your needs or wants. There are plenty other prayers and times for you to chatter away.
Friday, January 19, 2018
There is nothing wrong or bad about a tank of water in itself. But if you want to breathe air, you would not immerse yourself in the tank of water. That would be dysfunctional. So it is with the desire for some solitude and silence in your life. There is nothing wrong with the ordinary comforts and pleasures of life or with many events that call for our attention. But if we want some silence and solitude, say in meditation, then we will have to detach ourselves at times from all these other things. What is harmless in moderation is an obstacle in interior prayer that would deepen our spiritual life. We have to make some empty space for the deepening to take place. The world is not to be ignored or avoided, but rather set aside each day for a bit of sanity and growth in our life.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Am I living the life God chose for me? Or, if you have god issues of belief, are you living the life that is truly you? It takes some people time to figure this out, but they do if they are open to change. Gandhi was a lawyer in South Africa before he became the Mahatma in India. Jesus was a small village carpenter before he became the Jesus of the New Testament. Einstein could not get work in his chosen field so he became a patent clerk, but kept up work in his chosen field. Then came the Theory of Relativity, the idea that light curves, and so on. I was a stockbroker. But even when we find our fulfilling life work/relationship, we have to keep working on it. There is no generic "Paulist priest." Each of us, within a framework of "Paulist" have to develop our personal way, or charism for ministry. So we have anything from Busted Halo radio to teaching contemplative prayer. So, within your field of vocation of work, and life, you become who your truly are, in that life. No two mothers are the same or fathers. It is a day at a time job. Even aging will be unique to each person.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Someone came to me and said that they, "had gone out." "Gone out from where? I wondered. It is a term used by people who get into twelve step recovery programs, steps, meetings, fellowship, and it helps them to not drink day by day. He told me that he had stopped all those things. He no longer went to meetings or worked the steps or helped anyone to stay sober. "Why did you stop all that?" I asked. His response got me to thinking. He said that he was not drinking anymore, so he did not need all that "stuff." Then one day he drank...a lot. What I think, and see as a pattern in the lives of many of us, is that we think whatever we have becomes part of our DNA. We don't lose it...and therefore we don't have to do anything to hold onto whatever good we have. People get married, but don't work on their marriage relationship. They think "marriage" is part of their DNA now. People say they have faith, but then do nothing to nurture it. People have love and ignore the work required to keep the love burning. We take so much for granted, such as health and all of the above examples. Everything that is good in our lives is going to pass unless we work on it...on a daily basis. Walking once a month is not going to keep your health. Having one date night a year with your partner won't nurture your love. An absence of prayer will not nurture your faith. None of these things can be taken for granted. So if you have a relationship now with someone, and you value it, what are you going to do today to nurture it?
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
If you want to sell your house, then go out and buy a St. Joseph statue. Two million of them are sold in this country every year. So a lot of people are asking St. Joseph for help. When you bring the statue home, bury it in the yard, head first, with the feet facing heaven. Once you sell the house, don't forget St. Joseph. With his feet facing heaven he is not going anywhere until you dig him up and take him with you. Face down, Joseph is not being buried, but rather planted in your soil to give the sale some Saintly aide. Joseph had to move several times himself as I recall from the bible, so he sympathized with someone having to move. After you dig the statue back up, then you take it to your new home or room and give it some place of honor. St. Joseph will be a reminder of where you have been, and where you are going, and that you never travel alone.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Fr. Terry Ryan, CSP
John 1: 35-42
January 14, 2018
We are all a “dash.” A what? Yes, if you look at the dates of when someone was born and when they died, you notice the numbers. But there is a dash between birth and death dates. That dash represents their life. We are all a dash, and are in fact living our dash right now. Whenever you become self-imploded, feel you are the center of the universe, that your plans should all come about, become angry that people ignore you and your plans, then remember you are but a dash in the lifetime of the universe. Drop your ego a peg or two.
On the other hand, once you get right-sized, there is good news. This dash of your life has always been in God, from the beginning of creation. The whole matter of the universe existed from the beginning of creation. It has been evolving ever since. At one point, the Divine Creator decided that this Divine Energy would take on human flesh, become matter, and you came into human existence. You are the light of Christ in your short lifetime. And when you die, hopefully, having evolved into all God meant you to be in your “dash,” then you return to God in an even deeper union of Love.
The Gospel, as well as Twelve Step Recovery processes reveal this pastern. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is right-sized in his ego. He has followers, yet when Jesus passes by, John points him out as the one to follow. He is OK with his entourage becoming smaller. Jesus then asks what they want. Are they looking for the “correct” dogma? A political leader to free them from secular misery? Happy times? The two disciples indicate that they simply want to relate to Jesus, spend time with him. They ask, “Where are you staying?” This is key to the spiritual journey that will transform us. We have to simply spend time with Jesus, without our agenda words or pious thoughts. Simply abide in quiet stillness and silence. Jesus invites them to do just that. “Come and see,” is his invitation. When we monks at the monastery gather in the vigil darkness, we do not bring our day planners. It is time to listen. We hear psalms read and then chant a bit, but eventually we sit quietly in the dark, in the abode of Christ and let him love on us. This will help us to right-size our plans and ego for the day. And we then invite others to come and join us in this process.
In the Twelve Step programs, addicts have been trying to squeeze happiness out of their self-centered lives by their drug and have lost control. They are searching in all the wrong places for relief much less happiness. Someone says, “Come and join us. We have a solution.” The almost suicidal addict goes to a meeting, and if they stay, abide, remain, they will be loved on unconditionally. Eventually, they will have a mentor guide through the steps that include quiet meditation. They will always be addicts, but no longer need live completely controlled by their darkness. The light of the higher power will shine through their shortcomings.
It is the same way in all spiritual journeys. We monks will always have faults, character defects, shortcomings, but the light of God’s love will shine through us onto others in the way we act in this world. You don’t have to be a monk for this to happen. It is available for all people in their daily life, one day at a time, with a mediation discipline that allows God to love on you a few minutes a day. The the ‘Dash” of your life will be the light of your Creator shining through you, inviting others who still suffer, to come onto the path. It is the manner of your living the ordinary life that attracts people. Come, and see.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
What can you give to a little child, an infant? They don't want all the stuff and baubles you buy. They are not initially into toys. Someone said that what an infant wants is love, and not love that expects to get something but rather disinterested love. It means a love that is a gift of self. It is all that the child can really receive. Some people will show love to a child that is full of self-interest. The adult wants or expects the infant to respond in a certain way. When the infant does not, the adult might get angry, upset, and even violent. This is one-sided love, your side, not the infant's side. The infant is a complete "receiver." Now, can we love older people in just the same way? How do you love your forgetful, physically and mentally crumbling elder parent? How do you love someone who is so emotionally debilitated that they cannot love back? There is an infant in all of us that wants to sometimes be complete receivers of unconditional love. I think this is a part of the contemplative experience. Maybe it is part of married love. You would have to tell me.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
One of the best ways to explain what and why I teach what I do is to look at the Magi story about following a star. The Magi are searchers for something more or deeper than their economic well being. They have what is called a "restless heart." They are not content with 'Stuff" such as all we receive at Christmas time or through our consumer ways. For the restless heart, one must embrace the darkness or else you cannot see the star. Stars are hidden by the light. The restless heart is not content with the light that comes from book learning, catechisms, dogmas, material things or prayers with lots of good thoughts, words and rituals. Contemplation, prayer beneath thought, word, feeling is praying in the darkness. But it is when you see the star that will lead you, little by little to a fullness you are seeking. The Magi were not changed by dogmatic faith or a set of beliefs, but by daily trudging through the unknown desert, and coming upon relationship, surprising relationship. They were changed forever by this encounter. Institutional, catechetical faith is a bit too certain for me. I try not to sleep through the night of my life. I will miss the star.
Friday, January 12, 2018
What is a "Bottom." I hear people say, "I hit my bottom." For me, a bottom might be enough of what has been getting in the way of my being all that I am made to be. Bottoms get in the way of wholeness, fulfillment. Think of a bottom as an elevator. Some people have had enough of bad behavior, bad lifestyle, bad job, relationships, diet, weight sooner than other people with the same issue. So some people hit their bottom on the second floor, some on first floor and some have to go all the way to the sub-basement. But each person knows when they have had enough of bad stuff, have lost control, and are sufficiently miserable. Whenever we hit our own personal bottom, that is when we might begin to look for another way to happiness, fullness, peace, joy, and usefulness. As humans we will always be flawed in some way, but we don't have to be suicidal, and destructive about it. Usually, to get out of a bottom we need some guides, that is, people who understand our mess from their own personal experience. We have been actively dying due to choices, or the inability to any longer choose. Now we want a path for living. It is usually better to do this new life process with a group rather than try going it alone. Alone, we seem to mess up. Our will power is all we have when alone, and it is broken by the time we hit our bottom. If you don't think that you are miserable enough to change, then keep to your present behavior. You still need to go down a floor or two. Alone, you never go up. I have found it so.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Most people who say they are evangelizing, are doing convert work using catechism and doctrine to get someone to agree to a certain institutional view of God. It is so “Reformation.” But I came across another fellow who was dubbed a “missionary,” who impressed me wit his example. He wanted to be a contemplative in a Muslim village and serve the poor. Now this fellow was a Catholic. One day, the local Iman asks him about his motives. The fellow says that his prophet, Jesus, asked believers to go and help the poor, and he had chosen to serve the poor in this village. Then he adds that if anyone should come closer to Allah because of him, he would be happy. The local Iman let the fellow stay. Now that is my idea of witness to being a follower of Jesus.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
If you want to feed your capacity for kindness, generosity and humility, than try paying attention to a child who wants to tell you about her world, such as her school day. I did this recently with my 10 year old friend, Maggie. We were at an elegant adult dinner on NewYear's Eve. Two adults were in animated conversation with each other, and there was Maggie and I sitting at the table. So I paid attention, asking questions, about her teacher, a day at school and so on. In other words, I entered into her world. Maggie was very animated and into the subject of her school days, so I don't think I bored her. But even if I did, at least I was trying to practice being kind and generous with my time for her. The results of our conversation are not up to me. I can only make the effort. Children seem to like that. You might try it. It might make you a better person.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
The ABC Witches
Once upon a time there was a Kingdom called “Wonder.” It existed in the land of San Francisco, though few people who lived in San Francisco ever noticed the Kingdom of Wonder. You needed to be a witch to live there, and a good witch to truly enjoy it. A good witch was one who would notice the beauty in all things around them, be it flowers, trees, water, sand, animals and people. The residents of San Francisco, non-witches, would simply pass right by all this beauty or find it a bother, and never “wonder” much about anything of interest.
Now there were three good witches in the Kingdom. They were Alessandra, Betta and Cristina, known as the ABC witches for the first letters in their names. They simply noticed a flower blooming, and would stop to admire it, and give thanks for its wonder of existence. Even a leaf would hold their breath. They simply loved all the world around them. They wondered at the world of San Francisco technology, though they were sad that it kept people rushing about, being crabby and seeing so little of nature.
Now there was an evil witch in the land and she hated the happiness of the ABC witches. So she devised a plan where the three witches, now grown up, would become spinsters and never find love from boys who came out of the Lake of Boys in search of a good witch. How the boys were born in the Lake is a mystery for another story. Nevertheless, a boys were supposed to come up out of the water, swim to land and search for a good witch. So the bad witch put a spell on a dog, and made him want to chew on big rocks, to whittle them down to small pebbles. Then the witch would take the pebbles, throw them one by one across the top of the Lake to entice boys to jump up out of the water, and then zap them with her magic wand, so they would never leave the Lake. The good witches, though they were great wonderers, were sad that there were no boys for them. Betta, who like to sleep a lot, wanted a boy who well, liked to sleep. Alessandra wanted one with a hairy face. Cristina wanted someone who was smart.
The dog was very unhappy, as you can imagine. It ate rocks! One day, when the bad witch was asleep, the dog wandered away from the shore, into the high grass. The ABC witches heard him, and of course wandered at his dogginess. Cristina approached the dog and saw that he had a name tag. It read “Scott.” When she said Scott, the dog perked up his nose and bumped her on the chin. Christina fell backward, but recovered and gave the dog a hug. Scott seemed to like this, though he still preferred rocks to Cristina. Cristina decided that she would befriend the dumb dog who ate rocks, since no boys were about yet.
“We must break this spell,” exclaimed the ABC witches. Or else we will have no boys to love. “Let us go find a good wizard who can break the spell of Scott eating rocks,” said cCristina. Cristina consulted eBay and found a nearby wizard named T. Patrick. What the “T” stands for is a puzzle. Off they went with Scott to the wizard. Now the wizard lived high on a mountain far outside the land of San Francisco. ABC, though good Wonderers, were not in very good shape, so they were quite tired when they finally got to the mountain top, stopping along the way to admire stuff and catch their breath. The dog, Scott, seemed to have no trouble with the climb.
When they reached the mountain top, they found a cave, with a sign that said, “No one gets to see the great T.” “Oh, dear,” said Betta, who was in need of a nap as she yawned. But then there was an instruction about breaking spells, written on a stone at the entrance. Scott lunged for the stone, but Alessandra quickly pulled him back as Cristina read the stone. it said, “To break a spell of the wicked witch, you must make a good pasta dinner for the wizard.” An arrow pointed to a big bush. Behind the bush the ABC witches found a full kitchen with all the makings for a pasta dinner. As Betta was falling asleep and Alessandra was holding Scott back from eating rocks, Cristina did the cooking and presented the dinner in front of the cave. A voice from within the cave thundered, “You call that Italian!” The voice woke up Betta and Scott got all excited.
“Forgive us oh wizard,” said Cristina, “We are mere witches, though good ones, and desperate for boys to love.” The voice from within softened a bit, “I get cranky when hungry, so go away, and if I like your cooking enough, I will break the spell.” The witches walked away, hopeful, with Scott and started down the mountain promising one another that they would learn to cook better Italian, in case they needed to go back to the wizard. But then the miracle happened as they walked. Scott suddenly changed into a handsome boy. The evil witch had made him a dog to eat rocks for her scheme. The wizard must have been really hungry, as he broke the spell. The ABC witches wondered at Scott, as they did so many things. On his shirt that he wore, said, “Techie Smart.” Cristina instantly fell in love with him. Since he had neither a hairy face nor looked very sleepy, A and B had less interest in him.
Cristina remembered from eBay, that the wizard, T. Patrick, also did weddings. Up they mountain they bounded, full of the energy from love and the breaking of the spell. The wizard married Cristina and Scott, while Alessandra and Betta were witnesses. They are currently living happily ever after, though Scott occasionally looks longingly at a rock. Italian food seems to cure him, plus Cristina’s love. Alessandra and Betta are waiting by the Lake of Boys for a bearded one and a sleepy one to come forth. Neither is practicing her Italian cooking.
Monday, January 8, 2018
In the Bible, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is Joseph. He has a very important job to be of help to Mary and Jesus, but then Joseph disappears from the narrative, never to be heard from again. Did you ever have a "Joseph" in your life? It would be someone who was crucial to you at some point and then you never saw or heard about or from them again. I had such a person in my life when I was a bachelor in San Francisco many years ago. A friend of mine had just gotten married and it was the evening after the wedding. I was alone and feeling quite bereft. My friend's life was working out just fine as he went off on his honeymoon with his bride. My life was going nowhere. I was in a pity pot of self-absorption and depression. I cannot go on living like this. There seems no way out of my messy life. For some reason, I called a fellow with whom I used to work in my old job. He was at home and invited me over when I said I wanted to talk. It was a grace that got me to pick up the phone, call, and he to be there free for the evening. I went to his apartment and talked for hours. I remember him listening, not judging or trying to solve anything. Eventually, I got exhausted with my self-absorption, and fell asleep on his couch. The next morning I felt better. Crisis passed. I never saw him again. He was my "Joseph." I am still alive...and telling stories of evil witches, doing blogs and trying to stay out of mischief.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Some religious traditions recently celebrated "The Holy Family." What is that in modern terms? I think of a Holy Family as the place where you can go and receive love and acceptance without having to earn it. It would be for me, "Home." So I ask myself where is my home where I would receive this love and acceptance without having to earn it? I live in four places and none of them would be "Home," if this were the criterion. In each place I would be expected to do something or else I would not be so welcomed or guaranteed a room. I have to work everywhere I go. That is the expectation. So the last place that I can recall where I did not have to do anything was when I visited my parents. That was home for me. I did not have to do anything. Everyone else says, "Welcome home," and then there are things I am supposed to do as in work and make money. I never felt that I was visiting my parents. Rather I was "home." So where is your home?
Saturday, January 6, 2018
One of the things I like about the Shepherds and the Magi, is that after they had their powerful religious experiences, they went back home to work. They returned to their lives to do the stuff they were doing, but with maybe a different attitude or sense of things. They might have talked about their experiences, but they still "took out the garbage" as I like to say. So many people, clerics included, think that because they have had some "special" encounter with God, dairy chores are beneath them. They have no time for the daily chores that need taking care of. The shepherds went back to the fields to care for the sheep. Sure, they were praising God, but the sheep needed attention. The Magi, went back to their home, to their daily lives. They might have been changed within, but their daily lives were still "daily" in need of attention. Today, in many Catholic cultures, it is the Feast of the Epiphany. I took out the garbage. Me, a spiritual giant, took out the garbage. I like to think of the Magi as taking out their garbage. It was easier for them. They did not have to recycle. Did you make your bed up after you got up? My sister, Jane, abandons her messy bed, for spiritual reading, including this blog, each morning. I pray for her.
Friday, January 5, 2018
I found out that Astrophysicists say that 95% of the total mass and energy content of the universe is dark. We tend to call it space, the dark between the stars. We think of it as empty. That is because we are dummies, or at least I am. Dark really means that there is stuff in that space, but I cannot see it. The stuff is invisible to me. But there is still something there, a lot there. I experience emptiness, nothingness. I judge the universe by by experience. Don't we do the same with the God exists or does not exist question? We judge on our experience. People will say that there is no God because they experience nothing. The universe tells us that the experience of nothing is not nothing. It is simply our judgment of things from our limited perspective. With the Epiphany, (The Three Magi) coming up, there is the saying that "in the darkness is a great light." It just looks like darkness. If there is a God, why does such an existent hide out in plain sight like that? I wonder if God knows that when things are way obvious we tend to ignore them. There is an obvious tree outside? How much attention does it get from you in your busy self-absorbed day? No, God hides out from me, so that I have to go deeper into a more contemplative place, letting go of all my important thoughts and ideas, to just sit in the darkness. Then, surprise!
Thursday, January 4, 2018
A lot of people think of virginity as having to do solely with physical sex. A person generally knows when they gave up their virginity, as we say. But virginity has a much wider and ongoing meaning than physical sex. It refers to the deeper meaning of spiritual growth. People on such a path, are trying to keep from falling into or embracing evil, bad behavior, acting out any series of character defects such that it changes us for the worse. You might think of it as soul virginity, that can be lost but then regained. Lost by bad behavior and regained by trudging that road of daily spiritual practices. Each morning, when I wake up, I am a spiritual virgin. How will I live this day? Do I have a plan? If no plan, I will fall before the day is over. If I do no spiritual practice, including being of some service to others, I might not do anything outrageous this day, but I will be on the way to the outrageous. There is something cunning about bad behavior and loss of spiritual virginity that day. You do not always see it coming. Then suddenly it is upon you. "What was I thinking?" You might say later. "Why did I do that?" Or, "I know better." If you don't make a plan for the spiritual path this day, your shortcomings certainly will. I have found it so.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
I don't see why people with big, fat egos, who always want the spotlight to shine on them, would have any interest in the Christmas idea that God would be a baby? A baby is little. It is helpless and pretty powerless to do for themselves. It relies on others for survival. It needs love. The ego person is all about power. If God is the baby in the manger, then Christmas is a celebration of littleness, not bigness. Those who involve themselves in the Christian religion might want to celebrate and love their own littleness. This would be so counter to a culture that focuses on empowerment, control, self-reliance, and never pooping in your pants. Sometimes I get whining about wanting to be noticed as more important, a bigger deal. Why? It was not a big issue with God, and I am supposed to be a believer in God and a follower of God tenants. So now I try to focus on the baby in the manger, and say it is OK to be little in the eyes of others, and in my own view of self. But never poop in my pants. If I live long enough that too may come!
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
The first scientist was a woman, Eve. Why? She was curious. She did not stay with the status quo. She wanted to know more and believed there was more to know. In traditional religion it seems that there is never more to know. Religion has tradition. It tells you all there is to know. The questions have been asked and answered. Science does not work that way. Science is open to the new, to development, to the modern. The past is aways questioned. Science says, "I think so, but I am not sure." Socrates and Einstein said this among countless others. Eve wanted to taste the apple. God said no, cased closed. She says "Why?" It is human to be plunged into the mystery of uncertainty, to explore. Religious faith seems to be about certainty. Is it really faith if it is certainty? Or does faith seek certainty to avoid fear? Yes, Eve did have it rough after that, but she also became more of a human being, after she ate the apple. A lot of people fear becoming more human because it is more painful to grow, to enter into mystery, to know that you don't know. This is why so many people would rather not get involved in contemplative prayer. Here you let go of all your intellectual certainty, but you then can enter into the deeper Truth. There is always more, and less.
Monday, January 1, 2018
It is the first day of a New Year, 2018. What do many of us do? We set resolutions or goals for this year. The goal is clear. The process, the details are a bit hazy. We think we will suddenly change our manner, habits, and daily routines, but we do not figure out how nor note why we have these habits in the first place. What happens? We slip. We violate our goal, our new standard of behavior. We then feel some shame and guilt. We don't want to feel badly, with this shame and guilt. So we lower our standards, goals or resolutions. Shame and guilt gone. Without a plan, and some help outside of our own selves, the only way this plan for the New Year will avoid shame and guilt is if we can lower our standards, goals or resolutions faster than we can violate them. I have found it so. And those were not very good years. Happy New Year! Mine have become so since I stopped trying to do it alone.