Wednesday, February 28, 2018
You know what the Pope's salary is per year? Zero. He is not supposed to even have a bank account. Now he does get room and board and travel paid for as part of his job. But the President of the USA gets that too and he gets a salary. What if people give the Pope some money in a handshake? He is supposed to give it away to charity. I guess when everything is paid for, you don't carry any money in your pocket. I saw a Michael Douglas movie when he was playing President and he did not have any money or credit cards in his pocket. I wonder if the people asking for alms on the streets of Rome know that the Pope is not good for spare change? Or the President for that matter. But I do have money in my pocket. Am I good for alms to those who seek and ask?
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Someone said, "Why is it that when we wake up at 3:00 AM we cannot think of anything that is good?" That would be me sometimes for sure. I may wake up and roll over and go back to sleep. But if I don't doze off soon, the mind starts cranking out stuff that I need to worry about, but cannot do anything about now or maybe ever. Or my mind tells me that there is an answer to a problem and that answer requires a catastrophic response of action on my part. At 3:00 AM the answers, if any, are in the area of quit the job, get out of the relationship, sell the home, move far away where you don't know people and do something new. 3:00 AM problems are monstrous, so the solutions are monstrous. Sometimes there are no solutions in sight, or I am unwilling to do crazy solutions, so I just stew in thoughts. If I can mediate while in bed I can at times settle the restless mind. 3:00 AM is the time when I am most likely to say, "My life is in ruins." You can always get up and read blogs!
Monday, February 26, 2018
Nine Eleven is not the first time that a plane flew into the tallest building in New York City. In 1945, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in New York. It took less than 14 months to build that massive structure. Maybe they dug the foundation hole sooner than "construction." Anyway, in June of 1945 it was foggy. An Army Air Corps plane flew into the 79th floor. It was the floor of the Catholic War Relief offices. Eleven office workers and three crewmen were killed. Pilot error. There might have been a search light beacon at the top of the building. If you see the 1930s King Kong movie let me know. Cause he was up there. I know that there was at one time, if not now, a beacon. Let us all be beacons of light for those who are in a fog and lost.
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Grape growers prune branches, in part to eliminate disease, but also to limit the number of grapes grown to insure they have the proper moisture and nutrients. It got me to thinking. Does Nature prune populations? Yes, but. It may be that with people living in more different places, before not habited, nature will take them out, not so much on purpose, but because, well, the people are there. We pretty much know where earth quakes are going to happen. But we don't move. San Francisco is an example. It is especially weird, because knowing that the earthquake is coming, the housing costs are very high. People want to live where they will be taken out by an earthquake. When the "Big One" comes, it will be called a "disaster." But is it really? People had a choice but stayed. A disaster to me in nature's activities would be something that is not expected, such as a drought. Droughts are a slow process and people make adjustments where they can. They migrate. They irrigate. Is a hurricane a disaster? You live on the coast of Florida and know that you will get hit eventually, because that is hurricane alley. But you stay, pay high housing costs and flood insurance, if you can get it. I live in San Francisco and the East Coast of Florida, so I have to consider that Nature could and will take me out, should I live that long. I am rolling the dice. Yikes!
Saturday, February 24, 2018
If you don't like the whole idea about "God" but yet know that something is at work in you, I have a way to name it. I got this idea from someone else. They spoke about an "Unsuspected Inner Resource." You see it is not a person, who lives in a place and pulls power leavers or founds religions. But it is something that you know from experience is at work in you. You seem to be changing for what you see as the better. You are able to make responses to life's situations and terms, that are seemingly new to you. This inner resource seems new to you. Was it always there within you? What is it? You can ask yourself questions, inquire, but don't get into arguments with yourself or others. Your experience is your truth. Something is at work in you and your life is better. If more is to be revealed that will be another story for another time.
Friday, February 23, 2018
Someone said that when you don't know what to do, then do what you know. So say that you don't know how to deal with or respond to a situation. It could be something new to you, this situation. Not to worry. Pick up the phone and call someone who might be able to help you. This is one of the reasons we seek friendship and seek people who are on the same spiritual path of trying to grow, or avoid misery, as we are. You make these human connections before you get into crisis situations. Then when something new happens, the unexpected, you can call someone who knows you and gives you some perspective. I try not to go through life alone on this journey. Spouses and co-workers or teammates are not always on the path you need when you need advice on what to do in a new situation. Those people fill other parts of your life. Your spouse may be your best friend, but not your best advisor. A good advisor knows you but never judges you. They have no hidden agenda. They are there for you. I have found it so.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
An old fellow, referred to as an "old-timer" said that love is an action, not an emotion. He encouraged me to be useful to others and I would then be loving enough. I prefer the feeling of love. It fills my addictive heart for love as an emotion. When I fantasize about love, it is never about being of help to others. I tend to be more helpful, the more I have the "feeling" of love for another person. If I don't much like you, or feel uncomfortable around you because of "differences" as I perceive them, then I am apt to be not so helpful to the point of ignoring and avoiding you. So I admire people who don't feel love, yet act in a loving and helpful manner. They call it being of service even when your heart is not into it. I can have a wonderful day or time acting loving to someone I love, but I seem to grow more when I act helpful and be of service without the feeling of love. I hear that saints are that way. Not being one, I don't know.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
What is blind faith? I think it is when you still believe even if you have no control over what is happening. Think of blind faith as being in a self-driven car. Like the God we cannot see, the car is driving itself but does not seem to have all the parts that you see in a person driven car. You sit there and hope that the car is going to do what you want, without your aide. Without blind faith or desperation (you can no longer self drive) you would not make these self driven cars your first choice. Those who have a blind faith in a God, cannot see God, have no control over God, but trust that they will get where they need to go. In a couple of years, in the no motor car world, blind faith will be all the rage. Are you ready for it?
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
I hear people say that they left the Catholic Church because it did not help them, or did them bad. Were they orphans? If they were orphans, there is a good chance that they were well taken care of. Something about orphans brings out the best in my church. Many religious orders were started by lay persons, who became nuns, to take care of orphans. Why so many such religious orders? Because of plague and war which causes orphans. It seems that plague and war kill a lot of adults, but leave children who had no government safety net. My mother was an orphan. I seem to pay special attention to any organization or charity that says it takes care of orphans. The age of women religious seems to be waning, but there is still war and disease, lack of health care, so there are still a lot of orphans. They are packed in with all those refugees. Peace can reduce the number of new orphans.
Monday, February 19, 2018
You can tell the difference between a raw egg and a hardboiled egg by the way they spin. You don't have to break open the egg to find out what is the composition on the inside, raw or hardboiled. I think it might be the same with people, yourself included. You can often tell what is on the inside of a person by the way they act on the outside. People can identify their insides by saying they are "sober" or "filled with the Holy Spirit," "at peace," "a Buddhist, Christian, Jewish believer," but watch how they act. How do they spin through their day? What do they do on the outside? I am more interested in listening to someone who acts like the good they say is within them, than hypocrites, whose action belie what they say they are. The persons whose outsides attract me the most are those who treat others as their equal, or treat others well. It shows in kindness, compassion, and being generally of service.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
The Happiness Advice Industry points to contentment as an internal, personal quest, separate from other people. America The Anxious, by Ruth Whippman notes this in her book. Some amount of solitude is important for a healthy life, for prayer, reading, yet Whippman points out that all the research agrees that happiness depends on interaction with other people. I see this even in the monastery. The happiest, most content monks seem to be the ones that have sufficient time with other monks. They are not hermits. Interaction in your own life can come from family, co-workers, being part of a group that tries to help others and even chatting with someone while waiting on line in a groceery store. I have found that being of service for others promotes my own happiness. And I am an introvert.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Continuing from the last two blogs on the lost bag and lost life, God had been at work, though I was short on hope, trust and belief. The bag had everything in it, untouched. Why was it left at the information desk of terminal A? I would never have thought to go there or ask. The Southwest agent told me to go to Terminal A. Why would she bother to do that? Then I asked twice at information for help. I don't usually do that. Now I hurried back to the plane with my three shoulder bags. Don't do three shoulder bags! When I got to the gate that same agent was still there. All the passengers were on. She gave me the last boarding pass. The flight was not quite full, a rarity at Southwest. When I went through the gate, they closed the door. Two minutes later and I would not have been on that flight. When I entered the plane, there in the third row was a nice middle seat between two ladies, and overhead space for my bags. If I had a suitcase it would not have fit. I may be bad, but God is gooder. I think God wanted me to be in Florida to teach and preach. I hope so. But I have become the little old man who leaves a bag on the tram.
Friday, February 16, 2018
OK you came back for the rest of yesterday's drama. Suddenly, as hope was leaking away from my psyche, a second agent came to the counter and asked if she could help me. I said, "I cannot get onto this plane. I lost my bag." She was sympathetic, cancelled my reservation and put me on standby for a much later flight. I am not going to Florida, I thought to myself, not today or even this month. But the agent said something to me that I would not have otherwise done, though I had no real plan, beyond go to security and find lost and found. She said, "Don't go all the way back to the main terminal. Go back to the first plane terminal, "A" so that you don't go outside security. Then you can go to security from there." OK, though I was not hearing all of what she said, being in shock, and having cardiac issues. I walked back up the long corridor and onto the tram. I got off at Terminal "A" and went upstairs to the main floor. There was the usual information desk that sometimes has an attendant. There was a fellow there at that moment. I, being a man, was not going to ask for information, but my feminine side, or Holy Spirit, had me go up and check on how to find security. He directed me and I began to walk away. Something told me to go back and say I had lost my bag. I was going to ignore the urge, but then decided to go back and tell him, "I lost my bag on the tram or security." He turned around and pointed to five bags sitting in plain site on a counter of the information booth. One of them was my yellow bag...to be continued
Thursday, February 15, 2018
I have become a little old man. I was to fly to Florida to do some work. I did not bring a suitcase. I carried three shoulder bags. One of the bags contained my computer, my iPad, and wallet/money. I got through security and then onto the Denver tram to take me to terminal C. I got off the tram, and walked the long corridor to my gate. I had a great Southwest boarding number. I am an "A List" guy now. So I was going to get a good seat and storage for my three shoulder bags. I decided to take out my wallet and money and put those things into my pockets for the trip. I took off one shoulder bag, and then another. I looked down. I have three bags. Where is bag number 3, with computer, iPad and wallet/money/credit cards? I felt around my back. No bag. I did not go crazy and scream or throw a fit. I went into shock. My life is over. I am not going to Florida or anywhere. I don't even have money to get back to Boulder from the Denver airport. I hurried back to the bathroom to see if I left the bag there. Fat chance. No bag. I went back to the Southwest gate counter to cancel my reservation so that I would not lose use of the ticket. A man in front of me was taking forever with the one Southwest agent at the counter. God is punishing me. I have been bad. But then I am praying to said God and St. Anthony, Mary and all my saints. To be continued tomorrow...
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
So what happens if you made Lenten resolutions but have a sweetheart? You have a dilemma. Today is Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day. If you made resolutions for Lent, today especially is a day of fast and abstinence, no meat and eat light with no treats between meals. So you go out with your sweetheart and you have a smudge on your forehead. You say, "I love you but tonight I have a dirty looking face and we can only eat a salad with no wine or dessert." You had better hope your sweetheart is OK with Lent. Maybe they want steak, wine, Chocolate Mousse and Latte. You, being a mere mortal will lose all your resolutions on the first day of Lent. You cannot just sit there and watch them eat, while you eat your lentils! Of course, if you have no sweetheart than all this is mute. You can enjoy your spinach alone. Oh, and don't wear white shirts and blouses, dresses if you are going to receive ashes on your forehead. If the ash is not moist enough it will fall down from your forehead onto your nose and then onto your clothes. Warning: beware of dry ashes.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
I was reminded from the book on meditation, The Cloud Of Unknowing, that "nothing is so precious as time." When you might think that you have nothing much to offer to people, remember that you do have "time." When you listen or are otherwise helpful, it takes time, your time. Many of us think that the best thing we can offer to people in need is money or material stuff. Though this may be needed we often take from our surplus when giving $$ charity. Time never seems to be in surplus in our lives, so it becomes a real sacrifice. Meditation is the offering of time to whoever our God or Power greater than ourself is. So too is spiritual reading. When we say, "I have no time," this may very well be true. Time is precious. To give it up for a relationship is usually because of love in our heart. Love will change us more deeply than will charity, or the perceived need of others.
Monday, February 12, 2018
I did a funeral recently for a fellow who had some good and some not so good in him during his life. Some people at the funeral admired him, but many had scar tissue from past hurts. I addressed this issue using the bible story of the widow who put all she had into the temple treasury basket, a few pennies. Each of us can give only what we have and sometimes we have not much to give in terms of love and kindness. We all have our widow's mite of love and for some people it is not enough. So they are resentful. How will these people live after this funeral? To resent is to feel something over and over long after the events have passed and people have died. You will always remember events, but you don't have to keep feeling the pain. How? You have to learn forgiveness and compassion. It might start out as your own widow's mite, not much of forgiveness to give. But you try and eventually the resentment begins to lose its power and you begin to accept. On the back of the picture prayer card at the funeral was the serenity prayer. It is what alcoholics in recovery say frequently because they are dealing with resentments that they know will destroy them if they do not forgive and move on. We are all human beings. We are not perfect. I hope God will forgive me for my widow's mite of love and kindness when I die. I try each day to do the best I can. We cannot give what we do not have.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Some of us say that we cannot do great works because we cannot do things that make a lot of money. We tend to equate the value of a work with a money count. Money does not make things the most important, or the most important. And important, valuable works might not require a lot of skill. You are never too small or too old to do important and valuable works. Like what? Parent someone. Take care of a sick person or elderly person who needs aide. Hold the door for someone. Give a party for a few people. Do work around the house to make it more comfy. Maybe the greatest works are the ones you do for no pay. These are the works that can be done for and with love.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
How do you treat the earth? As a consumer who goes into a store to buy what you want? The consumer does not worry about resupplying the shelves or racks. That is someone else's job. What if the shelves are empty. You don't go there anymore. Go somewhere that has what you want. This is how many people treat the earth. They are consumers. They consume the earth according to their wants, with not much thought of how to replenish what is taken. But other people treat the earth as if they are stewards. Stewards have a sense of ownership, unlike the shoppers or consumers. Stewards care for the earth of which they see themselves as a part. They think about replenishing what is taken, or how to take less and preserve the limits of the earth. Stewards know that if they do not take care of this earth, then someday, both stewards and consumers will be no more.
Friday, February 9, 2018
Any spiritual path has got to be a program of action at some point. Recovery Programs know this. So do the other great religions. Fro instance, Christianity has a bible story where a crazy guy, possessed, living in a cemetery, comes up to Jesus and shouts, or the guy's demons shout at Jesus. Scary stuff. Anyhow, Jesus cures the guy, at the expense of a herd of swine. This may have driven up the cost of pork in the near term local market, but it was good news for the lunatic. He was now calm and sane. He wants to follow Jesus. But Jesus has enough of an entourage of followers. Jesus wants some action after you have been healed. So Jesus tells the now sane fellow to go home to his family and announce to them what God in his pity has done for him. Announce good news. Go a little bit public with positive action. This will be a challenge for the family who may all be puzzled as to why their crazy relative is now so calm and properly dressed. What will happen when the meds run out? You know the story. We all have trouble accepting the miraculous in one another. The recovering alcoholic suffers the same fate. All the now sane guy can do is act in this new healed manner. The rest is not up to him.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
A few blogs ago, I quoted Sargent Shriver about "break some mirrors," that is, stop looking at yourself in the mirror and get involved in making the world a better place. Mary Virginia Merrick did just that, beginning as a teenager. When she was 18, a little boy told her that he wanted a red wagon for Christmas, but his dad had lost his job. This was 1884. No welfare or social security back then. So Mary told the boy to write to the Christ child who is the giver of all good gifts. Then Mary and her friends collected a red wagon and other toys for the boy with the gift tag, "from the Christ Child." When she was 21 she founded the Christ Child Society to assist poor children. You might see "Miss Mary" jars with a red wagon label. These are for spare change to benefit the Society which has 40 chapters in the USA. But even more, Mary suffered a bad back from a childhood accident, and later a disease paralyzed her legs. Rather than be filled with self-pity turned in upon herself, Mary "looked out the window" to see how she could make a difference in the world. Break some mirrors.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
The Kitchen Table is an organization of restaurants that have a policy of pay as you want. There is or was one in Denver, Colorado named Same Cafe. The address is Colfax Street. Its menu has no prices. There is only a donation box. I like this idea. If I were doing well financially, had a bit of extra money, I would eat there and pay more than I think would be normal. This would allow me to be of support to someone who was hungry but could not afford much at all to pay. I guess that the restaurant has to rely on a profitable balance to stay in business. It seems like a unique way for people to do something practical, eat lunch, and at the same time support those who have little money for restaurants. It would also allow people to have the luxury of eating out sometimes when they cannot afford it. This whole idea relies on virtue, honesty, kindness, compassion and such. There are variations on this method such as a no-profit price in which you pay the minimum no profit price, or more, if you can. It seems that it allows a business to run its business yet still be an outreach to those who could not otherwise afford to be customers.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
I don't need to be free from fear. Fear is just one more emotion, and at times it might direct a good course of action. What I want is freedom from fear's control of my life. One of the ways that cunning fear controls my life is to hide out from being fear. When I know that I am acting out of fear, then I usually do the more transformative action. But fear controls me by hiding out as righteous anger, acting in justice to right a wrong done to me or done to others that affect my sense of balance, or to take away the hurt that I feel from other's actions. It is not that others have not done things that hurt me, or things that were unjust. Stuff happens. Fear makes me retaliate, get even, strike out, though I think I am justified. What might I be afraid of? Sadly, it is too often not getting my own way, my plans, and my ego for how things will go so much better if everyone would just do right by me, and make me more the center of the action. This is all a fear of losing something, that in fact, might be worth losing as it often gets in my way of being a better person. I so often ask God to "fix things" when the fixing needs to be me. Whining is simply a stop along the way to this realization. Do my readers have this problem or am I just more weird than yo'all.
Monday, February 5, 2018
Some religious traditions have a way of making sex be so "second class." Take Mary the Mother of Jesus for instance. I always think of her specialness being in her ability to say "Yes" to God and not to her own will and comfort. I find this hard to do. But the Catholic church has a way of making "Virginity" be her specialness. She is not referred to as "Mary, who let go to God" but rather, "Virgin Mary." She is deemed more perfect because of virginity than because of her letting go of her plans for the sake of God as she understood God. I get the sense that in tradition, getting married was giving up virginity and therefore perfection. Marriage seems like the second class life. The secular world sort of gets caught up in this. Someone might give up their seat on public transportation for a woman dressed as a nun. Not so much for any other woman. But mothers give up their will all the time for the sake of the family. Who knows how many nuns do likewise? You can be a very willful nun. I have met them. I have met willful priests too. I am one of them. So don't lets make sex the litmus test of spiritual maturity.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
When it comes to faith issues I think that there are two questions that we need to ask if we are going to have an adult faith that works for us. When a child, you are often given a faith with answers from traditions, cultures and dogmas. Children tend to believe authority figures, but in time they wonder, question and doubt. So here are two questions I would suggest. First, ask of the divine, should there be one, “Who are you?” The answer is crucial for you because it will begin a personal relationship that has a power to positively affect your life. It becomes your faith and not some other person’s. The answer will not be dogmatic either. I know many people who give me a dogmatic answer right out of a creed, but the answer does not seem to make them better people. Once you have wrestled with the first question, then the second one is this. “What shall I do?” I don’t mean obey the Ten Commandments, the Torah, the Four Noble Truths. This answer is personal as well. It relates to your specific life circumstances and skills. Over time, this answer will change and shift. A young worker starting out on a career will have a different answer than someone who is going into retirement. Age and income might affect your answer. I try t ask these two questions frequently in my life.
Saturday, February 3, 2018
A Ruana is a drape or poncho looking outer garment that a woman wears. It seems to be the stylish item now. Some women say it makes them look better than tighter fitting clothes. So I think about “spiritual ruana.” What would make me look better, and cover up some of my messiness or shortcomings? I think that kindness, learning to listen better to others, praise of others, and compassion would be a good outer wear for my personality. Of course, without some inner spiritual work of meditation and reading, silence and some solitude, I would not wear any “spiritual ruana.” I would show off my crabbiness, selfishness, jealousy and act out fears. When I get up in the morning I try first to dress my soul and then later to dress my body.
Friday, February 2, 2018
Did you know that by setting the thermostat at 62 degrees it might affect your metabolism such that there would be significant fat loss over a six weeek period? This came from a study of bears in hibernation. Anyhow, the monastery where I spend some winter weeks, has no thermostat for its corridors and so the temps in those places and the dining area are way below 62. I guess I should stop complaining, since time there would keep me thin. I thought that it was all that running I did that kept me from getting fat. Save on heat bills and look fit at the same time. Winter prepares us for the swim suit season of summer! And I get spiritually fit at the monastery too.
Thursday, February 1, 2018
You may notice from some clothing labels that want you to think they were made in the USA, and therefore you should buy them, the label words read, "Assembled in the USA." It does not say, "made." What does this mean? It might very well mean that most of the actual production of the item, say a hat, was made in some other country or countries. Then the various parts of the hat are shipped to the USA and put together or assembled here, at a fraction of the labor cost of making the hat from scratch in the USA. I think of this in terms of the spiritual journey. Anyone who is truly searching for an in depth relationship with the Divine/God/Power, has probably assembled their spirituality from various sources. Their spiritual formation has come over time in layers, or pieces as they learned from various experiences. Someone might say, "I left the church, or Judaism, or Buddhist mediation." What they might mean is that they no longer see themselves as members of that lineage. But they take something of it with them as they continue to look at other paths. Even those who say they are "Nones" are being influenced in some way and that will make a difference when they begin to consciously put together a spiritual practice to help them fill up what is missing or help them to navigate their life of work, relationship, and the seemingly ordinary everyday that is filled with the unknown extraordinary.