Sunday, June 30, 2019


The ear is not the only faculty that listens.  The will listens too.  We decide to ignore someone and so we don't listen to what they are saying.  The will decides and the ear simply follows.  Or we decide to think about something else and not someone else, as in, "What did you say?"  The will decides on what is important information depending on our priorities.  If you are starving, you will hear the dinner bell, no matter how distant.  One of my efforts in becoming a better person is to align my listening will to whoever is talking to me.  I think when people say that they gave up prayer because they heard nothing, it might be because they do not know how to listen, but only how to ask for what the will wants.  And they did not get what they wanted.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Same Old Stuff

One of the reasons I seem to hang onto some of my character defects, bad as they are, is that they give me comfort.  It is difficult to learn how to live without them.  A new way of life would be one in which love gives me comfort, both receiving and giving.  When I say that I am willing to have my defects of character removed, I am saying that I am open to love as my primary comfort, not selfishness, judgments, being the center of attention, and beating myself up to look good.  Can I exercise as a way to praise God, or must it be so that I will look good to others?  Can I be into surrender and letting go as a way of being more selfless for the sake of others without doing damage to myself? Can I be in the background and enjoy that others are in the center light?   Can I be into action that benefits others and not worry so much about what I will get out of it?  Can I accept love without having to try and earn it?  Can I find comfort in not getting my way?  Working on this one every day.

Friday, June 28, 2019


Did you know the male ballet dancer in classical ballet is called a danseur?  In classical ballet he did not get to do do much alone.  Mostly, he assisted the ballerina as when he held out his hand to help her completer her turn or spin on her toes.  The ballerina is beautiful, but she needs help in doing her stuff in the ballet.  What a metaphor for a sponsor or spiritual guide, one person helping another to turn around their life.  Conversion means that we turn, but we cannot turn our life around all by ourself.  How many times I have heard or said myself, "Oh, I will never do that again," only to do the same old stuff, left to our own will power.  We all need help to change.  The danseur must be skilled and the ballerina must trust him.  She puts herself in his hand.  God is my danseur who knows what to do.  Alone, I just spin around and fall down, over and over.  I got tired of that.  God and I make a wonderful couple.  

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Cook

When I am in Boulder, Colorado I live in a rectory in which the cook speaks Spanish.  My understanding and speaking Spanish is terrible.  The cook is an opportunity for me to practice not so much my Spanish, as resentment or humility.  I try to opt for humility, because it diminishes my ego.  When it comes to Spanish, I am but a dummy.  I am out of my league and vulnerable to not knowing what is going on.  The other priests speak fluently.  I have self-centered fears about being less, not having control and so on.  Our cook is a blessing in my life.  Whenever I am full of myself, big ego and all, pompous and self-centered, all I have to do is walk into our rectory any weekday and be reminded of my shortcomings and my need for help.  This keeps me right-sized.  Oh, and if you have issues with Spanish try, traductor as an app on your smartphone.  Write in English and it simultaneously translates into Spanish.  But it seems like it quits after about 50 words, so it is no good for homilies, unless you are going to preach a 50 word homily.  No priest does that!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


When I was told as a boy that I should not swear, I thought it meant curse words.  But the original intent was that we are always supposed to tell the truth, so we don't need to swear as in, "I swear this is true."  We were expected to be truthful with everyone, rather than only with some people to whom we  choose to tell the truth.  Alternative facts are for people who we would judge as to not have a right to the truth.  At least that seems to be how it works out today.  We lie but don't call it a lie if it benefits our own agenda.  Used car salespeople had this reputation for instance.  I am usually lying when I would say, "I swear, I didn't do it!"  I was a bad boy.  Worse as a young adult.  Slightly better as a priest.  I swear I am better!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Today is my sister Elizabeth's birthday.  She is the middle girl of three sisters.  She is very important in our family.  She is the sibling that everyone wants so that they can say, "Well, at least I am not as bad as her/him."  All of us Ryan kids were bad but in different ways.  My big sister, Maureen, was a witch.  But she went from a wicked witch when I was a kid, to a nice witch when I grew up.  Janie, the youngest child was bad but she had the gift of making people think she was good.  The baby of the family gets away with a lot.  Parents are too tired and old to pay all that much attention.  So Janie could say, "At least I am not as bad as Bebs."  This kind of gave Janie a pass in her conscience.  She and Bebs hung around with friends who were bad too.  Party, party.  Janie is better now.  I was bad and stayed bad for a long time.  I tried to hang around with holy people so I would have a cover and maybe get good.  I am a work in progress, but thank God for Bebs.  I use her as an excuse for not trying to improve myself.  "At least I am not as bad as Bebs."  Now she has gotten a lot better but we siblings cannot afford to accept that because then we cannot use her as an excuse to keep our bar of good behavior as low as we want.  We all do this with coworkers, associates in volunteer associations, school moms, and I do it with priests.  We all like someone we can judge as worse than we are at the moment.  "I am fat?  Well, look at her! At least I am not that fat."  And on it goes.  But to my skinny little sister, Elizabeth, Happy Birthday.  I love you unconditionally.

Monday, June 24, 2019


LUKE 9: 11B-17
JUNE 23, 2019

Like many children at St. Frances of Rome parish in the Bronx, my First Holy Communion was a big deal.  But not such a big deal that many of us would leave the church attendance when we grew up.  I had a different experience that kept me attached to my church.  It happened when I was an altar boy soon after my First Communion.  I was comfortable enough with my tasks that I could actually pay attention to what was going on.  When the priest held up the host for everyone to see, as his back was turned toward the people in those days, I looked up at the host and said, “Wow!  That’s God.”  It was a deeper wow than First Communion.  I guess it stayed with me when I needed it most.  
I went to mass regularly all the time I lived in New York.  But when I moved to Chicago for a job, at age 24, I immediately gave up mass attendance and holy communion.  Since I had a good salary, was single, with discretionary income, I debauched into mortal sin on weekends.  I  was a single bachelor with friends who showed me a debauched lifestyle.  This went on for several months.  Then I felt that something was missing.  My life was not feeding me sufficiently on all levels.  I missed holy communion.  I missed that “wow.”  Around the corner from our corporate office was a small church run by the Paulist Fathers.  They gave good, short homilies for us lunchtime people.  I went to confession, got rid of the mortal sins and went to communion.  I felt that connection when the priest elevated the host and when I went to communion I was fed.  I got to eat God.  I felt a bit of a healing like in the gospel.  Healed and fed.  That wow moment of many years ago was still there.  It kept me connected to the church, if by a thread or the width of a host.  

Weekends I still fell into debauching.  Weekends were not for church.  But then a weekday would come along and that feeling of missing God came strongly to me.  So I went to the Paulist noon mass, confessed and received.  I moved to San Francisco and made new friends who liked to party like me.  But up the street from my office was a Paulist Church, Old St. Mary’s.  Same good homilies and same feeling when I went to receive.  I would go back to the pew, kneel and think, “God gave me everything in this host.  What am I giving God?”  Since I am a wretched sinner, it took a while, but look at me now!  A Paulist priest, but giving a homily that is neither good or short!  My connection to the church all those years and even now might seem simplistic to you.  There is some very sophisticated post modern theology about unity, non-dualistic thinking, each of us being part of a supernova that blew up billions of years ago to form our solar system and so on.  

I get all that and it is impressive, but it never changed me for the better.  I never felt a compassion or oneness with others because we all come from the same energy field.  But when I receive the Eucharist, eat God, I think of how the people around me have the same God inside them, so freely and fully given.  We are one in this God.  And all those people who don’t receive are still part of this God that I just ate.  I am challenged and energized, or graced, to connect with them all, one on one in kindness, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and service to them.  Wow!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Night Sky

Another metaphor for meditation is the night sky.  At my monastery, at 8,000 feet altitude, I walk outside at 3:45 AM and look at the sky.  At first, I see some stars, a lot more than I would see in the polluted Front Range of Colorado or the too lit city of San Francisco.  But there are many more stars up there that I don't see at first.  I have to stay in the darkness outside for awhile, freezing. Gradually, more stars appear.  They are always there, but I need to stay in the darkness longer to get my eyes to open to the darkness.  So it is with meditation.  I go back inside the monastery and go to Vigils Prayer in the Chapel.  At first, my mind is racing about with this and that.  The imagination is in full power mode.  But little by little I begin to quiet down and a stillness comes over the mind and imagination.  I rest quietly, still, silent, in the darkness.  And so much that is always here within and around me, comes to light.  You must come to my monastery and get holy!  You certainly don't come here to get a lot of sleep!  Oops, self-pity.  Not holy yet.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Dusty Innards

When I walk into a room that is dark, no computer lights or night lights, I cannot see the furniture.  But if I stand in the dark for a while, my eyes adjust and I can make things out and not trip over them.  But I won't see the dirt on the same furniture or the floor/rug.  When morning comes, and it is light from outside I can see all the dirt.  This is a metaphor for a prayer journey.  At first, all seems so dark and obscure.  What am I doing? I don't see anything or feel anything special.  I don't know where I am going.  But as we stay in the seeming darkness, that is practice, or sit for awhile in silence, we may begin to sense/see, feel something more than darkness.  We are not so uncomfortable.  Lots of people get this far and they like it.  Eyes closed but feeling OK.  "Maybe I am becoming a spiritual giant!" the ego suggests. But if we stay with the prayer, as in a room, a light will come and it is not so beautiful a light.  It is the light that points out our shortcomings, bad habits, vices, the mess that adheres tightly to us.  Woe is me!  Now what?  For a recovering person this would be an intro to the content of step four.  For everyone it would show that we need to do some work, and to continue with the prayer is part of the work.  It keeps us in touch with the only Energy and Power that can detach us somewhat from these problematic areas so that we don't always act them out.  Eventually we can practice better behavior on our neighbor.  But keep with the meditation times.  You are your first neighbor to love.  You will find love beneath the dusty mess.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Find Love

I think that the solution to a lot, if not all of my problems, is to find love.  I think that is why I meditate.  Deep within me is a force, an energy, a presence that loves me.  I cannot see it, but I can experience it at times and it keeps me on track to live a better day.  Meditation is intimacy in stillness and silence for me.  Now, many people try to find this love through sex, but usually when they are doing this, they have put the physical before the emotional need for intimacy.  The Desert Fathers and Mothers say, "The body saves the soul."  The body energy tries to tell the spirit, the deeper self, that it needs to share its deeper self, feelings, thoughts, identity with a friend.  But the will (somewhat broken) picks up on this message and messes it all up.  The will says, "Oh, the body has a passion, a physical need.  Let's have sex with the friend."   So you do and then you are in a pickle.  You are now afraid to reveal your inmost thoughts and fears because you don't want to be rejected and dumped.  The sex was not so bad, but something is missing.  Tell that to your new bed partner?  I don't think so!  I think that a lot of young people in recovery get caught up in this process.  But since I never hear anyone talking about this, maybe I am all wrong or uniquely weird.  But if you don't know what your deepest feelings, anxieties, hopes, and identity are then you cannot talk about it anyway.  Mediation helps me to get in touch with that too.  It takes buried stuff and brings it to the surface where I can feel it.  That is not always fun.  But growing up is hard work.  And sex is not a short cut to growing up.  As I grow up in honesty and sharing, I find love...and with my clothes on.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Eye Color

Whatever the color of your eyes, that is what they will stay.  You cannot change that.  But at the same time you can practice good eye care behavior to try and keep them healthy.  Don't look directly at the sun for instance.  It is the same with an addiction or a really deep dysfunctional habit.  They stay with you, but you can make sure they don't mess you all up.  First, admit you have the problem.  Then practice good behavior instead of the problematic behavior.  You are trying to find a new way of living that does not require your problem as the solution.  You no longer use drink, drugs, food, sex, gambling as the solution to your present situation.  You don't respond with anger, whining, jealousy, judgment, or self-pity to situations in daily life.  If you have a cold and don't take care of it, you get sicker, as in pneumonia, and then you die.  Addictions will do that too.  And on the way, you will suffer the symptoms of restless, irritable and discontent. Daily medicine of meditation can help.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Barnabas was an early disciple of Christianity.  He was a big deal.  He sold property and gave the money to the church.  He was at the first Church Council in Jerusalem to decide important issues.  He was sent out as special emissary and he introduced Paul to the leadership when Paul was a nobody.  Then he and Paul became famous as a team.  Then Barnabas got dumped from the historical narrative.  He disappeared from view as Paul became the more famous.  This stuff happens to many of us.  We seem to have a central and memorable role to play in the life of a family, community, business, club, and then suddenly or slowly we become anonymous, not so central, even forgotten.  Many of us have the experience of: "I used to be somebody."  I am nothing much now in the priest/church business.  I have no title or clear job description.  I used to be someone with a title and job: Pastor.  Stuff happens and oblivion becomes our companion.  But we who have this happen to us are no less important or less worthy than before.  We are simply less recognized or needed in a specific role/job.  The empty nest syndrome is an example, or your child becomes a "teenager" and you are just a pain in the neck to them.  You get to a certain age in your corporate job, and get the feeling the bosses wish you were gone.  But our self-worth is not based upon titles or what others think of us.  It comes from within.  Everything else is fleeting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

My Will

Many times, trying to get my will is not the best thing for everyone else.  Example: I got up one morning quite early at the monastery because my body hurt in bed.  I went downstairs to get a cup of fresh brewed coffee.  I saw that the decaf coffee had not yet been brewed, but the fresh decaf coffee grinds were in the filter and ready to make a pot.  So I put the filter into the coffee machine  and turned it on to make a full pot.  I was of service.  My will was done.  Then next morning I got up equally early and went downstairs to get a cup of coffee.  Again, the decaf had not been brewed yet but the grinds were again in the filter ready to go.  BUT there was a big sign on the decaf coffee pot: 1/2 pot only!  I had set it to brew the morning before but there were only measured grinds for a 1/2 pot.  So the decaf drinkers got brown water to drink yesterday.  Their will and the will of the monastery was not done.  My will was not in sync with the community.  So too in prayer, I do not ask if my will is being done, that is, the prayer is going like I want.  I ask is God's will or HP being done.  Am I in sync with God?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Action, Not Complaining

My spiritual and emotional development meetings that I go to are all about action.  People at these gatherings tend to talk about wha they do in order to keep on tract or to get better.  They may share some of their false steps or mistakes, but that is in line with explaining their discovery of what to do, versus what not to do.  I find this refreshing.  How many meetings do you go to in which most of the talk is "complaining" and not about action to improve situations?  I hav been to enough of these.  People there act of if they are powerless to do anything.  They talk about all that is wrong, and how life is a mess in their work or personal world.  People complain about religion, leadership, always about the other persons and not themselves, the victims of all the mess in their lives.  I go to these meetings when I have to as part of my work, but then I need to go to the more spiritual centered, pro-active meetings to get rebalanced and sane.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Without an interior life to discover who we are, with all our faults and gifts, we live a life like we were a guitar that is always out of tune.  We are always a bit out of sorts, restless, prone to cranky and  flights of control, and so on.  We are always out of tune and it irritates us.  We are trying to tune our guitar life with a hammer.  But in some interior life, meditation, solitude we make some space for the Tuner to come and get us in the proper tune.  Then we realize for a time, “Life can be beautiful” without needing to be all about me.  But the guitar goes out of tune daily.  So daily we need that Tuner.  Make the space.  Reward those around you with being in tune.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Time is the measure of motion.  If there is no motion, there is no time.  The universe is moving.  Our planet spins around.  Time passes.  If nothing moved, there would be no experience of time.  That is why in deep meditation or contemplation, we are not aware of time passing.  The interior stillness is that profound.  I find it so here in the monastery in the coming dawn, as I sit in chapel.  The mediation becomes so interior and still, that I am not aware of time.  Suddenly the bell chimes, and I realize that a whole half hour has passed.  Where was I?  What was I doing?  In the stillness.  Come visit my monastery.  We age slowly here!

Friday, June 14, 2019


Staying on a spiritual path is not the same as staying on the right direction when you are trying to find an address, such as a movie theatre or someone's home, or business address.  For those things we have our smart phones and GPS apps.  What if you had no GPS and were trying to find a place with some vague directions or with a big paper map while trying to drive the car?  And the map only tells you the street, not the exact location.  Try that at night with no street lights.  Well, the spiritual path is one with no smart phone GPS.  God of your understanding is your GPS.  This takes a lot of trust, and you don't know where you are going, how to get there, whatever "there" is.  But each moment on the path is a "there," or time of arrival.  You are being directed by love.  You are always where you are supposed to be if you stay connected with this power that is guiding you.  Love is your GPS.  Thank you Ricky Manalo for this good advice.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Far Both Ways

There is a quote, "It is 40 miles into the forest and it is 40 miles out."  Which means?  If you have lived much of your life badly, you won't change overnight.  It takes some time.  When people decide that they have had enough of bad behavior, find some spiritual path or program of recovery, they sometimes get impatient at how things don't go better all at once.  Why do they keep doing some of the old behavior?  Bad behavior, faults, defects of character that are imbedded in us from years of practice, don't disappear all at once.  You cannot exterminate them like you do an insect.  If you are self-centered and selfish, prone to whining and self-pity, blaming others, you will not stop all at once, but you will begin to catch yourself before you go too far into the behavior or you will begin to replace, slowly, bad stuff with good stuff.  Acceptance and being useful to others will begin to bud in your life.  And remember to ask for help before you become desperate.  It is part of your spiritual way.  You are not God, but rather a feeble person learning to walk a new path.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Invention Of Tap

Did you know that tap dancing came about in the 19th century Bowery in New York City?  You may have seen the Irish Jig.  It is a very specific step up and down.  So there is a tapping, but that is not tap dancing as we know it.  A 16 year old boy of color, William Henry Lane, was doing some shuffling around, creating some movement with his feet but not tapping.  He saw the jig.  The Irish were everywhere in the Bowery, as were many people of color back then.  Lane took the specific tap of the jig, and combined it with his creation of various movement with his feet.  Voila!  Tap dancing.  I like to tap and make up stuff myself.  I travel too much for lessons in one place.  So I just tap and enjoy myself.  It is good exercise too.  And I don't need a partner.  So no matter what your lifestyle is, follow your passion, or interest, and have fun.  I leave expertise for bigger egos than mine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Loving The Imperfect

The founding story of my country and my church are quite different in one area.  When I was growing up and studying history of the USA, Washington, Jefferson, Adams were towering figures that appeared seemingly without flaws.  They seemed to work well together to create our institutions and our government.  Monroe and Madison were equally wonderful.  My church, not so much.  Peter and Paul were the founders and they come across in the scriptures, the church early history, as full of flaws.  Plus they did not get along so well.  Eventually, they improved individually and with one another.  The early church was not so afraid to show our imperfections.  But I learned to love my church even with faults and failures.  Love does not require perfection, or else there would be little love in my church.  It was only when we had a powerful Vatican central government that we learned to hide our flaws.  My country hid flaws early on, but later revealed them.  Today we have wonderful modern critiques of our founding members.  Jefferson and Adams did not get along.  That they died on the 4th of July in the same year is quite ironic.  But having discovered many of the flaws of my country and our founders, I can still love my country.  Love allows us to work to change things for the better.  If you hate something you just leave it if you can.  People do that in my church.  But I stay to make things better in my own little corner of the church and my country.

Monday, June 10, 2019


I run into a person here and there who says they have to leave their family or put their family second to following Jesus.  I find this puzzling.  Why?  Well, if you look at the bible where it talks about what Jesus did, you might notice that he spent about 90% of his time with his family.  Even when he went to Jerusalem for Passover at age 12, he was with his family.  And when they lost him, and found him in the Temple, he went home with them.  Then no one heard from him for another 18 years.  He lived a family life.  So given the percentages, I think family life is way important, and leaving it for the other 10% I might call into question.  So if Jesus is God. as Christian followers claim, then God seems to like family life quite a bit.  For some people, leaving family is just another way to run away.  But you take your problems with you.  Your own self.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


In religious paths, whatever they might be, and how they vary, all seem to have some divine visitation that will tell believers what is to come, i.e. the future.  But after a religion has been around for a while, a good while, as most of them have, the followers don't seem much interested in the future.  Why?  The future is all about change.  People don't want change.  That is why they like traditions in their religion.  They want things to stay the way they are.  People want a comfort zone in their spiritual practice.  The like the past to stay past.  It is the parent of the present, and they really like what they have now, or otherwise they would leave.  But we tend to put a nice term to this intransigence.  We call it "Stability."  Big Religion loves stability.  It keeps power secure.  But I believe that the future of stability is extinction.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


So you believe that you are a heretic?  You have church teaching to condemn you as well?  But you hang on to what you think to be the truth, your truth.  Well not to worry.  Yes, people will tell you that you will burn for not holding to orthodoxy as it is taught.  But orthodoxy, the catechism, might not be able to grasp the seemingly oppositional thinking of some persons.  That does not make such persons heretics, except in a too narrow definition.  It is true that being faithful to one's beliefs, one's view, can result in short term unpleasantness from some hierarchical power structures.  But not all is lost.  I refer you to Joan of Arc.  She was billed a heretic.  She would not recant her views.  They burned her at the stake.  But later, much later, like centuries, they made her a saint.  You just have to get through that burning at the stake part.  No wonder so many of us cave in and just go along.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Hollywood Marriage

For some of us, we can treat religion like a Hollywood marriage.  As the tabloids seem to indicate, if the marriage no longer suits you, dump it.  There is no "for better or worse."  So I don't want to treat a religious path that way.  There are times I scratch my head over my Catholic church and ask, "Why do I continue?"  The answer, at times, lies not so much in what I get, but in what I give.  There are times when I settle for not getting one thing, but then getting something else important.  But other times the answer is, "What do I give to make this work?"  No religion, much less a spiritual path will give me everything.  If it did, it would not be much of a spiritual solution.  It would be all about me getting what I want.  Like in a relationship, you never get all you want.  The "all I want" is unreal and selfish for me.  At times I grow to the extent that I give back.  How?  Be of service.  Don't sit around simply waiting to be taken care of.  Become the giver too.  Relationships are give and take.  If only one side gives and the other side only takes, you don't have a relationship, or a spiritual path or a religion.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Focus On The Powerful

Modern conversion work is a flip from what it used to be.  Nowadays the tendency is to go into an area and focus on the poor, the simple powerless people, deal with their everyday economic and social problems, meet them one on one,  and this might attract them to your religion.  Christians do this today especially, but this has not been the approach for most of Christian history.  The missionary came to convert the powerful, and then their subjects would follow.  It works especially in a hierarchical culture with kings and queens, who have subjects that follow or else. The downside is that the church tends to associate more easily with wealth and power, as can be seen in Western History. It does not much trust in government by the people.  A second problem is that the converts are not true followers of the faith, but rather followers of the prince or power figure.  You end up promoting survival, economic advantage, but the attraction of the faith becomes secondary.  I like the 12 step modern way.  It is attraction, one on one encounter, in which one person is attracted to the way of life of the second person and wants what they have.  Everyone is equal.  No bosses to sway you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Peace And Peace

When armies stop fighting, slaughtering, destroying and all that goes into war, "peace" is declared.  A peace treaty might be signed.  But this is not so much peace, as it is the absence of conflict.  Devastation is rampant.  Often one side is simply destroyed and not capable of making war.  Surrender and then you have peace.  War does not bring about peace, or at least a peace that is permanent.  Peace for me comes from my heart, wishing good things for the other person or persons. This means I must let go of some things for the sake of another person.  It might be as simple as letting someone cut into line in front of me because they are frantically in a hurry and lack all peace.  It might be giving someone the right away on a street or highway even though they have the "yield" sign and I do not.  It is moving to the center of the pew when someone comes in late or at is searching for a church seat.  It is so everyday and it builds.  Countries can learn to do this too.  It is not appeasement but rather learning how to share on this small planet.  We may be running short of resources but we never seem to run short of lethal weapons.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


I just bought a new pair of running shoes, but not for running.  They are multicolored and quite beautiful.  I will wear them to show off.  Yes, bad priest.  But the shoes remind me of friendship.  Though the shoes are multi-colored, no one color stands out.  But all the colors come together to make one beautiful design.  The colors mix and weave among each other.  From a distance, the shoes might look all the same color.  Up close you see the differences.  I think of friendship and community as like my shoes.  In friendship, everyone is equal and mixes well together.  No one dominates.  Differences yes, but differences are essential to the overall beauty so long as no one type dominates.  From a bit of a distance away,  a group of friends looks like a community of one, somewhat the same, as in the way they treat one another.  But up close you see the differences and such differences meld together to make a beautiful whole.  In a hierarchical, corporate, government, military structure you do not have this.  It is rare to be true friends with your boss, the person who signs your check or works for you.  Friends are not on guard about anything.  Jesus said, “I call you friends.”  I like that.

Monday, June 3, 2019

I Need Help

LUKE 24: 46-53
JUNE 2, 2019

The movie, “Rocketman” just came out this weekend.  It is the story of Elton John, the singer and song writer.  I saw him in a live performance in Denver this past winter.  In the middle of the concert, after he finished a song, Elton said to the audience, “In 1980 I said the three most important words in my life, ‘I need help.’”  He was addicted to substances and knew that he had no power to control the addiction, much less stop it.  All the power and talent and drive he had to make a successful music performance career was no help in kicking his addictions.  He was witnessing to a life of recovery for the audience.  

He got sober, and what he has to say to himself each day, if he is going to stay sober is, “I need help.”  The addict can get all dried out and clean.  The addict can learn all about the addiction and a program of recovery.  But the addict is never going to be the power to stay sober.  Yesterday’s sobriety took care of yesterday.  Today one must stay in touch with that power.  In the movie many did see, “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper plays the role of a famous performer who is addicted to drugs and alcohol.  He dries out and gets clean, in a recovery center, goes to their meetings and comes out seemingly sober.  He has knowledge.  But he did not, on a daily basis say, “I need help.”  it was as if he felt, “I got this. I’m good.”  He hung himself.  Jim Morrison of the band, “The Doors” died of addiction in his thirties.  No power connection.  

In both the Ascension readings today, Jesus tells his followers that they will be witnesses of what they saw in Jesus’ life, and his teachings. They will be witnesses in word but also in the new way they will live their life.  But they had to wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit.  Without the Spirit they will do nothing more than be people with first hand information about Jesus. They could write a catechism.  Their actions won’t go beyond that and some praise and worship.  Disciples have to say on a daily basis, “I need help.”

I meet many people who used to practice some meditation method, like Centering Prayer,  but gave it up and now do nothing.  At one time they did ask for help in how to do a method.  They found a group and practiced with the group in meetings.  Then they decided,”I got this. I’m good.”  They thought they had the power.  All they had was a method, some information.  They did not start out each day with, “I need help.”  

I cannot transform myself into all God wants me to be.  I cannot, on my own power, stick to what I know about the spiritual path or emotional sobriety for that matter.  So I try to begin each day with, “I need help.”  It has kept me trudging along the road to happy destiny.  And somedays, I even tap my way along!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

New York Accent

Did you know that the distinct accent you hear from some native New Yorkers was begun in the Bowery?  It was developed by a group of men to set themselves off from other groups.  They wore a distinct type of clothing too. They called themselves "The Bowery Boys."  They came about in the late 18th and then  early19th century when New York City was pretty much lower Manhattan, named such from an Indian tribe living there.  Bowery is derived from a Dutch word for "farm."  The Bowery Boys certainly were not well to do, and the accent migrated to the Bronx and Brooklyn bye and bye.  I am a Bronx boy and still have some of the accent when I get excited.  The Bowery Boy Hollywood movies of the 1930s had nothing to do with the real Bowery Boys who were adult men.  Whenever I hear this accent it is makes me feel a little bit of home.  I wonder if this patois will be heard in heaven?  Does God speak New York Bowery?  It would give me a leg up for getting into heaven.  I am holding onto my accent just in case.

Four Part Discovery

I have found a way to have a bit of serenity in my life, but it requires some brutal honesty and courage.  If I resent someone or something, some situation, I write it down. Then I ask myself what happened, that is, why do I have this resentment.  I resent John.  Why?  What happened?  He ate my private stash of candy, though there was no label on it that said, "Terry Candy. Do not touch."  What was my response?  Anger, self-pity, whining, dislike and fear that I will have a life without candy.  With all those lethal feelings, I am having a rather bad time of it.  But there is one more step.  I ask the question: "What is my part in this resentment?"  Grace shines a light on the reality that I am selfish, stingy, and gluttoness.  I have control issues about my stash.  I hoard.  Why not share my candy?  Horrors!  Share?  Yes, I realize that my problem, my resentment is my own doing.  But now I can act so that I will let go of the resentment and feel better.  Let go of fear and share.  John gets candy freely given and I have a better day.  Four part solution.  I did not invent it.  You can find it in the fourth step of recovery programs' twelve steps.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Peanut Gallery

As a kid, I watched the "Howdie Doodie" show on daytime TV.  They referred to the kids in the audience as" the peanut gallery."  But they did not eat peanuts.  So why that term?  It goes back to the Bowery Street Theaters in 19th century New York City.  The poor folks all sat together, just like kids did at the Howdie Doodie show.  The rabble of lower class people drank beer and ate peanuts during the performance.  They did not dress as well as the upper class, nor were they as quiet.  The lower class were referred to as "The Peanut Gallery."  I try not to pigeon hole people as a class or type.  Each person is unique and a special gift in my life to teach me or challenge me, to grow to be a better person myself.  I don't give them a name, such as, "poor," "dumb," "ugly," or "worthless."  But when I buy the cheapest seat in the house and can barely see the actors, much less their expressions, I do feel like I am in the "peanut gallery."  But no peanuts.  Does anyone remember the "Howdie Doodie" TV show? Quiz.  Name of the Clown? The Princess?