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Restless and not Tame

I enjoy the way Pope Francis sees things and, especially, how he puts things.  Recently in a talk at St. Peter’s the Pope asked 20 kids to join him on stage.  Apparently, they had been part of their parish pilgrimage when the Pope asked them to join him on stage.  They all were wearing yellow baseballs hats.  The picture was too good!

Part of the papal address was to focus on the worse enemies for young people.  That is an interesting focus.  I am not sure I have even given that much thought.  So I was eager to see what the Pope would have to say.  The first quotation from the article I read offered a zinger.  The Pope said, "It is necessary to ask the heavenly father for the gift of healthy restlessness for today's young people, the ability to not settle for a life without beauty, without color.”  That is a great sentence.  Let’s all ask God for the gift of healthy restlessness.  I wonder what healthy restlessness looks like in my life and in your life.  I think it is wonderf…
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Spiritual Education

No one reading this inspirational piece has avoided education.  Without education you could not be reading these words.  It has been so long since I could not read, I cannot even remember those days.  And I don’t even remember the slow process of learning how to read.  I am grateful for all those early educators who must have had immense patience to hang in there with me. 

My memory tells me I was an above-average student when I was learning to read.  I was not the brightest one in my reading and English classes.  Girls always seemed smarter than the guys!  I don’t even know when I began using the language of “education” to describe my learning process.  When I was young, the whole educational enterprise was articulated as “going to school.”  At school, I “learned things.”  I was ok with that because there apparently was no choice. 

I did not grow up in a house where there was much talk about education.  It was assumed the kids went to school and implicitly assumed some learning was…

Spiritual Hesitancy

On my good days I like to think I am on a spiritual journey.  I feel more comfortable putting it this way, rather than saying I am spiritual.  Simply to say I am spiritual seems arrogant to me.  I would say that I know some people whom I consider to be spiritual.  I look at their lives and actions and it is a no-brainer.  I even know a couple folks who can be seen as spiritual masters.  I feel like I am on the other end.  Some days I feel engaged on the journey.  Other days I am not sure I have even begun.

Two elements are necessary for a consistent spiritual journey.  They are simple elements, but are necessary.  The first element is commitment.  Commitment includes the initial “yes” to a relationship with God.  And then it is locking in that “yes” in a daily living out of the relationship.  This is where the second element comes into the picture.  That element is discipline.  Discipline is the means by which we live out the “yes” in our daily lives.

When I do not feel like I am on a…

Precariat: New and Troubling Word

I was reading a favorite periodical when I spotted the headline with a word that I don’t think I had ever seen.  The headline read: “The ‘Precariat:’ stressed out, insecure, alienated and angry.”  I’m not sure I had ever seen “precariat.”  I could guess what it meant.  The opening line of the article assured me I knew its meaning.

“Inequality.  Class fragmentation.  Social and economic exclusion.”  Those words paint an unfortunate picture.  And that’s just the point.  The author of the article, Vinnie Rotondaro, is writing about the world’s large and growing group of people living precarious lives right above the poverty line.  This clearly does not include me; I have been very fortunate.  But that only means that I need to know about this sad phenomenon and see it for the spiritual issue it is, alongside being an economic and political issue.

The author makes use of much of the scholarly work being done by Guy Standing, a British economist, who is Professor of Development Studies at …

Hands of the Spirit

Recently I have been privileged to work on a project that focuses on hands.  When I first was asked to do this work, I thought, “How hard could that be?”  As with things that seem so deceptively simple, it was not so simple!  I will spare you the details of the work.  It was not inherently spiritual.  But it did provoke some interesting and, I think, spiritual considerations for me personally.  These I will share.

If you have two hands---which most people have---you probably are like me in the sense that I don’t pay too much attention to my hands.  Since I have had hands all my life, they seem to be there as a given.  They are a normal, natural part of the human anatomy.  I know they allow me to do a myriad of things.  And many of the things I can do are actually pretty astonishing.  But I must say, I think most of the time I am not aware of my hands.

My hands are simply there---doing things at a subconscious level.  It is probably only in these times when my hands fail me, that the a…

The Joy of Reunion

Recently I have had a couple occasions of reunion.  They both brought some joy to my life and I truly appreciated the opportunities.  In my mind, reunions are a good thing.  They have positive connotations.  I can’t imagine saying that we are going to a reunion and we hope to have a really bad time!  So for me, a reunion is always a good deal.

I know there are family reunions.  Some families do reunions on a regular basis.  That would not be true of my family.  Family reunions are rather rare in my tribe.  I am not sure of all the reasons, but that is the way it is.  There are class reunions in schools and colleges.  There are other kinds of reunions in clubs and other organizations.  Again, I am assuming these reunions also are meant to be fun and to bring some joy.

There are formal reunions, such as the family reunion that is planned months in advance.  Everybody is invited to a specific place at a specific time.  This kind of reunion has the advantage of being able to make plans.  …

The Servant Leader

Recently I was with a wonderful group of people who were thinking about servant leadership.  It is a concept that has rich meaning to me.  As I thought about it, I realized that I have probably been trying to be a leader since elementary school days.  I don’t know that I started out to be a servant leader, but that idea came to be part of my leadership style fairly early in my career.

Part of what attracts me to the idea of being a servant leader is my own personality.  As I think about it, I have always preferred being part of a group and helping a group along.  I certainly have played the role of the lone ranger, but that is not as much fun for me as leading a group.  I also think my own Quaker tradition values encourage a kind of servant leadership model.  Quakers have always felt like the group is more important than any single individual.  I agree with this and have tried to support the group’s progress and success.

As I anticipated being with this group of folks, I realized I ha…