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Showing posts from July, 2014

Ego and Self

The thing that amazes me the most in this discipline of writing some spiritual reflection is where I get the ideas.Sometimes I have to struggle to get an idea, but with some perseverance, I can get one.More often than not, something happens and, boom, the idea pops into my head.Such was the idea for this entry.The idea came immediately, but the title came only with some reflection.

Oddly enough, the idea came when a car turned the corner in front of me.I was out for a walk in the wonderful Metropark that is close to my campus.It is a tree-lined, fairly wide path that goes for miles.Where I join it, it passes a couple lakes.There is some traffic on the adjoining road, but for the runners, walkers and bikers, the cars are a secondary distraction.Most of us are enjoying the beauty of nature.
As I approached the corner where the Metropark leads me back to the street, I heard a car coming, so I stopped.Quickly this white car comes to the corner and turns almost recklessly on to the Metr…

A Post-Human World

I have a newer friend whom I am growing to appreciate.By newer, I mean that I met him within the last couple years, so the relationship is young.On top of that, Glenn lives in Australia!So far, I have never visited Australia, so that means we have not met on his turf.I met him a couple years ago at a conference.We both had written papers and were paired to present in a session of the conference.We took a liking to each other and a budding relationship began.

Glenn is an Anglican priest.Much of his ministry is done as a chaplain in an Anglican school in Australia.Essentially, he is working with high school students.When I met him, I could understand why he was involved in this ministry.Even though he must be in his 50s, he has a boyish look and certainly spirit.It was easy to imagine him being the ringleader for a bunch of guys doing things that pushed the boundary of fun and acceptability.
I recently read a little paper he wrote and found myself intrigued and challenged by his thou…

Hush Little Soul

Recently I have become aware again of something I probably have known for a long time.Perhaps I have even known it my whole lifetime!It is not a dramatic knowing, but it is healthy and can be healing.What more can we ask?Put simply, I became aware again of what I would call the simple soulfulness of quiet and aloneness.I can put more fancy spiritual terminology to this, but the simplicity is sufficient for now.

I like to be engaged in my work.I like being with people.I know my life still borders on the too-busy end of the spectrum.Even though I am getting older, I wonder whether I am any wiser?I know more than I execute.Ignorance often is not the problem.I know enough to grow spiritually, but frequently my stupidity blunts the process.So I find myself in the same place year after year.It is not a disaster, but there is a mountain yet to climb.I still like the metaphor of mountain when thinking about spirituality.In many ways, I still am a flat-lander!
Most of what I do is good stuff.…

Open System - New Life

Sometimes I think I have this thing for monks and nuns!I realize with all that’s going on in our world, that statement could get me in trouble!Minimally, it sounds fishy.But I mean it.I am not sure exactly when it was that I met my first monk or nun.I know it was not growing up through high school.We barely had any Catholics in the rural area that I called home.So it would be college time, at least.

There is not doubt my religious world expanded significantly in my college days.I went to college in the south, so suddenly there were many Baptists in my life!I also began to make friends with Episcopalians, Catholics and all their cousins who could teach this Quaker boy a thing or two about liturgy.I made friends with Jews and knowingly made friends with Muslims.My world was getting much bigger.
But I don’t remember meeting a monk or a nun.However, I do remember reading about monks and, in fact, began reading some monks who wrote some important stuff in the early and medieval periods o…

Do Over

When we hear the phrase, “do over,” it probably conjures up some kind of mistake that we hope to rectify.That happens to me often when I play golf.I’ll hit a shot that goes astray and very much want a do over!I am sure we can think of any number of times in our lives when we did something and either got a do over---or wished we could have one.So it is not unusual to associate that phrase with negativity.

While that may be typical, it does not always have to be the case.A do over can be anything we did once and, for whatever reason, we want to do it again.I can think of many instances in which I sincerely wanted a do over.Who would not want a do over of a very pleasant experience or a very positive outcome?
This came to my mind recently when I was gathering some information for a public presentation I have to make in a few weeks.The topic given to me made me think of a book I read a few years ago.The book by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie, became a best seller.Of course, Albom ha…

Happy Hour

Recently I went to a local restaurant, sports bar place with some friends.It was late afternoon and the plan was to spend a little time together after work and in a different setting than the one in which we normally interact.I enjoy these opportunities to be with some folks I like, but some of whom I barely know.I especially appreciate the chance to get to know some people who work at the same place I do, but whom I never have the chance to see.

I am always amazed to walk into one of these gatherings and see some faces and have no clue who they might be.It’s a humbling experience, since I usually think I know most people who work at my institution.Wrong!I like the fact that getting to know and spend some time with people is the reason we are getting together.Where we do it is not that important.But I know food and drink often make the occasion more pleasant, so I am happy to participate.
When we go to this kind of place, it is usually Happy Hour.For the most part, that means food an…

Hospitality

I was rereading a passage from one of my favorite books, The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris.I know I have read that passage, but somehow it had not jumped out at me like it did this time.Norris says, “I have become convinced that hospitality is at the center of the Christian faith---the bread of the Eucharist is called the ‘host’ after all, and for good reason.” I will confess that I have an abiding interest in the theme of hospitality.So it is not surprising that this sentence appeals to me.
When I hit a sentence like this one, I want to stop and spend some time with it.This is the kind of reading that characterizes spirituality.So often we read simply to get content---perhaps to gain knowledge.But we don’t often take time simply to ponder what we read.Spiritual reading is not always about getting knowledge.I like to say that spiritual reading is designed to bring us into the Presence of the Spirit and enable us to soak in that Spirit.It is one of the most predictable ways for th…

Good or Scared

I go to a few different places on Sundays when I worship.And some Sundays I don’t go anywhere.It was certainly true, when I was growing up, that the implication was one would probably go to hell if you did not go to church somewhere.I don’t know that anyone ever told me that would be the case, but it seemed implied.And I do not ever recall anyone tell me it was not true.

So I grew up assuming church attendance, while not compulsory, was very important.Those were the “Leave it to Beaver” days!How times have changed.No one in my circles would consider playing golf on Sunday, even though I knew many people were out there on the golf course as I was dutifully riding to Quaker meeting with my parents.How times have changed!
I am sure there are still Christians (and maybe Jews and others) who still feel attendance at the weekly or routine gatherings are a “must.”However most people with whom I associate do not see it as a necessity.Of course, my own theology has changed---I don’t know t…

Being

A few days ago, I pulled up behind a car, which was stopped at a red light.For some reason I like randomly to read license plates on cars.My eyes went to the plate on the car ahead of me and I was surprised to read “Being.”“That’s great,” I whispered to myself.For a second I thought that I would be happy to have that plate on my car.But then, I had to laugh.

I am sure I have my share of vanity---being too prideful of ourselves or our things.I care about how I look, etc.But if asked, I would doubtlessly say that I am not very vain!The plainness of my clothes, my car, etc. would substantiate that, at least compared to my peers.I am also sure I was more vain when I was younger!Maybe there is a connection between vanity and hormones!I do think maturity and, certainly, becoming more spiritual should simultaneously begin eroding our vanity.
One thing I am fairly confident is I won’t spend extra money on vanity license plates.Along with most folks, my plates are a random mix of letters an…

Spiritual Cultural Serendipity

I know I have often expressed my appreciation for experiences of serendipity.Basically serendipity means getting some good stuff that you had not expected to get.As I understand it, serendipity is always good things.“Bad” serendipity does not happen to us.So it is always a good deal.Furthermore, we don’t create serendipity; it is more like luck or grace.We just get lucky.Or we simply are graced.

I just had one such experience.Not only was it serendipity.It was a spiritual cultural serendipity.It came as an experience, which I can relate as a story.For me personally, it had a power that I am still appreciating.And the fact that I experienced it with a couple students makes it even more special.
One of the organizations I work with on my campus is designed to help students learn about innovation and how to develop an innovative mindset and skill set.It is fair to say its primary focus is on business, but we do manage to work with some non-profit organizations, too.The learning for st…

Helpful or Meddling

I have come to the conclusion there are multiple benefits from reading.That is not a revolutionary thought and, certainly, not novel.But that does not make it any less true.In fact, it is always a relief to discover the truth of something that is true!That may sound a bit weird, but think about how many people don’t know the truth of true things.Indeed, I have even known folks who swore some true things were false.So it is not as simple as we think!

In my case reading often delivers a few different dividends.In the first place much of what I read is what I want to learn about.For example, I have been invited to do a keynote speech on Servant Leadership.I know some things about this concept, but I also know there is a history to the concept that goes back to the 60s.If I want to know this history, then I will read about it.
However, in the process of reading, I hit upon ideas that are inherently interesting to me or which become useful in some way down the road.These ideas may have …

Vision Statement

I am not sure about you, but I am aware that I get ideas and have no sense of why that idea popped into my head.That does not mean everything I think is profound.Some stuff that pops into my head is crazy.Some of it is random, irrelevant or even stupid.But sometimes some good stuff pops into my mind.An idea like that is analogous to someone walking up and handing you a $20 bill.I can imagine that person saying, “Here ya go, $20 just for thinking!”

Most of the time, these ideas come and go.I don’t pay enough attention, so I know I have missed some very good ideas.Of course, the bad ones should be forgotten.And I should just laugh at the stupid ones and forget them, too.When I talk about the good ones coming into my mind, I am not talking about the ideas that come when we are in that half-sleep, half-awake state.I have in mind more the kind of ideas that come when we are in the shower or doing something that seems totally unrelated to getting a good idea.
Recently, an idea came to my…