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Showing posts from June, 2015

A Long Loving Look

Writing a daily inspirational reflection or blog is a disciplined, humbling experience.The disciplined part should be self-explanatory.It is like exercise or playing an instrument.It won’t work if I just do it if and when I feel like it.Discipline means I do it---regardless of feelings.Over the years I have learned that insight is not too closely linked to how I feel.In the end that is a relief!

Writing these pieces is also quite humbling.On one level it seems presumptuous that whatever I think or say others will want to read.This smacks of a false humility.I actually know there are folks who want to know what I think.Some are intrigued by how I think.I know I am not brilliant.But I do have experiences and I know how to reflect on them and how to learn from them.And this is what some people want to know.So I humbly submit it day after day.
In order to feed my own soul, I do look at what others say.Of course, we tend to pick our favorites in this regard.One of my favorites is the Fra…

Complexities and Troubles

Everyone who has kids or even grandchildren knows there are teachable moments when they are the teacher and you are the student.Sometimes you are a willing student.And other times you did not want to be a student at all!I recently had one of the former moments.I was not looking for it, but I was taught and was fine with it.I was not unwilling.

To set the scene, you have to imagine a room half full of boxes.A house project led to the accumulation of many boxes. Of course, a scene like this is irresistible to any young soul.My granddaughter was sucked right into the middle of the boxes.You can use them as forts or a maze.Some of them were so big you get into it and seemingly be lost to the world---or, at least, a parent.Quite a bit of time went by in the wonderful world of box land.Then she was finished and wanted to escape.
At one point, a young voice plaintively appealed for outside advice.She asked a simple question.“How do I get through this crap?”The room was no longer filled wit…

Relational Keys

There are few indications in my life that I am “with it.”I remember that term from my growing up days.Being “with it” was something most of us aspired to achieve, but most of us never made it.I don’t even think I came close.I suspect that one of the problems was most of us would never quite be sure what “it” was that we were supposed to be “with!”Was it the clothes to wear?Sometimes it seemed like it must be the hairstyle.All I knew was farm guys probably did not have a chance.

Many of us never outgrow this aspirational quest to be “with it.”I am sure the “it” changes.It might be the place you go to college, the car you drive, the one you date.Again, I was never sure about it.Fortunately for myself, I felt the urgency to be “with it” subsides over the years.I hope it is because I gave “it” up, rather than simply gave up!I did feel more free as a result.
Although I don’t consider being on Twitter “with it,” it is not something I would likely have done without the effective cajoling o…

Freedom of Exploration

The phrase, freedom of exploration, I read somewhere.I have no idea, since I read fairly widely.I do remember when I saw it that my interest was piqued.Perhaps it is because I have some interest in the process of innovation that it intrigued me.But I also thought about my work in the discipline of spirituality.Let’s look at both of these arenas.
The freedom of exploration seems like a suggestion or, even, advice to me.I can imagine saying it to someone.“Go ahead, explore freely.”I do not know how you could order or command someone to do this.It feels more like permission.“Go ahead.”There is an element of encouragement that I very much like. I value both words, freedom and explore.Our American culture talks a great deal about freedom.It is assumed that we are a country with immense freedom.Perhaps the ideal is being able to do what I want whenever I want and wherever I want.I am not against this idea of freedom, but I am not sure that is the deepest or most profound freedom.In fact t…

Importance

Someone recently thanked me for being important in her life.I appreciate the gratitude and, even more, appreciated the opportunity to think about importance.Perhaps this is an issue of spiritual immaturity, but that’s probably where I am anyway.I always hope to find things to ponder that might lead to some growth and a bit more maturity.As I thought about the gal who thanked me, I would have agreed with her that in her mind I was important to her.She was right.I didn’t do that in order to be who I am.But I was glad to help someone.

As indicated, the spiritually mature person probably never thinks about being important.That is not their goal.However, all truly mature spiritual people undoubtedly are important---perhaps in many ways.But it would not register nor really matter, if they were to come to know it.For those of us less saintly, perhaps it is a good exercise to think about importance.
Maybe our earlier ego development needs some sense that we are important.Of course, I only hav…

Sandpit of Life

Sometimes in my research for other things I am doing with my time and life, I run across ideas for these inspirational musings.Occasionally, it even feels like a eureka moment---I found it!And in these moments, I am not always sure what I think or where it is going to take me.But I know the process of thinking about it and letting it ferment in my brain and heart will bring me to some knowledge, insight and maybe some wisdom.The process is significant.

I am working on another book.At least the ones I write require some wide reading and research.I have opinions, but my books need to be more than something I thought about over breakfast and then shared.And so I found myself reading a piece about primates!Don’t ask how that relates to anything else I am doing.I came across a fascinating account of a British anthropologist and psychologist person named Robin Dunbar.I had never heard of him.
Dunbar’s research “was trying to solve the problem of why primates devote so much time and effort…

Spiritual T Roads

I am assuming that most of us who have a driver’s license and have spent time behind the wheel know what a T road is.I grew up in rural Indiana and it was not uncommon to be on a T road.Pretty quickly you learn there are only two options---well at least two good ones!I know I learned this lesson long before I was old enough to drive a car.But then I also know I was driving tractors on the roads long before I was sixteen!Now that I think about it, I am not sure anyone ever wondered if that were legal!

When I assume things, I always am prepared to be on guard that my assumptions may not be shared by all.For example, I am not sure younger, urban drivers grow up learning about T roads.Perhaps, they have never heard the phrase and have no clue what I mean.So for their sake a T road is a road that dead-ends into a perpendicular road---forming a T, as it were.When you are driving up the trunk of the “T,” you do dead end into the other road.You have a choice to continue: go right or go left…

The Current of Culture

I recently read an article that might well provoke some, but I found it very interesting.It was written by a Catholic priest.The title of the article caught my attention: “Could what happened in Delphi happen in Rome?”When I first read it, I thought I might know what it meant, but I was not sure.So curiosity drove me to begin reading.The article begins when the author, Peter Daly, talks about traveling to Greece and visiting the historic ruins at Delphi.

Early in the initial paragraph, I figured out where he was going.Daly wrote, “At one time, it was the spiritual center of the ancient Mediterranean world.For more than 800 years, people flocked to consult the famed oracle, bathe in the springs and worship in temples of Apollo and Athena.Today, nobody comes to worship. It is a ruin, an archeological museum.”I know some early Greek history and could appreciate his observation.Delphi would have been the destination for worshippers of that period.It would be tantamount to folks making a…

Devout, Doubt and Out

Recently I read a great opening line and now cannot even remember where it was.But I do remember the gist of the line.I think the line was used about Roman Catholics, but it really applies to all traditions and, certainly all denominations.The author said there were three kinds of believers: the devout, those who doubt and those on their way out!I certainly know some Quakers who fit all three categories.I am confident I can come up with names of Catholic friends in all three.And clearly in Judaism and, likely, every other major group, there is membership in all categories.
I suppose in our now secular age, we could add a fourth category, namely, those who were never in.But they really don’t count, since they are not wrestling with the issues of faith, belief, membership, etc.Or if they are wrestling with it, it is not in the context of the church or synagogue.So I will set this fourth group aside.I am interested in the other three. Personally, I can only identify with two of the three…

Whispers of Evil

I try to follow some of the daily lectionary readings.This is a discipline for me, which I know is healthy if I can do it.However, there are typical temptations that derail my intentionality to be disciplined.In fact, I am amazed how easily tempted I am and how easy it is to succumb to these temptations and not do what I intended to do.When this happens, I am disappointed in myself, but I don’t beat myself up.I just try to do better the next time.

Today I succeeded.I managed to do the Morning Prayer.Morning Prayer is the best way to get my day started.I find it focusing.I know that a little reflective time at the outset of the day is good for my soul.I like following this prayer because I know it always uses a couple of the Psalms.I know how important the Psalms have been throughout history---for the Jewish community and the Christian community.The Psalms play a central role in the life of monastic worship.My own Quaker tradition seldom made use of the Psalms, so I felt like I came …

A Deeper Understanding of Thanks

I remember so many times when I was growing up in rural Indiana, one of my parents (or even grandparents) would ask, “Did you thank him?”They drilled into my head that I owed someone a word of thanks if I were given something or if I were told something special.I suspect that I did not fully appreciate what they were doing for me.
I am sure they were teaching me this lesson long before I could register what they actually were doing.I know with my own kids and, now with grandkids, I am watching that age-old lesson being taught.No doubt, the kids are too young really to grasp why saying “thanks” is all that important.I know when I was young I was just happy to get a gift.I am sure I was driven by pure self-interest.In a one or two-year old, that is normal and fine. But learning to say “thanks” is an early lesson in self-transcendence.That is a big word, which simply means, you are not the only one in the world!What’s more, the world does not revolve around you and your interests.Of cour…