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Showing posts from September, 2016

Love and Service

The title of this inspirational reflection was inspired by the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola.Ignatius was born in 1491 in the north of Spain, the Basque part of that country.Interestingly, Ignatius had an older brother who sailed with Christopher Columbus.His own story begins in 1521 when he was a soldier fighting against a French invasion.Ignatius was wounded.He was taken back home to begin a long recovery process.
During that time, he read some significant books for his later life.One of these books, the Life of Christ, had a profound effect on this Spanish soldier.He began a transformational process that led him from chivalry to sanctity.He became a pilgrim of the Spirit.He spent nearly a year in the small town of Manresa.He lodged considerable time in a cave, praying intently and taking notes.These notes formed the nucleus of his famous Spiritual Exercises which has guided countless spiritual pilgrims ever since. After a trip to the Holy Land, Ignatius began formal s…

Deathbed Presence

I have come to realize that while I have often thought about dying, I have never really given any thought to the people who might be around me at that momentous transition in life.Of course, any of us could die instantaneously with a heart attack or even an accident of some kind.But I also know from experience that many people take a significant amount of time in the dying process.For example, folks in a Hospice situation have chosen a particularly good way to die.
To acknowledge I have thought about dying is simply to accept my own mortality.No one has ever told me I am dying of cancer or the like, but at my age and stage I know the inevitability of it.And hopefully, I am ok with the process---knowing I can’t change it anyway.I am not morbid nor am I na├»ve about it.And I often have confessed that I can’t imagine living in this body in this world forever.I think that would be too long! But I also realize I have not thought about the people who might surround me at this time.That was …

On Imagination

Some of the work I am doing these days focuses on imagination.  And with so many things in which I get involved, I do not have that much background in dealing with the topic.  I have never taken a class on imagination.  I have never done a workshop on imagination.  And sometimes I doubt that I have any imagination!  But I am dauntless; I move ahead.

One does not need to be a linguist to know that the key word hiding in the term, imagination, is image.  To have imagination is to have images.  But more specifically, imagination is having an image of something not available to the senses.  Or imagination can be an image of something in the future…something which has not yet come to be.  It is in these two senses that we talk of kids having “great imaginations.”

I remember very well the imaginary playmate I had when I was a little boy.  Typically, this imaginary playmate was an ideal objectification of what I thought the model boy/adolescent would be.  Of course, that imaginary playmate w…

To Change the Mind

One of the lucky aspects of my job is the leisure to read.  Admittedly, there are times I do not perceive it to be a leisure.  It may well be a tendency to think that if something is part of the job, then it has to be “work.”  And if it is “work,” it must be done.

This reminds me of one of Tom Sawyer’s one-liners in Mark Twain’s book.  Tom had just talked some of his buddies into “volunteering” to whitewash the fence.  However, it took some real attitude-changing for Tom to pull off this switch of perspective in his buddies.  As the story opened, it was a lovely Saturday morning on a fine spring day.  Tom had plans; his elders had other plans.  They won; he was condemned to whitewashing this fence.

Soon his buddies came by the “workplace.”  They laughed at poor Tom as they announced plans to go off and have fun.  The cruelty of the world bit Tom very deeply!  But he was stuck.  There was no alternative to whitewashing. 

He may have been stuck, but he was not helpless.  He had faith t…

The Golden Rule

When people think about religions, perhaps the most well known facet of religion is the Golden Rule.In its biblical form, the Golden Rule simply says, “Do unto others what you want them to do to you.” This rule is found in a couple of the New Testament gospels.But the neat thing about the Golden Rule is it occurs in some form in all major religious traditions.It is certainly not a Christian thing alone.
Sometimes, the Golden Rule is described as the law of reciprocity.It is similar, but I would argue it is not the same.The law of reciprocity simply says, “I do something for you, so that you will do something for me.”In this law there is the expectation that you will do something for me.In fact, that is why I do something for you.It locks you in, so to speak, to do something for me. The Golden Rule, on the other hand, is simply a gift.You are going to treat someone else like you would like to be treated.There is no expectation that you will do something for me.The Golden Rule puts no o…

To the Mountaintop

One of the delightful results of agreeing to do things is the preparation I have to do in order to make a presentation.One such fruit of my labor is the reading I am doing for an upcoming presentation on Martin Luther King Jr.I have welcomed this chance to work more closely than I ever have with King’s speeches, sermons and other material.I am old enough to remember King’s presence and impact on American society.It is fun to delve back into that memory and to enrich it.
I am certain King’s most famous speech is the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in Washington, DC.I remember watching that one on television and listening to news folks talk for many days afterward about its implications.It is one of those events I wish I had attended, but alas I have no idea what I did that day!Every time I see a video clip of that speech, chills creep back into my body.
But I don’t want to focus on that speech.Instead I would look at a sermon King delivered in Memphis the night before he was assassin…

Sincere Love

Every day I usually do quite a bit of reading.  Most of it is fairly interesting.  At one level, it could be said this is what I do for my job and that would be true.  In an odd way what I do for my job is not unlike what someone who works in a factory does for his or her job.  Reading is the routine of my job.  It is just different than what others do as routine for their jobs.

Certainly not everything I read is of equal value (to me, at least).  And not everything I read is equally engaging to me.  I do feel lucky, however, in the sense that most of what I read probably has something to do with life (at least, as I want to try to live it).  For an atheist most of what I read might be pretty silly.  I am ok with that.  I know most of what I believe theologically cannot be proved.  It really could be an illusion…and I am ok with that gamble. 

But I am convinced there is a difference between life and a meaningful life.  I want to opt for the meaningful life.  And I am sure for myself,…

Finding Peace

One of the things I am convinced is true about spirituality is that it is not always about sunshine, laughter, and good times.Anyone who has lived knows that life is not just sunshine, laughter, and good times.I suppose many of us might wish that were true.But it is not and there is no use in hoping for something that is not realistic.

Maybe the one place where the illusion that life is sunshine, laughter, and good times always seems true is in the first blushes of a romantic relationship.When you meet “that one” who becomes the sole center of attention, then life does seem to be sunshine, laughter, and good times.For a short while, this may well be true.In fact, it often seems too good to be true.And it is!
I don’t know how many times I have heard people tell someone who has experienced death in a family or some other tragedy that “time heals.”Of course, that usually is true…but it does take time for the healing to take place.And in the beginning it seems unbelievable.Often that pers…

My Pet Lamb

Sometimes I am surprised at what shows up in my mind!And I suspect you have the same thing happen to you.I am not surprised that occasionally I dream strange and odd things.Most normal people I know tell me things like, “last night I had the strangest dream!”I think dreams are our arena for surprises, weirdness, and other abnormal things.But then, we wake up and discover we are normal and begin the day.

But it is those daytime experiences when something odd appears inside my head that make my laugh…laugh at myself.I think I just experienced this.For some reason my pet lamb showed up.His name was Jimmy (I know, this is not very original, but I was only six!).I loved Jimmy…or whatever could pass as love for a six year old farm boy and a lamb.
We did not have very many sheep on our farm.In fact, we did not have them very long; so all my “sheep memories” are young.Jimmy became my pet lamb because his mom---an unnamed ewe---died while giving birth to Jimmy.Now that in itself is a pretty aw…

Pope Picks Lincoln

In September, 2015 Pope Francis addressed the US Congress as part of his visit to our country.Since one in four Americans is a Roman Catholic, interest was quite high and the curiosity was lively speculating on what the newly minted Pope would tell Congress and the American people.I was equally intrigued by what the Argentinian Jesuit, archbishop and now Pope would say.
The fact that the Pope chose the name, Francis, demonstrates he is not afraid to go new places.No Pope before had chosen that name.Especially as St. Francis in the thirteenth century did what he did and became such a model of spiritual depth and service, no Pope felt up to the challenge of being compared to that apostolic witness.But we now have our own Pope Francis I. When the Pope spoke to that Congressional audience, he talked about four Americans as models of faith, which is my term of description.I found the choice of these four Americans both interesting and revealing of the papal perspective. The first of the fo…