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Lunch With a Friend

                 Yesterday I had lunch with a friend.   That is not breathtaking news.   There was no special occasion.   There was no news that we were dying to tell each other.   When the lunch was finished, I was not profoundly moved, had no penetrating insight, or strong resolve to go out and save the world.   It was just a lunch.   I had soup, not sushi.               The lunch was perfectly ordinary, just like the soup.   There were no sushi qualities to it.   I associate sushi with some extraordinary---something special and unusual.   I like sushi, but it is not an ordinary lunch fare for me.   Most of the time, I am just a soup kind of guy.   And so is my friend.   And so was our lunch.             Economically it was a loss.   I bought both lunches!   It would have cheaper to go to lunch by myself.   I smile as I type this because I know when we go to lunch again (when, not if), he will pay for the lunch.   And I know that day it will feel like a gift tha
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Venue for Human Goodness

               Sometimes the inspiration for these pieces comes from very traditional and predictable sources.   I read a great deal in the spiritual literature, so that obviously is a marvelous resource.   I try to follow the lectionary of the Benedictine monastic community, so I know that is always a resources for readings from the Psalms and other biblical references.   I try to watch as my days unfold for those obvious or, even, subtle revelations of inspiring moments.   I find if I stay aware, a lot happens that hints at profundity.             Today’s inspiration came from a predictable place.   I regularly read a number of periodicals on line.   In the old days we would have called them magazines!   But I don’t receive magazines in the mail any more.   A few regularly come on the internet and it is there I find some inspiration.   As I was reading last night, my eyes caught an intriguing title.   The title reads, “7 ways I find human goodness in pickup baske

Travel: Self-Discovery

                 Recently I had a long flight.   It was not one of those thirteen or fifteen hour flights to Asia.   Those are killers.   But this flight was long enough.   I am one of those older folks who always want to tell people that flying today is not like it was!   That is not unusual.   Most things today are not like they used to be!   But older folks want to tell the story.             Of course, in the older days there was no security control.   Families would accompany the one taking the trip and often the whole gang would go right to the gate.   In fact, the family could almost walk into the plane, say good-bye and, then, leave.   At least, that is how I remember it!   The other thing I remember is that most people dressed up when they were to fly.   It was almost as if the journey was going to be a sacred undertaking.   Dressing up was required, like going to church.   But in the old days, most of the travelers were probably business people and they al

Learn To Be Alone

  “Learn to be alone,” is the title of a chapter in Thomas Merton’s book, New Seeds of Contemplation .   This is a favorite book of mine.   I find it particularly helpful during certain seasons, like Lent.   However, I also realize being alone is not just a Lenten theme.   It is a theme for all seasons in our lives.   For if we never choose to be alone, I would guess we really do not know ourselves.   We will only know ourselves in relation to others and to other things. This is not bad; it is just inadequate.          Early in that chapter Merton asks a penetrating question.   “How can people act and speak as if solitude were a matter of no importance in the interior life?” (80)   His answer is instructive.   He says, “Only those who have never experienced real solitude can glibly declare that it ‘makes no difference’ and that only solitude of the heart really matters.” It seems obvious that Merton differentiates two kinds of solitude: real solitude and solitude of

Leadership

                 Sometimes I realize how lucky I am.   It is not the kind of luck; however, I would go to Las Vegas and try in the gambling venues.   I don’t think I would have any more success there or betting on horse races as any other average sucker.   And perhaps what I am calling luck is not even luck.   Often I think what we might call “luck” is little more than being prepared and available at opportunistic times.   Something good happens and we call it “luck.”             I admit that sometimes things happen that we do not deserve.   Something comes our way that we did not see coming and we are given a gift.   In theological terms this is called “grace.”   Grace is nothing more than an undeserved gift. I have been graced so many times…graced by people, by events, by God no doubt.   And all one can do in the face of grace is says “thanks.”             Recently a friend gave me a book.   It is entitled, The Mentor Leader , by Tony Dungy.   I like focusing on

Our Best Selves

                 Some time ago, I finished Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise: an Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living .   It is a fine book.   Much of what makes it such a good book are all the authors and sages Tippett interviews.   The range of people she introduces us to is remarkable.   The interviewees range from writers to prophets to paupers.   In the process we learn that wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge.   Of course, they can be related.   It is hard to imagine a wise person who does not anything.   But many people who are smart and know a great deal are not wise.               Because the people Tippett interview are so interesting, it is easy to overlook her own contribution to the book.   She does more than simply string together stories.   Sometimes it is her own interpretation that I find intriguing.   Sometimes her insight is at least as profound as the person she interviews.   She has a fair amount of knowledge.   I know she has bee

No Meaning to Express

                 What if the title of this inspirational essay were really true, namely, that there was no meaning to express.   That would be sad!   It would be sad because that is a key distinguishing feature of what a human does: make meaning.   In fact, that is one way I like to talk about religion and spirituality; they are ways people make meaning.   Of course, they are not the only ways.   But they are key ways.             So if there were no meaning to express, then I would have serious questions about why we are living?   If there is no point to life, then why go through the motions?   Sure there are some short-term pleasures.   If we are lucky, nice things may happen to us along the way.   But at some point, life usually brings some share of suffering and, then, death.   Hopefully these are not the point in life!             I wandered into this reflection when I read parts of an old book that I had not thought about for years.   The book is entitled, B