Archive for December, 2013

Conversion

Posted: December 9, 2013 in World On The Edge

file0001610322107How do we know when is it time to let go–of certain situations, certain people, or certain things?

How do we know when we are we hanging on too long, or that these things are negatives and getting the best of us?

If we remain too subjective, we won’t leave, or give them up. Yet if we look at something objectively, we’re more likely to see the situation as it really is. And this is the beginning of change.

It may not happen right away. It may take just the right moment in our lives for the change in our behavior to occur—that time when we know in our hearts that change is not only better for us, but necessary—even though its also completely out of our personally created comfort zone.

How does this happen?

Sometimes we just get sick of being what we are.

Sometimes another person in our life leads us.

Sometimes God intervenes–and He does it so directly that we can hear His instruction.

His instruction can be in the voice of another.

It can be in the pages of a book.

Or it may be an interior voice interrupting our own thoughts—like the little nudges of a mare urging her foal to get up and walk on its own.

Because no matter what we do, God does not leave us. Throughout our wayward lives, he nudges, pushes, and offers us chances to be who we are meant to be.

All we have to do, is recognize the nudge and act on it.

Of course, it isn’t easy. It isn’t exactly fun either. And we may even be criticized for it. But once we’ve allowed God to lovingly touch us, we won’t want to be without His involvement in our lives.

Lighten Up

Posted: December 6, 2013 in World On The Edge

file8061348711613If you live in the South, you know Southerners love to talk, and how easy it is to do here.

I mean really talk– to people you don’t even know. A conversation can start up at a ball game, the grocery, the doctor’s office, or a bar–and pretty soon you know quite a bit about the person you’re talking to.

Sometimes these conversations lean toward serious things, but more often than not, they’re totally entertaining.  A bite out of the ‘candy’ of life–lots of laughter, lots of concern, lots of just plain fun.

So many times we are too serious when it comes to others. In fact, we take ourselves too seriously.

Life isn’t meant to be a headache, but don’t we often make it one?

I say, “Let’s lighten up.” Let’s enjoy other people. Let’s enjoy what we have, no matter how much or little it is. Let’s don’t worry about how we look, and who’s looking at us.  Let’s not worry about how much money we have. Let’s open our hearts to other people and live our lives in joy.

Dance as if no one were watching.

Sing as if no one were  listening.

And live every day as if it were your last.”

——An old Irish Proverb

I love that old proverb, and I love the following song and video because they exude the joy of everyday life. God IS great. Beer IS good. And people ARE most certainly crazy!

Passing Through

Posted: December 5, 2013 in World On The Edge

file000635831350This world is not really ours. We’re not in control of it, no matter how much we might think so. We are only passing through.

As we travel through our life, the days change for each and every one of us. Each day is different, and each day, we become better or worse, whether we realize it or not.

The ‘better or worse’ is interchangeable.

A day of sadness can suddenly become joyful. A day of joy can abruptly turned to sadness. What is it between these two extremes that holds our life together?

Most definitely it is Hope, that sometimes tiny voice in the heart that strokes us like a loving hand. Hope is a virtue we need to stir up inside ourselves, to get excited over,  to pray for, and to practice.

We are more than just a bunch of skin and bones and organs. We are more than what we do with our bodies, or our minds. We truly have a divinity within us, and we are headed back toward the divinity that we came from. The virtue of hope has been instilled in us as a guide—-and to let us know this is our temporary home.

And the older we get, the more we realize that fact.

Stanley Kunitz (1905 -2006) became the tenth Poet Laureate of the United States in the autumn of 2000. Kunitz was ninety-five years old at the time, still actively publishing and promoting poetry to new generations of readers.
Here is his poem, Passing Through, written on his seventy-ninth birthday.

Nobody in the widow’s household
ever celebrated anniversaries.
In the secrecy of my room
I would not admit I cared
that my friends were given parties.
Before I left town for school
my birthday went up in smoke
in a fire at City Hall that gutted
the Department of Vital Statistics.
If it weren’t for a census report
of a five-year-old White Male
sharing my mother’s address
at the Green Street tenement in Worcester
I’d have no documentary proof
that I exist. You are the first,
my dear, to bully me
into these festive occasions.

Sometimes, you say, I wear
an abstracted look that drives you
up the wall, as though it signified
distress or disaffection.
Don’t take it so to heart.
Maybe I enjoy not-being as much
as being who I am. Maybe
it’s time for me to practice
growing old. The way I look
at it, I’m passing through a phase:
gradually I’m changing to a word.
Whatever you choose to claim
of me is always yours;
nothing is truly mine
except my name. I only
borrowed this dust.

Restless?

Posted: December 4, 2013 in World On The Edge

file000405035154Do you sometimes feel as if you’re wandering?

At times, it’s difficult to see the path we’re on.  It may be a path not particularly good for us. It may be a path of sin, yet  we don’t want to change our direction–even though there’s a restlessness inside us that says we should go another way.

“For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.”—St. Augustine

Talk about great sinners! St. Augustine was  truly one of them—until he became a converted sinner. . . and a saint.

As Augustine later told it in his work, “Confessions,”  his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to “take up and read”  which he took as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw:  Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, called  “Transformation of Believers,”  consisting of chapters 12 through 15 – wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers, and the believers’ resulting behavior. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14:

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Other philosophers, as well as people he lived around,  pointed out that  Augustine ought to  change the path he was on. One who pushed him toward conversion  was his own mother, Monica, who harped day and night, for many years,  about his strictly human obsessions.

In  “Confessions,”  St. Augustine writes about how much he regrets having led a sinful and immoral life, shows intense sorrow for his sexual sins, and writes on the importance of sexual morality.

Most of us are like St. Augustine.

We live in the “City of Man,”  and ignore the  “City of God.”

Augustine writes: Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.

Nevertheless,  St Augustine believed  that God intervenes in the life of mankind by direct action—the action of grace– at certain definite points in time and place.

This is what happens to us, too. Our wandering spirits yearning for ‘something else,’  until  we encounter the grace of God—maybe because of a situation, or through a person. This encounter with grace causes us to change our ways.

What a gift is this Grace, this ability to change!  We can go from a lost and lonely soul, to one who recognizes the love of God, and yearns to be worthy of it.

Missed Opportunities

Posted: December 3, 2013 in World On The Edge

file0001919858889Sometimes we miss opportunities. We blow out our candles before we’ve given them a chance to light up our lives.

We miss chances that could change us for the better. We miss them because we don’t realize their importance at the time, or we’re too busy with something, or we’re just plain too lazy to give up any piece of ourselves requiring an effort of will.

And I think this happens because we are distracted by a dubious attraction, and false connection, to people we don’t even know–and who surely don’t care a thing about us.

Yet we allow those people tell us who, or what, we ought to be:

We ought to be thinner.
We ought to dress like them.
We ought to sing, or dance, or go on Survival trips.
We ought to tolerate anything, no matter if it goes against the grain of what we know is right.
We ought to be liberal.
We ought to be conservative.
We ought to silence our own thoughts and take up theirs.
And on and on.

Sometimes an opportunity may be something we’ve never done before. It may be hard, and we may be frightened. But we have to trust in ourselves. We have to try.

Inside us, is a conscience–a still, small voice that we often ignore. Yet it’s there. And it will speak to us if we listen. It will give us courage.

Do we realize how much we lose by not listening to that voice within us?

Do we realize how much we miss by not trusting in ourselves?

Don’t miss the opportunity to become who YOU are, not who THEY are.

Lets try to keep from blowing out the candle of spiritual suggestion before it has a chance to burn. Let’s open our eyes to the uniquely personal opportunities in each day—and not let the day pass without considering at least one of them.

For all my Atlanta and Decatur friends: Here is one of my opportunities.

On December 6, from 9 until 12, I’ll be the guest speaker at the Mothers Retreat at Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta. My talk is entitled, “God Loves You Madly–So Let Him.”

And then, on December 7, at 2 pm, I’ll be signing books at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur, GA. I hope you’ll consider coming. I’d love to see you! But if you can’t make it, I know you’ll pray for me, and I thank you for that.