Archive for March, 2014

Wave After Wave

Posted: March 31, 2014 in World On The Edge

file5451238436403I spent my childhood summers on Panama City Beach, Florida at a cottage my grandfather built for my grandmother , a surprise for their twenty-fifth anniversary.  The beach was something very familiar, the Easter Basket colors of its water–lime green, purple, cobalt blue. Its sand white as sugar, its dunes barely able to be climbed by a young child, and challenging to the point of necessity for a pre-teen. But the most impressive characteristic of the beach were the waves.

A wave can startle. A wave can hit you in the face.  And unless you’re careful, a wave can bring you down.

Isn’t life like that, too?

Don’t we often have wave after wave of surprises, disappointments, and even devastations in life?

But when we make the right judgments, the same waves that bring these things also bring delight, laughter, and that refreshing past-time–fun.

There are scientific principals that effect the waves on a beach, make them less or more.

There are principled and unprincipled  people who effect the waves in our life as well, making it more or less.

Who are those people in our lives ?

On a beach, there are some wonderful waves we’d play in, and some violent waves we wouldn’t go near for fear of danger.

In life there are some wonderful people who care deeply for us, and there are some whose  lies we fall for time after time.  Shouldn’t  we discriminate between the two?  Shouldn’t we consider the dangers, or  benefits of each?

All this concerns what we’re actually after, what we’re really looking for in our lives. We can pretend we’re seeking Truth, but unless we really try to discover and accept what Truth actually is, we’re hypocrites.

The Truth is that there are some people who can help us along, who will walk with us if we let them–people who mirror the image of God in which we are made.  And there are people who pretend to be our best friend, but who actually who mirror the Father of Lies.

Which of these should we turn to?   Which of these should we walk with? Which of these should we trust during our journey toward eternal life?

Second Chances?

Posted: March 28, 2014 in World On The Edge

file1191278213082Everyone likes to have a second chance. And most of the time a second chance is there to be had. Except in the case of death. If we have things we know we should say to someone, yet we haven’t said them—because of pride, because we’re just so busy, or because there’s friction in the relationship—we need to wake up. We need to act. No one knows the day of death.

 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,] but My Father only. –Matthew 24:36

We may never get a second chance to tell someone we’re sorry, or that we love them and always have. We may never get a second chance to say thank you to someone who changed our lives.

We have only today. The past is over, and tomorrow may never come. Let’s not waste time with unimportant things. Let’s run to those we love. And let’s do it today.

When Great Trees Fall

by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.  Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed.  They existed. We can be.  Be and be better.  For they existed.

Wisdom and Adversity

Posted: March 27, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001052648856

Aren’t you amazed at the brilliance of people around us–smart people who push advances along in science, technology, medicine, physics, and a multitude of so much more. But are these people necessarily wise?

Intelligence is not the same as wisdom. Think of someone you consider wise. A parent, or grandparent? A counselor or teacher? A spiritual leader? Do you think they became wise because of their brilliant minds? or is there something else that makes a person truly wise?

Isn’t it his or her conscious choice to “do the right thing?” A person may not want to choose such a thing–yet he does it. And he does it courageously, because he sees a higher purpose.

A person may be born with genes of high intelligence, but I don’t believe a person is born wise. We discover wisdom for ourselves, usually after a journey through something dire, a path which must be our own–no one can take it for us. We have the capability of becoming wise after a journey through adversity. And each of us sometime in our lives, take such a journey.

Is there a better teacher of compassion than one’s own experience of suffering? Is there a better way to learn humility than to make a mistake? And when we face a adverse situation, such as illness or the death of a loved one, we often think about what LIFE actually means.

Of course, not ALL people grow wise from adversity–some grow mean, bitter, and revengeful. So what is the difference?

I believe it is a spiritual grounding, a belief in God who showed us the ‘right’ way, and continues to grace us with the strength to make courageous choices in difficult circumstances.

 

 

 

Meanness

Posted: March 26, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001464950673

At some time or another, each of us will lose our focus and be  mean to another person.  And often it’s intentional. Why do we do this?

Are we mean to people because our own needs have not been met and so we lash out, “getting back at the world” for having treated us badly?

This is silly, because the world gives back to us the same as  we put out. Meanness will always rebound on us.

I think one of the reasons we are sometimes mean  is  because we see something in the other person that reminds us  of  what we don’t like in ourselves. If we find ourselves bullying someone else, or insulting them, or plotting against them, we need to take a good look inside our own hearts.  What is bothering us? And then, try to be honest enough with ourselves to change it.

Another reason for meanness is jealously of another person.  We may feel the world has treated them better than us, given them more friends, or provided them with a better lifestyle.

To get over it,  we should first think about exactly what it is that they have that we want. Secondly,  will that thing make us happy? if we believe that it will, then we can actually learn from the person we are jealous of.  We can compliment them to their face on an accomplishment, rather than spitefully tearing them down behind their backs. And then in the nicest way we can,  simply ask them how they developed in themselves the thing that we want.

Meanness can also come from fear–maybe even the fear of abandonment by someone we love. To guard against it we put that person down as often as we can.  We denigrate them in an attempt to devalue  them in  the off-balanced thinking that this will keep them dependent on us…i.e. “Who else would have you anyway?”

When meanness gets this out of hand, we need spiritual help, because we’re destroying our selves as well as the one we pretend to love.

We should remember that meanness cannot make us happy, only more unhappy.

Malice drinks one half of its own poison.
—-Seneca

 

Sunday Morning Christian

Posted: March 25, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001404788877The Sabbath  is the Lord’s Day. We go to Mass, or  Church, taking our families with us. We listen to the Word of God, we may receive communion, we smile and greet the priest or preacher with god-fearing words.

But the love of God and neighbor is more than a one day a week event. What about the other six days of the week? Shouldn’t they also belong to the Lord? Why don’t many of us carry Sunday ideas into the rest of the week?

If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor. — St. Charles Borromeo

And that’s it exactly. The PRESENCE OF GOD. Sunday or Monday, it makes no difference. We are always in the presence of God whether we realize it or not. If we cheat our neighbor, lie, or steal. If we abuse ourselves or others. If we ignore the rights of others no matter how small–God sees. God knows.

We show our love of God–or don’t show it–every day of every week. And He shows His love for us. It is a life long covenant, after all.

If only I could live in the Will of God—in His Spirit—in His Love. If I could only see His Providence, His Spirit at work in the present moment. He works, arranges, permits every facet of my life, every moment of my existence. His Presence is in the midst of my every day situations. The only Reality is within the reality of whatever is happening. If only I could embrace the present moment as if He were in front of me. The present moment is like a chisel in the hands of God. He uses it to round off jagged corners, smooth over rough surfaces, reshape and remold my soul. It is precious, for it brings God to me in a personal way. It calls forth the very best of the One who lives within me. My God, let me embrace the present moment with love. — Mother Angelica

Temptation

Posted: March 24, 2014 in World On The Edge

Yikes!Let’s talk about Temptation. Lent is a good time for that.

What is temptation? The common definition is the desire to perform an action that one may enjoy immediately or in the short term but will probably later regret for various reasons: legal, social, psychological (including feeling guilt), health-related, economic, etc.

In the context of religion,  temptation is the inclination to sin. We are all uniquely tempted depending on our personalities, genes, upbringing, environment.

Temptation also describes the coaxing or inducing by a person, other than ourselves, into committing  an act that we know is not good for us– the real danger is that this person makes it appear ‘good.’  Smart huh? After all, we wouldn’t choose it if we didn’t think it was good. But of course, this is how we’re misguided.

The best way to avoid temptation is to accept that we will be tempted. Then we have to know weaknesses and honestly admit them.  Next, we  put on the brakes whenever we’re in a situation that might cause us to fall into the wrong things—— or better yet we really, really try  NOT to be in such a situation. If that means excusing ourselves from an event, or an enticing entanglement, then we must  DO it.

Remember that what looks good to us after we’ve already made dubious decisions, or when we’re under some influence and not our true selves, may be exactly the wrong thing under normal circumstance.  For example, to a lonely man, don’t the girls all look prettier at closing time?

Temptation is controllable, if we’re honest with ourselves about our weaknesses, and then courageous enough to stay away from people, places, and situations that are sure to take advantage of our flaws.

Miracles

Posted: March 21, 2014 in World On The Edge

file1891283659092Young children have no problem believing in miracles. They are new,  innocent, and without the constraints living in this world can produce. But despite our age, many of us are still open to miracles.

A miracle is a happening that no natural power can bring to pass in any manner or form whatsoever. Have you experienced one?

Of course you have:

If you have seen a baby growing in the body of a woman.

If you have held in your hand the seed of a flower, planted it,  and watched it take root and bloom.

If you have seen the light and felt the burn of a sun you could never touch.

If you have  forgiven an enemy when you never thought you would.

If you have risked your life for another’s. Or another has risked his for yours.

If you have lived another day in suffering, yet also lived that day with hope.

If you have heard the voice of God through another person, or media outlet, or in the frustrations of a difficult personal situation.

If you have experienced any of these things, you have experienced the miracle of Grace in the world–right here where you are. And there are many more opportunities than these.

But caution. Though it is always being offered, Grace must be noticed affirmatively to be taken advantage of.

If we don’t take the time to notice and affirm them, the miracles of Grace will not affect us–not even if they are all around us.

God’s Grace is as much a part of our earthly lives as our own breathing. But just as with our own breath, we must take it in and make it part of us.

For a Catholic, the greatest of miracles is the grace of the Eucharist.  The Bread of Life. For a greater explanation of this, the greatest of miracles, go to: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/christ-in-the-eucharist

Let’s be alert, so we can be open to the miracles that the grace of God shows to the world.