Archive for August, 2014

eyes of child

Is this statement True or False? Childish behavior is the opposite of adult behavior.

Well … do we ever fully let go of our childhood experiences—joyful or sorrowful? Either we expose them for all to see and hear, or we hide hide them so no one sees or hears about them. Regardless, our personal childhood experiences color nearly everything we do as adults.

The older I become, the more I’m assured of this—that our childhood years have created a blueprint for the rest of our lives. Sometimes a good blueprint, sometimes not so good.

This is precisely why childhood itself is so important—how and where we spend it,  who was there, and most especially, what were the  attitudes of our parents? More than likely–unless there’s a conscious effort— we express those same attitudes with our own children.

We not only look like our parents, but we also tend to think like them—unless something causes us to rebel—and many do rebel, swearing not to be a clone of either of their parents..

Still, we may later find ourselves like them. We may corner the sheets on bed just like our mother used to do. Or we may have interest in a particular sports team as our father did. Interiorly, we may have learned to solve problems the same as one or the other of our parents.

Because of our parents, we learned empathy for others, or not. We learned selfishness, or not. We put great emphasis on money, or not. We give of ourselves, or not.

As we grow into adults, we often try to forget any sorrows we may have had as children involving our parents, and our peers as well. We may even put aside the joys, too; intending to be ourselves, our own man or woman. Some who have been badly parented have success in consciously doing the opposite with their own children.  But it’s not often any of us get away from the old tapes in our heads as our childhood re-plays. For better or worse, they are there.

The realization that your parents were human, and therefore, imperfect, can be tough to accept. We have a natural tendency to want to protect our parents. We even unconsciously identify with their critical attitudes toward us and often take on their disparaging points of view as our own. This internalized parent is what we refer to as one’s “critical inner voice.” It can feel threatening to separate from the people who we once relied on for care and safety.–Lisa Firestone, Ph.D, Psychology Today

Not all of us have/had mature, loving parents — and no parent is perfect. But even if our earthly parents fail, our heavenly Father never fails. Isaiah assures us, “Can a mother forget her infant, or be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

The love of God, Our Father, is constant and unlimited. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father loves his children beyond anything they have earned–the same way He loves us.

So when the blueprint of our earthly parents fail us, and our critical inner voice is heavy to bear, we can turn to the very personal and perfect love of God to become who we were truly born to be

Beauty Is Behind The Scene

Posted: August 14, 2014 in World On The Edge

hdrmergedWe rarely pay attention to the plain and simple things in our world. We notice the flamboyant, the extravagant. Who would not notice a sunset such as this? “Wow! How beautiful!” we might say.

Yet the smallest of particles are responsible for the stunning sunset. You might say they are responsible for its performance. These tiny molecules change the direction of light, causing it to scatter, resulting in the brilliant show of color. The value of the sunset, like the value of a person, is found within. But when we look at either of them, we don’t consider what’s ‘behind the scene.’

In fact, not many want to be ‘behind the scene.’ We are attracted to the flamboyant, to famous people who appear large on the stage of life, such as musicians and actors, and reality shows about so-called ‘real’ people. We fantasize about being like them, without considering their fleeting popularity.

I think this is because we have a very shallow understanding of our world and the crucial place each of us holds in it. We look into the lives of those we mistakenly see as more beautiful or more important, to measure our own lives — which we may consider very small, and not beautiful at all.

So what is truly beautiful?

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in near-death studies, said, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

The idea of beauty and importance dealt to us by ‘the big screen’ is misleading and short-lived. The beautiful sunset lasts only a while–until the smallest of particles and molecules come together again to bend the light and cause another momentary spectacle. It’s what is inside the sunset that gives it beauty. It’s what is inside us that gives us our beauty, too.

True beauty is often found in what is  not noticed, but nevertheless crucial to the meaning of life itself. So,  I’m taking another look at all flamboyant passing things. I’m taking another look at the fleeting  sunset, and at the people flashed onscreen to us as perfect. I want to consider the more permanent performance of beauty behind those scenes.   Will you join me?

 

Get Mad??

Posted: August 13, 2014 in World On The Edge

polls_match60013.jpg_4102_164159.jpeg_answer_2_xlargeA three year old boy playing with matches accidentally lets a match fall near the hem of his mother’s living room drapery. But she’s calling him from the kitchen to come eat his dinner.

On his way out, the boy glances at the drapery and sees a tiny smoldering hole, growing wider. Still, mother is calling him to come, “Right now!”

And he’s thinking, “She told me not to play with matches. She’ll be mad.”

So he walks out of the living room, closing the door behind him as if that will get rid of the problem.  

During supper, the boy’s father lays down his fork. “I smell something burning,” he says. Quickly, the boy’s parents  push away from the table and follow the smell to the living room.

Flames are leaping from the drapery, burning out of control and endangering their home. The mother calls 911, but by the time the Fire Department arrives, half the house has burned up.

The three year old wasn’t thinking of the house, or the safety of his parents.  Three year olds rarely think beyond themselves. He was trying to avoid the thing that would immediately affect him–his own discomfort if his mother became angry.

Lighting the match, leaving the room, and finally, not revealing that the living room is on fire–each of these acts has the consequence of expanding danger.

The little boy’s responsibility is lessened because he isn’t mature enough to understand. But we’re adults. We understand that every act we perform has a consequence.

Or do we?

Do we recognize that some dangerous actions have been ignited by our government and have been  allowed to burst into flames that are affecting our freedoms and our country as a whole? Are we leaving the room and simply closing the door behind us to avoid the discomfort of confrontation? Why haven’t  we called it to the attention others? Why haven’t we spoken out against it?

Are we just too busy with ourselves, and like the little boy who burns up his own house, afraid someone might get mad at us?

 

What Are We Waiting For?

Posted: August 12, 2014 in World On The Edge

3f6fb1bWe are beings with the ability to make choices. But often we’re reluctant to make them. Sometimes that’s because we don’t want to take on the responsibility of what might happen after we make our choice, or our stand on some issue. Is this laziness, or a lack of courage? I think it might be both.

But there are some choices that are so important we must find the courage to make them–and not later, but now. Oh, I’ll get to it someday just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to something as important as our soul and where it will spend eternity.

As a youth, Saint Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits with women and men. They urged the inexperienced boys, like Augustine, to seek experience or to make up stories about their experiences in order to gain acceptance. It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

Like Saint Augustine, some say they will wait for the right moment to change their errant ways. But what if we aren’t given a right moment? What if we’re suddenly given no more moments at all.

We can go on and on for some time in our addictions, selfishness, meanness, and refusal to listen to the Word of God. But we cannot go on forever. There will come a time when our earthly life will be extinguished.

So how long will we wait to do what we know in our hearts we need to do? How long will it take for us to quit slapping God’s love  away and instead,  turn toward it?

Are We Aware?

Posted: August 11, 2014 in World On The Edge

protect_iraqi_christiansAre we aware of what’s going on in our world—right now? In Iraq? In Israel and the Gaza Strip? in Syria? On our own border? Where is America’s leadership, and where is the voice of her citizens?

On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed outrage at the violence aimed at religious minorities in Iraq, where fleeing children have died of thirst, and said his emissary to the region would leave Monday. In a strongly worded message during his traditional Sunday blessing, Francis said the news from Iraq “leaves us in disbelief.” He cited “the thousands of people, including Christians, who have been brutally forced from their homes, children who have died from thirst during the escape and women who have been seized.”

The Pope urged the international community to find a political solution “to stop these crimes.” Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Vatican’s ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraqi war, will travel to Iraq to show solidarity with Christians, among those targeted by Islamic State militants for elimination.

Elimination? These are human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

We may all ask, “What can we do?”

First of all, we have to be aware of what’s going on—right now. We have to sit up and take notice that there is a huge problem with the Islamic State threatening not only  Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East,  but also threatening us— Americans. Because if we ignore it, if we’re too concerned with our everyday lives to make ourselves aware, and if we let that germ of hatred go on as it is now, then its evil–yes, unadulterated evil–will eventually take us down, too.

Whose Life is This?

Posted: August 8, 2014 in World On The Edge

this_is_my_lifeWhen others give us advice we don’t like, we’re sometimes quick to say, “This is my life!” Meaning I’m responsible for myself. But do we really act as if we believe that?

How many of us blame others rather than ourselves when things go wrong with our life? When we do that, we’re not taking responsibility for ourselves; we’re saying something like you should have done something to keep it from happening—you should have been responsible for my life, then this wouldn’t have happened to me.

Making our own mistakes the fault of others is not only whiny, it shows a lack of integrity, dishonesty, and possibly a narcissistic personality.

Narcissists are notorious for placing blame on other people and not on themselves. Even when they clearly and definitely did something wrong, they cannot- and will not- accept responsibility. They almost always deflect the blame elsewhere. Narcissists either ignore their contribution to the situation or insist that the other person (spouse, child, co-worker or etc.) made them do it. Narcissists know right from wrong, they just cannot allow something bad to be their fault. It is another manifestation of their supreme self-centeredness as well as a protection for their fragile ego. It is also a primitive method of avoiding external repercussions.–Alexander Burgemeester

There’s another way to look at the statement “This is my life!” and that is with gratitude for it,  and a desire to polish it to the shine that God intends it to have.

How?

Own what we’ve done. Love others as well as ourselves. Create a space of empathy for others, not demand of others.  Don’t listen to bad-mouthing from someone set on bringing you down. And finally, to see my life as  good, important, valuable, and interwoven in Almighty God’s plan.

Brick House?

Posted: August 7, 2014 in World On The Edge

Translating a World on the Edge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the last week or so, I’ve been watching The Three Little Pigs on Netflix. It’s Disney’s original 1933 version and my grandchildren love it as much as their parents did. You know the story. The first little pig builds his house of flimsy straw, the second pig builds his house of destructible sticks, and the third little pig builds a model house, a house of sturdy bricks. The first and second pigs hurry to get through quickly so they can go to play. The third little pig builds slow and methodically, mortaring between each brick. He doesn’t have time to kick up his heels. And then comes the Big Bad Wolf. He blows down the haphazard houses of the first and second little pigs and threatens to eat them. So they run for safety to their brother’s house of brick.

My husband and I met at seventeen and married…

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Brick House?

Posted: August 7, 2014 in World On The Edge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the last week or so, I’ve been watching The Three Little Pigs on Netflix. It’s Disney’s original 1933 version and my grandchildren love it as much as their parents did. You know the story. The first little pig builds his house of flimsy straw, the second pig builds his house of destructible sticks, and the third little pig builds a model house, a house of sturdy bricks. The first and second pigs hurry to get through quickly so they can go to play. The third little pig builds slow and methodically, mortaring between each brick. He doesn’t have time to kick up his heels. And then comes the Big Bad Wolf. He blows down the haphazard houses of the first and second little pigs and threatens to eat them. So they run for safety to their brother’s house of brick.

My husband and I met at seventeen and married when we were twenty one. At that time, we were probably a lot like the first and second little pigs. We weren’t worried about safety, we wanted to play. (more…)

grotto1Some years back, when I taught Religion to Catholic teenagers, I was responsible for a group trip to Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. Known throughout the world as “Jerusalem in Miniature,” the Grotto is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world.

The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.

Before the teens and I visited the Grotto, we took a trip about TRUST through the nearby woods. On that trip the teenagers, another teacher and myself, divided into pairs. One person in each pair took a turn wearing a blindfold while the other person led him or her through the trees, over stones, across a stream. The one in blindfold had to trust completely in the other to give him verbal instructions to keep from bumping into a tree, tripping on a stone, or falling into the winding stream. Then the partners changed places, with the other putting on the blindfold. I will never forget the trust I had to put into the other teacher–because I’m a control freak and to be walking blind was something I didn’t like to do.

But this is what we have to do when we put our Trust in God. We don’t know where we’re going, but we love and trust Him enough to allow Him to lead us there. We even don’t know if we’re actually following His Will when we go through our daily lives in our families, or jobs.

The important thing is that we try to please God in whatever we’re doing. And if we do this, He will be at our side.

The idea from the trip into the woods came from a prayer–one of my favorite prayers–by Thomas Merton, an American Catholic writer, mystic, and Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky.

Here it is on video.  Isn’t it a wonderful prayer for each and every day?

Is God Talking To ME??

Posted: August 5, 2014 in World On The Edge

0 (2)How do we know if–and when–God is talking to us? Does he talk only to Saints? Or does he talk to ME?

Sometimes all we have to is shut our own mouths, and listen. God often speaks in the silence of our thoughts, or if we’re reading something spiritual, like the Bible. When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ”It is talking to me, and about me.”” –Soren Kierkegaard

But conversation is a two-way street. If we want God to talk to us, we must talk to him. Ask questions, and expect an answer just as we would from a relationship with a friend.

And this is the point–a relationship. Relationships with friends, co-workers, boyfriend/girlfriend husband/wife, and family are important components of our lives. So, why shouldn’t we be in a relationship with our Creator? The spiritual part of us is equally as important as the physical part of us, yet so many shy away from it. And others negate it altogether.

I think I’m so fortunate to live where I do, in a place that often discusses God, and these are people who even talk about ‘talking’ to God. There’s no ‘hush, hush’ in speaking the name of Jesus Christ, no hesitance to ‘give God the Glory,’—a phrase often used by local Protestants. I don’t mean in church either. I mean in the grocery store, the Mall, or the dentist’s office. If you want to talk about God, or to God, you just do it.

Make no mistake, God is talking to us–to you and to me. It may be through prayer, it maybe through other people, it may be through difficult circumstances–but He is talking. And it is very important in our relationship with God that we respond. Friend to friend. Child to parent. Lover to lover.