Should’ve Been…

There’s not many worse places to be in our minds than; “should’ve been…

It’s a dark tunnel which leads to anger, frustration, disappointment and despair. An opportunity which slipped through our fingers, a word regretfully spoken or unsaid, an idea not expressed, an action not taken or hastily done.

Regrets and remorse take us into the dark recesses of our minds and spirits. We become lost in how things could be, should be and lament what is.  “Should’ve been” are mighty demons which possess the present, ghosts of illusion that haunt our thoughts and obscure our view of the present, this moment, now.

The power of “should’ve been” finds its strength in our imagination. We think, “if it would’ve happened this way, gone another direction, if all went correctly” then life would be bliss. Of course this is fantasy. Every path, even the one not taken, has peaks and valleys. No way leads to perfection.

Letting go “what should’ve been” is especially difficult when what is, is filled with pain and loss. However, focusing on the ethereal doesn’t allow us to see that even here, in this moment, right now, there is light and peace.



Bold Red


Tiny choices bear far flung fruit, the seeds germinate each in their own time, waiting for abundance of whatever sort to come forth. Some fruit sweet to the taste, others bitter, then there are those which are poison, spreading pain, death and fear. Often planted deep, hidden, for generations, when its growth suddenly hits the spring time of thorny abundance, wounding all who get in its way. Words, actions, and yes even thoughts have to go somewhere, when spread out upon the world, taking seed in human hearts and yes in cultures, secret, both for good or ill, sleeping until the great awaking; its force always a violent shock.

Cycles, within cycles, sort of an unending hell; over and over again ad nauseum, at least for the bitter fruit, that litters the alley ways of life. That which is good often seems swallowed up in the chaos. Perhaps despair is the ultimate fruit along with that of faith, which is where the war is fought. In the human heart, with the cultures that flow from that deep interior the battle field, inner conflicts flung outward, our terrible work of art painted in bold red colors; for is not blood, the life?

The Cure
We are all healers unbeknownst to ourselves,
a simple smile
given without thought
or a touch,
can be a healing balm to others,
do not doubt what you have to offer
for in a world of suffering
the healing balm of love is the only true cure,
for it is love that we are made for,
also we exist to show love to those in need,
for God gives without limit,
in our giving we draw close to His image.

guest post by Brother Mark Dohle, OCSO


The Path to Goodness and Light


The past can be a deceitful thing, especially when we’ve lost much in the present and have little hope of gain in the future.

What was, used to be, is often tinted, slanted, skewed, in the rearview mirror of our minds. Time may have a way of healing most wounds but it also tends to highlight the good and shade the bad.

Friends whom we haven’t seen, family we’ve been separated from, seasons of joy and warmth now gone are missed and recalled wistfully with little recollection of the difficulty and hardship which accompany every season of life.

Like a mistress the past whispers what we want to hear, the pleasure of what was and could be if all had remained the same. We fantasize of everything working out differently, the path we should’ve stayed upon, the way which would have kept us from pain and loss.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” #Helen Keller

What has gone, and will never again be, has a way of blinding us to the possibility of what is presently happening and might be someday. We hold onto the past unwilling to let go because the future is uncertain, uncomfortable and uncontrollable. There is no guarantee of what is to come so we dwell on what was because we are able to make it into whatever we desire. We can eliminate the dross and treasure the illusion of purity and hindsight. The future is no match for the perfected past.

Truly being in the present can be a struggle. Where we find ourselves physically, emotionally and/or spiritually is unedited, unscripted and possibly unwanted. However, only now, not what was, can bring us to a place of truth and only in truth do we discover goodness and light.



What is God


(Read this as Lectio — it cannot be read quickly without reflection.)

What is God? That without which nothing exists. Just as nothing can exist without him, so he cannot exist without himself: he exists for himself, he exists for all, and consequently in some way he alone exists who is his own existence and that of all else.

What is God? The Beginning; this is the answer he gave of himself. Many things in the world are spoken of as beginnings, and this is in respect to what comes after them. Yet if you look back and see something which precedes another, you will call that the beginning. Therefore, if you seek the true and absolute beginning, you must discover that which has no beginning. That from which everything began clearly had no beginning itself, for if it began, it must have begun from some source. For nothing begins from itself, unless someone thinks that something which does not exist can cause itself to be or that something existed before it came to be, but since reason approves of neither of these it is clear that nothing exists as its own beginning. Moreover, what had its beginning from another was not first. Therefore, the true beginning in no way had a beginning, but totally began from itself.

What is God?
A being for whom the ages have neither approached nor departed, and yet are not coeternal.

What is God?
‘From whom and through whom and in whom are all things.’

From whom are all things through creation, not as from a source;

Through whom are all things, lest you think there is one who is the author and one who is the maker; in whom are all things, not as in a place but as in power.

From which are all things as if from one beginning; the author of all; through whom are all things, lest we think the maker a second beginning; in whom are all things, lest a third reality be introduced, that of place.

From whom are all things, not of whom, because God is not matter; he is the efficient not the material cause. In vain do philosophers seek the material: God had no need of matter. He did not seek a workshop or a craftsman. He made everything through himself, in himself. Out of what? Out of nothing; for if he made it from something, he did not make that and consequently did not make everything. Do not suppose that from his own uncorrupted and incorruptible substance he made so many things, for even if they are good, they are corruptible.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
On the Song of Songs



When You’re Miserable


A friend asked me this morning; “What do you do when you’re just miserable?” I’ve thought about this question most of the day.

Being miserable happens. Life sometimes stinks. We endure seasons of difficulty and disappointments and hope when it’s over our spirits aren’t crushed or we become emotionless zombies. Misery will take a toll but it doesn’t have to take everything.

The first thing to do when you’re miserable is admit it to yourself and another. Tell someone you trust that you’re struggling to see the good, finding the positive. They say “misery loves company” but miserable people need the company of a faithful friend, a person who will keep your course true.

Don’t try to chase the misery away. There are times when we’re just miserable and that’s okay. We’re made to feel, experience life and life isn’t easy or always enjoyable. Accept the melancholy, embrace the emotional lows, negative thoughts. These feelings are as legitimate as the positive ones. Explore them, respect them. Remember they too will change and shift. Moods are not permanent.

Being miserable can lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves. It can help us learn the wisdom of the ebb and flow of existence, how to rid ourselves of the illusion of control and to know the light and dark side of life.



Going through Hell


Winston Churchill famously said; “When you’re going through hell, keep going!

This seems like common sense. When you’re in a place that’s hard, difficult, hurtful, painful you don’t want to stay there. It seems natural that you’d keep moving until you’ve found a better, more peaceful place to rest and recover.

However, sometimes life has a way of taking so much out of us that the strength to continue eludes us. We’ve fought the fight, waged the battle and have nothing else to give. The temptation to surrender whispers deep into our being. Pious, pithy platitudes such as; “It gets better” do little more than annoy us and mock the struggle that’s bled our spirit dry.

Winston Churchill knew that giving up was easy, perhaps even sensible. During World War Two bombs fell on England night and day for years. Thousands died, most of London was razed to the ground. Hitler’s Blitzkrieg literally brought hell on Earth to Great Britain. Surrendering, stopping the pain, destruction and death was a viable option. But after capitulating, then what? Life wouldn’t have gotten better. Surrender meant evil triumphed. Churchill understood there are things worse than death.

Sigh. The truth is that life is hard.

When troubles open fire with both barrels, blitzes us with heartache, dissapointment and loss. When we can’t find shelter because everything has been pounded into dust and blown away we can give up or keep going.

Maybe, it actually will get better.

“Never, never, never surrender.” #WinstonChurchill



Fighting Old Age


“A woman aged in her 80s has fought off a robber by punching him in the face.

The pensioner was walking her dog in an alleyway between Bellevue Road and Invicta Road, Whitstable, Kent, when she was grabbed by the male attack who was wearing black clothes and a hooded top to hide his face.

The elderly woman managed to fend off the mugger by punching him in the mouth.”

Everyday I get closer and closer to an old person and I’m powerless to stop it.

I moan when I sit down and get up. I go to bed early. I watch crime documentaries. I get cold easy.Thank goodness I still eat after 5pm. AARP commercials mock me. 55 used to be an eternity away but now it’s a little more than a decade.

Along with the “you’re almost there!” commercials I see a plethora of fighting old age advertising. Take this pill for prowess and power, wear this piece of elastic to keep everything where it should be, try this dye to eliminate gray hair, drive this cool car to turn heads, use this hipster phone to look younger. Do these things and 60 becomes the new 50 which becomes the new 40.

As much as the swift passing of time perplexes me I have no plans to fight my age. Sometimes I see people who’ve had a tuck or a lift, stuffing themselves into clothing styles made for twenty year olds, squeezing into a sports car and wonder; “why? no matter what you do you’re the age you are, no matter what you look like on the outside you’re the same age inside. nothing is going to change that.”

I won’t fight old age but, like the lady in the story above, I want to still be fighting in old age. I hope I’ve got spunk, plenty left in the tank and that all my get up and go hasn’t gotten up and went.




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