A friend asked me today; “why do some things feel good yet make you feel bad?” I thought this an excellent question.
There are many temptations, distractions and contradictions in this world. There are choices, habits, addictions that have an affect on us and those around us. We make decisions each day based on wisdom, experience, curiosity and desire. What we do, what we choose to indulge in or stay away from, helps determine our course.
Feeling bad isn’t the litmus test for why we should or should not do a thing. Certainly doing the right thing doesn’t always bring joy and happiness and doing the wrong thing can be, at least temporarily, euphoric. Our feelings are fickled, swayed easily and can conspire against us.
To live rightly, justly, we should choose our attitudes and behaviors based on wisdom and truth not emotions and whims.
” I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” #WB_Yeats
We often think of our dreams in an ethereal sense, these high and lofty aspirations or fantasies floating beyond the taint and harm of the drudgery of everyday life. However, our dreams, hopes and desires are fragile and at the whim of egos and the randomness of a chaotic world.
A friend of mine lamented to me yesterday that it’s hard to care when it seems God doesn’t. A sentiment felt and thought by many but voiced from only a few. What we love, that which gives joy and purpose can be taken away by carelessness, randomness and the selfishness of others.
It’s hard to trust things will work out for the best when wickedness triumphs over good. It’s almost impossible to believe when that which surrounds us robs us of our faith.
Our hopes, dreams and desires are not untouchable. They are easily manipulated, polluted and destroyed by one another. We have an incredible capacity for helping or hurting, giving or taking, fulfilling or robbing someone of that which gives meaning to their life.
May each of us walk our path gently being careful not to trample each other’s dreams and purpose along the way.
When tragedy comes home to roost,
taking it’s rest among what is left,
chards only black as midnight,
beauty gone forever below the sod,
the gaping inner void it leaves behind,
bleeding wounds that will never really heal;
what do you say?
Clichés is all that can roll out,
for gentle words do little to heal,
yet what else is there when arctic blast come
numbing the heart as it beats within,
perhaps never to become flesh again?
The cold lonely road most of us will walk,
more than once,
a sure truth for the many.
Little comfort for those on the way,
yet life goes on as it always has,
we simply endure for a time,
it is we who are mourned
when our time comes.
“This thing we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” #MaryPickford
The sun finally broke through the clouds today after a rainy and dreary week. A stalled weather front has been both aggravating and depressing. I, like most people, enjoy clear blue skies and too many gloomy days get to me. The past several have been particularly frustrating because no matter how many times the forecast said the clouds were leaving they refused to budge.
It bugs me that I can’t control the weather… along with a lot of other things.
We have a way of fooling ourselves into believing we have more power than we actually possess and then life finds a way of reminding us of our weakness. Dark times, difficult seasons, complications, confusion and doubt settle in and refuse to leave. We get beaten down and wonder if we’ll ever get up again.
The sun burned away the gray this morning. Light eventually pierces darkness. It won’t be gloomy and miserable forever. Falling down happens, choosing to stay down is up to us.
Some brothers were coming from Scetis to see Abba Antony. When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an old man who also wanted to cross. The brothers did not know him.
They sat in the boat, occupied by turns with the words of the Fathers, Scripture and their manual work. As for the old man, he remained silent. When they arrived on shore they found that the old man was going to the cell of Abba Anthony too.
When they reached the place, Anthony said to them, ‘You found this old man a good companion for the journey?’ Then he said to the old man, ‘You have brought many good brethren with you, father.’ The old man said, ‘No doubt they are good, but they do not have a door to their house and anyone who wishes can enter the stable and loose the ass.’
He meant that the brethren said whatever came into their mouths.
It’s difficult to do, stop caring too much.
Knowing what to care about is a gift of wisdom. It’s a discipline which eludes most. We have limited amounts of time, energy and passion. It takes all three to genuinely care about something. What we choose to invest our time, energy and passion into must be worth it.
When we care, or try to care, about too many things we end up not being able to truly care about anything. If everything is important nothing is important. If all is crisis, urgent, an emergency, a cause, then life becomes a siphon to our spirits, emotions and bodies.
Caring is hard. We have one life and a small window of time to make the world better. Being able to choose wisely gives a sense purpose and helps us not to become indifferent.
One of [Elder Epiphanios'] spiritual children held a high-ranking administrative position, and when he confessed he would often confess the same sin involving his subordinates over and again.
One time during confession the Elder threatened him, saying that if he fell into the same sin again he would receive a very particular penance. “If you fall into this sin again,” the Elder informed the man, “I will make you sit down and allow me to wash your feet.”
Unfortunately the spiritual child did fall into the same sin again and Elder Epiphanios made good on his threat. Naturally, this event proved quite a spiritual trial for the spiritual child. After the washing, the Elder said: “Since I know that this makes you uneasy, I will wash your feet every time you fall into that particular sin.”
The man never fell into the sin again, though every time his subordinates pushed him to the brink he would shout: “You owe a great deal to the man who washed my feet!” They never knew what he was talking about.