Friends

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Friends

You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.

I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.

The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Ripples

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Ripples

Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.

Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Learning and Letting Go

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Learning and Letting Go

Today was a training day for learning what is and how to do Motivational Interviewing. It sounds like a discipline someone would learn who is a professional job seeker! However, it is a counseling, teaching, technique that helps people overcome their biases and objections and allowing them to live a better life. I have done a quite a bit of training in Motivational Interviewing but the leader today was a Certified Motivational Interviewing Trainer so she had more information than online learning could give.

The two biggest keys to Motivational Interviewing are listening to learn the client’s story and needs and letting go of the idea we are responsible for the client’s success in counseling and/or learning. Our work is helping the client get to the place where they can choose for themselves their own path. By listening to understand who the client is and their willingness to get healthy in mind, body, and spirit, we can help them find the inner strength to make the changes that will impact them and their families.

I liked the training and the approach through my anxiety makes it difficult for me to sit for long periods as was the case today. It was a great reminder that we can’t fix people. It is not within our power to do so. What we can do is come alongside and help them discover their path and the willingness to walk it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Servant – Soldier

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Servant or Soldier

In worship this morning the phrase servant not soldier was used when describing those who follow the Master, Jesus. These words have stuck with me all day. Too often I hear colloquialisms; “fighting the good fight or fight for your personal rights, soldiers for in God’s army, fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves, fighting for your political party, fighting for (sometimes with) your family, fighting sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, fighting for equality. The list could go on but I noticed there aren’t too many servant phraseologies we use.

I think we are more comfortable with the idea of fighting, exerting power, pushing back against something we feel is invading our worlds. Fighting comes from a place of strength. Being a servant make us more uneasy. We don’t like the possibility of being taken advantage, of someone being over us, of putting down our fists instead of raising them. We live in a time where standing up for what we believe in seems the correct and just path. I wonder where/if there is a balance between soldiering and serving? Is there a side which needs choosing, we should choose?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Let Go

Let Go

The quote in the picture is one of my favorite wisdom proverbs. Letting go of things is as important, and as difficult, as learning and gaining knowledge and wisdom. What I have learned over the years, however, is things have a way of coming back that you are gone and forgotten.

Earlier this week I was revisited by thoughts of someone who hurt me long ago. I have dealt with these thoughts before and have let go of them. These persistent thoughts though, like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, have a way of following me wherever I go.

I recognize them for what they are; ruminating. “Ruminating is simply repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion. When people are depressed, the themes of rumination are typically about being inadequate or worthless. The repetition and the feelings of inadequacy raise anxiety and anxiety interferes with solving the problem.Psychology Today (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwilur2Iy6rWAhXFWSYKHYxNA4QQFgg5MAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fblog%2Fdepression-management-techniques%2F201604%2Frumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression&usg=AFQjCNFQ4v7E8XRgsUr7_j6GKQIIws-W_A) Rumination is a sign of or leading to a rise in my anxiety and a rise in anxiety leads to a depressive episode. I know this and yet the thoughts, at times, keep coming.

Usually, after a bit, with the thoughts tumbling over in my head, and the re-realization there is no satisfactory conclusion I let go again. I used to hope they would be gone for good but it is not meant to be. So I try to let them be an exercise in wisdom discipline and pray I get stronger each time I release the weight.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thought

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Thought

When I woke up this morning my positive thought was; “It’s not Thursday!” Yesterday I had to go to the dentist and while there are times we must do things which bring us anxiety we can celebrate I am thankful I didn’t have to repeat the process today.

It’s also a beautiful day. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. In a few moments, I will go and mow the grass. Some weeks, especially during the hot summer days, it’s more a chore than a joy but as the days grow shorter I will bask in the sun on my face and driving my little yard tractor.

One thought or several, can indeed change the way you see your day. I know in the future I’ll have to go to the dentist again. Soon there will be no need to cut the grass. By the look of the trees and their colors, the days will quickly be cold enough that even the sun won’t be able to warm me up.

One of the most positive thoughts, disciplines, we can have is focusing on the good each day brings and not the uncomfortable change which may come with tomorrow.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:34, The Master

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Filling

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Filling

This morning I went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist! I went at 7:30AM because thinking about the appointment all day would make my anxiety grow by the hour. This way I wake up and go straight there and get it over. I take my phone and ear buds along with me to listen to, a dose of anti-anxiety medicine, and the dentist provides comforting words, gentle work and a supply of Nitrous Oxide (https://www.google.com/search?q=nitrous+oxide&oq=nitrous+o&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2956j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8). When I first went to the dentist we sat and talked about my anxiety and claustrophobia issues. He understood and has done a fantastic job making me feel the least anxiety as possible. After it was over I left, slightly woozy but two teeth which needed fillings done completely.

The dentist is one of those things in life you don’t want to do but know have to be done. Know matter how much worry, dread, and procrastination, sooner or later you have to go and if it’s too much later you will regret it. As the numbing in my lips and gums wore off I thought about other things in life we don’t like to do but should. Forgiving people who have hurt us, asking forgiveness of those we have offended, reflecting on difficult and painful situations and asking; “What did I learn?”, allowing wisdom to search the deepest places in our lives, filling the holes in our minds, emotions, and spirits to be filled with kindness, love, and grace. These are never easy but waiting until we are ready might mean we never reach a place of healing and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Code

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Code

This afternoon I stopped by a store to pick up some sodas for our incarcerated father’s class. I grabbed and carried them to the cashier station. I waited on the woman in front of me and when she was finished stepped up and watched the cashier scan the drinks and stick them in plastic bags. When it was time, I scanned my card and then entered my pin number. However, as soon as I punched the digits in I knew it was the wrong pin. I told the cashier and she reset the scanner. For a moment I couldn’t separate all the pins and passwords in my life and choose the correct one but finally settled on the right one. It worked and I walked out with my purchase.

As I drove to the jail I thought about the men in my class who were receiving their certificates of completion tonight. I thought about the different men in the program and how each of them has certain “codes” which work for them. For one humor might be the key, another is not being singled out in class but letting him join the conversation when he’s ready. Our goal at the jail is to give the men a collection of tools and skills which will keep them clean, responsible, have abilities that many people on the outside take for granted. However, getting them to participate and accept the knowledge is tricky. Not any one approach works with all. We must take the time, learning about the men, connecting with them, understanding the way they think so we can “break the code” that will help them make life changing choices.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Destiny

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Destiny

A few nights ago I began watching a documentary; “American Anarchist” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6032170/). It is “the story of one of the most infamous books ever written, “The Anarchist Cookbook,” and the role it’s played in the life of its author, William Powell, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

An interesting, frustrating, and paradoxical character, William describes a time in the 60’s and 70’s when he is swept up in the protest movement of these two decades and writes a book that is both a declaration against an unjust society and a “how to” manual on building, bombs, guns, and other weaponry. Powell’s book has been used all over the world to commit acts of terror and revolution. However, after the turbulent time in which the book was written, Powell moved on to become a teacher of students with special needs.

In the documentary, he is surprised and saddened when confronted by his book’s place among many terrorists and criminal’s library. He’s even contacted some major book sellers and tried to stop his book from being sold. In most of the interview, he seems at a loss that this book, which took him only a few months to write still holds sway over him after almost 50 years. He wonders if he’ll ever be free.

Some poor choices we make are able to be overcome and put behind us. Other decisions, and their consequences, are ours to carry for life. Who we are, what we do; our thoughts, words, and actions have lives of their own once we choose to enact them. As always, we must choose carefully.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listen 

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Listen

This morning I heard the sound of a kitten meowing. It was coming from my workshop. I entered, listened and echoed a meow. It meowed again but I still couldn’t locate the source. After searching every corner of the shop I stopped looking. This happened three times. Finally I opened the doors to the workshop and hoped it would make a break for the exit. Since this morning I’ve returned to the workshop and did my best meow but nothing answered. However, instead of being relieved I’m perplexed at where it was hiding and whether or not it’s gone or just being silent.

Listening is one of the best gifts we can give to one another, nature, the world. It isn’t easy, especially when the other isn’t cooperating but it is always necessary. We do not listen only to hear but to quiet our minds and spirits so the other can speak.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Vision

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Vision

Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.

At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.

As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.

Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Routine

Routine

I watched a video this week about an important military leader giving graduates a piece of advice. He said; “If you want to change your life, improve your life, make your bed every morning.” He went on to elaborate and talked about how a simple disciplined act at the beginning of your day can positively shape your day, your week, your life. I’m not sure I bought all of what he was selling but I do think good choices today lead to good results tomorrow.

Tonight I spoke to a group of guys who have each made the decision over the last two months to come to class and learn how to be better men and better dads. I tell them each week it starts with; “Good choices which lead to being good men and then good dads. It all starts with the choices you make today and they determine the type of man you will be tomorrow.

Moments, hours, days, years from now, when we lay in a box and people stand over us staring, what will they say? A lot of what is said will be determined by the decisions we make presently, the routine of our everyday life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wrong Way

Wrong Way

This morning, on my way to Bedford, Tennessee, I took a wrong turn, went the wrong way. It wasn’t the wrong street. I knew exactly where I was, where the road would take me, but today was the wrong time to travel it.

Some way, somehow, I missed the; “Road Work Ahead” sign. About a quarter of a mile down the road I had to steer around a large road roller. Then I came upon a road grader who was spreading sand. The sand was thick and difficult to drive through. Then, around the corner, there was a dump truck, in the middle of the road, putting sand on it. I stopped and realized I had made a mistake making the turn and traveling this road. I turned around in someone’s driveway, made my way past the grader and the roller and back to the main highway. I reset my GPS and continued on road less impeded by giant machines.

Wisdom teaches us that not every way, even the familiar ones, are always open to us. Some roads are closed off to us and missing the signs can make the way difficult and dangerous.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balance

Balance

One of the toughest of Wisdom’s lessons is finding balance. We live in a world where we are encouraged to devour, to consume, to take and use up all we can. We are taught to chase after the treasures and trinkets of the world, to collect, hoard and protect what is ours as if our belongings were a part of us, a portion of our being.

I was speaking with someone today and they told me a story about their own lives and a choice they need to make. “What do I do?” they inquired. I explained to them the concepts of acceptance and action. Knowing what do and when to do it is key.

Acceptance is the understanding that some things cannot be changed no matter how hard we wish to impose our will upon it. There are ideas, situations, people, which we must accept in spite of our desire to change.

Action is what we can do. Once we’ve accepted the things we cannot change we then see what we can change and set about doing it.

It’s this balance that keeps us from wasting energy on the unchangeable and focuses our energies on what can make a difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sing Along

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Sing Along

Earlier this week I had a song stuck in my head. It played over and over in my mind. It was from an artist I don’t like or dislike and was a song that was fine but not spectacular. These facts didn’t matter because the song was like an earworm which burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t stop. I found myself humming the tune, singing along, tapping my foot and fingers, when I was in meetings, classes, and other places.

It is hard to get a song out of your head sometimes. I usually try listening to it several times in a row which can dislodge it. Other times singing it out loud, all the way through, will do the trick. However, some songs refuse to let go and I just live with it until finally, another song, or silence if I’m lucky, takes it place.

I was speaking with someone this week about the causes of poverty, abuse, addiction, incarceration and the incredibly hard task it is to break free from these often generational, familial, cycles. Too often, people think the battles we face are won by acts of wills and choice. While these are important they are not the sum of all problems. When you have been surrounded with these ills of society and family you become used to a normal. You witness those you love and look up to make decisions that keep them trapped in the cycle. Growing up in these environments impact the way you think, your view of the world, and the hopelessness of being free.  Who we are, what we are, are not only the choices we have made but from a myriad of choices which happen when we cannot decide for ourselves or even before we are born.

Understanding the truths about some of the people we meet each day will, hopefully, rewrite the judgmental and biased scripts we easily recite in our minds when we encounter the poor, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless, ex-felons, and wonder; “Why can’t they do something about their lot in life?” Maybe, they need us to sing a new song to them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Strained

Strained

I have a strained, pulled, hurt a muscle. The good thing is it’s one on my back next to my shoulder-blade so I only use it…all the time! I have no idea how I hurt the muscle. I haven’t done anything differently the last few days and yet it has been giving me fits. It’s the sort of strained muscle you only notice when you are lifting, pulling, picking up, putting on a shirt or reaching. When I’m sitting and relatively still I almost forget it’s there until I use it.

I was thinking about a person this week whom I knew long ago. It really does seem it was another life. There was a strain in our relationship. It was painful and awkward. To this day I’m not sure how it became so bad. When I was in the middle of it I often thought it was their fault but now that I am older and think I know myself better I see my part in it. It was both of us. It didn’t always show itself. We both made efforts but when any pressure was put on the relationship it was evident and hurtful.

I sometimes wonder if speaking again after this time of being apart from each other would help heal the rift. I’m not sure. It might only bring the differences and damaged parts to the surface. So, for now, I will rest my shoulder and my anxious mind and trust healing will come.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Rain

Rain

For the last few days, we have had a lot of rain. It’s remnants of Hurricane Harvey the horrendous storm which slammed into parts of Texas earlier this week leaving devastation in its wake. Most of the morning and afternoon I have listened to the rain fall on the tin roof of our porch. It’s a mesmerizing and relaxing melody. There is a wisdom proverb which says; “Some people feel the rain other simply get wet.” I am of the former variety. I feel rain, storms, overcast skies. There are times when a rainy day is nourishment to my soul. It’s like the water falling from the sky is landing on my parched spirit and bringing needed comfort and nourishment. In other seasons the overcast clouds and rain dampen my motivation and put me in a trance where I get nothing done.

Without rain, the flower does not grow.”
-Wisdom Proverb

Like the flowers, trees, bushes, and grass we need rain in our lives. We need times of growth and blossoming. However, too much rain, as Houston and other Texas areas dealing with Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, can drown, devastate, and destroy.

Rain, like life, can be beautiful and dangerous.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Occupy

Two Cars One Lane: Fight

Occupy

On my way home from Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week the road I was traveling had a construction zone. I maneuvered into the proper lane and most other vehicles did the same. However, there was a woman in a silver Mercedes who misjudged when she needed to get over. I noticed just in time as she attempted to pull into the same space occupied by my truck.   When I recognized that she didn’t see me I honked the horn but this didn’t stop her and I slammed on the brakes to avoid getting into a collision. I’m not a science professor but I remember that one of the Laws of Physics says; “Two solid objects cannot occupy the same at the same time.” I couldn’t tell if she was oblivious, didn’t care or wasn’t up on her physics laws.

After we passed through the construction zone we went back to our regular speeds and as I passed the driver of the silver Mercedes I reflected on the truth of this Law of Physics in other parts of our lives. We have too many things which occupy our minds and spirits. We fill our homes, jobs, brains, and souls with trinkets which need constant attention. We rarely, if ever, find a place to leave everything behind and just be still. The objects we possess end up possessing us.

Simplicity scares us because we think we must get rid of things; “we can’t do without.” This is a lie. There are many objects, treasures, things that seem important which if we dared we could eliminate. Stillness of spirit, peace, eludes us because too many things occupy our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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