Author Archives: thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

This morning I listened to a man tell a story about a time he and his wife went hiking during the fall in a National Park. He described the scenery and that he and his wife were so absorbed in the beauty they didn’t realize how late it had become. They hurried back to the car, trying to be in the vehicle before dark. They made it and then pulled out of the deserted parking lot. Unfortunately, they were met a large yellow chain hooked on two polls each side of the entrance/exit.  They weren’t sure what to do. There wasn’t enough room to drive on either side of the polls and they didn’t want to be there all night. As they sat in their car wondering who to call the wife asked a simple question; “Is there a lock? I don’t see a lock on the chain or polls.” The husband got out of the car, walked up to the chain unhooked it and went back to the car smiling at his wife’s genius. They drove through the exit and then put the chain back in place.

The man followed up his story with a reflection on how often we think we’re stuck, there’s no way out, a hopeless situation. He said that once we decide we can’t go, get or keep moving, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I reflected on the man’s reflection and began thinking about times in my life where I thought I couldn’t go any further but by the grace of God, the kindness of loved ones and friends I was shown a way and was able to get unstuck and keep traveling the road of life. I’m thankful today for those who are smarter than me, see different from me, think in ways I don’t and can show me the way when I can’t see how to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Look Closely

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Look Closely

This evening, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I stopped by Goodwill to donate a few items. I went inside and noticed they were having a sale on CDs. It’s been a long time since I have bought a compact disc but my truck has a CD player so I began looking at what was available. I went down each row of CDs looking for anything familiar and as I did an older gentleman ambled up beside me and began looking. The interesting thing about this man was that he either needed glasses or forgot his because he was bending over and his nose almost touched the CDs as he previewed. I smiled, feeling confident he couldn’t see the grin on my face. He was quite the sight hunched over and slowly looking, carefully choosing.

After I left the store I thought about the older gentleman and how close he had to get to perhaps find something worth buying. I also reflected on the truth my hunchbacked friend was teaching. Too often we don’t look close enough at things before we invest our time, energy, time, passion and money. In our instant gratification society, we grab and go not even sure what we are grasping or its grasp on us.

Wisdom tells us that what we choose to make a part of our lives should be looked at slowly, closely if we are to make choices that don’t just fill our lives but fulfills them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Attached

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Attached

This morning I was getting ready to go to a health council meeting. I went to the closet and picked out a pair of pants and shirt and laid them on the bed next to the ironing board. The pants were good to go but the shirt did need ironing. I turned the iron on, placed the shirt on the ironing board and went to do something else while the iron warmed up.

When I returned, the iron was ready and as I picked up the shirt the hook on the hanger, which was still in it, grabbed the ironing board and began tipping it over. Like most ironing boards we’ve had starch, buttons, water, more hangers and a plethora of other items which would make a big mess if they were to fall off the ironing board and crash onto the floor. The hot iron would also not feel good if it landed on my foot. Luckily, I caught it in time to stop this from happening. I breathed a big sigh of relief, rolled my eyes and was thankful for a mini crisis averted.

I carefully picked up the shirt again, twisting the hook on the hanger so it would no longer grab the board, took it out and pressed my shirt. As I did I thought about the different attachments we have in our lives and how the removal of one them can cause upheaval for everything else.

Wisdom teaches us to be careful not to be attached to many things in this world. Every attachment, each item we own, all the things we call; “mine or ours,” can grab hold of us. The more stuff we surround ourselves with the more danger there is in our lives being unbalanced by their loss.

We must be careful or the very things we think we possess will actually possess us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Small Things

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Small Things

An Israeli woman accidentally stepped on a Garden Snail and instead of ignoring it, kicking it to the side, wiping off her feet in disgust, took the small creature to the veterinarian to save its life. (Full story and link below).

It’s the smallest things which make the biggest difference. We forget this wisdom lesson so easily. We are wrapped up in our world, being the center of our own universe, the main character, and hero of our own story. Too often the small, insignificant, unnoticed and nobodies are ignored and unseen.

A friend asked me today; “Is there an objective reality?” I answered; “I don’t think so. There is the reality we exist in which for us seems real but is in fact shaped by nature, nurture, our experiences and expectations. We believe it’s real but in truth, our reality is no more real than another person’s.” I continued; “I don’t believe we can find an objective reality but we can be aware of our own limited knowledge, biases, beliefs and agendas. When we become self-aware we are able to accept that which we cannot know and humility is the path to wisdom.

A small snail crawling on the ground. An accidental injury. A reaction that seems extreme to some is empathy and kindness in this woman’s reality. To be aware of the small things, like snails and our own existence is to see and understand more than most.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Israeli Woman Accidentally Steps on Garden Snail, Takes It to the Vet to Save Its Life

(http://www.odditycentral.com/news/israeli-woman-accidentally-steps-on-garden-snail-takes-it-to-the-vet-to-save-its-life.html)

The life of one garden snail may not mean very much in the grand scheme of things, but for one Israeli woman who accidentally stepped on one, cracking its brittle shell, it was enough to warrant a visit to the local vet clinic.

It’s quite in rainy in Tel Aviv this time of year, and moisture-loving garden snails are very active. They sometimes venture outside their natural habitat, and, unfortunately, some of them get stepped on by careless humans. Most of the time the snail get squashed, but, in the most fortunate cases, only their shells get damaged. If they don’t suffer major injuries to their bodies, snails will usually fix their mobile homes by drawing in calcium, but one lady in the Israeli capital didn’t want to leave anything to chance after accidentally stepping on a slow-crawling snail.

Rather than simply ignoring the snail, the woman meticulously picked up all the pieces of its broken shell and took it to a local animal clinic. She was lucky enough to find a dedicated medical staff who, instead of brushing off her pleas for help to handle what other vets would probably consider more important cases, spent hours gluing the snail’s shell back together, using epoxy.

Photos posted on the Facebook page of Tel Aviv’s HaClinica animal clinic, show staff patiently gluing the shell to its original shape, while the “naked” mollusc patiently waits to move back into its home. “For the broken shell, we need a combination of patience and finesse with epoxy glue” the clinic wrote in a post. “We make sure the glue stays outside the shell and does not penetrate the inner patch.”

Luckily, their hard work paid off and they were able to not only fix the snail’s shell, but also mount it on the slimy owner. The operation was a success, and even though the snail will still need a few weeks, or even months, to fully recuperate, photos of it feasting on a bed of tasty vegetables in a glass tank suggest he’s doing just fine.

The staff of HaClinica have taken a liking to their tiny patient, and even named it Chevy. He’ll remain under their watchful eye as he recovers, and animal lovers are welcome to visit him during his recuperation.

 The life of one garden snail may not mean very much in the grand scheme of things, but for one Israeli woman who accidentally stepped on one, cracking its brittle shell, it was enough to warrant a visit to the local vet clinic.

It’s quite in rainy in Tel Aviv this time of year, and moisture-loving garden snails are very active. They sometimes venture outside their natural habitat, and, unfortunately, some of them get stepped on by careless humans. Most of the time the snail get squashed, but, in the most fortunate cases, only their shells get damaged. If they don’t suffer major injuries to their bodies, snails will usually fix their mobile homes by drawing in calcium, but one lady in the Israeli capital didn’t want to leave anything to chance after accidentally stepping on a slow-crawling snail.

Rather than simply ignoring the snail, the woman meticulously picked up all the pieces of its broken shell and took it to a local animal clinic. She was lucky enough to find a dedicated medical staff who, instead of brushing off her pleas for help to handle what other vets would probably consider more important cases, spent hours gluing the snail’s shell back together, using epoxy.

Photos posted on the Facebook page of Tel Aviv’s HaClinica animal clinic, show staff patiently gluing the shell to its original shape, while the “naked” mollusc  patiently waits to move back into its home. “For the broken shell, we need a combination of patience and finesse with epoxy glue” the clinic wrote in a post. “We make sure the glue stays outside the shell and does not penetrate the inner patch.”

Luckily, their hard work paid off and they were able to not only fix the snail’s shell, but also mount it on the slimy owner. The operation was a success, and even though the snail will still need a few weeks, or even months, to fully recuperate, photos of it feasting on a bed of tasty vegetables in a glass tank suggest he’s doing just fine.

The staff of HaClinica have taken a liking to their tiny patient, and even named it Chevy. He’ll remain under their watchful eye as he recovers, and animal lovers are welcome to visit him during his recuperation.

Innocent

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Innocent

This morning, during worship, Beth and I sat behind a couple who had an older son with Down’s Syndrome. (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/) He sang the songs, clapped, laughed uproariously, and became so excited a few times his mom would whisper in his ear to settle him down.

Beth and I have worked with people with Down’s Syndrome before so he wasn’t bothering us. In fact, just the opposite, he enhanced my worship with his full commitment to what was happening around him. No worries about what others thought about what he was doing or about him.

Native Americans are said to have thought children with Down’s Syndrome had an insight to God because of their innocence. I always think about that when I am near or interacting with someone with Down’s Syndrome. From my work with them, I know they are not always so “innocent.” They can be mischievous, angry, playful, stubborn and emote with the best drama kings and queens. However, what they don’t do as often is hide what they’re feeling. Their good and not so good behavior, joys and frustrations, happy-go-lucky attitudes and refusal to do something they aren’t in the mood to do can be fulfilling or draining for their caretakers.

Their innocence is not ever doing anything wrong but rather their refusal to hide, be ashamed, be less than what they are no matter who’s watching. They aren’t governed by their need to impress or be thought well of by anyone

In that sense, they are not only innocent but also role models for the rest of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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An Example

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An Example

Earlier this week I was part of a conversation where someone began being critical of another person. These conversations usually go down hill quickly but instead, the one who was being critical stopped in mid-sentence and said; “I’m going to stop talking. I have a blind spot when it comes to this person. Too often all I see is the negative and that’s not fair to them.”

I admired this person’s self-awareness and self-restraint. Most people would blame the other for their bad mouthing, continue with their complaining until they couldn’t think of anything else deleterious to be said about the other.

Self-awareness is key to personal and community growth. Being cognizant of our own foibles helps us grow in our knowledge of self and gives others an example to follow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Rest

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Rest

It is a gorgeous day in February! Almost 70 degrees outside. The birds are singing, the flowers are budding, the wind is lightly blowing, the sun is bright and the skies are blue. I, on the other hand, am sick.

A nasty flu bug and stomach virus is going around several counties in Tennessee. School districts have closed schools because of how many students and teachers have been impacted by illness. I haven’t been in any schools but I’ve been to the county jail twice, to a large council meeting yesterday where people were coughing and sneezing, plus numerous other places where bugs and viruses like to hang out.

So, with my achy body and pounding head, I’ve rested most of the day. It seems like such a shame to sleep away a day like this but sometimes rest has to be at the top of our “to-do list.” There’s a phrase I tell dads and parents; “If you can’t care for yourself you can’t care for others.” It’s tough, but sometimes you have to take your own advice.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A New Vision

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A New Vision

Last week I wrote about sitting on the couch waiting for the “Bug-Man” to come and spray our house. This Thursday we are waiting for someone to come, take a look at and give us a quote on remodeling our bathroom.

The bathroom is a rough spot for me and Beth. She sees it looking one way and me another. It is a small space so I’m thinking no bathtub, only a shower, lots of counter and storage space. Beth doesn’t like the idea of not having “a place where she can soak her fins.” So, we’re hoping someone who knows more about bathrooms and remodeling than just our preferences can help us decide.

Vision can be a tricky thing. Long ago, I heard someone say;  “A person who pursues a vision without the support of his peers is just someone out for a walk.” Our hope is that someone with more experience and wisdom can give us a new way of looking at things. A new vision that meets both our needs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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Connection

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Connection

Cell phone reception at our house if iffy. Depending on where you stand, what hand you’re holding the phone, clear or clouded skies, moving or standing still, makes a huge difference in being able to talk with someone or missing a call entirely.

Yesterday, Valentine’s day, Beth called me on her way home from work. I had my phone with me but was in a bad part of the house for phone calls. I was able to answer it but she was unable to hear me. I said; “Hello?” and the would reply; “Hello?” and no matter what I did I could hear her but she couldn’t hear me. Finally, I got in a spot where she could hear every other word but the connection was so poor that I yelled; “See you when you get home!” and hoped she heard the words but not the rising frustration in my voice. After a few moments, concerned my agitation offended her I went outside and called her back. She answered; “Hello?I replied; “Hey. Where are you?” “Pulling into the driveway.” I turned around to see her and was so thankful to hang up the phone and talk to her face to face. I kissed her on the head and apologized for becoming upset and she accepted. We walked into the house hand in hand.

It was a great reminder that true relationship, conversation, intimacy isn’t possible without personal contact. There’s a lot to say for computers, smartphones, social media and the many ways we can interact with others but nothing can replace face to face, eye to eye, skin to skin connection with another and I’m certain nothing ever will.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Conflict

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Conflict

I attended a webinar today discussing the topic of conflict. The main emphasis was conflict in the workplace but it could be applicable to many other situations.

The presenter shared the following story…a boss and an employee needed to talk about the amount of pay the employee was making and the amount of work the employee was putting in. In the boss’ opinion, the employee was overpaid. The conversation needed to happen but neither one wanted to have it. There was tension and suspicion from both parties. They went out to lunch and the way back to the office, walking on a street in a busy downtown city, the boss brought up the topic. “Boom!” The employee lost it as soon as the boss mentioned the subject and they both ended up yelling at each other while countless passerby’s watched in stunned silence.

The presenter, a conflict specilaist, was called in to try to get the two parties to resolve the conflict. She spent time with both the employee and the boss individually trying to understand their point of view. When she felt she had a grasp of who they were as people, what motivated them, why the argument happened, and how far both were willing to go for a fair settlement, she brought them together and they resolved their conflict.

Conflict with other people is going to happen. Each of us as individuals come from a unique natural and nurtured environment. We have different life experiences, preferences, sets of morals and values, fears, goals, strengths, weaknesses, ideas about life and what is and isn’t a part of it.

We forget too easily the other person is coming from a distinct place separate from us. It’s only when we take the time to get to know each other, build relationships, be willing to accept what we understand and don’t understand regarding the other that true intimacy and understanding can take place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Changing Course

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Changing Course –

Changing course is never easy. I was speaking with some men today and we were talking about our ability to make course corrections, live life in transition, embrace the transient nature of reality.

Even though I lecture on the changes that life is made up of, I am one who is not comfortable with transitions. Some people are; “go with the flow” kind of folks. I am a dam up the stream, stop and enjoy the view type of person! However, I also know that water becomes stagnant, contaminated, stale and useless.

Life isn’t made to be still which is why the stillness we seek needs to be deeper than what seems real on the surface. It is in the depths of our souls where peace and strength are found to handle and perhaps even enjoy the quick pace and fast changes life brings our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Calling Out

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Calling Out

This morning I woke before dawn and went into to the kitchen. Laying on his bed, not asleep but not fully awake, was our Siberian Husky, Trooper. Calling him, he slowly got up and followed me outside. I told him to go and do his business and he sauntered off. At first, I could see him as the first light of day was breaking but then he went over past my truck and I didn’t see him any longer. This isn’t unusual. I wait and when he’s finished he comes trotting back. However, this morning after a long while he still hadn’t returned. A few more minutes passed and I went looking around and didn’t see him at all! Calling out his name, hoping the not to wake up the neighbors, he came running from a field a neighbor owns and stood next to me. Along with taking care of business he also sniffs around sensing the other animals that have traipsed through the area overnight. I guess his nose took him to far off places but when his name was called he knew it was time to come back home.

In church this morning the message was from Gospel according to Saint Luke chapter 7:

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Saint John had spent his whole life preparing and then declaring Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah) who would set the people of God and the world right again. However, Jesus’ idea of Messiah and John’s, along with most of the other Jewish people, didn’t fit well. The above text describes Jesus’ Messiahship but John and God’s people expected a warrior king, a political figure, one who would sit on a throne and rule the known world from Jerusalem.

John, who’s in jail, tells his disciple to make sure Jesus was the Messiah. John wanted to make sure he didn’t miss something, was mistaken, had spent his life in futility. When his followers arrive they spend some time with Jesus and then call out to him; “John wants to know, are you the one?” Jesus tells them to report back to John all they had seen; blind eyes open, crippled people walking, diseases eradicated and the poor and needy given hope. In other words; “Yes!,’says Jesus; ‘I am the One. Not the One you were expecting but greater than you ever imagined.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Handle with Care

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Handle with Care

Today the Mrs. and I decided to reorganize the kitchen. We wanted to rid ourselves of extra cups, plates, tea brewers, cake molds and more. As a man who is married to a wonderful cook, I knew when we started I was on her turf. As I moved anything breakable a gorgeous pair of blues eyes watched me. There were times when I would bump coffee mugs, Lenox ware, and other fragile items and though I didn’t break them I could feel her cringe every time. We finally finished with what we could do together and she told me she would take care of the few remaining items. I am positive it was her not so subtle way of saying; “You’ve been in my space long enough!” I didn’t argue and told her if she needed me to say something. Not a word was uttered.

Honoring each other’s space is wise. Different people have different spaces but each should be entered and exited with care. I knew a minister who used to have a large personal space. When you’d go to shake his hand he would lock his arm and elbow and not let you get any closer to him. Recognizing that places and spaces are valuable to people allows you to add a layer of respect and makes a way for deeper, more intimate conversation and strong relationships.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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About the Journey

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About the Journey

As a Benedictine Oblate (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblate), I receive a monthly newsletter from the Archabbey I was adopted into; Saint Meinrad’s (http://www.saintmeinrad.org/). Last night I read the newsletter for February. The newsletter’s chosen subject was stability and faithfulness.  Included in it was a story; “The Worn Path,” by EudoraWelty.

The story is below but the point of it is missed by most. When Eudora Welty was asked if the grandmother was able to save her grandson with the medicine, she replied; “It doesn’t make any difference if the grandson is alive or dead because the story is about the journey.”  She went on to say that it is the force of the grandmother’s will and her willingness to face danger, hardship, setbacks and the longest of odds to journey to and from the doctor to procure the prescription. Her fidelity, faithfulness, and stability to see it through to the end no matter the outcome.

In our world getting what we want, when we want it, without waiting or struggling to achieve any real meaning in our lives is because there is no journey to travel, no roads to wander, no paths to navigate.

Too often we miss the point of living. It’s not arriving that makes it worth doing. It’s how we get to the end and beyond.

If you have the time, read the “The Worn Path” below. Reflect on it and be sure you’re in it for the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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It was December—a bright frozen day in the early morning. Far out in the country there was an old Negro woman with her head tied red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods. Her name was Phoenix Jackson. She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grand-father clock. She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her. This made a grave and persistent noise in the still air, that seemed meditative like the chirping of a solitary little bird.

She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her shoe tops, and an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks, with a full pocket: all neat and tidy, but every time she took a step she might have fallen over her shoelaces, which dragged from her unlaced shoes. She looked straight ahead. Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden color ran underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark. Under the red rag her hair came down on her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with an odor like copper.

Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenix said, “Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!. . . Keep out from under these feet, little bob-whites…. Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don’t let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way.” Under her small black-freckled hand her cane, limber as a buggy whip, would switch at the brush as if to rouse up any hiding things.

On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers. Down in the hollow was the mourning dove—it was not too late for him.

The path ran up a hill. “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far,” she said, in the voice of argument old people keep to use with themselves. “Something always take a hold of me on this hill— pleads I should stay.”

After she got to the top she turned and gave a full, severe look behind her where she had come. “Up through pines,” she said at length. “Now down through oaks.”

Her eyes opened their widest, and she started down gently. But before she got to the bottom of the hill a bush caught her dress.

Her fingers were busy and intent, but her skirts were full and long, so that before she could pull them free in one place they were caught in another. It was not possible to allow the dress to tear. “I in the thorny bush,” she said. “Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush.”

Finally, trembling all over, she stood free, and after a moment dared to stoop for her cane.

“Sun so high!” she cried, leaning back and looking, while the thick tears went over her eyes. “The time getting all gone here.”

At the foot of this hill was a place where a log was laid across the creek.

“Now comes the trial,” said Phoenix.

Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut her eyes. Lifting her skirt, leveling her cane fiercely before her, like a festival figure in some parade, she began to march across. Then she opened her eyes and she was safe on the other side.

“I wasn’t as old as I thought,” she said.

But she sat down to rest. She spread her skirts on the bank around her and folded her hands over her knees. Up above her was a tree in a pearly cloud of mistletoe. She did not dare to close her eyes, and when a little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble-cake on it she spoke to him. “That would be acceptable,” she said. But when she went to take it there was just her own hand in the air.

So she left that tree, and had to go through a barbed-wire fence. There she had to creep and crawl, spreading her knees and stretching her fingers like a baby trying to climb the steps. But she talked loudly to herself: she could not let her dress be torn now, so late in the day, and she could not pay for having her arm or her leg sawed off if she got caught fast where she was.

At last she was safe through the fence and risen up out in the clearing. Big dead trees, like black men with one arm, were standing in the purple stalks of the withered cotton field. There sat a buzzard.

“Who you watching?”

In the furrow she made her way along.

“Glad this not the season for bulls,” she said, looking sideways, “and the good Lord made his snakes to curl up and sleep in the winter. A pleasure I don’t see no two-headed snake coming around that tree, where it come once. It took a while to get by him, back in the summer.”

She passed through the old cotton and went into a field of dead corn. It whispered and shook and was taller than her head. “Through the maze now,” she said, for there was no path.

Then there was something tall, black, and skinny there, moving before her.

At first she took it for a man. It could have been a man dancing in the field. But she stood still and listened, and it did not make a sound. It was as silent as a ghost.

“Ghost,” she said sharply, “who be you the ghost of? For I have heard of nary death close by.”

But there was no answer–only the ragged dancing in the wind.

She shut her eyes, reached out her hand, and touched a sleeve. She found a coat and inside that an emptiness, cold as ice.

“You scarecrow,” she said. Her face lighted. “I ought to be shut up for good,” she said with laughter. “My senses is gone. I too old. I the oldest people I ever know. Dance, old scarecrow,” she said, “while I dancing with you.”

She kicked her foot over the furrow, and with mouth drawn down, shook her head once or twice in a little strutting way. Some husks blew down and whirled in streamers about her skirts.

Then she went on, parting her way from side to side with the cane, through the whispering field. At last she came to the end, to a wagon track where the silver grass blew between the red ruts. The quail were walking around like pullets, seeming all dainty and unseen.

“Walk pretty,” she said. “This the easy place. This the easy going.”

She followed the track, swaying through the quiet bare fields, through the little strings of trees silver in their dead leaves, past cabins silver from weather, with the doors and windows boarded shut, all like old women under a spell sitting there. “I walking in their sleep,” she said, nodding her head vigorously.

In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowing through a hollow log. Old Phoenix bent and drank. “Sweet-gum makes the water sweet,” she said, and drank more. “Nobody know who made this well, for it was here when I was born.”

The track crossed a swampy part where the moss hung as white as lace from every limb. “Sleep on, alligators, and blow your bubbles.” Then the track went into the road.

Deep, deep the road went down between the high green-colored banks. Overhead the live-oaks met, and it was as dark as a cave.

A black dog with a lolling tongue came up out of the weeds by the ditch. She was meditating, and not ready, and when he came at her she only hit him a little with her cane. Over she went in the ditch, like a little puff of milkweed.

Down there, her senses drifted away. A dream visited her, and she reached her hand up, but nothing reached down and gave her a pull. So she lay there and presently went to talking. “Old woman,” she said to herself, “that black dog come up out of the weeds to stall you off, and now there he sitting on his fine tail, smiling at you.”

A white man finally came along and found her—a hunter, a young man, with his dog on a chain.

“Well, Granny!” he laughed. “What are you doing there?”

“Lying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be fumed over, mister,” she said, reaching up her hand.

He lifted her up, gave her a swing in the air, and set her down. “Anything broken, Granny?”

“No sir, them old dead weeds is springy enough,” said Phoenix, when she had got her breath. “I thank you for your trouble.”

“Where do you live, Granny?” he asked, while the two dogs were growling at each other.

“Away back yonder, sir, behind the ridge. You can’t even see it from here.”

“On your way home?”

“No sir, I going to town.”

“Why, that’s too far! That’s as far as I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my trouble.” He patted the stuffed bag he carried, and there hung down a little closed claw. It was one of the bob-whites, with its beak hooked bitterly to show it was dead. “Now you go on home, Granny!”

“I bound to go to town, mister,” said Phoenix. “The time come around.”

He gave another laugh, filling the whole landscape. “I know you old colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus!”

But something held old Phoenix very still. The deep lines in her face went into a fierce and different radiation. Without warning, she had seen with her own eyes a flashing nickel fall out of the man’s pocket onto the ground.

“How old are you, Granny?” he was saying.

“There is no telling, mister,” she said, “no telling.”

Then she gave a little cry and clapped her hands and said, “Git on away from here, dog! Look! Look at that dog!” She laughed as if in admiration. “He ain’t scared of nobody. He a big black dog.” She whispered, “Sic him!”

“Watch me get rid of that cur,” said the man. “Sic him, Pete! Sic him!”

Phoenix heard the dogs fighting, and heard the man running and throwing sticks. She even heard a gunshot. But she was slowly bending forward by that time, further and further forward, the lids stretched down over her eyes, as if she were doing this in her sleep. Her chin was lowered almost to her knees. The yellow palm of her hand came out from the fold of her apron. Her fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money with the grace and care they would have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen. Then she slowly straightened up, she stood erect, and the nickel was in her apron pocket. A bird flew by. Her lips moved. “God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing.”

The man came back, and his own dog panted about them. “Well, I scared him off that time,” he said, and then he laughed and lifted his gun and pointed it at Phoenix.

She stood straight and faced him.

“Doesn’t the gun scare you?” he said, still pointing it.

“No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done,” she said, holding utterly still.

He smiled, and shouldered the gun. “Well, Granny,” he said, “you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing. I’d give you a dime if I had any money with me. But you take my advice and stay home, and nothing will happen to you.”

“I bound to go on my way, mister,” said Phoenix. She inclined her head in the red rag. Then they went in different directions, but she could hear the gun shooting again and again over the hill.

She walked on. The shadows hung from the oak trees to the road like curtains. Then she smelled wood-smoke, and smelled the river, and she saw a steeple and the cabins on their steep steps. Dozens of little black children whirled around her. There ahead was Natchez shining. Bells were ringing. She walked on.

In the paved city it was Christmas time. There were red and green electric lights strung and crisscrossed everywhere, and all turned on in the daytime. Old Phoenix would have been lost if she had not distrusted her eyesight and depended on her feet to know where to take her.

She paused quietly on the sidewalk where people were passing by. A lady came along in the crowd, carrying an armful of red-, green- and silver-wrapped presents; she gave off perfume like the red roses in hot summer, and Phoenix stopped her.

“Please, missy, will you lace up my shoe?” She held up her foot.

“What do you want, Grandma?”

“See my shoe,” said Phoenix. “Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn’t look right to go in a big building.” “Stand still then, Grandma,” said the lady. She put her packages down on the sidewalk beside her and laced and tied both shoes tightly.

“Can’t lace ’em with a cane,” said Phoenix. “Thank you, missy. I doesn’t mind asking a nice lady to tie up my shoe, when I gets out on the street.”

Moving slowly and from side to side, she went into the big building, and into a tower of steps, where she walked up and around and around until her feet knew to stop.

She entered a door, and there she saw nailed up on the wall the document that had been stamped with the gold seal and framed in the gold frame, which matched the dream that was hung up in her head.

“Here I be,” she said. There was a fixed and ceremonial stiffness over her body.

“A charity case, I suppose,” said an attendant who sat at the desk before her.

But Phoenix only looked above her head. There was sweat on her face, the wrinkles in her skin shone like a bright net.

“Speak up, Grandma,” the woman said. “What’s your name? We must have your history, you know. Have you been here before? What seems to be the trouble with you?”

Old Phoenix only gave a twitch to her face as if a fly were bothering her.

“Are you deaf?” cried the attendant.

But then the nurse came in.

“Oh, that’s just old Aunt Phoenix,” she said. “She doesn’t come for herself—she has a little grandson. She makes these trips just as regular as clockwork. She lives away back off the Old Natchez Trace.” She bent down. “Well, Aunt Phoenix, why don’t you just take a seat? We won’t keep you standing after your long trip.” She pointed.

The old woman sat down, bolt upright in the chair.

“Now, how is the boy?” asked the nurse.

Old Phoenix did not speak.

“I said, how is the boy?”

But Phoenix only waited and stared straight ahead, her face very solemn and withdrawn into rigidity.

“Is his throat any better?” asked the nurse. “Aunt Phoenix, don’t you hear me? Is your grandson’s throat any better since the last time you came for the medicine?”

With her hands on her knees, the old woman waited, silent, erect and motionless, just as if she were in armor.

“You mustn’t take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix,” the nurse said. “Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get it over. He isn’t dead, is he?’

At last there came a flicker and then a flame of comprehension across her face, and she spoke.

“My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip.”

“Forgot?” The nurse frowned. “After you came so far?”

Then Phoenix was like an old woman begging a dignified forgiveness for waking up frightened in the night. “I never did go to school, I was too old at the Surrender,” she said in a soft voice. “I’m an old woman without an education. It was my memory fail me. My little grandson, he is just the same, and I forgot it in the coming.”

“Throat never heals, does it?” said the nurse, speaking in a loud, sure voice to old Phoenix. By now she had a card with something written on it, a little list. “Yes. Swallowed lye. When was it?—January—two, three years ago—”

Phoenix spoke unasked now. “No, missy, he not dead, he just the same. Every little while his throat begin to close up again, and he not able to swallow. He not get his breath. He not able to help himself. So the time come around, and I go on another trip for the soothing medicine.”

“All right. The doctor said as long as you came to get it, you could have it,” said the nurse. “But it’s an obstinate case.”

“My little grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up, waiting by himself,” Phoenix went on. “We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don’t seem to put him back at all. He got a sweet look. He going to last. He wear a little patch quilt and peep out holding his mouth open like a little bird. I remembers so plain now. I not going to forget him again, no, the whole enduring time. I could tell him from all the others in creation.”

“All right.” The nurse was trying to hush her now. She brought her a bottle of medicine. “Charity,” she said, making a check mark in a book.

Old Phoenix held the bottle close to her eyes, and then carefully put it into her pocket.

“I thank you,” she said.

“It’s Christmas time, Grandma,” said the attendant. “Could I give you a few pennies out of my purse?”

“Five pennies is a nickel,” said Phoenix stiffly.

“Here’s a nickel,” said the attendant.

Phoenix rose carefully and held out her hand. She received the nickel and then fished the other nickel out of her pocket and laid it beside the new one. She stared at her palm closely, with her head on one side.

Then she gave a tap with her cane on the floor.

“This is what come to me to do,” she said. “I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world. I’ll march myself back where he waiting, holding it straight up in this hand.”

She lifted her free hand, gave a little nod, turned around, and walked out of the doctor’s office. Then her slow step began on the stairs, going down.

 

Random Thoughts

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Random Thoughts

I am sitting on the couch waiting for a stranger to come and spray something that apparently kills bugs and keeps them out of the house. It’s amazing to me the trust we place in things we are used to and unable to trust others which we’re told will help us, improve us, make us healthier, live longer, etc.

A woman on a counseling webinar I was listening to today said; “It is our response, thoughts, about an experience that shapes our understanding of an event, not the event itself.” It was very Zen and has rattled around in my head all day.

Before my Incarcerated Father’s class last night the guys and I were talking about our day and during the conversation I asked what they had for dinner. They told me pizza and when I inquired what brand they said; “It’s the same type you get served when you’re in grade and high school.” Then one of them piped up; “We ate good tonight!” and the rest of the class agreed. It’s amazing how your circumstances impact the way you measure good and bad, positive and negative, tasty and not so much. Another reminder that I, and you?, take way too much for granted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Improving Upon Silence?

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Improving Upon Silence?

A couple of weeks ago I tried having a conversation with a man who wouldn’t stop yelling. His rant was about everything and nothing. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get him to listen, to move beyond his tantrum and into a dialogue. When his hour was up I wished him well but wasn’t sure the session did anyone, including myself, any good.

Tonight in our Incarcerated Father’s class I spoke to the participants about moving beyond anger and into a productive exchange with others. The steps are; respect for the other, listen to the other, be open to constructive criticism and have the self-awareness to know or hear what needs to change in your life and respond positively.

As I reflected on the lesson I thought about the man from a few weeks ago, my Facebook feed over the last several months, protest marches, inaugurations, and too many other instances where people are yelling, complaining, talking incessantly and rarely, if ever, shutting up.

Silence is in short supply these days. If someone doesn’t stop yacking and start listening soon things are only going to get worse.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blow it Out

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Blow it Out

I am sitting in the living room waiting for a plumber. We have an issue with the plumbing and have tried everything we know to alleviate the problem. However, try as we might, whatever’s holding things up is beyond our capabilities (which isn’t saying much!).

So, a phone call, an appointment made and now we wait. We’re relatively sure it’s a clog and hoping he’ll find what’s stopping the works, blow it out-of-the-way with water or air and we’ll be good to go.

As I listen for the sound of a vehicle pulling down our driveway I’m reflecting on the need for my own pipes to be blown out at times. One of the reasons I go to therapy is so my mind, emotions and spirit can be cleaned out. Friends, mentors, sponsors, pastors and other trusted folk can also make good cleaners.

The truth is there are times we need to be unclogged so life and our souls can flow freely. If we’re unable or unwilling to be available and vulnerable for a good cleaning we can find ourselves flooded, polluted and unable to flow freely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Last Drop

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The Last Drop

Yesterday morning while sitting in the worship center and listening to the pastor preach I noticed a man probably in his mid-thirties drinking a bottle of Code Red Mountain Dew. That wouldn’t be my drink of choice but it might have more of a kick than my morning cup of Joe. He finished it, placed the cap back on the seemingly empty bottle and I turned my attention back to the preacher. However, it wasn’t long before my focus was back on this man as he began staring at the bottle in his hands. He brought it close to his face, began tapping on the bottom and working his way down the bottle. I had no idea what he was doing until he finally got to the upside down cap. He tapped a few more times, opened the bottle, put the cap to his lips, turned it up and drank every last drop of that Code Red Mountain Dew.

It was surprising to see someone so intent on being sure he got out of that bottle as much as he possibly could. However, the more I thought about it the more impressed I became with the man’s commitment to his drink. Too often we only use half of what we acquire, are quick to discard what’s old for the latest model, throw away, misuse, and take most things for granted.

What if we, like the man yesterday, decided we would wring out every drop of life? What if we didn’t give up? What would the world be like if the blessings and goodness that surrounds us all were appreciated in all their beauty? I’d like to think we’d take better care of the planet and each other.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What You Always Do

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What You Always Do

This morning the Mrs. popped a hash-brown type frozen breakfast into the microwave. I knew she’d want ketchup so I got some out of the refrigerator and shook it up. She saw me do this, yet when I handed her the bottle before she put any on her plate, she shook it up again. I asked her; “Why’d you shake it when you saw me do it?” “It’s what I always do” she replied. She sat down and ate her breakfast and somehow the topic of praying before your meal, saying; “Grace or blessing” came up. Both of us shared which family members did and didn’t pray before each meal and whether or not their kids continued the discipline as they got older, were passing the practice along.

Wisdom tells us to acquire a habit it must be repeated. We must be conditioned to start and maintain a way of doing things. One of the truths I share with my clients is; “If you do what you always do, you get what you always get. However, if you choose to do it differently you open yourself up to a whole new world and the possibility of being a new person.” A good reminder for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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P.O.S’s

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P.O.S.’s

Beth and I spent most of the day taking care of P.O.B’s (Piles of Beth or Brian). It’s those ever-increasing places at home that seem to collect stuff we put down when we come in the door, lay down when our hands are full, place somewhere; “only for a moment.” However, before you know it a couple of months have gone by and we’ve continued to add, never subtract, from the piles and they seem to take over the house. So today we began tackling them, going through, getting rid of what’s now not needed, putting up what is actually still useful in our lives.

As we worked from room to room we also talked about things which we could’ve conversed about weeks ago but hadn’t. We teased each other, laughed and broached topics that were sensitive and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable, not defensive.

Wisdom tells us that our lives can quickly become P.O.S.’s (piles of stuff). They fill our minds and lives, clutter our spirits and if we’re not diligent, suffocate the light by which we navigate. It’s not easy to sort through the messes but living with the chaos proves much harder the longer we try and exist in the junk and confusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Two Things at Once

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Two Things at Once

I am working on a project that requires two people. There is only one person home today, me. I tried doing it by myself, holding it just right, balancing it just so, tying it off, everything I could think of and no matter what I couldn’t do it alone.

I reflected on the project after I gave up and wondered if there are times things require two people to remind us how much we need each other. I heard someone use the word; “collectivism” this week. In their minds it was a bad thing and that our communities, nation, and the world had been convinced that we can no longer do great things alone. For him, it was a weakness that should be destroyed.

I don’t agree. To need each other is not weakness but strength. It means we have the intelligence to know we cannot do all things singularly and the humility to ask for help. Perhaps, if we had more of both our world wouldn’t be in such dire need today.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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