Category Archives: Contemplative

Warmth

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Warmth

The struggle is real! This morning it was 7 degrees outside. 7! Being Sunday this morning also means community worship at church. The blankets pulled up as I sat on the couch, the heating pad on high, a cup of coffee and the thought; “It’s too cold to go anywhere!” was running through my mind.

Beth, however, got up, began to get ready and this meant; “Up and at em!” So, on this frigid morn, we made our way over still partially snow-covered roads to church. We were running a little late but as we walked into the sanctuary we were right on time for communion. The pastor was quoting the familiar phrases and verses to prepare our souls for this sacred moment as we found our seats.

The elements (small pieces of unleavened bread and grape juice) were passed around to everyone and together we celebrated the; “The Lord’s Supper.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist).” As we digested the tiny morsel of bread and the taste of the grape juice was dancing on my tongue I felt, as John Wesley famously said; “My heart strangely warmed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldersgate_Day)” and was thankful to be among the people of God this cold, wintry morning.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Cycle

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The Cycle

I thought of someone today, a person I haven’t thought about in a long while. It was a song that stoked images, feelings, pain and regret. It’s been years since we’ve laid eyes upon each other and both of us have moved on but it is amazing how quick hurts begin to ache, old wounds begin to bleed, prejudices come out of the dark. After the song was finished, the emotions faded too and the rest of the day was typical.

Wisdom teaches us that forgiveness isn’t a one-time act, a single recitation of a phrase. Forgiveness is an ongoing process that takes years, perhaps even a lifetime. Forgiving the other is to also recognize our own injured ego, the part of us that still longs for revenge or recompense. When we forgive, especially those who have grievously mistreated us is not just accepting and then letting go what was done to us but recognizing and releasing what were still holding on to.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Little Quieter

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A Little Quieter

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a bed in our living room. When Beth and I are sitting watching the television or messing with tablets or the laptop most of the time he is the room with us. We haven’t always had a bed for him here but after we had to put Belle, our Golden Retriever, down we knew he would need some extra attention. Everything has worked out fine until the last couple of months. For some reason, he has become extra sensitive to noises coming from the TV. Explosions, gunfire, yelling or loud music in a movie rattles him and he begins to get up and wander around the living room. We’ve tried turning down the sound on the television as much as we can and this helps. We’ll also watch a documentary where there is mostly talking and this works. However, any type of movie or show with startling noises and/or blaring musical score and he gets up and we tell him to get back on his bed and this scenario is repeated until finally one of us takes him into the kitchen.

I was thinking about him today, this behavior which has developed, and decided maybe he’s not the one with the issues. When I think of 2016, the year which has passed, I think of noise. Most of it came as a result of the political season and the candidates, the talking heads on television and radio, the choosing of sides by almost everyone and a cacophony of opinions, predictions, debates between candidates and their followers, accusations, lies and boisterous babel that still hasn’t stopped.

I’ve decided, like our dog Trooper, I want a quieter 2017. Please…and world peace would also be acceptable.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Nipping At Our Heels

Nipping At Our Heels

Monday I watched the documentary; “Weiner.”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTpnBDu6Y6Q) It is the story of Anthony Weiner’s rise and fall on the political landscape not once, but twice, both times because of a sexting scandal. Anthony Weiner is a flawed character that could come straight from a Greek Tragedy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_tragedy).  The sexting wouldn’t work but the narcissism, short-sightedness, being your own worst enemy, destroying everyone and everything you love, certainly would make a fitting template.

The question I came away from the documentary is; “Why?” Why would a person who is obviously charismatic, appears to care for the people of his community, is by all accounts a decent person, except of course the giant gorilla in the room…his addiction to receiving attention no matter the damage, and there’s the answer.

SPOILER ALERT

In the end, it cost him the mayoral race of New York, his reputation (again), his marriage and his child. He’s now a television mercenary, for hire to anyone who’ll interview him, put him on a TV show panel, feed his need to be in the spotlight.

Wisdom teaches us the demons of pride, envy, wrath, gluttony (the insatiable want of things), lust, sloth (laziness), and greed are always nipping at our heels waiting for us to think we’re invincible, can control them to sink their teeth into our soul and destroy us and everything we love, hold dear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Uncontrollable Words

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Uncontrollable Words –

The other day I was cornered by someone who felt they needed to tell me something…actually, it was a lot of somethings. This person kept going on and on and on. I could literally feel myself wearing down from all the words, phrases that were being thrown my way. We weren’t communicating. I was doing my best to listen at first but after a while, I noticed they were just throwing words at me hoping something would stick. I was wrestling with which would be better; sticking my fingers in my ear while chanting; “La, la, la, la.” Grabbing a passerby and introducing the person to them hoping their focus would shift and I could sneak away or just making a break for it, running and seeing if they would pursue.

I was speaking, communicating, with another person last week about the art of talking and listening to another person. Wisdom tells us that true conversation is a sacred act. Meeting someone new, hearing secrets, weaknesses, dreams, memories, connecting on a deeper level requires not just words and phrases but silence and pauses. We allow the other’s being to be revealed and we share our own. This can’t be done if we never take a breath, if we are only wanting to be heard not also wanting to hear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Attention Span

Attention Span

Beth and I spent some time in our second home today, also known as Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. We needed some wood, a screen door and some other odds and ends. We filled our cart up and then headed to the garden section. We made our way down the aisle leading to outside there was a young mother, her baby and what I assumed was the grandmother. The eldest woman was holding a cup of coffee while the mom spoon fed the little one. They had to move out of the center of the aisle as we passed and something on our cart caught the grandmother’s attention. As she stared, the mom handed her the baby food container and as she grabbed it, still staring at our cart, the coffee cup slipped out of her hand and splashed on the floor. I couldn’t quite make out the expletive that escaped from her lips but the momentary frustration was soon followed by laughter from both the women.

I smiled at the situation because it seemed like something which would happen to me. It also caused me to reflect on the wisdom lessons of embracing what’s important, being fully present in the moment, not distracted by shiny things, and allowing things which aren’t necessary to slip through our grasp.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Genuine Voice

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Genuine Voice

This morning I walked outside and across the road, in a large field, was a herd of cattle. Straggling behind was a small calf seemingly looking for its mother. I cupped my hands around my mouth and gave my best and loudest; “Mooooooo!” The calf stopped and looked over in my direction and; “Moooed!” back. Before I could return the moo, another adult cow, possibly mom, mooed and grabbed the calf’s attention. I took a deep breath and; “Moooed” one more time but the calf was no longer paying attention to me. It had heard the genuine call, its mother’s voice, and I was a poor substitute not worth the time or effort.

Wisdom teaches us that there are many voices calling out to us, pulling us in several directions, seeking to confuse us, lead us away from peace and guidance. To know the genuine voice, the one which will lead us in love toward our purpose is vital if we are to follow the good path, the way we should go. This comes from a relationship with the One to whom the voice belongs. The voice of truth wants to lead us but hearing it, knowing it, recognizing it, only comes through our connection with the divine.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Shhhhh

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Shhhhh…

What does it mean to listen?

I had a conversation with a gentleman today about what it means to truly hear another person, to listen intently, empathetically, contemplatively. It’s not an easy discipline to master. To hear another, to touch their true selves takes practice and no small amount of humility.

Most of the time when we are conversing with another person we are simultaneously thinking about what we are going to say in response and filtering what the other is saying through our own life filter.  In other words, we hear according to who we are not the person speaking to us. If we desire to listen, hear the other person speak, feel their words, the emotions behind them we must be a blank paper that they can write upon.

We live in a world where listening is quickly becoming a lost art, a forgotten discipline. To listen to someone is to make a bond, join together, connect on a deeper level than all the drivel which inundates our lives through TV, radio, internet, social media each day.

Contemplative listening is letting a person speak their words, to have them imprinted upon us, without a ready response or hasty judgement. It is to touch the soul of the other and know that neither will be the same afterwards.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Easy

Not Easy

I sat on a stiff wooden pew this morning, in a small Lutheran church, among a few committed Christ followers. The pastor, an elderly gentleman who’s been filling in as the church searches for a new, permanent pastor, pulled double duty this morning playing the piano at the back of the sanctuary and leading prayer and preaching at the front.

As he began his message this morning I could tell he was a bit out of sorts with going back and forward between the piano and the pulpit. After a few moments, he got himself sorted and began to speak regarding the difficulty of being a faith walker in our world today. His words were seasoned with those of a long time follower. He spoke about how life, living out our faith, is tough. Period. There are many questions and confusing cultural conundrums that exist. There’s a lot of pain and suffering and knowing how to handle some, certainly all of them, is hard if not impossible.

His answer was simple; “be like Christ.” There wasn’t any lamenting about; “the good ol’ days” or how the new generation of faith walkers doesn’t have what it takes. His point was that it has always been a strenuous, at times; exhausting journey to travel the path of Jesus. There were no 10 steps to a stronger faith, an acronym to remember when you’re discouraged, a conference one should attend, a book to read that’ll explain everything. Nope. A man who has many more years behind him than ahead telling folks it was okay to struggle, to feel drained, to not have nearly all the answers, to keep the faith of those who’ve walked before us; “Again, to be like Jesus.”

For me, someone who seems to know less and less about everything as the years pass by increasingly fast, it was a needed and hopefully heeded message.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We’re Going 


Where We’re Going

Last week, when I mowed the grass, there was a lot of dust, a few weed patches and sometimes it was hard to look and tell what I had cut and what I hadn’t. This past week we’ve had a good bit of rain and the grass grew quickly. When I mowed the back yard today I could tell where I’d been and needed to go.

A couple of days ago I heard an 80’s song which reminded me of a friend I had in high school. This friend had done something which hurt me and we were never the same after the event. As I listened to the song I realized there was no more pain just regret at two young people who didn’t know how to get over thoughtless actions and adolescent feelings of rejection.

As I cut the grass this afternoon I reflected on both of these and was thankful for emotional and natural growth.

Too often we think knowing the future would be the greatest of intellectual gifts. However, wisdom teaches us that knowing and learning from where we’ve been gives us a better view of where we’re going. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good and Bad

Good and Bad

Earlier this week a link to an old style entertainment wrestling video appeared in my Facebook feed. I recognized the wrestler and I admit succumbing to the temptation to click on the link. Watching it I was taken back to my childhood and enjoying these entertainment wrestling shows. My parents weren’t fans so my brother and I made sure they weren’t aware of what we were filling our brains with on the boom tube.

These wrestlers were incredible. They wore flashy clothes, had muscles everywhere, took a beating, kept on going and most of the time the good guy won the match. One of the reasons I liked wrestling as a kid was because you knew who the good and bad guys were by the way the dressed, talked, wrestled (good guys never cheated) and behaved in and outside of the ring. As a kid these were real life heroes and villains fighting for right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice every Saturday. Back then I didn’t know it was a lot more entertainment than wrestling. As I grew up I came to realize it was athletic acting, a male dominated, sports soap opera.

Someone asked me a few days ago who they should vote for in the upcoming presidential race. “Both candidates have tremendous flaws! As a Christian, how should we vote?” I shook my head and simply said; “I think you should pray.” “About who to vote for?” they asked. “No,’ I replied, ‘I’m not sure as a Christian you can, with a Holy conscience, vote for either one. But you can pray.”

The older I get the harder to tell who the good and bad people are anymore. Our world is so full of mixed signals, compromise and confusion. I don’t think its going to get any better. Prayer, humility, serenity of spirit is what it takes to survive and hope in times and seasons such as these.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not so Fast

Not so Fast

Liturgy is one of my favorite parts of worship. I like the rhythm, the movement, the flow of a service. Contemporary worship, for me, is lacking this undertone of structure and meaning. Yesterday, I wrote about a gentleman in a “Declaration of Independence” shirt   (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/03/what-are-we/), but it wasn’t the only thing trying to disrupt the rhythm of the service.

When scriptures, creeds, prayers and responsories are being read/said, I like to utter them slowly. I want to soak in the words, hear them in my heart, let them resonate with my spirit. However, behind me in service yesterday, was a woman who spoke loudly and quickly. She was often ahead of the priest as he was leading the congregants. It was almost as if she was in a race to see who would finish reading first. Because of her hurry and volume I found myself distracted and was having difficulty allowing the words to make their way past the surface. With frustration rising, I took a deep breath and did my best to let her pace not dictate my own. I focused on my breath, the words on the screen and allowed the voice of rushing, haste and swiftness to fade. It wasn’t gone but also wasn’t imposing its pace upon me.

On my was home I reflected upon the woman’s rapidity and how easily it is to allow the speed of others to set the tempo for our lives. It’s a difficult discipline to learn; to live slowly, purposefully at a speed where we revel in and soak up each moment. Every breath and experience can be worship if we’re willing to resist the rush, find the rhythm which leads to harmony, balance and peace.

“The wise person can find the whole universe in a single drop of rain.” #wisdom #proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What are We?

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What are We?

This morning I walked into a sanctuary, on this 4th of July weekend, with this shirt staring me in the face. On the back of it was written the Declaration of Independence  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence). I found it odd to be wearing this shirt in church but understand that being a Christian and an American go hand in hand for a large number of people. I often wonder which one folks would choose if the choice was forced upon them.

I focused my attention on the words being sung, the scripture being read, the prayers being recited. The final hymn we sang was one I had never heard before but the lyrics moved my spirit. It was entitled; “Lord of all nations, Grant me Grace.”

1 Lord of all nations, grant me grace To love all men of every race And in each fellow-man to see My brother, loved, redeemed by thee.

2 Break down the wall that would divide Thy children, Lord, on every side. Let me seek my neighbor’s good In bonds of Christian brotherhood.

3 Forgive me, Lord, where I have erred By loveless act and thoughtless word. Make me to see the wrong I do Will crucify my Lord anew.

4 Give me thy courage, Lord, to speak Whenever strong oppress the weak. Should I myself the victim be, Help me forgive, remembering thee.

As we lifted up this song my attention was once again drawn to the man wearing the Declaration of Independence shirt. It seems our country is run by two things; hate for those who disagree with us and fear of those different from us.

The song asks the “Lord of all nations” to allow us a heart big enough to love all people, to see them as our brothers and sisters. At a time where many are wanting walls built this song asks God to break down the wall that would force God’s children to choose sides. It challenges us to reach out to our neighbor regardless of race, color, creed or political preference. If we fail to do this we are to ask forgiveness for acts and words that do not espouse “God’s love.” We are also challenged to have courage when we are oppressed or when we find ourselves on the side of the oppressors, asking forgiveness and speaking God’s truth to power.

I wonder how many would wear a shirt with the words to this hymn imprinted on them as the man wore his shirt today. I also reflected on our nation, its claimed Christian heritage, and how we have lost our way.

blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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in the Moment

in the Moment

Yesterday, while watering flowers, a beautiful bright green Dragonfly  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly) landed on the wrist of my left hand. I froze! My first thought was; “Awesome!” My second thought was; “Do Dragonflies bite?” The third was; “This’ll make a great Instagram photo!” I slowly began to walk toward my phone which was about a hundred feet away. I tried not move my arm or scare the insect in any way. Finally, I got to the phone, gently leaned over to pick it up, turned it on, entered the lock screen code and pressed the Instagram icon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram). It opened but at the same time the Dragonfly decided it would leave and fluttered away. “No!” I screamed. “Sigh.” So close.

It was an exasperating reminder that no moment can be taken for granted nor forced to last longer than what is intended. Instead of worrying about taking a picture, sharing the photo for “likes” and “comments” I should have simply enjoyed the Dragonfly sitting on my wrist and the bliss of the unique moment. In wanting to capture it I lost the joy of it happening and felt the corresponding disappointment of the moment fly away, slip through my fingers.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Almost There

Almost There

April showers might bring May flowers but very little rain in May might not be a good sign for the rest of the summer.

Yesterday evening the Mrs. and I were outside looking at the skies hoping for rain. It was cloudy, gray and looked promising. As we watched it began to rain on a field across the street. We stood and watched the rain so tantalizingly close but seemingly not moving our way. “Come on!” I yelled, not sure if rain had ears but willing to take a chance. After what felt like forever the drops of rain began to move across the field and toward our house. Slowly, steadily we watched it soak the street, the driveway and then it began pouring all over the yard. It was wonderful! (If I had known yelling at rain would make it come to me, I’d have done it sooner.)

Life can be this way at times. We enter a season of dryness when our spirits and emotions are barren. We search for renewal and restoration and may even feel they are incredibly close but nothing seems to happen. We shout at the heavens pleading for the rejuvenation we so desperately need. Wisdom teaches us that in time, and on time, revitalization will come. It cannot be forced or coerced but if we are willing to accept, what is beyond our power to control, we will be strengthened and enlightened when the moment and our path are in sync with our need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Setbacks

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Out of nowhere they come. Like an assassin’s bullet or blade. Unexpected, unwanted and overwhelming. Moments, seasons which reveal our most painful weaknesses, deepest struggles, greatest need and darkest secrets.

The path of life is never easy nor allows us to become too comfortable. Setbacks, those sections of the journey where our way seems blocked, progress grinds to a halt, backwards the only direction, retracing our steps, navigating through places we thought we’d left permanently behind.

Setbacks. Getting stuck. Walking in circles. The journey of life can drain us of our purpose and passion. We wonder how long we’ll wander, why the journey must be this difficult, if it’s worth the struggle, why we wrestle with the same demons and obstacles so often.

A favorite wisdom quote, and comfort, when the way is hard and setbacks many;

The obstacles (setbacks) in your way are your path to freedom.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Desire to Please

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This morning I was talking with someone about the lack of follow through in certain disciplines which accompany our religious faith. The basic question was; “I try to pray and read the Bible but sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My mind wanders, I become distracted by the day’s worries. Have I disappointed God?”

I shared the story of my friend Mary who passed away a couple years ago. She’s what many would call a; “Prayer Warrior.” However, toward the end of her life, when praying at night, she would often fall asleep. This brought her intense guilt and she confessed it to me one day. I smiled and told her not to feel ashamed; “What better way to end your day then being held by the Father as you whisper your cares and love into His ear?

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, says in part; “I may not know always how to please you my Lord, but let my wanting to please you, please you.”

Blessings ,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Comfortable or Contentment

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What’s the difference between comfortable and contentment?  Is there a difference? I was part of a conversation this morning and when I said; “comfortable” the person I was speaking to didn’t like the word choice so I asked; “Is ‘contentment’ better?” and she said; “yes.”

Since the conversation I’ve been reflecting on the two words and the meaning we associate with both. Comfortable, for me, is to be at rest, not striving but satisfied with life or certain circumstances.
Contentment is to be accepting, non-judgemental, allowing life and events to unfold with a deep trust the path will lead us in the best direction for our lives.

As I look at my understanding of the two words I believe I would rather be content than live in comfort.  Being content I can still rest in acceptance, not see life as a competition and be satisfied in all things and seasons.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Equals

This morning, Beth and I celebrated Easter Sunday with our brothers and sisters at a small Lutheran church. I have enjoyed being a part of this intimate faith community several times over the last eighteen months. However, this is Easter Sunday and there were many more people than on an average Sunday. We found our seat and soon there were two women who occupied the wooden pew (another reason I like the church) in front of us. It didn’t take me long to notice them noticing others who walked in and found a space to sit with their families. A mom, whose hair was the color of a red came in and the two women looked at her and then each other. Another family with two rambunctious kids sat down and the two women again caught each other’s eye. Throughout the service they would look at each other and smile a slight grin. I wondered what they were thinking and if their glances signaled judgement, curiosity, or something entirely different.

At the end of the service everyone was invited to the front and receive the communion elements of bread (a symbol of Christ’s body) and wine (a symbol of Christ’s blood). We were sitting in the back and able to watch as others partook of the Eucharist. Everyone kneeled in front of the cross. All were equal. Moms with red hair, kids who had a hard time sitting for long periods of time, elderly and young, those in their new Easter outfits, those wearing shorts and sweat pants and two women. None were greater or less but all in a position of humility at the feet of the One Master.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Journey Within

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One of the most difficult parts of our journey is coming to grips with the damage inflicted upon our lives and the lives of others by our own ego. The persistent pursuit of what we want, what we desire, what we demand lays waste to even the noblest of intentions.

Self awareness can be a terrible discipline. It forces us to admit, confess, come to grips and try to tame our worst habits, fantasies and demons. Seeing who we are, what we’re capable of and the lengths we’ll go to try and re-make others and the world in our own image is frightening, humiliating and humbling. However, only when we acknowledge the monster within can it be conquered, tamed and transformed.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Feasting on the Wind

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I heard someone today say; “All they’re doing is feasting on the wind.” That I can remember, its the first time I had heard this particular saying. I like it, a lot. Its powerful imagery. The wind comes in many forms. From summer breezes to tornadoes, limbs lightly swaying to hurricanes, wind can tickle our ears or tear apart our worlds.

As I reflected on it, a picture materialized in my mind of someone, on a hill, mouth open trying to catch as much wind as possible, swallowing hard and then repeating. However, no matter the effort they remained empty, void. You can’t feast on the wind. I then thought about our desire for control, power and recognition. These are indeed powerful forces and many chase after them assured they will satisfy. Instead we’re left empty, starved and still searching for that which will satiate our deepest hunger.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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