Category Archives: Contemplative

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Might Be

Might Be

One of the greatest senses we can develop is that of self-awareness. It’s the discipline of being able to look into an existential mirror and see who we really are, no delusion or illusion. We can see ourselves, the good and the not so good, discover what we do well and what needs to be improved.

Most live in a constant state of denial of who they are and/or who they should be. They allow others, culture, reputation, ego, the false self to define them. If we are not self-aware the world has a limitless number of fake identities to slap on us. If we aren’t careful we can settle for these alter-egos and never take off the masks too many wear for a lifetime.

Letting go of who we’ve always thought we should be isn’t easy. There is pain involved on the journey of self-discovery. However, if we dare, the challenges and difficulties can be overcome, the illusions and delusions shattered, and we become what most dare not hope for; at peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Second Gaze

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The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr

The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.

Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

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Power

The lists have already started airing on television, showing up in online news outlets, heard on the radio. The top 10 newsmakers, personalities, sports icons, movie actors, deaths of the last year.

Most of the lists are silly and arbitrary but one usually grabs my attention. It is the lists of famous people who have passed away. I usually have forgotten the ones which happened earlier in the year. I listen to these lists and think about the people who society has lost, reflect upon how quickly life fades and wonder how these deceased became famous, powerful in whatever sphere they existed.

Deep in the heart of every person, there is the power to become whatever they want to be, given the right circumstances, and the combination of luck and perseverance. There is a commercial running on TV where a music mogul is shown being the success that he has made of his life and holding his baby boy at the end telling him; “You’re the boss! You’re the bomb! You’re the don!” In other words, the world is at this kid’s fingertips, it’s here for the taking.

Our society tells us we can be anything we set our minds to, fulfill our heart’s desire, and everything is equal. There is no higher calling. Being a politician, a famous actor or singer, a sports star, or countless other professions in which a person might find worldly success are all the ultimate good.

However, I wonder where are the mystics, the poets, the artists, the rebels, those who don’t desire the allure of the world but embrace another desire, dream? These folk aren’t usually the ones who are famous enough to make top 10 lists or are remembered after their passing but they’re also the ones who don’t care.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change Myself

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Change Myself

The older I get the less knowledge and wisdom I think I possess. They say the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is two-fold; fearing God and knowing you know nothing. As each year passes the second part seems to get easier.

There was a time when I believed I knew much. Not just about myself but also about others. I could perceive motives both inward and outward, judge with impunity, and thought myself better and more able to live a life pleasing to God and myself than most other people. Then, I began to grow up.

The word growing brings with it a sense of serenity but growing is painful. It is bursting through old barriers, going places that are uncomfortable and unknown, daring to die in order to live, braving the challenges and elements that surround you.

With growth comes the realization you cannot force others to change. You do not have that power. You cannot stop the world from spinning out of control. You don’t have that ability. You can’t even get past your own hurts, habits, and hangups most days. You, I, am a perfect example of imperfection.

Wisdom and knowledge. They are as different as night and day but compliment each other when embraced and allowed to exist mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact, please you.”
#ThomasMerton

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Know

to Know

A story is told that one day Saint Mother Teresa was asked by a seeker how to find and see God. After a moment of thought, Sister Teresa responded; “You will find God when you can see Him in each next person you meet.” In other words, when a person realizes God indwells in his creation and the love we have for God should be reflected in all he has created.

I am reminded of this story, and wisdom lesson, when someone is getting on my nerves, bugs me just because of who they are, or seems to do everything wrong or not the way I think it should be done. “Do you see God in…?” It’s a powerful reminder that the way we see, treat and judge others is a reflection of our own heart and our relationship with God.

To know someone, to love them is to know and love God.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Extra

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Extra

At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”

As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listening is Not Agreeing

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Listening is Not Agreeing

Late last week someone said something about me and that I didn’t agree. At first, the emotion was to respond, defend myself, dig in my heels, push back against the criticism. It wasn’t something overwhelmingly harsh but it did rub me the wrong way.

Instead of responding right away I sat with it for a bit and reflected on it. Oftentimes critiques are met with resistance. We want to defend ourselves. However, if we are too quick to jump our own defense we might miss something constructive. There’s an old wisdom saying; “Both criticism and compliments should be taken with the same weight.” Receiving compliments and praise can be easier but they have a way of pumping up our ego and sense of self. Criticisms, if held on to, can create bitterness, rivalry, and ruptured relationships.

One of the greatest disciplines of contemplative listening is found in the truth; “Listening is not agreeing.” When someone speaks to us a compliment or criticism we do not have to own it, take it inside of us, let it mingle with our minds, emotions, and spirits. We can examine it, turn it over in our minds and, if we have self-awareness, can decide if it is meant for us, to grow, to learn, to let it become a part of us. Perhaps its simply another’s opinion and through insight and stillness, we discover that we can let it go. It’s not for us.

“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to hold a thought in our heads
and not necessarily believe it to be true.” #Aristotle

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Beauty Within

The Beauty Within

Outward beauty is always fading. Whether it be a person, a flower, an animal, a planet or a solar system, all is in flux and degrading. Nothing stays beautiful on the outside forever.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded and bombarded with messages that tell us outward beauty is the goal. Personal attractiveness, luxurious homes, sleek, stylish cars & hairstyles, anything and everything down to how we prepare our food can and should be a masterpiece.

To see inward beauty, the innate goodness in a person or a thing takes time and practice. It is a difficult discipline, as is most of wisdom’s teachings. It is a way of knowing and perceiving that an object, alive or inanimate, is beautiful because of what it is, not what it looks like. It doesn’t ignore outward beauty but realizes this is a passing observance. It seeks a vision that discovers the inward and lasting quality of that which it is beholding.

To see the real not the surreal, the true not the fleeting, the inward beauty that is each present moment and dismiss the shiny, glossed over, trinkets the world proclaims as treasure is to have life, abundantly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Your Last Moment

Your Last Moment

Last night me, Beth and some friends gathered around a fire and roasted wieners, shared how are weeks were going and then rushed inside when it started raining. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering about the evening but that’s what made it special.

Too often, while living in the present moment, our minds are busy thinking about the moments to come or the moments that have gone by. We are rarely present mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in the present moment.

To treat each moment as if it is our last is a difficult discipline but it starts with the understanding that the present moment is truly the only one available to us. The moments which have come and gone are no longer accessible to us. We cannot relive or change them. The moments which are ahead are unpredictable and not within our power to get to until they become the present moment.

This is why the present moment is so special and powerful. It is in this moment where life and all its possibilities and wonder exist. We miss it so often but if we can embrace it, cherish it, drain each ounce of precious promise out of it our lives will be enriched beyond our wildest dreams.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

One Thought

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One Thought

Yesterday, a friend wrote on her Facebook page, to make sure you spell check political posts before putting them out there for the world to see. I commented snarkily; “How about not posting them at all?” To be honest, I grow tired of the division the current administration and media seems to thrive on and more tired of friends and family, people I love, choosing sides against one another.

Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with folks down the block and across the nation and world. It can be immensely helpful by giving people an opportunity to supply aid when natural disasters strike and notifying users around the world of prayer needs. I use social media for all of these things plus writing my blog. However, over the last year, there has been a noticeable trend towards nasty, mean and downright hateful posts and replies.

When I counsel men and couples on getting along with each other one of the disciplines I teach is the; “The Space in Between.” It is the understanding that between the action and reaction is a space. In this space, we decide how we are going to react and which consequences will come as a result. “The greater the space in between the better the chance of a good decision with positive outcomes. The shorter the space in between the better chance of making a bad decision with negative outcomes.

When it comes to social media I wonder if we shouldn’t reflect on the question; “Will this help? Build up? Bring people closer?

“No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.” -#Wisdom #Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Broken

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Broken

We have a beautiful Banana tree in front of our house. It is ten feet tall with as many leaves and several smaller Banana trees growing around it. Unfortunately last night a sudden thunderstorm with strong winds knocked it over and snapped the trunk of the tallest tree. We are going to have to cut almost 5 feet of the tree off and hope it will survive. Beth and I both are disappointed at the mishap. We’ve spent years feeding, watering and taking care of the Banana tree.

It was a painful reminder of the transience of life. There is nothing permanent, nothing which can withstand the storms of life forever. Everything and everyone has a breaking point. One of the most difficult wisdom lessons we can learn is holding things and people loosely. This seems like an easy concept to grasp. We are surrounded by constant reminders of how quickly life changes. What once was is not anymore. Years pass by in the blink of an eye. Adjusting to a new “normal” is an almost everyday occurrence.

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”
-W. Somerset Maugham

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Last Time

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Last Time

This weekend I was speaking with a friend about his roof. It has a leak and he and his wife have decided that they are going to replace the whole roof instead of just trying to fix the leak. “This is the last time I’ll have to put a new roof on the house,” he said. I knew what he meant. My friend is 20 years or so older than me and a new roof might outlast him. His recognition of this gave me a glimpse into a level of self-awareness this man had reached. As we get older, the wiser among us accept the truth that life’s clock is winding down.

Wisdom teachers place the lesson of death at the center of most disciplines. Accepting the shortness of life is the beginning of wisdom. It is the understanding that our lives are a mere number of days of which we are unaware of. Today, tomorrow, whenever, death comes for all. It is not morbid to reflect upon our mortality. It should bring humility and thankfulness. We are humbled by the uncontrollability of it all and are thankful for one more day, moment, breath.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Line

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In Line

This afternoon, on my way into town, I was in a line of traffic. About three cars in front of me a young man, hand out the window, smoking a cigarette, and in a hurry. He was “riding the bumper” of the car in front of him in spite of their being numerous cars in front of the object of his fury. I watched him and wondered; “Why? Why are you being an aggressive, desperate driver, when there are more cars in your way? Are you going to tailgate every car until you get in front of them all?” I knew the answer was probably; “yes if he could.

I reflected on this man and the way our focus of life can be out of whack. When we go through a challenge, a difficult situation, we focus our intensity on the object in front of us. We blame it for our lack of peace and purpose. We think; “If I could just get this off my to-do list, remove that problem, rid myself of this habit, break off or begin this relationship, everything would get better.” The truth, however, is more poignant. If we do not have peace before we run into a challenge, overcoming it will not bring us peace. If there is no stillness inside prior to a relationship there will be none afterward. New job, friends, home, whatever, cannot bring us the sense of calm and wisdom we desire if we don’t acquire them deep inside by searching for them now.

The only peace and wisdom you find at the top of the mountain you are climbing are what you bring with you” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

Found

I had a friend who used to tell me she felt guilty for falling asleep when praying her nightly prayers. “God must be so disappointed in me! I can’t even stay awake to say goodnight to him.” I knew her heart was full of love and a desire to please God. I listened and then I asked her a question; “What do you think God would like more? To hear you say; ‘Goodnight.’ or for you to fall asleep in his arms?'” She smiled and understood that oftentimes we make our relationship with God more complicated than it should be.

The contemplative way tells us that when we are chopping wood, it is with God. When we eat a meal, it is with God. When sitting quietly, it is with God. All things we do can be with an awareness that God isn’t impressed with our showmanship, rules and regulations, dogma and definitions. God longs for us to realize where we are; he is and our awareness of his presence, our understanding he desires to be with us is the meeting of every need we have now and forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Space Between

Space Between

Today has been a day of waiting.  A weather front moved into our area on Friday and it has been raining off and on for three days.

Outside the living room window is our front porch with a tin roof. There is no mistake rain is falling when listening to one of the best songs ever. On a cool, cloudy, rainy day a tin roof is a nap maker, guaranteed.

Although the sound of raindrops on the tin is beautiful we also have a dog who lets us know when he’s ready to go outside. We try to wait for a lull in the melody but sometimes we force him and ourselves outside.

I have a friend who’s in a place where they’d rather not be. They are trapped and wanting a way out. However, there has been no indication its time. It is a season of waiting, a space between being unable to move and desiring very much to do so.

Living in the space between can be frustrating and maddening. Wisdom teaches us that existing in the time between the seasons, the challenge and the overcoming, the obstacle and the crossing over it, the sickness and renewed health, isn’t easy but can produce in us growth and maturation.

It is the seed planted in the ground which grows not the one carried with us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…

“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
Be Still
Be”

When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.

I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unseen

Unseen

Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.

I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.

I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.

The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Listen

to Listen

Today I unloaded on someone. It wasn’t in an angry way but therapeutically. I talked about all that’s been happening in my life and in the lives of the people I know and care about. It was almost an hour of pouring out my heart into her listening ear. She asked a few questions but mostly let me vent about things that I’m worried about, some of which I can take some kind of action but mostly things in which I need to accept the situation and my powerlessness over it.

At the end of our conversation, she didn’t tell me what to do or not do. She didn’t give me a list of positive affirmations or ways to avoid the situations. She listened and that’s what I needed her to do. After we finished I said; “Goodbye” and went home. Yet, somehow, I felt better, lighter, more stable in a chaotic season of life. Her listening ear was most welcome.

Many times we think of listening as the pause between what we want to say to the person who’s talking. To truly listen is not planning our next comeback, advice giving, compliment or criticism, it is having an open ear and sensing the moment as sacred. We receive the words with reverence and speak as if we are on Holy Ground.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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