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Bad News

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Bad News

A new pastor, on his first Sunday, preached the sermon and following the dismissal prayer, greeted people at the door as they were leaving. A man in a bright red sports jacket was next in line and before the preacher could say anything he blurted out; “That was a terrible sermon!” Taken aback the pastor tried to figure out his next words but the man left before he could reply. After a while, he noticed the man in the bright red sports jacket in line again. This time he said; “You could not have possibly studied for that message. It was a mess!” Again the pastor was at a loss for words and the man was gone. As the line to meet the new pastor was ending he couldn’t believe the last person in line was the guy in the red sports jacket! “I don’t know if I’ll come back if that’s the best you can do!” Abruptly he walked out the door and this time the pastor watched him get into his car and drive away. The new reverend, obviously shaken by this man’s constant critique saw a group of folks in the foyer, wandered over, and asked’ “What is the deal with the man in the red sports jacket?” “Oh, don’t worry about him replied a parishioner. He only repeats what he hears other people saying.

Bad news. Sometimes we expect it other times it takes us by surprise. No matter who we are, what we do, sooner or later we get bad news. It may be from our spouse, boss, doctor, friend, co-worker, or stranger. The challenge isn’t what to do if bad news comes but when it shows up. Our choices following an announcement of bad tidings are often more important, and have a greater impact, than the news itself. The space in between the news and the choices we make are critical. This is why wisdom, knowledge, peace, acceptance, clarity should be discovered now. When bad news comes chances are you will do what you know and many times the battle is won before the soldier takes the field.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Double Back

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Double Back

Last night, after dinner, Beth wanted a popsicle. I was getting up anyway and told her I’d get her one. I opened the top freezer door on the refrigerator and grabbed two by mistake. One fell to the floor and using the three-second rule I quickly stooped down and picked it up. Unbeknownst to me, the freezer door was swinging back and when I was two-thirds up I whacked the top back of my head on the corner of the freezer door. “OUCH!” It hurt so much I crumpled to the floor rubbing the wounded area. Beth heard me, came and looked at it and thought there would be bruising and soreness. She was right. It never occurred to me until it “hit me” that the door was doubling back. My mind was elsewhere and the freezer door brought me back to reality.

I was listening to someone describe addiction this week and they said; “It gets inside of you. You think you have a handle on it and then you begin to crave it. It comes back again and again and again.” I thought about other things which come around over and over. Grieving the loss of a loved one who has passed on, anger at being taken advantage of, bitterness at being betrayed, the pain of past memories and experiences that hurt us emotionally and physically, drug, alcohol and other addictions, friends who have negative influences on us, wounds which seem to never heal. All of these can cause us to crumple to the floor when they double back into our lives.

There is a needed balance of awareness and acceptance. Awareness is needed because perhaps we can see it coming and side-step the toll it would take on our minds and spirits. Acceptance is important because we are human, are not all-powerful, and difficult and challenging experiences are part of what makes us unique.

It is in this balance we may find wisdom and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Firsts

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Firsts

Today was a great day for working in the yard. The sun stayed behind thin clouds, a breeze kept one from getting too warm and no rain. As I mowed, trimmed, collected trash and went to the dump, helped my wife with the flowers, I reflected on a friend who’s going to an event tonight for the first time since her life changed dramatically several months ago. I know, in part, what she’s feeling. In 2014 my life irrevocably morphed into something I didn’t recognize anymore. After the trauma its difficult to try to find your way back to balance, peace and growth. It’s been four years for me and I am still waiting for the dust to settle.

The first year might be the most demanding and punishing. It is a “year of firsts.” Life goes on no matter how much you want it to stop so you can catch your breath. Things keep moving and you feel run over.  The firsts keep coming; anniversaries, special days, holidays, birthdays, events, occasions, and there’s no ignoring them. It is a challenge to try and can be heartbreaking when the healing wound is punctured again. You hope, pray, you’ll be able to make it.

Wisdom teaches us that a humble spirit, good friends, and patience are the way to a new kind of wholeness and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Starting Over

Starting Over

I was speaking with a friend this week who struggles with anger. We were trying to figure out how to take a breath before responding to a situation or a person who triggers his angry responses. We talked about tricks and tips to get him to breathe in fully and exhale before whatever words were forming on his tongue. I told him; “At that moment think, see with your mind what the consequences of your words are going to be.” It’s the discipline of ‘the space in between.’ The greater the space in between the stimuli and the response the better. Take time to think, to breathe, there is healing, understanding, awareness, and acceptance in that moment. Use it.

With each breath is a new beginning, a starting over, an opportunity to live and give life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Exactly As It Is

Exactly As It Is

A few moments ago I sat outside on the edge of the porch and watched my Siberian Husky sniffing the ground. We have three families of rabbits, including little ones, and he has been stopping and smelling the area where they have been. The sun is out today. Its been hidden most of the week. There’s a nice breeze, blue skies with thick white clouds, the grass is an emerald-green. An almost perfect day. As I sat there I felt a splash of water on my leg. I looked to see where it came from and noticed a puddle and drops of water falling off the roof. For an instant, the moment was perfect until I noticed it. I sighed, not because of the splash but because my focus became what bugged me, not on everything else.

Wisdom teaches us to accept each moment exactly as it is; what we judge good and not so good, positive and negative, perfect and less than. The truth is; my moment on the porch was perfect with the drops of water, the splash, and the puddle. It was perfect because it’s what it was and my idea of perfection was what got in my way.

Life is a series of imperfect moments because we decide they would be better; “if…” Acceptance is one of the hardest yet most crucial lessons we must learn if we’re ever to know awareness and contentment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Seeds

Seeds

It is COLD today. Thankfully the sun is out and the icicles and patches are melting. The yard looks so brown and bland. I went to check the mail last night and the ice on the grass crunched under my feet. It’s winter and though I try not to have favorites this particular season isn’t in my top three.

It’s hard to see the green for all the brown but knowledge, wisdom and experience tell me that it won’t stay that way. Even today, in spite of the cold, seeds are germinating and sometime, hopefully soon, they will make themselves known. I anticipate that day but need to be patient. Long, cold, seasons have their place in our lives. True, they help us appreciate other seasons when they come but finding peace and acceptance in the barren times is an important discipline.

Too often we project our lives to a period in front of or behind us when we can discover life, real life, exactly where we are now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Long

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Long

A question was asked today; “If you had one word to describe this year what would it be?” I knew the answer before the question was finished. The answer was/is looooooooooooooong.

My father passed away on December 1st. His battle with pancreatic cancer began near the first of the year. I went through it with him and my mom long distance, over the phone, and travelled down to South Carolina several times to see them. What they went through, the endless doctor’s appointments, the good news and bad news proclamations from well-meaning physicians, the ultimate acceptance of; “there’s nothing more we can do,” and then his sudden demise. As I said, “long year.”

Yet, paradoxically, there is a part of me that is holding on to 2017. It may have been fraught with battles and ultimately surrender but at least there was still a fight to be had. Since December 1st and the flurry of activity of the next few days prepping for his memorial service, the days have been living in slow motion. In spite of it’s pace, this was the last month I can say that I saw him, talked with him, sat in his presence, read and prayed with him. Now, in just a few hours I won’t have that attachment any longer.

It is quite difficult to let go, to walk into an unknown future, live a new normal with only 30 days of adjustments and finding our place, gaining our balance. It will be a challenge to press on into this new, strange year, but it must be done.

A soft, sorrowful; “Goodbye 2017” and a hesitant, and perhaps hopeful; “Hello” to 2018.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Warmth

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Warmth

I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.

There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.

In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.

Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Abundance

Abundance

To be unselfish is the key to abundance. To not hold on to anything, desire anything, be covetous of anything or anyone. Abundance comes from being content and this comes from acceptance of all life brings our way.

Too often we see the lives of others or review our own lives and wish they would have turned out different brings suffering. These illusions only lead to pain and heartbreak. What we have received is only temporary. As hard as it is to accept this world only gives us transient treasures and trinkets. Whether it be people or things, our inability to control when and how they leave our lives is a lesson we need to learn.

Only eternal gifts last. When we are given them we may hold on to them as tightly as possible but to do this we must let go of what we hold dear that is not eternal. Transience is not evil. To love those who bring wonder, kindness, and love to our life is not wrong. However, it is a bittersweet connection because it is temporary. While this is painful to know and experience it also makes every moment more treasured.

Most of our lives are full of abundance but knowing they are not ours forever is the test of true life, true love, true wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Yielding

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Yielding

I am not a mountain. Today I yielded to the wind.

When I first went outside this morning the air was still and cool. A few hours later I went out again to go to a luncheon and the wind was blowing wildly and powerfully. I knew quickly I would need a jacket. The wind was powerful, forcing me to lean into it as I made my way to the truck. The cool wind made quick work out of my jacket and soon and felt as though it wasn’t even there.

A young man spoke with me a few days ago. He’s been having a rough time and he’s at a loss of knowing what to do. He’s not a mountain either. The winds have made quick work of the ways he protects himself and is blowing him around with no anchor to tether to.

As we talked I helped him separate what he could do with what he had to accept. We aren’t mountains. When the winds come billowing we can feel at the mercy of them and to an extent this is true. However, there’s almost always something we can do. We might feel weak compared to the power that’s blowing against us but this doesn’t mean we are powerless.

Firstly we accept the storm, the wind, the hardship and challenge they bring. We cannot stop the wind but accepting it, respecting it, allows us to stop trying to control it. We don’t have that kind of power. Secondly, in the stillness of acceptance, we discover what we can do and we act. We might not be able to do all we want but we do all we can. We can lean into the wind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfection or Progression

Perfection or Progression

A difficult discipline to master is self-awareness. It is when you are aware of the good and the not so good, the skills you possess and the ones which need work. The biases, skewed vision, different experiences, which make you the uniquely flawed individual like the rest of humanity.

Some of the men I work with have begun to develop this discipline and it is hard for them to see themselves as they truly are, with no excuses. It is especially for those who thought of themselves as good partners and fathers only to discover they have a lot of work to do. If we’re not careful these revelations can do more harm than good because the road seems terribly long. They may even ask; “Why try?

Along with self-awareness, another discipline I try to teach is the truth of progression, not perfection. Oftentimes when we see ourselves, perhaps for the first time, we also envision the amount of hard work inside of ourselves out outside. We have this perfect view of what we want to be and what we think our family, friends, and others want us to be. We throw all of our efforts into becoming this perfect version of ourselves, which doesn’t exist and isn’t attainable, and never come close. We fail miserably.

This is why the path to peace and acceptance is progression, not perfection. We are never going to be the idealized version of what we think we want and should be. We will only wear ourselves out and down. To pursue progression doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work to be done but we recognize the realization of our true selves is found on the journey and not at the end of it.

Perfection or progression, the difference makes all the difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Light

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Into the Light

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balance

Balance

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Simple

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Simple

There are days when I become frustrated that the world isn’t simpler. Everything around me seems complicated. There are dozens of hoops to jump through, obstacles to overcome, and challenges to be met.

A person I know is still dealing with the fall out of a bad decision that has haunted him for almost two years. He’s dealing with it the best he can but if he could he would make it all go away. He feels like he has paid his penance yet his punishment seems ongoing with no end in sight.

Another person I know is struggling with complications of a mental illness. This is a battle I know well. They are making the best decisions for themselves they can but family and friends are interfering and unable to understand the choices being made.

I was reminded yesterday of the death of someone close to many people who live in the area. It’s been a few months but since the beloved has passed away but those who were closest to them are still swimming in the ocean of grief and adjustment to the new normal.

Life is complicated. We don’t make it that way, it just is that way. We can make it even more daunting with selfishness, ego, and biases but even those who have chosen to walk the path of wisdom, acceptance and peace still find the path of life difficult to walk.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Today I was stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be, doing something I didn’t want to do for over 6-hours! A quarter of my day was spent enduring, trying to stay calm, doing much breathing exercises and practicing stillness.

This wasn’t my plan for this day. I had it all laid out and then boom! From out of nowhere, life took a hard turn and I had no choice but to follow. There are moments and seasons in life when you’re given one of two or more choices. This wasn’t available to me today. I walked a 6-hour path of misery, by sitting in an uncomfortable room and an uncomfortable chair, and thankfully came out on the other side.

Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Especially when you have everything scheduled and coordinated. It’s interesting how life’s “surprises” continue to shock. Perhaps one day they won’t surprise us anymore. Maybe we’ll learn the lesson of living in the moment, no expectations and accept everything that comes with an open hand and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open

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Open

There are seasons of life where nothing feels certain. Times when you aren’t sure what happens next. Places on the road where the truth of life’s unpredictability is too real.

This is where I am now, at a place where many things are uncertain, challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Worry and frustration over people I love hurting and going through difficult times and trials, no way of knowing how it will all work out in the end. Concern over other aspects of life that are out of my control. Finding my way slowly and, at times, painfully through circumstances I wasn’t expecting or desiring.

In seasons such as these being open, staying open seems a humongous task. My wants and needs are not evil or bad but I know they will only bring suffering if I choose to believe they are the only way. Accepting whatever life throws at me, walking life’s path not being able to see far ahead, letting go of anything preconceived and accepting what is given will take courage.

It seems to always come back to trust and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

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