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Good Looking

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Good Looking

I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.

Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Soul Alive

Soul Alive

Outside, under our two sheds and front porch are families of rabbits. I see them when I let out the dog, who’s too old to chase them anymore, when I drive the truck into the driveway, when I sit still long enough and wait for them to emerge from their hiding holes. It excites me. Wildlife has always had this impact on me. I slow down to look at deer on the sides of the highway or in far-off fields. Stare at Falcons and Hawks perched on fence posts or electric poles. Turkeys, skunks, opossum, armadillos, foxes, even cows grab my attention.

I grew up in the suburbs but my parents took us to National Parks as often as the could. We loved camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring. We saw lots of wildlife and even had a few run-ins with Black Bears. I believe this is where my love of nature was born and raised along with the important lessons of treating it gently, basking in its beauty and always leaving a place better than you found it.

Nature, along with other gifts we take for granted each day, bring life to my soul. I can’t imagine not being excited, filled with joy, while experiencing it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

I was once asked by someone; “What do you want to do with your life? What are your plans for the future?” I was sitting outside, leaned back and thought for a moment and then surprising my interrogator and myself replied; “I’m doing it. I am content. I have no more plans.” My friend didn’t like my answer because everyone should have something they are striving for. How else can you measure life unless it’s by your accomplishments? As a contemplative wisdom teaches that days are measured by the moments when you are aware of your connectedness to all living things and that the universe is in every experience.

What would you do if today were your last? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” In other words, I would contribute to the beauty of the world and thus the universe. As Marcus Aurelius states in the quote, I would want to live my last day as I hope to live every day; “without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

The contemplative life isn’t hard to understand. Most of the teachings can be learned in a day but they offer a lifetime of wisdom.

A few moments ago I was sitting on the porch basking in the sun. It was wonderful. I had brought my phone with me but not sure why. I laid it down beside me and closed my eyes. It’s warm for the month of January. Yesterday it was cloudy and cool but in that present moment of sitting on the porch, the skies were a brilliant blue. Our Siberian Husky was sprawled out on the driveway, not a care in the world. As I embraced the beauty and warmth my attention kept going to the phone. I knew there wasn’t anything on it I needed to read or respond to but the fact it was there distracted me.

This is why simplicity is important in the contemplative life. Everything we own, invest our ourselves in, give our passion, energy and time takes a piece of us. The more we have in our lives the less contemplative we are able to be. Letting go of all that is superfluous allows us to focus on what’s important while the fluff floats away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bright

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Brightly

The sun was shining brightly today as if it had been hidden by clouds and couldn’t take it anymore. Bursting through, nothing holding it back, it lit up the blue sky. Now, after showing off, the sun is setting and only remnants of light remain of its beauty.

I have a friend going through a difficult time, battling a disease that will sooner or later kill him. He’s doing everything he can but our bodies are not made to last forever nor beat every enemy we face. I talked with him today on the phone and his voice sounded stronger than in days past. It was good to hear and I laughed as he told me one of his jokes. The last several weeks have been tough, watching him struggle, rise to meet one challenge only to be met by a new and a more difficult obstacle. No one can keep going no matter how much strength they possess.

Today for a moment he shone brightly and I will keep that memory with me as he moves forward.

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

Afraid

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Afraid –

This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.

After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?

I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.

In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Dig

Dig

A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one.  It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.

It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.

As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.

Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Want to See

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Want to See

Last spring my wife planted some Petunias in a steel bucket that sits in our front yard. This spring she’s been too busy. In place of the beautiful flowers we had last year there are several weeds growing. This afternoon, while mowing the grass, I looked in the steel bucket and there was one single pink Petunia. It was small, crowded and shadowed by the weeds but it was there none the less. If I wasn’t looking in the right place and the right time I would have missed it.

Life can be similar to the small flower in that bucket. There are plenty of weeds; stress, schedules, emergencies, life changing decisions, habits, hang-ups, and hurts. It can be easy not to see the good when we are surrounded by so many things which crowd our lives and shadow our hearts. However, if we keep looking, daring to hope and dream perhaps we will see the beauty of kindness, grace, and love blossom before our eyes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Cover Up

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Cover Up

This afternoon, on the last half of my walk/run loop I came across a few blue butterflies, gathered on the road. They didn’t fly away as I approached and I thought; “how beautiful.” After a moment, they flew away, revealing a pile of animal excrement. “Yuck!” I thought as I made sure not to step in it.

It was a paradoxical revelation; beauty covering ugliness. Continuing on my way I thought about the truth of the butterflies and the dung. We like attractiveness, excellence, alluring, flashy things that catch our and others’ attention. We like to show off, surround ourselves with gorgeous trinkets for all the world to see and admire.

The problem with this is the ugliness it reveals. When we are motivated to be the envy of our family, friends, neighborhood, community, there is a repulsiveness uncovered. Wisdom teaches us to look for the beauty in others not to crave it to be seen in ourselves. Only then will we truly the whole world be beautiful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Blue Friday

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Blue Friday

While many folks spent battling crowds and taking advantages of sales today, I raked and tried to make our brown yard look presentable. During the summer months, the colors are so vibrant, the blossoms and leaves, limbs and blades, all bespeak the glamor and glory of the season.

When fall arrives the final burst of color and collages of nature adorn the hills and the dales. Then, everything turns brown. One of my least favorite colors. Most of our tropical plants and trees are inside and dormant. The remaining ones are outside with dull or no leaves which is why I spent the day raking.

As I was finishing and putting up the rake and other garden utensils I rounded the corner of our house and spied a beautiful Blue Bird (http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/details.cfm?displayhabitat=grassland&sort=aounumber&typename=GRASSLAND%20AND%20SHRUB&uid=09041708094293898&commonname=Eastern%20Bluebird). It’s color was stark compared to the browns and grays which dominated my vision for most of the afternoon. It didn’t stay long but the sight of it was enough to remind me that life’s vibrancy is never gone.

The season we may be passing through might be one lacking in stimulation and passion but perhaps, just around the corner, is a splash of vigor and vitality that gives us the hope of new life and a new season.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Obstacle is the Path

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The Obstacle is the Path

This morning, on my way  to Fayetteville, Tennessee, I came across a couch in the middle of a 4 way stop intersection. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion; “That doesn’t belong there!” It had obviously been dropped  out of a vehicle because it was broken in half and the feet and cushions were scattered. I cautiously drove around the couch, and through the intersection, continuing on my journey wondering who dropped it, why and that someone should pick up the unsightly mess before some body gets hurt.

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A few more miles down the road a baby deer hopped onto the road while its sibling stayed off to the side. I slowed down and thought; “What a beautiful sight!” and proceeded cautiously in case the one, not on the road, decided it wanted to be reunited with its sibling. I soaked in the beauty of nature, wondered where its mother was and was thankful for being present at that time and place.

Two sights, two different responses.

I reflected on how we decide what should and should not be on our road of life. For the unwanted, ugly, messy thing we judge as not worthy, we try to avoid it and want it gone. To others, which we deem as beautiful and worthy, we are thankful and count ourselves blessed to enjoy the wonderment of life.

Wisdom teaches us to accept all things on the road of life. We are not to judge which is good or bad, positive or negative, but to allow the possibility of everything to teach and guide us. It is only when we stop slapping labels on things, (including people) and accept each experience with open minds, hearts, and spirits that we can appreciate, find the mystery and beauty in all obstacles on the road of life.

“The obstacle is the path.” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Maybe a Mexican!

Maybe a Mexican!

Earlier this week I was in a store looking at shirts for summer. As I perused a middle-aged white woman walked up to me with a shirt in her hand and blurted out; “Isn’t this the ugliest shirt you’ve ever seen? Who would wear it? Nobody I know. Maybe a Mexican.” She laughed, I grimaced, forced a smile and choked back the question; “You’re a Donald Trump supporter aren’t you?” Instead I moved on, saddened by her attitude and aggression.

Too often people associate the unsightly, problematic, ills and woes of our families, communities and societies with certain races, religions, sexes and ages. Our biases and judgments automatically see the worst in others and the ugliness in ourselves stops us from beholding the beauty that exists in us all.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

unleashed

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dandelion, sitting on a hill

rooted, grounded, in place, until

a mighty force arose and lifted

carried your essence far from home

floating in all directions at once

never letting you settle

dropping and raising

bouncing between stillness and gales

yet in the chaos, swirling turmoil

your beauty decorated the wind

the gift of recognized breezes

making that which could not be seen

now traced over meadows, fields, hills and valley

where you take root again is unknown

until then your untamed spirit

alights upon my shoulder for a glimpse

of what it means to be unleashed

bdl 6/4/2016

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What We’re Looking For

Yesterday evening, on my way to my incarcerated fathers’ class, a woman driving behind me decided I wasn’t going fast enough and decided to ride my bumper to make sure I knew her disapproval. My frustration was starting to grow when I glanced out the driver’s side window and noticed the beautiful sunset. In that moment my angst and anxiety disappeared. It was beautiful and I almost missed it because my focus was on what was bugging me instead of more wondrous things. I even said out loud to the woman whose concentration was still on me going faster or getting our her way; “Look to your left! See what you’re missing!

Life is full of both grandeur and aggravations. Each fill our days and we decide which we’ll spend our lives searching for. Choose wisely for you’ll find that which you seek.

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

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Burdens and Beauty

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Early this morning a truck backed onto our driveway and dumped a load of gravel into a carved out space next to our cabin/shed. We needed the rock to be in place before winter rains and snow turned the area into a pit of messy mud. Last week I ordered the delivery and had actually forgotten about it until I spied the truck while putting things in the Frontier I needed for my work day. It was a; “not really a surprise”…surprise!

Watching the gravel tumble out the bed of the oversize truck upon the ground I thought about life. Even though we know it can be hard, difficult and heart breaking, we’re often surprised when it dumps a load of grief and pain into the middle of our existence.

Tomorrow, I’m going to begin to spread the gravel, as evenly as I can, over the intended area and, hopefully, make a nice place for us to park. One of the greatest truths of wisdom is that it can take the burdens of life and make them into something beautiful and useful.

blessings,
@brianloging (twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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From the Heap

A few months ago, as spring was arriving, I burned a large pile of leaves, limbs and other debris collected over the fall and winter. As the flames grew and began to consume everything in the immediate area I noticed a small plant that had taken root and was growing in the midst of all the junk. It’s lush green color contrasted with the brown, black and dead rubbish surrounding it. I grabbed a shovel, dug it up and put it in a pot. For the longest time it just stayed green but a few weeks ago blossoms began to emerge and yesterday they finally opened revealing a beautiful pink flower (see above).

I marveled at this beautiful bloom which never would’ve happened if it hadn’t been rescued from the refuse. It’s a wonderful reminder that life can be full of junk, events and even people might appear useless and need to be discarded. However, if we are mindful and willing to see with the eyes of our spirits, beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places.

blessings,
@BrianLoging 
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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