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My brain feels like mush today. The last several days I have been in South Carolina where I had the privilege to present a message on fatherhood to a group of people trying to save the world, at least their part of it. The conference was also near my mom and dad who gave Beth and me lodging as well as hospitality, and food. We left early last Saturday and arrived back home last night near midnight. Now the readjusting begins.

As a person with a severe anxiety disorder rhythm and normalcy are important. When traveling I become over stimulated with all the extra noise, sights, interactions, and this drains me. After coming back home it takes me a few days to reorient myself and for my anxiety to dissipate. It helps if I begin to do the normal, rhythmic, everyday things again even if they feel foreign, which they always do following a trip away from home. However, the more I do them the more still my body and mind become. I let home wash over me I feel the anxiety settle, the pit in my stomach becomes more of a pothole and I can breathe.

For home, stillness, and silence, I am thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Nothing

Nothing

Today has been a quiet day, save a few thunderclouds which have threatened rain. The word “Sabbath” is defined as; “a weekly religious observance by Jews and Christians. A day of abstinence from work” and since I’ve done nothing today I think I’ve met the requirement of this command.

It’s amazing how many days we work. I’m not referring to just our “normal” jobs but also the additional duties we take on, extra curricula activities we participate in, chores, responsibilities and the mundane tasks required of everyday living.

To have a day in which nothing is attempted let alone accomplished is a rare joy in our busy world. We can almost feel guilty for not breaking one of the ten commandments, for following the (religious) law. However, this is what we are supposed to do; rest, sleep, breathe, receive the blessing of the Sabbath and be thankful.

grace and peace,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ah, Interesting!

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Ah, Interesting!

Yesterday I arrived home worn out. It had been a long day. I had a lot of stuff to bring inside but wasn’t in the mood to make two trips. So, I grabbed everything  and stumbled, bumbled my way to the front door. Contorting and twisting I was able to open the front door and set down my leather work bag. That’s when I noticed that one of the items, an almost empty coffee mug with a cap, wasn’t as securely closed, or had become opened with all the twisting and turning I did opening the door, and coffee to spill into one of the other bags I was carrying. “Argh!” My frustration wasn’t at the coffee dripping off of the sweater in the bag but at myself for not taking the time to make two trips.

Wisdom teaches us that balance and not carrying more than we can handle is central to peace of mind. My refusal to live this lesson yesterday left a big mess. I sometimes wonder if I am the example wisdom uses to teach others how not to live.

I washed off the coffee stains as best I could, asked Beth to wash the sweaters, put on some comfy clothes and breathed out the irritation at self. Perhaps one day these lessons I write about will sink below knowing and become part of my being.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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What is Received

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What is Received

Some friends and I were talking the other day about listening. More to the point, we were talking about people hearing things which were never said.

In communication lectures I emphasize the importance of knowing your audience. To the best of your knowledge; have they had a good day, how are they feeling, are there any stressors and pressures weighing heavily upon them?  All of these determine what they hear when you speak to them.
What about environment? What is the location of your conversation, do you have privacy, are there bystanders, can you talk without being interrupted by eavesdroppers? Again, these have a lot to do with how your words to another are perceived. And of course, what is your history with the person whom you’re speaking with?
Communication is 80% non-verbal. Only 20% of what we say to another person, or a group of people, is said with language.There are many other factors to be considered to ensure your words are received with the right intent. Unfortunately, even taking most or all of these ingredients in mind, it doesn’t guarantee the words you speak will be what the listener hears.

As one who speaks one on one and to groups of people regularly I have many stories of folks excitedly telling me; “What you said today really spoke to me!” When I inquire about the specifics they share about topics I didn’t talk about and hadn’t even considered! “Thank you!” they say. “You’re welcome!” I reply and walk away trying to figure out how they received what I clearly didn’t give.

It also happens in my writings. A few months ago I wrote about an ugly shirt and a comment someone made about the unsightly garment. As I try to do in my daily writings I gave a lesson learned from the encounter. I thought it was well written and to the point until someone responded to my post in an aggressive way. Though I tried to explain that what he received wasn’t what I wrote, it didn’t matter. Eventually I had to accept what he read and the meaning he took away from it even though it wasn’t my intent.

Wisdom tells us to measure our words. They are incredibly powerful. They build and destroy. Lift us up or tear others down. Too often we are careless with what comes out of our mouths and never consider the consequences until after the words are spoken. Breathe, before your speak and when what is received offends and harms, make sure you apologize with words more carefully chosen then the one which came before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Catch Our Breath

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Last night, around 2AM, I woke myself up coughing and couldn’t stop. I usually have a bottle of water by the bed but had finished it a few nights before. I didn’t want to wake Beth up but I also didn’t want to get up out of the warm bed and walk to the kitchen. I tried not thinking about coughing but trying not to think about something never works. I swallowed several times hoping to moisten my throat, no luck. Finally, leaving the cozy confines of the bed, I retrieved a new bottle of water, drank it, and hoped this would do the trick, nope. After several more gulps of water, and rousing the Mrs. with my incessant coughing, the attack subsided and I was able catch my breath and go back to sleep. Whew!

Not being able to stop something miserable, annoying, difficult and painful from occurring brings with it a feeling of helplessness. Life has a way of taking our breath away with troubles, painful and unwanted events. We try our best to not be overwhelmed but it takes all we have just to inhale and exhale.

In these times it’s important to remember that being alive starts with breathing. As long as we can catch our breath we can hold on until help and relief arrive.

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

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When Iams Hungry

Last weekend I opened a bag of Iams dog food for the pooches. Chances are it was the last bag of dog food I will buy at our local PetSmart store.

Scooping some out for the dog’s dinner Monday night it hit me that the next time I buy a bag of dog food I will be living in a new place, doing a new thing. Each evening, every serving gets me closer to the unknown and a new normal. Like sand slipping from the top of an hourglass so the bite size bits are disappearing and when the bottom is reached I will need to find a new place to shop for sustenance and nutrients for my furry ones.

As I begin my sabbatical next week I also wonder where my sustenance, nutrients will come from, who/what will feed, inspire, heal and help me.

Reflecting on this yesterday I observed that the dogs aren’t worried about the food running out. They have a lifetime of being taken care of, provided for and have never gone hungry.

Maybe a lesson can be learned as I scoop away the past, embrace an uncertain present and unknown future. Wisdom teaches me to live with open-handed mindfulness, approaching every moment, each experience, ready to receive and release.

So I will trust, and remember that even though I will soon reach the bottom of the bag, I too have never gone hungry.

blessings,
bdl

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Never Poor

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Everything is so expensive!

Last week, while eating breakfast with friends, I told them my wife and I were hoping the oil for the furnace would last for a few more weeks until we moved. Alas, that very day, it ran out. We called the oil company, explained our predicament and were informed the minimum amount they would deliver is 150 gallons. This is much more than we need. Instead, we bought a couple of Kerosene containers and have been pouring fuel into the tank ourselves every few days. It’s not convenient but it does save us several hundred dollars.

Yesterday, at our campus, my wife told a group of people about our great oil adventure. Following the service a lovely couple invited us out to lunch and when we got home one of the men from the campus was sitting in his work truck parked in our driveway. In the back of his vehicle was a 55 gallon tank filled with oil. He asked us where the fill pipe was located, pumped the oil into the tank, told us we were loved and left.

As he pulled out of the driveway I was reminded that no person, regardless of their finances, is poor who has true friends.

blessings,
bdl

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Foolish Wise Men

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An excellent and thought-provoking quote.

My first reaction when reading this was to think of folks I have known to whom this quote succinctly applies. However, wisdom teaches to move past the shallow critiques of others and deeply consider if it is applicable to me.

Scary. To think we may acquire knowledge and not become wise. To spend our lives accumulating that which can enlighten our path and still live in darkness is disconcerting. How do we ensure we are not someone to whom the quote; “Men can acquire knowledge, but not wisdom. Some of the greatest fools ever known were learned men.” can be hung on our lives?

A good step is to move past our initial reactions, our first thoughts. When knowledge is given to us, do we assume it is meant for someone else? Do we allow it to penetrate or just see it as data, a piece of information to file away somewhere in our minds? Do we chew on it, as a cow continuously chomps on a clump of grass, turning it over and over, drawing out all the flavor, each bit of nutrients, letting it become a part of us?

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge we possess but if this knowledge possesses us.

blessings,
bdl

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Time Wasters

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What happened to my hands? When did they become so wrinkly? What are these crinkles on my face? Why do I seem to have much more face and so less hair? Except, of course, on my eyebrows and ears which seem to grow hair at a phenomenal rate!

Getting older is a reality. We realize it happens and yet it still somehow takes us by surprise.

The other day I caught myself holding an item with fine print under a light, squinting, trying to read it…and I thought; “when did this happen, when did I turn into an old person?”

Time, the undefeated one.

If we can’t stop time hopefully we can make the most of the time we have left.

blessings,
bdl

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Being an Introvert is Okay

Guest Post by Tish Cambers

People using the word “shy” is a sore spot for me. A four year old girl hiding behind her mother’s leg when a stranger approaches is shy. A 23 year old woman who doesn’t talk much is not. Once upon a time, I was absolutely that shy four year old hiding behind my mother. You could say I spent most of my childhood and adolescence being shy, sure. But somewhere in my post-secondary years, I did indeed start to “come out of my shell”.

It took a few more years still for me to not just overcome my “shyness”, but to accept it as who I am. I am an introvert. Through and through. I am proud to say so, and will happily explain what that means to people who think I’m shy, timid, socially anxious or just plain weird.

People who met me when I was 20 years old starting my first job as a cashier, not knowing me before, would use words like “shy” to describe me, which felt like a punch in the gut. I knew I had come so far from my timid, socially anxious teenage self, but apparently that still wasn’t good enough for people.

The catalyst of my journey from social anxiety to social acceptance began with my first year of college. I was fresh out of high school. At just 17 years old I was dropped off by my parents in a new city, far from home, left to fend for myself. My first challenge came just hours after my parents and I had exchanged a tearful goodbye; I had to walk to my new school by myself, ask for help to find the classroom by myself, and sit in a room of peers while completing an entrance assessment by myself. I did it. All by myself.

Over the next few months, I did all sorts of new things all by myself. I went to school. I spoke to classmates. I went grocery shopping. I even acted in classmates’ (new friends) student films and developed a crush on a boy who, by some miracle, actually liked me back! The rest of the school year had its highs (my first boyfriend and my first kiss) and its lows (depression, failing classes), but by the time I came back home for the summer, my friends were commenting how outgoing I was being around people that I wouldn’t have said much to before. I felt like I had grown so much. And I had.

Skip forward four years and I’ve been to college again, worked a cashier job for almost three years, been a cake decorating class instructor for one year and just started a job in a bakery. I’ve come a long way with the socializing thing. I can small-talk now, if I have to. I can exchange pleasantries with strangers. I can even make new friends. Yet, this word “shy” still haunts me. Some people just don’t seem to understand that there could be any reason for not speaking other than out of fear. Is it really so strange for me to not chat while I’m concentrating on decorating a cake? I like my work, I like the people I work with, but being an introvert means that I don’t always remember social interactions that come naturally to people. Things like replying “And, how are you?” after responding to their same question with an perfunctory “Good” don’t come naturally to me. I’m not rude, inconsiderate, or self-centered. It’s just not wired into my brain to be curious about other people, I guess.

After a good day at work, feeling confident that I got everything done properly that was assigned to me, it’s a real kick in the pants to hear my boss tell me I need to stop being “shy”. Augh! That word! I’m trying my best, but sometimes it feels like my own personality, my true self, is just sabotaging me in my professional life. Can we get Introvertism declared some sort of official medical condition, so that employers cannot discriminate against it? I don’t think it’s fair to point out my personality as something I need to work on in an employee assessment. Next thing, they’ll be telling me I need to change my face. (I’ve suffered from chronic “mean-face” my whole life. I actually had a customer say to me “No, I think I’ll find someone who actually wants to help me.” after just looking at my face.) Why can’t people just understand that there are different types of personalities, that people have different ways of socially interacting? I might have to start listing “Introvert” under Skills on my resumé to warn people. Or hand out a pamphlet to everyone I meet; “Introverts: Care Instructions”.

Over the past few years, I’ve gone from wishing I was different, that I could make friends and go out and party to being very comfortable in my introvert skin. I spend the majority of my time alone, as I live alone, and only have a few friends to hang out with occasionally. But thanks to the Internet, I can keep in touch with old and new friends, and be a part of online communities that make me feel less isolated. I’m quiet around people because I don’t have anything to say, not because I’m scared to say anything. I don’t go out of my way to make friends because I’m happy with my handful of real-BFF-since-high school friends, and frankly, I haven’t run into anyone that I’ve felt a kinship towards in a long time.

So, you can say I’m quiet. It’s true, even when I do speak it’s not very loudly. You can say I’m a hermit. It’s true, I don’t venture outside unless I have plans with a friend, I need groceries, or perhaps I want a picnic in the park on a sunny afternoon. You can even point out my “meam-face” because I’ve seen it for myself. But, please, please, don’t dare call me shy, timid, scared, anxious, or weak. I am confident in my introvertness. I am strong. I am proud. I am capable of great things. You just won’t hear me say those things out loud, because, frankly, I don’t talk much. And that’s okay.

Read more by Tish Cambers

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Freezing to Death for Freedom

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An adventurous peacock that escaped its pen at a Chicago-area petting zoo and became frozen in subzero temperatures has died in Dundee, Illinois.

According to the article, “Blue”, an unfortunate name in hindsight, died Wednesday morning, after firefighters rescued it from a tree branch about 40 feet from the ground. The temperature outside was 12 degrees below zero.

The saying, “freedom isn’t free” works on many levels. There is a cost for freedom, an expense for breaking loose from the confines which hold us. While freedom may be what we desire, there is also a need of protection so one’s freedom does not infringe on the freedom of others.

The balance of freedom and limits, no holds barred and boundaries, being carefree and being disciplined, is a fruit of wisdom.

Knowing ourselves well enough to understand we don’t need everything we crave, that at times other’s well-being should supersede our own, and the things which we think are holding us back might be the very things that are saving our lives.

blessings,
bdl
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Only a Vapor

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“Lord, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am. You, indeed, have made my days short in length, and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal is only a vapor.” – Psalm 39

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A Quick Lesson in Patience

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In a time of transition sometimes my life seems like one long season of waiting. A thought crept into my mind this morning and I have reflected upon it throughout the day. “Maybe life is one long lesson in patience.”

How counter-intuitive this seems to be.

Our world moves at such a high rate of speed. Sometimes its difficult to catch our breath before something else dashes in to take it away. Instant gratification is no longer an option but rather a necessity. Scientific discovery, technology innovations, breaking news, even updates about family and friends come quickly via social media.

In a world where everything happens so fast, shouldn’t patience be placed on the endangered species list? It is no longer a virtue, no longer needed.

What if the opposite is true? Could it be that patience, pausing, waiting, is not only required but desperately needed?

In this ever accelerating world we should relish the chance to sit and do nothing in a doctor’s office, enjoy an opportunity to exhale while on hold with a customer service rep, embrace the occasion to be still when waiting at a red light.

Without wisdom and mindfulness we may never realize that what’s moving so quickly is this thing called life.

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blessings,
bdl
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Give Yourself a (Coffee) Break!

No use crying, or beating yourself up, over spilled coffee.

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Yesterday morning was especially busy. The carpets were cleaned over the weekend at our campus site and the main room needed to be set up. An additional classroom needed to be prepped. Coffee, donuts and other Sunday amenities had to be put in the foyer and the information handout we give to folks had to be typed up, printed, copied and folded. Lots to do and not much time get it done.

I like arriving at the campus before anyone else. It’s quiet and offers a few moments to gather your thoughts before others start arriving. After setting up the main room, organizing the second, setting out the pastries, printing and copying the information sheet, I sat down in the empty foyer with a cup of coffee.

It was my intention to breathe, relax, take a few sips of java then fold the papers. It didn’t work out that way. Somehow I moved the table cloth upon which my coffee sat and “SPLASH!” all over the “Hot off the Presses” information handout.

Argh!” I shook my head while trying to save the sheets. Found a cloth, dried them as best I could, all the time chewing myself out for not being more careful, not folding them previously, for being a clutz.

In the midst of my inner insult fest a question popped into my critical cluttered mind, “if someone else had done this what would you say to them?” After pondering for a moment I realized I would say, “It’s not that big of deal. If this is the only bad thing to happen to you today you’ve had a great day. It happens, it’s life, you’re not perfect, it’s over, let it go.”

So, that’s what I did. I let it go.

Why do we beat ourselves up in a way we would never do another person? Why do we treat ourselves worse than we treat others? Why can’t we give ourselves a break?

Stop the inner dialogue of insults and comparisons. Life isn’t and never will be perfect, neither will you and that’s ok. Let it go. Give yourself a break.

finding the beauty in the stains,

bdl

Stinking It Up and Staying the Course

200190377-009There’s nothing like getting stopped in your tracks! Especially when it’s by a truck full of manure! On my way to an appointment this week I was breezing down the road, same road I wrote about last week with the sneaky police officer, when all of a sudden a semi-truck, full of stinky stuff, pulled right out in front of me! How do I know what the trailer contained? Aside from the smell there is a natural fertilizer plant nearby and almost all the big rigs on this road belong to it.

My first reaction was “argh!” My first thought was “hold your breath!” Fortunately the morning was cool, the air damp and this helped stifle the onerous odor. There are days when you can literally smell the plant for miles.  The road I was driving is a small two lane highway with corn on either side and many twists and turns. No way around, stuck behind this moving pile of…poop. After what seemed like the longest mile the driver turned into the plant and I continued on my way.

Little did I know the truck would be a metaphor of my morning.  The appointment I had ended up much longer and more tedious than seemed possible. No matter what type of business you’re involved in there are times when many people need to get together and discuss something. Oftentimes there  is more talk about everything else except what needs talking about! After a while your brain turns to mush and you get what I like to call the Krispy Kreme look (eyes glazed over and drooling).

As mindful as I try to be, as centered and still as my disciplines attempt to teach, these times really get to me. I wonder, “what else could I be doing right now? Isn’t there someone or something that could benefit from the time, talent and energy in this room?”  Being stuck stinks!

As much as I dislike monotonous moments such as these in my heart of hearts I know they are beneficial. They do help. There is a reason people need to get together and be on the same page and make sure the bases are covered. Although I’m not made for sitting I know if we don’t let each other know what’s going on we can’t effectively do what needs to be done and that really would stink! So, I breathe. I take a moment to release the anxiety and frustration and let go of the feeling of being stuck and know, hopefully soon, I’ll be on the move again.

Maybe there’s something in your life today that really smells! Something or someone who is stinking up the atmosphere with a bad attitude or difficult situation. You keep looking for a way out but you’re stuck. As hard as it can be, just breathe and be centered. The way will clear, the stink will move on and then you can too.

holding my nose and not my breath,

bdl

 

the dare

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chill in the air
first of its kind
fresh,
crisp,
burning,
as i inhale

filling,
animating,
daring,
to draw life
into deep places
i oblige

Get Off My Case!

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Life is complicated but mindful simplicity is a choice we should make more often.

Yesterday I got a new phone. Today a new case was on the menu. I hopped on Amazon.com to peruse their offerings. The problem with most online sites is when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for it’s difficult to choose because there are so many options!

There were hard cases and soft cases, belt clips, kickstands, flips and pouches. Pink ones (not my color), blue ones, brown ones, yellow, orange, black, white. Cases made of leather, nylon, silicone, plastic, aluminum, carbon, bamboo, kryptonite? Otterboxes, Boxwave, Belkin, Samsung, Verizon, Amazon, were just a few brands. It was selection overload! Finally, I made my decision and I’m still not sure it’s what I really wanted and very sure it cost more than I intended to spend.

Buying online is a great alternative to going to different stores, comparing and contrasting but I like to hold something in my hand before I purchase it. Not being confident about my earlier acquisition I stopped by Staples when I was in town this evening. Nothing much there but a thunderstorm was dropping buckets of rain so I meandered up and down the aisles. In the paper section there was a leather notepad case. I picked it up and discovered it was the right size, right color and made a great case for my phone and it cost a whopping $2!

We don’t choose life to be so complicated, it gets that way all by itself. There are so many choices, decisions, selections and we can be overwhelmed by the amount of mental, emotional and spiritual energy it takes to keep our heads above the chaos and not drown. We do our best to make good decisions, choose wisely, live mindfully and not be distracted but there are days when it just seems too much!

I had some place to go tonight and the storm delayed me…or did it allow me a moment to pause, to remember, to wander down the path of simplicity just long enough to catch my breath from a world that has too much to offer. Life is complicated but mindful simplicity is a choice we should make more often.

grace and light,

bdl

Monkey Man, Mayhem and Going Deeper

A message based on the gospel of Saint Mark, chapter 5.

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Letting Go Without Grabbing Hold

Whether its something we would rather not do, thoughts and feelings regarding a difficult relationship or a host of other things, the refusal to replace one emotion, thought, habit, activity or version of reality with another is important.

I was asked to do something today I didn’t want to do. My objection was not ethical or moral but resulted from a difficult past I have with the person who asked. I have a hard time saying “no” and …well, you know.

Before, during and after I was monitoring my emotions, thoughts and spirit. Centering and breath-meditation are wonderful ways to be in the present, finding meaning in places/moments that aren’t pleasant. Mindfully I observed people who were enjoying themselves, others ambivalent and some who’d like to be someplace else.

ImageWisdom teaches us the importance of letting go, one of the keys being to resist the compulsion to then grab hold of something else. We don’t have to let go of resistance to an event and grab hold to an engendered excitement about participating, let go of hard feelings and then sign on to be someone’s fan club president.

Whether its something we would rather not do, thoughts and feelings regarding a difficult relationship or a host of other things, the refusal to replace one emotion, thought, habit, activity or version of reality with another is important. We simply have to let go of that which keeps us from being mindful, at peace in every moment with everyone.

peace and grace,

bdl

God’s Best Description is Silence

Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.

Thomas Merton No Man is an Island, p257

The best description and praise of God is silence.” This thought has reverberated in my mind for almost two years.  I was reminded this morning, as I meditated on Psalm 66, of the need to long for, thirst, seek and embrace, the seemingly elusive, treasure that is silence.

Even in “farm country” Pennsylvania serenity is hard to find. Often there are cars, tractors, barking dogs, chirping bugs and squawking birds. Today, everything was in “silent sync.” No traffic, no canines, birds and bugs nesting, and a stillness that was palpable.

Is this abnormal or do we miss the “silent sync” because it is we, not the silence, which is elusive?

May we long for, thirst, seek and embrace the treasure of silence today.images

bdl

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