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Cracked

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Cracked

This morning I went grocery shopping. As one who doesn’t care for shopping, it’s odd to find me roaming the aisles. However, Beth hasn’t been feeling well so it was my husbandly duty. On the list was eggs so I found them and as I was putting them in the cart I remembered to open the carton and check to make sure none were broken. There wasn’t any so I gently put it into the grocery cart and went to find the next item on my list.

When Beth and I were first married we went grocery shopping together one time and were buying eggs. I picked up a carton and placed it in the buggy without checking to see if any were cracked. A kind elderly man standing near us said; “You might want to check those eggs to make sure none are cracked or broken.” We did and there were several that were in bad shape. We thanked the man, retrieved another set of eggs, and from that day forward haven’t forgotten to check the eggs or think about the man who taught us this valuable lesson.

The encounter with the older gentleman might many years ago changed the way we did things. His advice helped us look beneath the surface and double-check what we were taking home. After finishing shopping today I wondered; “Have I done anything this week to change anyone’s life longterm, for the better?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Picture is Worth…

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A Picture is Worth

A picture is worth a thousand words unless you are the kids who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, several weeks ago. This past weekend there were gatherings in cities around the world. It was called; “The March for Our Lives.” Since this protest event, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become targets, again. There are news articles, memes, pictures and opinion pieces written that would make adults question their sanity, worth and the innate goodness of humanity.

My heart is broken and my spirit crushed as I listen, read and watch adults attack these children with vitriol. They are being bullied, lied about, crushed by those whose opinions differ from theirs. These young people have survived what will probably be the most traumatic event in their life. They are processing their grief, the loss of their friends and their innocence. They are trying to take a stand, find their footing after an event and in a debate bigger than them. They are exercising control by speaking out, marching, becoming an advocate against an act of violence that ripped their lives apart. Yet, while they attempt to put their lives back together, people online, on the radio, on television are tearing them down and apart, again.

Are these kids being used by persons and corporations with agendas? Maybe. Perhaps they are also smart and resilient enough to know what they want and believe. Have they said and done everything perfectly? Of course not. Who has? You don’t have to agree with them to see they are still in pain. You don’t have to march with them to stand by their side. You can disagree without abuse. We should be better than that. These kids deserve better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worry is like Prayer

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Worry is like Prayer

I was speaking with someone today and they quoted a wisdom proverb I had never heard;

“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen.”

It instantly became a favorite wisdom quote of mine. As someone with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, I can relate to worrying and doing it obsessively. One of the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder is rumination. Rumination is the inability to turn off negative thoughts. Similar to a broken record player (do people know what they are anymore?) or a scratched Compact Disc (same question) getting caught in a loop and reciting the same lyrics in your head over and over.

I come from a long line of worriers and a long line of pray-ers but I never put the two together before. I am sure if the quote is analyzed enough there are theological (the study of the divine) and ontological (the study of being) questions and fallacies but for now it gives me a new way to look at worry, stress, anxiety, rumination and where to focus my thoughts and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Behind the Eyes

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Behind the Eyes

I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.

The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.

I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.

Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Space

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Heart Space

This morning at worship service with my mom I bumped into an old friend and asked him how things were going. His birthday was a few weeks ago and he said that he was going to celebrate with a trip but had encountered some heart problems and wasn’t able to go.

I’ve reflected on the short conversation several times today. It is Advent season. A time of joy and celebration but our hearts are heavy with the passing of my dad. As we sat in church this morning, visited a home improvement store (which my dad loved to do), did some work around the house our hearts just haven’t been in it.

We know this is the path we must travel and one day much of the pain will dissipate but right now, this evening, it is not the time. Our broken hearts still ache and space which my dad filled is empty. There is no template for mourning, no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. We take it one day at a time, one moment, one tear and laugh as the memories, experiences, and love flood us and fill us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life.  He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.

He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.

What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Broke and Broken 

Broke or Broken

Someone asked me today what’s the difference between being broke and broken? It was a great question that I am still pondering.

I think being, believing, you are broke is resignation. To be broke spiritually or emotionally is to lose hope of being fixed, reset, used again. I have felt this way in the throes of an episode of major depression. When all is dark and being of any use our used again is lost to the shroud that settles, stifles and suffocates your soul.

To be broken, for me, is to still believe there is life and light to be found in the dark night of the soul. It’s not easy to find hope, purpose, any emotional or spiritual depth but somehow, someway, there’s a place in your inner most being that believes it’ll get better. These are my good days and, though they may seem disheartening to one who has not suffered from depression and anxiety, are worth celebrating.

Broke and broken. Two sides of the same coin where one is a sense of worthlessness and the other a chance for a life which is valued.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Feeling Around

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Feeling Around

Dirty dishes, like dirty clothes, seem to multiply at an impossibly exponential rate in almost every household.

Yesterday afternoon, I washed the dishes which had been piling up and grabbed a small Coca-Cola glass. I pulled it out of the soapy water to see if there were any spots I missed and discovered it had somehow broken while in the sink. I walked over to the trash can and disposed of it but knew I wasn’t finished with the glass.

By the shape of the break, it looked like a large singular piece was somewhere in the water. I couldn’t see so I put my hands in the soapy water and began slowly, methodically, making my way through the water. I knew the feel of spoons, knives, forks, bowls and other glasses that they weren’t what I was searching for but finally discovered the broken piece. I carefully brought it out of the sink and threw it away.

I finished washing the dishes and thought about others and myself when things have somehow become broken. Maybe it’s a broken heart, spirit, emotions, or body and it’s hard to see how things can be put back together. When we have a desire to heal we must not rush but carefully, contemplatively, tenderly, kindly find all the broken pieces and hope they can be put back together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Support

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This morning an elderly man chose the pew in front of me for the worship service. His choice of place was based on it being near one of the large wooden decorative beams located in the sanctuary. He had great difficulty sitting and standing so he used the beam
to steady himself. The church building itself was supporting him. When it came time to go to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion he slowly raised himself and made his way forward. The older gentleman couldn’t bend his knees at the railing as the priest served the body and the blood so the priest reached out to him to make sure he was served, included.

As I watched and reflected on the scene it was a beautiful reminder of what the community of faith should be, what we’re called to do. There are hurt, broken, scarred people who we encounter both inside and outside the church. We aren’t called to heal them, only God can do that. Our purpose is to include, support, serve and love them in every way possible.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Protection

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The wind from a mighty storm front howled, pushed, shoved and knocked me around yesterday. I arrived home from work and the dogs were ready to go outside. I grabbed an umbrella and we made our way to the yard so they could do their business. The gusts were so strong that my umbrella knocked me in the head, pulled to the right, left leaving me soaking wet, and was basically useless. Once I was back inside I decided to do it differently next time I ventured out. A couple of hours later, the wind still shaking tree limbs and throwing branches and debris around, I bundled up with a raincoat and hat. My hat blew off my head but the raincoat protected me better than the flimsy umbrella.

Back indoors I dried off my head and reflected upon the storms of life and how at times things we hope will protect us fail, become useless and broken. It’s hard to accept what we’ve placed our faith in has let us down and can’t keep us safe. Letting go of what doesn’t work, finding new places of safety and stillness can be difficult but is also necessary.

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

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Under Pressure

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A few weeks ago a belt on our vacuum cleaner broke turning it into a large, useless, piece of plastic, metal and wires. Hoping to repair it without taking it to a shop I found a store which sold belts and looked for the one I needed. Unfortunately the manufacturer no longer makes the model nor the belt. So, I began to look for one close to the size of the broken one I had brought with me hoping for a suitable replacement. After finding and purchasing the belt I brought it home.

Last night I decided to try and fix the vacuum cleaner. I noticed the belt was a very tight fit, requiring a good deal of stretching to get it in place. After getting all the other pieces correctly attached I turned on the machine. For a moment it seemed to work. However, a few more swipes over a rug and a smell began to permeate room. There were also pieces of plastic which started coming out from the bottom of the vacuum. Uhoh! I quickly shut it off and turned it over only to discover that one end of the roller, the one which the belt was next to, was destroyed. The belt was too small, and the pressure from it so great, it disintegrated the part and made the vacuum cleaner inoperable. I ended up throwing it away and we’ll be shopping for a new one this week.

As the smell diminished, while picking up the pieces, I reflected upon the truth of how pressure can also break us. If we aren’t aware of how stress, anxiety, the burdens and difficulties of everyday life and especially chaotic seasons can wear on us down, grind us to a nub, we may discover too late that we’re unable to continue to find and fulfill our purpose.

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

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Love and a Leper Colony

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Last night I listened to the NPR podcast, “Criminal” the episode was entitled; “There’s no place like home.”

The story began in the 1990’s with a business owner who was stealing money from his company to pay his personal debt. He was arrested and sentenced to eighteen months in jail at a minimum security facility in Louisiana. It was a tale of bad choices and their consequences, however, the story became even more interesting when he began serving his time.

The incarcerated facility was not only a jail but also America’s last leper colony. Men and women with this dreaded and deforming disease had been housed there for decades. Even with advances in medicine and treatment most of the patients chose to live in isolation than face society disfigured and different.

It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of a resident being dropped off at age twelve never to see her parents again. Another who dreamed of distant cities and sights but couldn’t bear the thought of the stares of onlookers or the disgust as they backed away illness which had ravaged parts of his body. It was safer, easier to be set apart from humanity than be rejected by it.

As I listened I couldn’t help but think of the outcasts, the unlovable, those on the fringes of society judged as unworthy, unclean, unacceptable. I also thought of those with the hidden burdens of mental illnesses, addictions and other secrets kept hidden away for fear of being labeled and ostracized.

Connection, relationship, friendship, love, fidelity with all. Acceptance and grace with everyone regardless of dissimilarities . To draw close to those whom others have pushed away, to listen when the world ignores, to extend compassion to ones who’ve been harmed, to be human to all of humanity.

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

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The Glass is Already Broken

“A young monk asked his Father Abbott how to find contentment and stillness in a world where things are always changing, where nothing is permanent and nothing remains the same. ‘When loss and grief are inherent in our very coming in to existence, how can there be any happiness?’

That elder monk, looking compassionately at his brother held up a glass which he had been drinking from said: ‘You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it. I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably. Sometimes even the sun reflects in its beautiful patterns. If I should tap it. it has a lovely ring to it.’

‘But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters I say; ‘Of course!’ I understand that this glass is already broken. Every moment with it is precious, every moment is just as it is, and nothing need be otherwise. When we recognize that like this glass, our body, our life, is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, each moment becomes precious and we are open to fully appreciating the unbroken now, this present moment.’

‘When we understand that our loved ones are already dead. our children, our mates, our friends. how precious they become. Fear cannot rule us, uncertainty of the future, the unknown does not have power over us, estrangement cannot put doubt within. When you live your life as though you’re already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime. A universe unto itself.'”

One of the greatest lessons of wisdom is the truth and eventual acceptance that life is in constant transition and passes quickly. From the moment we are born every breath is one closer to our last. Every day, hour, moment brings us to our final resting place. The great struggle is in our intellect, emotions and souls to learn to live joyfully in the knowledge of the passing of our temporal existence.

Too often loss, instability, death are seen as causes to worry, be anxious, fearful and hopeless. Instead, they can be a reminder to appreciate the blessing of each moment as a unique, never to come again, miracle. To love extravagantly while the opportunity exists. To mindfully experience every “now” before it changes to a fading memory and hold loosely a future which is not guaranteed.

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

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