Blog Archives

The River

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The River

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Change Myself

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Change Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Redeemed

Redeemed

This morning my scripture readings included the 43 chapter of Isaiah. I had heard a selection of this chapter earlier this week at my dad’s memorial service. He mentioned these verses many times and one of his favorite words in this passage was the word; “Redeemed.”

To redeem means to; “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something), to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.”

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He had his habits, hurts, and hangups as we all do. Sunday afternoon, as my mother and I traveled back to her house after meeting the pastoral team who would do his service, I mentioned to my mom that for days all we heard was the good stuff about dad. She responded; “People think he’s a saint!” We both laughed and talked about the myriad of frustrating things dad did that aggravated us so much and the things we did that triggered him.

“The beginning of love is to let the one we love be perfectly themselves,
not twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise,
we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
#ThomasMerton

Remembering someone after they’ve passed is to try to hold the whole of them together in our hearts and minds. The good and not so good. The positive and the negative. The stuff we loved and the things which drove us crazy.

Loving each other isn’t about forcing someone to change to meet our expectations or being blind to their faults. It is allowing a fusion of imperfect souls to connect in a deeper way where; “love covers a multitude of sins,” a mountain of aggravation, a collection of experiences that allows each one to maintain their unique identity but also redeems both the loved and the lover and together they are better and greater because of it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open for Change

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Open for Change –

Yesterday I was getting ready to go teach a class and as I was getting y shoes and belt together I stubbed my toe on a box fan. It hurt and when I yelled; “Ow!” our Siberian Husky Trooper came to investigate and ended up underneath my feet. My first reaction was to turn my pain and frustration on him. “Trooper! Get out of the way! Go to your bed!” These sentences were on the tip of my tongue but I stopped them before they came out. It wasn’t him that wasn’t paying attention, not looking where he was going, was in a hurry and should have slowed down taking a more time. That was me. So, at first through clenched teeth I said in the sweetest voice I could muster; “Troop, why don’t you go back to your bed.” He did and I rubbed my toes until they felt better.

The class lesson was on being; “Open for Change” when we communicate and interact with each other. Two of the core principles are; “Realizing changing for the better starts with you, not the other person.” The second is; “Be open to criticism.” In other words, communication, and interaction require a willingness to be corrected, told how you can become a better person. Too often we stop listening when someone begins to criticize when perhaps that’s when we should listen the most intently.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Your Last Moment

Your Last Moment

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grow where You’re Planted

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Grow where You’re Planted

Yesterday, Beth and I began prepping the yard and our plants for winter. Most of our summer plants have dropped their leaves and the ones which won’t be blooming again, or didn’t grow at all, we threw into a ditch next to the fence on our property we’re trying to fill. We’ve done the same thing the last three falls and yesterday I noticed there were plants growing and as I looked closer I saw there were some that we had tossed. There were Tomatoes, Elephant Ears, Blueberries, Palm fronds, and more. It was amazing to see what we thought were used up or no good plants find root and begin growing again, or for the first time.

There’s a lesson in there for those who are going through times of change, transition, difficulty, and loss. Seasons of life, when we are uprooted and seemingly thrown somewhere random, chaotic and left for dead, can still lead to growth. I told someone a few weeks ago, who had begun a new, uncertain chapter in their life, “bloom where you’re planted.” It’s not easy and there are certain to be trying moments where the effort to put down roots might seem to take more than we can give but the result; life, peace, acceptance, will be worth the effort.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thought

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Thought

When I woke up this morning my positive thought was; “It’s not Thursday!” Yesterday I had to go to the dentist and while there are times we must do things which bring us anxiety we can celebrate I am thankful I didn’t have to repeat the process today.

It’s also a beautiful day. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. In a few moments, I will go and mow the grass. Some weeks, especially during the hot summer days, it’s more a chore than a joy but as the days grow shorter I will bask in the sun on my face and driving my little yard tractor.

One thought or several, can indeed change the way you see your day. I know in the future I’ll have to go to the dentist again. Soon there will be no need to cut the grass. By the look of the trees and their colors, the days will quickly be cold enough that even the sun won’t be able to warm me up.

One of the most positive thoughts, disciplines, we can have is focusing on the good each day brings and not the uncomfortable change which may come with tomorrow.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:34, The Master

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change

Change

I was speaking with a group of men last night and we talked about the ability to be someone different from the person we are currently. I told them; “What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.” If you want to be the man and the dad you need to be you must first know what you need to change and then begin making the choices that will lead you to your goal.

I went on to explain that everything we do presently, what we watch, listen to, speak about, participate in, everything! makes us into the person we will be in the future. Our present choices shape our destiny. “It’s when we see that now, this moment, is all we have and need to transform, that we finally have the wisdom to become what we need to be.”

As I talked to the men the truth of what was being said also resonated with me and my spirit. The truth, when revealed, is powerful enough to impact both audience and speaker.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

See

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See

Life is full of ups, downs and sideways. When we think we have life figured out it has a way of reminding us that it is never controlled or predictable. The question becomes; “Will we accept life as a constant state of change and challenge or continue to try to manipulate it to fit our needs?”

I was talking with someone yesterday about; “what is normal?” As we conversed back and forth there was agreement that there is no true normal. We spend our lives adjusting to the everyday small and sometimes huge changes that happen. The little tweaks are hardly noticed while the bigger adjustments are much more difficult to handle.

Accepting the transience of life is a necessary step on the path of peace. Only within, deep down, can big and small changes not move us. What is outside of us is always in flux but our inner selves can stay solid and still.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enjoyment and Loss

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Enjoyment and Loss

A clump of faded feathers is all that’s left of a once majestic and beautiful sight.

Several months ago Beth came home from work and told me about two Peacocks she had seen a few miles up the road from us. She described them as “gorgeous” and “amazing“. I had never seen the birds so we hopped in the truck and went to the spot where they had been but there was no sign of them. Several times over the preceding months she spotted them but I was never able to catch even a glimpse.

Then a couple of weeks ago I spied something in the middle of the road. As I got closer my heart sank because I could tell by the color and size of the feathers that one of the peacocks had been hit by a vehicle. The ugliness of the sight was in stark contrast to the beautiful feathers scattered everywhere. When I arrived at the house I asked Beth if she had seen the downed bird. She hadn’t and I had to break the news to her.

We live in a world where nothing lasts. Even those things which seem permanent are slowly being worn away by time. The highest mountain will one day be laid low, the largest boulder ground into dust. Transience, change, gain, and loss; all part of the experience we call life.

Wisdom teaches us to take nothing for granted because all is vapor and smoke. This truth is not to discourage us from investing ourselves in the enjoyment of life in the present moment but to stop us from clinging to what cannot and will not last. To embrace the blessing of each moment while also letting it go is difficult and the key to acceptance and freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Changing Course

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Changing Course –

Changing course is never easy. I was speaking with some men today and we were talking about our ability to make course corrections, live life in transition, embrace the transient nature of reality.

Even though I lecture on the changes that life is made up of, I am one who is not comfortable with transitions. Some people are; “go with the flow” kind of folks. I am a dam up the stream, stop and enjoy the view type of person! However, I also know that water becomes stagnant, contaminated, stale and useless.

Life isn’t made to be still which is why the stillness we seek needs to be deeper than what seems real on the surface. It is in the depths of our souls where peace and strength are found to handle and perhaps even enjoy the quick pace and fast changes life brings our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wait a Moment

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Wait a Moment

I wore short sleeves today! That may not seem a big revelation but just four days ago the high was near 20 degrees and today the thermometer almost hit 70. I’m not sure what’s going on with winter this year but it seems as confused as I am. I was lucky to find a short sleeve shirt since I packed up all my spring and summer clothes a couple of months ago. There is a saying in Tennessee; “Don’t like the weather? Wait a moment!” It certainly describes what’s happened the last few weeks with severe cold spells followed by several warm days. Who knows what the rest of the season will be like. Will we seemingly experience all the seasons in one as we have so far or is winter setting us up for what comes next? Only time will tell.

As I drove to my incarcerated father class tonight I was thinking about my short sleeve shirt and the crazy winter we’ve been experiencing. I also reflected on how seasons of life can seem this way when everything happens at once. There’s good, bad, negative, positive, neutral and it can leave us crazed, confused with our heads spinning. Life is much like the saying about the weather in Tennessee; “…wait a moment, it will change.”

Life is transition. On the surface, this can be disconcerting but there’s also comfort in knowing even the harshest of seasons will not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wrestling with the Wind

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Wrestling with the Wind

The wind has been blowing today, seemingly from all directions, ahead of a cold front which will settle into the area over the weekend. I spent part of the day raking leaves. Raking, gathering, keeping leaves in one place when the wind is determined to send them back to where you brought them from can be frustrating and defeating. The wind can’t be stopped by any force I have, nor can it be altered by anything over which I have control.

After a while I figured out if I would rake small piles, keeping the rake in place to keep the leaves from being blown away, I could eventually form a big enough pile to burn. I also discovered the raking job I was doing today wasn’t going to be close to perfect and I had to be okay with that.

This past week has been similar to my wrestling with the wind today. Many things are moving, changing, and it’s hard to pin anything down. No matter how hard I try, I do not possess the ability to keep things the same nor make them transition slower. Life’s journey has a speed all its own.

So, like the raking method, I take it in small, manageable sizes. I accept what I can that is changing and trust that each partial choice will lead to full acceptance of the inevitable transience of life in time. I’ll also allow for the truth of never being perfectly happy, blissful about change. Wisdom tells me progression not perfection is the way to peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Touch

touch

Touch

Today I attended a luncheon that was a kick starter to a faith-based community council. There were only a few but a lot of passion for the needy that exist mostly in the shadows of the church buildings and our communities. Folks with mental health issues, addictions, homeless, poverty-stricken, those living in the cycle of unfortunate circumstances and poor choices. These are the one we are hoping to help.

At the meeting, one of the attendees brought a service dog. The dog had been trained to be petted for anxiety reduction and assist a special needs person. It was a beautiful black Labrador Retriever. I couldn’t get enough of petting this pooch. It definitely made me feel better to scratch its head, rub his chin, stroke his back.

The power of touch is amazing. It can calm or incite, show acceptance or intimidate, display love or push away. There are people all around us who need their lives touched. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These are the ones who most avert their eyes or cross the street to avoid. These shadow dwellers, who have a way of making most feel uncomfortable, need the touch of love, hope, and change.

Most of us can’t give them everything they need to get back on their feet and walking the path of life again, but together we can do more, touch more, give grace more, than one person alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Falling

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Falling

The last few weeks the winds of Fall have been blowing into our area chasing summer away. It’s warm today, summer still has some fight left, but it won’t be long until these days are but a memory. The wind has also begun blowing the dead leaves off of the trees. The yard, once green, is quickly turning brown; both the grass and the leaves falling on it.

I read a quote not long ago but cannot remember the author…

“There’s nothing like fall to teach us the beauty of letting go.”

In my life, there is a struggle happening when it comes to letting a few things go. The leaves remind me each day that sooner or later that which harms us, brings us pain, must be released. What’s interesting is that I’ve let go of these before but, like the seasons, they keep coming back around.

Inwardly, however, there is a stirring, a desire to let go, to not think of what tomorrow may bring but to be fully in the present, in the now, and today the results surround and show me how beautiful it can be to let go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Spread it Around

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Spread it Around

Someone did something very kind for me today. It was an incredibly nice gesture backed up by a grace-filled act. I told Beth about it when I got home and she was genuinely surprised and grateful.

I was talking with a person this week about the meanness in the world. People spew hatred and judgement so easily. Whether it’s politics, religion, sexual preferences, what kind of #livesmatter, or a host of other hot topics, people choose to burn their neighbors with contempt, aggression, and hatred.

In the midst of so much evil in the world a genuine act of kindness, no matter how small, can change a person, a family, a community, a nation and a world. My life was changed by kindness today and I hope, pray, to spread the blessings to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Not the Same

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Not the Same

The grief in her eyes was impossible to miss. She had lost someone near and dear to her. One who was young, full of life, seemingly with many years left and then one day he was gone. We spoke in hushed tones almost afraid our usual tones would make this terrible truth more real. “I don’t think life will ever be the same again. Normal seems so far from here. How do I get back?” I looked into her shocked and sorrowful eyes and said; “You don’t. Life, as you knew it to be, is over. There is no going back. In time, with healing, you will learn to live in a new normal.”

There are moments, events, seasons in life which guarantee we will never be the same again. Tragedies, awakenings, epiphanies that change everything. What we held to, put our faith in, who we loved are lost. Our rhythm and sense of normal is disrupted. We long to go back, make everything; ‘as it was,’ hold on to that which seemed solid, lasting but it sifts through our hands like sand. Our desire to return is admirable but futile.The way back has been closed off to us forever.

Finding a new normal takes patience with ourselves. We must grieve not only the loss but the difficult path of newness. Even in these darkest of times there is a light in the distance, a rhythm faintly beating, a new normal waiting to be discovered.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Power

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A yellow monster of a truck quickly lurched up behind me this morning. I was loaded down with wood, crawling along, when the driver of this behemoth decided I wasn’t going fast enough for him. He revved his loud engine and would slow down, wait a few moments, and then catch back up to me. Because of the small two lane highway we were traveling, there wasn’t anything either of us could do to rectify the situation. The obvious power of his truck aside we were both stuck, powerless. Finally, the road opened up, a passing lane appeared and he roared past me.

I smiled as he disappeared from view. It was a good reminder that each of us,  no matter the strength and power we think we possess, are always at the mercy of the things life brings our way we can’t change or control.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Just Crazy Enough to Work

I have a few mottos for my life. One of them is; “It doesn’t take a lot of gas to drive me crazy.” Usually I find myself saying that after something, or someone, is on the verge of driving me crazy! The older I get the more convinced I am that it takes a special kind of insanity to stay sane.

I believe we can make a difference during our short time on this planet. With our limited power, finances, influence, gifts, abilities, convictions and purpose. We can change lives and when you change lives you change everything.

This is crazy thinking. It’s lunacy to believe our brief light on this dingy blue rock called; “Earth” can beat back darkness, pain, and hopelessness. It doesn’t make much sense to imagine a world, made better, by what and who we are, what we do and say, when we are so weak and frail.

Corruption, crime, wrongdoing, immorality and evil are just too much, too big, too powerful. Look around and see this is factual, true, without question. However, foolish ones never trust only their eyes or their minds. They listen to their spirits, they dare to believe that the perceived power of the villainous systems and structures is an illusion. We hold fast to the belief that a slightly “off kilter” person, doing all they can, when they can, could change their small part of the world and if enough nonsensical, impractical saints believe this; no power on Earth can stand against them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Purpose

What is our purpose, our calling? For some it seems so easy but for others the search for the meaning of our lives takes a whole life to find.

I sat with a young father on Monday evening speaking with him about his purpose. He’s had several jobs, numerous opportunities to make a career but for some reason nothing has intersected with his interests and his skills. I asked him; “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He smiled and then responded; “I really have no idea.” We talked a little more about what he liked and disliked, his past occupations and what he found intriguing about them but at the end of the conversation we weren’t closer to him finding his “calling.”

I was okay with the way things ended because I don’t believe everyone’s purpose is clearly defined in a moment’s time. For some their purpose may change with the seasons of their life. What’s important is that we are available to wherever the path may lead. If we walk and trust we may just find that purpose and contentment with our lives are one in the same.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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