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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

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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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Evaporate

Ugh!” was my first thought this morning when the alarm disturbed my slumber. After a few snooze button presses I slowly dragged myself out of the bed. Passing the front door on my way to the kitchen I heard the pounding of rain on the awning over the front porch. “Sigh!” I began washing a few dishes, fixing coffee, making some tea and then proceeded to drop items onto the floor. “It’s going to be one of the days.” I thought to myself. The dogs didn’t like being outside because of the wet ground, mud got on my bedroom shoes and my head was beginning to hurt. The rain stopped long enough for me to put my things in the truck but about a mile from my first stop of the day the “bottom dropped out“, rain poured and my shirt and pants became soaked. “Oy!” I hopped back into the truck, headed to the office and turned the heater on.

As my clothes began to dry I reflected on my current outlook. I arose with a negative view of things and it was playing out exactly as I envisioned. I began to wonder if, like the dampness in my clothes, my foul mood would also evaporate if I focused on the good instead of the not so good, the positive not the negative, the blessings of being alive. When I arrived at the office the rain had stopped and my sloppy attitude had begun to dry out as well.

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

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Going in Circles

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Yesterday evening,  the sun was setting as Beth and I we’re covering plants in preparation for a heavy frost. As we finished up our outside work, I spotted an inch worm slowly making its way around the rim of a flower pot. I watched him stretch forward and pull the rest of his body up and repeat the process. I wondered where it was going? It was a lot of effort to just go in a circle. Sooner or later it would need to change direction if it was ever going to get anywhere.

I then begin to think about my journey and the journey of others I’ve known. There are paths we choose to take that lead us no where. Dreams and what we hope for don’t happen. Plans for our life go awry and yet stubbornly we cling to our desires trying in vain to control, coerce, make life fit our vision. We try and fail, using great effort and passion but never getting anywhere.

The choice becomes do we keep going in circles or decide to change direction? Can we let go of what we want our life to be, take a new path trusting it will lead us to the life we need?

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

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Blinded by the Light

Yesterday evening, as the sun set and the autumn cool air settled in, I gathered some wood, placed it in the fire pit, started a fire, sat in an Adirondack chair and stared at the stars becoming visible in the quickly darkening sky. I breathed out the hustle and bustle and breathed in relaxation. Silence and beauty, what more could you want after a busy day?

Then, out of the corner or my eye, I spied a bright light. I looked over and let out a frustrated “sigh!” The farmer who owns the land adjacent to ours had come on his big, green, John Deere tractor to rake the hay he cut earlier in the day. “Ugh!” What was a serene, peaceful moment of reflection and relaxation turned quickly into a noisy, dusty, beams of lights in my eyes disappointment.

I understand the days are getting shorter. I know the seasons are changing. I recognize the driver of the big, loud machine would also rather be somewhere else but this knowledge still didn’t stop me from being annoyed. As I sat there stewing a few questions came to my mind and spirit; “Is the fire no longer beautiful? Are the stars any less in number? Did the fall breeze cease?” Of course the answers to each of these were; “no.

In life few things are, or stay, our definition of perfection. Wisdom teaches us that acceptance and embrace of change, disruption, the passing of “perfect” moments is vital to peace of mind and spirit. Being able to adapt, finding the gift, and the good, even in moments of frustration and disappointment is needed and necessary.

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

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The Scent of Something New


Last week I ran out of body wash. My brand is generic, housed in an unassuming white bottle with a pale yellow lid, inexpensive and has worked for me for years. Later that day my wife was going to the store and asked me if I needed anything. I mentioned body wash along with a few other items. The next morning, getting ready for work, I hopped in the shower and saw a green monstrosity staring back at me! It was Irish Spring, Moisture Blast, body wash. My first response was confusion and I looked for my usual non-brand behind the viridescent behemoth. I called out to Beth; “Where’s my body wash?!?!” “I got you something new. Just try it.” was her reply. “Sigh.” The old was nowhere to be found and once again change, transition, newness had entered my life without permission.

I picked up the plastic bottle and mocked the name; “Moisture blast?” I chuckled and taunted it with one of my favorite Zen quotes; “The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.” Thankfully no one could hear the exchange over the running water as I popped the top, squeezed the horrid looking blue gunk onto the scrubber and lathered up.

To my surprise the scent was not at all unpleasant and the wash cleaned me up just fine. I even remarked to the Mrs. after getting ready; “Come and smell me! Don’t I smell good?” “You like it?” she asked. “It’s not too bad,” I quipped. She smiled and I’ve enjoyed the scent of change all week-long.

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

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Storm Fronts & Needed Relief 

A cool front is supposed to make its way into Tennessee today and tomorrow. It’s been unseasonably hot the last couple of weeks and a drop in temperatures along with some needed rain will be most welcome. However, along with the anticipated relief from the stifling weather is the potential of severe thunderstorms. We’ve already had a batch of nasty winds and heavy downpours that wreaked havoc on a few places in the area this week so the possibility of more brings a little apprehension.

Weather and season changes have a way of bringing into focus a few things we tend to forget. They remind us of our powerlessness. We cannot make rain fall or temperatures decline. As Mark Twain famously said; “Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.” They also reveal the truth that change isn’t easy; relief usually follows a time of stress and discomfort. Finally, and perhaps most important, nothing good or bad, liked or disliked, enjoyed or endured lasts forever.

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

The Current of Change

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The scraping under my arm is a dead giveaway. I’m running out of deodorant and will soon need a new stick of antiperspirant. Time to say goodbye to one with a nice curve that fits my underarm and hello to a new flat uncomfortable one.

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I also said goodbye to one of my incarcerated fathers classes today. It’s hard. We’ve grown comfortable with each other. They’ve opened up, revealed difficult truths about themselves, arrived at the place where they recognize both their strengths and areas which need improvements. A part of me wants to keep working with this class, continue helping, mentoring, coaching them, but I know it’s time to say goodbye so I can try to inspire a new group.

Saying goodbye can hurt. Welcoming the new is often uncomfortable. Life is learning to accept and move with the current of change and transition.

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

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Change is Brewing

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My wife bought a new coffee pot yesterday and I don’t like it. It’s fancy. Lots of lights, buttons, dials, even a clock, but I don’t care for it. There’s nothing wrong with it per se but I had a great relationship with the old one. It was a simple coffee pot with only an ON/OFF button. It made wonderful java for many years. It’s brew kept me warm on cold winter nights, awake on mornings when I received early emergency phone calls, helped me stay alert on road trips and made a particular gurgling sound when the coffee was ready. It was perfect, well perfectly suited for me.

However, the last few weeks it stopped cutting on when the switch was flipped. Sometimes it took several tries and a good whack before it began to percolate. Since I am the one who usually makes coffee for the family I didn’t mind the extra effort because of the history we shared but yesterday morning my better half attempted to make our morning brew and wasn’t at all pleased. Sigh, out with the old, in with the new. This morning I fought the urge to pull my old friend from out of the trash and instead, again, accepted the reality of change, transition, dissolution and impermanence.

Change bothers me. I don’t deal well with it even though wisdom teaches me all of existence is in a constant state of flux. So, I breathe deeply, let go of attachments to material things and take a big swig!

blessings,

@BrianLoging

http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Aloft, Alive

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I watched it dance, flutter, dip and rise in the wind. This kite was doing it’s best to find a smooth ride but the weather front that’s moving through today made it almost impossible. This inanimate object looked alive as it struggled to locate a steady breeze in which to catch it’s breath, cross winds pulling it to and fro. The dark skies highlighted the colorful fabric as I watched from the hill behind our house this morning.

I reflected on the last fourteen months of my life and understood the kite’s struggle to locate calm in chaos, fight for steadiness in a season of upheaval. I have to catch my breath when I think of what I’ve lost and gained in such a short time. It’s hard to fathom this path of burden and blessing I’ve walked. Old friends I miss, new friends I’m making. A vocation I was comfortable with, a different way to serve and help those in need. Uprooted from a place and people I loved, transplanted to an unexpected, uncertain, unique opportunity.

Eighteen months ago I thought I had an idea of how my life would play out. Now, like the kite, I’m trying to stay in the sky and not crash and burn. I took a deep breath as a strong breeze swept over the field. The kite was still aloft and so am I. One day, one moment at a time. Let the path unfold. Don’t fight against the winds of change. Trust.

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

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