Blog Archives

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Listening is Not Agreeing

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Listening is Not Agreeing

Late last week someone said something about me and that I didn’t agree. At first, the emotion was to respond, defend myself, dig in my heels, push back against the criticism. It wasn’t something overwhelmingly harsh but it did rub me the wrong way.

Instead of responding right away I sat with it for a bit and reflected on it. Oftentimes critiques are met with resistance. We want to defend ourselves. However, if we are too quick to jump our own defense we might miss something constructive. There’s an old wisdom saying; “Both criticism and compliments should be taken with the same weight.” Receiving compliments and praise can be easier but they have a way of pumping up our ego and sense of self. Criticisms, if held on to, can create bitterness, rivalry, and ruptured relationships.

One of the greatest disciplines of contemplative listening is found in the truth; “Listening is not agreeing.” When someone speaks to us a compliment or criticism we do not have to own it, take it inside of us, let it mingle with our minds, emotions, and spirits. We can examine it, turn it over in our minds and, if we have self-awareness, can decide if it is meant for us, to grow, to learn, to let it become a part of us. Perhaps its simply another’s opinion and through insight and stillness, we discover that we can let it go. It’s not for us.

“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to hold a thought in our heads
and not necessarily believe it to be true.” #Aristotle

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

Found

I had a friend who used to tell me she felt guilty for falling asleep when praying her nightly prayers. “God must be so disappointed in me! I can’t even stay awake to say goodnight to him.” I knew her heart was full of love and a desire to please God. I listened and then I asked her a question; “What do you think God would like more? To hear you say; ‘Goodnight.’ or for you to fall asleep in his arms?'” She smiled and understood that oftentimes we make our relationship with God more complicated than it should be.

The contemplative way tells us that when we are chopping wood, it is with God. When we eat a meal, it is with God. When sitting quietly, it is with God. All things we do can be with an awareness that God isn’t impressed with our showmanship, rules and regulations, dogma and definitions. God longs for us to realize where we are; he is and our awareness of his presence, our understanding he desires to be with us is the meeting of every need we have now and forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…

“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
Be Still
Be”

When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.

I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blue Friday

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Blue Friday

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Choose Wisely

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Choose Wisely

Yesterday I needed to drive into town and sign some important documents. I wasn’t excited about dropping everything I was doing and running this errand but there was no other option. On the way, it seemed like every light was red, the road was occupied with the slowest of drivers, and I even had to pull over for a funeral procession.

By the time I arrived to sign the papers my patience was wearing thin. I walked in, told the woman behind the counter my name and what documents I needed to sign. She looked all around her with no luck. There were three two-drawer metal filing cabinets behind her. She pulled on one with no luck and began looking for the keys. “Sigh!” She found the key to one of the filing cabinet and said over her shoulder to me; “It has to be in one of these!” “Ugh!”

She opened the first one and no luck. She then looked for and found the key to the second one, opened it up and…no papers. Finding the third key she opened the last filing cabinet and; “Tada!” I signed the papers, told the woman thank you, and began to drive back home. I immediately became aware that my patience was thin and I needed to breathe out the tension and anxiety and breathe in stillness and peace.

  • As much as I like to consider myself a contemplative, patience isn’t my default emotional and mental place. Like the filing cabinets; I start with frustration, move to irritation with patience and letting go, seeming to be one of the last drawers I open.
  • I hope, pray, that one day instead of patience and peace being one of the final options they will be my first and only.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Keep Walking

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Keep Walking

This morning, part of my devotions had this passage from Laurence Freeman, OSB;

“A brother came to his Abbott and said, ’Many distracting thoughts come into my mind and I am in danger because of them. I’m so distracted, my mind is all over the place.’  The elder took the monk out of the cell into the open air and said, ‘Open up the garments that you’re wearing and catch the wind.’  The monk replied, ’I cannot do this!’ and the Abba said to him, ‘If you cannot catch the wind, neither can you prevent distracting thoughts from coming into your head. Your job is to say not stop them from blowing in but letting your mind be open enough for the distracting thoughts to blow out as well.'”

One of the most difficult traits of having a Severe Anxiety Disorder is all of the thoughts that swirl in my mind almost every moment of every day. I believe this is one of the main reasons for my attraction to the contemplative, monastic lifestyle. I’ve read countless words of wisdom on how to still my thoughts, to try to corral them, and some work, sometimes but some days nothing does.

A picture in my Facebook feed this morning reminded me of the battle between what I desire; a calm interior with what is often anything but:

Tomorrow I go to a specialist who I’ve been seeing for almost a year. She is a nice woman, smart and understanding. She asks me how I’m feeling, how my meds are working, how I’m sleeping, how I’m doing socially, what my work schedule is like, and other, much harder, probing, deep, questions.

One of the hardest parts of seeing her is that I’m not significantly better, or better yet; cured. She knows this already, she knew this when I started seeing her. People with Chronic, Major Depressive Disorder, and Severe Anxiety Disorder don’t suddenly recover. It’s a long process and she is part of my journey, along with words of wisdom, my spirituality, meds and a host of other things.

So, I keep walking this path and enjoy the good days, endure the harder days and trust the folks who surround and support me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Shhhhh

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Shhhhh…

What does it mean to listen?

I had a conversation with a gentleman today about what it means to truly hear another person, to listen intently, empathetically, contemplatively. It’s not an easy discipline to master. To hear another, to touch their true selves takes practice and no small amount of humility.

Most of the time when we are conversing with another person we are simultaneously thinking about what we are going to say in response and filtering what the other is saying through our own life filter.  In other words, we hear according to who we are not the person speaking to us. If we desire to listen, hear the other person speak, feel their words, the emotions behind them we must be a blank paper that they can write upon.

We live in a world where listening is quickly becoming a lost art, a forgotten discipline. To listen to someone is to make a bond, join together, connect on a deeper level than all the drivel which inundates our lives through TV, radio, internet, social media each day.

Contemplative listening is letting a person speak their words, to have them imprinted upon us, without a ready response or hasty judgement. It is to touch the soul of the other and know that neither will be the same afterwards.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wherever You Go

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Wherever You Go

I have a friend who was struggling. Several years ago he was miserable in his personal, vocational,  and spiritual life. He was looking for a change that would solve his malaise. We sat in a restaurant and talked about what he was needing and why. Finally, he decided he needed a new job. “I don’t get along or agree with the vision of the current leadership. Every time I walk into those offices I get a pit in my stomach. Finding another position with a place in a new state might be exactly what I need.” In silence, we ate our food and then I told him; “Remember, no matter what you do, where you go or live, who you are here is who you’ll be there. You always bring yourself with you.

The hardest changes we make in our life are ourselves. One of the biggest temptations we battle is the lie; “What’s wrong is outside of us, not within.” Until we understand the way forward is to travel inside we’ll never find what we seek.

Most wisdom teachers will tell us; “The only peace you’ll find is the peace you bring with you.” and “If you’re not at peace where you are you’ll never be at peace wherever you go.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Me Want It but Me Wait

I viewed a seminar today on the development of self-regulation which, in part, is the process of learning to delay gratification. (the Cookie Monster video was part of the presentation) One of the signs of healthy growth and maturity in a child is their ability to learn to wait, to not act upon their impulses.

I couldn’t help but reflect upon the culture we live in and the constant message we receive of “having everything…and having it now!” Patience, stillness, waiting, existing in the present moment without feeding an insatiable desire to have more isn’t learned or desired.

To pause and believe we have enough; freeing our minds, bodies, spirits from the hunger for feasting and instead enjoying the blessing of being alive is vital as we journey the path to wisdom and peace.

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

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Changing the World

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeing from Within

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

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

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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The Perfect Moment

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

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

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

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

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When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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Whew!

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Busy day! Rushing, running, racing from one place to another. Trying not to be late for meetings and appointments while staying in the present moment is quite a balancing act. I took time to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze on my arm while being mindful of the clock that seemed to run fast all day long.

When I finally got home the quietness of the house literally rang in my ears. Silence is loud when you’re accustomed to noise, stillness unsettling when you’ve been in constant motion.

A deep cleansing breath to exhale the dust of the miles I’ve traveled today, a closing of my eyes to forget the clock I’ve watched, a letting go of the schedule I clung to so tightly.

Whew.

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

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Blessing of Chaos

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Let’s hear it for chaos! The confusion and catastrophes we encounter on the road of life. The chasms and canyons we must cross, climb out of, forge and finagle to reach the promise land of peace and contentment.

Change is frightening, fearful and our instinct is to fight and hold on for dear life to what is familiar. We place our faith in what is comfortable, old habits, well known friends, old wine skins stretched and worn.

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Chaos. Waves crashing, wind howling, tides pulling us under, we gasp for air, it is life. Going down, drowning, sinking deeper into the unknown abyss we close our eyes and breathe our last.

Chaos, uncertainty, instability. The tidal wave of change sweeps us under and in the depths we find stillness. Lost in the darkness of confusion an unseen path leads us home.

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

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Breathing in Hope

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The bug man came to the house today to spray inside our home and outside to protect future plants and soon to be flowers from pesky predators. It’s another sign that spring is on the way!

I took the dogs to the top of the hill behind our house so they wouldn’t bug the bug man as he did his business. The wind was blowing and the pooches and I stuck our noses in the air taking deep breaths of a new season sweeping in. There’s something about spring, the warm chasing out the cold, the blue skies overcoming the gray, the light increasing as the dark retreats.

Sitting on that hill, filling my lungs with air was like inhaling hope and exhaling the despair of a long, cold winter.

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

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