Blog Archives

Stripped

Stripped

Death is the great equalizer. As the old proverb states; “King or pauper, rich or poor, famous and infamous, all end up in a box in the ground.

Many faiths and wisdom teachers make a bold declaration that; “death is not the end of the journey but the start of a new one.” Yet, many are scared of this final destination all must face, accept and experience.

Death does indeed strip away all of the illusions and lies we tell ourselves. If allowed, it can bring us a sense of thankfulness and peace instead of dread and anxiety. Death comes for all. Some go kicking and screaming others with an embrace of that which we cannot outrun.

Death can also strip away our excuses, narrow our focus, help us find our purpose. When death is our company on the way it is either a reminder of compromise and wastefulness or determination and simplicity.

We should not fear death but welcome it daily as a silent partner who helps us truly live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Revealed

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Revealed

Have you ever had someone talk about their funeral with you? I have many times. It’s surreal and humbling all at once.

We spend our lives chasing things which will pass, change, not stay or fulfill us. We ignore death as if that will somehow postpone its inevitability. However, when death becomes a reality and we see life for what it is; most an illusory, transient and brief journey our vision of ourselves and the world changes.

For some, there is anger that they cannot stave off death, it will not leave them alone. They are frustrated by their lack of control over the greatest danger to their destiny and existence.

Others, those who’ve accepted death and have made peace with their limited time in this physical realm have a unique way about them. Their transience doesn’t make them less caring but more empathetic and kind. Knowing each breath could be their last they don’t want it to be used taking but giving, not insulting but praising, not knocking down but lifting up, not selfish but selfless.

Death, the ultimate equalizer, and character revealer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Connected

 

Connected –

Last week a huge limb from one of our oldest trees snapped and fell into our yard. Today was clean up day. I started this morning hoping it would only take a couple of hours. However, it took all day and we’re still not quite finished. The size of the limb meant there were going to be numerous and large branches attached. We sawed and pried and twisted until we didn’t have any energy left. After we made the last trip to a neighbor’s who is trying to fill in a dried up pond to dump a truckload of debris we came home, showered and collapsed.

As we worked on the enormous project I noticed that most of the leaves had dried up and died. The storm, which had blown the limb down, had robbed most of the leaves of their nutrients by disconnecting them from their source of life. But, there were a few branches whose leaves were still green. Their life source had not been disconnected even though they had experienced the same storm.

I reflected on the similarities in people when their path takes them through a time of testing, a season of storms. Some seem to wilt under the pressure while others, in spite of the chaos of the present moment, continue to thrive.

Wisdom teaches us it is who, what, our source of life is that allows us to experience the worst and yet still live. Being connected to who, what is deeply rooted is the difference between life and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

Another Way

Our little farmhouse has many quirks. One of the most frustrating is no back door. At one time there was one in the kitchen but someone filled that one in and installed a dishwasher. Today, the handymen made a doorway out of a window in the hallway next to our bathroom they are remodeling. It was loud and dusty but they got it done and it looks great!

I sit here today with concerns about friends, family, and acquaintances on my heart and mind. A good man who I grew up with lost his father in a motorcycle accident on Easter Sunday. Another friend’s father has a mental illness that’s beginning to impact his family’s life and a tough decision will have to be made soon. Still another friend is facing a big battle filled with an extensive surgery and an even more difficult recovery.

I find myself wanting another way for these people who are suffering so much in different ways. I wish I had the power to create one. A way not filled with the pain of death, the uncertainty of life filled with disease. If I could I would knock down whatever obstacles which stood in their path but regretfully I do not have that kind of power.

What I can do is pray, offer and give any help needed and trust that though another way may not be available, the way of kindness, love, and grace, are still the balm of healing and new life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Recharge

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Recharge

Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.

I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.

On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.

I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?

Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stench of Death

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Stench of Death

Earlier this week we had a visitor. I was getting ready for bed and was walking into the kitchen for something to drink. As I did a little furry rodent ran in front of me. I chased it into the reading room but by the time I flipped the light switch on it had vanished. Usually, mice aren’t a problem as the days get warmer and we’ve had an unusually warm winter so they’ve been few and far between. I set up a couple of traps and waited.

To my surprise, I didn’t catch one but four of them in less than 24 hours. Now, 5 days later, there’s no sign of mice anywhere.  To dispose of them I used plastic store bags, tying them as air tight as I could get them and threw it into the kitchen waste basket. We’ve had a busy week and the trash can didn’t fill up as fast as it usually does. I forgot about the mice until we got back home from church today and there was a stench, a smell that made our noses crinkle and our eyes water. It was then I remembered the deceased creatures in our trash. I took the bag outside, sprayed Lysol in the can, replaced the bag and lit a scented candle.

It was a smelly and good lesson on dead things in our life. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a habit, a hurt or a hangup if we don’t take care of things which will bring death to our physical, emotional or spiritual lives we will end with a stench surrounding us. Through self-awareness and spiritual guidance, we can identify the decay, clean it out of our lives and not be haunted any longer.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Last Second

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Last Second

Beth and I lost a dear friend yesterday in a car accident. She was 91 years old. She was pulling out of a gas station parking lot and didn’t see an oncoming vehicle. In a moment she was gone leaving behind a wonderful legacy of grace, kindness, and love.

I received the news last night about 8:30PM and I’ve thought about her all day. I’ve reflected upon the sweetness of her spirit, her genuine laugh, and contagious smile. I’ve thought about the violent way she left this world, not at all like the gentleness with which she carried herself.

I first met her in 2008. She was leading a weekly prayer group. She was 82 years old but still had a quick mind and a body, worn down by its eighty-plus years, but she wouldn’t let it stop her. We became quick friends and as I looked at pictures of her today I was reminded all the wonderful things I liked about her.

I can’t help but wonder, as I think of the crash which took her life if she ever saw the vehicle which hit her? Did she react or was there no time in the split-second before impact?

I also wonder, how many of us truly recognize that every next moment, second could be our last?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Memories and a Christmas Cactus

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Memories and a Christmas Cactus

My riend Mary, before she passed away, gave us a Christmas cactus. This year it’s finally bloomed. The simple beauty reminds me of her. My Facebook places memories on my start page and two days ago they were of the winter we brought Mary up to our house in Pennsylvania and she stayed with us for the winter. Mary, it seems, is making her presence known to us this Christmas season.

My wife had a birthday yesterday and we had a fun time joking she was rolling down the hill to a big age milestone. We also talked seriously of life and its quick passing. Death, whenever it comes, is closer than ever.

Wisdom teaches us to number our days. This is not a morbid discipline but a joyous one. Each day is precious, not one is to be taken for granted. We are to enjoy and embrace every day as a gift, like the Christmas cactus blooms and pictures which seem from a lifetime ago.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Broken Vessels

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“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Second Book of Corinthians, Chapter 4

Broken Vessels

Yesterday, on my way to work I backed the truck up to turn around in the driveway and heard a loud crash. I checked all my mirrors and didn’t notice any flower pots or other things I might have ran over, nothing seemed amiss. I proceeded on and forgot about it until yesterday evening. When I took the dog out to take care of business I spotted the culprit who created the loud sound I heard while backing up. It was the dog’s water dish. It was in pieces all over the driveway. What once was good for holding water, giving our active Siberian Husky vitality was no longer good for anything but to be thrown away.

As I picked up the pieces the verse above from Second Corinthians, along with the song from Jars of Clay based on the same section of scripture, recited itself in my brain. I wrote yesterday about a funeral home speaker I listened to at a luncheon on Tuesday and perhaps it was still rattling around in my mind as I reflected on the fragility of human life. What now holds us together physically, emotionally and spiritually will one day not be able. It is not a morbid thought but one which reminds us to live fully and completely in each moment while our earthly vessels are still able.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not too Late to Start Early

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Not too Late to Start Early

At a luncheon today myself and about twenty others sat through two presentations. The first was on the newest technology for breast exams; a 3D machine that can catch cancer 40% earlier than most of the equipment currently used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As a husband who’s married to a wife with a history a breast cancer in her family, I was extremely interested. Breast cancer which is caught early can have a survival rate of up to 90%!

The meeting was held in the social commons area of a large funeral home and the second presentation had to do with pre-planning your funeral. The speaker gave the advice we all know to be true but would rather not think about; “We each like to think we have more time in life than what we probably have.” She then went on to speak about making a record of our basic information, preferred funeral themes, embalmed or cremation and a host of other options one can choose as their way of saying; “Goodbye.”

After the luncheon I thought about doing things early, being ahead of the game, not procrastinating. Procrastinating is not a big problem for me. My anxiety disorder tends to skyrocket when things are left undone, not finished. It’s like a gnawing in the pit of my stomach until I complete whatever is bothering me. However, there are a few things which seem to be able to slip under the radar and can be put off “until…” I don’t forget about them I’m just able to slide them on to the back burner until they threaten to boil over.

Breast exams for Beth do not fall into this category. Because of her family history with this dreaded and damnable disease I make sure she sets and keeps her yearly appointments. Funeral plans on the other hand we haven’t talked much about. We both know we’re getting older, that death comes for us all and not at the time of our choosing. Wisdom tells us to live in the present moment of today but also be aware there is an unknown tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lay Me Down to Rest

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Lay Me Down to Rest…

Wednesday night, before my lecture to an Incarcerated Father class, I was speaking with one of the men and learned that a few days prior someone had died in the jail. He was an unknown older black gentleman who had been brought in late Sunday. The story was that he had laid down, complained a little about his chest hurting, rolled over and in the next hour breathed his last. For those who witnessed the event, it was both haunting and a fantastic tale to relay to others. Though morbid, being incarcerated can be terribly boring, it was an unexpected dramatic experience in the malaise that is life behind bars.

As the excited chatter ceased regarding the spectacle, I looked at the man telling me the story and said; “What a sad thing, to die in jail. Alone with no one knowing you or loving you.” I am not sure why I made such a blunt statement except it was a lesson I couldn’t pass up. Many of the men I work with have been in jail several times and if they do not change their ways could very well die behind bars, surrounded by those who are not their family and friends.

I tell the men every class; “Choice is destiny. WHAT you do today determines WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” and we all have a limited number of tomorrows.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Procession

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The Procession

The other day I pulled over and stopped for a funeral procession which was passing. I was in a hurry but not so much that I wasn’t reminded that one day all of us will be riding in the back of a hearse with friends and family members traveling behind.

I am not sure when and where pulling over for a funeral procession began. I know different regions of the country do and do not practice the behavior. When we lived in the mid-west of the country it was sometimes yes and sometimes no for pulling over to the side. Living in the Northeast there seemed to be a lot less of honoring the dead by stopping your vehicle.

There’s a wonderful anonymous wisdom proverb which states;

“Rich or poor, famous, infamous or unknown, person of power or a simple man, all are buried in the same size box.”

Our box awaits for us. It will fit in the back of a slightly larger car and proceed to our final resting place. The questions of; “When? Where? How?” aren’t important. The primary question is; “What do we do with the time we have left?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com
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Looking Deeply

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Looking Deeply

What a difference a week makes! Last week, mowing grass and weeding, I was sweating bullets with temps in the mid 90’s and no breeze. Today it is 64 degrees with a mild wind. An almost perfect fall day. The seasons and their changes do amaze. Sometimes the change is gradual and you barely notice. Other times it’s quick and you can’t help but marvel at the disparity.

Nature is truly one of wisdom’s greatest teachers. Changes in the seasons, especially summer to fall, remind us that periods of growth and blossoming, are often followed by times of pruning, decrease, dormancy, and perhaps death. There isn’t one without the other. Neither are good or bad, negative or positive, right or wrong, they’re the way of life. Our responsibility is not to grasp or push away, but to accept both with grace and gratitude.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Struggling on Father’s Day

Struggling on Father’s Day- 

My heart is heavy on this Father’s day. I have a great dad who has sacrificed much for me and did his best, always, to be a good role model, showing me how to be a good man. I am thankful for the love and support he gives me.

No, my heart is heavy because of a father I know who lost his son this past week. His son, who had just graduated high school, his whole life ahead of him, gone in an instant. My heart is heavy for those men killed in Orlando, Florida a week ago. A community where fathers’ criess of brokenness and loss still fill the air. My heart is heavy for friends and others I know whose fathers have died, leaving a hole no one else can fill. My heart is heavy for the men in my Incarcerated Dad’s classes who want to be good fathers. They want to love their kids but sometimes don’t know how. They long to see their children but mothers, partners and wives choose to keep them away because of the jail environment and choices these men have made. I’ve heard and seen tributes to fathers today in church, on Facebook walls, Sunday television shows and my spirit aches.

Wisdom teaches that our lives are as vapor. A wisp of wind and they are gone. Like summer grass that springs up in the morning but is withered in the heat of the day. I think of fathers gone too soon and children snatched from the clutches of those who loved them dearly and sigh. It may be Father’s Day but for some the day does not bring happiness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Soaking

Soaking

It has rained most of the day. A wonderful, steady rain that has penetrated the ground and brought life-giving sustenance to planted flowers, gardens, trees and grass.

The sound of rain is good for my soul. I like to sit and listen to it, fall asleep to its melody, awaken to it glancing off the window panes, open the door to the front porch and watch it fall. I posted last week about our need for rain (80% https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/05/13/80/). We stayed dry for most of the past week but today brought relief.

There are times when I feel this way in my soul; dry, barren, in need. I long to have it quenched, to have it resuscitated after the world drains the life out of me with its meanness, hatefulness, division, death and misery. I look to the skies, I strain to hear the sound of thunder, my spirit aches for a drop of hope, love, kindness and grace.

Then, in its own time, it comes. The path leads me to a place of reprieve where the water of renewal washes over me, soaking into the deepest parts of me. I feel it course through me and once again am reminded why this is the way I have chosen.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In the Rubble

Life can be hard, difficult, painful and full of loss. There are times, seasons, when the chaos of existence seems to strip us of everything we hold dear and we wonder; “Is there a reason to keep going? What’s the point when everything has been taken away?” When all around us has crumbled, our foundations have been shaken and those things which we’ve placed our faith in no longer exist and we come to place where love, grace and miracles are illusion, what do we do?

At this crisis point we are faced with the decision to trust when there doesn’t seem reason, to see blessing when your way is cursed, to expect life as death hovers near. From the rubble of disappointment, disease, defeat, dejection, even death comes a chance at a new beginning, an appreciation for what will emerge after all we value disappears.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Texting the Deceased

I texted a deceased person today. I intended to text the person I just didn’t know he had passed away on Sunday evening.

On my way to a community meeting this morning I drove through a small town and read on a local business sign; “R.I.P. Jim Smith.“* It took me a moment, the name sounded familiar, and then I recognized it as a name of one of the fathers in our program. The next second it dawned on me he had also once worked at the business with the sign. I called someone who knew the father and he confirmed that; “Yes, he was in a car accident over the weekend and lost his life.” It became even more shocking when I realized I’d texted the deceased father a couple of hours earlier. I was doing my routine check-in with him and many of the other dads our program works with to see how their week was going. Jim* was an engaged father, in his early 20’s, with one infant daughter he adored. He worked full-time, went to school and loved his wife and family.

After the confirmation of his passing everything else melted away. I prayed for his family but truly cannot imagine the hurt, doubt and confusion they are experiencing. At lunch I talked with Beth and told her about the dad. She then said she had spoken with a wife this morning, whose husband had recently taken his own life, after a long battle with alcohol. Death, it seems, is making it’s presence known this Tuesday. We both told each other; “I love you very much!” as we ended the conversation.

We are but candles swiftly extinguished. The light of our lives burn brightly and quickly dim. There is no tomorrow, no guarantee of another breath, moment or chance to let those we care for, appreciate and love know how much they mean to us.

*names have been changed to protect confidentiality

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Denial

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When we moved into our little house almost eighteen months ago there was a beautiful Weeping Willow tree in our front yard. Last spring it flourished and for half the summer was the glory of our lawn. Then, sometime in late summer, it began to lose its leaves and turn brown. No matter what we tried we couldn’t stop it from shriveling up and becoming a ghost of its former self. We hoped it would bounce back after winter but each time I’d check for signs of life there were none to find. It was dead and we were living in denial. Yesterday, I was able to push it over with my hands and it broke off at the base without a fight.

Last night, Good Friday evening, I sat by a fire being fed with the dead tree. As it burned I listened to, reflected upon and prayed over the familiar story of the Master’s crucifixion, death and burial. I thought about his followers’ denials of knowing him and their pledges of fidelity and courage in the face of persecutions wilt and die in frightening reality.

Denial. Like the tree, and the disciples, we are able to fool ourselves much of the time. Usually it takes death to reveal our delusion. The death of a dream, a job, the idea of our invincibility, our elusive control, a loved one or the myriad of other illusions we grab onto and trust in to make us feel safe and sane reveal a truth about us.

When these are taken away and our denial is unmasked what are we left with? This may be the greatest, most important question of all.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blossom

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It’s cool today. The first day of spring may just be around the corner but a blustery wind is sweeping in a cold front this afternoon.

Earlier, Trooper, our Siberian Husky, and I sat outside waiting for Beth to get home. I’ve been trying to spend more time with him since we said; “goodbye” to Belle, our Golden Retriever, on Thursday. We haven’t changed anything yet in the room the dogs stay in. We’re waiting and watching Trooper to see how he’ll react without his “sister.” He looks for her and wanders a bit, unsure of his surroundings. Belle’s heavy breathing and congestion provided a constant reminder of her presence but now it’s very quiet. Everyone in the family is adjusting and using one another for comfort and consolation. Each day gets a little better.

As we sat outside waiting I noticed a lone purple flower blossoming in the midst of some rocks. It was a pleasant reminder that hope and beauty can bloom in the most desolate places.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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But a Memory

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I had a dream the other night about someone very close to me who died not too long ago. It was so vivid and real that, for a moment, after I awoke her presence was palpable. I also saw her on Friday as I traveled home from being out of town. She was walking along side the road, bending over to pick up a piece of trash. It wasn’t her, of course, but the person bore a resemblance and my mind and heart filled in the rest of the details.

I miss my friend. I suppose I always will until, perhaps, I see her again. For now, dreams, passing shadows and doppelgangers will have to do. Our lives are short, a few breaths, a limited number of days and we are gone and a memory of those we leave behind if we are blessed.

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

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