Blog Archives

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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A Time to Let Go

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“Kenneth Brown was placed in an armchair by his son Timothy after suffering a fall during a fire in his bedroom in Victoria Way in Stafford, Cannock Coroners Court heard.
But a day later, 94-year-old Kenneth was found dead in the chair by his son, who then, instead of calling 999, left his father to decompose while continuing to live in the home.
The court was then told how a neighbour then called round on October 18, entering the hall and looking into the living room where Timothy was sat with Kenneth.
Timothy had been his father’s sole carer for more than 10 years after his mother had passed away in 2004. The pair were described as ‘recluse with hardly any visitors’.
A post mortem was unable to ascertain a cause of death because of the decomposition of the body, but it did reveal a number of fractures to Mr Brown’s ribs – which were put down to a fall out of bed during the fire by investigators.
DC Andrew Weatherley from Staffordshire Police told the court how Timothy, who was not at the hearing, had said he had woken in the night and seen smoke coming from his father’s room.
He had dragged him into the lounge and sat him in the armchair, DC Weatherley said.
However, Timothy said he woke the following day to find his father had died.
He told police he did not call 999 as he could not come to terms with it.
A statement from the neighbour said: “The back door was open, from the kitchen I could hear the TV was on loudly in the living room. Tim was in there watching TV. I spoke to Tim for a few minutes from the hall, before I opened the door fully. As I looked at the chair I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I could see a skull, I was very shocked.”
Timothy was arrested, but after the fire service found evidence of the blaze and an investigation judged the fractures were caused by a fall, Staffordshire Police decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute him.
DC Weatherley said: “There was no obvious motive for him to cause the death of his father and it was decided he should not face criminal charges.”
Senior Assistant Coroner Mrs Margaret Jones said: “ It is a very sad case indeed. His son failed to deal with his father’s death appropriately.'” Express and Star News

Giving up things, even people we hold dear, can be incredibly difficult. Our attachment to what has meant so much to us, loved us, supported us, makes letting go seem impossible. However, wisdom teaches us that allowing all things the possibility of leaving our lives when the time is right. This is healthy and helpful and key in avoiding being stuck with what’s no longer vital to our lives.

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

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Soul Infection

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One of the hazards of working on outdoor projects is foreign objects getting stuck in the wrong places. Last night my thumb was hurting and after a closer look I saw there was a big thorn lodged in it from some prickly bushes we are replanting.

I walked into the kitchen, showed Beth and she immediately went to work. She grabbed a needle from her sewing kit, a pair of tweezers, sterilized them both and began attempting to remove the shard from my finger. Unfortunately for me the thorn was deep and liked its new home very much. Beth picked, squeezed, tried to pluck it out but to no avail.

Finally, with a lot of effort on her part, even more squirming on mine, she was able to grasp the thorn with the tweezers. However, because it was embedded so deeply it still couldn’t be extracted and every time she latched onto it, moved it, pain would shoot up my arm, followed by a loud; “OUCH!” “Sorry babe,’ she would reply ‘but I have to get it out.’” “We could just leave it in there.” came my rebuttal. “Then it would get infected.” “Okay.” I said and sighed in resignation. Ten minutes or so later the splinter came out and we both let out an exaggerated; “Whew!

This morning, as I massaged my still sore thumb, I reflected on the truth that removing things is often painful. Life has a way of placing things inside our minds and emotions that can infect our souls. Bitterness, anger, unfulfilled expectations, despair, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness all lodge themselves within us and, if not extracted, will poison and eventually kill our spirits.

Finding, acknowledging, extracting, these deep, painful and possibly infected places inside of us isn’t easy but wisdom tells us it is the choice between spiritual life or death.

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

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In the Grip of Grief

Today would’ve been my friend Mary’s 90th birthday. It’s the second one I’ve celebrated without her. A year and couple of months ago she passed away but I still have her birthday on my calendar. Hers is not the only lost loved one I have marked. I have another’s who passed away in 2010 and more. Sometimes the birthdays of friends, family, loved ones who have passed sneak up on me. In the midst of life a special day arrives along with the realization it cannot be celebrated together.

Saturday night, I came across a picture frame with a crocheted Bible verse inside. My wife had made and given it to Mary many years ago. I picked up the frame, read the verse and then clutched it tightly to my chest. Grief had reached out, grabbed my heart and the gift, which was returned to us after Mary’s passing, was all I had to hold onto.

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One of wisdom’s truest and toughest lessons is that all things pass away. Everything and everyone we love will, in time, slip from our grasps and our lives. The transience of all created things is incredibly difficult to accept but the more willing we are to let go the less of a grip grief will have upon us.

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

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What Can We Do?

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks for several friends. Many are suffering pain and loss. There has been death, injury, mental diagnosis, health issues, setbacks, financial struggles, legal battles and more. You hurt when others are suffering; feelings of inadequacies, trying to figure out what you can do to ease their burdens lays heavy on your mind and spirit.

Someone in the office asked today; “Why do people bring food to families whose loved ones have died?” A co-worker answered; “Because there’s nothing you can do about death.” I thought this was a good and truthful answer.

There are so many things we can’t do anything about, so much that’s beyond our control. Death, disease, and other extreme difficulties descend on people we treasure and if we could we’d take it away but we don’t have that power.

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Accepting our powerlessness is the first step in helping. We are finite beings. We are limited in knowledge, expertise, special abilities and do not posses powers to make all things better by wishing it to be so or worrying obsessively.

Awareness of what we can’t do enables us to see how we can assist those in need. Then we take action. The size of our offering isn’t as important as the spirit in which we give. There is no act of good so small that it’s ineffective. Our hearts propel us to do, not for gratification, but because there is a way to help, love, give hope, be a light to someone living in darkness.

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

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A Priceless Gift?

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This morning the Mrs. and I woke up early and decided to go to a few garage/yard sales in the area. 

At one stop there was a lady sitting under her carport selling a few belongings of her husband who recently passed away. One of the items was a large tote with wires, extension cords, an electronic timer and a host of computer cables. The tote was worth the asking price and after we purchased it I placed in the back of the truck and began to rummage through it. 

While mentally cataloging the contents I came across a bank bag. I showed it to Beth and asked her to return it to the woman. However, I couldn’t resist the urge to open it first as visions of rare coins, old documents, valuable collectors items danced through my mind. Instead it was a few quarters and piece of paper. I zipped it up and handed it to Beth who took it back to the woman.

When Beth returned she said; “I’m glad we did that, the document in the bank bag, was her husband’s birth certificate.” We both smiled and wondered what she would do with a piece of paper, useless and meaningless to us, but not to a wife who missed her husband and children who missed their dad.

Part of the thrill of going to garage/yard sales, auctions, storage unit bidding wars and such, is the possibility you might discover, and own, something of great worth. Today, however, we were able to give away what might have been for this widow a priceless find.

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

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Soul Scavengers

Yesterday, I arrived home to find a flock of Turkey Buzzards (or Turkey Vultures) inhabiting my front yard and circling overhead. Immediately I knew there was something dead nearby and the scavengers had found their afternoon meal. Luckily for me, not for the animal, it had been hit by a vehicle across the street.

Pulling into my driveway I sounded my truck horn to try to get the birds to scatter but apart from a few of them fluttering their wings I was mostly ignored. After parking I tried shooing them away by yelling and exaggerated posturing but they remained unconcerned. Their attention was on the meal being served not the crazy man making strange noises and acting even stranger. I gave up and went inside but every so often I would hear a driver honk their vehicle’s horn, rev the engine, threatening to run them over but the birds weren’t leaving until their appetite was satisfied.

Later I reflected upon the birds and the sign they were to me that something rotten was nearby. I wondered if, when we had an unpleasant habit, a putrid attitude, a relationship that was dying, a miserable personality, it would be helpful if a flock of menacing fowl would begin to follow us around. We’d be alerted and understand that the birds would only leave when what’s attracted them is removed.

Unfortunately, too often we’re the ones indulging, gorging ourselves on our cravings, rotten prejudices, stuffed egos, slanderous words, harmful actions, bitterness and self-pity.

Wisdom teaches us that self-awareness and humility are what keep us from becoming prey to, and becoming one of, the scavengers which seek to feast on our souls.

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

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