Blog Archives

Color Blind?

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Color Blind?

This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.

One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.

I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Make Sure the Water’s Deep Enough

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Make Sure the Water’s Deep Enough

In a conversation this week I heard someone say; “Make sure the water’s deep enough before you jump off the bridge.” I hadn’t heard this saying before and found it interesting. It seems to be about planning, understanding, knowledge of a situation before you choose a course of action. As I reflected on it I also thought of NOT knowing how deep the water is before jumping. Maybe it’s deep enough, maybe it isn’t, but once a person decides to jump it’s too late to change one’s mind.

Wisdom tells us the key to gaining wisdom is knowing you know nothing. It’s a paradox. Obviously there are things we know but we approach wisdom with humility understanding whatever our wisdom level might be we are still not wise compared to knowing all things as they truly are and exist. There are bridges we can jump off of with confidence, others where we know not to jump, and there will always be bridges when we risk jumping or choose another way.

Sometimes its only after we jump into the unknown that we find the water is more than deep enough and wisdom reminds us again how much we still have to learn.

For more posts, reflections and other writings please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Down Deep

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Down Deep

A couple of months ago me, Beth and our Siberian Husky, Trooper, went down south for a few days. Unbeknownst at the time, we had forgotten to give him his monthly flea medicine and for the first time in his life, he became home to a family of fleas. We didn’t notice for a few days and then we could tell by the scratching and his whining something wrong was happening. So, we investigated and discovered the flea family was present and were inviting relatives.  We jumped into action and over the last several weeks we’ve given him multiple baths, his flea medicine twice and made sure to vacuüm almost every day. We wanted to make sure any fleas that had embedded themselves not only on him but in our carpets and floors were sucked up and discarded. I’m happy to report the dog and the house are both cleaned and relieved. Fleas are nasty, persistent little insects. They had a way of digging down deep, finding hiding places, hanging on for dear life and without dedication and determination will not leave!

Wisdom teaches us that we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are similar to these ornery boogers. We have places in our lives, our minds, our spirits that plague us and without desire and discipline will not leave, stop or heal themselves. Addictions, mental health illnesses, personality traits, our histories, can be rooted deep within and only through purposeful and thoughtful approaches can stay hidden and cause suffering. As difficult as bringing these issues to the surface can be it is more damaging to allow them to stay and fester.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Smoldering

Smoldering

On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.

I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

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Power

The lists have already started airing on television, showing up in online news outlets, heard on the radio. The top 10 newsmakers, personalities, sports icons, movie actors, deaths of the last year.

Most of the lists are silly and arbitrary but one usually grabs my attention. It is the lists of famous people who have passed away. I usually have forgotten the ones which happened earlier in the year. I listen to these lists and think about the people who society has lost, reflect upon how quickly life fades and wonder how these deceased became famous, powerful in whatever sphere they existed.

Deep in the heart of every person, there is the power to become whatever they want to be, given the right circumstances, and the combination of luck and perseverance. There is a commercial running on TV where a music mogul is shown being the success that he has made of his life and holding his baby boy at the end telling him; “You’re the boss! You’re the bomb! You’re the don!” In other words, the world is at this kid’s fingertips, it’s here for the taking.

Our society tells us we can be anything we set our minds to, fulfill our heart’s desire, and everything is equal. There is no higher calling. Being a politician, a famous actor or singer, a sports star, or countless other professions in which a person might find worldly success are all the ultimate good.

However, I wonder where are the mystics, the poets, the artists, the rebels, those who don’t desire the allure of the world but embrace another desire, dream? These folk aren’t usually the ones who are famous enough to make top 10 lists or are remembered after their passing but they’re also the ones who don’t care.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

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Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed.  Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.

Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.

Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people?  In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?

A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.

Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.

Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Heart’s Way

The Heart’s Way

The sky has been cloudy today. It has been mostly dreary and cool. It’s one of those days you stay inside and try to keep warm. This weekend has felt like fall. Not the fall with the beautiful leaves, cool nights and warmer days but the type of fall days which tell you winter won’t be long coming.

I’ve been tired today. It’s been a long 10 days and its caught up with me. I don’t mind “lazy” days. They are good for the mind, body, and spirit. However, there are things which need to get done that didn’t. I know there will still be enough sunny warmer days to finish winterizing the house and yard but letting go of “wasted” day thoughts is still tough.

Looking inside, into my soul, where the stillness exists I am reminded that there must be days we rest. I am thankful for the wisdom teachings of the importance of the mind but even more so the lessons of the heart. Going deep, when the surface is confused or condemning, helps me discover the path is not forged by a quickened pace but by a contented heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Dig

Dig

A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one.  It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.

It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.

As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.

Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.

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

Deep

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Deep –

A few weeks ago Beth and I began planting several different types of trees. Some are fruit trees others are for privacy as land around us is being sold. We chose Leyland Cypress for this because they were recommended for quick growth and their thickness which is tough for prying eyes to see through.

However, over the last seven to ten days brown spots have begun showing up on the limbs. We’ve been watering the trees but this hasn’t stopped the brown spots from appearing. This week Beth talked to a landscaper who suggested cutting pieces of PVC pipe about 18 inches, drilling holes in them and driving them into the ground near the trees. Leyland Cypress, once they are rooted will take care of themselves, but until that occurs they need lots of water and for it to be delivered to the roots underneath the soil. The PVC pipes will distribute the water deeper to the roots that need it most.

The pipes will have to wait for this weekend but I reflected on the advice as we watered the trees tonight. I thought of how we live in a world where we water the top, take care of the surface, make what people see look good and too often ignore what’s deep inside of us. We are more concerned with what’s seen than unseen. As a result, we begin to die. What’s not being taken care of at the deepest part of our spirits, what counts the most, is not being nurtured and sooner or later it shows itself on the surface.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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All Gone

All Gone.

Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.

The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.

The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twiter)
thewannabesaint.com

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When it’s Deep Enough

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Our neighbor across the road is doing some excavating. He has removed several large trees, some unsightly hedges and leveled a few large mounds of dirt. He’s also expanding, what could generously be called a waterhole, where his cows like to hangout on long hot summer days.

To do this expansion he’s using a bulldozer and a large backhoe. The workers he hired start early and stop late. The bulldozer isn’t too bad; a steady hum as it pushes the dirt around. The backhoe, however, is a different story. The workers are using it to dig deeper and most of what the large yellow machine scoops up is mud and muck.

After the driver fills the scooper he swings the cab around and empties his load. Because the goop is sticky, the driver uses the controls to force the scooper to shake violently to loosen the gunk. When he does this the large metal contraption makes an awful and annoying amount of noise. Last night they worked past sundown and my nerves were worn threadbare.

This morning, as I looked at the ever expanding waterhole, I was reflecting upon the truth that going deeper in our minds, emotions and spirits, isn’t easy, clean or fun either. It’s hard work, shakes us to our core, wears us out and we wonder how long until it’s finished. Unfortunately, the only answer is; when it’s deep enough.

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

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Silence of the Deep

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The voices are out in full force this week. Loud, screaming, oftentimes obnoxious, shrill, shrieking at the top of many lungs. Some are voices of triumph and victory, others wailing and bemoaning the downfall of life as we know it.

Flags were taken down, banners were unfurled. People protested in the streets while others celebrated. Declarations to keep fighting were pledged while some gave up, gave in and would be prophets pronounced judgment and Armageddon on a nation and world.

It’s been a tough week to be quiet, still, focused. The noise of change, transition, strife and struggle tries to drag us to the surface away from the deep; where serenity and calm reside. The temptation to jump into the fray, loudly declare our opinion, join our voices to the cacophony and relentless waves of sound surrounds and penetrates us.

Wisdom pleads with us to resist. Drop, plunge, drift, deep into the place where the shifting surface no longer threatens, the howls of the winds, the roaring of the breakers cannot deafen, where grace and peace whispers your name.

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

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