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Till Death

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Till Death

Today I had the honor of officiating the marriage between a young woman I have known for a long time and her finance. It was a homespun affair. The bride, groom and myself on the porch, the rest of the family and friends in mismatched chairs under two canopies to keep away the strong wind and drizzle that wouldn’t give up the fight. It was a beautiful wedding. The bride and groom truly cared for each other and it showed. They wrote most of their vows which is the norm these days. However, they still included the phrase; “Till death do us part.” Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.

Before I arrived at the home where the event was held I pulled into a church parking lot to put on my dress shirt and tie. Afterwards, since I was running early, I sat in the car and watched a family walk through a maze of headstones trying to pick one out at a Memorial and Engraving shop which was located just down from the church. I wondered about their story, the person they were looking for.

I thought about the experience after the wedding as well and hoped for a story of long-lasting love and a life-long commitment for the couple who said their; “I do’s.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Abundance

Abundance

To be unselfish is the key to abundance. To not hold on to anything, desire anything, be covetous of anything or anyone. Abundance comes from being content and this comes from acceptance of all life brings our way.

Too often we see the lives of others or review our own lives and wish they would have turned out different brings suffering. These illusions only lead to pain and heartbreak. What we have received is only temporary. As hard as it is to accept this world only gives us transient treasures and trinkets. Whether it be people or things, our inability to control when and how they leave our lives is a lesson we need to learn.

Only eternal gifts last. When we are given them we may hold on to them as tightly as possible but to do this we must let go of what we hold dear that is not eternal. Transience is not evil. To love those who bring wonder, kindness, and love to our life is not wrong. However, it is a bittersweet connection because it is temporary. While this is painful to know and experience it also makes every moment more treasured.

Most of our lives are full of abundance but knowing they are not ours forever is the test of true life, true love, true wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Power

The late Stephen Covey tells a story about a time he was speaking to a group of people in Sacramento, California:

… I was speaking on the subject of proactivity, a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She seemed so happy.
I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed.

“I’m a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the power to choose my response?’

“When I finally realized that I do have that power when I swallowed that bitter pill and realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be miserable.

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.’ ”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, tragedies, sickness, and death, but for the most part, we are a direct result of the choices we’ve made with the experiences we’ve encountered in this life.

I read a quote yesterday that I’ve been reflecting upon; “The world we see and interact with is the product of how our mind perceives the world.” We are assaulted each day by an overabundance of visual, auditory, sensory stimuli. It is hard not to be separated by what we experience. However, if our minds, emotions, and spirits are ever to be free we must train our minds to be still so we can experience the world anew and break free from what we’ve known, what we’ve thought, the life we’ve lived.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ripples

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Ripples

Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.

Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Eclipse

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Eclipse

I’m not sure I’ve seen as many people standing outside in the middle of a hot and humid day in mid-August staring at the sky. On my way to the county detention center, where I teach a class on Monday afternoons, it seemed there were groups of people at churches, grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants and yes, even at the jail, looking up, waiting for the eclipse.

I didn’t pick up a pair of “NASA approved glasses” to watch the eclipse. I figured someone, somewhere would have some if I time to watch the eclipse. Sure enough, there was a corrections officer who let me use his and we handed them back and forth. The day turned a grayish hue. The crickets and other insects began to chirp. It was eerie for a few moments and then it started to get light again, I thanked the officer who let me borrow his glasses, and I went inside to my class.

Afterward, I reflected on the experience and I thought about all the people standing outside looking into the heavens. They knew what they were looking for and most were prepared to see it. However, I wondered how often, on a normal every day, we encounter people who are looking for something greater than themselves and the lives they are currently living? Do we offer them words of wisdom to help show them the way? Do we live in such a way that reveals truth and peace? Will our lives eclipse the other bright shiny trinkets humans so often chase and allow them to know where to look and what to look for?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Shift

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Shift

I know someone who is a friend of a friend. I’ve briefly encountered this individual a handful of times. The thing is, for some reason, this person rubbed me the wrong way. He hadn’t done anything to me except be himself and being himself didn’t sit right with me. I had lots of excuses as to why this person was what I thought he was but nothing tangible, just a feeling.

Then, earlier this week, I learned something about this man and it suddenly shifted my view. There were still those things that got on my nerves but while a few weeks ago they looked so big now they seemed petty and brought upon me a sense of shame.

It’s easy to teach and write about not judging others but a whole other level to practice what you speak. All it took was one thing to shift my view, understanding of this man and his life. An important and embarrassing reminder that we must always be on guard about how we see people. There’s always more there than we initially see and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Move

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Don’t Move

Yesterday, taking a break from yard work on a hot day in May, I sat on the porch wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel and drinking a bottle of water. As I sat there a brown bird, who has a nest in the corner of the porch swooped down and landed on my leg. I froze. A bird landing on me was awesome but I didn’t dare move for fear of scaring it away. Sweat poured down my face, my tired arms and restless legs immovable. It seemed like it was forever but I knew it was only a few minutes until I had to dry the sweat from my eyes and take another drink of water. Predictably, the bird flew off as soon as I moved. For a second, however, I was still enough to enjoy the experience.

It’s hard being still in today’s world. We miss so much because we are so busy. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Schedules have to be kept and filled calendars emptied.

I wonder how many small wonders we miss because life’s most important moments are only ours to experience if we’d simply be still?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unseen

Unseen

Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.

I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.

I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.

The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A New Vision

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A New Vision

Last week I wrote about sitting on the couch waiting for the “Bug-Man” to come and spray our house. This Thursday we are waiting for someone to come, take a look at and give us a quote on remodeling our bathroom.

The bathroom is a rough spot for me and Beth. She sees it looking one way and me another. It is a small space so I’m thinking no bathtub, only a shower, lots of counter and storage space. Beth doesn’t like the idea of not having “a place where she can soak her fins.” So, we’re hoping someone who knows more about bathrooms and remodeling than just our preferences can help us decide.

Vision can be a tricky thing. Long ago, I heard someone say;  “A person who pursues a vision without the support of his peers is just someone out for a walk.” Our hope is that someone with more experience and wisdom can give us a new way of looking at things. A new vision that meets both our needs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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Standing Still

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Standing Still

Tonight was the first class of our winter semester for incarcerated fathers. When I arrived at the corrections facility I was busy getting my things together before opening the truck door because a cold front has moved into the area and for the first time in a while it feels like winter. I shut the front truck driver’s door, turned around and saw a deer about 30 feet away staring at me. Then I saw another and another. Three deer standing, looking at me as I looked at them. I didn’t want to disturb the moment. I kept expecting them to run away but they stood their ground and me, cold and shivering didn’t want to do anything to spook them. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes I knew I needed to get inside and prepare for class. I moved slowly and the deer watched as I opened the back truck door, took out my supplies, and shut it. I began walking toward the entrance, turned around and they were gone.

It was a perfect moment which happened all by happenstance; the deer and me, right time, place and spirit of awe. I hope 2017 brings more of these because my soul desperately needs them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Open Hand

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Open Hand

I was speaking with someone this week about what it means to live a life of simplicity and poverty. Both of these are part of the vows I took when I became a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

I told him it was best summed up as the philosophy, theology, of “the open hand.” Life is transient. It moves, is never still. All the things and people we love are constantly changing, growing, getting older, decaying. Sooner or later we say; “Goodbye” to all things, even ourselves.

To live with an open hand it to allow and accept when any and all things come into our life. We do not grasp, possess, control but let them stay for as long or as little as they’d like to or can. Then, all things leave. They go away, decay, are fickled, stay for a season, die. As the remnants of what was, blows from our hands, we accept the truth that nothing is forever. We are blessed not because we have but because we experienced and this is enough. The experience changed us, taught us to love openly and to be reminded us there is nothing which is ever truly; “ours.”

To live with an open hand instead of gathering, collecting, hoarding, imprisoning we become detached to all that is only for a moment, and so make ourselves available to be held by the one who is eternal.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Have a Seat

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Have a Seat

I had a follow-up visit to the dentist today for an evaluation from my oral surgery back in July. I don’t like the dentist. The combination of claustrophobia and a severe anxiety disorder mean it can be quite the ordeal. The dentist I have, however, is aware of my mental health issues and is good at making me feel as comfortable as possible. The procedure took about an hour, was mostly painless and not nearly as difficult as the July visit.

I got home from my appointment and went straight to sleep. Dentist’s visit have an impact on me and the meds I take to ease my claustrophobia and anxiety can relax me but also make me very tired. I woke up and thought about my two visits. One was hard, difficult, incredibly painful and took me a few weeks to get over. The second one was much easier to get over. Same room, different results, and reactions.

Wisdom teaches us that life isn’t about holding on to parts of the past which traumatize us but being able to let them go and nurture inward peace instead. Even when we “return to the scene of the crime” or encounter one who has injured us grievously we should let the present experience be, not allowing what has happened the past to poison the present.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Season Pass

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Season Pass

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~ Author Unknown

On my way back from a lecture today in Hohenwald, TN the sun was shining brightly through the limbs of the trees which are rapidly becoming barren. It still feels like summer with temps in the low to mid 90’s but fall is approaching. The leaves are already giving up their grips and descending to the ground. We probably won’t have too much color as they turn this year due to the lack of rain this hot and barren summer.

Fall is another reminder of the transience of life. Summer’s rapid end reflects our own aging and how life is fleeting. The youth of spring and summer is like the cool morning mist of fall; easy to see but impossible to grasp and hold on to.

Accepting that life’s seasons pass quickly is the first step to living fully in every moment, not taking for granted any breath, experience, ray of sunshine, or drop of rain. Wisdom teaches us to be mindful of every moment for these are what life is made up of.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Pauses and Spaces

Pauses and Spaces –

I worked with a dad today who struggles with addiction issues. He kept repeating the Twelve Step oft heard phrase; “Pause and Pray, Pause and Pray, Pause and Pray.” It is the addict’s response if they’re tempted to drink, use drugs, get angry, make poor decisions. They are to take a breath and then breathe a word of prayer for peace and  guidance.

I use the phrase; “The space in between.” Life is made up of experiences. We’re blind to most of them because we’ve become used to them, take them for granted. There are times however when an experience happens and our choice of what to do or not do, how to react, make the wrong, right or better choice could greatly impact our lives and the ones we hold dear. It is in the space between what happens to us and our choice of how to respond where our future is forged.

Whether; “pause and pray” or “the space between,” we choose to shape the experiences of our lives or be shaped by them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Obstacle is the Path

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The Obstacle is the Path

This morning, on my way  to Fayetteville, Tennessee, I came across a couch in the middle of a 4 way stop intersection. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion; “That doesn’t belong there!” It had obviously been dropped  out of a vehicle because it was broken in half and the feet and cushions were scattered. I cautiously drove around the couch, and through the intersection, continuing on my journey wondering who dropped it, why and that someone should pick up the unsightly mess before some body gets hurt.

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A few more miles down the road a baby deer hopped onto the road while its sibling stayed off to the side. I slowed down and thought; “What a beautiful sight!” and proceeded cautiously in case the one, not on the road, decided it wanted to be reunited with its sibling. I soaked in the beauty of nature, wondered where its mother was and was thankful for being present at that time and place.

Two sights, two different responses.

I reflected on how we decide what should and should not be on our road of life. For the unwanted, ugly, messy thing we judge as not worthy, we try to avoid it and want it gone. To others, which we deem as beautiful and worthy, we are thankful and count ourselves blessed to enjoy the wonderment of life.

Wisdom teaches us to accept all things on the road of life. We are not to judge which is good or bad, positive or negative, but to allow the possibility of everything to teach and guide us. It is only when we stop slapping labels on things, (including people) and accept each experience with open minds, hearts, and spirits that we can appreciate, find the mystery and beauty in all obstacles on the road of life.

“The obstacle is the path.” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Never Alone

Never Alone

Yesterday I wrote an anxious post about going to the dentist  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/20/an-anxious-word/). Everything turned out okay. The procedure went fine. I explained to the doctor when I met him a few months ago about my claustrophobia and anxiety disorder. He was more than understanding and went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable. He even allowed Beth to come in to the room stand by my side when I was struggling to stay in the chair during the most painful and invasive part of the surgery. When Beth and I arrived home I crawled in the bed and have slept most of the last two days.

In between my drug induced naps I’ve thought about Beth and the dentist giving me all of the support I needed while going through this traumatic event. They both asked me often; “If I was doing okay? Did I need to take break? Was I okay to continue?” They knew it was my hardship to endure but they made sure I knew I was never alone.

Often times people we love and care for experience dangerous and debilitating seasons and moments. Our first desire is to take their pain away, battle their demons for them. However, most times we don’t have the ability to suffer in their place. What we can do is be there, for as long as they need, find out what we can to help and do it. Above all, by our presence and prayers let them know they are never alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Heeding the Signs

This morning before dawn, on my way to an early appointment, I was travelling on a busy highway and rounding a curve spied the unmistakable flashing blue lights of a police car. Immediately I took my foot off the gas pedal and began slowing down. Apparently a truck, driving too fast for the rainy conditions, hydroplaned into a guard rail. I applied my brakes as another parked law enforcement vehicle came into view. As I slowly navigated the scene a small gold Honda came quickly around me and had to suddenly stop his car from hitting a semi-truck in front of me. “What are you thinking?” I said out loud. “Didn’t you see the multiple vehicles with flashing blue lights? All the brake lights of the line of cars and trucks ahead of you? How’d you miss that?!?!?” After passing the accident the driver of the gold Honda zoomed around the semi and was soon out of view. As I watched him go I tried to figure out why the wreck, the lights, the backed up traffic didn’t clue him in to drive more carefully, especially on this rainy, dark morning. Some folks can’t or won’t heed the signs.

I then reflected on times in my life when I ignored or disobeyed warnings, advice, wisdom offered by others and hurried my way directly into avoidable difficulties and trials. Wisdom teaches us to listen and consider the words and experiences of those who have traveled the road of life before us or refuse to and proceed at own peril.

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

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Experience VS Expectation

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Several weeks ago I transplanted four trees. Three of them thrived while one languished. This was my first time moving trees from one spot to another so before I attempted the feat I contacted a friend who has a lot of experience with plants, trees and all things green. He told me to get as much of the roots as possible, give it plenty of water the first couple of weeks and to be patient. “It takes a while for some trees to adjust. The leaves may fall off, it may look dead, but give it time.”

I followed his advice with each tree but one of them was growing out of the side of a hill and I couldn’t get as much of the root system as I would’ve liked. I watered them and waited. The others flourished as expected but the fourth one withered. My wife and I had several conversations about the likelihood of its survival. Each time, however, we ended the discussion by deciding to follow my friend’s advice.

Last weekend we thought the limbs looked greener on our struggling tree than in previous weeks. On Tuesday we spotted what looked like buds on some of the limbs. Over the last couple of days the leaves have begun to emerge and unfurl. That which seemed dead was indeed alive.

I am thankful for my friend’s guidance, the ability to trust someone smarter, the lesson in patience I am continually learning and the wisdom that separates experience from expectation.

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

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