Blog Archives

Little Things

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Little Things

While I was outside mowing today a big shadow went across me and when I looked up it was a Turkey Vulture. It hovered and landed on a high branch of the Oak Tree outside our front door. It wasn’t long before it was joined by another who was surveying the area for anything dead and rotten. My focus went back to mowing until shadows appeared overhead again. It was the Turkey Vultures being chased away by a Mockingbird who has a nest in an adjoining tree. The Mockingbird was relentless, swooping up and then dive bombing both Turkey Vultures that had to be five times its size. I watched until the Turkey Vultures were out of sight and the Mockingbird perched high on a tree scanning the horizon for their return.

I found it comical and awesome that this small bird could put the two large ones to flight. Then I thought about the Turkey Vultures and their appetite for spoiled, rancid, deceased things. I also reflected on how in our lives there are times the Vultures are circling. We’re tired, weak, worn out, done for and the scavengers surround us. Then, when it seems the end, someone says or does an act of warmth, love, empathy, and chases the Vultures away. It may be a small act but it has a great impact on us. We are renewed and able to keep going.

No act of kindness no matter how “small” is ever wasted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more reflections, poems, and other writings; please visit: www.thewannabesaint.com

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Watering the Weeds

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Watering the Weeds

Last night I took the dog outside and while he was doing his business I turned on the spigot and began watering the flowers we have on the front side of the house. There are flowers in barrels, long cement pots and hanging baskets. As I watered I kept an eye on the dog whose losing his hearing more each day. He began walking down the driveway and I wanted to call him before he was out of hearing range. I continued watering as I yelled his name and when he turned around I looked down to see I was watering a flower holder that we had not planted anything in this year. It was full of weeds. As I watched the water nourish them I asked myself; “Why are you watering weeds?“I stopped as soon as I realized what I was doing and began watering the flowers my wife had planted again.

I reflected on the wisdom in not watering the weeds in our lives. Too often there are habits, thought patterns, worries, difficulties, and challenges that our mind focuses on to the detriment of the good that needs attention. Instead of giving the energy needed to rid ourselves of these weeds or accept there is nothing we can do at this point in time, we obsess, ruminate, give these problems and issues valuable nourishment. We focus and feed the bad and not the good in our lives.

Our mental, emotional, and spiritual lives need nourishment not the weeds of discouragement, disillusion, and defeat.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

Yesterday, while weed-whacking around the house, underneath a large tree, I felt a sudden tingling sensation on my face and then a spider crawled down from my forehead and on my glasses! It was the only thing I could see. All other things faded from view while this eight-legged insect crawled on my dome. My hands, full of the weed eater put it down as quickly as possible and I swiped my face, brow, and head hoping to knock off the arachnid that seemed to drop from the sky. I never saw or felt it again after my; “Get off me!” dance and hoped it was gone for good. After shaking off the heebie-jeebies I thought about how silly I looked to any passerby who might have seen me. I was okay with that because they weren’t seeing the same thing.

Wisdom tells us that what we focus on is who we become. Our focus should be; love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness. However, too often we focus on what is right in front of us, whatever life brings our way. The next scheduled event, calendar item, emergency, chaotic event, becomes who we are, what our life is about and we never move beyond surface emotions or an insubstantial spirituality.

Focus on one thing long enough and it becomes your destiny.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bait and Hook

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Bait and Hook

This morning I was zipping through emails before heading to the office for a training. I had three from our IT department and opened each of them giving a cursory read. One was an update to a system, another was reminding me of a piece of equipment I needed to pick up and the third was dealing with switching to a new email system. Each one looked legit and I told myself to get set up on the new email system next time I was near my computer. I finished, went to work and as I sat in my chair waiting for the training to start I received a new email another one from IT. The email stated firmly “do not click on the link to the new email system! This is a phishing and spam scam!” “Whew!’ I thought to myself, ‘that was close!'” I was going to click on the link, would have clicked on it if I had the time this morning. I’m usually good at spotting bad emails but because this one was in a collection of legitimate emails I assumed it was fine.

In life, as in IT, we have to be careful not to let everything come together as one big pile of things we need to do. If we do we run the risk of missing something important, doing something harmful, and allowing life to be the sum of its parts instead of each moment being an eternity in itself. Life is hard and there’s so many things we think we need to do. Wisdom teaches us to let go a lot of the minutiae, the things which aren’t really important, and to focus on what counts. When we are able to take life a breath at a time we find love, kindness, presence more easily and things which are harmful to us and those we love more visible and avoidable.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be Still and Wait

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Be Still and Wait

This morning our Siberian Husky Trooper was ready to go outside. Getting to the door to open it he was dancing in circles! I opened the door to the house and the screened in porch and he darted out. Almost immediately I noticed a big rabbit in the field adjacent to our home. My eyes grew big wondering if Trooper was going to see it. The rabbit was still. I thought to myself; “Can you stay that still with danger lurking that close to you?” I watched intently as Trooper began sniffing the area and the bunny watched and didn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime for me and the rabbit Trooper lumbered back to the porch and the rabbit was safe.

Many times in life we face trials and temptations, difficulties and decisions, choices and complications. Our instinct might be to take immediate action, react in the ways which seem best, hurry up and solve the problem. However, wisdom teaches us that when the way is clouded and we can’t see or crowded with chaos and hard to move the best we can do mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to be still and wait. To breathe, close our eyes and find our center. With a hectic mindset, we can focus on the immediate and “fix it” at the expense of the future. We can also become reckless running around trying everything at once and creating more hardships for ourselves and those we love.

A great master was asked one time by his student to help him solve a problem for which he could not find the solution. “I’ve gone over it a million times, looked at every angle, and can’t seem to see the way. The master told him; “When you step into a stream your feet muddy the waters. Only when you are still will the waters clear.”

Stillness, the quietude of the mind, is underrated. Pause, rest, be still, and the way will reveal itself.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Would You like to Dance?

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Would You like to Dance?

At a party at a friend’s house, one woman sat alone on the couch, her crutches beside her, watching the others dance. From across the room a man made his way to her, sat down, introduced himself and they made small talk. After a while, he asked; “Would you like to dance?” She pointed to her crutches and sighed; “Most people are worried my crutches will get in the way of their dancing.” He smiled and replied; “How about if I let you lead and I’ll move with you?

This story was told to me a few weeks ago. I have been reflecting on it since I heard it. Most people are injured in some way; physically, emotionally or spiritually. We have crutches, not in a negative way, but in the sense that we need help to heal. However, too often, because of our hurts, habits, and hang-ups or the aids we use to walk this road of life we’re seen as a hindrance. People focus on how another’s imperfections will impact their lives.

What we need is someone who will let us lead or, if we’re the one helping, let the other lead us. We relinquish our desire to control, force someone to do it “our way” and by letting go we will find synergy and companionship.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Project: Never Ending

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Project: Never Ending

Today my wife and I hung the screen doors on our “never-ending project” we also call the porch. The doors made it look more completed and the end is in sight! However, we’ve said that before and then life gets in the way. Too many things to mention are more important than the project and we’ve set it aside several times to go and help others or have accepted the help of others during the past couple of years. When we finished hanging them we stepped back to the driveway and admired our work. Not perfect but not bad.

Wisdom teaches us that our lives may be never-ending projects but not in the same way as the porch. Those looking for truth accept that we will never stop learning, growing, if wisdom is what we seek. There will be breaks in between. Times when we need to accept our place on the path and rest. Other seasons where we focus our energies elsewhere by helping our family, neighbors, community, nation, and the world.

Finding balance is the key to grow, not at the expense of others, but with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Exactly As It Is

Exactly As It Is

A few moments ago I sat outside on the edge of the porch and watched my Siberian Husky sniffing the ground. We have three families of rabbits, including little ones, and he has been stopping and smelling the area where they have been. The sun is out today. Its been hidden most of the week. There’s a nice breeze, blue skies with thick white clouds, the grass is an emerald-green. An almost perfect day. As I sat there I felt a splash of water on my leg. I looked to see where it came from and noticed a puddle and drops of water falling off the roof. For an instant, the moment was perfect until I noticed it. I sighed, not because of the splash but because my focus became what bugged me, not on everything else.

Wisdom teaches us to accept each moment exactly as it is; what we judge good and not so good, positive and negative, perfect and less than. The truth is; my moment on the porch was perfect with the drops of water, the splash, and the puddle. It was perfect because it’s what it was and my idea of perfection was what got in my way.

Life is a series of imperfect moments because we decide they would be better; “if…” Acceptance is one of the hardest yet most crucial lessons we must learn if we’re ever to know awareness and contentment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Worry is like Prayer

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Worry is like Prayer

I was speaking with someone today and they quoted a wisdom proverb I had never heard;

“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen.”

It instantly became a favorite wisdom quote of mine. As someone with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, I can relate to worrying and doing it obsessively. One of the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder is rumination. Rumination is the inability to turn off negative thoughts. Similar to a broken record player (do people know what they are anymore?) or a scratched Compact Disc (same question) getting caught in a loop and reciting the same lyrics in your head over and over.

I come from a long line of worriers and a long line of pray-ers but I never put the two together before. I am sure if the quote is analyzed enough there are theological (the study of the divine) and ontological (the study of being) questions and fallacies but for now it gives me a new way to look at worry, stress, anxiety, rumination and where to focus my thoughts and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Single Moment

Single Moment

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “All we ever have is this present moment but if we do it right, it’s all we need.” Moments in time are what life is made up of. If we mindfully put enough of them together there’s a life worth living.

About an hour ago I needed to drive into town and pick up some medicine for my wife who has a nasty flu bug that’s been making the rounds. On the way home I was stopped at a traffic light where two lanes merge into one after the light turns green. There was an elderly woman behind me who must’ve just come from the beauty shop. She stopped before she needed to and was blocking traffic from both lanes. I looked in my mirror and watched her as she admired her hairdo. She played with it, flicked it with her fingertips. She was enjoying her hair and herself. Behind her was another driver who wasn’t enjoying the display. She wanted to get into the other lane but couldn’t because the beauty queen was lost in her own world.

Here’s my question; “Which one was living in the moment and which wasn’t?” Part of being mindful is the awareness of the creation around you but it’s also enjoying the little things which can make a big difference. Was I being mindful as I watched the two people in my mirror? Did I miss something because I was “rubbernecking?”

Each moment is special, unique, never to be repeated. Finding the center, the stillness, the focus of not focusing takes the journey of a lifetime. I’m still learning but aware enough to know there are things I need to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Slowing Down

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Slowing Down

The last few days have been slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. We’ve had overcast skies, plenty of rain and this makes for a dreary season and spirit. April showers may bring May flowers but February showers bring time to a standstill. The last few months have been long. I always have a difficult time between Thanksgiving and Easter. It’s dark when you arise and when you arrive home in the evening. The darkness that surrounds me seems to permeate my emotions. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder the days slowing to a crawl, mess with my balance and threaten to send me over the edge into negative thought patterns and fixations on disappointments and failures.

The balance, of course, is not letting the anxiety get in there and make my brain whirl like a drugged up hamster on a greased up wheel. Again, it is balance. I make sure the things which help me; meds, exercise, talking to others about how I’m feeling, are done and not discarded even when tempted to do so.

The balance to keep life’s rhythm manageable is an everyday if not every moment discipline. If we let it we would be either swept away in a chaotic whirlwind of activity or mired in a despondent state of surrender. Slowing down isn’t the goal but balance and mindful living are what keeps us sane and steady on the path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon on my way to a fatherhood class I was driving down a road and rounded a curve with a truck parked almost in the middle and its hazard lights flashing. I slowed down and getting closer I saw the problem. A guy and his lawnmower were stuck in a ditch. The man who owned the mower seemed at a loss as the driver of the truck attempted to tie a rope around the mower and pull it out of the ditch. It was going to be a feat because somehow the man has positioned his mower where all four wheels were not touching any ground. I hoped everyone was safe and they were able to get the man and his machine mowing again.

Continuing on my way I reflected upon the man and his mower. I’ve felt like him before. There have been times when navigating the road of life, following the path I believed was correct, when all of a sudden there was no traction, no way forward or backward. I was simply and absolutely stuck.

This can be a horrible and helpless feeling. To not know how to proceed or retreat. Finally, after all attempts to get going I accepted the truth I wasn’t going anywhere. In these frustrating times, I learned to be still. Trusting the way would be made available I made the place where I was stuck an altar, a place of divine intervention. Sooner or later someone or something would always come and help me get moving again. My focus in these times moved from being stuck to being still.

Wisdom taught me that not being able to move was a blessing, a season of rest and a time of trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grace and Work

 

Grace and Work

Someone asked me today; “So, is it grace or works which get us into heaven?” My answer was; “Yes.” After a moment to let the words sink in I went on to explain that grace is God’s “unmerited favor” or “God’s love for us is absolute even if we never love God in return.

Grace is given to us and then we give it to others. This is the ‘work.'” We are blessed to receive God’s spirit of love, forgiveness, and kindness and in return, we give it to others. When grace touches the deepest part of us our worldview, the reason for living and being, come into focus. We are placed here, at this time and place, to give God’s love, forgiveness, and kindness to others.

Too often; “work” is made out to be dogma, discipline, dutiful acts of trying to be good and acceptable to the God who alone is good and has already accepted us. “Work,” should be a celebration. We freely give to others what we have freely accepted.

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

Leak

Leak

You never know where the leaks are until it rains.” #BrianLoging

This morning I awoke to a downpour happening outside. It was raining so hard that when I took the dog out I stood under the overhang while telling him; “Go for it!” (I know, bad owner.)

In the back of our little farmhouse, there is a breezeway which connects to a pumphouse. At one it time did not have a roof. Somewhere, in the life of the house, an owner attempted to put a homemade roof over the breezeway and let’s just say it hasn’t held up. It can handle quick showers and light rain but heavy downpours and it leaks in certain spots. I know where most of the leaks are so I am sure not to put anything on the floor under that area so it won’t get wet.

The remodeling of our bathroom continues and this week the men delivered the tiles which they stacked in the breezeway. This morning I heard a splashing sound and looked out into the breezeway and all the boxes were wet from the passing storm. We called our remodel guy and he assured us it wasn’t a big deal which was a relief. However, this was only one part of our concern. There is a new, major, leak on the breezeway and we’re going to have to figure out what to do with this section of roof.

It’s a pain to be sure but if it had never rained we wouldn’t be aware of the problem.  Now we have to figure out how to fix it. There are times and seasons of life when the rain pours into our lives revealing leaks and weak spots. Wisdom tells us we can be upset at the storm or see it as an opportunity to become more aware of ourselves, who we really are, the places which need attention and do something about it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Important

What’s Important

This morning Beth and I went to a small Lutheran church and celebrated Easter with the faith community. The service was meaningful. The songs were on point, the message concise and full of the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. The only challenge to overcome was the family in the pew behind and their little ones who were banging toys, dropping toys, whispering loudly and moving a lot! Basically, they were being kids. It wasn’t a distraction too often and the focus on the empty tomb was far greater than what was happening around us.

I talked with some friends this weekend who are facing a lot of challenges. As we spoke it was easy to hear in their voices that the things that never mattered had been revealed for what they are; illusions which take our attention off of what really matters and places them on the banal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes it takes what seems to be insurmountable odds and obstacles to shift our focus back to what truly matters. Only when we understand we have no control over the curveballs life throws our way do we, in humility, search for the truth.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go, Now!

dual-yellow-traffic-signal-hanging-on-wire-showing-left-turn-arrow-and-green-light

Go, Now!

For the second day in a row, a traffic light has been an inspiration for reflection (“Up Ahead -https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/01/25/up-ahead/). Today, on my way to lecture a group of fathers with addictions I was stopped by a red light and waited for it to turn green. My attention was elsewhere; what I was going to say to the men, thinking about the week that is quickly evaporating. As I sat there pondering I noticed a yellow arrow going out and then the main light turning green. I had missed a green arrow, that would’ve allowed me to proceed through the intersection. I never saw it. Looking behind me I was relieved that no one else was amused or aggravated by my lack of focus.

When our focal point is other than where we want, need, to go we can miss the signs, indicators, of where and when we need to proceed. If yesterday’s lesson was patiently waiting, today’s would be that sometimes there are clear and present signals that the time to proceed, to continue on with the journey is now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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