Blog Archives

Place to Empty

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Place to Empty

This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.

Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where You’re Going

Where You’re Going

This morning, at a community group for dads, I talked with the men about the importance of “Putting First Things First.” It’s a concept which deals with knowing what’s truly the most important things in our lives and using those as a framework for how we live. When you know what’s important then every decision is made according to your paradigm, your life’s mission statement. If a decision is made that does not fit the schematics of who you are and who you want to become you make it right. Otherwise, you are traveling in the opposite direction of where you need to go.

Everything we do, walking the road of life, involves passion, energy, and time. We have limited supplies of all three. We have to choose how we are going to use them. Our life is a list of the things we do and deem important. The more items on our list the less passion, energy, and time we have to give each item. The fewer items on the list the more we have to give.

This is why knowing what’s important, where you are going, is a must. It allows us to make sure some items remain on our list, what important, and eliminate the unimportant. Direction is easy once we decide where we want to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Truth

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Truth

Last night I watched the “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film is described as; “thrilling, based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film (https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post).” It was an interesting movie dealing with an historic and chaotic time in this nation that I am too young to remember. I did find myself cheering Streep’s and Hank’s characters on as they took a case of the freedom of the press all the way to the Supreme Court. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a good watch and worth anyone’s time who is interested in an event that would directly impact how the press covered the Watergate break-in  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal) and news moving forward to the present.

What I’ve wrestled with since watching the movie is; “News exists in a vacuüm. The lives of the reporters, editors, and publishers are swayed by their political leanings, experiences, preferences, and worldviews.” We as the readers face the same limitation in our consumption of news. There are so many places to receive our news today that we can stay perpetually stuck in a bubble where only our viewpoints are legitimized. When this happens we cease being open to new ideas or our current ones being scrutinized and challenged. We become entombed, trapped by our own beliefs and limited knowledge. The truth isn’t important anymore only our belief of what is true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surfing or Drowning

Surfing or Drowning

I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.

How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.

Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Picture is Worth…

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A Picture is Worth

A picture is worth a thousand words unless you are the kids who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida, several weeks ago. This past weekend there were gatherings in cities around the world. It was called; “The March for Our Lives.” Since this protest event, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become targets, again. There are news articles, memes, pictures and opinion pieces written that would make adults question their sanity, worth and the innate goodness of humanity.

My heart is broken and my spirit crushed as I listen, read and watch adults attack these children with vitriol. They are being bullied, lied about, crushed by those whose opinions differ from theirs. These young people have survived what will probably be the most traumatic event in their life. They are processing their grief, the loss of their friends and their innocence. They are trying to take a stand, find their footing after an event and in a debate bigger than them. They are exercising control by speaking out, marching, becoming an advocate against an act of violence that ripped their lives apart. Yet, while they attempt to put their lives back together, people online, on the radio, on television are tearing them down and apart, again.

Are these kids being used by persons and corporations with agendas? Maybe. Perhaps they are also smart and resilient enough to know what they want and believe. Have they said and done everything perfectly? Of course not. Who has? You don’t have to agree with them to see they are still in pain. You don’t have to march with them to stand by their side. You can disagree without abuse. We should be better than that. These kids deserve better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protests

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Protests

Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.

There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.

However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.

I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Disposal

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Disposal

This afternoon I took a trailer full of wood and debris to the local dump. When I arrived there was a line on one side of the dumpster and not the other so I chose the less crowded side. I chose poorly. I pulled up behind a man who was shoveling dirt, plain dirt, into the dumpster. This struck me as strange and watching him I thought; “Mister? Why are you shoveling dirt into a dumpster? Isn’t there someplace else you could put that dirt in your yard, a hole you could fill, a spot which needs leveling?” Finally, he finished, gave me a friendly wave, and was on his way.

I reflected on the man and his load of dirt which needed to be disposed of.  Each of us has burdens which need to be lifted, weights taken off our shoulders, troubles to be solved, millstones to be removed, from our lives.  We often do not know the difficulties family, friends and strangers are carrying. It is not our place to judge but instead to understand that none of us journey the road of life burden free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Remains

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Remains

On Saturday, while burning some debris in the yard, I went to grab a stick which was near the fire but not burning. My intention was to put it in a more advantageous position. However, as I grabbed the still cool end of the stick a single burning piece of ash fell right where I placed my thumb. I quickly dropped the stick and began shaking my whole hand the way someone does when they burn themselves. For the past several days I have had a reminder of the encounter, a blister on my right thumb.

The blister is a reminder of the randomness of life. A second earlier or later and I probably wouldn’t have burned myself. In the same way, we often see the haphazard events of our lives. A moment before or after and there’s no car accident or more or fewer injuries in it. A doctor’s appointment a month or two earlier or later and a disease is detected or too far advanced to undergo treatments. A moment premature or delayed and we miss a relationship we cherish or disdain.

Whatever life brings our way there are remains that stay with us. Whether positive or negative who can tell? The most we can do is be aware, open to new experiences and cautiously protecting our souls.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sound of Silence

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Sound of Silence

For the last few days, the sounds of rain has been bouncing off the tin roof which covers our porch. I love the sound but hour after hour, day after day, and you’re ready for a break. Finally, today around noon, the rain stopped. I sat in my living room and listened to the limbs shed their build-up of water and after a while, there was only silence. I wonder if this was how Noah felt being the Ark, listening to the pounding of the rain and the waves and when it stopped did he pause and enjoy the sound of nothing falling on his big boat?

There’s been flooding in our area, yards are swamped, the drainage ditches are overflowing. Even though rain is a wonderful act of creation you can only handle so much of a good thing. Reflecting on the silence I also thought about what we desire in our lives. Most of us do not desire the “bad” with the “good”.  In our imaginations, if we had all the power, we wouldn’t face the difficulties, the challenges, the mountains we climb on our journey from the cradle to the grave. Everything would be smooth with no setbacks or failures. If life was this way would we get sick of the “good”? Would we grow? What kind of person would we be?

There’s no way to honestly answer these questions but I do wonder if life would be worth living if we got all the things we think make life worth living for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Investing

Investing –

This morning I had a meeting with another community organization. I was presenting a new opportunity to work with fathers in our area and hoped they would help us. I have presented ideas, data, skills and a host of other information, to more organizations and ministries than I can count. I’ve never been asked to leave or had a bad experience but have had the occasional person I was talking to be looking at their phone, out the window or at their watch. Those presentations and discussion following seem to drag on forever. I’ve also had the organization be excited about the opportunity to partner with us. Most, however, are somewhere in the middle.

Today’s meeting was the exception because the woman whom I was meeting with was excited and had some great ideas as to how we could make part of our plan work at her location. She paid attention, listened intently, took notes, asked questions and made me feel welcomed and not rushed to finish so she could start doing something else. In other words, she was fully present in our time together. It was awesome.

It was a great reminder the difference we can make in other people’s lives if we invest our time, our kindness, our respect, and our lives in theirs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s on Your Plate?

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What’s on Your Plate? –

This afternoon, at a county health council meeting, a speaker from Vanderbilt Hospital gave us a lecture on the importance of heart health. February is Heart Health Month so it was certainly appropriate. He talked about healthy eating even stating; “If it tastes good it’s not good for you!” That certainly got everyone’s attention. He softened the blow a little by following up with limiting the amount of unhealthy, high fat, processed, high-calorie food and increasing healthy choices. The speaker had arrived late and lunch had been served before his lecture. The food wasn’t what he’d call the best in choices but not the worst either. After he sat down and the meeting dismissed someone mentioned to the attendees that there was plenty of food left over from the lunch and to please take some home. I can only imagine what the speaker was thinking as he watched people make “to go” plates. It certainly is a difficult job to get people to think differently, choose differently.

One of the disciplines of mindfulness is mindful eating. It is the recognition that everything we put in our mouths comes from the world around us. It’s not just consuming but being aware that each piece of meat, every spoonful of veggies, a bite of fruit, is a result of the creation we all apart of, participate in and exist in intimate connection. Too often, however, we just consume. Not only food but almost everything in our lives is used and abused, grabbed and possessed, with no thought of creation or consequence to our consumption.

What’s on our plate is, and is more than, the food we eat but also what we allow to fill up our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Catch Me

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Catch Me

Pastors, social workers, nurses, doctors, organizations, and ministries are, by design, places where people get help. The help comes in many forms but the places which offer assistance are staffed, mostly, by people who want to reach out to the unfortunate among us. These unfortunate ones are not always poor, addicted, homeless, challenged mentally, grew up with poor role models, but many do bear one or more of these burdens.

The urge is to rescue them. To be the hero in the story of their lives. To sweep in with our resources and connections and leave them in awe at how their lives are now healed and whole. However, it doesn’t take long to discover we may want to help but we do not have the power to change their lives. Only they can do what needs to be done. They must be the hero, their own rescuer. We can provide them with the tools and skills to begin the transformation but they do the work of lasting change.

It is this way for all of us. Too often we want the easy way to self-discovery, enlightenment, and fulfillment but there is no easy way. It is a journey both inside of us and out. We will have company on the road of life but the steps to the destination must be our own.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sharp

Sharp

Today is a wonderful, relaxing, rainy Saturday. A day where the tin roof on the porch sings; “Rest, take it easy, don’t worry about what can’t be done. Just be.” It’s the kind of day we all need more than “once in a while.”  We’ve lost the art of powering down, putting off things until tomorrow, sitting and letting go of schedules, to-do lists, and allowing our spirits, minds, emotions, and bodies to heal, recover from the hurry, harried pace of our lives.

Staying constantly sharpened can wear out the blade.” Wisdom teaches us to wait, enjoy the serenity, like a leaf in a slow-moving part of the stream. Sooner or later the pace picks up and life starts to quicken but for now, in this moment, simply soak in the stillness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Watching Over

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Watching Over

This afternoon I ran into a store to grab something I needed. The place didn’t have the item so I exited the store. As soon as I stepped outside I could hear a toddler screaming. I looked and the mom, clearly at her breaking point, was fussing at a small boy and neither was getting the better of the other. Finally, the mom, who was waiting for the dad to come out with keys told this boy and his sister who was standing beside the grocery cart watching the scene unfold, to wait while she ran into the store. I sat and watched as she left both toddlers by the car and began to walk inside. I couldn’t leave. I thought to myself; “Someone has to watch over these kids.” Suddenly the little girl bolted towards the mom who was inside the store by now. I tried to watch over both of them making sure no cars were coming or that anything else would happen to them. After a few moments, the mom emerged holding the hand of her daughter walking toward the boy who had only gotten louder when mom disappeared leaving him in the cart. I left knowing they were safer than when they were alone.

This post isn’t about how bad the mom handled the situation. I’m not a parent and have no idea what its like to have children wanting, needing, things all day every day. It’s about helping others, watching over them, caring enough to protect even if the parties don’t realize you’re there. There are times in our lives when all of us need someone to watch over us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Resist

Don’t Resist

This afternoon I stepped outside and the warmer temperatures wrapped me like a blanket. The sun shone on me and the warm breeze stirred my soul. It’s been cold the past few weeks. Only a couple of days ago the ground was covered with snow and ice. Today, there is little snow to be seen and the remnants are being chased away by the balmy weather. The kicker is I didn’t have anything to do with the high and low temps, the sun or the clouds filling the sky, the wild difference between now and the near past. All I did was stay warm on the cold days and breathe in the warmth this afternoon.

Life is mostly filled with things we have no control over. We want the ability, the power to make things bend to our will but this is an illusion. If we pursue this type of control our lives will be filled with suffering. The secret to contentment and peace is to allow life to progress at its pace and accept what we think is good and bad, wanted and unwanted, desired and abhorred.

When we are able to practice this discipline we discover the ever-present now is exactly what it needs to be and so are we.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Seeds

Seeds

It is COLD today. Thankfully the sun is out and the icicles and patches are melting. The yard looks so brown and bland. I went to check the mail last night and the ice on the grass crunched under my feet. It’s winter and though I try not to have favorites this particular season isn’t in my top three.

It’s hard to see the green for all the brown but knowledge, wisdom and experience tell me that it won’t stay that way. Even today, in spite of the cold, seeds are germinating and sometime, hopefully soon, they will make themselves known. I anticipate that day but need to be patient. Long, cold, seasons have their place in our lives. True, they help us appreciate other seasons when they come but finding peace and acceptance in the barren times is an important discipline.

Too often we project our lives to a period in front of or behind us when we can discover life, real life, exactly where we are now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Where You Heading?

Where You Heading?

I’ve spent much of this week thinking about my past and considering my future. It’s always scary, wondering what’s around the corner.

I started two new jail classes this week. One of the first disciplines I teach is for them to consider their present and think about their future. The first part is necessary because it helps us take stock of what we’ve done, who we are, and how choices have led us to this place in our lives. After you’ve accepted where and who you are, then you decide if it is where you want to stay. “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

Most of the men I work with tell me they want to make better choices, be better men and fathers but it’s not enough to want, action must be taken. Different choices must be made to be a different man and father. I explain that; “What you do today determines who you’ll be, what you’ll be, tomorrow.

This is true for all of us.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Second Gaze

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The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr

The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.

Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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