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Listening

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Listening

An elder monk was visiting a friend in the big city. They were walking down a street filled with people, vehicles, construction and a cacophony of noise surrounded them. As they were talking the elder monk paused and said; “I hear a cricket.” His friend raised an eyebrow as the monk went over to a section of the concrete sidewalk which had been carved out and filled with dirt and a small tree. Sure enough, after looking for a moment, he pointed out the chirping insect.

His friend was amazed! “How did you hear the cricket amidst all this noise?” The elder monk smiled and replied; “You hear what you are listening for.” The friend, still astonished, shook his head. “Do you have a coin?” his monk friend asked. “Here,” said the friend as he gave it to him. “Now, watch.” the monk ordered. The elder flipped the coin in the air and let it land on the ground making a tinkling noise. Several people stopped and began looking. “Do you understand?” asked the elder monk with a smile.

One of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a reminder that our lives are about listening to the truthful, just and grace filled voices and sounds in this world. Too often we allow the negative noise into our lives which drowns out the voices of God, nature and the sound of the spirit of each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Relief

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Relief

There’s nothing like a nice rain after a stretch of hot, humid days. Last night and this morning a strong set of storms moved through the area and brought with them cooler temps and a good soaking rain.

This has been a long, rough week, my spirit and body have been drained and relief is what I desire. The rain, though physical, also permeates my soul. Nature has a way of healing. To see the cycle of life, the beauty of the universe in every drop of rain, the opening of blooms, the water infusing with the roots and leaves. The earth taking a cleansing breath.

It’s what we need to do when drained. We pause and allow our spirits to be refreshed and renewed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

 

Best Teachers

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Best Teachers

This morning, while getting ready for work, my mind drifted to a place from several years ago. It was a place I worked at for little over a year and yet it seemed much longer. I thought about the people I knew there, the one who brought blessings into my life and the ones that brought difficulty.

It’s hard to know who your life teachers are especially when going through a painful experience. It’s hard to learn the lessons when you are looking to escape.

There are days when looking back over our lives we wonder if there were teachers in our midst, people we would’ve learned from if we had eyes to see. These instructors-in-disguise might be the ones we struggle with the most but still have valuable lessons to teach us. What is being taught might also be what we don’t want to learn but needed.

Wisdom tells us that people, nature, circumstances are some of our best teachers. All we need is a willing, humble spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Conflict

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Conflict

I attended a webinar today discussing the topic of conflict. The main emphasis was conflict in the workplace but it could be applicable to many other situations.

The presenter shared the following story…a boss and an employee needed to talk about the amount of pay the employee was making and the amount of work the employee was putting in. In the boss’ opinion, the employee was overpaid. The conversation needed to happen but neither one wanted to have it. There was tension and suspicion from both parties. They went out to lunch and the way back to the office, walking on a street in a busy downtown city, the boss brought up the topic. “Boom!” The employee lost it as soon as the boss mentioned the subject and they both ended up yelling at each other while countless passerby’s watched in stunned silence.

The presenter, a conflict specilaist, was called in to try to get the two parties to resolve the conflict. She spent time with both the employee and the boss individually trying to understand their point of view. When she felt she had a grasp of who they were as people, what motivated them, why the argument happened, and how far both were willing to go for a fair settlement, she brought them together and they resolved their conflict.

Conflict with other people is going to happen. Each of us as individuals come from a unique natural and nurtured environment. We have different life experiences, preferences, sets of morals and values, fears, goals, strengths, weaknesses, ideas about life and what is and isn’t a part of it.

We forget too easily the other person is coming from a distinct place separate from us. It’s only when we take the time to get to know each other, build relationships, be willing to accept what we understand and don’t understand regarding the other that true intimacy and understanding can take place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blue Friday

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Blue Friday

While many folks spent battling crowds and taking advantages of sales today, I raked and tried to make our brown yard look presentable. During the summer months, the colors are so vibrant, the blossoms and leaves, limbs and blades, all bespeak the glamor and glory of the season.

When fall arrives the final burst of color and collages of nature adorn the hills and the dales. Then, everything turns brown. One of my least favorite colors. Most of our tropical plants and trees are inside and dormant. The remaining ones are outside with dull or no leaves which is why I spent the day raking.

As I was finishing and putting up the rake and other garden utensils I rounded the corner of our house and spied a beautiful Blue Bird (http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/details.cfm?displayhabitat=grassland&sort=aounumber&typename=GRASSLAND%20AND%20SHRUB&uid=09041708094293898&commonname=Eastern%20Bluebird). It’s color was stark compared to the browns and grays which dominated my vision for most of the afternoon. It didn’t stay long but the sight of it was enough to remind me that life’s vibrancy is never gone.

The season we may be passing through might be one lacking in stimulation and passion but perhaps, just around the corner, is a splash of vigor and vitality that gives us the hope of new life and a new season.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Leaving Tomorrow Be

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Leaving Tomorrow Be

Yesterday I spent most of the mid-morning and early afternoon raking leaves. It was a nice day, almost 80 degrees and the job was pleasant enough and kept my mind from racing as it so often does. After raking for a while I noticed that as soon as I raked a leaf another would fall in its place. I looked up and saw the trees were more than two-thirds full which meant I would be doing this again, and again, in the near and distant future.

There was a part of me that questioned the validity of raking leaves when there would be more tomorrow but I know if I don’t take care of the ones I can today, tomorrow may be too much to handle. So, I raked, front, sides, back and when I finished, sure enough, leaves were already covering parts of the yard. I, however, took heart at a job well done and accepted the truth of repeating the chore.

Wisdom tells us that we are not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough worries of its own. Leaves will keep falling until the trees are almost bare. I will keep raking until the yard doesn’t need it any longer. I have learned the lesson of doing in the present what can be done and letting go of what may happen tomorrow. When tomorrow does turn in today I will again do my best and that will be enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Looking Deeply

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Looking Deeply

What a difference a week makes! Last week, mowing grass and weeding, I was sweating bullets with temps in the mid 90’s and no breeze. Today it is 64 degrees with a mild wind. An almost perfect fall day. The seasons and their changes do amaze. Sometimes the change is gradual and you barely notice. Other times it’s quick and you can’t help but marvel at the disparity.

Nature is truly one of wisdom’s greatest teachers. Changes in the seasons, especially summer to fall, remind us that periods of growth and blossoming, are often followed by times of pruning, decrease, dormancy, and perhaps death. There isn’t one without the other. Neither are good or bad, negative or positive, right or wrong, they’re the way of life. Our responsibility is not to grasp or push away, but to accept both with grace and gratitude.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What do You See?

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What do You See?

Last night after watering our garden and plants I sat down in an Adirondack chair and waited for Beth to pick a few vegetables. It wasn’t too long before I heard her say; “Look at the size of this creature!” Of course I knew this meant getting up and walking back to the garden to have a look.

When I got to her she pointed in a general direction and exclaimed; “Look!” At first I didn’t see anything but the more focused I became the more a giant green grub/ Tomato Hornworm (http://www.almanac.com/pest/tomato-hornworms) came into view.

I almost didn’t see it.” She said. I could see why. The creature blended in seamlessly and if you weren’t looking for it you’d missed it. In fact I did a few moments prior when I watered that section of the garden. We left it alone, finished up our “harvesting” and went inside leaving the green grub in peace.

There are hidden gems, life enhancing experiences, miracles of the natural and supernatural all around us. Unfortunately we’re often too busy doing chores, keep schedules, meeting deadlines to see them. In a world where everything seems to move at a faster rate daily we must be careful not to let speed blur our vision and distort our focus.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Self-Awareness

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I was listening to a few people participate in a discussion this week on the topic of Donald Trump. The Donald is polarizing! I have yet to meet anyone who’s neutral on him and this presidential race unless they’ve given up on the election entirely.

The central point/question of the conversation was why some people seem to find it impossible to apologize. People who are wrong, off course, exhibit faulty judgement, have it shown, proven, to them yet they still refuse to say; “I’m sorry.

What does this reveal about a person’s character? Last night, in our incarcerated dad’s class, we talked about the five characteristics of a good man. The first characteristic is, “Self-Awareness.” We  defined self-awareness as; “someone who can look in a mirror and see who he is; the good, the bad, what he does well and what he needs to improve.”

Only with honesty and humility are we able to understand our true nature, strengths and weaknesses, and there is no such thing as being free from flaws or defects. Accepting our own limitations does two things; it frees us from the pursuit, illusion of perfection when it comes to ourselves and it lets us love others better because we understand our journey is one of progression not perfection.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Simple Things

Simple Things

I’m a low maintenance person when it comes to breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast; a cereal bar or a pop-tart and a cup of coffee and I am good to go. For lunch; a sandwich that has either tuna fish or a slice of bologna or ham.  Beth buys fancy-schmancy meat for her sandwiches but she knows to get me inexpensive, store-brand, square, sliced ham. This afternoon I took some ham, two slices of bread, slapped on a little mayo and it hit the spot on many levels.

When I was growing up my family would go camping regularly in the Great Smoky Mountains. We grew up hiking on the Appalachian trail, swimming in mountain streams, sleeping in canvas tents and eating lunches out of a cooler sitting at a wooden picnic table in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

When I eat my ham sandwich I think about these simpler times. My mind and spirit go back to not having many cares, being surrounded by family and friends, fully immersed in nature and God’s creation. Being older now I realize my parents still had bills to pay, work pressures, the difficult job of raising me and my brother, but my memories of these times are only good, warm and full of love.

These seasons of life are never to be repeated but I can eat my ham sandwich and remember the best of life is found in the simple things.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Move to the Rhythm

It’s happening quickly. I noticed it mowing the faded green grass this week, the brownish leaves which are beginning to descend on the driveway, the sun setting earlier each evening. Summer is coming to an end. It is the middle of August and in a few weeks we will welcome fall.

Beth told me last night that according to meteorologists we are in for an unseasonably cool winter. Seasons never stop to ask permission to come they just force their way in without care or thought to how we feel or which we’d prefer.

I responded to another author this morning who wrote a reflective article on dealing with simplicity and the importance of appreciating what we have instead of being obsessed with replacing the old and familiar with something new.

I said; “The rhythms of life are important to a mindful, simple and monastic life style. It’s why monastics and oblates try to pray the Psalms, rise, eat, work, read at certain times, do the same thing, in the same way. It’s about being able to sense life as more than the passing of time but as a way to be in tune with the heartbeat of God… 

The Rule of Saint Benedict instructs that each monk be given a tunic for winter, summer, paper and a writing utensil, a bed for sleep. No gifts unless approved by the Abbott. They share meals, only a small allotment of drink. Saint Benedict believed the less we possessed, the more God could possess our hearts, minds, spirits. As oblates we try our best to honor this simple, stable, satisfying way of life.

So many times we are too busy, too hectic in our lives. We miss the signs of seasons changing; the warm sun retreating and nature preparing for winter’s embrace. We lose our awareness that life has a pattern, is never stagnant, always moving, transitioning.

There are many distractions of our divided attention. Simplicity, mindfulness, awareness are not primarily about being wary of material things but ensuring our spirits are not dulled by them and are instead attuned to the rhythm of time and seasons, the pulse of nature, which reveals the heartbeat of God.

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

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Silence as Worship

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droplets fall unsteady from the branches above
landing heavy on the roof of a small porch below
the fading goodbye from a storm now passed
which bent trees and wind to it’s will
grass blades unbowed as water rolls off their backs
and rise like the dawn that scatters dark cloud filled skies
birds unruffle damp feathers and christen a new day with their calls
bees hum, ants and beetles pitter and patter
a choir of movement and rhythm fills the air

a lone man watches and lets silence be his worship

…written early this morning as I sat outside, quietly drinking coffee, reading/praying the Psalms and reflecting on how often we miss the miracle of nature…

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

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Changing the World

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This morning it was my privilege to speak to a group of almost 50 men about the path we travel and how our decisions have a lasting impact upon those we call our families.

In our me centered culture we forget how our lives are not just our own. Who we are, the way we live, models for those we travel life’s path with what’s important. What we hold dear, what we treasure, is reflected by where we put our time, energy and passion. Whoever or whatever is the object of our affection flourishes while what’s neglected wilts and fades away.

“What can we do to promote world peace? Go home and love our families.” #MotherTeresa

Simple but profound wisdom and guidance from Saint Teresa. How can we make this crazy, chaotic, spinning piece of space rock a better place? We start by making sure the ones closest to us are loved and appreciated.

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

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Seeing from Within

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It wasn’t the easiest of conversations to have but he had to know and I had to be the one to tell him. It’s difficult when someone needs to hear a hard truth.  He was sure, convinced, it was out there, beyond himself. Someone else was the harmful influence, another’s behavior and choices were ruining a relationship, spoiling a partnership, when it was, in fact, him. It was his bias, ego and flawed judgement. His view of a perceived “enemy” obscured him seeing the predator within. “The problem isn’t with this other person.” I said. “It’s with you. Until you become more aware of who you are, you’ll never see them for who they really are, appreciate them for the challenge and blessing they bring to your life.”

Unfortunately he never grasped what I was saying, never looked deep enough into himself to see that the way we view others reveals much more about ourselves than it does them.

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

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Don’t Let the Sun

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I was talking with a friend today about being frustrated, irritated, even angry at someone we love. It happens to us all and there’s nothing wrong with being angry if there is a legitimate reason. It’s what we do with that emotion that results in negative consequences. A harsh word becomes hurt feelings, a slammed door becomes a barrier, another flurry of insults adds injuries and a relationship is pulled apart.

Anger is oftentimes the result of ignored stress, built up resentment, unexpressed emotion, lack of communication. One or a combination of these clouds our minds, frays our nerves, drains our emotions, poisons our spirits.

Saint Paul’s wisdom for dealing with anger in his letter to the church in Ephesus is still viable today:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give evil an opportunity.

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

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The Perfect Moment

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How do you recognize the perfect moment? How can you tell if where you are at a certain place, a specific time, is more than coincidence, happenstance? How do you know the difference between divine design and dumb luck? Someone told me this week; “You are where God wants you to be!” They said it with such confidence I was taken aback.

There are those who see the world in black and white, right and wrong, God’s will or God’s wrath, while others live in a space painted with many shades of gray. I am one of the latter. I don’t doubt the conviction of the black and whiters I just question my ability to sift through the layers of motives, the machinations of natural and moral laws, missed, realized and ignored opportunities, perception and preconceived notions, desires dreams and destiny.

I believe the path I walk is uniquely mine though I travel with others. The way is uncertain though many have gone before me. The destination is described by the living but only the dead have arrived there. I have this moment, it is all that is promised me and I ask for the strength to live it well.

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

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When the Way is Dark

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I was talking with a friend earlier this week about a difficult time she’s going through.  Someone hurt her, lied and has brought pain and great upheaval into her life. She’s prayed over it, is trying to forgive but clearly the wound is still fresh and deep.

I shared with her my journey and talked about how difficult it can be when people we trust do things that cause us great harm. We agreed that time, grace and a listening ear are all ingredients to forgiveness and finding our path when the way is dark.

A wise person once said; “One day we’ll look back on the people who helped and hurt us and be thankful for them both.” Neither my friend or I have arrived at this point but I was thankful my story could bring solace to one who’s suffering.

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

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Spoiled

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World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues.”

This past Sunday was World Water Day. I read about water related issues across the globe, tweeted a few links and mentioned it on Facebook. Truthfully, however, I didn’t give it much consideration until this morning when I opened up an extra bottle of water that was in my truck, not to drink, to rinse out my coffee mug. As the water spilled onto the ground I remembered those who do not have and I felt shame for my wastefulness and beyond blessed.

I am a white, middle class American male. Much of what I take for granted every day most of the world has little or no access. A lot of what I complain and whine about not having is a dream life to billions of people.

I am spoiled. It is a confession and a prayer to feel the hurt, know the struggle of my brothers and sisters with whom I share this planet.

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

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Whew!

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Busy day! Rushing, running, racing from one place to another. Trying not to be late for meetings and appointments while staying in the present moment is quite a balancing act. I took time to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze on my arm while being mindful of the clock that seemed to run fast all day long.

When I finally got home the quietness of the house literally rang in my ears. Silence is loud when you’re accustomed to noise, stillness unsettling when you’ve been in constant motion.

A deep cleansing breath to exhale the dust of the miles I’ve traveled today, a closing of my eyes to forget the clock I’ve watched, a letting go of the schedule I clung to so tightly.

Whew.

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

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Blessing of Chaos

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Let’s hear it for chaos! The confusion and catastrophes we encounter on the road of life. The chasms and canyons we must cross, climb out of, forge and finagle to reach the promise land of peace and contentment.

Change is frightening, fearful and our instinct is to fight and hold on for dear life to what is familiar. We place our faith in what is comfortable, old habits, well known friends, old wine skins stretched and worn.

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Chaos. Waves crashing, wind howling, tides pulling us under, we gasp for air, it is life. Going down, drowning, sinking deeper into the unknown abyss we close our eyes and breathe our last.

Chaos, uncertainty, instability. The tidal wave of change sweeps us under and in the depths we find stillness. Lost in the darkness of confusion an unseen path leads us home.

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

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Breathing in Hope

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The bug man came to the house today to spray inside our home and outside to protect future plants and soon to be flowers from pesky predators. It’s another sign that spring is on the way!

I took the dogs to the top of the hill behind our house so they wouldn’t bug the bug man as he did his business. The wind was blowing and the pooches and I stuck our noses in the air taking deep breaths of a new season sweeping in. There’s something about spring, the warm chasing out the cold, the blue skies overcoming the gray, the light increasing as the dark retreats.

Sitting on that hill, filling my lungs with air was like inhaling hope and exhaling the despair of a long, cold winter.

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

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