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Chirp and Chatter

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Chirp and Chatter

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the front steps to our shed waiting for Beth to come home from work. Me and the dog enjoying the day when a bird overhead began to chirp loudly! It wasn’t the usual chirp and it was incessant. I looked to the limbs of our big Oak tree trying to find it. I couldn’t. The chirping didn’t stop but I couldn’t find it among the leaves. Finally, it stopped and only when it flew away could I see that it was a large woodpecker.

After watching this beautiful bird fly away I reflected on the constant chirping and not knowing where it was coming from. Some thought are like that in our minds. They chirp and chatter and we wonder, why and for what reason, they are filling our minds with noise. Perhaps its regret at an action,  a question about why something is happening, puzzlement for a big decision which needs to be made, a betrayal, a hurtful word given or received, a reliving of past events, or worry about the future. Whatever the thoughts, the chirps, and the chatter can keep peace of mind and spirit elusive and unattainable.

Wisdom reminds us that thoughts are going to come and go but it is up to us not grab them and ruminate. A wise master once said; “I cannot stop the thoughts from coming to my door but I do not have to serve them tea.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ongoing Grace

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Ongoing Grace

One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.

Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.

Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.

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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Where We’re Going 


Where We’re Going

Last week, when I mowed the grass, there was a lot of dust, a few weed patches and sometimes it was hard to look and tell what I had cut and what I hadn’t. This past week we’ve had a good bit of rain and the grass grew quickly. When I mowed the back yard today I could tell where I’d been and needed to go.

A couple of days ago I heard an 80’s song which reminded me of a friend I had in high school. This friend had done something which hurt me and we were never the same after the event. As I listened to the song I realized there was no more pain just regret at two young people who didn’t know how to get over thoughtless actions and adolescent feelings of rejection.

As I cut the grass this afternoon I reflected on both of these and was thankful for emotional and natural growth.

Too often we think knowing the future would be the greatest of intellectual gifts. However, wisdom teaches us that knowing and learning from where we’ve been gives us a better view of where we’re going. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Inside

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What’s Inside – 

When I first saw this photo it took me a few moments to see the problem. After noticing what’s in the bag is not what’s advertised I couldn’t un-see it.

I remember an interview for  a position at an organization and feeling good about how the evening had gone. On our way home from the meeting Beth, who also participated in the interview process, said; “I don’t have a good feeling about one of the men. He wasn’t thrilled at you being considered for this position.” I was offered the job and accepted it but a year later we decided to take another offer in large part because of the problems this man and his family were causing us. Another interview and this time Beth was wary of the leader of the staff position I had applied for. “He’s too conservative for you. You’re going to break your wings banging against the ceiling of his leadership style.” The position lasted longer than a year but serving under this leader took a great mental and spiritual toll on me. Because of these and many other instances I tell Beth, on a regular basis; “You’re smarter than me and I’m smart for marrying you.” I think she agrees with at least half of this statement.

People come with all sort of labels. They are placed upon them by society, cultures, past events and lifestyles. It’s almost impossible not to recognize or place labels on those with whom we come in contact. Although labels might be hard to avoid it doesn’t mean we must accept the description given to us. We can make the choice to reject the label and find out what’s on the inside, getting to know the real person. Only then can we truly know and clearly see.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Below the Surface

Yesterday evening I spoke to a group of men about going deeper, past the surface and digging down to find our true selves. Anger, for most men, is our default reaction, emotion, the feeling we express most often. Part of this comes from a culture which teaches us that we are to; “cowboy up!”, “man up!”, and “shake it off!” when it comes to pain, loss, fear, rejection. It’s not manly to cry, pour out hearts out, lean on another, admit weakness and hurt. So, eventually, all the angst builds up and we explode in anger and rage. We yell, throw things, hurt ourselves and others. “The problem,’ I said, ‘is that we’ve buried all the emotion which we’ve been taught not to feel. Layer upon layer of unexpressed feelings are buried. Until we dig down, feel it, come face to face with it and figure out what to do with it we’ll be ticking time bombs waiting for the next frustration, anxiety inducing event to go off.‘”

Wisdom tells us, however, that this isn’t just a male problem. We all struggle to go deeper, past the surface to find out what’s below. Our past haunts us, memories of pain and rejection strangle us from within. We struggle to feel and express our true selves because we’ve lost touch with who and what we are down deep, at our core.

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

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Leftovers

Last night I took the dogs out for their last opportunity to do some business for the day. I was about to release them when a shadow caught my eye, then another. I grabbed both dog’s leashes and strained to see what was running through the yard. I couldn’t quite tell but it was either stray dogs or coyotes. I kept the dogs close to me to be on the safe side. This morning, when I let the dogs out again, our Siberian Husky began chasing scents all over the area where the other animals had been. He was so preoccupied with tracking the shadow’s trail he forgot to do what needed to be done.

I watched him dart to and fro and thought how sometimes we are like my crazy dog. We chase after shadows of the unknown, things that scare us or bring confusion and doubt. We allow these distractions to take our focus away from the present and from our purpose.

Don’t dwell in the past or be obsessed with the future. Live in the now.

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

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Dangerous Places

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This morning I slipped walking down the steps of our shed/cabin. I was taking some items from the truck and placing them into storage. I’d noticed the stairs were slick from the rain but after putting my things away I started back down and, not paying attention, my feet flew out from underneath me. I came crashing down hard onto the wooden steps, back first. Ouch!

It was a powerful, albeit painful reminder, that even when we know there is danger on the journey sometimes it seems unavoidable. We know life has its ups and downs, good and bad times, safe and dangerous places. Wisdom teaches us how to avoid many of these areas that would cause us harm. However, wisdom also teaches us that suffering is unavoidable.

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

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The Fire Within

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It’s not often when you can be outside wearing shorts and standing on your bare feet in the middle of November. Yet last night was one of those rare evenings when I stood in front of our fire pit with no shoes or socks, feeling the warmth of the flames on my toes.

I had gone to the woodshed to grab an old pallet to use as my firestarter. I lit it and sat in an Adirondack chair watching the blaze begin to grow higher and higher. Soon there were big embers floating through the air, many of them, and their flight course took them toward the house. I was becoming concerned. It wasn’t too long before my wife spotted the large fire from the kitchen and came outside to express her anxiety. I watched it closely and soon it burned down enough that I could relax and enjoy the November evening.

Earlier this week a gentleman told me the rage and anger within him, because of hurtful people and events in his past, was an inferno which burned so intensely it’s caused him to do much harm to himself and those he loves. It’s been the main catalyst for his drug and alcohol use vainly hoping they would dampen the flames. However, instead of putting them out the drugs and alcohol only added fuel to his fire. He was being consumed and hurting, not just for himself but for those whom he loves and who’ve also been victims of the flames that burn within him.

Wisdom tells us that unless we have a positive, healthy way to spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically deal with the anger that’s present inside each of us the fire will destroy us and those we hold most dear.

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

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The Glass is Already Broken

“A young monk asked his Father Abbott how to find contentment and stillness in a world where things are always changing, where nothing is permanent and nothing remains the same. ‘When loss and grief are inherent in our very coming in to existence, how can there be any happiness?’

That elder monk, looking compassionately at his brother held up a glass which he had been drinking from said: ‘You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it. I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably. Sometimes even the sun reflects in its beautiful patterns. If I should tap it. it has a lovely ring to it.’

‘But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters I say; ‘Of course!’ I understand that this glass is already broken. Every moment with it is precious, every moment is just as it is, and nothing need be otherwise. When we recognize that like this glass, our body, our life, is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, each moment becomes precious and we are open to fully appreciating the unbroken now, this present moment.’

‘When we understand that our loved ones are already dead. our children, our mates, our friends. how precious they become. Fear cannot rule us, uncertainty of the future, the unknown does not have power over us, estrangement cannot put doubt within. When you live your life as though you’re already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime. A universe unto itself.'”

One of the greatest lessons of wisdom is the truth and eventual acceptance that life is in constant transition and passes quickly. From the moment we are born every breath is one closer to our last. Every day, hour, moment brings us to our final resting place. The great struggle is in our intellect, emotions and souls to learn to live joyfully in the knowledge of the passing of our temporal existence.

Too often loss, instability, death are seen as causes to worry, be anxious, fearful and hopeless. Instead, they can be a reminder to appreciate the blessing of each moment as a unique, never to come again, miracle. To love extravagantly while the opportunity exists. To mindfully experience every “now” before it changes to a fading memory and hold loosely a future which is not guaranteed.

blessings,
@brianloging (twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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The Power of Our Past 

I spent most of the morning trimming the verge. Last year, while on sabbatical, I did a lot of hedging while working as a landscaper/lawn jockey. The trimmer I use is a simple electric powered one. The trick to using one that runs on electricity is to make sure not to cut the extension cord with the trimmer. A lesson, I’m embarrassed to say, took me several cut cords to learn. After some trial and many errors what worked best for me was to keep the cord wrapped around my waist and behind me. This way I knew it wasn’t in the wrong place waiting to be cut in half stopping me from doing what needed to be done.

As I worked today I thought about the many bushes and trees I shaped and how, once I figured out how to keep the cord behind me, I then could keep my focus on the trimming not what powered the trimmer. I also reflected on the truth of how what’s behind us powers our present. Who we are, our life’s purpose, the way we think, act and live has much to do with what’s in our past. The good and bad, positive and negative, power our motivation, ignite our passions and stoke our prejudices.

The more aware we are of how what’s behind us impacts what’s ahead of us the more able we are to make sure our lives can be what they need to be and do what needs to be done.

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

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