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The Question of Freedom

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The Question of Freedom

This morning a question was asked by a friend; “What are you celebrating this July 4th?” My answer was; “I’m not sure.” The easy answer is freedom, but freedom from what? I feel like we live in a time of disillusion and division. People are losing their right to express themselves no matter where their theology, political allegiances or cultural upbringing. We have become an intolerant and shaming nation. Those who are different, not like us, don’t share our beliefs and convictions, we condemn without either side given the chance to express ideas and discuss. Instead, we see different as a threat and label them as unworthy to be an American.

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to be nationalistic? At one point in our history, being a patriot was speaking out against the government when it stepped over the line and into people’s lives, didn’t treat everyone (EVERYONE) as equal, needed to be put back in its place. We have exchanged our right as citizens of America and traded it in for members of a political party. We are republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, commoners and elites. Both sides claim they’re under attack, true Americans, and those outside of their political persuasions as “destroying our country!” The hate, vitriol, attacks, insults, spewed by both parties and their followers is heartbreaking and stomach turning.

So, what am I celebrating this July 4th? The freedom to write this without fear. Another question is; “What am I mourning this July 4th?” The loss of civility, being one people, allowing politics to define who we are, our neighbor is, and what being an American means.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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In Memory of

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In Memory of

This is a strange holiday for me. It’s not strange in the sense that I don’t understand it or think it necessary but strange because I did not serve in the armed services nor lost a loved one while in military service. I don’t know what it’s like to charge up a hill with my unit, share foxholes with people who I depend on for my life, find the courage to carry out orders that put my life and others in danger and know not everyone is coming back from the mission. I don’t know what it is to get a knock on my door, a phone call, by servicemen or women to inform me a loved is not returning home. I can’t imagine the pain, heartache, loss, or pride that comes with Memorial Day.

I once served on a staff with a war veteran and we liked to talk politics, history, and war. He had seen action in the military while I sat in the safety of a university classroom. We’d have conversations about the justifications of war. I’d voice my opinion that Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be pacifists, opposed to all violence and then he’d tell me when and why I was wrong. I didn’t agree with everything he said about the military, nation-building, and protection but I was also humbled and silent as he spoke. I understood that he had served, put his life on the line for us to disagree and still be friends, still call ourselves by the same name; Americans.

“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
#AbrahamLincoln #GettysburgAdress

Blessings & Thank you,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Insist

I Insist

A few days ago I posted a political article on my Facebook page. It was a snarky article but I thought it spoke beyond the snark and pointed to a larger and important point. It didn’t take long for people on both sides of the political landscape to begin voicing their opinions. By the time I woke up the next morning my Facebook feed was littered with exuberant cheers and bellicose jeers. After reading a few comments on the article I deleted it. I don’t have any desire to be one more voice in the cacophony of political arguments that dominate our national disagreements.

It was a stark reminder that we live in perilous times where debate and discussion have disappeared and have been replaced by something else that’s a mean, vicious, attack and take no prisoners approach to others who have a different opinion, view on politics, world affairs, life in general and specific.

I don’t want to be in this place personally or culturally. Somehow we must find our way back from allowing our identities to be attached to fleeting things; people, regions, political parties, church affiliation, and cultural icons. We need to discover who we are by journeying inward not abdicating ourselves to what’s outside of us. It’s our only hope for survival and peace.

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

Invisible

Invisible

The other morning I took the dog outside for some “private” time and waited on the front porch for him to finish. He was taking an extra long so I started walking to make sure he was focused on the task at hand. However, as I stepped forward I walked into a spider web. It was on my face and I did the obligatory “spider web dance” everyone does where you throw your hands in the air, wipe your face and hands trying to get the sticky substance off your face and body. The web belonged to a small spider and the web was invisible until I walked into it.

I feel like our country and world has been walking into spider webs this week. Invisible, sticky, hard to avoid and get out of situations and circumstances. Things such as racial tensions which we avoid until we can’t have been front and center. Politics and how they divide us. History and its impact on our culture. Power, ego, arrogance, and leadership has stuck to those who are trying to direct and guide us. Mistakes, bad choices, negative thinking, biases, judgment, have all clung to us and seem impossible to get rid of.

Wisdom tells us that if we wish to know the true way we must be still, silent, at peace and humble. However, it seems impossible because new crises and threats emerge seemingly every day. There’s also another wisdom saying; “Be still for at least 30 minutes unless you are busy or in a hurry then sit still for an hour.

I long for our world to simply be still, for a moment, and see the difference it could make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

True and Real?

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True and Real?

I have many friends who are afraid and angry at the state of the nation. They are from both sides of the political spectrum. Fear is the breeding ground for anger and it seems to be everywhere. A friend of mine posted a controversial post this week which was lauded and hated by the differing sides. Folks are digging in and whatever can be used to prove their perspective is “on the side of angels” is put forth not to engage in conversation but to end the conversation by being right and the other being wrong.

I had an interesting conversation with another friend this week who basically asked me; “Which side is right? Is there a true right and wrong?” After a long pause, I said; “I think there is but I’m not sure we ever discover it.” I went on to tell him we are too impacted by our genetics, our growing up in certain places, the beliefs of those who raised us and imprinted upon us, our environment, where we grew up. Add to these the countless experiences each and every day that we use to solidify our opinions, friendships, and families and the other people who surround us. All of these make us who we are and shape the way we think, believe and live.

I finished up by telling him; “Wisdom teachings tell us that we may not ever be free of these countless influences so that we can find an “objective reality” but if we can become aware of our natural tendencies, biases, and preferences we are one step closer, one person closer, to a world of peace.”

“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought and not necessarily believe it to be true or real.” #Aristotle

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Think

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Think

Someone asked me today; “Why aren’t you more politically active in your social media posts? It’s hard to know exactly where you stand.” I explained, best I could, that arguing with people over the internet, or in person, using talking points heard on the radio, tv, podcast, seen on TV and online doesn’t seem a good use of time and time is what life’s made of.

Another friend asked his Facebook posse what Donald Trump would have to do to make him seem more favorable to those who didn’t vote for him. People quickly chimed in with compliments and insults, agendas and wish lists. I didn’t post but I’ve thought about it today and the answer for me was what I’d also like to see in myself, my friends, my acquaintances and certainly my president; humility, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, kindness.

The last part of my answer would be; I’d like people to use their minds and their spirits. I’d like each of us to think for ourselves not regurgitate what we’ve heard or seen but use our brains and voices, filtered by wisdom and experience to speak and do good to each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Why I’ll Miss Jon Stewart

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Jon Stewart, comedian, actor and host of the “The Daily Show” for the past seventeen years retired Thursday evening.

Depending upon your political persuasion, and sense of humor, you either loved or loathed him, cheered or teared up when he signed off for the last time.

I’ve been a Daily Show fan for many years. No doubt Stewart could be crude, crass and condescending. His scathing satire coupled with his over the top antics and use of “adult” language didn’t just skirt the line of good taste and sensibility but, at times, crossed over it with gusto!

There were many cringe worthy moments and several change the channel instances, when I wondered; “what was he thinking?!?! Why did he have to take it that far?” Jon could never be accused of not expressing what he felt, telling it like it is, at least from his point of view.

What I liked most about Jon Stewart was his willingness to remind an all too serious world to lighten up. He went after personalities, corporations, media entities, government, and especially politicians, holding them accountable for much of the fear, suspicion and hate that dominates our lives. He relished walking up to the biggest bully, flicking them in the nose and daring them to do something about it.

I didn’t agree with Stewart on everything. There are some political issues, philosophy of life and theological viewpoints where we vary greatly. However, in a chaotic and mad world sometimes we need someone who’ll call it what it is; “bat ______ crazy!”

Humor, like taste, is individualistic but it can be a powerful way of pointing out the insanity that surrounds us. Perhaps it might also help us find some sanity within. For that and his willingness to try and change our world with a smile; “God’s speed Jon Stewart and thank you.

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

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The Best We’ve Got?

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They’re popping up everywhere! Like spring time weeds or blossoms depending upon your point of view. Presidential candidates are declaring their intentions to capture your vote and the white house in 2018.

As a middle aged man I remember a time when I passionately picked a side, slapped on a bumper sticker and did my best to persuade other folks to the join cause… that was a long time ago. Almost three decades later after countless scandals, lies and promises unfulfilled, anger and venom spewing from both sides I’m convinced politics, in its current state, can’t fix our troubled and deeply divided nation. I wish I had an answer. I do not.

Maybe a wise, humble, woman or man of conviction and vision will step forward. For the sake of the nation and the world, I hope so.

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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the Happy Place

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Today is International Happy day! If you didn’t realize this you’re not alone. I had no idea until I read about it online.

Being happy can be difficult in a world so full of sadness and badness. Some folks find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the good, when darkness obscures their vision. Trite expressions such as; “don’t worry be happy, turn that frown upside down, you’re as happy as you make up your mind to be,” ring hollow in the ears of those struggling with life circumstances that steal their joy, sap their strength, weigh heavy on their spirits.

For some, at this time in their life, where they are on the journey, happiness isn’t an option. They are simply trying to take the next step, to not give up, to survive.

Happiness, an often desired but elusive emotion, state of mind and being.

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

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How it Ends

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I know someone who’s struggled through a very hard life. We talk about where and how he grew up, the choices others have made to help shape his life and the choices he’s selected. The toxic environment he was born into poisoned much of his childhood and tainted his vision of the world. Much of his current struggles have a lot to do with his complicated and chaotic past.

When we talk I remind him that the book of his life has not been finished. Some of the chapters were written by him and others by different authors but he decides who and what will write the rest.

The obstacles he needs to overcome, the lessons learned, the people left behind, the consequences accepted, will not be easy but it is his choice. He didn’t choose how the story began but he can choose how it ends.

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

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Good Shoes

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This morning I put on my “good shoes” for an important presentation to a group of highly respected people. These are my shiny, black, fancy dress shoes that I wear with one of the few suits I own. I’ve had these shoes for several years but they still hurt my feet because they’re not worn enough to get broken in. Mostly they’ve taken me to weddings, funerals, other important services and events. I’d much rather wear a pair of tennis shoes or flip flops but there are occasions when only my “good shoes” will do.

As I reflect upon my journey over the last year and the places my “good shoes” have accompanied me I realized most have been painful, even heart breaking. I wore them to a service when I said; “goodbye” to friends I loved. They were on my feet when I laid my dear friend Mary to rest.

No one’s ever promised an easy journey and sometimes “good shoes” are required.

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

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