Blog Archives

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Single Moment

Single Moment

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemies

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Enemies

I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”

We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Secrets

Secrets

Secrets can destroy lives. Secrets can make enemies of friends. Secrets have a way of eating at us, not giving us any peace and taking over all we say and do. Yet, most of us still hold on to them for fear the secret being found out is worse than the misery it causes each day.

Several years ago I had a friend who was ready to leave his current job for a “better” one. We went out to eat and he laid all his grievances out about his current job. He disliked his occupation, didn’t agree with his boss about the direction of the company and was sick to his gut every day he came to work. To others, he was the model employee but secretly he desperately wanted to go somewhere else. After he finished making his case he took a breath and we talked about the new opportunity and I told him I would be happy to give him a recommendation.

A few hours after our lunch my cell phone rang and it was my friend. We chit chatted a few moments and then he said; “I forgot to ask you, what do you think about me leaving?” I told him it sounded like a good job, the move on his family would be disruptive but manageable and to remember wherever he went he was taking himself with him. I went on to explain that some of his unease and difficulty with his present position was not just the job but were the secrets and burdens he carried with him. “No matter where you go,’ I said quoting one of my favorite wisdom teachers, ‘there you are. “

Don’t carry your secrets and burdens with you.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Love Her

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I Love Her

Earlier this week at one of my incarcerated father’s classes one I was listening to resident tell another about a woman who works with the residents at the jail. He said; “I love her!” A few minutes later he was talking about corrections officer and repeated; “I love her!” I couldn’t help myself as I asked him; “You love her?” “Yep,’ he shot right back. ‘Women, all of them. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones and fat ones. I love ’em all. Except for the ones without teeth. They need to have all their teeth. That’s a real turn-off.” “It’s good to have standards.” I quipped. “Do you think perhaps your lack of judgment when it comes to women is part of the reason you’re in jail?” He thought for a moment and replied; “Yes.

There is a difference between love and lust, want and need. Those who follow their passions only end up making choices that negatively impact their lives. Those who know they shouldn’t have everything they want, their every heart’s desire, satisfaction to every immediate impulse, make better decisions that positively affect their present and future.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Beauty Within

The Beauty Within

Outward beauty is always fading. Whether it be a person, a flower, an animal, a planet or a solar system, all is in flux and degrading. Nothing stays beautiful on the outside forever.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded and bombarded with messages that tell us outward beauty is the goal. Personal attractiveness, luxurious homes, sleek, stylish cars & hairstyles, anything and everything down to how we prepare our food can and should be a masterpiece.

To see inward beauty, the innate goodness in a person or a thing takes time and practice. It is a difficult discipline, as is most of wisdom’s teachings. It is a way of knowing and perceiving that an object, alive or inanimate, is beautiful because of what it is, not what it looks like. It doesn’t ignore outward beauty but realizes this is a passing observance. It seeks a vision that discovers the inward and lasting quality of that which it is beholding.

To see the real not the surreal, the true not the fleeting, the inward beauty that is each present moment and dismiss the shiny, glossed over, trinkets the world proclaims as treasure is to have life, abundantly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Your Last Moment

Your Last Moment

Last night me, Beth and some friends gathered around a fire and roasted wieners, shared how are weeks were going and then rushed inside when it started raining. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering about the evening but that’s what made it special.

Too often, while living in the present moment, our minds are busy thinking about the moments to come or the moments that have gone by. We are rarely present mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in the present moment.

To treat each moment as if it is our last is a difficult discipline but it starts with the understanding that the present moment is truly the only one available to us. The moments which have come and gone are no longer accessible to us. We cannot relive or change them. The moments which are ahead are unpredictable and not within our power to get to until they become the present moment.

This is why the present moment is so special and powerful. It is in this moment where life and all its possibilities and wonder exist. We miss it so often but if we can embrace it, cherish it, drain each ounce of precious promise out of it our lives will be enriched beyond our wildest dreams.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention

Attention

The quote in the picture (attached) is a great lesson, one I learned again today.

Following a meeting, I was rushing to another appointment but had to stop and speak with someone. I was present bodily with the person but wasn’t present emotionally or mentally. I could feel the hurry welling up inside and my attention was elsewhere. As a result, the conversation I had wasn’t fruitful and I am sure I came across as flustered. I’ve since let the person know it was my mistake, apologized and confessed I should’ve been more mindful, present, in the moment, not on my way somewhere else.

It’s so easy to be moving on to the next thing. We love marking items off our lists. It makes us feel productive and successful when truthfully if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves failing at one of the most important reason for existence; relationships.

The difference between misery and happiness is attention. An important lesson not just to read but to practice.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Close

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Close

This morning our organization had a Father/Child reading event at the local library. It was a good time, a great turnout and we were able to meet dads we’ve never met before and some we hadn’t seen in a while.

We try to make these events as entertaining as possible with crafts, a puppet show, brunch items and more. The entire focus of the event is to stress the importance of fathers reading to their children. We talk about why this is important for the child and the parents and give the dads some alternative ideas to reading a book that also helps build a child’s’ vocabulary.

My favorite part of the event, however, isn’t the puppets or craft time but when the dads and kids go pick out a book and read it together. It’s the image of the child sitting next to the dad or in his lap and he’s whispering in their ear any words they may not know, need help enunciating, or pointing out interesting items in the pictures on the page.

For me, it is the picture of how God wants to treat his children. Life is difficult and demanding. There’s always something to do and the busyness of this world keeps us spinning. Wisdom tells us that silence, simplicity, humility and obedience are our ways of crawling into our Father’s laps, sliding up next to him, feeling him wrap an arm around us and whisper in our ears, our spirits, letting us know that though the story of our lives can be complicated and convoluted, he’s present and close as the tale of our existence unfolds.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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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What’s Next?

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What’s Next?

A fly flew up my nose today as I was mowing grass! One moment I’m on the riding mower trimming the lawn, the next I’m trying to remove this insect from my nostril! (I’ll save you the word picture of how this was accomplished. You’re welcome.) After I ensured it was gone I began mowing again and thought; “What’s the likelihood my nose and the fly would be at the same place, in the right position, at the exact time this could happen? What are the odds?” I know they can’t be zero since it happened but wouldn’t think they’d be too high either.

Life is never dull. The unexpectedness of it can be thrilling, frightening, enlightening, frustrating. When life continues to give us surprises which delight we are thrilled and count ourselves blessed. However, when life’s unforeseen circumstances continue to cause us discomfort or heartache we may wonder if we’re cursed.

Wisdom tells us to live life not expecting or anticipating. We are to be fully immersed in the now. What waits for us around the corner can not be known but if we can know true peace, stillness, in whatever our present circumstances, we can be assured we can handle what comes next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Where and Where Not to Look

This morning my Daily Office Reading had two sections dealing with focus. One was from the Old Testament, one from the New;

“When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”  But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.  3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”  “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”  4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”  And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.  5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”  “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”  6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”  And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.  7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.  9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”  “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.  10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”  11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.  13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.” Book of Second Kings, Chapter 2

“Then the disciples gathered around Jesus and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1

As I reflected upon these texts I thought about what we keep our eyes trained on also determines what slips by us as we watch other things. Knowing where not to look is just as important as knowing on what and where to keep our focus. Elisha was waiting, anticipating, looking for something predicted and present to happen. The disciples were staring at what once was and had now passed. To keep ourselves facing forward, living in trust that our purpose and passion are before us, never behind, we make sure what we’re looking for is worth seeing.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.

It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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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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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Open Mouth Insert Foot

I stuck my foot in my mouth yesterday, not just the toes but the arch, all the way up to the heel!

It all started so innocently. I spotted someone I hadn’t seen in a while and stopped to speak with them for a few moments. Truth be known I was running late for an appointment and my mind was on where I needed to be not where I was and who I was talking with presently. I was only giving cursory attention to this one who is going through an incredibly difficult time.

After a few pleasantries I made a comment about a change this individual was making to a room. When the reason was given as to why, I missed the “key phrase” which, if I had been mindful of the person and the present,  I would have understood what was and was NOT being said. I then could have steered the conversation in another, more pleasant direction.

However, it sailed right over my head and I then made another comment which, in most situations would’ve been benign, but was painful in the current setting. Immediately, after it had left my big mouth, I realized what this person was saying and not saying, why they were doing what they were doing, and wished I could do the whole thing over.

There is a spiritual discipline called contemplative listening. At the core of this practice is the instruction to be fully engaged with ear, mind, heart and spirit, open to fully receive the other person. It is the belief that every moment is holy and to only be partially available is to cheapen and risk missing a divine encounter.

Sometimes lessons are indeed learned the hard way.

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

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