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Turning People Into Trees

Turning People Into Trees

This week I had to drive into Nashville for a training. My destination was an hour and a half from the house so I made sure to leave extra early because Nashville is known for its snarling traffic. Each day I drove in, because I was early and not in a hurry I watched other zip in and out of lanes, speed past me only to end up at the same place as me when traffic slowed. People were eating, putting on make-up, looking at their phones, singing to songs. One woman was smoking with one hand and talking on the phone with the other. I don’t have any idea how she was steering. Everyone going in the same direction but getting there in a myriad of ways.

I reflected on the journey we share with others. Our path is ours alone and yet, paradoxically, we share it with many. It is easy to diminish, insult those who travel differently than we do. Wisdom tells us to be open and accepting not closed off and judgmental.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Intimacy

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Intimacy

This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.

Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Life Lost

Life Lost

Today, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a couple of items and headed to the checkout area. I had my choice of a person checking me out or self-checkout. The self-checkout had a couple of registers open so I chose one of them. I wasn’t in a hurry, didn’t have an appointment to go to or a schedule to stay on top of, it was simply faster and mindlessly I chose it. Instead of human interaction, an opportunity to say a kind word to a cashier, a chance to stand in line and share a smile, I went with the quickest and the most isolated.

These are the choices we face in our culture. We are able to order online, having most items shipped for free or close to it to our homes, open our doors and live without interaction, relating, or sharing our lives with one another.

At a time when communication is easier than it has ever been in the history of humankind, we are lonely. In a world full of hurting and wounded people we look in another direction to avoid seeing them. On a journey we should be making together we prefer to travel alone. Instead of caring for one another we see the other as a burden to carry.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

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Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Words

Words

Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed.  Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.

Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.

Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people?  In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?

A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.

Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.

Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Comparisons

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Comparisons

Someone told me today about a friend they have who is unhappy. This is the opposite of her usual demeanor. By most accounts, she’s always been a go lucky, chipper, satisfied, joyful person. However, in the last several months who mood has changed and the sparkle in her eye has dulled considerably. The person sharing this with me said her friend’s unhappiness with life has increased along with her social media consumption. She’s said; “When I read my friends’ posts on Facebook, look at their pictures on Instagram, see their interactions with countless other folks on Twitter, my life seems rather dull, empty, lacking.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone relay this type of story to me. Social media can be a wonderful tool and a good way to share select moments of our lives with our friends and family but we must remember the words; SELECT MOMENTS. Those inspirational posts on Facebook often come from a book or web page of quotes. The beautiful pictures on Instagram don’t show the before and after of getting ready to take the photo and recovering from it. Twitter can be an okay place to exchange ideas but more often its people shouting their opinions at each other.

Comparisons can be dangerous, especially on social media.  Most of what we see on these platforms are illusions. They rarely give us a real glimpse of who a person is and what their life is truly like. We have to be careful comparing our life, which we know intimately, with another’s snapshots of theirs. Our life may seem bland, our thoughts benign, our family and friendships boring, but that’s okay. Most of the time, if we were to see what a Facebook friend’s life is like, or the reality behind a Twitter account, or the other moments when everyone isn’t smiling on Instagram we might decide our life is good and worthy of our thanks.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hey baby!

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Earlier today I was standing in a shopping line waiting for an available cashier. I was lost in thought when someone said in a loud voice; “Hey baby!” Snapped back into reality I watched an elderly woman walk to another shopper ahead of me and give her a big hug. They spent a few moments catching up; sharing lots of laughs and a little bit of gossip. I smiled to see two people revel in each other’s friendship.

After being checked out I reflected on how connecting with people can brighten our days and lives. To see one who loves us, cares, genuinely wants our best makes walking life’s path easier and certainly more enjoyable.

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

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