Blog Archives

Perspective

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Perspective

Beth and I were talking over the weekend about perspective. It amazes me as I get older the more control I lose and the greater perspective I gain. Whether it’s a few moments, days, months or years, our lives, which we like to plan, can come undone.

The world has never been predictable. I was speaking with a friend the other day about the instability which surrounds us. Our political systems, family and community systems, even our environment seems to be spinning out of control. Nothing, if it ever was, is normal nor inevitable.

Last night I read a quote from Eugene Peterson, a pastor, writer, and scholar. He writes;

“The whole of the spiritual life is learning to die.”

This quote resonated with my spirit and experiences over the last several years. Dying takes many forms. Death of all things is a given but we seem to organize our lives as if we might be the ones to escape the fate of everyone else. Death is not a negative word if you’ve learned to die. If you do not hold on treasures and trinkets, live each day as if it’s your last; being kind, grace-filled and loving, never putting off to an uncertain tomorrow what can be done now, in the present moment.

We are but sojourners on this path called life. We are not meant nor built to last for long. With this perspective; how we choose to be today could be how our transient life is remembered tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sing Along

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Sing Along

Earlier this week I had a song stuck in my head. It played over and over in my mind. It was from an artist I don’t like or dislike and was a song that was fine but not spectacular. These facts didn’t matter because the song was like an earworm which burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t stop. I found myself humming the tune, singing along, tapping my foot and fingers, when I was in meetings, classes, and other places.

It is hard to get a song out of your head sometimes. I usually try listening to it several times in a row which can dislodge it. Other times singing it out loud, all the way through, will do the trick. However, some songs refuse to let go and I just live with it until finally, another song, or silence if I’m lucky, takes it place.

I was speaking with someone this week about the causes of poverty, abuse, addiction, incarceration and the incredibly hard task it is to break free from these often generational, familial, cycles. Too often, people think the battles we face are won by acts of wills and choice. While these are important they are not the sum of all problems. When you have been surrounded with these ills of society and family you become used to a normal. You witness those you love and look up to make decisions that keep them trapped in the cycle. Growing up in these environments impact the way you think, your view of the world, and the hopelessness of being free.  Who we are, what we are, are not only the choices we have made but from a myriad of choices which happen when we cannot decide for ourselves or even before we are born.

Understanding the truths about some of the people we meet each day will, hopefully, rewrite the judgmental and biased scripts we easily recite in our minds when we encounter the poor, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless, ex-felons, and wonder; “Why can’t they do something about their lot in life?” Maybe, they need us to sing a new song to them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Strained

Strained

I have a strained, pulled, hurt a muscle. The good thing is it’s one on my back next to my shoulder-blade so I only use it…all the time! I have no idea how I hurt the muscle. I haven’t done anything differently the last few days and yet it has been giving me fits. It’s the sort of strained muscle you only notice when you are lifting, pulling, picking up, putting on a shirt or reaching. When I’m sitting and relatively still I almost forget it’s there until I use it.

I was thinking about a person this week whom I knew long ago. It really does seem it was another life. There was a strain in our relationship. It was painful and awkward. To this day I’m not sure how it became so bad. When I was in the middle of it I often thought it was their fault but now that I am older and think I know myself better I see my part in it. It was both of us. It didn’t always show itself. We both made efforts but when any pressure was put on the relationship it was evident and hurtful.

I sometimes wonder if speaking again after this time of being apart from each other would help heal the rift. I’m not sure. It might only bring the differences and damaged parts to the surface. So, for now, I will rest my shoulder and my anxious mind and trust healing will come.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

This week and weekend have been about hate. Hate has only one outcome; death.

Heather Hyer (pictured) was the woman who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter protestors at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally yesterday sponsored by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi, and other terrorists organizations. Their hatred fueled the rally and the result was death for Heather and two police officers who died in a helicopter accident.

I don’t understand the hate. I grew up in the south, had a few black friends, but do not recall overt acts of racism. However, I did hear jokes, phrases, insulting words pointed at those who were not white. I didn’t understand what I do now that this is where hatred starts. Words are powerful. They have a way of lodging themselves in our minds and shaping us from the inside out. No one is born hating another. It takes family, friends, co-workers, and others speaking vile, evil, and vicious judgments it poisons our spirits, contaminates our brains and spews out of us like projectile vomit infecting everything we touch.

Hate makes me and others uncomfortable. It’s easier not to engage, to turn our backs, hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happens. Hate grows and spreads. Like minded people come together and depend on most folks looking the other way. Ignorance is a weapon used by people of ill will to gain power. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t call hate what it is it will win and we will be forced to choose hatred or death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Weeds

Weeds

Weeds are those things in our yard we try to get rid of, permanently. Last weekend my wife sprayed a lot of weeds in our yard which were growing out of control. Most people don’t like weeds because we’ve determined they don’t have any value. They’re unwanted, unloved and disposable.

I came across the quote in the picture (included) by  Ralph Waldo Emerson and it gave me pause. It didn’t change my view of weeds but it did make me think of the men I work with on a daily basis. Most of these men are seen as unwanted, unloved and disposable. Those who are incarcerated speak of being lonely not receiving any visits from family and friends. There are many whose wives, girlfriends, and kids have begun to discover life without them in it.

I was speaking with another man this week who has a bias toward a particular group of people. When I inquired if he knew any of them intimately, had sat with them, talked with them, ate with them, gotten to know them, he admitted there wasn’t many. It’s easier to group them together and declare they have no value.

Our world is full of “weeds,” people who are looked at and disregarded for many reasons. Whether it’s their religion, skin color, accent, dress, tattoos, sexual preference, they are seen as less than and lacking virtues such as goodness, grace, and kindness.

No one is a weed. To think and act as if one person or group isn’t worthy reduces the value of us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Uncontrollable Words

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Uncontrollable Words –

The other day I was cornered by someone who felt they needed to tell me something…actually, it was a lot of somethings. This person kept going on and on and on. I could literally feel myself wearing down from all the words, phrases that were being thrown my way. We weren’t communicating. I was doing my best to listen at first but after a while, I noticed they were just throwing words at me hoping something would stick. I was wrestling with which would be better; sticking my fingers in my ear while chanting; “La, la, la, la.” Grabbing a passerby and introducing the person to them hoping their focus would shift and I could sneak away or just making a break for it, running and seeing if they would pursue.

I was speaking, communicating, with another person last week about the art of talking and listening to another person. Wisdom tells us that true conversation is a sacred act. Meeting someone new, hearing secrets, weaknesses, dreams, memories, connecting on a deeper level requires not just words and phrases but silence and pauses. We allow the other’s being to be revealed and we share our own. This can’t be done if we never take a breath, if we are only wanting to be heard not also wanting to hear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Repeat After Me

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Repeat After Me

This morning I gave a lecture to a group of parents at a Head Start (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs) location in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The topic was the difference between discipline and punishment. Basically, the purpose of discipline is to teach, model, have a long-term view of who and what parents want their children to become. Punishment is a short-term consequence of poor behavior and/or decision-making. For a child to stay on the right path discipline must be consistent and punishment should never be greater than the lesson being taught. When the punishment is greater the lesson trying to be conveyed is lost.

The presentation went well but there was a translator in the room for a group of Spanish-speaking families. I’ve had a translator before but not enough times where I am used to the partnership. I either go too long and the translator has too much to translate or speak in incomplete, chopped up phrases which make it difficult for the ideas I’m attempting to relay not to get lost in translation. When it was over I thanked the translator and she assured me it went well which made me feel better but I think she was being nice to spare my feelings.

As I was driving back from Lewisburg I thought about how different the world would be if we had to wait for the words we said to be translated to the person to whom we were speaking. What if we were forced to take breaths between thoughts, make sure we said only what needed to be said instead of talking incessantly? To be sure how our words were heard, received by the other?

I think, hope, if we used a translator for every conversation we would choose our words more carefully, ensuring the intent of what we said was being conveyed, use far fewer words, and the space in between what was being said and translated to prayerfully seek that what was being said and received was with wisdom, grace and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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80%

80%

We need rain. The ground is parched and a nice drenching would quench it’s thirst. Yesterday, there was an 80% chance the sky would open up and grace the land with water from heaven. I watched several times as the sky grew dark with grey clouds, blocking out the sun, threatening to unleash a torrent only to see the potential dissipate. Not a drop was to fall all day. An 80% chance equaled 0% actuality.

I was talking with someone this week whose having a difficult time with their teenager. This parent, clearly exasperated and their wit’s end, declared to me; “She just wont communicate with me! When we’re together not a word is spoken. I’m not sure she hears a word I say.” I asked the parent; “Do you know that 80% of our communication is body language? Only 20% is words. When she’s not talking she’s still saying a lot. You’ve just got to be able hear her. It takes a different kind of listening to understand what’s being said when no words are given.” The rest of our time together we discussed ways to hear and be heard with someone who isn’t able, ready or willing to talk.

Clouds and a parent. 80% seemed like a certainty when it came to rain. Speaking being only 20% of communicating seemed like never to a parent longing to bond with a child. Percentages, statistics, probabilities can bring false assurance and disappointment. This is why wisdom teaches that we are not to anticipate, generalize or give up when the odds are stacked against us. We enter and exist in every moment with the realization that every opportunity holds possibility and promise.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lost in Translation

This morning I gave a presentation to a group composed of English-speaking and Spanish-speaking only individuals. This mix of people meant using a translator. This was a new experience for me. I quickly learned the differences in lecturing with and without one. The first was pacing. I couldn’t use my normal pace because of the pause required to let the translator interpret the words, phrases and ideas being presented to those who only spoke Spanish. The second was trusting the translator to interpret everything I said correctly. Even now I have no way of knowing what she did and didn’t say to those who were listening to her.

One of the positives, while also being strange, in using a translator, was the pause between speaking. While she spoke I could decide how to present my next idea. I used these gaps to make sure extra, unneeded words and phrases were removed while important crucial points were made as clear as possible.

Though difficult I do wonder if every day communicating would benefit from pausing between each sentence, thought and idea to ensure every word, even the gaps, are filled with meaning and purpose? Perhaps we’d have a more peaceable world if we were forced to think before we speak.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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