Blog Archives

Dig

Dig

A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one.  It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.

It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.

As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.

Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Don’t Move

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Don’t Move

Yesterday, taking a break from yard work on a hot day in May, I sat on the porch wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel and drinking a bottle of water. As I sat there a brown bird, who has a nest in the corner of the porch swooped down and landed on my leg. I froze. A bird landing on me was awesome but I didn’t dare move for fear of scaring it away. Sweat poured down my face, my tired arms and restless legs immovable. It seemed like it was forever but I knew it was only a few minutes until I had to dry the sweat from my eyes and take another drink of water. Predictably, the bird flew off as soon as I moved. For a second, however, I was still enough to enjoy the experience.

It’s hard being still in today’s world. We miss so much because we are so busy. We’ve got places to go and people to see. Schedules have to be kept and filled calendars emptied.

I wonder how many small wonders we miss because life’s most important moments are only ours to experience if we’d simply be still?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Up Ahead

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Up Ahead

Earlier today I was on my way to an appointment when I ran into a long line at a traffic light. The light showed a green arrow when the turning lane I was in could go. After only a few moments the arrow turned green and nobody moved. I waited, waited, waited and began to grow impatient! “Don’t you see the arrow is green?!?!?” I thought to myself but still no one advanced. It was then I spied an ambulance moving through the intersection and it, of course, had the right away.

I sat there reflecting on my frustration at the situation. The driver at the front of the line saw the ambulance when I could not. They knew not to go, to wait, that patience and yielding were in order. It was a great reminder to me that life is not always about going. There are times, seasons, it’s about waiting, allowing others to move while we wait, hopefully, patiently.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Standing Still

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Standing Still

Tonight was the first class of our winter semester for incarcerated fathers. When I arrived at the corrections facility I was busy getting my things together before opening the truck door because a cold front has moved into the area and for the first time in a while it feels like winter. I shut the front truck driver’s door, turned around and saw a deer about 30 feet away staring at me. Then I saw another and another. Three deer standing, looking at me as I looked at them. I didn’t want to disturb the moment. I kept expecting them to run away but they stood their ground and me, cold and shivering didn’t want to do anything to spook them. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes I knew I needed to get inside and prepare for class. I moved slowly and the deer watched as I opened the back truck door, took out my supplies, and shut it. I began walking toward the entrance, turned around and they were gone.

It was a perfect moment which happened all by happenstance; the deer and me, right time, place and spirit of awe. I hope 2017 brings more of these because my soul desperately needs them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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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Keep Walking

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Keep Walking

This morning, part of my devotions had this passage from Laurence Freeman, OSB;

“A brother came to his Abbott and said, ’Many distracting thoughts come into my mind and I am in danger because of them. I’m so distracted, my mind is all over the place.’  The elder took the monk out of the cell into the open air and said, ‘Open up the garments that you’re wearing and catch the wind.’  The monk replied, ’I cannot do this!’ and the Abba said to him, ‘If you cannot catch the wind, neither can you prevent distracting thoughts from coming into your head. Your job is to say not stop them from blowing in but letting your mind be open enough for the distracting thoughts to blow out as well.'”

One of the most difficult traits of having a Severe Anxiety Disorder is all of the thoughts that swirl in my mind almost every moment of every day. I believe this is one of the main reasons for my attraction to the contemplative, monastic lifestyle. I’ve read countless words of wisdom on how to still my thoughts, to try to corral them, and some work, sometimes but some days nothing does.

A picture in my Facebook feed this morning reminded me of the battle between what I desire; a calm interior with what is often anything but:

Tomorrow I go to a specialist who I’ve been seeing for almost a year. She is a nice woman, smart and understanding. She asks me how I’m feeling, how my meds are working, how I’m sleeping, how I’m doing socially, what my work schedule is like, and other, much harder, probing, deep, questions.

One of the hardest parts of seeing her is that I’m not significantly better, or better yet; cured. She knows this already, she knew this when I started seeing her. People with Chronic, Major Depressive Disorder, and Severe Anxiety Disorder don’t suddenly recover. It’s a long process and she is part of my journey, along with words of wisdom, my spirituality, meds and a host of other things.

So, I keep walking this path and enjoy the good days, endure the harder days and trust the folks who surround and support me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Slow, Steady, Still

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Slow, Steady, Still

Today I worked on restoring the section of the porch I demolished earlier this week. It wasn’t complicated but did require some precise cuts to ensure it fit correctly. One of the trickiest for me was cutting a large eight-foot board exactly in half. I’ve never been good at making a straight cut and many scrap wood pieces have been made because of my lack of ability to stay on track.

Today, however, my Mrs. brought out a Chalk box (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_line), which has a string covered with chalk, that you can unravel and use to create a straight line over a long distance. We measured a few times to make sure we had the marks right on either end of the board, unraveled the line in the Chalk box, positioned it, snapped it and produced a nice, easy to follow guideline for me. I began sawing, took my time, and exacted a nice clean, straight cut. I exclaimed to Beth; “Not bad eh?” She smiled and said; “You did good!”

After we were done I reflected on the Chalk box line. Not all of life’s path is so straight and easy to follow. There are seasons when the path is had to find, the way hard to know and you hope for a sign or anything to point you in the right direction.

Wisdom tells us that patience, awareness, and the willingness to travel without wavering is key when the way is known just as stillness is imperative when we need to wait for the way to reveal itself. Both are vital to making our way on life’s journey and arrive at the place of goodness and light.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We Look

Where We Look

The last two mornings, as I’ve taken the dog outside for some personal time, there has been a beautiful Robin (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/id) looking for food. When I’ve spotted the bird I become as still as possible and see how close it’ll get near me.  My breathing slows, my movement stagnant, my attention heightened as I watch it hop around looking for breakfast. The rain we had over the weekend has softened the ground and it isn’t long before it’s meal is plucked up from the ground and the bird flies away. I exhale and the world around me comes alive again. The Robin had been my sole focus and until it leaves, by choice or being frightened, and my awareness of the world was dependent on it.

Wisdom tells us that where we place our focus, set our awareness, is life. Where we look, the direction we face is ultimately the direction of our journey. If we only look back we can never go forward. If we’re unfocused, trying to see all directions, we won’t be able to choose a fixed point and begin to travel toward it. Though paradoxical, stillness is the key to knowing and navigating this path called life.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Drowning Out

Drowning Out

One of my favorite sounds is rain on a tin roof. One of my least favorite is the tail pipe extensions folks are putting on their vehicles. These extensions turn normal sounding cars and trucks into loud, ear-piercing, window rattling, jet planes driving by.

This past weekend we finished placing a tin roof on our porch. Last night, around 5pm, a thunderstorm brought some much-needed rain into our area and I went outside to sit and listen. Often, around this time each day, drivers of the above mentioned boisterous vehicles have gotten off work and are driving by the house.

Yesterday evening, however, I noticed the rain on the tin roof drowned out all other noise. The trucks and cars I recognized as being converted were no longer obnoxious. My closeness to the tin roof protected my ears, my nerves and the stillness of my spirit.

Wisdom tells us that presence is influence. The closer we stay to our source of comfort and peace the less distracted and deafening the chaos and craziness of this world can can be.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

Looking and Still

Looking and Still – 
Yesterday, as I worked outside on a project, a small brown butterfly landed on my red t-shirt. I immediately froze and admired it’s beauty. It flapped it’s wings a few times and then flew away. A little while later it was back and on me once more. It made no noise, demands, wasn’t frightening or frightened by me. After a while it flew off again. This happened several times all day long into the evening. In the middle of working hard, sweating, sawing, hammering, drilling measuring, the butterfly would, seemingly out of nowhere, appear, alight on me and I would stop everything and admire it until it fluttered away.

After quitting for the day I reflected on that beautiful butterfly whose presence brought a sense of wonderment and a reminder that in the midst of busyness the miracle of existence is all around us. To notice we have to be looking for it and be still enough to soak it in when it makes itself known.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the Deep

In the Deep –

I listened to a police officer tell an interesting story today. She and her partner had been called to a house where a married couple was fighting. They knocked on the door, entered the residence and found the man and woman arguing in the kitchen. The two people were screaming at each other so loud the officers could not get a word in even though they were speaking at a high volume. Finally, in an act of desperation, the gentleman officer grabbed a loaf of bread, went to the fridge and retrieved some mayonnaise and meat and sat down at the kitchen table and began making himself a sandwich. After a few moments the couple noticed what the policeman was doing and stopped arguing and stared at him, incredulous at what he was doing. Taking a bite, he said after chewing; “I’m just going to eat this sandwich until you two are ready to listen.” Silence filled the room, except for the officer’s stomach digesting his snack, everyone else sat down and began to talk.

I reflected on life and all the voices which fill our minds, spirits, emotions and lives everyday. If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves all consumed by the noise. On social media, TV, radio, printed media people express their opinion and fight with those who don’t agree. Others add their perspective to whoever may be in ear shot, trying to persuade them to embrace their positions on everything from politics to sports to global issues of terrorism and finance. It can be hard, if not impossible, at times to find a place of silence and stability.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive stillness is at times and action. It is a purposeful removal of ourselves from all the distractions of the world, which scream for our attention, and enter into a space where we can rest and remember wisdom, truth, doesn’t force itself upon us but rather whispers in the deepest recesses of our souls.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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in the Moment

in the Moment

Yesterday, while watering flowers, a beautiful bright green Dragonfly  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly) landed on the wrist of my left hand. I froze! My first thought was; “Awesome!” My second thought was; “Do Dragonflies bite?” The third was; “This’ll make a great Instagram photo!” I slowly began to walk toward my phone which was about a hundred feet away. I tried not move my arm or scare the insect in any way. Finally, I got to the phone, gently leaned over to pick it up, turned it on, entered the lock screen code and pressed the Instagram icon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram). It opened but at the same time the Dragonfly decided it would leave and fluttered away. “No!” I screamed. “Sigh.” So close.

It was an exasperating reminder that no moment can be taken for granted nor forced to last longer than what is intended. Instead of worrying about taking a picture, sharing the photo for “likes” and “comments” I should have simply enjoyed the Dragonfly sitting on my wrist and the bliss of the unique moment. In wanting to capture it I lost the joy of it happening and felt the corresponding disappointment of the moment fly away, slip through my fingers.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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unleashed

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dandelion, sitting on a hill

rooted, grounded, in place, until

a mighty force arose and lifted

carried your essence far from home

floating in all directions at once

never letting you settle

dropping and raising

bouncing between stillness and gales

yet in the chaos, swirling turmoil

your beauty decorated the wind

the gift of recognized breezes

making that which could not be seen

now traced over meadows, fields, hills and valley

where you take root again is unknown

until then your untamed spirit

alights upon my shoulder for a glimpse

of what it means to be unleashed

bdl 6/4/2016

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Urgency and Stillness

Stillness

This morning I woke up about ten minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off and noticed my bladder was telling me to; “get up!” The bed however was giving me another message; “be still, stay, relax.”  I compromised. Normally I hit the snooze three times before dragging myself out of the bed but today, because of my bladder’s urgency, it was only twice.

Life is filled with experiences in which we try to find the balance between stillness and urgency. There are moments, times, seasons when urgency is not only needed but necessary. Emergencies, crises, or other situations may require us to be more hurried in order to avoid dire, serious or even grave consequences. However, mostly our days are filled with the temptation to turn ordinary, normal occurrences and happenings into times of great stress and anxiety. Instead of allowing the usual to become the urgent wisdom teaches us to take a breath and let go of that which is not truly critical so we can embrace the crucial.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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More than Enough

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A while ago my wife read me a list of food and drink items which can help contribute to anxiety. As someone who struggles with the Big A it was an article she thought I needed to hear. I listened as she continued to read and then paused when she mentioned; “caffeinated coffee.”

Coffee has long been a staple of my morning routine but I decided to cut my Java intake in half and try to gauge the impact, if any, on my battle with anxiety. So far I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my stress level but I have noticed that I’m still filling up the coffee pot with water to the level I used to drink before I cut back. It’s a habit and a waste so I’m trying to remember I don’t need as much as I used to.

Life goes best when lived simply and lightly. As we travel our path we begin to drop, let go of the things we don’t need. Wisdom teaches us that our lives become full when we’ve learned to limit our desires and empty ourselves of things no longer needed.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Comfortable or Contentment

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What’s the difference between comfortable and contentment?  Is there a difference? I was part of a conversation this morning and when I said; “comfortable” the person I was speaking to didn’t like the word choice so I asked; “Is ‘contentment’ better?” and she said; “yes.”

Since the conversation I’ve been reflecting on the two words and the meaning we associate with both. Comfortable, for me, is to be at rest, not striving but satisfied with life or certain circumstances.
Contentment is to be accepting, non-judgemental, allowing life and events to unfold with a deep trust the path will lead us in the best direction for our lives.

As I look at my understanding of the two words I believe I would rather be content than live in comfort.  Being content I can still rest in acceptance, not see life as a competition and be satisfied in all things and seasons.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Needed

I haven’t seen the sun all day. I know it’s there but either its hiding behind the clouds or they are hiding it. I’m not sure if this is the reason but its been a hard day to accomplish anything. Overcast days have always drained me. They’re just so … “blah.”

I was talking with someone on Wednesday about how I was doing, the way life was treating me and I told her it was; “going okay.” We conversed about those times I didn’t have the energy to do much and how these days seemed to engender within me a sense of loss and shame for wasting my life. She told me; “some days you must give yourself permission to just be, not accomplishing, or getting through a task list, just being and letting that be enough.” “Easier said than done,’ I said, ‘for someone who struggles with severe anxiety.” “Maybe,’ she replied, ‘but that doesn’t mean you don’t try.Good words.

It almost seems like an oxymoron to try at not trying, be at simply being, allowing a moment to exist without making it into something more. Perhaps a cloudy, rainy day wasn’t what I wanted but exactly what I needed.

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

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Fly Away

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Yesterday afternoon, after a long day of errands and yard work, I sat down by a fire of yard and outdoor debris. As I exhaled exhaustion and inhaled rest a beautiful hawk alighted on a table about twenty feet away from me. It’s wingspan was impressive, his claws looked sharp, a regal face and gorgeous coloring. I was as still as possible wanting the moment and the hawk’s presence to last. The fire popped, the large bird quickly took flight and I was left with with the remnant of it’s memory.

Too often we want to hold onto the beauty and let go, ignore the ugliness, happenstance and choice bring our way on the path of life. We don’t want to pause and be still for only a moment but instead stay in pleasant places. However, the impermanence of existence makes this impossible.

Wisdom tells us that developing the discipline of receiving blessings and fortune, chaos and calamity, with open hands is crucial to contentment. Understanding the transience of every moment, good and bad, positive and negative, wanted and unwanted, is to accept the truth that nothing lasts forever and all things sooner or later fly away.

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

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Disruption

It’s happened to most cellphone owners. You think your device is on silent, everything muted and, at an inconvenient time, you realize you thought wrong! Yesterday, in a meeting, a presenter was giving an in-depth report and a person’s phone began to play loud music. Of course everyone in the room turned around and looked at her as she frantically tried to turn it off.

Last Christmas, sitting in church, I began to hear the song; “Another Tender Tennessee Christmas.” I recognized the tune because it’s one of my wife’s favorite songs and I wondered where it was coming from. The choir wasn’t singing it nor the worship team. As the song began to grow louder I realized my wife had selected it for her ringtone. Leaning over to her, I whispered; “I think someone is calling you.” Beth, who hadn’t even noticed, reached quickly for her purse. The phone was at the bottom and she rifled though her belongings finally locating and silencing it. She was embarrassed, I thought it hilarious.

Life is rarely predictable. Even when we think everything is taken care of, settled, under control, life has a way of grabbing our attention and forcing us into a panic, reactive mode. Hardships, difficulties, disease, death take us by surprise and we become focused on the unanticipated and all other things become hidden. While shock and preoccupation may be our first response we cannot stay locked in a state of worry, anxiety and fear. Wisdom teaches us that working through sudden disruptions, finding the stillness and silence once again isn’t easy but is vital to the well-being of our minds, emotions and spirits.

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

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Leveling Out

Tuesday evening I continued working on a project Beth and I started this weekend. Where we’re working is sloped so it can be tricky making sure everything stays level. The key is never going too far, building too much, getting so involved in completing the project that you don’t take time to make sure everything is level. It’s not difficult. It simply requires placing a tool which measures the angle of whatever its set on.

Not being a handyman, I get excited when the bubble on the level tool is between the two middle lines and frustrated when it isn’t. As I worked past sundown last night I kept checking the angle, the position, to make sure my progress was straight and stable. As I pulled out of the driveway this morning I looked at our project. “Sure seems nice and even,” I said to myself.

I began to reflect about our lives. Too often we’re in a hurry to get through hectic schedules. We’re focused on reaching the goal, accomplishing a feat, getting to the finish line. Stresses, demands, fears, expectations push us to go faster, harder while giving us more and more to do.

The problem is we can become so busy that our life gets out of balance. Without stopping regularly, being still long enough to make sure we are level, positioned correctly, our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits begin to decline.

Wisdom teaches us that one of the keys to a peaceful, contented life is being sure this life “project” we’re working on is balanced, even, on the level.

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

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Silent Beauty

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There’s something about sitting outside, at the end of a busy day, saying evening prayers. It’s a release and refilling, an exhaling of busyness, appointments, task lists and an inhaling of stillness and peace.

Yesterday evening I sat on the porch reading and reciting words that have been said at sundown for centuries when a butterfly landed on my foot. It was beautiful, graceful, and seemingly weightless. Even as I watched it crawl on my toes I couldn’t feel it. It was there but not there, present with no pressure. (I believe God is very much this way as well.)

As I continued with a Psalm, I was also reflecting on the moment. No vehicles were whizzing by, no dog barking or birds singing, the wind was faint and the wings of this creature silently lifted up and set back down. I thought about the beauty of silence, the holiness of a moment when the world is hushed, even briefly.

In a time when the loudest politician, brashest celebrity, craziest…whatever, gets the most attention, and people have an insatiable need to always be talking, playing, yelling, singing, making noise or listening to it, silence has become a rare treasure.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ‪#‎MotherTeresa‬

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

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