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Paradox

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Paradox

“par·a·dox” –perəˌdäks – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I listened to a speaker today talk about his father who was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He talked about how his father and a German guard became friends over their interest in fishing.

One day the guard told him he was having troubles with his bowels and to go to the bathroom immediately. The speaker’s father was confused but listened, went to the bathroom and came out several minutes later to find all the other Jewish prisoners had been taken to one of the notorious gas chambers the Germans used to kill millions of Jewish people. His friend, the guard, upon seeing him said; “You are the only Jew left. You should leave. The speaker’s father walked out of the camp and went back to his home. “This is a paradox,” said the speaker. The German guard knew the other Jewish people, human beings, placed on the train were going to die but still chose to save his friend.

Human beings are walking, talking, breathing, skin encased paradoxes. We are tough to figure out. We do what we don’t want to do sometimes and don’t do what we should. We take stands for things which don’t really matter and shrink from the spotlight on the most important. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors, wrote; “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” He was a priest, an oblate, and a recovering alcoholic.

We are all paradoxes and have that in common with one another. There are a plethora of beliefs, convictions, and certainties we hold that unite us and divide us. However, we are also, every one of us, human beings and this truth should overcome everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Touch

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Touch

Today I attended a luncheon that was a kick starter to a faith-based community council. There were only a few but a lot of passion for the needy that exist mostly in the shadows of the church buildings and our communities. Folks with mental health issues, addictions, homeless, poverty-stricken, those living in the cycle of unfortunate circumstances and poor choices. These are the one we are hoping to help.

At the meeting, one of the attendees brought a service dog. The dog had been trained to be petted for anxiety reduction and assist a special needs person. It was a beautiful black Labrador Retriever. I couldn’t get enough of petting this pooch. It definitely made me feel better to scratch its head, rub his chin, stroke his back.

The power of touch is amazing. It can calm or incite, show acceptance or intimidate, display love or push away. There are people all around us who need their lives touched. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These are the ones who most avert their eyes or cross the street to avoid. These shadow dwellers, who have a way of making most feel uncomfortable, need the touch of love, hope, and change.

Most of us can’t give them everything they need to get back on their feet and walking the path of life again, but together we can do more, touch more, give grace more, than one person alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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It’s the Thought

It’s The Thought –

I sat with one of my regulars for a session yesterday. We made small talk at first asking each other about what’s happened in the last week between appointments. He told me about his weekend and I mentioned the rain and how this negatively impacted my work on the front porch extension. As I said this his eyes lit up and he said; “That reminds me!” and he put his hand in his pocket and brought out an object and slid it across the table.

He continued; “I know you don’t charge for these sessions  but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you helping me.” I looked down and it was a gift card for a local home improvement store. I smiled at his graciousness and then slid the card back to him and replied apologetically; “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this gift. We are a non-profit and can’t accept personal payment of any kind but I appreciate your generosity and the thought behind the gift means a great deal to me.”  Even as I think about his desire to tangibly say; “Thank you” it brings a big smile to my face.

I have no idea how much the gift card was for and it doesn’t matter. What matters is his appreciation for the times we’ve sat together and worked through some tough issues to help him become the best man he can be for himself and his family. The old adage; “It’s the thought behind the gift that counts” is true and was a wonderful gift that I will value for a long time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Way Out

The Way Out

Yesterday evening Beth stopped by my office to see me (and give me some sugar!). After a while, she hopped back into her car and I got in my truck. She began to drive out the main entrance. I tried to warn her with hand signals not to go that way but she didn’t notice me. I, on the other hand, went another way to avoid all the traffic that bottles up at the main entrance, this time, every work day. After almost two years I knew to avoid it and how. As I made two quick turns I passed Beth who was still sitting in line and waved. I called her and she asked; “How did you get in front of me?” “Took a different, better way to get out as quick as possible,” I said. She laughed and I told her I would see her following a class I was teaching in the evening.

As I drove past her I thought of one of my favorite wisdom proverbs;

A man was walking down the street and fell into a big hole. Try as he might, he couldn’t get out. He heard someone passing above, it was a professor. “Hey, Sir! Can you get me out of here? I’m stuck.” he yelled! The professor threw down a book on philosophy and existentialism and kept on walking. Our man heard another person approaching, it was a priest. “Hey, Padre! Can you help me out? I’m stuck!” The priest wrote out a prayer and dropped it into the hole. The next guy was a good friend and the man yelled out; “Hey Joe! Please, I’m desperate. Please help me out of this hole.” The friend looked down and then proceeded to jump down in the hole. The man was flabbergasted! “What’d you do that for? Now we’re both stuck.” Joe smiled and said; “Relax. I’ve been in this hole before and I know the way out.”

The road of life is filled with u-turns, yields, long boring stretches, deep holes and exciting hairpin turns. Traveling with those who know the way is always better than traveling alone.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Together

Together

This morning, I went into a store and was met with a booming voice coming over the store’s speakers. “Would the Grandmother of Jason please come to the registers? Would the Grandmother of Jason please come to the registers?” My first thought was a woman who had become enamored with her shopping list and had let her grandchild wander off. An elderly person passed me, approached the registers and the grandson hurriedly went up to her and declared; “I didn’t know where you were! I was looking for you!” When the child began to speak I could tell he had a learning disability and the grandmother, instead of being embarrassed or frustrated, told him calmly; “I was over there. I knew where you were.” She continued talking to him and they began walking through the store together. I smiled at the gentleness of the grandmother. She obviously was familiar with these situations and knew what to do to help the young man feel safe, to know she was near, he hadn’t been forgotten.

Reflecting on this sweet moment I wondered if this is how God sees, understands us. There are events we consider traumatic and chaotic. We panic and question; “God where are you? Have you forgotten us? Have you left us in the middle of this mess with no way to find you?”

God, on the other hand, is right there, with us. We may not see him but we’ve never been out of his sight. In his way, in his timing, he steps into view and we run, relieved and cling to him telling him how worried and alone we felt. He smiles, puts his arm around us, his voice and presence soothing our soul and we walk together along life’s path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Run Over

Earlier this afternoon I stopped to get a cold drink. The temps today are in the 90’s with humidity close to this mark as well. I exited the truck and began to walk across the parking lot into the restaurant when a small white Chevy truck, moving faster than needed caught my eye. I stopped, he didn’t. I watched as he passed and he stared back at me. I was thankful to have looked before crossing and wondered why he was in such a hurry.

Following my close encounter I reflected on times when people had tried to “run me over.” Moments and seasons when someone had an aim, purpose, goal they wanted to reach and didn’t consider how it impacted those around them. Whether it was an over-powering personality, a self focused agenda, a spirit draining selfishness, their destination was reached at the peril of others.

I also thought about my own pursuits and how, at times, I was more concerned with the journey than my fellow sojourners. Finding the balance between getting where we need to go and being sure our passions and purposes do no harm is important and necessary to ensure we reach our destinations, together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Nuance

Nuance

Everyone should have a friend who dances to their own music, marches to the beat of their own drummer. These special ones seem to walk a path that others cannot see and probably wouldn’t have the courage to navigate a path so culturally unconceived.

We seemingly live in a world where there are only two sides. These sides are chosen by litmus tests and depending on what you believe, where you stand on the issues, a label is slapped on you and you assume the responsibility and culpability of all others labeled and standing along side you. There is no nuance, no subtleties and we all suffer from it. Vitriol, disdain and hostility are hurled at those on the other side and our cultures are divided seemingly to never be brought together again.

I wonder if there are enough people who would dare to not accept this paradigm, view of life, of others. Are there enough folks who would put aside the expectations and be the exceptions to what our world demands? How many would choose to belong to the community of nuance, walk the road less traveled and dance to the music of the middle?

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Forward, Together

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“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” #OgMandino

I was talking with a colleague yesterday about the work we do with families and how it often progress means two steps forward one step back. We both shared anecdotes of clients who were doing well, making good life decisions for a period of time, and then a negative event or experience happens followed by a season of regression. We both agreed what we do, trying to help people change their lives, wasn’t a quick or easy process.

I reflected on this conversation later and realized everyone’s journey is unique but similar. We each are searching for purpose and trying to avoid habits, hangups, hurts, which trip us up.

The best way forward is together, helping one another and to remember, as Plato says; “Never impede a person who’s making progress, no matter how slow.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Still Together

Earlier this afternoon Beth and I finally went to see Batman V Superman; Dawn of Justice. Enjoyed the movie and neither the Mrs. or I understand all the negative press its received. For the commercials, trailers and first fifteen minutes of the movie we were the only ones in the theater. Then a strange sound echoed through the room as an elderly man with a loud metal cane and an elderly woman slowly made their way to a pair of seats. They took forever to get seated, whispered so loudly you could hear everything they said, snuck in a couple of bottles of water, and were as cute as they could be. I was watching the movie and watching them and thought how out of place this pair seemed watching a comic book movie. However, it didn’t take long before I thought; “I hope, when Beth and I are that age, we’re still going to superhero movies, distracting young folk and being wherever, together.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Together

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This week marked an anniversary for me. It was not celebrated or remembered fondly as it was one of the darkest, most difficult days in a challenging and chaotic 2014.

Beth and I sat by the fire pit last night talking about the event and the year that has passed. It was one of those conversations with pauses and lengthy periods of silence.  A conversation which can only be had between life long friends.

The fire began to die out and the coolness of the evening descended bringing with it a desire to go inside. We watched the last of the flames dissipate and spread the embers to accelerate the fire’s demise.

Holding hands we walked to the house in the same way we’ve traveled life’s path over the last almost thirty years… together.

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

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Still Chained


Our Siberian Husky does not like to be chained in the yard. He’ll sniff around for a bit, perhaps do some “business”, but not long after you leave him alone he’s ready to either come inside or run around the yard with one of us outside with him.

To let us know he’s reached his limit he’ll begin to howl and yap but if this isn’t enough to convince us he then stretches the chain as far as he can and starts scratching, clawing and through sheer effort trying to break free. I come back out from inside the house yelling at him; “you’ve only been out here 5 minutes!” but to him it’s been an eternity. When I unhook him he runs like it’s a prison break!

Beth had recently bought another chain and yesterday I added it to Trooper’s previous one. I then walked him around showing him how much more room he now had to roam. I was hoping with more yard to investigate he’d be willing to stay outside a bit longer. No dice. He immediately trotted after me and, when he could go no further, begin to howl.

I was frustrated for a moment but then thought about it from his point of view. He’s still chained. He’s not free. What’s an extra ten feet when there are acres to explore, play and chase things? Sure the chain was longer but it still wasn’t freedom. He was alone and limited. What fun is that?

So, I let him go and together we enjoyed what can only be found in freedom and sharing our journey with another.

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

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