was it good for you?

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”

smiley-face-2I would like to think that I am the guy who always keeps a cool head, always speaks kindly, always responds in a civil manner.  But, I am not.  I stammer, spit, and sputter in moments of anger or disgust.  In my mind I am able to read to you the riot act when I feel I’ve been maligned.  Don’t you know who I am?

In the previous paragraph “I” or a form thereof was used 8 times.  That is the problem.  “I” sometimes becomes the dominant pronoun used in thought and conversation leading to a severe case of me,me,me which almost always excludes “you”, “they”, and even “we” from any dialog.  It becomes a one-sided conversation which clearly clarifies my position, but simultaneously bars you from taking part in the interaction.  Great ego stuff for me, not much fun for you.

The world is like that, is it not?  Tact, civility, and compromise have all but disappeared.  Conversation consists of pointing accusatory fingers, pumping personal ego, and demanding respect where respect is undue.  “My way or the highway” has become the norm in political discourse separating your party from my party and forcing one of us to be the boogeyman.  In a candidate debate for elected office, the debate often turns into a tit-for-tat assault on personal integrity.  Oh, never mind that children in America are starving, that violence is escalating alarmingly, or that we could be nuked tomorrow.  You, candidate A, are a scumbag and I, candidate B, will let our constituency know all your lurid details.  Really?  Do you think the homeless veteran scrounging for a meal in the dumpster really cares what candidate A did?

It seems that we take our cues from celebrities, the rich, and the famous.  As they do, we want to do.  As they speak, we speak.  Twitter and Facebook have made it too simple to assail, insult, assault, libel someone we probably don’t even know without any threat of accountability.  No need to fear blackened eyes or missing teeth from a physical one-on-one confrontation.

Personally, as I have confessed, I still go there sometimes.  The verbal barrage, the unkind thoughts, and the judgmental attitudes can swoop down on me in a heartbeat.  But, when the emotion is spent and the brain is engaged, I find myself saying to a beleaguered me, “Was it good for you? Did that tirade make you feel better about yourself?”

unshackled-2

 

 

just a glimpse – 05.10.2018

smiley-face-2
PERFECTION

Consider the moments when all is just as it should be, when the world seems to be perfect, when a cup of tea is enjoyed quietly empty-headed, when life’s beauty lies peacefully ahead in it’s absolute perfection.  What if those moments are chosen as reality and all else is seen as illusion, a deception, a prelude to pain and suffering?

Removing the demands of self from the center of its personal universe is when eyes can be opened to a Divine Presence.  Hearts swell in communal joys.  Together, when joyful souls engage by pools of cool waters, in fields of green grass and lilies, with blessings of a life lived quietly, there the path of eternity is realized.

Although those moments of peace are sometimes fleeting, they become deeply etched and worthy of devotional pursuit.  Then the pleasures and pains of earthly illusions will pale when compared to a life lived in awe of soulful excursions into truth’s reality.

Just a glimpse –  of the joy and peace which a magnanimous Creator has intended to be enjoyed always in every moment, every word, every thought.

CANDLE

toil and trouble

Staying out of trouble does not come naturally for me.  Advancing age eliminates most of the physical temptations but, my mind still functions at full throttle and sometimes I get in over my head with the ego employing many of my character defects in very unspiritual ways.  I can’t help it; the devil makes me do it. CANDLE

Truthfully, there is no one to blame except myself.  I have experienced the mercy and grace of a loving and forgiving Father who stood with me in the depths of my personal hell of alcoholism and then led me miraculously to a life of recovery.  That Father traveled with me to the “far country” or, perhaps, he led me there to change the incorrigible reprobate which I had become into a man willing to heed the wisdom of a higher power’s truth.

Staying out of trouble nowadays means keeping my mind on the important things in life, observing the troubling events of life, sorting the two like dirty laundry and putting whites in this pile for a bleach wash and heavily soiled colors in the other pile.  Wash and tumble dry.  It’s a simple household chore that can become a wardrobe fiasco if I don’t pay attention to the need to separate the two.  Just as bleach will change my favorite blue jeans, issues beyond my control will color my attitude if allowed to fester.

So it is with serenity and peace of mind.  Simple attention to the essentials of clearing the trash and sprucing up the pretty things will keep my spiritual house in good order.  When there’s a thought to launch a verbal assault on someone’s opposing opinion, I must observe that thought, process it in a bath of compassion, and then let it go.  No, Larry does not always do that and the results are predictable.  I feel initially victorious, then questioning, then angry with myself for not walking that mile in the other person’s shoes to gain insight into his/her mindset.

I have yet to master the art of ego denial, the need to be right, the desire to have the last word.  My Father tells me that it is unnecessary to come out on top and often I will argue, “But you don’t understand, this is very important, I must retaliate to validate who I am.”

“Really?  Larry, are you saying that My validation is not enough for you, that My mercy and grace will not suffice?”

The need to jump into the fires of political turmoil, the need to feel I am the last champion of a pressing social dilemma, the need to correct an errant theology all become festering soul sores if I don’t run them through the laundry first.  Let God do the sorting and I can then start the washing machine.

When all things are viewed first through the eyes of a Higher Power, my life can be serene and peaceful.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 smiley 3

 

 

 

labels

As a retired guy trying to get by on social security, I welcome offers from friends to help them occasionally on painting jobs.  My “expertise” accumulated over many years as a painting contractor fits hand-in-glove to their need for experienced casual labor.  Such has been the case over the past few days.
The client on this most recent endeavor is an extremely pleasant woman whose gift for gab is obviously a plus in her customer service business.  Quick to smile, offering us egg rolls for lunch, and helping as much as possible, this lady talks easily about her adventure in life.  Born in Vietnam, lived in Saigon, she remembers the Vietnam War and shows by her attitude her delight in being American.
Yes, she is American, just as I am.  There was a time during the height of the War when I uncharitably would have tacked on more adjectives to my description of this lady.  My HP has changed my thinking and my ways, but even today I catch myself sending out a simple,  “Lord, forgive me for being such a jerk back then.”
My ego has a need to differentiate me from others.  It urges me to attach stereotypes, to use crass descriptions, and to believe I am better than others.  My ego wants me to label everyone I encounter in an effort to separate from their own humanness.  I unwarily fall into ego’s need to control and define who I am.  This temporary drift into “uniqueness” is in direct contradiction of the higher Essence which lords my life.

I know today that ego is not the controller.  All the labels I use to define me, to describe me, to stroke my sense of self are merely attempts by an ego wanting to be back in control, to preserve its identity.  And all the labels I put on others are attempts to put separation between me and fellow humans.

rainbow-solidarity
St Francis, in a well-known prayer, ends with: “…..for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to everlasting life.” prayer of St. Francis
Rumi, a 13th century Muslim and Sufi mystic, wrote: “What have I ever lost by dying?”  Rumi
Rumi and St. Francis knew the joy and rebirth realized by death and dying of ego.
“Only after you have fallen into the True Self, will you be able to say with the mystic Rumi, ‘What have I ever lost by dying?’ [2] You have discovered true freedom and liberation. When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the part. You are now connected to something inexhaustible.”  Richard Rohr