gratitude changes everything

For breath and clean air to breathe,
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood…
i am thankful.
For arms and legs that move,
for toes that wiggle…
i am thankful.

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A young friend recently migrated from Key West to north central Florida as a result of the changes covid-19 has inflicted upon him .  His entourage included a motor home, a motorcycle, a 28 foot boat, a pickup truck, a kayak, and a car – all of them accumulated possessions of a single, middle-aged man.

I do not begrudge anyone the toys they have amassed, but I do feel positively grateful that my life is completely full and content with a 24 year old pickup truck, a partner who loves me and a cat that still purrs his butt off sitting by my side.  I am blessed beyond anything deserved with a bed in which to sleep, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my belly.

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW

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the lesson to learn

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

cropped-sanity2.pngIs covid-19 just a warm-up, a practice session for the inhabitants of earth when the gathering global warming and climate change wreak havoc on our weather patterns, our agriculture system, our social connections, our employment, our financial security, our black-and-white-black-and-white-boy-1299417ability to survive in a hostile environment?

If so, if this is a test, how are we doing?  I personally am dealing with social distancing rather handily since I am by nature an introvert and a non-engager.  I enjoy solitude and the absence of people.  I enjoy hours ‘piddling’ in my garden, reading a book, watching cooking videos on YouTube, walking in the woods, hanging out with Max, the cat.  I am not bothered by the lack of social interaction mandated by covid-19.

But, how are you doing?  Cinemas have closed their doors, restaurants are no longer serving sit-down meals inside, churches have cancelled Sunday services, schools are shut down, grocery stores are experiencing shortages (who’d have thought toilet paper), bars are closed, and we are all supposed to maintain 6 feet between us and the people nearby.  How are you handling this?

Should we take our lesson from our government leaders playing the blame game while promising free money to its citizens, looking for the most advantageous political maneuver in an election year?  Should we listen to the conspiracy pundits telling us this is a foreign government’s plot to overtake the financial markets and impose world-wide hardships on the free world?  Should we believe that covid-19 was unleashed on an unsuspecting world by a mad scientist?

Really, how are you dealing with this?  Where do you go for comfort? If this virus called covid-19 is just the tip of a catastrophic iceberg, will we survive as a worldwide brotherhood sustaining and comforting one another, or will we (as the dooms day prognosticators tell us) slide into world-wide anarchy, violence, and destruction?

I don’t write about my faith very much anymore because most people don’t want to hear it.  But this is my blog, I pay for it and should anyone object to the mention of God or faith or belief, or all three in one sentence….well, there are probably a million other blog sites online suitable to their journey in life.

The following verses taken from the writings given to us in Psalms from ancient Judaic wisdom and faith say this:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake in their surging…..

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire…..

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  PSALM 46

For further thought and meditation refer to the writing of Richard Rohr at CAC.ORG https://cac.org/love-alone-overcomes-fear-2020-03-19/

Right now I’m trying to take in psychologically, spiritually, and personally, what is God trying to say? When I use that phrase, I’m not saying that God causes suffering to teach us good things. But God does use everything, and if God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way. We all have access to this suffering, and it bypasses race, gender, religion, and nation. 

We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love.” FR. RICHARD ROHR

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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share, shelter and clothe

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization. 

– it is my humble opinion –broken hearted

Apparently many in the secular world of politics who profess Christianity and a number of those preaching from America’s pulpits have not read the text of Isaiah 58, verses 7-10.  Or perhaps they have read it and believe it to be irrelevant in today’s world scene where children are caged on our southern border, where desperate refugees are turned away from a safe haven, where poverty and destitution among American citizens are reaching epidemic proportions, where suicides among young people and veterans are increasing, where the homeless are turned out into the city’s streets and rural wooded areas, where it is still legal in 30 states to discriminate against gays and lesbians regarding jobs, housing and social services, where oppression of minorities is advocated by those in power, where the funding for basic necessities of food and housing is being slashed, where it has become OK to persecute dissenting voices, where the ostentatious wealth of the wealthy is nothing less than socially immoral.

This appears to be the legacy our current Washington, DC powers are building.  It would be far better for those Christian leaders to honestly admit their intentions and agendas and lay their cards on the table for all to see.  Instead they attempt to deceive under the guise of God-inspired leadership.

But, what do I know?  I am just a simple and unfiltered man.  However, from a different culture and a different time come these words of wisdom:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

ISAIAH 58:7-10

FRANCISCAN ACTION NETWORK

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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this too shall pass

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

I was brought up in a broad-minded community of church people.  The Lutheranism of my church family was a faith of tolerance and compassion for fellow mankind.  We had a39 few quirks, but most of them could be dismissed with a smile and a touch of humor.  We learned not to take ourselves too seriously.

Subsequent addictions severely tested that innocent faith leaving a young man rudderless and questioning.  The questioning was probably a good thing; however, being rudderless was not.  Not until completely shattered and disillusioned did I reach out from my alcoholic depths to the foundations of my youthful convictions where goodness and mercy still dwelled.  There is where a physical, emotional, and spiritual road to recovery began.

That recovery was a long, arduous journey filled with heartbreak and joy.  Today, having been reconciled with who I was and what I did in the grasp of addictions, I hold on to elements of the faith walk that nourished and encouraged me as a young teen-aged boy.  The 23rd Psalm was a favorite passage which has comforted and stayed with me.

“…yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

When my world rocked with fear, when my mind went haywire with depression, when staying sober another day seemed impossible, I repeated Psalm 23 because it ends with these words:

“…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

In that valley which I sometimes walk even today, the path can be tortuous and difficult walled by mountain peaks of disillusion, pain and suffering.  But, there is always a gap in the high walls just ahead.  There is always a beautiful sunrise over the far mountain peak.  Today I know I will not be in this valley forever.  This too shall pass.  My challenge is to learn the intended lessons from the current sadness or despair and hold true to the person the Creator intended me to be.  My heart can then rejoice and sing….“surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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March 7, 2021

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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Yes, I purposely dated this for a year from now, March 7, 2021.  Should the good Lord give me another year to live on this earth, what and who could I be 365 days into the future?  Will I wake up in the same house, will Max (the cat) still be sleeping by my side, will my 1996 Chevy pickup truck still be roadworthy, will my arthritis pain continue to hobble me through the day, will I be anticipating another garden down by the water?  I don’t know the future, but I certainly don’t want to be the same man that I am today.  That would mean that I have not grown, that life has stagnated.

Granted, those of us in recovery from addictions spend far too much time regretting our pasts and worrying about our futures.  Although our step programs teach us how to navigate the treacherous waters of regret and worry, if we do not spend present moments growing into the man/woman we want to be, if we don’t chase after the healthier and happier image that is available, we do not grow.  We will remain stagnant in the muck of a tedious and mediocre life.

Do something today that forges the person you want to be.  Get the day started with appreciation for blessings undeserved, for a life free of addictions, and for opportunities to love and be loved.  Let’s look outside our windows, beyond our comfort zones, past our noses to the me and you that our Higher Power intended for us.  That Creator did not make a mistake.  We were intended from conception to make a difference in the world.  So, let’s get out there and make the next 365 days spectacular one moment, one day at a time.

SOBER TODAY?  GIVE YOURSELF A HANDsober emoji

 

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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GRATITUDE APPLIED

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Sober and serene today?  Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.sober emoji

 

 

For breath and clean air to breathe
I am thankful
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood
I am thankful
for arms and legs that move, toes that wiggle
I am thankful.

It doesn’t have to be an eloquent play on words or profound verse.  Those few, heartfelt words of thanks along with a cup of coffee first thing upon rising set the tone for the rest of the day.  Of course the gratitude list can be extensive or short as genuine thanksgiving fills us for the sober life given by the grace and mercy of a loving Higher Power.

In days past, my first thoughts upon rising were, “Oh damned, another day of struggle and despair.”

Not any more.  It would be easy to kick back and go there again, but today I have too much to live for and too much to lose.  I choose to live clean and serene for another day.  What’s on your gratitude list?

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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path of least resistance

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

 

“It is our resistance to things as they are that causes most of our unhappiness…..” CAC.ORG – Richard Rohr

Do we believe that the Colorado River forged the magnificent beauty of the Grand Canyon by sheer force and might?  No, of course not.  Over millions, perhaps billions of years, a trickle of water eroded the rocks it ran through consistently and persistently until we have today one of the great wonders of this earth.  That flow of water followed the path of least resistance.

We could learn great lessons from nature if only we would stop the chatter of minds and busyness of this world long enough to fathom what was intended for us through the observations of an ecosystem created to teach us about life, death, and everything in between.  It is not a coincidence that just beyond the tips of our noses an earth filled with intelligence awaits our discovery.

The revered Chinese mentor, Lao Tzu, encouraged in the writings of the Tao-Te-Ching that finding comfort and contentment in this world occurs when we accept what is and follow the path of least resistance.

For a society committed to social justice and moral righteousness, that exhortation can be difficult to follow.  But perhaps, that is our lesson to learn from AA’s Serenity Prayer…“grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”  Nearly everything in this world is beyond my ability to change it, especially other people and their attitudes and beliefs.  The only thing I can change is me and my future.  Think about it.  We too can be rivers as mighty as the Colorado when applying persistence to ourselves.

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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it is what it is

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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“I came into this world not to make it a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.”  Henry David Thoreau

Let’s take morality and righteousness out of the equation.  Let’s stop believing the world will change because of us.  Give up the concept that a god of mercy and justice will eventually prevail thus creating a new world system with peace and harmony filling the hearts of mankind.  Just consider for a moment that this simply will not happen.  What is left?

It is what it is.

One of my best friends from years back would console me with those words as we discussed faith and the world’s problems.  It is what it is and the choice is mine what to make of this life.  When I give up the idea that I will leave this earth a better place or that I somehow will miraculously change mankind, then is when I find peace of mind and inner harmony.  Then is when I can be the man whom I believe God intended me to be – just another soul living with gratitude for all of life be it good or bad.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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BEACONS

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

jesus in prayer

The wisdom seekers from ancient times offered to us these words as recorded in writings which were incorporated into the Old Testament of today’s Bible:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

ISAIAH 58:7-10

“Then your light shall break forth….”

Is my beacon of hope and compassion breaking forth today?  Is yours?  How about the beacon of America?  I know that I can do better, but I believe that America has lost its way.  Granted there are many who continue to offer food, shelter, solace to the homeless and oppressed, but they are not the ones in power today, are they?  Our government and, sadly, a handful of religious leaders seem to have forgotten that it has been immigrants who historically have made this nation a melting pot of ingenuity, intelligence and hard work.  Perhaps we can live today as if that beacon of hope is shining brightly.

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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paid in full

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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Have you ever considered what a small speck each of us is in the evolvement of mankind?  I prefer the word evolvement over evolution because religion, particularly some brands of Christianity, have given evolution a black eye over the past few centuries.  Evolution or creation – why would I choose to take an untenable position over my origins, whether from apes or space travelers or divine creation, when my current situation is that today in this moment I have breath and heartbeat?  What more do I need?  That in itself is more miracle than I can fathom and process.  Billions, no trillions, of souls have existed before me and to think that in this lifetime I will be able to figure it all out is ludicrous and time-wasting.

An appreciation of this personal existence begins with a place of reverence for all of life.  Not just human form, but everything – animal, plant, fish, rock, soil, sandy beaches, high mountains, the depths of the sea and the atmosphere above us are all part of this earth’s ecology.  Not one part is more important than the other – that is reverence for life.

No man/woman on this earth’s face deserves more than any other.  No privilege, wealth, social status, political importance or religious demeanor will make an iota of difference in the final disposition of this life.  You and I, Raj and Muhammad, fish and fowl, male and female, black and white, Christian and Muslim will return to the dust from which we came.  Professions of faith, works of goodness, hours of solitude, bended knees in prayer, protests of social action, dedication to political justice will not matter one bit a million years from the year 2020 on this earth.

So what’s all the hoopla about today?  Why the fuss?  Remember the miracle of breath and heartbeat that I mentioned earlier?  That’s it!  I have dues to pay to breathe, share the air, walk this planet.  Those dues include making a difference for another person, a difference for the tiger in the jungle, a difference for the water in the oceans, a difference for the trees in the rainforest.  Living from a place of reverence for life demands that when my last breath escapes my lungs and my blood stops flowing I have done my utmost to leave this earth unscathed by my presence.

Words attributed to a man of great wisdom centuries ago said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  MATTHEW 25  I trust that those words were meant to apply to every aspect of loving and revering this planet.

As for the planet on which I have lived, I hope my demise will prompt an earthlycropped-pride7.png farewell, “Thank you.  Dues paid in full.”

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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