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Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

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The goal of Western religions … is to bring about a relationship between human beings and God, who are not the same.  The typical attitude of the Levant, of the Near East from which our religions come, is the submission of human judgment to that power conceived to be God.  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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Having written of good and evil, we might turn to the discord exhibited by a large portion of the population in England, France, Italy, the United States and to a lesser effect in Germany.

What we see in each is a deep distrust of, and serious dissatisfaction with, elites who have governed over the last few decades.

What, one might ask, does this have to do with the above quote?

Western people are a Levant people.  It is foundational to us, our culture and its governing laws and institutions that we are owing ultimately to God alone – not the state or those who govern it.  Simply stated this belief is our identity and the bridge to one another.

When the state becomes too big and too involved in the intimate lives of its people, when it banishes God from the public square, approves of abortion, sees the nuclear family diminished, education become leftist indoctrination, dubious concepts as to marriage and sexuality promoted and forced on others, the freedoms in national Constitutions eroded, borders abandoned, the value national identity discounted, “climate change” adherence demanded of all, and economies decline if favor of globalism – we see the visceral reaction of common citizens – so deep is their belief that God alone is God and government, elites and boisterous advocates are not.

What we see today in France and England and the United States is common people in revolt.  Their anger is with the loss of their identity and all that flows from that identity which is based on a relationship with God not the state.

Secularism, damaging as it can be, has its limits … likewise elites have shown their limits.

What we see in the West is a fundamental shift with the thrust back to a restoration of our basic identity and the order of things.

No doubt the Left and the elites find this a hard pill to swallow.  Such is history.  Much is in play today.

Shalom.

 

Well Friends, I missed posting yesterday.  You see my friend needed use of a computer and I gave her mine so she might do some work that needed to be done on a deadline.  So no post yesterday – but in absence … a good deed.

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Have this attitude for yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equally with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and in being made in the likeness of men … humbled Himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death … (Emphasis added)

Phil 2: 5-7,8

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At the end of your life will you have emptied yourself?  Or will self-importance made you a prisoner – a prisoner of what is false and insignificant?

Life is intended to introduce us to humility – hence suffering and betrayal, loss and mistake – calamity and worse.  But it is made also to teach us who God made in us and in this to reveal God to us.  Yes, we carry a sliver of the Divine in us for we are created by God.  That said, so many live as if they are the author of their own life.  Foolishness – complete folly – beware of the misbegotten.  They cannot not lead for they know not.  Chaos is the fruit of their mortal days.

For the Christian, Christ is our narrative – our template, our Teacher, our lesson – the pathway to God.

Those who live well to the end are those who have emptied themselves.

We have been instructed – forewarned.

Shalom.

Another late post – ‘Tis the season for visits with family and friends.  My time alone only now as the darkness of Sunday night encases me.

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To be beautiful means to be yourself.  You don’t need to be accepted by others.  You need to accept yourself.

Thich Naht Hanh

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Buddhist Monk Thich Naht Hanh is returning to his native Vietnam from his place of service in France for medical reasons.  Prayers of him are welcome.

His work has been beneficial to many.  I offer but one of his observations.

What he says I wish to say to my son, my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my granddaughter, my friends and those I encounter who are far from accepting who they are.

For my family and friends I seek only that they may know their sacred being and live life in humility making contributions which align with their gifts and their heart.

For those who do not trust their divine being, I say – you cannot make perfect what The Perfect One has made in order to teach us Heavenly Perfection and help us see the small slivers of divinity that we carry in this mortal life.

There is no need for us to carry the thought that we are “not good enough” – for being good enough is our best … it is, after-all, as good as we are capable of being by design.

We are but imperfect images of the Perfect One and to be just that is to be as we are made to me.  We are not good at out-doing our generous Creator – and all attempts to the contrary end in injury to self and others, to torment for us and others – even those we love.

To be yourself is to be as God hath made you.  In that act of acceptance is obedience, and peace and joy – sufficient to reduce all disappointments to extraordinary understanding and that good product is added to the goodness we possess gratis – as sacred gift.

In acceptance of self comes humility and certainty in the face of what is not known.

Shalom.

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be a god or angel to be pleasing to You, that I do not have to become a pure intelligence without feeling and without human imperfection before You will listen to me.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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We neither need be god nor angel, nor pure intellect or perfect.  God loves us and accepts us as we are: human and imperfect.

Yet, what public figures or those in leadership positions or those who insist that they must lead show any signs of what Merton is saying?  Who among those cited have the humility and understanding conveyed by Merton?  Answer: no one.

Given the acceptance of a loving God, we chatter endlessly – much as if to avoid any interior examination.  Ironically there is no leadership to be offered by those who lack the humility that comes from what Merton rightly says.

The endless chatter of the public class says one thing: they are neither whole nor intact.  Run from such people – pay them no heed.  Lacking humility – they lack wisdom and missing each they cannot offer anything much but division and folly … and they do so as we can plainly see.

Chatter is wasteful noise to avoid individual growth and the recognition that we are all, in essence, the same – with the same value to a loving God.  There are no hierarchies of privilege and heritage, and education and wealth that ought be honored.  Indeed, one who serves in leadership must stand with others and not above others.

It is the quiet one who leads.  It is the common one who possesses what Merton describes.  For it is the quiet one who walks with God and others.

Shalom.

Follow me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.

Matt 8:22

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Let the dead bury the dead.  This phrase has followed me for some time.

As you recall these are the words of Jesus to a man who he encouraged to follow him.  The man’s hesitance led him to say he first wanted to go home to his father and Jesus gave him the above rely.

What does this say?  Well it is an emphatic way of saying that those who are spiritually dead are to be left to their own dilemmas and those who are spiritually alive are invited to be with Jesus.

Frankly, this is no less valid today than it was when Jesus spoke these words.

I am sure that you have tried to help people along the way and probably done so often and attended to those in need over a lengthy period of time – only to see that the person in need never made much progress – but rather remained in the same situation in which they sat when you first began to walk with them, help them, encourage them.

Let the dead bury the dead.

Many among us simply refuse to live in the spirit.  They neglect their spiritual development.  Often the are stuck in a dependent state – many times on the public dole.  Indeed, sustaining “hand-outs” very frequently instills dependence that kills the spirit and results in a life being far, far less than it it could be.  This is very much the difference between socialism and the “nanny state” and a free society that offers help but expects those helped to become responsible for their own welfare and well-being.

In a spiritually healthy society – there are NO “handouts” – only “hand-ups.”

Better to give a person a hand-up than a hand out.  The former enlivens the spirit.  The latter kills the spirit.  The former develops adults and the latter sustains the immature.

Let the dead bury the dead.  You cannot push a car up a hill with a rope.

Shalom.

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

… it is no sin to live a silent life …

The monk is … a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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I live as a monk … on a ridge at the edge of a forest and beside a large slopping pasture that sits at the bottom of a mountain range now in full autumn color posed against the blue November sky bolstered by the chill of brisk fall wind.

I live a quiet distance from a mass communication culture where those thrust ceaselessly at us are merchants of division, animosity, confusion, superficiality, self-interest and considerable ignorance.

A monk is counter-cultural.  His separation defines his values.  To stand outside the culture that divorces itself from God, that knows not sanctity, that neglects the spirit within us is to separate from disorder, to see the culture critically and keep peace with the Divine.

My cottage is my cloister where I may select what I read, hear, or see – a place where I may keep company with my thoughts and prayers and the things of a God who gave us our existence.

Having been planted on “the wrong side of the tracks” as a child, I was made ready to stand apart, to sustain a critical objectivity that refused “transient fashions and manifest absurdities.”  Leaving them was never to have fancied them at all.  Yes, it was a grace that liberates and leads me here.

In a solitary existence one finds the conditions for a full life, and life’s meaning – that is:

  • interior exploration and its sacred products – freedom, understanding and depth of being
  • the peace and health of silence and solitude
  • distance from distraction and disorder
  • contact with the Divine and what is Divine.

So I say (with emphasis added) what Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B. says in Essential Monastic Wisdom –  “…  find some where a place of silence and creativity, where one can listen to the voice of God and think one’s thoughts and be one’s own self.

Shalom.

It is within your power to withdraw yourself wherever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.  (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius

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What gives rise to tranquility?  Your tranquility?

If you pause to think about your health and happiness is this not the fundamental question?  I think it is.

Our eyes are the avenue to the brain.  What do you see each moment, each day?  Do you live in an “ordered” realm?  Are your surroundings in chaos, disarray?  If so, how can your eyes not convey this disorder to your brain?  And what of noise?  What do you hear?  Does not noise itself affect tranquility?

Desire tranquility?  Ask yourself what effect the invasion of unwanted ads on the internet have on you?  When you think about it they are intruders – others pushing themselves into your life – ads: from the eyes to the brain.  Do you wish unwelcome intruders into your home whenever they desire to enter?

We live in a culture where intrusion and invasion are common.  Yes, tranquility is denied routinely.  What is one to do?

Wall off these intrusions.  Control your surroundings – have your place of home ordered.  Each thing has a place.  You need not that much.  The less you have the easier it is to know tranquility.  Give no space to the TV talking heads.  You do not know their life – whether it is utter chaos – which it probably is.  Why listen to sick, confused people?  They bring no tranquility – only chaos.  And celebrities?  Ugh!!!

And, problems.  Do you welcome those who bring problems into your life?  To do so does not bring tranquility.

And what about your interior journey?  Have you quietly and diligently examined your life experience and come to know the pluses and minuses of those so important to your development from birth to adulthood?  And what of the losses, betrayals, great disappointments?  Have you faced them honestly and learned what was intended to be learned?  And how about you?  Do you know what triggers your most salient thoughts, reactions, attitudes, convictions?

Finally, can you be silent and alone?  And most importantly, do you have a home in religious narrative?  Do you keep the company of history’s great contemplatives?

When you think about it – tranquility soothes the Spirit and we are all first and foremost spiritual beings.  Tend to that thought and act on it – and you will come to greater tranquility – no more anxiety, no more naked vulnerability to intrusions and the idiocy of the noise and disorder surrounding you.

Shalom.

Postscript – When we see another, do we see a man or a woman or do we see color, age, ethnicity, status, physical attributes?  Can tranquility come from such seeing?

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

Maya Angelou

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Political ideologues are unable to do this.  They never mention love.  They make demands, insist on getting their way.  They go to extremes to divide and make enemies.  They expect all to adjust to them.  They show no evidence of a relationship with God.  On the contrary, you hear in their words only their own confusion and insistence.

It is strange that they can get away with this selfish insistence … but then again maybe that tells us that our culture is more Godless and God-ful.  If so, then we have no more ground to give the ideologue.  No more need to listen to them nor make space for their destructive disposition.  Loving them is expecting more from them, expecting them to change their ways – to be congenial, courteous, thoughtful and adult.

Yes, loving those who are unloving means not validating their nonsense.  Once the foolishness is gone – there is space to love and accept.  But no one who seeks a meal eats what is impure and spoiled.  When the standard is set, the meal can be shared.

Yup, no more ground to give.

“Well, Dear, talk to the tree until the tree listens and changes as you wish – then come back to me and we shall chat anew.”

Shalom.

Surprised.  You might be surprised at how many voice and sources I no longer listen to or pay heed – MSNBC, CNN, PBS, the major news networks, The Washington Post. The New York Times, feminists, Democrats and “social” Democrats, leftists of varied stripes, shapes and sizes to name but a few.  I prefer the clear air of a monastery of one to the open air “nitwitary” of many.

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