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To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao-tzu

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The older I get, the more I settle into quiet and keep things as simple as possible.

I have no taste for crowds, fast roadways, complicated gadgets, air travel and such.  My diet is simple and ample.  Time with friends and family matter so very much.

The quiet seems right.  It leads to peace and prayer and conversation with God – a rendering of spontaneous gratitude for all I have been given, for the love I have received and the experiences large and small – the memories of people, places and events.

Now I see how grandchildren carry hope for tomorrow and bring that hope to me.  I see in them hope alive in their days, and their joys and pleasures, and a love so readily shared – so openly proclaimed by these little people.  Wonderful, so wonderful.  For me, they are proof of God’s existence and signposts for who we are meant to be, and how we are meant to live.

In the quiet and the solitude I am acutely aware of the confusion and pain that others create out of pride and their own disordered thinking.  Full of energy and themselves they make matters worse by insisting on changing things “for the better.”  They are not quiet people.  They seem to prefer the crowded clown car of the circus – yet, they always fight one another to be the driver.

In quiet I know both joy and sadness, I hear my breath and feel strongly the experiences that gave me depth and comfort, improved my vision, produced understanding – led me to faith and to God.

Now the voices of those I love are symphonies for me.  The memories of those I loved who have died are my favorite movies.  The memories of yesterdays my treasured photos.

Now I do not need much and in my days little tasks bring appreciation and satisfaction – sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, keeping the grounds clean … I notice the pleasure of such things – the cool afternoon breeze off the mountains and the changing landscape as the sun moves west and fades slowly into tomorrow.

Proper quiet gives the fullness of being.

Shalom.

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I do think that living your life to the fullest is a little flawed … why is jumping out of an airplane inherently better than reading a book?

… why is living a life that looks good on instagram inherently better than a life lived quietly?

John Green

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… a life lived quietly

We are a people in something close to perpetual motion.  In America it seems that there is a default setting to “do something,” stay “engaged,” keep in motion, “move up,” stay on the go” … etc.

If I am correct, I ask: “Why?”  Is action better than inaction?  Could it always be so?

Personally, I like my very smart son’s admonition: “don’t just do something – stand there.”

His oft-repeated observation is that people seems always inclined to “do something” … anything … in the face of some stimulus perceived to be a “problem.”  (Indeed this is the conviction of virtually everyone who enters political life or occupies a middling-to-top spot in a bureaucracy.  Displaying, I might add, the wasteful and idiotic disposition to think that doing is always “better,” “right,” more “useful” than not doing a darn thing.  Let’s be completely honest here: the political and bureaucratic “doers” are at best self-justifying, i.e., if they did nothing they would lose their identity, status, sense of importance, and God-forbid maybe a cubicle, and a public paycheck.)

If anyone doubts the wisdom of doing nothing or at least far less than political types and bureaucrats do – I remind you only of the plight of “education” in our land.  Thanks to the “genius” of Jimmy Carter his creation of the U.S. Department of Education in short order has overseen the destruction of American education by “doing stuff.”

Like John Green I feel no compulsion to “do something,” “be in perpetual motion.”

Like my son I see others “reason” this way: “I must do something.  This is something.  I think I’ll do it.”  Mind you, the something done is never put to this modest test: “Is this worth doing?”  Mostly, you can well imagine, such “Pavlovian” conduct is usually worthless at best except that it devours time, spends money and gives the middling mass “something” to do.

I much prefer quiet and inaction to the presumption of action.  Likewise, I prefer quiet to noise, no one to the company of anyone, solitude to the maddening mob, nature to suburbia or exurbia and the inane movement and madness of large cities.

No rock climbing for me.  No bungy-jumping from a bridge.  No triathlons required.  I have silence and solitude, beautiful landscape, books, prayer, my faith, contemplation, thinking, a few special people, grandkids, a son and daughter-in-law and the simple chores of a house lived-in and land lived on.

Shalom.

Failure of Liberalism – Chicago is Murder-City and it is a city that is destined for bankrupcy.  Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, Los Angles, et al show us that Liberalism is dead and on the way to its extinction it kills innocents within its boundry.

The Nanny State, creation of inter-generation dependents is a deadly mistake.  It is time to blow the whisle on the government as God.  People are made for self-reliance, self-discipline, economic freedom, personal responsibility.  Diversions like sexual politics and identity politics destroy people and places.  Governments making “promises” they cannot afford nor keep is exposed.  Time to shut the door on Liberals and the Left.  Back to normalcy.

 

Attachment is the great fabrication of illusions; reality can only be obtained by someone who is detached.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil

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Saw a PBS Frontline documentary about boxing promoter/manager Don King.  It was fascinating.  King made a fortune-plus but those who fought did not.  It was pretty clear to many (TV executives, Congress, law enforcement officials, state boxing commissions, fighters and their trainers, etc.) that King was getting rich at his fighters’ expense.  But no one did anything to correct the abuses.  Sort of reminded me of Washington and how the Clintons and their minions get a perpetual free pass.

That brings me to Simone Weil (one of my wife Sylvia’s favorite writers).

Weil makes a very good and wise point – in a world where compromise and corruption take up common residence “being part” of “elite” structures is best avoided if you wish to live in contentment.

The wise person puts himself or herself in the best position to survive independently.  It is far better to be largely self-sufficient than encased in an organization, an onerous structure.

I worked by myself as a lawyer.  I now live in solitude.

While social (I knew all kinds of people), I was never a joiner.  Never had the desire to climb the ladder.  I enjoyed being a friends to many, yet a level of self-sufficiency was my route and allowed me to be a confidant to others.

Was asked one time by a Judge if I was interested in applying to fill a vacancy on the local Court.  My response: “Thank you, but I’ve never been a fan of Pontius Pilate.”  Pilate was stuck in a system that required his compliance with its ways.  “I see no guilt in this man” but … “Good bye, Jesus.”

I see many who are tethered to a group, a system or such, and so often I see them discouraged at having to comply with the culture that pervades their milieu.  Imagine a life of daily discontent – it is bound to make for long days and serious angst.  Some prisons have invisible walls.

In life you have time and a grant of dignity in your sacred birth.  Wasting time you cannot get back again, or besmirching your dignity and the sacred gift of your birth seems like a poor choice.

One makes haste slowly in life.  The purest sound is often a holy silence.  Detachment is often a better course than attachment.  Be a friend to many – but include yourself in that.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place … Mk 1:35

Shalom.

Imagine – Imagine how the local F.B.I. must feel in watching the those at the top of the ladder mishandling everything and anything related to the Clintons and their associates and having to see the rank partisanship from those at the top of their pyramid.  Difficult to see and experience.

… we seek nothing but the particular place willed for us by God …

Then we discover what the spiritual life really is … It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions are directed.  That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves … and in the end the only thing that matters is His glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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In the Mass readings today we hear God lamenting that His children have moved away from Him and we hear Jesus advise us to move away from those who do not receive or listen to his words.

Our dilemma is that we live in an age where many of the most public and most vocal have moved away from God and do not listen to the words of His Son.  Likewise the culture in its digital discourse and mass communication is crowded with those who operate largely by themselves – without reference to God.  Indeed, that is the bulk of present day discourse and we are obviously affected negatively by this.

What is one to do in such circumstances?

Yes, we are assured in the Old Testament reading of today (from Hosanna) that God will act mercifully as to those who rebel.  And, we know that Jesus in today’s Gospel (from Matthew) would have us separate from those who do not receive his words or listen to him.  So we have a plan: be merciful, yet separate from those who reject the Savior’s words.

But how is this to be done?

Merton offers a way: seeking time in silence and the company of God in that silence.  For in that silence the primacy of God is known and experienced and we are in the form that we are designed to know and in which we will find peace when all about are in discord and distress.

Yes, our confidence is in God and our task is to stand apart form those who reject God outright, and in their rejection of the Son, reject the Father.  Our remedy for this is silence – a singular silence where God is heard – much as the Son shows us in his regular retreats to the quiet of the desert.

In silence we can find stability, meaning and fulfillment.

Shalom.      

 

It has been said that no great work of literature or in science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude.  We may lay it down as an element of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often long alone with God.

Austin Phelps

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We are social beings.  We prefer others to being alone.  But is that where our peace is?

Think about it.  You have met hundreds of people and you are with scores of people weekly.  You have extended family members but no matter whether family or friends or those you encounter in number – you have only a few people with whom you share completely and who share with you in the same manner.  There are but few you can count on.

Maybe we miss the point that we are made for time with God, time alone with God.

You know when you get to be 70 being alone is a common part of each day, your months and each year.  Many of those who have been close to may well have died or retired and moved away. – and your children, as adults, are busy with their work, life and family.  What once was, is no longer – you spend time alone.

But that is likely how it is meant to be.  Age is a time to sum up – to reflect, take account of a life lived.

The “taking account time” is time with God.  Use it wisely.  Be at peace.

You cannot maintain yesterday’s status quo.  Life moves like the ocean tide and you are like the wave which laps on the shore and dissolves in the sands of time.  There is no shame or sadness in this – it is God’s way to eternity and Him.

Shalom.

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude.

Aldous Huxley

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It will be 90 degrees again here to today.  In the mountains a breeze persists.  The pastures are green and bathed in sun to make them softer to the eye.

I listen to a CD entitled “Celtic Landscapes” – recordings from nature in Ireland and Scotland.

Last night I saw a Mama bear and her two small cubs.  They were given the order by Mama to take to the trees.  They did.  The little spuds hung one above the other on thin branches near the tree trunk.  No one moves unless Mama says so.

I hung my Scottish flag on the garage this morning then ate homemade raisin rumcake with a cup of dark roast.  All is good on the ridge.

I love the solitude.  The more disorder in mass culture, the better the silence and solitary life in nature.

A thunder storm erupts on the CD.  We shall have our’s this afternoon.

All the flowers are watered and trimmed.  The roses have a good number of blossoms ready to bloom.  The grass is cut.  The St. Andrew’s Cross flies free.

You see there are things that give comfort.  They are near.  They settle the soul and create space between disorder and peace of heart and the quiet of the soul.

Know this: mass culture is sick and it breeds discontent.  It takes its price from you.

Shalom.

If we remove the obstacles, the ego-self with all its paraphernalia, and surrender to God, we penetrate through the layers of our psyche until we reach the center of core of our being.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Quiet begets interior silence.  In quiet being itself appears as thoughts fade.  In quiet we hear the sound of silence that is deep inside us.  In this is God, awareness of God.

In interior silence social need falls to the Spirit – without others we are nearer our own being and that of all things and beings.  In interior silence eternity exceeds mortality – yes, reality becomes eternity, and all things now and beyond are of God and God.

This interior silence has no words nor need for words.  It is.  IT SIMPLY IS.

In interior silence we are subsumed with the “IS” and its inexhaustible ALL.  This: the experience of the Triune God – our center – the center of being here and beyond.  There is in this eternity and tranquility – our meaning, our purpose, our reason for being, peace and certainty – ease of being, the exceeding of all doubt or pain.

Shalom.

 

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

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

Our cultural elites, the modern liberals, have contempt for democracy because it produces results and elects politicians they disapprove of.

Robert H. Bork, in Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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American liberals in their various iterations have diminished what we once possessed: a civil society whose public and private institutions reflected our common cultural inheritance – that of European Christendom.

The evidence of this runs the gambit from law and the judiciary, to family, morality, sexual mores, politics and political practices, university and secondary education, vehicles of mass communication, entertainment, the press and even some of our religious institutions.

The degeneracy that this brings is clear in so many ways – one being the image this weekend of former F.B.I. Director James Comey hawking his recent book.

Poor Mr. Comey.  He is want of personal understanding of himself.  Consistently his public utterances tell us: “something is wrong with this fellow.”

His actions only seem to confirm his disordered state and bolster the idea that he is the just result of modern liberalism’s own inbreeding.  Yes, the ideas of elites which bear little resemblance to that of the common man and woman are visible in many on the Left who assume public leadership and voice.

Here in Mr. Comey is a lawyer who while under oath in testimony given the Congress tells of appropriating government documents and leaking them to a Columbia law professor to share with The New York Times in order to get a “Special Counsel” appointed to investigate/delegitimize an elected President.

What lawyer would disclose his illegality and questionable objectives without any apparent recognition that he is describing his own lawlessness?

Likewise how could the head of the F.B.I. mismanage the Hillary Clinton national security mess so completely as to make it utterly clear to the public that “the fix” was in and the F.B.I. administrative cabal of Leftist political partisans surrounding Mr. Comey were far from pedigree conspirators or reasonably decent and honorable barristers?

In his actions and interviews, Mr. Comey offers himself as the poster child for the incoherence, corruption and incompetence that is the modern liberalism of the cultural and political elites wearing the “Democrat” label.

Toto, we are a long way from European Christendom, America as it once was, and from decency and wisdom.

Our restoration will evolve only insofar as we individually return to faith, have the courage to speak up, and to reject the poisonous fruit of modern liberalism.  Indeed, it has done sufficient damage as is.

Shalom.

 

 

Grandeur of character lies wholly in force of soul, not in the force of thought, moral principles, and love, and this may be found in the humblest conditions of life.  (Emphasis added.)

William Ellery Channing, in Self-Culture

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Yes, as Jean-Paul Richter said so simply in Titan – character is higher than intellect as intellect is function and life is the functionary.  And, yes – character comes from the soul.  It does not come from “rules of the road,” ethics, social relations, ideology, the ideas we hold, the fads of the day, self-interest, wealth, status, etc. – and it surely does not arise from finding oneself on the television or sitting on the op-ed panel of some once useful newspaper that is now far less than it ever may have been.

That said, character is less visible now in American culture than it was as short a time ago in the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Character seems to have faded in the image culture, in a secularized land, the culture of mass communication and affluence … in the culture of the poorly-educated college graduate and the narrowly trained intellect for it is as Richter said that intellect is function and life is functionary.  Yes, living engages the soul and from the soul comes character.

It follows that a life of challenge challenges the soul and character is coaxed out of these experiences and only in character is knowing known … wisdom presented.

In our present state intellect (in its most diminished state today – so clearly seen in talking heads and people we encounter who speak of things they do not know) there is not much sign of character.

It used to be the case that America attracted immigrants who saw in this land (as was reflected in its people) those who had character – and who took on all the odds to journey here where acculturation to our ways was expected and liberty to prosper was freely offered.  But alas that is not the case now.

Now, people travel here, and like our entitled native born college-“educated” class who make a life of complaining about this country (that which used to be their country) – we find our newest entrants and our offspring seeking the largess of government and complaining that this or that is wrong, “unfair,” disadvantaging in some way (as to gender, sexual practice, race, ideology, etc.)

In all of this it seems we must say: character and individual achievement is far less visible than it was 60 years ago.

So what is the warning?  Forget all the fluff, live from the soul outward for if the soul is denied character is lost.  Without character we become, frankly, quarrelsome and unlikeable – easily defeated.

I see, frankly, so few who exhibit the character that says of a person – “I am a soulful person. I see my origin in the grace of God.  I live beyond the narrow confines of the superficial, and the mass culture.  I take what comes and do the best I can with it for I seek to succeed as an individual, a sacred being who has been given a life and access to a land of liberty and opportunity.”

As for me, I avoid the herd and “popular culture” and my life is quieter and more meaningful in its relative solitude.  Yes, after years of putting the soul to the test, I am as whole as I might reasonably aspire to me – knowing full well that there is still hardship to come, character to be grown, and a soul that lives here and beyond.

Shalom.

 

 

 

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