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talking to myself

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personal stuff

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markdohle

Zingy

Zingy

I wonder if it is true,

that those who believe in God

like I do, are in fact

mentally deranged.

I don't think I am crazy,

zingy,

or an air head,

however,

it is said that crazy people

are the last to know.

Perhaps the same could be said

for those without faith?

Who knows, perhaps we are all

crazy.

(Well the shadow knows, but he is not telling anyone,

he could afterall be crazy as well)

Best to keep a sense of humor in anycase.

markdohle

Zacchaeus (The tax collector)

Zacchaeus

(The tax collector)

A man reviled by his own people, and rightly so, for he was a thief, a heartless man, greedy and fat with avarice, a man whose heart was tight, unfeeling towards the suffering and struggles of others. He was a tax collector, a man who stole from his own people to enrich himself. He took what Rome demanded in taxes, charging more for him-self, keeping many in poverty. A man who was without mercy for others, alone, his only friends would be others like him. He only took, giving nothing of value back to his culture, a parasite.

Then one day, Jesus came to his town and he changed. He climbed a tree to see him; such an act must have caused some derision from those around him. Perhaps it was this temporary loss of self that allowed the connection with Jesus to happen. He took no notice of those who laughed at him, a man rich, in beautiful clothes, clean, beard trimmed, and acting like a child climbing a tree.

So Jesus looked up, what did Jesus see what others did not, could not, and would not? If I were there I too would have hated him and mocked him for his foolish behavior, for his thievery, for him keeping me and my family in poverty.

Jesus looked up and laughed in delight at such behavior and said, “Come down Zacchaeus, for I will dine in your house this day”. The shocked of being seen, of being delighted in, of not being observed with contempt, which I am sure he was hardened against, I would think shocked him to his core. Jesus seemed to see into the depths of the soul that I cannot yet comprehend, and what he saw he called forth, and Zacchaeus changed, he turned around, converted. Perhaps that act of being childlike, unconcerned with what others saw in him allowed that look of Jesus to heal. What if he had not climbed that tree, would Jesus have called out to him? Or would he have even gone to see him as one of the crowd?

When judged, as well as when we judge, the knot tightens within our hearts causing us to become old and bitter no matter what our age. This pushes down our childlike nature, hides it and perhaps at times kills it. Yet one look, a true look, a loving look, and we can be undone. The knot loosens, or even unravels completely and in that we are healed at a depth where we once more can become childlike once again.

markdohle

Your Son, Father, you let die

Your Son, Father, you let die

O Lord of the Universe, I bow to you,

you are love this I believe, yet so much pain,

how and why is there no answer?

Jesus sweated blood,

he prayed in faith to you,

“O Father my Father let this pass

yet your will be done”

Your son, Father, you let die,

he bled out nailed to the wood,

naked, in shame, no dignity at all.

He cried out with all of mankind

“My God my God, why have you forsaken me”,

yet he did not despair, hanging between two thieves.

I see no answer to my own inquiry,

yet to look upon your beloved son gives me hope, for evil won

when your son died,

his followers fleeing in fear,

after one betrayed and another denied,

so it is in this world where evil seems to win, for your son’s torn,

tortured, bloodless body was left in a cold tomb,

reduced to a mere slab of meat.

Yet

He rose from the dead, who would have thought, how strange you are

O Lord, you weep with us, bled, lose out over evil, yet your life swallows death.

What you are about I have no clue,

yet I will continue to seek,

pray, and hopefully one day,

to have a heart such as yours.

Such is heaven, to be fully human,

as your beloved was when he forgave all,

after all the betrayal, denial, torture and mockery;

one day Lord hopefully we will all understand.

Until then, I will wait no matter how dark it gets, for it has begun,

the leaven of Jesus’ Risen Life.

markdohle

Your longing to love, this is love

 

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Your longing to love—this is love

February 14—In a car. “You saw My kindness in the face of that young girl? Be like that always. If My followers were good to one another, the face of the world would be transformed.” “Your longing to love—this is love . . .” “In your soul there is a door that leads to the contemplation of God. But you must open it.” February 17—“Don’t

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 284-288).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

The Christian path is not about being nice, but about being kind.  Kindness comes from the heart, when it sees, and understands a person, or a situation.  Most people are touched by even the smallest kindness, especially if it comes in an unexpected manner.  We often find that when we do reach out in kindness, we find an inner door opening that brings with it a deep happiness, or perhaps joy, would be the better word.  Kindness is not done out of compulsion.  It does not lead to irritation, or an expectation, of a return.  Hence the joy. The ego is placed aside, and something bigger is experienced.  It is our true nature, made in the image, and likeness, of God, whose nature is Infinite Love, and Kindness.  Until we open up our hearts to all that we meet, that deep inner joy will not be experienced.  Harshness, contempt, anger, and indifference, are used to block out understanding of the reality of the lives of others, and the pain that can bring.  Love has a price, it leads to kindness that is based on seeing with the eyes of Christ Jesus. –Br.MD

markdohle

You will become both Light, and Fire

 

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You will become both Light, and Fire

When you come to adoration, hold yourself before My Eucharistic Face like a mirror before
the sun.  Thus will you capture the radiance, of my Countenance and the fire
that blazes in My Heart; thus will you become both light and fire for
souls plunged into darkness and hearts grown cold. 
--In Sinu Jesu (When Heart Speaks to Heart). 

No matter what religion one follows, or what spiritual path traveled upon, if it is not done in a mindful manner, it can become ‘dead’, lifeless, a shell, without any life.  For Catholics, the Eucharist is central to our faith.  For in the Eucharist, Jesus is still among us in a powerful sacramental way.  How mindful a Catholic is when he receives the Eucharist at Mass, or in times of simply being in the presence of the Sacrament, will dictate how the grace of the sacrament, will deepen ones faith in God, and love, of others. 

Christians, are called to a deep, intimate, personal, and loving relationship, with Jesus Christ.  Our faith, the sacraments, and the sacramental aspects of our devotional life, can draw us deeper into the mystery of God’s infinite love, for each human being. 

The ‘Heart of Jesus Christ’, called the ‘Sacred Heart’ by Catholics, points to the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ, and His loving intention for all of mankind.  Jesus, the creator, the upholder of the Universe, became man, so that he could incarnate in each of us, lifting us up with him, into the dance of the Holy Trinity.  By allowing the love of God into our hearts, we are saying yes to the influence of grace, and the deepening love, and healing, that flows like living water, from that experience.  This is a conscious, freely chosen choice.  Not to make that conscious choice, is to doom ourselves into having a childish, instead of a childlike relationship with the Trinity.  God is other, yet love, and Jesus reveals that to us.  For as Jesus said, “To see me is to see the Father”. 

So we are called to allow the life of Jesus to become one with our own often broken, fearful, and anxiety, driven hearts.  We seek to allow our own humanity to grow as we experience the love of God in our hearts.  We become fire, we become love, we become compassion, and we learn not to fear, as Jesus did not fear, the unique suffering that is the fruit of that love.  That is how we unite ourselves to the sufferings of Christ, suffering of love, for the salvation of all.

Priest are the servants, of the servants of God.  They are called in a special way to become a light unto others.  It is a vocation, which comes with a high price, for those priest who live out their vocation, to become a channel of the sacramental life for Catholics.

All Christians, be they Catholics or not, are also priest (the priesthood of the faithful), we also are called to become lights of love towards others.  Yet it can only happen when we invite the life of Jesus Christ, into our hearts at ever deeper levels.  We look to Jesus, and do not allow our failures, or the many often serious disillusionments of priest and our fellow Christians, to deter us.  For the more we learn of the mercy bestow on us, the more we desire it for all, and realize that the love that God has for us, is there for everyone. 

At Mass, Catholic’s unite themselves to the moment when Christ, instituted the Sacrament.  It is a moment that stretches out both forward in time, as well as incorporating the past.  Christ becomes present in a very special manner in the priest, when he says the words of consecration, and all Christians partake of that to the level that they open up their hearts, and deepen their understanding of what is happening.  We are all called to minister to all, and as well, to allow others to minister to us. 

We are called to think before reacting.  To interact with others. To listen, encourage, love and respect all whom we meet.  When fear, and anger, control what is happening between peoples, there is no listening, but only prejudices, stereotyping, and the destruction of the humanity of the supposed enemy. 

Jesus belongs to no one, we all belong to Jesus.  Let us pray for all, and seek to allow grace to expand our hearts, so that we will become ‘fire’ and ‘light’.  –Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

You never know what the day will bring

You never know what the day will bring

I was talking with a man today. He seemed nice enough, 77 years old, homeless. We helped him out a bit. As I was driving him into Atlanta he told me a strange thing, and with a smile. He related how when he was a young man he killed a man with an icepick, it was self-defense he told me. He went to jail for many years. As we talked I wondered how many of us hide things and here was a man who was willing to share a dark secret with me, or perhaps he did not think it was dark at all, just something that happened to him in life. I took him were he could get some help and returned home. I think I will pray for him, hoping he finds a place to settle down.

markdohle

You never know

You never know

I was at the VA yesterday. Met a few people, talked to an 88 year old who just wanted to connect with anyone and who was an interesting chap with a good story. There was a man in a wheel chair across from me and we also talked a bit. He looked about 40, but was actually in his early 50’s. Later I met him in the ENT inner waiting room after being called backed. As he talked with me, he shared some of his life and I could see that his smiles and laughing covered a great deal of pain. He carried a heavy load, perhaps a little heavier than some and then again lighter when compared with others. Yet, isn’t it amazing the courage that people have…..it is so common that it is often overlooked in passing, like I almost did with this smiling man sitting in a wheelchair.

Oh Lord, give me the eyes to see and the heart to listen

markdohle

You never know

You never know

Some people take a gun to their heads and pull the trigger,

I have such a friend who did this a few days ago,

a man of great intellect and faith,

beat down by the ravages of depression.

He lived through his attempt,

now struggling to get back together,

surrounding by friends and family,

and yes prayers and love.

None of us knows what we will face in the future,

yet I believe he nor anyone else is ever alone,

when the dark waters rise,

and they sink,

when their will is gone,

and rational thought impossible,

it is then that God is near,

though I wish I could understand

what the hell is going on in this dark,

broken, messed up world.

markdohle

You have to trust God

You have to trust God
 
“Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds,
there is always a space in which the good seed can grow.
You have to trust God.”—Pope Frances
 
When people speak of virtues like patience and trust, some seem to think that it is a state that just happens. I have had people complain to me that they pray for patience but then have situations that make them impatient. Well if you want to be patient you have to pay the dues.
 
Patience is developed when we don’t feel patient but deal patiently with whatever is provoking us. You can’t have patience if there is no impatience to deal with. On a good smooth day, when nothing can bother me, I don’t have to be patient; I can just float down the river of having a good day.
 
Trust is no different. On days when all is well, trust does not even come into the equation. Yet on days when my life does seem like it is full of thorns and weeds and unwanted insects buzzing around in my mind….well…. it is then that trust is born, for I can still trust in God and in the mess of my life, I can begin to see God acting.
 
Things in life will provoke us. Often we may not know why. The same goes for trust. There are things in life, both within and without that will bring out fear, yet as Jesus said, ‘Fear is useless, what is needed is trust”. Trust is not an emotion, nor is it a feeling, but a state of being, hoping against hope in God’s love and mercy.
--Br.MD

 

markdohle

You embrace our humanity

You embrace our humanity

Sometimes my soul feels pounded,

this pounding is done by me,

and in times like that all I can do is pray, or scatter.

To scatter makes things worse,

to pray gives me a place to stand from,

to open my heart in faith,

knowing all is seen,

I have nothing to hide,

it is impossible,

so no need to run for shelter,

or to seek anything elsewhere.

Oh Lord your mercy and love are infinite,

our struggles you see and know,

for you lived and walked amongst us,

you suffered and died,

and in each life you embrace our humanity.

markdohle

You can’t stop it, so get over it

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You can’t stop it, so get over it, live your life

I do not mind aging for myself,
(though in my friends, well I do not like it,
they're getting older)
in any case, it cannot be stopped,
little bits here and there reduced or lost,
and body parts once taken for granted
have to be attended to because of pain,
energy levels lower and by 3 PM,
well, let us say, I do get by,

I read and doze off, then read again,
my eyes work better on some mornings than others,
quite a litany, so common, those lucky enough
who have moved on into the elderly world,
know what I am talking about living so long.

I enjoy small things more than when younger,
forced to be mindful of how I walk or climb up stairs,
actually not a bad development, living in that moment,
I treasure this life now more than when young,
for I can see the exit, though I hope
it is still down the way before I have to get off.

Brakes cannot be applied on my journey,
being a pilgrim has its good points,
but one has to keep moving,
our ride, mother time, makes sure of that.

Here, in this world, I can choose for the most part
on how to select, what to do, how to react,
or to love in the midst of outer chaos
mixed with on certain days, inner anxiety,
about the sky falling, the floor opening up,
yet both never happen, so that helps to remember.

Faith is an art I believe, a way of saying yes,
without demanding some sort of the impossible,
some absolute proof or another,
this is a life of unknowing when it comes
to the more important questions,
yet faith is a key that keeps the soul and heart open.

I fail often in all the same ways, but I hope,
and am always beginning again a million times,
yet I feel God’s 7 X 70 mercy always,
and I hope with grace to share it with others,
by allowing grace to expand my heart,
which is still stone like in some ways,
but I can feel the chisel of grace,
so hope is always there, as well as
my final stop which is approaching at ever faster speeds,
so I love each day more than when younger,
and am just fine and would not want to be younger.
And I am grateful that I can I can simply be a pilgrim—Br.MD

markdohle

Ying and Yang in perfect example

Ying and Yang in perfect example

William was peaceful this morning,

he smiled at me and even helped the best way he could,

he also sang and has been doing so all day,

a gentle tune without words,

comforting in fact.

He then talks to many from his past,

laughs and thanks them;

for what I have not idea.

Other days are different,

he yells and cries and strikes out,

not knowing where he is,

who we are,

or what we are doing.

The ying and the yang in perfect example,

though I wish for the good days only,

though perhaps without the bad days,

the happier ones would be impossible,

there would only be a lull,

an ocean without waves,

or wind, or sun or storms,

just flatness.

markdohle

Yet we hope

Yet we hope

We love and hate, fear, hope and can suffer crippling anxiety as well. We can also look upward and experience that life is about something wonderful, even if the journey is often filled with experiences that are often painful, out of our control and for many unceasing. Yet we hope and seek answers. Our longings are deep and profound; our seeking after ‘love’ is also an unending enterprise in the human endeavor, which goes beyond mere survival.

markdohle

Yet they continue, the good policemen and women

I have a lot of respect for the police. I believe that many of them, perhaps the majority become policemen and women because they actually want to serve and protect others. I have seen the police show concern and respect towards those who are disrespectful and call them pigs. Yet they continue. What they do, their good service goes unnoticed because they are simply doing their job. When people are honest, caring, and take pride in their work no matter what it is; it is taken for granted.

There are of course bad cops, just as there are bad parents, teachers, politicians, priest, doctors, etc. When things go bad then everyone takes notice and on many occasions those who have no part in the wrong doing are drawn in. I would think most people have found themselves in that situation from time to time. Be it racial, religious, and political, or like now for the police.

When the police use unnecessary force then they have to be dealt with quickly and severely. They have an important function in society and when police do harm then the trust of the pubic is lost. When that occurs, even those policemen and women who are good and caring in how they carry out their jobs can become bitter and in the process back down and do less.

As our society gets more violent, it may be that more violence prone men and women are attracted to that kind of work. There are videos that show policemen thrashing people who are defenseless and screaming for mercy. This would point to sadism on the part of the policemen and women who partake in this kind of violent and at times lethal activity. Or perhaps they are men and women, who can’t take that particular kind of stress, which is often extreme in their line of work, and should not be on the force at all.

I would think that if the police stopped policing one day, we as a society would see the difference in no time. So for people to call cops ‘pigs’ is in the long run harmful for society I believe. When burn out happens for the police perhaps we are all in danger. As our society in the United States become more violent, which it seems to becoming, then the stress on law enforcement is greater…..it is illogical then to badger them and call them names. When those who are not criminals call the police by defamatory names, it can only lead to trouble.

A friend wanted me to see the movie “Purge” and see what I thought. So he lent me the film and I watched it. The movie was set in the near future. In order for people to work out their aggression and hatred, it was mandated that one night a year there would be a ‘Purge”, in which no crime was illegal. So people could go on rampage and kill, rape, burn, and do whatever they wanted. It was supposed to allow a cathartic release once a year. It was chilling, but at the end of the movie (at least from my rendering), it showed that the purge was not working, for each year it seemed to be getting ‘better’, which meant more people were being killed. With more people each year seeking revenge from the last purge, the event was slowly doing the opposite of what it was supposed to do. It had one man voice this over the radio the day after the purge: “They killed my two sons last night, I am no longer proud to be an American”. Which means wait till next year and I will get my revenge. I think the movie brought out the importance of having a police force. For without it there would only be chaos. Many people will disagree with this, but all we have to do is read the papers and what is happening in countries that were once modern and civilized, it did not take much to turn everything upside down.

markdohle

Yet another study on prayer

Yet another study on prayer

Recently, a good friend of mine sent me yet another ‘study’ on the efficacy of prayer; intercessory in particular. I have read a few of these ‘studies’ and they seem to contradict each other. We are into proving everything now. Even God is seen by many as just another ‘object’ in the universe. Part of the system and therefore should be able to be seen in some way that would prove that God does in fact exist. Or if not seen or perceived in a manner that can be validated by some form of testing; does not. Studies of this type really make no sense (well for me), though I of course find them interesting, especially if they back up my own pre-conceived beliefs.

I think there are too many variables involved, not least of all the beliefs that those doing the study hold. There is no such thing as an objective study, hence the reason that different test will come up with opposing conclusions. Also if prayer is based on relationship, then ‘no’ is really an answer. Though again I am not sure that last statement really deals with the nature of ones relationship with ultimate reality.

Prayer is about relationship, it is not a tool to get something done, though I do believe in intercessory prayer. I suppose these test make sense to some (for both believers and nonbelievers) because of a simplistic interpretation of certain scriptural text in the New Testament.

Of course the testing was done with subjects who were dying and no doubt (at least some of them) going through great physical and emotional suffering. For what better way to test the efficacy of prayer…. for we all fear death and disease. There are those who deny it, but that is usually said as an observer simply thinking about how they will react in some far off future (no matter what their age, if they do not spend much time thinking about such things) and not one who is actually going through the stages of disease, moving towards death. For in fact our last mile in this life could be perhaps the most important part of all. Peace can come but for the most part arrives after much work and a growing acceptance of the nature of our lives. Mainly that we are temporal and are moving towards something else and that our deaths are often messy and painful for all involved. Again, belief systems differ from one person to another, but our beliefs do give meaning to our lives and the more they are pondered and deepened, perhaps that will lend for many (there are of course no guarantees), an easier transition, when we each get the word that backs us into that final corner, the stark reality of our own personal mortality.

Perhaps the reason why these test miss the point is that it is easy to forget that we are pilgrims and how that reality is lived out depends on ones belief system. Which by the way are emotional at their root and the logical and rational discourse that can flow from these belief systems, is a way of trying to explain to oneself and to others the logical and rational reason for believing, say in God or not. One of the easiest things to do is to create a ‘straw man’ and then to demolish it. In others words make the opposing group all alike, while making those who agree with us, more intelligent, rational and able to think for them-selves.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks that the cup be removed from him, if it was the Fathers will, it was not, he suffered and died. As will we all. Perhaps life is not about the avoidance, but about the living out the deep mystery that we all are. If one believes that they are just meat and that their belief that they are ‘conscious’ is really an illusion, then yes I am not sure the process of death and dying, the final death to self has any meaning.

If life in fact is really a pilgrimage, well what does that mean? It certainly does not mean that we will have it easy. However, how we respond to reality is important and has deep spiritual significance…. for in fact what makes us more self aware seems to come about when we suffer. I wish it were otherwise, but it is not.

Life and all its ups and downs molds us, how we respond transforms us and from my own experience (subjective) leads me to believe that ultimate reality does desire relationship and our deep desire for love is ultimately only possible by the infinite. The problem is that there is a tendency to downplay the “otherness” of God, who for those on the Christian path is both immanent and transcendent. For me one without the other is absurd. God is not an observer but a participant in our lives. For the Christian that is what the incarnation is all about. Other paths will say it differently, but in the end there is a certain trust that needs to be developed towards that which calls out to the human heart for a response.

As Jesus said: “the sun falls on the just as well as the unjust”, what does that tell us about simplistic and even magical views of prayer. Life happens, there is no escape, yet we are not alone.

Biased yes, for I am a Christian so I don’t expect everyone or perhaps anyone to agree with me.

markdohle

Yet another human pursuit

The child was out playing one day,

His mother watching from the bench,

So beautiful and innocent the youngster,

His life peaceful with loving parents,

Extended family who loved and treasured him,

As young children are.

It happened so quickly, so sudden,

One moment all things were well,

When she looked away for a short time, then,

It was as if the earth opened up and swallowed him,

He was gone.

Frantic the mother ran looking for her beloved son,

Nowhere to be seen,

She cried and wailed to no avail ,gone,

As if he was never there.

There is so much evil, so much pain,

The sick and deranged among us seemed to be growing,

Lives ruined, marriages end,

Brothers and sisters, who remain, consumed with fear,

Also, with guilt over things done, or said, perhaps that very day.

How can we stand it?

The pain of the world that seems to grow everyday,

Where is God when it all goes down,

Is there any sense to it all,

Or is evil the final victor,

Death the consumer that engulfs all?

Children kidnapped, sold;

The sex trade growing,

What kind of person could do that?

Only pain to our questions,

Faith can seem hollow, empty, foolish,

Yet, I still believe in God,

Present in our pain unrelenting,

That is caused by the choices of men and women,

Somehow twisted beyond their humanity,

Themselves perhaps abused;

So the seeds take root,

Evil fruit the harvest.

Dont ask me for answers, I have none.

Those pious sayings of true believers,

True perhaps, but leaves the pain untouched,

Or the angry retorts of atheists,

Avail nothing,

Loud sounds made by empty drums,

Useless before the reality.

Numb with pain I live the mystery.

The crucified Christ

Carried all of our pain,

Our evil and sins,

Gut wrenching torture,

Sweat,

Blood,

His body torn and stretched on the cross,

When looked upon in reality,

Is the soul of each of us,

To look at the crucified is to see ourselves,

His death,

Our victory.

Foolish (?)

Perhaps;

Yet is atheism any better?

I think not,

Its answer to easy.

Life is a mystery to be lived

Not something understood;

At least for me that is true;

As I get older I know less.

But faith, not without doubt, continues to grow strong.

Sin is real,

Something hotly denied,

Its effects obvious.

Wars are started by us,

Rape and pillage is done by man,

Greed that lead to loss for others

Yet another human pursuit.

Lust,

Regulating another to a mere object for pleasure,

Then discarded,

Yes another human pass time,

Billons a day spent on war,

Yet we cannot take care of those in need.

Killing is so much easier,

So natural for us,

Making this world a hell on earth for millions.

Responsibility is ours though we often blame God.

Freedom however much we have,

Its extent hotly debated today,

If taken away will destroy our humanity,

Turning us into nothing more than herd animals,

Chewing our cud,

Without thought,

Intelligence or will.

Love lets us be, but does not abandon.

Perhaps this is our only hope,

God is faithful, even when faithlessness is common.

markdohle

Yes! (God is faithful)

Yes!

(God is faithful)

The myth of the spiritual life is that we will one day reach perfection. If this is not believed consciously, then it is often operating on an unconscious level. For after all did not Jesus say: “Be you perfect as your Father is perfect”? So willpower (the will-to-power), can become the central operative in this seeking of becoming better and then moving on to faultlessness. Control, watchfulness, becomes the catch word, and well they should, but in the end there can be only disappointment for many and perhaps all. For the desire to become better will invite struggle; bringing to light our actual lack of freedom which we perhaps failed to see in the past, but will soon become apparent from the very beginning of ones movement to deeper conversion.

As long as there is ignorance of ones state, then struggle is often missing. At least on a moral level that implies responsibility for ones actions and the affect it has on others. Which leads to not having the luxury of placing blame and exonerating oneself when challenged by those around us; in others words we learn to listen and to put aside our resistance. Something which can take years to actually learn and put into practice, without having some kind of ego shattering response; normally called a hissy fit. We find out that we are truly naked and discover it difficult to dress ourselves in the garments of virtue. For humility after all is not about being simply submissive, but about being in touch with the truth about ourselves and not being afraid to admit it when it is brought to our attention. This is not weakness but a specific type of courage that is often misunderstood and maligned.

Love of God and seeking to become more compassionate towards others, does not mean that sin is absent, and even some pretty heavy ones that could have roots so deep that they may take a lifetime to release. They are a true thorn in the side and can cause some deep inner confrontation with both self hatred and despair. These are necessary components to the spiritual life and each pilgrim will meet this differently. It is in this struggle that growth comes, this paradox of seeking to become more loving and God centered and at the same time dealing with inner demons that for many give no rest. Humility is the fruit of this purgatorial state, since the mirror of self knowledge is constantly being placed in front of us and the suffering will only decrease when it is embraced without rancor.

I suppose after years of being on the path…….. Slowly for some, more rapidly for others, that through the ups and downs, the darkness and the light, the moving back and forth on the course, there is one constant and that is the faithfulness of God. The insight comes that it is grace that always brings us back; heals us and allows the light to once more to become apparent. From this trust slowly comes to the fore. Though it has to be consciously brought to mind, since interior habits have a life of their own and will continue to seek to torment and hinder. So our suffering and failings only help to bring us deeper into trust and the constant “yes” of God. It is we who at times dance away, twirl back, and then tap dance off again. It is the love of God that is the rock that always stays in place. Our true foundation, that allows us too slowly overcome self hatred and contempt, to snail forward to the point when we can actually love our neighbor as ourselves. For how can we love ourselves unless we have at least some self knowledge? Love of self without that, is merely self conceit and leads to contempt for ‘our weaker brothers’; when in fact they are most often closer to the truth than the shallowly virtuous. Suffering brings depth because it throws us on ourselves and takes away our complacency. Well it is true for me, for there are perhaps those, the many, who don’t have to learn that way and if that is true I am very happy that they have such a smooth path. Mine however is rocky, full of falls and very slow in the climbing. Yet if I don’t fall how can I rise? If I don’t know my wounds, how can I ask for healing? If I am unaware of self destructive behaviors, how can I ask for forgiveness? No, sad to say, for I wish it were otherwise, suffering seems to be a necessary part of our spiritual evolution, or again mine.

Also the doubt and the unanswered questions force us to think deeper and to make conscious choices about how and what we believe. Not to do so can lead to become rigid and fearful in how responses are made when challenged by others. Again each is unique in how this is done. All paths are equal, just as long as we strive to seek truth and live it, no matter how often we fail. It is the getting up that is the trick and also the hidden grace offered; for God is always “yes”.

markdohle

Yes

Yes!

When meditating on one of the final prayers of Jesus on the cross- “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me”; if pursued with diligence, can be transforming in how ones relationship with God is looked upon and also perhaps, how this is shared with others. For Christians, Jesus is an actual revelation of God. Christianity is more about a life and a person, than about the Bible by itself. The New Testament is a faith document passing on to those who would come after, their experience of the risen Lord. The Church was around for over 200 years before the Canon came into existence.

It is often easy to use the bible to back up ones own private understanding of whom Jesus is and what he came to do. It is easy to see how wide and far flung these differences are and also what that means for the rest of the world. We have Christians of all types. All sincere, like I am, yet we all still have a long way to go in our collective understanding just what this revelation means for mankind as a whole. More often than not, we preach ourselves and our own insights, well I know I do, and these are not binding for others, for our inner perceptions change as we grow and hopefully they also deepen and widen our understanding. The times we live in, what we read, whom we hang with; all these influence us on our journey to seek a deeper understanding of our faith, as well as learning from the insights of others.

It seemed that Jesus spent some time trying to tell people that what was needed was faith and trust, not fear. He talked about seeking the one that was lost, leaving the other ninety nine in order to do so. He gave us the parable of the Prodigal son to ponder, along with parables that pretty much showed that the kingdom of heaven grows in ways that can be seen, but are actually beyond our control in some ways. The yeast analogy comes to mind, the rising a loaf of a bread; once the process starts will continue until fulfillment.

How did Jesus relate to those around him? If he was on earth today, I would think that he would be just as shocking to Christians like me as he was to the pious believers of his time, since his actions would draw froth from me my many blind spots, pious pretensions and yes deep and abiding arrogance that I am blind to at this time in my life. Holy people do that, which is why they are often hated; we can feel very uncomfortable around them. Their light reveals ones own inner darkness, which is a call to change and grow, yet it is also easy to become defensive and angry as well. It is hard to let go of self regard and also the shallow perceptions of ones own tendency to self centered action and yes at times evil (all covered by good reasons of course). When a light is shed on a soul in need of healing, forgiveness and redemption, then there are two responses, humble acceptance (by far the harder way) and rage and rejection, the natural way of preserving ones ego. So yes, I believe I could very easily fall into the second group. No matter how much such a self revelation is feared it will one day need to be faced and experienced by all. Perhaps that is why Jesus said that final prayer “Father forgives them, for they know not what they do”, for we really don’t.

This last prayer is one of great hope for all of us. It shows a love not based on need, since that is what human love is, even the best and purest love is needful in some way. God’s love is shown to be impersonal because it is based on true compassion and empathy (the Word became flesh), we are seen, known and walked with through out our lives with Christ, who also became flesh, suffered, died and forgave those who betrayed, tortured and killed him.

The life we are called to is less about morality than a total trust in God’s freely given love, allowing us to choose to trust even in the worst of time. Be it in the turmoil around us, or that which is within. Even our sins cannot keep out Christ love, since he bore our death on the cross. It is our souls we see hanging from the wood; he bore it all. So when Jesus said “Fear is useless, what is needed is faith”, he was calling us to a new life. Now that takes a real death to self in order to achieve and perhaps for many it is something they have to do over and over again….confronting self centered fears and then seeing them for what they are, lies, seeking to create barriers to a fuller life in the Spirit.

I am speaking from experience. I am not one of those Christians who keep on the road. I zig one day and zag the next, falling more than the “seven times” of a just man everyday. Yet Christ forgives “seventy times seventy times”. It is this knowledge of Christ mercy that compels us to have mercy on others. For this awareness comes through self knowledge and failure and again through that, the experience of Christ saving love. Hard to believe (?), well yes, but meditate again on Christ prayer “Father forgive; them for they know not what they do”. That prayer is not only for those who killed him, but also for those of us living today. To pray upon this verse and to ponder it when things seem to fall apart and perhaps feeling far from God, for what ever reason, leads to deeper trust and faith in God’s word, which in fact Jesus. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

God, as St Paul says, is always “Yes”. That is hard to understand (at least for me), because I am many different states, my inner life unstable and not all of them “yes’ by any means. Each following the other slowly, or rapidly, it does not matter as the days and hours fly by. Yet no matter how dark, or bright, no matter if we fall or we are victorious, the answer from God is the same: “Yes”. I am still seeking to understand what infinite love means and I am no closer to that answer than I was at the beginning. Except for this, my trust is growing, and at times, when things are dark, and I feel lost, or even in hell, I hear then, the quiet gentle whisper: “Yes”!

markdohle

Yep, I have it....possibly

Yep, I have it......possibly

I have a lot of common sense. For instance, last week it was 88 degrees in our church. So I was in the choir stall, and thought to myself “I think I am going to faint”. I did once in the Navy, too much time in the Sauna. So I stood there thinking that perhaps I should sit down and put my head down. “Nah” I said to myself “only ten minutes left”. Well I made it through Vespers. So see I do have common sense…..I made it.

markdohle

Years with William

Years with William

Well the years certainly fly by, it does not seem like I have been taking care of William for almost eight years now. Four of them however have not been in the lock down unit. Before he came to the unit, we only kept a close eye on him, to watch the progression of his Alzheimer’s which at first started off slowly. It was only when he became a flight risk that we had to bring him into lock down. Before that there would be flare ups, and of course erratic behavior but he was not a danger to himself.

The first two years were difficult, since he would forget where was at, and would start hollering for his mother, who has of course been dead for many years now. He would often wait by the door, and would actually get out a few times. I remember one night I was called because he got out. After looking for him for about an hour, I found him near the highway, just getting ready to step onto it. The traffic was very heavy, so it could have been fatal to him, and also for whoever had the misfortune of hitting him.

He has been sent to a psyche hospital at least four times in the last few years, the last time was the worst. They could not find the medicines they wanted for him and they changed them so much that it almost killed him. So we have had our ups and downs with William, but he is worth it.

The last year he has deteriorated quite a bit, losing weight, unable to use his legs, having bouts of yelling and violence, sometimes being very extreme, hitting, spiting, kicking etc. Lately he is sleeping more, really out of it. We are in a bind with him at this time. His medicines could be part of the problem (though not a major one), but if we cut them back he tends to have periods of paranoia, which causes him a great deal of suffering, causing anguish for those who take care of him. Today for instance he slept all day. On days like this we try to give him shakes, carnation breakfast is one that we use here often. A shake give him calories as well as liquid, since dehydration is a serious problem for him, so today I think we off set any serious episodes of dehydration, but I think he will continue to weaken.

He is very gentle at this time, even when he is confused, he tends to work with us, but that could change anytime. Even though he is spending more time sleeping, he still has days when he is restless, moody and difficult to deal with….however they are becoming less. Yes it has been a long haul with William, but it has and still is a privilege to work with someone like him.

Of course it is impossible to make some kind of prediction on when someone will die, for he could go tonight, or live another year or two; though I can’t see it much more than that. His intake of food is causing him to slowly lose weight, he simply will not eat that much. Even the shakes are starting to cause a problem since he is starting to aspirate when drinking. We are using thickener with his shakes and other drinks, but in the end these will also loose their ability to protect him. So like most of us, we are slowly backed into a corner, until finally we can’t move and then it is over. It can take years or decades but in the end it is the same; we wear out.

It is good to be able to make lives a little more comfortable for those in our care, and I guess you can say that those cared for and the ones giving the care learn to love one another.

markdohle

Yearning

There is a yearning in the human heart

Often going without a name,

Experienced as a wound by some,

By others a simple longing.

An inner thirst,

Unquenchable,

Showing no mercy to the Soul,

Allowing no permanent rest

Since it cannot be owned

But only sought.

This yearning points beyond what we have,

It almost seems that we are also pursued.

That being also yearned for

Is what draws us forward.

Seeking union with that which has no name,

Nor form,

Yet present in the inner emptiness

Speaking of home

A place we know is there

Even though never seen.

markdohle

Yearning

Yearning

There is a yearning in the human heart

Often going without a name,

Experienced as a wound by some,

By others a simple longing.

An inner thirst,

Unquenchable,

Showing no mercy to the Soul,

Allowing no permanent rest

Since it cannot be owned

But only sought.

This yearning points beyond what we have,

It almost seems that we are also pursued.

That being also yearned for

Is what draws us forward.

Seeking union with that which has no name,

Nor form,

Yet present in the inner emptiness

Speaking of home

A place we know is there

Even though never seen.

markdohle

Writing….why?

Writing….why?

I am amazed that I still write. Before I was fifty, sixteen short years ago, I had a dislike or an actual aversion for writing. When young I did some writing for classes, but apart from that, no, I had no inclination. The few times that I did sit down and try to scribe, what came out on paper only showed inner chaos and pain; no wonder I hesitated to continue that endeavor.

I however did (and still do) love to read. I perhaps read too much, book after book, no doubt a way to shut down the inner voices. Or on a more benign note, to simply try to figure things (the inner chaos) out for myself, as well as to give the impression that I was strong, in control and yes, very intelligent. I suppose that is still operative on all levels, my ego is still quite fragile.

There are many ways to isolate one-self. One way is to close everyone off, another is to be open but opaque or to project a false façade that everyone then believes, perhaps even oneself…..it is a lonely place to be. I had a dream when I was 23 and was still in the novitiate here at the Monastery. I was at the bottom of a long flight of cement stairs. I seemed to be in a cellar of some sort. The steps were lit up with a very intense light, the kind I dislike, like a desert sun, bright and merciless. I felt safe in the basement but at that time I was given a choice. I could stay and allow the gates to close in on me. The gates themselves were made of bone with teeth that extended outward, that would lock together if I let the gates close. To be truthful, I had to think about it, but in the end, I said I would like to keep them open. Perhaps my writing is just another way to keep the cellar from becoming a tomb, a deeper development of that ‘yes’.

In my late forties I would have dreams of my sitting in front of a computer, writing long pages of ‘stuff’. I would wake up and think, why am I dreaming about this (?), I hate writing. Then when I turned fifty I simply wanted to learn how to express my faith by writing about it and have not been able to stop sense. Is it al compulsion? At times I believe it is. Then at other times, when I write I feel as if a great weight is taken off of me, some release of inner pressure. Perhaps it is the relief to be able to show how not in control I am.

I really don’t think per-se. It is only when I sit down that the thoughts flow. I am not an intellectual; don’t have deep thoughts, yet when I write I have no idea where it comes from. Yes I know it comes from me, my experience along with what I have read over the years, but still it is an amazing experience to simply sit down and write to see what comes out. I feel for any editor that has to deal with me.

I find I am normal (whatever that means). That no matter what I write about others get it for the most part. When I talk to people it is often when I tell them that what they are experiencing is common to our species and they feel better and more connected to others. Perhaps I write so I can be seen. Is that not what we all want in the end? To be seen, loved, embraced?

In the loving gaze of the Father (our Abba), all is seen, we are loved, that is why fear is useless……the bright light that was shown me on the stairs was perhaps the gaze of God that I feared.

I believe that the desire for the gate not to close was the seed that led to me writing. Could be true of all writers no matter what they write about. For when we write, we do show ourselves to others perhaps more deeply than we imagine. Especially in our stories even if they are about others and their experiences. I have a priest friend who is a very good story teller. I believe I learn more about him reading these stories that when we actually talk about ‘things’. His deep compassion for others comes across as well as his faith. Even if he may not know this is happening….which I think he does. I do know that when I write, I am often amazed at what people get from it. No doubt if I talked to an author of any piece and told them what I received from the reading, no doubt they would be amazed as well.

markdohle

Writing those in prison

Writing those in prison

For years I resisted writing to prisoners. First of all, some of them are con men and write only to receive money etc. So I let them know from the start that I can’t send them money, clothes etc, saying this has stopped some from writing to me twice. However some continue to write to me and I find it something that I enjoy and get more back than what I give. Many of these men just want to do time and get out and continue to live their lives. So I am trying to keep and open mind and heart for them. Quite and few or one time offenders and need support. Some are rejected by their families and are hopeless and in despair. Because I want to implore others who feel the call to perhaps write a prisoner and seek to help them to find peace, a deeper relationship with Christ and yes some hope. So below is another letter that I wrote to a prisoner who is having a rough time. I know he is in prison for committing a crime, and he most likely deserves his punishment, yet he is a man, suffering, and I believe trying to find a better way to live and to hopefully get his life back on track. I don’t do much, I just write a few men, but perhaps that is all most of us can do; just little things for a few people. I will call the prisoner Jack.

Dear Jack

Yes I am sure being in prison can be unbearable and I am aware of the problems that exist even in the best of places. I had an in-law who was incarcerated in the early 80’s, it was a drug bust. He was an older man in his mid-fifties. He was only 20 miles from where I live so I would go out twice a month to see him. He was in for 3 years, but it was a very noisy and violent place. He did however get out and lived for a few more years. He died in his mid-sixties.

Forgiveness is not something you have to ask for over and over again with the Lord. Once is enough, just try to live as best as you can as a Christian. It can be hard I know…. but to not to follow Christ is also very difficult and in fact may be more difficult. To follow Christ Jesus is like walking up a steep road, to not follow Christ Jesus is more like free falling, both ways are hard. Yet to follow Christ when it is difficult comes from a deeper and freer place. Just never give up or despair if you fail, just continue, get up and go forward, for God’s mercy is infinite and as St. Paul said: “Jesus is God’s Yes”. God’s love is the only stable point of our inner and outer lives. Circumstance change, both for our environment as well as our inner state, yet Christ is always true and there for you.

Loneliness is terrible my friend. Try not to be afraid of it, or to fight it. I may seem crazy, but to embrace your state at this time may lead to a deeper freedom. We all suffer, how we react to it is a true choice, though to embrace it may be difficult, for it is free and not based on a desire to escape it. Since it can’t be gotten away from in any case, it is a waste of energy for you. Pray when you feel at your worst, even if it is only a one word prayer like ‘mercy, or ‘help’ etc.

You are not lost, that is a feeling or an emotion, you are in the arms of Christ Jesus, he is with you, and you are never alone. Do not fear to be alone with the Lord, allow time to work on you, for when you pray, or attempt to, it is always a response to grace, an invitation from the Holy Spirit.

markdohle

Writing prisoners is life changing

Writing prisoners is life changing

I am amazed at how writing prisoners has changed me. Perhaps it is because they know on a very deep level the tragedies of life. Maybe not all, but those who take responsibility for their wrong doing seem to open up a door that can lead to deep conversion. Often being in prison, things can become very black and white. It can also make one aware of how important our small everyday choices can be. In dealing with others in an enclosed environment the inmate can be pulled in either direction. Those I write to seem to be struggling to go deeper into self-knowledge, forgiveness and trust in God. None of which is easy.

I wrote a prisoner this morning and in his letter he shared how he was feeling closed in. He just lost his mother. He had a close relationship with her and it is tearing at him that he could not be there with her. Yet he understands that he needs to be where he is at. As I wrote to him I shared a bit about the Flannery O’Connor retreat and how she understood the human condition. It’s tragic and well as humorous side and how Christ is working in the center of it all. Below is something that I wrote to him:

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“We had a good retreat about Flannery O’Connor last weekend. She is a Catholic writer who writes about the human situation. Her stories can be violent and usually people read her in study groups or when on retreat. She is not an author that you take her books with you to the beach. The human condition can be tragic and at times funny as well. She uses both in her novels. She was a good friend of our monastery, but it was before my time. She died in the early sixties; I did not enter until 1971.

Leonard, tragedy is such a part of life, yet each case is unique. None of us knows what the future will bring, but in reading Flannery you get the idea that no matter how bad things get, and they often do, Christ Jesus is in the midst of that working out our salvation and the salvation of others. Your life is important, yes, even in jail. Your life has an effect on others, as well as your prayers. Seek always to love God. Reading is important, but simple prayer, the seeking to grow in love of Jesus who is in the center of your heart, who lives with you, suffers with you and will never abandon you, is very important. To simply regard the presence of God may seem like nothing, but it is the beginning of the prayer of Union.

I pray for you and for all who are there in prison with you, I hope you pray for them as well, as well as for me. In prayer we get to know God, not just learn about him. When you feel that you are in darkness, know that it says nothing about your true center, which is Christ, stand by him, read his word and allow the Holy Spirit to slowly work in your heart. Be honest with yourself, and if possible with others…..be a child before the Lord, for he knows all anyway, he wants your love and trust….even in the dark times.” (End of quote)

I am sharing, because I would like to encourage others to write a prisoner if possible. The ones who really want to just write and feel connected with someone, will not try to get ‘things’ out of you. After I write a prisoner for a while, I may send them things from time to time. So far only one prisoner fits that category; the others just want someone to connect with them outside of prison.