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talking to myself

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markdohle

Our struggle with humility

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Our struggle with humility

Our Lord sends the crosses; we do not have to invent them. ---Padre Pio

Humility is not a popular word. For many when thinking of humility they think of weakness, or people who falsely depreciate their selves, when in fact it is far away from being true humility since lack of self-esteem is not humility at all. To be able to accept the truths we learn about ourselves, be it something beautiful or its opposite is not always easy. Yet we are called to do that.

Humility can spare us from a great deal of suffering that comes from defensiveness. When not living from a place of truth, we invite a great deal of suffering into our lives that only distracts us from walking the road that Christ Jesus is calling us to.

Without humility, we have to blame others for our sufferings, which only causes more suffering. For people will react and rightly so, to unjust or malicious treatment, throwing it back on the accuser. It takes a lot of energy to run from oneself. Grace and our love of God allow us to not be afraid of truth no matter where it comes from. We learn to embrace life and not run from it.

If anyone wants to carry lots of manufactured crosses, all you have to do is to disdain humility. .--Br.MD

markdohle

Love your enemies...Really!?!

 

 

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Love your enemies. Really!?!

When we get it, we lose it,
gods can be messy beings,
just us in bigger form,
best to let it go and love the mystery.

 

When I read the Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testament, I have more in common with what is going on in the time before Christ.  When I read the words of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and on the Plain, I will often feel lost.  I read it, ponder it, pray about it, yet I know that I still don’t get it, or to put it in a better way, my heart is too small to absorb the living waters. 

Love your enemies. Really!?!  Do good, to those who abuse me, steal from me!  All righty then!  Now when I read about David, Saul, Moses, who were men of God….I get them.  I can see myself like Moses, killing someone and burying the body in the sand.  Or David, in a fit of lust, getting rid of the husband, if I had the power, so I could ‘own’ the wife…….thank God I do not have that kind of power.  Or Moses, doubting God’s Word.  My heart is like theirs, and they were men of God, much more so than I am, or perhaps ever will be.  Or Saul, knowing better than God, what is the best thing to do.

I get Jonah, who became angry because God did not destroy thousands of men, women, and children, for his entertainment, as he watched from a safe distance, waiting for God to do what he (Jonah), would do, kill them, damn them, tortured them.  Yet, God said, how can I desire the death of those who do not know their right hand, from their left?   They are just like me, these people of Nineveh, I am often confused and in a fog, wandering through a life that often makes no sense to me.  Reacting, not responding, and being asleep.

To love my neighbor as myself.  Not sure I love myself.  Yet I am commanded to do so.  How does that happen?  The self-love that Jesus talks about, that leads to the love of others, is not something I have seen in many Christians, let alone in myself.   I pray for this kind of love, and I believe that each day grace is bringing me closer to that reality…..until then, I stumble along, in hope, and the desire to be free of myself. 

Christians (well me) can be racist, abusers, adulterers, cheats, murderers, corrupt, blind to their own faults, and yet get prissy when they hear about the ‘sin’ of someone else, who does not sin in the way they do.  I find it easy to get angry over people who are weak in areas that I am not, but easy on those who are like me……though one can always be a hypocrite, and pretend to be upset.  Yes, we are a mess, but a mess, a chaotic mess, loved by God.  Now that is the mystery.

We are loved, no matter what, everyone, without exception.  When talking about being ‘lost’, we each have our own ideas about that.  The more lost, as long as it is someone else, the better, for that way I can be special!  Well, what if every human being is special, and loved by God the way we are or hope to be.  How do we process that?  How do we get our hearts to expand, to become more human, and to not fear the pain that comes with being vulnerable, the way Christ Jesus was, and still is.

I guess the answer is……we wait.  We pray, we hope, and we love anyway, even if we don’t always feel it, we can at least begin to understand that the person before us, the messy, smelly, obnoxious, or the beautiful, rich intelligent, funny, human, shows us, Christ Jesus. 

 

Really!  Yes really!!

So where am I?  Still trying to get it, pray about it, get up when I fall, and just live the day, and not worry about the morrow.  I do believe that we are all in the palm of God’s hands, no matter what many in my faith try to tell me otherwise.  Jesus is a true revelation of God’s Infinite love, and it will always be that, no matter how many walls we try to put up around this truth, or like Jonah, on some level, really want to be entertained by the death and destruction of those ‘hated’ by God.  The problem is, no one is hated by God, but only loved……now what do we do with that?  Still working on that, but grace works deeper and in secret, in that is our hope, the unrelenting love of God as shown us in Christ Jesus.

Well, it gives me hope for myself and in that for everyone.  Get through the day, or this moment, seeking to do the most loving thing to what is before me.  If that is sought, well ones inner life will slowly fall into place, because the seeking after love, is a response to graces inviatation.—Br.MD


 

 

 


 

markdohle

Being thankful for the dark times

Being thankful for the dark times
(A thanksgiving retreat)

We had a retreat on thankfulness this Mon-Wed of this week.  This time of the year the number is usually small; we had five participants.  Usually we have larger groups.  I do like the smaller ones however.  When I started off the discussion, I reminded the group that when thinking about ones life and being thankful, we are also led to those times when we struggled and perhaps failed in a major way and in the end we find ourselves being thankful for everything in our lives.  That is one of the great gifts in aging, this ability to look back and see how one was lead even when not in conscious relationship with God.

We had some powerful sharing, each had quite a bit of trauma from their past.  Yet they have discovered that even when things were the darkest, in looking back they can see how the Lord worked in their lives.  There was sexual abuse, physical trauma, serious life threatening addictions, yet each as they relating their experience ended up being thankful for what they had to go through to get to were they were at.  What they went through was not willed by God, yet God who meets us wherever we are can bring healing and good out of any situation. 

In judging we deny others to walk the path they need to travel in order to find the Lord.  To share ones faith in a respectful manner and to let it go, is a great act of faith in the workings of the Holy Spirit, to water that seed and bring it to new life at the right time.  I believe that we should carry in our hearts all those we meet, to pray for them always, and trust in the Lords mercy, the same mercy he has shown all of us. 

One woman shared how one night she walked out to look at the moon.  She had a drink in one had and a smoke in the other.  Suddenly she felt a hand on her forehead and a voice telling her to stop doing this to herself.  She was healed and is now a deeply devout Christian woman.  Yes the free gift of grace, she had like St. Paul, a Damascus moment.

In the Letter of 1st Peter, he talks about Christians being a priestly people and so we are.  We are called to pray and lift up all and to in a special way to never forgot those we have spoken to or met, we are all used by the Lord in ways that in the future we will be amazed and thankful.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.--1 Peter 2:9
 

markdohle

Sin or ignorance

Sin or ignorance

‘Sin’ is a difficult concept to understand. Today the word itself is in disrepute and I can understand that. Here I am 65 years old, and I still struggle with the term. In some religious traditions the concept of ‘ignorance’ is used when it comes to seeking to understand the plight of mankind. People can embrace the above states, of sin and ignorance, or they can be victims of them, yet the outcome is the same.

I was talking to a man in the 12th step program and he said something to me that I often think about. The quote is actually a paraphrase. He said:

“The label for any addiction does no good if it is placed on someone who does not accept the reality of his or her dependence. The results of the addiction, the chaos and pain that it causes in life is there, but until the person can say ‘I have a problem with drugs or alcohol, or food, or sex etc’…nothing can be done. They are in fact imprisoned by their ignorance (or sin if you like). The key is to name it. That is the only way to open the door”.

It is self-knowledge that starts the journey to healing, mercy and a larger participation in community. Isolation is often the fruit of being a victim and not knowing how to unlock that door.

I was going for a walk this morning very early. Something I have always loved to do. Well at least in the last 30 years or so. As I was walking, I started to understand a little about the reality of sin in my life. Not in a way that belittled me, or made me ashamed, or led me to despair, but to a place where I could embrace it. It is what keeps me back from leading the life that I believe we are called to live. A life of interior freedom and joy, a life of being open to the knowledge that my faith wants me to experience and live out on a daily basis. This can’t happen unless I can name what keeps me back.

Jesus (and from what I have read and studied over the years, most religious paths), calls us to ‘die’ to self. What he is asking is to allow something deeper, more loving, healing and merciful into our hearts. To love our enemies can be one of the most difficult things we can do. Sin (or ignorance) can keep us chained to that millstone that weighs us down and is in the end self destructive. To learn to love others freely is to allow the soul to breathe. Sin (ignorance), traps us, smothers us, and keeps us from living a full live in the Spirit.

The deeper we understand this, by whatever name we wish to call it, the deeper our experience of ‘Infinite Mercy’ becomes. Mercy, though freely given, paradoxically has a price. It demands that we face what we are, what we have done as well as what we have not done. It is a process that deepens as we mature. So that mercies work is felt at ever deeper levels. To let go of the chains of sin and or ignorance is the only way to actually love ourselves, so as to allow us to love others.

Our addiction, the ways we seek to avoid life in all of its fullness drowns us, dragging us into a hell like existence if carried along far enough. Hell is a state of self-creation; mercy seeks to open up the gates so that we can allow the light of grace into our hearts. Hell’s seed is in the human heart, it is self produced, while mercy leads us into infinite reality, a gift that can only be accepted and not earned. Our ‘yes’ has deep ramifications, as well as our ‘no’. Who gives that deep ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not known by me, nor should I seek to identify, for I will always err in my judgments of others.

Judgment is always true when it comes to how we must face ourselves after we leave this life. It is not about ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. No, it is instant and true. When we face that reality of who we are and what we have become though our own will and choice, then we will embrace what we have become with our whole being. Those who choose separation from the infinite, are not in conflict, nor is their regret on their part, though there is the absence of what they actually long for but have rejected.

The world today is created by man. It has heaven, hell and purgatory (which are our inner conflicts) within its boundaries….that is so because we chose here. Our inner and outer conflict happens here….it is here that we have free will. When we come to full term, then self conflict is over, and we either grow in that reality for eternity if we choose to die to a self that is self consumed; or we disintegrate for eternity.

I believe C.S. Lewis’s book “The Great Divorce” deals with this reality and I would recommend all to read it. This life is important, our choices crucial, our little choices very important. We are in conflict because we are in the process of becoming more open or more closed off from ‘reality’. The great saints and the great sinners (which I believe are very rare) are at peace, they have chosen. The rest of us simply go from day to day struggling to be open to ‘reality’ and to grow hopefully into greater love and healing.

It is not about power,

but love of others and self,

and yes of God.

markdohle

All who hope in God

All who hope in God

Mary’s song of praise in the Magnificat “is the
canticle of the People of God on the journey,
and of all men and women who hope in God,
 in the power of his mercy.” Pope Francis

 

+++++


Advent is a time of hope.  For Jesus Christ is God’s mercy in the flesh and Mary in her joy over this deep mystery and actual reality praised God in her “Magnificat”


”My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever”.


To live in hope is not easy, it takes courage, for we live in a world of suffering, injustice and the seeming triumph of evil in the world.  In the Incarnation we see a reversal of our world, a reversal so profound that many cannot bring themselves to believe, for it seems too grand to be true.  Yet the Lord Jesus was lowly.  He was from a poor family, from a town of no importance and even showered with contempt…..yet Christ Jesus was born in such a town.  He identified with those on the fringe, those hated by the religious establishment, with tax collectors, who were in reality, to put if mildly; scum.   Yet Mathew, one of his Apostles came from such a group.  He showed love for the powerful as well, but he used a different approach, he told them of their alienation from God, for which he was hated.  Yet after the resurrection many converts came from those he so roundly berated

The journey is hard yet our faith can be a light that leads us deeper into the love of the Father who shows his face in Jesus Chris our Lord.  Yet faith sometimes has to be chosen over and over again so as to deepen it.  For God’s ways or not ours…when we think we understand God’s ways that is when we can let go of our hope in God’s love and Word.  The ‘cross’ is no respecter of person…we either carry it or it will drag us.

 

markdohle

What do I really believe?

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What do I really believe?

“Death is nothing else but going home to God,
the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity.” – Mother Teresa

Many people believe that faith is some form of absolute assurance. I do not believe that. From my own limited experience, there will always be room for some doubt. I think that is healthy and when ‘doubt’ is rejected and pushed underground it can manifest itself in other ways. Being overly defensive as opposed to simply sharing one's faith and viewpoint is one such way. Or extreme rigidity to keep a sense of ‘personal infallibility’ intact is also a common way of dealing with wanting the impossible; that is having absolute assurance. This goes for both believers as well as for those who don’t have a faith of any kind. There seems a need to be ‘right’ in opposition to others.

My faith, which I am deeply rooted in, does not spare me from the deep questions of life. Nor does it surround me with a warm blanket of some better life after this one. No, it tells me that in the midst of this life, with all of its chaos, pain, and deep absurdity…is where my salvation, my deeper true eternal life is. As St. Paul says: “We are God’s work of art”. Sounds good, until you see what an artist has to do in order to create a work of art. In some forms of art, the process can be dirty, messy, and chaotic,…yet, in the end, a work of beauty is produced. Faith in God is not about pretending to have cookie cutter answers, though many try it for a while.

One day I was giving a talk, as I was speaking the thought came to me; “do I really believe in what I am saying”. It was an uncomfortable moment, but in the end, I said ‘yes’, I do believe it. Yet I felt buffeted by this question. Faith is lived, not spoken of. Anyone can talk, write and share deeply, but to live it, well that comes from one's ‘inner guts’. I also believe it takes a type of stubbornness to keep searching, seeking and not being afraid of one's ‘inner agnostic’.

Some people tell me that belief in God is a form of mental illness. I always find that entertaining since it so self-serving to make that kind of observation. As if that is some form of deep truth. What constitutes mental illness is really a cultural construct. A person who is a hapless victim of true mental illness is someone who is outside the broad spectrum of human activity that is considered ‘normal’. I guess in an atheistic state, it is understandable for the government to say that religious believers, are mentally ill, yet are they in fact? The atheists I know are no more normal than the believers I am friends with. For an atheist to say a believer is mentally ill has no basis in reality. Granted mentally ill people who are religious will still be mentally ill, the same goes for an atheist as well. Because they act out in ways that go beyond what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’.

Who is touch with reality? Perhaps none of us are no matter what we say we believe. I can say we are each in touch with a small slice of reality and as we grow hopefully our connection will deepen. I can say this. If God exists then believers are closer to the true nature of reality than an atheist. The opposite can be true as well. The problem is that that question will never be answered in a reductionist manner There are rational reasons to believe in an infinite intelligence. It is also rational to believe that such and Intelligence will seek to reveal itself…Which for me is Jesus Christ. Just because someone is an unbeliever and disagrees with me is not a test for mental competency, unless maybe I lived in China or some other atheistic run Government. Or if believe that I can fly and walk through walls no matter how many times I fail to accomplish that deed.

Mother Teresa was a woman of deep faith, however, she often felt alone, in darkness, yet her faith endured. Below is a quote from her that shows this in a profound manner. She was a woman grounded in the reality of faith as well as showing her deep love and trust in her Lord. She is praying from a place of deep suffering, yet she embraces it. I believe that it is grace that draws this prayer from her deepest self. Many people understand Mother Teresa and where she is coming from. Others have to make their own decisions on how to interpret her. I do so from my Catholic Tradition where the “Dark Night of the Soul” is something that we will all have go through if we want to become God’s true work of art. The ‘death to self’ is an act of pure grace yet we have to give our ‘yes’.--Br.MD

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Jesus, hear my prayer. If this pleases you, if my pain and suffering, my darkness and separation gives you a drop of consolation, my own Jesus do with me as you wish, as long as you wish, without a single glance at my feelings and pain. I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of your heart. Don’t mind my feelings; don’t mind even my pain, if my suffering separation from you brings others to you, and in their love and company you find joy and pleasure.

My Jesus I am willing with all my heart to suffer all that I suffer not only now, but through all eternity if this was possible. Your happiness is all that I want. For the rest, please do not take the trouble even if you see me faint with pain. All of this is my will. I want to satiate your thirst with every single drop of blood that you can find in me. Don’t allow me to do you wrong in any way. Take from me the power of hurting you … I am ready to wait for you through all eternity.”
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta in a letter to Jesus, from Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light

markdohle

Backed into a corner

Backed into a corner

Working with the elderly has given me a certain perspective on life that others perhaps share, but don’t have it presented to them all the time like I do where I work. As we age we are at least for most of us, slowly but surely backed into a corner, were finally a place is reached, often feared by most, in which they have arrived at the point in their lives where they need to be taken care of. Once vibrant, strong and independent people are faced with the reality that their life of freedom, once taken for granted is now no more, and a new stage of life has dawn upon them.

Some seem able to accept it, though I am sure there is an inner struggle that goes with that acceptance. Others fight it, some more and others less, but in the end of the battle the conclusion is arrived at, that the need to be cared for is accepted or at least tolerated.

Right now one of the men I am taking care off is in the midst of going thru that process of adaptation and acceptance. For the most part he has accepted the being backed into a corner, but now that the corner has been reached, he is starting to buck a little and I have to hopefully help him to find some peace about it. He is overweight, partly due to the fact that for the last three years or so he has been able to do very little in the way of exercise; hence it takes very little for him to put on weight, which further hinders his ability to be active. What finally got him backed into ‘this’ corner, which may very well be ‘the’ corner, is something very simple really; he hit his big left toe with his cane, which has gotten worse over the course of a couple of weeks. Yesterday he could hardly walk, their was so much pain, so we moved him into the full care ward and put him to bed. I talked to him and let him know that the doctor wants him to stay in bed for a month, until his toe heals, and for the fist few days, because he may forget and try to get out of bed, which could lead to a fall, which because of his weight could cause a broken hip or worse, the bed rails will be kept up and he needs to call if he needs anything, or needs help to go to the bathroom.

My worry is that because of his weight and the weakness of his legs, which will only increase because of bed rest; we may not be able to get him out of bed, and I will not allow those who work here to endanger their backs. Bed rest does cause atrophy of the muscles, so his being backed into a corner is becoming easier to see. This may make it impossible for him to regain his strength. We will work on bringing his weight down, though it will be a struggle. No matter what you do, something else comes up that can cause further problems, and that is what we are faced with

Last night he became very angry with me since he used to doing certain things that he cannot now do. So we talked for awhile, and discussed how he is going to have to adapt to this new level of care, that hopefully in a month or sooner, when his toe heals, and he can walk without extreme pain, we can get in a therapist to hopefully build up his strength so he may be able to get back to walking again. This seemed to help, but I think more talks will be needed.

I sometimes think that the experience of old age takes the most courage and faith to live thru. I am amazed at the grace in which most people seem able to navigate this time of life, and those who don’t are for the most part not responsible for their troubles. Some just can’t adapt, and care givers know not to take their anger and frustrations personally, if they did they would last about two weeks, if that long in the profession.

markdohle

Which Cross will you carry?

 

 

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Which Cross will you carry?

 

“The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self;
there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain”
Padre Pio

 

People often balk when they read comments like the above; or when Jesus talks about dying to self and taking up one's cross in order to follow him in life.  What is often forgotten is that anything we give our hearts and mind to, demands the same thing.  People give up everything for their careers.  They lose their family, their health and peace of mind in order to get to the top of their field.  Or if they give themselves over to some form of addiction, that does demand everything, body, mind, soul, and health.  We give our hearts to something.  We all have a pearl of great price that we will give everything up for.  Many of the things we can ‘worship’ will, in the end, drain us and leave us with nothing.  That is because they cannot touch that deep longing that drives us all towards some good than in the end can lead to death. 

 

So yes, to follow Jesus also demands everything.  Yet in following him, he gives us new life. When we die to ourselves his love brings us deeper into true being.  Jesus is not a false god, which gives promises that can’t be kept.  The Spirit of God works in all hearts who seek truth.  It is a mistake many Christians make, when they limit the work of God’s grace to a particular understanding of scripture.  God’s work in the world, in the hearts of all is something we are not meant to understand.  We are however called to live out our faith in Christ Jesus and to proclaim it in a gentle manner.  For all who seek will find and all who knock the door will be open. 

Padre Pio is a great Catholic saint, and tomorrow we celebrate his feast day.  He gave his life for others. He spent his days hearing confessions and leading many to a deeper love of Christ Jesus and he spoke the truth about the cost.  So in the end, we choose what is most important to us, if we don’t choose, well that will also demand everything as well.  We are not meant to stagnate, but to dive into the living waters that Christ promises us. 

Take up your cross….that’s right.  Which one do you want to carry?  A cross that will grind you down and eventually take everything and in the end leaving you empty and bereft of hope, or the Cross of Christ which also demands everything but gives deeper life and healing.—Br.MD

 

markdohle

What is the present moment?

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What is the present moment?

Live, then, in the present moment. Choose to be faithful to Me in the little things that I give you and ask of you from minute to minute, from hour to hour, and from day to day.3 It is foolish to pin your hopes and to spend your energy on an imaginary good, when the real good that I offer you is here and now.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer
 (Kindle Locations 3220-3223). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
++++++++++

 

This morning I was walking out front of the Monastery in between Nocturnes, at Vigils, our 4AM office.  We have the first Nocturne. Then we have a meditation period of 30 minutes.  Since the church can be very hot, this is the best way for me to pray/meditate.   I was saying the Chaplet of Mercy, which is something said for those who are dying at that hour.  As I was thinking about the word ‘hour’, I began to pray for the dying in God’s ‘hour’, which is always present, both past, present, and future.  There is no future with God, it is all ‘Now’.  So in praying for the dying, it within God’s ‘hour’.  The eternal moment that we all live, move and have our being in.  In prayer, there is no separation from past, present, or future, it is all ‘now’.   I know it sounds crazy for those who do not believe, but as I grow older, this reality becomes ever more real.  The deep connection we have with all others.

As I was walking between a large bush and a tree, a mockingbird starting singing, and another bird, of which I do not know the species, responded.  I stopped and just listened, in the otherwise completely silent morning.  The beauty of that moment came over me like a flood, something so simple, but yet so profoundly beautiful!  I am grateful, that for at least this morning, I was not trapped in the past, or worrying about the future.  I guess, perhaps, I was awake.  I do believe that prayer does wake us up, if we pray from the heart, being honest, and not afraid of the truth.  My soul wanted to dance, fly, and run around like crazy……I was so thankful for that little moment, so rich, and happy that I did not let it go by unnoticed. 

Each day has its challenges that we experience moment by moment.  To wake up, to stop dreaming is to be aware of our ability to grow in freedom, and in our ability to choose not to react, but to interact with others, or with everyday situations. 

To not wake up, is simply going through the day reacting, not much different than dreaming…or is in fact, a form of dreaming.  Caught up in the past, or worries about a future, we don’t even know we have.  Each day, thousands worry about the future and die, unexpectedly, that same day.  When caught up in inner drama, we miss what is before us.  When the inner drama is unconscious, we play it out with those around us.

There are ways to be in the moment.  Seeking to live by the ‘Golden Rule’ for instance.  In facing a dilemma, that is, in reality, a crossroads, a place of decision, it is good to think along these lines:  “How would I want to be treated in this situation”.  It brings us out of a certain ‘self-centeredness’, which goes with being self-aware.  The illusion is that the world revolves around me.  Reality is reduced to a stage wherein I am the main character.  Yes, this is dreaming, big time, which can quickly/easily, devolve into a nightmare.  When people who are not aware, that they are reacting, each thinking they are right, and the others, impeding on their rights, it can lead to situations that become very chaotic and destructive……so yes, a hell, of sorts.  Brings to mind Sartre’s play ‘No Exit”.  It is a form of isolation, which is suffering, but so common, that many may not know that they are in fact in deep pain. 

When allowing the unconscious to block self-awareness, with all of its memories of the past, where all the hurt and pain is hidden, it can run our lives with brute force.  The more we are unaware, the more of a victim we become of others, or, we can victimize because we can’t wake up.  In the end, we are our own worst enemy, trapped in cycles we may not understand, or even know that they are cycles that can be healed.  What is thought of as normal, may, in fact, be a prison that is self-constructed, the key is to wake up.—Br.MD






 

 

 

markdohle

Then they understand

Treading is what people often do,

Just trying to keep the head above water,

Struggling to stay afloat

With no surcease in sight.

Often alone with no one to say a kind word

Or offer a helping hand.

They are all around us,

Passing our way on the street,

Our neighbors,

Even friends,

Yet often they are not seen

Since it is hidden away.

Their hearts heavy laden

With life’s burdens;

They are often experienced as a pest

To be avoided,

Since to truly see what is underneath

Would be too disturbing

So each is left alone,

Isolated,

Not knowing how to ask for help,

To let others in,

Until the day comes and fatigue overwhelms,

They sink beneath the waves.

All that is left is a slight ripple,

An absence quickly forgotten,

Perhaps relief that the disturbance is gone to bother no more,

Until the ones disturbed

Began to tread;

Then they understand and mourn.

markdohle

Talk on anger

I have been asked to give a talk on Anger, Resentment, and Forgiveness; a subject I feel I know a lot about, since anger is an issue that I have been dealing with all my life. I am not an intellectual, so my talks tend to be more autobiographical than anything else, and sometimes it gives me pause when I think about it.

One of the reasons I like blogging is that I have an avenue that I can simply state what I feel I need to state, and then send it to be read by people who really don’t know me, and don’t see me. When giving a talk it is an intimate sort of thing for me since I am face to face with a room full of people, who if they don’t know much about me before the talk, certainly will by the time it is over.

I don’t know why I can’t just get up there and talk in the abstract but I can’t. One reason is that for some reason the differences between abstract and the practical tend to blur for me. When studying for instance something abstract, I tend to think of it on a practical level and how I can use it in my own life. So in my talk’s people get both, which I am not sure is always what people want when attending a talk. I keep getting asked to come back, so enough must like it to want more from me.

When I was younger I would never admit to having anything wrong with me, I had to be perfect, in control, fit body, lots of muscle, last word in every conversation etc. I must have been a real bore to people. As I got older I began to see how foolish that was and began to let others know that I have problems, lots of them, and I found it a relief to be able to state that. I know I told others nothing new, but for me to say it was like letting go of a heavy weight that I was carrying around.

So yes I get angry easily, seemed to have a lot of it; its roots go way back into my past, and have visited that past to get some understanding of this particular issue. At times it seems that I have this excess energy that wants to be released, and is on the look out for something for me to blast. What probably saved me from a lot more pain, and frustration, in my life is that I chose the road of suppression, rather than repression, or simply expressing it to whomever was in front of me. The shot gun approach to anger never seems to work; at least I have never seen it work for some of my friends. It seems to just make communication harder, and the isolation deeper; something I want to avoid.

Others are not responsible for this excess anger that I carry around, and as I get older it seems to lessen, but I feel it is a burden I will always carry with me. Most of my friends don’t know this about me. I guess it is because I am conscious of it, and there is no unconscious leaking. What leaks is my more tender side, I am not in touch with it on an emotional level, but others seem to pick that up from me.

Oh well better get my talk ready.

markdohle

A walk by the sea

The bright sun on the white sand and rocks

Reflected a strong glare causing the eyes to water,

The blue sky empty of clouds opened up to infinity,

The cool breeze with the sweet smell of the salty water

Allowing calm to descend were just a moment ago was missing.

The sound of the waves pounding the beach,

So soothing its crashing upon the sand

Its rhythm allowing the mind to rest in peace deeper than sleep,

A refreshing break from simply existing apart,

Drawing into the oneness of nature and it endless cycle

Of repetition without boredom

The soft sound of birds calling,

Sea gulls with their dance above the waves,

White wings spread expansively

Gliding without effort over the waters,

Seeking the silver gleam below the surface

That gives strength for the dance to continue.

The levy with its large rocks,

Causing the waves to seek to dissolve,

Spaying those lucky enough to be there

With the cool mist from the sea,

Refreshing to the skin

Lessening the sting from the hot white sun.

A place were speech is unnecessary

All that is needed is a listening heart

With eyes that see,

Filled with wonder at the beauty of it all.

markdohle

Thinking about being a pilgrim

(Journey at the end of life retreat 11/17-11/20/2015)

I remember when I was around 10 or 11, watching a movie with my mother way past my bed time. In the movie one of the actors greeted a friend by saying “hello pilgrim”. It was an old film from the 30’s. I thought about that word ‘pilgrim’ and when the movie was over I asked my mom what the word meant. I had some idea about the word but needed further clarification. So my mom thought about it for a minute and said this:

“Pilgrims are people who make a journey towards a sacred place”.

I was not totally satisfied with that but thought it was enough for the time being. Journey, sacred place, made sense. So I asked her, is my going to church on Sunday, when I walk there, is that a pilgrimage? She said “no, it is much longer than that, though in some ways it does resemble a real pilgrimage. It is simply moving towards a desired goal, and in doing that it can bring life into perspective”….or something of that nature.

Three months before I graduated from High School, I remember lying in bed thinking about graduation, my joining the Navy and an uncertain future. I was scared and excited at the same time. I did not want to leave home, yet I did not want to stay either. It was then that the idea of what being a pilgrim is all about started to solidify for me. I knew when I was lying in bed thinking about this, that I would end up in a Monastery, so I had the journey towards a sacred place set before me. However, even if someone has no sacred place to move towards, they are still pilgrims. It is about the journey, what happens during that trip, and where there is no real resting place that is permanent along the way. The fly in the ointment is that we all have deep inner lives and longings that drive us on.

If we really are pilgrims, what happens when we forget about that? We can try to dig in, plan our lives out, and seek a place that we call home. We often get our ideas about home from our past, where we have memories that we wash clean and long to return to a past that never really existed, at least not in the Norman Rockwell sort of memory. This brings out our deep longings for home…..yet how often do we feel at home? Perhaps for a short time, but then ‘time’ happens, the years fly by, we blink, and things change, loved ones die, or we get sick ourselves and are told that we too will soon be moving towards the end of our pilgrimage, our lives. Perhaps our nostalgia is really a desire for what we are actually moving towards on our pilgrimage.

Death becomes every more obvious as we age. Our culture tries to hide it, yet it peaks out in our movies, and books, for the unconscious will manifest wherever it can to get our attention. It is the artist that often shows us the best and worst about ourselves, and also what we seek to repress. What is feared I believe is the Paschal Mystery that is lived out in all of our lives.

When a loved one becomes sick, be it parents, brothers or sisters and dear friends, this reality can seem like a slap in the face, but it is a wake up call, to rouse us from sleep and to look at life and see what it is about. For some life is simply a short journey and then nothing. I kind of find that comforting, though I do not believe that. For most, we have at least a nominal belief in God and an afterlife. We have always known the temporal nature of our lives but have chosen to ignore it more often than not. Sickness and death take that away from us; we loose our naïveté and are forced to face stark reality.

Faith does not take away suffering, nor does it make things easier, it is not about “pie in the sky when you die”. No, it is about being able to see meaning in our lives and to embrace the journey because this life is the beginning of ever deeper penetration into reality. We have to choose however to believe that, because we often have childish ideas of God that are soon dispelled as we age and we experience our own suffering as well as that of our loved ones…..and of their deaths.

In taking care of others we come face to face what is really important in our lives. It is about service to others, about compassion and love. One of the things I hate about those who want to administer Euthanasia is that is can cut short this valuable experience for all involved. If our lives continue, then perhaps the death process is the most important aspect of our lives…..painful as that often is. Yet we go through deeply painful episodes all through our lives that could be even more excruciating, yet we get through it. Again, I believe that the Paschal Mystery is played out in all of our lives. God with us, and as St. Paul says, “We carry in our bodies what is lacking in the suffering of Christ”.

When people went on pilgrimage in the past, it was dangerous and filled with inconvenience and suffering. It was exhausting and often tedious, yet they took on this journey to visit a sacred place. Our whole life is either a pilgrimage towards the sacred, or it is about nothing at all. Each way of believing has its appeal, yet which is true? All we can do is to seek the truth and choose the path we walk. I do believe that if we truly seek, we will all one day find……grace is after all a gift; all we need do is to be open to it.

markdohle

Why Jesus told us not to judge

Why Jesus told us not to judge

When talking to people who do share deeply I am beginning to understand why Jesus told us not to judge.  While behaviors can be harmful to others it is easy to understand why they are done even if the morality behind them is still wrong if their history is understood.  We can judge actions and at times the need to deal with people who commit them.  That is a form of judgment.  Which is necessary, yet to judge the worth of another human being, or to give up on them is not something we are called to do as Christians.  That is what mercy is.  Mercy is mercy because it is not deserved, but a gift of grace.  The more we understand, the deeper we see, the easier it is to show mercy, even if something needs to be done to protect others.  

The seeking after revenge is not good for the one who desires it, yet it is a lesson that has not been learned by us as a species.  We see the fruit of hatred of any kind and its effect on our world, yet we ignore the wisdom of our religious traditions that show us a way out.  I am no further along; over and over again I am brought to the humiliation of seeing that below my so called Christian exterior there is a person who could easily slip into a warlike position.  I am glad that I have this struggle, for if it repressed it, it could one day come forth like a raging volcano.   Self knowledge is important, the more we see ourselves, the less we need to judge others, at least as far as their worth is concerned.--Br.MD

markdohle

Never being challenged

Never being challenged

I often wonder what life would be like being alone,
no other, just me, by myself,
without the bother of others or their problems,
or endless opinions and ideas,
not to be pulled this way and that,
or needing to control my responses
because of some inner turmoil or unease.

In other words,
never being challenged.

If alone, all that being pulled around by others
would be me being submerged by inner chaos,
as well as being infallible in my ideas
for who is there to challenge me?

My world would be me,
and endless cycle of self-talk,
a majority of one,
perhaps leading into insanity
for my world would just be me.

I wonder if that is what hell will be,
eternal insanity,
never being bothered by anyone,
just me by myself.




markdohle

Being conned, what to do?

 

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Being conned, what to do?

October 4—“Above all, confidence! When you have an anxiety and you can do nothing about it, just think, ‘He will straighten that out for me’—and go back into the peace within Me.”

 

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 630-632).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

 

 

I received a letter from one of the prisoners that I am corresponding with.  I will call him Jason.  He is 55 years old, and in jail for three different felonies.  Parole violation, possession of narcotics, as well as having a concealed weapon, and he was also under the influence of alcohol.  At this time he is in a program, in jail, trying to help him deal with his two addictions.  He is part of the opioid epidemic and where I live, we are now in an area rife with drug problems. 

I first meet Jason on the afternoon of Fr. Anthony’s funeral.  I was walking out by the front entrance of our retreat house when he drove up and started talking to me.  He told me that he knew Fr. Anthony, and that he helped him out quite a bit.  I took the bait and asked him how.  He said that Fr. Anthony would give him gas money, to be able to get to the pain clinic that he went too.  He told me that he had serious back pain.  So I helped him out with gas money.  After that, he started dropping in unexpected wanting more money for different needs.  I guess I helped him out three times before I begin to see that he was a con artist and simply lying to me.  I have come to the conclusion that he did not know Fr. Anthony, but saw the time of the funeral in the local newspaper. 

So on one occasion he came out and wanted to talk.  I told him that I could no longer help him with any money.  This did not deter him.  He told me that he simply wanted to talk and pray with me.  He also said that the other times he came out.  So went into the room used for that purpose.   He started talking, and after about 15 minutes he stating relating to me how he needed someone to help him with his phone, it was disconnected.  I did not respond, so he talked about something else, then asked if I knew anyone who could help him.  So I responded that I could not help him with the phone and I needed to do some work, and ended the conversation.  So he left.  I guess he came out a couple of more times, just dropping in, saying he wanted to talk and pray….but it was a ploy to try to get money out of me.  So I finally told him not to come back, not to call, that I could not help him anymore.

About three months later I got a letter from him.  He was in prison.  He did not tell me all of the charges, I found the reasons for his arrest, on the internet database for prisoners.  He told me that they were going to send him to a rehab facility.   He wanted my phone number, so he could call me.  So when I sent him my first letter, I let him know that if he wanted to write me, I was fine with that, but I would not send him my phone number. 

He then wanted me to come to his graduation and drive him home when he was released.  Yet he has no home.  So I had to write back and tell him that I could not do that, he needed family and friends to be there for him.  I also told him that he could not stay in our retreat house until he got his addiction problems under control.  I have learned that I can’t let people who are in Jason’s condition into the retreat house, they try to con people out of money, and will steal if they can.  One couple, that I made the mistake of letting them stay here for a few days, caused a lot of chaos, they were stealing everything in sight.  After I called the police, they went to jail for a while because of their stealing from the other guest.  It only happened once, but that is enough. So in his last letter, he started pushing hard to come and stay in our retreat house.  After I told him in three previous letters that that was impossible.  I tried to be gentle in my earlier letters, about how he could not stay here, nor could he depend on me to help him anymore. 

So in my last letter, I was not harsh, but I guess you could say I was hard.  I did not know what else to do, since he was pushing me, trying to manipulate me into allowing him to come and live at our retreat house.  Since he had no car, nor driver’s license, from my past experience with him, he would expect me to drive him everywhere, perhaps even to his meetings.  He will have to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. 

I started the letter off with this statement:

 

“Jason, it will be to your benefit to not look upon the Monastery as a place to come at this time.  I know you are trying, but again, at this time of your life, the last thing you need is a place that is quiet, without any distractions.  Connect with the AA community, do the program, and stop trying to find people who will take care of you.  Don’t forget, your whole relationship with the Monastery was a place to come out and get money.  I know now, that you probably used the money for drugs etc.  In the past I allowed two people to stay here who had your problems.  I regretted it.  They stole from us and tried to con people out of money.  I had to call the police and both of them went to prison for the thefts.  So, yes, I do not trust you enough to allow you to stay in our retreat house.  I think you need to understand that if you are having trouble finding people to help you, you need to ask yourself…why”
 

For some reason, I wanted him to understand why I could not let him stay.  When he writes, he does not seem to consider that his lying has any repercussion on his life or relationships.  He seems shocked when I simply will not do what he wants, or give him what he needs. 

I knew from my past experiences with him, and how he responded to my earlier letters, that he would not really take what I wrote seriously.  So I added another paragraph to impart to him how serious I am:

 

 

“So please, when you get out, do not come back to the retreat house.  If you do, I will call the police and have you taken off of our property, which is private property. I know this sounds extreme, but like I said, I can only help so many people, so many times, and you are way beyond the limit.  If you wish to simply come out to the grounds to pray, that is ok.  However, if I get any complaints that you are bothering people, I will again, call
the police, and have you removed.  ”.

 

I really hated writing that, but if I did not, he would still believe that he could simply come out and try to wear me down.  Believe it or not, I am concerned for him, but really can’t do much, but speak the truth as I see it.  Even if he does not take any of it too heart.

I do think in life there are situations that are in reality impossible.  All I can do is to work on having healthy boundaries.   I am still learning how to deal with these situations, and I know I do make mistakes in both directions.  I am not really sure I made the right choice here, but I have found that ‘gut’ is usually on target, more than the heart is.  I do believe that there is hope for him and that my continuing to let him manipulate me, would, in the long run, be more harmful to him.  In the short run I can help someone once or twice, but after that, I simply tell them that we are not an agency.  There are of course a couple of exceptions.  For I do believe that most people have those that they help over a long period of time because they feel that they simply should.  So my gut tells me that as well.  These people do not take advantage, but allow me to help in my own small ways.  That is the difference. 

My heart gets heavy, and at times anxious, over these matters and I try to not allow bitterness to rise up.  Even those who con, and lie, are seeking to get by, but are doing it in a self-destructive way.  They often end up alone, the position Jason is finding himself in.  He has used up his friends, and his family keeps him at a distance.  Yes, it is sad, but I have learned that I can’t change anyone, nor can I live their life for them, nor become their caregiver.  If I tried, I would burn out, become angry and bitter, and end up not being able to help anyone.  One day, I will no longer be guest-master here.  I will simply be a monk in the Monastery with other duties, and be free of this balancing act.—Br.MD

 

 

 





 

 

markdohle

Each day

Each day so much like one before it

Just little differences

That make some stand out,

Remembered,

Even pondered,

While the rest sink into forgetfulness,

Oblivion,

Never again to see the light.

Memories hide,

Forgotten,

Buried in the cave beneath thought,

With roots deep,

Alive,

Influencing in secret

That makes us a mystery to ourselves

In how we sometimes are.

Am I my past or am I my thoughts at this moment?

What will I be in the future?

Perhaps I am none of these.

Something simpler,

Deeper than thought,

Or past and future,

Greater than the present

Deeper than time?

Am I truly who I am only in the present?

This moment,

This thought or experience?

Is the present all I have to stand on?

God’s present is all time

Mine this instant the doorway

Where I truly connect

With the All.

markdohle

Rehashed Jesus

Rehashed Jesus

What is it about Jesus that everyone has to have some sort of theory seeking to debunk his reality? I think one reason for some, though not all, is fear. Jesus did talk about our freedom, how in the end we become something. Either we become like God, or we become though our own choices eternal horrors. The last judgment scene in the Gospel Matthew brings this out I believe. So if Jesus did rise from the dead, this has to be dealt with. One way is to try to disprove the reality of the Gospels as well as the Epistles. In the end he either resurrected or he did not.

I guess it could be thought that Jesus got together with his apostles and decided to start a world religion. That they would work with the Roman Government, have him crucified, but just before he died, they would pretend he was dead, and in three days he would appear to everyone and then the apostles would give their whole lives to this con job, or dog and pony show, travel, suffer, and at times imprisoned, and then knowingly die for a lie. Who would have thought simple fishermen and a man who was a carpenter could come up with this kind of thing. Especially since the Jews did not believe anyone could come back from the dead the way Jesus did…..resurrected. They did believe that it would happen to everyone at the same time on the Day of Judgment.

Here is one thread seeking to debunk Jesus:

Atwill asserts that Christianity did not really begin as a religion, but a sophisticated government project, a kind of propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire. "Jewish sects in Palestine at the time, who were waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah, were a constant source of violent insurrection during the first century," he explains. "When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That's when the 'peaceful' Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to 'give onto Caesar' and pay their taxes to Rome."

http://www.dailypaul...-and-false-gods

It goes on and one. The problem is this. The church exploded on the scene almost instantly, thousands converted, there were miracles. These have to be dealt with. One way, again, is to try to find an out, if there is not. Then what do you do with Jesus Christ? Wait, you can make him one of the God’s:

The below deals with the Jesus is just another myth, or a remake of the old gods.

Combating the never-ending list of parallels

If you do an Internet search on this subject, you will come across lists of supposed parallels between Jesus and Horus that are much longer than Bill Maher’s filmic litany. What they all have in common is that they do not cite their sources.

Should you encounter people who try to challenge you with these claims, ask them to explain where it is they got their information. Many times you will find that they originate with Gerald Massey or one of his contemporaries. Sometimes they have been repeated and expanded on by others. But these claims have little or no connection to the facts.

You should challenge the person making the claim to produce a primary source or a statement from a scholarly secondary source that has a footnote that can be checked. Then make sure the sources being quoted come from scholars with a Ph.D. in a relevant field, such as a person who teaches Egyptology at the university level.

Due to the mass of misinformation on the Internet and in print on this subject, it is important to respond to these claims using credible sources. Fortunately, there are many good books on Egypt and Egyptology in print. But there are also bad ones, so make sure to verify the author’s credentials before purchasing them.

The study of ancient Egypt has come a long way since its beginning in the 1800s, and new discoveries are being made even today that improve upon our understanding of the subject. It’s safe to say they will do nothing to bolster the alleged Jesus-Horus connection.

The Horus mythology developed over a period of 5,000 years, and as a result it can be a complex subject to tackle. But you don’t have to be an Egyptologist to answer all of these claims. You just need to know where to look for the answers—and to be aware of the claims’ flawed sources.

http://www.strangeno...m/horus-manure/

I am not posting this to change anyone's mind, but if you don't believe in Jesus, or the Gospels, fine, but this constant rehashing of different, new theories is somewhat absurd, though funny at times.

markdohle

The stakes or up with ISIS

The stakes are up with ISIS

Well war has been declared, or the danger has gone up for all of us. I have no doubt that ISIS will pay a heavy price for this senseless attack on people who were no threat to them or anyone. As Pope Francis said, we are in the midst of the Third World War; I suppose it will only get more violent now. I have a feeling that violence towards Muslims who have no desire to harm others will pay for this attack. I hope that we don’t go into revenge mode. ISIS needs to be dealt with severely, how that can be done without innocent Muslims paying with their lives I do not know. All many of us can do is pray. None of us are safe. Guerrilla warfare is hard to beat, or impossible. I have no answers.

markdohle

My cruelty in High School

My cruelty in High School

There are events from my early teenage years that still haunt me to this day….wounding memories that bring to mind aspects of myself that are painful to even contemplate, but must, in order for those seeds that led to the events when young…. don’t grow and consume me. I don’t understand why so many people react to the concept of ‘sin’, through granted it is often misused and has been wounding too many. However, it seems that to not believe in the reality of ‘sin’ or, the likely possibly of ‘transgression’ can lead to something worse. In some spiritual paths the word ‘ignorance’ is used instead of sin, which can work, since it is not hard to do very bad things, evil things against others and be ignorant of the depth of harm that was committed, or to use another word, the transgression committed against another human being.

I was 13 and in High School, in Panama, Canal, Cristobal High, it was 1962. There was a young man who was a senior at the time (well I think he was), I did not know him and I don’t think he even knew I was alive…. for five years difference in age is a lot when that young. I will not use his real name for obvious reasons. He would be 68 or 69 at this time and perhaps what happened has been forgotten by him; or forgiven, well I hope so. There was gossip going around that he was “queer”, that was the word used at that time for homosexuals. I had no proof that this was true, and I am not sure it meant anything to me in any case.

The poor kid was hounded everywhere he went, in a cruel manner and it was incessant, though of course not by all, for the majority did not chime in. I did however, the jeering and name calling. It happened when I was with a group…. by myself, no. One scene I remember was at the Ft. Gulick teenage club. There was a group of us sitting on a couch and he came over and sat with us, we all got up and left him alone.... an act of contempt that I am sure he felt deeply. It was so easy to do and I can’t say I did not know what I was doing, no, I knew all right, I just wanted to belong This scene has been burned into my mind and can’t get rid of it. I am not suffering from neurotic guilt, but I believe that this image is a guard at the gate of my heart that is not always filled with light and love. A warning pointing to what I am capable of and how walled in, cold and uncaring, I can make my heart.

When I was in the 10th grade it started to hit me the evil I participated in, though as a teenager I did not know the full extent of it. I also discovered that the harm and pain I cause others returns to me. I believe that cruelty is still in me along side the part of me that wants to be loving and caring. The great inner divide that I believe most of us seek to find healing for, most I believe a life long journey. No, sin for me means that I have the freedom to choose, I am not a victim of my past, though I can be influenced by it and when I fall I can freely take responsibility for my choices.

If I could meet this young man (now near 70) from my past, I would ask to talk to him and even if he does not remember my part in his taunting, I would ask for his forgiveness. I have prayed for him all these years and actually for all of those that I have hurt. As I grow, I believe my ability to transgress against is still there and when I do sin , it is greater, because now being older I do not have the excuse of being just a teenager.

Images from the past

When I close my eyes to pray,

or just to sleep,

images arise….

the faces of those I hurt,

people rebuffed, or ignored, or overlooked,

set aside so I could belong,

being part of the mob is not what it seems,

a slice of humanity must be set aside,

a self wounding that bleeds eternally,

until healing and forgiveness is received.

When God forgives, the wound can stay,

a reminder of the importance of seeing others,

loving and treating with love and compassion

all who come before ones path.

markdohle

Trying to bring it all together

Trying to bring it all together

There is always more than one side to any of us. True we are each unique, but we share a common humanity and that is what allows us to communicate with each other. Even with that however, we can only put before others a small fragment of who we are. We each have deep inner lives, often much of it hidden, but it can reveal itself if we have ways that allow the door to open a bit. I believe in each of us there are deep wells of joy and peace, as well as pain and chaos. Each I believe is just as important as the other, though often only one or the other predominates. Or to be more precise, they mix and sometimes something is lost in that, but it does allow us to continue on our different paths through this often difficult and mysterious existence. Art is a good way for many of us to get peeks of this inner reality, often hidden and not always pleasant in how it is experienced. Movies are perhaps the most common way to get a peek into our own inner world. The different characters and situation will often draw out strong responses that we can’t feel, or will not allow ourselves to feel in everyday life. Music and literature as well can lead us to an ever deeper experience of our inner lives.

Our spiritual lives will also bring forth aspects of ourselves that we need to face, or work on. We can learn from our struggles, to have compassion towards others who also have their own path to walk.

In everyday life, I tend to be a jokester, talkative and people say I am funny as well. When I write something different comes to the surface. Which I believe is a common experience for writers who are simply trying to deal with their own innards, frustrations and yes with the joy as well. Within each of us are bits of heaven and hell and perhaps a great deal of purgatory that needs to be experienced and lived out and hopefully leading to integration. Heart, soul and mind come closer together. The older I get the less I seem to understand, at least when I look within and see the inner shifting going on. Though as I age, there is also a settling that seems to be happening, which is beyond my conscious control. I think it has more to do with how I relate to it all, that either allows further growth, or perhaps become trapped in an inner stalemate. It depends on my being open to self knowledge or closed to it. Either way has it own difficulties.

I believe that within each human there is more going on than we can perhaps imagine. The war between good and evil, light and darkness, the cosmic war so called by many, takes place within each human heart, which has the capacity to make choices. I can’t point fingers, for within my own soul I have experienced what I am capable of. We are called to love I believe. Some will say that is a silly notion…. but all we have to do is to look within and see what we struggle for at rock bottom. I do not believe I am a good person, just someone who is trying to grow in grace and love and who has to make choices every day to continue that journey. I believe that the deep spiritual experiences I have received. Came at a point in my life; even if I was unaware of it…. when I was in most need of some inner help…..when I needed to see that, yes, there is more going on within myself and each human being that is known or imagined. To me that is what grace is all about. If we are seeking, and I believe we all are. We do get what we need and not what we want.

Most of the suffering in the world comes about because we and myself as well, perhaps more for me, do not yet understand the power and strength of gentleness, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and love. I think that is what we are about. To turn our inner fragmentation into wholeness that can only come about by letting go of self hatred, the desire for revenge and the running away from that which I believe calls us all. I am still at the beginning. Yet is not each day a new beginning, each hour and minute? I have slowly learned to trust the process that we are I believe involved in. I use Christian terms and I have faith in that revelation, but not all is revealed, each life is a work of art, and the Spirit works in secret to brings each work of art to fruition

markdohle

Being alone

Being alone

When alone, the moment we enter our room and close the door, when we are accompanied only by silence, we change. We are adrift either in isolation or in solitude; they are of course not the same. In both of these states all of our pretenses fall away. Our ego’s, no longer needed, move into the background, though there may be some resistance, which can be felt as restlessness. An attempt I believe to keep us busy, that is often based on the fear of the seeming ocean of nothingness…. of the quiet of being alone. I believe that some forms of boredom are actually a misreading of the presence, seeking to draws us deeper into relationship.

markdohle

An act of self creation

Self concern, narcissism, is in the end the most terrible of prisons, since it blocks out any chance of seeing others and the world as a whole. As something that should be related to and simply seen, instead of being reduced to something that is just an extension of my own often childish, self absorbed, projections and transferences. This in the end shrinks the world down to the size of a small room, empty of any real light, beauty, or love. Perhaps that is what hell is in the end; this self imposed, willed, isolation. For in the end, hell has to be a choice, an act of self creation over and against others.

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"The fires of hell may be made of the very love of God, experienced as torture by those who hate him: the very light of God's truth, hated and fled from in vain by those who love darkness. Imagine a man in hell—no, a ghost—endlessly chasing his own shadow, as the light of God shines endlessly behind him. If he would only turn and face the light, he would be saved. But he refuses to—forever. Just as we can attain heaven by implicit as well as explicit faith ("Saint Socrates, pray for us," says Erasmus), so hell too can be reached without explicit rebellion. This is the terrible—and terribly needed—truth taught by C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce and Charles Williams in Descent into Hell. We can drift, slide, even snooze comfortably into hell. All God's messengers, the prophets, say so".

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/hell.htm

markdohle

Free?

Free?

I am not sure how free I am, for as I age I still deal with the same issues, mostly because I have not fully faced some of them, a forestalling of pain, but in the end mote, for the pain only gets greater. Living in a finite world, there will be limitations that constrain us from freeing ourselves from suffering, or of even beginning to understand what it is all about. There are no black and white answers and those who seek them I feel limit their ability to open themselves up to possibility. Our understanding can deepen, but it is something each must learn. We can read others for help and insight, but if what they write does not in some way intersect with personal experience, then the reading will avail little.

markdohle

Crickets-R-us

Crickets-R-us

I saw a cricket on my bathroom floor one morning and let it be. I have no problem with them. Then three days later I saw it again, and caught it put it in a large container and put in some food and water. I have had it for about 8 weeks now and it is still going strong. I guess oats is good for it.

About three weeks after I caught the first one, I found another cricket in my closet. So I caught it and placed it in the same container. Things went fine. Then one night I heard a lot of jumping going on and so the next morning when I checked I saw that the cricket I found in my closet was missing his three right legs…..yes one was snacking on the other. So I got a smaller container and put the hurt one there. So for the last week it is doing ok, it eats and hobbles along. I put some paper on the bottom of the container so it can move around a bit.

At first I thought how evil the other cricket was and then laughed at myself. It was just stronger, if the other could chomp on the other, it would have. Crickets live for about two months, or so I have been told, so soon both will go to their rest.

They are alive, that is an amazing thing, even though a cricket is not unique from any others, because I have been keeping them, and probably extending their lives, I find myself projecting personalities on to them, and talking to them a bit.

They have gotten used to me. What that entails I have no idea. I wish I could enter into the consciousness of other life forms, but that can’t be done. They don’t jump when I come near their homes anymore, though of course don’t like it when I have to place my hand inside and clean up a bit and change the water and food.

I think I will keep them on a regular basis if I find them around the retreat house. One thing, I will never keep a cockroach! They really need to stay outside.