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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/05/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. Found this "Long Headed"......This caught my interest. Then I found this. https://archive.org/details/longheadsroundhe00sadl/page/n8 'Long Heads and Round Heads or What's the Matter with Germany' Anybody wishing to slug through it is more than welcome. Northern Asians and Algonquians are round headed so it made me throw up a little in my mouth. This idea was also grabbed by many "Developmental Centers" ruining lives, people written off as stupid because the shape of their skull........ Here's another of Sadler's gems...."Racial Hygiene" Shweeet! https://archive.org/details/racedecadenceexa00sadluoft/page/n6 I love this one....... This is lovely.......The finest agriculturalists in the world were the agro-foresters. Some techniques can't be reproduced even today. While Urantia describes the Garden of Eden as little more than a oversize WPA farm. Sadler completely missed the fact that agro-foresters did create a literal Garden of Eden. One that even maintained itself. While his "Adamites" worked their butts off and dealt with poor sanitation in his imaginary red brick WWII Era farmstead.
    8 points
  2. Day shift always was the worst for me, I am a night owl, I like night shift work. As if the 6am to 6pm shift was not bad enough, having to be on the road in the squad car by 4:30 to be there on time just seemed like insult to injury. Having to get up before dawn is purgatory. There is not enough coffee in the world to make that easier and I needed my first cup as I drove along Highway 98, heading to my beat. The one consolation is that nobody was on the roads then. I usually had plenty of time to meditate and have my quiet time and wake up before the stuff hit the fan. This morning, though, there was one other vehicle moving, a brand new dark green Ford pick up. For no known reason, it drew my attention over and over despite my efforts to ignore it and stay on my quiet time. You have to know I was a great cop in many ways, but for sure I was never a legend for my traffic enforcement. If you were not an active hazard I really could care less, to be honest. Me blue lighting and forcing my way into the insane Florida tourist traffic to stop someone sailing through it above the speed limit seemed a worse safety risk than just ignoring it, and if you did things I also did, I cared even less about it. My ticket obsessed sergeant hated me for this attitude and yes it did reflect on my performance reports. This pick up was driving normally, not speeding, and there was no reason for it, but it obsessed me inexplicably. I had to stop it, had to deal with it, I felt this all through me, and not a bit of that was coming from my brain. I had no reason to stop it, no desire to stop it, no.... dammit, no tag. There was no tag on it, plus this insistent sense that I MUST stop it, something was very wrong, and with a heartfelt, unuttered curse, I reached over and flipped the blue lights then radioed the stop into dispatch. It was one of the loneliest stretches along the highway right there, beside the Gulf of Mexico. You had to be careful pulling off as the sand was a liar, and seemed solid enough but in bad areas was like confectioners sugar from the poundings of past hurricanes and would drop you deeper than your axels. This guy was not wise to it, but he did pick a small area that managed to hold him up and instead of pulling over on the shoulder he pulled into a sort of small lay by which was blocked a bit from the highway in view thanks to a surviving dune sort of remnant behind us once we stopped. He pulled in nose first, and I drew up behind him stopping with the front of my car about ten feet behind his back bumper, and adjusted my spotlight to shine into his mirrors just enough to make it harder to see where exactly I was coming from if this was gonna go bad. I left my car door open for cover as there was nothing out here otherwise and we go with tactics on this sort of thing at night alone for miles. My nearest possible back up was a mile away and due to get off soon and probably half asleep though my stop would roust him out to drift this way if only for something to do to stay awake.Second to domestics, traffic stops are the most likely time to die if you are a cop. Nice guy, clean cut black man who was appalled, it seemed, about the tag and went into his back seat where I noticed no less than four Florida tags laying around on the floor. He had just bought the truck he told me and one of those tags there went to it. Problem. It doesn't work that way. All four were from one of three different counties also. 99% of the time this scenario would prove they were stolen tags. Problem. That cup of coffee I longed for before shift was looking further away all the time. So, need your license and registration, please, and we will sort this out. Nice truck, both of us want to be on our way and if I just get a good tag here we are done. No need for a ticket or anything. Tyrone was good with that, seemed happy, and gave me his license and then eyed the glove compartment. The purchase papers were in there, insurance, too, he said, needed to reach for them so I could see what they had done and which tag went to the truck. He didn't want any trouble. Between his literal hand and the glove compartment was a backpack on the driver's seat open at the top. Nothing in his manner to concern me, no reason to be concerned and I had already told him I had no plan to ticket him over the tag, once we sorted he had one, in fact. He seemed really calm and pleasant, and I certainly was. Really. I was a nice cop unless you really worked for it and Tyrone was not working for anything but to get back on the road and done with this. Go for it, I told him, raising the weapon grade flashlight I had in hand to light where his hand was going and reveal what was in the glove compartment as soon as it opened. My attention was there, on his hand, not on the empty beach sand stretching out from where I stood all the way to the Gulf. Nowhere at all for anything or anyone to not be seen for a hundred yards, moon high above lighting the spot like a small stage area. He smiled and reached for the glove box. "GET BACK!" I heard a male voice say commandingly an instant before the rest. My breath rushed out from the unexpected blow of a hand striking the shock plate of my bullet proof vest so hard it lifted me off my feet and threw me back all the way to fall behind my open car door and I looked up in disbelieving confusion and shock to see the lights revealing Tyrone's hand coming up with a gun and he turned sharply to shoot it where I had been standing and then panicked in confusion to find me not there. The way he jerked and looked out as if I maybe had stepped aside would have been comic under other circumstances. As it was, I was freaking out and radioed for backup, gun sighted, and drew down on him and he panicked and floored his truck, which buried it halfway to China in that blasted sand. I shouted at him the usual, "Don't make me shoot you, put the gun down, it isn't worth this Tyrone, drop the gun" as was trained into me automatically even as I was looking everywhere and trying to comprehend what had happened, who had thrown me back with that impossible strength, whose voice had I heard?? Who had somehow just saved my life?? My backup screamed in, spraying sand for a quarter mile and long story short, we got Ty cuffed and secured and it turned out the truck had just been stolen about ten minutes before I saw him from the local Ford dealership. Tyrone, poor fellow, had a list of wants and warrants and even his gun was stolen from another break in he had not been charged in yet but would be now he was caught with stolen goods on him. It took eight hours to fully book him as his prints kept drawing new hits all over the state as the system churned onward. Eight hours. Pages and pages of writing besides just the arrest I had him on. I am not a religious sort, but the way I was raised I know the Bible back and forth. Some of it I take to heart as a good thing to know and follow. In there somewhere is the story of a wealthy man who had a little man who owed him money dragged before him. The little man told him how hard times were and he did not have the money and the rich man noted it was a large amount but, fair enough, he had no wish to be harsh so he forgave the debt in full. Forgave it all and let the fellow go. Overjoyed, the little man hurried home in relief to be freed of the huge debt over his head and then noted that one of his neighbors still owed him a small amount and had him arrested and charged for not paying this pittance back to him. The rich man found out, that the fellow he had forgiven for a large sum was prosecuting someone else for a tiny debt mercilessly. It made him angry and he had the fellow arrested and punished him until he paid his full debt back in full for proving to be so ungrateful and mean despite so much having been forgiven for him. I did not charge Tyrone with trying to kill me, drawing on me, attempting to shoot me. I was going to die that morning, but Someone intervened and saved me from bleeding out in the sand there. It was not my skill or clever detective wits that spared me. Someone, "Other", had spared me. I felt even thinking to charge him for that would be like that little man not being thankful enough for his forgiveness to forgive anyone else. Report finally done I walked back and gave Ty his paperwork and talked with him quietly, as the other holding cells were full with inmates down for court appearances. I explained all the warrants and other things he was charged with and the theft of the truck and four stolen tags as well, and then told him I was not going to charge him for attempting to kill me out there because he had more than enough trouble to get sorted out and so I simply forgave him for it. That was the first time I have ever seen a hardened felon sit down and weep, just weep, as if his heart had broken. I left him there and have not seen him since so I guess he pled out. Me? I have struggled with that morning ever since. I have had good friends die on the job and each time guts me anew to wonder why me? Why was an average person like me saved that way and these other, really good guys, died when it went bad? Survivors guilt is what it is they say, and there is no help for it. It was not Ty who did that, he was not even close to the right position to have done that, I am not sure any human could have had the strength to so exactly hit me mid-chest and lift me up, fling me backwards about 15 feet to drop without falling behind my open door like that. It was a moon drenched area that morning, wide open for hundreds of yards to the open Gulf of Mexico all the way to the horizon. No person walked up unseen to do that and then strolled away as invisibly. Bullet proof vests are stiff, some come with shock plates for even higher protection over the heart. There is a pocket and if you have it issued, a ceramic plate that can absorb very high powered rifle rounds which can be slid down over your heart. That hand hit that and lifted me away from the danger as it said "Get back". I do not "believe" because I "need to" believe. I do not believe because I am weak or am really religious or delusional or whatever ridiculous reasons some few wish to blame for people who believe there is more out there, perhaps even God. It is not even faith for me. I have the evidence, I know utterly what happened that morning, I know. I know. I will always know and never doubt for a moment that there is Other out there. It touched me, I can still feel that imprint of a hand and hear that voice. What exactly it was, I do not know. Maybe an angel? Maybe God? I saw nothing there so cannot tell you that. The voice was male, the strength in that hand was infinite. Every single word of this is truth. This is why I believe and will not ever be shaken from it. My life is all about me, like yours is all about you. I know God Is and there is Other out there. Not faith, I know this. This is why I believe. I write to serve.
    8 points
  3. You can't be Brother Mark! One day, a few months ago, a woman was checking into the retreat house for one of our retreats. As we talked, as I am most likely do, I joked a lot with her. I can be a bit of a clown. She asked me my name, and I responded that I am Br. Mark, the guest-master. She looked at me in unbelief and stated that I could not possibly be Br. Mark, because he is very serious! So I thought about it, and walked into the restroom near the office and looked into the mirror. I came back, and said, I am sorry, but the reflection I saw in the mirror was Br. Mark, so it must be me! So she looked at me, and said, well I guess you are, I thought you looked like Br. Mark when I walked in, but you know how it is, you monks all look alike! Then I laughed.--Br.MD
    7 points
  4. The route for the first annual “Welcome back You Old Fossil” Tri-cycle Race and Polka Fest will be held soon – the exact date and time shall be kept secret until it happens…While participation in this race is voluntary, as it is in honor of the return of our Most Benevolent, Wise and (slightly Weird) Mummy Overlord lack of participation will result in being made to dine in the UM cafeteria for every meal until the next race, plus at least 1 visit from me every week where I play my accordion for you and sing (I do not know how to play the accordion and my singing has been described as “delightful” by such famous persons as Torquemada, the Marquis de Sade and some really drunk dude who was passed out for most of it)… The Event shall kick-off when the participants least expect it – most likely around 2 AM-ish (Pago-Pago Standard Daylight Savings Time) when most participants are either sleeping snuggly in their cells, oubliettes and cages – or hard at work at some nefarious (no doubt illegal) activity… The Grand Inquisitors highly trained staff of ruffians, thugs and used car salesmen will burst in on the participants – subdue them (but politely of course) and Shanghai them to the starting place – which will be the Central landing Stage deep in the heart of the Old Creepy Forest… There the blindfolded participants will be loaded up on board the awaiting World War I Surplus zeppelins of the Renegade Beer Balloon Fleet, wrapped up like mummies – in honor of our Grand Marshall - and duct taped to their racing tricycles then air lifted out over the vast expanses of the Northwestern Highway Pothole Storage Area (#17), where at an altitude of at least 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) their hoods and blindfolds will be removed and they will be dropped on the starting line… The parachutes they will be issued (for a slight additional fee of course) are set to open at around 1,000 (ish) feet, thereby allowing our racers to gently(ish) touch down and begin racing… The parachute packing team of the UM Pickle, Sardine, Parachute and Sausage Packers Guild assure us that most of the ‘chutes should open at some point, There will be no refunds for failures however)… After alighting, the survivors racers will speed off directly Southward until they finally reach the Great Prickly Pear Cactus Forest where they will negotiate the labyrinthine trails marked off (or that should be marked off anyway) by our own rather prickly Grumpy Old Coot and Cootess Society – They have a notoriously bad sense of direction, and their memories are not that great either so racers might want to purchase maps of the cactus labyrinth while aboard the Zeppelins… Those that manage to emerge from the Cactus Forest will find themselves confronting the Great Glass Barrier… The GGB was built several thousand years ago by the same crew that built the Great Wall of China… As they had only a cursory familiarity with UM’s Official language of Ancient Hittite they misinterpreted “I want it Classy” into “I want it Glassy” and so they built the entire 9,000 mile long 75 foot high wall out of pure glass… At the foot of the wall the racers own pit crew teams will replace the front wheel of the tricycle with a rimless wheel that has all of the spokes tipped with large suction cups… after driving over a shallow pool of slimy water (wet suction cups get better traction) they will drive up the glass wall to the top of the wall and then down the other side where the original wheels will be placed back on… After this it is a simple matter of racing straight through the Methane Marsh – home of UM’s world famous Mime School – and then back into the main UM complex where they will find the finish line painted at the base of a portion of Pookie the Moat Monster’s Primary tail (Pookie is hibernating right now – so it should be semi-safe-ish)… The racers must get on his (?) tail tip – race down the 500 meter length of it, cross the line then get off before he (?) awakes (be cautions as Pookie is ALWAYS snackish when he(?) awakes)… The winner of the race is exempt for the next three races, Second place is exempt for the next two, third place from the next one and everyone else will be forced to dine in the UM cafeteria for the next 6 months… Following the race, we will all adjourn to the Recently renovated Lunar Lounge and Dance Hall for our Polka Fest welcoming kmt_sesh back… Travel will be courtesy of the Alien Space Saucer Fleet and their commander Admiral Preet*Hwauk Buurrskftel (Jr.) – They promise no more faster than Time travel voyages this time as they can’t afford to pay any more crew members after the quadrupling of their fleet at our last outing with them…(See “Moon Dance Masquerade Party” posted earlier in my blog for all the details)…. Good luck to everyone!
    7 points
  5. I've worked with lots of psychotherapists over the years. Some I thought were better than others. One therapist I saw was a counselor whom I didn't work with for long, as I didn't think she was very good at it. However, one helpful bit of advice she gave me was for me to surround myself with positive things and good people. I thought that was excellent advice. If you surround yourself with good things and good people, your life still won't be perfect and rosy. You can't always avoid the unpleasant things in life. You can't always avoid the headaches. But if you do the best you can to surround yourself with good things and positive people, it will increase the chances that your life will be a happy and productive one.
    6 points
  6. Peace is found in thankfulness Sometimes we do not know until something is lost, or someone we love leaves us in mourning, how happy we actually were. Happiness, if pursued, is elusive, it can sneak up on us when we least expect it, mostly when we are involved with others, forgetting ourselves on some level. Owning something does not bring happiness, for once we get what we desire, we no longer have the desire, it is ours. Yet, to be thankful, well, for just our lives, even in turmoil can bring us peace. Life is short, it goes by in a flash, so once we start to understand what is really important, we can find that inner peace and happiness can be present in the midst of life's chaos--Br.MD
    6 points
  7. This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, love to complete your life. Author Unknown
    6 points
  8. THE OPIATE OF UNBELIEF The widespread and growing and always increasingly adamant denial of God and the repudiation of the spiritual dimension can be difficult to comprehend. This denial is always expressed with total conviction, no agnosticism, or questioning generally admitted. It has long seemed to me that the inability to sense the sacred is a disability. The sense of the sacred is inherent in a human being. If this sense is lacking, it is no different from being without the ability to see, or hear, or smell. It is a disability like every other. Continue: THE OPIATE OF UNBELIEF
    6 points
  9. Picture by Evan-Amos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18300824 ^^ This is the first computer I learned to program on. This bad boy * taps roof * can hold 1,024 bytes. A FULL 1k of memory. And a tape drive to load and save it on.
    6 points
  10. There was a coyote in my yard this morning. It was sniffing the air and searching for breakfast in the pre-dawn light. I’ve never before seen a coyote so close to my house, but I think I’ll be seeing more of them soon: I’ve changed my diet to include rotisserie chicken from Walmart. Lunch or dinner might be half a chicken, a handful of Triscuits, and a sliced apple. Easy and cheap, but healthy. I always share my leftovers with the raccoons. I take the chicken bones outside to the cement sidewalk that leads to my gravel driveway, and usually by morning the bones have completely vanished. But I made a mistake last night. There was a lot of chicken fat in the bottom of the plastic container, and I thought the raccoons might enjoy the extra treat. Well, they certainly did. They woke me up about five times during the night trying to salvage every last drop of fat. I don’t know why, but that plastic container scraping across the cement sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard in the middle of the night. I’m thinking the chicken fat is what attracted the coyote. The human equivalent is like when you drive past a bakery and then turn the car around to go back and buy a donut. The aroma just draws you in.
    5 points
  11. I've seen a few people who've recently claimed that the current number of Coronavirus cases is nothing to worry about. But the thing is -- viruses rapidly multiply. It's kind of what they're famous for. It's where the term "going viral" comes from, after all. Let's take a look at what happens with a virus which doubles every six days. If we start with 1 case, then the first month looks like this: Day 0 = 1 Day 6 = 2 Day 12 = 4 Day 18 = 8 Day 24 = 16 Day 30 = 32 cases Seems pretty minimal, right? Let's see what happens if we continue: Month two: Day 36 = 64 Day 42 = 128 Day 48 = 256 Day 54 = 512 Day 60 = 1,024 cases Again -- not too bad. Month three: Day 66 = 2,048 Day 72 = 4,096 Day 78 = 8,192 Day 84 = 16,384 Day 90 = 32,768 cases Starting to get a bit bigger now, Month four: Day 96 = 65,536 Day 102 = 131,072 -- we're somewhere here, globally, in terms of number of cases. Day 108 = 262,144 Day 114 = 524,288 Day 120 = 1,048,576 cases And we've reached the million mark. Month five: Day 126 = 2,097,152 Day 132 = 4,194,304 Day 138 = 8,388,608 Day 144 = 16,777,216 Day 150 = 33,554,432 cases Which is roughly half of the UK population. Month six: Day 156 = 67,108,864 Day 162 = 134,217,728 Day 168 = 268,435,456 Day 174 = 536,870,912 Day 180 = 1,073,741,834 cases And we're now over a billion. Month seven: Day 186 = 2,147,483,668 Day 192 = 4,294,967,336 Day 198 = 8,589,934,672 And since that's more than the population of the entire world -- let's call it there. Exponential growth is not particularly intuitive, but what seems small now, gets real big, real fast. You can see the doubling rate of various countries -- including the US and the UK -- here, which goes into a lot more detail. (Source: Forbes) IMO, the only way to slow this thing down is to quarantine ourselves. My advice is -- if you can stay inside, stay inside.
    5 points
  12. @acute It's time to quiz @Stiff and see if he's truly a Northerner. He will be asked questions and with every wrong answer will be bitten by a house ferret without his shots. 1. What's the capital of England? London York Bamburgh 2. Who's your preferred mates? Londoners Brummies Scots 3. Do you consider yourself Saxon or Anglo-Norse? 4. What's your thoughts on ferrets? 5. How many family members are in the SAS? 6. How many family members are outright mercenaries? 7. Do you have a 80's era Ford rusting away somewhere? 8. Did you ever sink a 80's era Ford on the Moors? 9. Do you have a 80's era Ford sunk and rusting away on the Moors? 10. Can you be understood by a American? 11. Can you be understood by Londoner? 12. If greeted by a Londoner like @freetoroam or @Tom1200 do you Look shocked? Punch them in the mouth? Head butt them? All of the above. 13. Do you think Romanization is the reason Southerners are such twits? 14. Do you think the North should of razed Birmingham to the ground so it couldn't be rebuilt? 15. Do you go on "Pub Crawls" or "Hot Trods"? 16. When on said adventures are you tempted to burn and loot? 17. How many family members have rusty vintage Rovers? More drilling to come..........
    5 points
  13. I have a long history of mental illness in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and bipolar disorder. I've been a patient in mental hospitals more than once over the years as a result. The last time that I was in the hospital, back in 2011, my parents came to visit me like they often did when I was in one of those facilities. I told them that it must be hard to have their own son in a mental institution once again. However, they disagreed with me. They responded by saying that it wasn't difficult for them because they felt that it was great that I was getting the help that I needed. So many people with mental illness don't seek or get the help they need. I think they were right. Being in the hospital isn't my favorite place to be. But if you need the help and need to be there, then their's nothing wrong with being a patient in a mental hospital. You're getting the help that you have to get, like I did.
    5 points
  14. The death of a good friend (Fr. James Behrens may he rest in peace) But it is precisely through human weakness, our vulnerability, which we come to know a deep and abiding love that is ours through the gift of another who cares for us. And we learn as well the richness of the treasure that is Christ within us, a treasure whose wealth becomes fully ours only when we no longer have the strength to resist it. James --Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O ++++++++++ It is always a shock when death comes knocking. I guess we are never ready for it. The closer we are to another, the more we are of course wounded by their passing. Fr. James was like a brother to me. He was a man one could be comfortable with. He was a man of depth, and compassion, that came out in his writings. His stories about the people he met perhaps just once, or stories that he wrote about those he knew, were filled with compassion for the human condition. Over the last few years, he has grown frailer but remained independent, fiercely so. He has had mounting health issues over the years which he had borne with patience. He did not like to talk about his health and to tell the truth, he really did not take good care of himself. I guess many men are like that. He just lived every day the best he could. People loved to come and visit James, and even when it was an inconvenience for him, he always showed up and was cordial, and loving, to all who sought his company. We all grow old with our families, friends, and with those, we simply know over the years. It is a certain species of suffering that I believe we all experience when we see those we know, age, and grow in fragility. The closer we are the deeper the pain. It is just a part of life. Most embrace that reality and love and care anyway. A heart that is alive will feel loss, a necessary part of loving another human being. It is well worth it. We all know that when there are two, be it in friendship, or marriage, one will go before the others. As I age, I seem to be the one who is left. It only makes life more pernicious, and others beautiful in their fragility. I am a better person for knowing Fr. James. His love of words and their meaning made me more aware of the importance of writing. Perhaps if I did not know James, I would never have begun my own journey when I was 50 years old, to write. His photography made me aware of how precious each moment is, and how fleeting it all is. I am sure this is true for many. James, you will be missed by many, for many loved you, thank you for your quiet friendship and love. Below is a piece James sent out by email to his many friends on the 25the of July of this year. I do believe that on some level he knew that he did not have much time left in this world.—Br.MD ++++++++++ “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” When I read the opening line from the first reading about the treasure that we hold in these earthen vessels of our bodies, the treasure being the life of Jesus that is within us, I thought back to a homily Gerard gave many years ago. He spoke of how we grow old and weak. And it is then that we are in need of the care of another, care that we are no longer able to provide for ourselves. For most of our lives, we can depend on our health and strength to fortify us, to keep at bay the need for another to feed us, bathe us, comfort us. We are then stripped of whatever defenses we had used to resist the ravages of human weakness. For there comes a time when we learn what it means to be limited, finite and in need of another to care for us. It is then, in the nakedness of our own vulnerability that we receive in its fullness the richness of the treasure that lies within us. The love and tenderness that is God comes to us through the caring hands of another. We can no longer keep a safe distance from our weakness as it strips us of the last shreds of our self-reliance. But it is precisely through human weakness, our vulnerability, which we come to know a deep and abiding love that is ours through the gift of another who cares for us. And we learn as well the richness of the treasure that is Christ within us, a treasure whose wealth becomes fully ours only when we no longer have the strength to resist it. James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O #1 Mark Dohle, 1 minute ago
    5 points
  15. So many reject the idea of a god using the points of one religion or another. I can relate. I was beaten and exorcised by overzealous relatives as a child to "save" my soul and get rid of the voices and visions I was having. Ostracism was a way of life for me, always being viewed as trouble, something bad or wrong, for most of my most impressionable years. Yet, I had it easy, really. I lived. Some do not. Extremes are not good, no matter what one wishes to talk about. Yet, it did work, in a large sense, just not the way my very naïve and misled kin expected. It worked because the real God, The Source, Creator Mother/Father doesn't fit in any religions. Not the real deal. God is not there. God may be around, one can find Source anywhere, but all of it is not there. A true religion is simple, it tells you you are LOVED just as you are, like any child of sane and normal parents. It also tells you that in love, you are expected to go out and play and learn and evolve in your relationship with Source just like you grow and get to know your mortal parents and family. You are expected to do well in life, to do good, learn from mistakes and go on wiser, and to be busy in those positive things that bring you happiness and joy. It is really very simple, and not one of the buildings I ever found had that kind of religion. They add rules and controls and definitions of those who do not belong and punishments and force and all that messiness which is NOT rooted in love. When they are really out of balance, they preach love but become the very thing they hate the most, same as all other things that get into the judgment cycle and mindset. Some do better, but they are weak because they do not then replace their own lack of rules with the tools that can set a person free on a personal journey with Source. If you grow enough to know there has got to be a place like that, of sunshine and truth, you end up outside the building, feeling guilty and worried about poking into other ideas and philosophies you were told were bad, and drag a lot of baggage along. It is a tough place to be to seek God but feel like you can't connect, can't find Him anywhere. Not in a real, living way. In the end, many give up, or get bitter and accept "truth" as being there is no God at all, and if the way to Him is by submitting to some religious path you don't buy into then to hell with it then. If there is a God and He really loves you, what kind of haphazard system is this, where if you fail to recognize the right church or temple or book, you end up in hell forever and ever anyway? My question was how can I love Jesus, and God, so very much and yet be cursed, damned, on the highway to hell for these things I was born with - seeing things and dreams and visions? How is that even fair? My answer was to end the confusion and debate internally by deciding that God and Love was truth, and those who spoke contrary to it were the wrong voices to hear. I was driven inward by the disapproval and feeling so alone, and found out, that like anywhere else, God was there, too. He just was way closer and easier to touch and talk to and love. Still, it took me years before I realized that this was literal. If we have a drop of the Divine essence as our immortal spirit inside us, then it was really that close, not out there, it was right here, to grab and hold and get to know. I know, what the heck am I talking about? For me, through meditation, inwardly, I realized that we all have this drop of God, as it were inside, and we can ask to be shown what it is we don't understand about it. Creator is right there, inside us all, plenty close enough to love and be loved by and find out this union can ignite and change everything for us. Our journeys to discover this differ but the result of that moment of waking up to the simplicity that we ARE a drop of Creator, hence already "saved" and safe and always were in the eternal sense is the same. It is a flash of inexplicable bliss and influx of love, and life and freedom there are no words for. You ARE a child of God, and always were. What you do with it and how you react to this awakening is the real journey. That was just the beginning, the birth as it were. There is a lot of madness to comprehend out there in the world, most of it comes down to people doing things they should not. It is too easy to say "Well, if there is a God, why did this happen?" It happened because someone who was a child of God did something evil with his free will, like any brat or ignorant child can, with terrible repercussions. Given free will, we have the potential to destroy the world or make a paradise. We are going to range from serial killers to saints, with most of us falling in the average ranges. When so many here do not see how utterly beautiful they are, how overwhelmingly loved they are, how tremendous their own potential is … how can the world not be the way it is? Nobody does very well if they do not know, really know, how deeply loved they are. If you are like me, that need to be loved is a cavern nothing can fill, in truth, when you are dead honest with yourself and see into your own guts clearly. Try all you may, drugs, sex, money, thrills, it is the black hole of inner reality. The only thing that fulfills it is the awakening and simple acceptance, simple realization, that the love from Source can fill it. It is the only thing big enough because YOU are that big inside yourself. You are Source yourself, just a droplet perhaps, but Source yourself. Break the code on that and reality starts opening up. You can go as far as you want down that road. Given that, religions drop to what they really are good for. They are social constructs and can be fun, bonding, healing, and wonderful, in their right place for the individual. Within them, people can wake up, but, that is really not where they shine. This is what "Awakening" is. I see the term being thrown around a lot out there in the spiritual circles. Everyone is talking about "awakening" and "ascension" and "enlightenment". It is real, but it is relative. It begins with realizing you are already a drop of the Divine, you are loved, so start working on loving yourself back and realizing this is no way for a child of God to be feeling, or doing or believing about their own parent and life. You have to begin with yourself, learn to love yourself, learn to walk and talk and see your own value in God's eyes before you can more easily see the value and beauty in others and that there IS no need to be afraid. God is not going to toss you into hell someday. God doesn't hate you. But, given free will, you might for a while. There is so very much more to you than you know. If you have had enough of looking for answers out here, are serious, but find this hard to grasp, then get help. It is as simple as asking for it and then letting it reveal the truth to you. "Help me, show me, what the hell is he talking about? God if you are real, if you are there, show me, show me who I am and who you are, because I am kind of dying inside here." The answer comes in direct proportion to how sincere you are when you ask. We don't have the words for you, but your own soul, your own higher self, does and is always waiting for you to pick up the inner phone and call home. Nobody knows you better, or loves you more. No one else has to know you made the call, either. Phone home and don't ever hang up. That is the ticket. No rules or religion about it. Use it any time. Please, don't take my word for it. I write to serve.
    5 points
  16. Each person God’s only Child (I forget sometimes) Quote: You are afraid of distractions, of daydreams, and of foolish thoughts; these do not offend Me because they are no more than flies buzzing in the background. I am absorbed by your presence before Me. Does it shock you that I should say such a thing? But I am absorbed by you: My eyes rest upon you; My Heart is all yours; I am listening intently to you; and all My attention is focused on you when you come seeking Me. Believe that I am totally absorbed by you, and soon you will be totally absorbed by Me. I speak here using human terms, using the language of friendship, of affection, of love. I am present here in all the sensitivity and tenderness of My humanity. I am here offering you My friendship, ready to spend as much time with you as you are ready to spend with Me..---Unquote A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 4565-4571). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition. The other morning, I was in a place of rootlessness. Floating, restless, unsettled, seeking some way to find a place to rest…..yet I fought prayer. It is strange how I will often do that, as if praying is something so hard, that I can’t spend energy being in communion with God. So I drifted, tried to read, could not, walked, but my restlessness was unabated. I find this state painful, even if I understand I often prolonged it by my wanderings, by my lack of discipline. I could feel the call to prayer, but fought it, almost against my will. So finally after a couple of hours of this (the noonday devil, experienced in the morning), I went into the church, which was empty at that time, and sat down, and just put myself in God’s presence and waited. At first, my mind was numb, without thought, then the distractions came, and I was thinking about this, then about that, and tried to bring my mind back to the present. Finally, I pulled out my Rosary, which I was also fighting praying it. It is as if, a part of me does not want to be settled, rooted in Christ Jesus, so I was in a tug of war, well sort of. Perhaps I was just in a mood. I do know, that the longer I seek the Lord, the more I am aware of areas of my life that still fight being seen by God’s loving gaze. Often not sure what is fighting, but it is part of my own inner life. The Rosary is a good form of prayer for those who need something tactile to hold on to. It helps to dispel energy in a way that is calming, and not leading to more agitation. So I slowly prayed the Fatima Prayer, the Glory Be, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary’s. Soon my body started to relax, and my mind became focused, and I was beginning to find some inner calm, and peace. So once again, I learned that when attacked by the noon-day devil, no matter what time of the day, it is best to simply pray the best way one can. For me it is the use of the Rosary. Some days, I stay distracted when saying the Rosary, so I focus only on the words. Other days I sink into the divine presence, on others, I find I need to ponder some aspect of Scripture. Good days, bad days, there all the same, and we all have our share. I do not believe one moment is holier than another, or one place more sacred than others, but emotionally I am not there. Perhaps by the time I am 80, this will truly sink in. Until then, I will continue to seek to ‘settle in’ more quickly, to spare myself the endless desert that I can put myself in. Running away from the very thing I seek……yet in all things God grace triumphs. Tendencies to self-destruction One day a woman here on retreat came up to me, she looked at me with an intense gaze before she spoke, and asked me this question, “Do you think you are a good person”? I was taken back by it, so I thought for a while and responded, “No, I am not”. She was surprised at my response and asked me why I thought that. “Well, I said, each day I have to struggle in some way to do the right thing, I have to fight tendencies to be uncaring about others, unconcerned about their problems, that I do not want to be bothered”. “So in order to live out my faith, and what my conscience leads me to understand, it is a struggle to make the right choices, some days easier than others, yet even on a good day, I have to choose. To be blunt I often fail”. “So I begin again, trusting in God’s mercy, and in that over the years, I have learned to understand others through my own failures, and need for understanding, and mercy”. –Br.MD
    5 points
  17. The weight can be heavy, for some too heavy As I was driving one fine Georgia day, the sun was out, a bit chilly, yes, a wonderful day. Coming from the airport, I approached my exit on I-75, a place where I would give money to whoever was there. Most of the time there is no one, but I always get something ready if there is, something I do because to pass someone in need throughout the many stop signs in the city would harm me I believe, shutting my hear further which is already so guarded. So I made a little prayer as I was turning into the off-ramp, “Lord, will you be there this fine day, hiding within one of your children, often one who is overlooked, or looked down upon?” As I was moving towards the stop sign, I saw something I never saw before in that place, so far from the city. A man was there in a wheelchair, around 60 I would think, he had no legs, both cut off at the knee, he was just sitting there, waiting, hoping. I was next to him and stopped for the light, rolled down my window and gave him a little extra, he cried when he saw what I gave him (which was not much just a little more than usual) I was sort of shocked to see him there, and I asked him if he had a place to live, he said yes…..I believed him. I only had a short time and the light changed, and I left, but he still remains with me. We all carry more than we think, no event is forgotten, no human being met can be unconnected with. The weight can be heavy, for some too heavy, to see so much suffering everywhere and not feel its pull, nor the helpless emotions that come with that, then some anger that can go nowhere, so all that can be done is perhaps one act of kindness, or for some, they come into our lives and we know that we must help them for the long haul. Lord, help me not to be afraid of the pain that flows up, nor the understanding that sometimes I am powerless to save, or change anyone, yet I can do what I can, and not label, nor pity, nor kill, my own humanity to escape such a dilemma.—Br.MD
    5 points
  18. Speak your mind gently We are a mystery to one another, which is as it should be since we are mysteries to ourselves as well. When someone tries to convince me of something I do not agree with, it can cause me to take a stance that comes across as more extreme than it really is. Politics is a good case in point. I stay away from that hot topic since it can only lead to more dissension, which we have more than enough of. Speak your mind gently, from your conscience, and don't worry about how it affects others. We all plant seeds in each other's hearts, for good or bad, which can take root later, much later. The issues today are so diverse, and so many, and so impossible, that all we can do is to do the best we can, I believe that when Christ became man, his greatest suffering was that he saw 'true'. I do not believe that I see true at all but through a fog of subjectivity that can blind me and make me deaf to others. We all want to be seen, heard, and accepted. Yet it can be hard to extend that to others. I find that it takes a lot of energy to let go of my own ideas for even a few minutes to listen to the perspective of another. Often people when taken seriously respond by toning down their own arguments and listening as well. When we feel that we are heard many defenses often come down and actual communications can happen. An agreement may not be reached, but violence can be diffused. It is not easy for me to stay connected to the reality that Christ lives in me, and works through me. It is only by daily prayer that this reality can become more real, and grow.-Br.MD
    4 points
  19. In the past year I have ventured out and took a step in the direction of creative writing. Not everyone's cup of tea but oh well, it is uniquely me.
    4 points
  20. Growing Sense of Vulnerability No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2 (NLT) As I get older, I am finding that the aging process has many aspects that can be disconcerting if I lose focus. When I forget that I am a pilgrim, on a journey, and on that journey, there will be impasses that I have to traverse, is when I find myself feeling lost and bewildered, and yes frightened. An impasse can be formidable and seem impossible to get through, yet there is always a way around, over, or beneath. Or if that does not work, to simply wait. If I stay true to what my faith tells me the journey is about, there will be movement, mostly from my deep interior. Learning to accept, and even embrace physical diminishment, while difficult, can be adapted too. The so-called new-normal is a reality to those who are moving towards the experience of being ‘old’. It is the changes in the inner life that can be daunting if my perspective is off, or contrary to what my faith tells me this part of my journey is about. I do know that death has a lot to do with it, my physical death, yet there are other deaths deeper in that I feel are more arduous and frightening. Yet, must be faced. If not, I feel that I will become rigid, controlling, and overwhelmed by anger and frustration. I am not always sure what, or who I am. Or what am I becoming? Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel, or at the end of this life? I do understand agnosticism since we do live in a world where our most important questions are not answered by philosophy, science, or even religion. Though in religion, the living out of its precepts, seeking deeper understanding is the actual key. Religion, and science, and yes philosophy, become a problem when they become closed, ideological in the sense where they are closed off from reality. Progression in the spiritual life deepens our trust in God, for it is in trust that our faith becomes alive. Without trust, faith becomes placating, self-absorbed, and can easily move into self-righteousness. For in order to keep up a certain façade, a great deal of repression has to be brought into play. From my experience, repression becomes harder as I age. Not that I still do not repress, but the wall between the conscious and unconscious mind weakens. So the older I get, the more I see that the persona that I have spent years building is starting to crumble at ever faster rates. I am not in control, nor am I fearless, not in actuality really that loving or caring. I tend to be slothful, hard headed, arrogant, and vulnerable to what others think of me. It is just there, part of my humanity, seeds planted when very young showing themselves to me at this stage of my life in ever deeper shades of gray and black. How do I deal with it? I am happy this is happening, though not happy in the ordinary way that word is used. The other day I was praying and told the Lord that if he was not the sure Rock that I stand from, I would just become a whirlwind of fears, anxieties, and desires. Yet Lord, if I stand with you, if you are my Rock, the whirlwind, nor the waves, will uproot me. I may fail, the roots through grace remain. I do believe that this is the normal path for humans. If not taken, I would remain frozen in time, becoming a rigid, angry, anxious 25-year-old, buried under the bravado. The ego must fragment, fall apart, and it is faith, the look towards the Lord that keeps the underlying ‘mind’ calm and reflective in the midst of chaos. As Jesus said: “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust”.—Br.MD
    4 points
  21. One of the rare areas of political bipartisan agreement in the US Senate, is that Russia is engaged in an ongoing campaign of sustained information warfare against us. And in any information war, the question always boils down to this: Who can you trust? The answer is really simple: Left or Right -- anyone pushing you in the direction of violence against your fellow Americans is batting for Russia, knowingly or otherwise. Because sparking an American civil war has been Russia's end game, for a very long time.
    4 points
  22. I just found a snake in my basement. I’d gone downstairs to the basement to turn off the ceiling fan, when I heard a rattling sound coming from my water heater. The water heater is under the stairs, in a small area without much light, so I got up close to the heater and peered into the darkness to see if one of the pipes coming out of the top had sprung a leak. It was too dark to see much, so I got a flashlight from the kitchen upstairs, and went back down to the basement. I turned on the flashlight and....there was a four-foot snake coiled up on top of the water heater, just a few inches from where my face had been a few moments before. Well, that was a surprise. Living in the country in an old farmhouse I get mice in my house regularly, and lots of crickets, but this was my first time hosting a four-foot snake. I recognized it as a Fox Snake, which normally aren’t aggressive, but he got a bit angry when I bonked him on the head with a wooden dowel and he fell off the heater and onto the floor. Now this got me worried, because I was afraid he’d slither off and hide somewhere and I’d wake up some night with a snake coiled up on my chest. (I’ve heard of that happening to backpackers who like to sleep outside under the stars.) Fortunately, he just slithered under the water heater, and I was able to prod him with the wooden dowel until he moved out into the open. But boy, was he angry! He was hissing VERY loudly, and raising his head and striking at the dowel, and just being uncooperative. I went outdoors to the shed and got a shovel, thinking my only choice was to chop the little fellow in half, but then I picked up a rake also, and I brought them both downstairs to the basement. As I looked at that poor snake, my heart melted. The nights are getting colder here in Iowa, and I realized he was just looking for a warm place to spend the night. I leaned the shovel up against the washing machine, picked up the rake, and maneuvered it around the snake until he was wrapped around the tines. We were good to go. I very carefully walked him up the stairs, turning the rake around and around to keep him entwined in the tines as he continued hissing and striking out. I walked him outside, down the driveway, and across the gravel road to the ditch on the other side where he untangled himself and slithered away. So I’m feeling pretty good about myself now. The whole situation could have ended badly in so many ways, but I kept my cool and both me and the snake can sleep in peace tonight. Unless, of course, he decides to come back.
    4 points
  23. What is life all about? (Community remembrance for Br. Alan) “Think of Me in My human life more often, for in this way you will draw the power to imitate Me. You must take all the means: look at Me, call Me, love Me.” December 11—Holy Hour. Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 3083-3085). Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition. ++++++++++ When a community member dies, after a few days, the community will gather to talk about the departed brother, and to share experiences that each had with him. What is a human life? Who are we, and what? St. Paul says that we do not at this time know that answer, but it has a lot to do with our rootedness in Christ Jesus. Last night we gathered to discuss Br. Alan. These are important events, and in the past, I would skip some of them because of my closeness to the monk who died. It was a cop-out I know since I have trouble showing deep emotion in front of a group, even my community. Though, as time goes on this is lessening. As each monk shared their experiences with Br. Alan, he became more real after each revelation. For myself, I am very happy that I was able to be one of his caregivers. I learned a lot about him, and also experienced his sense of humor, his deep faith, as well as his crankiness, that often comes with old age. I see this in myself. I can be quite cranky at times if I do lose touch with myself. I had an interesting experience this week that showed me what it will be like when I die. For almost 50 years I had the same room, same bed, same bookcases, and a big desk for the last 30 years. As well as the same carpet. It was a good place for me to go and pray, read, or just relax with a book of light reading. For the last 7 years, I also have a room in the retreat-house that is set aside for the guest-master. So my ‘real’ room has not been used all that much. Yet it was my room. I have found that if a room is not really used, it in some way dies, becomes a stranger of sorts, and the process of the growth of chaos seems to speed up. Even though I would keep my room neat, it still became chaotic, at least to me. The rooms in my wing are being redone. We are doing away with carpet, and putting in floors that look like wood but are of substance that is quiet, not tile, and easy to take care of, and yes, much easier to keep clean. So I cleaned out my room, divested myself of many years of ‘stuff’, and now have a new space that I have vowed to keep simple. It is books that I have to worry about. Once I get a book, I hate to let go of them, but now I will simply not keep a book after I read it, unless it is something that I know that I will reread. I have a small collection of books like that, and I find that a good aspect of getting old. I no longer have to read a great deal, but simply go over older reads and get much out of each re-acquaintance. I still read new books of course, but the number has lessened. So now when I pass by the room, while it is unoccupied for the time being, when I look into it, all new, all furniture removed, no carpet, there is no trace left of me, it is as if I was never there. I find the experience chilling, comforting, and challenging at the same time. So with Br. Alan. He is gone, it is almost as if he was never here, but not quite. For we will remember him every year on the day of his death, at our community Mass, and the Divine Office. I have a picture of him on my prayer altar, as well as pictures, and memories of many others. Since we pray for the dead,, and believe that they are still part of our lives, it also brings them to mind. On All Souls Day, we pray for them as well. So our dead, in monasteries, are not forgotten. We also do not forget our family, friends, benefactors, and those buried in our 'green cemetery'. Well, we actually pray for everyone who has died. Br. Alan, like all people was a complex, intelligent man, with a deep inner life and a deeper unconscious. We are all mysteries to one another, and not least at times, to ourselves. Yet in being with him, talking with him, has allowed me a little into that deep mystery that was the Alan that we all knew in our own ways. Those who pray for the dead, do not stop, it becomes a natural part of life. We are connected in ways that we do not understand. The world is vast, the spiritual is vaster. I believe that Jesus shows the reason for our lives. We learn that by looking at his life, and pondering how he related and spoke to others and treated them. He shows us the value of every human being. We are called to love, to show mercy, and when we die, what we take with us is love, and we will be judged on love. Sounds soupy to you, well try living it out, you will find out that it will from time to time cause you to sweat blood, at least on the inside.—Br.MD PS: Br. Alan is the 6th monk in the front row from your right as you look at the picture of the community
    4 points
  24. Today I started to feel like a retired person, though I’m technically not retired until August 31st. No sense waitin’ til it’s official! I was up at 6:00 AM, ran downstairs (I’m not sure if it was my bones creaking or the stairs), started the coffeemaker, tossed some birdseed on the ground outside, then sat down in my bentwood rocking chair and waited by an open window for the critters to show up for breakfast. I shot a squirrel (with my camera) and that’s about it. The other critters didn’t cooperate. Three mugs of coffee later, I packed some water and PowerAde, a Snickers bar, and my camera in my ‘small-adventures’ backpack, and drove to Shelby, Iowa for lunch at the Cornstalk Cafe and a hike on the Old Stone Arch Trail. The modern day gravel-and-asphalt trail replaced the steel rails of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad line that crossed between farm fields, underneath forests of overhanging trees, and through the small town of Shelby. I tried to imagine what it would’ve been like to be a train engineer back then, nearly 140 years ago, sweeping across the Iowa prairie in a steam locomotive. I think I would’ve applied for that job if I were alive back then. I had my good camera with me, and I learned something new: it’s really, really hard to photograph butterflies on wildflowers when the wind is blowing. You basically set the focus and fire away, hoping to get one or two good shots. It was kind of fun though, like playing an arcade game. The hike, out-and-back, was 7.62 miles (12.26 km.). I was ready for that PowerAde by the time I got back to my pickup. I think I’m going to like being retired.
    4 points
  25. I hate this situation, yet have to live through it I read today that they expect the cases for convid19 to continue to rise, going from 1500 new cases a day, to 3000. Each of us has to deal with this the best way we can. A highschool classmate reminded me of what generations in the past had to go through, which were in 'fact' much worse than what we are all going through at this time. However, I am sure many will not agree with that because of the effect it is having on their everyday lives. It does not downplay what is happening now, nor the suffering that people the world over are going through. I do think that we are receiving way too much information, some of it contradictory. I do not know what to believe, so I am starting to limit what I read and to go to the news that I feel that I can trust. Faith can be a deep comfort, and perhaps give meaning to all that we are experiencing. Yet we still have to deal with the stress build-up that can have a detrimental effect on us. I do know that in order to be able to choose a healthy response we have to find a way to stop, breathe, and think more on a long term basis, than short term. This can help to deal with the short term in a more logical, rational manner. Prayer can help with that, because in order to pray we really have to focus, center ourselves, and in that our emotions can be brought more in check. I hate this situation, yet it must be embraced as well. It has to be lived through, we all know that, but to keep on track day after day for a length of time we do not know, can be fatiguing I know that this is just me, not saying anything important or new, we all know what we need to do.--Br.MD
    4 points
  26. Doctors, Nurses, EMT’s, C N A’s, Firemen, and Policemen and Woman let us not forget them It was after compline, and I was preparing to go to bed when I got an important phone call from a very dear friend of mine. Dr. Glen Johnson is a Cardiologist and lives in New Orleans. I met him in the year 2000 when he helped me out when I really needed some medical attention. He knew it even before I did. I stayed at his place for a week after the procedure I needed, and during that time I learned a lot about him. Not so much what he told me, but I did observe. For instance, he was on call 24 hours a day. Even on his days off, he would be awoken two or three times a night to deal with some sort of emergency or another. He is a leader, and a type ‘A’ personality, which I believe is necessary for his line of work. He gave his all for his patients. He once told me that he looks out for his quiet patients, the outspoken ones get what they need, but the quiet ones can be overlooked. He even pays cab fare for the elderly, so they can come and see him. He told me at one point that “He was born to be a Doctor”, well I believe it. Last night he called to see how we are doing. He made sure I understood how serious this situation was and ask if we were following proper procedures to keep the virus out of the Monastery. He worries because we are elderly for the most part. He worries about everyone. He has many friends. I have met some of them, and let me tell you, he has some wonderful people that he surrounds himself with. To say that I am honored that he considers me and the monks in the Monastery as his friends is very humbling for me. He let me know what is going on his New Orleans and how much pressure the health care professionals are under. I cannot even begin to imagine the deep suffering these people go through every day, seeing those that they are fighting to save, die. He is a man of faith, and many are who are in the health care profession, and many have shared with me stories of how God has entered into their practice, and some of the stories are astounding. Dr. Michael Manning is the doctor for the Monastery. He comes out once a month, and a kinder, gentler man you would ever have the honor of meeting. Family doctors get to know their patients, and I have no doubt love them deeply and suffer, with them, and when they lose a patient they are saddened. I have known C N A’s who believe that their calling is from God. They love their patients as well and often have to do back-breaking labor to take care of them. They are underpaid, and overworked, especially in nursing homes, yet they persist. From my experience, the majority of C N A’s are like that. I can’t say enough about nurses, they are truly loving, compassionate human beings. Nurse Rose has been with us for 14 years now, and she has been a healing/loving presence in our community. We also have two nurses (Sue and Susan) who work for us at this time, because Rose is having some medical issues. They are just a dedicated as Rose is. EMT’s, firemen, and the police also have my respect. They give themselves fully to their jobs, and from what I have seen from them, they see their jobs as a special calling. In this time of crisis, let us not forget these fine men and women who put themselves in danger to serve the rest of us. Jesus said that the greatest among us are those who serve, try to understand that when you meet one of these special people. True, some burn out, they need our compassion and support.—Br-MD
    4 points
  27. Alleluia by Leonard Cohen a powerful prayer The song alleluia by Leonard Cohen is very touching. Today, someone pointed out a video on you-tube for me to see, of a young man singing this song from the balcony of his apartment. He was singing to uplift the spirits of his neighbors. I was deeply touched by the act of kindness, but also the power of the song. Probably for the first time in my life, when seeing something on the internet, or reading about it in the newspapers, I am finding myself not as a spectator, but as one united to all of the world because we are in this together. It is not happening to others, but to us, to me. To me this song is a true and powerful prayer, and it caused tears to flow. At the kindness of the young man, but also for all those who cheered him, and I believe he brought some peace to many. My soul seems fearful, and at the same time enclosed in God's embrace, as if calm is being imparted to me. I pray that all have this calm, which is a true grace of God. It is true, life turns on a dime. This turning has happened to 9,000 men and women in Italy, who just a month ago were alive, healthy and enjoying life. However, God's love, and our trust in Him will never fail.......God is always yes.--Br.MD
    4 points
  28. The sea, Ayn Rand, hotdogs, and a job in 1976 (This is an older piece written in July of 06). I remember visiting some of the family in Texas, it was in 1976 and I guess I spent about 4 months there. I was 26, questioning on which direction that I wanted my life to go in. I was not in any kind of crisis, but just realized that I needed to think about some things, and to try to figure out why I made certain choices, and come to some kind of decision if I wanted to continue in the direction I was going. Since I was only going to be there a short time, I got a job on a construction site as a laborer; you know cleaning up things, stacking discarded building materials etc……really interesting things like that; I so loved my job! I had to laugh at one of my co-workers. He spent most days hiding, being bored. I decided better to just do the work, get it done, and time moved faster. I did try one day to slack off, and it was one of the longest days of my life, and actually found out it is harder work, doing nothing. I was able to meet some interesting people during this brief period of time. I remember meeting one carpenter, who was a follower of Ayn Rand, an objectivist philosopher, who still has quite a following. Being in my 20’s I read most of her stuff, liked some of it, learned quite a lot from her on the importance of rational thought, but also learned of its limitations if taken to extremes, which I felt she had. Well I had a lot of interesting conversations with this man, who was very intelligent and insightful in many ways. He was intrigued that I was a reader of Ayn, yet also a Christian, since most of her admirers seem to be atheist. Well I let him know that I thought she was a little too left brain for me, even if I did like quite a bit of what she had to say…… but he seemed to accept me anyway. The carpenter was a great lover of her novels, I was not, I liked her other works better, for instance “The Virtue of Selfishness” is probably my favorite, though her handling of belief in God, which was written by Nathaniel Brandon, was very hard to read, since it seemed very childish it how it portrayed believers. Her novels were really nothing but philosophical tracts on her world view. Novels are great, a whole universe can be created by the author, be it a godless one, or one like the left behind series, easy to do, even if it has nothing really to do with reality. We went back and forth on the place the novel has in forming people beliefs, and how harmful, or helpful, they can be for those who read them. For instance the carpenter believed that our culture was dying, that the irrational collectivist mind set was taking over, and in few years we would be savages fighting each other in the streets, because we were not becoming the objectivist ideal that Ayn Rand seemed to be writing about. Just like in “Atlas Shrugged”. I thought this funny, and related to him that he sounded like one of those people who carry signs around that has “the end is near” written on them. He did give me a time line, he thought by the mid 90’s everything would fall apart; I wonder if he was disappointed when it did not happen; he probably was. We all hate to be wrong. During that time, on my days off I would often go to the beach and walk. During the winter it is really nice, very few people around, and I would walk for miles I guess along the beach, enjoying the cold air coming in from the ocean, relishing in the sound of the ocean, not really thinking about any thing. The ocean does that, sort of quiets the mind letting it rest, a very refreshing experience, one of the reasons I guess that I love the ocean so much. Time seem to disappear when I would walk by myself, hours seemed to condense into minutes, and when I got back, I was always amazed that so much time had passed without me noticing it. It was almost like I became something else when participating in this kind of endeavor. Either my mind shut down or expanded, don’t know, but I did enjoy it. Perhaps it is the same experience that happens when reading a book or watching a long movie; just being focused in the moment, changes our experience of time. Funny, no matter how much I love the ocean, I hate swimming in it. I suppose the reason being that I love to swim under water so much. Something difficult to do in salt water; also can’t open your eyes without goggles, salt water too painful….. And is there anyone in the whole world who likes swallowing it? I think it can be compared with the unique experience taking a heaping dose of Castro oil. One of my favorite childhood memories; lining up, holding my nose, and quickly taking my medicine, just because of having a few harmless worms in my system, or at least that is what my mom thought. So I am an observer of the ocean, one who loves it from afar, not wanting to just jump in. It takes an inland lake to draw that out of me. I just love it underwater, the silent floating and sinking, and then the rush to the surface is a true delight for me. I love to go to the bottom, crouch down, wait, and then push up with all my might and explode from the depths…….almost like a birth, gasping for the life giving air. Perhaps it is a birth memory, my love of being under water, and just floating, a cellular memory of some kind. I have done some reading on “Holotropic breath work” which seems to point to that possibility. I like living near the ocean, the air is so invigorating, and something I miss living in a land locked area, with only small ponds to walk by. No pounding waves or the wonderful smell of salt air, which I can never seem to get enough of, when near the ocean. It is like my soul is thirsty for the experience of just being there, doing nothing at all, nothing needing to be done. One day I am going to rent a motel room right on the beach and spend a week of doing nothing but walk the water line, drink wine, eat hot-dogs, read, and watch movies. Now that is a thought. I really like the eating of hot-dogs part, probably one of my favorite foods accompanied by a side order of mashed potatoes. Picture by Robert Dohle---Freeport ,Texas
    4 points
  29. How I understand New Year's I have always wondered about all the fuss about New Year's Eve. As I age I am beginning to understand a little bit more. At rock-bottom, it is about the desire to let go of the past, find healing, and begin again. It is about mercy, compassion, though I believe that this hope is often unconscious, Yet, we can be driven by the past, making the same mistakes, until we learn to embrace mercy, from God, from others, and in the end, to have mercy on ourselves as well. Which is a form of self-love that is the most healthy and life-affirming......it is also called conversion, an ongoing life long process Blessed and Happy New Year--Br.MD
    4 points
  30. At the most basic level, the definition of Shadow Work as Jung presents it, is the process by which we dig down into our self to find and identify the root components of the parts of our experience which we reject, repress or deny. The purpose of this is to know who we really are and to release and free ourselves from that which holds us in negative patterns, beliefs or states we wish to change. Many do this through counselling with psychotherapists and psychologists for the most part these days. These professionals use many of the methods and ideologies that Jung taught. They employ traditional locations and usually group talk therapy sessions, and sometimes one on one sessions. A few people resort to spiritual counsellors who vary widely and are not standardized. Some who have a shamanistic background genuinely may use forms of Jung's writings, but they do not always know anything about Jung or use the same language. They use the methods by which they healed themselves of their own trauma, as I explained earlier in the series. I have known a rare few tarot readers who use a bit of it to help people, more spiritual readers who do, and some good priests or pastors of traditional religions who employ some of the concepts, though they think of it more as searching the conscience for sins and confessing than the way Jung saw it. It is rare to find, though. Barring people who are in a state of psychosis or who have mental health issues, most people can do this for themselves. It does require learning how to discipline your mind enough to quiet it and settle down enough to look inward. It requires introspection. You need to settle into meditation and allow things to arise in your mind's eye and let them go until one arises which you may want to run down to find out the why of it. Why does that hurt? Why does it seem to keep happening to me? To do this for yourself requires you be utterly honest about it. "People just do not understand me" is not the answer you are looking for. The answer is more likely to be "I have a difficulty communicating what I mean to say, a lot of the time". We actually are the captain of our own ship. This is true despite the fact we too often let others take the wheel, then blame them for the trip. The biggest key for me was meditating, accepting some hurtful things as possibly quite true about myself until I went deeper and found some of the source points in my early years for some of these feelings or ideas. It is a failure to reach that level and see that a lot of the trash we carry around is from our childhood, things said by our parents, our siblings, our friends at school and blame them for the effects throughout our lives. By the end of my process, I was sobered by how easily we can harm others through things we do not take seriously at all with our mouths or the things we communicate as jokes or in discussions. Most of my damage was caused by people who no way had any idea they were hurting me that badly. I wondered how many I had hurt. It was humbling to me and I found forgiving these people and hoping for the same to come easily. We have a lot of faults, all of us. The ones who were the real problem were the ones who had no care for me at all, and the abuse was for their own gratification. Hard to say if it was willful, as that sort of person has zero empathy for others, or is such a gaping pit of self-indulgent need they see the rest of us as somehow owing them to fill that hole they run around with. I took a while to learn how to forgive this sort, especially those in my life who persist in the bad behavior. I forgave to free myself from further manipulation and to release the accumulated past hurt of it. If I feel a pang now, I deal with it right then and do not allow it to sink into the shadowy places. This is their own karma, their own doing, their own issue. I do not want it to be mine in any way. To forgive does not mean you condone it in any way. It means you have grown enough to know it is bad behavior and you do not deserve it, and you reject it for you. It is your ship, this life you live, and the more you can learn to rid it of the rats in your mind and heart, and refuse to allow others to affect your course in ways you do not agree with, the better you will do in life. Learning through your shadows where you are weak, where you are strong, and why opens the door to realizing you are a pretty tough cookie, a pretty decent being, with potential and faults, but also pretty great details you have learned as a result of the very things that have hurt you. Maybe the biggest person needing you to forgive is your self, for those fails and fears and flaws. Most of them you come by honestly. You have to judge yourself by what you knew then, when it happened, and learn how terribly human you are, and it is ok. This world is chock full of others who are as faulted and terribly human, too. We are all on the same lake for now, in our little boats, trying to sort out how to sail and not sink. Journaling works better for some, to start sorting things out and finding out what is inside them. I have used this when an issue is really charged with emotion or self pity for me. Writing it out honestly helps me to get it more into third person and see it for what it is - sometimes valid, a lot of the time a pity party needing me to smack myself upside the head and get over myself. I have been asked if it is possible to do the work well enough as to become totally clear inside our self, free of all shadows. Some claim to be in this state. It is theoretically possible. I am not sure if one who is actively living on the streets dealing with humanity could stay that way without diligent self maintenance, but, maybe it is possible. I am a street "priest" and I aim to be as clear as I can be and keep an eye on it and press onward. It has taken me years and I still gain insights into my self. I find it interesting, a good tool in life, but not something I obsess about. I am a lot clearer than I was. I very rarely am surprised by sudden emotions stemming from down there. I know myself well, good and bad. I like me well enough. I love myself in the higher sense. That is the goal at the most simplistic level. It is outside the scope of my blog to try to teach methods for meditation, or to do intensive counselling for people. Google "shadow work", educate yourself, avoid gurus in it, learn more about this excellent tool for taking more control over your mind and emotions and getting to know what makes YOU tick. It can be as valuable as the effort you put into it for you. That is about it I write to serve.
    4 points
  31. Black dog By the door, it sat, this big black dog, it then walked away when I approached, not running, just walking fast, as if it did not know to run or trust, it simply declined my presence. I saw it the next morning in the grey dawn, shivering it watched me again as I walked by, ready to dart away, yet wanting to come, it must remember the caress of its master, who abandoned him. Then a week went by, a man came and said that a dog, skinny, black, and weak was by our lake, he went for food or so he said at a nearby Publix store; again he would not approach the man. I saw the dry dog food by the door the next morning, some used, hopefully for the dog, not sure where he is now, so sad, to be let go of in the wild, to lose trust and seeking safety in isolation. I wonder when we will learn to see that those we care for are our responsibility, to not treat them with sadistic unconcern, but to treasure their gift to us, their love and trust often disregarded.--Br.MD
    4 points
  32. The Reality of His Presence “For you I must be everything. Everything! You understand? Your life is mine…Move out of yourself; I’m living in you. Do you grasp what I mean? I take up all the room.” (From the book “He and I”) Author: Gabrielle Bossis Pauline Press 6 Feb 41 (From the book “He and I”) Author: Gabrielle Bossis Pauline Press 6 Feb 41 God accommodates us when He speaks. Using language that we can understand, when speaking of the incomprehensible, the ineffable, so that we may at least to begin to comprehend the depth of the love that the Eternal has for each one of us. For instance, when He speaks to us ‘becoming’ little children, He is actually inviting us to embrace what is real….that being, our total dependence on God for our very existence. Just as little children are dependent on their parents. Though it goes much deeper, for the more childlike we become, as opposed to becoming more self-centered the way a child can be when acting childish, the deeper we move into the true humanity that Christ Jesus is calling us all to. Paradox is always at work with it comes to our growth into living out our true image and likeness. So when Christ Jesus is speaking to Gabrielle, He is really telling her what the truth of the matter is. God, even if we do not believe, or, are indifferent to His existence, He really is, ‘our everything’. For in Him we ‘Live and move and have our being”. Like it or not we are in a relationship with Him, by our very existence. To deny that, freely, can only lead to an existence that is rootless, for everything we touch disappears and dies. All those we love also die, but to be in Christ Jesus, or to simply seek God, connects us to a life and love that is eternal. In the end, we lose nothing but gain the hundredfold. To seek is to be open to the truth. To stop seeking is to close ourselves off from further revelation of God’s love and existence. If God exists, then to not take that seriously is to live a life that is based on a lie. Emptiness cannot fill itself. Our souls can only find rest in the infinite, the eternal, to not do so, is to starve and to become simple mist, which disappears when the light of truth comes in the morning.—Br.MD
    4 points
  33. What we all seek What remains after we die? Our money goes first, perhaps fought over by our loving family, or fame if we have it is soon gone, and if not what does it matter(?), a picture in a book or in many books means little when dead. Perhaps it is the seeds planted in loving service, giving life to others producing much fruit, is what remains. For love is what we all seek like plants rising up to the sun seeking light and warmth.--Br.MD
    4 points
  34. The challenge that fear presents Fear is a gift, like all emotions and feelings, If we listen to what is being presented to us it can lead to greater freedom, and healing. To fear what can hurt or kill us is of course wise, yet irrational fear, mistaken as real, can lead to an inner prison. Harmful cycles in our lives have a life of their own, always ending in the same situation of pain, fear, and depression. They wrap us in inner chains and drag us.down. If we do not face our fears and develop inner strength, then our weakness will take over; we will respond with implosion or explosion. It becomes part of the ongoing destructive situation. No one has the right to abuse us, nor do we have the right to abuse others. Abuse has its roots in our past, and until we understand what is happening, the inner chains only become stronger. It takes great courage to seek help from others. Be it friends, professionals, or ever at times law enforcement. Some fears can only be dealt with by the one bound by them. A hard proposition, but until we understand that we need not be victims, and no one has the right to mistreat us, we will stay in bondage. Our faith, deeply understood, leading to a trusting openness to God can be a big healing factor in our lives. Deepen faith, pray, and ask for the strength to be what we are called to be, free Children of God. It is not easy, all we need do is take the first step in trust, then the next. Do what is needed, seek outside help, and keep fear in check.--Br.MD
    4 points
  35. G'day, I am not quite sure where or how to start but I want to use this to tell a bit of a story. A story of my travels away from UM for the last 10ish years. I became a member here in 2003. It was my place to connect with others who have similar interests. I met so many great people on this forum and UM became a large part of my life. During that time I had some big things happen for me that damaged me emotionally and mentally. I needed to heal myself and become stronger and so it was that I began a journey not only to understand what I was feeling but to discover who I am. I was always the Son and Brother and Friend who did what others wanted, who felt the way others wanted me to feel and give parts of myself away until finally there was nothing left to give. I had no support from friends or family and so it was a huge step for me to try and make that change. As young men we are told that any kind of emotional or mental discovery is week. Hell we are even punished for it. This is always in your mind. No displays of affection are tolerated and you have to harden up! I have hardened up but not in this way. I have become stronger in myself and my ability to survive, to not have to hide my feelings and to take responsibility for my role in events. One of the hardest thing for me was finding my voice. Just being able to stand up and say " Hey...Listen to me". Once I did though I began to attract thing to me that I needed. I was able to open up more with people and all of them helped me on my path in their own ways. Anyhoo, I will add more as time goes and I would like to thank you for stopping by.
    4 points
  36. In the eyes of God, only love will give value to what you do “You know you must give great importance to the very little things of every passing moment because in My eyes, the eyes of God, only love will give value to what you do. I tell you this often because I don’t want you to lose anything. You can be so rich at so little expense and you can enrich others too. So take notice of every little thing. Give everything to love; and aim at perfection in all your work in order to please Me more and to make up for past flaws. Do you realize that a single one of such moments can make amends for an entire life? Whatever you do, do it well, looking at Me and asking Me for My glory. And God will bless you. “Lord, help me. Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 1365-1370). Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition. +++++++++ I have never arrived at the place where I am aware of the present moment on a continual basis. I often forget God altogether, and it is then that I begin to feel my fatigue more intensely. The inner world has a strong pull on me, especially what is closest to the surface. Yet these are also fed by what has happened from the past, perhaps many times over. So my anxiety, or anger, or sloth, come from a deep place. An area that I am often unaware of, or perhaps always not cognizant of its power over me. However, it is not all grim. Perhaps one of the gifts of aging is that I am now slowly becoming aware of the little things, and seeing how beautiful they are; as well as their giftedness. I suppose taking what is around me for granted is a great loss, especially when these ‘little things’ can bring me into the presence of God in a way that is simple, grounding, and often brings out great joy. It is hard for me to grasp that I am a creature that is made of love, for love, and until I find ‘that love’ I will slowly go mad. Constant agitation, seeking escape from the inner emptiness that is often experienced as such, but is, in reality, a way of numbing the simple pain that existence does bring. Perhaps this is a great gift of God, allowing us to numb ourselves until we are ready to deal with it. Even it is only on our death bed. Drug addiction and all addictions even the so-called small ones are an attempt to deal with this inner existential pain. It always fails, at least for me, it does. Yes, I am ‘mad’ without the grounding of prayer, and my soul being fed by God’s grace. Lately, I received a very negative note from a ‘classmate’ who I like, though did not know him in High School. He was quiet and did not garner much notice, yet I did remember him, so he must have made an impression. As I was reading the note, it made me wonder why as a species we feel the need to figure others out, and then try to fix them. Why do I indeed have an inner experience that points to my own inner alienation? It was quite long and involved, and of course, letting me have it for being an idol worshipper, and telling me why I was Catholic, and what I believe, and I guess he thinks I am also going to hell. I still like him, and will not respond. Also, it might not be from him at all. It is easy, or so it seems, for some to break into our pages and steal our name and post. In the presence of Infinite Love, when in prayer, slowly over time the need to prove oneself to others lessens, since we are seen and known, and in spite of that, loved by God. I do not understand myself too well, and I am OK with that. I still try to grow in self-knowledge but believe that like the iceberg what is underneath the surface is far vaster than what is seen. Each day is a lifetime, and all I need do is to get through it, and try to come to its conclusion, hopefully, a little more loving by God’s grace. If not, well tomorrow is another lifetime to keep on moving in trust towards the arms of our Infinite loving Father. The little things in life are powerful. They can lead to a deeper love of the big things in life, and just as my decisions in small matters helps me to be wise in larger ones Conversely small acts of love towards God and others will deepen into deeper love, which is what we are made of, for we are the image and likeness of God.-Br.MD
    3 points
  37. A Made up Bed, Symbol of Perfection I found out at a very young age that life was often disorganized, disordered, and cluttered. For me, there is no rest when these states build up. Being in a large family, not an unhappy situation, but a normal one, which has more than its share of troubles, taught a simple way of coping. I found out, I do not know-how, that if I made my bed in the morning, it seemed to be a center of peace for me throughout the day. Knowing my bed was ‘perfectly’ made up. Sheets tightly pulled under the mattress, a cover smooth, without a wrinkle, and of course, a pillow set the tone for me. To this day, the first thing I do in the morning is to make my bed. I do this no matter how much my back hurts, I do it. So my day starts with one perfect thing (well sort of) and it gives me rest. Now I know that my bed is never perfectly made up since the perfection that we often imagine does not exist. Yet it is close enough. The other half of life, the much bigger half, is a different story. I have to learn to deal with lots of imperfections, and I still strive to find perfection in the midst of messiness. When I look within I find peace, but also chaos, happiness, also sorrow, hope, then there is doubt. Always in motion, even when I am silent in prayer all the above are still there even if muted. While the grass may look greener in the next field, once it is visited, there is no difference, except perhaps in its arrangement. Each situation, person, family, and personal background is unique, yet shares a commonality that allows us to try to communicate, and we are often more successful than not, but in an imperfect manner. I can remember a powerful, but quiet moment, that happened to me when I was 25. I was running down to work at our farm and feeling great. As I was running the thought came to me that I had to remember this moment, this second, hold on to it. So that was one moment that was not doomed to oblivion, buried somewhere in my deep unconscious. I think I remembered it because, at that time, I arrived at some sort of physical perfection. I was in great shape. Lifted weights, ran, stretched, and swam a great deal in one of our man-made ponds. I believe that was my peak of physical perfection that lasted the length of that thought, it has been a slow slide ever since. I guess if perfection is arrived at, it begins to fall apart at that moment. It is just the way of the world. Even art, slowly declines, though it can take a very long time in human years to happen. Yet it is in imperfection that we grow, become patient, and less demanding. In our failures, and imperfections, we are slowly overtime led to humility, which is the ability to understand aspects of ourselves that we will never have complete control over. If we ever did get complete control, it would be a dangerous illusion, and then others would have to bear the brunt of that. Since perfect people are easily bothered by the imperfections of others and are quick to voice their discontent. From time to time I suffer from being ‘perfect’, not very pleasant, it is a lonely cold place. God is glorified in our weakness, for it is when we are weakest, that we learn of our need for mercy and the grace that actually is. In monastic life, there is a saying: “A monks life consists of falling and getting up, falling and getting up, falling and getting up, without losing patience, trust, or hope in God’s love, mercy, and grace.-Br.MD
    3 points
  38. It's been a few days since I saw, or indeed heard, my local, friendly parakeets. This evening, as I prepared to risk a trip to my local supermarket, I noticed they had returned to their favourite tree. I quickly grabbed my camera, but one flew off before I had a chance to take a picture. Still, I managed to photograph the one that was left. I rarely see more than a pair of parakeets in the tree, however on returning from Sainsbury's I noticed that there was a trio.
    3 points
  39. As the sun began to set the robin returned. Flying from tree to tree he sang until it was dark . Initially the parakeets seemed to have fallen in with human society and had taken up social distancing. As the sun began to set, however, they once again paired up. Nearby a magpie’s white breast reflected the red rays of the setting sun. All too soon it was no longer light enough to photograph the wildlife. It was now time to shift my attention to the thin crescent moon, which was becoming visible in the twilight.
    3 points
  40. The experience of fatigue as a way of prayer Fatigue will sometimes lift if we pray, perhaps because we are praying truly for the love of God, this forgetting of self can help to relieve anxiety and fear, which can reduce anger that is often fed by these painful experiences. Trust is a choice, so choose, go deeper, become freer, and allow grace to do it's work. Even if fatigue is not lifted, it is the struggle that leads us closer to the Lord--Br.MD
    3 points
  41. 60 California residents put on sweaters (if they can find one) 50 Miami residents turn on the heat 45 Vermont residents go to outdoor concerts 40 You can see your breath California residents shiver uncontrollably Minnesota residents go swimming 35 Italian cars don't start 32 Water freezes 30 You plan your vacation to Australia 25 Ohio water freezes California residents weep Minnesota residents eat ice cream Canadians go swimming 20 Politicians begin to talk about the homeless New York City water freezes Miami residents plan vacation further South 15 French cars don't start Cat insists on sleeping in your bed with you 10 You need jumper cables to get the car going 5 American cars don't start 0 Alaska residents put on T-shirts -10 German cars don't start Eyes freeze shut when you blink -15 You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo Arkansas residents stick tongue on metal objects Miami residents cease to exist -20 Cat insists on sleeping in pajamas with you Politicians actually do something about the homeless Minnesota residents shovel snow off roof Japanese cars don't start -25 Too cold to think You need jumper cables to get the driver going -30 You plan a two-week hot bath Swedish cars don't start -40 California residents disappear Minnesota residents button top button Canadians put on sweaters Your car helps you plan your trip South -50 Congressional hot air freezes Alaska residents close the bathroom window -80 Polar bears move South Green Bay Packer fans order hot cocoa at the game AND AT: -90 Politicians put their hands in their own pockets....
    3 points
  42. When I was a teenager, I generally came across as a happy person. But one high school student who I knew didn't like me because he was jealous of me. He believed that my quality of life was better than his was at the time. And I think that he thought that I was a happier person in life than him. Little did he know that, back then, I was dealing with severe depression much of the time. My life wasn't so rosy back then. Just because someone appears to be happy, like I usually did back then, doesn't mean that they actually are. Just because a person appears to have a life that's good doesn't mean it actually is. You never really know what it's like to be someone else. You never know what's going through somebody else's mind. If he had known what I was going through back then, maybe he wouldn't have been so jealous.
    3 points
  43. Janet’s tough situation I have known Janet for a long time. I first met her in 1991, when I was a guest-master for a short time. For just under two years. Over the years I have written some stories about our relationship, which while there was a closeness, was never what I would call a friendship. Yet, there was a bond. She is actually a very intelligent woman and has an easy outgoing personality. She was a teacher for a while. Yet, as she aged, her underlying issues became stronger, and in her later years, I would say the last 25 have made her live a life of isolation. Not complete isolation, but she had alienated herself from her family. She does have a brother, who over the years when needed, helped with some of the expenses needed to help Janet. She lived on disability, but it was not enough for everything. So there was a need to help with her rent, and as well for some of her medical needs. For the past 15 years, maybe longer, she has lived in a long-stay-motel. It was a small room with a tiny kitchen and a bathroom. Over time, it became her home, and she loved it there. She did have a car, but about 8 years ago she had to stop driving. She needed people to drive her shopping and to doctors’ appointments. I would do certain things for her, but I did not shop or take her to the doctor. She was not always easy to deal with, but overall, things went smoothly. I do know that she has a serious anxiety issue, which is what caused so much of the problem with her family. She worries about everything, and no matter what it is, it is always ‘urgent’, and needs to be taken care of. Because of her suffering, she can be more self-absorbed than most people…..pain does that, especially mental and emotional pain. She was strong, and because of that, she learned to enjoy what she had. She was even picky about what she would eat, etc. Which was a good attribute I believe, for it gave her life color, and I believe, depth. Over the last two years, because of her declining health, and her isolation, I tried to get her to think about going into a nursing home. Which is of course not much of a choice, but I was worried about her falling in her room and there would be no one to help her. We would talk, but she would get upset and did not want to think about it. I got it. Living in a room, a small one, which was for her, ‘home’, was much better than a nursing home. Her brother tried to help as well but to no avail. I really did not think she would give consent to such a move, but we both had to try. Well, she did fall, and it took two days before someone found her. She is not doing well, is not thriving, though this nursing home is a good one. It is just so hard for her to adapt. The family situation is impossible, no one wants to talk, or help. She does, however, have a grand-daughter who lives a few miles away, and does what she can. However, her life is full of her taking care of her children, who are very young, and her husband. Janet herself wants nothing to do with the rest of her family. Janet does not understand the role she has played in the situation. She is blind to her issues, and how self-centered she can become, because she is always in survival mode, and anxious about, well, everything. She is not eating, and will not do anything to improve the situation. It would seem that she has given up. I can understand why, losing her home of many years, her independence, and her privacy. She shares a room with another person. I now in my head that I could not do any more than what I did. However, I still feel uneasy, and my own powerlessness over the situation is frustrating, though I know that there is really nothing I can do for her at this point. So a long journey for Janet may be over soon, or perhaps, just maybe, she will start to take more interest in her surroundings. Like I said above, she has a very outgoing personality, and people do love talking to her. I do believe that our lives have meaning. Sometimes that meaning is buried in the great mystery that we call God. Each day we go through situations that hopefully make us grow. Janet has her own unique path, and only God sees the depth of her soul. So I pray for her and am sorry for the times when I could have possibly done more but could not. ---Br.MD
    3 points
  44. Letting go allows more life When we die to something, something comes alive in us. If we die to self, charity comes alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive; if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive; if we die to anger, love comes alive.—Fulton Sheen In Monastic Life, in the Cistercian order, we take a vow of ‘Conversion of Manners’. Vows can be life-affirming if used as a compass on how to traverse the many situations we meet up with on a daily basis. I suppose in reality if we wish to grow as human beings, and by that I mean to become more loving, compassionate and empathetic, which by the way is harder than it sounds. Many of our ‘virtues’, can, in reality, be mostly compulsive and in the end, we can become burned out, resentful, and bitter. I have been there, and over the years have looked upon these ‘negative’ responses to others as a signal to look into my own heart to see what I am doing. Clinging on any level tends to limit perception and will often bring about the opposite of what is intended. This can easily be seen when we see those in our circle lose friends, or even destroy their marriages by excessive clinging, or by being jealous. True friendship, or even a good and loving marriage, can only happen when there are healthy limitations that are accepted by both parties. Domination, even if it is by so-called loving actions will only smother, or chase away the one loved, be it a marriage partner, or in friendship. Every day in community life I am challenged by those I live with. It is my own limitations, wounds, and yes my desire to be the center of the world, the community, even if unconscious, that causes many of my problems. In the “Conversion of Manners’ vow, it gives me a way out, in the sense that it leads me to take responsibility for my situation and to not seek to blame others’. If I ‘die’ to my desire to control my environment, and by that, I mostly mean the men I live with, it is then that I can let others breathe easier, and in the end, I can take deeper breath myself and live a life with less stress based on narcissistic self-concern. Looking into my own heart, my soul, I find enough to work on, so much to work on, that I do not need to worry about others in the sense that I would want to control, or manipulate them. When I fail to look within and take responsibility, it is then that I find myself being sucked into seeking to control, or a temptation to isolate. I like things simple. I hate it when things get overly complicated, yet in life, things do get chaotic, messy, and have to be dealt with. I have to adapt to life, to others, yet be true to myself. However, people are not objects for me to move around on a chessboard, where I am the King, the ruler. Of course in chess, it is a game of strategy, a war game, very aggressive. So best to understand that I am not the King on a chessboard, but one member of my community, so there is no need for ‘war’. In community life, be it marriage, or a monastery, or even in the workforce, it is service that we are called to. To serve, freely, without compulsion can lead to a sense of purpose, and even of love for those one lives with, or who is a workmate. Those in charge, in fact, if they do a good job, are the greatest servants. I have found that men and women of power, who do care for those they are responsible for, get back one hundred and one percent. It is that ‘one percent’ that is important. For many, it is easy to see how others are shooting themselves in the foot all the time by entrenched habits that end up being an endless cycle of frustration for all involved. The focus on one’s self-destructive behaviors can be more difficult to spot, but again, often seen by our friends, as well as our enemies. When seeking to grow in one's relationship with God, it soon becomes apparent to the seeker that there are obstacles that get in the way, and have to be dealt with. Blaming others is a sure-fire way to stay stuck. To think for oneself, and to not allow cultural brainwashing to take over takes time, effort, humility, and an understanding of the working of grace in one’s life. By the way, there are also negative aspects of faith and religion that have to be dealt with as well. Each person has to decide what that is. The human habit of constantly judging others is one of the biggest obstacles in leading a life that is more humane and open to life, grace, and yes a deepening relationship with God. People are not objects, stereotypes, but each unique in their life experience, intelligence, and background, that can often be brutal and buried so deep that it is only manifested by unconscious reactions to life, or through addictions, of which there are many. In the end, we are to treat ourselves with love and compassion, perhaps the hardest to let go of the self-destructive tendencies that come to our species so easily. Love oneself, love others, and God with our whole heart and soul can be a slow journey that takes a lifetime.—Br.MD
    3 points
  45. Chaos /life/faith Faith can be bare-boned at times, with trust being the only operative ingredient working. Chaos seems to be part of life, though if I had my way I would do away with that. Then again, I feel if that wish came true, perhaps I would disappear, or just become flat, like a lake with no ripples; for struggles seems to be needed by our species. Like the salmon striving to go upstream to breed, so we do the same, often for reasons that are veiled. An inner compass guides me, and I believe others, for again I am not that unique. Or another way; common, every day, in my uniqueness, actually no different than others. The inner compass? Well that I feel is grace; quiet, hidden, yet powerfully at work in all lives. Though, I guess those who suffer from terminal uniqueness (I have been there, and will perhaps revisit that silly place). Well, that is not good news at all. Life is less tragic if it is known that we all pretty much go through the same things, Tragedy, loss, illness, you name it, happens to all of us. Who knows, perhaps in the end, it is all good……I kind of believe that. Life goes by fast, just holding on can be the best thing we can do and simply not giving in to despondency or despair. The real work is in the depths, we are God’s work of art. No one can downplay what others go through, We need to support one another the best way we can, through prayer and action. Even strangers if it presents itself.--BrMD
    3 points
  46. This weekend Br. Cassian asked me to give a talk on the working of the Holy Spirit in the world and evil. Since my world for almost 50 years has been living in a monastic world, that was the only world I could speak on. Below are some thoughts on the subject. Monastic life and the Holy Spirit (the struggle with evil) The Good Zeal Of Monks (The Rule Of St. Benedict – Chapter 72) Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then, is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10), supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else. To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; to God, loving fear; to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life . ++++++++++ When thinking about evil in the world along with the influence of the Holy Spirit it can bring forth many of my own struggles that comes from living any sort of life with others. For any community can be considered the world in miniature with the same problems that seem to plague mankind. The rule is there too, first of all, show that entering Monastic life is just the beginning of a life long journey with the struggle with self. If that struggle is not taken on with a certain level of fervor, then, for the most part, the desire for balance and peace will be spent in fighting everyone else, from the Abbot down to the youngest novice. It is not a very pleasant way to live, yet some do live that out in their lives in varying degrees. Left to ourselves, with only one’s resources, the central theme of life can be power and domination over others. This can lead to false zeal, gossip, political intrigue, etc. It is contrary to what the Holy Spirit is seeking to teach us. The flesh wants to be in control rather than to have to trust in God. Hence it sets up its own observance, under its own control. And when it has met its own demands it declares itself to be righteous. Because the flesh hates being told what to do, it takes God’s Law and makes it “manageable” based on its own terms. For example, if I’m supposed to love, I’ll limit it to my family or countrymen; I’m “allowed” to hate my enemy. Jesus says that we must love our enemy. The flesh recoils at this because unless the Law is manageable and within its own power to accomplish, the Law cannot be controlled. The flesh trusts only in its own power. The Pharisees were “self-righteous.” That is to say, they believed in a righteousness that they themselves brought about through the power of their own flesh. But the Law and flesh cannot save; only Jesus Christ can save. The flesh refuses this and wants to control the outcome based on its own power and terms. Msgr. Charles Pope You could say that our past can drive us mercilessly, allowing no rest. To seek to control others is a battle that will never cease. This can be seen in the world, in the news that we read every day. People rebel against any kind of external control. Even if it is to the detriment of the overall culture. Instead of the “Will to Power”, we are called to mutual obedience. Or to put in in the words of Jesus: “The greatest among you is the servant of all”. It goes contrary to how we normally operate. The questions is: How do I live with others and not descend into bitterness, gossip, and the desire to control the world around me so that I can simply live my life in peace. How easy or difficult that is depends on one’s past, temperament, as well as the unique that we all received care and input when young. Deep conversion which is a long process is needed to break free of the chains that bind us from our past. In the monastic life, what keeps the monks from living in harmony, loving one another, be obedient to one another, and serving one another? To the extent that this is not done, leads to the misery of the monk, as well as harm inflicted on the community if it gets serious enough. The rule states that this can be an ongoing issue in Monastic life, as well as I would imagine in community life everywhere. In the fifth chapter of Galatians, it states: 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, a,nd the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. A realistic look at the human situation is not hard to acquire, as long as we bring ourselves into the equation as well. It is possible to get lost in self-righteous indignation, and in the process fail to see what is in our own lives that need conversion that also adds to the evil that is in the world.—Br.MD
    3 points
  47. You will get through this Nothing in life is permanent, neither the good times, nor the bad, each has a season, one pleasant, the other hell-like, anxiety-driven, yet it passes. We are called to be faithful 'this day', or even this one moment, for free choices no matter how small have great significance. Moments are steps we take, each leading to the next, there is no middle ground, we are going forward or backward, so yes life is a struggle, we each go through it uniquely, none are spared. God with us can mean so much, about the lord tenting with us, walking in union with all no matter how painful the journey, in loving communion--BrMD
    3 points
  48. Receiving Fr. James’s Behrens body When a member of our community dies, we gather the day before the funeral to receive the body. I guess this is around my 55th time for this, and a very powerful liturgical event. Family, and friends of the Monastery gather for the ‘Vespers’ for the dead. The body is placed in our bier, and 8 men are the pall-bearers. The body leads the procession to the front of the church, where it is placed beneath the Paschal Candle. The candle that is lit at the Easter Vigil. We sing the Vespers for the dead. Tonight the monks will take turns sitting with the body and to pray for Fr. James until the 10 AM service starts on Wednesday. Praying for the dead is a Catholic practice that is often not understood by non-Catholic’s, but is very important in the Catholic Church. It is still a little unsettling, the receiving of the body, but also healing for the community and hopefully for the family. In reality, apart from the sitting with James, the rituals that surround death are just as much for the living as for the deceased. During Vespers, I kept looking over at James’s body beneath the Paschal and was not sure what I felt. Yet my chest hurt, so I guess I was repressing the deep sadness that is there, but I am not always aware of it. We all go through this, saying goodbye to a loved one. Each one there had their own inner experience to feel and deal with. I feel for the family, which is a very loving one and close-knit. When I was a young monk, it was always the ‘old ones’ who died. Well, now I am an ‘old one’. Life is a journey, and I am getting close to the end, even if I live another 20 years, it is a short time for someone who has lived for 70 years. People have faith because they have it. It does give us hope. Tonight we read from the 15th chapter of Corinthians, which dealt with the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, how our faith is built on that reality of the Risen Lord. James was a man of faith, but he questioned and doubted as we all do I believe. Doubt is important because, like pain, it brings us back to ourselves and leads us to go deeper into the mystery of our faith. Which is rewarding, and I believe important today since it is really impossible to be a ‘cultural Catholic’, or a follower of any faith or religion. We need to know what our faith teaches and to deepen our seeking after the Lord. So I believe that James is with the Lord, the Risen Lord. He is not far away, not even in the next room, but in this room with us, having put on the Mind-Of-Christ, he is much more than what he was before he was called home by the Lord. It is important to love, to open our hearts to others, to learn to forgive and to have compassion and empathy for others. In this, we suffer, all of us, for there is always someone left. So until we are the ones who leave we have to seek to not fear the inner pain, sorrow, and longing to see just one more time the loved one, the friend, the family member. We learn to trust, to keep on going, knowing that sooner rather than later, we will be called to follow. May God bless and keep us all in his embrace. May we respond to grace’s calling, and may we never stop trusting in God love for us.—Br.MD
    3 points
  49. Sacred Journey towards the End of Life (Life is Short, Pray Hard) It is easy to forget that life is an actual journey. We are moving forward, the vehicle that moves us is called time, and we really do not have an abundance of it. I do not think that is a favorite point for people in general to ponder….which is no wonder. Or it could be said that life is a pilgrimage. This actually means that as long as we are on the road, we will seldom find a place that we can actually rest. We have to ‘deal’ with ‘stuff’. Some of what we deal with is very painful and can last for a lifetime. Emotional pain perhaps being the worst for most people. How we deal with our journey, or how we live out the concept of being pilgrims, is very important. Yet many people seem to spend an awful lot of time, effort, and yes money, trying not to think about it. We are not a long-lived species, and to tell you the truth, as much as we fear death, I have not met too many people who would want to live in this world, as beautiful, and wondrous, as it is, for let’s say, hundreds of years. There is a sort of suffering that comes from simply ‘standing out’, being ‘other’, along with, what I believe, is the delusion of being separate, isolated, alone. Aging has a way of stripping us of many illusions. One of them is that of control. We get older, and getting sick, is as easy as falling off a log. Even with the best of regimes that deal with food, exercise, the other shoe will drop and be unexpected. It is like falling off a log. So when we age, there is a lot we have to deal with in our inner lives, often leading many to think of deeper issues. Having a deep, thought out faith I believe is very important in helping people deal with the aging process and moving towards death. It allows us to face life with courage, and to find ways to deal with our suffering that is life-affirming. There are many ‘bumps’ in the road that come with being a ‘senior citizen’. We need to develop patience, a sense of humor, and a willingness to allow life to pass us by. Our faith, if we truly unite ourselves, our sufferings, with those of Christ Jesus, we will often find a deep inner joy that is something that both gives hope, as well as a type of energy to deal with it. Our hearts will either expand or shrink, as we age. Become bitter, or more open to what our short lives have to offer. Knowing that we can choose, allows us to let go of being victims, we let go of blame, and find ways to adapt that led us deeper into the mystery of our lives, as well as our relationship with God. People spend a lot of time denying the fact that they are really into ‘old age’. It is of course based on the fear of illness, but mainly, of death. However, the fact is that we ‘age’, and I believe that should be embraced. Our faith does not do away with the struggle of our moving towards diminishment and ‘death’, yet it can give meaning to what all of that entails.—Br.MD
    3 points
  50. Between 1990 and 2003, my pet was a little bird, a cockatiel. His name was Luke. He was so tiny! He enjoyed copying songs and words. He'd copy numerous songs, and he'd copy my mother when she said, "Mike?" He would say, "Hello," "Hey!" and "Pretty Boy." He also copied me coughing, sneezing, chewing gum, laughing, and more. The odd thing is how could that little tiny brain of his be able to remember all those songs, noises, and words?
    3 points