Spiritually Speaking Blog

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Never Too Late

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” C. S. Lewis Time is a precious commodity! And we are never too old! No excuses! No matter how old we are it is never too late to begin anew. God gives us time and abilities to invest wisely. There’s a lot about every one of us that is very right. There are parts of us that are so good and so true that we just “glow in the dark.” And we need to take delight in all that goodness that we and God have built together. But at the same time we need to look at the part of us that have gotten stuck and frozen, the parts of us that are like the old preacher repeating the same old words. We make the same old mistakes or stumble on the same rock on the road every time we pass. Whether we are young or old, the Lord is calling each of us to let go of the parts of us that don’t work, let go of the parts that are stuck in the mud, and let go of the parts of us that are lifeless and stuck in the quicksand of routine. Let go of it all and let God take over and show the way. It is the way to freedom and life. Remember: Never too late for a positive day. Never too late to learn. Never too late, no matter how far you are down the road, to turn around. Never too late to identify and problem and solve it! Never... read more

Keeping a Happy Heart

“It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems; it is just that it can sometimes make the difference between coping and collapsing.” – Lucy Macdonald Remember the small magazine, “Reader’s Digest”? That publication had a section called “Laughter is the Best Medicine” containing all the absurdities of life; the ridiculous, the irrational, the illogical and the most downright silly. As I live through the years, I realize the wisdom in this section….looking at the lighter side of life can turn our beliefs around to give us new perceptions and novel ideas. Laughter works as the antidote for fear, separation, conflict and hurt.  Things that divide people no longer have power when laughter helps us drop old perceptions, prejudices and grievances. We can shift our thinking to promote hope and a new resolve when we drop the heavy burden of taking ourselves so seriously. Laughter is God’s welcoming Spirit at work in a troubled world. This spirit reminds us that we are part of a whole, living in togetherness rather than isolation. It promotes love, not fear and hope rather than despair. Alan Watts, an English philosopher and expert in comparative religions, stated, “The whole art of life is knowing how to transform anxiety into laughter.” This transformation starts with facing our fears and the missteps we make. Instead of succumbing to their negativity, we need to find the smile in our foibles and those of others. Similar to finding the good in each day, we must find the optimism in each event. Let’s spend less time judging and fault finding in ourselves and our neighbors and more time... read more

Have a Good Day?

As we run about our busy schedule we casually greet people, “Hi”, “Good to see you”, “Have a good day” or some upbeat message to acknowledge them or brighten someone’s day. But as we all know, life is tough and the “good” is sometimes not that apparent. But it is important to remember this: Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. But how do we find the good in each and every day when bad things do happen  – to good people – all the time? Our answer is lurking in what was common knowledge in Jesus’ time, namely that shepherds and their sheep knew each other well and were bonded closely.  And when the shepherd called, the sheep heard a familiar voice they knew they could trust so they didn’t hang back. That’s the key for us – the bond of trust that helps us hear God’s voice from the inside, no matter what is going on outside; the bond of trust that helps us hear all he is saying to us – words of comfort, congratulations or challenge. Developing that bond of trust tells us that it’s safe to believe and to act on what he tells us because experience has taught us that he loves us even more than we love ourselves. With that bond of trust we have the confidence and the energy to overcome our natural and legitimate fears of all sorts, and it gives us hope to take the risks we have to take to become our best selves. We feel loved knowing that God is reaching out... read more

The Message of Notre Dame

Millions of people sat glued to their televisions heartbroken watching Notre Dame cathedral aflame. As a symbol of Western civilization, the structure served as a reminder of man’s journey to his creator, through art, relics, religious services and the history of its mere survival of the structure through the centuries. Five days later over a billion dollars were pledged by donors from all over the world, all religions, all regions and all races to rebuild the Parisian icon to its former glory. There is always hope. What a fitting example of the message of this week’s spiritual celebrations of Passover and Easter. No matter how many years we may suffer in captivity, there is always hope for release. No matter how we may “die”, there is always hope of resurrection. There is always hope. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “To every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven.” Just living day to day we witness these “seasons”… The Calm always follows the Storm. The Light always follows the Darkness. Spring always follows Winter. And Easer always follows Good Friday. There is always hope.  Let us take this message of hope and remember that it is not over yet. All is not in vain. God didn’t make us for pain and suffering, for sadness and dying, but for life – enjoying this life and the exciting, eternal life. So as we celebrate these religious holidays, let us bring hearts of hope as we pray verses of Psalm 118, a hymn of Thanksgiving: “…I was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped me.... read more

Are You All In?

Do live your life with a question mark? Do you hedge your bets and hold back, keeping one eye on the nearest exit, and always making sure you have a way out? On one hand this makes a lot of sense covering all your bases, but on the other hand that is not what God asks of us. Remember when Jesus told us that, “Whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” In this seemingly contradictory statement, God is letting us know that only our best efforts will do. Nothing less than investing everything we’ve got in building up God’s kingdom in us and around us. Living out of fear causing us to hold any part of ourselves back from our life’s work is a recipe for a lifetime failure, sadness, and isolation. Holding on too tightly to what we’ve already got is a sure formula for dying from the inside out. Jesus tells us we have an alternative – losing our lives in order to save them. This strange paradox is even at work in our daily lives. Remember at times when you have been so engrossed or intensely connected with someone you know and trust. You are all ears! As you talk to this person you listen intently as the rest of the world falls away. At this point we forget about ourselves, our image, how we look and what the rest of the day would look like. For a few moments we give our whole attention, we give away our whole self to the other.... read more

One of Those Days?

“It’s been ‘one of those days’….3 years in a row.” A couple of years ago I wrote about the old fashioned virtue of perseverance, looking at hardship influencing all aspects of our lives.   We all know that adversity, no matter to what degree, is a part of life with its natural “ups” and “downs”. We ride out the negative emotions as best we know how with what works for us…music, meditation, a walk outside, a talk with a friend or a session with a counselor. But sometimes life can be overwhelming. Hardship makes us feel out of control suffering mental or physical pain. Dragging on and on we sometimes lose hope not seeing light at the end of the tunnel. No one can help. And God seems far removed in silence, not offering any answers. The virtue of perseverance and Winston Churchill would advise: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Even this great advice to pull up your bootstraps and weather the storm may not put you at peace.  Maybe you’ve tried it.  In certain times, we just have to “give it up”, relying on the adage, “let go” and “let God”. This year especially the flu season lasted so long bringing long and extreme illness. Our depleted physical spirits coupled with the unusually cold conditions can weigh us down mentally, physically and spiritually.  It might be time to just “let it go”, putting all physical, emotional and spiritual pain in God’s hands. Here is a wonderful Prayer of Abandonment by Brother Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) that Father Robert Rhor shared this last week and I like to... read more

Where, Oh Where is God?

There once was a king who wanted absolute power over his people. Being threatened by the people’s devotion to God, He called his advisors together in hopes of “hiding” God. Suggestions were made to hide God at the top of the mountain, or at the bottom of the ocean. The wisest advisor offered, “O, mighty king, hide the people’s God somewhere in their everyday lives. There they will never find God!” That advisor truly understood how we are! God is hidden, but not in some remote, faraway spot. God is right here in our everyday lives. Yet we rarely see him and rarely recognize his presence. All too often we fear that we are walking alone and dread that our journey may have no destination, maybe just a walk to nowhere. Too often we are deaf and blind to God. And what is God saying? “I am with you always, walking at your side. And your name is written on the palm of my hand. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear me whispering to you. If you watch closely, you’ll see that I am here. So watch and listen!” It takes time to learn how to listen attentively and respectfully to everyday life. It takes time to learn how to hear what’s really going on around us. It does take time, but if we persist in paying attention to everyday life, very slowly we’ll begin to feel the nearness of God when we look at a rose, feel the cool of an evening breeze, hold a newborn child, or gaze at the sight of a mountain. The road we... read more

What is Your Life Like?

I’ve heard that life is like a roller coaster with all the ups and downs. I’ve heard that life is a bowl of cherries with all the sweetness and a few pits! I’ve heard that life is like a river winding its way to a bigger body of water. And of course, life is like a school with all the lessons in life that we have to learn.  No matter what your comparison, all of our lives are comprised of ups and downs, sweetness and the pits. We all are on our way to that “bigger” destination having learned all the lessons in this life. So what can we take from comparisons? I think comparisons can put life in perspective. It shows that we may not be experiencing the same cruise, but we are all at sea. My favorite life comparison is called, “Life is Like a Train Ride.” I’m not sure where this piece originated, but this “unknown author” gives us a bigger picture, a growing appreciation and a deeper understanding of this measured time on earth, called life. Life is Like a Train Ride “At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize... read more

The “New Lent”

We are now in the Lenten season. For the Christian churches it is a time of retreat, renewal and rededication. Looking back at Lent when I was growing up, Lent was easy. Back when, this penitential season of Lent turned its focus from the “lesser material world”, the sins of the flesh, to concentrate on the “more valuable spiritual world” through prayer and fasting. The thinking being, that we had to deny ourselves the material delights to experience the higher calling of the spiritual world. Adults would not eat meat on Fridays, refrain from alcohol or give up cigarettes! Kids would give up candy, watching their favorite television program or refrain from fighting with their siblings. We denied ourselves these pleasures thinking that these deprivations were sure tickets to please our creator. In my Lenten readings and preparation, the intent of the Lenten season seems to be shifting.  We are shifting from deprivation to dedication, from the negative to a more positive approach. This is probably a good move since giving up the “delights” of this human world were not moving us closer to heaven. By the time we got there we would be hungry and grouchy anyway! Pope Francis has built upon the fasting of the past to bring us to the dedication of being the best version of ourselves. Here’s what he wrote: Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate... read more