Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rewind

Well after taking a couple of days off to get away with the family I'm back in the trench today. I started my day by cleaning up some piles and doing some things on the to do list which was good. I feel like I'm making some headway. One thing that I needed to do was clean out my email. After spending some time marking everything from the last time I did this I ended up with quite a list. It was like watching an email synopsis of my summer. I've got a couple of things nagging me that I probably won't be able to do.... like our Emmaus Hike where we take time away and hike the trails while taking a deeper look at Jesus with us in our daily grind, the natural order of things and the world around us and how it's all hinged together using basic survival skills as a symbol of how He's with us and guides us.

One of my granddaughters is starting to develop a deeper awareness of her emotions and as she get's ready to start school she's getting a deeper understanding of the world around her. She is very sensitive and reacts more to positive and negative things around her. She get's very upset when she knows an opportunity is lost and it breaks my heart when I let her down. More and more as we celebrate funerals in the parish I think about how they will react when I die and can no longer be there with them physically. I think that's the hardest part, how to explain the separation that comes with death. I think of loved ones I've lost and it's hard sometimes to tune into their presence with me, as I know they're there but our fallen state has muddied things so much. And that's sin.... separation to the nth degree. We're experiencing it more and more in our world and especially right now in our American society.... Divide and conquer.

As I look back at the quickly fleeting summer with all it's busyness and a couple of missed opportunities I'm also drawn to think about all those other things I can't undo. Namely the pain and separation I've brought through sin. I can't undo the pains caused and I can't unsay the nasty things said. All I can do is seek forgiveness through Christ and I need to followup it up with seeking healing, something this world desperately needs. I can't rewind time and if I could I'm not quite sure things would be different. I hope so but can't say for sure. All I can do is recognize, repent, and rise. Our God is not a God of the past but a God of the now and now is the time to Start Again by Red.

Monday, August 7, 2017

BRB....

Been a crazy summer and obviously I haven't been posting at all so as I blow the dust off the keyboard here's a flashback that seems to be quite fitting (I see a pattern developing). I'll be right back in the meantime maybe you missed this...

Window to the Soul

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fish, Family and Gratitude

It's been a rough couple weeks. Having to put one of our dogs down due to unexpected illness, a crazy week of tourists for a local festival, a Holiday here in the states celebrating the countries independence and a visit from in-laws that monopolized my time and space. I really needed some downtime. Not happening!

Attitude is everything. I've come to believe it. One attitude that has made the last week so stressful is the attitude on the part of family that their recreation supersedes everyone else's responsibilities, commitments and needs and that they're entitled to move in and everyone else better move over. After some pressure to take vacation time this week, which I wasn't able to do because of work commitments, I was able to get a couple days off but really needed time to myself to recuperate from a busy year and hectic schedule with no end in site. I was able to steal a couple hours here and there which was helpful, but not enough. The more I think about the infringement on my life the more I broil.

Sundays Mass was a needed vaccination to put my ill temper at bay, or at least knock the edge off. The Deacon at the Church we attended took the opportunity to use the first reading about Elisha and the hospitality that was shown him by the woman of Shunem to talk about our need for Christian Hospitality during this week of heavy traffic, outrageous numbers of tourists, and family and friends who were invading our homes. There were many of chuckles from the congregation and of course my wife took the opportunity to nudge me a few times. It was a much needed message and it did make a difference although I still am praying like crazy for some Divine grace to get to a place of peace with all this.... the company and the tourists are still here.

There's a saying, and my in-laws brought this up and I agreed 100% (it still didn't have an impact on their travel schedule) that fish and family both start to stink after three days. Knowledge of it, acceptance of it, understanding it, still doesn't make the smell go away. The only thing that helps is changing my attitude. Being grateful for all you have, the ability to have challenges in your life that show you where you need to grow, to appreciate the blessings, the people and the events that show you what's important.... these are the reasons to praise God, even When It Hurts by Hillsong United.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Change

We had a terrorist event in a local airport yesterday. This morning I watched a live news feed on facebook of a press conference releasing updates on the event. There was a running feed where people could comment. It was really sad to see what took place. I'm not a Pollyanna rainbows and unicorns person (ya think) so for me to be saddened by what I saw means something. First it started out with the usual fear and hate mongering, racial and religious slurs then it turned to fighting with each other, name calling, violent threats and on and on. In the meantime there's a press conference going on about the officer who was injured and follow up to the attack but by now, for some, they're too wrapped up in getting their point across and convincing people how bad it is that they're oblivious to the real concern. I finally got sick of seeing it and posted "don't really need to worry about terrorists, just look at whats going on in this feed". It got real quiet, then 2 or 3 just kept hammering on each other but with a softer approach. Some people will never get it, you won't change that, accept it and move on.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to violence. Yoda said this. Not sure what the source of that line was but it's true. Behind every nasty thing I saw you could smell the fear, the whole situation just smacked of it. We live in a world where we hear about everything before it even hits the news, I searched, this event wasn't on our news at the time this took place this morning and it's 3 hours from my house. We're overloaded with every negative thing that threatens us and in an effort to keep up we have to draw some quick boundaries for self-defense. In a hasty effort to get those defenses up we formulate a profile, people of this belief, descent, look, action, whatever, are possible threats. If I keep them all away I'm safe. While there's an element of truth we over generalize. We stew about the violence and injustice and the fear turns and clouds our judgement and it grows into this monster.

The fact is there are bad things going on all around us, perpetrated by people who do bad things that are from every walk of life. We can't find them all, we can't mitigate every instance, we can't make the world right. Peace comes from one Source. We all have the capacity for peace and it takes work. Gandhi said "be the change you wish to see in the world". You can only bring peace into the world if you are at peace. Trust in God, find that peace, be the change. You will bring one of two things into the world, love or hatred, life or death. "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" Deuteronomy 30:19  It all starts with the Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pounded

The chaos started to build. I was just finishing up the hourly status checks when with out warning out of nowhere a roar and explosion, followed by another, then another, the roar continued and another explosion than another. I hadn't been able to raise the front gate for a check-in and as I looked at the Chief I could see it in her eyes. She suffers from PTSD after multiple injuries from war. Smoke and fumes flooded the comms trailer as we scrambled to secure the door and windows. Then it was out the door for me as the explosions continued shaking the trailer and everything around us,
the shock waves continued to pulse through my body. As I headed in a rush towards the front gate I saw  a group of fellow soldiers huddled over someone rolled in a ball between 2 cars. I already knew it was my squad leader as we'd been through this before. She has severe PTSD. I went over to the medic and others and asked if they wanted to try to get her in the trailer but it was too far away. Eventually they decided to evacuate her from the area all together. The entire time the roar of jets and pounding explosions just continued. I stayed focused to get to the front gate to check on the troops.

This event that happened over the weekend is a parable for my life right now. It seems I've been getting pounded with devastating news. None of it's unexpected but it is life changing, not just for me but for many. There are others that are more closely effected, but we're all going through it together, each of us with our own issues. When the shelling starts there's not much you can do. They say the best way out is through. So that's what we do.... together. We're community. We do what we can to shelter, encourage, care for and assist each other knowing that when it's us on the ground paralyzed with fear there'll be our brothers and sisters to care for us. This is one of the lessons learned from the Cross. There's really only so much we can do for each other but knowing that there are those who care about us that stand with us at the foot of our cross somehow makes it bearable. The Resurrection gives us the certainty that this is not the end of us and the Eucharist is the realization that Christ is always with us and we remember that with yesterdays Feast of Corpus Christi.

After the chaos quieted down and my fellow soldiers gathered back at camp to talk and relax I approached my squad leader and she just squeezed my hand. She was doing much better. While we weren't at war it sure felt like it, and the sights and sounds took some of our best right back to when they were. The front gate was fine, everyone was accounted for, tired, hungry, wiped out from heat and stress, but no worse for the wear. While it sounds like Armageddon it was only a local air show and we had been tasked with security for the military aircraft, first aid, crowd and traffic control. The rest was all part of the show. But that just goes to show you, we can't always judge what someones going through based on our own perception. Jesus focused on the individual not the circumstances. In all that life throws at us, this is what we are about.... being there for one another. We are all in this together and no matter what uniforms we wear or don't wear we are brothers and sisters and being there for each other is an integral part of who we were created to be. There's no distinction, we are all called to serve in some form. This is in no way to endorse war, but rather to pay tribute to those that are willing to bear the burden for the many and risk the scars, picking up arms only as a last resort. This is for all the Citizen Soldiers by 3 Door Down.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Note To Self...

I was just thinking about food (it's almost dinner time here and I'm getting ready to go eat, but I do think about food a lot...) anyways I thought of my favorite veggie market. I live in a rural area and we have a farm market of sorts, more like a farm market on steroids. I don't think I've seen the whole thing because I usually make a beeline for the deli counter where they make me my very own, special, deluxe wrap. It's not just for me but you can custom order it. Anyhow, I got my wrap and as I went to pay I realized I had left my wallet in the car. There was no one waiting in line so I just left it with the cashier and told her I'd be back after I got my wallet. I already had my debit card out when I got in the door but she was standing there with my wrap in a bag and handed it to me and said "someone bought this for you" MAN!!! I'm telling you this is the hardest thing in the world for me, it's worse than accepting a compliment! I looked at the man who was standing at the cash register I was at and I said "who? Was it him?" He looked down almost embarrassed. I scanned the small area looking for the culprit. I had to thank whoever did this! I just couldn't accept it! I don't deserve this, I haven't done anything to merit this gift!! (Sound familiar, any other gifts we get that we haven't earned? I hope I don't have to spell it out) I just said loudly "Thank you, I really appreciate this!" to no one in particular but more to everyone in the whole place. Ok now I just was looking goofy so I put my head down and left. I still feel awkward. I've had people buy my meals before but usually I'm in uniform, I was just being me, I don't get it, why buy MY lunch. Anyways I'm obsessing now.

When I got home my wife said "now you have to pay it forward". We'll I know that!! but why me? Anyways I almost forget that I have to pay it forward, I just have to figure out how and who and when. I try to do nice things for people but I'm not sure I've ever bought someone lunch. Anyhow here's a video you need to see about some friends who are off the chart when it comes to helping others and being kind, they don't need a reminder to do it either. Do some research about them, get involved, figure out who you're supposed to be reaching out to if you don't already know. You are where you are for a reason. The organization is called Team Rubicon and they've got the service, mission, love thing down pat. Now I'm going to write my sticky note to remember to pay it forward. Team Rubicon

Friday, June 2, 2017

Repost

Here's a repost from nearly 2 years ago to the day... First Holy Communion and Confirmation season is here and I've got a special group of angels that will be receiving the Sacraments this weekend. Perhaps I'm reposting this because I need to be reminded, but it fits with Pentecost. I have to say I have a unique and amazing opportunity to work with people and forming new warrior saints and leading them to sacrifice it all and lay their lives on the line, the two lines that intersect. Anyhow praying for all...

Clear and Present Danger
I was watching the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence last night and something occurred to me during the previews... I love sci-fi, life and death, appocalyptic movies and I had to ask myself why. The answer I came up with is a bit revealing. The danger is clear and present. There's no doubt about the source of the threat and every fiber in our being screams "run!!!". If life we're only that simple.

We live everyday with a clear and present danger, but unfortunately in our fallen state, even though we know the danger and when it's present we're blinded to it. The presence of sin and evil does not come in a giant mountain sized lizard that destroys everything in it's path, rather it comes as a cute, cuddly, fuzzy that slowly gets under our skin and poisons us from the inside out. Rather than a swarm of ginormous space ships that come bolting in from outer space it's a small, foreign alien that comes to life from our inner space and we're left to ask "what was that and where did it come from?" Rather than fight and face down the evil that threatens to obliterate the human race we try to ignore and keep hidden the ferocious monster within that threatens to devour our soul. Often time we don't face it, we try to overcome it by sheer willpower, we try to keep it hidden away from polite company, but every once in a while it rears it's ugly head.

There's part of a Native American prayer that asks for help defeating our fiercest enemy, ourselves. St. Paul said in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  Romans 6:23 says the "wages of sin is death" and so it is. The devil doesn't wear a name tag and sin doesn't attack from some unknown, questionable source. It oozes up from somewhere deep within promising to fulfill a basic, primal need - security, identity, appetite, survival and it's always easier to see in someone else rather than ourselves. Someone says or does something that threatens our security or identity and we attack claiming self defense while we point out every flaw and evil thing they've ever done. We gorge ourselves on food, drink and sex because it tastes good or feels good and it doesn't really effect anyone else or does it? When we live in such a state we become a drag on humanity, we're not living up to our God given potential and we suck the life out of all around us. When we come to our senses then we become aware of who we've become when we ignore the Word He speaks to us constantly through Scripture, family, friends and creation. We lose our sense of identity, we rely only on ourselves and start making decisions based on our own judgement. Simply put when we sin we supplant God's will with our own. We basically make ourselves God. We decide we know better and we start free falling as we continue to move our lives and will away from His.

There is only one antidote. We must each day surrender our will to His. We must be transfused with His blood and take on His life. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that when we live according to God's will dying becomes easy because we've practiced dying to self each day. But when we die to ourselves we become more alive than ever because we become the true person God created us to be. The Spirit of God, the Ruach, the Breath of God sustains us instead of the false lies and cravings of our fallen nature.

Ask God each moment to Breathe Into Me.... by Red