Monday, September 11, 2017

Be Significant...

I'm going to share a video with you of someone who has had a major influence on my life. Here's the kicker.... until 2 days ago I never heard him talk more than 60 seconds despite the fact that I've been a fan of his for the last 30 some years. His philosophy of life parallels mine exactly, not that I live it perfectly but that I am committed to it. I've never read it, I've never heard it (until 2 days ago), I've never heard about it, I've only seen him live it. So I challenge you to be Significant.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pieces

It's almost midnight here. I've been watching news feeds from Florida, Barbuda and Texas. I talked with friends who've been put on alert status to deploy South. The death toll in Mexico is climbing from the Earth quake. Barbuda is desperately trying to evacuate the entire island as Jose is only hours from mopping up what Irma left behind. In actuality many will die in the hours and days ahead and many, many more will lose everything. And I don't even know the name of the third hurricane further west. It doesn't matter at this point.

I'll be going south eventually if not sooner. I used to be chomping at the bit to jump into the fight but the truth is I'll get mine. There's enough pain to go around. We'll all get ours. I'm a thousand miles away and there's nothing I can do to stop what's coming. Closer​ to home, I see people every day who's life is coming apart at the seams. Drugs, alcohol, violence, poverty, apathy on the part of others, prejudice, hate, sickness and on and on, all around me people who's lives have been obliterated by category 5 storms. It tears me up as well as I may not be in the eye wall but I'm in the swirling arms of their storms and I daily crawl back to the One who puts me back together and makes me whole. Losing yourself in the service of others IS a lifestyle. This it, the Christian calling, to give yourself to those whose life is in Pieces by Red.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Truth

St. Francis said "You are what you are before God. That and nothing more". I would go further and add "and nothing less". That is the truth.

One of the most basic questions of all times is "why am I here?" Well to answer that with the truth you have to understand who you are, and to understand who you are you have to go back to what St. Francis said and if you don't understand that at the foundation then everything from that point forward is a dream, a fantasy, an untruth.

So many times we fantasize about who we are, how others view us, how important we are, how unimportant we are, what we want to accomplish and all the while we forget the two basic questions.... who am I and why am I here? Annnd we're back to square one. Want a reality check? Record your voice and listen to it. Is it different than how you think you sound? My guess is that it is. In my mind I think I sound different, look different and am perceived different. But again "What I am before God..." I have to admit, often times my sin is based on my imagination. I make up excuses, rationalize why my behavior is ok, minimize my sin or it's impact and the fact is none of this is the truth, and back to square one.

To become fully alive and human we have to find ourselves in Christ and Christ in ourselves... and then we have the truth and "the truth will set you free".  The culture is so absolutely efficient and nearly flawless at throwing up illusions and interference and diversions to keep us from the truth that we loose ourselves in some sweet, seductive fantasy of life and we're lulled to a place in our minds that we neither care who we are or why we're here, we're just enamored with the bling that's pulled over our eyes. This can even apply to our Faith. We've complicated things by breaking it down into theories and formulas and tenets and regulations. But Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child, to look at life with a sense of wonder and awe and mystery, not get lost in the intellectualization of the Mystery but to accept, trust and embrace It. Our Catholic Faith, if we don't get to tangled up by the letter of the law, will lead us to this Mystery. The meat of our Faith is not in the teachings, the Catechism, the prayers, but rather in how it impacts our daily life, our behavior, our love of God and neighbor. If it's only a mind trip and has no bearing on who we are then it's truly that... a mind trip. This is the truth.... and sometimes when we learn the truth it can be difficult to accept. It's not pretty, it doesn't feel good, we may not like what we see but it is necessary to become who we are before God and find our purpose in the life. If we choose to live in our fantasies and become our lies we run the risk of becoming a Monster by Starset.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pain

Some interesting things happened this weekend, totally unrelated yet intimately connected. While spending four days on Base training and being evaluated on our ability to react quickly, efficiently and effectively to a major weather event the real deal was pounding the tar out of Texas... and continues to do so as I type. The five things we were evaluated on, mass casualty, triage, search and rescue, shelter operations and emergency operations command and control are being played out in Texas right now. I didn't have a lot of time to catch the news but while at the chow hall the news was on and in the 20 minutes I had to scarf down my meals I knew that people were going to be hurting and in need of my services.

Meanwhile back at the ranch we were ramping up our skills, equipment and units to respond when needed here at home. Part of this included my promotion to a Warrant Officer which includes assuming the responsibilities of Communications Officer and Platoon Leader. Suddenly things are different. I have new responsibilities and expectations, not just things to do but a large group of talented, skilled and committed troops to lead. As I walked from building to building entire groups of soldiers would stop, turn and salute. As I walked and talked with others from my battalion I was caught off guard by the attention often times forgetting that they were saluting me and would hold the salute and position of attention until I saluted back. A couple times my comrades had to remind me... "sir, they're waiting". While our platoon has only one position of Platoon Leader I do not lead alone but rather as part of team of amazing other leaders and we all come together with those we lead to accomplish our mission. While there are multiple leaders my role is unique, to act as a liaison between those officers above me and the leadership of those below me to insure training, discipline and troop welfare.

We were fortunate to add two new recruits to our unit, both were prior military service and skills but their service ended early due to outside circumstances bringing both physical and emotional pain. As I learned their stories and got to know them better it began to sink in that the discipline, commitment and respect they showed towards me as a leader came with a huge responsibility on my part to return that with my discipline, commitment and respect to insure that they are able to continue to serve and grow in their new role to serve others.

To bring it full circle.... there is a world of hurt happening right now on this planet. Some is at the hands of Hurricane Harvey and there's also the ongoing pain from a monotonous daily grind of life circumstances that include poverty, hunger, violence and abuse. We will all have our moments in the crucible. Some will be asked to endure more than others but in the end we are all in this together. We must work together to pull each other up, serve the needs of those around us and sacrifice ourselves in the process. While I've not mentioned it... it is overtly Christian. This is what Jesus did on the cross and does on a daily basis. We are all connected and when one part of the body suffers we all suffer. We must focus on unity and put away the division that has poisoned the recent past.  We must focus on each other and helping those around us through the suffering, whatever it is, call it X and plug in it's name and put the past behind us rather than let it own us. This who we are, "... fully mature with the fullness of Christ" and together we can say Dear X, You Don't Own Me by Disciple.

Our prayers and thoughts to all those in Texas, victims and responders, some who trained me personally and shared their horrific stories from storms past. Daily you're in my thoughts and prayers as I hear the horrific stories and see the terrible images that you are living.

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.