Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Strong-willed is not the same as self-willed.  There can be people who have a strong will to overcome obstacles in order to do what they think is just, to fulfill potential, or a calling.  I have met women who are strong-willed.  They are not going to let institutions, society or groups give them some second class status.  Their motives are to make the world, their environment, those around them better by their efforts.  This is not self-implosion.  It is not all about them.  On the other hand, I have met people who are what I call self-willed, and it has run riot over everyone and everything to get what these people want for themselves.  No one is better for their efforts.  It is all about themselves with the oder of selfishness.  So, what will power is working your life today?  So far, I am being good, but the day is only half over.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Church Renewal

I read about a group of "experts" in parish renewal who came together in a conference to talk about what was wrong with parishes, and why people were leaving or not attending much.  The focus was on the laity.  People needed to be on fire for Christ and then the parish would build.  Well, I have another take on this.  I meet few people who said they got malaise or dropped out because no one was on fire for Christ.  They left because the preacher was ill-informed, uneducated, insulting, boring, prejudicial toward women among other groups, and so on.  Maybe we need a conference for the preachers, but once the the poorly formed ones get out of the seminary, they think they know it all.  I was a bit like that once.  I probably drove a few out, but fortunately, those ladies in Houston, Texas did a nice job of kicking my butt gently.  They were my priestly formation.  Boulder, San Francisco, Knoxville built on it.  I might be slow to listen or change, somewhat willful to say the least, but graced people kept coming into my life to save me from myself.  I am still on a slow learning curve.  I might not burn.

Monday, September 15, 2014

People Are Funny

I went to a meeting on a topic I thought would be interesting.  It was in a big room that swallowed up the 21 people there.  I found myself thinking that this topic must not be so interesting because "no one" is here.  Then I recalled that I had been in another town at another meeting that I thought would have an interesting topic.  It was held in a small room.  It was packed!  There were 21 people or thereabouts.  I thought the packed meeting very interesting.  People are funny.
     When I go to my exercise club, I try to park as close to the entrance as I can so I don't have to walk so far.  Then I get on a treadmill for exercise, or an elliptical machine.  Why do I not just park far away at the end of the parking lot and walk the length of the lot for exercise?  People are funny.
     A fellow told me that he was going to a group therapy meeting that was free, but the gasoline was costing him about $30/week going back and forth.  I asked him if he was making friends at the meeting.  He said yes.  I asked him if he felt better from these meetings.  He said yes, but was thinking of stoping because of the drive.  I asked him, if I told him about a therapist nearby who would make him feel better, would he be interested?  He said sure.  I told him it would cost $60 a week.  He thought that was a good deal for a therapist that would help him.  And he would not make any friends in the therapist's office.  People are funny.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Walking Into A Room Full Of People

There are several ways I walk into a room full of people, most of whom I do not know, on some social occasion.
1. "These people are all ignoring me."  That is, they are actively not thinking about me.  I am such a focus that they have to work at ignoring me.
2. "This is a room full of competent grown ups and I don't fit."  Suddenly I have no social skills for such grown-ups.  I am a child or a student in a room full of smart, competent people, better read, more interesting than I could ever be.
3. "Everyone is thinking about me."  This comes especially when I am in my clergy cloths.
The reality is that many people have these and other like thoughts when they enter this same occasion.  Just look at how people down the alcohol, or maybe they did some of that and a pill, drug, before coming in.  To avoid giving my crazy mind any space for weirdness, I general go up to someone right away and introduce myself.  It is amazing how many people forget to tell me their name.  I ask about them, and do not focus on myself or why I am there.  It is amazing  how many people I meet this way who are having social skill issues at that very moment.  Would that there were an event in which everyone said what they were thinking when they entered such a room.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wrong Fit Thinking

I am right size successful, right size famous, and right size important.  But there are days, or moments when my mind gets caught in some weird groove.  It goes like this: "I am a failure.  Everyone else is more successful and competent than me.  I don't get enough recognition for being wonderful."  So what is my solution to this crazy thinking?  A crazy solution, of course.  I do things that focus on my self-importance and popularity.  I might be doing some kindness, being generous and helpful, but my focus is on me and my self-implosion.  It is tricky stuff.  So, I try to examine my motives each day, at the moment I am doing "good" or at night before I go to bed.  "Why am I doing this?" I ask myself.  If the energy comes from a love for others, that is, I am getting out of myself, then the task or work has a certain lightness and joy about it, even if it is a bit difficult otherwise.  If the motive is all about my momentary crazy thinking, then the effort brings out a certain resentment in me or a hurrying to get it done and get onto the next "kind" act.  Be glad that you are selflessly loving all the time.  You are, aren't you?  Could there be people like me out there?  I am not alone!  Honesty sometimes makes the best of friends.  Together, we can laugh at ourselves.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Failure's Timetable

Someone came to me and said that they were now over 50 and their life had become a failure.  Why do we have a timetable for when life "becomes" a failure?  I asked the person if they thought their life was a failure at 15, or 30, or 40?  They said no.  They still had hope, plans, and some optimism.  All these things apparently had a shelf life of 50 years.  It is called expectations.  Some of us run out of expectations and replace it with failure.  However, God's hope, love, grace and patience with us has no shelf life.  God's plan for us, for who we can become does not end with our turning 50 or 60 or whatever.  I just met a follow who is 76.  He is full of compassion, kindness, good works and helpfulness.  He feels his life is full with the power of God at work in him.  He has been sober for 20 years, which means that he was a bit of a nasty drunk until he was 56.  Had he killed himself, the community would not have experienced all the good he has done.  So, even when you give up hope, God does not.  If you see your life as a failure, that is your opinion.  God has a second opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Timely Grace

Grace overwhelms me in its timeliness.  God is at work.  Recently, I was the Saturday confession priest.  I was in one of those narlie moods, unfit to offer much compassion and love.  Fortunately, the first half hour of confessions did not extend my few spiritual resources at the time.  Then there was a lull.  The confessional was cold, a ready excuse to be out of sorts.  I went home to get my heating pad and woolen prayer shawl.  I came back and got comfy in the confessional.  Still a lull.  I settled into a quiet time of deep stillness and silence.  Mood changed.  Grace arrived.  Then a women came to confession who needed lots of compassion, kindness, patience and a listening ear.  I was on my "A" game!  God was a work through me.  She left comforted.  She seemed to know who I was.  Then  someone came face to face.  She was a beautiful young girl.  She needed the same compassion, etc, and just the right words to help her.  Her good looks did not distract me.  God again worked through me.  After these two confessions, I realized what a gift it is for me to be a priest if I can be open to God's power, God's grace.  It is totally unearned.  I am as much of a mess as anyone who comes to confession.  God uses me.  If I were God, I would use someone more perfect.  I am work for God.  Are you not amazed at times at the good you do in spite of yourself, your shortcomings and sheer humanness?  I am.