30 March 2012

Lent List 7 ~ Destiny

What’s my relationship with what I believe is my purpose in life? I think this is akin to the annunciation and Mary's response of "Here I am." My destiny is wrapped up with purpose. My destiny? One was to marry. Another was to father children. Another to be religiously observant. I’m religiously observant. From my experience with my birth family members I cannot imagine where I got this. It feels like DNA encoding. It’s reflected in my experience with the world.
I’d rather spend a day in silent prayer and meditation than attend a sporting event. Experiencing life’s bounty and abundance is delightful for me. It sounds Pollyannish; I’m not Pollyannish.
For instance doing photography was natural to me. Running was natural for me. Singing is natural for me. Being a husband is natural to me. Being a father, a caregiver, was and is natural to me. Writing this, bothering to even try to write an answer to a Lent List inventory question like this, saying this with words, is natural to me. Silent prayer and meditation are natural to me.
Yes, silent and spoken prayer and meditation. This is my destiny. I’m not necessarily good at them, they’re just bits of my calling, my destiny, I’m acting out, and feel quite happy about. My destiny unfolded before me as I lived into my life and maturity. I was blessed to perceive it. Or, to write it differently, transformation within occurs only when those able to listen hear the words. 
It’s the same experience as my son’s passion for University of Tennessee football, or my daughter's passion for Dog/Bounty Hunter. Sometimes I sense he’d be perfectly happy attending UT sporting events, or Caroline watching Dog all day. Really? I’m like, whatever. Their passions are not mine; it’s not my sense of destiny or of my purpose.
My destiny is the sense of fulfillment I feel working my baptismal covenant. Yes, I know; truly I know. I sense and act as if it’s my destiny. It’s my dual path perceived through revelation and lived out by choice. Living the practice is my destiny. Yes, I know, it sounds foolish. It’s not. I can’t help it; oh well. Like breathing, I must, and Im happy and fulfilled when I work to facilitate it.

He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
   to listen as one ready to take orders.
The Master, God, opened my ears,
   and I didn't go back to sleep,
   didn't pull the covers back over my head.
I followed orders,
   stood there and took it while they beat me,
   held steady while they pulled out my beard,
Didn't dodge their insults,
   faced them as they spit in my face.
And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,
   so I'm not disgraced.
Therefore I set my face like flint,
   confident that I'll never regret this.
My champion is right here.

25 March 2012

Lent List 5 ~ Just Do It


What is your relationship with the poor, the sick, the suffering? I’m tempted to intellectualize; I’ve written before of my relationship. At this time my relationship is removed; it exists in “otherness” in my mind more than in action.
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly[prudently] with your God.
The prophet Micah sets the prophetic standard. Jesus sets the living example standard. Saint Francis of Assisi sets one. Elizabeth Ann Seaton, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, and Sister Helen Prejean, and many others set living examples. I do not meet their example. I do try a bit.
We are called to serve. To live into my baptismal covenant is to do and serve. Here is what I’ve done; it's all history. During a time of extended employment I served mendicants as one part of my work. In another time I served as a volunteer in ETCH, over 400 volunteer hours of service, offering videotapes to children and their parents. I trained and served as a Stephen’s Ministry minister and served those who requested one. I’ve given over 8 gallons of blood, one, then and much later, two pints, at a time, all over 31 years. I pray, for I cannot judge, these are examples of mercy, of trying.
My relationship with the poor, the sick, and the suffering? My relationship is to do and remember the poor, the sick, and the suffering are not “other.” I too am poor. I too am sick. I too suffer. 

22 March 2012

Lent List 4 ~ Mending


Today I mended a hole in my new $10 flannel shirt. I'd just got it. It’s perfect for the bit of early morning chill in our too-early East Tennessee spring. I cut a tag out and cut a hole. I repaired the hole; that’s what mending is, repairing, often on an article of clothing. Very few people in American Culture mend any more.
I think most menders were women; my guess even fewer were men; unless your on a tall ship. My Grandma was an inveterate mender. She’d gather family clothes in her sewing basket, sit down, and mend each and all in a sitting. I remember; I’d watch her. She was skilled and efficient. I still have Grandma’s wooden mending egg. Later on I taught myself to mend to keep clothing I really liked. I don't like holes in my clothing; they're ugly. The stitching in my clothing is ugly. I don’t care `bout ugly clothing stitches.
Today I also cut my thumb. It was not a paper cut. It was a deep glass cut, and it bled freely. I carry a first-aid kit. I cleaned my cut, a wedge slice crater, and field dressed it. I knew another should attend to it. I went back to work for 3 hours.
Later at the urgent care clinic Cynthia doctored my cut thumb. She numbed it; sweet. She did a nifty 4-stitch mend; snipping the threads seemed loud to me; I didn't watch, I just chilled; anyway, now it’s my Frankenthumb. I’m thankful for Cynthia, a physicians’ assistant, those who work with her supporting her, and those those who employ all of them. They’re mostly women (why is this?). I’m thankful she’s carrying on with mending and used my cut thumb for practice. Cynthia's stitching is not ugly. And, darn, if I didn't fall flat out in love with her; I'm so easy and cheap. If I could locate a wooden sock egg I’d give it to her.

20 March 2012

Lent List 3 ~ American Culture

In American Culture money, food, alcohol, prescription and non-prescription meds (mfap/np) are presented as something they’re not. Marketing mfap/np’s are rackets. American Culture bombards people with mfap/np’s features, benefits, and images, telling us we're dissatisfied.
American Culture takes mfap/np’s for granted. American Culture is complacent using mfap/np’s. American Culture is shocked by their side effects and ill-effects. American Culture exalts their illusion. American Culture denies their reality. The marketeers' American Culture manufactures delusions of desire and then satisfies manufactured needs. The marketeers' American Culture is complacent and weak.
There’ve been times I’ve been physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually complacent and weak. This coming from a man who has an abundance of the marketeers' American Cultural resources.
I’ve written about money here. I enjoy having and using money. I like to eat; food and flavor are motivators and a joy. I take some alcohol; I do not drink. I do not care for prescription or non-prescription drugs; they’re costly; I use ‘em if necessary. I see mfap/np’s reality. I understand mfap/np’s purposes; I don’t exalt mfap/np’s illusions. I don’t delude myself using mfap/np’s.
I slip in and out of sleepiness and denial. I’m a recovering adult child of two alcoholics. I pray. I ask for guidance. I forgive myself. I give thanks. I let got. I move on. I accept and do the work my Higher Power has given me to do.

05 March 2012

Lent List 2 ~ Hands, Work, Prayer


I work with my hands, my mind and spirit. I use simple machines and tools to do simple labor intensive tasks.
I work with people who choose not to do what I’m hired to do. My business is doing their task. My product is a tended yard and grounds. I hope to create a simple pleasure. It requires outdoor care and where most care not to go.
I make decisions and choices with my work. My choices reflect problems. At any moment I face setbacks and obstacles, which feel, and often really are, arbitrary. I cannot control setbacks. I give a maximum accountability. I may not be called back.
My business is based entirely upon labor, persistence, trust, and visible results. My income and sustainability depend on being called back. Sustainability requires I don’t back away from tasks; actions and results are visible; my work is not hidden. My work is committed; I cannot undo my actions. If tasks are unfinished, without accountability, I lose credibility. I corrode trust and sustainability.
My work and business is spiritual. Our culture does not emphasize spiritual labor. St. Benedict of Nursia says, in his Rule, to work is to pray. In the 5th and 6th century work was manual labor, the work of the hands. In the monastic setting labor is in a lessor silence. I work in silence; I wear ear protection to block noise. I like it; it was an unexpected surprise. I’m less distracted, more concentrated in the task. It facilitates thinking, imagination, and prayer. I too say when I work I pray.
After awhile I rest, take off the protectors, and being outdoors, at times, I’m filled with a gentle euphoria and deep thanksgiving; most times I'm just tired. This is integration of hands, work, and prayer, manifested by the spirit.

03 March 2012

Lent List 1 ~ Wanderer


Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary
 in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in
 which thy people dwell.
‘Solitary’ puzzles me. Commentaries offer interpretations; I like wanderer. I identify with the literal notion and a feeling of rootlessness. God places the wanderer in families. Families, maybe not so much kinships’ bio-families, rather, again via commentary, families are comfortable dwellings or homes. God places the wanderer in comfortable dwellings; shelters the wanderer.
Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride
of life.
And what about ‘them?’ The kinship of all who dwell in comfort; those who dwell in the bio-family? It’s there every root of bitterness, the desire for vainglory, and the pride of life . . . shows itself with clarity. I’ve felt bitterness towards family members, my desire for vainglory, and my envy of theirs. I’ve experienced my selfishness. I’ve witnessed the pride and selfishness of family members. I’ve lived beneath family judgments and the bitterness it sows. Vanity, selfishness, and pride are roots; every bitterness has a root. If the root is not removed the plant grows again.  How is it I’m to put every root of bitterness far from myself? The prayer expresses the hope to do so.
Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those
who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the
hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the
children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among
us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one
 to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord.     Amen.
The prayer calls to enkindle fervent charity in the family. Fervent charity is forgiveness. Forgiveness tears out the root.