Archive for August, 2012

despair and hope

August 27, 2012 16 comments

I wish I had written this.  I did not.  I suspect if you’re under the age of 40 you’ll find this confusing, odious, or maybe even a downer.  Nonetheless, it is the truth.  Read it slowly.  Then, read it again.  -MDP-

Despair and Hope by Richard Rohr

Rising and dying are closely related.  Despair, I suspect is another kind of dying and another kind of pain.  It is not so much the loss of persons as the loss of ideals, visions and plans.  For people who hitched their future or their hopes to certain stars, the loss of those stars is bitter and disabling.

It usually happens slowly as we recognize unfulfilled dreams and as we gradually face our own impotence and the “sin of the world” (John 1:29).  We are forced to let go of images: images that we built in our youth, images that solidified and energized our own self-image.  The crash of images is experienced as a death of the spirit, as a loss of hope, as a darkness almost too much to bear.  Many, if not most, become tired and cynical while maintaining the old words that have become cliches even to themselves.

Spiritual growth is the willing surrender of images in favor of True Images.  It is a conversion that never stops, a surrender that never ceases.  It is a surrender of self-serving and self-created images of self, of others, of God.  Those who worship the images instead of living the reality simply stop growing spiritually.  In this light, the First Commandment takes on a whole new power and poignancy:

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (Exodus 20:4-5)

It seems that many people, religious people in particular, would sooner relate to images than to the reality where both despair and God lie hidden.

Until we walk with this despair, we will not know that our hope was hope in ourselves, in our successes, in our power to make a difference, in our image of what perfection and wholeness should be.  Until we walk with this despair, we will never uncover the real hope on the other side of human achievement.  Until we allow the crash and crush of our images, we will never discover the real life beyond what only seems like death.

Categories: Uncategorized

punch in the kisser

August 20, 2012 17 comments

Sometimes I really want to punch Facebook in the kisser.  I genuinely have a love/hate relationship with it.  I enjoy catching up with people, the casual messaging, seeing the pictures and videos… you know, all  THAT stuff.  It really is a great tool for communication.  But sometimes I think its done nothing more than escalate our narcissistic impulses and provide a platform for people to air out their (less than clean) laundry for everyone to see.  Yes, yes, we all know your spouse/fiance/lover is the absolute “best ever” and you stay totally drunk in love with them 24/7/365, but who are you trying to convince… us or yourself?  Thanks for not posting when you have to sleep on the couch you big jerk.  Quite honestly, not all of us believe in your fairy tale and I thought some things are supposed to be private?  Guess not.

  Most mature adults also don’t give a crap what you had for breakfast nor do we want to think about whether or not you should shave or cut your frikk’n hair.  At times, it appears that we’re willing to revert to middle-school antics to get the attention we crave.  About the only thing more scary is that there are some who are so bored that they MIGHT actually care about whether you cut your hair or pimped your porn stache.  OMG!   WE HAVE GOT TO GET OUT OF OUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE DAMN MIRROR!

OK, please forgive me.  That was pissy and my grace tank is running a little low in this area.  I was recently reminded of a truth that we all (yes, me too) seem to misplace at times.  Anne Lamott, in her book Traveling Mercies, beautifully conveys the essence of what is stirring in my head today.  Anne writes about a particular visit she had with her best friend Pammy.  At the time, Pammy was a 35 years old woman who was loosing a battle to cancer in her body.  Little did Anne know that Pammy only had about 3 weeks of life remaining at the time of the visit.  The end was quickly drawing near.  Anne recalls the extraordinary moment:

I happily popped in that day to see my sweet friend.  I had on a new dress and I as I twirled around to show off the dress, I asked Pammy (cancer patient), “Does this dress make me look fat?”  Pammy (cancer patient) looked up at me and said, “Anne, you don’t have that kind of time.”

Oh my.  Talk about confronting the self-absorbed.  Holy schamoly!  Pammie was all over it with fatal precision.  We do NOT have that kind of time.  Can we truly afford to allow such egocentric appetites to run roughshod over our lives?  Is the shallow infatuation with our own navel gazing habits really that important?  When did our life become about us?  I imagine we’ll quickly respond with religious answers, but deep down, we all know this is a real glitch in our heart.  We might want to take a little time to consider those questions.

Last month, friends of our in Texas gathered together with their family to await the arrival of a new baby grandson.  It’s a huge family, lots of sons and daughters, lots of grandchildren, and this was just supposed to be another routine arrival of blessing.   Not  this time… nothing was routine about it.  This time it didn’t go as planned.  The baby’s mommy had complications before she made it to the delivery room and neither she or the baby boy survived it. So instead of a joyous homecoming for momma and the baby, the family planned a funeral.  Talk about stripping the fluff out of your life.  These are strong believers, people with good hearts and high family values, with lots and lots of lots of love, confronting what no one ever wants to confront.  A cigar with the patriarch of the family a couple weeks ago brought a monumental revelation:  “Time is short Mike.  We knew it, but now we believe it.”

Honestly, we don’t have a good excuse for petting our hyperactive ego or the self-absorbed infatuation with our magical life.  It is diametrically opposed to the teaching of Jesus.  We have lots to be thankful for and much to do that offers real value to life on this planet.  But, we got to wake up the fact that time is short and the clock never stops ticking.  Do we really want to spend that much of our time in those shallow waters?


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