Archive for January, 2017

brain gum

January 26, 2017 2 comments

“Oh, I can forgive, but forgetting is my problem.”

How many of us have ever said these dreadful words?

I surely have, and you’ve probably at least had some version of the thought at one time or another. It’s usually an indication of some deep trauma. Somebody showed you his or her dark side. Injustice busted a move in your life like Bruno Mars. The taker took. The liar lied. The thief stole. Trust was violated. And ultimately, whatever it was that happened, you got punched in the kisser with one of life’s nasty haymakers.

Live long enough and you’ll eventually see that wounds and pain happen to all of us. Granted, not all traumas rearrange your outlook on God, life, or death, but there are a plethora of events that can dump overbearing loads of burdens and mental anguish that genuinely qualify as torment to our souls. Talk to any marriage, family, or grief counselor, and they’ll confirm what I’m saying. People carry a lot of pain, and it’s not just a few of us. It’s not just a small isolated demographic. Pretty much throughout all humanity there is more than enough pain to go around. If, for some reason, you don’t see that, then you’re not paying attention.

brainBeing known as a minister or spiritual director seems to open doors by which many people feel free to share their burdens. It’s not a complaint, just an observation. And honestly, it’s what we signed up for. I only mention it because I’m about to make an observation about how we usually react to what has hurt us the most. The offense or wound or pain gets played over and over and over in our minds. It’s like chewing gum in your brain that never loses its taste. We rework the math and fantasize our recalculations, but the bottom line never changes. Again, this isn’t criticism. I genuinely think this is just the normal way we process intense pain. I’m no expert, but it appears to me that the more intense the pain, the harder and longer we work at mentally and emotionally chewing the gum that never changes the end result.

How do we ever get back to some sort of peace?

 How do we ever forgive and/or heal without continually reworking the math?

I am very intrigued with the ideas I have posted for you below. If you find yourself with some margins to forgive, but you’re unable to get the forget part squeezed into your emotional Spanx, it might be helpful for you to consider these thoughts from Father Richard Rohr. I don’t know if lightening will strike and you’ll be able to complete the transition immediately or not, but it might be something worth working towards to resolve the things that have been most difficult for you. That is my prayer. That is my hope. See what you think:

Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.” Many of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, as well as the Philokalia in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, have described prayer as bringing your thinking down into your heart. It always seemed like soft piety to me until someone taught me how to do it, and I learned the immense benefits of the prayer of the heart. As a Catholic, I was often puzzled by the continued return to heart imagery, such as Jesus pointing to his “Sacred Heart” and Mary pointing to her “Immaculate Heart.” I often wonder what people actually do with these images. Are they mere sentiment? Are they objects of worship or objects of transformation? You must return their gaze and invitation for a long time to get the transformative message and healing. Such images keep recurring only because they are speaking something important from the unconscious, maybe even something necessary for the soul’s emergence.

 Love lives and thrives in the heart space. It has kept me from wanting to hurt people who have hurt me. It keeps me every day from obsessive, repetitive, or compulsive head games. It can make the difference between being happy and being miserable and negative. Could this be what we are really doing when we say we are praying for someone? Yes, we are holding them in our heart space. Do this in an almost physical sense, and you will see how calmly and quickly it works.

 Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space. Dualistic commentaries are lodged in your head; but in your heart, you can surround this negative thought with silence. There it is surrounded with blood, which will often feel warm like coals. In this place, it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines, or remain antagonistic. You are in a place that does not create or feed on contraries but is the natural organ of life, embodiment, and love. Now the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart have been transferred to you. They are pointing for you to join them there. The “sacred heart” is then your heart too.  -Father Richard Rohr, O. F. M.

 I can’t help but believe we could all benefit to some level with this kind of spiritual direction and concerted contemplation. Getting out of our heads with all of our endless dialogues has to be better than the brain gum we’ve chewed more than once. It might be worth a shot. Right?

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!


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January 10, 2017 2 comments

A decade ago, I was confronted with Richard Rohr’s teaching of what it takes to maintain a healthy psyche for a genuine spirituality. I had just turned 50 years old, and it appeared I was ready to courageously face the truth: my over-empowered ego needed some fine tuning. Much like you, I really did want to exhibit some of the essence of Jesus through my life. Church had pretty much been the only venue where I had allowed myself to channel those energies. I was thankful for what I had learned and experienced, but I was looking for something more.

To be completely honest, I’ve never really gotten over Rohr’s suggestion that real maturity hinges on principals of self-denial. To even consider for a moment that life is not about “me” is a punch to the proverbial nose.

We say we want to be like Jesus, but do we really?

I think about this all the time: “LIFE (living) IS NOT ABOUT ME.” Really? It’s the ultimate throw down for followers of Jesus. There are days when I feel like I’ve got this. I think, “It’s under control.” But there are other times when it seems like I can’t let go of what I insist I must have to be content. Entitlement and unmanageable expectations sing their siren song, and once again I march to the doom of my own values and holistic aspirations. You feelin’ that? You get my vibe?

Even when we think we’re living up to “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” how much control have we demanded to protect our environments? Who gets to enter our bubbles? What trials and hardships (that includes people problems) never gain access to our emotional ecosystems because we won’t allow the intrusion to what we can’t control or manage? See? “ME” is not a minor obstacle. It’s a mountain.

I am a Jesus follower, so I greatly respect how He rolled with life-skills over and above any other kind of systematic dogma. When considering His brand of “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” I’m overcome with the simple truth of what is most obvious:

Jesus gave his life away.


But it was so much more than that. It was how He gave his life away. It was in the midst of what seemed to be a hate-filled world and a religiously sterile culture, that He loved every single person without variance. He still does. He loves betrayers, reprobates, liars, thieves, and cheaters. He loved first and He loves last. Jesus pretty much laid down the only true essence of love.

You didn’t have to be a winner to be “in” with Him. That’s pretty dang amazing if you ask me. It’s actually powerful enough to set people free without our adding any of our religious trinkets or dualistic nonsense to the equation. If His love is anything less than unconditional, we are so hosed! That is definitely a defining element of how He was able to live life so devoid of selfish ambition or over-protective self-entitlement. Jesus proved to us that His life was not about Him. No question about that!

But what might not be so obvious is that Jesus also seemed to be okay with both giving His life away AND a grace-filled allowance that gave permission to others to literally take what they needed from Him. If you want to find out how you’re doing with the whole “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” thing, just notice your response when some “thing” is taken from you. Respect, dignity, wealth, opportunity, peace, freedom, glory, rest, relationships, and/or whatever you value most, are all things that most of us would gladly sacrifice for those we love and care for. But our “ME-ness” usually fights to the death at the thought of having those things taken from us by force.

If “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME,” we probably need to confront how many choices are in effect around us that won’t allow me to be disturbed by “takers” at any level. There is no shortage of “takers”, but not all takers are malicious or evil. Jesus has allowed us all to take what He sacrificially gave, but He was also good with the needy and burdened to call upon Him for their personal comfort and satisfaction. I write this with a knot in my stomach because I like to be in control of where and how I give my time, energy, and juice. I love serving as much as the next person, but there is usually some level of resentment when I’m not prepared to be called upon (without an exit nearby) to meet their needs. I’m more than burdened concerning that truth about myself.

The whole “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” mantra is very appealing, but it takes a different kind of heart and rhythm to genuinely live it out. I mentioned a mountain earlier. Our “ME-ness” is a HUGE mountain, and to move that mountain is going to require chipping away at it every single day. I would think we’d do better with asking ourselves honest questions about how we’re managing our lives instead of just broadcasting our intentions. Simple questions might be the most effective probe of how healthy we truly are. Here’s a few questions I’m considering for myself:

* How available am I to my immediate family (presence, influence, hope, and help)?

* How available am I to my real friends (presence, influence, hope, and help)?

* Am I willing to sit on my dreams in order to be the support I need to be to the people (particularly my parents or siblings) who genuinely need my help?

* How honest am I with myself about my attitudes and patience when facing others burdens?

* Can I give my life away without complaint and grumbling?

* Am I still fighting for a self-induced ascent, or embracing my natural descent?

* Am I the embodiment of love, or is it an idea only?

* Can I see (hear, value, respect, and honor) what doesn’t look or think like me?

* What position is “ME” in my decision-making processes?

I’m particularly relieved that my grade for these things isn’t being displayed here. But I sincerely believe that “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME” is the right path and attitude to living life well and free. We are called to a higher purpose. We’ve just got to get out of the way.

Have a Happy New Year!!!

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!


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TIL DEATH DO US PART Book Trailer Video is LIVE!

January 6, 2017 2 comments

If you love this video… Please share it with your friends and neighbors!  We so appreciate the help!

Mike and Patti

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