Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This has been one of my favorite stories for many years. It's the story of Francis, Leo and the meaning of joy. It's mt gift to you this holiday season. Namaste dear ones.
"One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: "Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."
And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that."
And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice: "Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew bow to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."
And as they walked on, after a while St. Francis called again forcefully: 'Brother Leo, Little Lamb of God, even if a Friar minor could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if be knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that."
And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that be should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there."
Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: "Father, I beg you in God's name to tell me where perfect joy is."
And St. Francis replied; "When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: 'Who are you?' And we say: 'We are two of your brothers.' And he contradicts us, saying: 'You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away]' And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!
'And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; 'Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won't eat or sleep here'--and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!
And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: 'Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I'll give them what they deserve.' And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds--if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!
'And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'"
Friday, December 14, 2012
Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas I take some time to reflect on what I accomplished this past year and what I am looking forward to in the next year. I shut down the computers, turn off the cell phone and let everyone near and dear know I'll be out of touch for a bit but I'm okay. Some of it is positive, some painful to review but always, always insightful and loaded with learning.
One year I went to Disneyland in Anaheim and sat on Tom Sawyer island at a picnic table for hours on end just soaking up the energy that flowed from that place. Later I found a small park right outside of Newport Beach. It looked out on to the ocean and I saw the most amazing rock formation reflect a late afternoon sun.
When I finish I have my mission statement for the next year. I share it with clients and friends and this year, after a good few days on my deck, I'll share it with you.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
(If you are looking for warm and fuzzy, soft, uplifting and encouraging this day please stop reading. This blog is designed to make you (and me) very uncomfortable, introspective and finally moved to take some sort of action. I warned ya.)
It’s not about us.
It’s not about the Spark points, the fitness minutes or the consistency awards. It’s not how many times are angelic mugs are held up as examples of health. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have, blogs you write or weight you’ve lost. A family living in an abandoned vehicle will never know or much less care.
What matters is how much hope you find within yourself and how much of that hope you share with others.
We’re a selfish group aren’t we, so immersed in personal achievement, so justified in our journey and our many goals and we fail to look to either side and see those who haven’t quite put it together as of yet. Our role, our goal is to bring hope. The larger picture, the fiscal cliffs, the malaise and despair in our world dictates that you and I give and give and give. Instead we smugly take. We “deserve” laud, honor and praise for putting both feet on the ground each day and breathing. At least that’s what we say to ourselves.
Please, please don’t respond to this blog by telling me, chapter and verse, of all the great things you do for yourself and others. I’ll counter with a tome larger than War and Peace of my perceived greatness, love and giving. It is not now and never will be enough. We were placed on this plane of existence to give to each other, not doubt, be skeptical and withhold. If we gave enough hope to the person beside us then the world would look, taste and smell just like the greeting cards.
Yeah, you’ve worked long and hard. Go look in the mirror, smile, doff your cap, take a bow, do whatever. Yeah, you are special, acknowledge your gifts and talents and the light you bring to this world and please and very kindly get over it. Go find someone sweating quietly, overcoming insurmountable obstacles each and every day simply to exist and survive. Look for someone who was abandoned, lost and has given up. Go find them!!!
Bring them hope, and be that hope
Thursday, December 06, 2012
We all have our morning rituals. Mine involves a bit of prayer, a bit of meditation and then I read from the revised and expanded “Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia” by Rob Brezsny. It’s one of those books you can sit on your lap, and page through in a leisurely fashion. There’s no chronological order, you skim through the chapters and glean something that’ll start your day in the right way. If you get an opportunity, pick up copy. Pronoia, by the way, is the positive practice of ridding our universe of paranoia. Be warned it involves smiling and laughing and actually reaching out to other people, some of whom you may not even know ----- Yet. That brings me to this morning’s story.
Elaine works at McDonald’s. She works from midnight until eight in the morning. Most of the time, she works the drive-through window. If you are a fortuitous student of my previous blogs you are aware that each morning I get Joan a cup of coffee and myself a glass of unsweetened tea to begin our day. We’ve gotten to know Elaine well. So well, in fact, that when I pull up to the drive-through all I need to say is “The usual.” Elaine has a rough job. She stands in a window all night with little to no human contact and sometimes I believe, that wears you out as much as hard labor. Elaine is a little older than I am, her kids have all left town and with her quirky sense of humor once told me that her husband left long before the kids did. This morning, as with every morning, Elaine and I exchanged our obligatory greeting and as I handed her the money I notice she was grinning wide. “Why are you in such a good mood?” I asked, “It’s really been a beautiful day.” She responded. “I got to spend yesterday with two of my favorite nieces and we went to the animal shelter and I came home with not only one, but two kittens. I let them sleep with me yesterday afternoon. It was a good day off.”
Her smile was so serene, so content and soul full of Pronoia. I drove away happy, humming a little tune knowing my day started in an amazing way. As we hustle and bustle through this time a year it’s good to know there are people in this world like Elaine who take some positive and simple joy from curling up with two kittens and then share that joy with the rest of us.
I warned you. Pronoia involves smiling and laughing and actually reaching out to other people, some of whom you may not even know ----- Yet.
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