Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Last week I posted a blog about perfect joy. It was a story about St Francis and one his fellow travelers discussing what perfect joy might feel like. If you would like to see the whole exchange, you can read that blog at:
In the end, Francis declared that perfect joy did not come from comfort and wealth but often from the discomfort of being rejected. This morning I had the opportunity to experience that type of joy up close and personal.
It had been sleeting since midnight. It was that nasty slushy stuff. I took Joan to work and started to the store. Having lived up north for many years, I know you do not wear a three-piece suit in this nasty, wintery weather. I usually wear an old pair of warm ups, a sweatshirt and a hoodie. I have a pair of running shoes that just might be older than me. Did I tell you Joan had been after me for about two weeks to get my beard trimmed? I needed to buy the usual staples – milk, bread, and eggs. I take a blood pressure pill that is also a diuretic. This morning, I NEEDED to use the men’s room before I shopped. I walked past three clerks and said my usual cheery good morning. The all nodded and I could feel them follow me with their eyes into the men’s room. Upon exit, I noticed a shoelace untied so I sat down on a bench to tie it. I sat for a few seconds, warming up. One of the clerks approached me and said “Excuse me, but the restrooms are for our customers.” I wanted to say something like” I’m just resting a moment I’m going to shop here in a minute,” but I was so incredulous that I just sort of stared at the ground. I heard one clerk say, “If he doesn’t move in a few minutes just call security.” I got a cart and took care of my shopping. As I walked up and down the aisles, a manager followed my movement from aisle to aisle. Honestly, I was a bit freaked out. I hurried through the You Scan, paid my bill, and headed to the car. As I loaded my groceries, I realized I had not paid for my milk. A quick look at the receipt confirmed my suspicions. This is not negotiable. If you do not pay for something and you know you did not pay for something you go back into the store and pay for it. Contrary to popular belief, it is not your lucky day. It is theft.
I walked back into the store, explain what happened, and hold out a ten dollar bill. The clerk tells me to wait a minute. Shortly thereafter, the store manager approaches me. He asks for ID. I comply with his request, explaining the milk must have nestled behind the toilet paper and I overlooked it. He asked me where I lived, where I worked and how could I have missed the milk. He took my money, and walked me to the door and watched as I drove away.
There is lots of stuff I wanted to say, even a few people I wanted to call. The people in that store thought I was homeless. They treated me with contempt. I was angry, really angry, until it dawned on me that my attitude suggested I was BETTER than someone who had no permanent home. How dare someone treat my like “one of those people.”
That’s when I began to feel something close to perfect joy
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Many years ago, a pastor of ours, preached a Christmas sermon. In it he challenged us to allow the sweet baby Jesus to leave the manger and to grow into the man who’d saved us. He went on to say that many of us kept that Christmas tableau all year round because a sweet, innocent child cannot do anything you and I don’t agree with.
Poor Jesus. The reason He came gets more distant every year. Why it was just Sunday when I read the NRA says our right “to bear arms” is based in one of the Gospels. The Republicans claim Him as theirs, so do the Democrats. Right to Life, Pro Choice, trust us, Jesus is on our side. The voice grows dimmer as our own concerns grow larger and more forthright. Let me ask you something? 2000 plus years later given how we’ve read the tea leaves and discerned what Jesus “really meant” --- How’s that working out for ya? Are you loving’ your brother and sister any stronger than you are last year? Is there more peace and harmony or do we spend most of our time uttering ablutions and forcing our own point of view down someone else’s throat in the name of Christ Jesus.
Jesus had a simple mission. Strip it of all the glitz, glamour, and guilt we have added it comes down to this: Jesus Saved. The problem is not Jesus; the problem is ours. Jesus paid a ransom, set things right, balanced the books call it what you want. By His death, he said “It’s over, there is no reason to sin any longer. “ It cannot be that simple can it? All we have to do is love, respect, and practice “Namaste” honoring the presence of God in the person across the table from us. We have built large, impressive structures to honor God, ensconced him in gold and silver, called down the wrath of the almighty, and killed folks who do not believe the way we do.
You tell me there are people who do not believe and it’s our mission to save them, to bring them to Jesus so they can believe what we do. I’ll share something with you God often tells me “John when I need your help I’ll ask for it.” Every path is different and every journey makes different stops. My relationship with Jesus has grown stronger in the past year not because of hymns and scripture but because I have spent time reading the writings of the Buddha. They have caused my faith to grow stronger. A lot of you might want to burn me at the stake. Do you think Jesus would?
Accepting the fact that the ransom has been paid can be a huge responsibility and that’s why some choose to keep Jesus in swaddling clothes. The true mission of redemption is never met; it is to love without reservation.
Merry Christmas and Namaste
Monday, December 24, 2012
Blessings to each of you this holiday season. However you choose to celebrate and honor this day I hope it not only meets but exceeds your expectations. If I began thanking each of you for all the wonderful gifts you give me each day of my life I would run out of room to write.
I honor the presence of the divine spirit within each of you. Formally, there are 1505 of you who have acknowledged me as a friend. I sometimes wish I could send a personal message to each of you and to tell you how much you mean to me. To some of you that doesn't happen too often. You toil and struggle and work very hard to make yourself the best you imaginable. Little do you know that you inspire me to continue my own amazing journey.
Namaste to you my dear ones and I hope you enjoy this season and all it holds.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Some of us are hard wired to trade one excess for another. We struggle with emotional and compulsive eating, develop many bad habits, deal with chronic health conditions, and end up generally feeling unhappy and frustrated.
We become active. We exercise and train and generally force our bodies into what we believe is health. Then we wake up one morning injured and if we are fortunate, we realize we have traded one addiction for another. There aren’t too many people who will be critical for pushing towards what we believe is health. There’s no arguing it increases our self-esteem, we feel better, we look better and often like a highly addictive drug it gives us an amazing high. We are doing the things the obese us never dreamed of doing. In the background muscles that hadn’t been used in years, if ever, begin to break down.
I spent 10 minutes and 6 seconds on an elliptical machine Monday morning. It’s the first time in 18 months I’ve been able to do something like that. It’s taken six weeks of aquatics personal training and a strong dose of wisdom from my trainer, plus the realization that for a period of time I trade chocolate cake for exercise and because I am hard wired towards compulsion and addiction it produced disastrous results. Prior to finding Julia, I ran into all sorts of walls that made me believe I’d never do anything more than walk back and forth in a warm water therapy pool. Julia reviewed all my medical stuff. (When you pay close to five grand for this stuff you show it to anyone who’ll look. I think there are people who say “Oh shoot here comes John. He’s gonna want us to look at his MRI.”) Her decision was to begin to build my core muscles I have little to no pain when I move. Oh, I’m sore, but it’s the good sore.
At 10 minutes and 6 seconds, Julia pulled the plug: “Time to get off.” I told her I could go another 20 minutes and she said she didn’t doubt I could but she wasn’t in the mood to roll me to her car and take me home. Tuesday I did 10 minutes on the recumbent cycle and yesterday we spent a 30 minute session in the pool. (Jumping jacks have a completely new meaning as does treading water with ankle weights!! She promised she wont let me drown.)
I am sore, from the base of my skull to the bottom of my feet. It aches to move. I rolled over in bed this morning and began to feel guilty about not going to the gym today. It’s a compulsion I fight daily. But this little voice inside of me made me realize this is what caused me to injure myself to begin with, pushing myself because all my self-esteem and value was tied up in a tradeoff. It’s not food, its not exercise, its how I think and process things. I have an emotional and compulsive personality. My personality takes things to an excess. I got up, made a pot of tea and read the paper
When I got off the elliptical Monday Katie was standing off to the side. Katie was my spinning instructor back in the day. She was with me when I hurt myself back in May of 2011. I really hadn’t talked to her in awhile
“I wanted to tell you I was so sorry that you got hurt when you were with me. I’m a trainer and I…….”
I put my hand up to stop her. “Hon, you didn’t make me do do anything I didn’t want to do. I was 57 acting like I was 17. No worries.”
We make trades believing one thing is better than another without realizing the issue is us. It’s why we are here to support and love each other.
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