Tag Archives: Love

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

I am reminded again that relationships with God and others take practice.

 

When I was a child and took music lessons my parents would constantly prod me to practice. Any musician or athlete knows that it takes lots of practice, sometimes tedious practice to develop any sense of ease and freedom in playing. Being a musician I know this and only wish that I had spent more time in practice! We may initially resent our parents or others who lovingly prod and push us to be the best that we can be. In retrospect we may find that they have given us a great gift!

 

I know it takes lots of practice to develop a talent, but why is it that I think my relationship with God and others should just come automatically? Those skilled at relationships take time working at them. How often do I take the time to resolve an issue in a relationship? Sometimes we just go on, never really talking through or resolving the issue. In terms of our relationship with God, it also takes practice. They don’t call it “spiritual practice,” or “practicing faith” for nothing! But sometimes I get so tired of practicing – taking the time to meditate and pray whether alone or with others. It seems like such a waste of time. There’s so much else to be done!

 

It is only in daily practice that I gain any skill, depth and freedom  as a musician or an athlete and it takes daily practice to gain that same skill, depth and freedom in loving relationships, whether with people or with God. What practices do I have in place that develop my relationship with God and others?


I DON’T WANNA!

I have so NOT been into my zazen sitting/meditation practice lately! The sweetness has disappeared and sometimes it takes everything for me to stay with the meditation and not bolt! I simply don’t want to do it! I’m not feeling anything. It doesn’t seem like I’m getting anything out of it.

It’s precisely during times like these when I should stay with it.

Developing any kind of disciplined practice is countercultural. We live in a culture which basically says: when ya stop feeling it – move on to something else. That’s why we live in a “throw away” society, where we see much brokenness in relationships.

Whether it is in my job, my writing, my meditation practice, my relationship/s, my music practice – it’s precisely when the going gets tough, boring or unfulfilling that I should stick with it. Just because I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. Just become I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean I should stop my practice or acts of love toward another. Something magical actually happens when we stick with it.

In the book Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of St. Benedict Norman Fisher, a Zen priest, married man and co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center for five years says this: “After going through a time when you don’t enjoy your practice (add here job, relationship, exercise etc), you learn that the tough time is always where the reward comes in.” Somehow in the process of sticking with something or someone a greater depth, fulfillment and freedom is developed within us.

So, even though I don’t wanna, . . .can I keep trudging along and discover the reward that exists on the other side of boredom?


I WANT LOTS OF SEX!

OK, now that I have your attention . . .

It’s true. I really do want lots of sex – but not just the hot, passionate, genital kind.

I’m re-reading a book by Ron Rolheiser called The Holy Longing: The Search For a Christian Spirituality. In it, he has a great chapter on sexuality. I’d like to quote one of his definitions of sexuality:

“Sexuality is an all encompassing energy inside of us. In one sense, it is identifiable with the principle of life itself. It is the drive for love, communion, community, friendship, family, affection, wholeness, consummation, creativity, self-perpetuation, immortality, joy, delight, humor and self-transcendence (p.194).”

That’s the kinda sex I want! It’s about being connected on a wide variety of levels. It’s about connection and creativity, about living life fully!

I find that some, even me (yes me, can you believe it?? LOL!) collapse the totality of what sexuality is into simply its genital expression. Over indulgence in porn or sex has the potential of actually sapping our life energy, instead of adding to it. It can leave us empty and only half a person. Instead of feeling more connected to life, we can end up feeling separate and alone. Ultimately we seek connection – that sense of eternity and wholeness we once had before we were born into this physical universe. And on this side of life, we seek and find this wholeness in creative energies, art, music, friendship, family, solitude, life giving work and self giving love. It is when I am balanced on lots of these levels that I feel the most whole and horny – in a healthy, life giving way.

So I say, bring it on baby! That’s the kinda sex I want – and I want LOTS of it!


“I Mean To Stay At Your House”

Luke 19: 1-10

To be chosen is a wonderful thing. Remember when your partner chose you? Remember the day someone looked at you and said they loved you? Or, better yet, having known you a long time, knowing your faults and foibles, that person still loves you?

What a great thing it is to be chosen; not only at first, but day after day. What a great thing it is to be loved, despite one’s weaknesses or failures.

It must have been what Zacchaeus felt when Jesus said: “Hurry down, I mean to stay at your house.” What a wonderful thing it must have been for Zacchaeus, who was despised because he was a tax collector, to feel invited to become a part of the group again. How healing this must have been. We don’t know, but I wonder what happened to Zacchaeus over time? And notice too, despite the grumblings of the righteous folk around that Jesus was going to “go to a sinner’s house,” Jesus did not back down.

God doesn’t want to hang around on the periphery. She wants to come inside our house, the place where we are fully ourselves, gifts and warts and all. He desires to come to the place where we are fully known and there speak a word of love that has the power to move us beyond mere observers in a tree to participants in life and community. I mean to stay at your house.


Amazing Divine Synchronicity

I have been struggling with the re-emergence of a guy in my life that I once had deep feelings for. I have been struggling with the way he is living his life. I am no saint, by any means; but after many years of not being in touch, to hear of the way he is living and justifying his life surprises me.

In the midst of this struggle, I opened to a daily reading. It was from Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle” and this is what it said: “Let us look at our own shortcomings and leave other’s alone. . . . There is no reason why we should expect everyone else to travel by our own road, and we should not attempt to point them to the spiritual path when perhaps we don’t know what it is.”

I looked up and laughed, amazed at Divine Synchronicity. . . . And to think there are times when I have difficulty believing!

Teresa goes on to say that we might learn important lessons from the people who shock us. Indeed, it may help define more clearly what is life giving to us and who we are.

Get the focus off of him; and get it back on yourself and what you need to do to live in ways that are life giving for you.


Naked and in the Groove

I recently heard a talk in which the speaker described an animal that had been born in a zoo. After some years they built a multi-million dollar display, simulating the natural habitat for the animal, thinking that it would create a better, happier space for the animal. When it was released into its new space, much to their surprise, it stayed to one small area. It only walked the same path over and over, creating a rut in the ground, which got deeper as time went on. The animal had all this beautiful space, but it stayed in that one little rut and didn’t roam elsewhere! The speaker went on to say: aren’t we like that sometimes? We get in a rut, doing and thinking the same things over and over – missing so much of what could be if we just got out of the rut.

If you’ve read my last couple of meditations, you’ll know that I spoke of Lent as an opportunity to “get naked” to remove the “cloak” that holds us from being more present to life, to others and to God. When we, with the help of a Power greater than ourselves, remove whatever that is and stand naked in life, present, alive and aware – we get outa the rut and into the groove!

Suddenly, we begin to live again! Suddenly we look around and see so much of life around us. We slowly crawl out of that rut and begin, perhaps fearfully at first, to wander out into the beauty that we have been missing. All that beauty, all those people, all those possibilities suddenly open up before us – because we have had the courage to name that which keeps us all bound up, because we have had the courage to call on a Power greater than ourselves to free us.

Have you named the cloak that you need to remove, the cloak that keeps you separated from life, from others and from God? Have you called on a Higher Power to help you, trusting that the help WILL come? Is the cloak beginning to fall away?

Are you getting out of the rut, and into the groove?


In Your Face

Sometimes love demands that we get in someone’s face. When we see someone we love doing something which is harming them, love demands that we say something. Sometimes these words can and need to be strong, . . . but always said in love. If we do not say anything, we fail in love. Again, these words must always be said in love. Parents know this full well when they correct their children and at times forcefully demand a correction of bad behavior. It is out of concern, not simply anger.

As we continue to celebrate light in the midst of darkness, sometimes getting in someone’s face can be a way of lighting the way to a better life for them. Indeed, it is perhaps the most loving thing we can do, yet one of the most difficult. I am grateful for those in my past who have had the courage to get in my face and helped me onward to a new way of living.


Make It Smooth

“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low. The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” (See Isaiah 40: 1-11)

We’re so used to good roads in the United States that the concept of making a straight highway and leveling mountains is lost on us. When I lived in Central America for a summer I came to appreciate the roads and highway system we have here unlike I ever have before.

This concept of making a highway for God comes up again and again during Advent. If you’ve had the opportunity to observe a highway being built through hills and mountains, suddenly the awesome task of making a straight road comes into perspective!

This makes me think about the obstacles and “rough places” that are still within me, or the obstacles that I either place in another’s way, or don’t help remove. Think of your partner at home, or another family member or friend. Think of the poor, the less fortunate. How could I be of help in removing some of the obstacles that people have in their lives and making life even a little bit easier for them? And, conversely, what rough places and obstacles are still within me that hinder me from living life just a little more fully?


Presence: Getting Connected

Presence:  Getting Connected

Ever wonder if you were on the right path?  Ever feel like you’re off the path?  I know when I feel off the path.  It’s in those times that I need to pause and take time to be still, to get connected again.  If I am not taking that time, the teacher seems to disappear.  When I do take the time, the teacher appears.  Almost by instinct I begin to know what to do, which way to go and life begins to take on meaning again.

It’s like life with a Partner.  Life goes on, we get distracted by daily, mundane tasks and one day goes on the next.  If we don’t intentionally take time to communicate or simply be present to our Partner, the relationship gets disconnected, not only for our Partner, but something within ourselves just isn’t quite right.  When we take the time to communicate and be present, the path reveals itself and life deepens.

“With your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:  ‘This is the way.  Walk in it.’”  (See Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26)

Feeling disconnected?  Sometimes just taking some time to simply be present to God and/or others makes a big difference.  And remember, even when we take time to be present, it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to “feel” connected right away.  The important thing is that we take the time to be present.  Period.

Perhaps the best present we could give ourselves and others is presence.


What’s Most Important?

Luke 21: 5-11

What we see, this life, is not all there is or will be! Today’s readings speak to that strongly. All that we see in this life is passing. It will not always exist. If you have ever been to Rome you have seen the wonderful ruins from the Roman Empire. They are an incredible sight to behold! I’m sure in their day, the Romans thought that what they had would ALWAYS exist, would always be. In our own day, certainly in our own country, we cannot imagine life being different from what we have today. Who could ever imagine that our beautiful capital building and monuments in Washington DC would one day just be ruins?

In this last week of the year, when we continue to hear of the “end times,” we are encouraged to consider the passing nature of things. Two things come to mind. One is, . . . “carpe diem!” Seize the day! LIVE life to its full! Really drink in the wonder of each day and be grateful! The other thing that comes to mind is, . . . in what am I investing my time and energy? Is the focus of my life and my attention an investment in “things?” If it is, my focus is not where it should be. “Things” will pass away. They are temporary. But if I am investing my time in people, then my focus is in the right place. For, unlike “things,” love is eternal! It will never pass away. The investment that I make in people will live on forever! And when it is all said and done, what will matter most to us in the time of our own transition from this life to the next will not be the things we’ve had, but the difference we have made in the lives of others.