Midday Meditation 5.24.16

Midday Meditation 5.24.16
“The Lord walks among the pots and pans” – Brother Lawrence
 
Since Friday I’ve been working behind the scenes at my work, that is, light duty in the form of washing dishes, getting sack lunches ready, getting snacks ready, and related. In the time I have spent doing this I realize I have been present, even hyper-present almost, to the tasks before me and to those I am helping out by helping feed them.
 
It was while cleaning I was reminded of a 17th century Carmelite brother by the taken name of Lawrence Of The Resurrection, and how his experience in the order was as dishwasher and later on sandal repairer. From his teachings the book The Practice of the Presence of God came forth, and from within it a sense of peace and presence with God and others in what might be perceived mundane everyday life.
 
Working in the kitchen is not always an easy task, but the kitchen staff has been helpful through and through, plus one of my students has helped me in the morning hours leading up to school. He made known to me that he felt privileged to be working alongside of me, how humbling! There in the kitchen, in the midst of dirty pots and pans, I too felt the same thing.
Isn’t that a beautiful example of what life can look like? That it’s not always those mountaintop experiences, but in the small and quiet and humbling ways, ways that point to simply BEing in communion with others.
 
I have been given the green light to go back to working with my students come tomorrow, which I am really thankful to be able to do that. But I am also thankful for my time spent working in the kitchen, my level of presence and BEing has been raised.
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Morning musing 4.24.16

Early morning musing 4.24.16

I’m thinking of writing for my eyes only an ongoing narrative called “What Bothers The F*** Out Of Me” or WBTFOUM for short.

Now while it might appear to be over the top, after all I’m using a variant of the “F Word” in the title, it’s a strong word because I have strong reactions to some things; such as social injustice, food deserts, racism, grace and forgiveness being withheld on my part, responding out of fear and not love, mental health stigma internal and external, et al.

All of the things that bother me in this life mainly pertain to human behavior, and not the human in and of himself/herself. Which I think is good, because I can work through reaction and respond with action.

I don’t see human beings as issues, their own or imposed, we all have faults and cracks. Yet this is how the light gets in (as so elegantly sung by Leonard Cohen in Anthem), and so I want to expose my cracks and be illuminated.

I have cracks, I have faults, I have an inner darkness, I have fear of true intimacy. But I have a desire for the light to expose all of me, I want to be seen for who I am and not some cheap imitation that’s “socially accepted” and that’s it.

I was made for more than that,
You were made more than that ☺

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Living life as a spiritual exercise; day 18 of Ramadan

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace (Braveheart)
How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.” – Jostein Gaarder

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, the start of my 31st year of life, and so I decided that I would go to Lake Geneva Wisconsin. Lake Geneva Wisconsin is a place I have been going to nearly my entire life, and even on my mother’s side of the family they’ve been going there for a long time.From where I live to where Lake Geneva is is about 70 miles. So I loaded up some stuff (no food mind you!) and I headed there for a day of swimming, relaxing, having fun, and being at Lake Geneva…


I knew I wouldn’t be the only there; gorgeous weather paired with Independence Day falling on the weekend, yeah it was quite crowded. But still I was able to find a spot for my stuff, and once I we as settled I jumped into the water.
Now the thing about bodies of water and I is this- I will not tiptoe, go slow, gradually get in…but I will run full force head on into the water. And so, I did! It was cold but not unbearably so, and once my body grew acclimated to it I had a fun just floating and swimming around, being tossed about by the little waves.

As I floated in the serenity of it all I found myself offering up thank-you’s to God; thank you for another year of life, thank you for the capacity to work and do what I love, thank you for the opportunity to go swimming, thank you for the ability to swim, thank you for warm summer days, thank you for little glimpses of heaven found in nature, thank you…and so on, and had I not been swimming I could’ve been sleeping as the ebb and flow was calming to me, calming all the way to the center of my being.

After several hours of swimming, I dried off and made my way to town. Not a shopper, but as a reprieve to my feet for the time spent swimming as well as the time spent driving back to my apartment. Another facet to why I like Lake Geneva Wisconsin so much is there’s a good deal of design architectually-speaking as well as manicured gardens. My apartment isn’t anything fancy, so to see good examples of architecture and gardens whets my appetite for when I am to have some resemblance of the “American Dream”.



It, as my coworker is quick to prompt students and staff, was a great day to be alive! I recognize within my being that sometimes I let the world go by me as if I was stuck on autopilot, stuck in cruise control, and if I am not mindful of time passing I will be passed up by time.
I don’t want to live that kind of life, and so I need to fight against the current that tries to drag me back to a place of complacency, a place that says ‘why fight it? Just do nothing and you’ll won’t have so many hardships.’ But it’s not true, to me doing nothing means not living, not living means merely existing, merely existing means I will never enjoy life to the fullest because the time I am allotted to has become a countdown timer until I have shuffled off my mortal coil. I want to live life, not merely exist!

So with all that being said, living life were my keywords on the 18th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God who the giver and sustainer of all life. May we be mindful of the time given to us because none of us really know how long we’re going to be alive. And may we be alive than simply exist, may we give in to rejoicing than rambling, may we share the life we’ve been given with others.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Time management as a spiritual exercise; day 15 of Ramadan

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“Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

If you think about it, time is essentially all we have. Because when we have shed our mortal coils, that’s it, game over, fin, adios, sayonara, goodbye… But if we’re wise we can make the most of our time rather than wonder at the end of the day “where the heck did this day go?”
Perhaps the best way to begin with time management is finding out what consumes the most amount of your time during the week and then building around that. In my case I have a Monday through Friday 7am to 3pm job, and while I don’t plan for much before hand apart from getting ready to go, after 3pm is up to me to make the most of it.

From there figure out what activities you’re involved with and/or activities you want to be involved with, add that to your time management but also add on time getting to and from said activities as well as prep time (if needed) in doing the activities. From there allow room for leisure; I bring this up because sometimes in the busyness of every day we don’t allow ourselves time to take things easy. In fact, some of us actually feel guilty to have time spent doing nothing productive but hey, if you’re this kind of person I give you permission to be lazy every now and then.

Incorporate time to spend with friends and family; their time is limited inasmuch as yours is and because of the temporal nature of time this time might be the last time. I don’t mean to be morbid, I am just conscientiously aware of how quickly time goes by.

If you’re the adventurous outdoorsy type, I recommend using some time to go outside into the great outdoors and just be. Not everyone can handle being in the outdoors, but if you can, do it! Allow room to go shopping for needs and wants, allow room to cook food and enjoy it at a gradual non-rushed pace, go biking, be mindful of time spent online / Facebook / watching television because these activities in moderation are good but they can certainly be time sappers and if you’re not careful the day can be that much closer to the end because you spent too much time doing these activities.

And lastly if you’re of a faith tradition, take time to engage God in your synagogue / church / mosque / temple / etc. or if you need a break from the community that can be found in places, take time to engage God on your own terms in your own way (I like spending time with God in the great outdoors or swimming in Lake Michigan).

So with all that being said, time management was my keyword on this 15th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God for giving us the time we have on our earth. May we invest it wisely and not waste the precious minutes / hours / days / months / years we’ve been given.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Praying with my eyes open; a return to finding a girlfriend

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Genesis 2:18 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Queen – Somebody to Love – “Oh Lord, Ooh somebody, ooh somebody, Can anybody find me somebody to love?”

    I find myself constantly in prayer and as of late I’ve realized I’ve stopped praying for a certain someone…a certain woman…in my life. I don’t know why I’ve stopped praying for a girlfriend in my life, I really don’t, and the pangs of singleness are flaring up again. It’s not that I am exposed to a lot of couples who are young (of age, or at heart) and in love, it’s just I realize that with all my passions and aspirations and desires are carried out alone. It’s not to say that I want a girl that will do exactly what I do, but rather I want to share my world with and I want to partake in her world as well.

I have learned…and have relearned multiple times…that communication is vital in a relationship, and not just mere “hey how’s it going, fine and you?” shallow-end-of-the-conversation-pool talk, but the mundane as well as the hard and difficult but real / authentic talks that need to be had. I realize that I have no problems with getting there with others, albeit sometimes I put more out there at a quicker rate than what people are accustomed to but here’s why.
In my first 22-23 years of living, I was a calculated and serial bullshitter! I presented myself in a way that I thought was socially acceptable, a nice and tidy outside might reflect a nice and tidy inside, right? Well, it wasn’t me, and yet I thought to myself constantly if anyone finds out who you really are and what you’ve been through, they’ll stop liking you and even worse, stop loving you. It wasn’t true, but when you hear something often enough or repeat something to yourself no matter how false it is it will be true to you.
So I spun this lie in my head until my world evolved…my comfort zone expanded…and I found out that even when I put myself out there, warts and all, people still liked me and loved me. I haven’t looked back ever since. And while some relationships among some individuals I entrusted my story with have gone belly up over the years, I don’t regret the brief friendships that were based on transparency and honesty to the other person, and so I continue to conduct my life in this way; not holding back, not bullshitting, being transparent, and being the best damn version of myself. I and like the rest of humanity is evolving. And so often we are the force[s] that move us forward or keep us *here* wherever *here* might be. Not saying that *here* is not a good place, but if you find that it is and you want to move forward, it’s time for you to move forward…and if you need it, you have permission to move forward.

***

With that being said, here’s my transparency; I have no freaking clue of how to jump back into dating / I don’t know what my “scene” is when it comes to dating. Real talk, apart from work, my social interactions either occur at bars or in church. I am prone to overanalyze and overthink things…everything…and so I weigh out what either place has to offer, the types of women, and I even check my prowess.
I am not an alpha male, I don’t ooze testosterone and type a-ness, I don’t reek of Brut and pheromones…I’m an assertive type b introspective ambivert who is better at active listening than talking, good at making out, loves God and craft beer, loves word-related games of all sorts, likes to workout but doesn’t regularly hit the gym, has Zach Galifianakis as a spirit animal, tie-dye and weird socks wearing, wish-I-could-wear-shorts-all-year-round kind of guy!

I know this FULL well about myself, and I love myself for it; I thank God for these traits and nuances about me on the daily, but I also realize that too often I am stuck in my head. The insecurities of being liked and being loved sometimes crash over me like a tidal wave; I am the beach and I am pounded by a seemingly unending barrage of doubt and helplessness at times.
It’s because of getting stuck in my head that I don’t venture one iota of courage when it comes to the opposite sex…and therein lies the basis of my singleness. I have dated before, hell I was also engaged as well, but it seems like with every passing day / week / month / year I grow a bit more frustrated. It’s why I am returning to praying with my eyes open, because it connects me with something deeper than myself. It’s not a shot in the dark or a hail Mary play, but as a means to be verbally transparent before God. God already knows me, but remember what I said about communication? Yep, same thing applies here.

So that’s where I am returning to. I may have walked away from this practice for a while, but I know I will get there. It might be cliche to say, but so be it, it’s equally about the destination inasmuch the journey. God bless this journey I am about to embark on, who knows where it will lead, but I am ready and I am willing to go where it leads.

~Nathanael~