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.

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

If there’s a heaven; Of unanswered questions, my grandfather, and Adolf Hitler

Earlier today as a personal exercise I examined myself from the inside as to what I’d like to do if Heaven exists. I realized as I was writing it that I slightly presented hell but not one of eternal conscious torment, but one where the fires lap at our human imperfections like dross from gold; a removal, an extraction of what isn’t good until we’re able to be reconnected with ourselves, with others, and also unto God.
With that being said, here goes something…

***

If Heaven does in fact exist, and if I am allowed to partake and enjoy it with God and all of humanity I want to do the following 3 things:

1) Find my maternal grandfather and catch up with him for an eon or so.
At this point in my life he is the number one person I miss the most of those who have passed away. He passed away when I was younger and I miss him a lot; I miss his stories, his humor, the weird twitching of his bicep when he’d flex, and so on. I do honor him now when it comes to All Saints Day and also when I meditate on the “cloud of witnesses” of saints who have gone before during my time of prayer. I hope that I am able to do this when I myself have passed away.

2) Present to God all the why questions I have.
I don’t know if I will have inner peace or satisfaction in asking all my why questions, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I realize that if given the opportunity it will take some time, but as the musician Chris Rice aptly put it; “it’s a good thing forever’s forever.” Yet maybe even still all I might receive is a hug and a resounding but comforting “I know…I know…I know” and that will be it. If it happens to be the latter, I am hoping that will be enough for my wearied mind.

3) If Adolf Hitler is already there, I want to forgive him.
If Hitler is already in Heaven, if he has already been removed of the dross that separates him from himself, humanity, and God, and provided I am dross-free as well I want to let him know that I forgive him. If, as Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human, to forgive divine” then I want to do that because I want to aid in reconnecting Hitler with his humanity and his Imago Dei-ness if at all possible. I realize the reason behind this is that I believe within every cell of my BEing that no one is able to fully resist the love of God forever because the very essence of God is love. It might take years or eons to “get it” and accept it, but love will win eventually. May the dross that separates us from ourselves, each other, and our creator be quickly stripped away!

Onward, Inward, and Upward!
~Nathanael~

Presently I have a hard time being present; being here and now when I am mentally else where

2 nights ago I spent 5 of my 7 hours of sleep contemplating and analyzing and thinking- subconsciously. You see, as of late I have been really REALLY restless when it comes to BEing present, I am mentally elsewhere when I am with friends as well as family. Why? Well as I was subconsciously exploring this in my sleep (if I were indeed sleeping) I realize this truth about myself: I am a 5th wheel, I am a single guy at the age of 31.

And it’s not entirely a bad thing to be single, I am aware of this fully, but there are some things that it takes being a “we”, a couple that cannot be addressed when you’re single. Some of it I take in stride, some of it I dismiss, and some of it I am hurt by being single and lacking that connection with another human being. As a full fledged heterosexual male, I miss being a “we”, having a girlfriend I can call up to see how she’s doing, making plans for the weekend, making cards (yes, I make ’em by hand with all my love), doing normal and sometimes banal things, the …I miss it all.

Being with couples as a single guy has contributed to me not being present, being here, being here in the now, and so on. It’s not the only item to my distraction but I realize it has played a big part. With that being said, I am working to overcome my distractedness and BE present to what’s happening around me and who I am with.
I might still be single, but I am intentionally working on myself and my lot in life and what have instead of what I have not. I admit it’s an uphill boulder-pushing endeavor, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Presence and BEing is what I seek at this time, but if more good things come my way I will seek to be present and BE with it to the best of my abilities.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Commitment as a spiritual exercise; day 22 of Ramadan

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When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz
Earlier today I was hanging out with my bro Mark and we spent a good deal of time being and talking amongst ourselves. One of the things we discussed at length is the nature of commitment and how it seems that sometimes in our culture we sometimes have a reluctance to remain committed to a person, an organization, a place we worship in, and so on.
Commitment to someone or something is a good thing, it causes us to remain faithful and keeps us in check for the long haul. Because it is very easy to stick with something or someone in the good times, but what about the difficult and trying parts of life? Are we going to leave simply because we or it or they are going through a rough season of life? Would we want that to happen to US if we were in their shoes? Probably not and that’s why I think it is so vital to stick to something through all seasons of life- ours as well as theirs!

Now I realize that we all live self-defined busy lives and obviously we cannot commit to all things, which is why I propose we take the time to examine what’s on our plate of things we do and start clearing it; while it might all be good, it’s prudent to find the great and commit to that.

Why some and not all you might ask, very simply; time management and personal health. We are not defined by our jobs, our labels, our doings as well as our beings. And subsequently the multitude of things we might undertake feed into a false sense of who we are. Plus everyone who lives is given 168 hours of life per week, and if we’re fully committed to a LOT of things where’s the time we can call our own?

We should want to give of our time and our lives to others and causes we align ourselves with, but we also need to find space within all that to recharge our batteries lest we fall prey to compassion fatigue.
I work a job in the behavioral health field and I see compassion fatigue all around me, and if I am honest with myself I am in the throes of it myself, but I have learned (and relearned) over the years to detach myself from it all when I am not there.

Otherwise I am prone to think that my coworkers aren’t able to do as good of a job as I can and that shit will hit the proverbial fan in my absence. This is unhealthy to my coworkers and residents alike, and it fuels my ego in the most perverse of ways. So when I am not at work, I am not at work period! Life will go on without me, and all I can do is hope that all is well and if it’s not it will be rectified by those who are working when I am not.

So examine your life, your plate, and start the process of clearing it. Figure out what are the good things in your life and weed them out and commit to those great things instead! It might be frustrating to get to the place of identifying and pursuing the great things in life, but trust me it is well worth it to get to that place in life.
So with all that being said, commitment is my keyword on this 22nd day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Committed One, who is faithful and loving and compassionate to all of mankind. May we take time to figure out what’s worth committing to in our lives, to our personal benefit as well as to the benefit of others.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael