Archive for December, 2018

The Narrow Gate

Friday, December 21st, 2018

What Jesus certainly does not say is that the sheep and goats are divided on the basis of who has and who has not said a sinner’s prayer! Unfortunately, a cobbled-together misreading of Paul has been used to either ignore or evade what Jesus taught about the priority of loving our neighbors as ourselves being the criterion for judgment. Jesus taught that the Golden Rule is the narrow gate that leads to life. The narrow gate is not a sinner’s prayer but a life of love and mercy. The way of self-interest that exploits the weak is the wide road to destruction; the way of cosuffering love that cares for the weak is the narrow road that leads to life.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 129

Photo: Isle of Iona, Scotland, July 13, 2003.

Awe

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Awe doesn’t ask our permission to wow us; it just smacks us in the face with something bigger without bothering to argue us out of our tedium. Awe can come in a single glance, a beautiful sound, a heartfelt gesture. Think of how we can slog along in our little tunnel of daily life, back and forth, and then one day pass a lilac bush in bloom. The fragrance catches us first and then the beauty of the full blossoms. In pausing to appreciate it, we receive a reminder of the spectacular. Much like that, awe can bring this invigorating sense of novelty into everyday relationships that might otherwise feel stale or dull.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 282

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 29, 2016

Life Here and Now

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

In the New Testament, however, salvation is about much more than just getting our soul into heaven when we die, and evangelism is about much more than getting our name on the right side of the divine ledger. Salvation is about getting heaven, the realm of God’s saving presence, into all the different aspects of our life here and now. The early Christians did not understand their mission in life to be to simply get people to assent to certain religious beliefs so that they would have a good afterlife waiting for them. They believed that Jesus is the world’s true ruler, and so their mission was to live in that truth and announce it to the world. The first Christians believed that through his resurrection and ascension, Jesus was exalted as King over all, and so the way we enable God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven is by following Jesus here and now.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 137-138

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 17, 2018

Embodying Gratitude

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Embodying and practicing gratitude changes everything. It is not a personal construct, it’s a human construct — a unifying part of our existence — and it’s the antidote to foreboding joy, plain and simple. It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment, or love, or joy — of really feeling it, of basking in it — by conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity.

— Brené Brown, Dare to Lead, p. 83

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 26, 2014

Pouting

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

If we think it unreasonable to expect ourselves to rejoice in suffering, try looking at the other side: Isn’t it unreasonable not to rejoice? Taking into account God’s great love and faithfulness, and the promise of our eternal reward in heaven, isn’t a joyless attitude like a small child’s tantrum? Feeling powerless, we either shut down or throw a fit as the only means of retaliating against the one who does hold power.

Unhappiness is a form of pouting. It’s a way of saying, “I shouldn’t suffer like this; it’s scandalous; I don’t deserve it and I won’t accept it.” Fine. Your unhappiness will continue until you do accept it. You’d rather be right than happy.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 112

Photo: San Pedro, California, January 2, 2004

Welcoming Our Own Wounds

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

We are at our healthiest when we are most situated in awe, and at our least healthy when we engage in judgment. Judgment creates the distance that moves us away from each other. Judgment keeps us in the competitive game and is always self-aggrandizing. Standing at the margins with the broken reminds us not of our own superiority but of our own brokenness. Awe is the great leveler. The embrace of our own suffering helps us to land on a spiritual intimacy with ourselves and others. For if we don’t welcome our own wounds, we will be tempted to despise the wounded.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 54

Photo: Rota, Spain, December 18, 2005

Fun

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Fun comes from one of the higher states of consciousness. It is an inspired state through which we bring humor and flow into the situation. To bring fun into any situation is to generate more energy of expectancy. Fun has the same dynamics as luck, so when we are having fun, we naturally create more luck. Fun and humor go hand in hand. Fun, appreciation, inspiration, spontaneity, naughtiness, and rascality are all forms of Leadership. Fun is true responsiveness to the situation, which, paradoxically, becomes more productive where fun is present.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 385

Photo: Euro Disney, November 1998

Unwanted Help

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

The harm is in the unwanted help or helping them when they need to figure things out for themselves. Help is the sunny side of control.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 45

Priorities

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

It’s not easy to establish priorities in life. Most of life is spent needing to do everything at once. And that’s impossible. At least it is impossible to do them all at the same level of artistry all the time. There are simply some things worth doing that at some times are worth doing poorly. Sometimes the soufflé doesn’t come out as raised as we would like it, but it is food on the table and that is all that matters for now.

The ability to deal with failure, with doing some things well enough without having to do them compulsively, is a great gift.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 58

Photo: Burg Rheinfels, Germany, April 2003

Motivation to Forgive

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

The good news is that we are more ready to forgive than we think. Our major obstacles are not the offenses themselves but the lack of tools with which to work. We only imagine it is the nature of the offense that is unforgivable. However, if any of us look around we will find people who have forgiven the very same offense. Remember, I have worked with people who made significant progress to forgive unprovoked violence. No offense is unforgivable to everyone. If you look you can always find someone who has forgiven in a similar situation.

When you put yourself into one or both of the scenarios above you will see that the hesitancy to forgive is principally a question of motivation. We feel unmotivated because lacking such compelling reasons as wealth or death we do not know how good we will feel when we have forgiven. We wonder if it will be worth the effort. Because we lack the tools to forgive, the effort can feel overwhelming. This book gives you the tools to forgive. You still have to make the effort.

The motivation to use the techniques is primarily to regain the power you give the past to ruin your present. Often we forget that forgiveness is for us and not the offender. Forgiveness in no way condones cruelty or unkind treatment. Forgiveness gives us back peace of mind.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 107-108

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 7, 2014