Long Living and Dwelling Satisfaction

We are living longer these days. Into our 80s and 90s. And strong. By all accounts, I’m barely halfway if I live to be 85. I’ve seen and done a lot of things that have brought me joy. Sometimes I wake up and ask myself if the life I have is it. I’ve been trying to answer that question by wondering what more I should do or become. But it’s falling short.

Instead, I’m leaning into my faith.

Dreams have a way to speak to us. It could very well be an unloading of the unconscious, which is very healthy. But they can also have deeper meanings. Dreams have been very clear and symbolic lately. I recently had a dream about John ch. 14-15. Dwell. Abide. Remain. In my dream, I felt a deep hole being filled with God’s tenderness and presence.

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Our faith tradition tells us that we God created us for a deep, communal relationship. In this space of relating, I seem to be more of my true self: one who is loved and has the power to love others in my own unique ways. Isn’t that when the self is at its most truest? When it is known to be loved and is catalyzed to love others?

It just so happens that one of the readings for today was John 15. And it was the reminder that my primary work is to give myself over to the presence of God, where there is deep satisfaction beyond feelings, thoughts, and performance.

If I’m going to live a long life, I pray to be satisfied in the presence of the Sacred in ways that I might see in all the simplicity and little things of life. Making coffee in the morning. Putting on a new hoodie in SoCal weather that is dipping into the high 30s at night in November. Sitting in my reading chair and preparing myself for the satisfying Presence of the Sacred: Father/Son/Spirit.

Roots and Storms

When life gets crazy, what habits and practices do you turn to for grounding and rootedness?  Storms will come and shake us up.  No doubt about that.  

Sickness.
Finances.
Dark nights of the soul.
Relationship stress.
Lack of direction in life.

What or who do you turn to for help and grounding?  When you’re in the storm, we may get rattled but we can turn towards our roots that help us make sense of what is happening.  

ROOTS

For me, faith, friends, and family are a source of rootedness in the middle of the storm.  And I’ve misfortune this year.  I’ve had to turn to my three F’s (LOL!).  When I’ve felt overwhelmed and lost, I’ve reached out as best as I could.  

The other day, I was lying down on the floor, symbolic of Psalm 23 (He makes me lie down in green pastures) and was transported to a field.  I felt the wind, the brush, and the Presence.  Just then, my son bursted through the door and says in his teenage voice, “Dad, what are you doing down there!?”  I told him, “I’m praying, duh!”.  LOL!

A storm had just hit our family and I needed to be reminded that the Lord is our Shepherd and that we lack no good thing.  I then reached out to friends and family for prayer and shared with them my struggles and feelings.  I felt the Presence of the Shepherd with me through my faith, friends, and family.  They helped me return to my roots.  

During this Thanksgiving season, may you return to your roots that have helped you through the big storms.  May we be able to say thanks and give our friends and family the gift of embrace, as they have to us.

Peace

Optics of Fear

When I was in high school, I joined the track team and ran the mile and half mile.  I also ran cross country.  In 9th grade, I was the league champ for the frosh/soph category.  I ran a 17:39 5k.  Same year, I was training to run a 4:30 mile.  The closest I got was 5min flat.  The person behind me came in 10 seconds later.

Ask me what happened my sophomore year…

nothing.

I quit.

why?

I was afraid of losing.  I couldn’t bear the thought of coming in second or last.  I was also overwhelmed by the training.  I’ll never forget the feeling of quitting.  It hurt….it hurt bad.

I hate fear.  And the kind of fear I’m talking about is the paralyzing stuff where it causes you to stop dead in your tracks.

John Ortberg describes fear like this:

“…an internal warning cry that danger is nearby and we had better do something about it. It is designed to be what researchers call a “self-correcting mechanism”—to be unpleasant enough to motivate us to take action and remove ourselves from whatever is threatening us. It readies our body to flee, hide, or fight.”

book on amazon

We perceive something as dangerous, unpleasant, or threatening.  Our bodies go into flight, fight, or fright mode.  The word literally means “danger”!

But why is that my classmates Seth, Tim, and Ian weren’t afraid enough to quit?  Why did I quit?  Why did I give in to fear and why did I see it more as a threat than they did?

Somehow my perception of racing felt like danger and a threat to my sense of value and worth.  I equated winning and losing to my self-worth and I was more worried about that than actually racing and having fun.

OPTICS

This is the famous buzz word I’ve heard recently.  It’s about how we frame, perceive, and see things.  A “jacked up” view can cause us to see things through optics of fear.  What someone see’s as an opportunity, others see it as a threat or dangerous to their livelihood.

In the Bible, the number one mandate repeated isn’t about how to love God, others, or to do good (although they’re the most important).  Nope.  The most repeated mandate is “DO NOT BE AFRAID”.

Lost dreams, unfulfilled goals, and lack of trying…are they optics of fear that have paralyzed us?

ENDURE

The Belgian spiritual writer Bieke Vandekerckhove found out she had terminal cancer at age 19.  She writes about three inner feelings she had to work through:  sadness, anger, and fear.  The first two are easier to name, express, and work through.  She says,

“fear paralyzes us, and this paralysis is the very thing which robs us of the strength we would need to combat it…fear can only be suffered.  We have to live with it until it recedes on its own…with fear, sometimes all we can do is endure.”

Ronald Rolheiser has quickly become one of my favorite spiritual writers.  He may be the next “Henri Nouwen”.  In his book, “Wrestling with God”, he says,

“Fear can render us impotent.  But naming it properly, recognizing where that symptom belongs and how powerless it leaves us, can help us to live with it, without sadness and anger.”

book on amazon

We may not be able to fix or cure fear completely out of our lives, but we can learn to name it, endure it, and choose to trust God’s invitation to not be afraid (because God is for us, with us, and towards our purpose and potential).

more to name… 🙂

The Playgrounds

Playgrounds.  That’s how I relate to the major areas of my life.  I take my life playfully serious.

I have a few different playgrounds in my life.  These seem to be the major ones that I play in on a daily basis:

  • RELATIONSHIPS (marriage, parenting, family, friends, neighbors)
  • RECREATION (music, running, cycling, home projects, basketball with my sons, movie theatre)
  • FINANCES (budgeting, tracking)
  • FAITH (ethics, theology, viewpoints, formation, beliefs, praxis)
  • WORK (seeking vocational competency, creativity, and expression)
  • HEALTH (eating, sleeping, exercising, self-care, compassion)

The idea is to attend to these playgrounds often because they’re very important to the life I long for.