Friday, April 29, 2011
Every day after checking into the news I get a clearer understanding of why Jesus was so hard on the rich. He knew how much wealth could do when used properly ("Well done, good and faithful servant."), yet he became discouraged enough about greed that he could say, "Woe unto you that are rich," and "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." These are not angry condemnations about eternal damnation. They are words of discouragement that the "deceitfulness of riches" could so blind good people from seeing the spiritual kingdom He was trying to establish here on earth. He was, as his daily walk showed, wanting people to use their energies and money to heal the sick, feed the hungry, help the jobless in the market place, clothe the naked, befriend the friendless and the prisoners. So when I see very successful (?) people who could be doing so much for the common good wasting their gifts and assets on childish and greedy pursuits, I feel some of the sadness of Jesus. No wonder he wept when the crowds missed the point.
Monday, April 25, 2011
My blog about agreeable aging does not imply that as I age I do not have to deal with disagreeable events and changes in my life. I am now losing my edge in some of my favorite functions. One group of these falls under the heading of communication. As far back as high school I found great satisfaction in three functions: public speaking, journalism, and music. They have all played a big part in my vocation and avocations. A few years ago I realized my singing voice was no longer dependable especially at the higher ranges. (Not a good sign for a tenor.) My writing climaxed with the publication my book, "Laying the Roles to Rest in 1999 and dwindled down to an occasional blog called "Charlie Wonders." I began to limit my public speaking when I realized that as a pastor, a pastoral therapist, and in relationships it was much more important to be a good listener than a clever speaker. Most disturbing right now is what I call a "minimal, minimal cognitive impairment". In addition to the usual short-term memory loss of this handicap, I lose concentration easily and have trouble focusing on a given speaker task. So my participation in leading worship and teaching Bible is limited. Agreeable aging enables me to reframe all of these functions as opportunities to be a more relaxed participant in worship, Bible study and relationships. None of them define me as I once thought they did.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
A week from my 81st birthday I am set free from a lot of unpleasantness by what I call "agreeable aging". It is a simple concept. All I have to do is accept what is going on in and around me. This beats fighting what is real. There is always plenty in my environment to make me disagreeable. I look to my right shoulder and see a gash that gives me a little pain. It also limits movements and activities I like to do. I can choose to be irritated by it and with a little thought make myself miserable. Or I can remember that in its place only yesterday there was a sore that had not healed for months. I can be grateful for a team of surgeons that removed the carcinoma and zipped me back up. They also gave me careful instructions for caring for the wound and expectations that within weeks it will heal. Other irritants are not so easily cut out or fixed. Some are totally out of my control to change or avoid. In most of them however with enough attention I can surrender them to God and accept what is. In the prime of my ministry I printed on the bottom of my business stationary the motto "Opening to life." It is still a good mantra for me.
Friday, April 22, 2011
For fifty years of my adult life I thought I needed more time--more time to get my work done, time with the family, time to exercise, time for home chores, time to study and prepare for whatever was next. Seems like I was always frustrated with the need for more time. Now that I have more of that kind of time I find I don't need it so much. That's because I am also down to the essentials of life that do not take clock hours. Instead, loving God and the people in my life, accepting the life I now have only requires gratitude, awareness, and attention. It does not take more days to know who I am today beyond my surface self--my name, rank and serial number, my biography, my body. This only takes a willingness to look within and acceptance of what I see. I only need to see that it is good to be in this place and realize time as I have known it will soon be gone. Eternity is better.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A few of my dear readers responded with me-too comments on my last blog. We are not alone. The thinking addiction seems to affect everybody I know. Our thoughts become compulsive. Our minds not only run away with us, we seem to over-value the product of our own minds. We take them far too seriously. That leads us way from our true self to a false mind-made self. We are far more than that. We are created in the image of God, but we cannot think our way into beauty or worry our way into truth or invent joy. Jesus said "Don't worry your head about tomorrow, we'll deal with that then." Just as unhelpful is to regret or replay the past. We can't deal with either of these directions. No matter how much we put our minds to it, we can't change the past or control the future. We can only handle the here and now. One thing I am learning about these compulsive thoughts is to practice focusing intensely on what is happening in my mind and heart right now. Usually this brings an awareness that I have no crisis, no unsolvable problem--just a cool, refreshing sense of well-being.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
When I was in the third grade I was the fastest runner in our class. One day playing a game in the gym I ran so fast I failed to make a turn and ran face first into the closed bleachers. On my way down to the floor I saw the customary stars and woke up with a big bump on my forehead. It has now been scores of years since I ran fast. Now it is just my mind that runs too fast for its own good. Thoughts, opinions, beliefs, memories, daydreams all develop a momentum that take me away from my deeper, healthier self. These are not particularly good thoughts or bad thoughts, just mental noise that I can take too seriously and give too much attention to. Like white water rapids they bounce me along so fast I believe I have no control over them. Even though most of this stuff is just baggage I picked up from someone somewhere I can think they are me but even that is just a thought. Maybe now that I have "dealt" with them (at four a.m.) I can go back to sleep.