Author Archive

Finding A Rhythm In Life Lived

January 27, 2023

Dad decided for whatever reason I don’t know to send me to a percussion teacher when I was about eight years old. I learned the variety of rhythms–marching, Bossa Nova, rhumba, waltz, and so on by the time I moved on to guitar at 20.

I thought of rhythms thanks to a new book I’ve begun reading this week, Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity, by Gloria Mark, PhD. She is a psychologist who has researched things such as focus.

I’ve only gotten through the first four chapters so far. She has gone through some research on flow, a topic popularized mostly in athletics but also in creative work. This observation is derived from that feeling you have when you are deeply immersed in something–a book, painting a picture, playing soccer–and time passes unnoticed.

She points out that much of our work, and indeed our lives, are not in flow. Rather there is a rhythm. Perhaps the daily circadian rhythm. There are points of a day where we are more alert and times when we need a break.

Reading through the Proverbs (my annual January refresher course) I sense rhythms. The wise person rises early, attends to the work to be done, helps other people, avoids fools. The fool’s rhythm depends on the whims of the moment, the vagaries of the moment, the suggestions of “friends.”

Our trick is to find our daily/weekly/monthly rhythms and live them out. Hopefully the rhythm of the wise and not that of the fool.

Who Is A Fool?

January 26, 2023

Today’s chapter in Proverbs hit the fools, the lazy, and the “whisperer.” So, I thought, who is a fool? Is there a picture of a fool? How would I know one, really?

Wow, did that ever send me down into a rabbit’s warren of Ecosia searches. That was 12 hours ago. A busy day and several zoom meetings later, here I am after dinner still thinking.

Perhaps I am the fool?

Speaking of fools, I thought about our politicians in the US. A big group of them keep trying to run every detail of our lives. Many of these were youth and adolescents of the 70s.

This 70s song by Jonathan Edwards (Sunshine Go Away Today) appeared on our Sonos speakers

Sunshine, go away today
I don’t feel much like dancing
Some man’s gone, he’s tried to run my life
He don’t know what he’s asking
When he tells me I better get in line
I can’t hear what he’s saying
When I grow up, I’m gonna make it mine
These ain’t dues I been paying

Well, how much does it cost?
I’ll buy it
The time is all we’ve lost
I’ll try it
And he can’t even run his own life
I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine, sunshine

The song is packed with teenage rebellion. On the other hand, I was impacted by the line–he can’t even run his own life I’ll be damed if he’ll run mine.

How often do we, yes we, you and me, try to tell other people how to live yet our own lives leave so much to be desired?

Once again a use for the discipline of pause, breathe, consider, be quiet.

Do Things With Intention

January 25, 2023

When I attended a Baptist church, I noticed a favorite metaphor of the preachers was to divide people into the “lost” and the “found”.

I’ve thought about lost. I observed some neighbors. They were lost. What does a person do when lost, say in the woods. Experts say they wind up walking in circles. Without a map and no idea of direction, they drift.

I’ve observed people just drifting through life. No purpose. No courage. Usually too much alcohol. Not enough discipline to maintain good health or a steady job.

The road to hell is not paved with good intentions. It is paved with lack of intention.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

I heard this idea quoted on a podcast some time ago. I’ve been pondering it.

How does this apply?

I intend to get up from this chair, walk over to the community clubhouse, exercise with some walking and Yoga, sit in the hot water of the spa (we don’t have a sauna). Then I’ll come back home for breakfast followed by study and writing about technology and strategies used in manufacturing.

Perhaps what Maté (and the words of Jesus and the Proverbs) mean about intention are deeper than that. I approach God with intention. Pray with intention. Serve others with intention.

Reading Proverbs Understand the Meaning of the Picture

January 24, 2023

Sometimes the writers of the Proverbs include a saying that is blunt. Do not do this…for this will happen. Sometimes the sayings are little pictures. Sometimes, like Jesus, the stories require work on our part to understand.

Once I quoted from the German writer Thomas Mann, “If everyone swept in front of their house, the whole world would be clean.” An engineer wrote to me and explained how that was impossible. He was thinking of a literal broom. Mann was most likely thinking of what would happen if each of us got ourselves in order first, rather than trying to fix everyone else.

Sometimes, like this one, the story is pretty clear.

“I passed by the field of one who was lazy,
by the vineyard of a stupid person;
and see, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,

and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want, like an armed warrior.”

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Proverbs 24

Avoiding laziness pops up often in the Proverbs. This is a nice little story to illustrate.

Get your 7-8 hours of sleep. Then get up and work on your field–whatever that field may be. I wrote a few days ago about the Japanese theory of ickigai–having a purpose to get out of bed in the morning. Find your purpose and work at it.

Rich and Poor Have This In Common

January 23, 2023

The rich and poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all.—Proverbs

We humans are prone to divide people into groups—usually us and them. The “us” are then disposed to look down at the “them”. 

We forget that all humans are children of God. Perhaps we should learn to treat each person we meet or with whom we interact on social media as such. Perhaps our tone would become more temperate and, indeed, even more loving.

A smile and kind greeting upon meeting someone establishes a positive context. Doing so to your enemy takes the wind from their sail of enmity.

Do the smile and greeting often enough, it becomes your nature. People might even think you are a nice person, and treat you as such in return. That makes for a happier day.

We need all the happy days we can get.

Wisdom To Do Righteousness and Justice

January 22, 2023

Still reading through the Proverbs a chapter a day.

“All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the LORD weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

Proverbs 21

You think you’re OK, but God looks into your motivations. In our words of today, God would rather we did right and worked for justice even more than religious ritual. Of course, both is good. But…what is in our heart?

“and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Proverbs 22

I had a boss who was President of the company back in the 80s. He complained of the stupidity of our bankers. I told him, “Dave, the bank is the actual owner of the company. You six stockholders only put in $250,000. The bank has $3 million in here. They own the business and fixed assets.”

Sure enough, the bank called the loan and we were forced into selling for whatever we could get. Most of us lost our jobs. The president wound up working at a gas station. Proverbs also speak to pride and arrogance leading to a fall.

Who Can Say I Am Pure From My Sin

January 20, 2023

It is honorable to refrain from strife; but every fool is quick to quarrel.–from Proverbs 20

Sometimes uncomfortable memories appear from nowhere reminding me of the time of life when I was quick to quarrel. Mostly I was quiet, but sometimes there would be a trigger.

I still must watch for that even though many years of meditation have rewired my brain.

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?”–from Proverbs 20

A few men worked in our department in the manufacturing plant who attended the same small country church. They told us that having been “saved by Jesus” they were “made pure from sin and therefore could sin no more.”

There was a 10-minute break time in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon and a 30-minute lunch period. We were all paid by the hour to perform certain assigned work. They had a habit of meeting during those three break periods for prayer. Their prayers might, and usually did, run for much longer than their break time.

Did they not think that getting paid to work and then not working was a sin?

Last night I was reading in Matthew where Jesus upbraided the Pharisees for making up rules that allowed them to circumvent the Laws of Moses.

The human mind is able to justify anything, I guess.

Where am I, where are you, sinning by commission or omission yet calling it not sin?

When Love Meets

January 19, 2023

When love meets pain, it becomes compassion.

When love meets happiness, it becomes joy.

Joy is an expression of the awakened heart, a quality of enlightenment. When we live in the present, joy often arises for no reason.

Jack Kornfield

When I came across these thoughts, I was compelled by the spirit to pause and consider. I love that thought of “when love meets…” What a powerful picture.

And I thought about how joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit according to the Apostle Paul.

Then I remembered this little folk song from the time when I sold my electric guitar and bought a nylon-stringed acoustic one and sang folk songs. Many from Catholics in the mid-to-late 60s. Like this one written by Sister Miriam Therese Winter, Joy Is Like The Rain.

I saw raindrops on the river, Joy is like the rain.

Bit by bit the river grows, till all at once it overflows.

Joy is like the rain.

Perhaps today I can rest in joy. Care to join me?

Offering An Opinion Lacking Understanding

January 18, 2023

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.”

Proverbs 18

Sometimes I wonder if Solomon had the power to look 3,000 years into the future and view today’s society. We often hear “I’m entitled to my opinion” but never “I’m in need of understanding.”

But, no, obviously this condition of mindlessly spouting off unfounded opinion is as old as human civilization. Maybe older.

What do we admire about some people?

Is it not that they have deep understanding and yet they do not metaphorically bludgeon us with it.

Wise people share their insights derived from their understanding at a time and place where we can effectively apply it to our situation.

We admire them, perhaps even while also disliking them for the uncomfortable feeling of our own need to change. For, we hate to change–our minds, our lifestyle, our habits.

I think of people who met Jesus and understood the wisdom of his words and yet walked away sadly knowing that they had not the courage or energy to change.

And I wonder, where do we need to change beginning today? And what? And how?

The rest of Chapter 18 talks of problems we cause through our talking. Similar to cautions found in the letter of James in the New Testament. Perhaps that would be a useful change for us beginning today–how and what we communicate?

I’ve made progress and yet much work remains. How about you?

That Point Between Urge and Action

January 17, 2023

There are wonderful pictures in the Proverbs:

Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs than to confront a fool immersed in folly. (Chapter 17)

You are scanning your social media feed. As unlikely as this sounds, you see a post from someone that is completely wrong. Using emotion-laden language, they describe an event totally made up. You feel a surge of righteous emotion, even anger. “I’ll set this right” you say to yourself as you begin to type.

Maybe you’ve forgotten about the she-bear. Maybe you remember what the writer of the Proverbs says shortly thereafter:

The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so stop before the quarrel breaks out.

TS Eliot wrote about the point, the still point, where the dance is. He didn’t mean this, exactly, but it fits. There is a moment between typing the response or speaking to the friend and clicking send or giving voice to the thought.

It is that moment that we must become sensitive to. That still point. There, we must become observers of ourselves. Recognizing that we are about to meet folly with folly, we stop.

We cannot control the genesis of our emotions. We must control the response. That is where awareness and tranquility of mind becomes the most important thing. At that moment, we breathe, we see, we become tranquil and quiet. Let it pass.