Companion On The Road

June 2, 2022

Companions on today’s walk around the pond.

Sandhill Cranes

It’s the first I’ve seen of the cranes this spring walking around. They make a lot of noise when they fly. I’ve heard the ruckus a few times this week.

One day back when I was running in the morning I left the house only to find a large husky in the front yard. He came over. One paw went on my left shoulder. The other paw on my right. He looked me in the eyes.

So, I just said, “Want to go for a run?” He got down and bounded off. He was my companion for that run. And no other dog bothered me that day.

It’s good to have a companion.

Sometimes there’s a surprise beauty. Sometimes a surprise and a protector. God can be that way. We practice disciplines of reading and meditation to keep us close to God. But sometimes he’s just a surprise companion along the path. Maybe a guide. Maybe a protector. Maybe a companion.

It’s good when we are open and available.

Why Haven’t I Told

June 1, 2022

Oh, baby, I’ve told every little star
Just how sweet I think you are
Why haven’t I, I told you

Da-dum, da-da-da-da-da-da-da

I’ve told ripples in a brook
Made my heart an open book
Why haven’t I, I told you

Linda Scott, I’ve Told Every Little Star

If you click that link, then the song will be as stuck in your head as it is in mine (thanks to my wife setting the radio in her car to SiriusXM 60s Gold).

But the song was stuck. That thought also was stuck–why haven’t I told (you).

How many problems–relationship, business, personal, group–would be on the road to recovery if we just said something? We can tell the stars, or the brook, or even God. Best is to tell the other person. With love.

Now. I’ve said it. How do I actually do it given my withdrawing personality? Maybe it’s the only way to get the song unstuck?

Complaining Constantly

May 31, 2022

We moved to a (sort of) gated community restricted mostly (read the fine print) to people older than 55. It’s a quiet and peaceful community that has probably grown from about 700 to 2,000 in the two years we’ve been here.

The community is blessed with not one, but two, Facebook pages. Let’s consider this equation: old people with too much time on their hands plus Facebook equals a lot of complaining. People worry incessantly about whether the gates are up or down. We border northwest suburban Chicago on one side and fields and woods on the other. We have wildlife. A picture of two eagles appears on the site. People start worrying about the safety of their little dogs. Ditto when a coyote is spotted. They worry about the lawn care service (I love having the lawn care service!).

There are some posts about people helping people. These I appreciate.

I go to Facebook daily to wish people a happy birthday, check out the photos in Pictures of a Beautiful Life, and see what’s happening back home with soccer. In that 10 minutes a day, I can pick up all the complaining (thank you Facebook for guiding me).

I’m not complaining about the complaining. People gotta do what they gotta do. But I am amazed that so many people spend so much time worrying about nonessential things. I couldn’t help myself the other day and responded to someone complaining about waiting five minutes to get through the gate. “Find a good radio station and chill,” I said. I meant WXRT (an original Chicago rock station), but they probably went with talk radio that raised their blood pressure even higher.

Whenever I read Jesus or Paul or James, John, Peter and the rest, I come away with the attitude of focusing on what is important rather than wasting time on meaningless things.

Before taking frustrations out on Facebook, find a good radio station and chill. I’m focusing on nudging people into a more meaningful and fruitful life.

Just Do It

May 30, 2022

Today is a holiday in America–Memorial Day. My great-grandmother always called it “Decoration Day” which always confused me as a kid. But I was often confused about everything.

So, between being a holiday and recovering from yet another bout with allergies, I’ve been a bit lazy this morning. As I gazed from my patio across the yards, I noticed a couple of large pieces of plastic blown by the wind.

I thought, I could sit here and watch. Or, I could get up, walk about 30 yards, and do the neighborhood a favor by picking them up and disposing them.

So often we are faced with these small decisions. Sometimes we may not even recognize that a decision is required. But it is. We can sit and leave the problem to someone else. Or, we can get up and just do it. Whatever it takes.

Now I (and my neighbors) can sit outside on a nice spring day and enjoy the view.

Do Something Good For All Of Us

May 27, 2022

Do Something Good For All of Us

One of the spiritual disciplines is service. I’ve been a recycling fanatic for a number of years. Lately I attempted to contribute to a project called The Carbon Almanac. Check it out.

Seth Godin talked about a search engine called Ecosia that gives you good search results through your browser on the Web and also does good things for the environment by planting trees. Here are some thoughts from a recent Seth blog.

Make the choice to upgrade from Google.

There are many good reasons to do so, and few downsides.

Do it for your efficiency, for the health of the web and for the planet too.

First, a quick clarification because this is confusing to many people: The thing you use to browse the internet is not a search engine. Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Safari–these are web browsers. A browser is software that allows you to look at any web page–and these companies often make money by selling your attention to the search engine that bids the most. Apple takes billions of dollars a year from Google in exchange for steering you to their search engine.

And the reason that Google bids so much is that they make an insane amount of money. Billions of dollars a year from serving up ads and harvesting your data from your searches. That money needs to come from somewhere.

You can switch your search engine in just a few clicks. See a short video and find the links right here.

Here’s what will happen when you switch to Ecosia:

You’ll get faster and less cluttered search results, with far fewer ads.

You’ll be diversifying the web, so SEO hacks can’t easily take over.

You’ll be giving away far less data about yourself and maintaining more privacy.

AND! You’ll be planting trees through a certified not-for-profit B corp… more than 100,000,000 planted so far.

If you don’t like the results, you can switch back in two minutes.

If you switch and then you forward this to five more people who switch, we’re likely to plant another 100,000,000 trees in the next year. That’s a lot. If you switch and spread the word, search results will get better and Google will start to do a better job knowing that they don’t have quite the same scale of monopoly.

I have switched on all my devices. Check it out.

Good People

May 26, 2022

I am at the Orlando airport on the way home from the largest conference I’ve attended in just over two years. Despite news concerning unbalanced teenage shooters and politician who are fools, I am reminded of how good most people are.

We were mostly technologists. 1,300 people gathered together. People were polite. Despite great diversity of race, gender, nationality, and probably politics, there were no arguments, shaming, racism. We all got along.

It is possible for most of us to live our lives together. If we can learn to avoid politicians and talk show hosts, it would be better. Stop giving money to those who divide rather than heal. Including church leaders if necessary.

This might be a good day to practice a smile rather than a frown. Take a walk rather than fill a mind with hateful thoughts.

Putting Love Over Theory

May 25, 2022

When Jesus battled wits with the Pharisees, the theme was usually love over theory.

To the Pharisees, the important thing was following their 600+ laws, their theory of how to get right with God. And you had to agree with them or you were on the heathen side, not God’s side.

Jesus evaluated everything in light of “You shall love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself.”

Life and one’s relationship to God depended on your orientation. How you interacted with God and with humans that you met. Theory didn’t get you far in his view.

We still have that tension. There was another shooting at a school in America yesterday. Some people react with theory–well, stuff happens, they say.

Where are the acts of love and peace and compassion and (the real business of Jesus) changing lives?

And I always wind up challenging myself for what I should be doing. But I know it lies in acts of love not spouting theory.

Feeling Competent

May 24, 2022

Yesterday’s post targeted that moment just as you are about to learn something new, that moment when you feel totally incompetent. The language app plays a conversation is a new language, and you can’t understand a word. You see the tabs for a guitar line and it makes no sense.

But, you struggle through the first feelings and try. You practice a few times, several times, many times.

Then, one day you suddenly feel competent with that new skill.

You understand simple conversations in your new language. You can pick out a blues line in E. You sit almost effortlessly and focus on nothing as you meditate open to any whispers from God.

Now you are ready for that next step. You are in that moment between competency and incompetency as you float on to the next level.

Life is a cycle. Perhaps more like an upward bound spiral as you grow your skills and knowledge.

And may it never stop.

That Feeling Of Being Incompetent

May 23, 2022

We decide to learn something. Hit a golf ball. Play a musical instrument. Meditate.

Just before we begin, we feel incompetent. What are we doing? Why? How?

We take a swing and miss the ball. We pick up the guitar and don’t know where to put our fingers for that first chord. We can’t find the right posture or cushion or find the way to still our mind to settle into meditation.

If we think we know it all, we’ll never learn.

If we feel incompetent, yet curious with a dollop of desire, then we can begin to be a learner.

A learner’s life lies in that tension of competency with where we are and feeling incompetent looking at the next step. And there should always be a next step.

Watch Ourselves Watch Ourselves

May 20, 2022

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by with ugly and spiteful words, with wrathful heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image, revolting and godless, may remain in his defenseless heart. You don’t know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow, all because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Love is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but forever.

Fyoder Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

If you were going to read just one book over for the rest of your life, you would not go wrong with The Brothers Karamazov. I refer to the story of the Grand Inquisitor often.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and can see yourself as if from outside yourself. See how you act. What you say. Facial expressions.

Then imagine seeing someone experiencing you. What impact did you make on that person?

That’s what Dostoyevsky saw. And how your act or words could send a child on a wrong path. At least in America we seem to think that we should have the “freedom” or “right” to act and say however we feel whenever we feel. But that is the attitude of an adolescent. As the apostle Paul told us, there is a time for us to grow up and act like mature adults.