Daily Riches: The Lens Through Which We View the World (Thomas Moore and Chris Hedges)

“If we could all feel the suffering of humanity we would become the persons we are destined to be. But we typically protect ourselves from this transformative knowledge. We pretend to be children in a nursery kept at a distance from the real world.” Thomas Moore

“Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. [We’re told that] Their attitudes need correction. Once we adopt an upbeat vision of reality, positive things will happen. This belief encourages us to flee from reality when reality does not elicit positive feelings. . . . It argues that we attract those things in life, whether it is money, relationships or employment, which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have internalized this pernicious message, which in times of difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and disillusionment. . . . This is the twisted ideological lens through which we view the world. ” Chris Hedges

“But if your eyes are unhealthy,
your whole body will be full of darkness.
If then the light within you is darkness,
how great is that darkness!”
Jesus in Mt. 6:23 NIV

Moving From The Head to The Heart

  • Does Hodges’ strident language and biting critique turn you away? . . . prevent you from hearing the argument? If so, what does that say about you?
  • Do you tend to blame people for their problems (homelessness, poverty, addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, abuse, unemployment, foreclosure, etc.)? Could that be subtle “cruelty” on your part that lets powerful oppressors off the hook?
  • Might it also let you off the hook–absolving you from the need to care, to help, to intervene?

Abba, help me to see through the hype, the spin, the propaganda, the disinformation, the misleading reporting–the lies–and past the verdict of “It is what it is.”

For More: Happiness Consultants Won’t Stop a Depression” by Chris Hedges

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

 

 

Daily Riches: “American Idealism” (James Baldwin and Stacey Abrams)

“It comes as a great shock to discover the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your identity has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you.” James Baldwin

“I don’t know what most white people in this country feel but I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know we have a Christian church that is white and a Christian church that is black. I know, as Malcolm X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. That says a great deal for me about a Christian nation. It means I can’t afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian church. I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me—that doesn’t matter—but I know I’m not in their union. I don’t know whether the real estate lobby has anything against black people, but I know the real estate lobby is keeping me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the board of education hates black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools we have to go to. Now this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith, risking myself, my wife, my woman, my sister, my children on some idealism which you assure me exists in America, which I have never seen.” James Baldwin

“Because we live in a nation that has begun its path to democracy by putting stumbling blocks in our way, we’ve got to start moving those blocks.” Stacey Abrams

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”
1 Peter 1:22b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you offended by Baldwin’s critique of church and country?
  • Can you attempt to imagine living his experience? . . . feeling as he does?
  • Do you notice “stumbling blocks” meant for people of color where you live? Do you want them moved out of the way? Think about your answer.

Abba, teach me what it means to love deeply, from the heart. Truly.

For More: James Baldwin on Dick Cavett (1968)

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Richer by Far: The Men in the Vat (Upton Sinclair)

“Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost.” Russel Baker

“Some worked at the stamping machines, and it was very seldom that one could work long there at the pace that was set, and not give out and forget himself and have a part of his hand chopped off. There were the ‘hoisters,’ as they were called, whose task it was to press the lever which lifted the dead cattle off the floor. They ran along upon a rafter, peering down through the damp and the steam; and as old Durham’s architects had not built the killing room for the convenience of the hoisters, at every few feet they would have to stoop under a beam, say four feet above the one they ran on; which got them into the habit of stooping, so that in a few years they would be walking like chimpanzees. Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer men, and those who served in the cooking rooms. These people could not be shown to the visitor,–for the odor of a fertilizer man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards, and as for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting,–sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!” Upton Sinclair

“Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
Prov. 2:29 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s so unpleasant even to read these things. Imagine going to work at Durham’s each day.
  • Who do you know that has their safety or health endangered by their work?
  • Why are the men at Durham’s treated like “inanimate objects?”
  • No matter how skilled, these workers will never “serve before kings.” Why is that?

Abba, as a consumer, make me aware of how I contribute to the exploitation of others.

For More: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. New York: Doubleday, 1906.

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Daily Riches (CV era): Woke by Faith (Thomas Merton)

“The Hassidic Rabbi, Baal-Shem-Tov, once told the following story. ‘Two men were traveling through a forest. One was drunk, the other was sober. As they went, they were attacked by robbers, beaten, robbed of all they had, even their clothing. When they emerged, people asked them if they got through the wood without trouble. The drunken man said: “Everything was fine; nothing went wrong; we had no trouble at all!” They said: “How does it happen that you are naked and covered with blood?” He did not have an answer. The sober man said: “Do not believe him: he is drunk. It was a disaster. Robbers beat us without mercy and took everything we had. Be warned by what happened to us, and look out for yourselves.’ . . . For some faithful . . . ‘faith’ seems to be a kind of drunkenness, an anesthetic, that keeps you from realizing and believing that anything can ever go wrong. Such faith can be immersed in a world of violence and make no objection . . . . The drunkenness of this kind of faith–whether in a religious message or merely in a political ideology—enables us to go through life without seeing that our own violence is a disaster and that the overwhelming force by which we seek to assert ourselves and our own self-interest may well be our ruin. Is faith a narcotic dream in a world of heavily-armed robbers, or is it an awakening? Is faith a convenient nightmare in which we are attacked and obliged to destroy our attackers? What if we awaken to discover that we are the robbers, and our destruction comes from the root of hate in ourselves?” Thomas Merton

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Proverbs 31:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine the violence being done during this pandemic towards first responders and other essential workers. As much as you’re able, do you advocate for them? If not, is your silence a form of consent?
  • Are you aware of violence done in your name? Does your faith challenge you to consider such things?
  • Is your brand of faith a “narcotic”–an opiate, that keeps you from seeing or admitting there is a problem? . . .  that stifles your empathy?

Abba, may my faith always make me more desirous to live in reality–and more useful, more compassionate.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

Daily Riches (CV era): You and Your Partner–Sheltering in Place (Alain de Botton and Krista Tippett)

“One of the first important truths is, you’re crazy. Not you, as it were; all of us, that all of us are deeply damaged people. The great enemy of love, good relationships, good friendships, is self-righteousness. If we start by accepting that of course we’re only just holding it together, and in many ways, really quite challenging people . . . . I think if somebody thinks that they’re easy to live with, they’re by definition going to be pretty hard [to live with] and don’t have much of an understanding of themselves. I think there’s a certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you, like everyone else, are pretty difficult. And this knowledge is very shielded from us. Our parents don’t tell us, our ex-lovers—they knew it, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us. They sacked us without . . . [Krista: by the time they tell us, we’re dismissing what they say anyway.] That’s right. And our friends don’t tell us because they just want a pleasant evening with us. So we’re left with a bubble of ignorance about our own natures. And often, you can be way into your 40s before you’re starting to get a sense of, ‘Well, maybe some of the problem is in me.’ Because of course, it’s so intuitive to think that of course it’s the other person. So to begin with that sense of, ‘I’m quite tricky and in these ways.’ That’s a very important starting point for being good at love. So often we blame our lovers; we don’t blame our view of love. So we keep sacking our lovers and blowing up relationships all in pursuit of this idea of love which actually has no basis in reality. [Krista: This right person, this creature does not exist.] And [this idea of love] is, in fact, the enemy of good enough relationships.” Alain de Botton in a conversation with Krista Tippett

“Cast all your anxiety on [God]
because [God] cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you just “holding it together in many ways?” Does your partner know that you know this?
  • Do you assume that “sheltering in place” would be easy if not for your difficult partner?
  • Can you take a deep breath and consider how difficult you can be? . . . how complicated your partner may be (how needy, broken, well intentioned)? . . . how skewed both of your ideas of love may be?

Abba, help me to understand, and remember, how tricky it is to live with me–and love me.

For More: The Course of Love by Alain du Botton

 

Daily Riches: When Only Empathy Will Do (Peter Scazzero and Martin Buber)

“Before the war began, [Martin] Buber considered the ‘religious’ to be mystical experiences that lifted him out of the earthly ordinary experiences of everyday life. He was more concerned with the eternal than with the temporal, more focused on ecstasy that on daily existence, more interested in what lies beyond the world than in the world itself. That all changed one day in 1914, the year the World War I broke out in Europe, when a young man came to visit Buber.

What happened was no more than that one forenoon, after a morning of ‘religious’ enthusiasm, I had a visit from an unknown young man, without being there in spirit. I certainly did not fail to let the meeting be friendly. . . . I conversed attentively and openly with him–only I omitted to guess the questions which he did not put. Later, not long after, I learned from one of his friends–he himself was no longer alive–the essential content of these questions; I learned that he had come to me not casually but borne by destiny, not for a chat but for a decision. He had come to me, he had come in this hour.

“The young man had committed suicide. The guilt Buber felt was not that he had somehow failed to remove the young man’s despair, but that he was not fully present to him. He was so preoccupied by his religious experience earlier that morning, that he failed to bring the full resources of his attention to their conversation. He did not turn to the young man with his whole being to actually feel with him. Instead, of genuinely listening, he brought leftovers, a courteous but partial engagement. For Buber, the experience felt like a judgment on his whole way of life. He realized that it is possible to have profound spiritual experiences . . . but that such a faith is worth nothing without a deeply present love for people.” Peter Scazzero

“But they did not understand what he meant
and were afraid to ask him about it.”
Mark 9:32 NIV

Moving from Head to Heart

  • How do you think Jesus felt when he spoke about his coming death, and no one asked him what he meant?
  • Can you recall a time when you tragically failed to listen well?
  • What can you do to become a better listener?

Abba, when I listen, help me focus on what’s happening inside the other person, not inside of me.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day by Peter Scazzero

Daily Riches: Make Peace with the “Groan Zone” (Gregory of Nazianzus)

“Make peace with the groan zone. The groan zone is the place where the conversation is most difficult and may feel overwhelming or hopeless. Too many people walk away at this point. But use the mediator’s secret here–sticking it out through the groan zone is often the way to crack a difficult conversation’s tough nut. Whenever you notice yourself experiencing a ‘get me outta here!’ moment, pause and remind yourself this is where the greatest opportunities lie. Instinctively we abhor nondefensiveness and when we feel attacked or even confronted, we lash out immediately in hurt and anger. Most of us are either too reactive to stay calm or too reactive to stay present. Some, hoping to avoid the discomfort of confrontation are so unreactive they are never really present. It is over-reactivity that dooms many arguments between loving couples. Uncovering the real issue happens when people feel safe enough to be vulnerable. How do you do it? It’s actually very easy. Take a deep breath and just validate. Repeat back what you’re hearing. Be a mirror. If it’s easy, why don’t we all do it all the time? Because there’s a hard part too: Managing your own discomfort. Can you be OK with the feelings of others? Can you listen without judging? Can you listen even though you might feel threatened?”

“Everyone must be quick to hear,
slow to speak
and slow to anger . . . .”
James 1:19 NASB

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you too reactive to stay calm? . . . or present? . . . to love well? . . . not to jump to conclusions or judge? . . . or try to fix?
  • Does emotionally laden conflict feel like death to you? (Join the club.)
  • Are you safe enough in God to allow yourself to be vulnerable? . . .  not to run?
  • Can you allow God to love you in your failed, good intentions–and try again the next time?

“O Word of Truth! in devious paths
My wayward feet have trod;
I have not kept the day serene
I gave at morn to God.

“And now ’tis night, and night within;
O God, the light hath fled!
I have not kept the vow I made
When morn its glories shed.

“For clouds of gloom from nether world
Obscured my upward way;
O Christ the Light, Thy light bestow
And turn my night to day!”

Gregory of Nazianzus

For More: Before the Door of God, Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, eds.

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Sources:

Hopler, Jay and Kimberly Johnson, eds. Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry. New Haven: Yale, 2013.

[I’m no longer able to find the source of the “Groan Zone” quotation.]

Daily Riches: Daily Emotions . . . They Come Bearing Gifts (William Britton)

“I feel hungry, but really it’s thirst.
I feel tired, but really it’s hunger.
I feel like I’m dying, but I’m not
like I’m forsaken, but I’m not.
It seems things will never change
but they will.
–Loneliness passes.
–Sadness ends.
–Confusion clears.
–Depression lifts.
–Love returns.
–Lust slithers off.
I often can’t trust my feelings,
but my feelings have a lot to teach me
if only I will learn from them.

It’s like with my eyes.
I see the sun “rise and set.”
I see “color.”
As I lift my eyes
I see the edge of the world.
I often can’t trust my eyes
but my eyes have a lot to teach me
if only I will really see with them.

My ears fool me too.
I hear sounds that aren’t,
and miss sounds that are.
I misunderstand the words.
I filter out, not just the noise,
but the beauty in the background.
I often can’t trust my ears,
but my ears have a lot to teach me
if only I will really hear with them.

I often can’t trust my eyes, my ears, or my feelings,
but each of them have a lot to teach me.
They come bearing gifts
if only I will welcome those gifts.”

William Britton

“A fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.”
Proverbs 14:16b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you afraid to really feel your emotions because you’ll be overwhelmed, or misled? Why do you suppose God gave you emotions?
  • Can you attempt to learn from your emotions? . . . to listen to what they’re telling you? Can you ask, “What does this emotional response say about me?”
  • Can you imagine Jesus without emotions? Who would want that? And who wants an unemotional you?

Abba, I’m glad that I can feel love, joy, grief, loneliness–even guilt and shame. They each make me “more.” They each teach me. You speak to me in each.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

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Daily Riches: Frustration as Self-Sabotage (John Chittister)

“The ancients tell us that, to develop spiritually, we must discover how to control ourselves in the face of what we claim to lack but have no right to expect. . . . To claim to be frustrated in the midst of life’s normalcies only defeats our desire to be a fully functioning human being. And, ironically, we do it to ourselves. And why would that be? The case is clear. Frustration is something that does not exist–except within the self. It translates my world to me through the filter of my own need to control it. . . . We call frustrating anything we want the world to confirm as justification for being unable to control the way we think. It’s what we use to explain the sour or pouty or demanding or manipulative attitudes we have developed. It is the right we assert to be less than we are capable of being. The paradox of delusion is that, if anything, the very act of putting trivia between us and the world is exactly a sign that we need to question what it is that is undermining our ability to function well in normal circumstances. When we allow the inconsequential to affect our ability to really be consequential in life, the question must be faced: What is really bothering us? . . . Frustration is the signal that, indeed, something does need to change in our lives. But no one else can change it for us. Only we have the power to name it and to change it within ourselves. . . . Then trivia becomes only trivia. We discover every day that there are greater things to concentrate on in life than the niggling, ordinary, commonplace little things we so often allow to fell us.” Joan Chittister

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-28 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you stopped to really consider what is underneath your frustration?
  • Is being frustrated all the time sabotaging your ability to become “a fully functioning human being?” . . . someone focused on what really does matter?
  • Can you turn to the Great Physician just as you are (judgmental, controlling, angry, entitled, bitter) and present yourself as a person in need of divine help?

Abba, help me to see my frustration as the excuse that it (often) is.

For more: Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these Daily Riches. Look for my book this Fall, Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these “riches.”

Sources:

Chittister, Joan. Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life. New York: Image, 2015.

Daily Riches: A World Without Mirrors … Or Gravity (Rebecca Solnit, Isak Dinesen, St. Benedict, Søren Kierkegaard)

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” Isak Dinesen

“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” St. Benedict

“I finally became completely silent. I started to listen–which is even further removed from speaking.” Søren Kierkegaard

“I have often run across men (and rarely, but not never, women) who have become so powerful in their lives that there is no one to tell them when they are cruel, wrong, foolish, absurd, repugnant. In the end there is no one else in their world, because when you are not willing to hear how others feel, what others need, when you do not care, you are not willing to acknowledge others’ existence. That’s how it’s lonely at the top. It is as if these petty tyrants live in a world without honest mirrors, without others, without gravity, and they are buffered from the consequences of their failures. …Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters.” Rebecca Solnit

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says
is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and,
after looking at himself, goes away
and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
James 1:23,24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is it important to you to hear “how others feel?”
  • Are you approachable enough–safe enough–that others will tell you the truth?
  • “The ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of Jesus’ mission….” (Pete Scazzero) Are you developing that ability?

Abba, help me learn to quiet myself and really hear others.

For More: Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill

Daily Riches: Feel Your Feelings (Lynn Baab)

“When I’m stressed about something, my feelings get buried under my thoughts. Some of those thoughts center around questions about the future: “What if this happens? What if that happens?” Other thoughts are about the feelings: “You shouldn’t be feeling these negative feelings. You should be trusting God.”Some months ago [my therapist] suggested that I practice self-compassion as a way to cope with negative feelings, and I’ve had a wonderful year learning more about what self-compassion looks like and why God would desire it for me. The form of self-compassion that I have found helpful is summarized in the acronym RAIN:

1. Recognize [feelings]. It takes a bit of effort to figure out what I’m feeling because the thoughts swirling around my brain are so vivid and powerful. When I feel my negative thoughts careening out of control, I’m learning to stop and try to discern the feelings that lie behind the thoughts. Most often those feelings are fear or sadness, but I also sometimes feel anger, hopelessness and frustration.

2. Acknowledge [feelings]. After recognizing the emotion, I sit with it for several breaths. I focus on my breathing and let myself feel whatever it is.

3. Investigate [feelings]. I try to identify where the emotion is located in my body, because this helps identify emotions the next time they happen. I also try to figure out what the emotion wants. Sometimes it wants to dominate my life. Sometimes it just wants to be acknowledged.

4. Non-identify [with feelings]. When the feeling wants to dominate, it wants to be pervasive. It wants me to identify myself with that feeling. When I non-identify with the feeling, I might think about feelings as weather. They come and go. …Or I might focus on other feelings I’ve had that day–such as contentment, joy, happiness, or gratitude, no matter how fleeting–to demonstrate to my brain that this strong negative feeling is only a part of me, a part that needs to be acknowledged, but a part that does not define me.

…Why is feeling feelings a Christian spiritual practice? The Psalms demonstrate that all emotions can be brought into God’s presence. How can we do that if we don’t know what we’re feeling? God made us, knows us, and calls us to love and serve him. How can we do that with our whole beings if our feelings are driving us into counterproductive thoughts and behavior? My swirling negative thoughts truly are demonic, and I’m much better able to let them go if I acknowledge the feelings that lie behind them. This process of feeling the feelings, called self-compassion by some people, extends the same kind of compassion to myself that God asks me to extend to others. Why would God want me to show compassion for others but not for myself? Living under the burden of stress makes it harder for me to love and serve God. This gift of self-compassion through the RAIN process enables me to love and serve God more fully because I am not preoccupied with my swirling thoughts and feelings. Christian spiritual practices help us walk with Jesus and help us grow in faithfulness, and this process helps me do that.” Lynn Baab

“Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes
asked Jesus to leave them,
because they were overcome with fear.”
Luke 8:37

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you dominated by your emotions?
  • Do you see emotions as misleading?
  • What can you learn from your emotions?

Abba, teach me to listen for your voice in my emotions.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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Thanks for following this blog. Longer this time. Too hard to abbreviate more, too important not to do.

Daily Riches: The Lifetime Job of Learning to Love (Dorothy Day and John Steinbeck)

“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” John Steinbeck

“Even the best of human love is filled with self-seeking. To work to increase our love for God and for our fellow man (and the two must go hand in hand), this is a lifetime job. We are never going to be finished. Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. Yes, I see only too clearly how bad people are. I wish I did not see it so. It is my own sins that give me such clarity. If I did not bear the scars of so many sins to dim my sight and dull my capacity for love and joy, then I would see Christ more clearly in you all. I cannot worry too much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of my own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travelers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one least straw to the burden you already carry. My prayer from day to day is that God will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and live with you all, in his love.” Dorothy Day

“But the Lord said to Samuel,
‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
1 Samuel 16:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the “self-seeking” element of your love for others? Are you improving?
  • Could it be your own sin that keeps you from seeing others as they truly are? …seeing “Christ more clearly” in others?
  • Is learning to love well the most important thing in your life? Should it be?

Abba, enlarge my heart to see others and relate to others through the eyes of your love.

For More: On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in less than 400 words. Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Seeing Your Enemy as a Human In Distress (Susan Edmiston, Leonard Scheff, Thich Nhat Hanh and Cynthia Bourgeault)

“Action taken when I am angry is going to be irrational and probably stupid.” Susan Edmiston, and Leonard Scheff

“In dealing with the emotion that arises when we are attacked, it’s necessary to first allow space for the other person’s anger without reacting. …Deliberately, do not take revenge. In Buddhism, the basic vow is benefiting all beings, not everyone except this particular person. …Your most powerful tool in some situations may be what Thich Nhat Hanh calls ‘compassionate listening.’ ‘Sit quietly and listen with only one purpose: to allow the other person to express himself and find relief from his suffering.’ …When you no longer view the person who directs anger against you as an adversary but as another human being in distress, you have made a good outcome more likely.” Edmiston/Scheff

“Life provides plenty of opportunities for this practice [surrendering to the divine life that lives in us and wants to bubble up in us]; in fact, sometimes it seems as if life is comprised of a ‘twenty-four/seven’ surrender immersion! The problem is, most of the time we’re not aware of it and ‘fall asleep,’ as it’s called in wisdom work: when we brace and tighten and get thrown back into that smaller self. We go unconscious automatically. But if you stay alert and grounded in sensation and are willing to wake up as soon as you realized you’ve started bracing or clinging, then you can use all the adventures and misadventures life throws at you to strengthen and deepen your heart connection—and your Christ connection.” Cynthia Bourgeault

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry,
because human anger does not produce
the righteousness that God desires.”
James 1:19-20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “allow space for the other person’s anger” before responding? Do you?
  • How often to you think you succeed at “compassionate listening?” Where could you practice that (at work, with your kids, in your marriage, on social media)?
  • Try to be sensitive to what your body is telling you. Next time you start simmering, stressing or clenching up, let that remind you to recollect your better self. Don’t fight your anger or beat yourself up, just take a deep breath and surrender to the One who lives in you and wants to live through you–and try to learn that as an habitual response.

Abba, remind me often that I’m not to love everyone–except “this particular person.”

For More: The Cow in the Parking Lot by Susan Edmiston and Leonard Scheff

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Surprising Nearness of God (James Finley and John Ortberg)

“God is still in the business of coming down to earth: to this cubicle, this email, this room, this house, this job, this hospital room, this car, this bed, this vacation. Any place can become Bethel, the house of God. Cleveland, maybe. Or the chair you’re sitting in as you read these words.” John Ortberg

“We begin in ego consciousness, imagining that the union with God we seek is far off. After all, ego consciousness is the subjective perception of being a separate self that has to find God, who is perceived as being other than one’s self. But as ego consciousness yields and gives way to meditative awareness, we begin to recognize the surprising nearness of God. God is already here, all about us and within us—the very source, ground, and fulfillment of our being. But subject to the limitations of ego, we tend not to experience the divine mystery of who we are, created in the image and likeness of God. We do not directly realize the God-given Godly nature of ourselves in our nothingness without God. This is why we meditate: that we might awaken to God’s presence all about us and within, as Saint Augustine phrased it, closer to us than we are to ourselves. To practice meditation as an act of faith is to open ourselves to the endlessly reassuring realization that our very being and the very being of everyone and everything around us is the generosity of God. God is creating us in the present moment, loving us into being, such that our very presence is the manifested presence of God. We meditate that we might awaken to this unitive mystery, not just in meditation, but in every moment of our lives.” James Finley

“in Him we live and move and exist”
Acts 17:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you often fall into thinking of God as “far off”, as Someone hard to find? (God is infinitely above us and decisively Other–but is that the whole story?)
  • Have you given serious consideration to the possibility of the “surprising nearness of God?” …that you bear God’s image? …that in God you “live and move and exist?” …that as a believer, God has chosen you as his preferred dwelling place?
  • Consider that each moment God is “loving us into being.” What would that entail?

Abba, daily may I awaken anew to your presence, lovingly at work in me and others–the source, ground, and fulfillment of our being.

For More: Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God by James Finley

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

Daily Riches: That Blessing That Isn’t (Susan Edmiston and Leonard Scheff)

“A landlord came to the Zen master in a state of distress. One of his stable hands had left the door to the barn open and his prize stallion had escaped. ‘What a disaster!’ the man cried. The master replied only, ‘I don’t know.’ The landlord left in disgust.

A few days later, the stallion returned to the barn followed by three wild mares. The landlord returned to the master and said, ‘It wasn’t a disaster. It was a blessing.’ The master replied, ‘I don’t know.’ The landlord left, doubting the wisdom of the master.

When the landlord’s son was breaking the mares, he was thrown and broke his leg. The landlord returned to the master and told him of the event and said the master was right that it was not a blessing. The master replied, ‘I don’t know.’

When the soldiers of the emperor came to recruit young men for an upcoming battle, they left the son behind because of his broken leg. The son said, ‘Father, what a blessing my broken leg is.’ The father said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” James 4:13-15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you feel able to differentiate a “disaster” from a “blessing?” Is that even possible?
  • Christians often go around saying this or that thing was a real “blessing.” What does that say about them/us?
  • The Buddhist premise behind this story is that we try to attribute meaning where there is no inherent meaning in our world, and that in doing so we no longer see things as they are–but only as we’ve been conditioned to see them. What would be different for Christians? How could your “conditioning” be misleading you when it comes to “blessing?”

Abba, I may not understand what happens in my life or my world, or why, but I can look to you and submit to you to shape me in every circumstance. May it be.

For More: The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger by Susan Edmiston and Leonard Scheff

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment/question. – Bill

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