Good Where You Least Expect

How to discern good, how to find it, especially during difficult times? How to hear the truth above the din of naysayers? The reading from the Gospel of John 7, one of the phrases stands out for me: “…no prophet arises from Galilee…”, said the Pharisees of Jesus. This was in response to some saying, “Listen to how he teaches,” and others saying , “perhaps he is the Christ.” In other words, good can’t come from there. You’re mistaken: what you think is wrong. I find the exact opposite to be true from this excerpt. I find instead this lesson: maybe Good reaches us, maybe God speaks to us, sometimes from the least expected places. We’re in the midst of a life-changing pandemic right now. Even if we don’t get sick ourselves, even if our loved ones stay healthy too, most everyone’s life is turned upside down right now. We don’t know how it’s going to play out. We have to wait and see. Even in the dark, in the dirty, the dull and bland and difficult, we might find a bit of wisdom, some unexpected beauty, a splash of color. In the midst, let’s look for the lessons about how to cope, what changes we can make, to the what and how of the moment, and let’s cope and support each other and learn the lessons. We’ll be better for it.

Fat Tuesday

A week ago we celebrated “Fat Tuesday”, “Mardi Gras” in French.

It’s historically celebrated as the last day before Lent in the Christian — and particularly the Catholic Christian — World. Since Lent is seen as a time of reflection and extra spiritual discipline, Fat Tuesday is the last day before is a chance to cut-loose one last time.

I invite you to consider the longer view, as well. One final indulgence feels good, it’s fun, but it also is extra. And the extras, they’re not needed.

Let us spend this Lenten time returning to basics and re-centering our values, our fundamentals, and keeping things, extras, in proper context.

Realizing what you actually need, and being satisfied with those things, that strengthens you, liberates you, gives you a super-power of sorts.

Remember what we need, truly, focus on those things, be satisfied with those things. Let the extras fall away. Let them go. They were fun. They tasted good. Felt good. But You don’t need them.

Each Day

“Each day go back to being small within, be simple and enthusiastic, and recall the blessings in your life. Do these, and your heart will remain open for others, and your spirit will be grounded in love.”

This advice from Pope Francis recently rings true in at least a few ways.

The fundamental premise, the practice, I certainly agree with. But that’s only the beginning.

Consider the framework of the advice. Restart each day with the same practice: good. Recall the things you have to be thankful for: yes.

Do things that will keep your heart open and your spirit grounded, through simple, repeated practice: truth.

One of the many dichotomies of our lives: strive to do more, new, etc., but also rely on simple, proven truth and practice to fortify you each day.

Good advice for any day; maybe especially Monday.

Make it so, and thus, make it GOOD.

Clean Up

In my family, these people I love and live with, I clean up. Just what does that mean, “clean up”? There are at least a couple of contexts to consider…

First, I tend to be the one that does a bunch of the clean-up after meals, after the day is done, after the week is done. My wife provides much of the family leadership, I run in support mode.

I replace the bathroom tissue, run the dishwasher, close the house up every night before we all hit the hay, double-check the locks, the lights, etc. I think I tend to be the bed-maker, too.

But where I really clean-up? I clean-up in light and inspiration and love. I live with four amazing people, who give me reason to smile and give thanks everyday. That’s where I clean-up — taking in all the GOOD around me, in the everyday, in the chaos, in the wonder of being alive, and living the dream.

No lie. Straight-up LIVING. THE. DREAM.

So THANKFUL.

How do you clean up?

Micro-Homily: Be the Rock

Here’s how I’d sum up the readings from Saturday. Be the rock on which all may count on.

Let your faith be the cornerstone for your everyday. Know with certainty that God is with you.

Let your light shine on all around you. Be humble, and be sure of the good you can do; be sure of the good you are called to do.

Rely on faith in the darkest times; in all times.

Be the rock.

First Peter 5;

Psalm 23;

Matthew 16.

Take care of others.

AMEN.

Remember Me Out of Love

This refrain from Psalm 105 stands out for me this weekend. It’s from one of the Saturday readings.

In one of the loaves and fishes stories from Sunday, the motivation is similar: act out of love. Fundamentally, that’s what Jesus taught us. Act out of love.

Elsewhere in his teachings he boiled all the laws down to two basic rules: Love God. Love one another.

Let love guide all your actions and you’ll make the right decisions each time. Every time.

It’s not always easy, of course. Sometimes love is difficult to follow. But it’s always worth it. Always.

Have Some Sense: The Riff Continues

What is our true place in the world? All around it comes at us: what to see, hear, feel, the big three, there like it or not, want it out not, it’s real and now.

What we do with it, how we respond to it, that’s up to us, each of us, each time.

Choose to make it GOOD. Here’s a sample from everyday, just a sample, what my senses say:

Winter lights on the front tree, shining bright in the pre-dawn darkness;

Warm coat against the biting wind on an early morning walk;

Shooter of apple cider vinegar to start the day: tart bite, cold water chaser;

Shake of the head, each dog with her collar on, jingle jingle jingle;

Cold water, one big gulp, after a long walk, thirsty;

Crackle of the wall furnace, heat slowing pouring down the hall;

First taste of coffee, hot; first taste of beer, crisp;

Fist bump greeting with a friend at work to start the day, good sign, warm feeling;

Soft skin on my kids’ cheek when I kiss each goodnight, each night;

BLESSINGS.