Excerpts of tonight’s personal journal

March 3, 2010

Recently I provided someone a moment of graciousness and kindness, and it was perceived as such by the person to whom it was directed, and encouraging.

I was a little ashamed at my felt sense of pride in that recognition of kindness and the other’s appreciation afterward.  But maybe it’s a healthy self-assessment in the face of so many other not so healthy judgments I’ve directed toward myself?

I recognize that I bask in the glow of being appreciated. Is that basking a “pure” kind of joy that is a normal and expected result of following God’s call to service, or self-puffery?

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Lord, help me to be a blessing in the lives of those whom I touch.

Lord, help me to fix my gaze on you, and enjoy the pleasures in my self and with others that comes in serving, and, sure, even in being appreciated.  Keep me from both inordinate self-puffery and inordinately harsh self-judgment.

Lord, help me to be unafraid to trust you and freely and joyously offer my life for you to use me as you see fit, whether for public and greater or lesser recognized service, or for quiet unassuming care of those around me and in my personal prayers.  Help me to both recognize and accept the path you will continue to show me, all the days of my life.

Amen.


Emotional Labor and Finding Renewal in God’s love

August 30, 2009

I have to complete continuing education courses to maintain my pharmacy degree. I was browsing online for some free ones to get a few of my credits in. I found one entitled, “Emotional Labor: How it can Affect the Practice of Pharmacy.”

I completed it, but I found it had application to anyone’s personal life, and probably lots and lots of people’s professional/career lives. Here’s a concept that I don’t usually hear, whether from work-related sources, or even the church much of the time:

Every patient feels that the doctor, pharmacist, etc., should care about their case like they do, but that would require far too much investment and effort. So many times it has to be “faked.”

I don’t know – last night I just found that kind of refreshingly forthright and honest. Saying aloud (in print) what we all already know. It is impossible to continuously feel what we are required/expected to portray to the outside world to whom we have covenental or contractual expectations to fulfill…those places where being genuine and letting it all hang out are simply not permissible. It didn’t say you can somehow get out of doing the right thing – acting in a compassionate, caring manner. Just acknowledging that sometimes it’ll amount to faking it. And it went on to give tips and strategies for having the best chance of having a recharged battery, and finding the wells that nourish and restore you…the places where you can let it all hang out.

Many would say faith in God is one of those places – in intimate personal prayer perhaps, where the hair can be let down, it can all hang out.   It’s hard though when you’ve spent a lifetime of acting your way into “really nice person” status and maintaining the veneer of nice respectable Christian person.  Where do you begin, and the act end, you might ask in one of your more anxious moments?  Would you like YOU, if you were able to peel away the act?  Many, and I include myself in that set, would say that true prayer is the place where the painful peeling can take place, and ironically enough, God gives reassurance that you don’t have to work so hard at being lovable.  That whole unconditional, all-forgiving love sort of thing.   And then paradoxically strengthened to return to the honest-to-goodness (sometimes hard!) emotional labor of being on for your patients and others in your life who really DO rely on you.  That kind of prayer requires courage to face yourself, and trust that God will do a good work in you and heal you.

Lord, give me courage and trust all my days.


About Me, revisited

May 30, 2009

I updated my “About Me” page today.

You see, in there I had previously referenced that I was still informally involved in the diaconal discernment process in my diocese of the Episcopal church.

As of Thursday, the letter to the bishop went in the mail.  I’m closing that chapter.

I feel pretty good about it.  Most people probably assumed I’d exited a long time ago, informal and off the radar as my explorations and Process was.  I don’t even get questions in my parish anymore.  Haven’t in a long time.

Close friends and spiritual confidantes I have been blessed with along the way have heard my wonders and struggles over these years.  Good, spiritually healthy struggles, please don’t misunderstand me.  Inwardly, it still occupied a great deal of my mental energies, despite my outward public appearances to most.

Until recently.  Then I was reminded that I really should be writing some sort of update on my discernment, or quite possibly finally saying goodbye.

Along with good bye to discernment is good bye to coordinating my small parish’s  Sunday school.  I have decided that I simply need a break.  The timing of the break may prove to be an unexpected blessing if it opens the door to an infusing of new ideas and energy in new leadership, or it may be terribly unfortunate, as we’ve been without a rector the past year, and are now on the brink of getting one.  No matter.  I had to listen to my heart on this one.  And I really and truly feel that God has laid his blessing on this…taking a break, and taking some time for renewal.

Heavenly Father.  In times of seeming silence and aloneness we need to call on faith that you remain near.  I trust and believe that you remain near, and are working in me to accomplish new growth, which I trust and believe will bear good fruit in due time.  Keep me receptive with wide open arms to what blessings and missions lie ahead…after I take a brief rest that is!  Amen.


No more tepidity for now!

May 24, 2009

I’m re-reading a book my spiritual director has re-loaned me again: “Crossing the Desert; Learning to let go, see clearly, and live simply” by Robert J. Wicks. Excellent book! I’d like to share a couple of quotes from it that are especially touching and/or convicting to me at the present time:

“Humility is the ability to fully appreciate our innate gifts and our current “growing edges” in ways that enable us to learn, act, and flow with our lives as never before. Prior to this important passage [through the narrow gate of humility] we may be drained by defensiveness or wander in our own desert chasing a false image of self that has nothing to do with who we are really meant to be.”

and another…

“[Humility] will also allow us to have the perspective, peace, and joy that comes when we know and value our ordinary transparent selves without wasting the energy it takes to add or subtract anything from whom we really are.”

and one more…

“Humility opens up a space for sound self-respect in lieu of inordinate self-doubt or unbridled self-assurance. A space for the courage needed to be ordinary instead of wasting all of our time chasing after what we believe will make us someone special.”

Let’s just say my growing edges are chafing a little right now. But the good news is I can see a little crack of light. I think I’m progressing toward that light that finally (maybe!) starts letting go of some of the wanderlust in the ol’ desert.

Time will tell. (Be near, oh God.)


Failure to Care?

May 18, 2009

Today’s quote comes from The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages” by Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

“After years of trying to achieve a degree of spiritual depth with little result, after a lifetime of uphill efforts with little to show for it, the lure is to let it be, to stop where we are, to coast. We begin to make peace with tepidity. We begin to do what it takes to get by but little that it takes to get on with the spiritual life. We do the exercises but we cease to “listen with the heart.” We do the externals – the church-going and the church-giving – and we call ourselves religious, but we have long since failed to care. A sense of self-sacrifice dies in us and we obey only the desires and the demands within us.”

(Chittister expanding on Benedict’s caution against being a Sarabaite, one who has a character “soft as lead” taking for themselves a law of what they like to do. A “most detestable” kind of monastic as described by Benedict. Italicized emphases in the Chittister selection are mine.)

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One need not be a monastic to see themselves in this. I suspect a Sarabaite was “nice” enough, maybe even well-meaning enough. Chittister goes on to comment that this is a religious practice of comfort and being comfortable. A life filled with God’s love and joy tends to be one lived on the growing edges, I think, quite frequently. Growing edges aren’t always safe or cozy. Tepidity is comfortable. “Being good” can be comfortable. Looking good can be more so. Comfortable sometimes keeps us from living life to the fullest though, I think sometimes.

Heavenly Father, draw me ever nearer to your fiery heart of love, a place where all tepidity is banished and wholly out of place. Give me eyes to see as you see, ears to hear what I should hear and a heart that responds, that burns with love for you and my fellow creatures. Keep me from coasting to that valley where I fail to care. If you find me slipping and coasting back down the hill, lift me up to you until I can be made stronger to follow you more nearly and dearly. Nudge me out of the mere comfort zone and ho-hum complacency into the places where love is found, and is sorely needed. Let me live there and share there and CARE there. Amen.


Book of Common Prayer: Confessions of Sin

January 25, 2009

I’m going to just reprint the confessions of sin available in the Book of Common Prayer, as shown in Rite 1. (Rite 2 uses the second version, changing the thee’s and thy’s to you and your, but is otherwise the same.  In a recent rant, I was whining about Rite 1, and the first confession of sin I show here was used.)

Almighty God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
maker of all things, judge of all men:
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
which we from time to time most grievously have committed,
by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty,
provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.
We do earnestly repent,
and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;
the remembrance of them is grievous unto us,
the burden of them is intolerable.
Have mercy upon us,
have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may ever hereafter
serve and please thee in newness of life,
to the honor and glory of thy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or this

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in thy will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of thy Name. Amen.

I think I’ll just quit for now in the sharing of these wording choices that my hyperactive little ol’ brain is toying with.  I’ll try and write more of my ponderings on them later.  Peace once again! – Karla


The love of Intention

December 6, 2008

The following snippets are excerpted from the article, “Toward a Post-Christian Spirituality” by W. Paul Jones in Weavings Jan/Feb 2009 issue.

Background: talking about lack of consolations in modern faith, lack of modern reinforcements for “easy” life of faith, etc. Example given is discovered journals of Mother Teresa’s struggles and doubts, and extended dark night of the soul.

Removed from consolations, caught tautly between longing and emptiness, Teresa became convinced that emotions are both unreliable and deceptive. Never give way to your feelings, she warned her sisters, and never rely on them either for your strength or your conviction. Having lost what she called “the sweetness of presence,” the alternative as a love of intention — an act of sheer will in the face of what emotionally feels impossible. This is the post-Christian spirituality of living heroically “as if,” not “because of” but “in spite of”.

And here’s a better couple of examples of phrasing “fake it till you make it” also found in the same article! How convenient so soon after my recent post on such a thing!

While taking the temptation of unbelief on herself (Teresa), her outward smile bridged others into belief. This was not pretending the untrue to be true, but was more like Augustine’s will to believe in order to understand, and Wesley’s instruction to doubting ministers to preach it until you believe it.

Hmm. On second thought, fake it till you make it is not too far from Wesley’s advice at all, is it?

Heavenly Father, brother incarnate suffering Jesus, help us to be faithful in spite of all that is around us. Console us if you can – cuz you know we’re not as strong as Mother Teresa. But in the final analysis, make us stronger, and bring us to you in the end. Amen.