Who drew the line that said that at 65 one is finished with life? That has been my question this week as I weed self-help books at work. I just finished the “midlife and aging” pop psychology books and grew more and more annoyed at the books trying to help us “old folk” figure it out. Also, this week, as I explored a medical procedure and its costs, I was told by the hospital involved that I should just retire and let Medicare pay for it. Crazy. I just do not feel old. I have a lot more to do, I just know it.
At my job, all of the side duties have dwindled to naught, and the side duties some of my co-workers have are also fading in their usefulness. I know that technology has taken its toll on the role of the librarian.
Everywhere I go I see evidence that those younger than I am believe we do not know how to use technology and have no idea of the current needs of the people. BULL****! Yes, my viewpoint has changed over time, but I am still informed and still aware of the world around me. Also, against all evidence presented to me, I love technology and learning new things (if I didn’t I wouldn’t be trying so hard to learn Italian, and continuing to read informative non-fiction on whatever topic strikes my fancy.)
Yes, my knees do not work as well as they might, and my health has more snags than it used to, but my brain seems to be running just fine. So, faced with this dilemma, what should I do?
Yesterday it was suggested to me to amp up my marketing of my department’s materials in ways that, while not new, are not being used. We once had blogs and I really enjoyed using these to tell others about exciting new materials, but a computer glitch caused the blogs’ demise. (Oh, well, we never knew if they were being read, anyway.) I am going to try some things I have not before, but on my own and on my own time since there are divisions of labor involved that would hold such an attempt up. Meanwhile, I would love to have suggestions for creating a new way of being a science and technology specialist librarian in a large library.
There is no way I can possibly match the words of the Beatitudes in the Gospel. My favorite version comes from Matthew 5:1-11
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. (http://usccb.org/bible/ (NABRE))
It really does not matter which version you choose, what matters is how we live them and how we become them.
I am preparing for our book discussion group meeting tomorrow night. We are reading The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis, and tomorrow we will be discussing Chapter 4. As I think about this chapter, I am struck by how little I practice what Pope Francis is telling us is necessary in our lives. As I ponder my own failures, the Beatitudes came to mind and how they might be written in words we understood today. Yes, we understand what we need to do, and the things we are asked to do really have not changed. The problems in the world have not changed as much as we would like to think. We still have wars, famine, disease, homelessness, wanderers, outcasts, bigotry, crime… the list goes on and on.
So, I say it is not enough for us to consider the poor blessed, the mourners comforted, or the persecuted as having a place in heaven. Rather we must make the Beatitudes come true here and now. Let the Beatitudes inspire you to act in certain ways. Living them out is absolutely at the heart of the matter. (http://bit.ly/1GLpcTK)
I know I am not a saint, nor am I a theologian or a scripture scholar. Although this is not precisely what Jesus said, this is what I hear. What do you hear?
Blessed are they who help the poor, feed the hungry, house the homeless. Be like the widow who gave her last.
Blessed are they who help the stranger, the wanderer, the outcast, the immigrant. Set aside your fears and make others welcome.
Blessed are they who pay a fair wage. Treat others as you would treat yourself.
Blessed are they who do not judge another by the color of their skin, their faith, their gender, their sexual orientation. We are all made in God’s image, remember this.
Blessed are they who honor others and allow others to speak rather than attack. Blessed are they who live by Jesus’ words and accept others.
Blessed are they who are there when and where they are needed. Blessed are they who comfort.
Blessed are they who do not bully, blessed are they who help the bullied.
Jimmy Carter image by www.habitat.org
Pope Francis image by www.catholicnewsagency.com
I am getting new windows put on my house. The old ones were pretty shabby, needed new screens, leaking between the panes, and no longer see through. Some of the wood around them is moldy from too much moisture. Needless to say, we really need them.
They have finished putting in the windows in the upstairs rooms and this makes the walls look like they need paint, the curtains in need of freshening, and the shades and carpets now look more worn than I had realized. Tomorrow, when they do the kitchen, I will notice how worn out and cluttered my kitchen looks.
Isn’t it a wonder how we always “need” more?
Yesterday a fresh catalog arrived from Chico’s. I looked through it and thought “I need new clothes.” Of course, I don’t need new clothes. I have plenty of things to wear – more than any woman needs. Besides, my checking account is almost empty.
So, when I saw the post on the dotMagis blog called “New Eyes of Gratitude, Grace, and Freedom,” I saw myself. The article refers to a blog from momastary.com called “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.” The writer of momastary is perfectly happy in her home, that is, until she posts a picture of herself in her kitchen. Many comments were made about that picture. Suggestions for what she could do to get a nice, new, modern kitchen. Suddenly she lost her happiness.
But that night she remembered that she did not need new things, just new eyes with which to see the things she already had. When she awoke, she had new perspectacles and suddenly she appreciated what she had.
This is something I need as well. I pray each day for gratefulness and generosity, for surrender of those things I hold on to. But, do I mean it?
Check out the two blogs linked in the article for more on seeing with new eyes.
I read this post and realized it said exactly what I wish I was able to say. “People for Others” is a great site to follow, written by Paul Brian Campbell, SJ.
Posted: 20 Aug 2014 09:00 PM PDT
Most of the time, I bumble and stumble through life with barely more consciousness than a fly. Recently, however, I have had some experiences of the exaltation to which humanity is capable and, at the same time, a growing horror at the cruelty and depravity into which too many of our fellow humans can sink.
Think of the loving service that hundreds of medical personnel have been giving to victims of Ebola, the stunning brilliance shown by architects, musicians and other artists throughout history, the everyday kindness of so many people we encounter.
And, yet, we also have a tendency to wage war upon each other to an alarming extent, the physical and sexual abuse of children continues, there is widespread corruption in business and politics and — to speak only for myself – I do nothing much but impotently watch as it all happens before my eyes.
I sign petitions for or against this or that, but the last time I actually rallied for a cause was against the Second Gulf War… and that was a long time ago. These days I feel so tired when I get home from work that I can barely keep my eyes open through Mass and dinner.
Where will I stand at the “Last Judgment”? Will I be among the blessed who’ve helped release captives or will I be sent to join those who would not feed the hungry, clothe the naked or visit the imprisoned?
I wish I knew.
I wish I knew too!
January is the time of year when many of us make resolutions; sometimes to lose weight, to exercise more, or maybe to spend more time in prayer. Perhaps this last one is the one that calls to you. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that your relationship with Jesus is deepening and prayer certainly brings this about.
Consider meeting with a spiritual director to help you discern your path. Monthly one-on-one sessions of ongoing direction can give you much food for thought and help you recognize God in the everyday occurrences of your life and help your relationship grow.
Or consider weekly individual meetings while going through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Through this special program you will gain a deeper understanding of how much you are loved and also learn how to walk with Jesus through specially selected scripture passages which will take you from His earliest days through the joy of the Resurrection.
With the guidance of a spiritual director, you can make this a very special year. Please call Karen Zeleznik at 216-570-4099 to set up your first meeting. Also take a look at https://deeperfriendship.wordpress.com/ for further information. All meetings are confidential and conveniently located.
I was just reading a post from last week from the blog dotMagis called “A Place at the Table.” The article was a reflection on the topic of who Jesus would eat with. Jesus was known for eating with sinners and tax collectors. The blog asks us to consider the question of who are the sinners He would eat with today? I would like to take this one step further. Besides all of today’s well-known heinous sinners, Jesus would also have me at the table. How do I feel about that? Am I worthy? Who among us is worthy?
Upon further reflection, I have another question. Who would I eat with? Would I call the sinners or the saints? The needy or the wealthy, or both. All of us have need of acceptance, forgiveness, and friendship. Am I willing to be at table with those “others;” are they willing to be at table with me?
When we come to the Eucharistic table we are sharing the table with others – all sorts of others. We are the Body of Christ, receiving the Body of Christ. We are sharing the Body of Christ with people we might not agree with, approve of, or dine with. But, together we become the Body of Christ.
One of the hardest lessons we learn is applying this to our lives. Just as I wrote this, someone I do not want to associate with in any way came along. I helped him anyway. It is something I have to learn again and again.
Picture Courtesy MorgueFile
Someone once said, “Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past” Why do I bring this up? Well, I know someone who is a master at holding grudges. The hurts of his past are regularly brought up and dwelt on again and again. I have come to realize that this is a habit that makes one a very unhappy person and sometimes unpleasant to be around.
I have been guilty of this behavior as well. I remember things that happened when I was in elementary school, junior high, high school, and a host of other times and occasionally trot out these hurts, large and small, and examine them. They hurt all over again. What good does this do me or my mood? Absolutely none. The offender does not suffer. The offender does not remember the offense, and most likely, the offender did not even recognize an offense was committed.
Holding a grudge only hurts me, it ruins my day and my life, and others may then consider me to be a negative person and try to avoid me. That is not how I wish to live. I have consciously chosen to drop those hurts, to try to forgive the offender. I find that by doing this, I am a much happier person.
But since it is amazingly difficult to make this change, I have adopted the practice of mindfulness when it comes to past hurts. I simply recognize that something once hurt me, and move on. I found that since adopting this habit, I truly am a happy person.
Today I learned of a mindfulness practice that may help others to simply notice and then move on. Get a bracelet – any bracelet will do. Put it on your wrist. When you notice the thought you are trying to eradicate, just notice it. Move the bracelet to your other wrist. This will help you to change a habit of dwelling on a thought into noticing the thought and moving on.
And remember this from the prayer that Jesus taught us, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
By the way, I researched the source of the quote and there is no definitive answer.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. (Ps 130:5)
Altogether too often we are in a hurry. When it is time to pray, so many other tasks, thoughts, and desires reach out and grab us. I find that I am guilty of this as well. I sit down to do my evening prayer and my examen and the shy cat comes over and wants his special time with me. So, I spend time with him. Then my latest read catches my attention and I want to get to that already. And it’s late and I want to go to sleep. Thus I miss my prayer or hurry through it.
I have found ways to lose some of that hurriedness I have. I arrive at my prayer spot earlier in the evening. I now have grown to expect the cat to arrive. I give him a few minutes of my time, then he decides he has had enough and moves on. Next I pick up my prayer. I very deliberately ignore my fiction book waiting right there for me, and because I have started a bit earlier, I can wait before sleep.
On a retreat all of this changes. My cat is not there. I have nothing to do but pray and walk. I have learned that during this time, it is essential that I devote my time to God. And thus I am ready to listen to what God may have to say to me. A retreat is then very rewarding – and helps me to wait for God. It also continues to help me when I return home; it helps me to build good habits I can take back.
On a recent post at dotMagis, one of the blogs I follow, Becky Eldredge discusses the topic of retreats and their benefits. The final statement of this blog really sums up the retreat experience. “God most certainly works with the limited time God has with a person on a retreat!” Take a look at the entire posting.
When I first went through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, I stumbled when I got to the word “colloquy.” It’s easy enough to look this up and get a definition, but that did not really clear things up for me. Since then I have come to understand this term. Today there was a blog posted that I really liked explaining this word. Follow this link to this article from Kevin O’Brien, SJ, reprinted from his book, The Ignatian Adventure for a great way to understand what this prayer practice is.
I have been working on this off and on for a month now, and the only thing I can say is that it is confusing. I am used to posting blogs on the Science & Technology and Health Information Center blogs, but those pages were set up by others. So be patient with me as I not only create this, but also as I decide what to add. Feel free to comment and send suggestions about modifying this WordPress site and about Spiritual Direction.