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Author Topic: Week of 11/6  (Read 6716 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: November 06, 2011, 08:24:33 AM »

Nov 6

Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
All religions in their own way talk about “dying before you die”!
They are all indeed saying that something has to die. We all know this,
but often religions have chosen the wrong thing to kill, which has given
us a very negative image. In almost all of history it was always the
“other,” the heretic, the sinner, the foreigner that had to die.

In most ancient cultures it was the virgin daughters and eldest sons
that had to be “sacrificed”; in Biblical times it was an animal, as
we see in the Jewish temple. By the Christian Middle Ages, it was our
desires, our intellect, our bodies, and our will that had to die; which
made many people think that God had created something wrong in us.
Religion then became purity/separation codes instead of transformational
systems.

Jesus did say very clearly that we had to “lose our self to find our
self” in several different settings. For much of Christian history
this was interpreted as the body self that had to die, and for some
miraculous reason this was supposed to make the spiritual self arise! It
did not work, and it allowed us to avoid the real problem. What really
has to die is our false self created by our own mind, ego, and culture.
It is a pretense, a bogus identity, a passing fad, a psychological
construct that gets in the way of who we are and always were—in God.
This is the objective and metaphysical True Self.

It seems we all live with a tragic case of mistaken identity.
Christianity’s most important job is to tell you that you indeed and
already have a True Self, “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians
3:3-4 [1]).

[1]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians%203:3-4&version=NIV;MSG;KJV

Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 05:56:14 AM »

Nov 7

Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
To understand Jesus in a whole new way, you must first know that Christ
is not his last name, but the pre-existent Christ Consciousness that
existed from all eternity (Colossians 1:15-20 [1]) and his omnipresent
identity after the Resurrection—which now includes humanity and all of
creation along with it (Ephesians 1:9-11 [2]). Jesus became the Christ (Acts
2:36 [3]), by his own process of transformation, and now wonderfully
includes us in this sweeping, historical, and victorious identity!

[1]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians%201:15-20&version=NIV;MSG;KJV
[2]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%201:9-11&version=NIV;MSG;KJV
[3]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%202:36&version=NIV;MSG;KJV

That’s why Paul will then create a new shocking term “the body of
Christ,” which clearly now includes all of us (1 Corinthians 12:12-30 [4])
and all of creation too (Romans 8:18-21 [5]). What hope this offers
everything!

[4]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%20%2012:12-30&version=NIV;MSG;KJV
[5]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%208:18-21&version=NIV;MSG;KJV

So think of the good Jesus, who has to die to what seems like him—so
that he can rise as the larger Christ. It is not a “bad” man who
must die on the cross, but a good man (“false self”)—so that he
can be a much larger man (“True Self”) or Christ. Jesus dies, Christ
rises. The false self is not a bad self; it is just not the true self.
It is inadequate and small, symbolized by Jesus’ human body, which he
readily lets go of.


Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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Alan
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 06:12:31 AM »

Nov 8

Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before
we even know what up is. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only
thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I
would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in
control.”

All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not
transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we
invariably become negative or bitter. If there isn’t some way to find
some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it,
and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down.

Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 07:23:15 AM »

Nov 9

Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
We must learn how to walk through the stages of dying. We have to grieve
over lost friends, relatives, and loves. Death cannot be dealt with
through quick answers, religious platitudes, or a stiff upper lip. Dying
must be allowed to happen over time, in predictable and necessary
stages, both in those who die graciously and in those who love them.
Grief is a time where God can fill the tragic gap with something new and
totally unexpected. Yet the process cannot be rushed.

It is not only the loss of persons that leads to grief, but also the
loss of ideals, visions, plans, places, and our very youth. Elisabeth
Kübler-Ross helped us name those stages as denial, anger, bargaining,
depression, and finally acceptance. Grief work might be one of the most
redemptive, and yet still unappreciated, ministries in the church. Thank
God, it is being discovered as a time of spacious grace and painful
gift.

Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 07:58:12 AM »

Nov 9

Richard's Daily Meditations

    
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

    
We must learn how to walk through the stages of dying. We have to grieve
over lost friends, relatives, and loves. Death cannot be dealt with
through quick answers, religious platitudes, or a stiff upper lip. Dying
must be allowed to happen over time, in predictable and necessary
stages, both in those who die graciously and in those who love them.
Grief is a time where God can fill the tragic gap with something new and
totally unexpected. Yet the process cannot be rushed.

It is not only the loss of persons that leads to grief, but also the
loss of ideals, visions, plans, places, and our very youth. Elisabeth
Kübler-Ross helped us name those stages as denial, anger, bargaining,
depression, and finally acceptance. Grief work might be one of the most
redemptive, and yet still unappreciated, ministries in the church. Thank
God, it is being discovered as a time of spacious grace and painful
gift.

Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.

Now that I have experienced this with James, I can really understand what Richard's talking about.  ESPECIALLY the "cannot be rushed" part that has profoundly and directly affected me, Mom, and my own Wichita family -- as well as others -- even though in connection with this I have specifically and intentionally gone against medical advice of my own mother's doctor that the doctor gave me by phone personally, and in no uncertain terms, on November 2 -- and can now easily say I'm glad I did.  I certainly experienced a loss when Dad died, and again when James died, and those were, of course, life-changing experiences.  I can't say which one's death was "stronger" to me; they were completely different.  They happened at wildly different stages of my 10-year episode of mental disorder, and they represented different kinds of loss, were differently expected/unexpected.  Neither death was a "surprise" in that they both had health conditions that were life-threatening, but the trajectories were totally different.

But then I have had so many emotional issues of my own that throughout all of this my whole point of view in life has changed so much -- that I didn't have a "stable reference frame" from which to view it.  But from an emotional point of view, I have now had close personal contact with family members, both immediately following the death of James, and both short and longer-term issue after Dad.  For Dad there was the wife children, and grandchildren, and now for James we have wife and mother and children.  Of all of these, the one which has taught me the most is the mother-son connection.  I had the son-mother connection through my Dad before he died; in his last days he told me quite a bit about his own feelings and experiences and decisions -- some of the difficult -- that he had to make with his own mother, and two days before he died he gave me his last request, "when the time comes, I want you to take care of your mother."  Those words and the "training" and sharing that led up to it brought tears to my eyes just now, as well as yesterday while ina prolonged section in a lawyer's office (a wonderful man IMO, more maybe about that in a more private section -- wouldn't want to embarrass him in public) making changes to Dad's final documents and Mom's current documents, to the extent that for a few moments, it seemed like it was Bob helping me with Mom at my side -- when one of the specific purposes I had requested for the visit (by emails to Bob) was for him to help me help Mom with the acceptance stage -- since Dad died, Mom has trusted Bob's words probably more than anybody on the planet, with James coming in second, and I was a little different.  Well, I think I'm getting pretty close now, but as I told Bob in an email yesterday morning before the meeting, I think at this point he is still "the man."

One of these days, as early as today and as late as never, maybe I'll start a more detailed discussion of what I have seen and experienced in a more private section of the forum.  I think it would be "interesting," of not useful, to do a bit of "journaling" not so much to help others and myself "get through it," but for future reference.  Believe me, I have had plenty of typed correspondence "real-time" with those most closely affected, as well as those who were caregivers, supporters, etc.  These are all over the place, from documents I've stored on this computer, to CAF posts, to emails and facebook chats "out the wazoo" as they say, and even here on CAF but on CAF we of course have certain very private words in James's own typing, years before and then shortly before the death.  With close ties with his wife and son especially these last two months, I have gained much insight into James's last days than I would have ever gleaned even from what he has posted here.

And we have another kind of death that on top of it all, was a trigger that sent my mother into a place I've never seen her before, not even immediately following Dad's OR James's death, but clearly in addition to -- the proverbial "straw" that broke the camel's back.  That was what I'll tentatively refer to as the "psychological death" of my mother when she lost certain aspects of her own freedom to the extent that it changed her very sense of identity -- aspects of her life she has taken for granted for most if not all of her conscious life over her 84 years.  For the first time EVER in her life, I saw her throw away her own whole notion of what it was to live; that was immediately following a discussion I had with her right after I talked to her doctor on November 2.  She got agitated rushed to get dressed, and maybe in a more private section I'll journal about soe of what he actually said.  After a few minutes she broke down and proclaimed, "I've never 'given up' on anything in my entire life but now I guess I have" -- a stage that by God's grace lasted only a few minutes until a bizarrely well-timed phone call came in from a close friend.  Mom's first words to the friend were so disturbing that I jumped in to conference call to help get the friend out of shock, then we "tag teamed" on the phone until the situation was stabilized, and then finally I got back off the line and let them talk alone.  During these past 2 1/2 weeks I have been her caregiver, son, witness to, and even husband-by-proxy for her through the most profound of the outwardly observable symptoms.  I'm happy to say that of the Kübler-Ross "stages," of this most profound and cumulative sort of grieving I've been here to experience with her -- the death of her husband, then her son, and then her "own," the "acceptance" stage is clearly emerging and beginning to become stronger and it very close to being dominant, if not already.  Smiley

I'd have to think about it more before I decide what I think about the Kübler-Ross stages, in that I'm not sure we are "in one of the stages" at any given time, and then move on to the next.  Maybe they do happen in approximately that progression, but I don't think it's a clear boundary when one "moves on" but I'm not sure that's what Kübler-Ross was implying anyway.  I can certainly see how those aspects have come into play both in me and the others I've mentioned, and in various ways, but I think I've seen travel back and forth between and overlap among the stages.  Whenever I've heard of these "stages" before, they were presented to me in a way that one followed another, and in that order -- maybe that wasn't the intent at all but I have not studied them or even truly considered them until now.  I have thought of the stages recently, only vaguely remembering "kind of" what they were -- but now starting with this meditation I have a new incentive to consider them.

Gosh I have much to type.  Over the past two months I have typed probably 100 times or more elsewhere on these personal topics compared to WF, but now suddenly with this post, I think I might have more things to write here in the near future -- especially in the more private sections.

Many times every day I am thankful for all of the people the Lord has seen fit to bring into my life, even those with whom I "clashed with" in the past although even though some of the issues are not truly "resolved" I am very much at peace even with them.  People I met at CAF and in particular my friends here at WF, have helped me through the most difficult times of my life -- times when I was too sick to even consider logging in to WF, much less reading or posting.  As of this moment, I suddenly can see the comparison between my own "low moments" and what I experienced with Mom on November 2 -- so now I'm considering how what I've referred to as my loss of hope, was a form so self-death in itself.

But this post is long enough and I've edited it enough, so I'll leave it there after a couple more comments.  My beginning painting instructor in my senior year of college (I'd like to tell you more about him and that class later -- including why I even took the class) told me one time that I needed to quit the painting I was working on -- that sometimes you just have to stand back from your work, look at it, and say, "it's done."  As an engineer, that was quite a new concept to me.  But it was reinforced later when I used to watch this old guy with a funny accent on PBS who did a show called, "The Magic of Oil Painting."  He would paint an entire scene -- usually landscape -- in each episode, start to finish, and it did look like magic.  Once he waved his "almighty" brush (his term for a very large brush -- it was probably about 2-3 inches) at the camera and said, "as much as you keep messing with it, as much as you SCREW IT UP!!"

Alan
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 08:43:14 AM »

"Lord, I thank you for giving me this forum, and these friends, and for sending me Father Richard's message of today at this time, and for not only giving me the privilege and motivation to post it, but to actually read it.  I have no doubt you will continue to guide me and others through our times of our lives, through Your Spirit.  I ask nothing of you at this time because I don't know what to ask that you haven't already given me -- plus you're giving me the senses to witness it as it unfolds like I could never have imagined.  I give you these thanks through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen."

Alan
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Lanasshoebox
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 10:15:56 AM »

Indeed there are so many different stages of death and acceptance in life. But to witness and give hand
to those going through it makes for an incredible bond that will never go away. THIS my friend was what
YOU needed as well, to go through, and to bond with your mother. Others had the drivers seat before,
but now you hold the reins. You had to mourn it WITH her to become whom she trusted personally, rather
than just love. The bond will give her hope as she closes one door,and opens another. The gift is to walk
through this door without loosing hope. The acceptance is a process...hence the processing inevitability.
But we need it to proceed forward, otherwise we continue to live in the past...always waiting, always
regretting, always forlorn. Her strength is in her ability to process, and to not want to live that way...
but be who she is...a strong woman and survivor. One has to Love the Lord enough to simply know,

he has a plan.
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 10:36:12 AM »

Indeed there are so many different stages of death and acceptance in life. But to witness and give hand
to those going through it makes for an incredible bond that will never go away. THIS my friend was what
YOU needed as well, to go through, and to bond with your mother. Others had the drivers seat before,
but now you hold the reins. You had to mourn it WITH her to become whom she trusted personally, rather
than just love. The bond will give her hope as she closes one door,and opens another. The gift is to walk
through this door without loosing hope. The acceptance is a process...hence the processing inevitability.
But we need it to proceed forward, otherwise we continue to live in the past...always waiting, always
regretting, always forlorn. Her strength is in her ability to process, and to not want to live that way...
but be who she is...a strong woman and survivor. One has to Love the Lord enough to simply know,

he has a plan.

Thank you, Lana.  I knew that as much as anyone I know, you would totally understand.  Thank you for your post.

Brief emotional summary of my last five minutes:

  Lips Sealed

 Undecided

 Cry


 Smiley







Smiley

Alan
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Lanasshoebox
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2011, 10:41:56 AM »

Everyone...Alan used so few words...look, it's true!

Hmmm, i remember that one time i convinced reen that a picture really can convey
emotions for those lost for words, or unable to write it down!

I am glad i helped...and now you can get back to writing your book of processing!

God speed!
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 11:30:38 AM »

It's kind of funny Alan but in many ways I think that God's real purpose in inspiring you to begin WF was to provide the place where each of us has been able to do our "grief work" while surrounded by people who would perform whatever role was needed at the moment. That might be support or it might be a challenge to our ideas at the time. It might be advice but it often just took the form of "sitting on the curb" and being present to each other.

We have come here and been willing and able to be fully vulnerable to each other because it was a safe place to bare our souls, knowing that we weren't going to be judged but were going to be loved in our pain. Each of us, at different times, has carried the cross or been Simon the Cyrenian to help carry someone else's cross. I think, more importantly maybe, that we have learned the harder thing in the process: how to be Mary standing at the foot of the cross, knowing there was nothing we could do but be there. That is a very difficult "death" all its own in coming to grips with the fact that we truly aren't in control of things and that there are things we just can't fix.

I know that part of your own "dying" has been coming to grips with the limitations that your own illness places on you. I have watched you struggle with the brilliance of your mind being hampered by the ups and downs that were out of your control and can only wonder at the frustration that must occur in feeling locked in with no way of escape.

As you note, I don't think Kubler-Ross is implying that the stages of grief are mutually exclusive. Like our life and spiritual journeys, to quote Richard, it is all three steps forward and two steps back. I'm sure the overlap within the stages as you have good and bad days on the journey is very real. I'm pretty sure that even those who come to seeming total peace and acceptance of any particular loss still have days or moments of doubt.

My own mother and her husband currently live in a home attached to that of one of my sisters but I am well aware that my mother and I have developed a very special relationship over the last couple years--again, largely due to input I received from Reen--and that at such time as my "step father" dies my mother is going to want me to be the one to take over, at least on some interim basis, because she knows I'm the one that will be able to help and understand her when she needs that. Like with you, Alan, it will be a role that I won't truly understand until the reality of it occurs.

I too continually thank God for this place and the people He put in my life through it. It has given me a place to be healed and at times to learn to help others heal. I would probably consider those I have met here to be closer to me than anyone I have "physically" met.
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Lanasshoebox
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 12:34:44 PM »

I too continually thank God for this place and the people He put in my life through it. It has given me a place to be healed and at times to learn to help others heal. I would probably consider those I have met here to be closer to me than anyone I have "physically" met.

It sounds strange to retell this to others, that in cyberspace, we found such trust! And not see the, "really, you were suckered" look on their faces. But God knows!

Lana
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2011, 01:48:30 PM »

Wow.

I can hardly believe what today has brought me, even since my last post.

 Cool +  Grin



 Shocked

 Huh

 Cry  Cry  Cry

 Angry

 Huh  ...  Undecided  





Shocked



+ +  Cry +  Smiley +  Cheesy +  Cool

 Smiley

 Wink

 Cool

And it's only 1 pm.  Mom and I are about to go to the bank and put some stuff in the safe deposit box, then drive through a couple places.

Alan
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2011, 01:54:25 PM »

I know that part of your own "dying" has been coming to grips with the limitations that your own illness places on you. I have watched you struggle with the brilliance of your mind being hampered by the ups and downs that were out of your control and can only wonder at the frustration that must occur in feeling locked in with no way of escape.

I think I'm just starting a brand new life.  Cheesy

Just like I thought a few hours ago.

Just like i thought yesterday.

  +     =     + 

Peace and joy,

Alan
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2011, 09:51:36 PM »

Wow.  I just looked here, and can hardly imagine my exuberance earlier in the day.

I'm happy.  I have it good.  I'm learning a lot.  Things will be OK.

I guess what I'm saying is, I feel more like  Undecided than  Grin

I didn't get much "tangible" work done today.  I really don't feel like doing any, but there is a huge amount that needs to be done, and quickly.  I wish I could be like Samantha on Bewitched and stop the clock for a couple weeks.

Overall, I'm getting more stable but it's definitely not a monotonic improvement curve.  Maybe an early bedtime tonight will help.

Alan
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Lanasshoebox
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2011, 06:14:06 AM »

Then write your goal plan out with room to spare so you are able to process it!

Organizing helps the nerves!

Lana
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2011, 08:38:32 AM »

Then write your goal plan out with room to spare so you are able to process it!

Organizing helps the nerves!

Lana

I would fully agree with Lana here Alan. Having seen you in the times when you knew there were things to do but just couldn't summon the energy to do anything at all, and having seen the times when you knew there were things to do but had to choose distraction over actually tackling them, it is good in a way to see you able and willing to take on the multiple tasks that need to be done. But, as Lana notes, if there isn't an organization to get them done in an orderly fashion--while still allowing yourself time to rest and recharge--you'll end up spinning  your wheels a lot and taking a lot more time to get them done.

It also concerns me a bit that there could be an indication of some manic activity asserting itself, with the mind racing too quickly so that you're constantly trying to jump to the next step before completing the one you're working on. That might also account for the rapid and frequent mood shifts you're noting. It may be something completely different considering all you're having to deal with, but I bring it up because that is something you can't afford to have creep up on you right now; it might seem to temporarily give you superpowers but you know how quickly that can get out of control.

Father, please be with Alan as he navigates the choppy waters out there to bring stability to the several lives that are woven into his right now. Help him to love himself enough to take care of himself in a way that will best allow him to accomplish all that needs to be done and return to his family soon.
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2011, 01:29:38 PM »

November 10

CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH
 
 
 We must go through the stages of feeling, not only in the last death of anything but also in all the earlier little deaths. If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger—because they refuse to let their emotions run their course, honor them consciously, or find some appropriate place to share them.

Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They are merely indicators of what is happening, and must be listened to, usually in the body. People who do not feel deeply finally do not know or love deeply either. It is the price we pay for loving. Like Job we must be willing to feel our emotions and come to grips with the mystery in our head, our heart, and our body. To be honest, that takes years.

From Job and the Mystery of Suffering: Spiritual Reflections, pp. 54-55


Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
 
 
 
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« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2011, 01:35:16 PM »

If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger...

Oh boy, can I identify with that! I can't count the time I've been angry, sad, frustrated or whatever about something I had no control over and ended up taking it out on someone or something else. It's the old "kicking the dog when you get home because someone pissed you off at work" thing just disguised much more cleverly most of the time.

Not being in control is something we just don't do well with and if it happens and we aren't able to learn to "sit at the foot of the cross" with it we will surely find some other misdirected form of expression that happens to be handy.  Cry
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« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2011, 03:08:37 PM »

If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger...

Oh boy, can I identify with that! I can't count the time I've been angry, sad, frustrated or whatever about something I had no control over and ended up taking it out on someone or something else. It's the old "kicking the dog when you get home because someone pissed you off at work" thing just disguised much more cleverly most of the time.

Not being in control is something we just don't do well with and if it happens and we aren't able to learn to "sit at the foot of the cross" with it we will surely find some other misdirected form of expression that happens to be handy.  Cry

Wow.  So can I.  In fact, the longer I live and the healthier I get, the more I become convinced that my "illness" over the past 10 years has been completely, or at least overwhelmingly, due to .... (caution: whining ahead -- some repeats included)

... stress factors and lost ideals, eager help given and then trashed by the ignorant, stupid, or foolish -- even when it was exactly what they asked for or paid for.  Obeying and jumping to "cavalry calls" that turned out to be large hot air, lip service, PR fodder.  Calling organizations to reflect on their own mission statements that they clearly have no intent to even consider following, much less do they even realize what they mean or care -- they sound good and that's all that seems to matter.  "Correct" solutions that directly address the problem at hand and are bought into by all the customers, lost to politics to non-solutions that actually compound the problems, made by those whose job it was to implement my solutions rather than second guess me, but they wanted their name on it and plus they had made a fancy powerpoint with words coming in from the sides, swirling around and making little noises when they arrived -- and once they showed that to the executives they were cast in stone -- and then a couple years down the line after they get rid of me they spend over $10 million "undoing" their non-solution and trying to clean up the messes it made.  Oh yeah, then at Boeing when they didn't like my telling them that we should contract out a particular piece of equipment because our technicians did not have the skills to do the necessary "tweaks" to make them work (I was impressed at the knowledge of the guys they hired from Motorola to make that design but still knew we didn't know how to produce it) and they moved me off the project and implemented it, and later had a $7 million + recall of the equipment from B-52's all around the world to implement a revised design with those parts subcontracted out (not to mention production and redesign costs) -- all while I raised my children below the poverty level because "I" was too crazy to work (no wonder) and no, I did not get an "I told you so" fee of even 1/2 percent.  Tongue

Oh yeah, and now our church is having severe financial problems because they continued what they were doing despite I showed them a financial analysis of what would happen, including tables of figures I had analyzed for a four year history of what their policies had done, and graphs extrapolating what would happen if they would have continued it and now the chickens are home to roost -- they missed a payroll and are even considering shutting down some of the grades in the school, and even some things I'm not supposed to know about so I won't repeat here.  And now the same people who adamantly stood up suddenly from their chairs and shouted at me for bringing that to their attention 10+ years ago (before my doctor ordered me to quit all parish leadership activities -- I was VP of parish council and leader of home/school committee and stewardship committee member at the time) because after all, HE (the guy who shouted) was a CPA and HE said that if this OTHER guy had used analyses like mine to run his business, he wouldn't still have a business, while the (business) guy solemnly nodded his head yes and the CPA dramatically walked over and put his hand on the guy's shoulder.  Guess what?  We're in deep crap now, for exactly the reasons I gave, for doing exactly what they were doing, and despite the theoretical 3-year term limit on finance committee members, those two guys are still on the finance committee.  While I'm at it, have I mentioned yet this month that once when my pastor paid out of his own pocket for me to take training in the diocesan stewardship policies and bring back what I've learned to the parish, what I had to say was dismissed out of hand because it didn't line up with the intended policies (the ones that ran the school into the ground) that were being implemented (this was a few years before I gave the analysis) because the loudest guy in the room had a particular grudge against a particular manager he didn't think was giving enough money to the church (and had a nice car with new tires -- this guy had car-envy about several parishioners) so by golly they needed to incorporate policies to "get back" at the likes of that manager.  And they did.  Oh yeah, and then when that pastor retired and the following pastor scolded me harshly in front of the whole parish council for even bringing a diocesan stewardship manual to the meeting because "we HAVE a copy of that" -- I thought but didn't say, "but have you tried OPENING it?"  Then later that same pastor banished me from parish property except to drop off/pick up children at school or to come to church to play music for Mass because I was a "loose cannon," and in order to get back on parish property I had to sign a consent form for my psychiatrist to release private medical information to the parish so they could determine I was not dangerous and lift the ban.

Then there were the neighborhood wars, where I spoke eloquently before the city council on their behalf and they never paid me back for the specials taxes it would cost me if I went with them and against my other neighbors -- which I'm still paying every year -- and spent sleepless night writing and revising letters, successfully protecting a very wealthy neighbor against a totally unfair, related attack on her profession brought by other neighbors, based on twisted and misquoted things I had supposedly told them?  That was 11 years ago; the official onset of my disability was one year later, when much of the above was going on.

I am happy to say that our current pastor is very supportive of me and has done me much good.  I have some concerns about some of the things he's doing to try to fix the mess left for him by previous pastors -- the one who wouldn't listen to me, and the one before that who paid me to try to help him with problems he knew were there but couldn't combat on his own but obviously those efforts did not pay off before he got sick and retired.

So yeah, you've probably heard at least half of this before.  But you've seen what it did to me.  "Chemical imbalance" my foot.  Yes, when you naively try to do what is right, going eagerly and OBEDIENTLY against stupidity from all directions, one does get a bit frantic and THEN it causes a "chemical imbalance."

And now since James's death almost four months ago and with the current move imminent (finally set tentative hopeful date of Nov 20, but I have several IMPORTANT reasons for being back before Thanksgiving weekend) I'm seeing what these same deaths -- the big ones and the little ones -- have done to my mother (who never had "mental" problems in her life before) starting small and then finally exploding and changing rapidly in a matter of weeks, days, and even hours.

Thank you, John, for bringing us Father Richard, both today and for starters, with those CDs you sent me about non-dualistic thinking.  BTW today I didn't post his email meditation because I didn't get it, unless it went to my SPAM folder and I missed it.  And I do scan through my SPAM folder message headings each time before I delete them.  Afa I know this has never happened before.

edit: I take it back; usually I get his emails soon after midnight, but there were several times I didn't get his messages until hours later, or on a couple occasions even a day or two later -- but I don't know if you also received them late in those instances.  So a slight (if anal-retentive) clarification:  this is the first time I know of that you posted an email before I got it.  ( I ass-ume you know about anal-retentive since after all you DO work with engineers, don't you?  Grin )

I have quite a story about yesterday afternoon, which, after I was stabilized pretty well, threw me off pretty badly -- so badly that I left things out of place, including leaving a nearly six-pound container of hamburger meat I just bought two days ago, out of the fridge.  I didn't even realize how hard it hit me until this morning when I saw some of the aftermath -- and that was AFTER the emoticon stories I posted.  Roll Eyes

OK.  Getting a grip now, I think.   Cool  Thank you, once again, friends, for enduring my spew as I use WF as a dumping grounds yet again.  Wink

Alan
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« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2011, 05:50:53 AM »

Nov 11

Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
Spiritual life is always about letting go of unnecessary baggage so that
we’re prepared for death’s final letting go. That can only happen if
we’re willing to know that our protected self-image is not the deepest
me. Our passing personas are important and a good part of the journey
and they even help us to taste moments of the Great I Am that is God.
But there’s so much more than my small self, which is so defended,
constricted, and insecure.

Finally, like the great Paul, we can all say, “It is no longer I who
live, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20 [1]). My deepest and truest
me is always God!

[1]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%202:20&version=NIV;MSG;KJV


Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2011, 08:38:09 AM »

Nov 11

...

Spiritual life is always about letting go of unnecessary baggage so that
we’re prepared for death’s final letting go. That can only happen if
we’re willing to know that our protected self-image is not the deepest
me. Our passing personas are important and a good part of the journey
and they even help us to taste moments of the Great I Am that is God.
But there’s so much more than my small self, which is so defended,
constricted, and insecure.

Finally, like the great Paul, we can all say, “It is no longer I who
live, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20 [1]). My deepest and truest
me is always God!

Another wonderful post by Richard.

There is more here than I saw the first time I read it.  I read it, posted it with a couple comments in mind, but then reread it and "found" something startling but wonderful.

Fr. Richard truly has seen some souls through some "dark nights" I believe.

My first reaction was about alzheimer's patients.  In this past few weeks I have seen some wonderful, complex, and merciful aspect of memory loss, everywhere from nearly total (where am I? who are you?) to selective, (did you say I'm going to Kansas?  For how long?) to name some relatively simple examples.

I might have posted on WF before about my theories on alzheimer's but I want to make it quick  Roll Eyes so I can get onto the second thing I saw, about the importance of the "small self."

Long story short (for me lol), based on something Mary Warren once said -- wife of Bill Warren who was cantor at 8:00 Mass since well before I joined the parish and then we worked together at that Mass until his alzheimer's made it too difficult.  When I hadn't seen his smiling face in the back pew for a couple months I saw Mary and asked, "how is Bill doing?"  She smiled a sad smile and said, "he doesn't know where he is, but he's VERY happy."

A couple weeks ago I had a nice visit with Cheryl (James's wife) and her sister Judy, and for an hour we conferenced in Julie by speakerphone.  Judy was the primary caregiver for and lived with her dad as he was dying of alzheimer's, before he got to be so bad he had to be taken into a care facility.  We were talking about Mom's memory loss and they were telling me about their experiences.  They were worried about Mom especially because her older brother, my Uncle Jack, died of Alzheimer's two years ago.  I told them my theory I had concocted that Alzheimer's is hard on the family but merciful to the patient.  Instead of dying in pain and agony, they gradually "grow young" like Mork from Ork, becoming like a child again and gradually, like a child, enter the kingdom of heaven.  Judy liked my theory, and said that's what it seemed like to her.

Good news:  there is no evidence that Mom has Alzheimer's or any other form of dementia, and in fact there is much evidence to the contrary, and I see her "memory loss" in a new way every day, getting better, but I also see how merciful it is but I can write more on that later... I really want to get on with part 2 of my post.

Now to my second point, let me repeat a part of the quote:

Our passing personas are important and a good part of the journey and they even help us to taste moments of the Great I Am that is God.

This is absolutely brilliant; and don't recall ever hearing this point made before, by anyone -- except in concept with other MI sufferers -- but certainly not in those succinct words.  This sums up something I've wished to say for years.  I think I appreciate it MUCH more fully BECAUSE of my experiences with so-called mental illness.  When I was highly manic, I had greater faith than I even do now, that the Holy Spirit truly has things under control and that my own actions were directly guided by Him as I lost all will of my own at times.  I had interactive conversations with the storm clouds.  I communicated via body language with squirrels and felt God was shaping me into a beneficiary of St. Francis.  Except for my very damaging hospitalization in 2001 by Dr. Connie Marsh (who didn't know me from Adam and I never even met her until three days after June 8, 2001 when she sent the order and had me locked up, based on fourth-hand hearsay, originating from lies told by a clerk who thought I "needed some help" -- but I've been through all that before).  I was able to stay out of any kind of trouble, doing quite a few things that could have landed me in jail -- but seemed at the time to have their purpose and some of which were actually tangibly helpful to other people.  Like when I was in the hospital basement after showing up in the chapel after being told I should "give it some time" before I come back, by the nun who ran the hospital -- and I did give some time, a few hours -- how was I to know she meant years?  (Just like my grade school teachers, certain nuns seem to expect me to read their minds.)

Was it just a coincidence that as security held me in their office and I was having a pleasant conversation with them (they liked me even though their orders were to get the police to come remove me from the property permanently this time) two police officers walked in -- I didn't recognize either one of them -- and the first one said, "I know this guy.  He's OK.  I know his wife and his kids; he is a member of my parish next door, and plays music for church."  Then after a very pleasant discussion, they finally asked me, "why do you keep coming back?"  and I thought "the Holy Spirit kept bringing me back," but I knew that might sound crazy so I just said, "to come to Mass."  They said, "can't you go to Mass elsewhere?"  I said, "not at noon time."  Then they told me, officially and clearly, that I was under orders not to step foot on hospital property indefinitely, unless I come in as a patient.  Then I said, "thank you, officers.  That is a great relief!"  They said, "how so," and I said, "that means my 'work' is done here, and I can move on."  Then they said, "we will escort you to your car, and the police will see that you leave the parking lot.  You do remember you were told not to come here again," and I said, "yes, I remember what I was told.  I never disobeyed you or Sister.  I was told that I would be in trouble if you even saw my car in the parking lot and you would call the police, so  I parked in our church parking lot next door and walked here."

We all smiled and shook hands, and then the guards and the police walked with me to the front door, but then stood there at the door and watched and waved as I skipped across the parking lot, waving back.

Then was it "just" a coincidence that at the exact moment I crossed the property line, a serious car accident took place at the intersection of Harry and Clifton, which were the south and west boundaries, respectively, of the hospital property?  (See Google maps, search for "Via Christi St Joseph Campus, East Harry Street, Wichita, KS") and zoom in?  I turned and yelled back to the officers and guards, "THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME GO!  NOW I KNOW WHAT MY NEXT ASSIGNMENT IS!"  They waved and went back inside.

So I stayed until the police and ambulance arrived, and consoled a young child, just old enough he was just starting to learn to talk, as he watched with fright and bewilderment as his unconscious parents were removed from the family van, and loaded into two ambulances, and brought to the hospital.  Another woman came up and joined the boy and me and we were there together, waiting for the boy's uncle to come pick him up.  When the boy was crying, one of the police officers working the accident stuck a little sticker on the boy's chest -- like a "Junior Wichita Police" sticker or something, shaped like a police badge.  The boy calmed down and when the uncle showed up and started to pick him up, the boy took off the sticker and stuck it on my chest.

Now was that a coincidence or a consolation?  I know what I thought at the time.  After the boy was left and the cleanup crews and wreckers arrived, I drove home wearing my badge -- not with pride, but with tearful thanks and praise for the wonders of the Lord.

Yes, I have felt VERY connected to God, and as "damaging" as my "illness" has been financially and in other ways, it really has given me just a taste of a point of view Richard talks about, that I suspect very few "sane" people ever get to experience -- at least to that degree.

Thank you, Father Richard, for offering me this chance to reflect on the most positive aspects of my most "insane" moments, and putting into just a few words what I could obviously write many, many pages about.

Alan
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« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2011, 08:44:00 AM »

BTW, John and Lana, I still intend to respond in more detail to your concerns, and about my situation regarding them and my reaction to them, but at a later time -- maybe.  I did not take them lightly, and at this point I believe I have them covered.  Smiley

Thank you for noticing those signs and pointing them out, as I asked you to do.  Lesser friends would "let it go by" and just hoped, unless and until it became a "true problem" in the event it was going that way.  Being who you are, you stepped in and told me what you saw.   Cool

 

Alan
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« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2011, 07:21:12 AM »

Nov 12
Richard's Daily Meditations

   
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

   
There is a darkness that we are all led into by our own stupidity, by
our own selfishness, blindness, or by just living out of the false self.
And there is a darkness that I believe God leads us through for our own
enlightenment. In both cases, we have to walk through these dark periods
by brutal honesty, confessions, surrenders, letting go, forgiveness, and
often by some necessary restitution, apology or healing ritual. I still
hear of Vietnam vets who feel they must go back to Vietnam and help some
Vietnamese children to be healed.

Different vocabularies would have called these things acts of
repentance, penance, mortification, dying to self, “making amends”,
or even ego stripping. By any account it is major surgery and surely
feels like dying (although it also feels like immense liberation). We
need help and comfort during these times. We must each learn for
ourselves how to be led by God and also by others. But how can we know
the light, or deeply desire it, if we’ve never walked through the
darkness?


Starter Prayer: Lord, teach me to choose life.
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« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2011, 07:57:24 AM »

Nov 12
Richard's Daily Meditations

    
CHOOSE LIFE—CHOOSE DEATH

    
There is a darkness that we are all led into by our own stupidity, by
our own selfishness, blindness, or by just living out of the false self.
And there is a darkness that I believe God leads us through for our own
enlightenment. In both cases, we have to walk through these dark periods
by brutal honesty, confessions, surrenders, letting go, forgiveness, and
often by some necessary restitution, apology or healing ritual. I still
hear of Vietnam vets who feel they must go back to Vietnam and help some
Vietnamese children to be healed.
I've had some of this lately, but if I write more about them, I will put them in a private area of the board, to "protect the innocent."  I'd say it was stupidity, selfishness, and blindness, not quite so much as "false self" probably.  I think I was too clueless at the time to really have much of a "false self."

I think when I started getting beaten around by religious institutions, parish leadership, and corporate politics and stupidity, and even civil politics and stupidity (especially the eye-opening stupidity from people on "my side" -- even some who helped me with my own campaign) that seems to be when I really developed a "false self" that was probably was responsible for my psychological (note this time I didn't say psychiatric -- maybe not correct terminology but I have my reasons) breakdown, loss of job, etc.  Actually, in addition to helping me "glimpse" the I AM like I wrote about yesterday, my entire "illness" for these last 10 years could very well have been a coping mechanism which was an intense training ground to take me to this point of relative (arr arr Wink )  lucidity where I am today.  More about the "relative" part in a private section too, if at all.

So since these past few years (since my illness followed by Dad's death -- and my brief discussion with Mary Warren), few months (since James's death and Mom's memory loss -- I did talk to a nurse friend about it as soon as I got home from Wichita), few weeks (with Mom), few days (with Mom) and finally this very hour (with the reading of this meditation), I have come to conclude that it isn't just Mom's selective memory issues that are an act of mercy and the brain's way of reprogramming under a "safe darkness" or "cloaking device" or "privacy barrier" or any number of terms I can think of, but that my own "illness" is, as well.

Years ago I asked my psychiatrist what causes what I had.  He just shrugged, and speaking for the whole psychiatric community, he said, "we really don't know."  BTW he has repeated this and I have repeated it to people who had their "theories" about what HAD caused my illness, but I knew in my heart and in my head that they were wrong.  In 1983 when I had a relatively "mild" episode that was over after two years, it is possible that their theories a trigger "trigger" but not a "cause."  What example can I give?  How about if there is a gas leak, filling the house with explosive gas, and you flip a "standard" light switch that ALWAYS (I've done some research on this btw  -- when I was researching microscopic behavior of the relays we were using drop bombs out of airplanes) results in at least a tiny spark.  I'd say the gas leak was the root cause, while the switch was the "trigger."  Don't blame it on the switch, it was functioning exactly as designed.

I did give my psychiatrist a couple theories about what might have been the "root causes" my illness.  He said, "you may be right.  'We' just don't know."

Today I am convinced beyond a $10,000 bet that the actual "cause" of my illness was not mostly, but 100% due to external factors -- psychological issues and NOT some "chemical imbalance" (one version of which James believed -- he used to talk about a "lithium deficiency") due to various factors or just arbitrary or other popular phrases that go around pop-psychology these days -- that these past 10 years of education, experiences, spiritual journey (beginning July 11, 2001 when I met my SD, a month after my hospitalization, followed by listening to many Keating tapes, followed by CAF and y'all on this board know and are part of the rest), have not only reversed, but put me in a better condition than ever to cope with whatever is likely to be coming my way in the next few hours, days, months, and years.

Quote
Different vocabularies would have called these things acts of
repentance, penance, mortification, dying to self, “making amends”,
or even ego stripping. By any account it is major surgery and surely
feels like dying (although it also feels like immense liberation). We
need help and comfort during these times. We must each learn for
ourselves how to be led by God and also by others. But how can we know
the light, or deeply desire it, if we’ve never walked through the
darkness?

I like that.  I have to say that I have had some good, some bad parts to all of this.  The "making amends" part, for example, never really hurt at all; even before recent amends (private section only, if at all, for details -- John we briefly discussed this in a PM the other day) were available -- they were just icing on the cake.  That is because my mother trained me in one important area, especially in the days before Dad died -- that you do the best with what you have at the time [I'll elaborate with "given what  you know and who you are at the time"], then don't look back, and there is NO GUILT.  She reiterated that to me yesterday when I told her of my own past fears of whether I would take care of her "properly" like my Dad asked me to, two days before his death, "when the time comes."  Cool

The other parts, sometimes it was difficult, most notably the depressions, sometimes nothing short of glorious -- though the "glory" was not seen as such by any but a few fellow "sufferers" of MI, but as serious and possibly irreversible, destructive behavior trends.  But the frustration that led to all this was mostly or entirely external, like I mentioned above, so the "dying to self" didn't really hurt hardly at all because my false self wasn't so much a lifelong thing as I think most of it developed when I was over 23 years old, except these past couple days I have died to self in a brand new way that was, let's call it, "disorienting" and a bit "sadness causing" and a bit of "hope surgery" but not really "depressing" in the way that I've known depression.  BTW, I say I didn't have "false self" but there was ego and selfishness and the other things I mentioned above.  I'm using "false self" in this post in a very narrow sense, possibly more narrow that Rohr and Keating use it -- but maybe not.  Maybe I'm just starting to "catch the drift."

Thank you again Father Rohr, for your excellent and timely email.  Smiley

Alan

P.S.  I am NOT saying there is no such thing as true, pathological, mental illness.  Eric, for example, has some physical brain damage from being hit by the car at age 9; I'd call that "true" mental illness.  Alzheimer's disease is real.  Cerebral palsy is real.  But these "illnesses" that are only defined symptomatically and statistically, like bipolar disorder at least in my case and the vast majority of other cases, is what I am claiming is based not on hardware issues, but software issues -- and are fixable.  Most "sufferers" of depression get some relief from therapy, medicine, loving support, etc.  but in my own case I have, as I have claimed before, witnessed and experienced "true" healing from these things -- not complete but very deep and convincing and going on to this very day.  THAT is why I am convinced I'm not "going back" to how I was, particularly with watchdogs such as my friends here on WF on alert to let me if they see anything symptomatic.  I recognized this "true healing" several years ago, and attribute it greatly to centering prayer and Fr. Keating and my SD and loving support, but I can't really say it was "deep and convincing" until these past few months, mercifully starting about two months before James died.  "Deep and convincing" to those on the outside of my mind, that is.

OMG!  A WHOLE NEW CHAPTER.  Mom just got up a couple minutes ago ... this is too amazing.  Back soon, in the private section.
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« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2011, 11:15:25 AM »

Wow.

This could be my best morning, ever ... so far, at least.

So many things have been resolved in the past 24 hours, and not just about Mom.

So many things are clearly true that I've thought before, some of them for years, but couldn't get across to hardly anybody else before.  But I no longer feel I need to explain them to anybody.  They are so true they are beyond words -- which is partly why I haven't had sufficient words to explain it to someone who "hasn't been there" in their mind before.

I'm even talking about things that have nothing to do with anything that have happened this morning.  It's all making sense.  It's like a waterfall of sanity, consolation, congratulations, even vindication, whatever.  Whatever you might compare it to, it feels good.
...  (examples: or )

Just a couple examples really quickly; I don't wish to tease.   Tongue

* I can't believe something "on purpose."  I either believe it or I don't.  I can say I believe it, wish to believe it, fool myself into thinking I believe it, but my beliefs are NOT subject to my will.  (as in:  Catholics MUST believe this or that, my foot -- and btw thanks again Fr. Richard.)

* I was right.  There is an engineering solution to agnosticism.  Given:  sometimes I think I believe in God, have faith, trust, whatever -- and sometimes I don't.  Design requirement:  So how do I live a happy and joyous life using some sort of guidance or philosophy that works in either situation?  (Contrary to popular opinion, it IS possible, and in fact this is not a particularly challenging problem IMO.)

* For that matter, the switches in my "agnostic thoughts" are not under control of my will, either, maybe it's just my mind trying to reconcile seemingly mutually exclusive facts, or what have been presented to me as facts.

* I have zero fear of hell.  I've said that before, and I'm saying it again right now.

I guess the above examples are all religious, but that's only a part of it.  Those are just the first things that "popped" into my mind.  Wink

What else?

* Oh yeah, my mother is amazing.  My father was amazing.  St. Julie is amazing.  St. ncjohn, St. Lana, St. Reen, St. James, St. Joy,  St. Jerald (my psychiatrist), St. Melissa (his receptionist), cheddarsox (I don't know if she'd  like it if I called her "St." in public  Grin ) and all my other friends who have stuck with me even though I'm not always "fun" are amazing.  Fr. Richard, Fr. Busch (my ex-pastor), Fr. H (that's his real first name btw -- my current pastor), Father Pecht (my SD), Fr. Keating, are amazing.

* Those who are not my friends, are not all amazing.  Some are; I just haven't met them yet or they would be my friends.  Some who are, and I know it, just haven't realized it yet.  They are all wonderfully complex, "precious" in whatever way, etc.  But they are not all amazing because they have never allowed themselves to be, been taught to be, or been forced to be, or even believed they could be.  Fr. Carr (the ex-rector (rectum?) or the cathedral) and Fr. Birket (my pastor after Fr. Busch and before Fr. H) are not amazing.  Nor is Dr. Connie Marsh.

Enough for now.  I'm sure I'll have plenty to write later.

 Smiley

 Grin

 Lips Sealed

 Wink

 Cool

Alan
« Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 11:27:26 AM by Alan » Logged

... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
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