Sunday, September 30, 2007

A week or two ago I picked up the new book on Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light is a compilation of letters and private writings of the "Saint of Calcutta." I have been awed by her awesome love for the Lord and her open willingness to abandon all in the world in order to be Christ's love to the poor and the cast-offs of the world. In the midst of her selflessness, God drew her more and more into Him, teaching her how He hurts for each and every person. The following letter she wrote to a priest who was experiencing a time of spiritual darkness in his own life:

Dear Co-worker of Christ,

You had said "Yes" to Jesus--and He has taken you at your word.--The Word of God became Man--Poor. Your word to God--became Jesus--Poor and so this terrible emptiness you experience. God cannot fill what is full.--He can fill only emptiness--deep poverty--and your "Yes" is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really "have" to give--but how empty we are--so that we can receive fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.

In you today--He wants to relive His complete submission to His Father--allow Him to do so. Does not matter what you feel--as long as He feels alright in you. Take away your eyes from your self and rejoice that you have nothing--that you are nothing--that you can do nothing. Give Jesus a big smile--each time your nothingness frightens you.

This is the poverty of Jesus. You and I must let Him live in us & through us in the world...

Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words but by your example--by your being in love with Jesus--by radiating His holiness and spreading His fragrance of love everywhere you go.

Just keep the Joy of Jesus as your strength.--Be happy and at peace.--Accept whatever He gives--and give whatever He takes with a big smile--You belong to Him--tell Him I am Yours & if you cut me to pieces every single piece will be only all Yours.

Let Jesus be the victim & the priest in you...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Lost Art of "Goodbye"

I've always been baffled when watching movies when the actor ends his/her phone conversation without the word "goodbye" or any variation of. The conspicuous absence of a formality in all these phone conversations bothered me a great deal, until that is, I discovered that I too was curtailing my conversations.

It began with business conversations. I allowed for enough information to pass between me and the other conversationalist to sufficiently cover the appropriate subject matter and then ended with a click of the receiver (or a flip of my cell phone). The appropriate compliments remained--"have a good day," "talk to you soon," etc.--but the norm finale was missing. I soon found that this reduction had found it's way into my personal conversations. I do think that I usually still say goodbye to my mother, but I find that more often than not I leave off.

What does this do to the other person? Are they offended? Do they even notice? Has "goodbye" become a triviality for them as well? The land line at work I cannot hang up as quickly as my cell phone. This occasionally means that I hear the other person's "goodbye" as my own receiver is heading to the cradle. At that point there is no stopping the momentum. I must continue in the downward movement, but it does leave me with an awkward moment withing myself wondering if my lack of farewell was rude and offended the other person.

Then there is the larger question of what this truncation means. Does the absence of a single word really save any significant amount of time. I suppose if the word takes about 1/2 a second to say and I hold about 20 conversations a day, then I gain 10 seconds each day. Obviously not a real time-saver. Is it a lack of consideration for my fellow human beings? Possibly. Possibly I grow calloused to the formality of human etiquette. Or maybe there is no meaning at all to it.

I cannot say that I have any great desire to pick up the habit again. But yet I do wonder, am I loosing something that makes me fundamentally human--a respect for other humans, an acquiescence to the humanity of others. Is the lost art of "goodbye" the tipping point, the outward expression of a much deeper change in myself and in our society?

I truly hope not.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Lesson in Pride:

I was out for my run, a habit that I am working on forming and making priority in my life. I knew that 9 o'clock at night was not the best time for a run, but it was the time that I had. The path was familiar, and I wanted to get a quick run in before it was too late.

Maybe it was just a lesson that running at that time of night with only the street lamps to light your way isn't the brightest of ideas, but the crag in the sidewalk certainly decided to teach me a lesson no matter the moral. My toe collided with it. I don't remember which foot. I assume the left because that is the direction I fell and rolled. I managed to fall in such a way as to do no worse damage than scraping the skin off my knee and elbow. I rolled into a sitting position and sat stunned.

I quickly realized that the only thing seriously injured was my pride. The girl walking behind who I had just passed hurried to ask if I was okay. I was, and I said so. I stood and begin to run/limp away in the direction of my apartment. It was a half concerned over the blood dripping down my leg/half embarrassed jaunt that got me home to where I could better inspect my wounds.

The thing is, I know how to run. And I knew my path. But I stumbled. Actually, I didn't just stumble, I pretty much catapulted myself into the ground. I stumbled because of a crag in the sidewalk I could not see in the poor light. It is likely, though I am rather clumsy, that with daylight I would not have fallen. And as I limped off, I know that God was saying to me "See. You need me."

So, God. See. I need You. Would you please keep reminding me of that over and over again?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A little over eight months ago, I read a book that severely altered the way I look at the world around me. The book, The Food Revolution by John Robbins, led to a significant lifestyle change for me.

You might recognize John Robbins name. His previous book, Diet for a New America led to the controversy that eventually resulted in Texas cattlemen suing Oprah for saying she would never eat another hamburger again. I haven't said that I will never eat another hamburger again. In fact, I hope to. But, it has been over eight months since I had a hamburger or any other meat product. Here's why:

I found out from Robbins and other research some startling truths about the meat industry and our over-consumption of meat. These truths are bigger than PETA and the various pathogens and carcinogens found in meat. The truth is that the meat industry has disastrous effects on our environment and world hunger.

Here's the facts:

Today more than one billion children do not have enough to eat. One child dies every three seconds from preventable diseases like diarrhea--diseases that are often the result of starvation. 80% of starving children live in countries that actually have food surpluses, but these children remain hungry because that food is used to feed animals. If everyone on the planet received 25% of their daily caloric intake from meat, there would only be enough food to feed 3.2 billion people. Drop it to 15%, and another billion could be fed. These figures leave 3-2 billion people without. It takes about 16lbs of grain to produce just one pound of edible flesh.

A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….”

For me, I cannot reconcile the consumption of meat with my own moral values and my role as a human formed in the image of God. I hope that one day the meat industry will not wreak such havoc on world hunger or the environment. I look forward to the possibility of having greater access to free-range meats that are fed off the land they live on rather than acres of grain produced in deforested rain forest regions. But for now, I choose to not eat meat because I can't live with myself if I do.

For more information, check out any of these websites: