Trust (a Reflection)

I haven’t written or posted on my blog in quite awhile but recent events have caused me to reflect on the issue of trust. I heard this morning someone of a news program speaking about the loss of trust between the two major political parties today. This didn’t happen overnight, this broken trust has been slowly gnawing away at the very foundations of our society and now we are reaping what we have sown. Can we ever regain our trust? Can we heal what has been broken? My fervent hope and prayer is, yes, we can but only if each of us are willing to see that we need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. So, what follows is something I just finished writing, it’s not complete, it’s still a rough draft, but it’s all part of my own process to recognize my own complicity in what we face today. It’s a start on a long journey towards bettering myself, and in turn, bettering my small section of this world.

Trust

Trust, it is something we all seek, to trust. We are born trusting, first in our parents, to take care of us, hold us when we are hurt, feed and clothe us and help as we learn to navigate the world. We trust that our friends will be there for us, when we need help, when we are going through difficult moments in life. We trust our partners, again as we live together, work, play and experience life with all of its ups and downs. Trust is earned and for many giving that trust is difficult, stemming from times when that trust was broken by people whom they thought truly cared for them. Trust is the issues we see today in our political, social and religious systems. People no longer trust our public servants to actually serve the needs of the people, in politics we are witnessing politicians being self serving and only serving the needs of the party. It’s about being in power, being held in thrall to the special interests. They use social media to help propagandize their political objectives and many, like those who followed Jim Jones, have drank the “kool-aid” and are blinded by their own self righteous attitudes. Our religious circles have nothing to brag about as we have seen in the recent revelations within the Roman Catholic denomination, with allegations reaching right up to and including the See of St. Peter. To be honest, in my life not only have I been hurt by those whom I trusted, I have also done my share of hurting those who trusted in me. It’s inevitable, we are after all human beings, at times we get tired, at times we are distracted, at times we are not fully engaged with listening. Our humanity gets in the way, we enter into relationships, many times without counting the costs of that relationship. Right now, it seems that trust is in short supply. This lack of trust in those places that we had placed on pedestals of honor have now become nothing more than tarnished relics of a long gone past, a past that in hindsight looks to be all sunshine and roses until we uncover the truth. There are no answers, there are no quick fixes to this issue of trust. No one, not a President, or Politician, no Priest, Bishop, Cardinal, Archbishop or Pope, have that deep wisdom needed to heal our brokenness. The awful truth for many, is that to heal this brokenness we need to fully examine our own complicity in what we are seeing today. Can we be honest and admit our own moments when we broke trust, when we, through a thoughtless word or a thoughtless moment, have hurt another person? Can we find it within ourselves to seek healing, not in blaming the other, but in reconciling with those whom we have broken trust with, by listening to one another? It’s not easy, we each come with our own hurts, our own darkness, our own deep feelings. Yet, that is exactly what we are called to do, to listen, to be fully present to each person. We are all made in the image of God, “Imago Dei”

albeit, a much distorted image, but nonetheless despite our brokenness, it is there. As an Episcopalian, as a Christian, as a human being, I am challenged daily to respect seek and serve the Christ that each person reflects, no matter how I may feel about them personally. We now face a time of great transition, our society, our world, our very existence as the human race, depends on each of us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and see where we have fallen short of truly listening, loving and caring. It’s way too easy to share social media postings that affirm our agendas, that feed our own needs, it takes courage to recognize that not all of them serve the good or build trust. A wise person once said that each day we awaken is also the first day of the rest of our lives. We don’t know what day or time we will no longer grace the world with our presence but until then, we can all strive to be a little more compassionate and willing to listen to one another. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be challenged, that everything will miraculously change in that moment, but what it does mean is that we will become ourselves a bit better, a bit more caring, a bit more like that image into which we all have been born.

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What is the Story?

What is the story that I want to tell, to write about here on the pages of this blog? Do I have the courage to tell that story and all that comes with the telling? So much is locked up in memory, various pictures, feelings, textures, that engages all of the senses making up that story. I have struggled trying to tell my story and not get bogged down in the telling. There is so much that needs to be sifted and examined for truth, not only truth of the story itself but the truth of how that story has made me who I am and continues to remake me each day. There is that deeper story of love and loss, of success and failure, of being a child and passing into the adult life. Memories hang along the rafters, I look above me and I don’t know which one to choose, which one do I dare to open. I write to find myself in these memories, that child waking up from a nightmare, that teen being bullied, a young soldier in a foreign land, a newly minted husband unsure of himself while trying to be strong, a dad now responsible for another human life, a priest seeking to discover where God is leading, now I sit here retired, picking through those various pieces of my life and trying to put it together. It is a great jig-saw puzzle, thousands of pieces all scattered along the table and I am looking at it all utterly daunted by the undertaking. Like with any jig-saw, it is best to start with the borders, get the edge right before moving on into the interior. Yet, even the border is hard to define, the borders of life are not static but dynamic, they’re ebb and flow through the mind, clear one minute and haze the next. Nothing is solid in memory, and so like some explorer crossing a vast ocean I must make my own way, with little or no navigation aids. What is that story? What makes mine worth the telling? Fear robs me of that courage I need to tell what I know and what I feel, yet, I can’t let that fear hold me back. Maybe, just maybe, it is in those moments of fear that I will find who I truly am and that in and by itself might just be the story I need to tell.

My Journey in Words

In the past few weeks my life has changed. First, I retired, second, I’ve moved. Now I’m trying to figure out what shape my life will take, so I offer this small piece of reflection. It’s not perfect, nor is it finished but it is where I am at the moment.

July 11, 2018

Thanks, once again to Parker Palmer I have another mystery to unravel in my attempt at the writers life. Here he quotes Henry David Thoreau:

My life has been the poem I would have writ

But I could not both live and utter it

Now what do I do with that? What is the poem I would have writ had I the time to writ what it is that needed to be writ? For me this is the struggle, to find something that grabs at me instead of these various, meteoric thoughts that fly by quickly only too burn up in the atmosphere of my thoughts. I write, to put it mildly, trash even as I long to make sense of where I am in this world. Being deeply troubled by what I read and see, how does my small voice fit in the the greater narrative? Palmer seems to have found his voice, a voice that has been honed and worked on and re-honed to what it is today. Richard Rohr, (another spiritual author I need to read) writing about Palmer and his new book writes that “Our entire culture is in need of true elders, and you can’t be one until you have arrived there — chronologically, spiritually, and intellectually. Here’s a man who has arrived, with another book that’s a generous gift to all of us.” I am far from being anywhere near from being a true elder. I might be there chronologically, but the other two criteria are woefully deficient and need a good boost, a shot of spiritual and intellectual energy. I’m not too old to not have the desire to continue in my quest and even as the days grow shorter, I don’t feel desperate or anxious to get to that mythical somewhere. Maybe, for me, the struggle is the vocation, the purpose of my writing. The honest struggle of not paying enough attention when I was younger and now finding myself in the slow lane trying to catch-up. Now I’m back to the question, what is the poem I would have writ? What are the paradoxes that surround my life and where do they fit in with what I am trying to be as a writer, as a priest, now retired from the dailyness of being out there, yet still craving that need for contact? Now that’s a paradox, a both/and that will keep any shrink in business if one ever dares to try an unravel my inner workings. Today was a day of thoughts, not really journal material, or is it? After all what is a journal other than a place to vomit the crap that is floating on the interior and exposing it all to the light of day. It ain’t pretty and sometimes it smells, but that is the only way to come to understand who I am at this time in my life. I think that the only person that really gets me is Jane, the poor girl has had to deal with my ups and downs for the past 45 years and now she’s stuck with me on a daily basis as we negotiate being retired together.

The Train Home

Train wheels clatter

passing cities and towns,

fields and meadows

through the clutter of broken buildings

garishly painted by graffiti artists

past rolling hills

at one time family farms

white sand beaches

with ocean views

waves crashing on shore

white mist veiling the scene

people walk the sandy strip

some alone staring down

others hold hands,

children skip and play

life passes as we cling to one another

conversations overheard

a mother talking about her son

softly cries as she whispers

buzzing, beeping cell phones

sending and receiving

secretive messages

thumbs fly across mini screens

replying as fast as they are received

a young child sleeps

secure that her mother’s love will not abandon

on this train,

some get off

others get on

life on this train won’t stop

on the wall

JESUS

in bright colors

the promise of the rainbow

on a train heading home.

Porcelain Thoughts

I sit here

on the toilet

the porcelain throne

wondering,

how many seconds

minutes

hours

days

have I spent

doing just this,

sitting

contemplating

wondering

what to write

having brilliant

and I do mean,

brilliant ideas

only to watch them

flush down the drain,

some folks get anal

(you see what I did there)

others get concerned

the color

shape

even smell,

becomes important

like ideas

that I have

their color

shape and yes, smell

and I think of time wasted

just sitting here

not doing

not writing

just defecating

pushing out the toxins

and then it hits me,

writing poetry

my brains way

of pushing out the toxins

that pollute my thoughts

and so here I sit

writing this poem.

A Spring Cleaning

Bits and pieces lay scattered

on the pages of my journal,

nothing complete

a sentence or two

of poems or prose

that I started long ago

the words lying there

as lifeless as dry bones

waiting for the fire,

that moment of creativity

that will bring them to life

giving them vibrant colors.

These bits and pieces

reflect the tattered shreds 

of my own mind,

thoughts and memories

that lay scattered 

littering the landscape.

How does one choose?

It’s like cleaning house

in the spring,

what gets kept,

what gets tossed?

Each word,

each phrase,

each incomplete sentence,

has a unique beauty 

that is hard to ignore.

So maybe it’s time

to open the windows

let in a fresh breeze

to clear the mind

and set the spirit free,

to air out the winter doldrums

giving new life 

to these words I write.

Buying Beer

I walk into the store

to buy some beer

it’s a favorite place

they have my beer

and they are well stocked

all I want is my beer

small talk is wasted on me

I never did small talk well

and hell is chatting idly 

when all I want is my beer.

Then the cashier

a woman about my age

exclaims, loudly

well, it sounded loud

“Nice haircut.”

I leave with my beer

then it hits me

if I were to do that

exclaim loudly about her

or another woman

I barely know

about their hair

then I’d be labeled sexist

and be forced to recant

and I’m thinking this carrying beer

which is what I wanted

but with the beer I got commentary

on the pitfalls of language

and who gets to call who what

as I head on home

and have a couple of beers.