Faith and Spiritual Life

As for why we are dissatisfied

Written by on August 21, 2011 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

This review of a new book by Cathy Davidson rings so true:

We’ve been trained to assume that working hard means focusing on a single task to completion, then doing it again. But, says Davidson, “the new workplace requires different forms of attention than the workplace we were trained for…

The result is that we feel anxious and guilty, convinced we’re not getting enough done, not achieving an honest day’s work, failing to live up to the iconic model of our hard-working, brick-and-mortar grandparents.

I am working on many things at once. I trust and hope they will all converge, but I don’t know if and when. I’m over my head trying to engage in a very complex world. That’s just as true in Cambodia, or more so, because the representatives of the developed world are here in full force trying to “help” and “make a difference” with so many anticipated and unanticipated results spiraling out of sight. This country is change too fast for anyone to keep track of. Sometimes I crave just one thing to do with my hands with simple results I can measure.

For any one of us who has been panicking about how to adapt

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A prayer to become empty

Written by on August 14, 2011 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

Following is a prayer by Macrina Wiederkehr entitled “The Empty Water Jug” that I read on a friend’s blog today. My friend works and lives among the poor here in Phnom Penh. She is daily confronted with needs and suffering she can’t meet or alleviate, but she keeps going outside and facing what she finds there. Such living will strip illusions away. We live with overwhelming struggles and sorrows never far away, and beauty and abundance. What a joy it is when they really meet.

“…full of things…smothered by gods”

Jesus, I come to the warmth of your Presence
knowing that You are
the very emptiness of God.
I come before You
holding the water jar of my life.
Your eyes meet mine
and I know what I’d rather not know.

I came to be filled
but I am already full.
I am too full.
This is my sickness
I am full of things
that crowd out
Your healing Presence.

A holy knowing steals inside my heart
and I see the painful truth.
I don’t need more
I need less
I am too full.

I am full of things that block out
Your golden grace.
I am smothered by gods …

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The greatest story

Written by on July 3, 2011 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

John Walsh speculates in this article about why Ernest Hemmingway committed suicide.  He doesn’t deny Hemmingway’s brilliance and acts of bravery, but he paints of picture of a man captivated by an image, addicted to alcohol, and bent on self-destruction.

What was bugging Hemingway? Why all the drinking, the macho excess, the manic displays of swaggering? Why was he so drawn to war, shooting, boxing and conflict? Why did he want to kill so many creatures? Was he trying to prove something? Or blot something out of his life?

I’m struck that a man like Hemmingway, who seemed to live a BIG life that others aspire to, might have never been truly free; this man of far reaching imagination, a genius at crafting stories, may never have seen his own story truly.  Did he taste the fullness of life, or was he so desperate to escape a shallow existence that he attempted it with a pen and his imagination?

I know what it’s like to walk around looking for stories and pictures, spinning bits and pieces of narratives and dialogues as I walk like kicking stones. I can easily get lost in the words; it’s like listening to another voice, …

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Freedom to disbelieve

Written by on February 22, 2011 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 2 Comments

I’ve recently been reading a blog by a former Christian, someone whose “evangelical credentials” were as conservative as can be. How does someone like that lose faith? Or has she? She’s gone off the beaten path and down the slippery slope, yet she’s followed a certain logic that she explains (prolifically). Here’s a question she asks.

So how do we figure out what we really believe and don’t believe? I think this can only take place if we sense an element of personal freedom. As long as we are slaves who must conform to some imposed standard in order to be loved, it won’t be easy to discern our subconscious mind. Do I really believe that or have I only been pressured, or enticed to believe that? We need to know that we’re going to still be loved (at least by our own selves) if we step over the boundaries.

Do you know what you believe if you’ve never felt a freedom to really disbelieve (i.e., without losing the love of God)?

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Real change comes from freedom

Written by on January 25, 2011 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 1 Comment

Change that comes quickly, or easily, doesn’t last. Authentic change takes time and a process, but it runs deep and follows through.

Seth Godin writes about three ways to motivate people to achieve: by pushing them relentlessly, by creating competition, and by giving them freedom and opportunity. The first two produce results, but only temporarily. As soon as you stop pushing, or when the competition ends, the motivation fades. The advantages of push and competition are speed and control; the disadvantages are felt down the road. Athletes who won championships don’t know how to motivate themselves apart from competition. I was a pretty good runner in my day, but I was never able to run consistently without a coach pushing me, and I ran for the thrill of racing and beating people. I’d love to be running today, but I still haven’t found it within me.

How will I work for change in society, or a better world? Whatever I want to change, it means people must change. But how?

Here in Cambodia, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of non-government organizations are working for change. There are hundreds of orphanages “saving”children, and many say they intend to raise up a new generation …

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Two encouraging articles

Written by on December 6, 2010 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

Seth Godin nails it again. He asks, Who is the world’s worst boss? The answer is “you.”

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt.

The encouraging part is that we have a choice. Tomorrow I start with a new language teacher, and I face the question: Will I make choices that enable me to succeed? It’s so much easier to lower the bar, take the dignified way out.

I also liked this article about a young writer here in Phnom Penh. It’s a refreshing story.

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