Archive for the ‘change management’ Category

Have you ever wrestled with a personal issue and felt as if you wanted someone else to make a decision for you? That’s how I was feeling.

By Charles W. Sidoti, From: “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time”

Thomas Merton once compared living a spiritual life to standing before a field of fresh fallen snow that you must cross, his advice: “Walk across the snow and there is your path.” Being a trailblazer through the fresh fallen snow, as Merton puts it, involves walking your own unique, untrodden path. As good as Merton’s advice sounds, it can be difficult to put into practice. Many of us would much rather walk familiar, well-trodden paths. Yet it is precisely the walking of a unique, untrodden path that each one of us, individually, is called to do in our life if we truly desire to grow in our relationship with God and others. Reflecting on what walking your own unique path would mean in your life can make all the difference in the world.

In considering how to follow Merton’s suggestion, it is necessary to realize that it involves a paradox. None of us walks through life completely alone. We live out our lives among other people. We have all heard the saying, “No man is an island,” by the great Christian poet John Donne. Hopefully, the relationships we have with others are mutually beneficial in helping us to grow and develop. On the other hand, it is also true that we are at times quite alone. Our personal moments of loneliness remind us of this truth in no uncertain terms. Taking the first step onto our own field of freshly fallen snow involves realizing this paradox and accepting it into our life. Just realizing and accepting that these two things, loneliness and our feeling of being connected with others, are a natural part of life can be helpful. There is a natural rhythm that exists between these two feelings, and at different times one of the feelings is dominant.

It is very helpful when we discover the relationship between our aloneness and our connectedness with others because the two work together in our lives. The relationship was explained to me in a most interesting way on one of my visits to the Abbey of the Genesee, which is a Trappist Monastery and retreat house located in Upstate New York. During a conversation with my spiritual director, Brother Anthony, I asked his advice about something I was dealing with at the time. I remember wanting him to just tell me what to do about the situation. Have you ever wrestled with a personal issue and felt as if you wanted someone else to make a decision for you? That is how I was feeling.

His answer to me contained wisdom. He very kindly said, “Chuck, you know its kind of like making a loaf of bread. You can find a recipe in a book and follow it. You can ask others about how they bake theirs, learn about other interesting ingredients and get advise about how others do it. But in the end, everyone must bake his or her own loaf of bread.”

After this conversation, I realized that I would not want anyone else to bake my loaf of bread – make my decisions, live my life. It is our involvement, our interaction with life, and the decisions we make that keep life fresh and alive. Once we reach the age of reason, no one can really make a decision for us. When you think about it, would you really want them to? Our lives are unique, just as we are, an therefore our relationship with life is meant to be unique. Seek out the wisdom others have to offer, yes, but realize at the same time the precious and exciting opportunity you have in your life to bake your own loaf of bread.

Connecting Point: Can you see a rhythm in your life between feelings of aloneness and a feeling that you are connected to others? Sometimes it is the aloneness part that needs attention, so that aloneness may eventually evolve into the positive state of being, called solitude. You can do this by seeking out a little bit of time alone each day just to be quiet or pray. Through this time, you will discover that you are never really alone.

PrayerGood and gracious God, place gratitude in my heart for the gift of life. In times of difficulty, I don’t always see it as a gift. Sometimes it feels like a burden, especially in times of loneliness. Help me to make decisions that will lead me to the peace that you desire to give me. Place in my heart the desire to bake my own loaf of bread – with you. Amen.

——————-

Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” – Traditionally Published

 

Only $14.95 on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

The whole point of practicing a religion or of having a spiritual outlook toward life is to help us to connect spiritually with God, other people, and the world around us. 

This article is an excerpt from, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Timewritten by Charles W. Sidoti and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein

My father, Charles B. Sidoti was one of the most peaceful people I have ever known; he was also one of the most hospitable. On good terms with everyone, he always greeted people with a friendly smile. Everyone liked my dad. I think it was because he made them feel comfortable.

I recall times from my childhood when we would be on an elevator together or standing in line waiting our turn to get into some type of event. Dad would often initiate a conversation with someone standing nearby. He felt comfortable enough to speak to a total stranger just to be friendly. He would make a comment about the weather or some current event. Often the conversation included a corny joke and laughter. Most people responded to him so well that I would eventually have to pull at his hand to get him away from the person he was talking to so we could get to where we were going. In his own simple way, Dad was able to achieve almost instant familiarity with strangers by breaking the silence that so often keeps us apart. It was a sincere and natural form of hospitality that I try to emulate in my own life.

Much of our time is spent in close proximity to other people. Things like going to school or work, shopping at the grocery store, or going to a place of worship. All of these things bring us into close contact with others. Yet much of the time, we only really engage with those we already know or happen to work directly with. We may greet a stranger, but often that is just in passing, a fleeting acknowledgment while we continue on our way to something or someone else. To a great extent, this is completely natural and perfectly fine. We cannot expect to actively engage and interact with every stranger we walk by or happen to cross paths with. But it is worth some self-examination as to how open or closed we are to receiving strangers into our life. There is a strong spiritual implication found in the way we relate to strangers.

The whole point of practicing a religion or of having a spiritual outlook toward life is to help us to connect spiritually with God, other people, and the world around us. Genuine hospitality is one of the keys to authentic spiritual growth in that it helps us to connect with other people. Practicing hospitality leads to the expansion of our conscious awareness beyond our own familiar environment, reaching out to others in their world and welcoming them into ours.

People respond to hospitality. Have you ever experienced a day when you felt so good inside it showed on your face? Maybe something really good happened to you, or something you had been looking forward to was about to happen. For whatever reason, on that day you had a smile on your face, a distinctive glow about you, and you cheerfully greeted others. On such a day, the world seems to be a friendlier place. It isn’t your imagination; there is a reason why you experience the world differently when you feel good. Recall the old adage “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” Often dismissed as trivial or trite, most clichés actually contain a kernel of truth that can direct us to an important life principal. This one certainly does. When you feel good, you give off positive vibrations that people perceive, and they are therefore naturally drawn to you. When you are angry or otherwise feeling bad, you give off negative vibrations, and people are naturally repelled. Think about it; Do enjoy being around someone who smiles, is friendly, open and welcoming? Or do you like to be around someone who is often very intense, complaining, and frowning much of the time?

Important spiritual insights can come from all parts of life, even from the animal world. On my way to work one morning, I observed a bumper sticker that creatively focused on the importance of communicating positively with others. It said, “Wag more, bark less.” I instantly thought of a dog, as you most likely did. This simple statement contains a great truth that can be very helpful to us if taken to heart. Dogs have a way of winning people over. Not all people of course; there are some people who simply don’t like dogs, and it is okay if you are one of those people. But by and large, people like dogs. The reason is that dogs communicate unconditional love in the friendly affection they naturally give and so freely convey to humans. Dogs relate so well to people that they are used for therapy in hospitals and nursing homes. Petting a dog, or simply being around one, has been shown to lower blood pressure and lift the human spirit.

When a dog wags its tail in our presence, it is communicating with us in a visible and powerful way. It is conveying its inward happiness in a way that we instantly understand. Most often we respond by petting the dog or speaking kindly to it. The opposite happens when a dog barks or growls at us. It is conveying its displeasure, again in a way that we instantly understand. We react by moving away or by protecting ourselves in some way. As humans, we do the very same thing, just differently. We, like dogs, express our inner feelings in a visible way that others instantly understand. We do it through our facial expressions, body language, and speech; and they have the same powerful effect as the dog wagging its tail or barking.

In large part a dog’s hospitable nature is built in; they are hardwired, pre-programed, to be friendly. Compared to people, dogs are simple, uncomplicated creatures. But that does not mean we cannot learn a valuable lesson from them. For some humans, like my father, hospitality also seems to come naturally. The rest of us have to work at it. Learning to practice hospitality can be challenging.

One reason it may be difficult for us to reach out to others is that in our human brokenness, caused by past hurts or rejections, we may have come to believe that we have nothing to offer. We may believe that our attempts to reach out to others will be rejected. The truth is otherwise. This world is full of people who would love and welcome your expression of hospitality. It may take courage, and yes, there is always the risk of rejection. Not everyone responded favorably to my father’s hospitable nature, but most people did. There is certainly a risk involved in reaching out, but the benefits you stand to reap make it a risk worth taking.

God is hospitable. If it is true that hospitality is vital to human interactions and relationships, it follows that it would be an important part of how God chooses to relate to us. It is clear in many places in the Bible that God acts with incredible hospitality toward human beings. For instance, the book of Genesis (17:1-24) tells the story of Abraham, who at the age ninety-nine undergoes circumcision, and needless to say, has a very difficult healing period. Though he likely received many human visitors to help comfort him in his pain, the Bible tells us that he was visited by none other than God. In the story, God does not simply bestow a blessing, or even send a miraculous cure, but instead graces Abraham with a personal visit.

More than a moving story, this becomes the basis for the biblical commandment to visit the sick. Sacred Scripture is filled with examples of God’s hospitality toward humankind and all of creation. In Judaism, Rav Dimi Of Nehardea, in the Talmud, said: Hachnasat orchim, Hebrew for the welcoming of guests, “is more important than study, or even the worship of God.” The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy once commented on the command to welcome the stranger:  “Love the stranger and the sojourner, Moses commands, because you have been strangers in the land of Egypt.” In Christianity, Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of God-like hospitality for us to follow. We can draw enormous personal benefit by finding ways to imitate God’s hospitality, found so often in Sacred Scripture, in our daily interactions with others.

God’s hospitality is not only found in the pages of the Bible, but is readily visible in the way the world is created. Sure, life is difficult and full of challenges, but it is also filled with things that did not have to be made so good, so tasty, so enjoyable, for any other conceivable purpose than to show God’s divine hospitality to the world’s inhabitants.

So much in this world seems to have been tailor-made for human enjoyment. The way something is created (designed) often expresses the hospitality of the creator. Consider something as simple as a banana. The potassium, other nutrients, and the relatively few calories found in this fruit could easily be provided in a tiny, tasteless berry that you could pop into your mouth. But instead, God wanted to put a lot more into the package. It is made not only to be healthy; a banana has a lovely sweet taste that does not have to be there. Next, any eater of a banana would need to know when it is ripe, so included in its packaging is a “high-tech” color sensor that tells you, to the day, when it is ready to be eaten. If you don’t have a plastic bag to protect your food when you toss it into your knapsack on the way to work, a banana has a built-in carrying case. It can be eaten by anyone from a baby to an adult human or a hungry monkey, due to its ease in being mashed up our cut into bite-size pieces.

There is a beautiful Christian song, written by Dawn Thomas, called “That’s How Much I Love You.” It’s like a love song by God to us, about how all the beautiful things in creation were made out of God’s love for us: “The mountains fair, the beautiful oceans are there to remind you I can satisfy your every need. That’s how much I love you, that’s how much I want you to know that you are my child, and you mean so much to me.” Max Ehrmann’s great poem “Desiderata” explores the individual’s place in creation, but it concludes with advice about the need for happiness:

“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Do the best you can to put this advice into practice by reaching out in hospitality to others, in your own unique way, even though you may be hurting inside. This won’t solve all your problems, but it will not add to them in the way having a bad temperament or openly displaying a bad mood often does. When we “wag more and bark less,” feelings of isolation and separateness slowly begin to lose their grip. People respond to us differently because we are more pleasant to be around.

Connecting Point: Nurturing a spirit of sincere hospitality within yourself can be very helpful in discovering the wonderful person God created you to be. Hospitality is very much an attribute of God. Growing to be more God-like, acting in union (more often) with God’s creative love and welcoming spirit, can only lead us closer to God, to others, and to all of God’s creation.

Prayer: Gracious God, Creator of all that is, help me to hear and respond to your welcoming call, your gentle embrace in my life, and to respond with that same love toward others. Give me the courage to reach out to other people, in their world, and to sincerely welcome them into mine. Help me to realize that everyone I meet is truly my brother or sister and you are God of us all. Amen.

Living at God's Speed, Healing in God's TimeA TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOK

$1495 Today On Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

 

One of the greatest examples of pursuing the unknown end is the very existence of the United States of America.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

You may be old enough to remember the 1960s television game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” hosted by Monty Hall. A hallmark of the show was that people in the audience would dress in silly and outrageous outfits trying to get the host’s attention in hopes of becoming the next contestant. The person selected to be a contestant would win a small amount of cash.  He or she could either keep the cash or risk losing it for, “What is behind door number 1, door number 2, or door number 3.” Often the hidden prize was worth much more than what the contestant had traded away. At other times, however, a worthless gag prize, known on the show as a “Zonk,” was revealed. Receiving a Zonk prize ended the game for the unlucky contestant.

The same type of drama behind the success of “Let’s Make a Deal,” namely, the need to let go of something, risking what we already have for the possibility of obtaining something better, often gets played out in our real lives. It happens when we agonize over important choices. We may need to decide whether to leave our current job to take another that we have been offered. A husband and wife may ponder a question such as, “Should we risk the money that we have saved for so long to start a business? What if it fails?” The decision of whether to leave a current relationship or to enter into a new one is yet another example of how the “Let’s Make a Deal” scenario gets played out in real life. The struggle we often face in making important life choices is that we must let go of something, trade it away in the hope of trading up, with the ever present fear of getting “Zonked.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes’ words “Have faith and pursue the unknown end” does not mean that we should throw all caution to the wind. There is real risk involved in letting go of what we already have in order to take hold of something else; something that may or may not be better. Yet this is precisely how much of life works. We must be able to live and to act with enough trust to take reasonable risks from time to time, if our life is to be the adventure it is intended to be. Sometimes living out the words of this fortune will mean our choosing to actively pursue an unknown end. At other times it will involve allowing or simply accepting the fact that an event or situation has an end that is, at least for now, unknown.

The career decision to pursue board certification in professional chaplaincy meant my entering upon a path with an unknown end. I recall reading about the requirements for certification set forth by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). They seemed so lofty, and the road to meeting those requirements looked so long. It even appeared unattainable from where I stood. When I took my first step toward certification I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I will ever get there, but I am going to do this anyway.”

One of the greatest examples of pursuing the unknown end is the very existence of the United States of America. The founders of our nation in breaking away from British rule and establishing “a government by the people for the people” could not possibly have known if their dream would ever be realized. Establishing a nation in which individual freedom, liberty, and justice would form the foundation of government was a radical and dramatic act. It seems that the older I get the more authentically patriotic I become. I am proud to be a part of the great experiment of democracy that is the United States of America. The freedom from tyranny that its very existence represents, and which we enjoy, is the fulfillment of a dream of those that came before us. It is the fruit born of those who labored long ago and had the courage to pursue the unknown end; the end result was our country.

Jesus’ life on earth bears powerful witness to living out the words, “Have faith and pursue the unknown end.” He once said to some unsuccessful fishermen on a lake, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Luke 5: 4). They reluctantly did as he instructed. The result was that they caught so many fish that the catch nearly sank their two boats. These same fishermen became Jesus’ first disciples. Most of us are not fishermen or women, and yet the words that Christ spoke to them speak just as powerfully and directly to us today. The term deep water is often used as a metaphor to represent the unknown, the mysterious part of life. In our life’s journey, if we are to discover what God has prepared for us, we must sometimes prayerfully discern putting out into the deep water and casting our nets.

Putting the words of this quotation into action will require accepting the reality that most of life is a mystery. Of the many paths you have already trodden, how many ends were actually known to you at the outset? The truth is we don’t really know how most things in life will ultimately turn out. Our vocation, our job, our children’s lives, practically every pursuit in life has an unknown end. Nothing is guaranteed. The words “have faith” in Holmes’ statement make all the difference. Faith provides us with confidence to live secure in the midst of all of life’s unknowns. Faith reveals the real presence of God at work in our lives. As we continue to grow spiritually on our journey through life, the “unknown ends” will eventually become less of a problem and more a source of adventure.

The Contemplative Connection: We walk down many paths throughout our lives, many of which, at least for a time, have an unknown end. Ask God to help you to accept the initial anxiety that comes with not knowing the end beforehand and to eventually replace that anxiety with trust.

This article is an excerpt from my book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.”  – Click below to view and / or purchase on the publishers website: http://vesuviuspressincorporated.com/simple-contemplative-spirituality/ http://vesuviuspressincorporated.com/simple-contemplative-spirituality/

This book is “Traditionally Published

Visit my Blog! https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

Each one of us has our own personal Egypt.  We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.

This article is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.

One of the keys to a more peaceful life is learning when to allow oneself to be led and when to take life by the horns. Both of these inner-actions are necessary at different times. As we reach a point within ourselves where we are able to live in the middle, between the tensions of when to relinquish control and when to assume it, we will have reached a place where real spiritual growth becomes possible. We discover a kind of rhythm or dance of life in which we sometimes follow and sometimes seem to lead. In both actions we are active participants in life.

In my daily work coordinating a hospital spiritual care department, my job is to provide for the spiritual needs of all faith groups. The program serves patients, their families, and also the hospital staff. The hospital not having an official religious affiliation has been a source of blessing for me. Although I am Catholic, I have become knowledgeable about many spiritual traditions in order to serve each of them well. One of the most powerful insights I have learned involves the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover, also referred to in the Jewish tradition as “The Festival of Our Freedom.”

Through my association with Jewish friends and colleagues and in researching the significance of Passover, I have found great spiritual meaning in seeing Passover as a distinct action and gift of God in human history before the establishment of Christianity. Researching Passover has enabled me to see it from a different perspective, thus gaining a new appreciation for it.

The Jewish Festival of Passover is a joyful time, primarily retelling and remembering the story of the exodus of the Jewish people from both the physical and spiritual slavery of the Egyptians some 5000 years ago. The story is symbolically re-told in the Seder meal that is observed with the whole family during the festival that lasts several days.

The great Jewish phrase that captures the spiritual meaning is, “We were slaves to the Pharaohs in Egypt, but the Lord led us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 26:8). I have learned that the message of Passover, “God leads his people”, is not only about what happened in Egypt 5000 years ago. The message for us is that “Egypt” is in our own hearts. Each one of us has our own personal Egypt. The inner slavery of loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction, jealousy, lust, hate, anger, prejudice, violence, abuse, and countless other chains can hold us in bondage. We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.  The same God who led his people out of Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” wants to lead us out of the Egypt of our own closed hearts today so that we may live in the freedom of the children of God. With God’s help we can open up and allow ourselves to be led.

As a Christian I have found it helpful and interesting to observe that The Last Supper actually occurred on the first day of the Passover Festival. I feel a special connectedness with my Jewish brothers and sisters as I wonder if at the Last Supper, Jesus was observing the Passover meal, sharing the Seder Meal with his friends for the final time.

Opening my heart to the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover has been powerful and insightful. It has been and remains a tremendous source of comfort and healing in my own spiritual journey.

Connecting Point:  The same God that led the Jewish people out of the slavery of Egypt so many years ago, holding out “a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,” reaches out to you today. It is your responsibility to reach back (in prayer) to God in response. God wants to lead you into freedom from whatever grips your heart (fear, anxiety, anger, resentment), preventing you from becoming the person that God created you to be.

Prayer: Loving God, as you have always revealed your presence to your people, reveal yourself to me. Help me to reach out to hold the hand you offer to me. Lead me to the freedom of mind and heart that you desire to give me, and help me to accept it into my life.

 Traditionally Published

View it on Amazon.com just $14.94: https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

“The art of being wise is in knowing what to overlook” – William James, American psychologist, philosopher and physician.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

The above quotation penetrates to the very heart of the way in which God sees us, which, over and above all else, is with an attitude of love, “…for God is Love” (1 John 4: 8). It is important to realize that an inseparable ingredient in that love is mercy. In mercy God patiently overlooks many of our faults. Rabbi Akiva Feinstein, contributing author in my first book, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, explains:

“During our relatively short lives, God is patient with us. A particularly strong proof of God’s patience is the fact that our lives are sustained even when we do wrong. Imagine a universe where there is absolutely no margin for error, where punishment is instantaneous and total. Thankfully, that isn’t the world we live in. God is graciously patient and merciful with us, preserving our lives even when our actions hit way off the mark, so we have time to come to deeper realizations, make amends, and return to a straighter way.”

God’s patient way of interacting with us has the effect of being generative. Like the sun that draws life from the earth, God’s love nurtures and draws us forward, encouraging our spiritual growth and healthy human development even when our actions “miss the mark.” I once heard it said that at least part of what it means to love someone is to “will what is truly best for them.” Sometimes this means our overlooking their faults and having a generative attitude toward the other, like God has toward us.

In one of the Eucharistic Prayers used during the Catholic Mass the priest says, “Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness” (Eucharistic Prayer I). Perhaps more than being a request, this prayer is an acknowledgement of the way in which God relates to us. The following verses from Psalm 103 beautifully describe God’s loving attitude toward us:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust”(Psalm 103: 8-14).

The importance of God’s merciful love communicated to us in this Psalm cannot be overstated.  It is very important for us to remember that God’s way of looking at us is very heavily weighted with mercy, loving kindness, and forgiveness. God interacts with us in our lives in such a way that “…mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2: 13).

An inseparable part of living an authentic spiritual life is that we increasingly learn to treat others in the way that God treats us. In other words, we are to love others as God loves us. Jesus is very clear in regard to how we can accomplish this. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6: 36 – 37).  If we are to be compassionate as God is compassionate, it is critical that we reflect upon our own image of God, our own understanding of how God loves. If our intention is to imitate God, then our understanding of the way in which God behaves toward us will be reflected in our treatment of others. What type of behavior is it that we attribute to God that we wish to emulate in our own lives? What do we personally believe about God? In regard to the words of the referenced quotation, do we really believe that God overlooks our faults? Or do we have a different way of understanding God? Donald P. Gray in, Jesus the Way to Freedom, challenges us to think about what we believe about God when he asks:

“Do we really believe that God is love? Or have we learned to fear this loving and gracious father? Have we come to see the Son as love and the Father as the one who settles accounts, the one who demands that justice be satisfied, the one who works his wrath? Jesus is the revelation of God’s love and graciousness. He came to show us the Father’s compassionate care for us. “He who sees me sees him who sent me” (John 12:45). The Father is not justice and wrath and the Son love. The Father’s love is revealed in the Son.  The Son was given to us by the Father’s love so that we might give up fear. There is no fear in love. Jesus came into the world because we are so wrong about God and because that wrongness is destroying us. The father is not our enemy. If we think that we are wrong. The Father is not intent on trying, testing and tempting us. If we think that we are wrong.”

Gray explains so well that, for Christians, Jesus is the revelation, the incarnation, of God’s love. It is a love that, to use Rabbi Feinstein’s words once again, “patiently overlooks our many faults so we have time to come to deeper realizations, make amends, and return to a straighter way.” The way that Jesus looked upon and treated people during his life on earth is the way in which God, whom Jesus called Father, looks upon us.

I once participated in a very practical and eye-opening spiritual exercise that can be helpful in getting at least some sense of how our love compares to God’s love. You may be familiar with it, as it is commonly used in retreat settings and in homilies. It is to read the selection from 1st Corinthians that speaks about the excellence of the gift of love, substituting the word love with your own name. It would read like this.

Chuck is patient and kind; Chuck is not jealous or boastful; he is not arrogant or rude.  Chuck does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Chuck bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1st Corinthians 13: 4-7).

When we experience the merciful, abundant love of God in our own hearts it is that same love that will be communicated in our relationships with others. We will then, more consistently, as it is written in the Prayer of St. Francis, be an “instrument of God’s peace.” We will see ourselves differently as well. Able to be gentler with ourselves, we will finally begin to love ourselves as God loves us. The spiritually enlightened person, realizing how God overlooks his or her own faults, knows intuitively that while some things demand our immediate attention, at times even our correction, the art of being wise, more often than not, is in knowing what to overlook.

The Contemplative Connection: The unfathomable wisdom and mercy of God is revealed in that God overlooks so many of our faults throughout our lifetime. Ask God to help you extend that same merciful love toward yourself and toward others.

____

This article is a sample from my newest book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.” Click below to view and / or purchase on the publishers websitehttp://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520 

Visit my blog “Finding God in Daily Life” to read more articles: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

All living things change. It is the way of the universe. It is God’s way of working in our individual lives as well.

An excerpt from, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, written by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC. (Traditionally Published)

Coming to terms with life’s constant change is one of the greatest challenges that we face. It is interesting to note, however, that there are many areas of life in which we often have little or no trouble accepting change. Sometimes we welcome it with open arms; at other times we may find it bittersweet. For example, many parents experience the bittersweet aspect of change as they watch their child board the kindergarten bus on the first day of school. The change of seasons is an example of a change that we often take in stride, accepting it as a natural and even welcome part of life.

There is another level of change, however, that affects us differently when it occurs, because it touches us differently. Changes of this kind are the ones that involve a significant part of our personal world.

We know intellectually that all good things eventually come to an end, but the fact that they come to an end is outside of our control. It isn’t left to us. Albert Einstein is credited with the statement, “Nothing happens until something moves.” There is a lot of meaning packed into this short sentence. If it were up to us, certain things in our life would never change. For example, the people we love would never die.

When significant change occurs in our lives, no one consults us before allowing it to take place. If we can somehow manage to keep our heart open when something significant moves in our world, we will eventually come to realize that there is a universal compassion, that exists, a loving presence that cares, and waits upon our response. This universal compassion is most often perceived in the quiet-stillness of our own heart. It is revealed to us through an intuitive awareness, a knowing that comes from deep within that we are loved. During times of difficult life transition and change, when we are anxious and desperately searching for answers, we may hear the words rise up from the very center of our being, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46: 10).

Although we sometimes feel left alone to face life’s changes, God promises to be with us always. It is through the ongoing process of change happening in our life, followed by our response, that we discover “who we are” in God’s world. When we are able to open ourselves to this process, our life becomes integrated more and more into God’s larger world. We will eventually discover our proper place in it and find inner healing at a very deep level. We will become aware of our connection with the Creator in a way we never imagined and see life and everything in it in a completely new way.

All of this will come about because God cares enough to “allow something to move” in our world. It is here in the ongoing process of change, if we can find a way to keep our hearts open, that the faithfulness and mercy of God’s promise to lead us can touch our life in a profound and meaningful way.

Connecting Point: All living things change. It is the way of the universe. It is God’s way of working in our individual lives as well. Think about the way you feel when change happens in your life. Do you always feel the same, or do different types of change affect you differently? The more you are able to see change, all change, as the way in which God works in your life, the more you will be able to see your life as a journey of continuous growth toward what it means to be human and what it means to love.

Prayer: God of goodness and peace, your love for me and for all of creation is the only thing that does not change. The universe has been changing for countless years. I have been changing since the time I was conceived in my mother’s womb. Help me to make peace with the constant change that is a part of life. Help me to realize that you are always with me waiting in the midst of the change to give me something new and good. In times of difficult, tragic change, when I am in the depths of grief, help me to find hope, trusting when I can’t understand, that when all else fails you are still God. Help me to wait for your love, mercy, and wisdom to be revealed to me. Amen.

living-at-gods-speed-healing-in-gods-time

Traditionally Published

$14.95 Get itToday on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Contents: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_TOC.pdf

Read the Introduction: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_Intro.

 

 

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

I have experienced enough of life to realize that there are definite personal advantages to becoming a more patient person. I have made it one of my lifetime goals. I call it a lifetime goal because it may take that long for me to actually become patient. There is nothing wrong with that; it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, I have made what I consider to be a giant step forward by realizing the great truth that patience is not passive. This powerful spiritual principal is contained in the words of sculptor Auguste Rodin who said, “Patience is also a form of action.” It may be one of the most powerful forms of action we can take. The statement “Patience is also a form of action” represents a radically different way of understanding the meaning of the word “patience.” When someone reminds us that we “need to be patient,” it can cause us to feel frustrated. Being told to “be patient” seems to force us into passivity, a helpless, hopeless desert of waiting. The desert of waiting is created from the erroneous belief that absolutely nothing will happen with regard to our situation unless we personally do it. If I believe this to be true and have reached the end of what is within my control to do, regarding something or someone that I care very much about, then frustration is a completely logical emotion to feel.

To understand how “having patience” can be a form of action, it is first necessary to realize that having patience is about being open to other possibilities regarding the outcome of events or situations in our lives as we stand before an uncertain future. It will require a letting go of the need to receive an immediate answer to our many questions. Patience, in a healthy sense, involves really believing in the existence of a power greater than me and trusting in that power enough to allow it to act upon my situation without my constant interference. To live patiently is to decide that you can live with the questions and let the answers come to you through the unfolding of events.

The classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz is the story of Dorothy Gale’s journey through the beautiful and magical Land of Oz. The purpose of Dorothy’s journey is to see the Wizard who will, hopefully, grant her heart’s desire which is to go home. The Wizard of Oz is widely recognized as a story which, on many levels, relates metaphorically to our own journey through life. If you have seen the film, you may recall the beautiful scene in which Dorothy, after just arriving in Munchkin Land, encounters Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Dorothy has just received instructions from Glinda on how to get to The Emerald City, where The Wizard of Oz lives. She is told to, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” Dorothy walks to the place where the Yellow Brick Road begins, and says aloud to herself, while questioning the strange directive, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road?” Turning to look at Glinda, she asks, “But what happens if I…?” At this point Glinda cuts off Dorothy mid-sentence and with a tinge of sternness in her voice says to Dorothy, “Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.” The Good Witch then floats away and disappears. Dorothy does indeed follow the Yellow Brick Road with her questions yet unanswered. She is able to set the questions aside for the moment. Dorothy is able to trust enough in the counsel she received from Glinda to place her feet upon the Yellow Brick Road and begin her journey through the Land of Oz. We know from the story that the answer to Dorothy’s many questions was given to her through the living out of that journey.

The dialogue between Dorothy and Glinda, especially Dorothy’s response, humbly accepting the directive from Glinda to follow the Yellow Brick Road, is worth further reflection. Dorothy’s response is analogous to that of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her response to the news of the Angel Gabriel that she was to become the mother of Jesus. Luke’s Gospel tells us that Mary was “perplexed” by the angel’s greeting, and further expressed that she did not understand how she could conceive a child in her womb, because she was a virgin. In the end Mary set aside her questions and trusted in a power greater than herself, a power that was beyond her ability to understand. “Mary said, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.’ With that the angel left her” (Luke 1:38). The answer to Mary’s questions came as she lived out her life’s journey, and in so doing became a central part of salvation history.

Mary’s patience toward getting the answer to her questions was also a form of action, a very radical form of action. Mary’s patience was an acknowledgment of the power of God to act in her life in an unimaginable circumstance. It was at the same time a most profound expression of trust that the word of God spoken to her would be fulfilled. In the same gospel, when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, part of what Elizabeth said to Mary included these words, “Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). Our lives contain a mixture of events, some of which are good and others that are tragic, that are beyond our ability to understand. God asks us to trust in the midst of these circumstances in the same way Mary and many other figures from Sacred Scripture were called upon to trust. When we choose to practice patience instead of insisting on receiving immediate answers to our questions or to know beforehand “how” God will work things out in our lives, our patience becomes a powerful form of action. The verse from the Book of Proverbs mentioned earlier also applies here, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The contemplative connection: Call to mind a situation in your life to which responding with patient-trust might be appropriate. Accept the anxiety of allowing your questions to go unanswered for now. Ask God to help you to move forward in trust, confident that the answers you seek will be given in the living out of your life. In this way your patience is also a form of action.


This article is from my traditionally published book “Simple Contemplative Spirituality.” View it on the publisher’s website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520