Archive for the ‘relationships’ 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, and 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.

Prayer: Good 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

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“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 website 

Visit my blog “Finding God in Daily Life” to read more articles:

I came across this beautiful, thought provoking reflection.  It brought to mind 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 which begins: “Love is patient, Love is kind…

It’s message, though different than that of 1st Corinthians, certainly seems to be connected.  I thought others might find it meaningful as well.

love is blind

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Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” on Amazon:

via Daily Prompt: Disagree

This morning my wife, Tina, surprised me with a wonderful metaphor.  She needed to sew on a button.  After getting the needle and thread from her sewing basket she said, “Isn’t it funny how with all of the technology available, when I need to sew on a button I still reach for a needle and thread?”We reflected together about how personal relationships, at certain times, require the same kind of attention from us that sewing on a button does, in that you need to be “present in the moment.”

There is technology that can sew on a button.  But when it comes to the most important aspect of life, our relationships, technology will never replace personal, focused attention, and active engagement.


Charles W. Sidoti is the author of, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein:

Read the Introduction, Table of Contents, and a Sample Chapter on the Twenty-Third Publications website:

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