The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Are you in a Dysfunctional Relationship?

I am not a big fan of the label "dysfunctional," I think every relationship is "dysfunctional" in some way.

I like to think of people being "regulated" or "disregulated". When a person is out of control, emotionally or physically, he or she is disregulated. When this person is disregulated, e.g. yelling, screaming, throwing things, etc., others around them will feel disregulated and may act in disregulated ways, e.g. yelling, screaming, crying, running way, etc.

When we think of "dysfunctional" relationships we usually think of people staying in relationships which are destructive in some manner.

I think the word, 'co-dependent', for example, is often misunderstood and misused to describe many relationships. We are all co-dependent (although I prefer the term, 'interdependent') in some way in our relationships.

Unhealthy co-dependency is when we stay in a relationship even when it is destructive in some way.

The woman who stays in a relationship with a man who abuses alcohol to the extent that he begins to loose jobs, threatens the loss of his home, perhaps uses money that should be spent on food and other necessities, is in a destructive co-dependent relationship.

The key issue is the "destructive co-dependent relationship." Clearly the husband is disregulated - his behavior and emotions are out of control. This woman needs to regulate her feelings and thoughts in such a way as to begin a plan to get out of the relationship. Creating a safety plan is the first step in getting out of the relationship.

Disregulation - the trapdoor to broken relationships

(c) 2008 Ronald Friesen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Humanity's task

"Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God." Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable, p. 6.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The value of true candor

It takes more courage than we imagine to be perfectly simple with other men. Our frankness is often spoiled by a hidden barbarity, born of fear.

False sincerity has much to say, because it is afraid. True candor can afford to be silent. It does not need to face an anticipated attack. Anything it may have to defend can be defended with perfect simplicity.

Thomas Merton. A Merton Reader, ed. by Thomas P.  McDonnell, (New York: Image Books, 1989) 123

Friday, June 17, 2011

There is a mornin' breakin' over my soul.

There is a mornin' breakiní over my soul.
Where there was  darkness there is light,
Where there was dryness there is water,
I tell ya, there is a morniní breakiní over my soul.

The devil, he thought he had won, he had me
In the grip of his control, but victory has come
And I can tell ya, I kicked ëim back to hell
So now, there is a morniní breakiní in my soul.

I donít know about you, but I am tired
Of desert liviní, and souls a-dyiní
It’s time to look at the risiní Son
For there ís a morniní breakiní over my soul.

There is a morniní breakiní in my soul
The young are innocent again,
The old saints see visions again.
I tell ya, there is a morniní breakin' over my soul.

© 2009 Ronald Friesen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our inner battle

In a world that victimizes us by it compulsions, we are called to solitude where we can struggle against our anger and greed and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ.
-Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry, p. 39-40

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Domesticating Men?

There is a common perception in our Christian western culture that the Christian faith is to have a 'domesticating' effect on men. It is supposed to tame them.

I read this comment this weekend by Gordon Dalbey,

"the man of God cannot be domesticated." (Healing the Masculine Soul, p. 195)

I don't think that Dalbey is saying that men shouldn't help around the house. What he is saying it that men who take following God seriously will

storm city hall for justice,

repair the cars of single mothers,

shout prayers of deliverance from the violence on our streets,

join the boards of domestic shelters who rescue women from violence,

boldly lay hands on sick people in hospitals,

march against johns and pimps who walk our streets,

The Jesus I follow wasn't a wimp. He was a bold man calls men to do bold things for the sake of the Kingdom.

Christian communities who call men  to serious radical discipleship will have no problem finding men to answer Jesus' call: "Come follow me, I will make you fishers of men."

(c) 2009 Ronald Friesen

The importance of our thinking

One of the elders said: It is not because evil thoughts come to us that we are condemned, but only because we make use of the evil thoughts. It can happen that from these thoughts we suffer shipwreck, but it can also happen that because of them we may be crowned.

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert (New York: New Directions, 1960) 45

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thomas Merton on "Living Well"

To live well myself is my first and essential contribution to the well-being of all mankind and to the fulfillment of man's collective destiny. If I do not live happily myself how can I help anyone else to be happy, or free, or wise? Yet to seek happiness is not to live happily. Perhaps it is more true to say that one finds happiness by not seeking it. The wisdom that teaches us deliberately to restrain our desire for happiness enables us to discover that we are already happy without realizing the fact.

Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (New York: Image) 95.

Six Great Truths about Time

Here are six terrific truths about time:

First: Nobody can manage time. But you can manage those things that take up your time.

Second: Time is expensive. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of our day is spent on those things or those people that only bring us two percent of our results.

Third: Time is perishable. It cannot be saved for later use.

Fourth: Time is measurable. Everybody has the same amount of time...pauper or king. It is not how much time you have; it is how much you use.

Fifth: Time is irreplaceable. We never make back time once it is gone.

Sixth: Time is a priority. You have enough time for anything in the world, so long as it ranks high enough among your priorities.
~Lewis Timberlake

Lest we forget

Today in History - Omaha Beach, 1944

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Prairie Full Moon

O distance luminescence
Garnering sparks of tenderness
In the immediate presence
Of lovers in embraced trance.

(c) 2009 Ronald Friesen

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lava flows inspires poetry

Rivers of red
Potential flows of dread
Descending from incandescence
Enrapturing luminescence.

(c) 2009 Ronald Friesen

An Atheist tries to find Spirituality without Religion....

I just finished reading Andre Comte-Sponville's The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. I have to say this, "Save your money." unless, you really want to find out how a famous atheist decides that the way to get to be spiritual is to be a Buddhist and a Hindu and a Taoist all wrapped up into one. Nietszche would be disappointed: this is not hard-core atheism; this is atheism light.

To his credit, Comte-Sponville does help us understand that atheists do believe something; an understanding not grasped by most theists. I found the first chapter the most interesting and useful in the book. The second, very long chapter discusses the historic proofs for God as offered by western thinking. I did find this summary of the usual refutations of theism to be quite interesting, however, if you are already well-versed in these arguments, you don't need the sixty-seven pages given to the topic.

As I noted earlier, Comte-Sponville lands on the side of Eastern religions to find a spirituality to satisfy his inner spirit. This is most interesting because the author continually tries to make a case for spirituality over religion which he views as a human construct to make sense of the world. In the end, the author's embrace of Eastern spirituality has landed him in embracing religions which he wants to flee from.

(c) Ronald Friesen

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Poem

Oh, what mysteries unfold as lovers meet
Under starry skies replete with Sirus and Pleiades
Who hold the secrets of millions stricken
Hearts caught in enraptured embrace.

© 2009 Ronald Friesen

Thomas Merton on "Love"


"Love sails me around the house. I walk two steps on the ground and four steps in the air. It is love. It is consolation. I don't care if it is consolation. I am not attached to consolation. I love God. Love carries me all around. I don't want to do anything but love. And when the bell rings it is like pulling teeth to make myself shift because of that love, secret love, hidden love, obscure love, down inside me and outside me where I don't care to talk about it. Anyway I don't have the time or the energy to discuss such matters. I have only time for eternity, which is to say for love, love, love, Maybe Saint Teresa would like to have me snap out of it but it is pure, I tell you; I am not attached to it (I hope) and it is love and it gives me soft punches all the time in the center of my heart. Love is pushing me around the monastery, love is kicking me all around like a gong I tell you, love is the only thing that makes it possible for me to continue to tick."

Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, p. 120