The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Use your one life well....

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“It is true, political problems are not solved by love and mercy. But the world of politics is not the only world, and unless political decisions rest on a foundation of something better and higher than politics, they can never do any real good for men. When a country has to be rebuilt after war, the passions and energies of war are no longer enough. There must be a new force, the power of love, the power of understanding and human compassion, the strength of selflessness and cooperation, and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build, and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.” - from Introductions East & West. The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Necessity of Suffering

Because the soul is purified in this forge like gold in the crucible, as the Wise Man says [Wis. 3:6], it feels both this terrible undoing in its very substance and extreme poverty as though it were approaching its end. This experience is expressed in David's cry: Save me, Lord, for the waters have come in even unto my soul; I am stuck in the mire of the deep, and there is nowhere to stand; I have come unto the depth of the sea, and the tempest has overwhelmed me. I have labored in crying out, my throat has become hoarse, my eyes have failed while I hope in my God [Ps. 69:1-3]. God humbles the soul greatly in order to exalt it greatly afterward. And if he did not ordain that these feelings, when quickened in the soul, be soon put to sleep again, a person would die in a few days. Only at intervals is one aware of these feelings in all their intensity. Sometimes this experience is so vivid that it seems to the soul that it sees hell and perdition open before it. These are the ones who go down into hell alive [Ps. 55:15], since their purgation on earth is similar to what takes place there. For this purgation is what would have to be undergone there. The soul that endures it here on earth either does not enter that place, or is detained there for only a short while. It gains more in one hour here on earth by this purgation than it would in many there. 

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, Book 2, Chapter 6, pt. 6

Commentary: Many people will find this text troubling because we want to avoid pain, discomfort and suffering at all costs. When we begin to see the troubling aspects of our lives as teaching points or, in St. John's view, points of purification, we begin to climb to new vistas of spiritual growth. We have to go down before we can go up. Christians outside of the first world understand this principle of spiritual growth; first world Christians, having often been saved from any suffering and pain, shrink from this understanding and remain spiritually impoverished their entire lives.
(c) 2011 Ronald Friesen

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good insights

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - Work - Family - Health - Friends - Spirit, and you're keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls -- family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevoca...bly scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered.

They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?

1. Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

2. Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

3. Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

4. Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.

5. Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

6. Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

7. Don't be afraid to encounter risks It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

8. Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

9. Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

10. Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

11. Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

12. Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.

From the book "Suzanne's Diary to Nicholas" by James Patterson

Worldwide Communion Sunday - 2011

Today is Worldwide Communion Sunday. I am unsure who decided that the first Sunday of October would be so designated (and I am too lazy to do a Google search), however, it is nice to know that most followers of Jesus of Nazareth will break bread today.

Call me a spiritual romantic, I think that thinking about sharing this meal with fellow believers around the world on the same day is very uplifting.

We may speak different languages, worship in different settings, sing different songs, yet our unity is built one one simple reality: the death of Jesus Christ on a cross 2,000 years ago.

In many Christian traditions, this simple meal is call the Eucharist. The word, eucharist, means 'thanksgiving.' We are in union in our thanks to our Savior for laying down his life for us.

In taking this meal, we say we too lay down our lives for Christ and for each other.

I am looking forward to reflecting on this universal unity today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zero interest rates are killing our country.

You know by now that the Federal reserve has moved the country as close as it can to Zero interest rates. The assumption is that zero interest rates will motivate the economy and leave more money in your pocket.

There is a huge problem. Zero interest rates mean that no one is making any money on their money or your money.

You give your money to the insurance company to cover any unexpected healthcare costs. The insurance company puts your money into investments which will give a return so that a. they can cover their costs, b. they can pay your medical bills, and c. pay their stockholders for investing in them (if they are a shareholder-owned company). If there is zero interest rates, they are not making any money on your money.There is only a few ways to make money a. cut services, b. reduce reimbursements to providers, c. raise their rates which is why healthcare rates rose 9% in an economy with zero growth.

This scenario is what is driving banks to charge more fees. They are not making any interest (or a very low rate of interest) on your deposits so they have to find other ways to pay their costs.

Some will argue you have to control interest rates or you have inflation. Actually supply and demand drives interest inflation more than interest rates. If you only have 4 widgets and there are 3 buyers, the price of widgets stay low; if you have 4 widgets and 10 buyers you can raise the price because the demand is outstripping the supply. While it is true that interest rates are a "pass along" cost, they are also a "pass along" engine in the economy. Retirees today who are seeing less than a 1% return on their certificates of deposit are not spending money to encourage the local economy.

My prediction: the debate about how the Federal Reserve is managing the economy is going to heat up a lot in the next 12 months.