What’s In Our Backpacks?

We all carry deep wounds — painful regrets about things we’ve done, festering resentments about what has been done to us. A fable retold by Carl Richards captures these burdens and the heavy cost of not letting go of them…

Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

If you are like me, you easily identify with the young monk. We may glimpse the wisdom of the older monk and desire to live accordingly.

The incriminating insight for me is the shocking recognition that I also behave like the prissy princess all too often — another burden I carry and need to set aside.

This truth is something I will carry with me and try to unpack again and again.
Carl Richards credits Jon Muth’s book Zen Shorts for his story. Carl Richards’ fine essay appeared in the August 23 New York Times and can found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/your-money/the-cost-of-holding-on.html?_r=0


Simply Amazing, Isn’t It!?!

Susan Stabile is both a good friend and the Director of the Office for Spirituality at the University of St Thomas. She suggested a superb exercise at a program kicking off the beginning of the school year. Perhaps you will be as inspired and moved as was I. Surely, it is something I hope to come back to again and again.

Susan quoted the esteemed Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.

Susan then proposed three insightful and incisive questions:

What are you finding most incredible and phenomenal in your life at this time?

What, if anything, do you take for granted?

What single change could you make in your life to live with a greater sense of amazement?

Yes, growth in spirituality and our relationship with God can be a simple as that… Amazing, isn’t it? Simply amazing!

A Prayer for the World

Came upon this today and it gave expression to my heart’s longing.  Perhaps it will touch yours as well…

A Prayer For The World
Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,
the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all people as our neighbors.
Let the earth nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven.

Rabbi Harold Kushner – 2003

The Power of Two

“Self do it! SELF do it!” protested 3 year-old Michael as he climbed up the cabinet to get a treat. Mom recognized her challenge in this moment — keeping her son safe while strengthening his spirit of initiative and autonomy. No easy task!

Michael’s brother retold this endearing family tale as the core message in his best-man toast this past weekend. Younger by a year, and himself single, Andrew offered wise counsel for his elder brother and new sister-in-law, Rebecca.

Although addressing the bride and groom, everyone at the wedding banquet was taken by Andrew’s timeless wisdom. Praising his highly accomplished sibling for much Michael has achieved on his own, Andrew reminded his brother of “The power of Two.”

Yes, “self” can do much. Indeed, self should do much. But there is only so much any one of us can do alone. We are inherently limited as individuals. We need each other. We must rely on each other. We are better off together.

We too easily mouth such words and pretend to know their truth. But as Andrew reminded everyone in that moment, our stubborn independence runs deep. Though a strong autonomous self is a necessary stage of emotional development, it does not signal the culmination of personal maturity. Far from it.

Andrew nailed it! When two truly become one, we discover a power that is not simply arithmetic but exponential. Such is “The power of Two!” Not only is this the gift of marriage, it is the universal and timeless truth of Love.

Same Old, Same Old

Archbishop Bernard Hebda may be a really nice guy. He may even be a holy man. But, sorry, this (if true as reported) is the same old hierarchical, cover-your-priestly-ass, clerical bullshit:

“Hebda in the Q-and-A added that the Ramsey County investigation found insufficient evidence to bring forth criminal charges against any individuals and that questions to whether Nienstedt’s alleged misconduct compromised his leadership “became irrelevant in my mind” once he resigned last June.

“Moreover, canon law is sufficiently realistic and practical in that it doesn’t authorize bishops to judge their peers, and does not contemplate any further role in this matter for me or the archdiocese,” Hebda said.” (Excerpted from current National Catholic Reporter).

Need we remind the archbishop that he “or the archdiocese” does not constitute “the church”? This is a gross failure of pastoral leadership and ignorance of what the Church of St Paul and Minneapolis needs and deserves!

Sweep the investigation of Nienstedt’s alleged misconduct with 24 adult males under the rug and maybe people will forget! This “became irrelevant in [your] mind”?

Need we remind the current archbishop that Nienstedt remains on the payroll — for life — of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis?  In addition, he remains a member of governing boards at the Catholic University of America as well as the Gregorian in Rome. Should not the faculty and administration of these institutions care about the moral integrity and reputation of their board members?

What’s buried alive stays alive!  But, the truth always comes out. The truth will be told. The only question is by whom.

For far too long the arrogant attitude of the hierarchy has been, “We know what’s best for the ‘lay faithful’.”  To this the People of God say, “BULLSHIT!”


Full NCR report [here].