contentment

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

― Lao Tzu

“Satiety depends not at all on how much we eat, but on how we eat. It’s the same with happiness, the very same…happiness doesn’t depend on how many external blessings we have snatched from life. It depends only on our attitude toward them. There’s a saying about it in the Taoist ethic: ‘Whoever is capable of contentment will always be satisfied.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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(Percy and Peaches enjoying life / Julie Cook / 2014-14)

Where is
your comfort
your peace
your happy place. . .

“Come to me my beloved. . .
My outstretched arms are longing waiting, aching, hoping to embrace you. . .
to hold you, to comfort you, to protect you, to warm you. . .
In my arms you may let go. . .
You may let go of all your worries, your excess, your burdens.
I want you to fall freely into my arms where you can finally exhale and rest. . .
Where you may finally find peace, warmth and contentment. . .
I am here my beloved, waiting. . .
Waiting for when you are ready. . .
Ready to let go of those things which separate us, which separate both you and I, keeping us apart. . .I am here, waiting, to offer you my warmth, my heart, my love. . .”

Wandering

“The man who said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,” put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.” The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see, and greener grass, and a more startling sun. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inhereit the earth. Until we realize that things might not be we cannot realize that things are.”
― G.K. Chesterton

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(the brackets of a pink poinsettia / Julie Cook / 2014)

No longer guided from afar by a brilliantly shining Star
As limited sad sights now merely rest upon holiday lights.

Once we took great care to honor the wee babe so fair,
Yet time now sorely tested revealing hearts no longer invested.

Now Shopping
Now Cooking
Now Traveling
Now Wrapping

On Traffic
On Frantic
On Hectic
On Panic

What dare will it take for Love’s blessed sweet sake,
In hopes to bring home the wandering who roam?

As time quickly runs out on a world shrouded in doubt,
God once more turns His face, offering the world His tender embrace.

Now

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Henry Stanley Haskins

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.
Pope Paul VI

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(tufted titmouse enjoying breakfast / Julie Cook / 2014

Don’t look now, but like it or not, Monday morning is here again.
Adding a bit of the proverbial insult to injury, it’s pouring down rain. . .
yet I suppose it could be worse. . .and we do need the rain. . .

So for better or for worse, we don’t have much of a choice now do we?
Yes Monday it is and it is here. . . as in it is here all day.
The weekend has officially passed and is now “in the books”. . .it has come and gone and for some of us, the passing of the weekend is a good thing—for others of us, the end has come entirely too soon.
Last week, is just that, last week. . .as in, for good or bad, it is well behind us.
And now, spread out before us like a wonderful new book waiting to be explored, is this brand new day and this brand new week complete with its rain, cold and snow.

As in here it is, right NOW!!!

Tomorrow, followed by the end of the week, then followed by the upcoming weekend, and then the following week, only to be followed by next month. . .are all simply ahead of us—as in there is nothing we can do as we have no control as to when or how or if those days will ever come. . .

The importance of today is simply that, the importance of the now. . .as in the only thing that really matters is today and of the now of today.
Do you think it possible to learn how to embrace the now of this moment of today rather than worrying about those things which took place yesterday or fretting about the things that will happen tomorrow?

When I was in high school, Pope Paul VI was the pope occupying the chair of Peter and the overseer of the Catholic Church.
Giovanni Montini, the prelate from Milan, was what I always considered to be a rather austere, seemingly quiet and a bit cold academic—a most learned man–yet very different from his predecessor, the jolly and loving John XXIII as well as for his two successors, the ever smiling and shy John Paul I and the most charismatic and mystical John Paul II.

For this rather bookish academic to have uttered the words of today’s quote, that we should learn to seize the day, seemed to be a bit out of character. And yet it is for this very uncharacteristic comment from a very reserved spiritual leader on the world stage, which has brought a smile to my face and a small spring to my step.
If Pope Paul VI says that life is too short and therefore each day, each “now,” is to be embraced, enjoyed and celebrated, then by george, who am I to refute such sage advice??

So on this new day to this new week of this month of thanksgivings, may we be mindful of the words of Pope Paul VI . . .”whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. . .”

I want to be sure of you

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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The above image is of my two cats. They are not related and differ in age by almost 5 years with the smaller orange puff ball on the left being the “old lady”. Do not let her fur fool you, she only weighs a tad over 5 pounds. The lean long one, my “little boy”, on the right is just 2 years old and weighs a whopping 15 pounds.

These two cats are both rescues. They have come into our lives to only enrich our world. I know what your’e thinking…you’re saying you know how cats can be—temperamental, distant, self-centered. But these two are different, with the younger one especially being most attentive, attached and engaging—not only to us, but to the older orange cat as well.

There is something quite touching and wonderfully assuring when watching and observing the behavior of two animals, especially animals that are not related by any sort of litter, with even those of different species being most magical, who develop deep bonds. Yes, I do believe pets, as those among us who have pets will no doubt agree, that pets do and can love us as we love them. I also believe that animals can feel a sense of “love” in the bonds that are forged between not only pet and owner but with a “fellow” or similar pet.

I say all of this as I ponder over the bonds and relationships we all develop in our lives. Be it bonds between family, friends, lovers, pets—we all seek a connection. It is an intrinsic need I suppose, that of connection. We yearn to bond with others. We bond with other people and we bond with animals–I suppose we have been hardwired to “bond”—as we are created by and in love to in turn love and be loved.

So imagine my deep emotion over this particular image that was posted on a blog that I follow. The image has been making the rounds on the internet and even through news media outlets throughout this past week.

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My friend Father Hugh, a Benedictine monk and priest who is from Australia and is currently serving in his ministry in England, has a blog that is both thought provoking as well as a place of comfort and refuge (http://hughosb.wordpress.com )

It was on his blog where I first saw this recent picture of Pope Francis embracing and praying fervently for a man who has what I am assuming to be the dreaded disfiguring disease of leprosy—and if not leprosy, an equally disfiguring disease.

At first glance one is not certain what it is that the Pope is holding but upon further studying of the image, it becomes clearly apparent and then very off putting and disturbing. The image is difficult to take in. One wants to look immediately away in shock and unease. It is troubling.

I was immediately moved to tears as I looked at the images—yes there are several images of this encounter but I have posted only one. The image has remained with me ever since I viewed it several days ago. There is tremendous power in this image and tremendous compassion.

I imagine life has not been kind to this man. By the looks of a few grey hairs I would suppose him to be in his mid 50’s on up—my age. However I could be wrong and he could be much younger or indeed, older. I would imagine that as the disease has progressed the sense of isolation this man has most likely experienced has also progressed.

I suppose he has been most lonely–as he has not been able to enjoy those moments out with other people that we all take for granted. No dining out, no movies, no trips to the mall, no visits to church, no attending a play or concert—lest the staring, the suddenly hushed tones of those who see him, the whispers, the sense of being most conspicuous–constantly hiding in the shadows as it were. In the middle ages lepers were made to wear a bell around their neck so that others would hear them coming and could avoid all contact.

A human who has been denied the opportunities that the majority of us take for granted of being able to forge our need for the bonds and connections of relationships. Even the very essence of our need as living beings, the need to touch and be touched, all denied this man.

Not only is it hard for me to look upon this man, the thought of touching and embracing him leaves me troubled. Could I so openly reach out physically to this man? I am ashamed that I have to “talk” myself into the actions of simply being a compassionate decent human being.

Pope Francis has given this man a most tender and precious gift–not just his prayers, as you and I can easily pray for this man, but the Pope is filling a most basic human need and desire in and for this man—to feel another human-being’s touch, warmth and embrace. To touch and be touched, to hold and be held, to love and be loved. . . despite appearance, despite disease—all basic needs we all take for granted every day.

There are many lesson here in this image and I shall leave them to you to discern for yourself as we will each, no doubt, take away a different one as it pertains to our different lives—may we be mindful that not all people on this planet are having the basic human needs met. There is tremendous isolation and loneliness for so very many. Not necessarily to the extreme such as a leper , but isolation just the same–the lack of relationships and bonds forged by one human to another.

May we, may I, look beyond the visible surface of appearance–reaching out to those who yearn to be touched and loved and connected. . . to those who just wish to be sure of the companionship of another human being who recognizes that they too are human beings longing for recognition and for the connection of a deep intrinsic bond–to touch and be touched. . . to love and be loved—Amen, Amen