Archive for November, 2008

What I Am Thankful For 2008

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Spiritual Musings | Tags: , , , |

What I Am Thankful for 2008

Many of us during the Thanksgiving Season stop to reflect on what we are thankful for.  Sometimes we share it with others; sometimes we keep it inside believing that some things are so personal that they should remain ever internal.  I’ve never made a list of what I am thankful for and when asked I usually rattle off the usual pleasantries, i.e. my family, God, my friends.  But this year I’d like to start a new tradition and list what I am actually thankful for. 

I am thankful for the re-burgeoning relationship I have with God.  After the years of depression I’m finally beginning to rekindle the fire that once engulfed me.  I’m thankful for the new ways in which God has led me to lead a more peaceful and simple life.  I’ve been introduced to some of the finer points of eastern philosophies and religions and found that many of their practices and beliefs are easily integrated into the Christian spiritual journey.  So along with Jesus, the Saints and the Church, I am thankful for Tao and the simple way of non-resistance. 

I am absolutely thankful for my wife.  No one has to put up with my BS like she does.  She is the cornerstone of my life and is the most dependable person I know.  She is like a mirror to me, showing me my good aspects as well as reflecting back to me my flaws – the things I need to work on – but always willing to work with me on fixing them.  She will always hold a special place in my heart for her patience and perseverance.   I’m grateful that she supports me in the endeavors I get excited about and is always willing to offer a hand to help.  She works tirelessly for the benefit and welfare of our children, for her schoolwork and for the program at church which she is a part of.  She isn’t always shown the appreciation that she deserves from others as well as by her own husband. 

I’m very grateful for my son Titus.  Watching him grow and become more of a little man every day fills me with joy and at times will even bring me with tears.  I’m thankful that he is entering that time in his life when he is beginning to understand the difference between right and wrong and as a matter of fact, he’s the first one to speak up when his daddy slips up and does something objectionable.  He is one of those joys in my life that keep my going when times are tough.  No matter how his day has gone, whenever he gets to see me for the first time that day, whether it be picking him up from Montessori or coming home from work, he comes running into my arms yelling, “Daddy!  I missed you so much!”

I’m thankful for the newest addition to our family, baby Guerin.  He’s a rolly-polly lump of unbounded happiness.  He is free with his smiles and is one of the most vocal babies I’ve ever seen.  When he smiles he sticks out his tongue, it’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see.  Sometimes he gets so happy you can tell he can’t contain it, so he scrunches up into a ball smiling the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.  I’m grateful that he was born this year without any complications and that he has been healthy (except an initial bout of jaundice) and there have been no major scares with him.  I can’t wait to see how he grows in the following year.

I’m thankful for past and present friends.  I’ve reconnected with so many old friends these past few years and I am glad to hear they are doing relatively well (read: at least they’re alive).  Joel, Jessica, Ashton, Neal, Holly, Joey, etc., I’m glad to have been able to reconnect with you as you all have made positive and lasting impacts on my life.  I will never forget you and I’m so glad to be able to talk with you again. 

Speaking of impacts on my life, I am thankful for the friends in my circle and new friends I’ve met.  Maurice, you will always be my friend and my closest confidant.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.  Lauren, Gerald, Ron, Ro & Eric, Jenn & Andy, Joe & Danielle, Fiona & Tom, the people I work with, you’re all lumped into the group of people I really like being around and I have benefited by having you in my life.  New friends:   Shawn Voss, Kelli Dunlap, Melinda Ledman, Sarah Lehman, Travis Williams, Mark Johnson, each one of you have at one time or another brought joy to my doorstep (although some of you have left a burning bag of joy on my doorstep).  I look forward to strengthening our relationship as I hold each one of you very dear and am glad you are now my friends. 

Lastly, I’d like to say that I am thankful for a year filled with triumph and failure.  I’ve succeeded at things I never thought I could have and failed at things and learned from them.  I’m grateful for the challenge that I was given that made me reexamine where I stood in relation to the person I thought I was, affecting a change in my life that I pray will grow through the coming years.  I’m thankful for the people who listen to me prattle on about things they don’t care about and I’m grateful for those who come to me for advice or information.  I guess you could say it’s a little bit of ego-stroking but hey, I’m thankful for it!  I’m thankful that I am no longer suffering from massive depression and I am able to get on with my life.  I’m thankful for all the little joys that are brought to me everyday by those I care about. 

That being said, thanks for reading this and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Writing Your Own Eulogy

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Spiritual Musings | Tags: , , , |

Writing Your Own Eulogy

I don’t necessarily have an obsession with death; at least not a morbid obsession.  Ever since I began my pilgrimage with the Christian faith I have come to terms with the fact that death is merely a transition from one reality to another.  I’ve also come to realize that your actions in this life have an effect that goes beyond what you can see at the time.  Upon becoming a parent I’ve learned that the way that you lead your life and the things that you teach your children literally mold the future. 

I’d recently done some soul searching, reexamining my life and the way that I’ve treated people.  I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the path that I was taking.  I was falling victim to the abrasiveness and lack of compassion that I had sworn off 10 years ago. 

Since then I’ve tried to work on maturing again.  I’ve come up with some ways to help continue this growth in my life and what I’m presenting to you today is the most recent. 

I was watching a DVD the other day and one of the characters was attending a funeral of a former friend.  He was asked to perform the eulogy and he can’t really think of anything nice to say.  That got me to thinking, what would someone say at my funeral?  What would be my legacy that I leave behind?  How would I be remembered and how would I have impacted the lives that have come my way?

I think at one point or another we all ask ourselves how we’d like to be remembered.  Writing your own eulogy is the perfect chance to do this.  I’m writing my own eulogy because after doing some meditation and contemplation, I believe I know what I would like to be said about me, realistically.  Perhaps it will give you and me a template of the things we need to strive towards in our lives.  Consider it a spiritual exercise.  Be realistic:  none of the, “It was so awesome that he won the lottery” or “she was the greatest humanitarian since Mother Theresa”.  While either one of those may be true for most of us it doesn’t fit in with reality.

Please, let me know if you try this out for yourself.  Do some self-examination and see if what you’d like to be remembered for is actually who you are.  If it’s not, how are you going to change to become that person you’d like to be known as?  The 2 keys are practicality and honesty.  That being said, here is mine:

“We come together today to remember the life of Rob.  As a community we celebrate the love and vibrancy that he has brought to our lives.  He was born December 16th 1976 to Louise and Larry in St. Louis, Missouri.  He deeply admired and adored his parents, two of the people who were most influential to the man that he would become.  They taught him his values and showed him that he can overcome adversity if he was willing to try.  He was always grateful for the lessons they taught him. 

“Rob was born into a family where affection was freely given by his parents and that was something that he passed down to his children.  He was always showing his kids how much he treasured them and thoroughly enjoyed playing with them or just snuggling up with them to watch cartoons.  He loved to take them to new places and treasured showing them the varieties of life.  He always got such a kick out of watching them gaze in wonder at their ever expanding world. 

“He was always enthusiastic about whatever activity his children wanted to do, supporting them each step of the way.  He tried everything within his ability to give them everything that they needed…and some of the things they wanted.  He taught them the values of hard work and perseverance, even the oft neglected value of sacrifice for the benefit of others.  Rob believed that in this world there are very real rights and very real wrongs along with plenty of grey areas.  He instilled this in his children teaching them to defend the defenseless, love the unlovable and to cherish those gifts which God has bestowed to us. 

“Rob was deeply in love with his wife Marcia.  He wasn’t always the best husband, but, who is?  He tried to do his best to make his wife proud of him and he worked every day to find new ways to make her happy.  She stood by him through the worst times in his life and was the shoulder he could always lean on.  He did his best to show his appreciation and to express his gratitude for her never giving up on him.  When it comes to the old saying, “She is his better half”, Rob believed it.  He knew she bolstered his weaknesses and added to his strengths.  As he always said, “The woman that I’m in love with now, is not the woman I first loved.”  This was due to the ever increasing love he felt for her as they grew together as a single entity and as he proudly watched her grow into the woman that she is today.

“I guess if we had to label Rob and put him in a box, we’d call him a “Taoist-Roman Catholic-mystic-pilgrim-theologian.”  At least that’s what he strove for.  Rob believed that the Kingdom of God is present in our midst and is not set for some future time.  Springing forth from that belief he did what he could to love others as God loved them and to show all of God’s creation the adoration that God has for it.  He was known for his empathy for those who were suffering and those in need knew that he was someone who could be counted on to be there.  He would give the shirt off his back if he knew that it would lead to the alleviation of someone’s suffering.  Although he at one time had shown a blasé attitude to pretty much everyone and everything, his heart was transformed into one that deeply cared about the weak and the desperate.

“He realized that this Creation is a gift from God and cared about keeping it as a sacred space for those to come in the future.  He wished to pass on a legacy of caring for the world around him to his children and his grand-children.  He longed for peace in the world and in the personal lives of those he’d met.  He sought reconciliation between himself and those he’d wronged; he also sought to reconcile those that had wronged others to those that had been wronged as he believed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

“We all know how much Rob loved theology and philosophy.  When he was younger his zeal often got in the way of him explaining eternal and spiritual truths.  As he matured he learned how to teach and nurtured a gift for making large concepts small enough for the everyman.  Rob would explain with excitement to people who were often eager and willing to listen, those grand ideas that he thought were eternally important 

“Rob was one that we knew we could count on to listen to us and hear what we were trying to say, whether we vocalized it or not.  It seemed as if he would hang on to your every word as you told him what was on your mind.  He exhibited a genuine concern for our spiritual and emotional welfare and often knew what to say (and even when to stay silent).  It was a discipline which he set himself towards after coming to the realization that he was often missing what was truly in a person’s heart. 

“Rob was always trying to find a good balance between social justice and spiritual discipline.  He believed that too often people tended to fall on one side or the other.  He worked hard until the day he died to discover that middle road that so many Saints before him had come to find.  He believed he needed to work tirelessly at this to make up for all the time that he had lost thinking and pondering upon frivolous issues.

“Rob did not fear death.  What he DID fear was being forgotten once he’d passed on.  The light that he was able to bring to other people’s lives has ensured that he will live on in our memories.  He left an impact on all of us and we will never forget him, so in that way, his fears have been allayed.  Rob we will miss you but we know that your spirit lives on.  The ripples in the pond of this reality will carry on forever.  We’re thankful to have known you and we are inspired by your love and compassion.  You learned to live fully human and are someone God and all of us can be proud of.  Know that to this day, your love is still felt by all of us and rest easy in the fact that we all love you too.  Goodbye Rob, we’ll meet you again in the highest of realities.”

I hope that I did not come off as pompous or overly eager.  Once again this is an exercise in being the person that I pray I am one day able to become.  That’s not to say I’m completely lacking in all of these qualities I expressed above.  They are merely the end points on the map of my pilgrimage through this life.  Now that I have it down in writing, I can continue to refer back to it throughout the years and work at becoming the man I hope to be remembered as.

If you end up using this as a tool for yourself, please leave it as a comment or email it to me.   My hope is that other people are able to find this to be a useful tool in mapping out improvements in their lives.  I’d just like to hear from those who are on this journey with me.  And, maybe we can help support each other in the process. 

Peace be with you.

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Second Watchmen Trailer!!

Posted on November 18, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Geek Gasm!

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My Thoughts on Obama Being Elected President

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Right now, I’m watching John McCain’s concession speech.  While I didn’t vote for McCain I always thought he was a classy guy, even if that meant that he wouldn’t take the shots at Obama that he “should” have. 

Anyone can put on a good face for a concession speech while still remaining bitter about their loss.  But I witnessed something from McCain that makes me admire him as a person.  As he began his speech and mentioned the name Obama, people in the crowd began to boo.  McCain didn’t skip a beat but put his hands up to quiet them and simply said, “Please.” 

As he continued, McCain made mention of Obama’s name again and a second wave of boos issued from the crowd.  This time, you could see an actual flash of anger cross the Senator’s face.  He was making it clear that he would not tolerate any negative reaction from the crowd towards his opponent.  As the loser in this election, he could very well have let the crowd vent its frustrations and boo for an extended period of time.  He could have allowed it to perk up his ego as people showed disgust for a candidate who ran a better campaign.  But he’s a guy with class and he wouldn’t let that happen.

I like the fact that Senator McCain brought up the fact that all Americans should be proud of the fact that after 390 years of being “second class citizens”, a black man has finally taken the presidency.

Now, I didn’t for Obama either.  This was the first election that I had a great distaste for both candidates.  But now, for the first time in America’s history, black people can believe it when they are told that, in America, you can be anything you want to be with hard work and determination.  It’s pretty hard to swallow that line when you see 43 white faces staring back at you when you look at the former leaders of this country.  Now, it’s a truth realized.

Whatever our feelings about this election, whether it’s anger and frustration or elation and relief, the people have spoken and shown that in this great country of ours all men ARE created equal. 

But Obama is also part of the changing face of this nation.   Even though he is the country’s first “black” president, he is also the country’s first bi-racial president.  Sixty years ago you’d be hard put to find many bi-racial children in this country.  Now, it’s commonplace.  Even though I didn’t support him, I must admit, upon his winning this election, it goes to show how much we’ve changed as a people. 

Just as with any presidential election I have some trepidation and anxiety about what the next four years have in store for us.  But I also have hope that the next four years will be better than the last.  I don’t necessarily think that this will become the United Socialist States of America but I do have some misgivings about what we can expect to see.  I’m glad that we do not have a filibuster-proof Congress; I would have had a lot more anxiety if that were to happen. 

It is too bad that Obama’s grandmother was not alive to see this day.  How hard it must have been for Barack to have lost one of the most influential people in his life one day before he won the election. 

My prayer for the next four years is for peace and unity.  We live in troubled times and we can’t let our dissatisfactions color the fact that we still live under the same banner.  I do pray for his safety and I hope that we are all the better for having Barack Obama as our new president.

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