Cheer up, Chum.

The Lost Strength of Silence

27 February 2012

Silence has become endangered at the hands of our over scheduled lifestyles. Even when you want silence, it is hard to find! It takes concerted effort to make space and allow your mind to clear and your heart to quiet, but it is a vital element in your mental and spiritual well-being.

One of the most wide-spread and evangelized coping mechanisms for undesirable thoughts and feelings is drowning them out with something less disturbing. Sometimes this works, but often I find that this results in a bickering back and forth exchange between the two forces far more obnoxious than any of the Republican presidential debates. Once it gets to that point, the little devil has won. Chaos and noise oppose the stillness that allow for true spiritual sensitivity and peace of mind.

I've found that when I'm faced with thoughts I'm ashamed to be thinking, the most powerful, fastest-acting antidote is meditative stillness, rather than trying to blast it out of my brain with endless Just Dance routines, Home Improvement reruns, or yes, even sometimes church hymns. I have this fantastic image of the little devil marching onto the stage of my mind, horns blaring and cymbals crashing, only to be stunned by the perfect silence of the patrons, leaving him only to slink off stage in embarrassment and shame.

As I said before, that devil thrives off of clutter, commotion and clatter. Don't give him the satisfaction. Like schoolyard bullies, most of the time he just wants a reaction. He wants to destroy your peace. But if you calm your heart, temper your reactions and turn to him your other cheek, you'll find that the little devil gets bored and will scamper away to find his entertainment elsewhere.

Breathe. Let those reactive feelings march right through your mind like a parade, not a sing-along — meaning you're an observer, not a participant. Creating that empty space between your actions and your temptations will invite the positive powers to intervene. Control and peace will follow.

by Andy  •  0 comments »

Resolutions for the New Year: Don't just do. Become.

7 January 2012

I love the opportunity that we have every year to reevaluate our lives and make goals to improve ourselves. So often, as I'm sure you have been, I have felt frustrated at not meeting the resolutions I set for myself and I end up giving up around February (and if I'm lucky early March). This year I decided I wanted things to be different.

I have dedicated a lot of thought to the following question over the past few weeks: "Is real change possible?" I've come to the conclusion that it is possible, and after thinking things over and evluating my thoughts with my belief system (a.k.a. LDS Church) I have come to the conclusion that in order to change you need to go above and beyond just doing. You need to become.

Therefore my resolutions for 2012 revolve around not just doing different things. The "doing" is just a means to achieve the end of becoming. Most of my thought process was influenced by a talk given by a leader of my church here:

For 2012 -- I am not going to write in my journal. I will become a journal writer. I will not eat two pieces of fruit per day. I will become a healthy eater. I am not going to do a good turn daily. I am going to become a lifelong giver of service. I am not going to read my textbooks before class. I am going to become a lifelong scholar.

Approaching my resolutions this way has helped me manage my own expectations much better. When I have a bad day, I don't have to give up.

It's not so much what you do or don't do. It is who you are becoming and in what direction you are headed.

Doing and becoming are both important. But if becoming is more important to you than just doing, then I believe you will feel a stronger sense of fulfillment as you tackle your resolutions for 2012.

Happy goal making!

by Brad  •  1 comment »

To the Feast of Saint Stephen

26 December 2011

It was over a thousand years ago today that the snow is said to have laid about deep, crisp and even. On the 26th of December, the Feast of St. Stephen, an uncommon king gazed out across his kingdom from a tall castle tower while the festivities proceeded. But it was not the jovial music and laughter that seized his interest, but a man gathering fire wood in the distance despite the sting of a cruel frost.

Summoning his tentative page to inquire of the peasant's lowly circumstances, the king's heart burned with care as the page described the man's distant, battered dwelling and the poor state of his family. Without hesitation, the king ordered a feast to be gathered for delivery to the family. One might have expected a king to organize a grand entourage to go in his stead with much circumstance, but Wenceslas was no ordinary king. No, it was he and his page alone trudging through the snow that no longer lay only on the ground, but swirled and slashed as it fell from the sky in the worsening weather.

To the page, each step seemed to chase his destination three paces further from him. The storm intensified, and his hope fled. The disheartened page implored his master to turn back for fear that he may never reach his destination. In response, he received no rage nor rebuke, only kindly motivation and simple instruction to tread boldly in the footsteps his king had already travelled.

Indeed, the page found relief from the sting of the icy crust as he emulated his master's pace and found, to his surprise, that the heat of his master's feet lingered for a time in the prints.

Imagine the wonder of the peasant as this mighty king crossed the threshold of his tattered home, having gallantly faced squalling weather to provide him and his dependent family with the sustenance he himself was unable to produce.

May you find the focus to tread in the footsteps of your master this Christmas season and the year to come.

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

by Andy  •  0 comments »