We Need Not Wait

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Beecham Farm – Winter 2010

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

In this special time of year, after the holidays and new year’s resolutions have faded, as the cold bite of deep Winter sinks in, and my senses are overwhelmed with the dark and depressive grey skies and dead foliage, I find myself in great need of some sort of renewal…preferably in the form of a warm beach and a mojito.  In lieu of that, I usually spend more time sitting under blankets…on my heated mattress pad…with a heater blowing on me…sipping warm beverages…and surfing the inter-webs.  In doing so, I noticed a wonderful article shared on “The Facebook” by one of my dear friends.  It warmed my soul and so, I thought I’d share it, in hopes that you too will find it edifying and helpful for the daily grind.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions anymore, however, the words, deeds, and admonitions from Pope Francis below are enough resolution for anyone.  Despite being some of the simplest things to attempt, they seem to be some of the most difficult to achieve.  I’m fond of telling the youth at camps (and reminding myself) to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  If we constantly wait until conditions are perfect to change ourselves or the things around us, or with the excuse of waiting for someone else to start, nothing will ever change.  As Gandhi says, “We need not wait”, or my favorite, from Tolstoy, “Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.”  So, in that vein…here is the article.  Enjoy!

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These are quotes taken from homilies given by Pope Francis this past year, in the form of 10 simple New Year’s resolutions…

(Original source of article: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/46933-new-year-resolutions-pope-francis-quotes)
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Pope Francis I Washing the Feet of Prison Inmates

1. Don’t gossip.

It’s one of our hobbies. For Francis, it’s also one of the most evil activities.

The Catholic leader denounces gossip as “murder.”

He feels so strongly about it that in less than a year as pontiff, Francis has preached against gossip in at least 6 different instances.

He says when we gossip, we “are doing what Judas did,” and “begin to tear the other person to pieces.”

“Every time we judge our brother in our hearts or worse when we speak badly of them with others, we are murdering Christians,” Francis says. “There is no such thing as innocent slander.”

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Be Still

I thought I would continue with the theme from the last post of learning to labor and to wait on things. One of the more disturbing things I see in the world around me, as well as in myself, is a difficulty with being still. We live in a world that is no longer content to simply let the day dawn and enjoy life as it comes. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and a constantly “connected” society has, in many ways, led to a dysfunctional and emotionally disconnected world, despite all the instant inter-connectivity that exists. I see it in some of the youth (and their parents) that come through our camp programs, and especially in the inner-city pre-apocalyptic kids. Despite overwhelming poverty and often the lack of even the most basic of necessities, most of them somehow have every electronic gadget imaginable in their book bags.

I frequently like to go to a nice pub and sit for a few hours, working a little, talking with the bartender or waitstaff, and sometimes simply just watching people. The trend of non-communication is disturbing to say the least. I see so many people, sitting with others, yet their faces are buried in a phone or tablet, oblivious to the conversation happening around them. No doubt they’re tweeting or updating statuses about what they’re doing and discussing it with other people across the interwebs, however, they’re not engaging in what is happening right in front of them! I’ve struggled to understand this new way of relating and to try and grasp the good in it, especially as I work in IT for a profession and therefore must know and use a lot of the technology I’m now disparaging. I do think it has its uses, however, I’m not sure the positives outweigh the negatives at this point, and the downside isn’t just detachment from the present. There is often a more silent and sinister evil that comes along with it, that being a deep sense of loneliness despite one’s “connections” to other people, and an inability to be still.

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Learn to Labor, and to Wait

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I miss our old house. I never thought I’d say that, but I really do. When the kids went back home with their mother, within a year, my wife and I decided that it just didn’t make sense for the two of us to occupy such a large house and property, and that it really didn’t make sense for me to be driving an hour and twenty minutes twice a day for work. We made the decision to sell our beloved and beautiful country estate, not expecting any bites in such a poor market, and surprisingly we sold it within 3 weeks of listing it. That was in 2011. We have since taken up residence in a nice little townhouse on the Westside of Indianapolis, and have slowly started to settle into our temporary place.

We do like our new home – especially the wood-burning fireplace and all the natural light – but it’s not the same as the quiet country home. I think I miss that the most – the quiet. It’s never quiet here, and while I LOVE being back in the city and around so many random people, extrovert that I am, I do miss the quiet sunsets from our screened in porch, with my wife’s hand in one of my hands, and a glass of bourbon in the other. Naturally, of course, perfection was achieved on the nights the above happened, AND our three beloved Godchildren sat beside us, giggling, fighting, and leaning on our chairs. Those were the most beloved of all times. I have SO many memories – so many things that, like the Theotokos, I have kept and “pondered in my heart.” Our time with the kids was so fulfilling, life-giving, and to me (perhaps not to my bride, who is much smarter and wiser than I) our time was life-changing in ways I did not expect.

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In the Pursuit of Happiness…

Having revealed in my last post that for the past few years I’ve struggled with depression and some difficult themes that I’d care never to repeat, I thought it would be apropos to post an article that has been of invaluable help to me in those times…something that Rich Mullins (of Blessed Memory) wrote many years ago…something that I hope will be of help to anyone who finds themselves in the throes of despair that I found myself in previously. I recited this at our Summer Camp many years ago as an aid to the campers returning home…how ironic that I would need it for myself a couple of years later. I suppose “ironic” is not the correct word, and rather, “by God’s good graces” would be truly, apropos… Enjoy!

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