Being With

The Positive Example of Job’s Friends

In Job. 2:11-13, the Bible introduces us to Job’s friends. Here is what the Bible says they did:

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.”

First, they came from their place to his place.

Second, they put aside time to be with him — at the end the length of the time — seven days and seven nights — stands out.

They came to mourn with him.

They came to confort him.

However, they did not recognize him — a surprising detail about their friendship — his suffering had changed how he looked!

They cried with him.

They sat on the ground with him, in silence, FOR SEVEN DAYS and SEVEN NiIGHTS.

They did not not solve his grief by telling him what to do, what to think.

They sat on the ground with him in silence for seven days and seven nights!

Being present to him the best present they could offer!

Grief

Grief!

Recently a parent whose son died unexpectedly, wrote “Finding a new life without you is the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through.”

As I wrote yesterday, this type of unexpectedly, living afterwards challenges all that we believe.

Later this same parent wrote, “Each day is a struggle, but I believe it’s the support team getting us through one day at a time.”

Yes, each day is a struggle — a support team provides so much, one day at a time.

Over the decades many support groups have existed and supported persons in such a crucible.

One such program is LOSS, offered by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Information about this can be found at http://www.catholiccharities.net.

Decades ago, when my mom was first exhibiting behavior which later was diagnosed as Alzheimer’, one such group supported me.

A program called GriefShare, is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside people through one of life’s most difficult experiences. Information about this program can be found at http://www.griefshare.org.

If you, or someone you know, is going through such grief now, either look at the look sources mentioned above or share these.

One enigmatic poem “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou speaks about this.

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom

A Time

                                                   Hard To Hear and Write

Yesterday at church a father spoke about the unexpected death of his 9 year old daughter, Grace.

The death of any person touches many.

The unexpected death penetrates the soul.

The unexpected death of a nine year burns to the core of a parent!

This event far out distances the parent/child realm.

Words evaporate or are replaced by cries, moans, or sobs.

Sadly, in my recent experience, our local communities of Naperville, Illinois, and Oswego, Illinois have and are living through the unexpected deaths of young persons.

Wisdom dictates that no words, spoken or written, will explain or alleviate such a time!

Some times and things in life —  simply ARE.

In the book of Ecclesiastes (NIV)

(V. 3)” There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, (V.7) a time to be silent.”

Silence – in voice and word.

The Day After

Flowers, roses, cards, candy, special meals, and traditions.

These items, and many more, characterize Valentine’s Day!

Though this piece is one day late, hopefully those items did arrive yesterday.

While the affection and emotion of “love,” emerges on that day, the act and choice to “love” lives every day!

The day after that one day, and every day after that one day.

Hence, this piece, one day after.

Many sages and sources, diverse poets and profiteers, have added to the meaning of “love,” this word remains and enters all areas of life when it is a CHOICE — NO MATTER WHAT!

The one list, for me — a checklist — puts flesh and blood — on the choice and decision to love — every day and in every way.

Paul wrote to the community in Corinth:

Love is

• not proud

• does not dishonor others,

• not self-seeking,

• not easily angered,

• keeps no record of wrongs,

• does not delight in evil

• but rejoices with the truth

• It always

o protects,

o always trusts,

o always hopes,

o always perseveres.

Now if we want to find out how faithful we are to that checklist, let’s not “correct our own test,” but ask those closest to us how we have and are doing.

The Lorax

In an AP Human Geography yesterday the class watch the move The Lorax.

For those not familiar with the move, it is a story in which one person comes up with an invention which brings riches to him.

The cost of his success escalated in the loss of all trees and complete destruction of the current world, in that location.

Other characters portray this same arrogance, bullying, pride, dominance, greed, and avarice.

Centuries ago, Paul wrote about attitudes and lifestyles which are polar opposite to those qualities and vices.

Paul wrote to a community in Ephesus: “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2 NLT).

While people and relationships survive and thrive with grace, they also shrivel and die because of arrogance and greed.

Paul wrote to the community in Corinth “Love patiently accepts all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NCV).

In the original Greek, this literally means “covered with a roof.”

In the same way, biblical love covers a relationship and lets some things slide.

We need a roof on our relationship because people damage pretty easily, and we need the kind of love that extends grace.

Why is grace essential to relationships?

Paul also wrote in Romans 3:10 that no one always does what is right. Nobody gets it right 100 percent of the time.

As in the movie, The Lorax, many person have a role to play in the destruction of the larger reality — it’s never just one person’s fault.

There’s always a responsibility on many sides.

It takes two people to disagree!

We have to learn to extend grace to each other, because forgiveness is a two-way street.

We cannot receive what we’re unwilling to give to other people.

When we accept others as they are, looking past their faults for the sake of love, that’s extending grace.

Subtle

The quiet voice, the softly spoken word attracts attention, touches the heart, and opens the spirit to wisdom.

While the booming voice, which bellows out commands or curses, certainly grabs our attention for the moment, this often will turn us off.

As a sage wrote in Psalm 37:30 “The mouth of the honest person murmurs wisdom.”

The gentleness of the murmur

carries a strength and subtleness which

entices,

beckons, and

draws us

to a deeper sense of

the importance of life,

the present moment, and

the future.

Rose, Bud, Thorn

One of the most popular and effective of Design Thinking activities and Emotional Learning is called Rose, Thorn, Bud.

It is based off the idea of the Boy Scouts of America who are taught to be methodical, thorough and analytical about each situation they encounter.

Scouts and students in school are routinely encouraged to identify

• one positive experience (Rose),

• one negative experience (Thorn), and

• one new goal or insight (Bud).

Adapted for use as a design method and emotional learning, this structure provides an opportunity to analyze a project, process or problem and reveals areas for us to focus on and plan our next steps.

A simple way we can run this activity is by:

• Identifying a topic/ project for this exercise

• Gathering a diverse group of stakeholders

• Give each participant a marker and 3 post-it pads

• Explain the topic and color key

o Rose = Things that are positive (Pink)

o Thorn = Things that are negative (Blue)

o Bud = Things that have potential (Green)

• Get each participant to generate as many points as possible.

• Only include one issue, idea or insight per post-it.

Light

In the quiet of the evening, just at the moment of sunset, the voice of silence speaks.

In the rustle of early morning, at the moment of sunrise, a voice rises from the silence of the night.

When I was in college I, along with a group of my buddies, went camping, sleeping out at night.

On one occasion, we slept on a plateau.

At sunset, we saw the sun descend, as it were.

At sunrise, we the sun arise, as it were.

On that plateau, I had a silent moment when my heart heard God speak in a whisper, “I am here!”

“Look with your heart.”

“Hear with your heart.”

We watch and we wait when the Son arises in our world.

We see the Light.

Then, as a result of those moments, we become lights of the Light!

Imagine and Clouds

Take time to imagine.

Time taken to imagine, to read, to reflect, to dream, to peer into clouds is not wasted.

Clouds float in the sky, beckon to the beyond, envelope early morning sunrises, and so much more.

Become an imagineer, one who devises and implements a new or highly imaginative concept or technology.

While Disney Studios may be the current generation of such persons; Da Vinci, centuries ago, was a seminal imagineer!

Clouds can be a door to the divine.

As kids we laid on our backs, with eyes peering up, imagining the beyond through the clouds.

Time taken to imagine the faces and figures in the clouds birth many a dream and future.

Clouds also offer insights into global warming.

In the song “I Made It Through The Rain,” Barry Manilow sang:

“Just aim beyond the clouds

And rise above the crowds.”

In the Judaeo Christian literature we are encouraged to view clouds in such a way as to think of the glory and presence of God.The rich and evocative imagery of clouds signals the immediate presence of God in time and space.

So, imagine, dream, make.

At the same let’s remember the wisdom from a surprising and unexpected source, Bruce Lee:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply.

Willing is not enough, we must do’”

As seen on a classroom door.

Another Type Of Silence

Sacred Silence

Like a treasured diamond or gold ring, silence has been discarded and lost.

Sound surrounds.

Sound invades.

Sound blinds.

Sound silences.

This sound has become noise.

Another silence embraces, envelopes, and invigorates.

Thus, silence needs to be understood in a larger way than simply a lack of audible noise.

I love to write in the early morning — when all is quiet and dark.

My focus sharpens when no sound or light interrupt or invade.

This silence awakens in me the unspeakable, the eternal, the timeless, and the profound.

The unspeakable becomes words.

The eternal emerges into the NOW.

The timeless punctuates the present.

I find myself in sacred silence — where and when I listen, see, hear, and feel the Divine and Sublime become mine.

Whenever emptiness—what seems like empty space or absence of sound—becomes its own kind of fullness with its own kind of sweet voice, we have just experienced sacred silence.

When we see silence as the ground of all words and the birth of all words, then when we speak, our words will be calmer and well-chosen.

When we recognize something as beautiful, that knowledge partly emerges from the silence around it.

This is why we are quiet in art galleries and symphony halls.

Sadly, this was previously true of libraries where the most prominent sound uttered was the “shssh” of the librarian.

If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence and space, it is hard to appreciate it as singular and beautiful.

If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its particularity does not stand out.

As one author I read years ago said, silence is the net below the tightrope walker. [1]

Silence is that safety net that allows us to fall; it admits, as poets often do, that no words or deeds will ever be perfectly right or sufficient.

The great spaciousness and safety net beneath a tightrope walker is silence; it offers freedom from self-preoccupation and the fear of making a mistake.

[1] Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Godman (H. Regnery: 1964, ©1952), 22.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation (Franciscan Media: 2014), 7-9.

Portions of this come from an email by Richard Rohr on 01/09/2019.