Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012's New Year's Resolutions

My News Year's resolutions are simple. I like my vocation so I'll continue. I like receiving spiritual direction so I'll continue. I like Member Care with mission families so I'll continue. I like teaching at the Seminary so I'll continue. I like going to the Abbey of Gethsemani every month as a Lay Cistercian so I'll continue. One time a retreatant asked Father Matthew Kelty why so many folks come to the Abbey for a retreat. He answered that it might be because at the Abbey there is nothing to do and you have all day to do it. Being at the Abbey for a few days each month helps to slow one's self so perspective can be regained. I like the idea of not being tied to a telephone so I'll continue not owning a cell phone. I like reading classic spirituality books so I'll continue reading these books. I'm thinking that most new books are basically a restating of what was written hundreds of years ago. I like living simply so I'll continue as best I can. For example, when I purchase one piece of clothing I give a comparable piece of clothing from my closet to the Church's clothing store. In this spiritual discipline I'm not adding to my wardrobe, just replacing. I like going to church so I'll continue. I like the results of keeping a spiritual journal which I review each month with my Spiritual Director so I'll continue. My spiritual journal is based on the Daily Examen with the question, "Where have I experienced God's presence in the past twenty-four hours?" In my Bible readings I've been with the "Sermon on the Mount" so I'll continue. Well, you get the idea of my New Year's resolutions. I know that there are a lot of things I need to change or do better, but I'm not much into New Year's resolutions.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Different Christmas perspective

It is early Christmas morning in our home. My wife and brother will be up soon. Our son, daughter-in-law and a friend will arrive soon. This morning I'm grateful for a warm house with indoor plumbing. That wasn't true for a home I visited a couple of years ago in Russia. We had to wear our coats in that house. Ice formed on the inside of the windows. The only heat was a small stove in the corner of the main room. Water was brought inside from a well. The toilet was outside. Nevertheless, the extended family had gathered for a simple meal, singing and Christmas. There were no gifts but the house was full of laughter and joy. In a couple of hours we will have our Christmas breakfast. We will have a table full of biscuits, eggs, cinnamon rolls, grits, ham, orange juice, etc. There will be a lot of food for our family and friends. I recall not very many years ago visiting an African bush-Church where the presiding elder prayed for generosity. He hoped their church would have a few coins so that they could buy a chicken. He wanted their children to have meat in their Christmas soup. In spite of their poverty and hunger, that church was full of joyful and grateful people as they looked forward to Christmas. My Christmas perspective has changed.