Saturday, August 8, 2015

Approaching milestones

My blogging has tapered off lately. I am not sure why other than feeling caught between too much to write about (the horrific evil that is Planned Parenthood, the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the U.S., the kick-off of the 2016 presidential campaign, etc.) and nothing really to write about. Yesterday I did not even post a Friday traditio, which are usually my least viewed posts. I am very conscious of three things as I write this morning:

1- I am approaching 50

2- 16 August 2015 will mark the 10th Anniversary of Καθολικός διάκονος

3- This post is my 3,000th on this blog

All of this has made me rather reflective. While my blog, originally named Scott Dodge for Nobody after a late Sunday program from years ago on a local community radio station: Tom Waits for Nobody, began in August 2005, I did not begin blogging in earnest until 19 July 2006. But either way, 9 or 10 years is a long time! No, this is not a sign-off, just a reflection.

Over the years I have blogged on a broad range of topics. In my first few years I blogged about anything and everything. During the first several years I repeatedly pondered the question, "Why do I blog?" The answer that I settled on goes back to the meaning of "blog," which is short for weblog; maintaining a log, for me, is akin to journal-keeping. Of course, a weblog is a public journal, not a private one. I remember times when I tried to keep a private journal. I could never answer the question, "For whom am I writing this?" Frankly, posterity was not an audience I felt I could engage. Blogging for me is a vehicle of personal growth, a way to work things out while having to be responsible for what I write. This does not result in being less honest, but more honest. Like everyone else, I am prone to reacting to the circumstances in my own life as well as to events in the world. It useful to prayerfully gain some perspective when it comes to most everything. I still take seriously the words in my blog header, which serve as an epigraph of sorts. The purpose there stated is what informs everything I post in one way or another.

Looking back it is easy to see that, by the grace of God, I have grown more humble over time. I have to note that this year in particular has been very humbling for me. While I do not think of myself as old or feel particularly old, I do recognize that I am no longer a young man. As I age I become more aware of my limitations in every aspect: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. I have come to realize that I am not very good at anything in particular. I don't have any special competencies or abilities that set me apart. While it's taken a year of wrestling with this insight, I am growing more comfortable with it and even finding a great sense of relief in just letting go of certain things. These days I cut myself off whenever I start to go back in time and think, "What if I had done [fill in the blank]." I don't want to live in the past, especially when that means fretting over not choosing an alternate path with the benefit of hindsight. I can think of nothing more useless. While there are still things I want to do and plan to do, there are other endeavors and undertakings that have left port and sailed out to sea- Bon voyage! Over the course of my life not being particularly good at anything has had the effect of making me commit to those things I need and want to do, often only after excruciating procrastination. I'll admit that my insecurities and fears surface daily, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression.

A book that I have come cherish over this past year, one I read slowly, just a little bit each morning, is Fr Lawrence Lovasik's Basic Book of Catholic Prayer. I love the plain sounding title. The book is what it says, a basic book on how to pray. It is a gem. Just yesterday morning I came across this quote from St Augustine's Confessions at the end of the chapter entitled "Pray to atone for sin" - "Our Father, who hast exhorted us to pray, who also bringest about what Thou hast asked of us; since we live better when we pray to Thee and are better: hear me as I tremble in this darkness and reach out Thy hand to me. Hold Thy light before me, and recall me from my strayings, that with Thee as my guide I may return to myself and to Thee. Amen." I was struck by the phrase "I may return to myself" from my strayings. I won't discourse on why that struck me, suffice it to note that it did.

This morning as I was quietly reflecting on how humbling life has been since roughly my last birthday I read in Fr Lovasik's book about the need to be humble in prayer (the next chapter is on praying with confidence): "Prayer must, first of all, be humble, for it is precisely to keep us mindful of our nothingness, sinfulness, and complete dependence upon Him that God has commanded us to pray." Like C.S. Lewis' observation that "Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done," this can sound harsh and lead to saying, "Forget it." But prayer is nothing at all if it is not grounded in reality, in the truth about ourselves, the world, and God. As our loving Father, God wants to save us from our nothingness and, through His Son and by the power of the Spirit, make us someone we can't even imagine, to make us into who He created and redeemed us to be. This "making" is sanctification. We must play an active role in our own sanctification, even while we realize that only God can finish the good work He has begun in those who believe (Phil 1:6).

Anyway look for a traditio next week. In the meantime enjoy this.

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