Simply Be

We’ve all been there we get caught up in life and forget to actually live it. We turn our lives into chronological lines and mark the passing of time through tangible objectives that we have deemed important. A dramatic reminder for you is that we continue on and eventually we die. No amount of successfully completed objectives will stop that.

Occasions will arise throughout our lives that allow us to slow down and see more than just a straight line. In these moments we are given the benefit of seeing ourselves with all the depth and complexity that we contain.

One of my recent experiences with this is a weekend I spent camping. Not a rare occasion for me, but this time I was entirely surrounded by fellow Catholics. Now we weren’t doing anything religious per se, we were just enjoying each others company along with the beautiful weather. On Sunday morning there came an aha! moment for me. It was like we hit a pause button on the weekend and an altar sprang up in the middle of our camp. As we gathered around it occurred to me that we had not come together to specifically do anything Catholic, and yet there was no doubt in anybody that mass was the central point of our weekend. It was beautiful because we were being Catholic. We were fully alive in that moment.

My challenge for you is to simply be. Be present. Be you. Be whatever defines you, and allow that to encompass the moment you’re living in. That’s what allows us to see our lives for the inspiring functions they are.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

the Man & the Moon

¶Here’s to the traveler on the long road

growing weary with the passing miles

His to ponder and smoke

His to pace and listen

the moon his guide, he ever presses forward

 

¶Here’s to the student deep in his books

looking towards a future yet to come

Regret and worry pursue him

Rain and doubt assail him

the moon grows faint, and his hope is the daybreak

 

¶Here’s to the lover lost in another’s eyes

patiently waiting the words to say

Stars and laughter his currency

Songs and whispers his language

with the moon as witness, a love always remains

 

¶Here’s to the tale that goes on

of the Man and the Moon

ever companions in it all


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

beautiful chaos

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Last night at 11:53pm I glanced at the clock and had one of those moments that are hard to explain. Maybe it’s existentialism, or maybe it’s sleep deprivation. Regardless, at 11:53pm last night I had to stop and ask, “what in the world am I doing with myself?!” Let’s paint the picture. I’m sitting on the edge of a futon in my small, dimly-lit bedroom. Next to me is a cast aside textbook that was explaining the evolution of the correctional system from the Code Hammurabi onward. In the background some French pop artist is singing extremely fast about love an death or something. I was sitting there trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to write a blog post. my laptop was open in front of me and I had several tabs running. One was a Wikipedia article on Andrew Sullivan. Another was an op-ed on why too much democracy creates a breeding ground for tyranny. On Youtube there was a clip from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. And the finally a poem from the 17th century telling virgins what to do with their time. And I know, none of that is overtly important. my illustration is to show you the chaos of that moment. The clock read 11:55pm before I realized what had caused me pause. The beautifully chaotic  that I regularly allow into the inner sanctum of my life, the one’s that I honestly enjoy, are accurate visualizations of my mind. my hope i sharing this with you is that maybe you’ll understand me a bit more. maybe you’ll understand that when I write excitedly in a ranting tone it’s spurred on  by a false urgency of so many thoughts. And maybe if you’re someone I interact with in my life and you ever encounter me silent know that it’s not because I have nothing to say. Rather it’s because I see a dozen thought processes spiraling out and I can’t seem to pick the correct one fast enough. I am constantly searching for a single thread amongst the chaos. I don’t always find it, but every day I continue the search.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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a deliberate life

I’ve always love the idea of living deliberately. Admiring those who seem to find purpose in every action and in every moment. I used to always strive to carry myself with the same demeanor; attempting to foresee the full impact of my every move. Turns out I had it wrong, in fact I had absolutely no idea what it meant to live deliberately.

“You don’t know in December who you’ll be in July,” sings The Suitcase Junket. Almost a year ago now I turned my life in an unplanned direction. I had no idea who I was or what I would become. I was lost, and at the time I viewed my choice as a panic reaction. The uncertainty of it forced me out of my comfort zone and into a year that I would not trade for the world. And now looking back I can see that every moment, every risk, every bit of that uncertainty was necessary. It formed me into who I am.

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Deliberate. The word haunts me as something I lack. How could I claim to be living deliberately if I had absolutely no idea what I was even doing? The truth that I had to learn, and that I still am, is that “to live deliberately” is rarely synonymous with “to act with full knowledge.” A deliberate life is not one of knowing the full impact of your actions, rather one of confidently stepping forward while still pausing to see the ripples stretch out. In his book Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly asks his readers to be bold but never rash. I begin to understand that just a little more, and take it to heart as I boldly look for who I’ll be next July.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Catharsis, Wonder, & Samaritans

In fall of 2013, near the feast of Christ the King, I attended the National Catholic Youth Conference. Even more specifically I was in one of the major breakout sessions, this one happened to be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was an amazing feeling being in a room with 5,000+ fellow teens raptly adoring our God. I remember being towards the back on some bleacher type seating, and right before we started they had everyone cram together so as to get more people in the room. The reason I say this is because to my right was this girl I didn’t know and we spent a lot of time trying to not elbow each other.

Towards the end of the holy hour it was as if I’d been hit by a brick wall. Just absolutely everything came up in my prayers. I began to tremble thanking God for bringing me through the darkness of the year and a half before that. Seeing me visibly shaking, the girl next to me decided to tap my knee as she leaned over and made sure I was okay. Tears of awe and relief running down my face I croaked out a “yes,” and we both returned to our prayers. Afterwards I remember thanking her for being exactly what I needed in that moment. Her response was that she doesn’t normally say a word to strangers, but felt compelled to say something. Giving me a bracelet she asked if I would pray for her at my next holy hour.

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It was no mistake that I randomly  found the bracelet again tonight. You see I’ve been spiritually low these past months. Just today I had another catharsis moment. Where through the help of another person who didn’t quite know how much they were helping me, I remember just how quick God is to forgive me. I was reminded that I’m the snag, I have to forgive myself and choose the embrace of God’s love. This bracelet reminds me of that love and what it’s like to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

For us Catholics today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which means that once again we hear and pray on the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s small acts of mercy, it’s treating each other as neighbors, that’s how we grow and become holy.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Break of Day

I have walked a thousand miles and I will walk a thousand more. Searching. Always searching. All to find the break of day. Possessing a passion for life that leads me on. Constantly seeking whatever should come next. On this path I often find obstructions. They are distractions and demons, wholly determined to bring me down. Time and again I painfully rise, Infinitely better for having lived the previous day. I’ve come to believe that the end point is but a small part for now. my concern becomes rising each day prepared to grow evermore.

I have walked these thousand miles. And I will walk a thousand more, all before the break of day.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

“Staffers” aka Crazy People

This summer I once again have the privilege of serving at a Boy Scout Camp here in the midwest. Of course, as the staff gathers we only have a vague idea of what the summer holds for us. And yet we cast ourselves headlong knowing that in less than two weeks our camp will be fully alive with activity.

We’re staff. We’ve given up our summers, time with our friends, and good paying jobs. We’ll push ourselves to the breaking point and then carry each other the edge. We do it all for the camp we love. And facilitating a great program is never easy; we’ll be working in less than ideal conditions, and by the end the stress will break each of us in some way. But when we fall we always catch each other. Because as staffers, we’re so much more than coworkers, we’re family. And that’s why I know it’s going to be a great summer.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Hold tight

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I always provide the convenient lie, that I simply do not have the time. Again and again I shout the line, I SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME!! Time to go and time to see, time to love and time to be. Carried along by a busy life. Telling all I simply do not have the time. no matter my mind, the painful truth rings out still. That I simply have not made the time. It chides me by my own mouth and bids me rise. I must choose to act. Only I can alter this. For this my only life. Henceforth I choose to make the time. Time to go, and time to see. Time love, and time to be. I choose to hold tight and begin my wondrous life.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

embracing uncertainty

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news flash. I don’t know what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, and I know what direction I’m heading. But I really couldn’t tell you where I’ll end up. I am a dreamer lost in my mind. I’m a traveler on foot, I’ll get there even if it takes me awhile. Where I go from here is enticingly undecided. And if I’m being honest, I’m absolutely okay with that. my goal is to simply keep going. I will live adventurously embracing the uncertainty that is thrown my way.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a minimalist at Heart

I would like to live Simply

and without remorse, holding nothing back

Finishing all that I begin

a deeply set desire within

one of fewer things and more experiences

disengaging all that doesn’t matter

Declutter, I cry, Declutter!

vowing rather to pursue dreams headlong

unfettered by anything behind


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe