Monday, June 6, 2011

The Triple Filter

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was well known for his wisdom.

One day, the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who said excitedly, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of  your students?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied.  "Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?"

"That's right," Socrates continued "Before you talk to me about my student, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.  The first filter is Truth.  Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "actually, I just heard about it and ..."

"All right," said Socrates.  "So you don't really know if it's true or not.  Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness.  Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary ..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true.  You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of Usefulness.  Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"

(source: Peggy Harris)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Attitude is everything!

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle..
Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, and Pray continually.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain.

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets, Love the people who treat you right and pray for the ones that don't.

Today may there be peace within you and May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

(author: unknown)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wear & tear

The older things get, the greater the wear and tear. At least that seems to be true with this aging body of mine; however, I wonder if that saying is true for other things -- for example, wine. My understanding is that the older the wine, the better it is! Am I better because I'm older? I know my lower back aches more and more with each passing day.

They say swimming is good for you. I enjoy it and feel good while I'm doing it. In fact, I swim 1/2 a mile a day at least three times a week. Some weeks I get in four days and on that rare occasion, I sometimes swim 1/2 mile a day five days a week. Almost always though, the next day my body -- actually my lower back -- is stiff. Maybe that means I should be doing some stretching exercises in the morning to loosen the muscles. I guess I could ask my doctor but that seems like a waste of his time. He has more serious things to take care of -- doesn't he?
Perhaps I should just suck it up and keep on pushing. I hate to hear people whining and complaining -- that includes me. There are people out there who have it a lot worse than I do.

C'est la vie!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alex Howard

On March 25th I went to the funeral of my friend Jimmy Scott. Six days later (March 31st), I delivered the eulogy for my friend Alex Howard. Today is a month later but the memory is fresh.
In many ways, they were alike -- i.e., loving husbands. In other ways, they were unique -- i.e., one predeceased his wife, the other didn't.
I'm always reminded when I deliver a eulogy that "The Lord givieth and the Lord takeith away -- Blessed be the name of the Lord." We live for a relatively short time on the face of this earth; however, the time we spend here is an accumulation of memories. My memories of Alex -- and his wife Helen -- are fond memories of friends and times gone by. Memories of love & affection.
Thank you Lord for all that you have done. For the experiences and the friends. The living and the dead! I thank God for all of the blessings he has placed in my life and for my friend--Alex Howard!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jimmy Scott

Today my friend Jimmy Scott will be laid to rest. I need to get ready to go to the viewing and then the services. I used to spend time with Jimmy and his wife when my wife and family were in Alabama before they moved here to join me in South Bend. Usually it would be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon after church. I wanted to find some appropriate story or poem to post in his honor today, but I couldn't find one in my files. I couldn't let this day go by unrecognized so that is why I'm writing this. This is for the memories of a great person who befriend a fellow who was and still is searching. Jimmy, I'll miss you my friend! I am sorry I didn't make time in recent years to stop by and see you. To spend some time with you like I used to. That is water over the damn now but someday, we will meet again in God's Kingdom and be able to reminisce about the time we shared and spent together. Rest my friend, rest.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

God Lives Under the Bed

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen.

"Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores. And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculates loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap - I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn?

After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!

source: D. O. Spence -- June 25, 2003