awakening at crossroads

“When it comes to the human soul, the real battle is the struggle to truly become oneself. Not the self that others might want us to be, not even the self that we might wish to be; but the deep self and inner soul trying to awaken at critical crossroads in each life.”

Michael Meade

water and jars

an illustration in the diary in the cloud to remember today in the future. My son spent hours playing with jars and water, fully immersed in his own wonderland. We chose to leave his play unstructured, allowing his imagination to run free. The alchemist : ). I tried to copy the same scene to have this illustration.

mental muscles

Every one of us have difficulties we go through. Only you and I know how it means for each of us. The more you accept that difficulty is inevitable and get familiar with that reality, the less it will shake you when it strikes. Embracing the darkness prepares you, so it doesn’t feel so scary after stretches of peaceful light. If you understand why challenges serve a bigger purpose in God’s plan, it becomes easier to make the best of whatever get thrown your way. You stay grounded and reflect on the reason behind it, rather than just falling apart. Constant sunshine gets you used to smooth sailing. The first storm catches you totally off guard, unprepared for how to navigate hard knocks. But if you’ve already stared down dark clouds and rough seas many times before, you know the drill for weathering the storm. I’m not praising adversity out of some negative, pessimistic view. I’m doing it to develop the resilience and understanding needed so those hard tumbles don’t keep flattening us. Writing and pondering about adversity builds mental muscles for pushing through it. The more we exercise that mind strength, the less threatened we’ll feel when the heavy stuff weighs down again. We’re preparing, not dwelling.

a child’s “why”

No matter how much we study sciences, philosophies, or histories, it’s the never-ending questions from a child’s mouth that humble us most. Their innocent, relentless inquiry lays bare how little we truly understand about existence. The most learned academics can meticulously map the cosmos, codify all knowledge into volumes, and hypothesize theology’s deepest meanings. But then a tiny human barely out of the womb will ask a startlingly profound “Why?” that stumps us all over again. In that moment, the veneer of assured, encyclopedic understanding shatters. We’re reminded that for every nagging existential mystery we’ve dissected and catalogued, a dozen more inscrutable conundrums await under each new layer peeled. An unapologetic child simply won’t accept “because I said so” as an answer. They demand to know the reason behind every reason in a way that strips our egotistical overconfidence bare. Their stubborn pursuit of fundamental truth across every “Why?” humbles the most zealously certain mind. To a child, our vaunted mastery of subjects is still hopelessly inadequate – mere fragmentary pieces muddling the big picture. Their endless curiosity exposes how much of life remains cloaked in humbling unknown no matter our credentials. The biggest questions burn from the smallest lips. And it’s their blunt, relentless need to know more that viscerally underscores just how much further we have to go.

states of the mind

I’m grateful when I feel hungry. That way, when I finally eat, the food tastes so much better. It’s the hope part that is as important as getting content. The actual pleasing moment itself is secondary. What truly has always given me peace is when I am self-aware – knowing and accepting where I’m at, rather than just chasing after temporary happy feelings. I really like when I am in that state of mind on my state of affairs. I’m not in that state all the time, though. If I’m hungry and hopeful for a meal, the meal is amazingly satisfying when I get it. But if I’m already full and content, eating doesn’t bring much extra pleasure at all. It’s not the happiness of being full that I ultimately cherish. It’s the hopeful hunger that allows me to genuinely appreciate and savor the next meal in a way the constantly satiated can’t. True lasting peace doesn’t come from achieving a happy state, then working to maintain it. It comes from staying presently mindful – observing whether I’m currently hungry or full, and staying optimistic either way. Self-awareness would ground us to authentically experience life’s simple pleasures, not just blindly pursue them. Contentment is found in the journey with hope, not in a needy obsession with the destination’s snapshot of happiness. That’s a little thing I’ve learned. Not sure how you’ve felt about it.

joy and love

Joy and love are special states of being, gifted by God. They go deeper than just fleeting happiness or affection stirred up by surface conditions. Happiness is shaky – it depends on external stuff happening a certain way to make you feel good in that moment. But real joy comes from a more lasting, inner place beyond temporary circumstances. Same goes for affection versus true love. Affection is showing some care and liking for someone based on how they make you feel right now. Love is unconditional – not ruled by shifting emotions, but a committed, selfless choice. Happiness is when something pleases you. Joy is being content regardless. Affection appreciates what others provide you. Love gives without expecting anything in return. Happiness and affection get easily disrupted when situations change. But God-given joy and love remain constant through any ups and downs. They don’t rely on receiving – only on selflessly giving from the depths of your soul. Happiness fades as conditions change. Joy endures. Affection derives from being pleased. Love’s foundation is pleasing the Eternal. Those core distinctions make joy and love robust, while happiness and affection are fragile and flighty. Joy and love provide unshakable fulfillment because they’re sourced in something greater than ourselves. Everything else rings temporary at best.