I was reading a passage from the journal of the great saint of the Church, Theresa of Lisieuz, "the little flower." She wrote: "As I meditated, I saw how imperfect was my love for the other nuns and I knew I did not love them as Jesus loves them. But now I realize that true charity consists in putting up with all ones neighbor's faults, never being surprised by their weakness and being inspired by the least of their virtues." I thought what a profound insight that really was. True charity does involve putting up with all
ones neighbors faults. Overcoming impatience, annoyance and judgmental thoughts about other people is the challenge. How really difficult that is in practice.
That made me reflect on a conversation I had with a wonderful woman of my age who is a devout Christian and dedicated to helping other people. She is also a Republican. I said to her how important it is for America to get a handle on our medical care system so it is affordable and available to everyone. She was opposed to single payer concepts, Obamacare or any other universal medical plan. Her position was that the poor were taken care by Medicaid and governmental programs. For the rest we should pay our way. I told her I couldn't understand how Christians can pretend the passage about the Good Samaritan didn't exist in the Bible or that Christ taught that it was everyone for themselves. It seems so hypocritical for Christians to deny assistance of any kind, medical or financial, to those in need as government gone wild. In addition to the poor, there is a large group of people above the poverty line who are just getting by and for whom adequate medical or dental care is simply not affordable nor available. There are middle class people who are devastated financially by major medical issues under our present system. Why shouldn't we Christians be concerned about the homeless and the poor among us? Why are we opposed to helping them? I just don't get it.
William Barclay wrote about aging in his work Day by Day. He says there are three main stages in the aging process. The first is in youth when achievements are measured in physical attributes. The second in middle age when maturity and self confidence are achieved. The point at which one has achieved success. The third is in old age when experience has brought wisdom. He then says "One of the supreme mistakes in life is to try to remain at a stage from which we should have moved on." How really important that statement is to all of us. We look so silly when we try to act and be someone we are not. Acting our age keeps us authentic and real.
The other thing Barclay wrote that made sense to me was the fact that we can have what he calls "a delusion of indispensability." He says being able to leave at the top of your game is in its own way as great an achievement as reaching the top. How important that fact is to me given my age.
The great basketball coach Phill Jackson has written more than one book and one is titled Sacred Hoops. He makes some interesting observations. He says that in basketball trying too hard leads to "choking up" and failure. We know this is true in life. When we start to be self conscious about what we are doing instead of just doing it we begin to falter. That ties in with his advice to "trust your gut – always."
He also observes that anger leads to loss of focus. Anger is always self defeating and loss of control equals defeat.
He quotes the great Vince Lombardi who said "Make a conscious commitment to excellence." What a great slogan to live by.
So there you have it. Aren't you glad you didn't agree to have a cup of coffee with me only to be subjected to this rambling flow of consciousness?