Reflections on Living

Is Heaven For Real?

People are on an earthly journey.  They hope that eventually they will be in paradise.  There they will discover immortality, perfect beauty, and the truth about life.  Many believers see this place as heaven.  In anticipation of this reality they talk about experiencing heaven on earth.  Some refer to this place as the original Garden of Eden that once existed in the Middle East.  This garden described in the Book of Genesis was destroyed by the Fall of Man.

Earthly Paradise is a four-volume collection of narrative poems written by William Morris (1868–1870).  Its prologue described the flight of a band of Norse sailors in the Middle Ages from the Black Death, and their search for this glorious place.  But heaven is more than an earthly paradise. Whatever it truly is our limited minds can’t begin to comprehend.

Right Comforts in Perspective

When people talk about having right comfort do they mean being in Comfort Inns, improved home efficiency, using a hybrid bike shopper, and having the right service?  Or do they wish to retire financially comfortable, having at their convenience an adjustable chair, and a water furnace geo-thermal unit?  These might be part of your plan of the good life, and you’re able to watch multiple-TV channels both via satellite and cable.  But are you really satisfied with these comforts?  You might say add my heart’s desire of favorite drinks, wine, beer, and liquor.  Aren’t you sure though that you might still be lacking what’s essential for a healthy lifestyle?  Your friends could advise you to do an exercise program to be in good shape, and try developing physically.  It’s essential though that you take a good look at how you’re growing spiritually.  For behind all your earthly comforts, much care should be taken in selecting what you do in your spiritual life.  You should always remember that our heavenly Creator is the provider of all comforts, so be wise about them.

Descent to the Underworld

The descent to the underworld is a motif in many myths.  Readers find these in Greek, Jewish, Slavic, Hindu, Chinese, and Japanese mythology.  These stories are in folklore of all peoples.  The descent is usually made to rescue someone, who is either abducted, or rightfully dead.  It’s all done to find the answer to a question, discover a secret from the ruler of the underworld, or to seize some treasure.  The rallying cry that believers should heed is don’t wait for a hero or heroine to recapture you.  Be safe, live wisely, and do what’s right in the sight of God.  Waiting until you’re in a dark and bottomless pit, then realizing you’re in trouble, isn’t the best thing to do.  It’s better to stay away altogether from such a dark and gloomy place.

Enjoy Life!

Be a success in life! Don’t let disillusion get you down.  Some people act bizarrely at bad stages in their life because they are discontented.  It’s better and more fulfilling to work at being happy.  Take time to reflect on the good things that life has to offer.  Discover the richness in the arts.  Listen to uplifting music, and enjoy reading good poetry.  Remember to see the good-hearted gifts in people, and celebrate the joys of life.  Why don’t you fill your dreams with these pleasant reminiscences, and see the joys of the world unfold before your eyes?  Katori Hall (b. 1981), a playwright and journalist wrote, “Follow your intuition, listening to your dreams, and your inner voice to guide you.”

Be Happy

Carp Diem is a Latin aphorism that calls for people to live to the fullest right now.  “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” declared the Roman poet Horace.  But does life only consist of pleasurable pursuits?  There’s an essential goal that’s necessary to make people happy.  On a fall’s day people can take a stroll in the woods.  They could watch a powerful and life-affirming film.  Take a trip to some exquisite destination, or read a good book that warms their receptive hearts.  Still these joys might not satisfy their desire to be happy.  They could even breathe in the fresh air of the seaside.  Swim in the Atlantic Ocean, or go biking on the beach when the sun is shining brightly in the sky.  Still real happiness could escape them.  Why is this so?  It’s because they are only satisfying some emotional, physical, or intellectual needs.  But have they ever stopped to think what is lacking?  It could be that with all they are doing, there’s no balance in their life.  They could be neglecting their spirituality that’s because their souls are hungering for higher fulfillment.  This satisfaction only comes when they love knowing God.  Their happiness then becomes truly enlightened only after they have attained a perfect equilibrium.

Lost Saints

A poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1812–1861), who was more successful than her husband Robert Browning, wrote in Sonnet 43 about love without limits.  She addressed the “lost saints” this way, “With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! – and if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”  These were saints Browning didn’t know.  It was an acknowledgement that some of these wonderful individuals as important as they were, people didn’t know.  They lived humbly doing good works, suffering patiently, and kept the faith.  Only God in heaven knows, who these men and women really are.  These are the incredible ones Browning loved so deeply.  Yes, we hear a lot about the saints, who are canonized in the Catholic Church, and are blessed to know them.  But what about those that are under the radar?  Are you listed among these?  Maybe you are, and don’t even know it.  You could be humble, self-effacing, but abundantly blessed.  Yes! You’re listed among those that Browning hopes to love better in death.

 Changed Lives

Unlike poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), the world isn’t just governed by “chance.”  And natural laws aren’t always hostile.  These aren’t necessarily indifferent to human lives.  Do people get what they deserve?  Some persons think so.  They might say it’s all about karma.  And what goes around comes around.  Others could be simply indifferent concerning the needs of their neighbors.  They find explanations of events with coincidences, view these incidents as the bleakness of nature, and are pessimistic.  But it’s always better to be positive.  When people look on the bright side of life, and serve their community they are able to find peace.  It’s through this special kind of love that lives are changed for the better.

 

 

 

God’s Time

Carl Sanburg (1878–1967), a poet, and writer said, “Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  People should therefore use time wisely.  Time in one’s life could be tricky.  Most treat it like a commodity.  They tend to agree, “Time is money.” But it’s a lot more than that.  For another perspective look at the saying, “To God a thousand years are like one day.”  Isn’t this awesome?  Therefore the life span of a human could be likened to a grain of sand on the seashore.

Time is necessary for growth, development, and the production of commodities.  Plants like all other living organisms have to have nutrients to grow, but this process takes time.  Their growth and development take a short or long period.  After much dedication to be educated humans have to be nurtured to learn vital lessons about life.  And people have to be fed with spiritual food to develop virtues of hope, faith, and love.  But becoming virtuous also takes time.  It might take over a life-time for believers to become spiritually attuned.

Dreams & Aspirations

For growth and development to occur mean having dreams and aspirations fulfilled.  Students have to imagine doing particular jobs.  They ask, “Do they have what it takes to do a particular task? Is their ability suitable for a certain career choice?  How could they do such a job?  Is their personality right for a career choice?  This is a time when honesty is necessary to know one’s aptitude.

With challenges there has to be breaks for rejuvenation and relaxation.  That’s the reason why most Americans take vacations.  They have to aim for a good balance in their lives.  They quickly learn that life might not only be for fun, but for making the best of well-deserved breaks.  Some decide that instead of lying on a beach, it would be better to help build houses for the homeless.

Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012), in his book entitled: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that Time Magazine listed as one of the 25 most influential in business management, explained how to have a “sustained, long-term, effective lifestyle.”  Covey encouraged his readers to “learn, commit, do,” and argued that they would find “personal freedom, security, wisdom and power.”  Such realities could only be achieved by living true lives in God’s time.

 

 

The Vision of Leaders

A vision of leadership calls for having a spirit of collegiality.  Good leaders know how to delegate and exercise legitimate power in the church.  Inevitably they will summon their troops to pursue the church’s plans.  By so doing they will envision the relationships of the different committees they are supervising.  This insight tells them how best to foster the actualization of their followers.  Through their direction believers will prosper, and be filled with inspiration to do their respective jobs.  By their example they will be able to generate the commitment by transforming the environment.  A businessman Bo Bennett (b. 1972) said, “Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth and wisdom, innocence and understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.”  Effective leaders will grow and guide their flock in wisdom.

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leaders don’t strive to control the group’s creativity.  They avoid the manipulation of people to get things done.  Decisions aren’t leader-centered, but worker-centered.  It’s for them to be sure that the parishioners understand how their instructions ought to be carried out.  Their leadership isn’t dominant, but they set the example by their management style.  Their noteworthy quality is being humble in serving others to work in unison with them.  Their very demeanor should show their ability to rally the work force.

A preeminent leader of India’s Independence Movement Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) wrote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  This is the quality of what’s expected of leaders.  Pope Francis (b. 1936), the head of the Catholic Church said, “Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better?  Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?’  If you don’t ask these questions, your governance will not be good.”  These are questions leaders ought to ask themselves to be accountable to their followers.

Peer Pressure

Leaders must resist psychological coercion.  Their aim is to strive for authentic fulfillment.  Their approach with workers must not be lukewarm or heavy handed.  At all cost they must avoid manipulating them in order to have the upper hand in decision making.  All workers must be respected and honored for who they are.  Everyone must be treated like a colleague.  Benjamin Carson (b. 1951), an author, and politician wrote, “No matter how good you are at planning, the pressure never goes away.  So I don’t fight it.  I feed off it.  I turn pressure into motivation to do my best.”  This must be a model of leaders who want to counter stress in a work environment.

 Effective Communication

Leaders must be quick to listen.  They should never consider themselves as desirous of increasing their status for personal gratification.  Their foremost goal is to be a pacifier of conflicts with their workers.   They should practice authenticity, and treat their colleagues with the utmost respect and dignity.  It’s for them to follow the guidelines about leadership of their community.  Their role should be an exercise in spiritual growth by motivating others to higher levels of accomplishment.  And at no time must they give the appearance of being authoritarian.  Such an approach will only damage their relationship with workers.  Quincy Adams (1767–1848), the sixth US president and statesman said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  This must be the vision of successful leaders.