Fight it out

As I journey on through life, and through this ongoing “Dark Night of the Soul,” I learn more and more things about myself. If you stop, and you consider yourself, and you take the time to reflect on that, you will eventually learn who you are. Sometimes, the answers you find aren’t always satisfying and in my case, I feel that way often. Whether that feeling is founded in reality or not, is something I still need to discover for myself.

What I have found is interesting though. I find that for one, no matter what I find, and despite what I have already found, I have to live with that. We all have to live with ourselves so that’s not really groundbreaking, but I suppose that I never thought about who that was! The other thing I’ve discovered is that the things that I do that make me better are the hardest things to do, namely getting my butt to church and training.

Now while it’s obvious to some why church is important, it’s not as clear why fighting and training is. I guess I find that when I train it helps me focus. I become clear minded, and all there is is the fight – the next movement. The precision. I thought about this today, and the way fighting makes me feel. I suppose that the simple answer is the endorphins running through my body after a good workout, but I think that somehow inside, when I train, I’m really fighting myself, and conquering myself.

This is interesting to me, because for better or for worst, this is also part of who I am. Knowing that I have to make an effort to go to church, and an effort to get out to train is interesting, because I know those two things do improve me, clear my mind, and make me into a better person. I suppose I should be happy, because I’m still learning what “Budo” means for me. And I still have a long way to go to understand who I am, who others are, who God is, and how we all fit in this life.

Called To Suffer

It seems to be a general theme among some people, that we ought not suffer much in our lives. That if we are suffering something is wrong and out of balance. But is this really how the world works? Is this as it should be? I would agree that it would be best if we did not suffer all of the time, but how much is too much, and is there such a thing as too little suffering?

I am, in many ways, a stranger to great suffering. I have a roof over my head, friends and family that are alive, and I’ve obtained, by whatever graces God has allotted me, and by some work, a very happy sum of non-essential swag. Physically, I’m blessed with a body that doesn’t suffer illness to any great extent, I’ve never suffered famine, nor been at the edge of my life (although there was a few near misses involving stupid accidents). But like a great variety of people in western society, I suffer in my mind. In my thoughts, and in my heart, I am far from being whole, far from understanding, far from being rightly human, and enjoying the mysterious beauty that is life. In this way, I understand suffering the most. To lose your mind, or to be ailed by the flesh, I do not know which is worst, and I cannot judge such things.

The interesting thing about life though, is that it is full of suffering. Poets of old, and even the modern artist understands this. A story which has no suffering can scarcely be called beautiful. In suffering, we find the true metal, in which our souls are made. Even our first moments in this world, emerging from our mother’s wombs, we experience suffering – the removal of one world for another. The human experience, is born in suffering, and we are formed by it. In my mind, it seems simple: we are what we are, and this world is as it is. Imagine something else, and you imagine something less than what we are. We are part of a universe which waxes and wanes with tragedy and ecstasy. I do not know if I can properly imagine a good man who has not suffered – for why would I call him a man if he has not endured what men do; and how should I call him good if he hasn’t tasted pain.

This brings me to the next point: That perhaps we should suffer. I don’t mean to say that we should be ailed by pains of all sorts because we deserve it, but because it is what makes us human. Nor would I say that I find pleasure in an innocent child in pain, or anyone in pain. It hurts us to see others suffer, because for the most part we genuinely desire the good fortune of others, and not their misery. But even in that, suffering works, not only on he who suffers, but it develops compassion in those around him as well. In suffering, humanity is exercised. It seems that as suffering occurs, the hearts of men are alight with the desire to relieve it, and bonds are formed between people.

But what of this in light of God? What of this in light of Christ, and ultimate goodness? At this moment, I don’t want to discuss the idea that God has a bigger plan for us, although invariably that will be found in what I’m saying. What I would like to point out is that throughout the western story of God, men have suffered and it was normal, and it was good. Some suffered more, some less, but most of them did.

Two stories attract me the most: One that some consider myth is the story of Job. Here is a man who quite literally loses everything. Yet in his pain, he still exhibits some trust in God. And even though he’s angry and he wants to know what’s going on, God has this respect for Job. Eventually restoration came to him, a rather mythically happy ending, but it didn’t occur without suffering. The suffering, and the human reaction to it, contrasts the good. Although it is a sad story, it does say something about how we live, and how big of a part suffering is of our experience of God.

The second story, that is a propos with the Easter season, is that of Jesus Christ. Throughout his ministry he calls his followers again and again to take up their cross. He reminds them that to drink his cup is no easy thing, and that it is full of pain. This man, who had a peace unlike others, who healed the sick, and gave hope to the lowly; is also the same man who sweat blood in a garden, was hated and pursued by authorities time again, was beaten, tortured and crucified. This man didn’t have an easy life, and he doesn’t seem to be telling us that we will either.

So what then of this? What do I make of this? It seems that in some way, goodness, whether simple or divine, seems to be part in parcel with suffering. And I guess that to be part of a great host of saints one must accept this fact. But not without seeing that not all suffering is good, and not all suffering is just. Yes, we are meant to suffer, but in a like manner we are meant to relieve suffering as well. This is our lot, and this is just one of the things that makes us what we are: Human.

Fuel for the Fire

I find it interesting that faith is a struggle. So often, I hear that people think faith in any kind of God is a crutch, and I couldn’t imagine what that’s like. Faith is work, trying to adhere to some higher moral standard, live a meaningful life. I’d rather eat, sleep, drink, and die most of the time. Maybe a little bit more drinking before the death part – I do like my beer after all. The problem with my walk of faith lately, is not the ideas, nor the doctrines, or the beliefs. My (I’d like to think) rational mind reminds me all the time, that as much as I’d like for it not to be, God exists, and that should change my life. And though I am changed, I fail at my own ideals about good christian living.

We fail at many things, but I find it peculiar that I’ve failed, rather miserably, at the more abstract values of christianity – namely peace, joy and hope. With exception to peace, I always though that these weren’t as important. One could live without them, knowing at least that one has served others in being kind or loving. It turns out that we need joy and hope, or at least, that I need some to function properly and that living without them is not a properly human life. When life is reduced to the simple present pleasure, and the immediate moments following, our perspective becomes darkened. We stop dreaming. We stop thinking. We stop having ideas. As a man, at some point dedicated to God, this odd state of being has also caused my light to be snuffed out. Covered as it were, or perhaps just burning dimly, as though the fuel has been spent and there’s but a little wick left to consume. I have lost my saltiness. What I had thought were simply the bonuses of christian living, were in fact higher functions of human life, an important source of fuel to my fire, and the now lost glimmer in my eyes.

In need of a boon, here…

This past year, has been, without doubt, the most frustrating, and the hardest year yet. It seems that as time goes on with me, my spiritual life gets better, slowly, but the other aspects of my life deteriorate. Of greatest concern to me, is financial issues. I know that many of my readers are itching to say “I TOLD YOU SO,” this that and the other thing, but the issue is always more complicated than what you see.

Throughout all this time, I feel like the soldier in the trenches. You continue on, watcing the destruction occur, one foot in front of the other. You wonder when does help arrive… when does the enemy diminish… I feel like I could really use a boon right about now. Something, to take some of the frustration away. Make this path a little easier. I know I can’t find that in forgetfullness. Alcohol doesn’t take the edge off so much as blur my sight to the way out.

This sucks. And it’s tough. But everytime I get to this place (and it feels too frequent lately) I’m reminded of eternity and the kingdom of heaven. If there’s something that’s worth pain, it must be this Kingdom. I’m reminded of 1st Corinthians 10:13. I’m reminded to carry on. I’m reminded that “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:12).

I must continue on. God be my guide, my strength, my power.

No Rest For The Wicked

I am set in ways I cannot break, I am bound to drink and to
Taste the wine from this foul vineyard’s yield, this vinegar field
Though it stings I open up my throat, all the sores from yelling have been
opened up, yeah I’m opened up: this is worst then salt on the wound.

Have you not heard? I am prepared…
Have you not heard? I am prepared to die.

Since I’ve opened up my eyes I have held these lines by the blood of my brow (the blood of my brow)
Since I’ve opened up my eyes I have sorrowfully declined, my strength weakening (to this decrepit excuse of man)

Oh lay me down in sweet pastures near the ocean, that’s what I wanted, yes, that’s what I wanted.
Won’t you put me next to the ocean’s sweet lullaby, that I may rest in peace, rest in peace
Ocean you are my weakness, I have travelled far, oh so far, to be with you.
Ocean, beautiful Ocean, there’s no calm like the sea; oh so deep.

Ocean, Ocean, Chasing your love through eternity (I will find you one day)
Ocean, Ocean, Why can’t I be with you?

All I want is this! All I want is this! OH GOD, It’s all I want, It’s all I want.
All I want is this! All I want is peace! OH GOD, It’s all I want, It’s all I want.

(Ocean, beautiful Ocean, there’s no calm like the sea; oh so deep.
Ocean, beautiful Ocean, why are you so far from me?)

————————————————————————–

This is another sad song. One of the marked difference between this song and other pieces is the lack of resolution. In the end, the character does not attain what he desires. It’s also unique because it sums up multiple issues in one. The first portion deals with sin and the seemingly uncontrollable desire to repeat even though it’s known to be damaging. The second section deals with the feeling of overburdened service: in the end, it didn’t matter and as a cause of sin, the race was not finished, no rewards given. The last portion, is the death wish, or at least the desire for release. This longing is two fold, for the Ocean represents not only peace, but a sweet lover (which to me is something peaceful).

Just Like Everybody Else

Sometimes it comes as a shock to me that I’m just like everybody else. In my youth, I sometimes have wide-eyed beliefs about my own grandeur and ego which lead me to think that I am a Titan, impervious to any and all physical and emotional damage, and that I can stand alone against the storms that abate me. Well, there comes a time in everybody’s life when they are faced with their own weaknesses, their frailties and ultimately their mortality.

These past few weeks I have felt that. Internally, I have been frustrated, downcast, and downright miserable. I’ve gone to confession more times than I care to count and I’m just… uh… crappy. What stinks about this is the most is my usual inability to really share when I’m this upset; which brings me to my point: Friends.

Friends are by far one of the greatest things you can have. If you’re anything like me, you may think that you don’t need your friends and that they, conversly, need you. But that is far from the truth. Everyone needs friends. I need them, you need them, your auntie Sue needs them. Why? Because they “lift us up where we belong.” They are the support structure designed into us by God himself. As human beings, you and I are by nature VERY social creatures. Even the least social people we know are dependent on the social constructs of civilization and society in general.

We need to accept and embrace this nature. We need to put aside the ideas that friends are weaknesses, and accept that friends can be our strength. I have to do that. Because when I don’t, I end up drowning in my own sorrow and spending nights drinking myself to sleep. It’s really pathetic to drink yourself to sleep, by the way. It’s like sleeping with a big FAIL sign pointing at you. Yeah, lately, behind close doors, I’ve been that kind of failure. At the end of the day, I’m just like everyobdy else. I get down, and I find it hard to get up. I stumble, I slip, I fall. And just like everybody else, I need help from my dear friends.

Pray, brothers and sisters, that almighty God may forgive me my sins, and strengthen me through his church, my family and my friends.

The Debaucherous Sabbatical

Well, I haven’t written in some time. In fact, it’s been far too long since I have written. The main reason is that in the past month and a half, I haven’t really bothered thinking much. Or doing much of anything constructive. In fact, I’m sad to confess that the past month and a half have been a relative mess for me. I’ve been content (somewhat) but I’ve wasted the time drinking and partying. Really, far too much, and in hand, there was some good bouts of drunkeness.

It’s made me think the past couple of days, and so has one of my beloved pastors, Kim. What the hell am I doing? This is not who I intend to be, nor is it what people ought to think of it. The image portrayed is not one of sanctity or holiness; instead it is a muddied and blurred image of someone who can have been better. It’s a failure to the image of God, as well as a failure to the very person I’d like to be.

Pray, brothers and sisters, that almighty God may forgive me my sins and mold me into the image of christ he intends me to be.

With Unclean Hands

This week is Holy Week and I feel anything but Holy. I’ve come to the end of the Lenten season feeling defeated. I’ve sinned far too much and prayed far too little. This is really how I feel, at least, that’s how I’ve felt this weekend. It hasn’t be a particularly crappy weekend, nor has it been a crappy week, but I feel dragged down nonetheless.

One of the major contributor to this is my continuous struggle with sexual addictions. I find solace in the forgiveness of God and his grace that helps me to overcome this darkness. I know that I’ve come along way from where I was years ago. Nevertheless, every failed battle is just that: failure. And it’s not the kind of failure where you learn something, you just fail and it sucks.  It dampens my spirits, kills whatever godliness I feel within me, stops my thinking, and freezes my heart. It is the killer and I am it’s willing prey. 

Another contributor to this is that I feel like I’ve done worst than any of my previous weeks as far as my lenten commitments were concerned. I didn’t go to mass as much as I should like, in fact, I didn’t even go yesterday. That makes me feel like suck, because going to mass is like walking into my most beloved king’s court and hearing the herald of his name in a wonderful celebration. I feel like I haven’t seen the one I loved the most this week, and that saddens me. I also cheated on friday: I gave up meat every friday of lent and commited to eating only fish (the 2nd least enjoyable of protein sources) and this week I ate shrimp and squid, which for me is a delicacy. Not very much in the spirit that was…

All of this led to some darker feelings this weekend.  There were two prominent thoughts. One, is the lingering emptiness of my ex-girlfriend. I know that sounds weak, but I seriously don’t care. Honestly, even though we’re very cool with each other, friendly and all that, I find it still hurts. I still wonder “why” sometimes. I know and see the answer to that question but, the feeling lingers, especially when I’m weak.  

That change in my life marked the beginning of a new existence for me. That leads me to my second feeling of desparation: the fear of failure. I understand that, in one way or another, I have a purpose. But I feel like I haven’t attained it yet. In fact, I feel like I’m falling behind, delaying the works God has planned for me. That’s a scary feeling… and a crappy one. I really do want to do God’s will. And I’m willing to put everything on the line for that. But I feel like I’m not, like I can’t, like the repercussions of my faults have disabled me. 

Everyday that I do not move towards the goal (whatever that may be) i feel like I am royally screwing it up. I can’t really express this feeling anymore without using some questionable language.

Pray, brothers and sisters, that almighty God may forgive me my sins, and reassure me that I am still walking on the right road.

Confessions

Today I’m starting a new series on this blog called Confessions. The idea behind this particular section, and the posts within it, is to reveal to the outside world some of my inner frustrations, my darker thoughts. The reason behind this is two fold: For me, it brings about a certain raw honesty that can help me grow as a person, and as a christian. The second is for you, the reader. I want you to know that I’m no different than you are. I struggle with the same things and live in the same reality that you do. I want to connect with you and you to connect with me. 

There’s only one last thing to be said about this new section. Please read with caution. At the end of the day I don’t know if I can say that I’m a good man, or  bad one. It’s probably a relative thing, at least to us mere mortals. It means, however, that to you the contents of this section may shock you, or compell you to regard me with disgust. Some of this may fill you with your own doubts about faith, and bring uncomfortable light to your own struggles. Whatever it is, I’m not sure that this section is for the faint of heart. Take heed.

Pray, brothers and sisters, that almighty God may forgive us of our sins.