Blog Archives

The Narrow Gate

My memories collide with one another,
congesting into
higgley-piggley log jams
in my mind.
Complexity clutters my understanding
and confusions of
cobwebs cling to my bold
broken dreams.
Creativity thickens and congeals,
dwindling into small,
fallow pools clotted with
frustration.
Idols of old truths and securities
crack from the weight of
my twin to Thomas doubt and
Judas fear.
Now, a voice within gently warns me,
“Narrow gate ahead!
You must not be afraid
to let go.”
So, in this present moment I must trust
my inner Spirit
to transform even this
suffering,
with her woman’s powerful compassion
that can turn empty deserts
into hearts fertile
from her tears.

EON 1991

How Free is our Free Will?

A seriously spooky, but incredibly affirming and helpful tool for gaining a better understanding of both ourselves and others is the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI).
I came across the MBTI several decades ago. My first response to my results from taking it was, “How could anyone possibly know all those things about me?” I hadn’t even recognized some of them myself until I read the MBTI’s description. It was amazing, but almost scary, how well its description fit.
It gave me greater self-awareness and both an appreciation of my strengths and an understanding of why some aspects of life were much less appealing and even difficult for me. And gradually, as I moved past learning about just my own personality, it explained the challenges in my relationships with people having a different set of both strengths and other aspects of personality that were less natural for them.
That was thirty-two years ago and I am still being helped by this tool in my relationships, particularly with my husband, whose strengths and subsequent ways of being in the world are the exact opposite of mine. In fact, understanding about personality differences  has probably been one of the most significant reasons our marriage has lasted and grown stronger over almost fifty-eight years.
Different personality types focus on different aspects and therefore actually “see” the concrete world differently. The information we take in on any given day, even in the same environment, will vary drastically. Also how we respond to it, personally or theoretically, emotionally or logically, will differ greatly.  Even our dominant focus, whether inward most of the time and only outward on a few people or locations close to us versus mostly outwardly and on the larger world including the future of the whole planet, will also be extremely different. An example: My husband will fight to save a beautiful old tree on a specific site, but isn’t particularly concerned about the rain forests in distant countries.
Personality differences have implications for every aspect of life, not just relationships. I became a consultant on the MBTI and gave workshops on its significance for Marriage Relationships, for Teaching/Learning Style Differences, for the Variety of Approaches to Spirituality, and even for Corporate Management Styles and Employee Responses.
At seventy-nine, I haven’t been professionally active in this for some years, but the MBTI seems to have stood the test of time in both the educational and professional worlds. And I am still discovering areas where it sheds light on our personal human journeys. I am not going to attempt to teach about type. The Association for Personality Type is the professional site for learning about type. However, there are many people writing about type on the internet without sufficient expertise in the subject, so take care in what you accept that isn’t backed up with some credentials.
One of the issues that the reality of inborn personality differences raises questions about, but also sheds some light on, is what degree of free will we have. I’ll begin to explore that in my next post.

Creativity, Talent, Perseverance: The Most Important of These is Perseverance

Creative people see the world differently than most people do. Finding at least a few like minded people to keep loneliness at bay helps motivate those that are extraverts.

Creativity is seeing new and better ways to accomplish a goal. Just doing something differently is not necessarily creative, though in our day many mistake difference for creativity. Creativity is the way some minds perceive new positive possibilities.

Creativity and any particular talent are not the same thing. Creativity is in a class by itself. You can be very talented in singing or painting or writing lucidly, but not be creative at all.

And even having both a creative mind and talent does not guarantee success, because the most important trait needed to succeed is perseverance. A not particularly creative person with a small talent, but strong natural ability to persevere, will out perform someone with creativity and greater talent, who is distracted easily or who gives up when they experience failure.

The good news is that once this truth is recognized, perseverance can be developed. It will come more easily in doing something you both value and enjoy. So, if you have several talents, but lack perseverance, choose the one you value most and focus your time, energy, and other resources on it.

Tricks like working at it for a reasonable time, then following that by a small reward, then continuing to stretch the work time before the reward, can keep you motivated. You can persevere in something by planning breaks, as long as the breaks are short. In fact, doing something rote or repetitive during a break, can often free new insights and energize you.

A mentor can be a big help for those who discourage easily. A little encouragement in the difficult times can get you through them.

The challenge is to decide what is your talent (however slight) that you value and enjoy most and what are the personal pitfalls that prevent you from steadily developing it. Then, figure out ways to minimize the fallout from those weak areas more and more.

Perseverance is the most important talent. Once you realize that, finding ways to develop perseverance needs to become your priority.

An Ordinary Day

clinging to sleep
refusing to rise
to the early beat
of the roofers
eyes half mast
relinquishing
night dreams
reluctantly
while I grab
some coffee
grateful for
the quick brew
computer mouse
finding friends
early risers
on facebook
lots of likes
some laughs
to jump start
the morning
Upper Room’s
new insights
infusing grace
into routines
deep cleaning
muscle work
pain excuses
taking breaks
to cull photos
from our albums
choosing among
our memories
stopping to
gather laundry
and start
today’s wash
more bending
and scrubbing
the bathrooms
finally shine
physical action
frees the mind
triggering
new insights
back to the
computer
long enough
to blog them
fixing lunch
husband fed
dishes done
call a friend
whose surgery
keeps her home
get her list
of groceries
take a break
to sort more
family photos
years of smiles
write some bills
freshen up
fix my hair
get the car
mail the bills
buy groceries
and deliver
homeward bound
with a treat
to celebrate
fifty-five
years together.

The Narrow Gate

My memories collide with one another
congesting into
higgley-piggley log jams
in my mind

Complexity clutters my understanding
and confusions of cobwebs
cling to my bold
broken dreams

Creativity thickens and congeals
dwindling into small
fallow pools clotted with
frustration

Idols of old truths and securities
slam against a wall
of Thomas doubt and
Judas fear

Softly, a voice within warns me,
“Narrow gate ahead.
You must not be afraid
to let go.”

Now, in this present moment,
I must trust my inner Spirit
to transform even this
suffering

Her woman’s deep compassion
to turn my empty heart-
my desert- fertile with
her tears.

eon 1991

An Approach to Decision Making

I’ve taken a lot of classes that included processes for decision making. Several things have stuck with me in spite of my unreliable memory.
Perhaps the most important one is that we each have natural tools/gifts, but they are only part of what is needed for an effective problem solving process. Effective problem solving not only needs a team approach, it requires recognition of the equal importance of diverse gifts.

First, it needs a vision of the long term goal, not just the quick fix.

Second, it needs brainstorming that includes all possibilities, even seemingly “pie in the sky” ones.

Third, each possibility will have a down side. So, list and evaluate the down sides. Eliminate the ones with downsides that you feel you cannot live with.

Fourth, look at the practical problems needing solving for each possibility and generate reasonable solutions.

Fifth, Now re-evaluate, in terms of (a) personal values, (b) downsides, (c) actual resources, those possibilities that ended up having reasonable solutions for problems. Then make your choice, or if a group decision is needed, come to consensus.

Note: For believers in Jesus Christ as the perfect human expression of God’s love for all, this process would involve both communal and personal prayer for guidance at the beginning, at any conflict points or questionable areas, and at the final decision making point, and would include evaluations throughout in the light of the values fleshed out in the life and death of Jesus.