Jet, a black cat, lying on a keyboard

Busyness

Today I received an email from a very dear friend that I haven’t seen in a really long-time. She has recently retired and is trying to get a group of us together for a weekend of catching up. She offered up a number of weekends that are at least a month or more in the future.

To my utter dismay, of the weekends mentioned, only one was totally free. How in the world did that happen? Honestly, how? It made me look at my calendar and I realized just how over scheduled I am (and I’m trying hard to cut back on the “should” and “required” which really are not). That made me think about how over scheduled all my friends and colleagues are. Our lives are ruled by time slots and clocks and work requirements. Expectations of always being available in a completely networked world doesn’t help either, it only compounds the issue.

We had a great discussion last night at church around making time to feed your spirit because we need that and we need it not to be about forcing more into our schedule. We need it to be about making our spirit a priority so we aren’t ruled by expectations but have time to spend growing in enlightenment. Do you find yourself over scheduled?

The Spartans

I just finished reading The Spartans by Paul Carthage. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. For one thing, Carthage makes them approachable. He reminds me of my high school teacher, Mr. Sullivan, who wisely thought the best way to get his group of sometimes very rowdy teenagers to engage with medieval history was to have them watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s still one of my favorite movies and made the history behind it intriguing. At any rate, Carthage takes the reader through the Spartans’ rise and fall and introduces his audience to all the major players. Who knew how political they were!

What I find intriguing is that many hold the Spartans to be ideal patriots and warriors. People to emulate and hold as upright citizens. That they were, but they also ritually abused their children, engaged in state-sanctioned pederasty, and routinely hunted their Helot slaves as a rite of passage. They also weren’t above assassinating political dissidents.

While the glory of the 300 at Thermopylae with King Leonidas fighting to the death is admirable, it doesn’t offset the dysfunctional nature of the very closed society of elitism. Know the history before you glorify it.

Lent and Letting Go

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I happen to work at a religiously affiliated university. In my case, it is affiliated with the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. As such, Lent is a very important time in the life of the university community. Since I am not Catholic, I am always a bit caught off-guard by the “giving up” of things (usually forbidden food) during Lent. As a Moravian, that is not really part of my religious tradition.

It has made me think, though, about sacrifice, which is the whole point of the exercise in the first place. Personally, I don’t think God cares whether or not we give anything up during Lent. I think God cares more about our relationships than about individual sacrifice for the exercise of sacrifice. That said, I did decide to give something up for Lent and it wasn’t food. It was negativity.

This year, perhaps more than any other year in recent history, has caused me to reflect on those relationships I mentioned earlier. We are deeply divided in this country. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, letting go of the negativity is soul-freeing. It allows you to listen to another’s perspective without rancor. After all, someone else’s opinion is just that; it’s their opinion and they are entitled to that as I am entitled to mine and you are entitled to yours. So, the next time you are outraged by what has been posted, stop and ask yourself if the negativity you are feeling is worth it. Maybe letting go and instead walk outside, find another path, and free yourself.