Life of Meaning

Returning to Eden

October 17, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“With “the failure in Eden,” humans became anxious seekers, desperately seeking what they lost.” Ilia Delio, Simply Bonaventure

Upon graduation from a most conservative seminary my advisor told me how much he appreciated my work, but that he was fearful for me because I seemed to possess what he called, “a proclivity for the novel.” Haha. What he feared, I considered a virtue.
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Humility Begins with the Death of the Ego

October 3, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“To be humble is to subdue our ego so that things are no longer all about us.” Neel Burton

It is easy to think that life revolves around you. Everywhere you go, guess who is always there, you are! Indeed you are, in a sense, the center of your universe. Everyone you encounter and every thought you ponder occurs either in your presence or in your mind. You are truly the master of your internal universe… or are you?

These days I am in deep meditations considering the oft times overwhelming power of my needy and selfish ego, an ego with a driving desire to make all things “about me.” My feelings, my desires, and my life seem to matter most and take priority.

Self-Centered or Other-Centered

In the U.S. we live in a time begging for an “other-centeredness.” After decades of pop psychology in which notions of Self have dominated social discourse, topics like self-esteem and the establishment of personal boundaries have been the rave.

Please know that I am indeed an advocate of healthy self-regard and some kind of emotional / psychological protection from the invasion of domineering and selfish people. However, necessary these attributes may be, they are not to be exercised at the expense of sacrificial love.

As a result, we seem to be in need of the radical virtue of humility—to think less of our own needs as we pay heed to the needs of others.

Annihilation

Humility asks for a diminishment of our irrational need to create a finely armored exterior by means of power, possessions, and prestige.

It is my belief that self-centeredness (read “ego”) is found at the heart of most of our personal and social troubles today. And it is the fear of loss—loss of power or possessions or prestige—that drives our somewhat makeshift and misdirected motives.

The early Christian mystics fervently called for “the annihilation of the ego.” In the beginning it was misdirected ego that tempted humans to choose self-rule over the comfort of divine orchestration. And it this needy, selfish ego that continues to rule in our lonely hearts today.

Humility: The Great Equalizer

Humility is not about considering yourself as lower than anyone else. In my mind, humility is the great equalizer—the raising up of the physically and emotionally poor and the lowering of those overly content with power and prestige. All meeting at middle ground.

Such humility is most evident in the person of the Christ, who thought divinity was not a position to be held on to, but instead emptied himself of that divinity to become fully human: to live and die as one of us, showing us the power found in a life of love and self-sacrifice.

Yes, “less of me and more of you” provide a mysterious connection with living fully and with immense pleasure. Humility, therefore, is oddly enough the most self-replenishing act we can opt for.

To Gain Life in Its Fullness

Is to Lose Life in Its Selfishness

Photo courtesy of Madrolly at istockphoto

Feeding the Beast

September 26, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Our ego was never meant to die, only to be tamed so that its wild energies could be put to better use.” David Richo

Let’s begin today with a familiar story…
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Fearless Love: Makes You Cross the Border

September 19, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“In your heart the choice was clear / You didn’t join the other side / The battle lines just disappeared.” From “Fearless Love” by David Wilcox

In the raucous and polarizing dialogue of our day it has become all too easy to categorize and therefore assign value. Many readers find themselves avid supporters of neither Trump nor Biden, but most certainly feel some responsibility to maintain affection for left or right.
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Planting… WAITING… Sowing

September 13, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Several years ago, an executive client requested that I give him feedback on a handful of his public speeches. A quite adept speaker, I told him after one speech that his delivery was sharp and clear, and the only thing I thought needed help was his “close”—the way he finished his speech.

Now, since my feedback was given verbally he thought I meant the only thing he needed to work on was his “clothes”—his attire! You can image his bewilderment, especially since he was quite a good dresser.

Waiting for the Ripening

On a personal note: One thing I am not is a “closer.” I can’t really close a deal. Oh, I can set it up in preparation for the closer. But closing… that’s not my deal. I’m like a quarterback that can get you to the Red Zone, and then you’ll need to bring on another QB to get you in the end zone.

As I ponder this subject, it seems to me that much of our lives is all about waiting; waiting for the close to occur. It takes time to plant, to grow, and to ripen an opportunity before it is ready to be “reaped.” Gardening requires patience and rhythms.

Although it might be painful in our less-than-patient culture, waiting is a natural part of life’s growth process of sowing and reaping harvests.

The Yield May Be a Lifetime Away

One thing I have learned in Covid Quasi Quarantine is how to wait more patiently. I have been forced to delay gratification. I plant and I water. I nurture what I have planted and wait for an unknown time of harvest, during which time I reserve enough seed to begin the planting process all over again.

A counselor once told me that the difference I might make on the world might actually come into realization through the efforts of my son. And that, perhaps, my job was to build and nurture him to be a confident, kind, and measured man that thinks of others as much as he does for himself.

And so, I may never see the difference I made because it may not occur in my lifetime. Ah, but still… waiting holds a certain charm, confident that the result is in better hands than mine.

Let the Planting Begin

And the Patience Continue

Photo courtesy of piyaset at istockphoto

Matters of the Soul

September 5, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

I often tell people to lean into relationships that are replenishing for them.” Jim Burns

Life is exhausting. Even in Covid quarantine. Maybe, especially in Covid quarantine.

Daily we easily find ourselves utterly drained by people, personal circumstances, and national chaos, leaving us “running on empty.” We are hungry. The OT prophet says, “In that day the people will be so hungry, they won’t even know what they are hungry for.”
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Wanted: Leaders with Character

August 22, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

A good character is the best tombstone.” Charles Spurgeon

Today, I am troubled—to say the least.

The Problem

I am sick to death of name-calling, blaming, divisiveness, and vitriol. And it all begins at the very top of our chain of political leadership. Note: this is not a partisan piece. I see these vices fully alive in all camps.
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First Things… Later

August 15, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind… This is usually the wrong thing. Pope Francis

“Count to ten.”

For people my age, as kids facing a knee-jerk reaction, we were always told to “count to ten,” then consider our response. For my son, since he was about four-years-old, whenever he wanted some new or inviting item, he wanted it now! Pam and I frequently repeated the phrase, “Patience, son. Patience.”
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Needed: Bridge Builders!

August 8, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 1 Comments

We ought to have the humility to admit we do not know all about ourselves, that we are not experts at running our lives. ― Thomas Merton

On his album East Ashville Hardware singer/songwriter David Wilcox tells the story of a carpenter in search of work somewhere in rural America. To his luck, he comes upon a farmer looking to build a fence.
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Good Intentions: The Enemy of Integrity

July 26, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

People are always meaning well… That’s often the trouble. Penelope Lively

“Be a man of your word.” “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” “If you ever need anything, just give me a call.” Or, “When you move, just let me know. I can help.”

Whew? Such clichés are uttered with the greatest of intentions, and utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, at times these good intentions are also uttered without much forethought—the receiver of these promises actually believes the promisor meant what was said.
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