Life of Meaning

Accessing Your Share of Divinity

August 7, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

It was for this the world was made: That there should be beings capable of receiving God, entering into closest fellowship with him, sharing all that he is and has.” Ruth Burrows, OCD

This post is just a very brief highlight of my thoughts on God for the last three years.

English Carmelite nun, Ruth Burrows, shares a description (above) of the Christian faith that is quite different from that which is preached from most pulpits today. She takes the idea of “relationship over religion” quite seriously. In fact, she goes so far as to state the world was created for one purpose: relationship with God in love. And yet, our religion seems to be more concerned with “correct” behaviors and beliefs, while almost totally ignoring deep and intimate love.
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Character Breeds Responsibility and Self-Respect

July 31, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.” Joan Didion

I remember the days of my youth in the pleasant 1950’s, the turbulent 60’s, and the transitional 70’s. Although our country was far from perfect, there seemed to be an attitude of self-responsibility. Yes, there was oppression and in some sectors of our society there existed victimization. But for a great number of people it was also a time when the public felt personal responsibility for their lives.

Hard Work

The belief was that if you did the work, you achieved some kind of reward. If you were good to others, others responded in kind. Not working was highly frowned upon. Expecting the government to provide for you was anathema.

“Character” was in high regard and character was defined as diligent work, integrity, self-reliance, cooperativity, and a sense of stalwart resolution for self-improvement. This was true even of my hippie generation. Yes, we vehemently disagreed with the “establishment” but we still replicated the values of the attributes of love and deep character.

Character Devalued

I fear that somehow in the last 50-60 years the values of character, personal responsibility, and self-respect have devolved into entitlement on the one hand and oppressive victimization on the other. In some way, so many have come to believe they are “owed” the rewards of the American Dream when the better thought is that the American Dream is earned, not owed. I think of the many first-generation immigrants that have achieved some degree of success simply because they believed that it was their personal responsibility to persevere to maintain the tenacity required to achieve their desires for a fruitful life.
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We Need a Reason

July 16, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Young people have been told God is nonsense, their country is essentially evil, their past is deplorable, their future is bleak, and marriage and children are not important.” Dennis Prager

Prager begins this editorial with the question, “Why are so many people, especially young people, depressed, unhappy, and angry?” He believes that current condemnation of essential American social values is leaving people with little reason to discover a sense of meaning and purpose for life.

“You Can Be Anyone You Want to Be”

I was raised on the optimistic notion that “I could be anyone I wanted to be.” Now at 5’8” we know that it is highly unlikely I could have been a professional basketball player. But that was not what my mom had in mind, is it? Her intention was to encourage me to seek out things I truly loved to do and things I was good at, and then pursue those options as my purpose in life.

I find Prager’s quote above extraordinarily disturbing. Our values and beliefs are not only being questioned; they are also being critiqued as nonsense, evil, deplorable, bleak, and unimportant. Where in the world does that leave us except without meaning and purpose… and maybe seven a bit of self-disdain for harboring such apparently ludicrous ideas about God, country, marriage, and the future in general.

Higher Powers and Higher Values

Alcoholics Anonymous nails it on “the first step” when they suggest that we all need something larger than ourselves to strive toward and lean on. America once boasted of attempting to honor such values and many people strived to attain them. Those are the things, I believe, that made America great. A place here you could be a better person, both personally and socially.

I have read it was said (maybe or maybe not) by Aristotle, that “the purpose of every human being is to contribute to the value of society.” And what was the American ideal if not demonstrated by the generosity of one to another? Now, did we get a bit deep into self-service? Yes! And we are paying the price right now.

But “let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.”

We all must have a place to serve, a self to develop, and a deity to look for guidance and even assistance. This is where we find “a reason” for living. This is the heart of meaning and purpose.

Service, Self-Development, and God

The Meaning of Life

Photo courtesy of Marcio Binow Da Silva at istockphoto

Connecting with Tension and Frustration

July 4, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

To create peace in our lives–and in our world–we need to be able to sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views.” Parker Palmer

Polarized and Divisive

I find TV News (both network and cable) to be outrageously divisive. Their intent seems to be to persuade their audience toward taking one position or the other. And if they are not arguing for “positions on issues,” they seem to seek to whatever outrages their audience. The goal, then, of the vast majority in the medium does indeed seem to be outrage, and certainly not reconciliation.
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Disconnecting from Your Inner Gorilla

June 25, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

 May you see in what you do the beauty of your soul… Be excessively gentle with yourself.” John O’Donohue

Who needs critics when the most harmful of naysayers dwells within our own consciousness? Like the old cartoon reminded us (I can’t even remember the source), “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us!”

Your Inner Gorilla

In my younger days I was even harder on myself than I am today. Today I have learned the arts of patience and self-gentleness—both of which were nonexistent in my 30’s – 50’s. Nearly 40 years ago, a psychologist friend of mine used to remind me that, “We all walk around handcuffed to this critical, angry-assed gorilla with the sole intention of telling us how bad or wrong we are. And the real irony is that we hold the key to that handcuffs that bind us. We are just too familiar with his tactics to let him go.”
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The Fruit of the Spirit: A Gift or a Requirement?

June 18, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” The Bible

THOUGHTS FROM LISBON, JUNE 2022

I read this morning of the creativity of writing. The author suggested writing with no purpose (like a book), but just writing for the sake of writing. Let the creativity flow in whatever direction it chooses.

Religion or Spirituality?

My concern this morning has to do with the subject of my new book which seems to have morphed from a contemplation on the mystics to treatise on “spirituality.” Although the church in the West is experiencing a serious decline, that does not mean that the general population is not asking important questions about their inner lives regarding spirituality and the meaning of life.
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Emotions are Not Measurable

May 22, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” Dale Carnegie

Since the inception of the Age of Enlightenment, the West has embraced a left-brained, logic-focused epistemology for determining truth and authority. Whereas in the pre-Enlightenment period, romanticism and pathos remained strong influencers in the ways people determined reality. My penchant for medieval mysticism stems from that line of thinking.
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Play Safe… or Live

April 30, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

The unlived life is not worth examining.” Guy Kawasaki

I’m not sure who wrote the following, but I’ve been told that it was a favorite of Hunter S. Thompson

My life will not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out…”

Okay, so perhaps the quote so favored by life-style anarchist Hunter S. Thompson may be just a bit far-fetched. Still, it is nevertheless attractive and worthy of thought. Do I want to be “used up and totally worn out” when I die? Let’s give that thought a “Hell Yeah.” Just one caveat… I want to be old when I die, as well. Haha.

The Need for Safety

According to the oft-quoted “Hierarchy of Needs” of psychologist Abraham Maslow, our hunger for safety and security are found just above the most basic needs for food, water, warmth, and rest. In other words, safety and security are of the most primal of all human needs. They make up the foundation for living fruitfully, for a long time.

I think the truth is that many of us long for both. Yes, although we may claim an appreciation for adventure and risk-taking, we still hope that it doesn’t ruin us (or kill us) prematurely.

The Balance: Safety and Risk

Once again, the sanest approach is to live somewhere in the middle of the continuum, for to hang out on either end can lead to (1) an early death or (2) prolonged boredom.

As an antagonist of “either/or” thinking, I find myself trying to achieve a “both/and” model. Yes, I do want safety. I wish no harm for me or my family. However, on the other end, I do like change and a challenge. I do like taking risks, but only after a good bit of research. For instance, I have probably worked in a half dozen careers, I go to foreign countries alone with very little pre-planned itinerary, or I can take on take on a task that I have never attempted before just because it appears to be fun.

Examined or Not: Just LIVE!

I really resonate with the Guy Kawasaki quote that “an unlived life is not worth examining.” Life is not “tidy,” nor is it intended to be. Life on this planet is messy and our efforts to control are mostly useless in the longer term. Why not live, perhaps not so much on the risky side, but on the side of exciting and enduring experiences?

After all, too much safety can certainly mean not enough living. As always, it is your choice.

Live, Really Live

And Do It on Purpose

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Nunes at istockphoto

Anger Lights Up Our Deepest Passions

April 24, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“The internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.” David Whyte

Maria Popova writes, “Anger, indeed, is one of the emotions we judge most harshly — in others, as well as in ourselves — and yet understanding anger is central to mapping out the landscape of our interior lives.”

The Magnifying Glass of Anger

Although we do judge anger rather bitterly, anger itself can also be like an internal magnifying glass. For, in our anger we discover, in the words of poet/philosopher David Whyte, “what we belong to, what we wish to protect, and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.” Such discoveries are usually indicators of our most precious and vulnerable inner selves.
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The Intimate Affection of God

April 17, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

The notion that God can be intimately affected, that He possesses not merely intelligence and will, but also feeling and pathos, basically defines the prophetic consciousness of God…” Abraham Heschel

NOTE: this post is longer than usual

The Bible is confusing.

Today, many of us continue to focus on God’s love, forgiveness, and universal grace. However, such thinking seems to be less and less common. In fact, I might say, with some confidence, that a significant number of people in the USA have become dissolutioned with a patriarchal God who seems to be more interested in punishment, anger, and what appears to be vengeance than it does about love.
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