Poem – thanks for the hard teachers

I am thankful for all my hard teachers.

All the mean people
all the hard times
all the disappointments
all the loss
all the grief.

I’m thankful for all that I did not get
and when I got something
unexpected,
unwanted.

I am thankful,
for these are trials,
tests,
especially tailored
to teach me,
to strengthen me.

I know that I am being called
to learn how to

hear
what cannot be heard

see
what cannot be seen.

Know what cannot be known.

I am thankful.

How’s the weather?

I notice trends while at work. After you’ve seen the same thing over and over, you have enough data to formulate a theory. This applies to big things and little things.

Where it applies to the everyday is mood. I can read the emotional temperature after about twenty patrons. The mood will go on for the whole day. If people are easy to deal with in the morning, they will be easy to deal with in the afternoon and at night. If they are cranky and difficult, they will be that way all day too.

I mentioned this to a new coworker and he and I have started asking each other “How’s the weather?” when we are changing shifts at the front desk.

Some days the answer is “Sunny with a few clouds.” Sometimes the answer is “Overcast with a chance of hail.”

On Monday, it was “sharks”. People were very needy and difficult.

Now, people who are able to take care of themselves don’t come up to us. We have several self-check machines, so the average person with the average library transaction does not have to come up to us. This means we get problems all the time, by the very nature of why we are there.

The issue is the nature of the problem compounded by the temperament of the person.

Seeing so many different people with so many similar temperaments is really useful. It lets me know that my bad or good mood isn’t just mine, but it is something bigger. Perhaps it is something “in the air”.

I’ve not tried to figure out the whys and wherefores of it yet. I’m just glad to notice a trend and realize that it is not just me. There is something else affecting our moods.

Tuesday, it wasn’t “shark” so much as “goldfish”, except for the children. They were extra wound up and cranky. Really young children are usually cranky around 3:30 every afternoon. They also are cranky right before a thunderstorm.

Yes, I know sharks and goldfish have nothing to do with the weather. But the idea still works. Perhaps “How’s the water?” also works. The metaphor isn’t the issue, but the idea is.

Pray without ceasing

To pray without ceasing does not mean you have to quit your job and become a nun or a monk. It does not mean that you have to sit in a quiet room contemplating and in communion with God all the time. It does not mean that you have to read a prayer book out loud all day long.

It means to constantly seek to know and then act according to the will of God.

It means to ask God before you do anything, to see if it is something you should do.

Nonbelievers have come up with a term for themselves. It is “freethinker”. They think that believers are zoned out zombies who never follow their own thoughts. And my clarification of “pray without ceasing” sure sounds like that.

But why would I want to plug into a 110 outlet when my tool works better on a 220? Why would I want to use a 20 watt light bulb when I can use a spotlight?

When we pray without ceasing – when we are in constant communion with God, we are tapping into a huge power source.

We are also less likely to resist or freak out when something unusual happens, because we know it is from God.

So yes, pray without ceasing. Pray when you wake up. Pray while you are making breakfast. Pray before you start your car. Pray while you drive.

Don’t pray mindlessly – pray about what you are doing right then. Talk with God. Not to God, but with God. It is a two-way communication. That is the heart of what Communion means.

Sure, you won’t have the words to start off with, and you will feel awkward. Keep doing it anyway. It will start to feel natural the more you do it.

God loves to hear from us and to talk with us. God understands all about us, better than we know about ourselves. Just open up and be yourself, and that will be perfect.

Listen to the barking dog – on instinct

Say your dog is barking at night. All you want to do is go to sleep, yet the dog keeps barking and keeps you awake. You want to go outside and yell at the dog “Hey! Shut up!”

But then you forget this is why you bought the dog to start off with.

The dog is letting you know that there is an intruder around. The dog is letting you know that there is something wrong happening and you need to attend to it.

Our feelings are the same way. They are the barking dog. But we silence them and we ignore them.

We tell them to shut up when we stop paying attention to them. Now of course we didn’t buy the internal dog – that is part of the standard package that comes with being human. We were given it for free when we were born. It is a gift to us from God. These thoughts and feelings are there to keep us safe.

Remember how they say you should always trust your gut? Your gut is where your dog lives. Always pay attention to it if you feel like something is wrong. Follow that feeling.

Now this doesn’t mean to let your fears rule you. It doesn’t mean to always hide and run away from problems.

Sometimes the problem isn’t the person or the situation in front of you. Sometimes the problem is what you think about the person or the situation in front of you. You may be having a reaction or a memory to some bad thing that happened to you in the past. You may not remember what the problem was to start off with. You are having a reaction or a reflex.

You should always heed your feelings because your feelings will let you know that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

This is called projection and it is important to deal with. It is important to understand and face. Now, instead of running away from the situation, sometimes what you need to do is lean into it.

Sometimes you may need to look at it sort of sideways and not necessarily face it head on. Sometimes facing it head on is very scary. But more importantly, don’t run away from it. If you’re running away from it then you’re telling the dog to shut up.

Ignoring the problem and running away from it are both dangerous they seem opposite but really they both involve not dealing with the intruder. You have to deal with the intruder because otherwise if you ignore it then it is simply going to come in and steal everything in your house. Your house represents your safety and your sanity. If you run away from it or tell it to shut up, then you’re not using this as a valuable lesson to strengthen up your defenses.