Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Inspiration

I would say that starting Tuesday, I was starting to struggle with this cleanse.  Yesterday, I stared at a box of pretzel M&M's, which is kind of weird as I don't even like them (too much candy, not enough chocolate) so I felt compelled to dig deep for things that have inspired me in the past.  I hope they inspire you.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic.  Since I was in college, I have struggled with my faith, but I usually trudged along still going to mass.  Something with the semi-recent changing of the wording of the mass created a great disconnect for me.  I see the church as having some pretty tremendous problems, and it seems that they continue to turn a blind eye to them, but rather do things like change a few words that, in the scheme of things, don’t add substantial value to one’s faith, or at least not to mine.  I believe Jesus Christ was a very good man.  I struggle with whether he was more the son of God than you or me, but whether divinely placed or just more actualized, he was a very good man who taught people to live a very good life.  He didn’t get distracted with the fundamental word of the Bible, but taught in parables and metaphors.  He didn’t care what people said so much as what they did. 

With that said, there have been three sermons I have heard that have fundamentally changed my life or at least the way I see it.  One was from Father McCarthy, I believe, who was the priest at my church, Sts. Peter & Paul growing up.  The second was from a missionary from I want to say Nigeria, and the third was from Father Kramer at Guardian Angels.

Sermon #1 talked about a self-help lecture.  Some guy filled up a mason jar with big rocks.  When he could put no more rocks in the jar, he asked the audience if it was full, to which they responded, “yes.”  He then took out some sand and proceeded to fill the gaps in between the rocks with sand.  When the jar could hold no more sand, he asked, is it full.  Having learned their lesson, the audience said, “no.”  He then took out water and filled the jar until it could hold no more.  When he finished, he asked again, “is the jar full?”  To which the audience once again said, “yes.”  He then asked, what have we learned from this exercise.  Someone said, “if you want to fill the jar, start with water.”  To which the person said, “no, this jar is like life, if you don’t fit the big stuff in first, you will never find room for them.” 

Sermon #2 was not nearly as profound, but just as eye-opening.  At the time, I believe I was in high school or college and had little understanding of the world.  The priest got up there and talked about how rich Americans are…not exactly a new concept, but he talked about how in the United States, people can work one job, two jobs, three jobs if that is what it takes to support their family.  It might be working at McDonalds or some other crappy job, but there are bad jobs to be had.  In his country, there were no bad jobs, no good jobs, there were NO jobs.  I had never thought about poverty in the terms of opportunity prior to that sermon.  As someone who has lived in a developing nation, I can attest, Americans have no conception of the state of poverty that exists in other countries.  I promise you, spend a week in Haiti or even the Dominican Republic (outside of the resorts), and you will have a new definition of poor.
Sermon #3 was some random Saturday evening mass.  Father Kramer just told three stories about animals.  Story number one was about a science experiment some local girl had done where she had taught a goldfish to swim through a maze to get to the food at the end.  When she put a guppy in the water, the guppy could not figure out the maze.  The goldfish started prodding the guppy to get through the maze to get the guppy to the food.  Story number two was about the Emperor penguins in Antarctica and how they huddle in big circles to stay warm during large storms.  The birds take turns so that those on the outside for one storm are then protected by the ones they protected in the previous storm.  They constantly change positions from the inside of the circle to the outside of the circle with every storm.  The final story was about how he had visited a local middle school and asked the students what was their favorite possession.  He said that the answer he received most often was, “my dog.”  When he asked why, the children would say, “Because it’s always so happy to see me.”  The priest simply asked, is it right that we consider ourselves better than these animals?

Why do I bring up these sermons now?  Well, I have started following the internet sensation that is chief Oliver from Brimfield Police Department.  He’s a big picture kind of guy, or for anyone I have coached, he is able to see the forest among all the trees.  The last few weeks, he has had some pretty awesome quotations that I felt compelled to share.

From the chief himself, “While doing some work last evening at home, I turned on the TV for background noise.  While trying to find the suitable channel, I came across the show, ‘Amish Mafia.’ I watched seven seconds of it and lost 100 IQ points.  As a society, we may have jumped the shark.”

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” – George Horace Lorimer

I guess that is always a good question, am I going to bed satisfied with the day I had?

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