St. Clare's Mirror.

Place yourself before the mirror, look upon the mirror of perfect love each day… St. Clare of Assisi

Father Richard Rhor[1] says of this quote, that St. Clare understood that spiritual gifts are always reflected gifts. But what exactly does that mean?

Looking Glass Self

There is a sociological notion, called the looking-glass self theory. Briefly it states that we come to understand who we are and what we are like as others reflect back to us their views of who we are.

Feelings of Inferiority

For many years I was consumed by feelings of inferiority and not being good enough. You could say that I was not comfortable in my skin. If the looking-glass self is true, I developed those ideas of myself early in life based upon my interpretation of what others reflected to me. But of course I now know that these reflected views were, in a large part, themselves based in the pain and inadequacy that others carried about themselves.

Grace-filled Advice

Sister Clare offers some grace-filled advice. The mirror she looks upon is divine. This mirror reflects a true and perfect nature—not the imperfect nature we’ve come to identify as our own.

Wholeness

After marrying a woman who tells me how much she appreciates me, I began to develop a sense of wholeness. The mirror she held before me reflected a view that You are good, you are enough! Slowly, my feelings of inadequacy were replaced by feelings of I am good, I am enough!

Which mirror shall we choose?

But which mirror was the more accurate—the one I was raised with or my wife’s? I have decided that what one sees is very much dependent upon which mirror they choose to look upon. Negative people reflect negativity. Positive people reflect positivity.

St. Clare’s Mirror

St. Clare’s mirror reflects perfection. St. Clare’s mirror does not reflect the outwardly aging man, it reflects an eternal being. Her mirror does not reflect a person who does not know his own worth, it reflects a beloved son of God. Her mirror does not reflect my inner conflicted ideas, it reflects a curious and creative mind. St. Claire’s mirror reflects the beauty that God sees in us.

In the second half of life it becomes even more important to choose one’s mirror very carefully. The truth is I was always enough. My problem was that I could not realize or accept it. Like the Wizard of Oz, the cowardly lion always had courage. The strawman always had brains. Look upon the mirror of perfect love and learn who you really are.

  1. Richard Rhor, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

The Fundraiser

Last night

I went to a special fundraising dinner for Predisan—a medical missionary organization that helps to oversee more than 20 clinics for untold thousands of Hondurans who live in the high elevations far away from civilization. For most, these small clinics are the only source of available medical care. American churches have been good to send money and medical supplies to the clinics—but its only a drop in the bucket.

Here in the states

We complain about long wait-times necessary to see the right doctor or specialist; but that’s nothing compared to the years it may take for a Honduran family to get a simple medical appointment or procedure.

The stated purpose of the fundraiser

Was to raise money for a new Landrover Vehicle needed to travel across the rugged and mountainous terrain. The one they were using had more than 200,000 miles on it and had been raised from the dead so often that it was dubbed Lazarus. They needed to raise 40,000 to buy the new Landrover. But last night was more than raising money—it was about raising the awareness of haves about the have-nots.

The Haves and the Have-nots

As we wrote our checks, I couldn’t help but think that the food we were eating at this banquet was probably as much as many of the people Predisan serves might eat in a week. The banquet had festive little drinks with umbrellas and fresh fruit. There was a sumptuous meal with dessert and coffee served on lovely tables with floral centerpieces, table clothes and silverware. We dined in a beautiful facility and were entertained by two students who played the marimba. We wore our best clothes. The people Predisan serves don’t live this way.

I also wondered how it is that I can live in such a place with such technological benefits while people just a few thousand miles away live in abject poverty with few of the advantages that I enjoy. And I’m saddened by the thought that those who Havedon’t possess the collective willpower necessary to insure that everyone on this planet has a decent place to live, nutritious food to eat, medical treatment and education.

It was a lovely event and I think it did what it was supposed to do—raise money and awareness about the needs in Honduras. I left wondering if I-you-me-all of us are living the way we should when all of us have so much while others have so little.

When Jesus told the rich young ruler,

Go, and sell all the you have and give to the poor—then come and follow me, we read that he went away sorrowful—because he couldn’t do it. I suspect I’m not much different. I gave money—and I’m sure the other guests did as well. At least I heard that we raised 26,000 dollars. That will go a long way in helping to buy the car. But while the Hondurans need money for a car,I think we face as serious a problem. Will we send them the money and then forget all about them? What will the people who have do for the people who have-not?

The Boy with the Box Briefcase

Looking back

I think I was an unusual 7th grade boy.  My growth spurt had not kicked in and I was only four and a half feet tall–making me one of the smaller boys in my junior high school.  Additionally, I liked briefcases and I carried one to school.  It was a cheap little imitation leather black box that  I put all of my books and papers in.

Backpacks were not used by students in those days.  Instead, most carried a ring binder notebook in one hand and our books in the other.  Not me.  I carried my briefcase.  There were four of us who did this–that I knew of: Walter, Keith, Michael, and myself–the briefcase brigade.

I would take my case to each class, set it on top of my desk and pull the little spring-loaded latches back to release the closure mechanism.  I still remember the snapping sound that it made when I did that.  Inside, the box had a place for papers in the lid and a few places to slide a pen or pencil.  It was a very practical way of handling my school needs.

One day

I was walking down the sidewalk to my next class when a boy I did not know swooped seemingly out of nowhere and socked me in the jaw.  I dropped my little briefcase and papers flew everywhere as I crumpled to the ground.

I don’t know why he did this.  Looking back, after raising two sons of my own, I think I must have been an irresistible target.  Just some small  nerdy looking little boy in shirt, jeans and tennis shoes carrying a briefcase as he walked down the sidewalk.

Years later

I was called to jury duty for the first time.  The court clerk asked, *Does anyone here know the defendant Johnny R***?*  And to my surprise it was that boy who hit me that day I was walking down the sidewalk.

Decades later

I don’t know what became of Johnny R.  I hope his life turned around for the best.  I think he had to spend some time in prison–and that would be a hard thing for anyone to do.  I suspect he didn’t have as many of the benefits that this nerdy little boy had.  Perhaps there were two victims that day.

The Ticket

One week ago late in the evening I was driving home from an event when I noticed flashing lights behind me. I had that sinking feeling that comes when you realize that you are going to be pulled over by the police.

These things used to make my heart race and my blood pressure rise. I had none of those feelings. I felt perfectly calm with that Oh brother! feeling.

Not much traffic was going on around us at 9:30 p.m. so I pulled my car to the side of the road.

Get out of the roadway! Go to the next block and turn right! boomed the cop through his loud-speaker.

Okay, I turned right at the next block.

A young and lean officer comes up to my window and gets right to it. Sir, I pulled you over because you were going 46 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. Please hand me your license and insurance. I did, and he walked back to the motorcycle and did whatever police do for the next five minutes when they make you wait in your car.

The speech was well rehearsed and excellently presented. Sign here. Your signature is not an admission of guilt. Call this number and let them know that you haven’t had any tickets in the last three years and you can join a program that will keep this off of your driving record—provided you don’t get stopped for ninety days.

Thank you very much officer. I’ll be more careful, I said.

With that, we both went our separate ways. And sure enough when I looked back, another officer was giving some poor schmo a ticket about 100 yards up the road. There’s got to be an app for that. In the meantime, I’m driving slower.

The Wrong Person for the Job

Just something I noticed…

Hello! Is it just me or does it seem that everywhere I go someone feels they must point out that, *So and so is not the best man or woman for the job?

The wrong man is the president, the wrong person is leading the company, the wrong person is teaching this class, the wrong person is greeting the public, the wrong person is leading the church…

The list could go on and on but it seems to be a universal truth that the wrong person is doing the job.

Why aren’t the best people doing the job?

Is everyone incompetent?  Are we just too critical?  Are we jealous?

 I think it’s because we are always evaluating others against some ideal that we carry around in our mind.  And the sad truth is that nobody ever measures up to the idealized person in our minds.

It would be helpful…

If we could all allow ourselves to believe this one simple truth,

Most everyone you meet is probably doing the best that they can. Nobody’s perfect and we all suck at something!

That’s it. We’re all doing the best we can.  We’re imperfect and we all suck at something.  Maybe the thing we suck at is the thing you wish we were better at doing.

But guess what, you’re imperfect too!

Let’s give everyone a break.

Relax.  Most of the things we stress over doesn’t really matter. Perfection is a concept–not a reality.  We will never work with perfect people and we need to be okay with that. In fact, we need to be more than okay with that. None of us should have to live up to the perfectionists ideals of others. Remember that the next time you have to wait in line at the store because the cashier doesn’t know a price, or the next time something doesn’t work they way you think it should.

The Beginning

Once when I was a little boy I lost my parents. I was not quite three years old but I was pondering how it was that I could lose my parents. I wasn’t sure exactly what I did, but one day I had a family and the next day it was just my younger sister Susan and me. I didn’t have a family anymore. It happened like this.

One day a car pulled up in front of the house and parked at the end of the short sidewalk. I was looking through the screen of the front door and saw the woman get out of her car, walk up the sidewalk and knock on the front door. Mommy told her my name was Chris but that “we call him “Little Tyke,” Mommy was holding little Susan when she reached out to the stranger. The woman smiled and held little Susan and mom said that she had gathered all of our things together and that we should go with her. Mom seemed sad, but daddy wasn’t there. And just like that we walked out of the house and into the woman’s car where were taken to another place where she said we would stay for a while. I didn’t know what that meant but for some reason we went to a different place and never went back home. I’m not sure what Susan or I did, but we never saw my mom, dad or my older brother ever again.

The new people were nice enough. They had a grownup son who didn’t have much to do with me. They called me Tyke–cause that’s what the lady told them to do. But that was the name my daddy used and it never felt the same.

It was better that way I suppose. Mom was a waitress who didn’t make much money and daddy couldn’t keep a job for long. He and I got along well enough, but mom and him fought all of the time. He would drink, become angry, leave the home and come back a few days later after he had lost his job.

Those days are a blur. I do remember being spanked in the bathroom with a ruler, drinking water from a red pitcher and running around in a small living room. That’s it. That’s all I remember until the monkey house.

The Monkey House

One day I looked out the front window and saw the same car that took me from moms pulling up in front of this house too. The same woman knocked on the front door and once again Susan and me were sitting in her car and driving away. I don’t know who it was that took care of us, I never saw them again either.

The lady drove us to the Fair Park Zoo. We walked a short distance to the animals and stopped in front of the monkeys. The woman came up to a nice looking man and woman with black hair. They had a little blond-headed girl with them. The little girl didn’t say anything but she seemed nice enough. The big man stooped down to may level and said “Hi little buddy, “Do you know who I am? I’m your new daddy!” I didn’t know who he was but he seemed very nice and soon the woman who drove us to the zoo had left but not before she said that she’d check up on us in a few days.