Monday, February 1, 2016

An Imperfect Reflection

“….To a visitor who described himself as a seeker after Truth the Master said, ‘If what you seek is Truth, there is one thing you must have above all else’.

‘ I know. An overwhelming passion for it’ .

‘No. An unremitting readiness to admit you may be wrong’. “

                           - Anthony De Mello SJ

The pilgrim looked up from his journal and whispered ,“the singer sang ‘pride comes before a fall.’” Returning to his journal he wrote …
“Imperfection is who we are. Anyone who believes they have achieved perfection has deceived himself.” He was aware of his own imperfection and his own pride in that he alone could improve his life. In some ways he felt unqualified to write about humility. In some ways he felt unqualified to write anything at all.

He recalled a story his teacher shared years ago;

“Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" 
"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

The pilgrim stopped his writing and retreated to the place where he could let go and be present in gratitude for the sacredness of all life.

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.”

Learn to Be Still - The Eagles ( RIP- Glen Frey- Thank you!)

Hymns to The Silence – Van Morrison

Hear Me Lord – George Harrison

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
                       - Ignatius of Loyola


Copyright 2015 all rights reserved JF Sobecki LLC

Thursday, December 31, 2015

You say you want a Resolution - well, you know...

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."
                                        —T.S. Eliot

A long time ago in what was probably a galaxy far, far away the pilgrim and yet to be padawan embarked on his formation passage. It would bring him to places he had never imagined, experiencing adventures he thought only lived in dreams and where he would meet sinners and saints who all left a mark on his heart in teaching him about the essence off all existence and his own purpose. One of those lessons started with the etymology of a simple word. This word was used quite frequently and liberally especially at the close of a calendar year. It was supposed to indicate a firm commitment to a direction, to goals or purpose in the unknown landscape that was called the future or New Year. The word is “resolution.”

The pilgrim let go and used the word resolution as a focal point, a mantra, for his meditation. As he centered his spirit he thought that this effort would help him discern his own purpose and objectives in what was to come. As he settled in he heard the voice of the spirit of his Obi Wan.

That gentle voice of wisdom had whispered the explanation of the history, the etymology, of the word and the concept of “resolution.” It was said that this term had a foundation in the ancient language of another empire and civilization. The root of this current word was in fact from a word that indicated the act of loosening, releasing one’s self from and letting go of the barriers, the restrictions (anything or anyone) that could hold one from growing and being complete as the great source of the universe had intended.

The pilgrim learned that for one to “resolve” was actually an act of letting go. It was an act of freeing one’s self from the encumbrances – emotional, spiritual, psychological and material that would hold one back, not allowing one to be. It was not intended to be a term about deciding and committing to the attaining of attachments - things, ideas or people.

He would eventually learn that there was only one purpose but that is a chapter to discuss for another time.

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”

           - Leo Tolstoy, Three Questions

“Not to decide is to decide.”
        - Harvey Cox "

At the day of Judgment we shall not be measured by what we have read but what we have done; not by what we have spoken but how we have lived."
  - Thomas A'Kempis

                      Ballad of Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) – G. Harrison
                         Smart phones click on link below


Click on this link below to read the short story 
"The Three Questions" (also available in the on line edition of The Plough .)


Copyright 2015 all rights reserved JF Sobecki LLC

Friday, December 4, 2015

Peace on Earth

"Let There be Peace on Earth !"



Copyright JF Sobecki 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Simple Matter of Trust...

noun: discernment
the ability to judge well."an astonishing lack of discernment"

(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to
 obtaining spiritual direction and understanding."without providing for a time of 
healing and discernment, there will be no hope of living through this present 
moment without a shattering of our common life"

noun: coincidence; plural noun: coincidences; noun: co-incidence; plural noun:
a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without  
       apparent causal connection
2      correspondence in nature or in time of occurrence.

OK, Let’s see if we can make some sense of this and that it doesn’t get too confusing. 
This pilgrim was going through the exercise of planning to outline the purpose and 
approach to the next blog post. Eventually, somehow, the proposed topics were
 narrowed down to a select three. So, as this exercise has gone in the past, an outline
 was drafted for each of the topics and possible approaches were thought about for
 each. Just as the stage of preliminary drafting was to commence the worldly distractions
 began like the rains and floods of early spring.It seemed that all the ideas and potential
 narratives had become flotsam and jetsam that could never be retrieved.

It wasn’t that the distractions were necessarily bad but they did interfere with the standard
plan and approach. Discomfort was first to surface and then a sense of anxiety increased. 
What to do? The words always seem to appear once that flame of inspiration is mystically
lit. Then it is a matter of human knowledge that attempts to arrange the words in a 
meaningful, grammatically correct and maybe even an impactful way. No words were 
conjured and the flame was barely visible by that inner eye.

Three topics remained….a good ole standard for the beginning of November  -
“Gratitude.”Another topic surfaced addressed the “After Glow of Pope Francis’ visit to
the United States.” Then there was a related topic about “Compassion, Mercy and serving 
the poor.” Still, nothing!

So when in doubt…that inner voices continued to whisper “let go.” There is an 
Ignatianexercise (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius) on the discernment of the spirits
that proposes letting go three days and let God, that magnificent miracle of the universe
somehow mysteriously,provide the answer. In other words, don’t worry about it, don’t pray 
about it, stop trying to force it…just trust God. If you believe and you trust - the answer will 
become obvious. There is this story where a father of a sick boy wants the disciples or Jesus 
to heal his son. Jesus says to the man,“All things are possible for those who believe .” 
This is where the pilgrim completely
identifies with that boy’s father as it is reported that the father responds “I do believe;
it is trust I lack (help my unbelief.”) Mark 9:24.

So, the pilgrim went on with trying to be present to the moment. The topics and outlines
for the forthcoming blog post lay dormant on scraps of paper and in a word document 
on hiscomputer. The weekend came filled with creative energy that was directed at 
another passion, the writing, performing and recording of music. This activity filled the 
moments and hours for three full days. On the night of the third day he was drained, 
exhausted as all energy was spent on the music projects. He hoped that it was all 
worthwhile as he went to bed there was a memory flash about the blog. Without 
thinking about it any further he decided to focus his attention to
the writing of the post in the morning.

The next morning the routine of making coffee and grabbing his journal as he settled in  his
“quiet time” was a mechanical response to waking and rising. Before settling into serious 
reflection, meditation, prayer and writing in his journal he would always like to “warm up “ 
with a smile by reading the online comics (cartoons from the daily newspapers) that he 
received automatically on his computer and smart phone.

These are what he saw immediately that morning … 

 He thought "Sometimes we need to just trust our own hearts."
The rest of words fell into place, as it was this brief journey that is his story.
…. Enough said

Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous
                    - Albert Einstein

We Sanctify all we are grateful for
                   - Anthony De Mello SJ

                                      Looking For My Life - G. Harricon ( Smart Phones click on link)


                                  Any Road – George Harrison (Smart Phones Click on link)
                                               from G. Harrison's last live TV performance


Suscipe (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

amdg ….. 

Copyright 2015 JF Sobecki

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another Day , Another Dream

…For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
                               - Isaiah 55:10-11

…The Pilgrim heard a voice “I was riding on the Mayflower when he thought he spied the some land.” While in route to join the second one in the safe harbor of Mary-land he encountered other sheep on their Way with purpose and smiles. They spoke with great expectations after walking miles and miles. That son of immigrants dressed in white that some called the Pope of popes was riding to the city of love to rekindle it with hope. An inspiration, an imperfect example of what they all could be. Kissing babies, blessing searching souls for everyone to see. Even the Cerebus stood and saluted as he pleaded in their chambers. For that moment, that place, that time, everything, everyone stood still. No one owned the earth, as the wailing candidates were all trumped, hungry hearts were filled. All homeless refugees were welcomed. Those who didn’t believe and those who believed that they could never pray were relieved, as they too were included.  For a moment pilgrims and pirates seemed just a little more at ease and the debates had ceased about who had been blessed the best.

Serenity and solemnity prevailed for those three sacred days and nights. When there was talk at all there was talk of peace and increased acts kindness and mercy. But when the word was out and that this saint was out of sight and headed back on his own holy ground, the throngs exhaled, turned their backs, returning to their lives, waved and said “ good luck!”

The pilgrim woke to feel the rain.

The Word – The Beatles (smartphones click n link)
Who Will Speak – Marty Haugen ( smartphones clik on link)

American Tune – Paul Simon ( Smartphones click on link )

Blog post written and posted October 3 ,2015

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Second Chance Dance
Copyright 2015 JF Sobecki LLC

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Remembering to Remember: A Summer Sampler 2015

“Remembrance is a form of Meeting”
       - Kahil Gibran

A friend this summer spoke of “Remembering to remember.” Our cyberspace discussion explored the significance and sacredness of recalling those moments of peace, love, consolation, mercy , compassion , companionship , blessings and grace. Well, those are my words and how I recall the exchange. It is difficult to describe. Sometimes words do not suffice or maybe I am not skilled enough to conjure the words that would accurately represent the essence of that conversation with my friend or how we really feel when we are remembering any of those moments that make life a unique gratifying experience.

So, if I were to be assigned by some teacher to craft a short paper or presentation on the first summer living at the Jersey Shore I would fail . It is not that I can’t remember but rather that I remember so much and I can never say or write anything “short.” I can only think of a couple of alternatives… just to be quietly grateful and remember how blessed I am or , as the saying goes “a picture says a thousand words,” to post a sampler of a few photographs that  represent a select few of those blessed moments.

In My Life – The Beatles ( click on link)

I remember you - Tony Bennett (click on link)

Til I Die – Beach Boys ( click on link )

Copyright 2015 JF Sobecki

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Brief Anniversary Reflection on Passion, Bliss and Purpose

“Everybody knows you don’t find your passion. It finds you. Usually because you are in the wrong place at the right time.”

      - Michelle Satilla, Editor in Chief, Gardenista

 "The goal in life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature."

                    - Joseph Campbell

"And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God."
                             -  Ecclesiastes 3:13

 And now a few words from the former Coordinator of Counseling Services for Undeclared Majors at Montclair State University:

Just days away from the eighth anniversary of the birth of the Second Chance, that moment when the heart was reborn, a flood of “coincidences” with common values at their core occurs.

Number one had returned to her work after a short “maternal leave’ only to labor longer than long hours and wondered if her dedication and diligence is recognized as she remains concerned if it is all worthwhile. Without a hint she is suddenly surprised by a nice token of appreciation. But, just as importantly someone from behind a curtain in her organization reaches out asking if she would consider a new and somewhat more responsible position. Somebody has a heart.

Meanwhile that same week number two has been having a tough go of things at her own work where every decision and action is a matter of life and death. Without any indication she too is surprised with a national recognition for her caring, dedication and compassion. Her heart fulfilled.

Then there is the pilgrim who encounters another old friend who echoes the invitation of his oldest companion to get back to where he once belonged. Suddenly he was on stage again wondering why he ever got off. “It’s not for the money,” he thought, “it’s the joy that matters”

And there was the news today of another suicide , this time friend of the extended family. It is said that they found a letter in his briefcase saying his services are no longer needed. A quiet prayer for his spirit and his family as the first one reflects, ”So sad, it is just a job.”

                                          Follow Your Bliss – Joseph Campbell

                                          Follow Your Dreams – Jim Messina


                                         Night Riders lament - Jerry Jeff Walker


(From )The First Principle and Foundation - St. Ignatius

All the things in this world are gifts from God,

Presented to us so that we can know God more easily

and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God

Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.

But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,

They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance

Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice

And are not bound by some obligation.

We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,

Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.

For everything has the potential of calling forth in us

A deeper response to our life in God.



Blog post written and posted July 31, 2015 - The Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola


Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Second Chance Dance
Copyright 2015 JF Sobecki LLC