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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Endless Summer Reflection

“'Cause down the shore everything's all right

You and your baby on a Saturday night”
 - Jersey Girl , Bruce Springsteen

What is this place that draws pilgrims,
Sailors, fishermen and sun worshippers
To the unending expanse
Of this ocean of mercy ?
Here is the mystical wonder
Where the boss’s aurora rising illumination,
And wonder-filling warmth, is born
Again and again,
Over and over,
Until the pilgrims get it right.
Unionized gulls clock in
Beginning their work
Accompanied by prancing Bishop sandpipers,
Present and proclaiming their pious purpose.
Is it any wonder how
Children naturally delight at the beach’s edge,
Nurtured at the breast of mother earth?
Who is this magnificent artist magically making
A perfect peace-filling paradise for souls
Seeking satisfaction and solace?
The island troubadour’s voice
Can be heard, if one listens,
Of Atlantis’ sending ships
Spreading the promise of the universe.
But what of the source of
The origin of the song’s spirit ?
The constancy of waves,
The Surf’s up, sacramental sands
Sharing the simple sacred secret
Satiating every discerning heart .

These are the Days- Van Morrison (smart phones click on link)

Surfs Up – Beach Boys ( Smart phones click on link) - (for the member of the band)


Monday, June 1, 2015

The Way - A Reflection on Life Journeys


                                      “You don't choose a life. You live one.”
                                                   - The Way (movie 2010)

                       “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
                                           -  “Beautiful Boy “, John Lennon

“What is it in many sentient beings that compel them to construct elaborate contrivances in order to maneuver themselves to form what they believe to be self- defined actualization? Often the perceived ambitious intention and step by step action plans contain a significant expectation of an achievement resulting in self serenity that in reality is rarely satisfying.”
                                             - Unknown

As a young boy I was asked to write a paragraph on where I saw myself in twenty years. Of course I wrote a few paragraphs. It was first person account of the musings of a truck driver with a job that took him from town to town around the country, a picaresque hero of sorts. Sister Bastinda wrote a note to my mother saying how that I needed a direction, a realistic goal and how I wasn’t living up to my potential, whatever that was.

The only real personal dream I had was when in high school was to play the guitar.I loved playing music. It was and still is a Zen experience for me, losing all sense of time as I played. (I have a similar experience now when I write.) Back then I fantasized that my friend, David, and I would be singing and playing our instruments on some family entertainment program on television, Actually, we asked our reliable Ouija board and it confirmed that we would someday be on TV. Still waiting.

Over the subsequent years I meandered the maze of education and career paths. Half listening to Frost’s choice of travelled roads and half listening to the Cheshire Cat’s retort to Alice’s query I took the path that seemed most interesting and adventurous at the time. It wasn’t until I met my Obe Wan, Kirk, who told me of his own accidental Odyssey that led him to becoming a medical doctor and eventual therapist. His Ulyssian episodes highlighted for me the power of being present and letting go as well as the importance of how we live while on the journey. What really mattered he said, “was how we responded to those we encountered, how we loved and lived with compassion and integrity.” My spiritual guide who advised on the Ignatian way of living as a loving grateful faith-filled contemplative in action complimented this counsel. I then added to my lesson mantra “never take myself too seriously.”

So it is no wonder about how upset I can get at times when I hear or see the great marketers preaching the promise that buying into their special unique goal and how achieving it will result in personal success as defined by them.

Though I never became a truck diver nor did I appear on TV playing my guitar I am grateful for the paths I followed, my family ,  people I have encountered, the places I have been…and the life I have lived…. so far.

Sub note: It is not unusual then that I like journey poems, books, songs and movies. I have often fantasized about taking a pilgrimage on the "El Amino de Santiago." Recently I saw a simple movie called “The Way” about a man’s journey down the El Camino de Santiago. It seemed coincidental that I saw this as I planned this blog post. 

The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
                                                           the only life you could save.

Edith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien ( Smart phones click on link)

‘Til I Die – Beach Boys ( Smart Phones click on link)

The Way – Movie Trailer (Smart Phones click on link)

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; 
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

 - St. Ignatius Loyola


Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Day Morning Meditation

“The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the Master, “God is Unknown, the Unknowable. Every statement about Him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the Truth.”

The disciples were bewildered. “Then why do you speak about Him at all?”

“Why does the bird sing?” said the Master.
Not because he has a statement, but because he has a song.
The words of the Scholar are to be understood. The words of the Master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.”

     - “The Song of the Bird”
         Anthony de Mello S. J.

The pilgrim wonders if this bird singing before the first light of day proclaims or celebrates the forthcoming illumination and warmth. He meditates in questions. Is it a song of anticipating something really great and magnificent? Is it the song of farewell to the darkness and aloneness of night? Is it an aria of hope and gratitude? Is this a prayer that echoes my own heart’s yearning? Does gaining any understanding of the motivation of this song or the nature of this feathered co-pilgrim make a difference in life?  Listening to the wind or being present to the simple gentle swaying of the new born leaves in the not quite dawn mystically fills a void in a way no other experience can fuel his fire with a genuine equanimity of love.

The absence of the sweet morning songs during the previous barren grey season is quickly consigned to oblivion. Seasons change. Impermanence. The swift V formation of geese gliding piercing the morning sky celebrate as they honk their way north while the union gulls are diligent in their work effortlessly making their announcement that the tide is in and the beach is now ready to welcome sun and sea worshippers alike.

An unseen owl continues her repeating query as the pilgrim attempts to let go and let the May morning fill his soul. “No more questions,” he says. “No answers .No solutions.” Being present without distraction is truth, is life. After what seemed to be an endless wait-filled moratorium the morning sun finally makes her unpretentious yet majestic appearance above the horizon on the ocean of mercy. The pilgrim exhales and is humbled and free , 

Morning Phase - Beck ( Smart phones click on link)


Will there really be a morning – Conspirare ( Smart phones click on link)

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

  - Mary Oliver