Investing Time

Posted August 13, 2020 by sheadley
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

I spent time with my grandchildren yesterday afternoon and it was a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours on a comfortable summer afternoon. I am thinking now about accepting that invitation from Paul to watch the kids while he ran an errand. He asked Debbie first, as he typically does. She had her book club that afternoon so she was not available. He then asked me and I was glad to say yes, and did not hesitate to say yes. I believe I made the right choice and I enjoyed my time at their home with the children, and they with me. Their friend Selah was there and the three of them were quite busy with all kinds of play and therefore I could sit with Panda, the dog and do a little reading and occasionally ask a question of the kids or answer their questions.

Now, as I sit and reflect, I have no regrets about choosing not to work on a couple of sabbatical-related goals that I intended to accomplish. I was struck with a quote from Seneca, the Roman philosopher that relates a little to this situation.

“But how can a man learn, in the struggle against his vices, an amount that is enough, if the time which he gives to learning is only the amount left over from his vices? … We skim the top only, and we regard the smattering of time spent in the search for wisdom as enough and to spare for a busy man.”

Massimo Pigliucci quoting Seneca

I am not in any way implying that spending time with my grand kids is a vice. Though, I consider the challenge to me of how I choose to spend my time and that time is precious and that I can spend it working on learning to be a better me or I can squander the moments in other pursuits. Saying yes to helping my son and enjoying the company of grand kids for sure falls on the side of learning to be a better me. However, what else did I do on that day that did not advance that purpose? And I also ask myself why I chose to waste those moments.

The answer about how to invest my time in regards to my thinking about my sabbatical and my next steps at Fox is this.

  1. I will celebrate the freedom and refreshment and renewal that comes with my sabbatical.
  2. I will be diligent in defining my scholarly agenda and moving it forward.
  3. I will enjoy the non-sabbatical related projects and activities that I get to do.
  4. I will not be concerned about decisions that Fox is making or will make in my absence.
  5. I will accept the assignment that is given me upon my return.

This is a simple and straightforward approach. And I can see spending time with grandchildren fitting in nicely here. However, I need to also remember the overarching goal I have to better myself and others and that all of my sub-goals are to be related to that. Therefore, I am not going to be so goal-focused that I miss the forest for the trees. That is, at this point in my life, I can get all of my reading and writing done and still have time to converse with Debbie, to enjoy my kids and grand kids, to do something just for fun, and to listen to the breeze and the passing cars. It is all about where I am, in this moment.

In the Midst of the Crowd

Posted August 10, 2020 by sheadley
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Our human impulse to withdraw or conform is due to our fear of being singled out and confronted due to our uniqueness. I tend to withdraw, it is my way, as I do not want to conform. Serenity comes in the midst of the storm and in facing the crowd. As I know that my real calling and my true peace comes in being me, from my deep inner well to my outer shell, to be me in the face of the crowd. I am reminded of Emerson:

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

And yet, the great man is not self-made, nor great as the world sees it. The strength of character and resolve to live at peace comes from deep within. There is the root of God in me, also in you. As Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans, Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root… Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you (11:16-18). We are fed, each of us, by this root of God. As the roots of the oak tree pull the water and mineral nutrients up and out of the earth throughout the tree, from the base to each growing tip, that God-planted root lifts out of the ground of creativity and being, the very nourishment for each growing point in my life.

I will recognize this and celebrate it today. I will not take for granted the goodness of life as it is. I will not long for life as it could be because I cannot imagine it being any better than it is. What could be better is my own attitude and willingness to be more responsive, more tolerant, more patient, more caring, more loving. and more fearless in each moment of my life.

My prayer to God this day is this. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see, that I may glimpse your wonder and hear your beauty in the light and shadows, and in the rushing water, and breeze through the branches. Help me to see and hear the story of our lives together on this day and every day. Help me to imagine love as the power it actually is, not as an ideal, but as the reality that forms and shapes and calls and protects and challenges me and all of us for all time and for all purposes. Help me, Oh God, to know your love, your voice, your touch, your desire for me to be me for you in this time and space, and for me to be you in this time and space for me and you and the other.

And always, there is the other, out there, different, and yet alike, afraid and with wonder too. Trying to scratch out a life for himself as well, in the midst of the hardship and pain that this life brings, along with the joy and satisfaction. Let me be for the other, as well.

If we are brave enough and humble enough and open enough to receive it all; your kingdom come, here, now. And forever

Social Media Wars

Posted July 26, 2020 by sheadley
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve wavered back and forth about abandoning Facebook and other social media altogether. I call this the social media wars. This is not because the war I am waging against people I disagree with by composing extensive, and to my mind, reasonable responses to their alternative points of view. No, this war is against my own proclivity to give my attention to and get angry about what people with disagreeable beliefs have written on social media platforms. After I settle down and reflect, I realize several key points, first I really don’t think that I will change people’s beliefs by what I write on Facebook. Second, I do know that attending to social media is what I do when I have not thoughtfully planned out how I want to invest my time and attention. Third, what people with different points of view than me post on a public platform is not anything that I can control or manipulate. Finally, I know that Facebook is not the best media to get accurate information from.

Having realized all of this makes it somewhat easy to say to myself, ‘just delete the accounts and walk away’. And then I think, I don’t have to delete an account to learn something meaningful here. I can learn something meaningful by reflecting on why I consume social media and why I get angry at what some people write there. This makes me think about one of the tenets of stoicism, a philosophy developed by the ancient Greeks and adopted by some Romans, as well, including the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Onc concept from stoicism is important to consider here, what to do with strong emotions and desires.

Be mindful, in particular of the way you respond to strong emotions or desires. When you experience a distressing or problematic thought, pause, and tell yourself: “This is just a thought and not at all the thing it claims to represent.” Remind yourself that it is not things that upset you but your judgements about things [emphasis added]. Where appropriate, rather than being carried away by your initial impressions, try to postpone responding to them for at least an hour, waiting until your feelings have settled down and you are able to view things more calmly and objectively before deciding what action to take.

(Donald Robertson)

I find this hard to do. I believe I have made some progress with this, but i still find myself reacting with anger and frustration far too often, often from questions and comments from family and colleagues and those on social media. I hope that my response to social media is easier to temper than when I respond to someone sitting next to me in the same room. But maybe all of what other people say and do, whether directed me solely or launched into the social space for all to read, is grounds for me to not respond at all, or at least not with anger and frustration. My non-response falls into the category that Paul of Tarsus wrote about 2,000 years ago. My reaction to everyday life does not need to be an accomodation for my own emotions to be displayed, nor do I have to become one more loud obnoxious voice playing gotcha with others. Perhaps those statements and questions are actually something that God does for me as a means of fostering my growth as a human. Circumstances and other people’s actions are not in my control, and whether totally happenstance or some prompt from the divine, I get to choose how to act and what to speak.

I will do my best to remember the stoic way and the reminder from Paul. My everyday life is all I have to offer to you, to society, to my family, and to God. I want to be able to have this everyday life be about well being for us all.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.”

(Paul’s letter to the Romans, 12:1)