No Weakness in Mercy

Our Quo Vadis group began a new book, “Hallelujah Anyway” by Anne Lamott.   The subtitle to this book is Rediscovering Mercy.  It seems during these days mercy is almost seem by some as a weakness.  Is it?  Showing mercy has not and will never be a weakness.  Over and over again we have read scripture, but also seen or read stories in our media about people who have shown mercy in some form or fashion.

The Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the friends who tore through a roof to get their friend to Jesus to be healed and so on.  Why is it that we sometimes view individuals such as our presidents or individuals who have admitted their mistakes or their faults or who have reached to others to help are labeled as weak.  Some former presidents have not been viewed as strong because they made mistakes or didn’t act in a way that was thought to be a stronger stance.  Yes, in showing mercy we open ourselves to ridicule to those who second guess our decisions.  Tough love is a part of mercy.  Mercy doesn’t mean there is no structure or plan.  When the Samaritan took care of the man who had been robbed…he not only did some of the work himself, but left the man at an inn and some money for the innkeeper to care for the man.  The Samaritan also said he would return to pay more when he came back by.  That’s planning, that’s action.

We too often see being merciful as being soft.  I say it’s actually tougher to be merciful than not.  Our natural reaction to seeing wrongs is to punish or at the least to not have anything to do with that person.  We wall them off and steer clear of them.  Mercy is another form of compassion, but it’s also a way of viewing ourselves.  The log in our own eye and the twig in someone else’s is the analogy we need to remember.  We show mercy because we ourselves need mercy.  Yes, it’s a selfish reason I admit, but it’s ok.  What we see as being wrong in someone else’s life is but a small amount of what could be in our own.  I’m not saying we don’t hold people accountable of course…far from it.  Mercy doesn’t allow us to do what we want without consequences because everyone probably has done something worse.  What it does do is hold each of us accountable to our own mistakes and flub-ups.  Mercy causes us to pause before we respond because it reminds us of our own humanity.  We use our own experiences to say, “hey…I did that and I was sorry I did or said it, but I learned from it and so can you.” We beat each other up over the small stuff and seem to let go some things of more importance such as dignity, respect, character, honesty, integrity.  People nowadays use words to rip each other up and we seem determined to not show mercy because that shows understanding of where the other person is coming from.  Again, weakness inks it’s way out because we feel like if we understand someone else, we excuse them.  On the contrary, we hold them up for scrutiny…their language or actions have put them in the spotlight, not us.

Yes, we all want mercy, but do we give it? Mercy isn’t weakness, it’s a sign of strength declaring…I know what you did or said, but I am allowing you to make that mistake at my expense, but don’t do it again.  Treating others as we want to be treated isn’t easy as long as we remember our own short-comings.

Go and do likewise… Thanks for reading.

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Here’s the Deal

Yes, I just don’t get it sometimes.  I am a glass half full type of guy, but it makes me scratch my head sometimes when I deal with the public.  I have been at it for over thirty years, so it’s not like i haven’t seen a thing or two either.  It just goes to show you, you still wonder what the other person is thinking.  I have an independent business and I have competitors in the same community with me.  Twice this week, I have had customers come from my competitor to help them.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like new business and we have always gone the extra mile to help our customers.  Both of these customers, on two different evenings have never, as far as I know, been in my business.  Yet, here they are wanting me to do something  for them that the other business wouldn’t.  So, I’m in a position where I believe I might be able to help them, but they never think that I could have just as easily been like my competitor and said no Thanks.  I didn’t  however and we managed to help the one without issue.  I did let them know that the other business was within their rights to deny helping them and that I it wouldn’t be long until all businesses wouldn’t be able to help because of some changes.  There was appreciation from them.  It was as if I had said nothing at all.  I’m not expecting a huge to do about it, but a Thanks for helping us out would have been nice.  So, just to know I did the right thing was good enough.  Sometimes that’s all you get too…knowing you did the right thing.  The second customer we haven’t been able to help yet, but hopefully tomorrow we will be able to.  We’ll be making one or two phone calls to see if we are able to get the help they need.  Yes, it’s time…

So here’s the deal.  We want to help customers, we like new customers, but what we (I) would like some recognition and Thanks.  It’s almost as if it’s expected.  We like loyal customers.  If you have been trading with us for any length of time, we’ll just through any hoop necessary to help you.  But to show up, right before we close and not even say Thanks…that’s bad manners, especially when you just told us you went to the other business first and they said they couldn’t help.  Yes, they could become loyal customers, that is a possibility, but my experience has been that it doesn’t happen very often.  We are creatures of habit and those customers rarely come back.  Having said that, we never, ever treat the customer badly and we always do our best to help them if at all possible.  We’ll always do the right thing.  I am glad we do the right thing too.  I’m happy that we are bent that way.  It shows our true colors when we do.  So the deal is I know we have always treated our customers with respect and helpfulness, without regrets.  That’s the way it should be too.  I hope you don’t read this in such a way that it seems as if I am anything but Thankful.  I am that those customers come in and give me chance to help them.  I am Thankful that we perhaps have a chance to change their buying habits and that’s why we go to extra lengths to help them.  And even if we never see them again, we know we have done the right thing.  That’s all that matters and that’s the true deal.

Thanks for reading.

Labels

Name calling has been around for years.  I use to do it as a child and then kid and then youth and even as an adult.  Not exactly an adult thing to do though, huh.  We like to label things, people, places, etc.  In most cases labeling is fine.  It’s done harmlessly, but there’s the other side of labels.  We want to label things to compartmentalize it because it makes it easier to discuss or just to be able to perhaps group it with something or someone else. I wish I could say that I had never done it, but I have.  Labeling is a way that manages to make it easier for us.

Why can’t we just try to call each other by our names, our real names?  I mean, if you know my name or even if you don’t, wouldn’t it be great to find out what the other person’s name is, even those we don’t even like.  I mean, if I don’t know someone’s name and I find out what it is… doesn’t that make it more personal? First, I know the person, I should know their name to begin with, but for those i don’t, it would be helpful to know it.  It’s a beginning, a start, a way to begin the conversation.  Even if I don’t agree with the person, or what they stand for…name-calling or labeling isn’t ok.  If you don’t like someone, don’t call them names, call them by their name and then call them out, but don’t use a derogatory name, just say I don’t like it or like them or what they stand for or they are doing.  All this name calling goes back to grade school days.  Sure, it’s easy to do and to get caught up in.  It seems as if everyone is susceptible to it, even grownups still.

If we can’t lead by example, then who is the example?  I’ve seen stuff on tv and heard stuff from the tv that causes me to question.  People of authority, whether in religion or politics haven’t acted as adults.  Those things happen, but just fess up, don’t lie.  If you did it, you did it.  If you shouldn’t have done it, admit you shouldn’t have done it.   So, I’m not here to say I will never call names or label, but what I will say is that I hope I will label the good and try to stay away from labeling the bad.  So, if you see one of my blogs and I’ve not done that, please call me out.  I’ll admit it if I did.  I won’t call people low-lifes or dogs or things like that for sure though.  I won’t call people liars for sure.  I just wish others could do that do.

Thanks for reading.

Meaning

This blog is for me and anyone who might have read what I have written and ask….so “how did you get the name quo vadis” ?  Well, if you googled it you probably read something about it being a Latin term which means, “where are you going”? In the Christian sense it’s the story of St Peter, or just Peter at the time, fleeing the  crucifixion and he meets the risen Jesus and asks him this question.  Jesus supposedly replies he is going to Rome to be crucified again.  This gives Peter the courage to keep spreading the gospel and then later himself being crucified.

All this you can read online, but what you can’t read is where did I come up with it and what I will say is I didn’t.  It was actually a name given to our class that meets at the church for discussion of books we choose.  We read and review may types of books and it happens that after many years of being called The Early Morning Study Group…it was changed to our present name and the title of this blog.  I had intended on keeping everyone in our group up on our discussions by using this, but only one person in our group every read this, so really, it turns out that only you and a few others have read it perhaps, which is ok.  I now write it for myself, which is what I should have done to begin with.  I haven’t written in quite some time and then “got the bug” again to write, so here I am.

Now as to our class and this blog.  Many things give us meaning or purpose in our lives.  People, experiences, family, education, work, church, mission and so on.  Each of us has our own way to find that in our own lives.  That is kinda what our class does in a small way, it gives us meaning or purpose, although I have another feeling about these two words being interchangeable.  I would like to say that everything I do and everyone I come in contact with gives me meaning, but it doesn’t and they don’t.  That’s not to say that by far the majority of things I do in a day or people i see don’t in some way add to my meaning.  Part of meaning comes from where we’re going or where we’re planning on going.  So Quo Vadis takes on a whole new meaning then.  Where am I going? Part of that comes from what we believe is our meaning or purpose.  We move, we get to know certain people, we experience certain things, etc.  Where am I going? Well, it depends .  Just when I think I’m going in the right direction, things happen.  What gives us some meaning are those like the quo vadis group.  So, the next you’re looking for meaning, you may not have very far to look, in fact, it could very well be in the same household or same block or same community.  So now you have it… where our groups gots it name and a little extra too.

Thanks for reading.

Diversity

Our Quo Vadis group is a small one.  We sometimes have 4 and sometimes we have 8, but one thing is for sure, we’re diverse.  Some think or believe one way, while others another.  Yes, our ages vary over a small range.  We don’t have any teen-agers, although I do wish we did.  We also vary in experiences of course.  Each of us has had different ones.  Our experiences may be the greatest teachers of all.  Yes, the way we were raised, siblings, economics, race, educational level, and so on.  Our diversity has so many facets, so many moving parts.  Our group has a different dynamic depending on who is there too.  There are those in our small group who bring many different aspects in to play, while others fewer.  Each person has their own experiences to draw from, which has in some way caused them to think differently about whatever topic we are discussing.  Some of us read more and in more different arenas, while others do not.  This also causes our discussions to change directions.

Diversity comes in many different shapes and sizes and what’s diverse to one person doesn’t necessarily mean diversity to all.  We each have our own definitions of things, but the core to diversity is we all don’t think alike.  Diversity means exactly that, not the same, not alike.  Being diverse doesn’t mean we automatically disagree on every topic of discussion, it just means we have a different take on it.  We can sometimes all agree on the tone of the conversation and the content, while at other times we don’t.  Yes, we are all respectful of each other’s opinions, but that doesn’t mean we accept the other persons viewpoints.  Each person within the group is most likely diverse in their opinions over wide ranging topics.  If you listen to that person though , long enough and close enough, you can find the threads that run through each topic.  Everything comes with a price, so to speak though.  Some want to put labels on small, diverse groups or even individuals who have diverse opinions.  Some want to call it one thing or another, simple because it’s different than theirs. They do not see the diversity within their own opinions.  They only see the common thread.  It isn’t until someone points it out sometimes, that they too realize , perhaps even they are more one thing or another since others are less diverse than they are.  So, the next time you are in a small group, that you don’t know everyone in it, just be sure to listen more.  Diverse people listen more.  Diverse people think more, because they are listening.  Diverse people don’t always make good and right decisions because they do these previous two things, but at least it wasn’t because they didn’t think about it first.  Diverse people are what hold other people or ideas or theologies together.  Diverse people make it possible for others to always have a place to go when they too realize the label they thought they were isn’t true after all.  Diverse people make it possible for things to get done and for others to come together.  Some might have you think they are fence strattlers or middle of road walkers.  The point could be made though that they are bridges, connectors,  or conduits.  They are not cement though.  Diverse people don’t and will not hold groups together that don’t want to be held that rigidly.  They are however a means to get from idea to another and another and so on.  Some would say they are peace-keepers… seeing both sides, but not taking a side.  Sound easy…try it sometime and let me know how that turns out for you.  It could be one of the hardest jobs or tasks you have ever done.  It’s easy to be on one side or the other, but try talking diversity…. is that a language?  It could be.  Once you begin talking diversity, then the fun begins.  Try it anyway though.  It’s fun.  Hope this blog wasn’t too diverse for you, but if so or not…stay tuned…it could go either way the very next one.

Thanks for reading…

Where’s the Justice ?

I will start by saying I am not a lawyer, nor am I a legal assistant.  I know a lot about my professions laws, yet the question is, do I really ?  I had one, yes one course on my profession’s jurisprudence.  Some of those laws have changed since then, but most have remained in tact.  I would like to say though that a major change has taken place in the last 10 years, which still dumfounds me.  The federal law has been well in place for many years, yet some states began infringing on it by allowing voters to change it.  I guess the reasoning is that if the voters say it’s ok, then it must be.  I don’t know how the federal government even allowed the voters to vote on the change.  I still don’t get it.  The federal government turned a blind eye that allows a change which literally goes against the federal one.  So, I guess it doesn’t matter which view you take on the law change, it would still be wrong.  So, it appears that if the state allows it voters to vote on something that is federally mandated different and the voters approve it…it’s ok.  I know it may seem like I’m a whiner about something that probably doesn’t matter to most people, yet at it’s core, it wrong.  It’s wrong because we are fundamentally changing laws without doing it the right way.  Justice has gone AWOL and the federal government is complicit in allowing state laws to take precedent.  Change the federal law and then it’s all ok…everything is good go.  Course that would mean that some of these states would then have to relook at their laws again.  So, as I finish this complaint and rave about laws being laws, but no justice from it all.  I guess lady Justice is blind after all.  She’s supposed to be impartial, or at least that’s always been my perspective.  However, with these laws not being in alignment with the other, I would say she’s just blind in this case.  So, whenever you see a law that goes against another, state or federal…not worries, it’s all ok.

Thanks for reading.

Find Your Joy

I am so Thankful for my friends in Quo Vadis.  Each of them has a talent or skill to help me feel better about myself and about others.  Each of us tries to tries to see the glass as half full in some form or fashion.  Yes we meet and discuss a book that some of us read and some of don’t, but we do come together.  I really wish we could meet every week, but our group has always met only every other.  We find joy though through each other’s comments or thoughts or just simply by being around each other.  This is not to say that it’s all lovey dovey when we get together, because there have been times when serious discussion abounds and differences of opinions are quite apparent.  Our group has been together so long though, that even as new people have come in, each of us takes it all in stride.  Joy isn’t found in one group or one person for that matter.  It is found inside ourselves and that comes from being with others.  It can come from helping others, but it can also come from reading a good book in the quiet of the day.

It’s so easy to allow the world to take and keep us off track with that is going on with it.  The media, whether it be via television or smartphones or newspapers, we all are affected by the stories they choose to tell.  If we are to find our joy…we must look for it.  It will not always find us, although it sometimes can when one of our friends or family brings it to us in some form.  That can work if we wish it to, but will most likely not if we don’t want to participate in their measure of efforts.  I wish I could say I am joyful or full of joy all the time, but that would be a lie.  What I can say is that joy abounds… if but we seek it.  Some may have rose colored glasses on… but that’s not joy.  Joy is that moment in time that wells up within us and we find a deep sense of accomplishment or at oneness with ourselves.  It’s not finding a cure for cancer, but finding that we matter…that we count…that our life has meaning and we are connected to every other human on the planet through that.  Joy isn’t happiness.. although if happiness continues for a time, it can turn in to joy.  I have know joy many times in life.  I have seen joy many more times in my life in others.  It manifests itself in such a way that it is the most humble of feelings I have ever experienced.  I am not worthy of this feeling… this joy.  What could I have done that I deserve such an event in my life.  I know my faults… but I can still experience joy even in the most unexpected places and times.  It is normally fleeting.. some find joy regularly… I have not yet.  But, I have found it often enough to recognize it.  My family has given me many times of joy.  My church and my God have given many too.  I have shared other’s joy with them as well.  I hope that you never give up on finding yours.  Some may ask.. what does it feel like, and I would have to say what we say about falling in love… you’ll know.  For each of us has our own place where joy springs from and for each of us it’s different.  So, find your joy… it’s worth it.

Thanks for reading.

Mysteries Abound

I am writing today because I know that each of you have found or known mysteries.  Our Quo Vadis group says that sometimes.  In our search for life’s messages, we must sometimes just conclude…it’s a mystery.  Our former pastor from Seoul, South Korea said that.  It’s not so much an answer as it is a another question.  Isn’t that what mysteries do to us?  We continue to search and search, always moving towards answers to questions that keep drawing us back over and over again.

There are some mysteries that we just know we will never get close to…like why do girls never really mean …how do I look in this dress?  Yes, they want an answer, but not the an answer, just the answer.  That’s a mystery we really don’t understand, nor do we really want to.  Mysteries about science my intrigue us, but those answers we feel like those are things that may one day be found.  Others such as religious…. only God knows most of those answers.  Mysteries that are in the hearts of “men” are the ones we truly don’t understand and give us great pause.  Why does someone want to kill someone else for reasons that can’t possibly deserve it, if there is such a thing as deserving death.  These mysteries that lurk in the hearts and perhaps even souls of individuals make us lose sleep…worry….question ourselves even.  It leads us to deeper mysteries within ourselves.  What causes me to do what I do under certain circumstances.  Only we can try to seek those answers to the mysteries in our deepest parts.

I am Thankful for mysteries, even if it’s within me.  It is those mysteries that continue to drive me to look within myself and make me better.  I can’t do it alone.  That’s why the Quo Vadis group is so important.  It questions me and pushes me to look within.  Those mysteries which keep us searching, keeps me searching deeper and deeper.  I am sometimes a foolish man, but not so foolish as to believe I can do it by myself.   Those within our group look to each for companionship and for flashlights so to speak.  Those flashlights shine on us and each other as we look ever deeper.  Course the deeper we look, the more we realize we are only scratching the surface.  So, as I have come to know…I only see in a mirror dimly now.  Those mysteries are safe within me.  Only the bright light of eternity will be bright enough to leave no shadows and no doubts.  It is then all questions will be answered and I will at last perhaps know myself for who my Creator intended.  Thanks for reading.

What’s the Goal?

Quo Vadis is a group of sometimes like minded people who wish to grow their minds and spirits with varied and diverse reading materials.  We have older individuals, some still working, some who are retired, some who have degrees in higher education, some have religious backgrounds, some who have adversities to themselves and some to their family.  We all agreed that what’s said in the room, stays in the room though.  It would be nice if we all could meet each and every time, but some are able to come one time and not sometimes.  We meet twice a month, so if you miss once, you miss half our time together for the month.  Some would look at our group and see us as small piece of Americana in the Midwest.  We don’t mind speaking our minds about whatever the book is we happen to be talking about. Some might wonder why we have been together so long and still find things to read and talk about.  What could possibly be our goal?

I wish I could say we have some lofty goals that would transcend all of our intentions.  I can’t speak for anyone else in our group, but for me, it’s just about the fellowship and the intentional searching, or seeking .  We all look for something.. in our group we look for the unseen.  We look for the path less taken.  We look to each other to speak out when needed and be silent when needed.  It could be that each of our goals is different.  Our goal is to never find an endpoint.   Could it be our goal is just to be together.  It’s not what we talk about, but that we talk.  It’s not a higher, lofty goal except to be a part of each other lives.  Yes, there may be others, but this is the simple one…the one that makes sense for all of us on some level.  Quo Vadis…where are you going?  Going somewhere that leads us closer to each other and our Creator.  Thanks for reading.

Laws without Rules

Some see history as archaic stories that have no meaning for us today.  I, on the other hand see history as windows of what was and could be again if we allow.  They are lessons of experiences that we should learn from.  I have learned from history over and over again.  Our study group Quo Vadis is currently studying “Frederick Douglass, America’s Prophet”.  It is a book of history, but it is a story of struggle as a nation and as a people and as a man.  Frederick is the main character in the midst of a time in our young nation’s history.

I titled this blog this because we are well in to the book, but it has become abundantly clear to me that even though the book is about slavery and all the conversations that surround it, it is also about the laws or lack of that have had so much impact on our history.  Frederick, a former slave, now abolitionist has taken on the task of being a moral conscience for the states in the 1800’s.

I mean, sure, I took Civics in high school.  I remember some of the things that I studied about this or that.  This book reminds me of laws that were passed by our legislators then that seemed to out of touch with what we would think be normal now, but in the context of the times, it may have seemed right.  I was reminded of the Supreme Court even got in to the act to change laws already in place.  That’s why I titled this blog this way.  What law-makers can enact, they can repeal.  We’ve have several instances in our last couple of chapters that have reminded me of that.  Laws that make sense are repealed and laws that don’t make sense are.  So, as I write more, I let you know thoughts about this.  Course, we’re almost finished with the book.  The more I learn about what happened then, the more I become cynical.  It’s too easy to become more or too cynical, so I’ll try not to become that way.  I will question and search for answers within myself that make some sense of it.  I know, i know.. I try to read too much in to things, but as a chess player I look at things from all directions.  So, bear with this blog as it changes directions too.  Thanks for reading.