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Tue, June 18

When self becomes bondage

My desert wilderness yard abounds with colorful and sometimes comical migratory birds. The northern flicker shows up adorned in full costume, complete with a brightly-painted red splotch on either "cheek." When he hangs upside down from the Joshua tree for a more successful approach to his food source, you might hear me laughing out loud.

I reap much joy from this daily entertainment, except when I wrap myself up tightly into a ball of self. Did you ever check out the inside of a golf ball from years past? Kind of like that - sticky twists and snarls of thin twine, balled up really tight.

Indeed, "self" can become bondage, and when it does, it will deprive us of all joy. It blots from view every aspect of creation and focuses on one speck, me, as though I was the only grain of sand comprising the entire beach, one giant 1,000-mile-long grain of sand! No wonder perspective disappears and imbalances occur.

Loss of balance and perspective about who we are, in relation to heaven and earth, makes trouble in all areas of our lives, especially in our relationships with God and people. Yes, I am a tiny speck as a grain of sand - one among many, according to any godly point of view. I know first-hand that nobody wants to be around me when I get so tightly wrapped up, thinking, talking, doing only about me, me, me.

St. Francis of Assisi knew about perspective. Out of his own emotional torment he imparted valuable teachings about who, and what, we can become through forgetting ourselves. This was his prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,

That where there is hatred, I may bring love,

That where there is wrong, I may bring

the spirit of forgiveness,

That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,

That where there is error, I may bring truth,

That where there is doubt, I may bring faith,

That where there is despair, I may bring hope,

That where there is darkness, I may bring light,

That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort

than to be comforted,

To understand, than to be understood,

To love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

Amen.

I find that I like "me" better when I meditate upon this prayer with its resultant step away from myself, toward an effort to bless others. Maybe I could do that, just for today.

Adapted from "Out of the Desert, Softly," by Dianne Finnegan Wilson

You may e-mail Ms. Wilson by visiting www.pensepublishing.com

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