Don’t Go Looking For The Tree



Thanks Nelson!  

Not much to add….but I think this quote has much to do with humility!  Do as much good as you can, be as kind as possible, listen as though there were no other sound around (including those in your head), and love with the fullness of the universe.  

You will plant trees, but you may not see the results of your efforts.  And rightfully so, because there is always another tree to plant tomorrow…



Be cautious of the ‘wrapping’



True Story:  Last night I was on my way to give a retreat to teens and their parents on The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I’ve done it for years and one of my dear friends is kind enough to come with me and assist.  The church was an hour away and we left early so that we could stop for dinner, it’s become kind of a tradition!

As we pulled into the restaurant, the parking lot was partially blocked by a car.  When I glanced into the drivers seat I saw an elderly man with those heavy-duty sunglasses that the eye doctor gives you after he has dilated your eyes.  I began to feel annoyed….he was blocking the spot where I wanted to park.

He soon pulled into a spot, slowly got out of the car and shuffled into the restaurant.  I felt like cutting in front of him because he was so slow, but we were caught up in conversation and so he went in ahead of us.  When we were seated, he was in the booth across the aisle from us, sitting alone.

I heard him order…..clam chowder and buffalo wings…..he seemed to know the waitress because she spent some significant time with him.

When his soup came, I remember him asking her for some of that cheese that you sprinkle on things.  She asked, “Do you mean Parmesan Cheese?”  He nodded.  I immediately thought, ‘parmesan cheese on clam chowder?????

How weird is that!!!’

Story on pause…

One of the things that I do on the retreat is to try to give some real life situations about using the Gifts of the Spirit.  I talk about a new kid coming to their school.  Someone who looks different, who dressed differently, who talks funny…I go through the story and then end with them finally deciding to befriend the new kid despite what their peers might say.  And then I ask which Gift did they use to get to that point…..  We talk a little about judging from appearances and not looking below the surface…..good talk, nice talk…and then it hit me…..I had just lived that very same scenario at the restaurant….I felt a pit in my stomach!

Story resumes…

The elderly man finished his meal and left.  I glanced at the register when he was paying and I saw him unfolding his money.  I wondered if he was counting his dollars hoping there was enough to cover his meal.

As we were getting up to leave, the waitress came over and I was ready to grab the bill.  It was the least that I could do for my friend who was accompanying me to the retreat.  Instead of handing us the check, the waitress said that our meals had been paid for.


She said that the elderly gentleman who was sitting across from us paid for our meals and also left her a generous tip.


And so I ask you to learn from me…be cautious of the ‘wrapping’.  I judged!

The retreat was a success…a big hit….but, I think that the ‘real’  gift was given to me.  I don’t mean the gift of a free restaurant meal, I was given the gift  of  a Gospel meal….with a side dish of humility!

Lent: Which is more difficult?

Is lent more of a ‘give up’ for forty days or a ‘take on’ for the rest of your life?  It may be really difficult for me to give up chocolate or desserts for lent, but come Easter Sunday, watch out!  Back to the chocolate and back to the sweets…and enjoying them with a great sense of pride and accomplishment!

Hmmm…was that transformative???

How about selecting a virtue and ‘taking that on’ for lent?  Humility seems like a good one since it’s opposite – pride – has gotten us all into trouble, beginning with Adam and Eve!

Taking on humility for lent….that’s a tough one, and on Easter, instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment or “PRIDE”, we can feel that perhaps we’ve taken a step forward (and a few backward, I’m sure).  And, our lenten experience will not be over, we will not go back to our pre-lenten attitudes, because we did not deprive ourselves, but rather we expanded ourselves….

We will continue on this journey, maybe a bit stronger, maybe a bit grateful, maybe a bit more humble.


Why not try this on for lent?

Humility is the ointment for all our wounds”

St. Teresa of Avila

A few days into the lenten season…are we feeling it yet?  Are we craving the chocolate or caffeine that we’ve given up?  Are we staying true to the promise to pray more, read a spiritual book, blog more often?  At the end of the day can we put that check mark of success next to our ‘lenten promise’ ?

Think about this:  If the main reason that I’m doing something ‘extra’ for lent is to prove to myself (or the world) that I am strong, disciplined or a good disciple of Jesus, then, in my opinion, I’ve got it all wrong.  Lent is not about forty days of sacrifice only to emerge proud and victorious, lent is more about the inner work, the transformation, the time in the desert, and often the end result is more anguish than joy. 

St. Teresa said that ‘humility is the ointment for all our wounds’.  What a powerful statement!  Perhaps this lent we should try to develop and practice this most sacred virtue – humility. 

A humble spirit, a humble heart…one only has to gaze upon the cross to see the ultimate humility personified.

The next time I’m feeling the pain from one of my wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise, with God’s help, I will try to ease the hurt with a little humility… about a lenten sacrifice!!!