Tag Archives: pie

Flesh, Spirit, Pie

Did you ever play NBA Jam for Super Nintendo as a kid? As a rule, I’m pretty terrible at sports-based video games, but there honestly wasn’t much to that one. While I’d have preferred MarioKart (because if your brother asks you what game you’d like to play, the answer is always MarioKart), I wasn’t always the one choosing and on occasion, it was NBA Jam. My favorite part of that game was when I ended up “on fire” — I don’t know how many baskets in a row qualified you, but you basically couldn’t miss after that and the ball was literally on fire. Loved that!

NBA Jam -- on fire!! {Source}
NBA Jam — on fire!! {Source}

All that for me to point out that when it comes to blogging I’M ON FIIIIIIRRRREEEEE!! Four in a row! She’s un-stopp-a-ble!!

At least for now. As I said: good– loudly, clearly, always. Four in a row or four in a month. Got to give myself a bit of grace.

So, after a lovely Friday evening (Seth and I, as I said, went for a fish fry, complete with wine (which you generally can’t get in a church basement) and then drove by all the lovely animals at Wildwood Zoo on our way home– super fun!) here I am relaxing on Saturday (waffles, waffles, waffles!!) and ready to reflect again, one more day of Lent. And our days of Lent are almost gone, after all. Got to really make the most of what’s left!

Today marks 3/4 of the way– conversation #30.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” –John 3:6

“What does it mean to be ‘born of the flesh’ and ‘born of the spirit’ and in the end does it really make any difference? So much in me ‘born of the flesh’ — done to satisfy my appetites — has in the end changed by spirit. And many times for the good. And those things in me ‘born of the spirit’ — meant to be idealistic, ‘spiritual’ — have just as many times been corrupting. I was a ‘good Catholic’ and so became disdainful of those who weren’t Catholic. How unholy can a person be? So now I suspect the separation of flesh and spirit and am open to both. That way, perhaps someday holiness will sneak in when I’m not looking.” –Joan Chittister

Here’s what I like best:

That way, perhaps someday holiness will sneak in when I’m not looking.

I like the idea of holiness just sneaking in. Me, just going along, doing my best, day after day, and somewhere along the way, maybe in my late 70s (because late 70s seems reasonable), holiness just sneaks in through a crack left unattended.

Think it might happen? Maybe if I don’t worry so much about it… maybe if I just do the best I can, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, one minute at a time, one second at a time. Perhaps holiness will find its way in whether I search desperately or not. I like that. Hey, self, stop trying so dang hard!

So then, to Joan’s question, does the distinction of flesh vs. spirit really matter? Maybe not. She talks of separation, but ultimately, we are both. I would cease to exist as myself without either one or the other. Therefore, it seems impossible that, as Joan describes, one shouldn’t impact the other.

When I was in Memphis last November for the Call To Action conference (progressive Catholicism, if you’ll recall), I stopped at a booth representing the Church Health Center. Based in Memphis, TN, the Church Health Center “seeks to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and our spirits.” I loved that idea and I picked up a couple of books while I was there, including God, Health and Happiness.

It spoke so soundly to this point, the inability to separate body and soul, the fact that both matter to overall health and wellness. Such a good read and I’ve bought the Church Health Center premise hook, line, and sinker.

{Source} Care for the flesh and the spirit.
{Source} Care for the flesh and the spirit.

It make so much sense, doesn’t it? The notion that all of these flesh-based and spirit-based facets of our lives contribute to our overall health and well-being. I especially love that each one is given an equal piece of the pie. (Mmmm… pie.)

While there may be separation of thing of the flesh and things of the spirit, I firmly believe that Joan is right– one can affect the other, and we are often unable to predict when or how or why. So we do the best we can at making the slices of the pie equal in size and deliciousness and hope that holiness sneaks in in the process.

A Sufi Tale, but not that one from Pinterest.

Losing sight… easy to do…

And there it is– day 3 of Lent.

“When the death of their master was clearly imminent, the disciples became totally bereft. ‘If you leave us, Master,’ they pleaded, ‘how will we know what to do?’ And the master replied, ‘I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon. Perhaps when I am gone you will see the moon.'” –Sufi Tale

What does Joan have to say?

“The meaning is clear: It is God that religion must be about, not itself. When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion. But when religion becomes the bridge that leads to God, it stretches us to live to the limits of human possibility. It requires us to be everything we can possibly be: kind, generous, honest, loving, compassionate, just. It defines the standards of the human condition. It sets the parameters within which we direct our institutions. It provides the basis for the ethics that guide our human relationships. It sets out to enable us to be fully human, human beings.” –Joan Chittister

And she’s a NUN! A nun who super gets it, right?

It’s not about following the rules. At least it shouldn’t be. Yet for so many people it is. Church, religion, it becomes a recipe, a prescription, a set of Ikea instructions.

True, when it comes time to build the MALM or the HEMNES, there’s probably one best way… leftover screws can be dangerous. But when you pull it out of the oven, a pie is a pie is a pie is delicious no matter what recipe you followed.

Related: mmmm… pie.

I think religion is like that. If the religion you follow or don’t follow helps you to be fully human, to be kind, generous, honest, loving, compassionate and just, if it points you in the right direction, then who cares what religion it is? Who cares if we’re taking directions from a different master? The moon is still the moon. A pie is still a pie.

Related: mmmm… moon pies.

Yep. I’m prone to losing sight of what matters.

Work’s been like that for me lately. I’ve been feeling unappreciated… in need of more thanks, more gratitude, recognition, pats on the back, etc. Thanks had become my religion. And I was using it inappropriately.

I Stella-style got my groove back this week though. At least temporarily. I started working on a new grant and it’s kind of awesome.

A lot of work. Tight time line. Little bit of stress. But dang– if we get it, it’s going to help a heck of a lot of people. People who really need help.

And that is the point.

My job matters not because of the thanks, but because I get really great opportunities to help– to encourage physicians and researchers, to empower them to implement new programs, to bring services to people who really need them. Most recently, opioid treatment services for addicts in the northwoods. Recently, for people suffering from a rare genetic disorder. And before that, kids in the foster care system.

Honestly, I’m pretty lucky. Just got to keep my eyes on the prize… and not let myself get convinced that the thanks are what matters. Nor is the salary. Or the hours. Or whatever. I feel fulfilled. I am participating in improvement of the human condition.


Speaking of Sufi tales… I keep seeing this bad boy on Pinterest and tonight it popped up on my Facebook feed:


I’d seen “Sufi” this and “Sufi” that so frequently that I really thought it was one really wise and eloquent person. Turns out it’s an Islamic concept. Fascinating. Thanks, Wiki.

Different recipe, same conclusion. Love.


A Slice of Humble Pie

Pie is deeeeelicious.  And under normal circumstances, I would certainly encourage seconds… seconds with whip cream.  (And that’s wHip cream– emphasis on the H.)  Especially if that pie is pumpkin.

Yes, I made this.
Yes, I made this.

Humble pie, while metaphorically pie, is a different beast.  And it is the one pie situation in which seconds are most certainly not encouraged.  Just a sliver will do.

According to the Wikipedia page, humility is generally considered a virtue and I can see why.  To be humble is to recognize that you’re not perfect, and that’s an important thing to recognize.  (Unless you are perfect, but then we ought to talk about your God-complex.)

What concerns me about humility is that, at least among many of the women I know, humility has been taken to the extreme at the expense of confidence.  And that makes me sad because I know some amazing women who really can’t seem to give themselves the credit they deserve.

The indispensable editor  and all-around do-gooder concerned about not having “the” degree… the incredibly talented writer and animal expert who doesn’t think her experience counts for a dang thing… the mother, activist, and author who thinks no one cares about the children’s book she wrote… the nurse with over 30 peer-reviewed publications, a doctorate, and good ideas coming out of her ears who thinks she may not be qualified to lead her own research program……………..

Need I go on?  Because I could.  Easily.

I want so badly for these women to see themselves through my eyes.  To get even a brief glimpse of how amazing they are.  And not just because of the external accomplishments described above.  But also because of the beautiful people they are, inside and out.

So maybe, just maybe, we could cut ourselves a smaller piece of that humble pie next time.  Try to be ok with who we are, what we’ve done, and the good we add to the world.  Because I can tell you, without a doubt, that you add good to my world and I am so grateful for that.

Living life by the golden rule is important– treat others how you would want to be treated.  But for so many of us, I think we forget to treat ourselves with that same kindness.  Perhaps you could start today.  And let me know if you need some help.  I can tell you why you’re awesome– easy as pie!!