Traveling with Discernment

We kicked off Lent yesterday. Ashes on the forehead. Ancient liturgy. Pieces of Mardi-Gras beads still lying on the street.

The next 40 days are considered a journey—often through one’s self.  We’ll see self-portraits of beauty and pockets of loathing. All part of our inner landscape.

Today, I stuffed discernment into my travel bag. The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.

Heavens to Betsy! Haven’t you been with people who “just don’t get it?” Of course, all of you have backpacks of discernment as proven by your answers to the Would I Tell My Friend About Her Husband Test.

But me…??? Well, I’ve been known to fire off a complaint or opinion before I collect all the information. Like the guy I scowled at because I thought he was stumbling drunk at the basketball game.

And then Cowboy Fan told me that he’d seen the guy’s wife flailing her arms excitedly and stick an elbow solidly into the poor guy’s eye socket. I happened to see him as he was weaving his way to the bathroom.

More ashes on my forehead.

This may be a long Lenten journey.

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Hope, Lent, Smiles, Traveling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Traveling with Discernment

  1. Barb says:

    Thank you Les and Rose. So we agree that discernment is something valuable to have at all times…
    Now the questions is…
    How does one develop it?
    I find it’s a daily task.

    Thanks for your great insights


  2. Lisa Nowak says:

    I always see so much to admire in you, Barb, that it’s a refreshing surprise to read an honest self-assessment of the things you stumble with. We all have so much to learn, don’t we? And it seems that sometimes we have to keep going over the same lesson again and again.


  3. Les says:

    Well said, Rose. I agree that it is much more sane to take one day at a time. We can no more really change the future than we can the past, although at times we foolishly think we have the future “under control.”

    I look at life as having a dual nature. Both sunshine and darkness. While I believe that man’s nature is basically good, and we all just really want to be happy, man does such a terrible job with so many things as well. Wars, selfishness, greed, disregard for our environment, etc. However, it is our daily choice of what to focus on. The Dalai Lama, alluding to the messed up side of the world, but not concentrating on it offers this thought, “I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus on the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” Sometimes I get distracted from this great attitude and see more of what is in the shadows than the sunshine, but I try to look to the light. No need to pick on “drunks” either way, intoxicated or just off center. Who never got thrown off by an ear infection? Judging others is a poor pastime. Our day today is cloudy in Oklahoma, but I know that wonderful warm sun is up there too. Have a great day.


  4. Rose Lefebvre says:

    It is too difficult and scary to look into the future and try to prepare. Live for the day. Be the best you can in the here and now. Smile at everyone. Seek the beauty and wonder in each day. It is there, sometimes a little hidden, but still there. Rainy days create jewels glimmering on the entire landscape, dark nights shoulder winking stars, and storms produce a symphony.
    In another vein…I have an acquaintance with cerebral palsy and he often looks like he is tipsy when he walks. He told me that when he was getting on the bus one day (his mode of transport) he was a little wobbly, as usual, and he heard one woman mutter something about drinking a bit early in the day. He said he looked at her and said, “Boy, I would drink, but with my cerebral palsy, I’d stumble all over the place and never get to my destination.” He said she blushed and he felt she had learned to not judge so quickly.
    Yea, sometimes a drunk is a drunk, but sometimes it is someone who has some kind of disability. Sometimes I look like I have a “swagger” in my step, but it is just a fake knee!


  5. Les says:

    Today we constantly read about discernment, self-examination, morals, ethics, yada, yada, yada. But where are we as a race? How are human beings doing in the long haul? We don’t need much imagination to view the world holding a half full glass or a half empty one.

    We all know that we’re far from perfect. Can we become so good that we’ll reverse the effects of all the wrong that we’ve done? Not from my viewpoint. It’s not going to happen. We’ll never be flawless. At least not in this life. We’re always going to make mistakes, or, sadly, choose harmful paths.

    It has often been said that our own thoughts and words are what get us into trouble. Benjamin Franklin said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” We all know that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words, but which do we do more of, “doing” or thinking and speaking?

    We all have to live our own lives, following our own convictions. What others believe can’t dictate our own lives. We each have our own conscience. We each have our own destiny, for better or worse. Our consciences speak, but do we listen?

    We’d all be better off if we paid attention to our own aspirations, and didn’t scrutinize others. Not too long ago, a local pastor shared with my wife the observation that most of us judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions. How fair is that? Hermann Hesse once said, “Only the ideas that we really live have any value.” Therefore, intentions without substantiating actions are just passing whims. Air. We each make our own heaven or hell, we don’t need help from others.

    Perhaps we should all speak less, examine ourselves more often, and start acting in accordance to what we claim to believe. Living, actually, not acting.

    History has always shown to repeat itself. It’s with this in mind that Mika Waltari wrote, “So foolish is the heart of man that he ever puts his hope in the future, learning nothing from his past errors and fancying that tomorrow must be better than today.” An example? We’re still fighting wars.

    So instead of putting our hope in the future, we need to increase our integrity by doing what is right, today. Tomorrow will bring what it will, and take care of itself. Today’s tomorrow will soon be today’s yesterday. Let’s live for today. As the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader has said, “Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”

    Here’s to a nicer inner landscape, and to our working our fields with conviction. My acres are going to need a lot more than 40 days. However long, one day at a time. ~ Les


  6. Roxie says:

    Love that shot of discarded beads!

    Discernment. Interesting concept. Seeing clearly and interpreting acurately. It’s so much WORK to evaluate every situation afresh. We start to make assumptions to simplify the process and speed it up. Why is that guy staggering blindly toward the bathroom? TSK! drunk at a highschool basketball game. And if we see him the next day with a blackeye, we might assume he had been brawling. He might be a good Quaker for all we know, but we make assumptions.

    “You can’t trust a man with a moustache,” my mom told me. “You can’t trust one without a mustache either,” I replied. I married two men with mustaches. I can trust the second one.

    Sometimes it takes longer to discern the truth of a situation. We might try to hold our assumptions loosely.


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