"thesecret is here in the present, If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you imporve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day , in itslef, brings with it an eternity..."
    from The Alchemist

I am loving "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. The journey of the boy toward his Personal Legend, and his encounter with the king of Salem has me thinking. How often do we get distracted by greatness or mistake calling because it seems noble, courageous, or orderly. How often, on the other hand, do we give up on greatness, on our vocation, because it seems too much to believe and perhaps too vain or haughty to believe our voice that deeply. Either depravity and covenant make an interesting web of connection or they are to render the other completely useless out of mutual exclusivity.

Fear, it seems to me, is what keeps things from connecting. I am afraid that i must play this hand only because no other hand will come around.

"We are afraid of loosing what we have, whether it's our life or possessions or property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand"

In this way we can wait. We can watch an pray, like Lent. We can pay attention to the other hands delt around the table, see who else is in the game, and pay attention to the hours and the times.          

Jesus_cards So What Would Jesus Call?

I am a horrible poker player because I see the potential in every hand. I will play a 7/2 suited because of a possible a flush. Even after a flop with only one of my suits, I might stay in. Any good poker player will tell you that the best move in poker is "fold."  They key is to see the flop when possible but not tie all your money up in playing bad hands.  You have to wait, some times several games, to see the hand that is either a sure bet or worth the gamble.

But I'm the Elizabeth Barrett Browning of poker

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush [hand dealt] afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes
- The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Here's the problem: You can't play poker like you write poetry... (is that what makes poker a "vice" or is there a part of life's poetry that is just not as romantic as we'd like?)  Poker is like life, in that it requires you to pick blackberries for your everyday sustenance.  Poker is like life in that you can't stay at the table by buying in all night.

Don't read this economically only.  Its not that you only think of life in terms of its returns.  You think of life in terms of seasons and timing.  You watch life with an acute awareness of what is "worth" your time and money.  This way you can see that even if you give your life to save the world- your life is not yours to give, it belongs to others too.  And so as a husband and father I have begun to realize that saving the world, taking off my sandals, buying in, is a unique rare moment and that the rest of life is simply the joy of play and work.

My daughter is teaching me this.  It takes us from 5:30-9pm now to get her to to bed.  She requires prodding the entire time.  And to be honest I all to often feel like that 3.5 hr daily slot is the biggest waist of my time.  One of my favorite folk singers has reflected on the slowing of time and resultant loss of time for poetic reflection

John Gorka sings in "Cyprus trees"

I've been high and mighty low and scared
About all the how's it going
And though not exactly unaware
It's a family we're growing

I have watched her body changing shape
The new eating, craving patterns
It seems everything is turning round
Including what it is that matters

Everything I see is getting real concrete
No poetical reflections
But I feel lucky walking down this street
In this ancient new direction
Hmmm Hmmm...

Time to be responsible
The food and clothes and shelter
Does it shock the system of your solo world
When introspection is no helper

Everything I see is getting real concrete...

I am waking up to the realization that those 3.5 hours exist for me to be present with my daughter.  Not to wait for the next hand, nor to force this one.  -Just to let it go by like a hand of poker.  Not to bet the farm on it or to fold before I see the flop.

At nearly 33 yrs old I'm thinking its time to learn the odds, take note of my position at the table, and learn when to fold so I can live to play another hand.  To enjoy the moment, and yet to wait for the right moments to spend it all.  Is this greed?  Or is it investing talents? I hope its the best use of the both the "sandals" I've been given and recognition of the "bushes" when they truly are that.

So blogging will be a new spiritual practice of mine: a place reserved for attentiveness to folding, calling, raising, or going all-in in this beautiful adventure known as life.  A place to talk about blackberries and fire.  A place to seek eyes and ears that might better see and here.  I think your a part of that too.