I love change. I love it when the pain in my back changes to no pain.  I love it when the seasons change and we get different weather. I love it when laws are changed and people who love each other have the freedom to marry whomever they desire.   

I love change, except when I don’t.  I don’t like it when the laws that protected the voting rights of millions of minorities are struck down. I don’t like it when someone suffers because of the change in the economy.  I hate change when my sister was living and now she is dead. 

Freud suggested that being human is to love what we hate and to hate what we love.  Guess by this description I am human. 

But, regardless of whether or not I love or hate certain changes, the fact is I must learn to live with it.  I can try to grab onto what I love and keep it from changing.  And when it changes, I can hang onto the memory of the way things were.  I can attach myself so tightly to the way things were that I am create a prison made of the remains of that which has changed. 

Or, I can learn to live with change.  I can forgive the past for changing and find mercy for those who are responsible for the changes. I can open my heart to the possibility that there is something in the changed reality which I can celebrate.  I can try to imagine a new way of living in the absence of the way life was before. 

This seems to be important work if I want to flourish in my future.  My future is emerging from the changing of my  life the way it now is.  If I open my heart to it’s possibilities, maybe I will discover blessing.


When you leave home (or home leaves you) to take a journey of self-discovery, you discover new strengths and dimensions of yourself among strangers and in threatening spaces. This journey can be exciting, scary, lonely and exhilarating. It is a gift of possible insight and new hope. It is a time of wandering, tasting, seeing, listening and feeling.

But, at some point, the pilgrimage comes to an end and you go home. You return to familiar door that has welcomed you time and time again after you have been away. There at home are the familiar people who said good-bye in the not too distant past, who adapted to life without you while you were gone, and who are here to greet you as you return.

But, odds are, they are  not the same as they were when you left. They have had experiences that you didn't share in. They learned that they could do some of the things they had always counted on you to do. They didn't see you every day, but created an image of you  in their thoughts as they imagined you on your pilgrimage. And they don't look the same to you because you see differently.  You have new eyes to see dimensions of them that you might know have seen before.

And when you get home, you realize that you have changed too. You have been influenced by the road. The sights and sounds have increased your awareness of new things. You see your home differently because you have seen other homes along the way.  Your home might seem more tired that you remembered.  Or it may seem warmer and safer than you thought. The treasures of your own home, once hidden under the covers of familiarity, become clearer.

So, when you have opportunity to leave home and discover new dimensions of yourself, return to your familiar spaces blessed with new sight and new life. 



When we talk about "habits", we generally think of patterns, customs or practices.  Good or bad habits are the things we do over and over, often without thinking about them.

Sometimes we decide to change our bad habits. We think we will quite one thing and do another thing. We have a lot of confidence in our ability to act on what we decide.

But, anyone who has tried to break a bad habit knows that self-consciousness about it doesn't always result in the ability to stop doing it.  I remember as a child I chewed my finger-nails.  I tried everything to stop it: clear nail polish, slapping my hand, etc. Being conscious about it was not enough.

Because you see, a habit is not simply what we do. It is place we live.  The root of the word habit means "to dwell in" or to "dress".  In other words it is not simply something we do but it enfolds us, it is where we live or what we clothe ourselves with.

And this helps us see that habits are not simply about an individual decision at a particular moment in time, but they surround us and hold us.  The patterns we develop are not only places of comfort for us as individuals, but they are built into the social systems that hold us and the relationships we inhabit.

Alcoholics Anonymous understands this.  When a person tries to deal with alcoholism, they are encouraged to change their social habitat. They avoid places where people are doing that which they are trying to overcome. They find social groups to inhabit who propagate other values that they embrace.

It seems to me that one of the keys to making changes in our lives is to look at our habitat and see what changes we might want to make to the social systems that hold us.  If we change what we surround ourselves with, we might find it easier to develop new patterns of behavior.


As I watch popular pundits explore New Year's resolutions I am struck by how simple they make change look. It only takes 5 minutes a day to develop your abs, you can lose weight simply by drinking a certain concoction, you can live more simply by getting rid of clutter.  Our culture thrives on 2 minute segments and happy posters. We are seduced by simplicity.

And as such, we make decisions to change, work at it for a while and often find that we revert to older patterns of behavior. Most resolutions assume that if we just have more will-power and work harder we will be able to make fundamental changes in our lives.

And I do think commitment and will-power matters.  Nothing much happens unless someone is committed to doing it.

But, my experience causes me to question the sufficiency of will-power.  And that is because we are all part of communities of influence.  We are part of families, social groups, churches, neighborhoods, etc.  And as participants in those social communities, we are not only recipients of their graces, but we are also influenced by their needs and desires.  So, to make changes in ourselves results in changes in the social system.  And that is where the rub comes.

For example, when I had young children at home my daily routine included a great deal of time spent in planning and facilitating life for more than me.  If I decided that I was going to change my routine so that I could exercise more, my ability to keep up the practice was influenced by my family adapting to that.  Now social systems are powerful forces in our lives.  They are designed to maintain patterns of behavior that perpetuate the sustainability of the system.  They are not readily amenable to individuals in the system just deciding to change the way they are doing things. So resolving to exercise more wasn't that simple. 

Now, I am not suggesting that we can't change.  I am not cynical about change.  I am suspicious of any change that people think is simple.  And I don't debunk New Year  resolutions.  But, if we keep making them and think that it will be simple to just muster enough will-power to make them happen without taking into account all the other people in our social systems, we set ourselves up for failure.  And when we fail over and over again, it gets discouraging.

So, as you think of a change or two you might want to make this year, think carefully about what impact that change might have on others and the way you contribute to others social system.  Invite those who are impacted into conversations about your goals.  See if they are willing to give up some of what you were offering for the sake of your desire to improve you own life.  After all, when you are healthy and taking responsibility for your own life, they will have a greater chance to keep you around in their system longer.


Sometimes it seems that with every change life gets faster and faster.  When something new comes along, we have to work to catch up with it.  I got a new journal and now there is more for me to read.  I heard of a new website from my grandson which opens up the whole world in new ways.  More to do.  To do it I have to do everything faster.

But, as the coming new year invites me to evaluate my life, I wonder if there might be more wisdom in slowing down than in speeding up.  Milan Kundera in his book Immorality writes about the difference between highways and roads. Highways are for getting from one point to another.  Roads are for walking and exploring what is along the way.  He says that our lives have become highways. When that happened "[t]ime became a mere obstacle to life, an obstacle that had to be overcome by ever greater speed."

As I begin this new year, I want to live time, not race through it.  I want to be where I am and not where I think I am going.  I think when I slow down and wander the back-roads of the soul, I will discover that life is what I experience now, not something that I am waiting to happen.