Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Circle of Trust

I'm going to Seattle in a couple hours for a Circle of Trust Retreat. Sounds kind of silly maybe, certainly if you have seen the movie "Meet the Parents." I think it sounds kind of cool. My guy Parker Palmer started The Center for Courage and Renewal. He is all about connecting true self and vocation, who we are with what you do. I'm all about that to. Trying to figure it out. It is fun doing this most of the time. Pretty exciting, not knowing exactly what the future holds but believing it is good and exciting. It is frustrating and depressing at times. But not horrible. Maybe puts me in a day funk at the most. So here is the next couple of days: 11 other people I don't know at a retreat center in Federal Way WA. Being in a safe environment where my soul, my self, my inner voice can feel free to speak to me. Hopefully it does. Hopefully I have the ears and heart (courage) to hear. It's not always pleasant news that comes from the inner voice. But it is always good news.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Story

The story of the exodus of Egypt informed Israel of who they were (and are), what they were doing (and are), where they were going, who was leading them there... All the important questions. This was their salvation. Their salvation provided the impetus and framework for them to be who their God was calling them to be. This was the story they lived in and under. To this day millions of Jews celebrate the Passover in remembrance of the slavery and redemption of their ancestors. This story still shapes their identity and peoplehood. I was able to participate in a Passover Seder last night. It was great. And refreshing. It invited me into an amazing story, invited me to let this story become my own and tell me who I am and how I might navigate my existence. Now I know the exodus was a specific historical act and carries great significance as the salvation of Israel in that moment (and today). But it is more. During the Seder I couldn't help but think about the millions of people who are held in slavery and bondage today, just as the Israelites were back then. And when you hear YHWH say that Israel should now be people who welcome and help the alien among them because they used to be aliens and slaves in a foreign land...I couldn't help but think that abolishing slavery now might be of the same importance to God as it was back then. Oppression and slavery of humans has not somehow become a peripheral, secondary concern for the Creator of humanity. YHWH says to Israel (essentially) "you are my people and I have redeemed you from slavery. Now go do the same." Jesus comes saying (essentially) "you know how Israel is the people of YHWH. Well, now all are. Those ancestors freed from slavery are in some way now your ancestors. That story is your story. So act like it. Oh and to show you that I'm serious about this, and that YHWH loves and is inviting all people into this great story, I'm gonna offer all salvation, from yourselves and the destructive stories you can't seem to break free from. You are slaves (to yourselves, to sin, whatever name it might go by) who are supposed to be free. Now live like it." YHWH give me the strength to live like it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reality: Love it or Leave it?

Reality can be harsh.
The alternative is not living in reality. This certainly feels better most of the time. Maybe acting like someone I am not or faking I can do something I can't or shouldn't do. It's interesting that we call people "insane" or "crazy" who walk down the street talking to themselves, but not people who damage themselves and others around them by being someone they are not and doing something they shouldn't be doing. This is crazy. Our society is insane. At least people with voices in their head rarely do harm to others...I think. And yet we applaud and reward people who strive after some sort of "dream" or ideal kind of life, all the while destroying their own souls and usually those of the people around them. Excuse my language but this is totally f*^!#d up.
I want to live in reality.
In order to take steps toward this I have asked trusted voices in my life to share things with me. Positive and negative. What am I good at? In what contexts do you see me most alive? What are my growth areas? Honestly, the positive feedback is way less helpful than the "constructive criticism." I pretty much know what I am good at and feel pretty good about myself. But when someone offers suggestions in growth areas based on stuff they have seen in real life, in reality, it can be easy to retreat into the dream world. But I won't. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but these words of suggested growth have been like food to my soul. Now comes the digestion part. That is not always as easy as the swallowing part for me. But I'm doing it.
I want to live in reality.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Often times it becomes very apparent that I am not as mentally/emotionally/relationally healthy as I think I am. Certainly not as much as I would like to be. The stark reality of my selfishness becomes too obvious. I could just fake like it doesn't exist. Oh wouldn't that be nice. This selfishness makes itself known when you have a child I think. At least it did for me. But it also rears its ugly head at other times in other relationships. And these times it is more difficult to handle because it causes pain to the other person. Of course my sweet little baby doesn't really know that I would rather do my own thing than soothe her crying body by entirely focusing on her (though I really do enjoy doing this most of the time). I don't know, maybe when I let her cry for a while (like at this moment) she is in some sort of emotional pain that I am somehow allowing to happen. But I think her memory is short. Milk soothes her soul. But the other relationships are different. I think the selfishness shows itself in my inability to really get outside of my own perspective and enter into someone elses. I assume the other person is like me. Thinks like me, handles things like me, processes things like me. Fortunately for the world this is not really the case. I mean I like myself, and think I'm doing a good job, but too many of me (or anyone for that matter) and the world would suck. It takes a lot for someone to make me feel bad. I don't get hurt real deeply real easily. It happens, don't get me wrong. But I feel pretty good about myself so if I think someone is full of crap and is spewing it all over me I won't let it get to me. I think maybe this is a good thing? But not everyone is like this. And if I go about my relational business as though the other person is like me, and they are not, I am setting myself up to be a destroyer of souls. And when this happens insensitivty is what rules, not love. Forgive me LORD.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

abstract doctrine vs Living Force

During my listening time yesterday morning, I had some thoughts. All to often we think of God in terms of abstract character traits, part of this massive, nice and neat system of doctrinal thought. This is weird. And I think it can be lethal to our souls. When I see someone doing something extraordinarily nice, I don't think of this person in terms of an abstract character trait. I say to myself, "That was loving. That was an act of love. That person is loving. The Force of Love was just made manifest over there." It is real. It just happened. Its effects shook the ground and will reverberate from that moment into the future. Reality as we know it will never be the same. Why do we think of the Creator in terms of abstract character traits, creating nice systematic, all-encompassing doctrines that make The One somewhat hamstringed by our well thought out schema. I am choosing, or trying to choose, or at least hoping to try to choose, not to live to closely to this box. I can see it, which might be a good thing, but the false reality that is generated by this box -- Lord help me to be free from it. Instead, let me see You. The Love. The Compassion. The Mercy. The Whisper. When I see a brother of mine help a sister of mine who is down and out - there You are. The Love has shown up. The Compassion has been revealed. Even if all involved are oblivious, I will embrace the reality that in that moment The Mercy was a force that couldn't be contained. And in that moment reality was created. The world received a taste of redemption. Maybe that was partially what was meant by "The Word became flesh." The abstract doctrine became Living Force - not that It hasn't always been a Living Force. But Jesus makes this painstankingly obvious. He was a human person walking around in real space and time, not a collection of abstract character traits walking around in real space and time. And The Love showed up in unexpected ways. "You just don't touch lepors. Everyone knows that is a sin." "Clearly he doesn't know this woman is a prostitute or he wouldn't assocate with her." One of the Teacher's closest friends was able to say "God is love" because he saw The Love intentionally walk up to a cross and let himself be murdered. May The One grant us the eyes to see and the ears to hear The Love in our midst. To The Living Force be the honor, and power, and glory forever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Whisper

Just some quick context. As a continuation of a discernment process toward discovering my true self and vocation, I am spending 30 minutes each morning listening for The Whisper, specifically in response to the question "Who Am I?"
I received something this morning. It did not come in the form of an audible voice. Never has for me. Wouldn't that be nice. But I know it was The Voice, not mine. It told me I am a "forgiverer." That's how I first heard it. I don't think that is a word. Maybe "forgiver" is. I guess correct grammar is less important here. But it came as a statement of reality. I am one who forgives. I feel like this is partially why I know it came from The Whisper. I wouldn't normally be thinking with some great certitude that I am a forgiver. I think I am. I strive to be. So I believe the Voice. But at the same time it is not the way I would naturally describe myself is someone told me to list 5 traits about myself. I sensed that The Whisper led me on a thought process that next said, "You are a forgiver...so act like it." And then, "You are this way because you have been forgiven." Thank YOU for this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Experiments in Truth

Along with about 30 friends, I am committing myself over the next 40 days to take some intentional steps toward becoming a more healthy and whole human being.

1) Body experiment
We are bodily based spiritual beings. We know no existence outside of the body we have been given. Let's get used to it. Even in a moment of ecstatic spiritual bliss, it is taking place inside this body. Even if it feels like we have gotten "outside" of ourselves for a time, we soon come back to earth, back to our body. There is no getting away from it. And that is an okay thing, and probably a good thing, if we can learn to embrace it. In an effort to do just this, and enter into a deeper awareness of how my body is connected with my spirit, mind, and soul, I am committing to the follow practices:
Monday/Friday - Circuit Training, Core, Stretching
Tuesday/Thursday - Pilates
Wednesday - Stretching
Saturday - Run, Stretching
Vegan diet

2) Identity
A large part of the broken and jacked up ness in our world is due to the fact that we, human beings, don't know who we are. Taken to the level of the individual, we allow too many false voices to inform us as to who we are. The result is a schizophrenia of sorts, just one that is less visible then the man walking down the street talking to himself. But it is no less real, and potentially even more destructive. In my own life, I all to often let the false voice of Deception rob me from embracing and living into my true self. In light of my longing to know who I am, I cam committing to the following:
30 minutes of listening every weekday morning, specifically asking the question "Who am I" and anticipating the Whisper.
Extended prayer time each Monday morning.
Extended time of silence and solitude each Friday morning.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

In The Silence

This past weekend I went on a silent retreat with a group of 10 friends. Very interesting time. I love this kind of time. It feeds my soul. But it can also be quite frustrating :-). Here are some words that came to my mind.

In the silence my mind goes, it flows, wandering to and fro.
The thoughts of my beating heart, the feelings of my delicate soul.
Yearning to be heard, longing to be lived, they are speaking to me.
Cutting through and breaking down this callous wall that is
The stuff that seeks to suffocate the Spirit within.
They are telling me who I am.
Father, son, brother, husband, companion, friend, mentor, neighbor, teacher, inspirer, beloved child.
Love, light, compassion, mercy, patience, justice, truth, strength, courage, faith, hope and love.
I hear the whisper.
"These are yours. This is you. Take it and make it who you will be and what you will do.
Trust me, believe that I know what is best, that I will give you rest,
That I am wooing you with open arms into my ever expanding chest.
Follow me. Your soul is safe here, your body will be refreshed.
Your spirit and mind I will shape to be of a different kind
than you even know, as you grow, to be more like me."
In the silence my mind goes, it flows, wandering to and fro.