Monthly Archives: May 2010

Monday, I start the exercises.

No, not exercising my body, though I desperately need to get back on some schedule for such. Monday, I will begin the Ignatius Sacred Listening exercises. It takes months to work through them. Occasionally, I will forward some of my “exercise” journals this way. Mostly, I will not. I have several summer writing projects, again not suitable for this venue. I will try to write once  a week here,  to keep communication lines open with those of you who read rather regularly. But, I’ll still be dropping by to read those of yours who are writing.

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I can’t love you like You love me…

This line of lyric ’bout says it all. It’s been bouncing around in me, banking up against things that need  to feel the press of it.

God knows we can’t love Him like He loves us. He tells us so…that we are just, earth. So why do we push to do so? And why the focus on sin, on our failings? Why do we highlight them, examine them, define them? Over and over, God is telling us, those who will listen to Him, “Let me love you. You are the child. I am the adult. You can’t even understand how I love you. You job is to let me love you.” Change comes in that posture and place.

When we let love do its work, trust it, we identify with and become like those who love us. Change doesn’t come so much through battling sin. Change comes in the arms of God, in the earshot of God’s whispering: when we are near and known.

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We are getting it.

What I write about I don’t lose. I wish there were a way to encapsulate the weekend, to describe the atmosphere that we shared. It so seemed like we were in a pocket of God’s discernible presence the whole time. It didn’t matter what we were doing: whether we were awash in worship, hiking hillsides, feasting on favorite fare, diving down to murky depths, resting, talking, really talking to one another, playing and squealing in delight, or just being near.

We came into something, the thing that makes it all, all, worthwhile. We’ve come upon it. We can be -ourselves- our real selves – with one another. Everyone kept saying Friday night how good it was to be there, together. We aren’t afraid of tears anymore, we let them flow. We aren’t afraid to talk; we talk from our hearts. We aren’t afraid to love each other, to let each other know so. We are becoming unafraid. Love, the love of God that drives out all fear, is driving it from us.

I was sitting on the floor at Jerm’s watching for a moment. We had come back together from all over the property and were piled around the living room. And I saw it. The blessing, what Pastor Jay talked about the next morning, was flowing between us. Yes, the night before (Friday) the presence of God was enveloping… there was this safety, this sense of security that strengthened and steadied everyone. Everyone seemed so secure that they could be real (whatever that needed to be moment to moment)  with others around. Saturday, when we were singing, standing near and singing together around the piano, something began to shift in us, it wasn’t each of us there to worship, there was an “us” established. And it followed us to the park and up the hillsides on our fruitless quests, that were really about something more than any log book. We didn’t get aggravated, even under the physical and mental stress.  We made it fun, we enjoyed each other, now so much more aware of just who we travelled beside.

I think it is sinking into the kids, especially the Edgers, how very blessed we are to be in this, together.

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I’ve been thinking…

We have this worship retreat coming up.  It is one of those times when I sense that there is huge advantage to be taken. I know God’s presence will be inescapable. I know that I will be unable to stand up under anything God stretches His hand to take, touch, or heal. I know that He is coming to take from me those things that I do not need…that hinder me from really being me. So, I am asking myself, What do I really not want to carry in me, with me, any longer?

I also sense God trying to pull me forward in some things, Him wanting to put something in me that is not now resident.  What do I need to stretch out for, to take from His hand extended to me? So, I am asking myself, What do I need God to do? What will I let Him do?

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I need the story

I don’t like people to tell me what happened in a movie or book before I have my chance with the story. I don’t want their take coloring what the story might say to me, lift from me, work into me, strengthen me to do. I don’t need their take, I need the story.

We had a little girl, she is 22, but that is a little girl  to me now, come and share her story of being bullied in school. She is obviously beautiful, eloquent,  brilliant and in the race for Miss Alabama, now. Had someone else told me her story, I would have listened. It was interesting, almost unbelievable, worth the time to hear. But it wouldn’t have effected me the same.

She told us just a little of it; there was challenge,  sacrifice, pain, suffering, redemption, calling, purpose, triumph and everything a good story should have. But the power of the story came in a moment, unscripted, of ethos and pathos, when she broke for millisecond, and it all rushed to the NOW, and we were in it with her, almost in her, living it, too. And something deep transpired. I watched some of the students make the shift, from listening to being with/in, listening through. And truth, core cutting truth, came into that room and worked some wholeness and some grief. I know that she didn’t tell it all, but she told enough to bring the NOW into the moment.

She told lots of interesting, challenging statistics; but her story, brought the real – the eternal real (God Himself) tangibly into the room.

Sometimes, when I get still enough, ready enough to listen, God will tell me some of His story, He will read it to me, adding all the helpful embellishments, just the way my Dada would the funny papers. He will tell me the unabridged, drop-down version and sometimes,  His voice will break, too…and pull me in to Him, so “with” that I can barely discern myself…and I feel what He feels, see what He sees.

I so need story.

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the vehicle of truth is story

I found my mentor, Madeleine L’Engle, when I was in college. I had read some of her works earlier, but they didn’t “get me” nor I them, until college. Then they overwhelmed me. I think that I have since read everything that she has written. That is no small list.

Now, when I say mentor, I do not mean to imply that I knew her personally, but I feel as if I did. She helped me with my questions, and she helped me to form better and better ones.

Madeleine was an actress and writer. She was a curious soul who discovered mysteries of the universe through her writing in areas of nano-biology and physics and higher math, and she “discovered” the Creator of that mystery through her writing as well. Story was the vehicle that led her to truth, Christ. As she wrote story, asking questions in her pursuit, He appeared in the stories that poured from her. God’s media of choice is story. He tells story, He embodies story. Story is the path to truth.

Madeleine’s God was wild and wonderful: Elohim. Madeleine’s God was wonderful/terrible, not in His power to destroy, but in His power to love. The god of destruction, “Theos” – the Greek idea of God – is derived from ole Zeus. Elohim’s terribleness came in His love – unquenchable and passionately pursuant.

Elohim is the God an artist can truly appreciate: emotional and yet careful, quick to turn, and yet strident, He is gentle, though He will have His way, the intricate designer who hides His signature. Elohim: the God who dreams to life the stars and each of us.

Elohim: the God who blinds us with the beauty of the Earth and whispers the unknown in the ear. Elohim: the God who stands between us and our Enemies, who bends down to lift us. The God who entertains even our mocking and scoffing: Elohim. The God who left all for our coming near: Elohim. Shattered, segmented, spilled out for our wholeness: again, Elohim.

God has a story. Or more revelatory to me at one point: God has a life. We, the Church, are to live that life in/with Him. His Life story sure sounds like it would be  a good one. I sure would like to hear it.

How about you?

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Greek to me

I often rave in my classroom about the curse of dualism: either/or, black/white thinking. Dualism is the fallout of the Greco-Roman system of thought and categorization. It produces a culture of we/they, as in, we are good, they are bad. We are right, they are wrong. Get the picture. It is not very knowledge based, hardly wisdom based, and it does wonders for one’s relational IQ.

But dualism has been all the rage in the west for a couple of thousand years. That is until now, its power to possess is waning. Maybe it is a function of the “smalling” of the world. Information and technology can change a lot about what we know and who else can know it quickly. Post modernism embodies this paradigm shift, this new, more respectful way of seeing the universe and those who dwell in it. And everyone is getting the memo – except those who should have identified, addressed, and corrected  this error first, the “truth seekers,” the Church.

Unfortunately, we seem to cling most passionately to something old and worn and honestly never really helpful: dualism. In the third century there was a huge brouhaha about gnosticism in the church, the same basic dualism argument. It contended that “Matter is evil and spirit is good.” It was derived from the traditional Greco- Roman nomenclature: essence is reality and matter  is decaying. From such were derived many non-incarnational mentalities, which in turn led us to value less the earth, humanity, and the interactions between the two. Never mind that Jesus didn’t just teach about incarnation, He was the embodiment of it.

Anyway, the mentalities of Plato’s perfection and Aristotle’s ascending achievement totally eclipsed our view of Christ. We, at least in the west, see Him via these lenses. But what if He was something altogether different and/or more? What if through our understandings of the way the world worked – ( and how much did we have right back then? or do we really have now?) we totally missed the story of God. The story God told us about Himself, most clearly punctuated by the Person of Christ. What if we missed it all? What if in our retelling, the beautiful story got botched? Maybe a few characters were remembered and salvaged, but the plot and the back stories all got confused and glossed over in our desire to make the story line fit our way of seeing the world.

What if all along, the beautiful story (of God) was right there in front of us? What if so much that we do not see about God, about us, was right there, but we saw it through lenses that all but blinded us to it.

Anybody willing to have your prescription checked? Continue reading

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