Monday, June 25, 2012

In Stillness We See

Do you every try to just be still? 

I mean absolutely still, every muscle, every thought stilled, until your breathing becomes noticeable? 

Try it. First try it for five minutes, then increase the time until you can do it for twenty. 

WARNING: Your thoughts will go crazy (now's a really good time to try that brain-dump journaling to clear your mind. See previous post about Time-Wasters).

Once your mind is clear. Focus on your breathing. Realize every breath is from God. 

Ponder an aspect of creation and what kind of being had to create it. 

I did this in the middle of a late night storm the other night. Incredible! The power of the wind and lightening shook the house. I remained still. 

The One who created the wind and the trees, the clouds and the sun. He is the One we worship. By worship I mean obey, because singing songs to Him isn't enough. HE WILL BE OBEYED. As the disciples found out, even the winds and the waves obey the voice of Jesus.

At the same time His love for us is never-ending, gentle, forgiving. His eyes of love search for us continually.

Be still and know. . . 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time-Wasters or Time-Savers?

The disciplines take so much time. I rarely notice that they help me and I feel I have so much work to accomplish.

Does it ever seem like you're wasting time?

Let me give you a few examples. It feels like an enormous waste of time to exercise and I don't notice results at the time. However, if I don't exercise I will notice the bad effects over time. The daily discipline of exercise will slow the aging process in my body. It may prevent bone loss and strengthen my heart as well as other muscles.

Brushing teeth, picking up a mess immediately, washing the dishes as soon as they're dirtied. Don't these sometimes feel like time-wasters? Of course, we reason to ourselves that they're not. We know that if we don't do them we could get gum disease or end up spending more time later when we've gathered a mountain of dishes or a whole house that needs to be cleaned.

Recently I was challenged again to journal--the kind of journaling where you just dump out everything in your head onto a page. I know it helps me think more clearly. I accomplish so much more in the time I have when my thoughts aren't flitting here and there. If I can get it out on paper beforehand, my mind can focus.

But brain-dumping feels like a waste of time. If I have an hour to pray or meditate, taking 15 minutes to write nonsense in a journal seems like a waste. But I must reason to myself, remind myself that the other 45 minutes will be far more productive if I take the 15 minutes for brain-dumping.

I see this as a principle in every area of life. The things we seek we won't accomplish if we jump straight in to accomplish them. Like writing an article without research. We must first put in some serious leg-work.

I hear Hathi, the commanding elephant of the Elephant Brigade in the cartoon movie Jungle Book saying, "Discipline...discipline is the thing." Although he had no purpose for his discipline of marching around the jungle, we do have a purpose. So as I remind myself, I hope to encourage you too: Your discipline is for a purpose, it is NOT wasting time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Empathy for Nature & the Poor

I recently read a list of suggestions for "becoming the answers to our own prayers." These are ways of empathizing with the poor and respecting nature as well. When nature is abused, no one suffers more than the poor.

1. Wash your clothes by hand and dry them on a line. Remember the 1.6 billion people who do not have electricity.

2. Learn to sew. Try making your won clothes for a year.

3. Eat only one bowl of rice a day for a week. (Be sure to take a multivitamin.) And remember the twenty-five thousand people who die of malnutrition and starvation each day.

4. Keep the Sabbath holy. Rest one day a week this year--don't answer the phone or the door, and don't use the internet. Do something that brings you life that day.

5. Go to a city council meeting. Pray. Speak as the Spirit leads.

*Note: This list taken from 'Common Prayer/A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.'

Think of your own ways to save energy, money and relate to the poor.

Don't forget to pray for them as well. God cares for the poor.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Desert Monk Speaks to Us Today

"Pay attention to what I tell you: 
whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; 
whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; 
in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.
Keep these three precepts and you will be saved."
~Desert father, Abba Anthony 
(taken from "Common Prayer/A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals")

The reading from Common Prayer on June 1 offers this prayer to follow up Abba Anthony's advice, "Grow us slowly, persistently, Lord, to be people who watch without distraction, listen without interruption, and stay put without inclination to flee. Amen."

It's the last part of Anthony's advice and of the prayer that strikes me this morning. There is an inclination to flee in me. When I've been someplace for a while, or a situation is not to my liking. But the tendency extends to jobs and projects. I'll work on something for a while, even feel God has called me to it, and then, after a while, I begin to wonder if I should really be doing something else instead. It feels like there must be something else more important that I'm neglecting. 

I've recognized this in myself before, but I haven't had the absolute assurance that the feeling is wrong. And if it is wrong, then which thing do I choose to do and not look back? 

Does this dilema make sense to anyone else?

Abba Anthony says, "Do not easily leave." 

Do not easily leave my house, my church, my state, my job, my calling, my current writing project, etc. 

Yes, Lord, please grow us slowly, persistently, to be people who watch without distraction, listen without interruption, and stay put without inclination to flee. Amen.