Posts Tagged ‘God’

Not really getting it … and that is ok.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

We want to get “it.”  To understand life.  To be able to possess and offer the deep insight.  The truth.

But we are flawed.

Caught in our story, shaped by culture, molded by certain prejudices, we are in the end human.

The humility right there I believe critically forms us if we choose it.

The wisdom we do possess “are outward guises, appearances, of what is true and good… but if our lives focus on what is doing what is good the Lord adjusts them toward genuine truth.” (NJHD 21)

Goodness and truth … in the end … ONE.

Our efforts … in the end … imperfect, flawed, beautiful in God’s eyes.

Thomas Merton captured it well…

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” 

How do we love God?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Loving God, at one level is incredibly esoteric. “Wu Wu” stuff as my friend would say.  How do we love something that often appears to our dim human eyes distant, disembodied, contentious even?

Emanuel Swedenborg offered this:

Loving God “does not mean loving God for the image he projects but loving the good that comes from him.  Loving the good is intending and doing it.” (Heaven and Hell, 15)

Restated, there are these good things that come from God – the good stuff – the good stuff often even in the midst of the hard stuff.  God’s love made real into the world. Seen, heard, witnessed, experienced, shared.

Our job – to love God.  Which means placing our intention behind that good stuff and DOING IT.

In ways hard to describe that aligns our best intentions with God’s loving intentions.  Or more accurately, it uncovers in our soul those loving intentions gifted from God – God’s and ours at the same time.

We can see that all over.  A recent story featured the photograph below of a group of fast food workers joining a woman in prayer who had shared with the cashier that just a few hours before she had lost her husband.   Humanity at its best.  God’s loving work among us and through us. A picture that answers in some small way, “How do we love God?”

 

 

 

Reclaiming The Grand Narative

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Election season ended.  Data collection drives much of elections and most everything else these days.

We divide … into groups … which are then divided into sub groups … which are then divided sub-sub-groups ad infinitum.  Each gets its own “message”, slick, packaged, engineered to appeal.  What gets lost?  The Grand Narrative.  The big picture, the greater story, the common good.  We are left with this …

Instead of inner-directed leaders driven by their own beliefs, [we] become outer- directed people-pleasers driven by incomplete numbers.

That sits as a quiet threat to social fabric.  “All politics is local” … true.  But it is becoming more and more “All politics is personal.”  Hard to move beyond self-absorption in that world.

Faith.  Religion.  Church.  Spirituality.  God.  Pick the word that word that works for you but the above is a call I believe to recapture those Grand Narratives that faith clearly speaks to.  Those stories of self-sacrifice. Love. Suffering. Redemption.  The Common Good. What is actually bigger and more important than you, than me.  What lies beyond the tyranny of “preference.”

Lets not get lost in the numbers.  If there is a place to get lost, lets loose ourselves in the Story.

Ridiculous

Monday, July 28th, 2014

We returned from vacation, well worn, well rested, ready.  Many thoughts …

 

The possibility to live without a lap top for a week is sweet

We tether oursleves to technology.  Much of it blessed.  Much of it obsessive and broken.  A tech “sabbath” opens a different space, a sweet reminder that most of my life, at age 49, I lived without constantly being “in touch.”  And being “out of touch” does not make one “out of touch.” It makes one rested.

There is no strategy to miniature golf

I am competitive.  My ego can’t let that one go … yet.   So yes we played miniature golf and yes I was sure I could strategize my way to victory.  Well I won – good for you ego – on a lucky hole-in-one on the 17th hole.  I promise … this was last time I will try to beat my kids at anything (until I start losing).

No sand castle can hold back the ocean

We built a sand castle.  It included pointed break waters.  Looked like an old painting of the sun, like the one in “Tangled” – spikes radiating out and all.  The boys built the spikes.  The girls built the castle.  The ocean won.

 

And with it all, with a week full, we reminded each other that God’s love is RIDICULOUS!   Deep, sweet, patient, present … all the things I am not.  But the ever gentle reminder of what could be.

 

Finding A Way To Be Who God Wants Us To Be

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The words, “The most courageous thing we can ever do is to be who God created us to be” challenge.  We spend so much time skirting around that very “trueness” of God’s intention for our lives.  The good news of course is that God’s intention is who He has already created you to be!  These words of Anne Lamott get right to it:

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?

Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.

And God is for us in that endeavor, a fact lost in many religious circles.  He not only remains steadfastly for us in that endeavor but modeled the journey himself … no small miracle… in Christ, “God as a human being.” (True Christianity 538)  More interested in our character than in our comfort, there may just be place to rest for you there.   Knowing that with mess, comes the answer. He lives it.  So can we.

 

How do we know when it is God moment?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Discerning the voice of God is about a settling.  I remember in my younger years wanting to tell God stuff … which is fine.  I remember as well wanting God to tell me the future … which is fine.  And in some way hard to describe, in those fleeting and rarer moments of deeper prayer, I find a soul place where I want no-thing from God except His presence.  Those moments spread in expansive ways.  Richard Rohr, a far more skilled wordsmith than I put it this way.

Mystical moments may be described as a kind of emancipation. If it isn’t an experience of newfound freedom, I don’t think it is an authentic God experience. God is always bigger than you imagined or expected or even hoped for. When you see people going to church and becoming smaller instead of larger, you have every reason to question whether the practices or sermons or sacraments or liturgies are opening them to an authentic God experience.

On a practical level such experiences will feel like a new freedom to love, and you wonder where it comes from. Why do I have this new desire, this new capacity to love new people, to love the old people better, maybe to enter into some kind of new love for the world? I will find that even my thoughts are more immediately loving, patient, and compassionate.

Clearly, you are participating in a Love that’s being given to you. You are not creating this. You are not generating this. It is being generated through you and in you and for you. You are participating in something larger than yourself, and you are just allowing it and trusting it for the pure gift that it is.

Those moments are humbling.  Emanuel Swedenborg was clear – humility and narcissism cannot co-exist.  And maybe that is part of it – our “ego” even for a moment dies and we are born into something far larger.  Thank you God!

Find A Way Out

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Idolatry traps us – often very subtly.

Emanuel Swedenborg conjectured … “There are three forms of idolatry.  This first is love of ourselves, the second is love of worldly advantages, and the third is sensual pleasure.” In other words we can choose to worship ourselves, our stuff, or our pleasures. And that is why the experience of God, on the other hand, can be so deeply freeing.

See worship of God lacks a possessive “urge” to it.  God does not endeavor to “own” humanity.  He is not feverishly clutching for souls.  He endeavors, passionately but with the utmost deference to our free will, to liberate humanity.  Not a closed hand but an open hand.  Restated, the three forms of idolatry listed above pull us more and more down the rabbit hole of narcissism.  God pulls us more and more out of the rabbit hole and into the expansive path of connectedness.  Worship of God then, rightly held, opens us more to the wonder surrounding us. Not a place devoid of suffering, but a place where even that suffering in part forms a matrix from which we grow.

It Matters Who God Is, And No, California Is Not An Island

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Walter Brueggemann wrote. “God is the map whereby we locate the setting of our life, that God is the water in which we launch our life raft, that God is the real thing from which and toward which we receive our being and identify ourselves. It follows that the kind of God at work in your life will determine the shape and quality and risk at the center of your existence. It matters who God is.”  Powerful words.

Our view of who God is or is not settles as maybe the fundamental paradigm of our lives.  It likewise becomes the most surprising – our view of God evolving and along with that unfolding the “the shape and quality and risk at the center” of our existence evolves as well.  God then becomes what what God has always been – the “I am”, the “I will be who I will be.”  That speaks to freedom and yet those words from the Old Testament yield up a wonderous surprise of a God who while free remains steadfastly consistent – a partner of unwavering love who is forever coming into Being.

I think of the old maps of California.  As the land was originally charted, cartographers  portrayed it as an island for over a 100 years, detached from the North American continent.

For 70 years there was overwhelming evidence that the opposite was true – that California was not an island.  And yet it took all that time for the maps to change, for the assuredness that “history” and “experience” supplied to be finally overturned.  It was not that California had ever changed.  We had.

Allowing the Work to Gather Us

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Writing here on the first day of 2012, I am thinking of the blessing in allowing the work to gather us.  Maybe our corporate New Year’s Resolution?

Much of life is the pivot toward gathering around the Work, written eloquently of here by Richard Rohr:

The Christian life is a matter of becoming who we already are, and allthat we truly are! Can you imagine that? Is the seed already within you—of all that God wants you to be? Do you already know at some level who you authentically are? Are you willing to pay the price? Even the mistrust of others? Could that be what we mean by having a unique “soul”? Most saints thus described the path as much more unlearningthan learning. There are so many illusions and lies that we must all unlearn. And one of the last illusions to die is that we are that different or that separate, and finally we are all one and amazingly the same. Differentiation seems to precede union and communion, for some strange reason.

As he notes, it is the True Self in God coming alive.  And there is a cost.  Are we willing to pay the price?  In a culture that worships the private, the individual, and the inviolate sanctity of personal thoughts and opinions – which are very good, to a point – the price is obvious.  We may in the end be called to give up those vary things that got to that point, to the “pivot.”  ”Unlearning” carries a cost.

As the New Church theologian Emanuel Swedenborg put it, our task then is straightforward in this great “unlearning.”

Abstain from evil, and do what is good, and believe in the Lord with your whole heart and your whole soul, and the Lord will love you and give you love for what you do and faith in what you believe. Then you will do what is good because of love, and you will believe because you have faith, which is confidence.  And if you persevere like this a reciprocal partnership [with God and others] will develop and become permanent.  That is salvation itself and eternal life.   

To get our selves out of the way, we need to allow the Work to gather us.  What is the Work?  It is the work of compassion, love, service, sharing, teaching, reaching, stretching.  If you put that all into one word it would be “church”, not in an institution of orthodoxy but as a living, breathing universal BEING.

So for 2012, lets allow the work to gather us!

 

We Do Care

Friday, November 19th, 2010

We do care.  People tend to have a deeply seeded sense of love and compassion.  Deep within, all of us – ALL of us -  lies a divine spark, a God given piece that remains with us through all eternity.  That piece reflects God – a God that, “… has compassion on everybody, loves everyone, and wishes to make everyone eternally happy.” (Heavenly Secrets, # 904).

Aligning our lives with that love is where challenges arise.  Likewise, when we do it, it is where life most breaks open.  I most enjoyed a TED talk by Jessica Jackley as she spoke about her journey from the Sunday School lessons of taking care of the poor to something far deeper – organized steps to do that in a way that aligned love and money.  She definitely lives that “spark”!

What she learned in the process of organizing her non-profit, Kiva, is that we do care and we do love.  Fear keeps many of us from always living into that care and love – fear of failure, fear of doing it wrong, fear of being taken advantage of.  What moves us through that fear are stories.

Stories – a point so true.  We thrive on stories.  As Rachel Naomi Remen noted in an NPR interview – at times we need them more than food.  Watching God settle into peoples’ souls, including mine, is known by story.  There is no other experience of it, no other communication of it.  And those stories move us beyond fear.  The fact is there are mechanics of growing a church, a church focused on service.  There are budgets, perspectives that at times challenge, projections not met, personality clashes – aka “the mess” that is life.  And there are the stories.  Stories upon story that speaks to the need to reach out, to connect, to find meaning.  The best of those are the ones that pull us in and then push us out.