Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

Wasting time, I have been thinking about wasting time.

When I think about this, and write this, wasting time seems like such a bad idea; to do nothing particularly productive has many connotations, most of which are not good connotations. When I think of wasting time the first word that comes to mind is “lazy,” a term that is frowned upon by society.

From the time we are little we are taught to be productive; we are groomed to be productive. That a second lost cannot be recovered, that being productive is the proper way we are supposed to live our lives. So we learn to fill every moment of our day “being productive.” This gets translated into going from work to other commitments to coming home and working around the house until it is time for bed. If we have time we turn on the tube but even then it is to watch something that we can discuss with others; a favorite show, or game. We have turned everything into being productive. We fill our minds with schedules and plans, all of which is to not “waste” time.

I was reading, Brennan Manning, Posers, Fakers, & Wannabes (unmasking the real you); A book that comes from a chapter in one of his other works Abba’s Child, a book that is actually directed at teens and young adults.

I was being productive.

In it he makes the following observation. “Intentionally “wasting” time with God enables me to speak and act from strength greater than my own, to forgive instead of nursing the bruise, to give without expecting to give back. All of which, you can see, makes me much more pleasant to be around.” Brennan Manning, Posers, Fakers, & Wannabes (unmasking the real you).(Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003),66.

Wasting time with God, sitting and doing nothing particularly productive.

Wasting time with God, not worrying about what others may think.

Wasting time with God, not worrying about what we think has to be done at the moment.

Just wasting time with God and relaxing in His arms.

Actually enjoying be in relationship with Him and sitting with Him.

Wasting time with God, talking with Him, telling Him about your day, simply being quiet with God.

Something to think about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

I like getting up early in the morning.

The quietness of the world before the sun rises is restful. Just before the sun rises there is an anticipation of the coming day; as if creation is holding its collective breath before it exhales and the stirrings of life begin. The birds awaken first, and then lights come on in the neighboring houses. People start to mill around. A runner jogs passed the house.

I live close to a school and eventually the kids can be seen walking to school, some with their heads down still half asleep, others walking with their friends talking about the coming day or some event that is important to them.

I like the mornings; I talk to God in the mornings. I listen for His words in the mornings before the noise of the day makes it harder to hear Him.

In the quietness of the morning I thank God for His creation and all the blessings He has given.

In the quietness of the morning I pray for the families as they start their day.

In the quietness of the morning I pray for the kids as they walk past the house.

As I write down these thoughts I am reminded of something Henri Nouwen once wrote, he said, “True contemplatives, then are not the ones who withdraw from the world to save their own soul, but the ones who enter into the center of the world and pray to God from there.”

While withdrawing to a retreat is important to replenish the soul. It is important that we come back from those places and live among others, to listen to our surroundings and pray to God about what we hear. It is important that we pay attention to the things we see and pray to God about what we witness.

I am moved by Henri’s words.

When it gets noisy is when I must pray harder.

Something to think about,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

Here is an old Bread that I thought was worth resurrecting.

Pet Diaries: Dog vs. Cat...
The Dog's Diary:
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
The Cat's Diary:
Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Jerks!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.

I was left with the thought, " Am I the cat or the Dog." Do I celebrate my life and live in the moment, practicing the presence as Brother Lawrence would call it. Or is my life subject to a feeling of complete bondage. When I first read this I thought, "silly dog." As I dwelled on this I began to see the genius of the dog. Personally I will try to practice "the dog."

Something to think about.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

Garage sales

God woke me up this morning and we talked about the importance of garage sales.

My wife is a consummate garage saler, actually she is a consummate buyer of other peoples stuff. She is quite good at it and finds many treasures. She finds things that one would never guess would have ever been bought at a garage sale. My wife is unique in the fact that when she finds a piece that is an actual antique or she knows is worth much more than the asking price she will talk with the seller and ask them if they know what they are selling. Many times they will decide not to sell and keep the item and thank her for pointing out the importance of the piece, sometimes they will sell it anyway.

When we first moved to our town my wife and I went house hunting and while there where many houses that where very nice there wasn’t one house that we found that really fit us, so we decided to build. During the building process I talked with my wife and we decided that she could design the house and I would be happy as long as I could design the garage, she was good with that.

Time went by and as she acquired more stuff things from the house migrated to the garage, this was a cause of anxiety for me. By the end of this summer the only thing that I could fit in my garage was my motorcycle, I had a little spot of floor left between rolls of carpet, Christmas lawn decorations, a fake fireplace…

I was going up north to work with the camp, and to preach at the church. Before I left, Laurie my wife, said, “I am thinking of having a garage sale.” something she had never done. She was a buyer of stuff not a seller of stuff.

I said, “Great!”

When I got home the garage door was open, Laurie was standing in the garage smiling, and it was empty. Everything that was left had a place and everything was in its place. The first thought that crossed my mind was how glad I was that I had ridden my motorcycle because she could have sold that too!

I have my garage back.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend. He is someone that started out as one of my spiritual directees and over the years we have become good friends. He is in Colorado now and he was telling me how he and his team went to a Jesuit monastery for a retreat, it was a silent retreat. This type of retreat was the first for my friend and it was quite stretching. One of the things that a monk had told him was the importance of saying goodbye to yesterday.

I am not sure how this monk told him that if it was a silent retreat, I will have to ask him.

This morning God woke me up asking me the question, “What things are you holding onto that you should let go? Maybe you need to have a garage sale of the heart.”

I thought about what He said.

What things are we holding onto that keep us stuck in the past?

What thoughts are we holding onto that keep us stuck in the past?

If we focus our thoughts on all the what-ifs, coulda, shoulda, woulda’s in life we are never really present to the amazing things that God is doing in our lives today.

The importance of saying goodbye to yesterday, not forgetting about yesterday but merely saying goodbye to yesterday so we can give a proper hello to today.

Having a garage sale of the heart, to forgive others, to forgive yourself, to let yesterday go is the only way to being truly present to Christ today.

Something to think about.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

I have been thinking about Medusa lately, actually I have been thinking about her hair.

We all know Medusa, she was a guardian in Greek mythology that had snakes for hair that were tangled and went in every direction. The story goes that if you looked at her and she looked into your eyes you would turn to stone.

I haven’t been thinking about her eyes. I have been thinking about her hair.

I was asked to facilitate a visioning session for a camp up in Washington, so Friday I rode my motorcycle up to Kent Washington were I dropped my bike off and car pooled with one of the board members to the camp.

It is a camp up in the tip of Washington near the San Juan’s, very beautiful.

The camp is in trouble, people have stopped using it, and the buildings are in need of repair.

After we arrived and had the compunctional greetings and introductions had been made. The board started telling me about all the things that they historically had done at the camp; this went on for quite awhile. As I listened to them tell me about all these great ministries “that they used to do” it became very clear that they had no direction, no real understanding of what “Donald Duck Ministries” (Not their real name but stories always go better with a name) was.

They are your typical 501-c-3, which has articles of incorporation, bylaws…

I asked them to tell me their mission statement; they didn’t have one.

I asked them to tell me their vision statement; they read me their purpose statement.

There was other discussion that lasted to 11pm and I finally said that I was going to bed.

Saturday morning;

We came together around 8am and I told them that the focus of today was to create a vision statement; “What is Donald Duck Ministries going to be when it grows up.”

There was much discussion around, the need, or rather not having a need for a vision statement, but they had brought me up there so they agreed to go through the process.

We started by writing the words, “To become.”

We went back and forth most of the morning but by 1pm we had a vision statement.

Why am I telling you this?

Because by 1pm the board had realized that Donald Duck Ministries is much bigger than just a camp, a place.

They realized that whether or not they utilized the camp was really secondary to their Vision for their ministry.

They realized that this “place” was only one of the tools that they could use to minister to the weary, those with broken spirits, to kids, to adults, to families, to those inside the church, to those outside the church.

They realized that ministry is not a building; ministry is people.

They also realized that while they had all these great ministries going on it was like Medusa’s hair, a tangled mess that was going in every direction and without a defined sense of direction people that got to close might just get bit.

Their new vision statement had incorporated into it a sense of mission. It met their purpose statement and their values statement.

In essence they had successfully combed their Medusa hair.

I left them with this thought, “Visioning without action is nothing more than looking.”

As I rode home on my motorcycle, something that I love to do it gives me space to think.

I began thinking how we tend to have Medusa hair.

While what we are doing is an attempt to do good things, without a sense of direction, a vision, a mission, a purpose. We actually don’t get much accomplished.

While what we are doing is an attempt to help people, without a sense of direction, a vision, a mission, a purpose. We actually hurt people.

Christ has a vision for us.

Christ has a mission for us.

Christ has a purpose for us.

If we take our focus off Christ and lean on our own understanding we have Medusa hair.

Only Christ can comb our hair.

My prayer is that we let Him.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

The wind was blowing the other day.

I noticed a leaf being blown in the wind.

First it blew one way, then another.

I watched as it went back and forth tumbling along. Tumbling over its stem then over the tips of the leaf.

I sat there for quite a while watching this leaf.

At first I was amused by the back and forth action, thinking about how the wind changed direction causing the leaf to change its direction.

I thought about how the leaf really didn’t have any say, or influence, on where it wanted to go. The wind was in control.

I began to think about how most of us live and work at the whim of others. If someone decides to go another direction, or the economy takes another dip, our job might go away, and we will have just about as much say in it as the leaf does with the wind.

Then God said, “Relax and watch the leaf.”

I sat silently watching the leaf.

After a while my heart began to change.

I began to see the leaf differently.

I began to see it dance.

It no longer was this out of control leaf being pushed here and there. The leaf was dancing.

A still small voice said, “This leaf makes me smile. It is dancing for me.”

I sat there and watched the leaf for quite a while.

In the end I was no longer thinking in a negative fashion. My thoughts went to thinking about all the blessings, and small miracles that happen everyday. I just need to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to accept.

My prayer is that we all choose to see the beauty in God’s creation, to see a leaf dance; to ask the question, are we dancing for God or merely allowing ourselves to be blown out of control?

It is a matter of perspective.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good morning,
I pray that the day is finding you well.

We listen for guidance everywhere except from within.
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2000), 5.

What is God saying?
Can you hear Him?

Are we listening to Him? Or are going everywhere else for counsel instead?