How’s your Spirit? Change through the years!

Recently I have thinking about my spiritual journey throughout my life.  Part of these thoughts spring from an assignment that I am working on for spiritual direction training through Christian Formation and Direction Ministry (cfdm).  I realize that there have been three major themes in my prayer journey.

In my late teenage years and early young adult years I learned the significance of intercessory prayer, praying for the needs of other people.  This aspect of my prayer life was especially imparted to me while a student at Lutheran Bible Institute.  Oh, I prayed for myself, but praying for others became a very significant portion of my prayer life.

Following this part of my spiritual journey my prayer life took a bend as I became influenced by the charismatic movement and then praise became paramount.  The Psalmist wrote that God inhabits the praises of his people.  Now even as I added the element of praise it did not mean that intercession was less important, but rather that prayer took on an added layer, an added element.

Now for the third layer, or the third bend in my prayer journey.  The third element has been more challenging and it has been a journey of many years, many decades.  Again, just because there is a third bend in the journey, it does not mean that bends number one and two are not longer important.  They are, but now there is more to prayer.

This third bend is the element of prayer being a dialog, an interchange between Jesus and myself.  In this part of my prayer journey what is important is not having God meet my or someone else’s need, nor is it even praising God for who he is.  Rather prayer is that time of being in God’s presence and getting to know him and at the same time getting to know myself in him.  This portion of prayer is centered in love, being totally loved and totally loving.  Silence is the attitude and posture of this prayer, and I must say, I am only a novice in the journey.

 

How’s your Spirit? A story from Haines, Alaska.

(First some book keeping.  A number of people had trouble commenting on my blogs so I deleted the Captcha.  What is a captcha?  It is an image, such as a carrot, which you have to identify and write the word carrot in the box next to it.  As soon as I eliminated the captcha I was inundated with spam.  As soon as I replaced the captcha, the spam was gone.  So I have left the captcha on and if you want to comment on a blog, please fill in the box next to the image with the name of the item.  I do appreciate all the comments that I receive.  Thank you.)

I am reading an interesting and fun book called If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name” by Heather Lende.  The author lives in Haines, Alaska, is an obituary writer and social columnist for a local paper, and is also a NPR commentator.  Heather is a member of a Presbyterian church in Haines and tells the story of going to a public rosary service for Warren Price, a Native from the Tlingit tribe who had died after a long sickness.  Warren was the father of eleven children and his wife Mary was called “Mother Superior” by family and friends.  All in the family were very devote Catholics.

Heather met with the family to get information necessary for the obituary and she was invited by the family to attend a public rosary for Warren at the Catholic church.  Heather is on the school board and the board was to meet at the same time so she excused herself, but one of Warren’s cousins said, “Warren is only going to be dead once.  There will be lots more meetings.  You be there.”  And Heather went to the rosary service, the first such experience in her life.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church was filled to capacity with about one hundred and fifty people.  The priest “passed out brightly colored plastic rosaries and the pamphlets of prayers” for those who did not have their own and who did not know the words.  The prayers were said and the priest shared “a mystery in the life of Christ; for this service we will use the joyous mysteries, the ones that focus on the Resurrection, to remind us that Christ died and rose again so that we-like him-and Warren will, too.”

The author continued, “I closed my eyes and jumped in with the rest.  The words became one kind of sound and one kind of thought.  They were like the wind off the water.  About a half hour later, we were done, and everyone sat quietly, not sure if it was okay to leave.

“Then Russell (one of the sons), the army captain in his uniform, stood up and thanked us for coming, on behalf of his mother and the rest of the family.  (Then he said)  ‘My father, like me, was in the service, and like me, he saw most of the world.  He always told us that he came back here because Haines-all these mountains, rivers, and lakes-is the most beautiful place he’d ever seen.  And he’d seen it all.  I have, too, and I believe that.’

“And then Russell said, ‘Seeing all your faces and hearing your voices together made me realize that the beauty in this community is not the scenery.  It is right here, in the people. Thank you.’

“Maybe it was the rosary, or maybe it was magic, or maybe a little of both.  All I know is that something big had happened.  I left that church feeling light, brand-new, and filled with a whole lot of love.”

I know nothing about the rosary or a public service of the rosary, but I do know that God is big enough to use many, many means to communicate his tremendous love for all people.

How’s Your Spirit and your Time?

“I would like to meet with you.  Do you have a little time?”  “Do you have a second?”  “I am so busy.  I don’t have time for myself.”  “I don’t want to waist your time.”    “I don’t have time for what’s important.”

Any of the above sound familiar?  It is said that time is the new currency, for time has a value that none of us can afford.  In the English language we have only one word for time, but in the Greek language there are two words: chronos and kairos.  

First chronos:  Chronos is clock time, measured time, quantitative time.  In Greek mythology chronos was depicted as an  old man having a long beard, carrying a scythe and an hourglass.  Chronos was a Greek god who actually ate his children.  Yes, chronos time can be demented; it can kill us.

How often do I look at my wristwatch? Diane’s father’s initial estimation of me was very positive, for I was extremely punctual, to the minute.  Chronos time is not quality time, but is time that controls us, determines our actions, measures our days by the amount of work that we get done.  Chronos time is enslaving and does not give us meaning, quality.  With chronos time there is no connection of moment to moment, for there is only a measured entity.  As we live only in chronos time we are constantly on the run, seeking, not quality but quantity of time, of life.

Kairos time, on the other hand, is the right time, the fulfilled time, the appointed time, the opportune time, the qualitative time.  Kairos time in the Scriptures is God’s time.  Kairos time is lived in the Now, not in the past or in the future.  It is the Now which carries beauty and meaning, purpose and fulfillment.  Kairos time is this moment, whatever we are doing, and the Now is significant.

Perhaps that is why a man we know as Brother Lawrence who lived in the 1600’s as a monk who washed dishes all his life, became so aware of the presence of God in the moment, even the moment full of pots and pan.  II Corinthians 6:1-2 says that “Now is the time of salvation.”  Now!  This moment!  Whatever we are doing!  Now is God’s moment, saturated with the presence and meaning and purposes of God.  Thus kairos time is quality time in this moment.

In this light we do not necessarily need to change the actions of the moment, but rather the attitude and the awareness of the moment.  If every moment is God’s moment, than living in kairos time means that we are both thankful  and very much alive and attentive to all that is unfolding in the moment.  Perhaps kairos time is “heart time, ” in which we filter all that is taking place in our lives, not by the measurement of our wristwatch, but by the impact of our hearts.  So the events of the moment are not obstacles that we have to face in order to live fully, but the events are opportunities to see the footprints of God or hear the whispers of God.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 5: 15-16, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”  “Making the most of the time” is not filling up our day times with more demands, more things to accomplish, but a greater awareness of the moment, the quality of the moment.

Some thoughts to ponder as you live in the moment, the day of salvation.

For you members of Grace Lutheran I will be leading another Day Retreat under the theme “Spirit Walking” based on Galatians 5: 25 (RSV).  This will be July 30th.  A signup sheet is in the Fireside Room.

 

 

 

How’s Your Spirit? “I will give you rest”

I am re-reading the many, many personal journals that I have written.  In this blog I will share  with you one that I recently re-read.  I wrote this on June 26, 2002.

“‘Come to me…I will give you rest…Learn of me…take my yoke upon you.’ (Matthew 11:28ff)

“O Jesus, I come to you.  I come in the quietness of the morning.  I come in the interior of my soul.  I come in prayer, in worship, in the Scriptures.  I come to you.

“Your rest is promised and given.  Rest which is renewing, sustaining, nourishing.  Rest which is more than the lack of work or the absence of stress.  Rest which is more than eight hours of sleep.

“Your rest is new birth.  It is the nourishment given to a malnourished soul.  It is life-giving water to a parched heart.  Your rest energizes.  It encourages and it challenges.  Your rest places my feet on solid ground and allows my heart to jump with joy.  Your rest, O God, is what my longing soul desires and what you promised and what you give.  Rest is what you give and I need and I receive.

“I receive from you, O Jesus through your Word and in worship, though sometimes worship is simply routine and even boring and yet you are present and your gifts are received.  I also receive from people-observing, listening, sharing, becoming friends.  I receive from the land and the sea and the sky-constant but always changing, rugged but inviting, mysterious.

“But, Jesus, help me to understand what it means to ‘learn from you’ and ‘to take your yoke.’  Perhaps what is meant is that your rest is not meant for my comfort, but it is meant for my living for others.  While on sabbatical in Iona I heard a ninety year old who in the 1930’s came to Iona with the original group led by George McCloud.  This ninety year old said, ‘Our lives are meant for export.’  Maybe your rest is given in order to be given away.”

(Thank you to those who have said that you are having trouble replying to my blogs.  Without you telling me I would have no idea. I hope I have done some things to fix it, but I’m not sure.  Let me know.  Thanks.)