THE SPEECH OF SILENCE

Catherine de Hueck Doherty begins the book Poustinia by quoting another author: “Retreats are out…deserts are in!”  She then wrote, “I haven’t noticed too many other people on the North American continent writing about deserts or going to them….It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created is silence, solitude–in a word, the desert.” (p. 18 and 20) (The word Poustinia is Russian for desert.) Silence, or metaphorically the desert, is what we all need, though we might not know it and we definitely do not want it.

I abhor the vacuum of silence, emptiness.  I immediately seek to fill the empty time with activity, even good, positive and sometimes needed activity.  Oh, there are things that I have to do…work on getting permits for building and getting estimates, etc and the things that I have to do are, in fact, God’s will for me at the given moment.  No problem with those activities.

It is the emptiness that I immediately seek to fill, the silence.  Put on the TV or music, try to problem solve the struggles of daily decisions or even world dilemmas, go to a movie, go shopping, sweep the floor.  JUST DO SOMETHING.  Don’t allow myself to get bored, to have too much time to think, to be still, to be present with God.

I am always concerned for lovers who have to fill every moment of their time together with activities, for the depth of speech for lovers is found in the speech of silence together, where true intimacy is found.  It is this speech of silence that I desire with God, for it is in the silence that the fullness of God, the infinite love and fire of God can fill my very being.  That is what I desire.   So, Lord, help me not to run from the empty times, the silent times, the vastness of the void.

DEATH TO LIFE, RECYCLED AGAIN

With the signing of one’s name on a piece of paper, or more correctly, on a ream of paper, a house is sold or a piece of land is purchased.  It is the death of one thing and the emerging new life of another.  It is the termination of one phase of life and the pregnant conception and anticipation of another phase of life and like pregnancy itself, the next phase of life does not happen all at once, but is a slow, sometimes painful, sometimes questionable process.

Wth every ending, with every death, with every loss there is pain and grief, uncertainty and a sense of stepping off a cliff into the unknown.  Some events which cycle us through death to the newness of resurrection are unwanted, unanticipated and unwelcome, such as the death of a spouse.  Other death to resurrection events are thoughtfully, prayerfully considered, such as selling a home and moving to another location.  Yet all death to resurrection cycles carry with them a potpourri of emotions, emotions that are to be experienced and not avoided.

Even as I was journalling this morning about yesterday’s signing the closing papers on my Algona house, I was also reading my old journal about Diane and my last days in Mexico.  Leaving Mexico in 2010 to be the care-givers for Diane’s mother Hazelle meant the death of a life-long dream for me, but it also meant the closing chapter of a tremendously hard journey in Mexico just as the sunrise of resurrection had begun to brighten the horizon.

As Diane and I headed north out of Mazatlan on that very early January 2010 morning to drive straight through to Nogales, AZ USA, I had no idea of the resurrection life awaiting at Grace Lutheran in Des Moines, WA.  Neither did I have any indication of the pain and grief that would attack four and a half years later.

There is no question in my mind that life is hard and the pain of life cannot be avoided.  One cannot detour around death and loss, pain and grief, but with death there is also resurrection and new life.  Resurrection can only occur after the cycle of death and what awaits in the dawning of a new day on the other side of eternity as well as on this side is to be received with gratitude and with faith.

The Second Half of Life

I met a man today.  We were sitting on a bench at Salt Creek County Park west of Port Angels over looking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  What a wonderful day to be by the salt water, watching the freighters and a cruise ship, the ducks, a turkey vulture and three deer drinking salt water and eating kelp.

The man told me a lot about his life and his experiences traveling the world scuba diving with a large scuba club of which he is a member.  What he didn’t say screamed loud in my soul.  He spoke of travels, the friends he is with, the beauty of the oceans, and the warmth of the southern seas, but he said nothing about the Creator of the Oceans or about the people of the countries to which he travels, only about the fun that he has had scuba diving.

I am presently reading a book called FALLING UPWARD by Richard Rohr.  He speaks about the first half of our lives as “largely concerned about surviving successfully” (italics are his), while the second half of our lives “is to find the content that the container was meant to hold.”  I am sure that the “content of our lives” is not simply to be pleasure and happiness.  The late Thomas Merton identified that so many people spend their lives climbing the ladder of success, but only to find out that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

I am not very far into Richard Rohr’s book yet, but at this point the content of my life starts with the adventure inward, of discovering who I am at this point in my life.  As I was asked by a friend, “Who are you now, Stan, when you are a pastor with no church?”  The journey of discovery is not found on the outside of me, but deep within, when God dwells.  As I continue to discover myself, I discover God and as I discover myself and God, I discover the joy of what I still have to offer the world.

 

A WORD TO THE PARALYZED

I have been spending some time pondering the story of the paralytic who was dropped down through the roof of a house onto the lap of Jesus.   Now that I am retired I can spend time thinking/praying about Scripture that is not assigned to me so let me share some of my thoughts and see if the Spirit speaks to you through this story in new ways.  You might want to look up Mark 2: 1-12.  The following are my notes from my journal:

I am the paralyzed man-unable to go forward, stuck, incapacitated.  I am the man totally dependent upon others, being carried by others in prayer.  I am carried, not only to Jesus, not only in and by the faith of others, but I am also dependent on others in this building/permit process.

I am brought to Jesus.  What does he say, what does he do?  First, he says, “Stan, my son, my child.”  Jesus speaks to me, not those carrying me but he calls me by name.  It is a welcome, a warm welcome.  He is not tired of my coming, my complaints, the intercessions of others on my behalf.

And then what does he say/do?  Does he say?  “Your sins are forgiven?”  I ask myself, “What is my deepest need, not my presenting issue?”  I know that my sins are forgiven.  That is not what I hear Jesus say to me.  I hear him speak to my deepest need: “Stan, you are my Beloved; you are not alone.  I am with you and am sufficient for you.”

My presenting need is for Jesus to deal with is my paralysis of the permit process, but rather he speaks to a deeper need.  What I think I need from Jesus is often not what I need at my deepest level.

And what is my response to his word to me?  At one level there is in me a longing to the answer (MY answer, the answer I want to hear) to my paralysis, but within me there is a great sigh of peace.  I have deep within questioned: did I strike out alone, my own decision to retire, to move to Sequim, to buy property, to build with HiLine Homes, to live in a trailer?  Did I do it on my own, am I on my own?

Jesus says, “You are my Beloved; you are not alone.  I am with you and am sufficient for you.”  That is what I needed, not wanted to hear.  Now it is as if my whole body settles into, relaxes into Jesus.  THANK YOU, JESUS.

And then he looks at me in my eyes, still while I am laying on my mat of paralysis and he says to me, “Stan, which is easier for me to say ‘You are my Beloved, you are not alone; I am sufficient for you. Or to say ‘Stan, your paralysis of the permit process are healed, dealt with–trust me and you will walk forward again?'”

Jesus says the later to me and he calls me once again, always, to trust, without seeing, step forward without certaintude.  Step forward in trust, and I say THANK YOU, JESUS.

 

 

 

TODAY, NOT TOMORROW

Those who know me know that I journal and I would like to share my journal scribblings of September 2, 2017.

As I read my old journals from 2009 from Mazatlan, Mx there are similarities and differences in my life then and now.  Wait  was the operative word for me in Mexico and impatience was my routine response.  Even as I was called upon by God to wait for him to open ministry with people, I was also called upon to be active, to do by way of studying Spanish , something I questioned if I would ever learn.

Right now, these many years later, I am again called to wait-wait for my home to be built, but I am also called upon to do, by being active in all the pre-building responsibilities that are required of me.  These are responsibilities that I do not really know how to do, for they are requirements outside of my life’s experience, so I am called upon to trust, to trust God to lead me step by step and show me how to do that which needs to be done.  Now, what is my response?

At times my response is fear and concern, at times frustration, but there is also trust-trust that I am in Christ and Christ is in me and that his faithfulness is good and is constant and is sufficient.

Actually, I am not called by God to wait, but to live.  Today and what is is in front of me at this moment is my life.  My life will not start when my home is completed; it is not something in the future.  In my old pattern of living, my old life, I always longed for the future to be the present.  Somehow I always thought that real life, exciting life was around the corner, but that was not, nor is not the case.

“Today is the day of salvation,” Paul wrote.  Today is the day of wholeness, opportunities, challenges, adventures, difficulties.  I am not to live as if life happens tomorrow.  No, God is inviting me to live today, to live in his immense  love and faithfulness today and that means both waiting and also doing, doing the tasks that are before me at this moment.   The daily task set before me is the will of God for me NOW, not tomorrow.   Thank you, Lord of Love.