9.18.2013 | 0 Comments
Those Who Show Us the Way
9.11.2013 | 0 Comments
A TED talk by photographer Louie Schwartzberg, and a short film (exquisite) narrated by Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast. Watch and open your life to Life, experience the truth that “Today is a gift that was given to you, and the only appropriate response is gratitude.”
See the world again through the eyes of a child and an elderly man.
8.14.2013 | 0 Comments
Christian Wiman is a poet whose prose has grabbed my attention. Having grown up in west Texas, where he never knew a non-Christian until he went to college, Wiman, walked away from his Christian faith, from any faith, until recently. In his most recent book, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, Wiman writes raw and articulately about faith. He’s not a conventional Christian. He struggles to believe. He bangs against orthodoxy. But he can’t shake that “insistent, persistent ghost”.
Here’s a passage that names what many today feel, those who find it hard to believe in God, yet struggle more to not believe:
“. . . nights all adagios and alcohol as my mind tore luxuriously into itself. I can see now how deeply God’s absence affected my unconscious life, how under me always there was this long fall that pride and fear and self-love at once protected me from and subject me to. Was the fall into belief or into unbelief? Both. For if grace woke me to God’s presence in the world and in my heart, it also woke me to his absence. I never truly felt the pain of unbelief until I began to believe.”
Does belief pain you? Do doubts persist? Questions nag?
If so, you’re not alone. Authentic faith has room for such a struggle. It needs room for that struggle if faith is to be real in times as troubles as these.
Intention: Today, I’ll mindfully hold two things within my heart–my belief in God and my struggle to believe. That honest tension creates the inner space of true prayer.
5.08.2013 | 0 Comments
Gordon Cosby may be the most influential pastor you’ve never heard of. He’s a model and mentor of the kind of life I write about in these posts. And today, we need strong models, witnesses to the life of the Spirit. He’s one who attracted thousands upon thousands to the Jesus of the Gospels, many who were either burned out or turned out by the Jesus of suburbia bandied about buy a large segment of American Christianity. His vision of Jesus and his way of life is particularly important in these days of increased suspicion, hostility, and violence.
Gordon died on March 20, 2013 in Washington DC. The co-founder of the Church of the Savior co-founder and life-long servant leader he passed into the full presence of God at Christ House, a hospice he helped to found for the homeless.
From the Washington Post:
Gordon was absolutely Christian. He was focused on Jesus and sought to live deeply in Christ. I once asked him if his intense focus on Christ did not get in the way of interfaith conversation and respect. He told me that it was his experience that those who went most deeply into their own religion’s truths seemed to understand each other and communicate with each other best. He was profoundly and distinctively Christian without an ounce of parochialism.
4.21.2013 | 0 Comments
How many of us have dreamed of doing something new, adding something to our lives, cutting something out?
And how many of us have done what we’ve dreamed of doing? Why not?
In this TED Talk, Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google, invites you to do something for 30 days . . . and see what happens. In less than six minutes, he’ll embolden you to step out and achieve something new in your life.
Write a novel.
Break the Facebook stranglehold on your time.
Go deeper in prayer.
Stop dreaming and DO.
3.11.2013 | 0 Comments
“Objects tend to crowd out the life they are meant to support,” says Graham Hill. He’s a guy who made it big, very big, before he was thirty.
A windfall from a tech-startup put more money into his bank account than he knew what to do with. So he bought stuff. Lots of it. Eventually, owning two residences on the west and east coast, a bunch of nice cars, techie equipment, and so on, he came to realize that he wasn’t owning any of it; it was owning him.
If you want God, then I want you to know Graham Hill. You can read more about him in this short article from yesterday’s New York Times, Sunday Review.
All of us can do what he did, but most of us will choose not to. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. What matters is that you and I do something now to let go of what is nonessential so that we can find the freedom to hold on to what is.
Look around yourself. You’ll find there’s so much that’s nonessential . . . non-essence . . . so much that’s not part of the life, the essence, God is holding out to you.
Intention: Today, I’ll stop, momentarily, a couple times throughout the day. I’ll look around and notice how much of my stuff is nonessential, how much of it clutters my life, keeps me from the life I long for. I’ll bet I can find at least 10 nonessential things for every 1 that is. I’ll toss at least one thing I can do without.
3.07.2013 | 0 Comments
This is an advanced teaching, but a goal toward which even the beginning disciple can aspire. Thomas a’Kempis, in his book, The Imitation of Christ, says: “Desire to be stripped of all, and once naked you will be ready to follow the naked Jesus. All your foolish imaginings will disappear, as well as the evil thoughts and useless worries that plague you.”
He wrote that in the fifteenth century, but it so easily fits with today. Foolish imaginings? Useless worries? How many of those imaginings and worries crowd into my brain like fearful Americans lined up at the gun counter at Walmart?
Yet Jesus himself said: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. And do not be afraid, little flock. Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luke 12.22-34).
We’ve got too much stuff to take care of, organize, and protect. It gets in the way of what you really crave: the Beloved.
Intention: Today, I’ll let myself feel the weight of all I own. Not just my stuff, but my ambition, my hopes, my fears. And I’ll choose to let one thing go, and as I do, draw nearer to Christ.
3.04.2013 | 0 Comments
Most of us don’t mean to make a mess of our lives. But a mess is what most of our lives become from time to time:
. . . sometimes for much longer than we’d like
. . . and occasionally without much hope of good coming from it.
If we’re human, we can’t avoid the mess. In fact, as I testify here in a recent episode of the new podcast Parenting ReImagined, the mess of life is precisely where we work out a robust spirituality in the midst of daily life, where we find ourselves nearest to God, and God nearest to us.
Take a listen. Dr. Sherry Walling is a winsome and warm interviewer (much like Krista Tippett of On Being fame, but wonderfully also her own person). In this podcast, Remembering to Breathe, she gets yours-truly talking about the darkness, brokenness, and mess of my own life, and the astonishing beauty that is emerging from it. She helps me explore family life, parenting, spirituality, and concrete practices for living in the mess without getting sucked down into the mire.
It’s not a bad Lenten meditation on humanity, divinity, death, and rebirth.
Intention: Today, I’ll breathe. And by breathing, I’ll pray myself nearer to my own humanity. And by paying attention to the life that’s living in me, I’ll stop trying to escape the mess and instead, let God meet me here.
THIS WEEKEND! “The Art of Meditation: Sustaining the Compassionate Life” with Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB in Fresno :: Sign up today!
2.04.2013 | 0 Comments
How can I pray when I feel so scattered?
Is there a way to experience more of God in the midst of my busy life?
Can I find more meaning in the daily tasks I do?
How do I respond redemptively to the rise of violence and fear in our world?
Click here to go to the website for more information or to pre-register!
Prayer isn’t an escape from the world, nor is it merely asking God for things, for security, for safety. Prayer is relationship with the Beloved, it is the experience of union with the One who made and loves you.
Prayer is, of course, words. But it’s got to be more than words just as a relationship must be more than words if it’s going to do what good relationships do. And prayer also must turn us outward in meaningful engagement with the daily tasks that are ours to do, and in compassion that helps transform the world into the world God is making it to be.
Prayer is the most basic expression of our faith; in fact, aside from breathing, is is the most basic act of being human.
Each year, UPC hosts the Central California Prayer of the Heart Conference. This year’s conference combines our Prayer of the Heart Conference and the Interfaith Scholar Weekend. Fr. Laurence Freeman is one of the world’s greatest living teachers of Christian prayer and meditation. If you want your life to count, to act in whatever small or great way you feel compelled to act in this world, then meditative prayer is a necessity. It grounds you in Jesus Christ, the center of life.
This conference will help bring meaning, perspective, power, and dignity to your life, and it will join you with others, who, like you are offering their lives for the sake of healing the world. It will help you walk courageously, yet gently as a redemptive force to bring hope and healing to the world around you.
Friday, February 8, Location: Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (no charge)
7:00pm Lecture “Meditation into the Common Ground”
Saturday, February 9, Location: Temple Beth Israel, Fresno ($45 advance, $50 at the door, $10 students)
8:30 am Continental Breakfast and Registration
9:00 Shabbat Observance (Torah Commentary)
9:15 Lecture: “The Crisis of Religion is the Time for Contemplation”
10:45 Lecture: “The Cave of the Heart: The Stages of Meditation”
1:15 Session: “Questions and Answers with Fr. Laurence Freeman”
Sunday, February 10, Location: University Presbyterian Church (no charge)
9:30am Worship with a sermon and guided meditation by Fr. Freeman
For more information about Fr. Laurence Freeman click here.
To register for Saturday’s conference click here.
2.01.2013 | 0 Comments
Often I get the impression that people think the spiritual life is a struggle, something serious. Clergy bear a lot of the blame for this. I think we clergy make it serious so we can stay in control. That’s not just silly, it’s harmful.
Here’s a little poem to help you enjoy God today. It’s from St Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth century Spanish nun, who knew more than her share of serious clerics.
How did those priests ever get so serious
and preach all that gloom?
I don’t think God
Intention: Today I’ll open myself to playfulness and sense in it the tickle of the Beloved.