My heart is bending for the sacred season. I anticipate it every year and make plans, sometimes plans too great to carry through.
There’s something about the coming life of spring associated with Lent, a season of spiritual preparation to receive life. Along the journey, in spring and Lent, the soul is shaped to receive and bloom out new life. The metaphor of the spiritual life being a garden makes sense to me during spring, during Lent. Repentance and preparation is preparing the garden to carry life, and we see early signs of life in the process.
I’ve always been this way, as far as I can remember. Lent has always been an anticipated time. Warm spring days have always carried a spiritual significance to them, like a grace of God received and cherished – meant to be absorbed into the core of our being. This joy, once received, can’t help but express itself in gratitude and generosity – at least it’s a prayer of mine that it continues to be that way.
I’m excited for Lent. I wonder what this season will bring this year.
I read St. Benedict’s Rule not too long ago and something this morning made old residual questions from that reading resurface. For starters, the concept of developing a Rule for Life that’s loosely influenced by Benedict’s sketch is a great idea.
This is my question:
What if congregations developed a Rule of Life and filtered all the things they did, say, and planned through that same rule. What if being a “member” wasn’t just relegated to having heard some chief parts of doctrine at some previous part of your life. What if being a “member” was living in a community of people who lived a common life that was guided by a Rule of some kind (which would be obviously influenced by the life of Christ)?
Some people’s lives seem messier than others. It always comes as a surprise when it’s “the pastor’s kid” who goes off the deep end. That’s Nathan’s story in Wisdom Chaser.
Wisdom Chaser is a collection of short thoughts and stories from a son who is getting to know himself and his father. The setting is the collection of 14,000 foot mountains of Colorado. And, it all starts with an estranged relationship and a risky question: “Do you want to climb the 14-ers, Dad?”
With the stories of adventure and failure on the mountain, interspersed by life’s parallels in the normal places of life, Nathan and his dad Richard (of Christian spirituality fame, a la The Celebration of Discipline) explore the mystery of one another and of God. The core of the story is learning humility, and accepting oneself as a person who is low – that life is made up of this very moment and not meant to be the pursuit of being the top person on whichever ladder you’re dreaming of. We need freedom from that competition that dehumanizes. We need salvation from The Western Way. Continue reading
(Thoughts on obedience and life with the EverPresent Jesus)
I believe it is the lack of faith in the reality that the Living Christ is always with us that deflates our courage, faith, and obedience. We feel isolated and it feels to be a burden to carry out our Lord’s will, as if he is distant from us and we that we may hear from him some time later regarding our actions. …much like hearing reading a letter a week later after you first wrote.
Rather, when we live life from faith in the reality of the Everpresent Jesus, the one who is with us and before us as a real person and presence, we have the faith that whatever is done in life is done not for Jesus but with him. Any change, healing, or hope that we walk into, we discover and realize is not from us but from the presence of God, of Jesus, the one who is with us always.
We believe and live this way, no longer preoccupied with carrying out a distant Lord’s will, but instead, by accompanying Jesus in all of life. In this way we are keeping his will because our attentions have been shaped by Scripture to be on him, which is to say, to pray without ceasing – not casting prayers to a distant deity, but keeping company and conversation with Immanuel, God-With-Us.
When we live from this state of being, this posture, we see resurrection life around us take shape, not as a result of our obedience, but because the Christ himself is present and shaping us to be ones who express life as we are healed and vivified by the Spirit. This is true obedience: to be ones who once again have been gifted the capacity to express the Image of God (that is, Jesus).
Today (October 4) is the day we celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He’s a guy I want to learn more about – beyond the elementary stories I’ve picked up. I want to learn and experience what propelled him into some of the radical, yet ordinary decisions he made. I want to embody some of the same passion he carried within himself as God moved him along – that kind of passion that allowed him to express freedom as he followed and knew Jesus as savior and lord.
For starters on learning, I read this this morning:
A clip about Francis from www.commonprayer.net:
Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1286)
Francis was born to a merchant family in the Italian city of Assisi. As a young man, he was attracted to adventure and moved by romantic tales of knights. When he himself became a knight, Francis met a leper while riding through the countryside. Overwhelmed by a divine impulse, Francis dismounted his horse, shared his coat with the leper, and kissed the man’s diseased face. Captivated by the experience, Francis began to re-imagine his life in light of the gospel, renouncing his selfish desires and his father’s wealth. A beggar for Christ’s sake, Francis inspired thousands to walk away from worldly success and join his movement of friars who sought to renew the church in their day.
Next step for learning, this soon-coming IVP book: The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom. I look forward to its release!