Friday, February 15, 2008

Your word is a lamp for me steps, for the path just ahead of me.
- Psalm 119:105

Our congregation’s Lenten Meditations consist of a small envelope containing forty different words: patience, direction, openness, healing . . . The instructions are simple: draw a word each and live with it, do with it what engages you.

Okay. There are forty words. Since Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 6, I have drawn nine words. Five of them are the same word: love.

I’ve been thinking about this, praying about this and the word that keeps coming to mind and my heart is curiosity; that in some profound and powerful way love and curiosity are linked.

Imagine for a moment that you are entering a new situation, you are not sure what is expected and you don’t know anyone. In these kinds of settings I often find that my first reaction is one of narrowed vision - of being physically unable to take in information that surrounds me.

Usually this occurs when I have some fear of the future. When I can relax into the situation and engage my curiosity, I find that colors pop out, more detail can be observed, and that a sense of friendliness takes over.

Curiosity can be inner directed and other directed: humm . . . I wonder why I needed to eat absolutely everything on my plate and eat dessert when I was full after eating the dinner salad; or, I wonder about the person sitting next to me – what makes their heart sing with delight, what do they love more than anything else . . .

When I can relax (another word here could be trust) and engage my curious self, life becomes full of light and small details shine with unexpected grace. Really, this is how I want to live each day – curious about what will unfold; aware of the undercurrents of the Holy Spirit; noticing the presence of Christ; following the leading of God.

May you be blessed with a curious day!

God, open my heart to trust each step.
Let me not jump ahead of myself or of your leading.
Fill me with wonder, curiosity, and love.

- Laurie Rudel

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday, February 6

Thomas Powers tells this story: The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage.

After it have been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult and no violinist could play it. Stravinsky said, "I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it."

While this conversation took place between an musician and a composer it could have taken place between God and a disciple.

Disciple: I’m sorry but the part you have given me to play in life is much too difficult. I’m doing my best and it isn’t good enough.

God: I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to live the life I’ve given them.

What I know about living the spiritual life is this: we do our best. We stumble. We try again. We fail. Our best seems insufficient. We stop.

We may turn to God and ask that another life be given to us, or more commonly, we sink deeply into the couch and with remote in hand search the channels for someone else’s life that we imagine we will like much better than our own.

Of course this makes us lethargic and maybe even cranky—after all, how can it be that with hundreds of channels there still is nothing on TV that fills our souls, nothing that tells me who I am?

Lent is the time of year that asks particular, focused questions: Will you come and follow me to the very end? What is the sound of your heart beating at one with the heart of God? When as a community our hearts beat together as one heart what does God intend for us to do?
Again and again, we may say it is too difficult. We cannot live this life of full-hearted love: it is impossible. I am not Jesus!

And God says: "That is precisely the point! You are not Jesus, you are _______ (fill in your name): a child of mine in whom I long to dwell. So show me the sound of you trying to live the life I’ve given you."

Lent. There is a wildness hidden in here that whistles through our hearts and calls us by our true name: Love incarnate. Listen. Listen.