Category: nature


Seek and you will find -Jesus

What does this mean? Most of my adult life has interpreted this verse in the typical “churchy”  way. In terms of seeking God and those sorts of things. The “seeker sensitive” churches are all about this for sure. But what if we are overly-religious in how we look at what Jesus said and miss the clear wisdom of the statement?

Observing my diverse group of friends as well as myself has brought me to the conclusion that folks really do ultimately find what they are seeking. We all tend to see what we want to see. For example; when I was a younger man and really into Left Behind type of spirituality I could see the end of the world looming behind every single news story. Also, when I thought humanity was really evil on the whole I would see evil behind everything as well. I liked politics back then and could always see how ‘my side’ had it right.

I never saw that my mind was already made up as I interpreted everything I saw so…..seeking, and I was finding. Thankfully, my journey has been one that has experienced much healing and over the past several years I had found what I had been seeking to be lacking and also a bit depressing. The hard part is that what I was seeking was always being confirmed so it made it hard to evaluate fairly other points of view. This isn’t just true for me on the ‘religious right’ though. I hear skeptics, secularists and cynics finding everything they are seeking to validate their own worldview as well.

I began to want and seek healing, love, truth, beauty and community and guess what, I keep finding it!  As I began to seek healing for the various issues of my life such as; family of origin, poor choices, shame and guilt, I found these areas being healed through the process. Life still hurts and often times these issues have to be re-addressed but that is ok.

I also saw healing in the lives of those who were seeking it. The power behind what I saw was their vulnerability in places that were loving and safe. Vulnerability, in many ways is simply being secure enough to admit we’re unsure about stuff or how to handle it and then asking for help. Seeing Love in action is the most powerful thing in the universe. Love never condemns, especially the vulnerable. I also have seen the Truth in action as people learn of their worth and live in that truth. When we are open and seeking Truth, even if it seemingly contradicts what we “knew”, we become astounded at the Beauty all around us. Although, I do still love the quote “The truth will set you free but tends to piss you off first.”  Then as all these things coalesce the community arises! I have my community of family and friends. This helps me see the vast community of humanity and include all.

If we seek division, we’ll find it.

If we seek negativity, we’ll find it.

If we seek to numb ourselves, we’ll find it.

If we seek to look down on others, we’ll find it.

If we seek to exclude, we’ll find it.

If we seek darkness, we’ll find it.

I encourage you to be aware in 2015. Aware to that which you already seek. Aware to new things to seek. Life is Good and life is tragic all at the same time. It does take eyes to see and ears to hear to catch glimpses of the bigger story. Continue to Seek and you will find.

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This past weekend I finally went on a quiet retreat! In recent years I have come to the place of appreciation for the contemplative and mystic aspects of my Christian faith but it has all been abstract and romanticized in my mind.  I have never really unplugged. Ever. I have gotten away from it all in community at retreats and seminars that have truly been life altering.   Community is absolutely essential in the journey of healing. The solitude is a new thing for me, I like it.  I am coming to see the solitude and quieting is also essential.  To settle in on how loved I am and connected to all things is beautiful to pause and recognize. To stop talking and listen….

A friend and I went to stay for a a little over 24 hours at a Catholic Retreat (you do not have to be Catholic to stay at one of these places, Christ’s Peace House of Prayer Easton, KS) in the country. I had very little expectations for this experience so as to actually experience it. I was thankful that I had a buddy with me for this introduction to a quiet retreat. It was nice to see a recognizable face. We each had our own  simple, comfortable cabin. We went off on our own for the majority of the time.  Food was provided, it was simple and good. The director was very hospitable and kind.

I hiked a bit and sat at different shrines and relaxed in the moment. I discovered on my hikes that fear robs me of experiencing the moment. Be it a rustle in the forest, wasps, or ticks! It would snap me to self-preservation and draw me away.  The truth is; it is unlikely any of those things will result in my demise. Thankfully this was an awareness so I could respond  and not live in the fear reaction.  I returned to my cabin showered away the ticks and chiggers and relaxed a bit. Having little or no expectations allowed me to just be.  I read some and journaled a little. Mostly, I didn’t want to busy my mind. My focus was Jesus.

The director had a cool insight he shared when we arrived. The idea that contemplative prayer is not about spoken (thought) worded prayer but rather it is experiencing the feelings of praying.  The feelings that arise with the simple thought of Jesus. To allow the feelings to arise within at the contemplation of His wonderful name.  This is weird, I get it, but I don’t care. This insight is precious to me and allowed me to be present moment by moment to my experience. Did I get bored and restless? Not as much as I was afraid I would.  I imagine the challenge of boredom and restlessness would be more a challenge during a longer retreat.

Jesus is amazing to me. To become human and identify with humanity and the creation is beyond words.  For God to experience true suffering and identify with every aspect of human abuse and injustice is so beyond comprehension. The Vindicated Forgiving Victim who vindicates us all. The God who weeps.  The One who shows us what the Father is truly like.

This is the Jesus I love.

As I was spending my time alone I felt overwhelming peace.  I really was amazed by this peace. As my friend  would say “Shalom in da home”  I rested in it.  There was nothing artificial about it. Nothing worked towards.  Peace.

To recognize and feel peace

To recognize and feel love

To recognize and feel healing

To recognize and feel acceptance

To recognize and feel connection to everything

To recognize and feel Jesus…

The feelings of peace, love, healing, acceptance, and connection is the Love of the Father through Jesus being poured out by the Spirit.  Our minds can’t fathom it. It’s foolishness and I am glad. The fun of theology/philosophy can be adventures in the vanity of thinking about the God who is beyond thought.  To taste and see that I want more.

This was such a valuable appetizer and I am hopeful to engage in this practice for years to come. But in the everyday I want to choose more daily disconnection from technology and more connection to the real in all its forms.  May you disconnect and connect as well.

 

 

I know there was an email similar to this awhile back but I don’t care.

Today, when I got home I noticed these pretty little yellow flowers popping up in my yard. I remembered when I was young a neighbor kid said you could eat them. They look like beautiful little buttercups.  I instantly also thought “weeds” and got out the weed killer and sprayed the lawn. Now, I wonder why?  I actually like the little yellow flowers. I am not a yard expert. They may be the death of all my grass if I kept them for all I know, but I don’t really know.

I do know these little yellow flowers did not fit in the conformity I want for my lawn.  How did we get this way? Why do I appreciate a nice lawn without weeds? Can you imagine if mankind had its way with say, the rain forests of the world. We may say it was all a weed and mow it down.

It makes me wonder how ofter we/I do this with people I encounter. What if they’re different from me? I better pull them (or myself ) out of what I am used to. What if the the little yellow flower was meant to be there and bring color to the ordinary green of the lawn.  What if the person who is not like me is meant to bring color to my life and I to theirs?

I think order, conformity and regularity can be among  the most difficult things to recognize as limiting the growth God wants for us.  I want to be courageous enough to enjoy and love those not like me and I don’t always find this difficult. However, there are times when I want to pull back and not face the risk. What if it all looks like a mess?

You know what I have come to believe? Life is a mess, a beautiful mess. I am glad I am learning to see people for the beautiful creatures they are.

I am not so optimistic about my poor little yellow flowers in my yard.

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