Go Ahead and Dance

A cloak of heaviness hung over my house.

There had been one thing after another after another for a few weeks now, and I felt like I couldn’t keep my head above water before the riptide of my life dragged me down again.  Working two jobs, trying to start my own business, attempting to flip my first house with my mother, trying to get everything in order to leave town for 2 weeks,  and my 97 year old grandmother being taken to the emergency room after repeated falls left me weary and worn thin.

My boyfriend was under intense stress of his own, having quit his job to start his own business and trying to juggle a long distance relationship with me amidst the pressure of a start-up.  Every time him and I felt we were seeing a break in the clouds and that we may finally may be able to move in the direction of him being able to move and us finally be in the same location after being long distance for a year, the proverbial rug would get pulled out from underneath of us.  Again.  We were both exhausted and drained after months of intense pressure and stress.

These stresses led to poor communication between my boyfriend and I.  We simply weren’t hearing each other, and our hearts were lost somewhere in the shuffle.  What would typically be easy, light conversation between us felt like led.  Both of us felt our needs weren’t being met.  Instead of gazing into each other’s eyes, it felt like we were turning our backs to each other and walking away in defeat.

The weight of everything heaped upon my shoulders, I went about my day wearing a black cloak of heaviness.

My mom was cooking dinner and her pandora mix blared from her bluetooth speaker.  I found myself exclaiming, “Oh! I love this song!” when Hall & Oates  “You Make My Dreams” came on.  The flash mob dance to this song in the movie “500 days of Summer” pierced my mind, and I suddenly began to silly dance in the middle of the kitchen.  My Mom, who had been battling heaviness too, joined me.  The music blared, and we danced.  We danced like no one was watching, and the heaviness broke.  The dark clouds rolled away and the sun began to shine through.  The black cloak I had been wearing slinked to the floor.

The entire atmosphere shifted by choosing to step into joy for just a moment.  Once the moment had passed God reminded me of the passage in Isaiah 61:3: “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” It is the garment of praise that breaks the spirit of heaviness. God has created it this way- that praise should cast off the heaviness that intended to keep you bound.  When life’s burdens are dragging you down one of the best things you can do is put on worship music and sing praises to the God in whom there is no lack.  Perhaps when you start worshipping God you won’t feel like it, and you’ll barely be able to mouth the words to the song while tears are streaming down your face.  I encourage you to praise out of obedience to who God is, and not based on your circumstances or how you feel.  Most of the time when I offer this sacrifice of praise in the moments I don’t feel like it, and I continue to press into His presence, my emotions will eventually follow my obedience, and my body will eventually follow my heart.  What began as me being able to barely mouth the words to a worship song will end in me kneeling before a most Holy God, undone at His beauty, grace, and goodness, raising my hands to the One who paid it all for me.

God used this simple example in my life to remind me that the garment of praise truly breaks the spirit of heaviness.  Next time the heaviness is weighing us down, let’s choose to praise Him and cast it off!

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The Journey

Feet on the dash, I sat in the passenger seat with the windows down and the wind blowing through my hair as my boyfriend drove us through the Adirondacks in New York on our way to his annual family vacation in Vermont.  Lord Huron blared on the radio as I peered outside at the lush green surroundings.  The five hour drive was largely on the back winding roads through small towns filled with local mountain stores to stock up on smores supplies and lakeside campgrounds with the smell of wood fires burning.  Although it was the end of July there was a crispness in the air that to my Virginia blood felt like fall.  With the family canoe strapped to the roof of the Civic, we rambled toward Vermont after stopping for beef jerky to snack on the rest of the drive.


A large, red bridge came into view and I begged my boyfriend to pull over and stop so we could enjoy the perfect blue sky and rolling stream beneath the bridge.  He gladly obliged, as he had just bough a drone and saw a perfect opportunity to test it out.  I laid beside the bridge, listening to the stream and watching the sparrows flitting back and forth in the sky beneath the fluffy clouds.  We seemed to be the only people within miles radius.  A strange emotion crept up on me and settled deep in the pit of my stomach: contentment.  There was a deep abiding peace in my soul that very moment despite knowing that we were delaying our arrival at the vacation house–I was finally at peace on the journey.  Contentment has never been my forte.  Every personality type has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and dare I say that your greatest strength is probably also something that when it is turned on its head is also your greatest weakness.  I have always been someone in search of the next adventure, seeking to arrive at my destination as quickly as possible so I can cram in the maximum amount of experiences into every trip.  This has many benefits, but savoring the moments like this one on the journey is not one of them.


Laying beside the bridge with my boyfriend in the silence felt like I had finally arrived right where I was supposed to be all along: being able to enjoy life on it’s own terms and time table.


We will get there eventually.  I’m just finally enjoying the journey.

 

The Undoing

The evening started out fine: dinner and drinks out with a few friends and my boyfriend at our favorite Mexican joint in upstate New York.  After dinner we migrated towards a local bar to meet up with a different group of friends for a few drinks.

I’m typically quite good at pacing myself and feeling how much I’ve had to drink and when I need to stop.  I’m way past the stage of life where I am seeking to have more than enough alcoholic beverages.  That evening, though, apparently my inner radar was off, because I was fine, I was fine, and then suddenly a line was crossed and I was decidedly not fine very quickly.  I vaguely remember my boyfriend’s face spinning as he said to his friends that he had never seen me this way before and that he needed to take me home.

By the time we got home I was yelling that I needed to throw up.  My boyfriend swarmed around me, putting a trash can in front of me and trying to get me comfortable.  I told him I didn’t want him to see me that way and asked that he leave the room.  After I had thrown up I screamed for him and he took the trash can away.  I felt better for a few seconds, and then I immediately needed to throw up again as the room spun around me and tilted on it’s axis.

Guilt and shame washed over me, and hot tears began to stream down my face as my boyfriend hugged me.  My crying became increasingly more intense, to the point where I could no longer speak.  My boyfriend stroked my hair as I cried on his shoulder, my body heaving with my heavy sobs.  This was way past the “cute cry” stage; snot was running down my face and my eyes were swollen shut.  What began as a sting of shame for my boyfriend seeing me in such a vulnerable position that I was ashamed of turned into a release.  I’m not quite sure when it switched from being gentle tears of shame for being drunk when I had not intended to drink too much to every thing I ever felt guilty for, and everything I felt ashamed of breaking off me.

For an hour I sobbed on my boyfriend’s shoulder and allowed everything to break off me: every last bit of guilt, shame, fear, and every heavy load I have carried throughout my life.  Memories from my childhood, family drug addictions, my parents divorce- every last bit of false responsibility I had carried broke off with each loud sob.  There was a shift from feeling ashamed to a deep inner knowing of how unconditionally loved I am by this man of mine, and I was undone.  My boyfriend embodied the love of the Father to me that night in flesh and bone beside me and fear, guilt, shame and regret cannot stand in light of that Love.

For the first time in my life I felt like I could finally let go.  Experiencing this unconditional love wrapped in skin and holding me tight allowed me to shake off my weary past and finally see and feel myself as beloved.  There was an urgent nature to my sobs:  a shrugging off of all that entangled, a setting free.  There’s a mysterious nature to what broke inside me that night, but I know it was deeply spiritual, necessary, and good.

The deep mystery is I am beloved by God sins, faults, and all.  And I’m beloved by this man of mine sins, faults, and all.  There’s nothing more life changing than that.  There’s nothing more freeing than that.

**please note I am not condoning drunkenness in this post in any way.  I’m simply trying to praise the God who turns everything around for good, even our faults and shortcomings.**

The Face of Love

Love stared straight into my eyes this morning, locking it’s gaze with mine, transforming me from the inside out.  It didn’t bring me flowers or gifts.  There was no fan fare.  There was no sentimentality or rush of heightened emotion to crash down from.

Love unfolded itself before me, quiet, unassuming as I helped my bed bound patient’s husband change his wife’s diapers.  We struggled to hold her body weight up as we rolled her from side to side in her hospital bed removing the soiled linens, diapers, and soaking wet pajama bottoms.  The smell of urine pierced my nostrils and was so pungent I could only breath through my mouth.  I held my patient up as her husband tenderly cleaned her, returning any sharp word from her with kindness and grace.  We worked silently: him wiping his wife down, me laying out supplies and helping lift her legs, roll her from side-to-side, and rubbing her back and making sure she was OK.  She cowered in a ball, face to the rails of the hospital bed, allowing herself to be weak, vulnerable, messy, and cared for, just as she was.  After cleaning all the linens, changing her diaper, re-dressing the patient and repositioning her in the bed we covered her again with her blankets.  My patient’s husband typically does this every day of his life, alone.  There is no one there to applaud him for doing every act with kindness and great love.  There is not a soul present to thank him for his tireless work.

This is love.  Love shows up when we reek of urine and can only lie in a heap of our own helplessness.  Love is quiet and goes about it’s business without the slightest head nod of recognition from others.  Love loves for the sake of loving, even those, especially those who have absolutely nothing to give in return.  Love recognizes the God-given identity in each living soul and treats them accordingly, no matter their current feeble state.

This is the love that changes the world.  This is the way of Jesus:  down is up, the first is last.  The path to true greatness is in serving and laying down your life.  This way doesn’t make sense according to the ways of this world, but if you step inside this love, you will find it’s the very thing your heart was made to both give and receive.

Praise God for any and every opportunity to allow us to love more like Jesus.

Legacy

A dark blanket of gloomy clouds hung over the city and drizzled rain today as I got dressed in all black.  After my church service I went to a memorial service for one of my high school and college friend’s Father’s, a man who had a profound impact on my life despite the little I knew him.  I considered my friend’s Father to be a spiritual Father of sorts, as I went to a weekly Bible study he hosted at his home from the time I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at age fifteen all the way through high school.  I remember him being a man of profound wisdom, kindness, warmth, and generosity.  People who have spent a lot of time with the Lord carry a weight on them:  the words they speak carry authority, and peace, love and unity seem to follow them wherever they go.   He ultimately succumbed to the terrible disease of ALS at too young of an age, but his joy in the Lord never left him despite the undeniable hardship of his disease.

My friend who I met at fifteen years of age, knew all through high school, and remained close with through college now stood before me and hundreds of lives his Father’s life had touched as a grown man with three children of his own giving his Father’s eulogy. Somehow, at the age of thirty-four, I have arrived at what is likely to be the half way point of my life.   Listening to my friend speak of his Father’s life and looking out on the audience of so many lives profoundly impacted by one life well lived, I couldn’t help but think of the importance of a legacy.  We in our westernized culture fear, diminish, and generally try to avoid the topic of death.  It’s almost as if we think if we just don’t talk about it, if we avoid it long enough, maybe death won’t happen to us.  The reality is that death is certain.  What is not certain is if we will live our life well while we still live.  I listened to a podcast with Father Richard Rohr once where he described a tribe that as a coming of age ritual would make their children dig their own graves.  We may think of this as morbid, but this tribe felt it was the only way the children could come to grips with their own mortality.  By digging their own graves, they could come to grips with their certain fate, the fact that they were made from dust, God breathed life into them, and eventually, to dust they would return.  From this standpoint of facing their death, they could find their lives purpose and truly live.  This approach to life strikes me as more healthy and more balanced than our cultures avoidance of the inevitability of death.  Without keeping death and eternity in view, we glide through life never making any definite decisions on how to actually live the one life we’ve been given, and arrive at death having never accomplished the tasks that God sent us here for.

My friend stood before us and spoke of his Father’s life-a life of faith, integrity, and deep character.  He explained how his Father had been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at a very young age which caused him much pain and prevented him from sleeping well. Even with his lack of sleep, he said he never failed to find his Father up reading the Word at 5:30 every morning.  He explained how he was a man that used every precious amount of spare time that he had wisely to serve others and with purpose for the Kingdom.  My friend explained that even though he was not a Pastor or in the ministry per se (he sold propane for a living), that in every business interaction he worked with such integrity and treated all he encountered with such love that all who encountered him respected him.  He turned down job promotions over the years because of his refusal to cut into his time with his family and his insistence to consistently make it home by 5:30 p.m. every day and have family time.  I was moved by my friends description of his Father’s practices of discipline with him as a child.  He explained that he was a very strong-willed child and very hard headed (I laughed under my breath knowing this to be true), and that he got into trouble often.  He said that when he got into trouble, even at a very young age, his Father would allow him an opportunity to “make his case”, having figured out that his personality worked better when he had the opportunity to defend himself (go figure that he ended up being a lawyer!).  After he made his case, he would then state his view point of why his son was wrong.  His Father would then ask him which case was correct, stating the obvious that it was really his word against his son’s.  His Father suggested they base right and wrong on the Word. Once they determined what the Word said on a particular matter, if my friend had violated it he would get a spanking, they would hug afterwards, and then pray together.  My friend said that in his household grace and discipline always held hands in harmony.  When discipline is over emphasized over grace a child’s heart grows hard and rebellious.  When grace is over emphasized without discipline a child runs wild and has no standard of behavior.  In his household he said he knew without a doubt that he was unconditionally loved and accepted, but also knew that there were standards set for his behavior for his own good and in order to honor God.  What a beautiful picture of the heart of the Heavenly Father for us as well.

Listening to the eulogy and feeling the weight of a life so well lived, I tried to reflect on the elements that make a person be able to say at the end of their life that they ran their race well.  Looking at my spiritual Father’s life a few things were apparent: performing every act, no matter how small with integrity and character, having spiritual discipline and prioritizing God above all things, making fierce boundaries to protect your family, prioritizing family over career, living to serve others, denial of self, and joy in the face of every trial because of an enduring hope in Christ.   In every act we perform in our lives, we are either choosing things of temporal or eternal significance.  He always chose the eternal.

At the end I think what matters most is how transformed we were by our Heavenly Father’s love and grace, how we allow that love to change us, and how we in turn allow that love to flow through us to everyone we have come into contact with, changing them as well.  His was a life well lived because his belief wasn’t what Western culture has dumbed it down to be:  purely a mental assent to a theological belief system.  Belief in Biblical terms is something that you stake your whole life on and behave accordingly.  The most famous Bible verse that we could all probably quote, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.  His life was powerful because he didn’t just mentally assent to this belief, he poured his entire life out for it, and all of us in the audience could attest to the impact it makes on a life when you encounter someone who lives truly loving God and their neighbor.  This was a man who lived the Gospel.  He was transformed by it, and everyone who came into contact with him was transformed by the love that he gave away in turn.

We all hunger for this kind of life.  We hunger to live a life that matters.  We can only live for what matters if we live in light of eternity.  I am desperate to spend my life beholding His face and declaring His love to every person I come into contact with.  I pray at my memorial service that I would have been able to personally encourage each soul in attendance their belovedness by our loving Heavenly Father.  I pray that I spend my life pouring myself out for the needs of others and giving away the lavish love and forgiveness that the Father has poured out on me.  In the words of Jim Elliot, the Christian missionary who lost his life while spreading the gospel to unreached people groups, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Oh, that we may truly live.

I think this is Jesus’ major message: there is something essential that you only know by dying.  You really don’t know what life is until you know what death is.  Death, which seems like our ultimate enemy, is actually the doorway.  This is how Jesus overcame and even destroyed death.-Father Richard Rohr

What Exactly is Church?

For the past 10 months or so I’ve been seriously dating a Catholic.  I shudder a little bit even writing that sentence, because while that statement is true, he is indeed a Catholic, he is so much more than that.  Isn’t that just like us humans, though, always categorizing each other? You are the same as me; you are different from me.  You are similar enough that we can co-exist; you are different enough that we must separate.

The second day my (now) boyfriend and I met we were in Oregon on a hike in Bend at Smith Rock.  I don’t remember how we stumbled upon religion in our conversation, but it came up that he was Catholic.  When I asked about his family, he divulged that he was the second of ten children, and that two of his brothers were priests and one of his sisters was a nun.  I remember the words rolling out of my mouth, “Ohhh, you’re really Catholic, huh?”  The next day we took an all day road trip together from Bend to Portland, Oregon for both of us to fly back to the East Coast (he lives in Syracuse, NY and I live in Richmond, VA).  We stopped at a bakery for some pastries and coffee before the adventures of the day and had conversation between us with no respect to time.  The conversation turned to serious spiritual discussions concerning some normally very divisive topics, and I remember thinking, “Wow, I never expected to think so similarly to a Catholic”.

Me dating a Catholic is proof that God’s ways are decidedly not my ways.  Had my boyfriend and I met in Richmond at a party of a mutual friend, the moment that he dropped in conversation that he was Catholic I would have filed that relationship under “never going to happen” and walked away.  God in His boundless loving kindness and wisdom that far surpasses mine, saw fit to build our relationship on similarities instead of divisive differences.  After two days of the most epic road trip of my life a few things were clear: I had the most intense soul connection with this person that I had ever had with any other human being, and that the vast majority of our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and values were the same despite being in those divisive categories of Catholic and Protestant.  God cleverly built our relationship on those similarities, and it was only us with our preconceived notions that picked each other apart with our divisions.

The majority of my life I was taught that “Catholics don’t really know God”.  Spoiler alert: there are many people who are Protestant who don’t really know God, and there are also many Catholics who don’t really know God.  Faith, as always, is a matter of the heart and not outward pretext.  I have no idea how things will end up between my boyfriend and I, but I am so thankful that God loves me enough to not leave me closed minded in my own prejudices.

Following months of sparks flying with intense theological debate, the question that is rumbling around in my heart is, “What is Church, exactly?”  The church I attend presently looks nothing like the church of my youth.  What started as liturgical repetition of the Lord’s prayer and the Nicene Creed has now turned into hands raised abandoned to God in worship and a much more relaxed atmosphere.  This church has a choir.  This church has a sound system, lights, a power point slideshow and a full band.  In this church you kneel, stand, kneel again.  In this church you recite liturgical prayers.  In this church there is no scripted prayers. In this church you genuflect and have holy water. What is Church?

We walk into church with our fake smiles, dressed in our Sunday best, and never tell a soul inside it’s walls that our life is broken, unmanageable.  We check church off our to-do list, thinking we have met the obligation, and return home, completely unchanged, living no differently than we were before we went.  We leave just as thirsty for God and community as we walked in.  No one sees the real, broken version of ourselves (because we most certainly won’t let them-we are supposed to have it all together!), and we don’t really see anyone else either.  We are separate souls floating mechanically in and out of a beautiful building, “church”, never really knowing one another, never truly encountering God.  The lost, the hurting, the broken never step foot over our churches doorsteps.  And why should they? Everyone inside it’s walls seems to have it all together.  Church seems like a club you can only join once you are cleaned up and presentable (after all, won’t God only accept us once we are cleaned up and presentable to Him, too?).

Shannan Martin writes in her book “Falling Free”, “Quite bluntly, we have lost our way.  Rather than being reclaimed by the alliance of our poverty, we’ve learned to endure a false community of the proud polite.  We’ve sworn membership to our feel-good Sunday club where the real troublemakers are outside our walls, and we’re honestly a bit suspicious when one straggles in.  We maintain the illusion of ‘family’ despite not even truly knowing one another. Maybe rather than being a standard no one can meet, church could become a soft place for us all to fall.  Freedom comes at the cost of vulnerability.  This is where we have failed the hardest.” Church at it’s best should be a place of absolute freedom.  It should be a place where needy, broken souls have encountered the absolutely transfixing gaze of the most intense mercy and grace of their Heavenly Father.  It should be a place where we remember we are made of dust, remember our Father’s mercy towards us, and we can be honest in rich, deep community of our continued failings to love like Jesus loves.  We should be able to look one another in the eyes and say, “me, too”.  A place where we can experience a Love that accepts us just as we are-broken, messy, failing, but because of  His grace that is not our final destination.  And because there are others in the church walls who have experienced that same grace, they are able to open their arms and freely give the grace and love they themselves have generously received.  I’ve never met a person that was deeply and profoundly impacted by arguing with them about theological doctrine, but I’ve met plenty of people whose lives were turned completely upside down when they encountered unconditional love that met them in the midst of their mess.  Love that walks alongside, love that meets you in your mess, love that shares in our frail humanity, that is the way of Jesus.  We must start being the church.  Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest states so eloquently, “We hope some of them have begun to awaken to maybe Christianity is much more about lifestyle and how you actually behave in the world than it is about defending doctrine, which is largely a head trip-you don’t have to love one moment.  Don’t forget the devil presumably believes the doctrines of the Church.  If they’re true, the devil knows they’re true.  You can believe all the doctrines you want and not love God or your neighbor.”

So what of all these doctrinal differences?  My head spins with them all.  Even within Catholicism and Protestantism themselves there is variation.  I think pursuing Truth is a worthwhile venture, and one I’m prepared to be on for the rest of my life.  But I’m starting to believe that a mature faith is able to see value and things that different parts of the Body of Christ perhaps masters better than theirs does and take a posture of humility and willingness to learn and grow rather than a divisive stance.  I am not advocating church hopping trying to find the pearls of Truth in each denomination, but to simply allow yourself to learn from different parts of the Body of Christ rather than dividing yourself from the Body and labeling them as WRONG.  Accept what you can learn from them with open arms and allow it to make you more like Jesus.  Father Richard Rohr says it best, “The crown that is Christ is so big, so glorious, filled with so many gems and jewels that I don’t believe that any one denomination or tradition can possibly hold all of them.  For example, Roman Catholicism was conjoined to the Holy Roman Empire and Roman Imperialism.  So we didn’t have a very strong peace tradition.  We didn’t understand the clear teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Non-violence was not a part of the main Catholic or Protestant tradition.  But inside of Protestantism people like the Amish, Mennonites, the Quakers, there was a little subset that got it.  Now, maybe they threw out some other things.  It’s like the Christ is too big to pay attention to the whole mystery.   So this is where I do believe we help one another, we need to respect and learn from one another, because I can hardly think of a denomination that doesn’t hold one or two of the jewels or the gems that are the crown of Christ.  When we can be honest about the whole of the Scriptures (instead of just cherry-picking what we want to see) which takes a lifetime, I admit, I think we are finally becoming the new man, growing up to the fullness of Christ Himself as Ephesians would say.”

This is where this leaves me: I want to deeply and profoundly encounter the heart of the Father, I want to come into the Church doors open and honest about my failings, I want others to be able to be honest with me about their failings and encounter that same love of God reaching out through me, and I want this love that I’ve encountered to empower me to be the Church everywhere I go.  I want to respect and honor other parts of the Body of Christ and never fail to learn from them and seek Truth.  I want the Church to finally become the living stones that 1 Peter 2:5 references instead of merely a church building. I want to put all the veneer and self-centered preferences aside and allow myself to be loved by God, just as I am, and extend that same love in a tangible form to a lost and hurting world.  If we all lived out the theology we say we believe, I’m willing to bet it would look more alike than it would different.

 

When Life Becomes a Chore

I have memories of playing with my sister as a young girl while my Mom cooked the family dinner.  The oil snapped on the electric skillet as the steam rose and the aroma of dinner filled the room while my sister and I ran around the house chasing one another.  Inevitably, either my sister or myself would scream at some point, “Is dinner almost ready?! We’re hungry!” Oftentimes I remember my mother saying aloud as she was fixing dinner, “I wish there was a pill that we could take so we wouldn’t have to cook and clean and we could get all our needed nutrients and be done with it”.  My Mom said this phrase enough that it made an impression, although I never knew exactly what she meant by it until I became an adult.

Yesterday I found myself repeating the exact same phrase, except now the words were my own.  When life feels nothing more than filled with busy and things seem to occupy your time but not feed your soul, eating becomes yet another thing on a very long to-do list.  Cooking a home-cooked meal becomes rote.  Eating the meal itself is rushed, the tastes unsavored.  It fills the need for fuel, but not for deep sustenance.  Adopting the words of my mother as my own was a signal to me that things in my life have begun to be off balance.  When your physical source of life and sustenance has become a chore, you have to pause a moment, take a look around, and wonder where else in your life things that should provide deep joy and connection to your very source of life has become a mechanical motion with no soul behind it.  If I’m seeing this symptom in my most basic bodily need for food, I’m suspicious it will also reveal itself in my spiritual life, my work, and my relationships if I lift the edge of the well polished veneer.

I’ve never managed to eat a rushed meal in Europe.  Eating itself is an art form in Spain.  On the warm summer nights dinner would begin around 10 pm with friends and family gathered around the table underneath the orange trees in the glow of the street lights.  Each drop of wine and morsel of bread is savored slowly and enhanced by hours of slow conversation.  I have to wonder if this ability to slow down and share a meal, share your life, bleeds over into an ability to be more present in all areas of life.

If I can turn on my favorite album and dance around my kitchen while I cook a delightfully aromatic meal in my kitchen, if I can sit, fully attentive in the present moment sharing life’s deepest joys and struggles alike with my fellow man over a meal, I have to wonder if I would also find myself more able to sit in silent contemplative prayer and better able to hear the voice of God.  Krista Tippett says,

So much of what we orient towards in culture numbs a little going in and helps us avoid the reckoning we actually long for-the push to self-knowledge and deeper lived integrity.  Poetry, says Marie Howe, hurts a little going in.  It soothes and deepens us and hurts a little all at the same time.  So do many of the elements that give voice to the soul-silence and song, community and ritual, listening and compassionate presence…But there is that window of choice, moment by moment, to go for distraction instead, to settle into numb.

Let’s come fully alive to all of life’s moments, no matter how mundane, and in the process, come alive to God.

Bali, Indonesia