Thursday, August 2, 2018

Meditation is being attentive

I recently went to the Pharmacy to pick-up a prescription. I was in a hurry because I had made myself a schedule of errands. When I arrived at the Pharmacy, it was closed for a lunch period. I was frustrated. I decided to go to the lunch counter at the Pharmacy and get something to eat since I was made to wait. As I sat down with the menu, I took a few deep breathes. I didn’t like myself being so frustrated. I watched the waitress and thought about who she might be and what kind of life she might live. At a nearby table was a mother with several children. I quietly asked the Lord to bless her, her children as well as the waitress. I got my sandwich and thought how easy it is in my life to get a meal. Whatever else meditation may involve, it certainly means being attentive to the present moment and all that may involve.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Holding Lightly

Dionysius, the Aeropagite (who wasn’t the same person as in Acts 17:34) wrote that the process of spiritual growth passes through three phases. The first is purgation, followed by illumination and finally union with God. By purgation Dionysius surely means “the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 2:1). I believe purging the “sin issue” is a crucial first step. However, I also think purgation must involve the assumptions, attitudes, thoughts, etc., that keep my mind and heart closed. Open hands and mind are available to receive gifts; whereas a closed mind or hand, which becomes a fist, isn’t available for any reception. When I close my mind and heart; I’m not in an attitude of accepting gifts, not even illumination or union. I’m stuck. Open hands and mind mean that what I hold dear; I also hold lightly. An open hand and mind also means that I may let go of an attitude or thought easily. An old friend was fond of saying to the congregation, “Don’t believe this because I believe it. God’s Spirit may cause me to change my thoughts and belief tomorrow.” Hold your thoughts and attitudes lightly because God’s Spirit may be gently blowing new attitudes and thoughts into your heart.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Purging

I’ve been purging my closet, the basement and my book shelves these past several months. Clothes that I don’t actually wear have gone to the Salvation Army. I’ve not even kept those that I might again wear after I’ve lost the ten pounds that has been my goal for several years. Books have gone to colleagues in ministry or the International Book Project. Tools have gone to Habitat for Humanity. Purging hasn’t been easy because the clothes, books, tools, etc. all have a story. Their stories evoke memories of other times, places, events and/or people who were significant in my personal story. Giving an item away involves my accepting the possibility that I might not recall that specific part of my history again since I no longer have the reminder item. Purging feels like letting go of an old friend. The most difficult purging, however, is not in my closet, basement or book shelves. Rather, it is the purging of thoughts, ideas, assumptions, attitudes, desires, values, etc. that no longer fit with who I really have become or the world in which I live.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Generativity

My description of myself reads that I'm in that era which Erik Erikson called, Generativity versus Stagnation. Generativity means to what do I give myself. If there is nothing to which I give myself, I'm a good candidate for stagnation. We've been cleaning the basement and our closets. There are some wonderful items we've rediscovered; however, they are useless except for the memory or stories which they hold. That's a good description of stagnation--holding a great story but not of much use now. I'm grateful that in the era of my life, which many call the elder-years, I'm able to give myself to clergy. My ministry is as a Therapist, Adjunct Seminary Professor and Member Care minister with missionaries. I spend my time with ministers who pastor a church or who are on a staff; missionaries; students in a Seminary and folks who are ministering with their involvement with some of the social issues of our time. I know that these folks have much to give me in terms of their energy, new ideas, challenging values, etc. They are crucial in my on-going maturity. Generativity is a reciprocal arrangement or it isn't true generativity.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hinting and Hoping Doesn't Work Very Well

Hinting and hoping is not good communication. This style of trying to communicate says, for example, "Gee, I'm hungry" and hopes the other person will catch the hint and respond, "Okay, I'll hurry up with supper." This usually doesn't work. The other person may say, "Well, you've got two legs fix yourself a sandwich." Hinting and hoping usually ends up with frustration. Good communication requires the message to be clear and simple. Jesus said that we will have to give an account of our idle words. Maybe hinting and hoping are merely idle words.

Failings or Failure?

There is a vast difference between failings and failure. When we give up or quit on ourselves, we can become a failure. When we no longer try to learn from our failings, we may become a failure. Being a failure has to do with one's character. Failing has to do with one actions. This is a difference and it is significant. God entered my life to keep me from becoming a failure. Nevertheless, in my living I will fail often. When I fail, God can pick me up, dust me off and put me back on the right track. A failure says, "I'm down and out so no hope." One who has failed says, "I'm down, but not out because God is my help." Don't quit on yourself. God hasn't

Dead Tooth

I recently went to the Dentist. He said that my tooth was dead. Sure didn't look like it to me. It's white, except for a filling. It works. It chews, mashes and grinds. It doesn't hurt. Looks like my other teeth. Nevertheless, he said it was dead. He had x-rayed it so that he could look inside. He said the root was dead. My tooth is dead on the inside even though it looks and works fine on the outside. I guess there are some folks who are like my tooth. They are dead; they've just not been buried yet. They are dead on the inside; no love, joy, peace, meaning, purpose, grace, etc. One's life doesn't need to be this way. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life and have it nor abundantly." That's good news.