Being Right!

“I know you won’t agree with me,” she started out, “but I can’t go along with this author’s position.” I listened to her argument for a bit and then said, “You’re right. I don’t agree with you.” She defended her position; I defended mine. She clarified; I re-clarified. Suddenly I thought,”This disagreement is not necess-ary!” I looked around and saw the expressions on the faces of the other class members; most were confused or mildly upset, but one of them was grinning. He and I said the same thing at the same time: “It doesn’t matter who is right!”  With some chagrin, I added, “Maybe this point of difference needs more contemplation.”

As I think about this now, the chagrin is joined by embarrassment. This is a class during which we often talk about being addicted to our own thinking. And I, the teacher, was proving the point! I was trained, subtly and not so subtly, by my parents, my church, and my community that it is important to always be right. Issues have two or more sides and we must be on the right one – even if we destroy relationships by insisting on our correctness.

I have good company. Two of my favorite disciples of Jesus, Peter and Paul, began their lives after his death by insisting that they were right about the next steps. It took a vision from God to convince Peter that he was wrong when he insisted that Gentiles could not be brought into the church.  It took another vision to Paul to halt his rampage of persecution of Christians. Both were convicted by the Holy Spirit – as was I.

As I thought about this seemingly intractable attitude which I have spent decades trying to eliminate, I was reminded of a phone call this week with the company that supplies my  diabetic supplies and submits the bill to Medicare. It didn’t take long for that call to turn into “who’s right.”  The customer service representative said, I can fulfill your order for supplies because Dr. Smith has not returned some information needed for processing the Medicare bill.  I asked, “Who’s Dr. Smith.

She replied, “Your doctor!”

I said, “My doctor’s name is not Smith.”

She said, “Just a moment.”  I was on hold for a while and then she said,  “Well, it says that Dr. Smith is your doctor.  Is he associated with your doctor’s practice?”

I said, “No! Are you looking at the right account?” There was a brief pause and she said, “What is your last name again?”  I told her. She began apologizing. The issue was not resolved even after that mistake was corrected.  But the interchange gave me new insight into the “I must be right” addiction. Most of the time this behavior is evidence of a stubborn control problem. But sometimes we are right!  And sometimes it’s important to keep pursing the truth. 

I discovered that day that there is a fine line between needing to be right and wanting to be understood. Perhaps asking these two questions will help conquer my default attitude when my position is challenged:  Am I insisting on my position because it is crucial in this situation that I be understood?  Or does my prideful nature just want to be right?

No matter what our motivation for being right  we have a few choices if we are ready to  give up the title of  “#1 Always Right person.” We can stop talking, put down the gloves, and move into separate corners. Or we can choose to be kind rather than being right – and give way graciously. Or we can learn how to graciously handle difficult conversations. An article in News from Hope College (Volume 19, No. 2) describes the values needed to foster civil conversation, based on the book After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre.  Here they are:

  1. Humility to listen – we don’t have all the answers; sometimes we must learn from the insights of others
  2. Hospitality to welcomee – we need to welcome divergent points of view by creating a safe place for expression.
  3. Patience to understand – “patience is the willingness and the fortitude to stay engaged” while listening so that I can understand another’s point of view.
  4. Courage to Challenge  – we must be brave enough to express our convictions even when it may be dangerous or unpopular.
  5. Honesty to speak the truth in love – “honesty fosters an open environment that encourages growth and leads to real progress.”

Practicing these values will help us live in harmony with others and fulfill the commission  that  Jesus gave us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

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“Just Be the Tree God Meant You to Be”

On January 10, 2018 I wrote about one of my favorite children’s books, You are Special. Thinking about that book reminded me of a post about another of my favorite Max Lucado books, The Oak Inside the Acorn. Since this blog now contains 720 posts, I am re-blogging that post again for newer readers and for lovers of children’s books – especially those by Max Lucado.  It first appeared on December 4, 2012.

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Great oak trees grow from little acorns. And children (and adults) grow into great people if they are helped to “just be the person that God made you to be.” Max Lucado’s  beautiful picture book,  The Oak Inside the Acorn, which is really theoakinsidetheacronpb_hr_largeappropriate for all ages, is a lovely metaphor for how that process works.

A friend shared this wonderful book with me recently. I immediately asked her to read it to my Apprentice class that night. Her delightful reading brought tears to my eyes. I choked up again  when I read the book to my grandchildren on Thanksgiving Day. And I’ll probably choke up every time I read it.

The book describes the journey of an acorn from his perch on one of his mother’s strong branches. He falls to the ground and eventually becomes Little Oak.  After many life experiences, he finally grows to be strong and tall – Big Oak. Throughout his journey, he hears his mother’s voice saying, “Within you is a great oak. Just be the tree God meant you to be.”  In the end he is able to pass that message on to the confused young woman who had shared her growing up years with him – swinging from his branches, carving her initials into his trunk, and lying on the grass  looking up at the sky through his leaves.  She, too, learns to be the person that God meant her to be.

The story of the oak in the acorn is so lovely because it helps us shed the false narratives  that we have to work to earn approval and favor (even from God), that who we are is probably not good enough, and that the way to find love is to perform to expectations.  The reality, of course, is that God loves us the way he created us. We just need to keep remembering, as the acorn did, that within us is a Great Person, and that all God wants is for us to be the person he means us to be.

oak and acornAnd so, as much as he tried, the Little Oak couldn’t become Orange Tree, or Pink Petunia or Rosie  Rosebush or Daisy. He could only grow up to be a tall Oak Tree, which is what God always meant him to be. We, too, need to learn to stop trying to be somebody else or somebody better and just grow up to be more of the person God wants us to be.

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Living in Harmony – With Others; Part 3; by Guest Blogger, Joy Zomer

The world is spinning – seemingly out of control.  Divergence not diversity is the theme. Lies trump truth. Pain and hurt, shame and guilt abound. Vile comments, pictures, and behaviors sear our souls. Violence and human misery cause our hearts to despair. How can we live in these times? What can we do to share the mind of Christ in 2018? The word that floated into my mind as I pondered how to live faithfully in today’s world is HARMONY.  In this post, guest blogger, Joy Zomer writes about finding common ground (and forging harmony) with a stranger.

COMMON GROUND

It started with a text. “Is your car still available?” The response, “Yes,” gave little information and no direction. I pushed onward. “Is there a specific reason you are selling?”

The response, “No need” offered plausible cause that it was potentially a second car for a family or maybe had been bought and not wanted. Yet the advertisement on our local for sale notice board website was similarly cryptic:

 2008 Honda Civic. 110,000 miles. Condition good.  Tires new.

Initially, I had skipped over the ad, thinking it a scam. There wasn’t enough information, nor was there any of the “fluff” that one might say to encourage my interest.  Phrases like “have all repair records” or “great economical car” or even, “big trunk space” would have helped.  Instead, there were 9 words, only nine words to get me hooked.  And so, after sending the text and getting very little information, I wasn’t too sure about a plan to purchase this car. I sat on the idea for a couple of days and checked out a few others.

 Then, I received a text back, “You want?” It was one of those moments where you wonder if maybe this was a challenge of language, so I thought about it again and responded, “Have appointment in GR today, can you meet?”

 Within a few minutes the response, short and to the point, came back, “Text me when free and I give address.”

The meeting was on.  My daughter went with me in case we actually decided to purchase the car. We talked on the way there about potential scenarios.  If the owner seemed sketchy, we’d leave without getting out of the car. If the car had rust, we wouldn’t purchase it.  We were going to check under the hood to see about the cleanliness of the engine.  She was going to check out the sunroof for leaks.  I was to get on the ground and look under the car for rust, cracked underbody, etc.

 When we  arrived at the apartment complex, we saw a man standing on the sidewalk. He had a phone, and he was awkwardly turned away. He was olive – skinned, dark hair and dark eyes, medium height and stocky. His clothing was dark-colored, all black tones, black leather jacket. When we got out of our car to greet him and shake hands, he seemed uncomfortable. “My name’s Joy,” I said as we shook.

“My name Barish,” he responded. He quickly pointed to the car.  “Here, here it is”, he said. We moved to the car, which was running,  and I sat inside. The heat was on full blast as was the radio. He stood at the car door and emphasized, “Good heat, very warm,” as we unzipped our jackets.  “Good sound too,” he finished off as we turned down the radio.

 TEST DRIVE

After driving the car around the parking lot, we decided the vehicle was sound and in excellent condition. We didn’t understand Barish, but the car seemed to be a car for a good price AND a solid purchase. I got out and walked over to Barish. “Why do you want to sell this car, Barish? It seems like a very nice car.”

 With some hesitation, Barish met my eyes and said, “The car for my brother and wife come to America. But, they no coming now. We go Canada instead.”

 “I’m sorry to hear that,”  I responded. “Have you been here long?”

  “I wait over year,” Barish said, “but I go them now. Things not so ok here. ”

 “Where are you from?”

Again, with some seconds of pause, Barish said, “Baghdad.” My response of, “Oh Wow. That was a very long journey” was met with a first sign of warmth. “Yes.”

My heart was in my throat as I continued the conversation one last time.  “I’m sorry that you don’t feel welcome here. I think this isn’t okay.”  I looked into his eyes as I spoke these words. He didn’t speak, but he met my eyes. He signed over the title, and I gave him the cash.

He pointed to a big pile of household wares, furniture, white plastic bags of clothing in one of the parking spots. “They coming. We move now.” A teenage boy was wandering towards the piles, seeming to look at the items. “No,” Barish yelled. “Not free!”

I looked at Barish and held out my hand. “Thank you, Barish. I hope Canada will be a good place to be,” I said. We shook hands. Barish wiped his hand on his pants. He waved as my daughter and I drove away, each in their own vehicle.

My experience with Barish put a name to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who struggle across our world. It led me to think about his story and try to understand what might have brought him to Grand Rapids, Michigan looking for a better life.  Statistics report that the civil war of 2006-2007 in Iraq led to over 1 million people fleeing for other countries.  Add to that a U.N. report that says over 3.3 million has been displaced since 2014. The Refugee Resettlement Watch cites that the US State Department alone admitted over 110,000 Iraqi refugees from 2003 to 2014.

Two Different Worlds

I can easily imagine that Barish came to America with a hope for a home.  As an American, I would like to say that I know how to welcome Barish and others who come to America looking for safety.  I would like to believe that I know how to make someone feel comfortable.  I would like to imagine that my country would provide a future. However, I have a troubling voice in the back of my mind which tells me it may not be so easy. Barish and I interacted in a way that made me feel comfortable for sure, but I am not sure any of it felt safe for him. My societal norms were present, but I’m not confident his were. In the end, we come from two very different places.

In the end, we come from two very different places, and we necessarily came to common ground -over a car. It leaves me with the greater question of how my world can be a more loving, open place, offering hope and commonalities at a basic human level. To answer it, I think I simply start by asking the question.

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Whatness and Thisness – Harmony with Others, Part 2

I learned some new terms this week: whatness and thisness.* These words (while seeming to belong in Alice in Wonderland) reflect a deep spiritual truth. Before the 13th century, philosophers had commonly spoken of the term “quiddity” (from the Latin word “quid” which means “what”). Quiddity refers the “whatness” of an object –  the thing that makes that object what it is. For example, what makes a dog a dog is the essence of all dogs. All leaves will have the same “whatness.” Humans have the same make-up – the same “whatness.”  (Bear with me here. This understanding is worth the struggle.)

In the 13th century Jon Duns Scotus, a Franciscan priest born in what is now Scotland, created the word haecceity from the Latin word haec which means “this.”  Scotus believed that it was important to understand the individuality of each leaf or a dog or a person within the general make up (the whatness) of that leaf or dog or person. In other words we are all the same, but we are also all different.  No two leaves are alike; no two persons are alike.

Now, philosophy usually boggles my mind; I hated philosophy class in college – although it could have been the prof! However, this idea of whatness/thisness strikes me as very useful as we travel the path of being an apprentice of Jesus. It is a way to cut through stereotypes and prejudice, which we desperately need to do if our civilization is to survive. 

The key is this. If we look at each person as part of our “group,” sharing our “whatness,” and being identical in genetics to ourselves, we can no longer see a criminal, a person of a different religion, a person whose gender identification we cannot accept, a person of a different racial heritage – even the driver that prompts road rage – as “different” i.e.  unacceptable.

On the flip side, if we see the “thisness” of a particular person, we can love the person and want the best for him or her because of the individuality of his or her personality, thought processes, character, and quirkiness. How do I dare dismiss or ignore, or cause harm to someone, if I value their “thisness” and the God who created them with that “thisness.”

It seems apparent that this vision of how we look at others is unlikely to come to pass for most of us. But we can come closer if we claim the Holy Spirit’s promised intervention “to will and to act in us in order to fulfill his good purpose”(Philippians 2:13). The idea that God can will us to act like Jesus is an encouraging reason to claim “whatness” and “thisness” as a life-long goal.

*For more explanation on this concept see “God Soaked Life” by Chris Webb (pages 106-113)

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Living in Harmony – with Others

The world is spinning – seemingly out of control.  Divergence not diversity is the theme. Lies trump truth. Pain and hurt, shame and guilt abound. Vile comments, pictures, and behaviors sear our souls. Violence and human misery cause our hearts to despair. How can we live in these times? What can we do to share the mind of Christ in 2018? The word that floated into my mind as I pondered how to live faithfully in today’s world is HARMONY. Watch this space for ideas on how to live in harmony in 2018. 

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“I’m gonna live the life I sing about in my song
I’m gonna stand for right and I always shun the wrong
If I’m in the crowd, If I’m alone
On the streets or in my home
I’m gonna live the life I sing about in my song.”

This verse from a gospel song by Mahalia Jackson, famous gospel singer and civil rights activist, states our challenge in life:  our outsides need to match our insides; our actions need to be congruent with the words we speak and the prayers we offer.  

In previous posts in this series, it has been noted that the human condition has changed from God’s original creation – because of our choices. However, we still hold the image of God and the character that God himself holds and exhibits – and has passed on to us.  Thomas Merton describes this image beautifully:

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will” (quoted by Richard Rohr in Daily Meditation for October 6, 2017).

That image has been covered or tarnished (but not replaced) in each of us.  Our need for control has created a “false” self, a self that we keep private, a self that we may not even fully know or understand. The false self becomes stronger as we struggle to cover up our wounds, as we build defense mechanisms to deal with those wounds, as we become private unknowable people to try to mask those wounds. 

Our false self is the self most of us present to the world, making harmonious relationships with others more difficult. Our frightened false self protects itself rather than opening itself to others. It puts on a “hands off” sign rather than risk pain. It insults others rather than appreciating their differences. It covers our fear with anger, often thought of as “righteous indignation,” rather than admitting our true feelings. 

The false self is a midwife to the eight vices identified by ancient Christians: sloth, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath, greed, pride and vainglory.  As Jon Bailey reminds us:

The vices are habits of a broken soul, we experience them in everyday life as the common forms of egotism, the habits that rule the self-centered person. It is these well-worn habits, cemented in our personalities that make loving like God loves impossible. Vice starts out in the form of microscopic choices, entrenches itself in our habits, and over a life time, swells into a goliath-like character. It is the vices inside of us that must be crucified and finally killed. 

Richard Rohr explains that “our attachment to our small, separate, false self must die to allow our true self—our basic and unchangeable identity in God—to live fully and freely.” 

If we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” as Jesus directed, we must be in the process of shedding our false self, that private me that we don’t really want others to see. Our goal is to operate from the image of God in us, rather than from the wounds of our past.  If we don’t understand how the false self motivates us, the neighbors we are to love will be better off with out our attention!

In his new book, God Soaked Life, Chris Webb tackles the idea that our false self prevents each us from moving forward in harmony toward others.  

As long as we continue to hide our brokenness from ourselves, from others, and from God, we cannot expect any serious changes or healing in our lives.  We’re simply play-acting at life, wearing masks to hide our weaknesses and shortcomings while failing to face the root issues that are slowly destroying us from within like a cancer of the soul.  Making a searching inventory of our moral lives is painful.  It’s never easy for any of us to face our shadows, the darkness that haunts us from deep within our hearts.  It also means facing the guilt and shame that darkness brings to birth and accepting the responsibility for the continued power of that darkness over our life and relationships.  Opening and cleaning our spiritual wounds requires enormous courage.”

The good news (the Gospel) is that as we peel off our false selves and live from the image of God in us, we will more and more able to “live the life we sing about in our songs” and speak about in our prayers – whether we are in a crowd or alone, on the streets or at home. 

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Why Get out of Bed?

Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I turn on my bedside radio and hear more of our president’s lies and mean-spirited insults. I picture Rep. Adam  Schiff’s weary face as he tries to keep the House Intelligence committee on task instead of caving in to  the president’s bidding to make the Russian probe go away.

I wonder if my husband’s pain will be easier to bear today and what my blood glucose test strip will reveal when I test it in a few minutes. I re-consider the ongoing argument with the pharmacy about my husband’s partially refilled prescription. I rue the fact that our savings account will soon be diminished by nearly $500 when I fill my next insulin prescription.

I think about the endless routine of keeping a household going: cars that get dirty as we leave the car wash; dishes that stack up on the kitchen counter ten minutes after the washed and dried ones have been restored to the cabinet; toilets and sinks and bathtubs floors that need endless cleaning; meals that need to be thought about almost as soon as we finish this one.   

Why bother getting out of bed?

And then I see sunshine sliver through in the gray clouds. I remember the extraordinary ordinariness of Creation – the innate routines that wake up daffodils in spring, efficiently recycle snowfall to replenish creek beds and lakes, and guide the migrating birds to and fro.  

I hear again the reassuring melodies of Amazing Grace. I read a beautifully crafted sentence. I look at a scene of purple and red wildflowers my granddaughter painted for me. I watch an artisan creating astonishing blown-glass pieces on TV.

Several people (some I don’t even know) send me notes thanking me for something I wrote; others comment or “like” my blog. Someone offers me a ride – meaning that I don’t have to drive on the slippery roads. I see the flash of understanding on the face of a class member as the value of surrendering control and being powerless finally makes sense. 

Why do I get out of bed? Because people I love are counting on me. Because I can handle anything if I remember to take “one day at a time.” Because God’s image can be found in all people; all is not hopeless. Because Jesus told me (and you), “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” and “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

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Living in Harmony – with Creation

The world is spinning – seemingly out of control.  Divergence not diversity is the theme. Lies trump truth. Pain and hurt, shame and guilt abound. Vile comments, pictures, and behaviors sear our souls. Violence and human misery cause our hearts to despair. How can we live in these times? What can we do to share the mind of Christ in 2018? The word that floated into my mind as I pondered how to live faithfully in today’s world is HARMONY. Watch this space for ideas on how to live in harmony in 2018.  And share your ideas about living in harmony in a comment.

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“The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and  to take care of it” (Gen. 2:15 CEB).

Perhaps the most visible – and controversial –  evidence of our choice to live in disharmony is our relationship to Creation. Not only are we in disharmony with the world we live in, we are also in disharmony about how we are supposed to live in it! 

It seems that a Christian’s vision of living in God’s world should be pretty uncomplicated.  God created everything. God gave humans the responsibility of taking care of what God created. Therefore humans will make choices that benefit the environment in which they live.

However, since human beings prefer control rather than obedience, some of us have decided that God’s instruction to “take care of” means that we can do what we want with our planet – even if what we want will destroy that same planet. Individually we plunder and spoil and misuse our little spot in the universe as if we could re-create it whenever we want to. Or, perhaps worse, the universe’s value to us is strictly utilitarian – we make it work for us. We treat animals, birds, fish, trees, flowers as if  they exist for our pleasure. Nature, it seems, can just be ignored or even eliminated  if it does not create pleasure or if gets in our way. Corporately, we foul the air, the water and our lungs because profit is the goal, not care for the environment.

An example of our disharmony with creation, is the fury over climate change.  Humans have created conditions that are causing the climate in our “garden” to change. The results of this climate change can be seen in the Permafrost Tunnel in Alaska. As reported during Morning Edition on NPR on January 24, 2018, this tunnel, a research facility constructed and operated by the US Army in the 1960’s, offers a unique research platform for scientists and engineers who wish to study a frozen environment over 40,000 years old. The permafrost is packed with the remains of ancient life. From prehistoric grass and trees to woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses, just about every creature that lived on the tundra over the past 100,000 years is buried and preserved in the permafrost.

Now, however, for the first time in centuries, the Arctic permafrost is beginning to change — rapidly. It’s warming up. Right now the permafrost carbon is inert and trapped in the frozen soil. But what happens when the soil thaws? That’s the question scientists are trying to figure out. A few years ago, they ran a simple experiment. They brought big drills into the tunnel and cut out chunks of ice. They took the ice back to the lab and let it slowly come up to room temperature. Then they looked for signs of life. A few days later, something started growing — slowly at first, but then like gangbusters.

“This is material that stayed frozen for 25,000 years,” Dr. Thomas Douglas, a geochemist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says. “And given the right environmental conditions, it came back alive again vigorously.” These rejuvenated signs of life were ancient bacteria. Once they warmed up, the bacteria started converting the carbon that’s in dead plants and animals into gases that cause climate change: carbon dioxide and methane. Humans are warming the atmosphere; the earth responds the only way it can. 

God’s “Great Act of Hospitality”

 In a recent Renovare blog post, Chris Hall shares John Chrysostom’s teaching about “the  goodness of creation.” Chrysostom says that creation reflects God’s infinite love for humanity and God’s desire to create an environment purposely designed to nurture a human being’s awareness of God’s love. The natural world is given to God’s image-bearers as a gift, filled with God’s graceful  provision. This world is the ideal natural environment for humans to grow, develop and exercise the responsibilities given to them by God”  (the Renovare Weekly Digest, January 16, 2018).

This concept from an old saint is echoed by Chris Webb in his new book, God-Soaked Life. He says that in creation,

“God did what God always does: took a chaotic mess, something dead and cold, and breathed his Spirit over it to bring order, sense, meaning, and an overwhelming and exuberant out- pouring of life itself.

But for God the shaping of this magnificent cosmos was not an end in itself; it had a further and very definite purpose. . . . This world was to be both a place drenched in God’s holy presence and a dwelling for human beings living in relationship with him and one another. Creation, a space opened up in which we could live and flourish, was God’s great act of hospitality.”     

We are guests in the space that God “opened up” for our pleasure. Are we thankful for God’s “great act of hospitality?” Or are we the kind of guests we don’t invite back to our own homes – those who track in mud, spill drinks, put their feet on the coffee table, argue, swear, and generally damage our space  and make life uncomfortable?                                                                   

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From My Reading

Brother Lawrence was a mustard seed man, a simple cook who trained for years to hold God in his mind until it became routine, second nature, a holy habit — the mature tree. We can learn to live in his shade, under the strong branches of his life-with-God. Let us lean into his practice, for God is not very far, nor do we have to shout very loud. For in the words of Lawrence himself, “He is nearer to us than we think” (Jon Bailey, blog post, December 10, 2017).

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“In The Divine Conspiracy Dallas Willard gives contemporary expression to these ‘unblessed and unblessable – the physically repulsive, the bald, the fat, and the old, the flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned outs. The broke and the broken. The drug heads and the divorced. The HIV-positive and herpes-ridden. The brain-damaged, the incurable ill. The barren and the pregnant too-many-times or the wrong time. The overemployed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. The swindled, the shoved aside, the replaced . . . ‘ (pp. 123-124). Ask yourself: How can I make the kingdom of God available to individuals who are humanly hopeless? Then as you go about your days, learn to take time to point out the natural beauty of every human being”  (Richard Foster commenting on the Sermon on The Mount in the Renovare Weekly Digest for October 20, 20170.   

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“In the garden of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he [Jesus] struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be—“Not my will but yours be done, [Father]. Into your hands, I commend my spirit” [Luke 22:42, 23:46]. Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself. . . . It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing.  And . . . you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything” (Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message).

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“To meditate upon the Scripture—a key aspect of lectio divina—involves more than simply reading it. Meditatio is a slow, paced, leisurely gnawing on the Scripture, a reading that breaks through the bone and sucks out the marrow, Christ himself. Meditatio is a Christological munching, an eschatological feeding because the food offered to us is grown and harvested in the fields of the age to come, assimilating Jesus, as Peterson puts it, metabolizing him in a concrete, earthy fashion so that he becomes what we are and in so doing changes us into himself” (Chris Hall in the Renovare Weekly Digest for October 18, 2017).

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