be quiet

I found this on pinterest today, and it struck me. How much hurt would be saved if we all employed this rule? But then I got thinking even further about quietness. I believe that quiet is good for the soul.

We live in a busy, noisy, crazy world. When we go just about anywhere there is a soundtrack playing – at the mall, at the gym, the TV that is on at the doctor’s office or the radio that plays in the car. I sometimes think that we are afraid of silence, we have a fear of quiet.

I think we are afraid of it, because in the silence, in the quiet, our thoughts are revealed. There is no sound to distract ourselves with, and one either finds peace or runs into insanity.

Right now, as I sit writing in my livingroom, the only sound is the whoosh of air through the ducts as my furnace works to keep the house warm and the rhythmic swish of breath from the two dogs and a cat who are napping on their beds nearby. I am very pleased to say that it is not insanity that I am finding in this still, quiet moment. Instead, it is peace, I find here. And thankfulness for all the gifts God has given me.

If your days are busy and noisy and full of distraction, I encourage you to find some time to spend in silence. Whether it is a walk in the afternoon, turning off the radio as you drive, or finding half an hour to turn off all the noise-makers and simply sitting in quiet. As we draw ever closer to Easter, spend some time in the quiet. Hear what your soul says, listen to what the Holy Spirit might whisper to you, or just breathe and put your trust in God.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
Psalm 62:1 NRSV

To show it what it can be…

In my last post I mentioned that I would be leading OMEGA contemporary worship at my church on Sunday. I did that. And in my sermon I used a Joss Whedon quote from an episode of the TV show, Angel.

Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be.  It’s harsh and cruel.
That’s why there’s us. Champions.
It doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered,
or even if we make a difference.
We live as though the world were as it should be,
to show it what it can be.
–Angel, “Deep Down” Season 4, Episode 1

Now I hate to quote my own sermons (feels a little too much like tooting my own horn, or patting myself on the back or something), but I have to admit, I’ve been wandering around for the past few days muttering to myself: “to show it what it can be…”

I am fascinated by the idea that, as Christians, we are called to live differently. To live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be. This is, I believe, why my church’s foodbank doesn’t put any restrictions on its clients. If you show up, we will give you food. We don’t ask how many foodbanks you’ve been to in the month, when you were last here, how much of an income you have or how many mouths you have to feed. We just give away what we’ve got. Because the world SHOULD be a place where only those who are honestly in need, show up for a hand out. We live as though the world is as it should be. We do this because we believe that world CAN be a place where people are honest.

I think this idea has power. That perhaps a whole bunch of people who live as if the world were as it should be, can actually move it towards what it can be. That somehow, by the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us, just by living the way Jesus calls us to live, we can have an impact on the world we live in.

I believe that. I believe that strongly enough that I have given my life to doing all I can to live that way and to inspire others to live that way.

Give it a try this week. May you find ways to live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.

Fear? Not!!

Last night I had the unpleasant experience of nightmares. I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that didn’t seem so scary when I thought about it the next morning, in full daylight, while wide awake. But in the middle of the night, in a dark and quiet house, while sleep continued to drag at me and I couldn’t fight my way to full consciousness…it was terrifying.

I wonder if that is the way most of our fears work. In the light, when we are thinking clearly, when we are surrounded by others, they aren’t so bad. But get us alone, put us in the dark, take away our clear-headed-ness and it is a whole different story.

I admit, I am sometimes a very timid person, easily struck by fear. And that is one of the many reasons I am so thankful for my faith. Because my faith tells me that I am never alone. I have a world-wide family called the church. I have a Loving Father (God), a constant Teacher (Jesus) and a helpful comforter (the Holy Spirit).

The fears may still come but God answers them with the bold imperative “Fear not!”, and better than that bold imperative is the sentiment that always follows it: “for I Am with you.”

For the follower of Jesus, there is no such thing as alone in the dark. Because we are always bathed in the light of Christ, we are always in touch with the community of the triune (three-in-one) God. That doesn’t mean I will. Ever have another disturbing night like last night. But it does make it so much easier to deal with those nights when they come.

Processed isn’t good, Part 2…

So I went to bed last night and fell asleep quickly, and only when I awoke this morning did I realize I forgot to blog! Ack! This is why I fear taking time off from such things…once I’m out of habit it gets too easy to stay that way.

However, I already have an idea for tomorrow’s post, so here’s hoping I am back in the habit after a few days.

In my last post I wrote about my journey away from processed foods towards whole foods. The post got a little lengthy an included my recipe for black bean soup. But even as I published it, I felt it wasn’t finished. Because the reality is, it’s not just in regards to food that I have a “processed isn’t good” mantra.

I think anything that isn’t authentic isn’t really good for us. Whether it is synthetic food, synthetic clothing, synthetic art or (most importantly) synthetic relationships. I think God calls us to authenticity and simplicity.

We are called to be true to each other and true to the world that God created. Is it any surprise that when we interfere with food (process it), it becomes less nourishing to our bodies? God already created what we need to sustain life. And we cannot improve upon what God has created – at least, not without serious consequences.

In Jesus, God showed us what humanity was meant to be. What it meant to love without agenda, to live in peace, joy, patience, kindness, self control, and gentleness. Jesus is the “blue print” for a human that lives an un-processed life. Jesus is authentic in his relationship with God, with others, with the work he came to do, with his own emotions. And I believe that is why faith in him is so life-giving and life-changing.

When we enter into relationship with God through his only begotten Son, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit’s “job” to lead us into a more authentic life. It is the Spirit who guides us towards the ways of Jesus and away from the ways of sin. As we become more like Jesus, we begin to live a less-processed life. We begin to live more authentically, just like Jesus did.

Now, that does not mean it all happens at once. I can attest that it takes time and baby-steps and a whole lot of failures to become more like Jesus. And I am nowhere NEAR a finished product, yet. Sometimes I have it together in one area of my life, only to realize I’ve regressed in a whole other area.

Still. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in me. And I believe that is for the good. And I am thankful.