Monday, March 15, 2010

Don't just do something - sit there!

(Photograph taken from as we were landing in Detroit last week)...

From Psalm 46: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge ... “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Saturday's post (the one about uncluttered space, and the potential of meaningful spiritual growth via an uncluttered heart) has prompted me think about serenity. And serenity is not a bad place to be on a Monday morning.

But not just serenity for its own sake, so much as serenity that anchors meaningful life.

The idea expanded somewhat for me in terms of an ongoing discussion we've been engaging in my adult Sunday-morning class at First Presbyterian Church. We're reading a thought-provoking book by a Catholic scholar who is unusually open to learning from the wisdom and insight found within Buddhist thinking. Essentially (and and at the risk of over-simplifying a deeply complex book), the author suggests that our "Westernization" of Christianity can become (and largely has been) a barrier to experiencing God in terms of spiritual practice.

One of the sub-headings in this week's chapter resonated with me in terms of my commitment to experiencing Lent as a profound, connective, spiritual journey. "Don't just do something, sit there".

It's a clever phrase, yes, but it's also a concept that points to the heart of what I was getting at in terms of talking about uncluttered space. Or, as Jesus said in my rough paraphrase of yesterday's scripture, "Some people hear God's message; but then other - more pressing -priorities crowd their lives and get in the way. Eventually the message is pretty much lost to them. God's word is choked out, and people receive no benefit from the transformational life it offers."

So I'm interested in a Lenten experience that puts "being" ahead of "doing", at least for a little while. Many of us frenetically "do" faith, showing up for every event at church, throwing ourselves into service and mission, tuning in to Christian radio in our cars - living the practical expression of a "holy" life.

That's fine. But what are we doing about "being" holy? Is our experience grounded in the serenity of a spiritual practice that allows us to "don't just do something - sit there"?

Or, to use a phrase that my wife, Rebekah, ofter employs - "Everything we do at this church comes out of worship." Is a sense of "Be still and understand the presence of God" the impetus for the "doing" part of our faith journey?

Such being propels us into action, yet with a more vital connection to "the source of all being". God, in my experience, is interested in occupying every element of our experience. He doesn't just give us marching orders at church and check off what we're up to - God wants to inhabit our being and transform the experience.

Lent - Day 27...

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