Last week Vacation Bible School brought so much fresh, full-of-life activity to our church! If we had a device to tap into the excitement, and convert it into energy as in the movie, Monsters Inc., surely we would have enough electricity for the rest of 2015. Sadly, I don’t think we’ve advanced that far with our technology. Nevertheless, kudos to all those that had a part in this past week… one that can help grow “full-of-life” activity for years to come!
Summer is generally filled with so many different activities. But sometimes, the type, or just the shear number of activities, can make it seem to be a bit more than we can handle. And this summer we seem to have more than usual. In June we began with almost every staff member in the church moving to a different space. Even whole areas, like the library, are in the process of moving… as new rooms are being constructed in many areas.
Sometimes such activity can seem disorienting and downright overwhelming.
But there is one constant source and center.
Right now, imagine you are listening to the song “Amazing Grace.” (It is reportedly the most recorded song in the world, any version including your own will do. One of my favorites is with Judy Collins. In 1999, when my daughter, Anna, was about 4 months old, I took her to see Judy Collins when she was visiting the Fort Worth Barnes and Noble. When she saw Anna snuggled up to me in my sling, she came over, made an “ohhh… look at the baby!” sound, and sang “Amazing Grace” just for the two of us. I didn’t record that, but here she is with the Boys’ Choir of Harlem):
And here’s a bit more about the song if you’re interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace
It is so familiar, yet so much more than the words and sounds of the song. It is about a conversion to the deep awareness of a sacred presence that is constantly available to us… a mystery we often call “grace” that helps us see where we had been blind. And it helps us understand with a kind of “heart knowing,” that we all are in this together… and that changes our perception of everything. I think it’s what many people point toward when they speak of a “contemplative mind” or “the mind of Christ.”
Whatever is happening this summer, wherever you are, try to “open up the heart space to grace.” Whether it initially seems positive or negative, try to hold it in a prayerful, contemplative space before God and wait for God’s guidance. It takes us to a different kind of experience… and it changes our vision. As John Wesley said, his heart…and all of our hearts, can be “strangely warmed.”
Just last week during our Wednesday morning prayers, we pondered several quotes by Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr during Lectio Divina (or Sacred Reading) time. It’s a time when we try to “open up the heart space to grace” with others. I invite you to read the quotes we held prayerfully for our church and the broader community.
And I invite you to join us any Wednesday morning for our weekly Wednesday morning prayer opportunities whenever you are able.
Grace and peace.
Quotes from Daily Meditations by Richard Rohr (these are excerpts from several days):
- I think many have always come to the contemplative mind as the fruit of great suffering or great love… Those transformed by life and grace find themselves thinking simply, clearly, and in a non-argumentative way, without recognizing how they got there.
- I believe the contemplative, non-dual mind is indeed the mind of Christ. Paul also describes this in Philippians 4:4–7 and in 1 Corinthians 2 and 3.
- Contemplation is meeting reality in it’s most simple and immediate form. The only way to do that is to get rid of your mental grids of judging, critiquing, and comparing… You must first respect anything for being exactly what it is, as it is. Like a clean mirror, you just reflect it back without any added distortion or filters. Then you can see things in their primal unity, as both “one “and still “distinct.” What a miracle this is!
- At every moment and in every situation, God is the intimate, attentive and encouraging friend much more than any kind of offended deity who is “making a list, checking it twice, going to find out who’s naughty and nice.”
- Reality is radically relational, and the power is in the relationships themselves. If reality is created on the model of the Trinity where Yahweh even speaks in the plural (Genesis 1:26), then intercommunion is the first and final shape of the universe.
- This is the genius of the biblical notion of faith. It happens whenever, by some wondrous “coincidence,” our heart space, our mind space, and our body awareness are all simultaneously open and nonresistant. It is actually just presence. It is experienced as a moment of deep inner connection, and it always pulls us, intensely satisfied, into the naked and undefended now, which can include both profound joy and profound sadness at the same time.