Showing posts from August, 2017

Thought Tantrums

I've been thinking a bit about emotional states and reactions, trying to figure out if what I personally experience is at all relevant to what other people experience. I've come to believe that it doesn't matter. I know I do a thing that everyone else also seems to do, and that is to think about everything only in reference to myself. I've learned over and over that doing so doesn't improve a thing, and I've even come up with a name for it: "bootstrapping." As in 'trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.' Here's what I've provisionally understood: Attempting to evaluate or make judgments about a thing, or a state, or a condition, based on nothing more than a set of ideas that I have about it (especially any ideas that include the concept of "should") is utterly deluded.
If the condition is entirely internal, and my ideas about it also have no outside referents, then any attempt to change the situation by thinking ab…

Series: Spiritual Disciplines - Soul Friendship

Series: Reflections on the Spiritual Disciplines; Disciplines of Engagement.
#4 Soul Friendship (Anamchara)
Soul Friendship is a committed discipline. An anamchara is not a “soulmate.” Anamchara is an Irish Gaelic word that can be translated as ‘mentor,’ ‘guide,’ ‘kindred spirit,’ or ‘soul friend.’ It is often used as a synonym for ‘spiritual director.’ In my own life and experience, my understanding of the word truly began to evolve when my friend Cynthia and I decided to form an intentional household (as we called it then) and make the financial move of equitably dividing the cost of paying off the mortgage on my house, and to make a commitment to share a life devoted to contemplation, prayer, and silence. We developed a list of Intentions to which we are dedicated, and formally pledged to live according to those Intentions in a short ceremony at our (Episcopal) church. For me this all took place in the context of completing my year-long novitiate in the Lindisfarne Community, and maki…

Series: Spiritual Disciplines - Prayer

Series: Reflections on the Spiritual Disciplines; Disciplines of Engagement.
#3 Prayer
I was reminded recently of something that spoke deeply to me in a fiction book by one of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold. She writes most evocatively about the divine, through the medium of the fantasy genre. In the world of her books the gods take the form of five aspects of the divine: Father, Mother, Sister, and Brother, each associated with a season of the year, Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn, and the fifth aspect is the Bastard, the god of the unacknowledged, of unintended consequences and desperate causes. At any rate, one of her characters, a Divine of the Bastard's Order, names the five theological aims associated with a devout pilgrimage as "service, supplication, gratitude, divination, and atonement." I was struck acutely by these words, and I’ve found considerable insight in reflecting on her list, most particularly in the first purpose, "service."

Series: Spiritual Disciplines - Worship

Series: Reflections on the Spiritual Disciplines; Disciplines of Engagement.
#2: Worship
I found a quote online from an article by Dr. Michael Williams on the Patheos website, about how the Bible defines worship. He says, “Every decision is an act of worship.” Wow.
Nevertheless, I think it’s useful to go back in memory and revisit my experiences of worship. The very first I can recall was when I was a child vacationing at a little country resort. I quote from my essay for the Lindisfarne Community novitiate: “My parents were not church-goers, and I was never baptized as a child. My only experience with church services came from the time we spent at Lake Shehawken in Pennsylvania. The local Methodist church held summer Sunday services in boats out on the lake, and I can still see the light on the water, and the lucent sky of early morning. I can feel the stillness, and hear the voices raised in song magnified by their reflection from the quiet water.”
My next memory is one that I don’t th…

Series: Spiritual Disciplines - Bible Reading

Series: Reflections on the Spiritual Disciplines.
I am currently working with the Discernment Committee at my local parish, and at the last meeting we decided that we would all do a series of reflections, along with the Discerner, on the Spiritual Disciplines. We decided to begin with the category of Disciplines of Engagement, which includes Bible Reading, Worship, Prayer, Soul Friendship, Personal Reflection, and Service. I will publish my reflections on my blog in the place of Lectio Divina until we’ve finished the exercise.
Bible Reading:
The first thing I noted was that the phrase is “Bible reading,” not “Bible study.” That seems significant.
I’ve read the Bible in many different ways over the years. Some of those ways bore much fruit as the saying goes, and some were dismal disappointments. One of the first and most useful was adapted from the Jungian subjective style of dream interpretation, in which all of the elements in a dream are taken to represent an aspect of the dreamer. (I…

What Can They Give?

Mark 8:34-9:1
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.' 1And he said to them, 'Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.'
“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them…

What Is Not There Can't Be Counted

2 Samuel 3:6-21 6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ishbaal said to Abner, "Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?" 8 The words of Ishbaal made Abner very angry; he said, "Am I a dog's head for Judah? Today I keep showing loyalty to the house of your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David; and yet you charge me now with a crime concerning this woman. 9 So may God do to Abner and so may he add to it! For just what the LORD has sworn to David, that will I accomplish for him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beer-sheba." 11 And Ishbaal could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him. (New Revised Standard Version) -OR- 8 These words of Ish-Bos…