Thursday, May 04, 2006

Boss vs. Ground of Being

Had times and lives been different, I would have been a monastic. I crave the rhythms of fulltime devotion -- of a life formatted to center around Christ. My bowels (for it is bowels in ancient writings, rather than the romantic heart) hunger for communal life, guided by a rule. I've long wanted to create that life in this life by finding kindred souls to eat, live, worship, pray, rear children together, ideally in cohousing, less ideally within easy walking distance.

That isn't how it's happened, obviously.

The last few days I've had spiritual indigestion: I realize that lately my job (being a field rep for the Big CEO) has far outstripped my relationship with my savior/friend/lover Jesus Christ. The very things I coach, preach, cajole, and warn others on -- that time on the job too easily overtakes time spent with Christ -- are afflicting me. My pride (and, let's be honest, my enjoyment) is invested in the work of being Pastor. And the gift of being Disciple is left behind.

One of our leadership team members, Hollie, has remarked that we in Silicon Valley tend to boast in our busyness; we need to learn to boast in the Lord. The tricky bit is when your busy-ness is for the Lord, at least in theory. It's the same old temptation of idolatry: idolizing busyness, role, ability, rather than God. Following the job description, instead of following Jesus.

So for the last few days I've been praying about this, and asking others to pray about it on my behalf.

Today I attended a time of prayer with local colleagues. The focus was on learning to use the Jesus prayer as meditation, leading into contemplation. So we spent the day in conversation and very quiet prayer, which is a very good thing for me (see "craving for monastic life", first paragraph). Here's the point of this whole entry: When we were done, and sat considering the value of praying this way morning and evening, with some directed scripture study (known as lectio divina), my first feeling was "yes!" My second was guilt, as in "This would be time just for me, which would be selfish, because it would take time away from my work."

Spending time in prayer and study would be time just for me, which would be selfish. How "boastful in my busyness" is that? I'm a pastor. It's a big part of my job to model living with Christ as the center, edge, and ground of my being, and to teach others how to do that. And my gut-level (not to say bowel) reaction is that doing this would be selfish, not in aid of my Work. Does that seem good?

Yet the realest, most deeply found reason I do this is because I love God, and God's people, so much it hurts.

See the lightbulb? Hear the angel choir?

It isn't just engineers, loan officers, and construction workers who find it difficult to live with Christ as the Ground of Being. It's this wanna-be abbess, too.

I thank God for the whack across the head (suddenly I'm channeling Nic Cage in Moonstruck, when Cher slaps him and says "Snap out of it!").

So now I'm going to figure out what to do next, and try to find others to do it with, who will slap me upside the head when I get all "unselfish" and betray my bowels.


Doc Sims said...

How about looking and focussing what you are doing everyday in a different light?

You go to work, to feed yourself and family, isn't that part of His teaching? To serve your family and most importantly to self.

You've met friends along the way, and maybe have made some of them feel better for a part of their day. Isn't making them happy, or relieved in some say, also makes you closer to Him?

You take a taxi, pay the bills. Aren't you providing the driver a way to go through the day and maybe with his family? I'm sure He would be happy if you could add up and say to the cab driver, "don't forget to say your thanx to the Lord too," when he say thank you for the dollar.

I was taught, and still reminding myself, that what we believe in cannot be separated in what we do. So, I guess I'm trying my best to LIVE, praying is not a separate entity. Whatever we do, put a goal ('niat' is what we call it in my country) in everything we do, so that we gain His blessings. Hope this help

Elane said...

Hey, ici --

You're right, of course, about the loving neighbor and self part, and how that happens in real time, in real life.

My experience is also that, when I allow myself the time and space to rest in God, and allow God the time and space to speak to me, all that real time stuff is better. And (selfish disciple that I am), I am more in tune with God -- more filled with God.

And the persistent gratitude and testimony in daily life doesn't work that way for me. There's too much of me in it.

Thanks for the conversation -- I do this for that!