Monday, April 30, 2007

One Day Blog Silence

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Misspent achieving

Sally Morgenthaler's post over at the Gifted for Leadership blog reminds me that in June I'm taking a weeklong prayer-and-meditation retreat at Mercy Center. It's an "east-west" retreat. I'm hoping that the east part will revive my body memory of years of zen meditation (rinzai school, thank you very much), and the west part will center me in Jesus.

It should be noted that the last time I did this kind of thing was a week-long sesshin (zen meditation retreat, heavy on the meditation) on a mountain. I spent much of the time throwing up from the stress; I'm hoping that body memory isn't revived.

I'm also hoping that a week of spiritual bootcamp will help me build a stronger meditation and prayer practice. Or build one at all. I remember having a meditation practice, doing yoga regularly, writing consistently in my journal. Somewhere along the line, as Sally points out, the job overtook the discipleship. I've written about this before in this blog, and it's still sometimes true. It is fully my fault: any job and its correlating activity is easier for me than quiet sitting in the presence of God (and in the presence of all my yammering "shoulda woulda coulda" voices).

But that's the baseline -- sitting in the presence of God. Not just because the sitting trains us for the standing and the doing, but because the sitting is, in itself, good. Because God talks to us in the silence when we finally run out of words.

I figure that spending five days on semi-silent retreat will exhaust the words, or at least give God some elbow room between them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

(A)washed in the blood

As grieving for the 33 Va. Tech dead continued (I hope we are grieving for all 33), over 170 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad. A witness described one of the bomb sites -- a food market -- as "a swimming pool of blood".

We are awash in the blood of our brothers and sisters. And we have always been.

Predictably, psychobabble water wings work to keep some afloat. Others rest on geopolitical innertubes or instantly inflatable punditry.

Others of us stand stock still, unable to swim, unable to move for all the wasted life and spent hope.

We, who only days ago celebrated new life, who sing of being "washed in the blood of the Lamb", we who follow Jesus must keep moving.
We must join our voices with other of God's children in songs of lament and pain.
We must continue to walk with God, be we Christian or Jewish or Muslim or some other variety of Godfearers.
We must keep our hearts open to hearing the word of hope, the promise of restoration and resurrection, in this life. It won't be a pithy word, that whispered hope from God, or an explanation ripped from the DSM-IV or the Pentagon's playbook. And it probably won't be a blueprinted plan that explains once and for all why we kill each other so easily. That word of hope may simply be the echo of God's broken heart and eternal faithfulness, calling us to mourn, and do better.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm praying that the Imus runoff (or the Richards runoff, or the Gibson runoff, or the fill-in-offensive-person's-name-here runoff) flows both upstream and down. The language of common discourse has become way too common: we are increasingly and disturbingly uncivil to each other.  Point to rap singers calling women "ho's" if you will, but right alongside that has been politicians naming critics as "treasonous".  Sitcoms are nearly universally based on unkindness; Fox News is legendarily vicious and distorted. Aggressive driving is the norm, as is driving while under the influence of phone (and having "private" conversations in public places, impolite to both the conversant and the bystanders). My liberal friends think nothing of trashing the right wing as "intolerant" or "inflexible" while they smugly hold their positions and sneer. And back the other way as well. 
I'm all for honesty and frankness, and have no nostalgia for the falsehood of the 50s facade. But we have fouled our own homes, and wonder aloud when we emerge from the muck, stinking.
"First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  I've caught myself thinking and speaking unkindly about strangers who have done me no wrong, other than crossing my path on a busy day.  May God wash me, and us, and make us humble with each other.