Moving Through The Fog

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Movement by Rumi

If a tree could move from place to place,
It would escape the pain of the ax.
And if the sun and moon were set in stone,
how could they spread their light?
How bitter would the great Euphrates, Tigris, and
Oxus rivers become,
if they were stagnant as a lake?
If air is confined in a well, it turns foul:
see what loss is suffered from inertia.
But when the water of the ocean rose high
in the clouds,
it was delivered from bitterness and became fresh and
sweet.

As I look out the window today, I can’t help but notice the presence fog-thick sky resting upon the ground. Fog is a good metaphor for those places in life where we find ourselves uncertain, unclear, and just afraid to face the unknown. But the presence of Fog does not have to be seen negatively. It has a way of slowing us down, and if it’s thick enough it can even bring our wandering lives to a halt. Even here though, we can learn to move through it and break the inertia that fog often brings. Continue reading

Learning from Imperfection

Flickr Credit: Sangudo

Flickr Credit: Sangudo

This past Sunday we talked about imperfection and the importance of being average and ordinary. Jesus’ work in Galilee reveals his desire to “build an alliance of backwards people” or as another person put it, Jesus worked to create the “fellowship of the disqualified.” We put so much pressure on ourselves and others to be perfect, successful, to look beautiful, keep up certain appearances, that we avoid our own imperfections to painful consequences. This avoidance is not only dangerous for our spiritual lives, it keeps us from being fully present to others in their weakness. Continue reading

Among the People

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.”
(Matthew 4:23–25)

I’m working on Matthew 4:12-25 this week and after many readings of the text it’s starting to open up to me. This portion of the text constantly refers to Galilee which is meant to draw our attention to a particular area and milieu that Jesus is doing his work within. Later in v. 23, as you can see above, it says that we find Jesus working “among the people.” This grabs my attention as a central theme that Matthew’s Gospel has been building on since the genealogy. Continue reading

Six Books that Changed My Perspective in 2013

It takes me awhile to read a book, but that’s probably because I love to have three or four or six books going all at once. I usually have at least one fiction going, a book for spiritual insight, a more academic text, and then some kind of personal development book (leadership, some skill I’m trying to learn, etc).

This must be partially because I get bored with just one book, partially because I’m interested in an idea in this or that book, so I pick it up and add it too the stack. Once I pick up the idea I set it down until interest strikes again. You wouldn’t believe how many books I have that have a bookmark halfway through them! I am sure this is some kind of personal flaw, but I’ve decided to just accept it and move on. Continue reading

What is Enlightenment Like? Anthony De Mello

This is a story from Anthony De Mello’s book “Awareness” I used in my sermon yesterday:

Somebody once asked, “What is enlightenment like? What is awakening like”? It’s like the tramp in London who was settling in for the night. He’d hardly been able to get a crust of bread to eat. Then he reaches this embankment on the river Thames. There was a slight drizzle, so he huddled in his old tattered cloak. He was about to go to sleep when suddenly a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce pulls up. Out of the car steps a beautiful young lady who says to him, “My poor man, are you planning on spending the night here on this embankment”?

And the tramp says, “Yes”. She says, “I won’t have it. You’re coming to my house and you’re going to spend a comfortable night and you’re going to get a good dinner”. She insists on his getting into the car. Well, they ride out of London and get to a place where she has a sprawling mansion with large grounds. They are ushered in by the butler, to whom she says, “James, please make sure he’s put in the servants’ quarters and treated well”. Which is what James does. The young lady had undressed and was about to go to bed when she suddenly remembers her guest for the night.

So she slips something on and pads along the corridor to the servants’ quarters. She sees a little chink of light from the room where the tramp was put up. She taps lightly at the door, opens it, and finds the man awake. She says, “What’s the trouble, my good man, didn’t you get a good meal”? He said, “Never had a better meal in my life, lady”. “Are you warm enough”? He says, “Yes, lovely warm bed”. Then she says, “Maybe you need a little company. Why don’t you move over a bit”. And she comes closer to him and he moves over and falls right into the Thames.

Ha! You didn’t expect that one! Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Wake up. When you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s the way you find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful. -Page 32.

my guest post on the smitten word: an ounce of action

Engles Quote

Engles Quote

Suzannah Paul of the Smitten Word has been hosting a series of guest posts on her blog about embodied faith this month. She was kind enough to accept a piece I wrote for the series called “An Ounce of Action.” Below is an excerpt. Jump over there by clicking the link below if it interests you.

My theories and ideals melted away before my very eyes only to be reconstructed in the tendons and ligaments of embodied community. By moving out of the confines of academic life and into the vigor of life enfleshed, I am challenged by what I learn within this diverse community that has been planted in one place for seventy-five years. I had to let the neatly tied theories and idealistic visions of “what the church should look like” be redefined within the everyday lives of people who experience and see the world differently than I do. In this case, my action led to a reshaping of not only of my theory but my entire life.

via suzannah paul | the smitten word: an ounce of action {guest post C. Wess Daniels}.


Image credits: Doug Neill at the Graphic Recorder.