Saturday, February 24, 2007

an ancient path

Moses on the mountain, Noah in the ark, Elijah on Mt. Horeb, and Jesus in the wilderness. All are stories of the people of God on a trek of the soul. The season of Lent is a journey of reflection. Central to this journey is dialogue. It is not mere conversation, rather it is time given to allow one's soul to speak to its Creator. What enviroment might give way to this solitude of the inner man with the Divine?

Last night it was one passionate Christ follower mixing deep trans-like electronica loops fused with subtle orations of ancient truths. The room was filled with stations, a blank canvas, tea candles, a map under black light, and stones with a basin of water. In and of themselves all very ordinary objects, but mixed with desperate souls and the Spirit of the Living God they became the means to journey inward.

Reflection. Examination. Release.

As I sat at the "Fellowship" station furnished with one large candle, many smaller tea candles, and a paper that read:

God came to Earth.
Like us, He was flesh,
His name was Jesus.

Jesus' light was bright.

He died and his light went out.

But three days later, the light was back.
Jesus rose from the dead.
He was wholly human and wholly God.

Humbled by these images and sacred truths I penned these words:

Ages ago when Light shattered
it began to seek to restore itself.
When the time was full the One Who is Light came to all.
With His great Light He draws all sparks to unite.
Deep within the dark of man dwells a divine spark.
What draws the flicker to flame?
He is the One who is the Name.

No longer exiled in the shadowlands,
the hearts of man are called to ignite the sacred flame.
What once was like wax has melted down,
only the pool of liquid grace remains.
Carry we must our eternal spark
through time and space
until all light is restored
to the One True God.

Last night was such a beautiful expression of faith. It was a natural extension of the Lent journey I find myself on with countless others across the globe. May you find this season one that prepares your heart to know His Grace once again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the first day of lent

What does it mean to enter the season of Lent? Where did the tradition come from? Along with many people for generations long ago and for many to come, the people of God will travel through this time. I hope to emerge from this time with a sense that it has been a time of reflection and transformation.
Mars Hill (Grand Rapids) has setup a link for daily readings during this season of Lent. Today as I found my way into the sacred story of the people of God, asking some of the same questions of those who walk the road of faith before me. Maybe lent is a season of honest questions to oneself.

Luke 18: If you are content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.

Hebrews 12: Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?

Job 3: What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense? When God blocks all the roads to meaning?

Psalm 32: When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.... Then I let it all out, I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to God."
I join with the many who will wander the wilderness of Lent these next 40 days knowing that we are not alone.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

speak or crush the stone

A great man once lived who was a sage leader of an unknown people. For four decades he led these nomadic people on a soul journey through the wilderness of identity. This reluctant leader listened to the moans and complaints of the people and finally became weary of their lack of faith in the promise given to them. Frustration was his companion.

One day on the side of an ancient mountain he heard the voice of the One God. In a time when the people were famished and their souls dry like the desert, the One of Being asked him to give aid to the people’s cry. He was to speak to the mountain rock, speak to the center of where lies an abundant stream of water to nourish body and soul.

The frustrated leader acted not from his heart but from his emotional dross and smites the mountain rock with his staff. Despite the leader’s actions, the One God used the man’s wrong doing and brought forth water for the people. Symbolically the people who had been entrusted to the leader were the mountain rock, but the man was unaware of the symbol until later in his life.

This frustrated leader loved and hated by the people never physically saw the final destination of the people, yet he passed on with the promise in place in the center of his being knowing that the One God would bring about the identity of the people who followed the Name.

I have found myself in this ancient story. For I am the leader of a people; the people are the ones who have been entrusted to my care. My frustration seems to grow from an unrealized dream. I listen to the complaints and the bickering amongst my children. It fuels my angst that nothing wonderful can come this way. And so the seed of discontent plants itself; its roots take hold of my words. When I am tested to be their life caretaker amidst their nagging and complaining, I strike out with careful chosen words that sting ever so slightly or give a quick jab to whatever inanimate object might be near.

I am walking in the Moses story on so many levels. Out of my frustration and discontent, I traverse the days hoping that one day something wonderful will come this way.

Last night I was brought to this revelation of the story I am in by the simple reaction to a poignant scene in the movie the Bridge to Terabithia. I found myself covered in a sea of tears as I watched a father give striking verbal blows to his dreamer son. Wading in my own sorrow, I looked over to see my middle daughter sobbing. Somehow this simple fantasy story transported a real father and daughter to the harsh reality of how things are at home.

But all is not lost. Hope still lingers, because in my heart I know that if I am hearing the soul of my family cry out, then I am not too far away from the arms of Grace. With my humbled heart I reach out to the One who Heals all and ask for his Mercy. And I know that He restores the broken dreams of his people. Maybe something wonderful has come this way and it dwells in the hearts of the ones I have been entrusted to love and care for.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

new year for trees

In the Hebrew way of life there comes a day each year to stop and celebrate new beginnings. The New Year for Trees usually occurs between mid-January and mid February signifying the end of the winter rainy season; it marks the renewal of the cycle of growth.

I cannot begin to say how closely that parallels the season of life I am in right now. For the last several weeks, a close friend of mine who moved back to the Tallahassee area and I have been talking about who are we at the core of our being. From those conversations, a reoccurring theme has been: helping people move from where they are to the place they want to be. I think my post from January 19th speaks to this in detail.

It became official on February 1, the formation of a people group who are focused on helping people move from one place to the next; a legal entity called Catalyst Consultant Group LLC was formed. Yes, we have a Federal Employee Identification Number. What is very interesting about this new business formation is that it is not just something that we want to do; it is something being birthed from who we are at the core of our God given inner shape. I think when something is birthed from the core of who you are, it is from the “imago dei.” It is very possible that from that image of God within you, there is an unending supply of power, energy, and creativity. I think we may have actually stumbled upon something wonderful.

Thomas Merton seems to communicate over and over the idea that if you are doing and being who you were created and intended to be, then you are communing with God unceasingly. I am beginning to rethink what it looks like when Paul writes “pray unceasingly.” It doesn’t just look like kneeling in a pew, bowing you head, or closing you eyes for a certain length of time. I think in surrendering your everyday life to God, you place yourself in a humble attitude of communion every moment.

Isaiah says “as you come, the mountains and hills will burst into song, and the tree of the countryside will clap their hands.” (55:10)

Maybe when the people of God “come into” and become who they were created and intended to be, the whole earth rejoices. It is good news for the people of the earth when God’s people learn their true identity from the imago dei.