Daily Riches: Interruptions! (Henri Nouwen, C. S. Lewis and Frederick Buechner)

“While visiting the University of Notre Dame where I had been a teacher for a few years, I met an older experienced professor who had spent most of his life there. And while we strolled over the beautiful campus, he said with a certain melancholy in his voice, ‘You know, …my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that the interruptions were my work.'” Henri Nouwen

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” C. S. Lewis

“God is right there in the thick of our day-by-day lives…. Trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.” Frederick Buechner

“This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is your usual response to interruptions? Are you too hurried to be available to others?
  • Are you insisting that you know what the day should bring forth? …on being in control? How is that working for you?
  • Can you approach the next few days as “the life that God is sending you day by day?” What would that look like?

Abba, may I remember to look for you in the thick of my day-by-day life.

For more: Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons by Frederick Buechner

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Most Revolutionary Man on Earth (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“To become free does not mean becoming great in the world, not becoming free from your brother, nor even free from God, but to become free from oneself, one’s lie. It means to become free from thinking only of myself, from being the center of my world, from hate, by which I despise God’s creation. It means to be free to be for the other: the person for others. Only God’s truth can enable me to see the other as he really is. It tears out the twisted image that I have of the other within me and shows him to me in a new light. And insofar as God’s truth does that, it bestows upon me the action, the love, the grace of God. It destroys our lies and creates the truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God’s truth is God’s love and God’s love makes us free from ourselves for others. To be free means nothing less than to be in love. And to be in love means nothing less than being in the truth of God. The man who loves because he has been made free by God is the most revolutionary man on earth. He challenges all values. He is the explosive material of human society. He is a dangerous man. For he recognizes that the human race is in the depths of falsehood. And he is always ready to let the light of truth fall upon his darkness; and he will do this because of his love. But this disturbance, which such people bring, calls forth hatred from the world. And therefore this knight of truth and love is not the hero that men long for or honor, not one who is without enemies; but one whom they would do away with, outlaw, indeed kill.  The way of God’s truth leads to the cross. From now on, we know that all truth which is true before God must face the cross. The church that follows Christ must go with him to the cross.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13
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Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of sometimes having “a twisted image … of the other”–perhaps based on race, religion or social status?
  • Will you “let the light of truth fall upon your darkness”–to free you to love?
  • How would it make you feel to be described as “the person for others?”
  • Are you free enough of yourself–”from being the center of your world, from hate”–to be that person?

Abba, free me of the lies I tell myself that ensnare me in hatred.

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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 Thanks for reading and sharing this blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: A View from the Bottom (Richard Rohr)

“In almost all of history, the vast majority of people understood the view from the bottom due to their own life circumstance. Most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have been oppressed and poor. But their history was seldom written except in the Bible (until very recently in such books as Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States). Only in modern times and wealthy countries do we find the strange phenomenon of masses of people having an establishment mentality. This relatively new thing called ‘the middle class’ gives many of us just enough comfort not to have to feel the pinch or worry about injustice for ourselves. Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere have a view from the top even though we are nowhere near the top ourselves. The mass of people can normally be bought off by just giving them ‘bread and circuses,’ as the Romans said. …Only by solidarity with other people’s suffering can comfortable people be converted. Otherwise we are disconnected from the cross–of the world, of others, of Jesus, and finally of our own necessary participation in the great mystery of dying and rising. In the early Christian Scriptures, or the ‘New’ Testament, we clearly see that it’s mostly the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners–those on the bottom and the outside–that really hear Jesus’ teaching and get the point and respond to him. It’s the leaders and insiders (the priests, scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and Roman leaders) who crucify him. That is evident in the text. …After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first Christians go ‘underground.’ They are the persecuted ones, meeting in secrecy in the catacombs. …The Church was largely of the poor and for the poor. The turning point, at which the Church moved from the bottom to the top, is the year 313 A.D. when Emperor Constantine supposedly did the Church a great favor by beginning to make Christianity the established religion of the Holy Roman Empire. …As the Church’s interests became linked with imperial world views, our perspective changed from the view from the bottom and powerlessness (the persecuted, the outsiders) to the view from the top where we were now the ultimate insiders (with power, money, status, and control).” Richard Rohr

“Once you were not a people”
1 Peter 2:!0

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you have friends on the “bottom” or “outside?” What does your answer say about you?
  • Compared to the world’s population, do you have “power, money, status, and control?”
  • What “bread and circuses” could be distracting you from harsh realities?

Jesus, convert us, your comfortable people.

For More: Scripture as Liberation by Richard Rohr

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Speech Shaped by Silence (Ruth Haley Barton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“In the multitude of words there is much transgression,’ the Scriptures say. This is a truth that could drive us ministry folks to despair given the incessant flow of words from our mouths, pens, and computers. Those of us who deal in words are at great risk of misusing words and even sinning with our words due to the sheer volume of them! I don’t know about you but sometimes I can literally feel it—deep in my bones—that if I do not shut my mouth for a while I will get myself in trouble because my words will be completely disconnected from the reality of God in my own life. Silence is the only cure for this desperate situation. ‘Right speech comes out of silence ….’ wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In silence our speech patterns are refined because silence fosters a self-awareness that enables us to choose more truly the words that we say. Rather than speech that issues from subconscious needs to impress, to put others in their place, to compete, to control, to manipulate, and put a good spin on things, we are able to notice our inner dynamics and make choices that are more grounded in love, trust, and God-given wisdom. …The Psalmist says, ‘When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your bed and be silent. Offer right sacrifices (in other words, stay faithful to your spiritual practices) and put your trust in the Lord.’ There are times when the most heroic thing a leader can do is to remain in that private place with God for as long as it takes to keep from sinning. In this place we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than everything else we could be doing in the moment. …The more I am called upon to use words, the more distressing things are, the more active leadership that is required of me, the more silence I need.” Ruth Haley Barton

“May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Psalm 19:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is the practice of silence a meaningful part of your life?
  • Do your words increasingly flow from a previous silence that has shaped them?
  • As you become more active, are you more inclined to sequester yourself more in silence?

Abba, keep a guard over my lips.

For More: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please feel free to leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Darkness As A Friend in Marriage (Alain De Botton)

“You know, some of the reason why we marry the wrong people is that we don’t really understand ourselves. I mean, sometimes I say to people, ‘Do you think you’re easy to live with?’ People who are single. And the ones who say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty easy to live with, it’s just a question of finding the right person.’–massive alarm bell rings in my mind. …And so we go into marriage unable to convey that knowledge to a partner. We don’t understand them. They don’t understand us. We don’t understand what marriage is. Let’s stress that. …Be incredibly forgiving for the weird behavior that’s going to start coming out. You will be very unhappy in lots of ways. Your partner will fail to understand you. If you’re understood in maybe, I don’t know, 60% of your soul by your partner, that’s fantastic. Don’t expect that it’s going to be 100%. Of course you will be lonely. You will often be in despair. You will sometimes think it’s the worst decision in your life. That’s fine. That’s not a sign your marriage has gone wrong. It’s a sign that it’s normal, it’s on track. And many of the hopes that took you into the marriage will have to die in order for the marriage to continue. That some of the headiness and expectations will have to die. …It’s very dark. But in love, darkness is a real friend of relationships. Because so many of the problems of love come from unwarranted optimism. And so we need to be dark about so many things. …I think that there are aspects of a good marriage that should encompass a kind of melancholy, as we realize that we’re trying to do such a complex thing with someone. We are trying to find our best friend, our ideal sexual partner, our co-household manager, perhaps our co-parent. And we’re expecting that all this will miraculously go well together. Of course it can’t. We’re not going to be able to get it all right. There will be many areas of misunderstanding and failure. And a certain amount of sober melancholy is a real asset when heading forth into the land of love.” Alain de Botton

“Most important of all,
continue to show deep love for each other,
for love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is your response to this very dark portrayal of married life?
  • Did you enter marriage with “unwarranted optimism?” If so, how exactly?
  • Can you accept that darkness, melancholy and despair might be part of your married experience? …a valuable part?

Abba, in the darkness may I find your light.

For More: Essays in Love by Alain de Botton

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Perhaps the Biggest Shock of Marriage–Encountering Yourself (David Whyte, Larry Crabb, Edith Schaefer and Grant Howard)

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.” Edith Schaefer

“At the heart of every marriage and every committed relationship, there dawns an elemental shock of realization, that we have made vows to a stranger whom we must now get to know; both in ourselves and in the other. Marriage is where we learn self-knowledge; where we realize that parts of our own makeup are even stranger than the stranger we have married or come to live with and just as difficult for another person to live and breathe with or come to know. Marriage is where we realize how much effort we have put into preserving our own sense of space, our own sense of self and our own cherished everyday rhythms. Marriage is where we realize how much we want to be right and seen to be right. Marriage is where all of these difficult revelations can consign us to a sense of imprisonment and distance or help us become larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing, more animated participants in the human drama.” David Whyte

“Every human relationship, especially where the participants long to experience deep closeness, encounters significant conflict. And there is simply no way through the conflict to true connection without divine power. There is no way through without an energy in the soul that is supplied by God, an energy that is stronger and better than the energy that is already there, fueling the conflict.” Larry Crabb

“We have a picture of the perfect partner, but we marry an imperfect person. Then we have two options. Tear up the picture and accept the person, or tear up the person and accept the picture.” Grant Howard

“This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
We should love one another.”
1 John 3:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced the shocking “self-revelation” to which Whyte refers? If not, why not?
  • Have you made peace with your own limitations as a spouse? …with those of your partner?
  • Is your response to marriage to feel imprisoned or to be challenged to grow?
  • Are you aware of the absolute necessity of divine empowerment in your marriage?
  • Are you “tearing up” the picture, or the person?

Abba, use my marriage to make me larger, kinder, more generous, more amusing and more alive.

For More: The Three Marriages by David Whyte

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Jesus’ Reverse Mission (Richard Rohr)

“One reason we Christians have misunderstood many of Jesus’ teachings is that we have not seen Jesus’ way of education as that of a spiritual master. He wants to situate us in a larger life, which he calls the ‘Reign of God.’ But instead we make him into a Scholastic philosopher if we are Roman Catholic, into a moralist if we are mainline Protestant, or into a successful and imperialistic American if we are Evangelical. Yet the initiatory thrust of Jesus’ words is hidden in plain sight. Study, for example, his instructions to the twelve disciples, when he sent them into society in a very vulnerable way (no shoes or wallet, like sheep among wolves). How did we miss this? Note that it was not an intellectual message as much as it was an ‘urban plunge,’ a high-risk experience where something new and good could happen. It was designed to change the disciples much more than it was meant for them to change others! (See Matthew 10:1-33 or Luke 10:1-24.) Today we call it a reverse mission, where we ourselves are changed and helped by those whom we think we are serving. When read in light of classic initiation patterns, Jesus’ intentions are very clear. He wanted his disciples–then and now–to experience the value of vulnerability. Jesus invites us to a life without baggage so we can learn how to accept others and their culture. Instead, we carry along our own country’s assumptions masquerading as ‘the good news.’ He did not teach us to hang up a shingle to get people to attend our services. He taught us exactly the opposite: We should stay in their homes and eat their food! This is a very strong anti-institutional model. One can only imagine how different history would have been had we provided this initiatory training for our missionaries. We might have borne a message of cosmic sympathy instead of imperialism, providing humble reconciliation instead of religious wars and the murdering of ‘heretics,’ Jews, ‘pagans,’ and native peoples in the name of Jesus.” Richard Rohr

“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals”
Jesus, in Luke 10:4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you imagine how different history would be if the church had followed the instructions (and personal example) of Jesus when it comes to doing ministry?
  • Are you willing to “plunge” into a risky experience “where something new and good could happen” to you?
  • Have you been helped in the process of helping others? Is God calling you to your own “reverse mission?”

Abba, lead me out of my comfort zone, and heal me as I heal others.

For More: Adam’s Return by Richard Rohr

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Don’t Walk By (Deepti Hajela and Henri Nouwen)

“The homeless man lay face down, unmoving, on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, blood from knife wounds pooling underneath his body. One person passed by in the early morning. Then another, and another. Video footage from a surveillance camera shows at least seven people going by, some turning their heads to look, others stopping to gawk. One even lifted the homeless man’s body, exposing what appeared to be blood on the sidewalk underneath him, 20150507_211748-1before walking away. It wasn’t until after the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been lying there for nearly an hour that emergency workers arrived, and by then, it was too late. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax …had died. ‘I think it’s horrific,’ said Marla Cohan, who teaches at P.S. 82, a school across the street…. ‘I think people are just afraid to step in; they don’t want to get involved; who knows what their reasons are?’ Tale-Yax was walking behind a man and a woman on 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens around 6 a.m. April 18 when the couple got into a fight that became physical, according to police, who pieced together what happened from surveillance footage and interviews with area residents. Tale-Yax was stabbed several times when he intervened to help the woman….” Deepti Hajela

“One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us in colour, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there. Strangers, people different than we are, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being ‘other.’ Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at ‘those other persons’ as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God’s heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear.” Henri Nouwen

“with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus, in Matthew 7:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the negative forces at work in your life? (apathy, fear, anger, hurry)
  • Will you commit to following Jesus in his love for Others–in spite of such forces?
  • Will you allow him to show you his great love for you–and for Others–in the process?

Abba, we claim your great unconditional love for ourselves, and for all.

For more: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please leave a comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: Impending Cosmic Disaster (Thomas Merton and Boris Pasternak)

“I know from my own experience that in the last twenty years, the world has moved a very long way towards conformism and passivity. So long a way that the distance is, to me, both frightening and disconcerting. I have been all the more sensitive to it because I have spent this time in the isolation of a contemplative monastery, and have only recently come back into contact … with the America which I used to know as a rather articulate, critical and vociferously independent place. It is certainly not so any more. Not that the people do not complain and criticize, but their complaints and criticisms, indeed their most serious concerns, seem to be involved in trivialities and illusions–against a horrifying background of impending cosmic disaster. It seems to be that for all our pride in our freedom and individuality we have complete renounced thinking for ourselves. What passes for ‘thinking’ is mass-produced, passively accepted, or not even accepted. We simply submit to the process of being informed, without anything actually registering on our mind at all. …If we stop to think about what [Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago] says, we will realize that if Pasternak is ever fully studied, he is just as likely to be regarded as a dangerous writer in the West as he is in the East. He is saying that political and social structures as we understand them are things of the past, and that the crisis through which we are now passing is nothing but the full and inescapable manifestation of their falsity. For twenty centuries we have called ourselves Christians, without even beginning to understand one tenth of the Gospel. We have been taking Caesar for God and God for Caesar. Now that ‘charity is growing cold’ and we stand facing the smoky dawn of an apocalyptic era, Pasternak reminds us that there is only one source of truth, but that it is not sufficient to know the source is there—we must go and drink from it, as he has done.” Thomas Merton (1959)
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“Sin will be rampant everywhere,
and the love of many will grow cold.”
Jesus in Matthew 24:12
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Moving From Head to Heart

  • People on both the political “left” and “right” believe they are “thinking for themselves”–and consider others misguided–as passively repeating mere slogans. Do you have a practice that forces you to critique your assumptions?
  • If politics as we know it is a “thing of the past”, and we’re facing “an apocalyptic era”, where do we turn?
  • One thing surely–we must turn to “love”–but not merely as a concept or belief, but as what we “drink”–moving beyond that “one tenth of the gospel.” What might this mean for you?

Lord, help!

For More: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

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Thanks for reading! – Bill

Daily Riches: Drowning Out Cries of the Oppressed with the Noise of Hymns (Abraham Heschel)

“In [ancient] Israel … sacrifice is an essential act of worship. It is the experience of giving oneself vicariously to God and of being received by Him. And yet, the pre-exilic prophets uttered violent attacks on sacrifices (Amos 5:21-27; Hos. 6:6; Isa. 1:11-17; Mic. 6:6-8; Jer. 6:20; 7:21-23; Isa. 61:1-2; Pss. 40:7; 50:12-13). Samuel insisted: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Sam. 15:22). However, while Samuel stressed the primacy of obedience over sacrifice, Amos and the prophets who followed him not only stressed the primacy of morality over sacrifice, but even proclaimed that the worth of worship, far from being absolute, is contingent upon moral living, and that when immorality prevails, worship is detestable. Questioning man’s right to worship through offerings and songs, they maintained that the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness. …Of course, the prophets did not condemn the practice of sacrifice in itself; otherwise, we should have to conclude that Isaiah intended to discourage the practice of prayer (Isa. 1:14-15). They did, however, claim that deeds of injustice vitiate both sacrifice and prayer. Men may not drown the cries of the oppressed with the noise of hymns, nor buy off the Lord with increased offerings. The prophets disparaged the cult when it became a substitute for righteousness.” Abraham Heschel – The Prophets

“I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of the “worth of your worship” as being “contingent upon [your] moral living?” …as an individual? …as a congregation?
  • Do you live as though “the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness?” If not, what is your primary “way?”
  • Is your congregation perhaps satisfied with and distracted by “the noise of hymns”, and oblivious to the “cries of the oppressed?” …are you?

Daily may we hearken to you, O Yahweh.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: This Confusion of Images and Myths (Neil Postman, Thomas Merton, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley)

“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t…. we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another—slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. …In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.” Neil Postman

“But how does one stop to separate the truth from the half-truth, the event from the pseudo-event, reality from the manufactured image? It is in this confusion of images and myths, superstitions and ideologies that the ‘powers of the air’ govern our thinking…. Where there is no critical perspective, no detached observation, no time to ask the pertinent questions, how can one avoid being deluded and confused?” Thomas Merton

“What is truth?”

Pontius Pilate in John 18:38

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Moving From the Head the Heart

  • Perhaps both Orwell and Huxley were right. Do you see our world in their prophecies? Have you heeded their dire warnings?
  • Are you sufficiently detached from the culture to have perspective? How could you detach? Do you?
  • Is what you fear, or what you love, preoccupying you so that you have no time to “ask the pertinent questions?”

Abba, deliver me from delusion and illusion that I might be more useful to you.

For More: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it!– Bill

Daily Riches: Attention For the Sake of Love (Alan Jones, Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen)

“In the Divine Comedy, Beatrice uncompromisingly ordered Dante to look and to look well. I too need someone who will relentlessly draw my attention to those parts of my life that remain hidden even from myself, and yet which hold me in their power. The psychoanalyst does this for some people; the holy man or woman for others. …This is how one analyst describes his work:
…all I could do was every now and then direct the patient’s attention to what she was doing in her attempts to keep that stuff from spewing out–something she preferred not to watch. …The right way is just to point out to the patient how he keeps himself from thinking certain things, so that he becomes self-conscious and the evasion doesn’t work so automatically. That’s all. That’s the analyst’s scalpel. He can’t open up his patient’s mind and start tinkering. The only thing he can do is tell the patient, ‘Look there,’ and most of the time the patient doesn’t look. But sometimes he does, and then his automatic behavior becomes less automatic.’
Most of us, however find the command ‘Look!’ hard to obey. This way of naked attention for the sake of love seems impossible to maintain. We prefer to love others by interfering with them. We enjoy tinkering with others in the name of love. We enjoy, above all, being demonstrably useful. All in all, we need rescuing.” Alan Jones
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“He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambition, his delusions about ends and means.” Thomas Merton
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“Here lies the center of Merton’s critique of our activism …Activism ultimately places our own unmet longings at the center of our efforts. It therefore does not help others in a wholesome way.” Henri Nouwen

“The truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you adopted a practice (e.g., contemplation, therapy) that allows for God to reveal those parts of your life to you that remain hidden even from you?
  • Are you aware of how ambition and unmet longings sabotage your attempts at loving well?
  • Who helps you to “look well?” …to become aware of your unconscious life?

Abba, help me understand what’s happening beneath the surface of my life.

For More: Soul Making by Alan Jones

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: A Life Uncluttered By Ambition (Wayne Simsic, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Francis)

“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, [Saint] Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit.” Wayne Simsic

“At some point when we’ve made ourselves available for service to God–for some kind of ministry or other–the question will arise, ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ It’s at the same time an unsurprising and provocative query. And just look at what underlies that question: ego, drivenness, a sense of hurry–striving. But in truth, as Francis demonstrated, it’s not necessary to keep busy. It’s necessary to ‘trust completely.’ It’s not necessary to accomplish anything. It’s necessary to ‘humbly accept the mystery of my life.’ It’s not necessary to be productive. It’s necessary to ‘rely on the guidance of the Spirit.’ My time is not so valuable. I’m not so necessary as I think. Any equation will be essentially unchanged by my absence. The way of St. Francis, ‘spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation’ rebukes my anxious way–my craving for an agenda, my insistence on significance. And Bonhoeffer’s insight is critical: ‘keeping quiet’–seemingly doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, is not only essential, but if ignored leads only to fruitlessness and folly. The ego always lurks nearby, insidious, subtly undoing the best intentions. Both St. Francis and Bonhoeffer insisted upon, and themselves lived, a contemplative life of faith–a life of ‘keeping quiet’ and ‘making time for God.’ Only such lives create a spaciousness where God can meet us in our folly, take us again into the clutch of his parental love, and purify us–making us useful after all.” William Britton

“I do not even judge myself.”
1 Corinthians 4:3
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often are you aware of unconscious forces that affect your behavior? (e.g., ambition, drivenness, ego)
  • Does your behavior show that you grant too much importance to being “productive?” (Are you ever hurrying, obsessed with “calculation?”)
  • How can you practice humbly accepting “the mystery of this life” and relying on the “guidance of the Spirit?” How might that redefine “success?”

Abba, in the midst of my folly, meet me in your love, and purify me.

For More: The Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please pray for God’s blessing on this ministry. – Bill

Daily Riches: Never a Man Like This (Dorothy Sayers and Sara Bessey)

“What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” Dorothy Sayers

“Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were … last at the Cross [and first at the tomb!]. They had never known a man like this Man–there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them … who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature.” Dorothy Sayers

“After years of reading the Gospels and the full canon of Scripture, here is, very simply, what I learned about Jesus and the ladies: he loves us. He loves us. On our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens; he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us—calls us all beloved. Gloriously, this flies in the face of the cultural expectations of his time—and even our own time. Scholar David Joel Hamilton calls Jesus’ words and actions toward women ‘controversial, provocative, even revolutionary.'”  Sara Bessey

“Women aged fifteen through forty-five are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. One-third of women face abuse at home. …in most countries, between 30 and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. Up to 70 percent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.” Bessey

“So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you automatically see a women first as “a member of a class and not an individual” …made in God’s image?
  • Does the kind of love-of-women Jesus demonstrated characterize your family? Is it a value preached in your church?
  • Men, is your goal to be “a man like this man”–like Jesus–who prizes and honors women?

Abba, help me be more like Jesus in my relationships with women.

For More: Jesus Feminist by Sara Bessey

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Truth For a Nation That Has Lost Its Way (Bryan Stevenson)

“Late one night several years ago, I was getting out of my car on an empty midtown Atlanta street when a man standing fifteen feet away pointed a gun at me and threatened to ‘blow my head off.’  …Panicked thoughts raced through my mind as the threat was repeated. I quickly realized that my first instinct to run was misguided and dangerous, so I fearfully raised my hands in helpless, terrifying submission to the barrel of a handgun. I tried to stay calm and begged the man not to shoot me …I knew that my survival required careful, strategic thinking. I had to stay calm. …A young, bearded black man dressed casually in jeans, I didn’t look like a lawyer with a Harvard Law School degree to most people; I just looked like a black man in America. I had spent much of my life in the church. I graduated from a Christian college and was steeped in Dr. King’s teachings of nonviolence, but none of that mattered to the Atlanta police officer threatening to kill me. To that officer, I looked like a criminal, dangerous and guilty. …That night in Atlanta, I [had been] sitting in front of my apartment, in my parked, beat-up Honda Civic for ten or fifteen minutes listening to music after a long day of work. I had apparently attracted someone’s attention simply by sitting in the car too long, and the police were summoned. Getting out of my car to explain to the police officer that this was my home and that everything was okay is what prompted him to pull his weapon and threaten to shoot me. …[He and his partner] threw me on the back of the vehicle, searched my car illegally, and kept me on the street for nearly fifteen humiliating minutes…. When no crime could be discovered, I was told by the police officers to consider myself lucky. Although it was said as a taunt and threat, they were right: I was lucky; I survived. Sometimes the presumption of guilt results in young black men being killed. From Ferguson, Missouri, to Charleston, South Carolina, communities are suffering the lethal consequences of our collective silence about racial injustice. The church should be a source of truth in a nation that has lost its way. As the dominant religion in the United States, Christianity is directly implicated when we Christians fail to speak more honestly about the legacy of racial inequality.” Bryan Stevenson

“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
Exodus 23:2

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Would you like to be a black male where you live?
  • Is your religion guilty of “collective silence?” …are you?

Abba, break the chains that bind us.

For More: America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis