Daily Riches: The Liturgy of Your Day (Tish Harrison Warren and Bernard Berenson)

“From childhood on I have had the dream of life lived as a sacrament . . . . The dream implied taking life ritually as something holy.” Bernard Berenson

“A sign hangs on the wall in a New Monastic Christian community house. Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.’ I was, and remain, a Christian who longs for revolution, for things to be made new and whole in beautiful and big ways. But what I am slowly seeing is that you can’t get to the revolution without learning to do the dishes. The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith–the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small–that God’s transformation takes root and grows. . . . The point of exchanging my morning liturgy was to habituate myself to repetition, to the tangible, to the work before me–to train myself, in this tiny way, to live with my eyes open to God’s presence in this ordinary day. I’d cultivated a habit, from the first conscious moments of my day, of being entertained, informed, and stimulated. My brain would dart quickly from stimulus to stimulus, unable to focus, unable to lie fallow. Making my bed and sitting in silence for just a few minutes reminded me that what is most real and significant in my day is not what is loudest, flashiest, or most entertaining. It is in the repetitive and the mundane that I begin to learn to love, to listen, to pay attention to God and to those around me. I needed to retrain my mind not to bolt at the first sight of boredom or buck against stillness. That took the cultivation of habit.” Tish Harrison Warren

“Train yourself to be godly.”
1 Timothy 4:7b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you practice some spiritual disciplines that are quiet, repetitive, ordinary–very unspectacular?
  • Is remembering “God’s presence in [your] ordinary day” something you’re working on?
  • Are you “habituating” yourself to that by some repeated practice(s)?

Abba, may the daily rhythms I choose help me to remember the sacredness of each day, and your presence in it.

For More: The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Daily Riches: The Rhythm of Happiness (Thomas Merton and Richard Bandler)

“There is no such thing as failure, only feedback that what you’re doing is not working.” Richard Bandler

“We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling all the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty. Let us, therefore, learn to pass from one imperfect activity to another without worrying too much about what we are missing. It is true that we make many mistakes. But the biggest of them all is to be surprised at them: as if we had some hope of never making any. Mistakes are part of our life, and not the least important part. It is by making mistakes that we gain experience, not only for ourselves but for others. And though our experience prevents neither ourselves nor others from making the same mistake many times, the repeated experience still has a positive value.” Thomas Merton

“We all stumble in many ways.”
James 3:2 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you trying to eliminate every silence in your life? . . . to refuse “less” and “slow” in order to experience more?
  • Is that working for you? Does it make sense? Does it seem like the path to happiness?
  • Are you surprised by your many mistakes? Can you forgive yourself for them? If not, what does that say about you?

Abba, help me relax about my projects and befriend my mistakes. Help me focus on joining the human race rather than winning the rat race.

For more: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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Sources: Merton, Thomas. No Man Is an Island. New York: Fall River, 2003.

 

Daily Riches: The Sabbath as “Sacred Stasis” (Michael Fishbane and Walter Brueggemann)

“The Sabbath, along with the other practices [Michael Fishbane] exposits, concerns the maintenance of a distinct faith identity in the midst of a culture that is inhospitable to all distinct identities in its impatient reduction of all human life to the requirements of the market. . . . [He argues that] Sabbath is a sphere of inaction.” Walter Brueggemann

”One enters the sphere of inaction through divestment, and this release affects all the elements of the workaday sphere. Business activity and exchange of money are forbidden, and one is urged not just to desist from commerce but to develop more interior spheres of settling the mind from this type of agitation. . . . Slowly, under these multiple conditions, a sense of inaction takes over, and the day does not merely mark the stoppage of work or celebrate the completion of creation, but enforces the value that the earth as a gift of divine creativity, given to humankind in sacred trust. On the Sabbath, the practical benefits of technology are laid aside, and one tries to stand in the cycle of natural time, without manipulation or interference. To the degree possible, one must attempt to bring the qualities of inaction and rest into the heart and mind. . . . The Sabbath is thus a period of sacred stasis, a duration of sanctity through the cultivation of inaction in body and spirit. . . . The heartbeat of repose may thus suffuse the mind and limbs of one’s being, and generate an inner balance poised on quietude and a settled spirit.” Michael Fishbane

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Exodus 20:8-10b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine joining your Jewish friends for several months as they practice “the heartbeat of repose” the way Fishbane describes it. How would that feel?
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could experience more “quietude and a settled spirit” in our lives? . . . our homes? . . . our churches?
  • Brueggemann points out the profound external, societal implications for God’s people. Sabbath is a major way we resist our inhospitable culture. Are you resisting a culture that wants to shape you?

Abba, may we regularly enter into inaction of body and soul–into quietude and a settled spirit.

For more: Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Brueggemann

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Sources:

Brueggemann, Walter. Sabbath As Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.

Fishbane, Michael. Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2008.

 

Daily Riches: Fruitful Spaciousness (Gerald May)

“When you think about it, it makes sense that space would be intimately associated with salvation. Space is freedom: freedom from confinement, from preoccupation, from oppression, from drivenness, and from all the other interior and exterior forces that bind and restrict our spirits. We need space in the first place to recognize how compelled and bound we are. Then we need space to allow the compulsions to ease and the bonds to loosen. . . . To the extent that space is permitted by grace and our own willingness, we discover expanding emptiness in which consecration can happen, room for love to make its home in us. . . . It seems to me that spaciousness comes to us in three primary ways. First, it appears as spaciousness of form: physical, geographical spaces like the wide openness of fields, water, and the sky and the welcoming simplicity of uncluttered rooms. Second, it comes as spaciousness of time: pauses in activity when we are freed from tasks, agendas, and other demands. Third, we encounter spacious of soul. This is inner emptiness, the room inside our hearts, the unfilled quality of our consciousness. Depending upon how we meet this soul-space, we may experience it as open possibility or void nothingness, as creative potential or dulling boredom, as quiet, peaceful serenity or as restless yearning for fulfillment. . . . Sometimes the waiting is beautiful in its spacious presence to what is, but more often it feels like a great struggle. It is a fierce and holy dignity to wait in the midst of things needing to be done and nothing but emptiness inside. It is even sometimes a kind of spiritual warfare, filled with temptations to do something, anything, to make a difference in the world outside and fill the void within.” Gerald May

“He has sent me to . . . to proclaim freedom for the captives . . . .”
Isaiah 61:1b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Could you be hemmed in–”compelled and bound” more than you think?
  • Have you experienced spaciousness (geographical, temporal, internal) in a way that eased your compulsions or loosened your bonds?
  • Have you waited in that in-between space where you want to do anything but wait? . . . where you don’t know what is next? . . . where you’re “off kilter?”
  • What did God do for you or in you in that place?

Abba, you’ve made me for freedom. Help me to abide in it.

For more: The Awakened Heart by Gerald May

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these Daily Riches. Look for my upcoming book– Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for quotations, Scripture, questions, and prayers like these.

Sources:

May, Gerald, The Awakened Heart. New York: HarperCollins, 1991, pp. 93-92, 244.

Daily Riches: The Longest Journey … The Journey Inward (Howard Thurman, Geri Scazzero and Dag Hammarsjold)

“We have become adept at exploring outer space, but we have not developed similar skills in exploring our own personal inner spaces. In fact the longest journey is the journey inward.” Dag Hammarsjold

“All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. …Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.” Howard Thurman

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you cultivating the “ability to linger?” …to be quiet enough for long enough to sense what God is showing you about your life?
  • Have you been listening to your “inner rhythms?” …asking the kind of practical questions Scazzero suggests?
  • What changes can you make to the way you live to build in more lingering and listening?

Abba, I know not everything is fine, and that you can show me where change is needed. Help me to listen for that.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Renunciation That Is Passivity (Eugene Peterson and Emily Dickinson)

“Sabbath is the time set aside to do nothing so that we can receive everything, to set aside our anxious attempts to make ourselves useful, to set aside our tense restlessness, to set aside our media-saturated boredom. Sabbath is the time to receive silence and let it deepen into gratitude, to receive quiet into which forgotten faces and voices unobtrusively make themselves present, to receive the days of the just completed week and absorb the wonder and miracle still reverberating from each one, to receive our Lord’s amazing grace. ….waiting provides the time and space for others to get in on salvation. Waiting calls a time-out, puts us on the sidelines for a while so that we don’t interfere with essential kingdom-of-God operations that we don’t even know are going on. Not-doing involves a means of detaching my ego, my still immature understanding of the way God works comprehensively but without forcing his way, without coercion. The restraint of passivity allows for the quiet, mostly invisible complexities and intricacies that are characteristic of the Holy Spirit as he does his work in us, in the church and in the world for whom Christ died. ‘Renunciation–the piercing virtue’ is Emily Dickinson’s phrase for it. It couldn’t have been easy for the father to not go out looking for his son the way the shepherd looked for his sheep and the woman looked for her coin.” Eugene Peterson

“The Sabbath was made for man….”
Jesus in Mark 2:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you tried setting aside time “to do nothing”–with the purpose of receiving “everything” from God? Have you made it a regular practice?
  • We stop, rest, and quiet ourselves in order to open ourselves to receive–from others, from our day, from God–what doesn’t come otherwise. Is the constant motion of your life secretly impoverishing you?
  • Renunciation is hard work. The father didn’t go out to look for his son. Think about that. What is God’s word for you in today’s reading?

Abba, help me renounce my grasping, striving, rushing–my need for noise and company–and help me receive what you are always so graciously giving.

For More:  Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson

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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. My goal is to regularly 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)

Daily Riches: Reflections On Keeping a Solid Center (Maria Popova)

Three great insights from Maria Popova:

  • “Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken. Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?
  • “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. …it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that—a myth—as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
  • “Don’t just resist cynicism—fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior. Unlike that great Rilkean life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis—in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.” Maria Popova

“Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.”
Proverbs 1:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Where is God nudging you in what you just read?
  • Where have you forgotten the obvious?
  • Where do you need to practice “courage and resistance?”
  • Can you receive this “wisdom from the street” even though it doesn’t come with chapter and verse?

Abba, lead me into a largehearted, constructive life, continually bending toward growth and betterment.

For More: “Brain Pickings” by Maria Popova

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Thanks for reading/sharing my (atypically long) blog! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Hearing God’s Voice Over All the Noise (Karen-Marie Yust, Thomas Merton and Chris Tomlin)

“Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“The danger in the rampant commercialization of abundant life is not so much in the particular value (or lack thereof) of a specific product being marketed, but in the insidious ways in which advertising campaigns steal a person’s ability to discern what is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous. Advertisers kill an individual’s sense of self-worth and uniqueness in the eyes of God by promoting excessive regard for the approval of others and competition for the most stuff, rather than promoting good living as collaboration with each other. …Christians need to embrace spiritual practices that will enable them to identify and resist commercial messages that undermine their primary identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. …One critical spiritual practice for discernment is attentiveness. First, Christians need to pay attention to the number of commercial messages to which they are exposed daily and the common themes embedded in those advertisements. With researchers estimating that individuals view or hear as many as five thousand messages each day, paying attention could quickly become a full-time job! What matters here is not a comprehensive attentiveness but an increasing awareness of the pervasive and corrosive nature of commercial influences. Second, Christians need to pay attention to God’s voice as a counterpoint to the negative aspects of advertising. Such attentiveness can occur when individuals, families, and congregations deliberately separate themselves from the noisiness of everyday life and spend time in the set apart ‘pastures’ [John 10:9] of personal and communal prayer, contemplation, and worship.” Karen-Marie Yust

“life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see good living as “collaboration” with others rather than competition with others? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you have practices that allow you to hear God’s voice over the “noisiness of everyday life” and act as a counterpoint to all the “pervasive and corrosive” ad campaigns?
  • Are you fighting this battle alone–with no “communal” support? …just depending on what you receive at church? …failing to seek God for yourself to discern what “is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous?”

Abba, you’re a good, good father–it’s who you are … and I’m loved by you–it’s who I am…. (Chris Tomlin)

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John (Part II), eds, Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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

 

Daily Riches: A Shallow Between Two Deeper Zones (Rebecca Solnit)

“Previous technologies have expanded communication. But the last round may be contracting it. The eloquence of letters has turned into the nuanced spareness of texts; the intimacy of phone conversations has turned into the missed signals of mobile phone chat. I think of that lost world, the way we lived before these new networking technologies, as having two poles: solitude and communion. The new chatter puts us somewhere in between, assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deeper zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others. … A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once, or going to check some other medium. It’s an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind. … I think it is for a quality of time we no longer have, and that is hard to name and harder to imagine reclaiming. My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too—it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up. It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there, alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void and filled up with sounds and distractions.” Rebecca Solnit

“Yahweh is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.”
Psalm 23:1-3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you using new technologies to “assuage [your] fears of being alone?”
  • Are you using them to avoid “risking real connection?”
  • Does your pace and your approach to the day allow for “time for thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being?”

Abba, help me to be real and quiet in this world of illusion and noise.

For More: The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

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Special thanks to that amazing online resource Brain Pickings.

 

Daily Riches: Averse to Being Alone (Thomas Merton)

“In reality, all men are solitary. Only most of them are so averse to being alone, or to feeling alone, that they do everything they can to forget their solitude. How? Perhaps in large measure by what Pascal called ‘divertisement’–diversion, systematic distraction. By those occupations and recreations, so mercifully provided by society, which enable a man to avoid his own company for twenty-four hours a day. …the function of diversion is simply to anesthetize the individual as individual, and to plunge him in the warm, apathetic stupor of a collectivity which, like himself, wishes to remain amused. …Absurdity [is] the anguish of realizing that underneath the apparently logical pattern of a more or less ‘well organized’ and rational life, there lies an abyss of irrationality, confusion, pointlessness, and indeed of apparent chaos. This is what immediately impresses itself upon the man who has renounced diversion. It cannot be otherwise: for in renouncing diversion, he renounces the seemingly harmless pleasure of building a tight, self-contained illusion about himself and about his little world. He accepts the difficulty of facing the million things in his life which are incomprehensible, instead of simply ignoring them. Incidentally it is only when the apparent absurdity of life is faced in all truth that faith really becomes possible. Otherwise, faith tends to be a kind of diversion, a spiritual amusement, in which one gathers up accepted, conventional formulas and arranges them in the approved mental patterns, without bothering to investigate their meaning, or asking if they have any practical consequences in one’s life.” Thomas Merton

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture
that you fit into it without even thinking.”
Romans 12:1  (The Message)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you on the move from the moment you wake until your head hits the pillow at night?
  • Are you afraid to be still? …to be quiet? …to be alone? If so, what does this say about you?
  • How much do you watch T.V., browse the internet or play video games in an average week? Do those practices put you into an apathetic stupor, where nothing holds your attention or makes you think about what is real–what really matters?
  • Is your religion a kind of “spiritual amusement” which allows you to create a safe, controlled mental world, but doesn’t really ask anything difficult of you? Is it an escape from harsh realities?

Abba, deliver me from systematic distraction.

For more: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

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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. 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: A Non-Adversarial Relationship … With Time (Lynn Baab)

John is a 46 year old attorney: “My first monastery experience came … right before a sabbatical I was taking from my law firm. I experienced a kind of tinderbox tension leading up to the sabbatical, trying to get everything done…. As I drove home from work that last day, I was still dictating letters and leaving voicemails on my car phone. As I drove to the monastery the next day, I was revved on coffee, full of energy, and playing loud music on my car stereo. As I followed the road up the hill to the monastery through the cool woods, I could feel myself unwind. …Under the quiet, I could feel waves and waves of fatigue. Under the fatigue, I could feel waves and waves of emptiness. In my week at the monastery, God showed his love to me. In Benedict’s Rule …speech is reserved for necessary things only, and there is a healthy understanding of the dangers of the tongue. During my week at the monastery … by and large I didn’t talk to anyone for a week. In the space where words would have been, there was room for God. …At the monastery I visited, the monks attend a series of seven prayer services every day, beginning at 5:30 a.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m. These prayer services created an incredible sense of rhythm for me. I knew I would be anchored in prayer continually. The services integrated God into the whole day. …I was struck by the monks’ approach to time. It is not adversarial. While I was at the monastery, God was showing me that I always fight time, trying to manage it, buy it, control it. I have too much time or too little time. I’m always struggling with it. The monks always seem to have enough time, just the right amount of time. No one rushes. They live in a rhythm that seems unforced. …At one meal I had an interesting conversation with a monk who works in the book bindery at the monastery. I asked him, ‘What if you were trying to meet a Fed Ex deadline, and the bells rang for the prayer service? What would you do? Would you keep on working to meet the deadline? Would you choose to miss the deadline and go to the prayer service?’ … The monk looked at me as if I were out of my mind.” Lynn Baab

“I call to God … evening, morning and noon….”
Psalm 55:16
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Do you know a place where “no one rushes?”
  • Do you have an “adversarial relationship” with time?
  • Could stopping for fixed-time prayer each day help you?

Abba, keep me from rushing.

For More: Beyond the Walls by Paul Wilkes

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Thanks for your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Only Stopping Will Do (A. W. Tozer, Dallas Willard)

It’s not enough to believe in silence, solitude and stillness. These things must be experienced–practiced. And practiced often enough to be routine, to create new habits–new pathways. And so I come to a full stop. I sit quietly. Nothing else. I don’t petition God. I don’t give thanks. I don’t meditate on some problem, verse or divine attribute. I don’t count my blessings. I don’t look out the window in wonder–or any number of other important things I might otherwise do. Not now. Not yet. Because, unless I can somehow first remember that it doesn’t depend on me, unless I can remember that I can’t do what needs to be done, then all is lost. And until I actually do this every day, numerous times throughout the day, there is little hope that I will ever learn to do it at all. Everything argues against stopping: the to-do list, the desire to be productive, the expectations of others, ego, habit, and so on. And therefore, ruthlessness is required in establishing new habits, new intentions, new ways of understanding my day, my life–indeed, my importance. And I do have intrinsic importance. I have the potential to be used in this world in important ways–but I squander that potential by flitting from one thing to the next without stopping to push back illusions. After all, these kenotic moments are the most important of the day. Nothing else will be so formative, and informative, for my day. Nothing else will save me from myself. Nothing else will prepare me to attend to God and others, and to what’s going on with me throughout the day. Would it be more important to take these moments to love my spouse, to feed a homeless child, to memorize Scripture or engage in worship? No, for unless I first submit to utter inactivity, I cannot trust my actual activity to be of any use to anyone–including, and especially, God. No-one needs my hurried self–the one that to me seems so indispensable–my egotistical self that sees itself at the center–as essential. Something must be done. Only stopping will do.

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” A. W. Tozer

“He who believes will not be
in haste.”
Isaiah 28:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “in haste?” If so, why?
  • Are you attempting to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life?” (Dallas Willard)
  • Have you established practices to insure that you stop as you should?

Abba, may my stillness release your divine action.

For More: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

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Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: What Happens in Stillness (Mark Buchanan)

“Sabbath living orients us toward that which, apart from rest, we will always miss. The root idea of Sabbath is simple as rain falling, basic as breathing. It’s that all living things – and many nonliving things too – thrive only by an ample measure of stillness. A bird flying, never nesting, is soon plummeting. Grass trampled, day after day, scalps down to the hard bone of the earth. Fruit constantly inspected bruises, blights. …a saw used without relenting – its teeth never filed, its blade never cooled – grows dull and brittle; a motor never shut off gums with residue or fatigues from thinness of oil – it sputters, it stalls, it seizes. Even companionship languishes without seasons of apartness. God stitched into the nature of things an inviolable need to be left alone now and then. The primary way people receive this aloneness and stillness is, of course, through sleep. We can defy slumber only so long … past a certain point, we collapse. We must submit to sleep’s benign tyranny, enter its inescapable vulnerability and solitariness. …The tricky thing about Sabbath, though, is it’s a form of rest unlike sleep. Sleep is so needed that, defied too long, our bodies inevitably, even violently, force the issue. Sleep eventually waylays all fugitives. It catches you and has its way with you. Sabbath won’t do that. Resisted, it backs off. Spurned, it flees. It’s easy to skirt or defy Sabbath, to manufacture cheap substitutes in its place – and to do all that, initially, without noticeable damage, and sometimes, briefly, with admirable results. It’s easy, in other words, to spend most of your life breaking Sabbath and never figure out that this is part of the reason your work’s unsatisfying, your friendships patchy, your leisure threadbare, your vacations exhausting. We simply haven’t taken time. We’ve not been still long enough, often enough, to know ourselves, our friends, our family. Our God.” Mark Buchanan

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God….” Hebrews 4:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you bring your best self to your projects? your relationships?
  • If not, are you too exhausted or preoccupied even to care?
  • Have you “been still long enough, often enough” to know yourself, your friends, your family – your God?

Abba, help me relax and enjoy the rest you offer.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: The Value of Mental “Down Time” (John Hersey)

 “Fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and sixty-seven percent of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. …all you really have to do is go outside and see how many people can’t even walk without staring at a screen. …one thing is clear: Paying attention to our smartphones through so many of our waking moments means our minds don’t spend as much time idling. And that matters! We talked to boredom researcher Sandi Mann [who said]… ‘You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time.” Mann’s research finds that idle minds lead to reflective, often creative thoughts…. Minds need to wander to reach their full potential. During bouts of boredom our brains can’t help but jump around in time, analyzing and re-analyzing the pieces of our lives, says Jonny Smallwood, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of York. …inspiration strikes in the shower because it’s a moment when we’re not really looking at or focusing on anything else. Researchers have only really started to understand the phenomena of ‘mind-wandering’ — the activity our brains engage in when we’re doing nothing at all — over the past decade or so. ‘There’s a close link between originality, novelty, and creativity… and these sort of spontaneous thoughts that we generate when our minds are idle.’ [Smallwood] But when mental stimulation is a touch of the phone away? ‘That’s where daydreaming and boredom intersect,’ Smallwood says. ‘What smartphones allow us to do is get rid of boredom in a very direct way because we can play games, phone people, we can check the Internet. It takes away the boredom, but it also denies us the chance to see and learn about where we truly are….’” John Hershey
 .

“Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.”
Job 33:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We all have our reasons for moments of obliviousness to others. Is your phone one of your reasons?
  • Can you embrace some moments of boredom, or must you distract yourself? Can you be “reflective?” What does your answer say about you?
  • Can others get your undivided attention? Can God?

Abba, help me create “off” times when my mind is at rest.

For More: “Bored and Brilliant”

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Learning From Quaker Silence (Anyushka)

“For a number of years, the thought of attending a Quaker meeting crossed my mind from time to time … yet, I hesitated, imagining how uncomfortable I could end up being, sitting quietly for an hour in a group of quiet people. …I walked into the presence of God in a way I could never have imagined. I sat there stunned by the realisation that, in Quaker meetings, silence is worship and worship is silent. I found myself in the silence of people for whom feeling the need to worship is their common ground, who know that God is present and that there is nothing that could possibly have to be said by anyone else but him. This silence felt like the most honest and right worship I had ever experienced–no liturgy to get between me and God, no distractions, no words trying to describe a reality beyond the limits of language and imagination. …[Quakers] honour ‘that of God’ within themselves and in everyone else. …There is no ‘method’ setting out what the experience should be like for everyone. Quaker silence feels neither like silence for the sake of silence, nor like a discipline to bend the Self into. This silence is a place beyond our Selves. My whole being is in tune with God who I listen to, and with everyone who listens with me. God is here, and has calmed the storm in my mind. God is here, and creates order and clarity and peace. God becomes so spacious in this silence that I know again how small I am–and that I do not have to pretend to be anything else but small.  …I am welcome to speak, as a woman, as a lay person, as a visitor. This is a place as free of judgment or prejudice as it can get between people…. We all left our egos at the door for an hour, and I was glad to get a break from mine. …When I left after the meeting, I knew that everything I needed had been given to me. I had experienced Communion, in the most direct and uncomplicated way. This kind of silence is hard to describe and, I find, hard to forget.” Anyuska

“Listen in silence before me.” Isaiah 41:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Could you sit quietly for an hour?
  • Can you imagine worship with no need for human speech? …no liturgy between you and God? …no words trying to explain the inexplicable?
  • When was the last time you left church feeling that “everything you needed” was given to you?

Abba, envelop me in deep silence.

For More: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton

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If you benefited in some way from this, please share it with others! – Bill

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