Daily Riches: Something More Important Than “Getting Things Done” Thomas Merton

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,
“you are worried and upset about many things,
but few things are needed—or indeed only one.
Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.”
(read the full story) Luke 10:41-42 NIV

“We experience in ourselves a new and special kind of truth when we imitate Mary. We [who are monks] who have this particular call recognize that when we are agitated by all kinds of external concerns which do not touch us deeply at all we are less authentic, less real, less ourselves, less what we are supposed to be. We feel less faithful to the will of God than when we remain simply in an attitude of freedom and attentiveness to His word, His love and His will. This gospel text illustrates our experience that we are summoned by the Holy Spirit to make an act of preference. We are called to prefer the apparent uselessness, the apparent unproductiveness, the apparent inactivity of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him. We are called to prefer this over an apparently more productive, more active, more busy life. We quietly affirm that there is something more important than ‘getting things done.’ Together with this is another implied assumption: that this preference goes against the ideas of the majority of our fellow human beings at any given moment and especially today in the twentieth century. Our act of preference for ‘quiet’ is at the same time an implicit protest and defiance, a protest against and a defiance of the counter-opinion of those who are absolutely convinced that our [monastic] life is useless and who reproach us for it.” Thomas Merton

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Concern to get things done comes naturally to me–even when it makes me less authentic, less myself, less who I am supposed to be. Is it just me?
  • Are you, at least sometimes, able to prefer apparent usefulness, apparent unproductiveness, apparent inactivity–quietly affirming that something else (attentiveness to God) is more urgent than your “to do” list?
  • Many others will reject this invitation. Are you willing to join with Merton in defiance of a driven, busy life?

Abba, in each circumstance, may I wrestle to know and to choose what is best–shaped by your call rather than pressure from within or without.

For More: Contemplation In a World of Action by Thomas Merton.

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Daily Riches (CV Era): Managing Anxiety (Gregory Hills, Kathleen Deignan, Thomas Merton)

“Because of Covid-19, many of us are living, in a way, like monks, enclosed and isolated in our homes. But unlike the monks, we did not ask for or want this situation, nor it is one for which many of us were spiritually prepared. [Even so] we can use this moment to live into and be freed by the realization that there is much we cannot control. So much of our anxiety revolves around wanting to control the uncontrollable, and the pandemic can teach us the futility of this. . . . we need to be attentive to the present moment and so focus on that which we can control: ‘If I can concentrate on being in control of that very small circle of reality that is entrusted to me and in some sense depends on me—how I use my time, how I take care of myself, how I care for my family and friends, how I daily and hourly turn my concerns over to God—then my anxiety diminishes.’ This is ‘a great opportunity to yield control of our lives, to let ourselves truly trust in the goodness and providence of God amidst all that is happening.’ Whether we are aware of it or not, ‘we are living in the presence of a living, caring and loving God,’ . . . and we can use this time of quarantine to develop, alone or with those with whom we live, a sense of this divine presence.” Gregory Hills, quoting several monks he interviewed

“Merton sought refuge in the Trappist monastery . . . ‘in revolt against the meaningless confusion of a life in which there was so much activity, so much movement, so much useless talk, so much superficial and needless stimulation’ that he could not remember who he was. For the next half of his life he learned a new way of being . . . and [made the] discovery of a new self, his true self, drawn up like a jewel from seas of confusion, restlessness, and banality.” Kathleen Deignan, quoting Thomas Merton

“Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was your pre-covid life characterized by too much activity, useless talk, superficial stimulation?
  • Have you quit trying to control the uncontrollable? Can you focus instead on what has been “entrusted” to you?
  • Might God be calling to you in this time of pain–inviting you to be drawn up “like a jewel from seas of confusion, restlessness, and banality?”

Abba, may my seemingly unmanageable anxiety force me to cast myself upon you.

For More: Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours by Kathleen Deignan

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Riches (CV Era): When You’re “Disappearing” (David Whyte, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Flannery O’Connor)

” . . . I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.” Flannery O’Connor

“It might be liberating for us to think of our onward life being informed as much by our losses and disappearances as by our gifted and virtuoso appearances and our marvelous arrivals. As if the foundational invitation being made to us at the core of our continual living and dying is an invitation to participate in the full seasonality of existence. Not just to feel fully here and fully justified in those haloed times when we are growing and becoming, and seen to be becoming, but also, to be just as present and to feel just as much here when we are in the difficult act of disappearing, often against our wills, making way often, for something we cannot as yet comprehend. The great and ancient art form and its daily practice; of living the full seasonal round of life; and a touchstone perhaps, of the ultimate form of human generosity: continually giving ourselves away to see how and in what form we are given back.” David Whyte

“Everything helps me to God.” Jean-Pierre de Caussade

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it,
and if you let your life go, you will save it.”
Jesus in Luke 17:33

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Taking everything as a blessing definitely requires some “squinting.” As you witness the horrors of these days, can you also “squint”–struggling to see what less obvious good might accompany the losses?
  • I love Whyte’s humor referring to our “virtuoso appearances” and “marvelous arrivals.” It’s then, when I’m advancing and being applauded that I’m satisfied–and gratified. Whyte challenges me to participate in the “full seasonality of existence”–where I’m unnoticed (“invisible”) and frustratingly unproductive/unsuccessful. Can you do that?
  • Are losses and limits teaching you to accept what you didn’t chose? . . . to nevertheless look for good in a situation you hate, and can’t “comprehend?”

Jesus, you made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead to live again. Do something strong in me in this time that seems so stagnant and unpromising.

For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

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Daily Riches: The Problem With Noble Pursuits (Mark Thomas Shaw)

“The radical moment in many a contemplative’s journey is when they enter the cave. Often there’s some crisis that precipitates it. For Francis of Assisi, it was being disowned by his father and choosing to sever ties with his community. For a friend of mine, it was a divorce. For another, a death in the family. The world as we know it, or rather, the story we’ve been living, somehow shatters. In the cave, we move into a deeply interior space, examining everything: our belief systems, our conditioning, our very identity, even the very notion of a self. If this is accompanied by a contemplative practice, eventually there is a buoyancy and lightness, a spaciousness surrounding these heavy questions. The problem with noble pursuits or living a better story isn’t the pursuit itself, but the self and the baggage it almost always takes with it. We can embark on a journey with the best of intentions, but the untransformed self will bring its addictions, insecurities, and immature programs for happiness along with it, still convinced it is living a noble path. First we need to be stripped of the implicit notion that we are the hero to see with the clear sight of love, to understand what has to change within us, and which has nothing to do with egoic self-deception. . . . If the ego is untransformed the new noble pursuit just becomes the ego’s new stomping ground. There’s a purification needed, a death, an acknowledgement of the false self at work, it takes the ongoing daily work of making space to become channels of divine love, without attachment to outcomes. Contemplation provides a means of not only becoming aware of the story, but taking time every day to slough it off altogether, and rest in the divine presence, which is before, behind, and beyond all story.” Mark Thomas Shaw

“This is what the Lord says:
‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.’”
Jeremiah 6:18 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you picking up the pieces of the story you’ve been living? . . . reinventing yourself? . . . beginning a new challenge?
  • Are you simply bringing along your “untransformed self”–with all its same addictions, insecurities and “programs for happiness” that you depended on before?
  • A purified you might simply “rest in the divine presence” in a new way–without “attachment to outcomes.” What would that mean for you?

Abba, I want to live without unhealthy attachments.

For More: “Contemplative Light” by Mark Thomas Shaw

Shaw, Mark Thomas. “What Story Are You Living In?” https://us15.campaign-archive.com/?e=ae076a4940&u=14c1793e7a220272e67633fd9&id=d29991cf24

Daily Riches: Jesus Calls Us To the Chutes, Not the Ladders (Mark Ralls and D. L. Moody) *

“We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” D. L. Moody

“There is a game for children that has been around for generations, and I expect almost every reader has played it at one time or another. . . . The game is Chutes and Ladders; since it is a game for little ones, the rules are about as simple and straightforward as you can get. Spin the wheel and move around the board. As you go, you wish for ladders and hope to avoid the chutes or slides. Land at the base of a ladder—All Right!—you get to climb all the way to the top, advancing beyond where even the highest spin can take you. Land at the top of a chute—Oh No!—you must slide all the way to the bottom, back toward the square where you started. Chutes and Ladders gives us some insight into the culture in which Jesus lived. Scholars tell us that first-century Mediterranean culture operated under the binaries of shame and honor. This basically means that people’s behavior was shaped by two things: the threat of being publicly shamed and the promise of being publicly honored. It is difficult to grasp the emotional power of one’s reputation in the ancient world. Our individualistic culture has muted its force. To be shamed was a terrible setback. To be honored moved you forward in the eyes of everyone who mattered most to you. It was akin to Chutes and Ladders. One evening Jesus tells two parables while he is a guest at a dinner party that includes the most honorable folks in town. Sitting there, Jesus cannot help but grin as he observes that this dinner party has all the social subtlety of a junior high cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying for a seat at the cool table. . . . So what does Jesus do? He stands up and tells all those guests a little story . . . . ‘Here is a little tip,’ Jesus says. ‘The next time you are invited to a wedding, do not take the best seat in the house. What is going to happen if someone more distinguished than you shows up? Hard to imagine, I know, but it could happen. When it does, you will find yourself at the top of the chute, and you will have to slide from the seat of honor all the way down to the seat of shame. Oh, what a long, lonely walk it is, from the first table to that one in the back, right beside the swinging door of the kitchen!’ To sharpen his point and to make sure we do not confine his advice to dinner parties, Jesus adds this: Those who make their own honor the goal of their lives will be ashamed of themselves in the end, and those who are humble, repeatedly putting others first, will experience the true, deep, and lasting honor of the kingdom of God. . . . these parables go much deeper than practical advice. They speak to the general arc of our lives. What if the point of our lives is not about climbing all the right ladders of achievement and prestige and power? What if our true purpose is to slide down as many chutes as possible to offer compassion and service and love to all those on the rungs below? While our culture may operate under different rules than honor and shame, we still live in the land of Chutes and Ladders. We fool ourselves into thinking that contentment lies on the rung just above us. So we reach for ever-new heights and climb as fast as we can. The rest is simple math. The more time and energy we dedicate to this all-consuming endeavor, the less we notice those who reside on the rungs below. We forget those we have passed along the way. It is just as true that we will most likely miss Christ himself. Born in the back room of a barn, spending his days bending his back to touch the hands of lepers, to caress the cheeks of widows, to place children on his knee, this humble Savior rode a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem and then knelt before his disciples to wash their feet. The only time he chose to ascend was up a hill called Calvary, where he bore our sins and carried our sorrows on his bent and holy back. On Easter morning, we discovered that his humility is what God truly honors. Climbing up, we are likely to pass right by the Son of God, who is intent on coming down. According to Jesus, we have completely misunderstood the point of the game. We are out there looking for ladders, when Jesus is calling us toward the chutes. We are climbing up, when he is calling to come down. If we dare to follow, he promises that in the end we will find deep blessing and true honor.” Mark Ralls

“When he had finished washing their feet,
he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
John 13:12 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you listening to Jesus about the Chutes?
  • Are you climbing up, whereas he was always bending down?
  • Jesus’ humility (his “downward mobility”) was for the purpose of showing compassion to those at the bottom of the Chutes. Isn’t he a beautiful person? Is this the person you’re making known with your life?

Abba, keep me off the Ladders . . . for the sake of compassion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson. Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, 2014.

Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007.

*One of the great things about making the rules, is that you can break them when you want. I thought that what Mark Ralls wrote was worth breaking my rule to limit posts to 400 words.

 

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: God Often Keeps Us Waiting (J. I. Packer, Annie Dillard, Henri Nouwen, Søren Kierkegaard, and Jeanie and David Gushee)

“. . . ‘Wait on the Lord’ is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” J. I. Packer

“The death of the self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the will’s sprints and the intellect’s chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce. The waiting itself is the thing.” Annie Dillard

“The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means ‘to suffer.’ Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.” Henri Nouwen

“As my prayer became more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen–
which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To prayer does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.”
Søren Kierkegaard

“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived, no eye has seen
any God besides you, who acts
on behalf of those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 64:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you in a hurry?
  • Can you adjust yourself to a God who is “not in such a hurry?”
  • Do you pay attention to “what is happening right before [your] eyes?

“Some wait in confident expectation–others wait in quiet desperation. This night I close my eyes in darkness and yearn for Your Light, brighter than a thousand suns.” (Jeanie and David Gushee)

For More: Knowing God by J. I. Packer

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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: How Success Demands Self-Care (Michael Hyatt and Jack Nevison)

“Here’s the hard truth: Time is fixed. It can’t flex. You get 168 hours no matter how important you may think you are. But here’s another truth: energy can flex. You can’t give yourself more time. That’s true. But you can bring a sharper, more energized you to bear on the time you have available. . . . Productivity is less about managing time and more about managing your energy. Most people get this entirely backward. As a result, they work more and more, less and less efficiently. The research shows that after a certain amount of time we’re just chasing our tail. Jack Nevison crunched the numbers from several studies on long work hours, and here’s what he found: there’s a ceiling for productive work. He calls it the law of fifty, and it stands in stark contrast to the hustle fallacy. Push past 50 hours a week, and there’s no productivity gain. Zero. In fact, it could go backward. One study found that 50 hours on the job only yielded 37 hours of useful work. Push that up to 55 hours, and it drops to 30. In other words . . . there’s an inverse relationship between how much you work and how productive you are. You’re not a robot. You’re a person who needs rest to be at your best. As you think about self-care, you have to acknowledge that your self is at the center. . . . I’m asking you to acknowledge the fact that your self is central. Your health, your relationships, your children, your hobbies, your work. . . . At the center of all these is you. You’re all you have to offer these various facets of your life. If you’re not nurturing yourself, if your self is not thriving, then the influence you bring to these other dimensions is going to be less than what it could be.” Michael Hyatt

“I discipline my body and make it my slave,
so that, after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you feel like a slave?
  • Do you sense that God made you for something more?
  • Hyatt’s principles could come from a book on spiritual formation. Can you use them to give yourself permission to practice self-care?

Abba, may I bring my cared-for self (my best self) into every situation.

For More: “Self-Care As a Leadership Discipline” by Michael Hyatt

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Daily Riches: Rushing Down the Trail of Life (Joyce Rupp)

“I recall the time that I was in British Columbia participating in a wilderness retreat. On the first evening that our group gathered, we listened to the wilderness advice of a wise forest ranger named Ferguson. He warned us about taking necessary clothing and provisions in our packs, about staying on the trails, and what to do it we were to get lost. ‘If you get lost,’ he said, ‘don’t try to keep finding the way out. [Stay put.] Wait for someone to come and show you the way home. Whatever you do, don’t panic.’ The ranger assured us that he and his associate knew those paths well and that they would come and find us. He also commented that getting lost and waiting to be found could be an ‘exalted’ thing; one could get in touch with the woods and earth, really look and see in a way that one would not when hiking busily down the trail. . . . Years later, I realized how wise the ranger’s advice was, not only for hikers, but also for midlife journeyers. I have gotten lost in the mystery of who I am. I have needed a wise companion to help me find the way home to my true Self. I had to learn how to trust another with my lostness. . . . And, yes, it has been a most exalted time when I stopped to look deep and long at my inner world. I saw things that I missed entirely when I was fully in control, rushing down the trail of life.” Joyce Rupp

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 NASV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What might you have failed to see while “rushing down the trail of life?”
  • What will it take to slow you down? Will it require some great loss?
  • Is routinely missing what is precious, important or “exalted” acceptable to you?
  • Do you give excuses for not slowing down? Have you genuinely tried it?

Abba, it’s all about the striving. Help me to reject the striving.

For more: Dear Heart, Come Home by Joyce Rupp
and my new book:
Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings (click link)

Thank you for your interest in Daily Riches! Please subscribe and share!

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Daily Riches: Moving At Brick-Making Speed (Walter Brueggemann)

“In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of . . .  resistance . . . . It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market, with its intrusion into every part of our life . . . .” Walter Brueggemann

“The departure from that same system [the exploitation of modern day ‘brick-makers’] in our time is not geographical. It is rather emotional, liturgical, and economic. It is not an idea but a practical act. Thus the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is an act of trust in the subversive, exodus-causing God of the first commandment, an act of submission to the restful God of commandments one, two, and three. Sabbath is a practical divestment so that neighborly engagement, rather than production and consumption, defines our lives. It is for good reason that sabbath has long been for theologically serious Jews, the defining discipline. It is for good reason that Enlightenment-based autonomous Christians may find the Sabbath commandment the most urgent and the most difficult of all the commandments of Sinai. We are, liberals and conservatives, much inured to Pharaoh’s system. For that reason, the departure into restfulness is both urgent and difficult, for our motors are set to run at brick-making speed. [But] To cease, even for a time, the anxious striving for more bricks is to find ourselves with a ‘light burden’ and an ‘easy yoke.'” Brueggemann

“And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding,
‘Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?’”
Exodus 5:14 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The Sabbath calls on you to stop, even if you prefer “brick-making speed.” How else will you practice “neighborly engagement?”
  • Many brag about working 80-hour weeks, or never taking vacation. Does it make sense to you that anyone would brag about living like a slave? . . . as if life were all about making bricks?
  • If Sabbath-keeping in our seductive culture requires “enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement”, is there any hope that you’ll succeed at it? What can you do?

Abba, help me to join the subversive, exodus-causing God, and his community, in resisting unjust powers in my day. Make me available for loving my neighbor.

For more: Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Brueggemann

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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 more of these provocative quotes, verses, questions, and prayers.

Sources:

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

Daily Riches: Frustration as Self-Sabotage (John Chittister)

“The ancients tell us that, to develop spiritually, we must discover how to control ourselves in the face of what we claim to lack but have no right to expect. . . . To claim to be frustrated in the midst of life’s normalcies only defeats our desire to be a fully functioning human being. And, ironically, we do it to ourselves. And why would that be? The case is clear. Frustration is something that does not exist–except within the self. It translates my world to me through the filter of my own need to control it. . . . We call frustrating anything we want the world to confirm as justification for being unable to control the way we think. It’s what we use to explain the sour or pouty or demanding or manipulative attitudes we have developed. It is the right we assert to be less than we are capable of being. The paradox of delusion is that, if anything, the very act of putting trivia between us and the world is exactly a sign that we need to question what it is that is undermining our ability to function well in normal circumstances. When we allow the inconsequential to affect our ability to really be consequential in life, the question must be faced: What is really bothering us? . . . Frustration is the signal that, indeed, something does need to change in our lives. But no one else can change it for us. Only we have the power to name it and to change it within ourselves. . . . Then trivia becomes only trivia. We discover every day that there are greater things to concentrate on in life than the niggling, ordinary, commonplace little things we so often allow to fell us.” Joan Chittister

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-28 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you stopped to really consider what is underneath your frustration?
  • Is being frustrated all the time sabotaging your ability to become “a fully functioning human being?” . . . someone focused on what really does matter?
  • Can you turn to the Great Physician just as you are (judgmental, controlling, angry, entitled, bitter) and present yourself as a person in need of divine help?

Abba, help me to see my frustration as the excuse that it (often) is.

For more: Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these Daily Riches. Look for my book this Fall, Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these “riches.”

Sources:

Chittister, Joan. Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life. New York: Image, 2015.

Daily Riches: In Praise Of Waiting (Richard Rohr and Wendell Berry)

“Prayer is largely just being silent: holding the tension instead of even talking it through, offering the moment instead of fixing it by words and ideas, loving reality as it is instead of understanding it fully. Prayer is commonly a willingness to say ‘I don’t know.’ We must not push the river, we must just trust that we are already in the river, and God is the certain flow and current. That may be impractical, but the way of faith is not the way of efficiency. So much of life is just a matter of listening and waiting, and enjoying the expansiveness that comes from such willingness to hold.” Richard Rohr

“When Christianity aligns itself with power (and the mindset of power, which is the need to be right and always in control) there’s simply very little room for the darkness of faith; that spacious place where God is actually able to form us. Good powerlessness … allows you to ‘fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:31). You stop holding yourself up, so you can be held. There, wonderfully, you are not in control and only God needs to be right. …Faith can only happen in this very special threshold space. You don’t really do faith, it happens to you when you give up control and all the steering of your ship. Frankly, we often do it when we have no other choice. Faith hardly ever happens when we rush to judgment or seek too-quick resolution of anything.” Rohr

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. …It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” Wendell Barry

“For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.”
Isaiah 64:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you automatically rush to sort things out and fix them?
  • Are you learning instead to listen and wait?
  • Are you desirous of “good powerlessness?”

Abba, I don’t know what to do or where to go. Teach me to wait.

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Thank you for following and sharing my blog! Bill

Daily Riches: The Practice Of Waiting (William Britton)

“Simone Weil considered patient waiting to be ‘the foundation of the spiritual life.’ And John Ortberg condemns hurry, which is the rejection of patient waiting, as ‘the great enemy of the spiritual life.’ Obviously, for me to flourish spiritually will require that I learn to wait, and like with anything else, that will require practice. I can practice waiting as I refuse to take matters into my own hands (being controlling or vengeful)–and instead wait on God to do as God see’s fit. I can practice waiting as I refuse to indulge in despair or cynicism–instead looking for evidence of God’s coming yet present Kingdom. I can practice waiting as I refuse to forge ahead when I don’t know what to do–admitting my limitations and need for help. (From the outside my waiting may look like doing nothing–but really it’s creating a space for God to do what only God can do.) I can practice waiting as I refuse to give in to temptation–refusing to insist on what I want, or feel I need–trusting the one who knows better than me what I need. I can practice waiting as I refuse to complain bitterly (or worse) curse angrily–reminding myself that things aren’t necessarily supposed to go as I planned. I can ‘sit tight’ in anticipation of something transcendent–something that transcends my oh-so-important strategy. I can practice waiting as I refuse to make happiness my primary motivation for the day. God invariably has something better than happiness in mind for me–and it’s not about me anyway. Finally, I can practice waiting as I refuse to worry. I can remind myself that God is always at work for good, that my worrying won’t add anything to that, that my rushing ahead will only make a mess and create a lot of needless anxiety.” William Britton

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 40:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of all the things that seem “foundational” to you in your Christian life. Is waiting well one of them?
  • How can you practice waiting? Can you think of some ways to make this personal for you?
  • Are your convictions about the need to wait strong enough to cause you to wait the next time you feel like “forging ahead?”

Abba, I want to live at a the pace of god-fearer, and in a calmness that comes from taking my cues from you. Help me to make this my way in the world.

For More: Godspeed

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

Daily Riches: Jacking Up the Pace of Life (Carl Honore and Alexis de Tocqueville)

“Modern medicine may have added an extra decade or so to the three score years and ten originally laid down in the Bible, but we still live under the shadow of the biggest deadline of all: death. No wonder we feel that time is short and strive to make every moment count. But if the instinct to do so is universal, then why are some cultures more prone than others to race against the clock? Part of the answer may lie in the way we think about time itself. In some philosophical traditions—Chinese, Hindu and Buddhist, to name three—time is cyclical. On Canada’s Baffin Island, the Inuit use the same word—uvatiarru—to mean both ‘in the distant past’ and ‘in the distant future.’ Time, in such cultures, is always coming as well as going. It is constantly around us, renewing itself, like the air we breathe. In the Western tradition, time is linear, an arrow flying remorselessly from A to B. It is a finite, and therefore precious, resource. …As long ago as the 1830s, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville blamed the shopping instinct for jacking up the pace of life: ‘He who has set his heart exclusively upon the pursuit of worldly welfare is always in a hurry, for he has but a limited time at his disposal to reach, to grasp, and to enjoy it.’ That analysis rings even more true today, when all the world is a store, and all the men and women merely shoppers. Tempted and titillated at every turn, we seek to cram in as much consumption and as many experiences as possible. As well as glittering careers, we want to take art courses, work out at the gym, read the newspaper and every book on the bestseller list, eat out with friends, go clubbing, play sports, watch hours of television, listen to music, spend time with the family, buy all the newest fashions and gadgets, go to the cinema, enjoy intimacy and great sex with our partners, holiday in far-flung locations and maybe even do some meaningful volunteer work. The result is a gnawing disconnect between what we want from life and what we can realistically have, which feeds the sense that there is never enough time.”

“making the most of your time,
because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What does “making the most of your time” mean to you?
  • Are you always in a hurry to “cram in as much consumption and as many experiences as possible?”
  • Could striving for more actually be providing you with less?

For More: In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

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Thanks for following my blog! I appreciate it. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

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