Monday, February 27, 2006

sobornost moment

I have been getting calls and mail
from those desiring to understand sobornost
what it means
where and how to find it

I confess to still seeking, learning, discovering
and so request that much grace be extended
as I try to wrap words around
this cry that is heard deep in the heart of my Lord

when the will of man lifts itself above itself and flows into the will of God
and the will of God returns to man

the expression of a humble heart

demands risk
because it leads us to unplumbed depths
and unknown heights

the greatest wound a human soul can experience is the lack of unity with Christ
when a soul is not united with Christ’s soul it is fragmented

this unity is deeply hidden in the heart of God and given to man as a total gift

it is a mystery only pierced by praying to God
listening to His voice
and doing His will

when we hold each other’s heart
turn to one another
and blend with each other in the heart of Christ

a deep relationship which begins by being absorbed by God
when I put my head in my heart
prostrate myself and listen
allowing my soul to gaze upon the Lord


deeply the aloneness so uniquely etched upon His face
the Lord God breathed
a silent cry rising from within

unmindful of path or hour I began to wander
unbearable ache within my heart
worn and forlorn
I wandered towards my Lord

the silent scream of my heart’s angst pierced the solitude

I cried
where are you my love
where are you

His foot steps were easy to see as I placed my feet one by one
where He has walked

I noted the blood
is it His
is it mine
does it matter

my feet are wedded to this path and my heart to the One who said
I am the way

the cross was before me and I saw those already bending over to pick up the nails

as the stones of my emotions were hurled at me by Satan
and the mocking laughter enshrouded me
I could only enter the realm of pure faith

His hand suddenly pulled me to Himself and I was immersed in His love
His peace
do you love me, He asks
do you love me

my spirit melted in the fire of His Presence and became one with Him
as my resurrected Lord became the indwelling Christ

Sunday, February 26, 2006

breathless moments

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
but by the moments that take our breath away.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

risk moments

while at the camp this past week
it was agreed
we all would spend a significant portion
of one day in silence
each had the choice
of being alone
or with someone else
the camp is on the edge of a lake
and during the early morning session
I confess
its peaceful white expanse
kept capturing my thoughts
so I quickly booted and scarfed up
and took off to figure out how to get out there
I found the edge easily enough
but just as I placed one foot onto its iced surface
I remembered the warning
given by a friend back home
don't go out on the lake
it might not be frozen enough
I hesitated
but then pushed on
motored by the realization
that most people
come to the very edge of their dreams
and quit
I looked at the other side
focused on a majestic evergreen
and started walking
after crossing over
I looked back
amazed by the straight line of my footprints
it is so true
when stepping out into uncharted territory
if you remain focused
your path will be straight
and so in seeking this path
where there is no trail
my eyes must remain fixed
on the signpost of His face on my horizon
only this will prevent me from going round in circles
or extending the journey unnecessarily
by wandering footsteps
I was completely happy on the other side
for several hours
but then missed community
it was easy to follow the straight line back
as I got closer
those I had left behind
raised their hands in greeting
and although no words were spoken
it was very very good to be together again
there was also the amazing aroma of coffee in the air
with its fingers reaching out
pulling me in
and we sat
in the snow
at the edge of the lake
shoulder to shoulder
knee to knee
drinking our coffee
in silence
it was very very good to be together again
I had not stopped at the edge
but crossed over
and the voice of community
was loud in the silence
as I was posting this the doorbell rang
one of my fellow sojourners
dropped in for coffee
which means word of my addiction must be spreading :~)
and while sitting around the kitchen table
I learned
that while I was making my path across the lake
there had been 2
who sat, watched and waited
not wishing to curb my desire to cross the lake
only wishing to ensure my feet remained on solid ground
and I am so very deeply moved and blessed
knowing of their silent loving care

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday's moment

You were within me while I was outside of myself…
Then you called me
and cried to me
and broke through my deafness!
You sent forth your beam,
the light of your magnificently beautiful presence.
You shone your Self upon me to drive away my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance upon me…
and in astonishment I drew my breath…
now I pant for you!
I tasted you
and now I hunger and thirst for you.
You touched me
and I burn to live within your peace.

[Early Will I Seek You, a 40-Day Journey in the Company of Augustine 1991, p. 24]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

resting moments

for the past four days and nights
I have camped in the midst
of the pastors of this region

I do not have the language
to describe this time
and wonder if I should even try

if I attempt to place words around the moments of these days
would that confine to those moments what all took place
or somehow define the timbre of God's voice

so I simply say
we went
we saw
we returned

and none of us will ever ever be the same.

one of the most profound truths that emerged
is the desire of Almighty God
to find a resting place within each one of us

to rest
in me
in you

Psalm 132:13,14
for the Lord has chosen Zion
He has desired it for his habitation
"this is my resting place forever
here I will dwell, for I have desired it"


and how important then
is it for me
to be able to rest
to come to a place of stillness
to empty myself of all busyness
all striving
all the stuff of ministry

so that in my stillness
in my rest

my God
may find His place of rest
within me

this is so huge
not something I can yet truly comprehend

how is it
that the Creator
would desire
long for
want earnestly
ask for
to rest
in me
one of His created

the majesty of that truth
has touched me in such a way
that I have been reshaped by it

the fingerprints of that desire
have indelibly marked
my heart
and my life

Sunday, February 19, 2006

God-filled moments

there was a suddenly of God yesterday
a number of us had been feeling this growing yearning to worship
to have a time of worship that would have no beginning
and no end
a time of worship that would be rooted and grounded in scripture
and bathed in the beauty and love of our God
and yesterday we came together
immediate use of a sanctuary was granted
and when use of the sound system was thrown in
I knew the call of God was being heard
5 humble deeply gifted musicians
simply desiring to offer their giftings back to the Giver
helped us find the place where the curtain had been rent
so that we could all enter in
for 12 hours yesterday
a hundred or so
knelt, danced, sang
before our King
man's dignity was put aside
in the Presence of God's deity
we had church
in the sanctuary
and it was lovely
and we
each one
were there
because God
fell in love

Friday, February 17, 2006

table moments

having a meal is more than eating and drinking
it is celebrating the gift of life we share

a meal together is one of the most intimate and sacred human events
around the table we become vulnerable
filling one another's plates and cups
encouraging one another to eat and drink

much more happens at a table
than satisfying hunger and quenching thirst

around the table we become family
a body

the table is one of the most intimate places in our lives
it is there that we give ourselves to one another
when we offer more
serve another plate
pour another glass
we invite friends to become part of our lives

we want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us

we desire communion

the table is the place
where we want to become food for one another
adapted from Henri Nouwen's writings

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

asking moments

have you ever wondered why we ask someone how they are doing

is it just to fill up empty air

is it a knee-jerk question

is there a thinking the question might be expected so we had better ask it

is it simply a rote statement that rolls off our tongue

do we really want to invest time and energy in hearing an answer

and if an answer is forthcoming
to a question that was not sincere
how do we handle the response

toss it

drop it

ignore it

is there an awareness that it is not the words of the answer that are
carelessly received

it is someone's heart

and we do not have the right to do that to one another

if we are not willing to hear an answer
we should never ever ask the question

it is just too cruel

funeral moments

there was a man
77 years of age
suddenly last Tuesday
while fellowshiping
he was absent from the body
and present with the Lord
the funeral Saturday was filled with music
and joy
as he would have wished
but now
this morning
there will be another funeral
we will gather this time
once again around a tiny coffin
holding a tiny body
not quite three months of age
it will be hard to find much joy
and it will be a struggle to sing
impossible to understand
this will be a day
I can only trust
and touch

Monday, February 13, 2006

sanctuary moment

thinking about sanctuary
what it is
where one can find it
what would make it recognizable
it used to be one could look for a sanctuary
within the building where the church would gather
but now
there is only an auditorium
with power point and a drama team
where has the sanctuary gone
who determined a sanctuary is no longer needed
or desired
perhaps the poustinia
is now to be my
there is only room for one
in the poustinia
and I am pretty sure
there must be others
who look for a sanctuary

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

brother b moments

as the Lord would have it
yesterday morning
I spent a few hours with Brother B
he has some interesting ideas and thoughts
although he says his ministry is one of healing
it turns out to be more of a deliverance ministry
his belief is that cancer is a spirit
and I tend to agree with him here
however, he also states
"cancer is your way of agreeing
with your worst opinion of yourself"
"cancer is benign suicide"
"grief is the handmaiden of death"
during the moments of our time together
it became painfully obvious
that this man from the deep south
is filled with anger, pain and judgement
and he ministers out of the brokenness of those heavy burdens
as far as I am concerned
the verdict is still out
regarding the validity of his ministry
I guess time will tell .......
for now
I will bow my heart before my King
and listen

Monday, February 06, 2006

gathering moments

yesterday's 'round the table gathering
had some interesting themes
one of our community
after 17 years of being one of two
is now simply one
and confessed to feeling the deep loneliness of being one
with the wondering
God will indeed be enough ........
having already lost one friend a few months ago
to the darkness in that wondering
this grabbed my attention
as well as my heart
the answer has to be discovered
by the one asking the question
trite words
quoting scripture
just does not cut it
interesting that no matter how deep
and solid
and rich our faith
that question survives
and will periodically bubble up to the surface
there was also the question
of whether our worship
leaves God still hungry
and then there was Brother B
an 80 year old gentleman from the southern states
invited to this city to pray for someone very ill
Brother B believes he carries a healing anointing
and that whoever he lays hands on, is healed
his belief is that cancer is a spirit
and that this spirit invades our body
through an opening we create
by having a death wish
to say this generated some discussion
is an understatement
hearts were laid on the table
fears were laid on the altar
worship filled the room
stomachs were filled
bodies were hugged
hands were held
cheeks were wet with tears
and my prayers are that God's appetite too was satisfied

Sunday, February 05, 2006

wind moment

as I prepare for our community gathering this afternoon
my thoughts keep returning
to the moment
earlier this morning during worship
when the fresh cool wind of the Spirit
caressed my face
so surprising
so comforting
so encouraging
so life birthing
so absolutely amazing
like the unexpected rains of spring
in the midst of a desert
it is true
you will find what you seek
and if you seek God
He will be found

Saturday, February 04, 2006

shabbat moment

yesterday, at sundown, I was invited to gather
with some of another community
for a Shabbat dinner

it was very lovely

filled with ritual and symbolism
with roots going back into the ages

because the Jews refuse to work on the Sabbath
the Shabbat
the meal begins at sunset the evening before

after the mother of the household
covers her head out of respect
while speaking thanks and blessing to God
she lights two white candles
which have been placed on the table

these speak to God
we would say Jesus
bringing light into the world

these two white candles
are not to be blown out
but are allowed to burn all evening
until they are finished

the father of the household speaks a blessing over his wife

the mother then speaks a blessing over her husband

the couple then jointly speak blessings over each of their children
and over their guest

there is the cup of wine
signifying the goodness of the Lord
Who gives us physical and spiritual drink
to satisfy the body and soul

this is passed around for each to take a drink

there is the challah bread
made of three strands
covered with a white cloth
signifying manna from heaven

the bread is blessed
and passed around for each to take a piece

and then there is the meal
with its aroma and abundance

and then a time of giving thanks

“when you have eaten and are full,
then you shall bless the Lord your God
for the good land He has given you.” Deut 8:10

after the meal
words from the Torah were shared
along with the struggles of Israel
past and present

some things I noted

there are 2 loaves of bread
so that no work would be required the next day

there are always an extra chair or two
around the table
this community expects strangers to
come through their door on the eve of Shabbat
as it is not good to be alone

the Jews have discovered the wonders of blessing
of speaking blessings
there is an extreme tenderness
when words of blessing are spoken
and received

there is much beauty and power in this community
and I came home very well fed

and although by myself this
Shabbat day
I am not alone

Be careful not to blow out your candle
or anyone else’s

Shabbat shalom

Friday, February 03, 2006

touch moments

One of my delights in this season are the days spent
in a very special community made up of
severely challenged adults

these men and women are physically
and mentally challenged

these are the ones we used to call handicapped

some have been languishing
since birth
never knowing the love of a parent
the hug of a mom
the “well done” of a dad
the “I love you” of anyone

and it is from these ones
that I learn so much

today was my first afternoon
with a young woman
who had only recently arrived into this community

unable to speak
or see
or walk
or hear
unable to even feed herself

I wondered how I would communicate

and I remembered Jesus
how He sat down, to make Himself lower
how He asked for a drink, revealing His vulnerability

and so I sat at her feet
and gently rested my head against her knees

and we remained quiet together for quite awhile

ever so gently
her hand touched my shoulder

like the fluttering of a little bird
she would touch and then quickly withdraw

after some time
she stopped withdrawing
and although unable to see
she seemed intrigued by the texture of my sweater

for some strange reason
on this day of all days
I had chosen to wear an angora like sweater
very soft and feathery

I waited a bit and then
moved slightly to
place my hands alongside her face
on her cheeks

and when she did not recoil
I very very tenderly
drew her close
until her face lay against my sweater

she rubbed
she snuggled
she sniffed
and then she wept
from deep within

and I held her until the tears stopped

and although not one word was said
we communicated just fine

once again, it was the touch that spoke
and it spoke loudly

and as I was leaving
the staff told me it was the first time
this silent lady had reacted to anyone or anything in years

touch someone today

clay moments

I went to the pottery studio yesterday to bury my hands in clay.

I centered a gray, shapeless lump on the wheel and as my hands started to go into the foundations of the clay I heard the Word of God.

When you were in your mother's womb, I knew you and loved you.
You are beautifully and fearfully made.
I know your destiny, and I know your birthright. Your form was not hidden from Me. Your name is written on the palm of My hand.

As I pulled up the walls on the pot, I heard Him saying
I will shape you and pull up your walls, almost to the breaking point, but I know who you are. I know your shape; I know your form. I know your function. My fingerprints will be seen on you. I will never leave you or forsake you

To keep the clay soft and malleable, it became necessary to add some drops of water and I began to see that during the times when the clay of me feels very dry and is about to crack, the Master Potter Himself bends near and softens me with His tears.

It is His foot that governs the speed of the wheel. It is His Hands that keep me centered. It is His fingers that dig deep pushing and prodding until He is satisfied.

I finished and carried the pot to the burning, blazing ovens. I have always been fascinated with the processes that fire has on the pots and the colors of the glazes and now began to wonder how it will look when the fire of God is released on the clay vessels in churches, when the blazing fire of God ignites hearts, when the refiner’s fire comes and burns out our faults and imperfections, when the fire of holiness and refreshing comes.

And would we welcome that fire or flee from it …………
Will we allow ourselves to be gently, carefully and lovingly placed in the fiery oven of His Presence.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February moments

I have been thinking of David
walking in the midst of his people
and yet never being recognized as their king
simply because he smelled of sheep
also am recognizing
that simply washing the feet of those around me
breaks every bone in my body
and then I attempted to bring down a pot of ivy
from the shelf
where it had been thriving
so that I could wipe the dust off the leaves
(yes, I clean once a year whether or not the house needs it
but then
I also have been known to make scrambled eggs for dinner)
one stem of the ivy
with huge green healthy leaves
was climbing up the wall
complete with little feet
that had actually attached
and become embedded into the paint
it took some effort to pull them free
so, here was this plant
and thriving
but attached to something it shouldn't be
and all this made me think
of why and when and how
we attach ourselves to people
or ministries
or ideas
or hopes
or dreams
and how hard is it to detach
if discovered the attachment is not appropriate
and even when there is evidence of life
and growth
the necessity of checking out
where our feet are planted
what our toes are curled around
and I am so grateful
to be attached to the cross
with the tendrils of my being

I know
kind of weird thoughts
but then
this is the first day
I have been alone for months
and it is February after all
and I have a whole week
to be alone ....