The Way of Suffering

I read this chapter again this morning, actually read my way through the end of the book one more time. For those of you who aren’t yet finished with the book, I encourage you to finish it before the end of the month.

It was a tough chapter for me because I don’t like to suffer. I imagine you don’t like to suffer either, but we have to grapple with this one because Jesus suffered, and the Bible is filled with stories of suffering. And we have suffered, we might be suffering right now, and we most certainly will suffer again.

So a few thoughts to think about while you’re wrestling this one through…..

1. Go ahead and wrestle. Be honest before God, pour it out. Ask questions. Dig. Persist.

2. And then sometimes, don’t wrestle. Receive it. Ask Him to hold it for you. Listen to it.

3. Let it grow you up. Suffering will mature you if you give it the space to do so.

4. Let it keep you soft and gentle. I tell my boys over and over again – be kind. Be kind because everyone is doing the best they can given their circumstances and you most certainly do not know their whole story. Spouting anger and rude behavior come from somewhere. Be kind.

5. Consider it an honor because it is. It’s a window into the deep love of Jesus. It’s the cross, pure and simple. He suffered for us to bring us home.

I do not have all the answers here, and most of my comments seemed trite the minute they appeared on the page. What I do know, is that this cannot be ignored. To grow into spiritual maturity, we’re going to have to get our minds and hearts around suffering.

Comments?

Stability, Obedience and Change

Or put another way…..

Stay.

Listen.

Be open to change.

I want to add one more thought to the Way of Rituals. I was thinking about it this morning, and realized that it’s very personal. This is why St. Benedict structured monastic life around the three vows of stability, obedience and change. We need staying power – fidelity, we need to listen and be obedient, and we need to be in process, changing, and transforming.

So the thought came that rituals can hold us or strangle us and we each have to work that through on an individual basis. Some of us might need to stay with something longer than a day or week or month or year, others might be desperately needing significant change.

As this calendar year draws to a close, this is the rich earth of making resolutions for the coming seasons. As you work through that process, I encourage you to develop rituals where they may not exist, while also evaluating whether or not you’ve worked yourself into a corner and need to open some new windows and doors.

Vamos adelante entonces…..

Well, I thought maybe you all were lost! But no! Fun to read your comments this week.

In thinking about rituals, it’s interesting to make a list of your “ritualistic behaviors” – those actions that you always do exactly the same way. It begins with personal hygiene, right? Don’t you always brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed the same way? Are your nighttime rituals the same? So we know how to create rituals/habits, the challenge is to expand those skills into new and challenging areas.

Exercise.

Diet.

Mountain climbing.

This is why every single spiritual writer speaks to this. You have to show up. You have to climb. Day after day after day. If you do, at some point, it will flip. And you will miss it when you don’t climb, you’ll feel “off”. You will long to return to your trails and vistas because you breathe better up there. Your soul learns the rhythm, and the rest of you responds.

Advent is a delightful ritual, it’s a longstanding practice of the church, so we follow a trail that is already there. It’s a 25 day commitment to show up, and at the end, there is Christmas – shiny and bright.

Are you in?

The Way of Rituals

Hey there chicas,

I fear I’ve lost most of you across the course of our autumn season. We’re wrapping up this book, and interestingly enough, the church year. December 1 is the 1st Sunday of Advent this year – LOVE when the dates line up like that.

I found this chapter quite interesting and worthy of consideration. I think rituals hold us, they shape behavior, and they can teach us stability and fidelity – so many small actions weaving and winding their way together.

Purpose. Frequency. Touch. Words.

I have many thoughts, but perhaps will hold on those until there is interest?

Knock, knock.

Anybody home?

Do Good Things

Hey friends,

Slowly but surely we’re working our way through this book. At first glance, our chapter for this week seems so ORDINARY.

The Way of Doing Good.

Do Good Things.

But after reading through it a few times, I found the chapter landed in an important spot, especially for a future tense person. We can plan and design and sketch and pin and think, but then we have to stop and ask ourselves, what have we actually done?

Jesus was a DOER. He was out there – in the streets, with the people, not just doing things, but doing GOOD things.

Weeding is necessary, but I think planting is more important.

Scatter seeds. Do good things. Don’t stop.

Somehow, this reminder was what I needed as we approach the end of the year.

Do.

Good.

Things.

I think there is a second axiom closely related to this one.

Don’t screw up.

It’s not language that a lady would use, I actually read it in a book on growing men’s souls, but it hits the mark as well.

Praying for you all.

Send me updates when you can.

The Way of the Table

I had a moment standing at my kitchen sink in the late afternoon.

My youngest was out in the forest, my other men were not yet home.

The sun was setting, the forest was stirring with breezes and the coming of the night.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.

Need I say more?

Olive oil. Scallions. Fresh thyme. White wine.

My moment came while working with the chicken – cutting and trimming the pieces from the market, I was transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen, her chicken coop, and my memories of fried chicken and potatoes. For a blink of time, she was so present. And as I write here, again the tears come.

Her hands, my hands.

Her table, mine.

Chicken.

And garlic.

Cloves upon cloves of garlic.

One son ranked the meal in his top five EVER.

We broke bread together, enjoyed salad and chicken, delighted in molten chocolate cake, and all was well.

All is well.

All will be well.

You can check out the chicken recipe here.

Don’t miss this chapter. It wasn’t until the men on the road to Emmaus invited him into their home, and broke bread with him, that they knew who He was.

Oh to enjoy His breakfast on the beach!

The Way of Companionship

Onward we go!

Not sure where anyone else is in this book, but I’m trying to nudge us along week by week so that we’re done by the beginning of Advent.

This was an interesting chapter for me. Right before I started reading it, I had a long conversation on the back porch with a “new” friend – well, not “new” in that we just met, but “new” in that we’re intentionally pursuing a friendship for the first time. I found myself entering my autumn season knowing that I needed to spice up my friendship quilt a bit, and here’s what is interesting, all it took was an invite and we were off. She’s absolutely delightful, our conversations have been good for my soul. ( Take note – Seek solid friendships, when you sense a kindred spirit, don’t be afraid to pursue her! )

I thought these were interesting categories that he mentioned at the end of the chapter.

Life-Giving Friends

Life-Draining Friends

People Who Are and Should Remain Acquaintances

Hmmmmm.

Not sure I entirely agree with those categories, but maybe because I’m older and have gone around the block a few times with friendships. So let me toss my thoughts into the mix, would love to hear yours.

I view my friendships as a patchwork quilt – an eclectic mix of colors and patterns held together by me. It’s my quilt. I take responsibility for it, knowing full well that it keeps me warm and brings me comfort. So here are a few of my “categories”, pretty sure some of my friends would not appreciate being placed in one category over another, but here goes.

Lifelong Heart Friends

“Sistas”

Friends for a Season

Friends Connected by Place – Daily or Weekly Life Friends

Mentors

Lionesses

Friends Who Need a Friend

Still thinking about this tonight. What are your thoughts?

Anyone still reading the book?

The Way of Family

Hey there,

I hope this finds you all doing well this Monday morning. I love Mondays, I truly do. Nothing quite like a fresh start to a new week.

I came upon this passage this morning.

This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? Matthew 13

A powerful reminder that Jesus was connected to a family. His divinity was born in a stable, lived in a little village, worked with wood, ate meals, enjoyed siblings. His way is through family and community.

How goes your family and community? Those to whom you have been given and those given to you?

We face this each and every day in our work – your family of origin matters. Much of what you encountered as a little child is showing up in your adult life. It can be sticky mud that holds you captive or fertile earth by which you grow up and out into new life.

Pay attention to it. Receive it. Then start climbing. Bring the gifts with you, leave the sorrows to rest.

I’ll be back here next week when we tackle the Way of Companionship. I’m actually writing a series at the Greenhouse blog on family, if this topic interests you, you can check that out here.

Love, love, love hearing from you when you are able to leave comments or send emails. Wondering about a few of you, where are you???

On hiddenness and seeking obscurity…..

Hey there sweet friends!

Boomer Sooner. It’s game day here at our house, so I’m using the time to get caught up in my office.

We’ve studied this before – anonymous seasons, isolation, wilderness, deserts. Not exactly the Facebook/text/Instagram culture where some among us share every thought, photo, comment.

Reading through this week’s chapter was a solid reminder that at the end of the day, we walk up the mountain alone. Our family, spouses, children, friends? They are all community given to us to share this journey. We are given to them as well. Our gifts to them are perfected in solitude and silence.

Listen to these dear words from our friend Oswald Chambers – such wisdom.

The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, because the kingdom of God is within you,” a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.

We have to get rid of the plague of the spirit of the religious age in which we live. In Our Lord’s life there was none of the press and rush of tremendous activity that we regard so highly, and the disciple is to be as His Master. The central thing about the kingdom of ┬áJesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men. Oswald Chambers

Next week we read about the Way of Family, are you staying with us?

More on Spiritual Mountain Climbing

Hey there,

I came across this in a recent read entitled Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen.

A Meditation on Mount Tabor

There, on the mountaintop, they saw Jesus transfigured before them. “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light.” The prophets Moses and Elijah appeared to them, and they did not know what to say. Peter offered to make three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. While he was speaking, a bright cloud covered them with its shadow, and from the cloud the Voice spoke: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. ┬áListen to him” (Matthew 17 vs 1-8 ).

“It is difficult to climb Mount Tabor,” says Fr. Rodney DeMartini. “It is a difficult climb because to ascend the mountain means to leave solid ground, the old streets, and all the friends behind. To ascend the mountain means to be lightheaded, yet sure-footed. To ascend the mountain means grabbing on outcroppings and hoping, no, believing that they will hold. To climb the mountain means believing that there is a top and that there is the other side.”

Transformation happens on the mountain: Olivet, the Mount of Olives, Calvary, the Mound of Skulls, Zion, the Shining City on a Hill. Every mountain has its shadowy crevices and its peaks of grand views. Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration, presents a dance of shadow and radiance. It happens on the mountaintop, where the voice of God is heard.

Henri Nouwen

I always find it of such great interest that when a new spiritual theme emerges, we find it everywhere! Love the spiritual treasure hunts.