Saturday, November 28, 2009

Revelations and Reflections - Lukewarm

The ruins of Laodicea
(something I am trying to avoid)  

The "lukewarm" label has seized my attention more than a few times in the Book of Revelation.  John writes to the churches delivering a spiritual "report card," if you will.  His words resonate still and serve as a "gentle" reminder (ahem).

In my heart, I don't think I am so lukewarm.  Yet I realize if I truly responded to God's gentle and not-so-gentle upside slaps to my head, I would be much more disciplined and focused in my response.

I know my call.  At least part of it.  It's been coming at me in forty million different ways since about 1991.

It all started with a class on Lectio Divina at a former church.  (Actually, it started way before that, but that's another post).

Lectio Divina is a way of "praying" scripture.  You can find out more about it here: 

Learning to pray the scriptures in this ancient manner transformed the way I approached my faith and the role of prayer in my life.  When I set down to allow scripture to speak to me in this way, I felt like this:

Then will the lame leap like a deer,
       and the mute tongue shout for joy.
       Water will gush forth in the wilderness
       and streams in the desert. 

                    --Isaiah 35:6 

This was something that never occurred to me  as I was coming of age in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.  My guess is that it never occurred to the leaders of that sect as well.  (but, that' is a totally different story).....
At any rate, a charism was introduced to me that day.  It took root in my heart, became the means through which I could rest in God's presence.   This practice, this divine reading became a well spring to me, an  entry way into a more mature faith, and later the rock to which I clung during difficult days.  
I learned that I "fit" with other faithful men and women in the church's past and  present.  My way is the way of the mystic.
In the past twenty years, I have been drawn more deeply to Christ through prayer ... lectio divina, contemplative prayer, the Daily Office, praying with Icons, and (trying to follow) a Rule of Life.  

I was generously and gracefully reminded of this charism while I was in Africa.  Most importantly, I was reminded that I had been neglecting it, and therefore, neglecting God.  Mercifully, God reminded me of how much I need it.  

Well, God reminded me how much I need God.  How much I really need God...

I also realized that in addition to the need for me to turn up the "heat," I am expected to do something with this prayer life.  (That's the part I've been avoiding).

But, I've been too distracted.  

I'm reading Huston Smith's Religions of the World.  A section resonated with me regarding distractions which keep us from God.  In the chapter on Buddhism, he writes that "life as typically lived is unfulfilling and filled with insecurity." 

"Earth's sweetest joy is but disguised pain,' William Drummond wrote, while Shelley speaks of that 'unrest which men miscall delight.'  Beneath the neon dazzle is darkness; at the core--not of reality but of unregenerated human life-- is the "quiet desperation Thoreau saw in most peoples' lives." 

"That is why we seek distractions, for distractions divert us from what lies beneath the surface.     Some may be able to distract themselves for long periods, but the darkness is unrelieved."

Lo! as the wind is, so is mortal life,
A moan, a sigh, a sob, a storm, a strife.

More later...

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