Monday, September 23, 2013

A Necessary Dissatisfaction

"How does one transition from the survival dance to the sacred dance? Let me tell you how it starts. Did you know the first half of life has to fail you? In fact, if you do not recognize an eventual and necessary dissatisfaction (in the form of sadness, restlessness, emptiness, intellectual conflict, spiritual boredom, or even loss of faith, etc.), you will not move on to maturity. You see, faith really is about moving outside your comfort zone, trusting God’s lead, instead of just forever shoring up home base. Too often, early religious conditioning largely substitutes for any real faith." 
   -Richard Rohr, Loving the Two Halves of Life: The Further Journey

A necessary dissatisfaction!  This gets my attention.  Rohr is proclaiming that this necessary dissatisfaction that comes to us in our times of sadness, restlessness, spiritual boredom, and loss of faith are necessary if we are to mature in our faith.  In the midst of your emptiness, sadness, and doubt have you ever thought these were necessary steps leading you to a deeper and stronger faith?  In the middle of such experiences we pray for God to remove these burdens.  Perhaps our prayer should be to move through them!  To embrace them.  To learn from them.  To be transformed by them. 

This really speaks to me for I have experienced all these realities that make up what Rohr calls "necessary dissatisfaction."  I am reading a book by Margaret Johnston called "Faith Beyond Belief."  She writes that feelings of the absence of God or even doubting God's existence are simply important stages on the way to a more mature and grounded faith.  I love it when what I am hearing and reading dovetails together to speak to my soul.

So it may be possible that the lousy feelings you are experiencing just might be part of your necessary dissatisfaction.  And rather than removing them or escaping them God may be urging you to move through them to a new kind of faith on the other side of our discomfort zone!

Grace Always,

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Would You Describe "Fun"?

A couple of weeks ago I was alone at our cabin in the woods north of Willow working on a building project.  I really enjoy looking at space and designing something creative that improves functionality with minimal cost.  For example, my son, Ryan and I, cut dead spruce trees, debarked them, and built a couple of small shelters at the cabin this summer.  I have to say that such projects are "fun" for me.  So this got me thinking about the difference between fun and happiness and joy.

Even though I was working in pouring rain for 5 hours I was having fun!  And I was happy!  And when I connected these feelings to God I experienced pure joy.  And that joy led to gratitude to God for a mind that creates and a body that still works to bring a design to completion.

So, can adults have "fun"?  What is work to one person may be fun to another.  It seems to me that fun, happiness, and joy are interconnected.  For me, though, joy runs deep within my soul.  God is a fun God whose joyful heart delights in seeing us use our God-given gifts in creative and playful ways.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Praying for Peace in Syria

I have a prayer list on my smart phone.  As crises arise such as earthquakes, wars, famines, fires these terrible events that cause human suffering have come and gone from my prayer list.  But one thing has remained on my list for the past 40 years...peace in the Middle East.

Last Saturday I joined Pope Francis' and Bishop Grant's call to fast and pray for peace in Syria.  Each hunger pang was a reminder to think and pray for the people of Syria.  I was working on a building project at our cabin in the rain.  When I thought about my physical hunger I redirected that thought to the many refugees who fled the civil war to the many camps across the border.  My discomfort paled in comparison to theirs.

While I don't agree with President Obama's desire for a limited military strike on Syria I do appreciate his courage to have this debate.  Today it appears that through a candid answer to a reporter's question Secretary Kerry may have unknowingly started us down a path towards a peaceful resolution to the immediate crisis. 

Was this apparent change of course the result of millions of people fasting and praying for peace?  I can't answer that.  But I believe that the course of history can be changed when God's people join together praying and voicing their deep desire for all people to live in peace.

Grace Always,