Merry Christmas

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the eternal appetite of infancy

perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” -Orthodoxy, Chesterton 

calling

“To know what we are here to do, and why, is not an abstract, philisophical question.  There is no question more personal and more passionate, no question that is closer to our hearts.”  -Os Guiness

“Vocation does not come from willfulness.  It comes from listening.  I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like it to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.”  -Parker Palmer

“Calling is where your deep hunger meets the world’s deep needs.”  -F. Buechner

“Calling is not primarily about increasing your earning potential or status, but it refers to the fact that God made you with certain capacities, and this world needs you to fulfill those.”  -JR Woodward

“That “ultimate why” for living, the highest source of purpose in human existence is to be found in answering the call of our Creator.  Calling is the truth that God has created us for Himself.”  -Os Guiness

“Instead of, ‘You are what you do,’ calling says, ‘Do what you are.'”  -Os Guiness 

Thanksgiving

My friend Sandy sent me a “Thanksgiving prayer” over e-mail this week from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Arthur Bennett, ed.  Thanks Sandy!  I really enjoyed taking some time to respond to it and put some of the ideas in my own words.  I hope you indeed feel thankful as I do today! 

I thank You for the soul You have created in me,
for designing it and making it complete with Yourself,
though it is rooted in dry soil;

I thank You for the body You have given me,
for giving it life and strength,
for providing the senses to enjoy delights,
for giving eyes to see You in this world,
for giving ears to hear Your shepherd voice,
for hands that can fulfill their calling,
for arms that can embrace others,
for a mind that can comprehend truth,
for a heart that can feel sorrow and joy,
for legs that can follow You closely.

I thank You for being active in my everyday life,
and for everything that You are to us.

Increase my thankfulness and love, O my God, through time and eternity. 

the self prison

Recently a few of us had a nice conversation based on a chapter from Tuesdays with Morrie.  The chapter we read and discussed centered on the role, power and enticement of money in our present day cultures.  As we wandered through the ideas of this chapter, a central question emerged: how do we live in such a way that we are not consumed  by our wants and desires? I was inspired by the thoughts that arose.

The simple effort to distinguish between wants and needs is a life revolutionizing activity.  There are bigger things to live for than my own wants and my own desires.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily advocating a monastic lifestyle.)  Training my soul to perceive the needs, value and interests of others can help break the hold my own wants have on me.  The clearer I see others and the world, the smaller my problems become.  We must train our souls to attend to others. 

One of these unviersity students communicated a sense of frustration, “we work so hard just to ready ourselves to participate in this consuming society….to be consumers.”  Is this what it is all about?  Are we simple consuming creatures?  Or are we designed for more? 

But what we are looking for is a deep fundamental shift in our being, an essential change in our orientation from self to others.  We are talking about breaking out of the “self” prison.  Can this redirection of the heart be developed through discipline?  Perhaps to an extent.  Paraphrasing what another friend said, “we can’t make these kinds of profound changes without some kind of an awakening of the heart, mind and soul.”

one week on

I continue to pray for the families who lost loved ones last Monday.  It has been exactly one week since I discovered the news on CNN, and my mind and heart have been buzzing with a multitude of thoughts and emotions.  As a Hokie, I was deeply moved by the convocation and the community/team spirit that emerged.  I got chills as I watched and listened, realizing the power of community to heal.

But even in the midst of this amazing display of community, I recognize that there is something much deeper that we need in order to walk through grief.  We need hope.

Among the many things written on the tragedy, I have really appreciated JR Woodward’s thoughts on hope and the in-between-day.