Relationships and Peace

March 10th, 2014

Feeling as though a relationship is required is never a peaceful place to be. Wanting one is a reasonable enough desire, but needing one keeps you from breathing deeply and peacefully during the individual moments as they pass by. And life is made up of individual moments. Nothing more, in fact.

– Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 201

Seventy Times Seven

March 1st, 2014

There is no use talking as if forgiveness were easy. We all know the old joke, “You’ve given up smoking once; I’ve given it up a dozen times.” In the same way I could say of a certain man, “Have I forgiven him for what he did that day? I’ve forgiven him more times than I can count.” For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not for 490 offences but for one offence.

– C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 25

Who Do I Need in My Life?

February 26th, 2014

How do you know that you don’t need a romantic partner? You don’t have one. How do you know that you need one? Here he is! You don’t call the shots on this. It’s better that you don’t. That way you can give yourself everything. What do you need a partner for? To fill your hunger? Is that true? All your adult life you’ve thought that you needed a partner, and you’re still hungry. So how many partners does it take to fill you? I’m not saying that you don’t need a partner. This is about your own truth. Just go in and experience it. Need yourself, whether or not you find a partner. In the meantime, you are waiting just for you.

– Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World, p. 33

Permission

January 28th, 2014

Writers! You must give yourself permission, by a daily act of will, to believe in your remembered truth. Do not remain nameless to yourself. Only you can turn on the switch; nobody is going to do it for you. Nobody gave George Gershwin permission to write “Rhapsody in Blue” at the age of 25, when he had only written 32-bar popular songs. Nobody gave Frank Lloyd Wright permission to design a round museum.

– William Zinsser, The Writer Who Stayed, p. 161

For God to Solve

January 18th, 2014

God is waiting to be called on. Our Higher Power is always just a prayer, an idea, or a question away.

Why is this so hard to remember? Even after we glimpse the power of this truth, we have to be willing to pray, asking God for the help we need that has already been promised to us. God knows our needs. But it’s helpful for us to think them or voice them so that we know them too. That way we can recognize when the help has arrived.

The same is true for our companions. Their problems are for God to solve. We are not participants in their solutions. We can listen, we can share what has worked for us, we can pray with them. But we are not here to convey God’s will.

– Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 130

Moving With Others

December 31st, 2013

I know who I am. I am a Christian. I love my heritage and thank God for it. But my identity as a Christian can never be a barrier, a wall, a reason for apartheid. Rather, my identity as a follower of Christ requires me first to move toward the other in friendship, and then to move with the other in service to those in need. In so doing, both the other and I are transformed from counterparts to partners. This is good news for both the haves and the have-nots. The haves suffer dehumanization — a loss of human-kindness — when they hold themselves aloof from their fellow humans, just as the have-nots suffer when the haves hoard wealth and opportunity at the have-nots’ expense. The gospel calls both to discover salvation in encounter with the other, in the love of God.

– Brian D. McLaren, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, p. 249

For Our Sins

December 21st, 2013

When people begin rethinking atonement, salvation, and the eucharist along these lines, they often wonder, “What then does it mean to say that Jesus died for our sins?” They assume the for in that statement means “as a penal substitutionary sacrifice for.” It is far more natural, I think, to interpret the for more simply. Consider, for example, these two sentences: “I took medicine for my disease,” and “I got a ticket for speeding.” In the former sentence, the word for does not mean “as a sacrifice to appease my disease.” For means “to help cure my disease.” So we understand that Jesus’ death intervenes in human history to have a curative impact on our hostility and violence, to turn us toward the ways of peace. And in the latter sentence, for doesn’t mean “to pay for.” It means “because of.” Because I was speeding, I got a ticket, and similarly, because we are hostile and violent, Christ died. God didn’t torture and kill Christ; we did. And that tells us something essential about both God and ourselves.

– Brian D. McLaren, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, p. 212

Butterflies and Birds

December 5th, 2013

There is meaning in focus, concentration, attention. I now notice almost every single bird that flies by, as well as every single butterfly. I pay attention to most plain old butterflies, not just the ones in tiaras or argyle socks. Butterflies and birds are like one perfect teaspoon of creation.

– Anne Lamott, Stitches, p. 87

God Uses People.

December 3rd, 2013

My young preacher friend Anni pointed out to me that God could do anything God wanted, heal and create through weather or visions or the ever popular tongues of fire, but instead chooses us to be the way, to help, to share, to draw close. To me, that is a terrible idea. No offense. Look at us. Look at the dry bones of the ruined people in Ezekiel. This prophet, who probably looked like a complete nut, had a vision of these bones coming back to life, becoming people again. His compassion and witness were the breeze that stirred them, the spirit, which is an infusion of energy, which is life. He roused them and got them back to their feet. Again, if there is a God, He or She does not need Ezekiel, or the people of this small burnt town, but instead chooses people. What a crazy system.

– Anne Lamott, Stitches, p. 61

Cherish Thankfulness

December 1st, 2013

I think thankfulness is like a flower. It needs care and cherishing if it is to live and grow. Perhaps thankfulness, even more than some other qualities that seem to come naturally to us, is in need of cherishing, because of the withering winds of life.

– Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest, They Gather, p. 69