Archive for August, 2019

Sympathetic Joy

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Sympathetic joy takes our attention away from our own preoccupations and allows us to see that joy is available in many more places than we have yet imagined.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 293

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, August 14, 2019

Positive Intention

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

If you imagine each positive intention as a road, then the next step is to see yourself driving on that road toward your goals. When you are young you may be riding a bicycle on the road and then as you age you may drive progressively more expensive cars. Now, say you are forty-five and your teenage son leaves home under a cloud. Or, say you are forty-five and your wife leaves you for another man. Or, say you are forty-five and your business fails and you were cheated. Your positive intention of a loving family or business success has taken a hit. For the sake of this exercise picture your loss as a tire blowout on the road of intimacy. I know when this happens many of us would more readily picture this as a head-on collision, but remember we can recover from the loss of a spouse, business, or relationship with a child.

In this image you find yourself on the side of the highway trying to change a flat tire. Remember, it is common for obstacles to emerge. Maybe no one has ever taught you how to change a tire and you stand there confused and scared. Alternatively, you let your spare tire get flat and you are struggling to use an underinflated tire. You are then trying to figure out when the next highway patrol officer will come by. Throughout this experience you are likely muttering under your breath that you do not have time for this, that you are late for an important meeting….

As we connect to our positive intention we begin to find forgiveness. Forgiveness is the peace we feel as we cease resentment toward our car. Forgiveness is the peace that comes from understanding we are responsible for whether or not we feel okay. Forgiveness is the compassion we experience as we remind ourselves that by driving a car we run the risk of a breakdown. Forgiveness is the power we get as we assert that we have a deep well of resilience to draw upon. Forgiveness is the grace that helps us remember, while on the side of the road, we can look around and appreciate our beautiful surroundings.

Forgiveness is the positive feeling we have as we review the myriad of times our car ran perfectly. Forgiveness offers us peace as we remember the problem could have been worse. Forgiveness is the power we feel as we create a hero’s story where we overcome difficulties. In our hero’s story we talk about how well we coped and how little need we had to blame. In that story we remind others and ourselves that we are a survivor.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 144-145

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 14, 2019

Solidarity with Slaves

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

You actually abolish slavery by accompanying the slave. We don’t strategize our way out of slavery, we solidarize, if you will, our way toward its demise. We stand in solidarity with the slave, and by so doing, we diminish slavery’s ability to stand. By casting our lot with the gang member, we hasten the demise of demonizing. All Jesus asks is, “Where are you standing?” And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, “Are you still standing there?”

Can we stay faithful and persistent in our fidelity even when things seem not to succeed? I suppose Jesus could have chosen a strategy that worked better (evidence-based outcomes) — that didn’t end in the Cross — but he couldn’t find a strategy more soaked with fidelity than the one he embraced.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 173

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Am I Acting Like I Believe?

Monday, August 12th, 2019

So perhaps a better question than “Do I believe in miracles?” is “Am I acting like I do?” Am I including the people who are typically excluded? Am I feeding the hungry and caring for the sick? Am I holding the hands of the homeless and offering help to addicts? Am I working to break down religious and political barriers that marginalize ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and people with disabilities? Am I behaving as though life is more than a meaningless, chaotic mess, that there is some order in the storm?

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 186

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 3, 2019

Restorative Justice

Friday, August 9th, 2019

As long as we keep God imprisoned in a retributive frame instead of a restorative frame, we really have no substantial good news; it is neither good nor new, but the same old tired story line of history. We pull God down to our level.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 28-29

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 8, 2019

Outgrowing the Container

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Jesus is telling his inquisitors and reminding us that responding to God will often push us to the boundaries of religion. It may cause tension. It may mean we outgrow the container we’ve been living in. If you feel like you don’t fit, that might be really good news. A greater faith and bigger table may well be ahead, though you may have to tap-dance through a minefield on the way. You may have to endure adversity that doesn’t feel at all worth it at the time.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 48

Photo: Eibsee, Germany, July 17, 2000

Not of Ourselves

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

I cannot pick up a New Testament and find anywhere in it the statement that it is “by faith you have been saved” or it is “by repentance you have been saved.” I find this to be a very confusing situation, as the message from many churches I have attended, and many Christians to whom I speak, is exactly that. I hear over and over again that there is something we must do to get ourselves saved. It might be faith, it might be repentance; some people even say baptism. Whatever it might be, whatever hoops you believe God demands you jump through; it is not what the Bible says. The Bible teaches us that God has gone out of the “hoop jumping” business for good.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 48

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 26, 2019

Doing the Impossible

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do.

And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.

— Neil Gaiman, Art¬†Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 31, 2019