Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeling the Holy


“…we’re hushing the hurry and
feeling the holy and savoring the wonder.”
Ann Voscamp

I have been on a quest for holy lately.
There is something pushing up in me,
a desire to find this thing that's missing.
So when I read Ann Voscamp's post,
something stirred in me.
It's been hard to describe this feeling.
But the word that best describes the
feeling that I am searching for is "holy."
We live in the age of familiar and common.
Not much takes our breath away.
Not much flips our shoes off.

It’s not that God doesn’t have 
holy moments all around.
It’s just that they are hard to find.
Today’s churches have taken some  
awe and wonder and replaced them 
with comfortable and common.
Where there used to be holy water at the door,
there is now coffee and donuts.
We want to take some of the mystery away
so seekers can find connections.
That’s not a bad thing.
It's just that sometimes we trade away a thing
that will have to come another way.

I have this strange longing for cathedral ceilings
and incense filled air and candle lit altars.
I want to walk into a sanctuary and
sit in the holy silence
and breathe in the anointed air.
But this is just part of wanting to find holy
and those moments have to be everywhere.

A holy moment presents itself when
I am faced with two reports, and I decide
to turn from the report punctuated with fear
and look to the one stamped with peace.
It happens when I am all alone and 
my thoughts have free reign to go anywhere.
But “Joy to the World” plays on Spotify
and I’m struck by the 
repetitive declarations filling my home.
And wonders of His love

And wonders of His love

And wonders and wonders of His love.
And I realize that I can think anything I want,
but grace has stepped in and led me
to think about wonder.
The wonder of His love.
He uses a music app to remind me
that His wonder is as real in my home
as it is in any cathedral.
The next song declares that
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
And I choose His gospel--
which is always about good news--
over the report filled with fear and doubt.
 And maybe for a moment
I had my breath taken away
and I wanted to flip off my shoes.

I am grateful for wonder and love.
No other season more loudly proclaims
the wonders of His love.
There are people who have no understanding 
of Jesus singing about this great love.
And there are those, like me, who sing of it with
a measure of understanding but sometimes 
as if seeing the wonder of this great love
for the first time.

And if I close my eyes,
I can smell the incense and 
see the candles burning.
I think that I'm feeling the holy
and savoring the wonder.
In the midst of wonder,
hurry is easily hushed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Reaping and Keeping


To everything there is a season and 
a time for every purpose under heaven.

There are times when physical and 
spiritual seasons are in perfect alignment.
And it feels like everything around is teaching you
and everything confirms what you are experiencing.

This autumn season has certainly mirrored
the spiritual season my heart is in.
The leaves began turning color,
signaling the transitioning out of
a long season of sowing and growing.
But as the leaves have turned and fallen,
and the weather has turned cold and rainy,
it's been hard not to look at all that's died back.

But that is also the inherent danger when
spiritual and physical seasons align.
Jesus has reminded me that although
I experience these seasons sequentially,
He holds them all simultaneously.
The various seasons allow us to focus on
what might be going on around us.
But we can’t get defined by a season either.
In this fall season, I can acknowledge that 
things are dark, and damp and dying.
But my expectations have to be framed by
His goodness to lead me into life everyday.

He reminds me that autumn is multi-faceted.
It is about reaping what was sown.
It is about giving thanks for what we have.
It is about sitting still during long dark nights.
The darkness pushes our borders in,
asking us to be more still than busy.
Stillness can make busy people uneasy.

When we are still, we can see that autumn
 is also about things that are gained.
Sometimes we can only grow when
we are forced to sit down and let go.
But letting go isn’t the final word.
Autumn is a time to reap what we've sown.
And what we reap, we get to keep.
 
It is easy to identify the meager fruit
of all our shortcomings.
Maybe we sowed fear and reaped some anxiety.
Maybe it was negativity and we reaped doubt.
But Jesus is asking us to take some 
fruit from the sowing we have done right.
"Put peace into your basket," He tells me,
"because there were times you sowed peace
when you thought none could be found.
And kindness too. And love. And faithfulness.
There were times you chose to sow into those
and you get to reap and keep 
the fruit from those choices.”

This is the real story of autumn,
the season of reaping and thanksgiving.
So I will learn what I can from all
that is taking place around me.
But I won’t let it be the final word.
Jesus is the beginning and the end,
the Alpha and the Omega,
the autumn and the spring.
Though the days are long and dark,
and everything looks like it has died back,
I am going to take my gathering basket
and do some reaping.
And what I reap,
I get to keep.
To everything there is a season...