Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The thing about dying to Self is that Self doth protest.

O LORD I am your servant. Psalm 116:14

I was pressed so hard that I almost fell, but the LORD came to my help. Psalm 118:13

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His servants. O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant and the child of your handmaid. Psalm 116:13-14

May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

As you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find You mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

“Let each do well what each knows best,
Nothing refuse and nothing shirk,
Since none is master of the rest,
But all are servants of the work –

“The work no master may subject
Save He to whom the whole is known,
Being Himself the Architect,
The Craftsman and the Cornerstone. -Dorothy Sayers, The Man Who Would Be King

So yesterday was rough.


And yet.

I am His servant.

He who knelt down and washed the dusty feet of those who would shortly betray Him, deny Him, flee from Him.

He who came down from heaven, not to do His will, but that of Him who sent Him.

May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give me today my daily bread.

Eucharisto before the miracle.

And may I see. Behold Your wonders. Be filled with awe.

And rejoice.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rumination—or mulling over worries—is the biggest predictor of depression and anxiety, according to a large-scale British study published in 2013.

Then, speaking to all, He said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross everyday and follow Me.’ Luke 9:23

Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your heart.

Gary quoted from Psychology Today during his Easter sermon. Because all of the children remain in the service on Easter Sunday, the pastor has made it a tradition to keep all of the kids, well, all of us, on task with a word search of his sermon words. Each of us hung onto every word, knowing that a bag of chocolate eggs was waiting for whoever circled the correct words.

And it was just a tiny jump in organizational logic from how the encounter with the risen Lord changed the followers’ despair to awe, overjoyful awe to the magazine he thumbed through as he prepared his sermon at Starbucks.

“Awe is the opposite of rumination,” says Leahy. “It clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity.” Whether it’s a sunset with colors more vivid than you’ve ever seen or a rapidly expanding sense of love felt when staring into another’s eyes, “being in awe is losing yourself in something or someone else. The anxious person’s sense that ‘it’s all about me; I must control my situation’ disappears.” 

The pièce de résistance was the final experiment, where subjects were taken to the tallest hardwood grove in North America. They were asked to look up at the eucalyptus trees, some exceeding 200 feet, for one minute. The control group set their sights on a plain, tall building for the same amount of time. Sure enough, the tree-gazers felt more awe and were happier precisely because of what they felt. They also acted more generously in a lab test and reported feeling less entitled than the building-gawkers. 

As Leahy sees it, though, cognitive behavioral therapy is about, yes, examining your thoughts, but also learning to take them less seriously, to look at how they might be inaccurate or silly or useless, to stop taking what happens around you so personally, to realize it’s not all about you. 

And we wound up by the shore of the lake, with Jesus roasting fish on the beach and his conversation about agape and phileo love with Peter, the friend who had denied Him. And years later Peter wrote about this awe-inspired love, a love not about me, but about the other, loving the most unlikely him or her because of resurrection awe, loving one another earnestly from a pure heart, with no hypocrisy.

And a couple of times last night, ruminations woke me up. And I had to squelch those heading-back- into-the-routines–of-life thoughts, my own worrisome, dark thoughts. Those thoughts that often have a misleading sense of “realness” or “correctness” according to Leahy. 

And last night Daniel sitting in front of all of his textbooks at the dining room table made us smile a little, as he talked about picking up our burdens once again. Although I am sure that he wasn’t quoting from Little Women: "Oh, dear, how hard it does seem to take up our packs and go on," sighed Meg the morning after the party, for now the holidays were over, the week of merrymaking did not fit her for going on easily with the task she never liked."

And every day I am to renounce Self and pick up my cross and follow Him. But let me remember the truth: it was for the joy set before Him that He picked up that cross. The crux is joy.

The billowing sunrises greeted me once again as I pulled myself out of the pool and headed into the everyday. Awe. It’s not about me.

May my heart not be hardened.

Spring jonquils pushing their hope up through snow frosted soil.

You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance; you refreshed the land when it was weary. Psalm 68:9

Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am; I know that the light of His presence With me doth continually dwell; Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps, And giveth me songs in the night. –Fanny Cosby

I am His inheritance.

And this time of Lenten reflection and repentance has been refreshing as it digs down deeply into the soil, loosening caliche-hard resentments and patterns. And thus I am soft enough to receive His grace. His gifts. In gratitude.

And of course the thing I remember from Sunday School is that even though Fanny Cosby was blind every single one of her songs speaks of seeing: His love is the theme of my song. I know I shall see in His beauty The King in whose law I delight.

And in His beauty I shall see The King.

And eucharisto always precedes the miracle.

And thus I turn to flip through Voskamp and there are the words I have internalized: When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?

A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.

Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.

It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us. – Anne Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

In the predawn darkness the earth shook. And the stone was rolled away, so that we, His disciples, might enter in, see, and believe. 

And Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

And in His beauty I shall see The King.
Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.


 And this was the chorus I sang this morning as I rode once again up Sentential Peak.