Breathing Exercises

Refuge and Prospect

Posts Tagged ‘blessings

Open Water

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About two months have passed since our small group of adventurers began to meet to discover what God might do with a community in this time and place. I’ve described the feeling as like being on a ship that’s just left the harbor for the open sea … and most of us have been on land for a while … and we aren’t used to working on a ship together, let alone this ship … and it’s … choppy. So I’ve been feeling a little woozy. I’ll own that: I might be the only one. In fact, I know that I in particular have had reason to feel a bit off-balance.

A couple of weeks ago, I told my ship-mates that I was feeling a little at odds, sort of in limbo, like I’ve had one foot each in two worlds. Here’s what I began to understand. When I committed to this journey, I had a pretty strong conviction that I wanted to share leadership, to trust the community to discern direction together, to hear from God together, and to move together. But as we started out, I had some items on my agenda, if you know what I mean, and so I asked for permission to lead the first bunch of meetings. We were going to meet every other week for a season, and, even though I knew I wanted to share the planning, we easily settled into a kind of rhythm, one that anyone who’s ever been in a church group would recognize. I was planning and running the meetings. I was becoming the executive-pastor-leader-administrator-visionary etc. etc. You get the picture.

But here’s the thing: I think that might have been fine, if that’s what I’d set out to do, or if that was the thing that I had felt God nudging me towards. But it wasn’t. And so there I was, doing what I’d seen modeled, doing what I had learned, doing what is pretty normal in churches (and might be really fine and good if that’s what God and the community have chosen), but I felt no blessing. Another word for the thing I wasn’t feeling is anointing. Both these words are used in churches to describe that thing that comes from God when we are in the sweet-spot, oriented, aligned, in-sync, flowing and grooving. I wasn’t so much feeling any of these things.

I also have a feeling that it had become hard to hold on to other convictions because I was outside of that sweet spot. Thankfully, when I raised the issue during one of our gatherings, others were not so clouded and were able to speak clearly from their perspective, bringing certain commitments back into focus. The good conversation that followed led to a course correction that I am very thankful for, and that I think will save us from going way off the path later.

We’ve decided to meet every week now, alternating our weekly content between talking (about what we want, and what we are doing, and will do) and practicing (the life rhythms and liturgies that help us grow in strength and knowledge). I don’t have to bear the weight of every decision, and I don’t have to take time away from our liturgical practices. And I get to take my place as one member of the crew again: yes, one who holds a shepherding role, but who nevertheless doesn’t have to do everything himself to keep the ship moving. Ahh.

So there’s this big sea out in front of us. What direction will we sail? How will we handle the big waves when they come? How long until we get to feel like we know what we’re doing … and will that be the day we get humbled by some great white whale? I’m actually excited by all these questions, and happy to be on this ship, at the edge of this sea, with these people.


Written by dmaddalena

2011/04/20 at 4:51 pm

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Into The High Holy Place

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[I’ve put out the invitation for friends to write or otherwise create a blessing at the birth of this new community. I may not publish all of these as they arrive, but this is the first, sent by our friend Eric Mathis.]

Into The High Holy Place

Into the high holy place
with teeth glimmering
broad smiles side by side
hair blown back
rocketing into a bright unknown
warm fuzzy feeling moving slowly from your neck down to your toes
seeds in your pockets
from where you’ve been
taking what you know
through the air
finding your best superman
speeding bullet pose
without posing
this is real
your body needs to assume
this position
you must become
physics on your body
immutable laws that change
your position to the earth
your orientation to all that exists
you are learning to fly

And Eric writes,

This is about dynamic change. It is about superhero lifestyles, assuming you will fly to the rescue, you will heal, you will drive out demons, you will stop coming calamities, you will sing songs of hope and inspiration that will give the the bent reed strength to straighten up, live, grow, blossom and thank you in song many years later as it seeds and spreads its young far and wide in a green place made greener by your tender music all those years earlier when you stooped down to sing a song, barely audible to anyone else, but the bended reed who was not neglected and now thanks you. I bless your community of Christians!

Written by dmaddalena

2011/02/16 at 2:07 pm

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The Soil Knows How The Flower Grows

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Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself …”. (Mark chapter 4)

Something about the growth of the divine community is a mystery. It’s like this: a seed, dead and buried in the dirt, yields a flower. The farmer doesn’t know how that happens (doesn’t need to know), but the soil knows.

The kingdom is like that. A mother doesn’t know how the child grows in her (nor does she need to know), but she’s made for it nonetheless. The soil knows how the flower grows.

The community of God, the kingdom, the place where God’s grace is active, grows in strength and effectiveness in this way. We get up early, throw seed, pull weeds, go to sleep tired … and in the end we trust the soil to know.

The church is growing.

woodcut by Spyros Vassiliou, c. 1945

Written by dmaddalena

2011/02/15 at 1:20 pm