Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Sacred Space (on the fruits of our beliefs)

Sacred Space
Something to think and pray about this week

It was the Jews who taught us to observe the sabbath, though they kept it on what we call Saturday. The book of Genesis described God as resting on the seventh day. That story at the beginning of the Bible is not history but myth, a picturesque way of conveying a vital truth: that God existed before the world or time, and is the creator of all. The notion of working hard and creatively for six days and then resting on the seventh has entered deep into human history. The sabbath, whether we celebrate it on Saturday or Sunday (or on Friday as the Muslims do), is not just a day of rest. It is also the Lord's day, when we give time to God.
That seems like a simple and cheering idea. The father of monasticism, Saint Benedict, had a lovely phrase for it: vacare Deo; Finding space for God. It means changing the tempo of our lives, taking it easy, stopping after a week's work to see where we are going. For some people that means slowing down, if they have a demanding job on weekdays. For others, especially as we grow older, one day is much the same as another, and we do not need much slowing down.
stopping after a week's work to see where we are going

I don't actually remember reading that line yesterday, but it's the one that stuck out at me today. It reminded me of that idea that your thoughts become words, actions, habits. [*Googles*] That we are building who we are and what our world is, step by step, brick by brick, with everything that we do. And the reminder to stop, step back, reflect -- to think about where it is that we're going and whether that is where we truly want to go.
"Come to me all you who are burdened
and I will give you rest"
Here I am, Lord.
I come to seek your presence.
I long for your healing power.
Rest and Bread uses that verse in its Words of Assurance, so I have really positive associations with it.
Lord grant me the grace
to have freedom of the spirit.
Cleanse my heart and soul
so I may live joyously in your love
Not that it says any of this, but as I read it I thought about the grace to be generous with people, to let go of my crankiness and judgmentalism. And how at a purely selfish level, I would be happier if I could do that.
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground.
Can I see where the Lord has been present?
Yesterday was a much better day than I'd been having. I got a lot accomplished, and I wasn't freaking out about the stuff that didn't get done. I still worry about that my nonplussedness is just masked avoidance, but mostly I'm just rolling with it. I went into the day with better spirits than I had, and I was able to just roll with the weird stuff. I'm back in regular communication with L. and am glad to be able to do that. As I said of my January emotional detachment, I'm calling this "grace" because it's not something I made happen by my own force of will.
Mark 7, 1-13

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.' You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."

What are you saying to me, Lord?
I'm reminded of something I read in a blogpost recently: "Todd Littleton offers a great comment: We cannot say what we believe. We only do what we believe."

Blake Huggins continues: "Jonathan Brink has two excellent posts that address this very thing. Our true, and often hidden belief, it seems to me at least, lies [...] in our naked encounters with the other and our willingness to allow oursleves to be transformed by such a meeting. It is in that moment and through that event that our true belief, birthed through vulnerability and empathy and with complete disregard for dignified formulation, is laid bare for all to see."

I hadn't actually read the Jonathan Brink posts originally, so I went and read them now. (I recognize this is possibly not what I am supposed to be doing during this "meditation.")

In the first post, he quotes LeRon Shults: "[Jesus] was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness"

In the second post he says: "What if our statements of believe are neat little tricks we play on ourselves? [...] What if Jesus understood that our little belief statements can become just as much a hindrance as a help? What if he understood that we’re likely to bullshit ourselves. It’s what we do isn’t it? We’re broken, prone to lying and deceiving, even to ourselves. And what if Jesus understood that our lists can actually keep us locked in a perpetual state of arrested development. Because once we say we believe something, it becomes much harder to shift gears even when we don’t believe it. (Unless that’s the point of the lists.) [...] And it is so easy to say we believe. But Jesus even said, don’t look for the words. Look for the actions, the fruit of our lives as the true indicator. But we don’t like that do we. We like lists that look pretty on paper. We like lists that people can read and assume good things about us. And the best part is we don’t actually have to believe the list. We just have to say we do and it is generally accepted that we do."

I almost felt like crying reading parts of that.

After a little reflection, I thought of the positive power that statements of belief can have -- to remind us of what we profess and to call us ever onward toward living more fully into who God wants us to be -- but I do think that the caution is a good one. It's so easy to SAY we believe things, and so much harder to LIVE out the implications of those beliefs on a day-to-day level, and we sometimes get so wrapped up in what we and others say we/they believe rather than focusing on the actual tangible effects we/they are having in the world (and you know from my politics that I am all about the pragmatic effects rather than whether something matches one's preferred ideology).

The Need Inspiration? says:
Prayer is time given to God, and this is good in itself. But not the end of the story! Prayer-time introduces us to the side of ourselves which wants to honour God, and purifies us so that we honour him in the way we live as well as in the way we pray. We know whether prayer is fruitful or sincere by the way we live our lives.
We know whether prayer is fruitful or sincere by the way we live our lives.
Conversation requires talking and listening. As I talk to Jesus may I also learn to be still and listen. I picture the gentleness in his eyes and the smile full of love as he gazes on me. I can be totally honest with Jesus as I tell him of my worries and my cares. I will open up my heart to him as I tell him of my fears and my doubts. I will ask him to help me to place myself fully in his care, to abandon myself to him, knowing that he always wants what is best for me.
Yeah, moving back into a meditative frame of mind after all this engagement with ideas and thinking about action... not so much. I wasn't actively squicked by the visualization, though. I thought of what my mom had said and also tried to sort of relax and just kind of be restful again, without really focusing on the actual words on the screen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
And this time I started singing this in my head over and over without even really trying, finding the comfort I've had of singing it to myself on walks to and from the T.
Tags: devotional: sacred space

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