I woke to a long day with no plans. A rare and precious gift. One I am very blessed to have in a world of activity and toil.

As I continue to focus my life on soaking in the presence of God I decided to simply let the flow of the day carry me where it would, which I assumed would be to my backyard with my Bible and laptop, my phone turned to silent so I can more easily ignore it. That seemed like a good plan for settling into a nice contemplative mood.

After my ritual morning coffee with Matt and Meredith I tried to sit longer and just enjoy the nothing-to-do-ness. After about 2 minutes I found myself stressing over not wanting to sit there. That seemed counterproductive, so I picked up some of the clutter around the house and tried to sit again. No dice.

By 8:30 I had donned by running shoes and headed out for an easy workout thinking maybe that would burn off some of the extra energy inhibiting my plans for soaking today. But at 10:30AM I have yet to make it to my backyard. Instead I am sitting on my front porch where I can enjoy neighbors walking by (or at least wave at the trash collectors as they pass). The only thing I’m contemplating is a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for some storage for my sweaters I replaced with summer-wear in my closet yesterday.

All of this reminded me of something I wrote 2 years ago. So, in recognition of the multiple ways I have learned for soaking in God’s presence, I present a portion of that post below. Meanwhile, I’m off to be among people!

 

I am not a mystic. I have no monkish leanings.

I am all for the silent, isolated, cloistered experiences that we all need at times in order to revel in the presence of God. What I am dissatisfied with is that, according to much of what I am reading, a monastic lifestyle is THE way to spiritual formation. I simply cannot imagine spending significant time cut off from the world around me as I try to forget everything but the existence of God.

I know, love, and respect a significant number of people who are more mystically gifted, so to speak. I admire their ability to sit in silence for a long time and simply be. Consequently, for a long time I thought the problem was me. I must be too socially focused and need to break myself of this. My desire for external stimulation in the learning process was a weakness I should overcome. And so on.

Certainly there are times when it is necessary for me to move towards God in ways not a part of my natural mode of relating to the world around me. But I am beginning to believe that maybe there is more than one path to the kind of closeness to God that I see contemplation bringing for many of my friends.So I lay myself open to God hoping He will show me how to revel more and more in Him without having to deny the way He created me to be.

 

Spring break is here!!! And it’s half over….

Despite my efforts to plan a week of nothin’-much, I am half-way through a week that keeps filling itself up with extraordinary but urgent things.

Not being a glass-half-empty kind of girl, I’ve laid out a plan for today that will involve significant nothing time. I have my favorite camping chair (it’s a full-length lounge chair that reclines and has a foot rest that raises up!), my Bible and current book, and 7 kids who want to go to the park down the street. In short order we will be heading out, balls and yard darts in hand, to run and jump and scream and play…and soak in the newly returning sun and in the ever-present Son.

It’s odd, sometimes, the places we must look to find space for soaking in God’s presence. At a park amidst 7 kids (five of whom are not my own, two of whom are mine and will be compensated in kind for coming and playing with all the little ones whose own parents are taking a much-needed break of their own today) may not sound like an ideal setting for a good soak, but God does indeed present himself in rather unusual places.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12

Where do you find God’s gentle whispering?

 

 

 

Several weeks ago I came across the idea of “Soaking” in the presence of the God. Soaking struck a chord with me. I’m not much of a sit still person. I don’t quiet and listen well. I’m a thinker, speaker, writer, dreamer…

But I get soaking. I understand the peace of a long soak in the hot tub. I love the feeling of soaking up the sun. Soaking in the presence of God speaks to my soul.

The Hebrews author tells us to rest in the kingdom we are receiving. John tells us to stand in the light of fellowship in Christ. We are called into the presence of the Almighty simply to be there…and to be there together as well as alone.

For the next few weeks I will focus on soaking in the presence of God, beginning with memorizing Psalm 134.

Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD,
Who serve by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the sanctuary
And bless the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth.

I invite you to join me as I take a good long soak in the presence of God. Feel free to share your reactions and/or ideas by posting comments.

Over the past several years I have had the joy of teaching the book of Hebrews in a number of formats: retreats, adult classes, and most recently the 8th grade class where I worship. I love the book of Hebrews and I love 8th graders. Putting the two together made for a most amazing time.

8th graders are ready to dig deeper spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally; they are sophisticated enough to appreciate dry humor; and they have not reached the age at which being cool is the entire reason for being.

So as I wended my way through Hebrews with these freshly blooming souls, I appreciated the rich and powerful lessons it carries for those young in faith:

Do not turn back…

Pay attention to what you have heard…

Leave behind the easy stuff and move on to maturity…

Listen to your leaders…

Imitate their faith…

I am not one to offer up a list of tips and techniques to follow to a given end. Tips and techniques may get you started on the road to change, but they rarely get you where you really want to be, which in the case of believers is not conformed but transformed. And yet, the advice Hebrews presents for staying focused on Jesus, while rather tip-ish and technique-y on the surface, when understood in the fuller context of the letter is pretty solid advice for maintaining faith in this world.

And so as I brought our class to an end, I exhorted my young students to listen to God through His letter to the Hebrews as they launch into the work of bringing together the threads of all the Bible stories they knew and weaving them in their community of faith and in communion with God into a rich and vibrant tapestry of faith.