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Posts tagged ‘waiting’

Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

Albert Einstein said, “You can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Isn’t that the essence of celebration?

 

If we are attentive, in upbeat places of the heart, we can see the miracle of what God is up to in the moment at hand. We can see the miracle in the mundane, in the messiness, there in the mix of the ups and downs that each day brings. Yet, isn’t it true that when we think of miracles, we expect an accompaniment of fireworks and trumpets?

 

The reality is there are a thousand simple, quiet miracles each day, which we easily miss if we aren’t watching for them: small noticing of big miracles, big noticings of small miracles.  The way my body moves. Dew on the grass. The hilarious, encouraging phone call. The jaunty serenade of laughter. Magenta sunsets.

 

Celebration is a way of enjoying the everyday miracles alongside the over-the-top ones. It’s another way of thinking about the status of the proverbial glass: Is it half full or half empty? If that glass is half full, then that’s cause for celebration. Conversely, we often think that if it’s half empty, that’s legitimate cause to be rather Eeyore-ish.

 

However, in living among the spiritual disciplines, we learn a spiritual discipline requires, hmm, discipline. In his classic book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster states that the disciplines of the spiritual life invite us to move from the surface of life to its interior depths. Movement involves change, doesn’t it?

 

In one sense, celebration doesn’t seem like it really needs to be a discipline. Celebration appears as if it would always be easy, that is, until it’s not.

 

On difficult days it’s hard to find anything that seems celebration-worthy. A disaster occurs. Sometimes these things are huge like getting fired or the terminally bad news the doctor declares. It’s the investment that goes belly up and the relationship that falls flat on its face.

 

 

At other times, the hardness isn’t one giant avalanche. It’s a continually smattering of snowballs hard as ice that pelt time after time all through the day ‘til you’re battered and bruised. It’s the car battery going dead then the water heater flooding the basement then pounding your thumb instead of the nail. It’s the check that doesn’t come. The neighbor who knocks over our trashcan and leaves the scene of the mess. It’s the daily waiting for what should have been that still isn’t quite yet.

 

It’s on days when hardness seeks to harden our hearts that entering into celebration as a spiritual discipline can form us into fluid and flexible and festive people. With the spade of spiritual disciplines, we dig diligently and determinedly deep, to practice what we don’t feel like practicing. We savor the mystery and wonder of God even among the misfortunes that pummel our days.

 

Celebration happens in two ways. The easy way as we rejoice and delight because of what’s happening: a raise, a sunrise, a flower still blooming after the first snow. The disciplined way of celebration occurs as we rejoice and delight in spite of what’s happening. It’s finding the sparkle in the darkness: a simple pleasure among a plethora of pains.

 

Whichever way we come at it, celebration moves our hearts from the things on the surface to the deeper heart of Jesus.

 

How’s your celebration quota? What miracle, small or large, will you celebrate today?

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

© 2013. All rights reserved.

The Shape of New Beginnings

 

I’ve been asking God how He wants to shape me for this new year. Not a resolution. Not a goal. But a clarifying of who I am to be, how I am to become. I’ve been listening for His response, waiting to hear.

As Advent turned to Christmas, as December moved towards January, I’ve journaled, imagined, even read some of those end-of-the-year evaluative thought-provoking questions. I’d imagined it would be a hint of what’s in store for the year ahead, my part in His story. I really wanted to know before the year changed from old to new.

Did it have to do with this good and glorious calling as a wife? A mother? A grandmother? A friend? Did it have to do with expanding my role as an author? Speaker? A Spiritual Director?  Is there something new I’m being called towards?

Seeking His shaping for me, the silence continued. Even on the last day of the year, the silence was unbroken.

Finally, on the last day before one year became the next, His shape for me became quite clear.

Emerging from the library, a lanky father held open the door for his gangly daughter. She glanced up at him. I was too far away to hear their words.

He grinned. She leaned in. He tousled her hair. She hugged him tightly as she smiled. They clearly exchanged tender, humorous words.

Again he spoke, an invitation, so it seemed, for she nodded. They took off running across the sidewalk.

Their gallop of joy, him setting the pace, her keeping up at times, then lagging behind, or playfully darting ahead, had all the antics of two schoolchildren delighting in a frivolous moment together.

Continually, the father’s eyes are upon the daughter. The majority of the time her eyes track his, boldly confident in this love relationship. They race onward, his overcoat flapping, her scarf like a kite trailing up into the sky, their cheeks rosy in the brisk mountain air.

His strides, long and sure, could easily outpace her younger, shorter ones. He sprints, challenging her to stretch forward. She rises to the challenge. The, she lags behind, distracted, discouraged, a bit undisciplined and lazy.

It doesn’t stop him. He’s still running forward full force, yet always cheering her on as he looks back over his shoulder, waving her towards him. She surges towards him. He ambles alongside her.  She drops to a walk. He stops and waits, jogging in place. She laughs then springs forward in quick pursuit, hugging him when she’s near.

A good father offers invitations. A good daughter trustingly accepts, most of the time.

So clearly, this father loved his daughter. So clearly, this daughter loved her father.

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged. He gives. She receives. She gives. He receives.

There it was: the shape of what my good heavenly Father, my Abba, wants for me in the year ahead. No resolution. No goal. No new calling. No expansion of present callings.

 

Just a clarifying:

He wants me to enjoy being His daughter. He wants me to enjoy Him being my Father.

 

He wants me to be shaped by this knowing beyond knowing that I am tenderly and tenacious:

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged.

 

He invites me onward. I lean into Him.

He gazes lovingly, challenging me to go and be likewise.

 

Adored, I adore.

Beloved, I love.

Cherished, I cherish.

Delighted over, I delight.

Encouraged, I encourage.

 

So that’s the shape God wants for me:  a daughter who is ever leaning in, feeling my Father’s tender adoration, following Him into the gallop of joy, into the challenge of a little more than I think I can handle. He’s not going anywhere without me. Why would I go anywhere without Him?

I’m accepting His invitation to be shaped by this wildly vast love. He’s quite something marvelous, this Tender and Tenacious heavenly Father of mine.

 

How about you? How does God want to shape you as this year unfolds?

 

Lane Arnold

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impatience, Stalled Out

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy-work.

Psalm 19

Snow

So soft

So slight

So slow

I must be quite

Intentional

To notice

Its stealth

Accumulation

Upon the fence-rail’s top.

Snow, even slower now

To accumulate,

Shows me again

That slow

doesn’t

mean

no

movement.

To notice the snow,

I must stay still

And fully focused on

One thing

To see

Change occur.

Ah, Lord,

At this slow waiting season of

My life,

Where movement

Seems infinitesimal,

Let me

Still my focus fully

To see You,

The One who changes all things

In the slow of waiting

While

You remain changeless.