Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thoughts on One Year of Blogging....

Well, friends--what an interesting journey this past year has been! Amazing.... Thanks to all of you who have been my companions from the start -- and welcome to those of you who have joined along the way.

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After my warm-up post on Friday, we spent the day on Saturday with our missional tribe here doing a prayer summit. I find that I am still unable to fully process exactly what transpired, but I want to share just a few here, on this anniversary of my return from the Missional Order/Seabeck experience.

One of the many things I experienced for the first time at Seabeck was The Daily Office. I have since read Scot McKnight's excellent book, Praying with the Church, as well as other books that have been helpful in filling in some of the historical blanks for me concerning this ancient, yet still powerful, practice. We used the Northumbria community as our primary example (please do check out their link in my sidebar!), and I am still impressed with the way they have set up their "virtual office" ... ever so appropriate for this virtual abbess! ;^)

One of the things we pondered at Seabeck was the core values of the Rule of Life at Northumbria: availablility and vulnerability. For a long time I have been at a loss to come up with anything more powerful or fundamental than these two values. To be fully available to the other and to be fully vulnerable with the other are acts of extreme faith....

But a couple of things dropped into place yesterday ... let me just tell you about them.

We went out for 30 minutes of silence to ponder Psalm 131 and the picture of the satisfied child sitting on the mother's lap -- what does that speak to us, this picture of a child snuggled up with mom? What does it speak to you?

Anyway ... I began to think, as the others talked, about the power of perception. The word always takes me back to Bishop Berkeley's "to be is to be perceived ... and the Ultimate Perceiver is God."

The foundational issue is right perception -- perceiving as God perceives. How do we do this?

To be still ... to sit on God's maternal lap, satiated from the nutrition received and the thirst quenched; to be rocked on Papa's lap and listen to words of love and encouragement; to feel the firm but gentle pats that ensure all the bubbles escape; to gaze adoringly into Papa's eyes, drinking in the unconditional love ... and then, after sufficient rest, to hear Papa's voice tell us it's time to get down and get busy learning and playing -- with one more big hug and a kiss on the cheek, to slide off that warm lap and skamper off....

This is the beginning of right perception ... to experience the unconditional love of Papa. To be filled up to the top and empowered to get going with a hug and a kiss is to know who you are.

To be is to be perceived aright ... because it is God's perception that holds all things together, not ours.

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And so we turned to the Rhythm of Life, which is what many call The Daily Office. While so many think this Rhythm is a repetitive "rule" to be "enforced" ... what if it is a "gift" to be "received" -- individually as well as collectively?

What if this Rhythm of Life is to Papa's spiritual children what mother's milk is to a child? (This insight is yet another of the benefits of nursing my children for 2-3 years!) When the children are small, they nurse frequently--their little tummies just can't hold that much--and sleep most of the time. As they grow, they can stretch out the time between feedings and begin to explore the world beyond "mommy and me". But they keep coming back every few hours ... to climb up on mommy's lap to be fed and held and loved and "perceived" aright.

It makes perfect sense to me that we would have a need for regular quiet time, to be refresh and perceived intimately by the one who loves us the most. To hear of that love ... and speak of our love, as well. To have our fears calmed and our path made straight for the next leg of the journey. And to be set down to go out and play.


Does Kingdom Life ever seem like play to you? Maybe you need to get a little more of God's sweet milk of love to go along with the meat, eh?

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Today's thoughts will then close with the two words that are beginning to compete (for me) with availability and vulnerability: expectancy and responsiveness. Let me explain a bit....

Back in The Shack, Papa was explaining that we have taken the living joy of expectancy and, killing it, turned it into expectations ... life-sucking legalism ... robbing relationships of anticipation and replacing them with disappointment. We have also taken the power and privilege of responding to the wonders of expectancy -- when Papa breaks into our lives like sun through the clouds -- by turning it into the bone-crushing burden of responsibility. Sigh....

These two words -- expectancy and responsiveness -- pair up with two other words I've talked about before: kairos and chronos.

Kairos being the kind of time that is, well, timely. It is God's time because it is eternal time that is perceived. It is the place of expectancy -- looking for God to surprise us ... and still being surprised! It is God writing stuff in our calendars....

Chronos is the seconds and minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years in which we life out this mortal life. It is made up of all the responses we have made to God's appointments, as well as the responses we have made to all the other things that compete for our time. It is also full of reactions (as opposed to responses) we have made. :^(

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All this rambling comes down to this: perhaps, just perhaps, The Daily Office is the gift of expectancy ... of crawling up on Papa's familiar lap to rest, be refreshed, have our perceptions refocused and our wounds bound up, and then sent back out to play with renewed strength to respond with love to those in our sandbox.

It isn't wildly fresh, spontaneous and new content (rather, it is ancient and cyclically repetitive) ... just the simple meeting of needs in the intimate embrace of the one who loves us the most. The shalom of sabbath rather than the pressure to perform.

Of course, there is more than this to the story ... but this is a start! And it is a very important part of the mystery that is the Purple Martyrdom ... best perceived through cHesed glasses, of course.

Here's to the next leg of the journey!


Brad said...

truly, Virtual Abbess, whatta year this has been! my bloggiversary is next Sunday. looking forward to interesting opportunities unfolding between now and then ...

anyway, if availability and vulnerability have more to do with relational and emotional stances, perhaps expectancy and responsiveness complement them with imaginational and volitional stances. add a dash of perception with consideration/discernment for mental stance, and you've got the five-fold immaterial approach: mind, imagination, emotions, soul, and will. interesting. don't wanna overdo, but then, i often underdo, so a bit over the top at times maybe what keeps the balance flowing. i don't know what that last sentence meant, but it's late and time for sleep, so that must be confirmation.

anyhoo, best wishes on year #2 of considering all things purple, and thanks for being such a wonderful peer in pursuing Christlikeness and the Kingdom, and the Spirit's leading and Papa's love.

rock on, on the Rock!

AbiSomeone said...

Great comment, brad. It has me thinking some more along that train. Stay tuned ... there's more to come!

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Janet Woodlock said...

Beautiful post Peggy.... I love the maternal image... and I certainly need to do a whole lot more snuggling into God's loving arms. Thank you for sharing... and happy anniversary!

grace said...

Happy blogiversary!
Thank you for this post. It has settled in with me for the last few days since I first read it.

And stealing Brad's words...
you are a wonderful journeymate "in pursuing Christlikeness and the Kingdom, and the Spirit's leading and Papa's love."

AbiSomeone said...

Thanks, Janet and Grace, for your encouragement and company on this journey!

I'm looking for some time to continue this line of thinking, but it's a little too wild around my house for that.

...but I will get there because this connection I'm processing (with Brad's refocus) is really important.

Blessings, all!