Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes we change more than we think...and other ramblings!

As I have been re-reading Peck lately, I find that there are many (and I'm talking MANY) nuances to how I think that just weren't there when I first read these books 20+ years ago.  I am certain this is true because I am not the person I was then.  I have changed.  I have grown.  I have suffered great pain and loss.  I have had three sons.  I have been ordained, entered the pastorate, and left the institutionalized "church" experience.

Yeah, I'm in a completely different place than I was back in the 80s.  It is good to look again at those works that were important transition books in periods of intense growth ... especially when entering that process again!

Which takes me back to a comment I made on the Facebook group "Into the Wardrobe" concerning C.S. Lewis ... someone was wishing that he had written the "Left Behind" series ... which went lots of interesting places full of interesting assumptions all around.  Anyway, someone brought up the fact that Lewis was not a theologian.  And there is where I jumped into the fray:
Interesting thread ... it is an important note that Lewis was NOT a theologian and that he was using his incredible logic and literary depth to help clarify the common ground of all who name Christ as Lord. After he married Joy -- and especially after he wrote A Grief Observed -- i think a number of things that were once logical to a confirmed batchelor may have changed. I am sorry that we do not have more writing from his last days -- but grateful for what we have :-)

I read Lewis' Mere Christianity when I was 19 years old.  It was the most serious reading/thinking I had ever had to do ... and I read it again 20 years later ... when I was in a totally different frame of mind.  Some of the things I agreed with at 19 were not going down as well when I was 39....  I think that if Lewis has gone back and done a revisit to his Mere Christianity after his amazing experiences with Joy, there were many things he would have seen from a very different perspective.  A Grief Observed is really the only window we have into that perspective.

So ... back to Peck ... which I read for the first time when I was in my 30s ... and am now reading again in my 50s!  There were so many important concepts I learned from him that have been helpful over the years.  I am finding, again, that there is a difference when we are learning something because we think we need to learn it -- and understanding exactly why we need to know something. 

I first experienced that when I returned to college for my sophomore year, um, 17 years after my freshman year.  Yeah ... interesting story, that one.  Anyway, I was taking all the normal college classes, living in the dorms with the 18-21 year old students ... but I was now 35.  I understood why I was learning what was being taught because I had been out there working and living and had ready application for all of it.  This is why, of course, professors often love their adult students.... ;^)

I am, however, a little overwhelmed with reading Peck because there is so much that I truly wish I had understood 35 years ago.  Things that are foundational to life, but didn't turn up on my radar when I was growing up in the 70s.

And so, just as this abbess started out describing "reverse mentoring" in her chapter in Voices of the Virtual World, it seems she is there again ... perpetually learning what NOT to do or say or think or be based on trying not to follow poor examples, rather that having been mentored well.  What a sad commentary....

There is nothing more important than being a positive mentor in the life of another.  It is never too late ... but it is a lot harder to do later (although there is much more experiential "mulch" out of which beautiful things may grow!).

Well, this was quite a ramble, eh? 

Be blessed wherever you are in your journey.  May you see those Father is bringing to breathe love and freedom and fullness into your life ... and be present in the lives Father brings across your path, as well.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Abi's Fourth Blogiversary

Four years ago, this wee purple abbess began sharing her story in this blog.  It has been an important thing to do ... and I believe I will continue to do it.  The changes that have transpired in my life over these past four years are, well, mind-blowing.  Many changes have made their way into posts ... much more has not.  The Mystery is profound ... and sometimes the only proper response is silence and contemplation.

Many things that I thought I would write about have not yet come to pass.  But I believe that, in Father's good time, they will.

I am reading more than I expected -- but not what I expected.  I am doing personal journaling more consistently in these past four years than ever before ... words of joy and pain, life and death, clarity and confusion, peace and turmoil, order and chaos ... that are only between my Father and me.  Change is difficult.  Transformation is an intentional dying so that the new life is free from the old forms.

To quote Peck:  "Life is difficult."

Why do I sometimes still grieve for those old, dying forms?  I guess because I had grown accustomed to them and they were comfortable and predictable.  Because sometimes I am lazy ... and unwilling to do the work necessary to extend myself for the other.  My cHesed glasses need cleaning.  I need to continue to trust Father, even (especially?) when it is dark.

For those of you who have journeyed with me during this time, thank you.  Your companionship has been more important than you can possibly imagine.  I am grateful for the light you have shed on my path ... and glad if I have been able to shed any light (probably in shades of purple) on yours.

May you be blessed according to your need as you follow according to your readiness.  Father is both able to supply all your needs and lead you safely and effectively wherever you are on the journey....


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Abi and "The Church"

Well, as seems to be consistently the case, I know it is time to read something when I actually am able to read it.  That happened this week as I finally read So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore, by Jake Colesen.

Friends of Abi will remember that I have been processing the impact of a weekend Wayne Jacobsen spent with our Short Yellow Bus missional group over two years ago.  As a result of that event, I first read Wayne's He Loves Me, which was a good reinforcement for what I heard in person.  I have since read it maybe three times.  It takes a very long time to make new maps of territory you have lived with for your whole life....

It took be a little longer to read his Authentic Relationships, because I had spent so much energy on authentic EVERYTHING over the past 12 years. But I found there were ideas that had changed in subtle ways, along with so many other things this Virtual Abbess has pondered the past four years.

Before I went on my "stimulus fast" for my tired brain, I was listening to Wayne's Transitions podcasts.  More reinforcement for what I had read and heard.

So why did it take so long to get around to reading the Jake Colesen story?  I am trusting Father, as I strive to live more in Kairos time, that it was finally the right time.

It certainly was.

Jake story covers about four years ... hmmm, it will be four years since I started blogging next week.  It is a story that speaks to so much of my story, it is quite uncanny.  But the best part -- and the reason I think it was finally time -- was realizing that I am finally moving into that reconstruction stage.  Where living loved is getting closer to life than thought.  Where living free is on the rise ... and living full is on the horizon, over the next hill.

  • Jake moved from one career to his dream of paid pastoral ministry -- only to find that there are lots of things that are just not right in the way the church-as-institution plays out.  My move from organizational management -- and my long-time sense that church-as-business was not always very holy -- brought up some interesting, um, challenges as my dream of pastoral ministry came true.  I handled some better than others...and, with Dickens, I would realize that -- "It was the best of times; it was the worse of times."
  • Jake tried to incorporate some of the new things he was learning ... with some fairly disastrous results.  Can you can "misunderstood assumptions"?
  • Jake was devastated by the poor way "crises" were handled by the leadership ... and lived many years with lots of people have a totally wrong ideas of why he left -- and why he wasn't even going to church somewhere else.
  • It seemed to get worse before it got better ... with lots of "huh" times, trying to figure out what Father was up to.
  • It usually comes down to people not knowing what Jesus is really like.  They've heard lots about him, but it wasn't translating into a dynamic, living, relationship.  The culture of institution falls far short of the experience of journeying with Jesus -- and those who cross your path.
In the end it came down to realizing that the Church -- the Bride of Christ -- is a reality to be lived rather than a place to go with programs to implement and expectations and responsibilities met.

* * * * * * *

Freedom ... lots of talk about it these days.  So I was interested to run across a pamphlet (sorting and consolidating books) I've had for some 30 years, by my ministry mentor.  And his thoughts about freedom (that it is so often sacrificed for security -- not just in society, but in the Church) took me to some other thoughts I had been sharing here and at Jesus Creed about M. Scott Peck's ideas about laziness....

I have been wondering if it is time to read that section of The Road Less Traveled again.  I think it might be. Then I will have more to say....

In the meantime I am learning to lean into Father's love for me ... to embrace the challenge to live free from condemnation and false security ... so that I may live full -- of life in the Spirit.  As I experience life in the Church, I am content to let Father take care of the on which journey others are traveling.  Father knows where each of us are and meets us there.  Whew ... I don't have to be the church police any more!

Be blessed on your journey.