The real work of prayer

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Books, Words

‘I realise that, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline. I am so afraid of being cursed, of hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing… that demands real effort.’

-Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

On Not Shirking Responsibility

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Social Justice, Words

Sitting down with leaders such as Saddam – or Bashir of Sudan or Gadhafi of Libya – is a responsibility you cannot shirk given what you’re trying to achieve. You need to deal with those who can make a real difference, those who can stop the bloodshed. You have to talk to the leaders, and get them to find a way to end the killing. Otherwise, how do you accomplish it?

[Kofi Annan – Interventions]

Discontinuity and Contradiction

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Design, Faith, Words

“Art is about discontinuity and contradiction, which is how grace is experienced in the world, as an alien intrusion into a world that deceives us into believing that we are defined by what we do, not by what Christ has done. And so we are compelled to prove ourselves, to make something that justifies our existence. But art is not just doing and making, it is also receiving, and hearing. It is not just an achievement; it is a gift. It is devoting one’s life to something so futile, inefficient, and in many ways useless, that it becomes a means of grace. Cities, with their concentration of doers and achievers, full of those obsessed with going from good to great, can pose challenges to cultivating a passivity that is absolutely necessary for art.”

[Mako Fujimura, in Christianity Today]

How Will We Wait

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Words

How do we get to the morning, to the sunshine, to the joy?

There is only one way.

By waiting for it. We can’t hurry the dawn, no matter how many anxiously we pace the floor or how impatiently we watch the clock. And so the question is not do we wait or not wait, because waiting is all we can do. The question is, How will we wait? Will we wait well… or will we wait poorly?

[Ken Gire, The North Face of God]

Art & Imagination

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Words

“The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.”

[Dr Timothy Keller]

Telling Ghosts To Go

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We all live with ghosts, and today is a day mine make their presence known more than others.

I wanted to write something about the ghosts we live with, and then Jamie went and said the things I wanted to, only much better… so read his words below instead…

What does it mean when something is haunted? What exactly is a ghost?

Is it when something from the past refuses to leave? Is it when something dies but doesn’t go?

It’s easy to talk about haunted places. A haunted house. A haunted building. We smile at those stories. We get excited. There is no stigma, no shame. But what about haunted people? Isn’t it true that, as people, our lives can become haunted things as well? The past can haunt the present. The past can steal the future.

Isn’t that what most of this is about? Something painful in our past? Something breaks or something dies and in living with the pain, we begin to live with ghosts. And by our choices, we either ask the ghosts to leave or we help them make a home.

If we can talk about haunted buildings, then we should be able to talk about haunted people. We should be able to put a hand up and say, “I’m not doing well” or “I need some help” or “Can we talk?”

Maybe we begin to ask the ghosts to leave when we begin to ask some other folks to join us in our haunted places. In the broken parts of stories. Our messes and our questions. To meet us, to know us, to help, to care, to listen.

Maybe we begin to help our friends become unhaunted when we let them know we’re not afraid of their pain. When we ask to really know them. When we ask to see inside. When we do our part to go beyond the distance and the smile, deeper to “who are you?” and “how are you?” and “are you okay?”

i have been a haunted house. i have had things die but stay and i didn’t know how to make them leave. And there were certainly times i didn’t want them to leave because they were beautiful. They were no longer real but they were beautiful. They were bridges to brighter days. i thought they were my dreams.

But reality is the best place to live. Reality is where healing happens. In the honest light and by the voices of our friends.

We all have our past. We all have our pain. We will all know ghosts from time to time. But if our life is like a building, then we should open our doors to let some people see inside. And into our darkest places – into those rooms that hold our fears and dreams – we will begin to walk together. Friends with hope like candles, telling ghosts to go.

So may we open the doors, shine light into dark places, and tell the ghosts to go…

A Heart of Tenderness

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“An additional effect of understanding God as the heart of tenderness is reconciliation. Seen from a biblical perspective, reconciliation isn’t primarily making up with another person; it’s making peace within ourselves in that dimension of our lives where we’ve previously been unable to find peace. Reconciliation is the inner healing of our hearts by the tenderness of Jesus.”

[Brennan Manning]