The video testimony from Elyse Cooke this weekend prompted me to ponder this question, “How does a 20 year, in today’s i-culture, already embody such a profound motivation toward giving?” She articulated a few of her guiding principles:
-Giving is not part of my life. It is my life.
-A giving person is what we are created to be.
-You make a living from what you get. You make a life from what you give!
Where does that come from?
I’ll have to ask her when she returns from her study abroad, but I would imagine she would say things like, “I watched people from my church give generously of their time, their wisdom, and their lives for others. I experienced giving in my family. I was invited to participate in giving of myself for others. I saw what it meant to others to have someone love them without condition.”
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes at least that to raise a generous, other-centered child in our culture. That’s why it was so heartening to me to hear Elyse articulate her driving motivation toward giving. She’s part of a family, a church with service surging through our veins. When experienced and expressed, another generation envisions their lives as created for others. “A giving person is what we are created to be.”
It’s Monday. Who are the people that taught you about giving? What did they teach you and how? How can you be that for someone else? Peace. Kai
Brother Lawrence sent my mind reeling when I read this from his book, Practicing the Presence of God: “It is a great delusion that the time of prayer ought to be different from other times.” He busted me! I know that I have separated out spiritual time from regular time, God events from ordinary events, and holy occasions from daily life. In the process I diminished the status of my ordinary, daily life as less than “God worthy.” At times, I have even convinced myself that to be in God’s presence I need to spiritually primp up to enter the “holy of holies”—God’s space.
What if, like Brother Lawrence, we entertained the possibility that God could be (in fact, is!) present in the normal rhythms of our day? What if we could offer a loving and living prayer to God not by bowing our heads, folding our hands, and moving off to an isolated space but by raising our eyes, extending our hands, and engaging the world as it is? When we encounter beauty or sources of wonder, we pause and say, “Thank you.” When we hear or sense that someone is in need we ask and are willing to take another step with them. When we fail, we seek forgiveness and begin again. When we encourage a friend or care for children or serve our community we recognize God’s presence in our efforts.
It’s Monday. Take up the Brother Lawrence challenge of living one day this week as fully aware of God’s presence as you can be. Start that day by praying, “God, let me see you at work, in my work.” Then notice, give thanks for, and treasure the fact that you are living in the presence of God. Peace. Kai
We used the long fall break weekend to make another college visit for our daughter. Could this be the one-the perfect combination of rigorous academics and interpersonal enjoyment, the school that will enliven now and prepare for an expansive future, the institution that will peak the mind’s curiosity and stimulate the soul’s veracity? If not this one, which one? How will we know? What if we make a bad decision? Is there a perfect decision?
I can easily get sucked in to the vortex of the perfect decision. In pursuit of the perfect decision, I can become paralyzed by indecision and ultimately fretful that all of human destiny (at least my daughter’s) depends on this one decision.
But when I step back, I know there are many good decisions ahead, each with their advantages and disadvantages, each with their blessing and curse. What is true of college searches is also true of life discernments we make along the journey. We, too, can become paralyzed thinking that God has a perfect destiny ahead of us if we only make the right decisions over and over again.
But, when we step back, we realize that there are many decisions ahead, each with advantages and disadvantages, each with their blessing and curse. So, we think. Pray. Talk. Reflect, and then…..act! Act with the confidence that, either way, there will be another day. Recently, I was reminded of this quote by Saint Teresa of Avila, “The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too!”
It’s Monday. Do you have an important decision ahead? Think. Pray. Talk. Reflect…..and then act! Remember that God is on the journey, too. Peace. Kai
Poet Wendell Berry is, at times, a piercing critic of today’s culture and the ways we have been sucked into the vortex of distraction and superficial longing, and drawn away from the deeper murmurings of our heart for authentic relationship, redeeming struggle, and abiding hope. At the end of one of his poems he strikes of chord of hope, arising from dischordant society. He concludes, “Its hardship is its possibility.”
Its hardship is its possiblity. Berry knows what we know, but often want to deny, that suffering is present. In a society averse to pain, we seek to distract ourselves, deny what’s really going on, or turn away from apparent suffering. But, can the way to hope and possibilty be through entering into the struggle rather than avoiding and wishing it away? Can we say to one another that even though suffering is present, love is more real?
This week I invited the community to enter into someone else’s struggle, to be a sign of possibility in their hardship. I’m convinced that the vitality of Jesus’ followers will be in direct proportion to our capacity to enter into and become Jesus’ present hope to a struggling world.
It’s Monday. If you know someone who is struggling, take a relationship risk. Ask them how they are doing with full intention of following up in whatever way you can. Peace. Kai