Creatives often speak of the “on/off” pulse of creativity. There are times to press in to your creative task with full energy and determination but there also comes a time when you have to back off. Exerting more energy, grinding it out one more hour can, at times, have little to no positive effect on the creative process. In fact, it can produce the opposite because you miss out on the restorative benefit of rest and sleep. So, artists press in and then back off, creating space for the spirit, the muse, to enter.
Well, I pressed in this weekend, leading a retreat for a community in LaGrange, Georgia and then preaching for their Sunday worship. It was exhilarating and exhausting. Now, it’s Monday morning. As I thought about what I was going to write last night through my sleepy haze and then again this morning, through my relational hangover, I discovered this: I’ve got nothing creative for this Monday morning. Showing up is about all you are going to get from me.
There was a time in my life when I would have felt guilty about that, feeling the need to be perpetually on for the sake of others. Now, I know it’s part of the process. You press in and then you back off. So, with a cup of coffee in hand, I’m backing off for a few hours.
It’s Monday. Are you in a pressing in mode or a place where you need to back off? Both are part of God’s creative work in your life. Peace. Kai
Love is not an abstraction.
I just left a community MLK Jr. breakfast where we gathered to remember, honor and extend the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. The main speaker, Dr. Ervin Smith, reminded us of Dr. King’s towering intellect; a high school graduate at 15, a college graduate at 19, a seminary graduate and lead pastor at 22, and a PHD by age 26, and his expansive influence in the civil rights movement for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35.
Then he reminded us that Dr. King was assassinated while supporting a garbage collectors strike in Memphis. Love, for Dr. King, was not an abstraction to be debated in the hallowed halls of academia or reserved for the soaring oratory of his memorable speeches. Love, for Dr. King, walked alongside workers fighting for fair wages, took to the streets in protest of unjust laws separating whites from “coloreds”, and organized sit-ins when lunch was denied. As my friend, Pastor Rudy Rasmus says, “Love is what love does.”
Is there a need for public conversation about what divides the human community? Absolutely. But, it can never stop there. Love is not an abstraction. Love is the generative energy, the gathering force for good, and the concrete expression that overcomes hatred, crumbles walls, and binds us together. Love extends the hand, washes the feet, feeds aching stomachs, buoys up weary spirits, speaks encouragement not disparagement, stands alongside, and welcomes home.
Love is not an abstraction. Love is what love does.
It’s Monday. Love. Just do it. Peace. Kai
Guilty pleasure: I spent most of the night watching the Golden Globes. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler cracked me up. Laughter opens a pathway to joy like few other experiences. We need it. I needed it.
Throughout the evening I also noticed something else. Almost every winner, whether for drama, musical, or comedy, television or movies, effusively acknowledged their cast members for being the best cast ever assembled. Though we know they can’t all be the best ever, this theme permeated the evening; I didn’t do this alone!
Fr. Richard Rohr embraces the acting metaphor and extends it to our everyday lives.
“Our ordinary lives are given an extraordinary significance when we accept that our lives are about something much larger, our pain is a participation in the redemptive suffering of God, our creativity is the very passion of God for the world. No longer do we need to self-validate, self-congratulate or self-doubt–our place in the cosmos is assured. I do not need to be the whole play or even understand the full script. It is enough to know that I have been chosen to be one actor on the stage. I need only play my part as well as I can.”
“I need only play my part as well as I can.” You need not be the star. You need not even be center stage to play a significant role in the drama of life. You need only play your part as well as you can.
I don’t know about you but that relieves me of a lot of pressure. At the same time, it energizes. I have a place. I have a role. Others are counting on me but I don’t do this alone.
It’s Monday. You know your roles today. Play them as well as you can. Peace. Kai
Thomas Moore, in his book A Life at Work, reminds us of the value of our everyday lives. He asserts that our work life whether that’s at home, at school, or in our jobs, is not so much about finding that perfect job. Rather, he flips the phrase and writes about our “life work” as it connects with God’s desire for our lives and for the world. “A life work is the emergence of your unique self, worked through and manifested in all you do… We are building up toward a vital sense of work, far beyond a mere job or career, but rather the sense that we have a job to do on this earth, that we have been called to make a contribution and to be a factor, no matter how small or unrecognized.”
In other words, as Jesus’ followers, when we do our jobs with honesty and integrity, Jesus lives through us.
In our relationships, when forgiveness is spoken and received, Jesus lives through us.
When we give voice to the voiceless, Jesus lives through us.
When we stand in awe of and care for creation, Jesus lives through us.
When we extend hospitality or kindness to others, even our enemies, Jesus lives through us.
When lovers love one another, when neighbors neighbor, when co-workers co-work with integrity and friends befriend, Jesus lives through us.
As we begin 2013, let’s make a few resolutions:
1) No comparing our lives and contributions to others. Spiritual envy is as ugly as any other envy. In Moore’s words, we have a job to do–a life work– no matter how small or unrecognized.
2) Let love be our guide. Mother Theresa once said, “Do no great things, do small things with great love.”
3) Breathe deeply every day. Your breath connects you with the vital source of life, God’s Spirit. Breathing centers you. Breathing relaxes you. Breathing reminds you of God’s gifts that inhabit your life that often go unnoticed.
4) Think “life work” not work life. You have a contribution to make wherever you are. Do it!
It’s Monday. Your life work awaits today. Peace. Kai