Friday, November 17, 2006

Message Received

Originally uploaded by kimxtom.

Lately I have been getting the message from God that I need a more disciplined spiritual life. That has been a hard thing for me to admit to myself since I am a professional praying person. However, although I spend a good bit of time praying with and for other people, lately I haven't spent a lot of time with God on my own.

The first sign came to me when I was teaching an adult Sunday school class on prayer. The ifrst class was about prayer and worship, and I had lots of ideas for that. But the second class was about personal prayer and devotion and as I was getting ready for the class, I realized I had a lot less to say here. I tried to rationalize it: it's a personal thing, everyone prays differently. But the thought came to me then: maybe you don't feel comfortable talking about this because you don't do it enough yourself.

Then I had a "coaching call" with my District Superintendent. I mentioned that my personal prayer life and self-care were kind of lacking at the moment, and he was very helpful and supportive, telling me, whatever you are able to do is good--it's better than nothing. I felt better, less guilty, but after a while that nagging feeling came back. There is something missing in my spiritual life...

Then last week I went to the last meeting of the Young Clergy Leadership group that I have been a part of the last two years. The focus of the gathering was on sustaining ourselves and not getting burned out. Several of the speakers talked about the need to maintain a prayer discipline. One pastor put it this way: If we are called to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, you need to make time every week to nourish all of these parts of yourself. Exercise, fun, time with family, time for study, rest...and pray.

OK. I get it.

So this week I have been trying to make more time for God. I try to get up before everyone in my house so I can have some time alone in prayer. Or the first thing I do when I get to church in the morning is head for the chapel or the sanctuary to read and pray. And you know what? It's working. I feel more at peace, more centered, grounded, connected to God.

We talked about this at Mondays @ Mayorga this week, too. And there was lots of good sharing among the group about ways that they make time for God--going for a jog and making it a time of prayer, making a daily list of 5 things you are grateful for, listening to Christian music or radio in the car or at work, walk a labyrinth...these are all great ways to find time for God in the midst of our busy and hectic lives.

So, however you can do it, I truly encourage you to take some time alone for you and God this week. Talk, listen, journal, read, sing, walk. Whatever works for you. I know from personal experience, it can be hard to make the time, but I am also learning how much it matters, too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Originally uploaded by aughra.

I beleive that voting is an important civic duty.

And today is the first election in 14 years in which I will not cast a ballot.

I know. I should have. I just didn't get my act together in time to get registered in Maryland. But if I'm honest, my not getting registered to vote probably has as much to do with a lack of motivation, fed by my growing cynicism about politics, as it does with my disorganization.

These words of Daniel Berrigan, the (in) famous peace activist and Jesuit priest who spent time in prison for his civil disobedience against government policies on racism, nuclear arms, and most famously Vietnam, resonate with my own feelings today:

I can only tell you what I believe;
I believe: I cannot be saved by foreign policies.
I cannot be saved by the sexual revolution.
I cannot be saved by the gross national product.
I cannot be saved by nuclear deterrents.
I cannot be saved by aldermen, priests, artists, plumbers, city planners, social engineers,
nor by the Vatican, nor by the World Buddhist Association,
nor by Hitler, nor by Joan of Arc, nor by angels and archangels, nor by powers and dominions,
I can be saved only by Jesus Christ.

On his blog "The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself," Dan Clendenin adds:

I cannot be saved by George Bush or Jesse Jackson, by Hillary Clinton or Condi Rice, nor by their successors or opponents. I cannot be saved by Green Peace or the ACLU, by Focus on the Family or by Promise Keepers.

I am glad that there are many others who will exercise their democratic privilege today and vote. By all means, you should go vote today. But as you do, I pray that we will keep in mind the words of the Psalmist: "Blessed is the one whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (146:5).