So I’m sitting here at my dining room table, doing some reading, doing some thinking, doing some praying (one of my routine spiritual fitness exercise sessions)
My View As I Write
when a thought pops into my head… “write it down”. I blew it off, had another sip of coffee, a bite of my toast, shut my eyes relaxing and there it was again, “write it down”.
So, here it is, “writ down”.
Along with the above thought came the reference to something I read recently, something there bears repeating here. It is a daily devotion from Henri Nouwen’s “Bread for the Journey”
APRIL 27 – “Writing to Save the Day”
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.
Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.
Writing is an important component of my spiritual exercise routine, but one I often neglect. As Fr. Nouwen says above: “Writing can help us to concentrate… to clarify our minds…”. One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years, is that I am a “word hoarder”. Words fill my head with such abundance the I often get stuck in the clutter. The end result can be an interesting experience for anyone in ear shot as I hit capacity and the words are spontaneously purged. I know that for me, writing is a great therapy for treating my hoarding issues and protects those around me from an unwanted purging!
So “write it down” and explore, share and discover “what you writ”!
And here’s a couple of my morning guests…
Every month I write a short message for a couple of Lutheran church newsletters (Mount Calvary in Excelsior and Faith in Waconia, two of my partner churches). It’s called “A Spiritual Fitness Exercise”, intended to give readers a simple tool for exercising their spirit and their soul. Since there isn’t a lot of crossover between readership of the newsletter and this blog, I thought I’d start sharing them here as well. (And I’ll also start posting past exercises in future blogs too)
As I sit and write this month’s spiritual fitness exercise, I’m fairly consumed with yesterday’s events. Yesterday there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. By the time you read this there may be an abundance of new information available regarding the event, but today we only know the “what, where and when.” What we don’t know, is “the who and the why.”
So, how to respond? What I want to give you here isn’t an exercise as much as it is a discipline. It is a way to deliberately and intentionally react (when you are not directly involved) to a critical incident like the bombing. “Selah”. It is a word found in some of the Psalms of the Old Testament. I first noticed it in one of my favorites, Psalm 46. There have been many debates and studies about what the word means, but the general consensus is that the word is not directly translatable and doesn’t have a clear definition. (For extra credit, do some research on the Internet or at the library and check out some of the research). But one generally accepted idea is that the word indicates a “pause” in the verse, a time of instruction possibly saying, “hear this”.
This has been my advice to many people these last two days, and a strong piece of advice to my action oriented self. Pause and listen. We just don’t do enough of that in these often chaotic times. We seem to have two speeds: Go Fast – Stop Fast. This is a good time to take the time to pause, to pause and consider what you just heard. Then press “play” again and move forward, but hopefully with a little more peace and a little more understanding.
Take Care, Pastor Dan.
I do quite a bit of reading. And I do quite a bit of thinking. And I do quite a bit of talking and writing about what I’m thinking and what I’m thinking is greatly impacted by what I’m reading and… well you get the picture. So I thought I’d share some stories about the books I read as I’m reading them. That’s what Off The Bookshelf references, books that are off the shelf and I’m currently reading. (Stay tuned for On The Bookshelf)
My current read is ”Vanishing Act” by Thomas Perry.
It’s a fiction/mystery series about a woman who helps people disappear from their former lives. As I was reading today I was struck by a comment by Jane (the main character who guides people into their new lives) as she talked with the man she was helping. “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” A question she asks when trying to create her client’s new identity. She then goes through a series of steps that helps her guide the person in a direction to an identity that “fits” them.
I was struck by this comment because I frequently use the same question when talking to cops who are in the retirement transition process (and it really is a significant process). I ask myself the question almost daily as well. So as I was reading today, I figured this is a great exercise for the spiritual health of your soul. Ask yourself: “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And don’t forget to spend some time answering the question (because that’s when the heavy lifting begins!)
Take Care! Pr. Dan
A friend of mine is recovering from cancer. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t the worst cancer you can get, the chances of recovery are very good. However treatment has been very involved with surgery, chemo and radiation. There have been side effects, some set backs, eating issues etc. But he is on the path to full recovery and that is very good news. On a recent visit to the doctor he continued to hear good news, but also news that the recovery will still take many months and the work is not done. The Doc also added a prescription that needed immediate attention: “Go have some fun!”
We work hard in life. We work hard at our jobs, at our health, at our relationships, at our finances, at our homes, at our learning, at our faith… but how hard do we work at our “fun?” And if we are working at having fun, does that take the fun out of it? Last week I heeded the doc’s advice when we had the whole family at the cabin for the day. The kids were wake-boarding (in the cold and rain) and it looked like fun. So I took a shot at water-skiing. It’s been many years since I’ve skied, and I often plan on getting in shape to take it up again, planned to have fun, but never did. So I just did it, and it was fun! (It wasn’t pretty, but that made it more fun for the kids. Fun can be infectious)
So I am with the Doc here, go have some fun. Don’t spend a lot of time working at it, don’t over plan it and over think it, just go do it… have some fun.
The Scene of the Fun
I’m not much of a mechanic, just like I’m not much of a techie. I had an idea for a post as I struggled to get my 4-wheeler running to train the dogs. The thing won’t start, wouldn’t start last year either so my solution was to not train until snow fell. I’m trying to get a head start on training this season so I started puttering with the old Honda before it got too cold, but with no luck. Fortunately my neighbor Duane has been willing to teach me a thing or two and the problem has been narrowed down to the carburetor. I have this great shot of the carb torn apart and I was gonna post it but it’s been so long since I’ve posted a picture I couldn’t figure out how. You’ll have to settle for a downloaded picture (something I still remember how to do) from the Honda site for a graphic:
So what’s my point you might ask? Mechanic fitness training, 4-wheeler fitness, technology fitness training, just like spiritual fitness training requires consistency and care if you want to develop and maintain your ability to perform.
I’ve neglected the Honda so the carb gunked up and quit performing. I’ve neglected my tech skills, they got gunked up and I couldn’t perform a photo upload. But…… with the help a friend who is mechanically in shape, I’ve been able to work on the four wheeler and I see performance right around the corner. With any luck, one of my weblog consultants (Griff, you out there?) will come through in the near future and my photos will soon be up and running too.
Does your soul ever get gunked up due to over use and neglect of care? When it does stop running or is running rough do you have the skills to get it back in shape? And if all seems lost and you’re ready to just park your soul and give up on using it, do you have someone to call to help you get it running again?
Consistent training and available training resources are important aspects of any fitness training programs, physical, intellectual or spiritual. So keep on working out, and if you start running rough, ask for help, and if you don’t know who to ask, give me a call – I know people who can fix things!
Take Care, Dan