trying to understand…

11 01 2020

tunnel

Who are we God?

Are we so lost?

Where lies become truth and divisiveness is lifted as unity;

where our leaders unsheathe fear daily.

 

And we justify…

We rationalize…

Contorting facts until

they match our truth.

 

Where one professes his Christianity –

a follower of the one, Jesus the Christ –

yet vehemently attacks the personhood of others daily.

Jesus…you did this?

 

Where one claims to be the chosen one…

placing himself equal with One who lived among us without stain.

one, a mortal, seeing no self-faults…no need for forgiveness.

Followed religiously by those who preached there is only One.

 

Others still, cower beneath the wielding of fear and hate –

selling their souls for the lust of power, prestige and approval;

taking the form of what they fear;

callousness their elixir…insecurity occupying their soul.

 

I am just trying to understand…

Who God is; our faith; what is gospel; who we say we are –

they are true in each moment?

Not to be  – can’t be – dissected from our living?

 

Why is there a need for such division among us?

My faith taught me God desires us to be community.

And why do believers follow this one so zealously instead of the One?

This one who reads Christmas greetings of unity – then attacks, divides,

and sows distrust.

 

A faith sojourner’s voice still rings within my preschool heart:

Mrs. Jackson…

“Be kind one to another”… “God loves everyone”…“We are all God’s children.”

Do we not know the greatest power – Love – already within?

 

And I am no saint for sure.

Needing daily awareness to tame my ego;

daily courage to choose Love over fear

(failure a frequent companion I must admit).

 

I have a part, I know, in applying a healing balm;

Speaking unity into divisiveness – within myself and into our world;

needing the touch of grace, forgiveness, and Love constantly.

So I write this as a beginning – trying to understand…

Railroad Tunnel

 





A Picture is Worth…

20 03 2012

Over the years, one analogy I’ve used to describe “God moments” amid my daily living is snapshots – light streaming through autumn leaves bathing a fence…snapshot; a red-tailed hawk gliding in a quiet sky…snapshot; two weather-worn wooden chairs waiting to support a good conversation…snapshot; a sunrise horizon over the Atlantic blurring definition between water and sky…snapshot.

Within the past several years, I have discovered a path to express my gratefulness for these “thin place” moments of snapshots with…well…snapshots. Photography has become an important way for me to see, express, and share God’s presence within creation and among us.

Last year, my friend Marsha (who knows my growing love of photography and shares a similar spiritual journey), introduced me to a blog by Eileen Campbell Reed (eileencampbellreed.org). In October and November of 2011, some of Eileen’s posts include pictures – taken by Eileen (or by her camera) – which then are described by six words…six-word stories. Marsha encouraged me to use my photos to create my own stories. What a gift!  Another avenue into meditation and prayer!

I will never capture the fullness of God’s presence within my photographs…God’s presence can never be fully captured with words, nor with images. Still, this particular taste of expression feeds my hungry soul with satisfaction.

So with thanks to Eileen Campbell Reed and my friend Marsha, and honoring my colleague and friend John Ballenger whose passion and recognition of the significance of the number 7 within life and the biblical text is contagious, the following is my attempt to offer seven-word stories. I’d love to hear yours as well!

Image

Relationship…

listening…

Being present…

Sacred space…





Horizons – On the Edge

25 08 2011

I woke at 5:40 a.m. – another early morning at the beach. My body wanted to stay in bed – my spirit dragged me to the window. Like opening a gift that contained the thing you want most in the world, I pulled back the shades to reveal the rays of the pre-dawn sun barely illuminating the horizon – a deep blue sky above; darkness still swimming across the waters below; but that thin place in between – a deep, warm red-orange glow lining the horizon. I grabbed my tripod and camera, and soon found myself wading in sand.

 

With feet and tripod dug into sand, I looked over the Atlantic, snapping pictures, standing in awe – then somewhere in between the two, Light began to illuminate what was within. From the distant horizon in my soul, Truth exposed a spiritual desert within. I couldn’t seem to find my center – the Center. Somehow the Center would need to find me. Instead of standing there on the beach, my soul felt like fleeing to the mountains – my sanctuary…to nestle into coves and hollows; to lean against foothills; to rest in the shade of mountain peaks; to stroll along high ridges; to soar from lofty vistas.

 

Yet, there I was, on the edge of a vast ocean: openness; uncovered, nothing to nestle into; nothing offering midday shade; no lofty terrain to soar from; nothing to lean into except breaking waves. Open and exposed…just me, an empty lifeguard chair, and the burning horizon illuminating whom I really was; illuminating the truth as to where I really was – no place to hide from me.

 

But it was okay. Underneath the restlessness…within my soul’s desire to take sanctuary in higher elevations…in the midst of feeling lost – there was a peace. There was an opportunity here – an opportunity to be found. A transformation was in motion (and still is).  As I stood at the ocean’s edge, struggling to comprehend its vastness, I was brought to the edge of trust.

 

I have to trust that the waters continue beyond the ever-brightening horizon…that they continue beyond the reach of my eyesight. Isn’t this the way of faith? Some things I can see…but I can only see so far. I can only know what I know up to this very moment. Because of my limitations, I cannot know it all. It comes to the point where the known meets the unknown…when I cannot step into the future with full certainty. Here, at the edge, I have a choice – I can choose what is safe, what I know, what has already been lived; or I can choose to risk and step toward what is before me, toward the unknown, toward the horizon God holds for me. I can choose to step into what I do not know for certain – letting go of pre-conceived notions…using fear’s fuel as energy to propel me toward adventure…letting go of who I think I will become and trusting that God is creating me to be more than I can image. This is an opportunity to go deeper…deeper within ourselves…deeper into others…deeper into God – stepping up to edge of and then into what we fully do not understand or know. With faith we trust the Spirit goes before us preparing the way…preparing us.

 

As I stood gazing over the beautiful painted horizon, I was reminded of a quote by Andre Gide:

 

We cannot discover new oceans

 

unless we have the courage to lose sight of
the shore.

 





Simple Conversations

15 05 2011

If we pay attention…if we are awake…if we live with an attitude of humbleness…if we approach each day with a “beginner’s mind,” we become aware that God’s love is soaking us like a spring rain – nourishing us in ways we cannot imagine…from simple, surprising sources…inviting us to risk growth and wanting to turn our lives upside down.

So was the invitation during a routine prayer (is any prayer routine?), on a recent Sunday, offered by an almost thirteen year-old who lives in my house. If I pay attention…if my spirit stays awake…if I live with an attitude of humbleness…if I approach each day with a “beginner’s mind”…

Here’s God’s soaking love poured out through a prayer offered by one of the least of these:

Before I go on with the prayer, I’d like to say a few words to think about before and during the prayer:

A lot of the times we pray, we thank God for everything He’s given us. I believe He enjoys everyday hearing us say “thank you”. But I also think that sometimes He just likes to hear us say that we genuinely love what He has given us. I think He is so happy when we’re happy…that sometimes he just likes us to say it out loud.

So I invite you into silence and then a voiced corporate prayer.

Dear God,

I love the smell of flowers in the spring.

I love to laugh with my friends.

I love chocolate.

I love when my stomach flips on a roller coaster.

I love wearing pajamas until one on Saturdays.

I love reading a book alone when it rains.

I love singing loudly and very off key.

I love life.

I love liberty.

I love pursuing happiness.

I love knowing I have people who love me.

God, I love knowing that you love me.


Finally, thank You for giving us these things, allowing us these things, and showing us how to love these things. Amen.

(prayer by Lara Cochran)





Story Within Us

8 05 2011

Our Youth led worship at Woodbrook Baptist Church on Mother’s Day. They chose as the worship theme, The Biblical Story – God with us Genesis to Revelation and beyond. What a wonderful job they did as they read, spoke, sang, prayed, and danced – what beautiful individuals they are! Following are words I spoke at the end of the service:

Today is about story – creation, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), Esther, Pslams, Daniel, Jesus with children, Jesus with an outcast, the Spirit rushing in like wind, letters from long ago, and living into the Mystery of what is to be . And in the last hour we have experienced story through the spoken word, through lyrics, through instruments and through movement. We’ve experienced it in meditation and through prayer…through Spirit and Truth.

The benediction today is taken from Revelation…the end of our biblical text. After Audrey pronounces these words of blessing and guidance it would be easy to believe…it would be easy to close the text and say that we are finished – finished with worship…finished hearing the Story. But this is not true…the story is never finished, for we are never finished – we are in process…working out our salvation…God’s prayer continually flowing through us. Whether we are aware of it or not…whether we believe it or not…God’s story continues within us…in our story that we live daily. The Spirit that blew through those on that day so long ago in Jerusalem…blows through us…dwells with and in us…longing to help us live into the greatest story. Our part is to be open and aware, day-by-day…moment-by-moment, to the unfolding God-narrative within us, and all around us.

Do you see?

The creative power found in Genesis is our story too – we are created in the image of God.

The responsibility planted in the Shema is planted in us as well – there are precious children at our feet…wonderful youth walking beside us.

The deep God-courage of Esther is available to us – we too are challenged to stand fast within the winds of wrong.

The honesty of deep emotions and hard questions expressed by the psalmist to God, are the same deep emotions and questions that rise within us – what conversation do you long to have with God?

The faith of Daniel in the face of insurmountable odds is a seed within us as well – lion dens do you have to walk into.

The life Jesus lived invites us daily to live a counter-cultural life – speaking to the outcast; touching the untouchable; loving radically; uttering words of healing; planting peace; pointing out injustices and living Truth – Jesus says to us, “Follow me.”

The same Spirit that saw potential hovering over the face of the deep…that stirred hearts 2000 years ago…that moved Paul, Martin Luther, Harriett Tubman, Richard Fuller, Annie Armstrong, Clyde Atkins, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sonya Park…is also the Spirit that stirs within you – be still and know God.

Just as was done through the letters of Paul and Timothy, the opportunities to speak of our faith…to encourage others and to be encourage…to build relationships…is a daily invitation.

And the adventure continues…God continually revealing God’s self…calling us, loving us, pulling us forward – can you hear the echoes of God speaking your name? Can you feeling the deep longings of your heart?

So as you leave this sanctuary today…the biblical story continues…for our story continues – where will you take it? Where will it take you?





The Tuesday after Easter

26 04 2011

So what difference does Easter make – this Tuesday after the most Holy day?

I got up this morning and made lunches for the children just as I have done on past Tuesdays? Creation seems the same –flowers blooming, trees budding, critters scurrying like last Tuesday. The schedules of people around me seem consistent with pre-Easter schedules – busy. Could it be that Easter is just another day? Just another day set aside for eggs, bunnies, and stories? Could it be just a blip on our annual calendar? I mean…we’ve heard the Easter story plenty of times. Maybe it becomes just another story. It’s just a story isn’t it? Just a blip?

But what if…what if we believed this story? What if this story is true? What if this story is more than a blip? What if Jesus experienced a “passion week”: died and resurrected?  Would this make a difference in our living…really? Would we see each other in a different light? Would our appreciation for life be affected? Would the way we go about loving others and creation be transformed? Would the way we love ourselves include more light and less darkness? Would the way we accept love take on a new perspective? Would we view ourselves as lovable?

It’s easy to vote for the “blip” candidate…routine is easier. I know what to do…I know what’s expected of me. I don’t have to change. Keeping the Easter story at “just-a-story arms length” seems less risky…safer. The question is am I willing to live with all this choice means? Am I experiencing the fullness of all life has to offer? Am I really living? Do I want to be loved fully and fully love?

It seems like more often than not, we try to go in the back door to grasp onto love…to make sure we are loved. I’ll say what I think you want to hear…I’ll do what I think you want me to do and in return you will pay me in “love.” Deal? Let’s not talk directly but in oblique conversations…just in case. Too, we believe we must give something in return for what someone gives or does for us. We feel we have to pay for the love someone bestows on us. Some of us believe that we are loved because someone is supposed to love us…the other has no choice. Always some kind of string attached.

But if this story is true about Jesus, then a new reality of love is suggested. There doesn’t have to be any bartering…no back doors. This reality says we are loved not because God is supposed to love us but because God wants to love us. No strings attached. There is freedom here…no chains of shoulds and ought tos.

And if love implies relationship, let’s then take a look from the other side – in what form does God desire our love? Does God want our love in the form of “supposed to?” Does God require our love because God “does things” for us? If we are truthful, I suspect these are our modes of loving God most days. But I imagine that God would desire from us the kind of love we most long for – unconditional…(we are made in the image of God).

Radical, isn’t it, how the Truth of a story can challenge us…invite us…Love us…on this Tuesday after Easter…everyday after Easter (which eventually becomes before Easter too).





Invitation to Wholeness

10 04 2011

Opportunities to move toward wholeness rise from the most unexpected places, in the most unexpected ways…but if we would pay attention to the counter-cultural way Jesus lived, the way the Spirit speaks, to our past experiences with God – the unexpected becomes the expected…

New Mexico is a beautiful place with an array of beautiful ecosystems and landscapes. The Well for the Journey’s southwest pilgrimage provided a wonderful opportunity to learn more about desert and Native American spirituality…and to feed my new passion for photography! As the pilgrimage went along, my fellow pilgrims began to kid me about my addiction to my camera…but I didn’t want to miss a thing!

One beautiful day, our pilgrimage took us into a beautiful, remote, sacred space – Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon embraces pueblo ruins that date back a thousand years. My camera started buzzing as soon as we turned down the ten-mile dirt road to the park and continued all day long, wanting to capture what I saw and experienced…I wanted to take it all home. And the bonus…because of our long day, we anticipated a spectacular high desert sunset!

My day was going well: wide open sacred space, new friends, my camera, and a hike on top of a mesa. That’s when it happened…my camera battery light began to flash! “This can’t be!” I thought. I shuffled through my morning memories: fresh batteries from the charger; made sure I turned the camera off after each use; extra batteries…my stomach sank…I forgot extra batteries! I began some serious strategic planning about how to conserve the batteries I had when I became aware of this voice from within, “It’s okay. Just enjoy the experience…the day.” Now, this voice could have come from one of two places: from subconscious, trying to rationalize and prepare myself for what was inevitable; or from the Spirit encouraging me to listen…to just be in creation…to engage in a Holy conversation. By the time I rejoined my fellow pilgrims, my camera was dead and I was trying my best to lean on the Voice calling me to “just let this camera thing go and to be with the Creator in this sacred place.”

However, as we packed up for our return trip, I felt the call of my camera. Out of nowhere I heard my voice blurt out, “Does anyone have extra batteries?” No luck…(sigh). Then again I heard, “Greg. Just let it go…be with Me. Nothing you take home can capture the grandeur and mystery that is in this place at this time.” Deep in my soul I understood what I was being invited to do – to move toward wholeness, but with the sweet afternoon light painting the canyon walls, my stubborn spirit did not hear the Truth that my soul understood. Just when I thought I had dealt with this issue, out of nowhere that stubborn spirit broke through my seemingly calm surface of self-control – the Chaco’s National Park store! “Surely they will have batteries…saved!” As I entered the store, I walked confidently…righteously…up to the cashier and asked, “Where are your batteries?” Devastation swept over me as I heard his reply, “We don’t carry batteries.”

You would think that I would finally get it and rest in what was at hand…to take time and enjoy the gift of nature around me, but driving out of the canyon, with the sun anticipating a kiss with the western horizon, I had one more fleeting, desperate thought – the store at the intersection with the main road…maybe. But disappointment was a loyal friend, staying right by my side – we were behind schedule and stopping was not an option.

Then the late afternoon Light kissed my heart – I had missed the point of everything the day had offered. In trying to “capture” creation…the spirit of the place, in trying to hold onto images and take them home, in being distracted by my “wanting” and the pursuit to get my hands on materials (batteries), through my unawareness of God’s attempts of engaging me in conversation, in not letting go, in trying to make Chaco Canyon “mine” – I missed the true beauty of the day. I missed a deeper communion with God. I missed out on true freedom and bound myself with worries of things I did not have and with fear that I might miss a “shot”. I missed out on deeper community with my fellow pilgrims. At the end of the day, when I was looking up into the star, spangled sky, I realized the lesson of the day…“creation is not mine.” All that I saw and experienced was a gift. And if I love the Creator, I will carry the Creator’s creation with me always.

I do not tell you this story so to bore you with this particular day in my life. I tell you this story because I trust as fellow pilgrims you too have experienced such struggles. So questions come…What are you holding onto? What is binding you? What conversation with God is waiting at your door? How is your listening? What is distracting you?

The good news is that at the end of the day, God’s continually pursues conversation with us…helping the unexpected become expected…always inviting us to wholeness.





Inside the Storm

21 03 2011

After hearing the forecast, my anxiety subsided a bit as I anticipated the evening drive to McHenry, Maryland and our annual Youth Ski Retreat – just scattered snow showers in the higher elevations. However, just past Cumberland, Maryland, we hit one of those higher elevation snow showers…a sustained snow shower…a sustained snow shower in the dark. The wind blew snow across unfamiliar roads, leaving just one lane visible on West-bound I-68. The snow was relentless and the white crystals that normally falls soft and quiet, seemed angry this night. After several “heart-in-my-throat” moments, the exit toward Wisp Ski Resort was in sight. As I slowed to turn onto the exit, my grip loosened from the indentations I had created and my knuckles regained their natural color. The slowing also revealed what my anxiety and fear had kept me from observing – the interstate speed I maintained fed the perception of an angry storm. With the slowing, the snow blew across the road gentler…softer – the knot in my stomach loosened. My body began to relax. But the adventure wasn’t over.

The lights of Wisp’s Ski slopes illuminated like white brush strokes on the mountainside. Passing the main lodge, I knew we had just one more hill to climb. (I soon was reminded that we were in the mountains of Maryland.) With an adult, five teenagers, and our luggage, our van began the ascent…up the “hill”. Even with gearing down, my wheels could not maintain traction and we slowed to a stop…half way up “the mountain”. A kind person, on their way down, stopped and asked if I needed help. Inside I was saying, “You have no idea,” but out of my mouth came a prideful, “We’re okay.” Thankfully, God is good…looking beyond my pride to the care of my precious teenage cargo, somehow the van wheels found a patch of clear pavement and soon we found ourselves unloading our van at our weekend home.

Our house over looked Deep Creek Lake. From past retreats, I remembered the spectacular views and the sunrise show through the huge living room windows. It was this vista and show I anticipated as I arose before dawn. With camera on my tripod and pre-dawn excitement, I gazed out the window…gray haze instead of fire lit morning skies. With snow still blowing, even the lake below was obscured. Snow and haze had settled in for the weekend. It was not until we had said goodbye to our retreat house for another year that the sun made an appearance.

It’s peculiar – a gift – what awakens us to God’s voice. As we headed down the mountain, snow-blanketed creation was bathed in brilliant sunlight…beautiful! From the back seat of the van, I heard the voice of God – actually it was one of our youth, but the Spirit’s vibrations were in the words that were spoken: “The snow is so great. One flake landed on my hand yesterday and I could see its design. It wasn’t perfect but I could see its pattern. It’s amazing that each snowflake is different.”  She paused, “Look at all the snow on the ground. That’s pretty awesome of God.”

A flash of truth hit me. There I was, in the storm – raging snow, darkness, limited vision, steep mountains, obscured vistas, fear, and anxiety. And now, when I am leaving, my eyes were opened to see the beauty of what happened in the storm. Perfect flakes lying together with imperfect flakes…beautiful – covering the ground, the trees, the rocks…and now blanketing my own soul.

We all experience storms – in relationships, in faith, in health, in finances, in life experiences. What’s so hard about being in the midst of the storm – the wind blowing, snow whirling, darkness closing, limited vision, huge mountains – is that it’s hard to see beyond the immediate. We believe if we go faster we can get through the storm sooner or escape it altogether. Too often, as we move faster, we find the storm rages even harder against us. We forget that slowing down my help us see clearer. We forget that we can say “yes” to help that presents itself. Unfamiliar paths and situations make us uncomfortable so we try to tighten our control on life. We become more rigid and our senses develop tunnel vision; disappointments born from unmet expectations blind us from the growth occurring within the haze we find ourselves.

The good news is we are not alone in the storms of life. God promises to never leave us…in the haze…in the darkness…even when we can’t see God because of the storm.





Skies on Fire

15 03 2011

Sometimes it seems as if the sky is on fire…

Earthquakes…tsunamis…power hungry leaders…revolutions…bickering over millions while others just hope to make it paycheck-to-paycheck…cancer…nuclear meltdowns…hunger…addictions/unhealthy attachments…self-created delusions to cope with the failure of not living into who we were created to be. How can one hold all this? – so many questions to God…of God. We look to the skies – arms raised, and ask, “Why?” My hands have been lifted skyward many times. I claim this question too.

Many Sundays I pronounce the following benediction as our community of faith walks back into the world:

“And now go in peace, and as you are going, know this:

by the grace of God you were brought into this world;

by the mercy of God you have been sustained to this very moment,

and by the love of God, fully revealed in Jesus the Christ,

you are being redeemed, now and forevermore. Amen.”

(Bill Leonard – adapted from John Claypool)

Redeemed…to save…to restore…to bring back to wholeness. Is this taking place in our world…in creation…in you…in me? Within the events of this life – the good and the bad, is there hope for restoration…or at least to move toward wholeness? Where is God in all of this? Are we, too, a part of the restoration equation?

Being human…being one that has experienced – and will experience – pain and grief…being one who watches devastation beamed from across the world and in my community…and being one who has seen – and will see – the pain of others…I am thus invited into a deeper conversation with God – hard questions to ask…truth and reality become palpable…what is most important in life becomes crystal clear. What am I to do with this all? What am I to do with this question of redeeming?

My faith – my confidence in what I hope for…my assurance in what I do not see – awakens. It allows me to hear the whispers of hope within what I experience…in what I feel…in what I consider. It tells me that just as I am a co-creator with God, I am also a co-redeemer. I have responsibility to do my part in bringing about wholeness in this world – even when I do not understand…even in the shadows of what seem insurmountable odds. Why? Because I have been the recipient of grace…of forgiveness…of nurture…of encouragement…of a challenge to live into whom God created me to be – I’ve been offered and experienced restoration. And I want more – I want it for others…I want it for all creation.  So maybe I can help provide some sacred space for others to discover and uncover their gifts; maybe I can help open up space where nurture, encouragement, and healing can embrace another; maybe I can help provide holy space where another feels safe enough to risk becoming who God has created them to be; maybe I can help have faith for another when the other feels like their faith is a black hole – just like so many has done for me.

And where is God in all of this? Maybe we do not see God in the events of this world – the good and the bad – because we are looking skyward with our hands raised…instead of looking down. Maybe God is down – down in the muck of our living…in the debris of our lives and of creation…within the pain and horrors we experience. Maybe God is in the tears of the heartbroken…in the anger of those who stand against injustices…in the fear of those who are being abused…in the bewilderment of those in the wilderness…in the gaze of those who see – in us. If so, then, there is always hope…a light shining in darkness…the possibility of wholeness.

In the end, I still have deep questions. I do not understand it all…I never will. Many times it is as if my vision is veiled – “I don’t yet see things clearly. I’m squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.” [1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message] So I will rely on my faith…listen within for the conversations between my spirit and the Spirit…ask hard questions, risking a deeper intimacy with God…try to live into the Mystery of it all…and embrace hope as I ask for courage to do what I can to be a co-redeemer with the Creator.

 





Conversations with God

6 03 2011

I learned early that listening for “God’s call” was an important thing for me to do. I just didn’t know what I was listening for. I didn’t know how I was supposed to listen. And, if truth were told, sometimes, I still don’t know…I’m still learning. I also heard the phrase God’s call used interchangeably with God’s will…so it made sense that God’s call is God’s will for our lives, right? I came to believe that I needed to find that one purpose God had for my life.

We live life, using words to describe our experiences along the way. So when we use the phrase God’s will or God’s call what are we really trying to describe? What experience are we trying to understand…to communicate? Over time, through listening and through my experiences, I’ve come to believe that God is not a God who plays hide and seek. God does not hide from us what God wants from us…I don’t believe God is playing a game. I believe God’s will for us…what God wants from us…is our love – for us to love God with all our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might. God wants a relationship with us. And if this is God’s will for us…then our call is not just one special task God has for us (that we have to find) – our call is wide open. For me God’s call is the conversations we have with God about who we are…about who God is…about the gifts given to us…about our desire for God and God’s desires for us…about how we are loved and about how we love. It becomes a matter of discovering and exploring the gifts God has given us, and then the willingness to hone these gifts and risk the use of them. It can be a scary thing when you start naming what’s on the inside out loud – things may start to move. And with the presence of this risk, too many times I have gravitated back to what seems safe…what seems solid. My grip tightens, afraid of loosing what, in reality, is of no value to me or to my journey. I want to return to being…just comfortable.

But God wants more for us…from us. God wants to dialogue – Spirit to spirit…creating a relationship of wholeness that involves listening, talking, struggling, questioning, discerning, committing, dreaming, attending to, waiting for, moving toward, co-creating with, and so much more. And in good, soul-connecting conversations there is a paying attention to God’s grace and love flowing through us. The grace – the good news – is that the Conversation is already within us…it’s happening…it’s in our imaginations…in our dreams…in our experiences…in our hopes and desires…in our relationships. The invitation for God-conversations is a daily event.

Some conversations with God, though, take place over a long period time (even though we would like a shorter talk). Some God-conversations begin with an unsettledness within. This unsettledness – this change – is an invitation to start paying attention to God’s movement more diligently…with heighten awareness of those experiences (some seemingly insignificant) that give insight, clarity, courage, and a sense of God’s assurance.

And then, like in any conversation, there are times when clarity is lacking…when there is silence…when attention wanders. There have been times when I thought my eyes were wide open, but I couldn’t see a thing. There have been times when I was without sight…waiting in the dark…all I wanted was just a little light. There have been times when I have asked, “Who are you, God?” There have been times when my concepts of God have been challenged, leaving me to wonder if it was God I was hearing or the voice of my own desires…sometimes wondering if God was there at all. I felt abandoned. There have been many times when I could not understand God – when I didn’t know what God was calling me toward. I was frustrated – “How long is this particular conversation with God going to take? Forever? Is God teasing me?”

So if call is really about staying in a relationship with God – having conversation after conversation – it is not a “one-and-done” event. Call is ongoing…it’s active and open – at least on God’s part. It’s all about orienting ourselves toward God…daily. It’s about listening and discerning… daily; about being open and aware…daily; about imagining and dreaming…daily; about asking, “Who are you, God?”…daily; about asking, “Who am I?”…daily; about trusting and exploring…daily; about mustering faith and picking up courage…daily. It’s about welcoming the darkness –although hard – when it comes. It’s about sitting with others in their darkness. It’s about “holding things lightly.” It’s about letting God love us. It’s about giving ourselves to what is most important in our daily living – conversation with God where we know the deep love of God for us and where we can return that love. God’s conversation with us has always been…it always will be – that’s the adventure in being on the Way.