Category Archives: Mind

Invited to Rest

The lake is glorious. Restful, peaceful, serene. It doesn’t shout, “Come, play with me!” It doesn’t tease, “Lookie what I’m doing.” It doesn’t tempt with rowdy revelers splashing and sailing and fishing. Well, there are quite a few fishing.

IMG_1333No, the Lake at Junaluska just is. It is rest. It is peace. It is serene. It is not a place to get things done. I realized this as I set up my computer facing a window overlooking the lake, and sighed. Ah, now THAT is a view.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It didn’t distract me. More, it called to me. “You are here. Come be with me.”

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I had come to spend the week at the lake, catching up on all the things I hadn’t gotten done in the middle of my busy life. The things that needed reading, needed writing, needed sorting, needed attending to, things that I just hadn’t found time for. Now, I had all week for them, but the the Lake said, “Come be with me.” And that invitation is strong.

I had come to be alone, and found solitude.

I had come for quiet, and found silence.

I had come for refuge, and found welcome.

What I didn’t find was space to organize my disheveled self. Rather, there were sights and sounds to be shared. Things to be remembered and recorded. There was activity to be investigated and experienced. There were people to visit with, dogs to pat, birds to listen to, storms to respect and, of course, the Golden Hour to photograph.

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But what were any of these things without someone with whom to share?

We are communal beings. In spite of my ready angst about the person too loud at the next table, solo is not a natural state for me. “I just need to tell you, show you, share…” is the constant state of my being. Somehow, the solitary experience is incomplete for me. It vanishes with no one else to know it. Did I really see that? Hear that? Feel that? My testimony alone cannot confirm. I need companionship. Someone to listen, reflect, and appreciate with me the wonders of the world before me and their impact on the world within me.

I guess I’m just not cut from monastic cloth. After but a few hours, I am longing for someone, something, somewhere. My journals are but a meager substitute. It’s the Lake’s fault. It bids be come and walk and talk awhile. Perhaps I am the only one who hears, but I expect not, as the crowds on its pathways testify to its attraction for so many others. It is a wonderful conversational companion.

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Sure, stop and rest a bit, the Lake says. But don’t bring what you haven’t gotten done here expecting me to help you do it. I am for reflection, you to yourself. Depart, knowing better what you came for and what you go with. The world needs you back. I send you. 

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I came to the Lake at its invitation of rest, but I brought work with me instead. On my last day to spend in its embrace, it speaks softly. What you need is who I am.

Go now, and I go with you.

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Don’t let me interrupt

Don’t let me interrupt.
I’ll wait.
When there’s a lull in the conversation, I’ll speak up.

IMG_4757How often I patch the hole in my day, the opening in my calendar, even the moment between my bites with something to do. Something to keep my mind occupied. Something to entertain me. Or with just plain filler. While I’ve got a few minutes, let me clean out my inbox.

God doesn’t shout over what I’m doing, what I’m reading, what I’m watching, or what I’m listening to. God waits. Waits for me to finish. To take a breath. To leave a space. To rest from all that I am creating.

In our rat-a-tat world, this feels like wasted time, doesn’t it?  I think I need more “wasting-time.” Unplugged, uncommitted, unfilled. The time I leave is never wasted when I open it to its possibilities.

I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere.
Don’t let me interrupt.
When there’s a lull in the conversation,
I’ll speak up.

Love,
God

Every Mind Matters: What are you feeding yours?

Bet you can’t eat just one! Remember that slogan from the Lays Potato Chips advertising campaign? They knew that if they could just get us to try one, we’d find the rest of the bag hard to resist. These days, satisfying our cravings has gotten more complicated; we feed not only on a steady diet of processed foods but also consume a constant stream of print and online media. Those producing it know that once we click, we’ll find the rest of what they have to offer hard to resist.

While most of us know that too many chips are bad for our waistline, most of us don’t know the risk to our minds when subjected to so much media. That’s because brain science is a newly emerging field. Just twenty years ago our text books taught that the structure of the brain never changed. “Alcohol kills brain cells,” I used to admonish the college students I taught, “and you won’t get them back.”

IMG_0479Now, thanks to new techniques available to study the brain, we know the textbooks and I had it wrong. The brain is actually a highly ‘plastic’ structure; it is changing all the time in response to the stimuli in its environment. Our brains actually create new pathways when we explore new things and establish preferred routes for things we think about the most. As remarkable as it sounds, our brains are constantly being sculpted by how we use them.

No wonder scripture advises us: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) Perhaps Descartes in proclaiming, “I think, therefore I am,” was more right than he knew. Of course, the God who designed us knew it all along.

So, as the apostle Paul writes to the believers in Rome,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:1-2

encouraging us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, we don’t just set our minds aside. That’s where the renewal happens! Especially during this season of Lent, as we draw closer to our God by His invitation, we ask, how can I offer my body and mind in ways that are holy and pleasing to You? In doing this, we make ourselves fully available to His sculpting hands and shaping will.

What a joy to discover that we are designed with renewal in mind. Setting our minds on the things of Christ will help us test and approve what God’s will is for us. That doesn’t mean that the world isn’t going on out there. It simply means that what’s going on in us and in front of us – where we can have the most impact — will get accomplished by our efforts, in accordance with the will of God. Thy Kingdom Come.

What if, instead of consuming the news, we set our sights on making it? Surely, that would be a sacrifice both holy and pleasing to God.

Consider fasting from all online and print media today and, instead, make your own news. Then share it with your friends, family, neighbors or community.

Author’s note: This writing appears in the 2018 version of the Lenten Devotional booklet published and distributed by the Church of the Good Shepherd, United Methodist, in Vienna, Virginia.

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