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Today the World Has Some Explaining to Do, a dialogue

World, you have some explaining to do!
This question needs an answer and I’m done waiting.

Why do bad things happen to good people?
To strengthen them, World replies.

But a person who is dear to me is now very weak.
Ah, but you are only looking at what you can see.

And you can see more?
Not exactly, but I think you’re missing something.

What’s that?
You, of sound body, are fixated on muscle tone as your strength representative.
On regular heartbeat and evenness of breath as indication of your vitality.
You are looking with near sight. I am seeing into the distance.

What do you see from a distance?
Not, from a distance. In the distance.
I am standing right there with you. In you, right here.
Looking out upon.

Oh, what do you see? Help me see, too.
Shift your gaze, dear one.
Look past weakness, to strength.
Look past rhythmic, to constant.
Look past steady, to stalwart.
Look past what’s before you to what’s beyond you and invite it into focus.
What do you see now?

I see

Quite miraculous is the human mind, this amazing collection of circuits that have stood the test of time. That we, though lowly humans, are able to encounter our perception and grant entry to the wisdom of the universe.

In our weakness, We are strong and getting stronger.

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Are there layers to listening?

Folks today listen fast. We have to. We have information coming at us from all directions at rapid fire pace. Young people are unfazed by this. They’ve grown up with it and seem to have perfected the technique.

The young woman at the register was completely amazing. I approached her to exchange a pair of shoes. In the next 90 seconds she:

  • scanned in my receipt
  • checked her computer for stock availability
  • found it in the size in another color
  • pulled up that color and described it to me

Then:

  • responded to the caller on her headset
  • asked if she’d like them to hold those for her
  • wrote up a slip

Then:

  • responded to the woman bringing 2 large boxes about where to put them
  • put the slip with these boxes

Then, she looked back at me.

Nearly, speechless, I asked if she’d hold my shoes while I went to look at what they had available. I had no doubt that my shoes would be waiting when I returned. This woman was astounding.

And I tell her story this way, in bullet points, because I must. It’s how we read and how we hear — these days. Our lives are filled with distraction and diversion, but we manage to take it all in. Just enough of it to get the idea, because that’s all we have time for. Funny, diversion used to be such a good thing. It was something that rescued us from our monotony and lifted us to the sublime, the humorous or at least the entertaining. Now, it’s standard. Comes on the basic model.

What, then, of us “contemplatives?” And I don’t mean monks or hermits or cloistered religious folk, but people who tend to cogitate and reflect by nature. Are we being shallowed, too? Perhaps, we, like the Universe, are slowly moving away from our center. Not exploded by the force of the Big Bang but drawn outward by a magnetic force.

I was struck by this definition of contemplative prayer offered by the Shalem Institute:

“Deep listening in the silence.”

If I am always operating at the surface, what is in the deep?

I drew 3 concentric circles in my journal and stood by to see what emerged. The surface was very easy to populate with words: shallow, listen up, easy to wake, distraction, diverge, snapshot, wander. Surprised myself with: productive and superconcious.

But these words did not emerge alone. They came in 3’s, partnered with under words and yet deeper words. Underneath were: dig, delve, order, explain, reason, data, apply, converge. Surprises: wonder and hypothesis. Perhaps those are borderline to the deeper words like: discover, uncover, naked, appreciate, adept, perspective, see, tiptoe. That was the place of deep listening.

How’d a kinesthetic get there? By one smooth, clear, baptismal stone. It was a gift from the folks at SOULfeast during one of their worship services. I like it because it’s surface feels right to my fingers. Somehow it clarifies my thoughts.

When I was finished writing words, I set it down on a word. I was surprised to see that it acted as a magnifier. The word it magnified was “subconcious.” Near it I had written, “How do you know that?”

photo 2 (2)-005

Amazing the power of one smooth, clear stone.

Up close. That’s what it said. From a distance, this small stone looked like a drop of water, beaded up from the page.

How can I magnify my listening from a distance? I can’t, but God can. No matter how far I pull away, I am still in connection with the center that holds me.

How do I know that? I have seen it.

Even when I can’t see it, I can feel it.

It spells itself out for me. Imagine that… just for me. Magnificent!

 

God looks for us where He’ll find us

Lots of people tell me God is pursuing me. He’s after me. He wants me. He’ll find me. This presumes that I am running away.

I am not running away. I am doing what comes naturally. I hang out in places that I like to be. Places that welcome me, feed me, comfort me. God knows where I hang out; that’s where He’ll come looking.

If I like the good conversation and strong coffee at Starbucks, He’ll find me there.
If I like to write in my journal about the thoughts before the day, he’ll find me there.
If I like to walk my dog after dinner, He’ll find me there.
If I like to coach the same team season after season, he’ll find me there.

I think we get it wrong when we think we have to go looking for God.

Isn’t it funny that when I connect with old friends – folks who knew me from my younger days – they aren’t surprised where I have ended up? In fact, they would have predicted that teaching and coaching and athletics done with a bit of science thrown in is just where I would land. Kind of like a well-written mystery novel. When it wraps up, you say, of course that’s how it all turned out.  All the clues were right there!

Oh, sometimes we get it out of order. The skill comes before the practice. The teaching comes before the teacher. The message comes before the understanding. But this is hopping. Hopping over and back. Beyond and then before. But when we land in just the right place at just the right time, we gasp and say, “Of course, that’s how it was supposed to come out. It’s the only logical conclusion.”

That’s what happens when someone holds the rope of your life from its end and gives it a tug. It straightens.

God is the only one who can see us from around the curves. He knows where to look. Wherever He’ll find us.

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