Lent 13-15: back off (please)

Killing lots of birds with one post here.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty much the same way I went to bed feeling last night: anxious and stressed and a little panicky and a little angry.  Why you may ask?  No real idea, except that I have that feeling I hate: when all the parts and people of life are tugging on your sleeve and asking you to pay attention to them and you just want everyone and everything to take a few giant steps back and give you room to breathe.

Just this

Just this, fabs.

This is all you have to do right now.  Be. And sit. And rest. And wait.

You don’t have to do tomorrow yet. Just slow down and stop scrambling to get ahead of whatever might be around the corner.  There are hard things there for sure.  Tomorrow holds challenges and obstacles, but today has obstacles enough of its own: starting with the challenge to be in today and not tomorrow.

You don’t have to do yesterday, with all its bumps and bruises and pain and failure and frustrations – that is not what you have to do today.  You just have to do this moment. Maybe how you feel about yesterday is a part of this moment, but yesterday itself is gone.

God-hunger

I like the Snickers commercials. The premise is that you’re not yourself when you’re hungry. You behave like a totally different person and you have no idea why. Then you get food and realize: oh! I was just hungry!  

When I was a kid I remember every time I would get upset about something my family would exchange glances and ask one another when was the last time I ate. I have learned to spot my signs of hunger. Irritability, mental confusion, shakiness are all symptoms that prompt me to check my stomach and consider whether or not I might need food.

Wish you were here. But glad you’re not.

I’m writing this in a small cabin in the Scottish Highlands.  And I might wish you were here so that you could see it, but I could never wish that because I am so glad that no one is here.

He’s here of course, heavy and thick around me and impossible to ignore. That’s the way He tends to be when all you see is His creation, uninterrupted in all its unfiltered glory; when all you hear is His voice and no other voices or sounds, but the wind and the rain.

It’s 2015 now.  The year of promise.  Promise of flying skateboards and floating cities in outer space and borderline immortality. Instead we have the internet and cell phones and other such tools that offer unlimited options and one single obstacle: being truly and deeply alone.  It feels almost impossible to find a place in this world where you become unreachable to others, and they become unreachable to you.  It feels unnatural and borderline unhealthy to even try to find such a place.

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It’s an important discipline: solitude.  There is this space we all must carve out where we cannot be reached and where we will not reach out.  Places we will go into alone and take no one and nothing with us except our souls and the Soul Maker.

It’s a terrifying thing for some of us: solitude.  We are kept from it by fear of boredom or loneliness or isolation blaming our personality or our schedules.  It is a discipline for a reason, because it’s against our flesh – to be cut off from the things that distract us; to be forced to listen and forced to hear.  A terrifying and necessary thing.

We live in an extroverted world.  And how grateful I am for the gifts of the extrovert-culture.  It forces introverts to live out their worst nightmares.  Forces us all to push through the challenging work of sharing ourselves with other humans so that we might receive the blessing of being known.

But have we stopped forcing one another to push through the challenge of solitude and silence so that we might receive the blessing of deeper intimacy with God?  When was the last time you were alone? Really alone. Not driving in your car, not before you fall asleep at night, but dedicated and pursued time alone with your Maker?  Phone turned off.  Unreachable.  Willing to miss out on all the world that you might gain Him.  In your closet or in your cabin long enough that you began to run out of things to say or think about.  Because there is something to discover in the panicked fear of boredom and strange fear that creeps in with extended isolation.  There are things to learn if you will push through the feelings and wait until there is nothing left to do but talk and listen to the God who hungers to speak to you.

There are words you have read a thousand times that demand to be heard and will not compete with the noise of the world.  There are truths to feast upon that refuse to hurried, refuse to be rushed.  There are spiritual meals so complicated and glorious that they cannot be prepared and consumed in the five minutes you throw heavenward before you rush out the door to work.

There is Man who wants more of you than you feel comfortable giving.  And He longs to get you alone so that you will have no distractions and no where to hide while the crushing weight of His presence pushes down on you with all it’s weighted glory until you find that the thing you fear most is the thing you were looking for all along.