Friday, March 16, 2012

Solitude & Community

The world seems so small. We are able to "connect" with old "friends" immediately. We are able to discover what they are reading or doing - who their friends are - what they are listening to - where they are eating - but when it comes down to it, not really know what is going on inside their lives. 

Even with hundreds of "friends" - folks can find themselves alone in the world - alone in their struggles - alone facing each day. Connections are often made with those who are facing similar struggles - a facebook group, a chat room, a support group. Many churches have discovered that support groups often bring folks in the doors that would not normally enter (i.e. divorce recovery, financial peace, MOPs, AA). Connecting with others in this way often brings growth and community. Connecting with others in this way often brings transformation. 

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." (Matthew 9:35) 

Looking at images of solitude - one often sees images of a person alone. What are your thoughts on solitude? Have you experienced solitude? "We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart...and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together...I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude." (Helen Hayes) 

"All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love." (Henri Nouwen)

Looking at Lea Kelley's painting, "Network of Solitude" below- 
what does it say to you about community and solitude? 

Where do you find yourself in the painting? Connected? Lonely? Experiencing solitude?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday, March 8th

As I look through the scrapbooks of my life,
remind me dear God of the "Egypts" you have brought me through -
remind me of your never failing love -
remind me that you are a God of relationships and community
and we are never alone.

Exodus 20:2 
"I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt..."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday, March 6th

During this time of preparation - 
                          this time of examination -
                                                       this time of remembering,
look in every corner - every room - every nook and cranny of my life.
      Help me rediscover those rooms that are filled with clutter -
               those rooms where I have closed the door - to deal with another day.
Sweep away the cobwebs of self reliance!
      Dust the counter tops of faith!
           Clean the mirrors of immediacy!
                     Shake out the rugs of regret!
                            Clear away the stacks of intentions!
                                     Open the draperies of arrogance!
Open doors - 
      open windows - 
              open house!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday, March 1st

Syrian forces overrun opposition in rebel stronghold of Homs...death toll over 7500...Davy Jones dies at 66...tornadoes hit the midwest...Republican presidential candidates look to super Tuesday...Madame Tussauds reveals new wax figure of Justin Bieber for his birthday...a silen movie, "The Artist," wins Best Picture...three men were killed during drug deal in Gwinnett County...temperatures are rising and I forgot to put pre-emergent on my lawn...I wonder if the sandwiches will be good at lunch...I hope folks remember to turn off their cellphones during the mid-day prayer today...where did I put the money for the tip?...I sure hope the weatherman was right! It would be awful trying to get all these folks off the motorcoach and into the monastery with only a few umbrellas.............

Look! just beyond the trees! The Monastery of the Holy Spirit!
Our schedule will be as follows....this gives you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your time careful as you exit the motorcoach..."Welcome!"

"My name is Brother Peter."

"I am Phill. So good to meet you! Should the folks look around the gift shop until it is time for the video...or perhaps they should wait in the lobby"........

"They are welcome to look around the gift shop."

..."Okay folks, look around the gift shop until it is time for the video."....

"The monastery is a school of the Lord's service 
where Christ is formed in the hearts of the brothers through the liturgy, 
the abbot's teaching and the fraternal way of life. 
Through God's Word the monks are trained in a discipline of heart and action
to be responsive to the Holy Spirit and so attain purity of heart 
and a continual mindfulness of God's presence."

"How?"                  "Why?"                                                                     "God."           

"Are you sure it is possible?"                            "I can hear the beat of one's heart."                                       

"Get up at 3:45 a.m.!"                                                           "I am not alone."

"all brothers are of one heart and one mind, they have everything in common. 
By bearing one another's burdens they fulfill Christ's law, participating in his sufferings 
in the hope of entering the kingdom of heaven."

Praying      .........    together
Working     .................................................    together
Eating     .........    together
Living      ......................................................     together
Dying    .........    together

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them."

                            birds...                                flowers...

gentle breeze

                 smell of coffee...                                    incense...

                                          bells...         wind chimes...