"Once we clearly acknowledge the soul, we can learn to hear it's cries. - Dallas Willard, Renovation Of The Heart."

It takes courage to pursue our dreams. It takes time and patience to unearth buried treasure. But I believe with all my heart that we must do both.

7.12.2010

Abiding Monday



Reading from "The Seeking Heart - A Journey with Henri Nouwen" by, Charles R. Ringma today.


Beyond Dualism
Where faith and world meet


"God is not a self-evident given, particularly not in a world of hunger, earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, a world of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Nor can one simply point to something and say "there is God."  This cannot even be done by pointing to a cathedral, synagogue, mosque, or temple.


Within the Christian tradition God and church are not one and the same. Nor is God's reign synonymous with the community of faith.  The church at best is a sign, servant, and sacrament of the Kingdom of God.


One of the first things one would have to say is that God is Wholly Other.  We are but creatures sculpted by God's hands of love and care.


But in the same breath one may also say that this God has entered the human fray.  In word and deed, in priest and prophet, and particularly in Christ, God has come among us.  Wholly Other, God is yet also wholly concerned.  Transcendent, yet incarnate, God the mysterious One is the God of self-disclosure and welcome.


But this also is not self-evident.  The belief that God is with us and among us and that God is at work in our world is always a confession of faith.  This confession can come only when by God's Spirit our hearts and minds have been opened to see and hear.


Henri Nouwen writes that the "contemplative life is a human response to the fundamental fact that the central things in life, although spiritually perceptible, remain invisible in large measure and can very easily be overlooked by the inattentive, busy, distracted person that each of us can so readily become."


This need not be the language of an older dualism where heaven and earth, spiritual and material, soul and body were seen in oppositional terms, with the one being greater than the other.  Rather, this may be the language that sees creation as God's good gift, the body as habitation for God's Spirit, and the world as charged with the grandeur of God.


This does not mean that the other world is wholly present in this one. If that were the case nature would be fully healed and the evils of humanity would be absorbed and transformed by God's purging love that makes all things new and whole.


The final tension lies neither between heaven and earth, nor between body and soul, nor between the spiritual and the material.  It lies between faith and non-faith, between obedience to the ways of God and persistence in our own waywardness.


The tension is not between Spirit and world, it is the worldliness of the world at loggerheads with the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which speaks of forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and peacemaking, and wholeness.


Dancing this gospel into the world means that love not violence, prayer not coercion, forgiveness not retaliation, hospitality not exclusion, healing not harming become the footprints of our daily existence.  Thus one may say God is among us.  The other world is already present.  But the old world persists.


But when we march to a tune that brings fear rather than hope, and death rather than life, then conversion is called for, repentance becomes necessary, and transformation is needed.  For then we emulate the old world rather than being the heralds of the new world that God is calling into being."

Our world is not as it was meant to be.  There is so much hurt, sadness, wrong, even evil.  Changing it requires us as individuals to change.  I know from personal experience I do not have what it takes for lasting, real change to take place in my heart. Sheer willpower does not accomplish it.

I am embarrassed, sad, grieved to say that I live far too much of my life trying to get my own way, looking out for number one, focused on my wants, my needs, my desires.

Dying to ones self is so very hard.

God's love transforms, purges, makes all things new. Yes, only through him (thank you Lord) but I cannot just sit and expect him to do the work without any work on my part. Usually it's hard work, it's a struggle, like a tug of war at times. Dying is not easy. But my way of doing life does not work.

Sometimes this splendid adventure is hard, but I get glimpses of his way of life and it's beautiful.

16 comments:

PaperPumpkin said...

Have a blessed week, Mary. ♥K

Bren said...

love holds and sustains our hearts as we live with the tension of being in this world and yearning for something more...

Pamela Holderman said...

thanks for sharing this... love the idea of 'dancing the gospel into the world' - great way to look at it.
Blessings,
Pam

Martha Lever said...

This is so fitting for me today, Mary. Dying to self is the hardest thing we are required to do in this life. Thank you for posting this and for your words.

Francois said...

There are so many truths in this post that I already know about, agree with and try to follow.
I was taken by your statement of life being a dancing of the gospel in the world. The name of my blog "Who's leading this dance" wasn't chosen from a long discernment process but out of thin air it came.
This touches my inner being and makes me want to look more deeply into the meaning of my existence.

Thanks for the inspiring words

Butterfly Works said...

Dying to self.......a journey all by itself..it's amazing how the mind can twist words to help us get our way....one of the things that keeps coming across my path lately.

Your words desire pondering and I will do so...

Thank you sweet Mary for always challenging me...

Hugs and blessingd

Denise said...

Bless you for this post.

Lindsay - Paint Me A Picture said...

Mary - thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers. I don't know how I haven't seen your blog until today but it is a godsend.

Also, I love your work! Please email me sometime - I want to share :) paint.me.a.pic at gmail dot com.

Blessings.

Buffy said...

Thanks for sharing Mary.

Bren said...

Thanks for the B-Day wishes Mary and just so you know, your the first to have sung happy birthday to me :-)

debbie said...

DEAR PRECIOUS MARY,
EVERYTHING JESUS HAS FOR US, SATAN HAS A COUNTERFEIT....MUSIC, DANCING.....I LOVE THE STATEMENT OF LIFE BEING A DANCING OF THE GOSPEL INTO THE WORLD. DAVID DANCED BEFORE THE LORD...A MERRY HEART DOETH GOOD LIKE A MEDICINE...CHRISTIANS HAVE THE GREATEST REASON TO BE DANCING BUT SO MANY ARE DOWNTRODDEN AND DRAG THEMSELVES FROM PLACE TO PLACE...WHO, REALLY, WOULD WANT WHAT THEY HAVE, WHEN THEY ARE NOT STANDING ON GOD'S WORD...ME INCLUDED.
THIS WAS A WONDERFUL POST.
THANK YOU FOR DROPPING BY TO SEE ME...AND FOR THE NEEDED MESSAGE TODAY.
HUGS
SIMPLY DEBBIE

lori vliegen said...

here's to keeping our eyes and heart open so that we may see all of those magnificent glimpses of Him! thank you for sharing your heart with us, mary! xox, :))

p.s. left an etsy convo for you.....xox

Just Be Real said...

Mary thank you.

sarah said...

What really spoke to me is "The final tension lies neither between heaven and earth, nor between body and soul..." The fighting...the tension has always felt like it was between me and my body...between my body and my mind....That word tension...pushing and pulling...fighting to survive....those words really speak to me...thanks for this Mary....

DJ said...

"God's love transforms, purges, makes all things new."
A good art instructor will not let a student give up on a project; every work of art can be re-created, and transformed into beauty...

So, what might we become in the hands of the Master?

Surprised By Joy! said...

The theme of dying to self(specifically other's opinions) has been a theme this month for me. I feel like I am in the middle of a test as we speak. God and I are walking it through the deep waters together. He is encouaging me to trust Him the whole way. Interesting I read it here, too. Mmmmmm is all I can say.

Thanks for sharing.

Blessings,
Tammy