Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Searching for God

There is a wonderful Chasidic story about the child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods. At first his father let him wander but over time he became concerned. The woods were dangerous. The father did not know what lurked there.

He decided to discuss the matter with his child. One day he took him aside and said, "You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder, why do you go there?"

The boy said to his father, "I go there to find God."

“That is a very good thing,” the father replied gently. “I am glad you are searching for God. But, my child, don't you know that God is the same everywhere?”

“Yes,” the boy answered, “but I'm not.”

in David J. Wolpe, Teaching Your Children About God


When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light in to dark places where the sun would never shine - in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light - truth, understanding, knowledge - is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world - into the black places in the hearts of me - and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of life.

Quoted by Robert Fulghum, It was on Fire when I Lay Down On It

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

a Silence and a Shouting

a Silence and a Shouting

An extract from the book by Eddie Askew
available through The Leprosy Mission
or contact TLM Trading Limited and request a catalogue
(all proceeds support The Leprosy Mission)

Books on prayer are published so often these days that to read them all would leave very little time left to pray; but I have been using one recently called It's me, O Lord by Michael Hollings and Etta Gullick. There is a description of prayer which is more of a poem and a meditation than anything else. Here it is:

"The important thing about prayer is that it is almost indefinable. You see, it is: hard and sharp, soft and loving, deep and inexpressible, shallow and repetitious, a groaning and a sighing.

"A silence and a shouting, a burst of praise digging deep down into loneliness, into me. Loving. Abandonment to despair, a soaring to heights which can be only ecstasy, dull plodding in the greyness of mediocre being - laziness, boredom, resentment.

"Questing and questioning, calm reflection, meditation, cogitation, A surprise at sudden joy, a shaft of light, a laser beam. Irritation at not understanding, impatience, pain of mind and body hardly uttered or deeply anguished.

"Being together, the stirring of love shallow, then deeper, then deepest. A breathless involvement, a meeting, a longing, a loving, an inpouring.''

Prayer is . . . resentment . . . irritation . . . impatience. Does that surprise you? It took me a long time to learn to bring my resentments to the Lord, as well as my joys and requests. Yet l think we should. Our whole lives should be, are, open to God and He knows what is there deep down. It is only by bringing our anger and irritations out into the open that He can deal with them, even direct them, for good. That is good psychology, and it is good Christian living too. And in the cleansing process comes the realization and experience of love - shallow, then deeper, and a real meeting and involvement with the Lord.

Lord, teach me to pray.

It sounds exciting, put like that.
It sounds real. An exploration.
A chance to do more than catalogue
and list the things I want,
to an eternal Father Christmas.

The chance of meeting you,
of drawing closer to the love that mode me,
and keeps me, and knows me.
And, Lord, it's only just begun.
There is so much more of you,
of love, the limitless expanse of knowing you.
I could be frightened, Lord, in this wide country.
It could be lonely, but you are here, with me.

The chance of learning about myself,
of facing up to what I am.
Admitting my resentments,
bringing my anger to you, my disappointments. my frustration.
And finding that when l do,
when I stop struggling and shouting
and let go
you are still there.
Still loving.

Sometimes, Lord, often -
I don't know know what to say to you.
But I still come, in quiet
for the comfort of two friends
sitting in silence.
And it's then. Lord, that I learn most from you.
When my mind slows down,
and my heart stops racing.
When I let go and wait in the quiet,
realizing that all the things I was going to ask for
you know already.
Then, Lord, without words,
in the stillness
you are there . . .
And l love you.

Lord, teach me to pray.