In a timely way, since I watched a Dr. Keith episode just this afternoon (Dr. Keith Ablow talks a lot about truth), I also just discovered when in your life, another excellent blog idea from PS, out of a book by Mark Yaconelli called Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus. PS poses four questions from Yac; only the 4th one *truly* applies to me at this moment, but it applies to an ultra-huge degree. I'll answer all of them anyway, since I need to do lots more in my life regarding the first three...this is something like a Thursday Four in preparation for Friday's Five!
1. Where in your life did you stop singing?
Never--I just don't sing often enough! When we have my fave songs In church, whether more traditional hymns or more contemporary praise, I'm willing to expend the energy it takes to sing well, but otherwise I don't and won't. I also like singing with the radio and CDs, esp oldies.
2. Where in your life did you stop dancing?
I haven't stop dancing, either--just need to dance more and trust life more as it dances randomly, sometimes wildly around me.
3. Where in your life did you stop telling stories?
This one is off, on, often not enough and then approaching just enough.
4. Where in your life did you stop listening to silence?
Historically in my life fear rises in the silence and overwhelms the space around me as far as I can imagine, engulfing and submerging me--last winter I even illustrated it. (I well may have blogged this picture last winter when I did it, but here it is again.) Did I ever mention how much I love to socialize but detest being alone? Simply cannot handle it. Anxiety is something else...one needs (you need, I need) some anxiety in order to be productive, but there is such a thing as excessive, excessive anxiety. That's another topic for 'nother time. What's wonderful about listening in The Silence is the sacramentally hidden life, movement and activity you end up hearing (in, with and under, of course) it all, after all. My diet isn't technically low-salt, I don't cook with salt and I never add salt to my food, but I've heard many people who've been forced to reduce their sodium intake say now they can taste the food--they'd forgotten or maybe never knew what they'd been missing, which seems a close parallel to the way being stripped of more usual noises and distractions makes us hear (and see, too?!) more acutely. Wherever you are, in every season of the year, listen to the city, to the countryside, to the ocean waves on the sand, to desert's life hidden below the surface of the sand.
contemplative: Most days I try for a 20-minutes centering prayer session, but often anxiety still overwhelms me. A friend who now serves a congregation in a different city north of here introduced me to Fr. Thomas Keating and Centering Prayer. I even got to hear Fr. Thomas when he was in town a few years back! Also have watched some of his videos; he tells us a commentary goes along with every emotion. These days the only negative emotion I'm able to feel is the passage of time, but without including dull details, there have been too many times I've been excluded from something by someone, and my response to myself always is saying that person saved other people from my incompetence. As he said, the commentary. But can there not ever be a positive, redemptive one?
presence: beyond teaching an occasional middle-school class, I haven't worked much with youth in recent years, but I remember what a treat it was to accompany them on winter weekend retreats and ski trips in Utah and in Massachusetts--with both states being subject to lots of snow. Right after last Christmas it snowed a lot on Mount Lemmon for the first time in ages--here's my blog about it. There's something about the way falling snow and newly-fallen snow, especially powder, compels us to listen and to hear--other people, too! In those out-of-our-everyday ordinary places and spaces, people often are more relaxed, willing and able to reveal more of themselves, even to trust more. It's as if the snow forms a safe enclosure, a sheltering sanctuary.