Monday, June 11, 2018

Invitations



Recently, we've received a few invitations to parties and celebrations for graduations and anniversaries and birthdays.  In such a moments we are marking milestones and transitions from one stage of life to another.  High school to college.  We celebrate significant birthdays.  Perhaps you've made those rounds too over the last few weeks.  Sitting in chairs while balancing a paper plate of a sandwich, potato salad and cake.  Or maybe it was a fancy dinner for a special occasion.  Perhaps there was a ceremony involved or a formal speech given. 

At the same time, there are invitations to notice the sacred of mundane and ordinary.  God's presence is with us not only in times that Hallmark makes a card for you to buy, but also in the beauty of a Tuesday.  I ran across these invitations in an email from Richard Rohr this last week.  I found these four particularly helpful invitations:


1. In a situation that seems boring or mundane—like waiting in line or at a stoplight—pay closer attention to your surroundings, using all your senses. You might even strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you.

2. Spend some time working hard on something you’re passionate about, be that practicing an instrument, studying a complex issue, or pushing yourself just a bit harder in a workout. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn.

3. Seek out and get to know people who are quite different from you (in age, interests, field of work, socio-economic status, culture, or religion). Listen a lot and share honestly from your own life experience (avoid abstract ideas or giving advice).

4. Recall a belief you’ve held about the world or God that has changed over time. What information or experiences altered that belief? Bring to mind another belief you hold now and question your assumptions, playing “devil’s advocate” for a while.

Here is my invitation...over the next four days try one out each day.  Tomorrow, I will try the paying attention while at the stoplight or story.  Tuesday, I am going to try to explore how to learn from mistakes - which while not the easiest way to learn can be the most effective.  Wednesday, I will reach out to someone who holds a different perspective and listen more than I speak.  Thursday, I will look back over ways that I have changed...and am still very much a work in progress. 

The beauty of these invitations is that they can be repeated and replayed for the next several weeks.  And would be even better if practiced several times over the come months.  For example, at the stop light you might start by noticing people...then the ways the trees are swaying...eventually you might even see a blade of grass.  Suddenly, in that moment, you realize the truth of Martin Luther who wrote, "If only I could understand a grain of wheat, I'd die of wonder."  There is too much beauty woven into the world that we miss the blur of daily living.  While, me noticing one single blade of grass doesn't necessarily a milestone make, it is a holy moment.  Finally, all the above take time to work on us, especially reaching out to people who have a different perspective.  This will involve a thousand small steps forward and back...sometimes more back than we'd like.  Or examining the ways we have changed our ideas can help us appreciate that just as my understandings have shifted so too they will continue to do the same.  I am not sure what I would do if I had to listen to a sermon I gave ten years ago....or even ten weeks ago.

I pray at least one of these invitations will immerse you in more than a trace of God's goodness and grace.

Blessings ~~

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