...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hurricane Ike- Yikes! A Comment on the Illusion of Control

Fresh from the despair of Hurricane Ike is my first post on the unpredictability of life. Spiritually, adults prefer something they can count on and so certainty really sells, especially in religion. Certainty is a long way from faith though and that's a problem. In biblical terms, as the ancient Israelites journeyed into the land of Canaan, so they created for themselves a more settled, stable, and predictable existence. Sane and reasonable beats unplanned and happenstance every time, right?

Israel's spiritual life mirrored their travels. Prophets like Hosea would look on the Exodus and wanderings as a time when Israel and Yahweh were alone, as if bride and groom on their honeymoon. Oh well, before one golden calf. It was only as Israel moved from nomadic to agrarian culture that Yahweh began to have more rivals, and idolatry become an issue. Predictability, comfort, convenience, stability, required more and more gods insure the fertility of the land, the foundation of economic life.

Henotheism is the worship one God among many others, and that is probably the best description of ancient Israel's rise and fall. Does that shoe fit the church? While we say we worship the One and Only, there is attention paid and energy given to other pursuits that will guarantee a sense of security and certainty as well as protection of our comforts and conveniences.

Choosing Exodus and not Settlement as your spiritual model means you are probably closer to the spirit of Jesus since he spoke of his great work as his departure or "exodus." In preparation for the hurricane, we were told to "hunker down" and wait it out. In the spiritual life, hunkering down can be deadening. It's all about being free to choose God, and receive and follow the movement of God in your life. Sometimes that means letting go of the idolatry of certainty and the illusion of control.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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