...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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living Water is here for the taking

Lent is a time of heightening, not deadening, the senses. But the best way to do this is the way of simplicity and uncluttering. Subtracting the spiritual hangers-on, the act of letting go allows us the freedom to move toward more of God and to choose life. Even in the midst of the ashes.

I wish I could have found the poem I was looking for, but in my searching, I discovered a part of one of John Donne's Elegies that I had long forgotten, from a class on the poets of his generation. It's from the last few lines of the Elegy entitled "Change":

To live in one land is captivity,
To run all countries, a wild roguery;
Waters stink soon, if in one place they bide,
And in the vast sea are worse putrified:
But when they kiss one bank, and leaving this
Never look back, but the next bank do kiss,
Then are they purest; Change is the nursery
Of music, joy, life, and eternity.

What in me stinks and is becoming putrified? To me, that brings home the stark reality that, yes, there are some things that are ugly and creating a stench in my spirit. It is time for the deep water of my soul to be cleansed by the one and only source of living water. The water welling up to life now and forever.

Remembering one of many 8th grade science experiments, lent is a spiritual application of what we learn from physical science. The law of volume and displacement means that two substances cannot occupy the same space. Quickly, the weightier matter will win out. More of God means less of something else. Less of that which is not God or of God. It doesn't mean that we fill up our lives with more, but that we let go of whatever in us that is holding us back, hindering, harming, or merely distracting us from the greater good.

Yes, change can be the nursery for love and joy, as Donne writes. Change itself is inevitable. But the choice for more God, more love and joy, is ours. Divine displacement works best when the presence of God's love forces out stink and stench, signs of being shut off too long from the free movement Living Water.

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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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