Before being Christians or Jews or Muslims, before being Americans or Russians or Africans, before begin generals or priests, rabbis or imams, before having visible or invisible disabilities, we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving.Jean Vanier
Jesus said: I have come to bring them life and to bring it abundantly.John 10:10
Will you strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being?from the Service of Holy Baptism
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.Matthew 6:28-34
“We have gotten rusty at being people.”
Dr. Eric Frazer, from Yale University Medical Center, has written a book that includes discussion of mindfulness. He’s the one who said this thing about getting rusty. That’s been on my mind since I heard him make the comment in an interview last week.
He prescribes a cure. He writes about the health-giving benefits of mindfulness. For me, viewing from a faith perspective, he was describing the power of taking time on a daily basis to remember who we are and whose we are.
Last week, I was giving a talk that included discussion of the importance of spiritual practices. A woman in the crowd spoke up, challenging me as she described her heartfelt challenge of finding quiet time as she managed her job, her kids, her parents, her spouse, her life. It was not the season in her life when she had loads of free time for long periods of meditation. There were no long walks in the woods, no hours seated in contemplation over a cup of tea. Nice idea, but that was not in the cards. So what was she to do?
I’m told (and I believe) that one of the impediments to spiritual growth is the busy nature of our lives. How do we fit even the most minimal mindfulness into our routines? In days marked by rancorous partisanship, fueled by unfiltered comments on social media, how do we get less rusty at being people?
Herewith a random assortment of suggestions:
- Start small. Do what you can, not what you can’t. Be gentle with yourself. There, there.
- Set your smart phone for a minute of silence in the morning. Or go out on a limb: maybe three times a day. If that works, gradually expand the amount of time. Hint: There’s an app for that.
- Give thanks for five things each day.
- Each morning, pick a person you want to pray for throughout that day. Extra credit: Select someone who drives you nuts, pushes your buttons, needs your forgiveness, or watches a different news channel than you do.
- Write a random, out-of-the-blue daily thank you note to somebody who has had impact on your life.
- Set an intention for each day, centered on a word. Gratitude. Hope. Service. Kindness, Grace.
- Look for God-sightings. Where do you see God at work in the people around you?
- At the end of the day, take two minutes to ask if you have lived into your values.Look for folks who model mindfulness, folks like Jean Vanier, who died this past week, and who is quoted above. In his life singularly dedicated to the dignity of people with severe disabilities, he was someone who was not rusty. Take time today to read his obituary. See how his light can shine light on our lives.
All of which, of course, brings me to Jesus. Was there ever another person who had a longer to-do list? I mean: Being Messiah? Saving the world? All in three years? Talk about a full plate. Yet the gospels indicate that at key moments, he sought silence and prayer. He sat and talked at length with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, among others. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry, and on occasion, folks wanted him to speed it up. I’m imagining that a key to his non-anxious presence was that mindfulness of who he was and whose he was.
May God give us grace this day to follow in his pathway. Because, frankly, we’re kind of rusty at that.
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.
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