Quote of the Day

Photo Thanks to Daria Sukhorukova

Photo Thanks to Daria Sukhorukova

I’m posting quotes as we go through the fuzzy zone of being new parents again in these next days. This quote comes from Parker Palmer (The Active Life, 50-51):

If we were to accept large areas of life as pure gift, we would be forced to acknowledge that we are not in control. Were we to live as recipients rather than makers, we might feel dependent and diminished, like clients of some cosmic welfare system that demeans our lives. If we were to affirm that we have received many gifts, that we have not earned all that we have, we might feel obliged to pass the gifts along rather than hoard our treasures to ourselves.

 

 

Quote of the Day

Photo Thanks to Kirsty TG

Photo Thanks to Kirsty TG

I’m posting quotes as we go through the fuzzy zone of being new parents again in these next days. This quote comes from Parker Palmer (Let Your Life Speak, 48):

One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess—the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place…When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself—and me—even as I give it away.

 

 

A Home for Your Introversion

Photo Thanks to Dana and Peter

Photo Thanks to Dana and Peter

I was talking with my big brother, Patrick Winfield, weeks ago. I had been on his heart and he followed the rule that when somebody is on your heart for a couple days, you call. Among our words was this notion of our uniqueness.

We talked about personality. Winfield is an extravert. He’s orange. I’m an introvert. I’m gold. The colors come from some staff exercise he had us conduct years back at Sweet Holy Spirit, where we picked pictures and found out our colors and the associations with them. The colors became an abbreviation we use in our chats. We’re identified by our pictures, by our colors.

While we were talking, we got down to something specific: people need a home for their introversion. People like me. People like my sister, Vicky, Winfield’s wife. Introverts need space, created room, to be at home.

Sometimes we forget this. We, as introverts, impacted by our peopled calendars and social days, forget that we need that space to cultivate quiet. We require solitude for the sake of our selves.

But this isn’t just true for introverts. Introverts need that cultivation space for personality maintenance. Everybody needs that quiet room for the sake our the soul. Parker Palmer talks about the internal space being created in activism and not only quiet. Howard Thurman talks about the soul need for centering down. Centering down and being active don’t prevent solitude; they can foster it. In other words, it doesn’t have to be quiet around you for your soul to have quiet.

But the soul, the interior, unseen part of you that is really you, needs space to be free, space to be home. That home may be a physical place or an internal place. It may be in a broad sweeping valley; it may overlook a breathtaking mountain; it may be deep within your consciousness.

That home is for the introverted and the extraverted. Where do you feel at home? Where does your heart move when it needs relief or quiet or calm? Have you given your heart that space lately?

Something I’m Thinking About

Photo Thanks to Tim Swaan

Photo Thanks to Tim Swaan

As I see one semester end (at seminary) and one unit end (in CPE) and one year end (at the church), I’m reading over a book that will likely find its way into one of my theory papers. It’s a book Dr. Scottie May introduced me to in grad school.

Parker Palmer is such a helpful teacher and guide. Here’s a taste about education but that can be said of preaching, speaking, parenting, and any other way of learning/educating:

If you want to understand our controlling conception of knowledge, do not ask for our best epistemological theories. Instead, observe the way we teach and look for the theory of knowledge implicit in those practices. That is the epistemology our students learn–no matter what our best contemporary theories may have to say.

…If this is the case, then as a teacher I can no longer take the easy way out, insisting that I am only responsible for conveying the facts of sociology or theology or whatever the subject may be. Instead, I must take responsibility for my mediator role, for the way my mode of teaching exerts a slow but steady formulative pressure on my students’ sense of self and world. I teach more than a body of knowledge or a set of skills. I teach a mode of relationship between the knower and the known, a way of being in the world. That way, reinforced in course after course, will remain with my students long after the facts have faded from their minds.

(From To Know As We Are Known, pg. 29, 30)

Breathe Someone Into Life

On rare occasions, we may need to breathe someone into life who is incapacitated in a way that threatens his or her well-being. But most people can and must come to life in their own way and time, and if we try to help them by hastening the process, we end up doing harm.

(From A Hidden Wholeness, pg. 63)

Photo Thanks to Austin Schmid

Photo Thanks to Austin Schmid

Where must you come to life in your own way this week, and how can you be gentle with those places? How will you plan for breathing life into your own lungs as you work?

I think it’s really easy to carry on as if we aren’t breathing. Rushing through the morning. Pushing through until lunch or beyond that meeting just so we’re able to…

On the other hand, it’s easy to breathe. What’s hard is noticing your breath. I think the call to contemplation in real life is a simple call to notice what’s most easily unnoticed. Whether that’s the flicker of a person’s gaze in a conversation or your own hurried nature, pressing against a deep call to an alternative way of being.

Someone told me, in effect, that my calling her to a slower nature was unrealistic. She was saying that I didn’t understand. I did understand. I tried hard to hear her. In fact, I knew more about what she was saying than she did. And there was something in my counsel to her that she was resistant to. She couldn’t quite grasp the simple clarity that comes with breathing.

I was talking out of Palmer’s lexicon to some degree. We have to come to life in our own way. We can’t be rushed into newness. Like birth, gaining clarity and embracing insight is a grueling event. It’s a life and death competition.

Here’s a one-sentence prayer: Life-giver, enable me to brighten in the dismal parts of myself so that I can notice myself and, eventually, others.

A Prompt: Write In And Through Love

I was re-reading Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak for a class with students of theology the other evening.  But I thought of writers when I read it.  He was discussing how to honor and live one’s nature.  Parker had discussed how we damage our own integrity when trying to be generous, even if we have nothing to give, all in the name of love.

When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless–a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for.  That kind of giving is not only loveless but faithless, based on the arrogant and mistaken notion that God has no way of channeling love  to the other except through me.  Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another.  But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.