My work group recently began reading some of the scripture passages from the Daily Office Lectionary each morning as part of a group prayer time. Even though we do not follow the Morning Prayer service (we just do the scripture readings and offer prayer for those in our lives who are in need), this practice gradually led to me resuming the practice of doing the Evening Prayer service on my own each night and now to doing full Morning Prayer on weekend mornings.
As I’ve begun this latest journey through the dark lands, I’ve been struck by how often the liturgy of the Evening Prayer service talks about light and darkness. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising since it is intended to be read during the hours when day shifts into night, but I had not really noticed this language before now.
“Depression is something that makes you lose your sight.” ~Michael Schenker
Dark night. Black cloud. Thick fog. Darkness. Shadowlands. Blackness. Black sun.
All of these common ways of describing depressing describe conditions in which we can’t see very well. Our sight is dimmed in darkness, fog, and shadows. Familiar objects take on distorted appearances. Color is washed out. We can’t see where we’re going, and we can’t even see our current surroundings with any clarity. Everything appears gray and misshapen.
I happened across an Epiphany blog post today from Dick Staub, which went by the rather amazing title of Epiphany: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Use words only if necessary. Not only am I late in finding this post for this Epiphany (which was last Sunday), this post was actually from last year’s Epiphany! But given the fact that I recognized a couple of my favorite quotes in that delicious title, I just had to take the time to read it.
I’m really glad I did, and I suspect you will, too. It’s really good well-written. (And full of quotes from some of my favorite authors!)
I’ve spent much of the day reading Phyllis Tickle’s latest book, Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters, in preparation for a book discussion that I plan to attend later this week. Although I’ve heard the term, this is my first real introduction to Emergence Christianity, and Tickle does a beautiful job of explaining the cultural and historical forces that led to this form of Christianity, the characteristics that belong to this group, and the variations that can be seen within the movement—and it’s all done in easy-to-read, nontechnical language.
It’s a great book, and I’m learning a lot. But reading it has also been an uncanny experience.
It’s New Year’s Eve as I write this, a time when my mind naturally turns to looking back over the last year and forward to the next one. Even though I gave up on New Year’s resolutions a number of years ago, there is still something about this time of year that encourages reflection on changes that I’d like to see in my life.
As I look back on 2012, I see yet another year of much change—both external and internal. While this change in 2012 has at times been challenging and has caused me to make some fairly radical changes to where I thought I was headed, overall the year has been one of positive changes. This is especially true compared the amount of difficulty and heartbreak that 2010 and 2011 brought with them. It’s encouraging to note that I seem to have turned the corner from the process of being completely melted down to the start of the process of being rebuilt into something new in this journey through the chrysalis.
When I was younger, I used to believe that God had a perfect plan for our lives. Our job was figure out what this plan was and get with the program.
I believed that there was one perfect spouse for each of us, one perfect career path, one place we were to live, one church we were to attend, one choice in every situation that was right. All other choices were wrong and disobedient. This put an awful lot of pressure on every decision to make sure it was the one perfect one.
It used to really frustrate me to think that God had laid out this perfect plan that I was supposed to follow, but that I wasn’t given a copy of the checklist for ever decision I faced so I’d know which one was right. It seemed so unfair. To top it off, I often heard it said that God would call you to whatever you were least suited (in skills and personality) to do, so if you were actually good at what you were doing or you enjoyed it, it was a sure sign that you were on the wrong path.
“Writing makes a map, and there is something about a journey that begs to have its passage marked.” ~ Christina Baldwin
Tomorrow’s blog post will be my 500th post that I’ve published here on this blog. Because I’ve taken some longish sabbaticals at times from blog writing, it’s taken me almost three years to get this far.
This blog began as a safe space to record my journey. It continues to be that space for me, but over time, it’s also become the map showing where I’ve been. It’s the record of what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown through the experiences I’ve encountered along the way.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure in fact whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.” ~Haruki Murakami
I’ve had the occasion several times just recently to reflect back on the storms that I’ve been through the last couple of years. It amazes me to look back at all that I’ve weathered and how well I’ve come through those storms.
I’ve written several posts lately about my struggles with success (and the challenges it brings) and how it causes me to hide my light and to hide myself in general. Ironically, part of this pattern involves quitting something either when I feel like I am about to be successful or when I feel too threatened by someone else’s success (thereby convincing myself that I am a failure).
These sound very much like opposites, but they are (ironically) part of the same pattern for me. Both involve wanting to avoid any sense of being in competition with other people because competition always means someone loses and someone will wind up feeling bad. It might be me. Or it might be the other person, in which case I feel guilty for having caused them to feel bad. I can’t win!
“You have to confront the very parts of yourself that you fear most to find what you have been looking for, because the mechanism that drives you to conceal your darkness is the same mechanism that has you hide your light. What you’ve been hiding from can actually give you what you’ve been trying hard to achieve.” ~Debbie Ford
I’ve spent most of my life projecting my shadow elsewhere so that I could avoid looking at the darkness that I carry within. I was so afraid that if I came face to face with my own darkness, it would destroy me. But as Debbie Ford says above, that also meant hiding my light because the light is what highlights the shadows. Light draws attention to me and makes it more likely that others might see those shadows too.