Often we think of prayer, meditation, contemplation and mysticism as stages or levels, a movement beyond petition, words, to space and connectivity. But they usually all have in common a withdrawal to a space or time to practice, a coming away to give yourself time to pray, meditate etc. This way of being, of taking time out has been an important part of my journey. Equally an important part has been a journey against separateness (dualism) in thinking about worship, mission, prayer.
The last few months I have found I needed less and less to withdraw, and felt more and more oneness. Even in moments of being alone, I am not seeking to practice prayer, or mediate, but simply experiencing A deeper connectedness, a constantacy, and not so much a tap or a well but more a “nowness” (which I think is Augustine) that is both full and empty, now and not yet, a future present state. This nowness is staying with me, there has been a shift from the struggle of being still and still moving to released and relaxed reality.
Its a great place, and something I really value as it seems a good shift beyond dualism. But to be honest it’s a bit disconcerting. Anyone else experiencing a shift in their inner life?
There is a deep magic happening on the edges of mission and church as we know it. It’s rooted, it’s moving from host to guest, power is being unveiled, relationship uncovered, dichotomies collapsed, and the walls are being called to dust. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about a good place start is here with Al Barrett or Cathy and John Wheatley
Local voices are being heard, new voices discovered and a new kind of leadership is emerging. It’s very local, and very connected. There’s maturer voices and younger dissenters, and I have admit I’m a little jealous. I’m loving my role of the last two years, but moving from the edge to the edge of the circle, has been a challenge. It’s made me ask questions of identity, revisit and wrestle again with who I am called to be. I am encouraged by encounters with people in simular roles, and by those coming through and holding the space at the edge of circle, but I miss the varied space of the margin.
One of the joys of my current role is the encouragement and space I have been given to be myself. It’s been great to bring in the thoughts and ways of being I have inhabited for the last 20 or so years and see people surprised by what seem natural.
As I reflected on what I want to say in this new iteration of Sunday Papers, I hope to keep spotting the deep magic underway on the edge and wrestle with what that means for me and the context I work in. Inevitably I expect I will drift but I hope I will live up a little to the challenge Nouwen offers.
“…I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.” Nouwen
It is mistake we often make as we act, move and lean into shalom is a failure to connect this leaning into the future with the sense of trajectory that pervades the Judaeo Christian story. Truth is neither relative or absolute, it is directional. The story of shalom is the story towards completdness. It began before us and continues beyond us. It started in a garden and moves into a city. We have heard it said an eye for an eye but love your neighbour. We have heard it said love your neighbour but love you enemy. There was a separation between the sacred and secular, the world, the outer courtyard and the holy of holies. But we heard it said those walls would be called to dust and we have seen the temple curtain ripped in two. We have been embraced by Christ and embodied with the Spirit, and so we live in the now and not yet, we walk, live and lean into the future, part of the directional truth towards shalom.