We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good. But this is only a secondary end. The one end that includes all others is the love of God.
Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene. Breathe God’s air. Work, if you can, under His sky.
I am a fantastic singer!
Seriously. Not joking. My range is phenomenal, the envy of many. Don’t take my word for it, I have references and they are impressive. Famous singers such as Robert Palmer and Adele are fans. Well…I actually haven’t asked them but I sound just like them.
When working in the yard I grab the mp3 player, select the playlist titled “Brian” (not sure how I came up with the name), stick in the ear buds, press play and have myself a sing-a-long.
Doesn’t matter who’s singing, Gotye (yep that one song that’s now stuck in your head), Foo Fighters, Steve Miller Band, the aforementioned Adele and Robert Palmer or U2, our vocals are in complete harmony. It’s beautiful, no matter what the neighbors say.
A Thomas Merton quote has been banging around in my head most of the day…
Why do we have to spend our lives striving to be something that we would never want to be, if we only knew what we wanted? Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we were made for?
No Man is an Island, pp. 125-26
Maybe the reason we waste our time doing the opposite of what we are made for is we’re always plugged into the world. The many voices that tell us who and what we should be never cease. If we let them they will define us and the reality in which we live.
Only when we unplug do we hear another voice, a true voice, speaking purpose and peace.
so, who’s signing me to a multi-album contract?
“something that looks or seems different from what it is, something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real. An incorrect idea. An idea that is based on something that is not true.”
Thomas Merton says;
“If we take our vulnerable shell to be our true identity, if we think our mask is our true face, we will protect it even at the cost of violating our true person. This seems to be the goal of society: to exist in a collective illusion, until in the end there is only fantasy and fictitious identities.” – Raids on the Unspeakable, p15
One of my greatest fears is being a fake. To exist as something other than who I am is frightening. Last week I completed a personality profile. It’s been six years since my first experience with this tool that gauges leadership and group compatibility. Interestingly many answers were different than in my previous submission.
I’m not surprised. I’m not the same person I was six years ago, not the same guy as yesterday. Victories and defeats, successes and failures, hard lessons and even harder questions have shaped me into who I am presently, in this moment.
The temptation is to ask; “Am I better or worse?” “More desirable, likable?” “Will people see me as worthy?” I know these aren’t the right questions but they were the ones I attempted to answer when completing the first test in 2007. I wanted Meyers Briggs to state emphatically, “Yes, he is likable!” “Yes, he is desirable!” “Yes, he is worthy!”
Now, more mindful, peaceful and hopefully wiser, I see myself more clearly. Who I am is not hidden from me, I try to no longer wear masks, live in illusions or base my identity on being desired, likable and worthy. There are weaknesses and strengths, talents and areas of lacking, but trying to be anything other than true is futile and fantasy.
I must admit I hesitated when I clicked the submit button for the profile, worried it might not be what someone else wanted to read, but only for a moment and then I said goodbye to the mask and left it behind.
Maybe the personality test isn’t the only test I took last week.
grace and peace,
Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.
“The best description and praise of God is silence.” This thought has reverberated in my mind for almost two years. I was reminded this morning, as I meditated on Psalm 66, of the need to long for, thirst, seek and embrace, the seemingly elusive, treasure that is silence.
Even in “farm country” Pennsylvania serenity is hard to find. Often there are cars, tractors, barking dogs, chirping bugs and squawking birds. Today, everything was in “silent sync.” No traffic, no canines, birds and bugs nesting, and a stillness that was palpable.
Is this abnormal or do we miss the “silent sync” because it is we, not the silence, which is elusive?
Every year as another District Assembly rolls around I think about Mary Brown. There are many things that make her special but one of the most remarkable is that she likes District Assemblies. As an Ordained Elder in the church of the Nazarene and currently serving on the Philadelphia district I am required to attend our local District Assembly and have yet to come up with a viable excuse, that my Senior Pastor would accept, to allow me miss this yearly function. However, my grandmother, volunteers to attend her local assembly on the South Carolina district and has done so for as long as I can remember.. This amazes me! During our assembly this year, which took place the last full week of April, I found myself talking about prayer with some of my fellow delegates. We were comparing and contrasting the many styles of conversation that God‘s children have with their Heavenly Father. As the discussion progressed I told them how my grandmother falls asleep many nights on the floor of her living room during her nightly prayers. Not too long ago she had lamented to me that she felt guilty about dozing off during this time and I assured her God had no problem with it, for what better way to end the day than falling asleep in her Father’s arms.
Of all the traits that make my Nana special her desire to live a life pleasing to her Father is the one I treasure most. I have heard her often described as a saint and have seen her blush when others refer to her that way in her presence. Sometimes a “saint’s” journey can give the impression that they have found a way, that only few know, a way of perfection and peace. That’s not her path. It has not been perfect. Doubt, fears, confusion and frustration sometime still stalk from their hiding places. Hills, valleys, darkness and difficult stretches almost seem too much and still she travels on wanting to please her Father and to one day see His face. She will be the first to tell you she isn’t a saint, an angel, that perfection is still on the horizon and everlasting peace a destination not yet reached. She would also say there is no saintliness without scars, no halo without hurt, perfection is crucified love and peace is known only after loneliness, fear, doubt and confusion are intimate companions.
Mary Brown is special, not because she’s arrived, but because she still journeys on. Thomas Merton wrote; “I don’t always know how to please You my Lord, but let my wanting to please You, please You.” May this continue to be her and our lifelong prayer.