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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mystical or Reality

Last year I was crawling along in rush hour traffic and saw a man lying on the boulevard a couple lanes over. The thought crossed my mind…..stop and see if he is OK….but that would back up perhaps hundreds of cars behind me. You know how it is. People get annoyed. So I continued on thinking he was just catching some sun lying on the grass. Perhaps 20 minutes later I came back that way after picking up a package at the post office and long before I got there I could see flashing lights in the location and sure enough it was an ambulance. For sure, not my proudest moment. One of shame in my books.

While following the proceedings of this year’s World Conference I noted for the 1st time, something called the practice of “spiritual formation.” Throughout the period since then I have participated in a number of “dwelling in the word” practices which acquainted me with a deeper reflection of scripture, the words of counsel and meaningful readings. This is one of many spiritual formation exercises. Although, I personally felt the spirit and gained new insights into each dwelling in the word reading as I perceived each word intently and prayerfully, not taking for granted what I might have considered the reading to say at first glance; I am not sure I understood the whole notion of spiritual formation. I’m kind of a get busy with things type of personality and even when I pray I generally have a pen and paper handy. This past weekend at a workshop the big picture of spiritual formation finally began to sink in. It’s not that it is so different from my approach but now I understand if I am not emptying myself and refilling everyday then the results of my actions are my results, not Gods. 

We live our lives making countless choices and decisions each day, interacting with untold numbers of people, observing many more situations and circumstances than we can even remember; as we drift along sidewalks and hallways and aisles taking for granted the lifeless faces, the signs of need and struggles that abound.

Also, we often think well of ourselves as we feel we might have nailed a presentation, designed an excellent prototype, created a dynamic strategic plan or stated remarks that others admired. There is pride and ego that we sense in our learned skills, our eloquence, our abilities, our relationships…… Particularly in these moments of supposed excellence, we need to ask ourselves the question, “to what extent have I just allowed my best thinking, my logic, and my plans to obscure or totally reduce what the Spirit is seeking to reveal and do through me.” Are you catching what I am saying? More often than not, it ends up being about me/us and not about the other.

In most industries today, the term “Best Practices” denotes the optimum way to do something to achieve the best outcome. To truly be a prophetic people, spiritual formation is the “best practices” principle that guides our moment by moment awareness of life about us into the opportunities we would not otherwise see. The current words of Counsel before us state, “Opportunities abound in your daily lives if you choose to see them.”

So seriously, what does this mean for you and me? I could just launch into my day thinking I am doing just fine, thank you. The Spiritual Formation principle says on the contrary, I can do better. Just when I think that which I say is brilliant (ego time) in a conversation, the Spirit if I had listened would have had me phrase it more pastorally, or more compassionately or positively or humourously or just plain differently. As I walked along the street admiring that sharp looking car, my awareness could have picked up on the elderly woman carrying a heavy package. As I was worried about getting my point across in a conversation I missed the opportunity to notice the pain in the other person’s eyes.

Spiritual formation practices nurture a mindfulness and awareness that both empties me of my own clutter and creates space for the Spirit to indwell me. That allows me to see with new eyes; people and situations, words and promptings of the Spirit that answer the needs that are around me. Am I venturing into a mystical realm of make-believe or is there really a new reality that evidences itself with positive reinforcement each moment of prompted response? 

I know the latter is real! Our sacred community exists on this foundational premise that spiritual formation makes me/us vulnerable to the Spirit, nurturing moment by moment a new reality of sensitivity that is felt piercingly, that is scarily intuitive, that is situationally unnerving, that is life disrupting, that transforms doubt into knowing. If you desire to change your Sunday’s from spectating to a reality adventure with an unknown script but enticingly meaningful to the core of your being, then pray like your life depended on it. Empty yourself, let grace sweep over you and become vulnerable to the Spirit. You will be forgiven, empowered and prompted to respond in ways that will make real the songs you sing and the scriptures you read, for in them your life will be revealed.

Submitted by Kerry

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