Echoing in my expressed longing for stillness on here a few weeks ago was a chord that has been resounding in my life for a while: the idea of simplicity. And then, by natural connection, the idea of busyness. The two can be enemies, but they don’t have to be. The reality is, though, that the number of filled physical hours in my life recently has forced me into a new search for stillness and simplicity within and surrounding those hours. To characterize all I do, I hope. I’ve been challenged by scriptures that call me to different definitions of simplicity and rest. I’ve been moved by songs that speak into this reality. I’ve been reading books focused around these themes, some without even realizing it. And I’ve found myself seeking out relationships and resources that push and encourage me in these pursuits. Because honestly, stillness is not something we’re very good at. Not in our society, not in our churches, not in our hearts.
I keep telling myself that this is just a season: the busyness, and reflective silence on here. Hopefully it’s true, or at least I will try to make it such!
It’s a good busyness though. A busyness of learning: I’ve spent the past few months immersed in learning about this new journey the Lord has me on. Learning everything from the history of my organization; what they believe and their goals and vision; to more detailed specifics of how to work in college ministry, how to teach the Word to students, how to make a schedule and practice Sabbath. But more than any of the specific topics, what I love about learning is that it’s always connected, if we’re open to see it, to life. The Lord reveals Himself in ways obvious and subtle, and all of a sudden learning about something like time management is saturated with spiritual significance. Studying communication becomes a means to better reflect Christ in relationship. Learning about the lenses through which we perceive the world allows us to further honor Him in our emotions. Listening to the history of higher education allows for reflection on how culture shapes our faith, and when faith must rise above it. Looking at results of a personality test sheds greater light on weaknesses and desired growth.
I’m reading a little book right now that doesn’t have a copyright page or date, but the inscription on the inside cover (to a Mrs. Keziah Parr – a name you still hear everyday!) is dated March 8, 1905. I know it’s nothing special; not even really that antique in the grand scheme of things; but there’s something about holding a book in my hands that was held and read over a hundred years ago that makes me feel connected to a picture and world much bigger than my current one. Then, as I begin to read, this becomes even more true. The book is a collection of poems from great Christian writers of the past titled “Gems of Christian Poetry.” The words of familiar hymns, many originally poems, weave their way through the pages, surrounded by numerous pieces I had never read before, and which I doubt remain in too many a number of books (though not for lack of quality). Among the authors’ names is practically a who’s who of Christian poetry and hymn writing greats: George Herbert, Christina Rosetti, Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, Milton, John Newton, Whitefield. But then there are other poems labeled with names such as ‘Mrs. Browning,’ or simply ‘Pope,’ and many more with no name at all, in itself an interesting tribute to the memory of the innumerable saints of old whose names may be remembered by no one, but who have deeply affected our current lives and faith.
I tend to overthink things. That’s probably already evident in this blog, and honestly, is not bad in all areas. But sometimes it is. I can get so caught up in a line of thinking, analyzing, figuring it out, that minute details take on a level of importance and complexity far greater than they were ever meant to bear. The result of this is that I can have a tendency to rush by the true, though seemingly simple, realities where I really need to spend the most time in order to see all other things in proper perspective.
I was caught by a reminder of this the other morning I was reading J.B.Phillips’ introduction to the book of Romans in his modern English translation. Continue reading
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
G.K. Chesterton, From an Early Notebook
I love these words. Grace. A friend and I set out to write a song about grace once, a number of years ago, and found ourselves quickly stalled. Not because we didn’t know what to say, but because there was too much to say, and too much of it inexpressible. We didn’t know how to say it. Continue reading