Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"A burning bush" - some reflections and "ramblings"

I just posted the "article" below is as part of my church's "Pastor's Notes" column. Thought I might as well also re-post it here ... and add in a few more of my reflections and "ramblings". I do find this "lectio divina" exercise (even if it is "on the run") very helpful.

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One book I am currently reading (about a chapter a week) is "Spiritual Formation on the Run" by Dr. Alex Tang. The reason for the "slow reading" is deliberate. It is to help me learn to apply an ancient spiritual discipline practiced in the early church called "Lectio divina". It is basically something that comprises four parts or movements.

1. Reading / listening (lectio)

2. Meditating (meditatio)

3. Praying (oration)

4. Contemplation (contemplatio)


Here's an interesting chapter that has been a challenge and blessing to me. I have only ever so slightly "Kiwinized"a few words. (Note to Dr. Alex - I have put in bold the two "changed words" :-) ) Why not take your time with this "devotion" and try the "lectio divina" approach?


A Burning Bush

If you are driving along the motorway and see a bush that is burning, yet is not consumed by the fire, what would you do?

1. Whip out your mobile and call the fire department;

2. Ignore it and drive by to your next appointment;

3. Slow down, get out of the car, join the rest of the crowd to see the spectacular free show;

4. Recognise the presence of God?

While knowing our civic duty to call the fire department, most of us will not do so. We do not want to get "involved." Someone else will call, that is our justification. However, that may not stop us from calling our friends to tell them about the fire. Many of us will ignore the burning bush and just drive on. We are always in a hurry, and there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Some will get out to look at the burning bush. "How do they create this special effect?" — they may wonder. "Are they making a movie?" Very few will recognize the presence of God and even fewer will move close enough to hear the voice of God, as Moses did (Exodus 3:4).

What we choose to do is a reflection of our spirituality. Many of us have the "do not get involved" attitude. Let someone else do it. We know we are to love our neighbours (Mark 12:31), but let us not get too involved. Many too suffer from the "hurry" syndrome. We spend our days rushing from one task to another, filling our lives with stressful hurry. We forget the one thing needful (Luke 10:41). There are also those among us who love the spectacular and like to be entertained. A burning bush. Wow. What a spectacular pyrotechnic show. Very few of us will notice the presence of God. Why? Because we are so attuned to the natural world, so centered on our own lives, that we are not open to the presence of God around us. What the mind does not think of, the eyes do not see. That is why Paul urged us to train our minds (Romans 12:2).

There is a story of two fish in an ocean. They set off on a quest to find water, which is said to have special qualities. Water gives life and can exist in three states: liquid, solid and vapour. The fish spent many years searching, yet they could not find this water. One day, they asked a wise fish, "Where can we find water?" The wise fish replied, "Water? It is everywhere. You are swimming in it!" Are we like these two fish? We are living in the presence of God, yet we are not aware of him. We see a burning bush and disregard it, not realizing God wants to speak to us. Let us be mindful of the presence of God in our everyday lives and not miss "a burning bush."

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Okay ... additional reflections and ramblings ...

I have been listening over the last couple of week's Juwita Suwito's CD, "Brand New World". I really like the music and some of the songs in particular have no overt Christian terminology. But they have been a blessing to me. I find that "interesting". Does a song have to be "Christian" to be "spiritual"?....

I think too of how strange it is that on Saturday I was "jamming" and "harmonizing" with a friend (2 guitars) and singing some "oldies" with some friends and someone I had just met (half of them non Christians) and there was so much "soul" in our simple singing. There was a strange connection among a group of people whose relationships range from close friends, friends, acquaintances and practically strangers! In a weird way it was almost a "holy moment" where it was as if God was helping me connect with others through "secular music".... Makes sense in a way as it was a natural way to connect and build friendships ...

And I think too of how some "secular songs" (even some with not so great themes) bring about in me an awareness of God and some of the pains in the world so much greater than most "worship songs".

I think in particular of two "suicide songs" that never fail to move me and make me reflect on life and my calling, always ending with a prayer to God - (and it makes me think of Markus too as we both love these 2 songs) - "Vincent" and "Alone again (naturally)". How strange ... but then again God is always present and is very real in the least expected places ....

Anyway, I had better end here ... maybe more reflections next time ... this chapter is taking a very long time .... :-)

But here's the lyrics of the above mentioned songs (Do note that is so much more meaningful when listened to or sung). AND I MUST ADD THAT I FIND THAT THE ANSWER TO LIFE'S SADNESS IS THE REALITY OF KNOWING THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST!!

ONLY IN THE DARK
The raindrops fall incessantly / Each time I think the sky's letting up / There seems to be another cloud / Bringing the dark / Coming right at me

So often I can't see the road ahead / The blinding headlights loom then go out again / But suddenly I find that I don't need to strife /'Cause I realize I am rising, I'm flying and...

Chorus: Only in the dark when I can't seem to see / Ilearn to hear Your whisper that's been guiding me / Reach out for the hand that bears the light / So my step is right / Only in the dark

Now each day's a step that's lighted up / And the ' questions asked won't make me stop / 'Cause I know no matter how I feel / That this is real / And I'm slowly getting to a place where its not...

Bridge: So let the shadows come / And let me run into Your arms where / I can feel the warmth of Your touch - unmistakable / Leading me on, loving me on, turning me on / Though now it seems to be that...

VINCENT

Starry starry night
paint your palette blue and grey

look out on a summer's day
with eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills sketch the trees and the daffodils
catch the breeze and the winter chills
in colors on the snowy linen land.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry starry night
flaming fllowers that brightly blaze
swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in
Vincent's eyes of China blue.
Colors changing hue
morning fields of amber grain
weathered faces lined in pain
are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you
but still your love was true
and when no hope was left in sight on that starry starry night.
You took your life as lovers often do;
But I could have told you Vincent
this world was never meant for one
as beautiful as you.

Starry starry night
portraits hung in empty halls
frameless heads on nameless walls
with eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the stranger that you've met
the ragged men in ragged clothes
the silver thorn of bloddy rose
lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

And now I think I know what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen they're not list'ning still
perhaps they never will.


ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY)

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that’s tough She's stood him up"
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to well wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much, as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God and His mercy
Or if He really does exist
Why did He desert me in my hour of need
I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally
Now looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

3 comments:

  1. :) well, i think that most of us don't pay enough attention to nature--if we did, we would have more reason to praise god.

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  2. I am one person who struggles to "feel" God in nature :-( Still learning....

    ReplyDelete