Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reflections from the Quiet Places

I have been enjoying a Sabbatical this summer. This is my first experience with the idea of a Sabbatical. I have been engaged in my current job for 24 years this summer. In all I have been in the same vocation for 34 years. Work is something I have been doing since my first part-time job at 12 years old. I worked through High School and College and have not stopped since. Work is my comfort zone - I love working. So the idea of taking a "sabbatical" is a shock to the system, but a much needed one.

The word sabbatical literally means to "cease from tending your fields". So that is what I have attempted to do, even though I did do my yard on occasion. Yard work is recreation for me not work. Much of what I have attempted to do while not doing my normal work, is to be quiet, to listen, to be attentive. Guess what? This has been hard work: to stop, be quiet, listen, and pay attention.

One of my, favorite pictures of the way people live their lives in today's world, is that we "live like tourists, not pilgrims." Pilgrims are on a journey drinking in all the experiences of life, while tourists are just sightseeing enslaved by their itineraries.

I have always loved the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10 - Jesus and his disciples come to visit and Martha is having her "19th nervous breakdown." There is work to do and Mary is not helping - she is just sitting at Jesus' feet listening, being quiet, and paying attention. Martha, being the "good Christian" that she is, wants Jesus' to get Mary told and tell her get up off her duff and get in the kitchen and help! Jesus loves Martha so much but on this day Martha is wrong. She is "worried and upset about many things". When I read that I think about how we often live our days - we live worried, anxious, upset about a long list of things - this is not just an occasional occurrence for many but a way of life. Not good. I want to say to Martha - "Martha, Jesus is in the house - what are you thinking!" Jesus makes it clear - "only one thing is needed."
Take that in for a moment - one thing is needed. In a world filled with constant distractions, endless text messages, vibrating cell phones, ton's of "Twittering", and flocks of friends on Facebook, CNN, Fox News, Headline News, and hours of screaming A.M. radio talk show celebrities, who has time for "one thing."

One of my buddies told me that his "life is a distraction".

As I reflect on my time of rest and time for quiet, I know now that I am so much poorer when I am distracted and so much richer when I am attentive. Depth speaks to depth. Distraction keeps us in the shallow places. Deep things open themselves to deep places in the heart.

One of my personal goals is be less distracted and more attentive than ever before.

Listen. See. Think. Act.

Just thinking, Steve

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