Blindness and belonging
I am writing this from Hilton Head where I am beginning a week of rest and re creation with Kim Veatch. I start this day out on a balcony porch overlooking the harbor. My view is beautiful beyond words: the rippling water, a line of palm trees, regal pines and then birds flying, soaring, gliding, perching, trilling, singing, calling.
And me sitting in wonder that AGAIN I am in a place of exquisite peace and beauty.
This is a Sunday with no church again, but a Sunday that begins with God. I start a new book: Pursuing God's Will Together by Ruth Haley Barton and I read the texts of this day. And I wonder - what is God going to do with me this week? Because my sense is that there is something.
This much I know - that I am on a journey where ( for the most part) I want to pursue God's will. Ruth Haley Barton defines discernment as "distinguishing between the good - what is of God and draws us closer and the evil - what is not of God. And the aim of discernment "finding God in all things in order that we may love and serve god in all."
Which of course is words that make it sound easy. She uses the story of the healing of the blind man in John to explore that problems we have in our spiritual vision as the Pharisees struggled with preserving the system and the parents feared rejection. Our systems of thought and expectations can filter out our awareness of Gods presence and activity and speech. She writes "we only see what we are ready to see, expect to see and even desire to see."
As i write this I reflect on Kim coming outside and immediately seeing a baby dolphin in the water. I had not known to look.
So my hope and prayer is for discernment and guidance. One of scripture readings today is John 17:6-19 as Jesus is praying to God before he leaves this world for his disciples:
"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world"
And what pops out to me is "belong". As followers of Jesus we do not "belong" to
the world but to God. I believe that but I also know - to go back to the very first sentence of my blog- that I "for the most part" want to pursue God's will. The other part is about pursuing my will or getting caught up in the values of " the world."
And THEN I find myself in a place of just plain confusion as I don't really know what is what.
No wonder I love the prayer by Thomas Merton so much that begins like this:
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. ."
And so, as this week begins in it's beauty I pray for real discernment as I stumble along seeking to follow the will of God. I know that is where I will find life.
Here is a prayer by Ruth Haley Barton:
Heal my inner sight, O God
That I may know the difference between good and evil
Open my eyes
That i may see what is true and what is false
Restore me to wisdom
That I may be well in my soul
Restore me to wisdom,
That I and my world may be well