Friday, December 2, 2016

The Grace in Living

That is the title of one of the books I am currently reading.  It is by Kathleen Dowling Singh and the rest of the title is:  Recognize it, trust it, abide in it.

That really says it all.  She writes about how important "Spiritual Biography" is.  She starts her chapter on it like this:
"Anyone who has ever taken a long and arduous hike through a woods or a city or a hillside knows how welcome the sigh of a bench can be.  Spiritual biography offers such a bench, a chance to sit and rest in the midst of our journey and take stock of what our life has been about.  it's an opportunity to look backdown the path, noting how far we've come and the conducive and the challenging conditions that we've met along the way."   In a way, this is what spiritual direction is - a chance to sit with another on that bench and look back and bear witness to what we have seen and experienced.

I write this as I look at the scriptures for today which are all a look back at the history - the spiritual history - of God's people. Act 16: 16-25 is Paul recounting the history

So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak:
“You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness.
 After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance for about four hundred fifty years.
 After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years.
When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, ”I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.”
Of this man's posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his work, he said, “What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet

In essence, he is tracing it from Egypt, through the wilderness (40 years) to Canaan (450 years) to Judges, Kings, David and Jesus.  It is a broad brush  view which is saying to people - God is doing something in history.  You have to step back and look and see the movement of the spirit as you are being called, protected, guided and ultimately saved.

So, it seems to me that these text during this season of Advent is saying that God is here for God's people - plural and singular. At the same time - God is hidden, subversive and mysterious.  The reminder for us is that we need to  stop and reflect back in order to have clarity and strength to keep going.  This once again the call to scripture and prayer.

Kathleen Singh writes this about spiritual biography:
  • "We come to feel respect and appreciation for the grace that has called to us and led us and shaped the unique path we are following into our own essential nature."
  • We begin to recognize ourselves as ordinary human beings - a profoundly liberating recognition.  We accept ourselves just as we are in each moment.  We are awakening."
  • Exploring our own story of awakening, we see that our tense grasping to the survival operating system can be released. 
  • our confidence and willingness to simply allow our own unfolding will grow
 So, my understanding is that God leads us forward to trust what we cannot see and invites us to times of looking back so that - in wonder and awe - we can begin to understand that God was ALWAYS with us.

Final quote:
"Each of us, no matter how new or old our commitment to the journey, is on a trajectory of spiritual maturation, carried along by grace.  As we mature spiritually we finally begin to open to and experience more of the 99,99999 percent of reality that we've been over looking for a long time"

May it be so..

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