Church Innovations’ Partners Post

December 23, 2009

End of the 40-Day Quest: What do I know now?

Learning #1: I excel at concentrating on obstacles to peace

Learning #2: Laughter and fun can beat Fear Itself, a big obstacle

Learning #3: I need a habit that reminds me of what I am seeking

Learning #4: When you feel as though you can’t find the peace, extend peace to someone else and watch what happens.

Learning #5: When I am interrupted in my awareness of peace, abundance, shalom, I will extend peace to the interrupter or to someone else

 

Well, dear readers, that is pretty much what I learned and what I continue to practice. I’m gifted at noticing the obstacles and interruptions, and those things often seem very large. But spending energy on them distracts me from what is usually present all along, God’s peace, abundance, and shalom.  We are blessed to have it with us, or near at hand, always. So near that, even when we feel beset, adrift, alone, and lacking, we can always extend that peace and abundance and shalom to someone else, perhaps even to the thing that seems to stand in our way at the moment.  When I don’t participate in this extending of the peace, I am crippled in my missional vocation. I am held back from being who I am called to be.

 

For two days (since my last posting) I have endeavored to extend the peace to interrupters. The effect is not always instant, but 8 times out of 8 that I can count, it has made me aware of the peace and where it is resting. And sometimes it is resting on me!  You may not think so, but that is breathtaking.

 

Think of the persons who have taught me on my quest – old classmates, high leaders of church bodies, Weight Watcher buddies, my colleagues, and family members I might not have expected to know much about peace.  As the author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”  My confirmation pastor and my grandmothers are watching.  I want them to witness me participating in the peace of God.  I pray the same for all of you.

 

Peace to your house.  Pat

December 21, 2009

End of the 40-Day Quest: Learning #5

Learning #1: I excel at concentrating on obstacles to peace

Learning #2: Laughter and fun can beat Fear Itself, a big obstacle

Learning #3: I need a habit that reminds me of what I am seeking

Learning #4: When you feel as though you can’t find the peace, extend peace to someone else and watch what happens.

 

OK, it’s the season of parties and open houses and meeting and greeting. Also the season of high expectations and certain distractions. Four days until Christmas. Fresh white snow.  Carols everywhere. No sub-arctic temperatures.  In the middle of counting my blessings, I notice a tiny thought approaching. If my mind is like this screen you are now viewing, a small photograph has started to move from the right side of the screen toward the center. 

 

While I count my blessings in gratitude for abundance, this picture moves into the very center of the screen. It is a picture of someone I wish I could see but can’t. Or of something I used to have but now don’t. Or of someone I wish I didn’t have to deal with but do.  This picture is not something I ordered up, but it’s right in the center of my vision.  And the longer it stays there, the more tempted I will be to react to it with regret or resentment or animosity.  

 

Have you experienced this sort of intrusion? How do you deal with it?

 

I have been only modestly successful if I simply return to blessing counting. And going back to counting good things just avoids the picture, working around it.  I don’t need to zap the picture to smithereens. I just need it to not occupy me.  I am going to try offering the peace in some tangible appropriate way to someone anytime that happens for the next week.  Here’s how it will look.

Learning #5: When I am interrupted in my awareness of peace, abundance, shalom, I will take a moment to focus on the interruption and extend peace to it (or to someone else if the interruption is unreachable).

 

I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, peace and the blessings of Christmas be on your house.  Pat

December 16, 2009

End of the 40-Day Search for Peace, Abundance, Shalom: Major Learning #4

 

Learning #1: I excel at concentrating on obstacles to peace

Learning #2: Laughter and fun can beat Fear Itself, a big obstacle

Learning #3: I need a habit that reminds me of what I am seeking

 

If what is true for me is also true for many others, then we can generalize from my first three learnings: those who seek the peace of God will be distracted by fearsome big obstacles, aided by laughter and the joy of play, and helped to focus by habits that keep them paying attention to the Main Thing.

 

 

Those may be useful learnings for anyone who is reading this blog. I really want to know what you think, so if you have a story to share, please do it! Post a reply here or e-mail me at ptellison@churchinnovations.org

 

 

This next learning may be solely about me, although you may relate to it, too.  Often I find myself in a situation where I need something and so I go looking for it, knowing I have it somewhere not far away but not being able to lay my hands on it.  Sometimes I look for a long, long time.  The longer I look and the more urgently I seem to need it, the more anxious I get.  And when my anxiety rises, the Big Ugly obstacles are right around the corner, waiting for me. It’s exhausting.

 

 

At Church Innovations we spend a great deal of time in Luke 10: 1-12. As Jesus sends the 70 others to towns and places, he tells them to “say ‘Peace to this house’ and if a person of peace is there, your peace will rest upon that person – if not, it will return to you.” We are actually sent into our lives carrying God’s peace, abundance, shalom, with the instruction to extend it to others.  If we meet other persons of peace, we’ll see it rest on them. If not, it comes back to us.  We are in the enviable position of always HAVING the peace within our sight. We never have to be without it. I spend a lot of time looking for the thing I don’t have to be without. 

 

 

Make no mistake. God gives us God’s peace for a reason – we’ll need it. There is anxiety and danger and misery around us. But we actually bear the peace like little tiny lights shining in the darkness.  As the days of December grow shorter and darker and you receive all those wonderful Christmas cards, every time you read one that says, “Peace,” know that that word is not just a holiday sentiment – it is a reminder of the peace God has given to us that we cannot lose, no matter how clumsy or forgetful we are. We can stop paying attention to it, but it is there, waiting for us to notice where it lands. 

 

Learning #4: Maybe we should learn from Luke 10 that, when we’re not sure where the peace is, we should extend it to someone else and then pay attention to what happens.  We will see it if we look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 10, 2009

End of the 40-Day Search for Peace, Abundance, Shalom: Major Learning #3

 

Learning #1: I excel at concentrating on obstacles to peace

Learning #2: laughter and fun can beat Fear Itself, a big obstacle

 

Seeking peace, abundance, shalom stayed abstract during most of my quest’s waking hours. Peace, abundance, shalom – these are ideas, ideals, even, unconnected with the realities of things like driving a car or planning a training event. Until something made me remember I was on the Peace Quest. Which would then again escape my conscious thoughts until I would be reminded of it in some odd way.

 

I was driving along in heavy merging traffic, waiting my turn to get into the lane I would need to be in a mile or so later. As I finally merged, I remembered South African drivers’ habit of saluting, with a tiny cordial wave, the person who had let them in. So I did that. And the guy waved back. This so delighted me that when another person tried to enter the lane just ahead of me, I let her in and smiled as I did it. She lifted her hand to wave, and I waved back. There was a tiny three-car wave of abundance in that far right lane entering the Lowry Tunnel in Minneapolis.

 

After 40 days of this occasional attention to the quest and then the focus of the quest going back out of view, you would think that I would have put a habit into place to help me keep my focus upon the object of my search. You would think that, wouldn’t you? Someone once called that “keeping The Main Thing the main thing.”  This is Major Learning #3, something which I didn’t do very well during the quest: I need a habit that reminds me of what I am seeking, something I can do many times a day until it’s, well, a habit.

 

Getting such a habit may be my next quest. It might surprise some people to learn that I spend a lot of time being reactive; I am probably far less proactive than people expect. As life gets faster and change intensifies, I believe I could become even more reactive. But seeking and extending the peace is proactive work. To do it well, I will need some spiritual habits that keep me focused but open, habits that allow me to remember and look forward while still staying in the now.

 

December 4, 2009

End of the 40-Day Search for Peace, Abundance, Shalom: Learning #2

When FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was leading a country in a depression, with high stress on every system and a lot of nervous people.  Yeah, much like now.

 

In my last entry, Learning #1, I revealed that I tend to focus on the Big Ugly things that stand between me and the peace that I seek. I think succumbing to a focus on things that keep me from the shalom that God means for everyone is much like falling victim to Fear Itself.  Fear Itself not pretty, and it can hide the beauty of a lot of other things, too.

 

When children are young, they may dread going to the dentist. That dread can poison everything else for weeks until the visit takes place. Our dentist in the days when our daughter was young knew this dread very well, and hired a hygienist who could squirt a thin stream of water from her little rubber hose up to 10 feet across the room directly into someone’s mouth. It was amazing. Shocking, even. It shocked the dread right out of you and made you want to see it again. It was also funny.

 

Learning #2 is that fun and play help me notice peace, abundance, shalom. Shocking, amazing, risk-taking laughter breaks up Fear Itself. It shrinks Big Ugly obstacles to the size of small rocks. I’m also far more interesting when I play than when I don’t play. I may even be more trustworthy. I know I appreciate the risk and trust and fun in others more when we play together.  How much playing have you done recently? Have you laughed – not just because it’s your habit to laugh when you’re nervous – but really laughed?  When I laugh, my breathing, my muscle tension, and my blood pressure change. And in the midst of a laugh, I often notice peace, abundance, shalom.

 

Try these two one-liners, just for a start:

Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh                    : ) 

Peace. Pat

 

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