Have you ever felt your life was out of balance? Have you ever had a season when you were simply to busy to rest and reflect upon your life but later came to realize that by resting and reflecting, your life actually got easier and made more sense? I have just recently come through a season like this.
This past week Jamie, who leads our Fairfield Court missional community, shared that when our communities gather and the conversation is more spiritual in nature, there is a real energy in the room verses conversations that more focused on the tangible stuff our groups engage in like GED tutoring or planning a clothing give away. I have also seen the exact opposite happen in groups that spend all their time on spiritually focused things, like bible studies. Often these groups come alive when occasionally people start to discuss how they can tangibly live out the scriptures in the world. I think the key is balance.
I just went back to a post that I wrote August 1, 2009, titled “Empowering a Movement” based on a book about Church of the Savior.
This particular quote from the book caught my attention:
“We have found it incredibly hard to hold to the concept of the inward and outward journeys. We early discovered that not many persons want them both. Weighted heavily on one side or the other, most of us struggle intensely to keep these two dimensions in any kind of creative tension in our individual and our corporate lives.”
I think we need to be intentional in balancing these two elements of the journey in our own lives and modeling that balance in our missional communities. I think Jamie’s observation that when the conversation is rooted in the things of the spirit, the passion and energy is present is because perhaps we have been more heavily focused on the outer journey in our groups. If we want to get to the core of some of the issues faced by those in our communities, like hopelessness and apathy, we have to find ways of helping people along in their inner journey.
I would love to hear from all of you regarding practices you have developed that have helped you in your inner journey.
The outer journey is obviously the easy side of the equation for me. I am a “doer” and I have to work hard at making time and space to simply “be”. For me, practicing stillness or contemplative prayer in nature has been the most powerful practice for me related to the inner journey. My time spent on my ridge alone in the middle of nowhere just sitting and soaking in the presence of God does more for my spirit than anything else I have found. I gain such clarity and discernment from this practice in addition to inner peace and healing. I experience the same healing presence when I am alone in my kayak. Sometimes I paddle to spiritual music which can be healing but sometimes God sings to me through the birds of the air. Today was one of those days…blue sky and God’s love in the subtle breeze across the water.
I took a class in seminary called Celtic Spirituality which met at Camp Hanover. We would gather in a cabin, then we were to spend the next hour seeking God in the wilderness, then came back to class and shared where we met God. It was a powerful class! I learned more about spirituality in that one class than I did in all my theology books.
That has been my pathway to a healthy inner journey. When I neglect this practice, I become unhealthy and the outer journey is simply no fun. I encourage you all to share your own path. I think it may help us to discern how we can help others find their way while we learn more about one another and how God has shaped each of us.
I ask that we embark in this sharing with a gracious spirit, a spirit that respects each contributors journey as valid and equally true as any other person’s journey. My prayer is that while we may not all have the same practices, we all can respect the practices of others and the fruit that each practice yields.
So, where do you encounter God most powerfully? How do you find inner peace and healing?