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Monday, September 10, 2012

letting go, day 1

Come to Stillness:
Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer:
Take, Lord, and receive all that I am and have.  You’ve given it all to me; I give it all back to you.  Do with me as you want.  Just give me your love and your grace and that’s enough. ~St. Ignatius

Psalm for the Week: Psalm 130

Scripture for the Day: Colossians 3:1-17

Reading for Reflection:

So much of the journey forward involves a letting go of all that once brought us life.  We turn away from familiar abiding places of the heart, the false selves we have lived out, the strengths we have used to make a place for ourselves and all our false loves, and we venture forth in our hearts to trace the steps of the One who said, “Follow me.”  In a way, it means that we stop pretending: that life is better than it is, that we are happier than we are, that the false selves we present to the world are really us.  We respond to the Haunting, the wooing, the longing for another life.  Pilgrim (Pilgrim’s Progress) begins his adventure toward redemption with a twofold turning: a turning away from attachment and a turning toward desire.  He wanted life and so he stuck his fingers in his ears and ran like a madman (“a fool,” to use Paul’s term) in search of it.  The freedom of heart needed to journey comes in the form of detachment. As Gerald May writes in Addiction and Grace,

Detachment is the word used in spiritual tradition to describe freedom of desire.  Not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire…An authentic spiritual understanding of detachment devalues neither desire nor objects of desire.  Instead, it “aims at correcting one’s own anxious grasping in order to free oneself for committed relationship with God.”  According to Meister Eckhart, detachment “enkindles the heart, awakens the spirit, stimulates our longings, and shows us where God is.

With an awakened heart, we turn and face the road ahead, knowing that no one can take the trip for us, nor can anyone plan our way.  When he sets out, Bunyan’s Pilgrim has no map, no itinerary, no step-by-step travelogue with each day’s adventure carefully planned out.  All he has is his desire and a general idea that the way of life lies somewhere along the road ahead.  As the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, “The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.”  So many of the programs of modern Christianity with three steps to this and seven steps to that and a principle for everything are in fact an effort not to journey at all.  More often than not, they are pursued with a desire to hunker down and make life work, here, now.  The Sacred Romance is not something to be managed, but to be lived.  We cannot remove the element of mystery from the road before us nor can we eliminate the dangers.  But we can learn from pilgrims who have gone before something of the road conditions, the weather, the hazards, and the places of rest and refreshment. (The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge)

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Song for the Week: I Lift My Hands

I lift my hands to the coming King
To the great I Am, to you I sing
For you’re the One that reigns within my heart

I will serve no foreign gods,
nor any other treasure
For you are my heart’s desire,
your Spirit without measure
Unto you I will bring my sacrifice

Closing Prayer:
Lord God, be the delight of our hearts, even as we are the delight of yours.  And help us to leave behind all thoughts, actions, and attitudes that do not reflect the beauty of that delight.  May everything else pale in comparison with the passion we have to be truly yours.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen. (JLB)

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