Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Illuminated Imagination

For about a year now I've been contemplating the role of imagination in the life of a Christian. There have been various insights and encouragements along the way to help me in this. Below I'll lay out a few headings that may form the content of my next article. Please do comment and offer any insights you may have on this/these issues, or experiences you've had that may shed some light on the illuminated imagination. Of course, you will be given credit in the next article if I rely on a fresh insight you've shared! ;-) Without further adieu . . .

  • Art (broadly speaking) as Stimulation for Imagination
  • Imagination as an Agent of Personal/Spiritual Growth
  • Imagination as a Key to Engaging in God's Activity
  • Imagination as a Catalyst for a Life of Service
  • Imagination as a Cornerstone for Cultural Change
  • Positive Uses for Imagination in a Life of Faith

The floor is open . . .

Saturday, February 18, 2006

We're in!

After a potential set back last Tuesday and some colourful explicatives on my part, God graced us with good news from the builder of our new home in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. We had originally been scheduled to move on Friday, February 10th which never happened because the Purchaser of our home in N. Ireland hadn't met the deadline. Then we were scheduled to make the move on Wednesday, February 15th but were told the lending institution wouldn't have the money released in time. So as it looked, we were going to have to wait another week. Enter our exceedingly gracious builder who after I recounted the details to him (in your best Southern Irish accent) said, "Sure, move down anyway. Don't reschedule your moving company and don't worry about the money . . we'll get it sorted in time." I don't believe it. A business man who gives away a home before receiving the balance of funds! Un-heard-of! God is good . . . sooo gooood. And it feels good to be in finally! Needless to say, Christy and I will be searching out a way to be a blessing to the man who has been one to us!

Open hearts / Painful wounds

It's just amazing. I'm at my fourth weekend of the Spiritual Direction course (thus the internet connection!) and things are progressing relationally for the group at a dramatic pace. I'm not sure whether it's the dynamics of the group, the topics we're covering or the Holy Spirit at work (probably all three), but in our times of sharing with eachother hearts are opening and occasionally tears are flowing. God is doing the work of helping us deal with our wounds from recent or past hurts and allowing for a deep trust to develop in a short time.
This is a good experience on many levels. Firstly because we cannot help others unless we ourselves are first helped. Secondly, it emphasizes the fact that we ALL are needy people and as Thorton Wilder wrote in the Angel That Troubled the Waters, "Without your wounds where would your power be? The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one...broken on the wheel of living. In love's service, only the wounded soldiers can serve." Thirdly, the opportunity to serve one another in our vulnerable condition enables us to be better prepared to serve in the context of a spiritual direction session.
I am very excited to be a part of this course and even more humbled that God is entrusting me with this great and awesome privilege of enabling others to draw nearer to Him. Please remember us before the Father if you're the praying type as we continue to strive to be open, real, transparent and forthright in this stretching experience.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Synergistic Thoughts and Enjoying Stars

Below is an excerpt from a great book I've been reading lately for my course in Spiritual Direction - it's called Discernment in Prayer: Paying Attention to God by William A. Barry, SJ. Not a great title, but this book has so much in it for the God-hungry pilgrim.

"In an earlier article May notes the 'deep threat and anxiety' which spiritual experience engenders. 'Spiritual experience becomes even more threatening if it is viewed as an accurate perception of the-way-things-are rather than some kind of isolated 'high'. Specifically, when one is in the midst of such experience, one cannot be in the business of defining oneself . . . One's ego, sense of identity, self image seem to evaporate almost magically. And one is left, just simply being.' From the deep levels of our being, he believes, anxiety begins to rise, and we defend ourselves by running away from the experience and even repressing the memory of it.

Could this be it then, that what we most deeply yearn for we most deeply fear? When we are united with God, we see reality whole, and we are not the center of it. This 'vision' is deeply gratifying and reassuring at one level and deeply threatening at another. Moreover, we fear the loss of self in surrendering to God, and this even though our continual experience of encounters with God indicates the paradoxical opposite: that the closer we are united with God the more ourselves we are. The patriarchs and prophets of Israel discovered this paradoxical truth , Jesus carried the experience to its zenith, and holy women and men down through the ages have have witnessed to the same truth. We ourselves have had inklings of the truth in our experience [with God]. Nevertheless, despite all the evidence, we continually back off as if from a precipice over an abyss" [pg. 34-35].

Wow - hits hard! It's something that's been rattling around in my brain for a while and was confirmed in that excerpt. The reality that ". . the closer we are united with God the more ourselves we are" reminds me of the over-arching theme in a song called 'Stars' on Nothing is Sound by Switchfoot. Is it true of you too?

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Move is Underway, but . . .

Well, we've booked a moving van for Friday, but as of yet we still have not signed the contract for the sale of our current home in N. Ireland. The Purchaser [althought already having signed his contract for purchase] has not yet received the loan approval from his lender! I can't believe it. Our solicitor [lawyer] says he still believes it's realistic for us to plan the move on Friday. Here goes . . . Work is progressing on the interiorof the house and bills are coming in, but we've no moolah to give until the house in the North sells. We all hope this weekend is it. Neve is talking quite a lot about her new house. Some unfortunate news is that we will not have a phone line for about a month and no broadband for a good while it seems [unless a miracle occurs] because it is not yet available in our area. Internet usage will be slowing for a season . . . may not be a bad thing. A few shots of the interior to posted here. Blessings on you all!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fond Memories of Times Past

I took these pictures this past November as my family and I were about to touch down for the first time in one and a half years on our country's soil. It was a joyous occasion to fly over a city that we once lived in [around!] and loved . . Chicago. Christy and I have such wonderful memories of our time in Chicago-land. Most of those warm, fuzzy feelings emanate from the relationships we shared with so many exceptional people. Our hearts still ache at times for the commitment to and integrity of relationships we shared with friends at Willow Creek Community Church. Thankfully, through devices such as this blog [and theirs] we're still able to keep in touch over the many, many miles that separate. With fond memories of each one of you . . we love you guys!

Update on Life in Ireland

this is an audio post - click to play