I often work with people who desire change. The work of spiritual formation is the work of facilitating transformation so that we grow to live well in our own skin. It always has been. Jesus taught the master class in this subject, and the rest of us are adapting that curriculum to our own lives and worlds.
However change or transformation happens not by accident or miracle, but because we have given our time to the small insurgencies against the old us whom we'd like to leave behind. We are pushing dominos towards life and health.
The goal of formation is to be ready for the rain. It is to steady ourselves spiritually for the days when absurdity is all we can see. Formation through the Scriptures of lament, complaint, and whatever-in-the-world-Ecclesiastes-is give us language for the rain.
“There are days when we need to be reminded of where we are and who we are. We are made in the image of the Holy, given places and experiences and relationships in which we find out what it means to interact with the God-with-us in all of it.”
A story about my tattoo and why we all need a reminder of the “holy” all around us.
The language we use for the things that give us joy, that bring us pain, the way we talk about our challenges and struggles, they all draw an outline around the figure of our soul as we move through space. We often take these teachings to apply to individual speech acts. What I say, what my child says, what I respond to – and yet it has to be bigger than that. And it is.
Because we always learn our words in community.
A blue finch shows up and we may or may not see it. Sometimes we are blinded by the suffering, desperately searching for answers or a way out, and we are unable to turn and notice the beauty at our side. The divinity on display in a shade of blue that was sourced from a pallet that only exists on the other side of eternity.
My wife Holley spent the spring entry period battling a wicked sinus infection, a fact she shared with the walking parents in our neighborhood who pass by every morning with bleary-eyed kids in tow, headed to school. Our daughter, tall and wild and graceful, steps out the door as well to join the fray.
The weeks passed and antibiotics did their due diligence, until standing on the porch one morning a walking parent – a mom that we talked to often – saw us and said:
“Are you feeling better?”
Behind this perceived pleasantry is a hint of something more. We are part of a network, a neighborhood of houses and lives and spirits. Our kids go to the same school and we share geography, taxes, and sidewalks.
In that moment, a great secret was revealed: we were in some sense known.
Writing a weekly blog can be a tricky business. You want to bring the best of whatever it is you write, and there are times when issues are ripe and thoughts are flowing and you feel like some sort of conduit for God's revelation and inspiration.
And then there was this week.
So, in lieu of more eloquent thoughts - of which I have none - I wanted to give you some random things that have given me life this week. My hope is that they would do the same for you.