Monday, May 25, 2015

Liturgies, Heritage and Meditation

"When there are thoughts, it is distraction; 
when there are no thoughts, it is meditation."
 Ramana Maharshi

The beach is my meditation. 

I sit. 

I listen. 

I watch. 

I feel the sun. 

I feel the wind. 

I feel the
sand. I hear the waves. I hear the laughter. I watch the horizon. I watch the children. I can't seem to think one thought.  I try. Any thought would be distraction. And no thought even comes to distract. If I read, it is frivolity. No thinking required. Pure superficiality.

The beach is my meditation.  

When I lived on the California coast, I jogged at the beach, I walked on beach; kept my chair and towel in my car to sit and read for a hour or two to unwind from my day.  Drove to the beach in the predawn light to meditate on God's word and fellowship with Him. Many parties were held at the beach. Many glasses of wine savored watching the sunset over the ocean.  Many romantic walks, fingers entwined. Many tears shed processing life while the sun melted behind the Channel islands. Many boat trips meditating on the rise and fall of the waves.

Surfers call it their religion.
They feel one with the ocean. 

It is their meditation.

We suffer in our culture from information overload.  Always receiving new and unsolicited information.  (Like this blog.)  Everything we want to know is at our fingertips.  When do we let our minds sleep while keeping our eyes open?  When do we meditate?  When do we feel nothing but our breath moving our bellies in and out?

The liturgies of life are found in it's daily, monthly, seasonally, yearly, generational movement; in and out, over and around, up and down.  The sun rises and sets, the cold turns to warm and back to cold again.  The ocean pushes onto the shore and pulls out again.  We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, events.  We worship once a week.  Daily eat three squares, sleep, wake.  These liturgies keep us sane, productive, in our places, submitting to God's providence and faithfulness. 

 No one can escape God's faithfulness.  
He causes the sun to rise and set on the faithful and the faithless.  
He is over all, through all and in all.  

" For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, 
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. "
Roman 1:20

My beach liturgy began as a baby.  Going to the beach was part of my childhood.  From my pre-memories of stuffing cigarette butts into my mouth as a 12-month old to my first experience riding a wave into shore merely body surfing, the beach has been my recreational liturgy.  I can remember the exhilaration as a child of standing on the shore with the water moving the sand out from under my feet and sinking my heels deeper than sea level.

My great-grandparents' heritage began on Catalina Island where my great-great grandfather ran the first fleet of glass-bottom boats: row boats that took paying customers out to witness sea life through a window into the ocean.  We spent many summers there.  Sitting on the sand.  Swimming.  Paddleboarding. Hiking. Meditating.

Watching my own children jumping waves, riding them into shore, sitting in meditation as the water moves the sand out from under them until their legs and behind are buried under the current, fills me with contentment knowing this is a heritage I am passing on to them as my parents did to me, and their parents to them and their parents them. 

My children don't articulate it, but they know God's power, God's faithfulness, God's creativity, God's joy simply by experiencing the liturgy of the ocean's and shore's rites.  They don't articulate it, but they are walking through the scientific process as they dig, build, sit on the boogie board, sway with the waves.  My children don't articulate it, but they are meditating too.  Nothing filling their minds but the sand on their toes, shovel in their hands, spray on their faces.

The beach is my meditation.  

My liturgy.  My heritage.  
God is on His throne.  
All is well.  


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stages of Faith

A Classical look at Faith through the Trivium

I got to thinking this morning about the Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric of our faith.  And while none of life is separated perfectly into neatly packaged seasons, I thought about these sweet years of training up our children from infancy to adulthood as phases of our faith. 

The Grammar stage are the years our brains aren't fully developed to think logically.  From birth to about 10-12, we love the facts and order and routine.  We parrot and memorize well. These years of our children's lives are filled with tiny chiseling events that strip us of our much of our control, causing us to cling to Christ in the minutia and for practical help. We begin with giving birth and then sleep deprivation and then all the small moment to moment events in a mommy-of-young-children's life that cause her to not even be able to finish a thought or sit down for an entire day.  These are exhausting years physically and emotionally causing us mommies to cry out for strength, patience and wisdom moment by moment.

We then begin raising the argumentative, questioning, Dialectic kids (Jr. Highers) who force us into a new phase of clinging to Christ—a deeper measure of trust and letting go of control as He reveals Himself to our analytical children. These years are characterized by kids whose brains begin firing on all cylinders, but it's too much for them to handle.  So we are faced with "Whyyyah?" attitudes. 
They are trying to make sense of all they already know and piece it together.  We are in constant battle of the wills to train their speech, facial expressions, eyes (to not roll), tone of voice, etc., etc., etc.....Our need for Christ is now for wisdom and strength to not send them to military school.  In all seriousness, we are clinging for wisdom in training their hearts to love their God with all their hearts, minds, and strength.

And then Rhetoric beings (high school and beyond) that stand before us and leave our homes begin making decisions for their lives without our direct help.  Their decisions affect good and bad.  And all that they choose and that happens to them affect us as well.  And now we are in complete trust mode in the Lord.  Anything and everything can happen to them and we will encounter hardship as we watch our children figure out adulthood with the Lord or just witness trials they endure.  There are many many events that can, will, or do happen that affect them, us and our entire family.  These can be joyful or tragic and yet, God has shown us through his faithfulness throughout the previous phases that He is reliable, that He is in control, that He loves us and our children more than we do and that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  Phil. 1:6

How gracious of God to prepare us for this Rhetoric phase in our children’s lives by starting our journey with small, constant grammar events, leading to larger measures of faith-stretching trust and then completely entrusting our hearts and our children’s hearts where we have no control.  We are fully living rhetorically faithful lives, trusting, enjoying and fellowshiping with Him.  He is about the business of causing us to persevere to the end.  And He will do it!  Soli Deo Gloria!

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,
 and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”  Heb. 12:1