Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

What Solitude Teaches ...

What Solitude Teaches

The difference between alone and lonely

The delights of inner dialogue

Where to find your angle of repose

How to listen into silence

And hear the Spirit speak

A quiet kind of courage

The joy of uninterrupted reading

Or using up all the hot water

The pleasures of puttering

The comforts of quietness

The shape of your own desires

The pleasure of not performing

Trust in God's presence

when it looks like absence

(Marilyn Chandler McEntyre)

One life on this earth ...

In honor of my friend Randy Reese,

whose too-short life is being celebrated today,

some words from one of my favorite friends I've never met:

"One life on this earth is all that we get,

whether it is enough or not enough,

and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least

we are fools

if we do not live it as fully

and bravely 

and beautifully as we can."

(Frederick Buechner)

Godspeed, Randy ...

you lived fully, bravely, and beautifully.

Teach me to live well ...

King David writes in Psalm 90,

"O God, teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well." 

I have been pondering that plea lately.

Here's what I've noticed:

I am incredibly distracted!

I know I have written about this before,

but guess what?

I haven't solved the problem.

I have so many thoughts about how distracted I am I can hardly sort them all out to write about them!

So I am just going to start and see where I go ...

I went into work a day ago and was flustered and frenetic and flailing when I arrived.

I shouldn't have been.

I had work to do, yes, but nothing that should have made me hop around my office like a crazed woman.

So, I thought about my morning, what I did before I arrived and I noticed a theme.

I got up early. Check.

I read quietly, journaled and prayed. Check.

But then I decided to watch some morning news, I walked the dog and listened to the radio while we walked, I checked Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, then I got in the car and tried to connect my phone to the bluetooth audio system and couldn't get it to work, which caused me grief (as if it was a big deal). So I listened to more morning news ... checked my phone one more time before heading in to the office ...

And when I arrived at work my head was full of noise and words and alarming stories and breaking news and tweets and ...

I am generally a smart person, but I have been rooked.

God never shouts at me. But he is rather persistent. And I have been feeling a growing sense of unease about all the noise and words I am taking in, all the while wondering why I feel so jumbled, so scattered, so darn distracted.

So, this morning after some exercise, I sat in silence for a good chunk of time. As I prepared breakfast, no tv. I put the phone away. Left the computer off until I actually really needed it. Walked the dog in the sweet quiet of the early morn. Listened to classical music as I drove.

And when I sat down to work, I got out one project, just one. Not twenty. And I focused, and felt my spirit settle in to good work that I love. And my brain was calm, open, quiet, and available for wisdom that can only make itself known in stillness and peace.

It's a battle, isn't it?

O God, save me from distraction. It is an insidious, sneaky little thief that promises life, but actually sucks the very life right out of me. O God, teach me to live well ... teach me to live wisely and well. AMEN.

Beware the leader ...

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war

in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor,

for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword.

It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch 

and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed,

the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.

Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism,

will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know?

For this is what I have done.

And I am Caesar."

(Julius Caesar, 1st Century Rome)