Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Restoring, Renewing, and Trying Something New - II

Four years ago, I wrote a similar post to this one. It is a reminder to me how we are all on a journey and pilgrimage where our salvation, sanctification, and witness are concerned.

Restoring. About four years ago, I bought a 1991 BMW 325i. It needed a lot of TLC and love, and it was an opportunity to hone my mechanical (and patience) skills. I had a lot of fun getting it restored and drivable, and for the last several years it has served me well as a very reliable (as well as fun-to-drive) automobile.

Two weeks ago, I acquired a 1994 BMW 325i convertible. I've been driving it for about a week. So far, I've done a brake job, replaced a left rear spindle, put new tires on it, and traced down some wiring/computer glitches. There is a long laundry list of things that still need to happen to get it restored that won't happen overnight, but it's a solid car with a good engine and body. I've never had a convertible, and after the next couple of months I will find out if I really want to keep a convertible as a daily driver, but so far I've had a few sunny days to drive with the top down. Like all BMW's, they are truly "The Ultimate Driving Experience" (BMW's motto). Of course, the only way I could ever drive and maintain a BMW is restoring and maintaining one (and that being an older model!) on my own. New Bimmer's aren't cheap. Thankfully, I am still debt-free where cars are concerned.

Both cars have taught me a lot about renewal, restoration, and resurrection. Those aren't just helpful in working on old cars... they are essential in the life of faith!

Renewing. Last week I attended a Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation, sponsored by the Upper Room. Loosely based on a monastic model, each day's rhythm embodies the balance of silence, worship, community, and individual guides. The lectures were incredible, the silence just as incredible, and the worship inspiring and uplifting. I have forgotten how much I love to worship (as opposed to leading worship)! The week also reminded me of the very wise words of my Order of St. Luke mentor Hoyt Hickman, when he sojourned with me as I contemplated life vows in the Order: "Sky, long before you were ordained, you were baptized. THAT is your identity. Any calling you have ultimately comes from that." Last week, the distinctions of ordained and lay were removed (just as in any intentional religious community) - we were all pilgrims on a pathway to more spiritual enlightenment. So refreshing and so renewing!!

Again, as I wrote four years ago, I am also reminded of the need for balance where renewal is concerned. Balance between work and sabbath. Balance between study and doing. Balance between being in the world and being silent and away from the world. To remember to walk and not run on our pilgrimage of faith. To be open to all of wonderful opportunities God presents us yet to be sure we model setting boundaries as well. To be reminded that while cattle are driven, sheep are led. To know that God is not pleased with my exhaustion. To be reminded that sabbath is a command, not a suggestion.

Trying Something New. I have always been a contemplative at heart, but I am beginning to realize that my preferences in life are merely that: preferences. They are not how I am ruled nor indicative of how I should act. And while I might have an introverted nature, it does not remove me from my mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ. As a type "A" person, I don't deal well with interruptions; however, I am also reminded of the words of Henri Nouwen: "Interruptions are my ministry." If I can draw people into the community of faith with my love, grace, and hospitality, I am one step close in fulfilling the mission of discipleship. With the balance of "getting away" and "being in the world but not of the world," perhaps I can be more like Jesus.

So I am going to start praying/communicating with God differently. I am going to be even more silent in our conversations to consider the day's events and what God is trying to say to me. Hopefully this will help me to bridge heaven and earth so I might better understand the prayer of "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven."


Thursday, October 07, 2010

What It's All About

I've been involved in athletics all of my life in some capacity: player, trainer, groundskeeper, coach, official. There are certainly things about athletics that are less than wonderful. However, there are sometimes moments that bless us beyond measure. I wrote about one such moment a few years ago. And I want to share another one with you, with permission from Janice Grimes (one of my church members, and the proud Graves County football mom of Ragan & Reed).

Some context: Graves County and Marshall County high schools are very large high schools that neighbor each other, and are intense rivals in all sports, being District One Class 6A rivals in football.
As you may know, Graves County High School lost one of its students last Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Tori Beth Waggoner was just 17 years old, looking forward to her senior prom, graduation and life, in general.

The football team dedicated their Friday night game against archrival Marshall County to Tori and her family. The team members wore black socks and asked their fans to wear black, symbolizing the designated color of Tori's type of cancer. They also had a moment of silence for her before the standard prayer and National Anthem.

After a hard-fought victory against Marshall County, our players sang their victory song to the crowd, as they always do after a win. Then they all went to center field to hold yet another prayer vigil for Tori.

The announcer invited anyone who wanted to, to come down and join the team and members of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) as they "took a knee" to pray. As the fans flocked the field, I turned to see the entire Marshall County football team running to center field to join in with our team and players to pray!

I was absolutely speechless at what I was witnessing! The rivalry between these two teams is extremely intense, but in times of sorrow, they forgot about it and came together as one to PRAY!

It was a very moving experience for all of us that stood in silence and watched what was unfolding on our football field.

Thanks for allowing me to share this with you. Have a wonderful week!

Janice Grimes