walk to your own beat

I go for a walk first thing in the morning. My doctor said I need to exercise every day to help with my depression and anxiety. And I started walking as a way to exercise – I was very unfit and unhealthy which did not help the bad image I have of myself. Yet now I walk not to get somewhere or to do something but simply to walk. The walking is an end in itself – a purpose. The walk is something I do, not to get fit or to get to a destination, but some time alone while my feet are moving. This time has become a place to think and to pray. Our modern world is so concerned about outcomes and value that we can sometimes miss the simple pleasure of just doing something.

Faith is about living with possibility. It is about a choice to abide in Jesus, to stay close to Him, a resolution to keep Him in my heart. It is not about an end – forgiveness or heaven – but about the here and now with Jesus. Sometimes the Christianity I have heard preached is all about the end and how to get there: how often I should read my Bible, go to Communion, or go to Confession. When I do that I forget to smell the flowers along the way – I forget to see Jesus next to me on the path. Eternal life with God is a present reality in Jesus who has won the victory over death. Eternal life is walking in love now with the sure knowledge that with God all things are possible.

I have noticed that I walk faster when I listen to faster music – I walk to the beat. So when I want to walk really fast I listen to Britney Spears. Today I listened to the first album (on cassette) I remember buying – Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were Here”. It really is one of my favourite albums. Not only is it full of memories of growing up but it has some lines that often make me smile: “oh, by the way, which one is Pink”.

The music I listen to makes my walk faster or slower. So also with the voices I listen to in my life. I struggle with a negative internal dialogue that makes me out to be a monster. When I listen to that voice my life goes downhill fast. But when I listen to other affirming voices I am filled with possibility and hope. The more I listen to the affirming voices, the less I listen to the inner negative voice. And the inner negative voice loses its power and strength over me.

My life with Jesus is about walking with Him and listening to Him. Sometimes He speaks in the most unexpected places and people. My job is to be open to Him and to listen for Him. And like Elijah I need to be prepared to hear God in the “gentle quiet whisper”.

Enjoy being me!

I woke this morning with the strong thought that it is okay to enjoy life. It is okay for me to be happy about my happy place, to enjoy the solitude in my hermitage, and to get pleasure from the things I do well. The outcome is not always as important as the journey – an activity can be enjoyable in itself. I do not have to accept every role that is given to me – I do not need to play other people’s game.

Somehow, I think, I had convinced myself that I am not allowed to be happy as me and had to pretend to enjoy the things other people enjoy. I have never really liked the “manly things” but have joined in to be part of the crowd. And I convinced myself that everything I do is judged by outcome.

I am grateful for the things that make me happy and I now realise that I do not need other people to enjoy the same things. My happy place is an end in itself!

It has taken me a long time to get here but now that I am I feel a sense of freedom. So what if I read a weird Danish poet who walked funny?! So what if I know a lot about liturgical minutia?! So what if I like theology or philosophy without wanting to be an academic?! I am allowed to enjoy being me.

my hermitage

This is my view most Sunday mornings. I like doing the “computer stuff” – it is a way I can serve the community. But more importantly, it is a way that the community helps me with my struggles. It serves the “inner hermit” in me and really makes me focus on the liturgy. So … my hermitage!

… does in fact please you

To be honest, I have found prayer very hard for most of my life. I have tried to “intellectualise” it and go searching for the perfect prayer book or liturgy. This made prayer ever more and more complicated and involved. Naively I thought that the more complex it was the more God must want to listen. It never worked as the bookshelf of prayer books will testify.

Recently I have started using the standard Prayer Book for Australian Anglicans – A Prayer Book for Australia. It has an order of Morning and Evening Prayer for every day of the week. The Psalms are divided over a longer period than older versions of the Prayer Book.

Maybe it is not about “how” we pray but “why” we pray that matters?

This morning I thought about how I feel that I am a little “aimless” at the moment. A time of waiting and I do not really enjoy waiting. And Thomas Merton’s Prayer came to mind:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton

I have always been struck by the phrase “does in fact please you“. The desire for communion, for intimacy with God, for openness, does please God. And this desire sets the tone of daily life.

Prayer is not about getting somewhere but about being in the presence of God. The “how” of prayer is less important than the desire to be open in prayer – to listen and speak with God in intimacy. I like the obedience of using a Prayer Book and it is very much within my own personal tradition. But it is not the how but rather the desire to set aside time to rest.

Like Merton, I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

Well …

Just to illustrate my blogging expertise!? I was wondering why no one had ever commented on a post. Today I worked out why – I did not allow comments on this blog. Grrrrr?!?!?! So comments are now available on future posts.

Walking and thinking

I have exercised three days in a row. I like to go for a walk early in the morning before Morning Prayer. I pretend I pray but really it is a time for me to think. Sometimes it is about ideas or people, and sometimes it is dark and not useful. I often turn the thoughts into posts here or I write them down in my journal. The last three days have been good and I physically feel better.

I am never sure if it part of the cycle I go through or if I am generally improving. But I walk, I think, and I listen to music. I like it better when it is cold. I need the solitude of the walk and physical exercise to try to find some balance before the day starts.

So now I am going to have a cup of tea and say Morning Prayer. I pray you have a hope-filled day with Jesus!

I am just a nobody …

I have been listening to the Casting Crowns album Only Jesus. The first three songs are very much about my situation at the moment. So here is one of the songs that I relate to in particular.

I have struggled to write the “About Me?” page. Who I am is a difficult question for me. But trying to write it down has helped. Wanting to be “somebody” seems a very natural thing in our modern world. But when does the “wanting to be” define the “somebody”?

Surrender wanting to be “somebody”. Allow yourself to be a nobody for Jesus – only Jesus. It is so against everything that is happening around me. Live the new life in Jesus with possibility and be a “nobody” for Him.

get used to different

I was slow to jump on The Chosen bandwagon. But now I am leading the parade. We are planning to watch it as a parish and I am looking forward being together. And I am looking forward to Season 2.

But this picture for me is not about Season 2. It is about the caption: “Get used to different“. That should be my motto. Things are changing and my life is looking different. But there is one constant: Jesus. So focus on Him. Live with Jesus now and stop holding on to the past! Let life flow and let Jesus be Jesus.

The old is gone

Today is Easter Sunday. The liturgy was lovely this morning with a very good sermon.

Today’s gospel (John 20:1-19) has Jesus and Mary meeting at the tomb. Mary does not recognise Jesus until He calls her by name. I wonder how often we do not recognise Jesus in our daily lives? Yet more: I wonder if I ever close my ears and do not hear Him calling my name? The Resurrected Lord is alive and active now – Jesus lives. The moment is now for my life and my relationship with Jesus. The past has lost its power.

I was thinking this morning about how Easter is the proclamation of how the old is dead and the new life is full of possibility (Matthew 19:26). Letting go of the past is not always easy. I have found that moving from “I am …” to “I was …” an almost impossible leap. My struggle has always been that I allow things that I do to define me. I find it hard to accept that I am much more than the sum of my parts. And I am much more in the eyes of Jesus than in the eyes of other people.

Blessed Easter to you! It has been a life-changing one for me this year. I feel the power of the past has lifted and I am called to a new life. Not sure what it will look like and I am sure that I will have periods of darkness. But this new life is full of possibility – full of Jesus.