A New Year’s Glance

Well, here we are at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011. Earlier this month, while drinking tea at a local Peet’s, I jotted down some things I learned over the last year and hope to set in place in the next year. They were important then, as I review them now, I find they they are still important. A good sign, I think…

So, I look backward in order to look forward in the context of the present.

Now, just because they are important to me does not mean they will be to you. Nonetheless, they might strike a chord of insight for you as well. In that spirit, I share them in broad stroke form.

1. “Nap time and delight time” – I learned that in kindergarten and from my dad.  I learned to not only pace myself but to take a break now and then – even a short snooze. I need to rest and recoup. Not too long though – the “power nap”??!! Maybe the “wisdom nap”… Rhythm and pace is essential in labor as well as rest. But I also need to just behold – take delight. Mostly I need to take delight in God and His gifts. People, things, and circumstances are delightful in and through Christ Jesus. Even though that sounds vague and idealistic, I am finding that it is a practical reality. The more I let labor and rest embrace and spend time delighting, the more I am able to do so. It IS cumulative! Sabbath…

2. “Transition time” – Empty space between activities that is not empty but full of quiet. I remember a classmate in seminary who wanted to build a house with no hallways. I do not like the idea. I need hallways (spaces that make transition possible).Consider where I have been and where I am going in a larger context. “Be still and know…” Stop striving and rest before moving on to the next thing.

3. “Zip it!!” – There is a direct connection between sin and my mouth on many occasions. James 1.19-20 is a good passage. I have place a BIG roll of duct tape in the Prayer Room where I do a lot of my spiritual direction to remind me.  The 20/80 principle applies – even if I left out 80% of what I thought I HAD to say, I would probably still be saying too much. The 20% is more than enough. For my part, I have found, during the past year, that I need more silence and time for reflection before I speak. And when I speak, I am more and more led to quote other Christians who have gone before me and witness to me in word and lived wisdom. I rely more and more on the “ancient path” and the “ancient voices” of the saints.

4. “Just say ‘NO’” – I am often caught in the trap of no saying “no” to the good things as well as the bad things. The tyranny to my commitment to identifying myself as the one who needs to do the good thing that obviously needs to be done is real in my life. I need to ask the following questions: Does this “work” have my name on it? Has the Father offered it to me to do? Has He invited me to join Him in this work? (Good old “Experiencing God” language and learning as well as the Jesus we meet in the Gospel of St. John.) Another “dad learning” — doing more isn’t necessarily doing better. More is not always better. Is busy-ness, Kingdom busi-ness???

5. “Be consistent and regular” – Do it every day at the same time for 30 days. Wow, not so easy. But, even if I do, I need to then do it for another 30 days in the same manner. And on and on and on… Repetition results in and establishes change for better or for worse. I have found myself thinking how nice it would be if I could experience the transformation that the spiritual disciplines promise by only having to do them once or on an irregular basis. I find myself living that way all too often! The Divine Liturgy and Hours of daily prayer contain a phrase that holds great meaning for me: “again and again.”

6. “Don’t ‘just do it,’ but ‘just do it’ together” – The Christian life is not a “me and Jesus” journey. It is the journey of the people of God of which we are individually members – “members one of another” as St. Paul says. I have read Hebrews 10, 11, and 12 more this pass year than at any other time in my life. I expect this year will see me visiting those chapters even more. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” I am more likely to do #1-5 if I do it with others.

Okay, that is the list. Complete? No. There is more. I have included the ones that made the biggest impression on my heart.

What is your list??

Here is a New Year’s prayer/blessing for you.

Psalm 20

[1] The LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
[2] May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion!
[3] May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! [Selah]
[4] May he grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfil all your plans!
[5] May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfil all your petitions!
[6] Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with mighty victories by his right hand.
[7] Some boast of chariots, and some of horses;
but we boast of the name of the LORD our God.
[8] They will collapse and fall;
but we shall rise and stand upright.Happy New Year.

God Bless,

Fr. Thomas

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