All posts by Dan

St. Ozzy Part 4

I would have to confess that these journey metaphors grow tiresome if they didn’t fit so damn nicely.

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It’s hard to get your bearings, to understand your relative position on “the way” with only your own point of view. It’s not that you would necessarily be WRONG about it – but you would be imprecise.  And if one is walking a narrow way, with cliffs and swamps and wild beasts hiding in the thickets then precision is important.

Aidan did not walk his way alone. He had companions (most of whom go unnamed) and a few we know; perhaps the most famous being Oswald the King.

There had to be a deep mutual trust between them as they made their way through the uncharted territory of evangelizing an entire nation.  I imagine Oswald considering his own personal experience, his diagnosis or evaluation of the situation and then sharing his point of view on matters with Oswlad, who  corrected, or enhanced his original assessment…and of course visa versa. Each trusting in the view of the other increased the precision of the overall view.

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I have experienced this in real life journeys as well to great positive effect, e.g. not falling off a cliff I did not perceive was there until a traveling companion pointed it out!

Even on this trip: Tim was “official navigator” and keeper of the guidebook and map and he did a brilliant job, guiding us from the Upper Springs to the Nether Springs with nary a glitch. But on occasion, discerning the way required more than one perspective. Another set of eyes taking in the landscape and map brought clarity to our position.

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This is not a new, and certainly not an exclusively Christian, idea. Most world views of even minimal merit have somewhere near their center a commitment to “togetherness” or “community” or “partnership”. When we began Allen Creek Community Church 21 years ago, the founding scriptural ideal was Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

“Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

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So why am I still so surprised and ashamed of myself when a traveling buddy gently and lovingly steps up to me, takes the map out of my hand and turns it right side up for me again, clearly indicating I was not where I thought I was.

It’s humiliating.

This need to be independent, to do it myself, and not make mistakes is lodged much deeper in my being than I thought. I could easily blame my father for it. He was the one who lived this out; explicitly and implicitly drove it into me. But he was simply responding to what was driven in to him, the origins of which I will never fully know. There is no value any longer in finding the origins of these impulses. The value lies in coping with them as they are now.

I am deeply motivated to make sure people see me as strong, wise and capable in ALL things, but also independent, dare I say it, “above needing others“?.

Yes, I wish to actually BE strong, wise and capable. But the need to be seen as such is still the higher value I’m afraid, or at least the temptation is still powerful.

Why was it OK for Corman to be corrected/directed by Aidan, Aidan by Oswald, Peter by John, John by Jesus…but it’s anathema to me?
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Thank you, Brenda for being my person.

St. Ozzy Part 3

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The Way is long and winding. It stretches out before us into the unseen. There is continuity and contentedness, but the one who is on the Way cannot perceive it. It is the nature of being on a Way.

 

 

 

 

The second chapter of Adam’s book is titled “On Firm Foundations”. It speaks of Aidan’s selection and early development of the Lindisfarne monastery. Adams focuses on three aspects of this establishment period:

  1. Lindifarne’s geographic characteristics. Close enough to Bamburgh (the seat of political, cultural and military power) to be in communication, but not SO close as to be overly influenced or PERCEIVED as being overly influenced. Also the well known metaphor of the tidal nature of Lindisfarne reminding all that there are times of quiet withdrawal, and times of great activity.
  2. Every aspect of the establishment of a community had spiritual significance. the Celtic ethos of work, play, eating, building, or tending the sheep being Holy activities permeated the establishment of the community.
  3. The entire process was bathed in prayer and intercession,  ignited by a period of 40 days of ONLY prayer, when the island was spiritually being prepared.

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This reminds me of the often inescapable impression that God says to me, “Dan, just start living the way you wish to live right now! Let the temporal and the physical things simply grow out of that over time..” (this is not a direct quote from God, but my attempt to put the impression into a cohesive set of words.)

But I am impatient. I don’t want to do the work, I just want the pay-off. Aidan seemed to understand the idea that it’s “slow and steady”, “focus on what’s in front of you”, “do the hard work, the unseen and quiet work”, “the journey is it’s own reward..” blah blah blah!

I know all these things. I have built practices into my life designed to exercise these muscles (practices like this pilgrimage!). But it seems that the deep, fundamental bedrock of who I am in this regard largely remains unchanged.

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When I was a young, I wanted to join the BoyScouts. Not because I wanted to camp and learn to tie knots and go to weekly meetings. I wanted the uniform. That sash with all the badges! Those badges were an alluring collection. The arm patches and bandannas, the hat, the crest, all meant something. There was something in me even that early that was drawn to the ceremony and ritual of it all…well…the “display” of it all.

I wanted to play football. Not because I enjoyed the athletics or even the camaraderie. I wanted a helmet!

As an 11 year old, the best and most motivating part of being captain of the school patrol (“crossing guards” to some of you) was not so much the prestige and trust awarded by the adults who gave me the position (though these were great) but the bright yellow helmet!(common, enlisted patrolmen wore plain, white helmets).

I just want the uniform. I just want the result. The finished product.

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But actually…even as I type this…I realize that the finished product, the uniform, the collection, even these photographs I’m sharing with you, only serve a yet a deeper purpose: To create an image of me that I wish to project.

At times in my life I have been willing to lie, manipulate and to steal in order to construct an image. The trappings, the “uniform”, the “status”, the “title” are deeply desired things. Something in me is still deeply convinced that these things will gain the attention, the affection, the admiration of those around me.

Maybe… if I can convince YOU that I’m a hero, an athlete, a leader, courageous and good…then I will be those things. Or is it really just enough to have you believe it?

I am so tired of this economy which still drives me after almost 50 years…

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Yesterday, a man who is tormented by his own past came to me for the 3rd or 4th time seeking help to be free of it all. He is broken and living out difficult consequences for a lifetime of sinful and stupid behavior. And even though he has changed his behavior, he still feels the old compulsions. I tried to help him see that he will always have the memories. They cannot be erased. And the temptation, the gravitational pull to return to the old ways will always be there…but that does not mean he is unchanged.

I think I need to listen to my own advise.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

Romans 8:1