Finding a Voice
Thursday, April 13, 2006
a reading retreat
Hjalmarson continues: "The experience was not unlike a retreat. I lived with Eugene and with Jesus and in the presence of a great cloud of witnesses for a single day as I reflected on my life, the God life, the life with Christ in community and the mighty acts of God in history. It was a rich day because Peterson's own life with God has been rich,and because he has been gifted as an articulate spokesman of Christian experience, at once literary, theological, learned, poetic, and prophetic."
I'm going to try that this summer -- maybe June. Go to my sister's cabin at Arlington Beach Camp for a couple of days, spend the first day reading and the second day -- who knows where the sacrament of present moments will lead?
Why this book? Several reasons. It's Eugene Peterson. (You know, "the guy who wrote The Message.") It's pertinent to student development work (i.e. discussion of community and spirituality) and to my own leadership development as I refocus, reorient, rest.
"We are particularly tempted to constant activity as leaders. By definition, leaders influence others to cause movement, and to bring change. That requires activity. Surely we have never been more desperate for leadership than we are in these days!
"But while once the essence of leadership may have been activity, our times require a different kind of leader, one who leads from both head and heart and one whose very essence can be described as spiritual. Too much activity, particularly that on the part of leaders, has been shaped because there was a drive to succeed -- a need to be successful -- a hunger to be seen as effective, to feed the ego. But the biggest egos are usually fed at the expense of others. In the new world that kind of oppression is seen for what it is -- self-serving, manipulative, oppressive. As we clearly see that kind of activity as the antithesis of Christ's kingdom, we are waiting for a new kind of leadership -- one that is essentially spiritual. ...
"There is something irresistibly hospitable about a warm and restful person. When I intentionally seek quiet and restful space, I encounter the Spirit of God. When we separate ourselves from busyness and distraction, He comes to brood over us. In that place of shared rest we have nothing to prove, no one to influence, no way to 'succeed' except to be loved. Restful people become a welcoming place for the Spirit of God, and in turn can offer peace and rest to others."
However, lest resting becomes utilitarian, I take to heart Hjalmarson's admonition:
"Christian spirituality is not a life-project for becoming a better person. We are not the subject, nor are we the action. God with us, God for us, Christ in me -- the prepositions that join us to God invite us to participate in what God is doing. (p 335) Furthermore, ways and means must be appropriate to the ends they serve -- the ways and means of God alone lead to His kingdom. ... Guides like Peterson remind me of the sure foundation, and the certain mercy and grace of God in Christ. He encourages me on the most essential journey -- toward Christ."
Citation: Leonard Hjalmarson's review of Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, by Eugene H. Peterson. Monday April 3, 2006.