Saturday, January 28, 2012

Peace and Quietude

Long ago, in the fifteenth century,  a German monk, Thomas á Kempis, wrote, "if we would cut off all vain worrying, thinking only of  things that are profitable to the soul, and placing our hope in God, what great peace and quietness we would then possess."  

In our world today, the quantity and the quality of noise has changed, but the path to relief is the same á Kempis wrote long ago. The challenge--and the advice--never changes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Living waters or cracked cisterns?

In last week's post, I thought about how hard it is for me to give up "control" and instead seek the stillness God provides me when I slow down.  Oswald Chambers, in his January 21 reading for "My Utmost for His Highest," discusses how our enthusiasm for God ebbs and flows. He cites Jeremiah 2:2. As I read chapter two in its entirety, I was struck by verse 13: "My people have done two evil things: they have abandoned me--the fountain of living water.  And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!"

As I share these pictures today, I think of how we and the Psalmist praise God for His magnificent creation.  Yet, despite acknowledging our Creator, who out of His love placed us on this earth, we still follow our distracting, destructive idols that keep us from giving our entire selves to Him. We allow our selves to become "cracked cisterns that can hold no water." I am grateful for his unfailing love and never ending forgiveness that allow us to return to His living waters.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quieting our lives

Our minds are always bee hives of activity.  We want to be in control.  Yet when we still and quiet our minds, and move into prayer and the quietude of our hearts, then our souls recognize God really is with us.

Here is the way Henri Nouwen puts it:

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, "Prove that you are a good person." Another voice says, "You'd better be ashamed of yourself." There also is a voice that says, "Nobody really cares about you," and one that says, "Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful." But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, "You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you." That's the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. 

That's what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us "my Beloved."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter at the Oregon Coast

Meg and I took Jasmine, our Chinese student, back to Eugene this past Saturday.  She is doing well, studying for her Masters degree in Accounting at the University of Oregon.  Meg and I then traveled west to the beach town of Florence.  From there we went north, stopping for a wonderful sunset at Seal Rock.  We spent Saturday and Sunday nights in Depoe Boe, a delightful small harbor on the central Oregon coast. The water spout pictures are from the breakwater at Depoe Bay.  You stand in the parking area, where just below the waves crash and thunder against the rocks. You could not be any closer to the power of the Pacific Ocean than this. In January, the angle of sun at mid morning creates a rainbow in the spray of the blowhole, as the storm driven, high tide waves, crash into it.  Meg and stood transfixed in awe for most of the morning watching this synthesis of power and beauty. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How can we not praise our Creator!

I took the Isaiah image of Mt Emily at sunrise on January 2.  What an incredible way to begin the new year--reminded that even amidst the turmoil of the world which we mortals have created/modified, God's glory reigns supreme; his justice and mercy are eternal!