Finding our new, old road to God | Bellevue First Congregational Church, Bellevue, WA
Last Sunday in church, Lisa spoke about waking up. This involved some dramatization of the topic to help us sit up and pay attention. After the simulated awakening from sleep, Lisa explored the metaphorical possibilities of awakening. One theme I took away from the sermon was that just as a physical awakening is something that happens on a cyclical basis, the other types of awakening are also cyclical – we may have an awakening, but we may have to reawaken later, multiple times. Very few people have the ability to be on, all the time, across long stretches of time. That takes skill and tenacity.
When I think about the times I have woken up in life and tried to take on something new – a spiritual practice such as prayer or reading spiritual books, or a practice I wouldn’t normally think of as spiritual, like exercising, eating healthier, playing the recorder, or going to bed early on a nightly basis – I find I have a pattern of awakening, burning brightly for a while, searching for a way to maintain, and then dropping it, either retreating to the TV/couch or internet to read way too much news (worst case) or directing my energies elsewhere (better). Sometimes I even manage to cross the threshold of habit formation cited by the experts, but usually, my discipline or enthusiasm wanes, work obligations cause missed personal commitments, or the difficulty of getting out of bed at 6 am on a dark January morning is just too great.
Then, sooner or later – an event, an encounter, or a general malaise force me awake again so that I try something new or return to something familiar. There’s a strange irregular rhythm to it. I’ve returned to some of my foundational activities – singing and swimming – multiple times throughout my life. While I might fail to achieve long term consistency, they are always there waiting for me the next time my spirit awakens to the need to go back to that activity.
This pattern seems to mimic how we get projects done at work – when people and teams multitask and spread their efforts among too many priorities, you end up with a lot of activity but not much progress. Management eventually figures this out and gets the people and the teams to focus on just a few things at a time, and an enormous amount of work can then happen in a short time. But teams invariably slip back into too many priorities and have to wake up again to the need to prioritize and focus.
After a summer of fun in the incredible Northwest sun – the best weather in 25 years according to the TV weather people – fall is coming. Even though we are still in the midst of heat and sunshine, the nights are already shortening noticeably. The plants will die or go into hibernation, and the birds will fly south. The people will take shelter more in their homes or escape to places where there is snow or sunshine to get away from the clouds and rain of Seattle. But other things will awaken in this Autumn season – the schools will come alive after a summer of silence. The members of the church choir will join together again, and summer travels will come to an end and there will be two services again on Sundays.
While our blogging practice has been relatively quiet this summer, Peter, Nancy, and Randy have found some time to share their voices here – thank you so much! I’m hoping our blogging practice will reawaken this fall, and that all you readers and bloggers will return with a renewed interest in the practices you hold close, in a new practice you’d like to take on, and in sharing those experiences through Via Ad Deus. See you again soon!