Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Practicing Spirituality...

Back in August I signed up for an e-course with Spirituality and Practice: Practicing Spirituality with Parker Palmer.  I signed up because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I have always been drawn to Palmers work and knew that I needed something to focus myself this fall.

I have been so enriched.  Each morning there is an email that arrives in my inbox with a quote from one of Parker Palmer's books followed by suggested practices and or questions.  As well there is an opportunity to share your reflections with the other 150 participants on an open forum.

This morning text was from The Promise of Paradox:
At the heart of letting go is faith and trust. If we do not trust that God "knows well that you need them," we will grasp at life's necessities and even at luxuries. Lacking faith that God will provide, we can only hoard against an uncertain tomorrow. But what is the warrant for trust when the world is full of examples that would make trust the lifestyle of fools? Is it not prudent to be suspicious, to take nothing for granted, to compete for more than our share, to hoard against future threats? As long as even a minority of people operate this way, they create a climate in which trust itself seems untrustworthy.
Perhaps this situation — with its self-fulfilling anxieties and its illusions of material security — is part of God's providence. For it is precisely by thinking that we can buy our security, and then by experiencing the loss of all that "moth and rust doth corrupt," that most of us are given a chance at conversion. Most of us learn about the paradox of scarcity and abundance only when we are broken in our efforts to put money or status or material well-being in that cavern of need that can only be filled by God.
And what is this paradox? Simply that "he who seeks his life shall lose it, and he who loses his life . . . shall find it." True abundance comes not to those set on securing wealth but to those who are willing to share apparent scarcity in a way that creates more than enough. Those who seek well-being, who grasp for more than their share, will find life pinched and fearful. They will reap only the anxiety of needing more and more, fueled by the fear that someday everything will be taken away. But those who reach out in service to their brothers and sisters, knowing that true abundance is found not in hoarding but in community, will find a life of plenty. Having been there for others, they have reason to believe that others will be there for them. 
It is this paradox that so connects me to ministry within the prison.  It is sitting with one who has lost all - family, friends, pride, freedom and sometimes the very sense of self... and see that one find himself again.  The one who looses their life finds it.

How many times have I heard men say something along the lines of "coming to prison saved my life" or "I wasn't arrested, I was rescued!"

And the midst of all this I am fed and I am urged today, to reflect on where I experience scarcity in my life and what actions grow out of my experience of scarcity.

There is a scarcity of time in my life.  Not enough time to do all the things I have committed to do.  Not enough time to have all the conversations that need to be had.  Not enough time to be with family and friends.  Not enough time to travel the roads I long to travel and see the things that I might see... and I realize that out of this my actions are sometimes franticly rushed, trying to get one thing done so I can move onto the next... and then I am reminded not to stop with the first answer that comes...
Where do I experience scarcity in my life? What actions grow out of my experience of scarcity?  Where do I experience abundance in my life?  What actions grow out of this abundance?
I experience abundance in relationships: family, friends, colleagues, inmates and strangers.  In most every relationship there is goodness that strengthens and sustains me.  This goodness moves me to go deeper and broader in relationship... and then ahha moment: the abundance is in the relationship - stop and treasure the connection in relationship...



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