Reflections on Space
MICAH is space. Below are reflections on this theme written by Erik. We trust you will find words of wisdom in these reflections.
MICAH is space...
No not the final frontier, but we do encourage people to boldly go where they may not have gone before. We live a culture of busy-ness. We race around and fill our schedules and days as full as possible and even call others lazy if they do not do the same. A frequent measure of success is how many activities we are involved in.
The church often is the same way, offering program after program and driving its pastors and youth workers to exhaustion. "If we just work hard enough we will prove that we have been saved" is a sad derivation of the Protestant Work Ethic that seems to have seeped into much of American life. It is sad because it so limits Christ’s redeeming grace.
We recently heard a story about a youth worker who was reprimanded by his Senior Pastor because he wasn’t offering something for the kids on every day of the month. This is insanity! It is also in dire conflict with the image that Jesus suggests and models.
Jesus takes time to go off on his own in prayer and commends the woman Mary for just sitting at his feet while her sister Martha complains about the lack of help for all the house chores. This is a lived expression of the Psalmist who writes, “Be still and know that I am God?”
God clearly thought rest and space important enough to include in the Ten Commandments (Sabbath) right up there with do not murder.
In spiritual formation we need space and time to sit at Jesus’ feet. We must make space so that we can notice God's voice in our lives. We must allow ourselves and our needs and our busy-ness to quiet so that we can pay attention to the One who longs for us. If we are intent on relationship with the Holy we must make a spacious place within us for the Holy Breath to be breathed.
A boa constrictor kills its prey by tightening its coils at every exhale so that gradually the animal has no space to draw breath. This is a good metaphor for our busy-ness and activity squeezing out that open space for God. This constricting inevitably results in our own ill health: anxiety, stress, illness, exhaustion, and many other symptoms which are becoming quite commonplace in our society.
When people come to MICAH we are intent on providing this space and amazed at how shocked people are that there can be such space- and how good it feels. We place a priority on encouraging people to begin the practice of solitude and silence and allow it to deepen within them as they spend time here. This is a beginning in the process (yes, it takes time to build this practise) of carving out this space for God. It leads to not only outer space in our schedule but inner space within our hearts, minds, and souls: a space in which we can notice the grace of God at work in our lives! The practice is very simply spending time by ourselves without music, papers, books, cell phones or pagers. As simple as it is, it can also be difficult at the beginning especially if this is a drastic departure from our normal routine of a crammed day. Often we find that we are first faced with ourselves and all our 'stuff'- both good and bad. We have nowhere to hide and cannot cover up our issues and our self with our scheduling or activities any more. In the silence, in the space, we realize it is just us and God. Isn’t that the goal of the spiritual life?! As disciples of Jesus isn’t that what we are searching for?? Isn’t that what this church thing is all about? It is found in space. May you find time and space within which to meet and know the Holy One.
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