Sit in your cell for it will teach you everything

Too many times we think that spirituality is something that we do. Perhaps it is our need to feel like we are in control of our own lives or perhaps it is just the way we have been taught, but doing is often not helpful for spiritual formation. 

There was a desert father called Abba Moses who once said, "Go sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything." It was also said that a monk outside of his cell is like a fish out of water, only able to live for a little while. 

Why would sitting in a cell be the great teacher to Abba Moses and the other desert Christians? 

I would suggest that sitting in a silent and quiet place helps God find us. 

Imagine you are in a totally dark forest. Imagine that God is also in this forest. You each are looking for each other. Because you are both moving it is much harder to locate each other. Your yelling out for God drowns out the still small voice of the one you are searching for. Groping among the trees, you grow frustrated at your inability to find the source of all life and love. And so you sit down.

And when you sit down, you finally hear what you could not hear before. You hear the still small voice. And, in due time, God finds you. 

Sit in your cell, for it will teach you everything.  

Best use for your cell phone at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means a lot of things, but it also means it is the National Day of Listening. It is the day that you are invited to interview a loved one and hear from them some of their story and life. Recently, StoryCorps put out an App for your phone which comes set with all you need to conduct your own interview. It is easy to do and will take about 8 minutes if you don't know what you are doing to get the hang of it.

Even if you don't use your cell phone to record a great conversation with a loved one this Thanksgiving, it is my hope that you will join me in not only giving thanks but opening our ears to listen to others. 

God knows we could all use a little more listening these days.

What I say to people who try but cannot connect to God

Many people have come into my office and ask some for of the following, "How do I find God?"

The assumption underlying this question is that God is somewhere else and that it is our quest as human beings to find where God is. Like Dorthy looking for the Great Wizard, we seek out a path that will take us to the one we desire to see. 

Most of the time, these people come with a sense of exhaustion and defeat. They have been trying to find God and yet it seems so illusive. They have tried all sorts of things, but nothing seems to draw them closer. So in their desperation I tell these weary travelers, the same thing:

Stop trying to find God. 

The entire Christian message of God coming in the life of Jesus Christ is a story about God finding humans. Jesus even shared different parables that expressed this. Such as a Shepard leaving his flock in order to find the one that is lost. The one sheep is not able to find the Shepard, but the Shepard can find it.

This coming Sunday marks a new year of the Christian calendar, we call this first season Advent. Advent means coming. That is to say, God is coming into this world in the life of Christ.

God is coming to find us all who are lost. God is coming to the broken world. God is coming to all of us who are unable to find him. God is coming to all of us. 

God calls us on a party line

Here in Saginaw, Texas many people have told me about what it was like being a kid and having a party phone line. This was a time when people had telephones in their homes but several homes used the same phone line. Each family had a unique ring for their home so that if you heard the phone ring two shorts and one long that was a call for your neighbors but if you hear three shorts then someone was calling your home. 

Since the party line was open to everyone on the line, you might be having a conversation on the phone but then a neighbor might pick up the phone to make a call only to discover that another family was on the line. When you lived with a party line there were good chances you heard other's phone calls.

I owe  Rev. Nancy Allen credit who said, in passing, God calls us on party lines not private lines. 

When God is calling you for something, God does not just whisper that to you so that only you can hear it. God understands that the world works through the relationships that exist within it. As such when God calls you for something, others will hear/see that call as well. God calls us on a party line not private lines.

So if you are trying to discern what God may be calling you for, perhaps it is worth asking others what gifts and graces they see in you. Maybe they have heard something on the line that God called you on.