Tuesday, March 1, 2011

hospitality of thought

do you ever have one of those really eye-opening conversations? those times when you are listening to someone talk and you are listening so closely you think you might fall off of your chair? (or couch, in this case) you are hanging on every single syllable like it's the last sound you'll ever hear, every word they say is like water to your parched soul that you did not even know was thirsty. listening so intently because every word that is coming out of their mouth is entirely new to you, they are sharing insight that you have never ever considered before - but now that you consider it, it resonates so deeply with your soul that you cannot imagine going one more day without letting this thought, these ideas, roll over and over in your mind until they weave themselves into your soul and the very fabric of your life.

this happened to me a week ago. last tuesday night, sitting on the couch at our weekly three hour-ish staff meeting - i found myself lost in overwhelming contemplation. (this is surprising, because our new meeting time runs from 9:15pm-11:45/midnight and usually my brain is absolutely shot by this time of night and I am in that stage where everything is funny and nothing serious or the least bit thoughtful comes out of my mouth.) 


so over Christmas break we (meaning the RAs on our staff) were instructed to read and ponder and pour ourselves over this lecture entitled, "From Brokenness to Community," written by Jean Vanier. this was the focus of our discussion at our meeting last tuesday night. we've been examining and talking about this article for a couple of weeks now but last tuesday was the most eye-opening discussion for me. one question led to another and soon we found ourselves contemplating the idea of humility as Vanier talks about it in his article. (you should go read the lecture - this will probably make more sense then. not to mention it might change your perspective on life and people and community.)

humility and brokenness are two things that God has been teaching me a lot about this semester and so i welcomed this discussion on humility with open arms - gladly taking in all that was said. the conversation from humility quickly turned to poverty and what is poverty. are we poor? what does poverty look like? is it only monetary and material? is poverty not about money primarily? as i sat there listening and turning over this concept of humility and poverty in my mind however, John David (our resident's director) brought a very interesting point to the table, a point that i had never before considered. the thought? that perhaps,

our pride is our poverty. 

this blows my mind. 
the more i dwell on this thought, the more sense it makes.

let me back up. what is poverty? in my mind poverty is a lack of something - whether food or money or clothes or knowledge- being in poverty prohibits us from living life fully because we are lacking. we do not have enough. we need more. 

this idea of pride being our poverty however turns the whole world upside down. (Jesus likes to do that, doesn't he?)  rather than seeing poverty as a lack of something...  poverty is too much of me. (and not enough God.) We are poor because we have too much of ourselves. 

and just like material poverty, our pride restricts our living fully. it steals joy, it keeps us from forgiveness - it forces us to choose safety and certainty and "things that make sense." If keeps us from giving generously, from celebrating shamelessly and loving without restraint. our pride cripples us in more ways than we know.

if however, we can allow God to strip us of our pride - if we can hand over our poverty, if we can hand over our lives full of ourselves, then God can give us the richness of more compassion, more understanding, more joy, more love. 

he became poor so that we might become rich. 

we are rich, we are poor. 
we have nothing, we have everything.

so whoever finds his life, finds that he is poor with the poverty of pride, will loose it- will run from it and find the richness of life in Christ. And whoever loses his life- that is, the pride of their life, the poverty of life, whoever loses that can then find new, rich life in Christ. 

and so again we find ourselves in this paradox... because my first thought was that if Jesus made himself poor so that we might become rich - then we too must become poor to serve others - we must pour ourselves out and become poor for the sake of others, but at the same time we must be rich in all the fullness of God so that we can offer something of value to those around us.

my goodness. 

so that's what's occupying my thoughts these days. i don't know if all of that makes sense. i wish i could properly explain to you everything that's in my head and stirring in my heart. it's one crazy adventure, that's for sure. i could go on. i could tell you how this humility lesson is carrying over physically with a knee injury and really tough lacrosse players. haha i could tell you how God's timing is perfect and how his faithfulness and goodness continues to floor me....but i have to go to class. 
there is so much to learn.

i hope you're learning too. 

[i am thankful for this place and these people who are challenging me and helping me to think deeply, to ask questions and seek harder. i am ever so grateful for the wisdom of John David and the obligation i have to spend at least an hour a week with him mulling over the things in my mind, because God knows i need help figuring all of this stuff out. haha]


i hope you all are welcoming march with open arms - maybe there is grass where you are, appreciate it for me, ok? if it's warm - don't wear your coat for me, deal? [because my ears are still cold, my wool socks still a staple, and snow and ice are still reminding me that indeed winter is not over.]

may you live with a heart open today,
and always.

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