Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Finding Time

I keep thinking that I will find time to reflect well on the actions which fill my life these days, and to read, write, and to ride my bicycle. And here I am on the brink of the last month of the year and I have read relatively little. written relatively little, ridden sparingly (by my standards), and not engaged in a level of contemplation that moves me more than a few inches below the surface of appearances and conventional thought.

Of course, there is always plenty of time. If I have not had time it is because I have not taken time, made time, carved out the spaces for the reading, reflection, writing and riding that bring me both joy and put me uniquely in touch with creative resources. Time is not the issue. Choices and discipline is the issue.

We find time for what we want to do or feel we need to do, do we not? Over 2016, I have felt and responded to the need to respond proactively to the numerous community development opportutnities and challenges before the organization I lead, to respond to the opporunities and challenges of the congregation I serve, to respond to family opportunities and challenges, to respond to nonprofit community service opportunities and challenges of the causes I deeply care for, etc. The "free time" I have had is the limited marginal time between these primary concerns. Still, that represents a significant amount of time.

I am grateful for meaningful opportunities and challenges that call for my time. I am grateful to work in areas of my passion: community development, impacting the city I love and call home, cultivating a fragile urban community of faith, investing in social enterprises that change can change the trajectory of lives. I have thrown myself--and my time--into these over these eleven months. My investment of time and energy is much of my expressed mission and prayer.

And yet. And yet, I feel I am also called to reflect and to write. And the joy of cycling is somehow integrated into these callings. This part of my sense of calling has taken a back seat to the calling to what Parker J. Palmer and the Quakers call "the active life" thus far this year. But, on the eve of December, I feel strongly the call read, to reflect, to write, and to ride with renewed focus.

Will I "find time" for these disicplines, these actions over the next month? Will I forego time wasters and whatever idleness that robs my soul of these valued sources of soul sustenance and growth? I will if I so choose. This blog piece may well be the first expression of this dscipline.

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
www.indybikehiker.com
www.twitter.com/indybikehiker
indybikehiker@gmail.com

WAKE-UP CALL OF ADVENT

Nazi resistor Alfred Delp saw in Advent a call for radical awakening from self-sabotage


WAKE UP, O SLEEPER.  Father Alfred Delp was condemned as a traitor for his resistance to the regime of Adolf Hitler and hanged in a Nazi prison in 1945.  Shortly before his execution, the Jesuit priest wrote a piece now titled "The Shaking Reality of Advent" (reprinted in Watch for the Light).

To one who was going through such fire, Advent was no serene welcoming.   It was a radical shaking to awake out of a self-sabotaging, illusory sleep.  At the same time, Delp points out that awakened ones should not now act anxiously or rashly.  Instead, live and act in anticipation of the next Advent and the surpassing value and new order it brings.  Here are a few excerpts:

TIME TO GO TO WORK. "If we want to transform life again, if Advent is truly to come again -- the Advent of home and of hearts, the Advent of the people and the nations, a coming of the Lord in all this -- then the great Advent question for us is whether we come out of these convulsions with this determination: yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for the waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them. It is time for each of us to go to work, with the same unshakable sureness that the Lord will come, to set our life in God's order wherever we can. Where God's word is heard, he will not cheat our life of the message; where our life rebels before our own eyes he will reprimand it."

THOSE WHO LOOK TO THE LORD.  "The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth."

A TIME FOR RENUNCIATION.  "Advent is a time when we ought to be shaken and brought to a realization of ourselves.  The necessary condition for the fulfillment of Advent is the renunciation of presumptuous attitudes and alluring dreams in which and by means of which we always build ourselves imaginary worlds.  In this way we force reality to take us to itself by force -- by force, in much pain and suffering."

A TIME OF PROMISE.  "At the same time, there is much more that belongs to Advent.  Advent is blessed with God's promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time.  These promises kindle the inner light in our hearts.  Being shattered, being awakened -- only with these is life made capable of Advent.  In the bitterness of awakening...the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth in these times reach us."

WE HAVE RECEIVED A MESSAGE.  Delp describes three promises we receive in Advent: (1) the angels annunciation, "speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish, scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night, call us to hope...  Advent is a time of inner security because it has received a message."  Delp challenges each of us to be such an angel of annunciation wherever possible.

DO WE HAVE A READY HEART?  The second promise of Advent is (2) the blessed woman: "Advent's holiest consolation is that the angel's annunciation met with a ready heart.  The Word became flesh in a motherly heart and grew out far beyond itself into the world of God-humanity."  Delp compares Mary's readiness and bearing of a great truth, a great liberation, to our own lives: "We must remember today with courage that Mary foreshadows the light in our midst.  Deeper down in our being, our days and our destinies, too, bear the blessing and mystery of God.  The blessed woman waits, and we must wait too until her hour has come."

WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY.  The third promise of Advent is found (3) in the voice and message of John the Baptist: "These John the Baptist characters...cry for blessing and salvation.  They summon us to our last chance, while already they feel the ground quaking and the rafters creaking and see the firmest of mountains tottering inwardly...They summon us to the opportunity of warding off, by the greater power of the converted heart, the shifting desert that will pounce upon us and bury us."

JUST BEYOND THE HORIZON.  "Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness.  But just beyond the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing.  There shines on us the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come... It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold.  But it is happening..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Moving Toward Thanksgiving

This holiday is for all that we
Take for granted,
Assume as a given,
Absent-mindedly overlook,
Claim as our God-given right.

This holiday if for all those we
Unnecessarily criticize,
Agitate with our demands,
Impatiently rush,
Regularly impose upon.

This holiday is for all that we
By-pass in our drivenness,
Go out of our way to avoid,
Carelessly forget,
Thoughtlessly leave out.

This holiday is for all things we
Receive as gracious gifts,
Share as common ground,
Express as transcendent grace,
Return in praise to God.



Poem Notes

My thoughts are moving toward Thanksgiving and its essential meanings. But boiling down the essence of a particular holiday is dangerous. By the time one distills it down to one thing, it has lost is savor--it's flat, one-dimensional. One will have a point, but have missed the larger, broader experience in the process.

Thanksgiving, like other holidays, is multi-faceted, a layered tradition with rich tributaries. But, like other holidays, commercialism tends to twist or bury primary meanings and overwhelm traditions. For example, who would ever have imagined eating Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV, watching an NFL game? Two American traditions collide and the primary one yields. Or, they both morph into something new.

I will likely watch some of the NFL action on Thursday. I also hope we play a little backyard football. But I was thinking of the tendency to lose primary meanings and spiritual growth opportunities of Thanksgiving when I penned this poem.


John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 
www.indybikehiker.com 
www.twitter.com/indybikehiker 
indybikehiker@gmail.com