Last Saturday was the wedding of one of my four daughters on a farm in upstate New York. The music, the dancing, the great celebration with family and friends left me breathless. It was one of the most fabulous days of my life. The wedding was also flawed. Despite 10 months of planning, a great deal of money, and lots of work, the wedding was not perfect. Think about it: All vacations are imperfect. The best church is very imperfect. Every one of our children is imperfect. Our parenting is imperfect. The best employee is imperfect. The best leader whom we idealize is imperfect. The most perfect physical body is imperfect. The most wonderful spouse is imperfect. The greatest love making is imperfect. Do the best you can and let it go. If the whole world were given you, you would still say, “It is too little.” Why? You were made for a perfect. Read more.
As goes the sexual embrace of a husband and wife, so goes the marriage. (As goes the sexuality of a single person, so goes their close relationships). As goes the marriage, so goes the family. As goes the family, so goes the church. As goes the church, so goes the community. As goes the community, so goes the city. As goes the city, so goes the world.
When I asked my PhD friend to reflect, after over 30 years of therapy with high-powered executives and pastors, why leaders have such a difficult time stopping and being still. He laughed. “Pete,” he replied with a smile, “They are terrified. They can’t stop. Their self is so tied into achievement, into their doing and work, they are afraid they will die if they stop.” This Isenheim Altarpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald some time between 1512 and 1516 captures the intense struggle to die to the false self. We see ugly demons trying to torment Anthony of Athanasius to leave the place of solitude with Jesus. Each of us needs to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw and allow the gentle touch of Jesus free us. The shape of the discipline of solitude will look different for each of us. But one thing is sure — a fruitful life can only flow out. Read more.
My family growing up was never very good at delight, play, and enjoying the healthy, God-given pleasures of life. Added to this was a Christian formation in my early years that reinforced a subtle theology that the more you suffered for Christ, then the more loved you were by Him. We were to work, to do for Christ, especially among those of us serving in urban centers like New York City. The journey of emotional health and contemplative spirituality have helped me enormously, but it has been a long, slow process of growth. I am slowly getting there, learning to enjoy pleasure, gifts, fun, dance, wine, and celebrating! I’ve just completed The Good of Affluence by John Schneider, a professor of theology out of Calvin College in West Michigan. I do not agree with all he says, but he makes a number of excellent points. One, humans were designed by God to enjoy and. Read more.