I went for my first run since the summer tonight. And ended up flat on my face.
As I was running I got to thinking, as you do.
What does it mean to be a blessing to the area in which I live? How does what I believe really impact how I live and where I live?
Then I ran past a Camino tour company and started thinking/praying about people doing pilgrimages and finding hope.
I was reminded of an event I was at this morning on the themes of passion and resonance in leadership. One of the facilitators was describing her frustrations and helplessness about worked events and realised she needed to stop trying to change the world and focus on living out what she wanted to see among those around her. Kindness, respect, Inclusivity, patience.
Later a participant mused “earlier we were talking about the culture of fear that is so prevelant. The opposite of fear is passion.”
“No” another participant jumped in “its not.”
“The opposite of fear is love. You can be passionate and very unloving”
It was when I was musing on this during my run that i missed the pavement and ended up flat on my face.
As I was furtively looking around to see if anyone had spotted my embarrassment a car with two men stopped beside me, wound down the window and checked I was ok.
The kindness of strangers. To a stranger. In that moment we were no longer strangers but bound by a moment of kindness.
And I remembered the conversation from earlier again.
And how much more perfect love casts out fear.
PS My run was a first attempt to train for the Santa Dash – raising money for Innovista’s RISE programme – helping inner city teenagers in Dublin serve their communities and experience that change is possible through leadership and mentoring programmes. If you’d like to give and make my trip more worthwhile you can do so here:
We live in an instant society, life is incredibly busy, we rush from meeting to meeting, from home to work to gym to meet people to catch favourite TV show to bed. We rarely stop. Stop simply to notice, to be aware of the moments of beauty and grace. Stop and pause not to moan or complain but to be thankful for those holy moments when God breaks through the noise and we hear his whisper. To see the good.
365 is a blogging movement that recognises that this stopping and pausing – recognising the moments of grace, the things to be thankful for, the moments of beauty doesn’t come naturally, but needs to be practised, to be learned and that’s what we are trying to do, trying to learn. Even on the worst days, to stop and look. It began with hoveactually and is spreading. Even the Soapbox is pausing from ranting to be thankful, so too smallcorner and lilytodd. Carrie O’Hara is also charting the good and inspiring, but also venting the bad, although I predict it may skew towards the former. Its not easy, it is a discipline that’s an easier road when walked together, so join in, and keep us going.
Another variation on the theme is the mockingbird’s leap opening with this fantastic quote by Annie Dillard
“beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there”
It’s a project for the advent season -in the run up to Christmas – the coming of the ultimate gift of Jesus – its an attempt to pay attention to the gifts of each day:
“People watching and waiting for something wonderful, even as we wait during Advent for the appearance of the Christ Child.
So that in the midst of the pimping of the season we are attentive to his coming.”
Take a deep breath. There is a rant coming…
‘Are you busy?’ appears to be quickly replacing ‘how are you?’ as a commonplace greeting. I’ve been noticing it more and more over the last few months, its been annoying me but its taken me a while to figure it out. ‘So what?’ you may think, but what does it tell us about who we are? It seems to me that this seemingly innocuous question is a symptom of something much deeper. No longer are people interested in how I’m doing, what I may be thinking about, the questions I’m struggling with. Instead all they want to know is if I’m productive – am I justifying my place on the planet by doing stuff.
Well excuse me if I happen to feel that there is more to me than what I do – phew some of you who are aware of my coffee drinking, talking about God career might think. It seems to me its a sign that our worth is not found in the depth of our character as Martin Luther King dreamed of but instead in how much we are doing. To stop in the fast-paced world we live in is almost criminal. The pressure to keep going, to do more, to work longer, to earn more, to keep learning keeps getting greater. Now I’m an activist and I love doing stuff, but as I get older, the more I realise how much I need to stop and take time out, to allow myself to slow down, and remember that the world revolves around God and what he’s doing, not me. Time to think and read is so valuable, to follow the model of Jesus taking time out is more important than ever with the pace of life we live today. To ask each other how busy we are simply confounds this lie that our value lies in what we do, not the content of our character, not in following a God who rests when his work is done and who calls us to a balanced not a frantic life…
On a slight side issue, the whole greetings thing is interesting, and I realise I’m pretty guilty of this so its something I need to work on. When I was in Tanzania (not a phrase I’ve used for a long time!) one of the things that struck me was the amount of time people made for each other, how they valued each other, how when they stopped to ask how someone was, they meant it and waited until they had heard everything. Today we ask ‘how are you?’ and don’t even wait for an answer or expect a ‘fine’ or ‘grand’, and not for people to actually open up and share what’s really going on. We’re good at the niceties but how much do we really care?
How prepared are we to take the challenge of thinking about what we say when we ask people questions and meaning what we say?