Sunday, July 19, 2009

Making Space For The Rabbi

This post is part of a conversation on Christine Sine's blog: about "Spiritual Practice" defined as anything one does regularly as a way of connecting with God. There some very interesting posts, including one on Crying as spiritual practice. The blog is well worth the read.

I remember bitching and moaning to Richard Foster about the disadvantage of being 2,000 years too late to actually follow Christ in the same way as “The Twelve” did. For me trying to actually be a disciple of someone behind the cloud of unknowing didn’t seem fair. The Twelve could actually see Jesus in action, ask him about what was going on, complain to him and each other about it, discuss it around the campfire, scribble pithy notes to be someday inserted in their gospels, etc. “We're at a great disadvantage!" I whined. Richard said something like, "Maybe you're just too focused on yourself and what you are doing to notice what Jesus is doing. Give Jesus a chance to act before barging in asking WWJD?" A bit of reflection revealed that no one really has a clue what Jesus would do in any given situation anyway, and to ask that question, at least for me, is an exercise in futility and/or arrogance.
After some soul searching and actual listening, I started the practice of stepping back in every daily encounter to see what Christ was about before I inserted myself into the situation. I began to ask, “What IS Jesus doing?” I tried to hold off on my own inclination to “do something” and just wait until I could see the Rabbi in action. I’ve been at it for a little more than thirty years and it has become a treasured and life changing practice. I still find it extremely difficult in many ways. It’s difficult to be patient when a situation seems to require a quick response. It’s difficult to suppress my own “wisdom” and avoid projecting it into what seem like familiar situations. It’s difficult to avoid emotional reasoning in situations that unleash strong feelings. The biggest difficulty is that Jesus never seems to really do that much at any given time. He never seems goes for the big kill, the profound answer that solves the problem or the deep insight that completely changes people right before one’s eyes. He seems to almost always prefer some small act of love or acceptance or grace that insinuates more than proclaims the depth of his love or the extent of his willingness to sacrifice. Plus, I guess if I were honest, I never really get to do much. Sometimes I get to point to what happened and say, “Yep, that was Jesus alright.” Sometimes I get to share in the aftercare, i.e. meeting the needs, sharing resources, or some act of service. Mostly though, I just marvel at all that Jesus is doing in every situation, in everyone’s life, all the time. I mean that seriously and literally, ALL the time.
I still hope I’ll get to do some serious healing sometime – even just with a sick pet or a broken household appliance. In the meantime, I feel like an authentic disciple, though. Not one of the big three or anything – maybe a Nathaniel or an Andrew. That’s plenty for me.