If you’re anything like me

Orthodox Jewish people take the Sabath seriously, as you probably know.  Those guys don’t fool around about relaxing.

Some groups won’t turn on lights, cook things, set the table, turn on or off the television… it’s pretty intense.

I always used to find this legalistic and silly.

And the truth is, I still do… sort of.

However I’m softening on this opinion, some.  It’s a result of a recent power failure.

We had no electricity.  It was a nice day outside.  Light came in through the windows.  We needed no heat or air conditioning.

And I was annoyed, because there was lots of stuff I wanted to do.  It was lots of stuff I could have claimed was relaxing, refreshing.  But the truth is that mostly it would not have been very good for me.

My challenge for you, right now (put them in the comments section if you want): List all the things you want to do right now.

O.K.  Now, how many of them are good things to do?   Not productive.  Not efficient.  But good for you.  Good for your soul.  Fufilling.  Activities that will make you a better person, make you a better son/daughter/father/husband/wife…

O.K., from this list:

How many require electricity? 

I’d bet not many of them.

Despite the fact that we know that they are good, how many of them will you do next time you have a few minutes?

If you’re like me you’re going to run toward technological distractions.  You’ll spend two minutes adjusting the air conditioner and a minute flicking on the lamp.  You’ll turn on your ipod and shuffle through the first 17 songs because you’re not in the mood (never mind that you put them on their in the first place.)  You’ll sit down and feel so proud of yourself for reading the bible, if you’re anything like me.

And then you’ll read for like 5 minutes.  You’ll find some amazing piece of scripture that you just have to blog about.  So you’ll close your bible and you’ll rationalize that it’s all good, if you’re anything like me.  Because talking about God’s word, that’s just about the same thing as reading it, right?

That day that I had no power I propped up the curtains to let the light in and I kicked back on the love seat and I just read.  I read because there was no real alternative, no distractions, no temptations.

It was good.  Really good.

But of course here I am, when I should be reading my bible, writing away about that experience instead of actually experiencing it.  I’m going to go now, and read… or perhaps I’ll just squander half an hour on a stupid video game instead, because I can.

I’m not very smart, am I?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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