Contemplation–Psalm 19 & Finding Your Way


Contemplation, originally uploaded by papalars.

This new piece on my blog will evolve into an entire section on the “Inward” aspect of the Inward–Outward journey. To begin with I have posted quotes dealing with aspects of the inner life–leadership, contemplation, holiness (not a dirty word by the way), solitude and general aspects of following Christ. Oh, yes there are a few quotes about our culture and suburbia near the end as well. I was partly inspired by friends and collegues to add these to my blog. For many of us, inner reflection is essential to life. I hope to provide tools for reflection and contemplation as this blog matures, and to encourage anyone who joins Christ on the Inward–Outward journey! By the way, all the photos in the mosaic above are mine, taken over a span of many years of interest in photography. God provides a great lab for reflection. Psalm 19 comes to mind.

Western spirituality focuses on upward mobility that has an innate fear of “the fall.”     – Anne Dillard

“If solitude were primarily an escape from a noisy milieu, they could easily become very self-centered forms of asceticism. But solitude and silence are for prayer. The Desert Fathers did not think of solitude as being alone, but as being alone with God.” – Henri Nouwen

“Life naturally provides those moments and occasions of unintentional contemplation, times when the foundations of life seem swept away and we are left with the need to see life from a different perspective.
– Parker Palmer

“Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.”
– Frederick Buechner

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”
– Mother Teresa

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
– Annie Dillard, in Teaching a Stone to Talk

In all my experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, come from the outside in. Outside-in approaches result in unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circumstances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation.”                                                                                                                                                                                     – Steven R. Covey

“When a leader takes up all the space and preempts all the action, he or she may make something happen, but that something is not community. Nor is it abundance, because the leader is only one person and one person’s resources invariably run out.”
– Parker Palmer

“Repentance is not an emotion, not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you were wrong… it is a’ feet on the ground’ kind of word.”
– Eugene Peterson

Nouwen finds in the Desert traditions of the 4th and 5th centuries a model for spirituality that can be the source of renewal and vitality for those enmeshed in the busy schedules and interactions with people. The Desert Fathers [and Mothers] sought a new form of witness after the persecutions of the pre-Constantine era stopped. The end of persecutions did not mean the world had accepted the Gospel. This was a time when the prevailing culture of the church began to resemble the world in which it existed, failing to embody the ideals and gospel of Jesus Christ. The “world” was no longer the enemy of the church after Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. – Andrew Larsen commentary from Henri Nouwen

“Thirty-six references are found in the Gospels with the words ‘Follow Me’ on the lips of Jesus. The word ‘evangelical’ never appears in the entire New Testament. The word ‘Christian’ appears once in Acts when it was used by outsiders in derision of the people of the way, the ones that were little Christ ones. In others words, people thought of Jesus Christ when they thought of the early Christians. There was little ambiguity.  How do we talk about who we are? How would others describe us to their friends?.” – Andrew Larsen

Although the church’s recent fascination with spirituality has yielded some positive fruit, the “what’s-in-it-for-me” impulse of our consumerist culture has taken center stage. Spirituality has become an end in itself, serving strictly the needs of the individual along the lines of personal temperament and wants, bordering on a spiritual narcissism.
– Andrew Larsen

“Holiness is the Christian life mature. It’s gathering all the parts and pieces of your life into obedience and response to God, and living with some energy. Holiness is a blazing thing, an energetic thing. Part of the reason the modern church has lost its taste for holiness is that it has become engineered. “
– Eugene Peterson

“According to Jesus, there is no authentic Christianity, discipleship or Christian ethics apart from doing the deeds he taught his followers to do….”
– Glen Stassen

“Holiness is not different action, it is different being.”
– Dallas Willard

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is required. The stars neither require it nor demand it.”
– Annie Dillard

“The greatest threat to the life of the church is the loss of its gospel substance, and the surest way to bring this about is for the ministry to become a bureaucracy functioning to maintain the structures of the original church, mindless of its subservience to the mission of the gospel to the world.” – Carl Braaten

“Each year, we construct the equivalent of many cities, but the pieces don’t add up to anything memorable or of lasting value. The result doesn’t look like a place, it doesn’t act like a place, and perhaps most significantly it doesn’t feel like a place. Rather it feels like what it is: an uncoordinated agglomeration of standardized single-use zones with little pedestrian life and even less civic identification, connected only by an overtaxed network of roadways.”
Andres, Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck in The Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream 

“We Americans want it all: endless and secure energy supplies; low prices; no pollution; less global warming; no new power plants (or oil and gas drilling, either) near people or pristine places. This is a wonderful wish list, whose only shortcoming is the minor inconvenience of massive inconsistency.” – Robert J. Samuelson

“We do not want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong.”
– G. K. Chesterton

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