Life is a Meditation (1 of 5)

With our conscience and sub-conscience minds constantly working the impulse switchboard of our physiology, ever oscillating between the various dimensions of our psyche, it really is a wonder we can focus our minds on anything at all. To set our minds on something and then to see it through from conception to fruition requires a persistent and disciplined focus – everything else being pushed out to the periphery, so that the mind might work it’s mental lathe with precision, refining a simple idea into practical application. Such a focus is in fact a form of meditation.

Often when I ask someone what their philosophy may be, they’ll say – “O, I don’t have one of those” . . . but, sure they do – they just don’t know it. It may be a wild menagerie of misfit ideals mashed together in a cognitively dissonant patchwork of disorganized emotionally charged reactions – without an ounce of thoughtful erudition. It may even have more in common with a trailer park yard sale than an actual worldview . . . but they have a philosophy, nonetheless. Similarly, we all have a meditation, something our heart has commissioned our mind to cogitate on, something our thoughts return to every chance they get, something that animates our longing and stirs our soul.

meditation-zenThis side of modernity we tend to take a more academic posture, viewing meditation as either eastern mysticism, or just another form of didactic study – but I find the scriptures’ use of the word meditation in a far more practical and informal way. In the Psalter we are invited to make the word of God our meditation – I don’t necessarily see this as an admonition to study the Bible. Such study, is no doubt beneficial, but I believe that it is the meditation of God’s word which allows the study of God’s word to be truly penetrating. Mere study leaves us with nothing more than a flattened out sterile academic exercise, removed from the profoundly rich relational aspects of God’s heart embedded in his word.

To meditate on God’s word is to internalize it’s meaning, to ponder its implications, to rearrange the furniture of your heart so that it can make itself at home in your life. In this way God’s word is not entering into an unoccupied space – therefore it displaces a previous meditation, something else that had held captive our attention and passion . . . because in truth, we are never really without a meditation. So the only real difference is whether or not we want our default meditation born out of fear and selfish desire . . . or a deliberately meaningful one that elevates our appreciation for God’s hand at work in our world.

This is from one of my Lenten meditations from a few years back 


Nevertheless, not my will but yours . . .
When they come for me in the cowardice cover of night
Under the pretense of their self-assigned authority
Offering me the duplicitous kiss of recognition
Let me bind their wounds
Laying aside my knowledge of their true intent

Nevertheless, not my will but yours . . .
When the experts convene
Deconstructing me into expendable pieces
To secure their perception of wisdom
Let my lips offer grace lit truth
Along their dark path of understanding

Nevertheless, not my will but yours . . .
When reason leads guilty men to adjudicate the innocent
Consigning me to the expert hands of my executioner
Peeling away my dignity, extending each moment of torment until death
Let me choose forgiveness
When retribution is justifiable

But this is not my cup
I have only imagined that I’ve sipped it
For this cup has long been empty
Awaiting my response of . . .
Nevertheless, not my will but yours


An Irreducible Love (3 of 3)

Is there an ontological core to love, after you strip away all of the superficial affectations? I suppose an affinity for chocolatey confections would no doubt be winnowed away as conspicuous hyperbole, right out of the gate. Then we have the libido la bomba of hormonal attraction and desire which only employs love as a pretense – which wouldn’t seem a likely candidate, either. But what of the squishy warm feelings of sentimentality? This strikes me as more symptomatic than substantive – more smoke than fire. Could it really be that love is just an onion – after we peel away all of the superficial layers we discover that it was nothing more than superficial layers?

And is love really as mercurial as people describe? Falling in and out of love, as if love were some kind of fashion accessory, discarding yesterday’s news for the next big thing. But wouldn’t that be more of a commentary on the capricious and fickle imperfections of love’s practitioners, than on love itself? Then of course there are also those who believe love to be nothing but an illusion – nothing more than a brain chemistry trick of the mind. The spaghetti monster of the evolutionary process is just pushing the buttons and flipping the switches of our DNA, so as to assure the survival of our species – therefore, love at its core, is simply a matter of survival pragmatism.

love-rocks-19277324I can’t help but feel like I’m being gaslighted by such a bloodless reductionist explanation – as if love were merely a means to an evolutionary end; as if love had no intrinsic value; as if it weren’t an essential key to unlocking the deeper meaning of why we exist. So if we are to embrace an irreducible love, a love that serves as a guiding principle, it must rise above the manipulative vagaries of our emotions, yet still be viscerally accessible enough to everyone regardless of circumstance. In short, it must be affixed to an immutably transcendent source.

1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love – God isn’t simply loving, or the source of love, he is the very substance of love. In context (1 John 4:7-12) we are being admonished to actually partake of God himself, by loving one another. This passage reaches its crescendo in verse 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I’m particularly intrigued by the syllogistic construct of this verse (1) God isn’t seen; (2) But if we love one another; (3) God lives in us; (4) His love is made complete in us. It seems to be suggesting that an invisible God (premise 1); is made visible when we love one another (premise 2); and then as a result, God living in us completes us with his love (conclusion).

For those who have lost their way and can’t find the invisible God – God’s love (God himself according to 1 John 4:8) is at work in us, creating a breadcrumb trail home. We have the privilege of becoming the very face of God to everyone we meet, through the power of love. So love isn’t merely the means, but also the source . . . its the whole point! So that even in the smallest of ways – like my love for chocolatey confections (a.k.a. brownies), my love of them can serve as a reminder of his presence, of his goodness to me, even in the little details of life . . . which of course explains my overwhelming desire to praise him with every mouth full.

I am always undone by how this
Pierce Pettis song defines love