Monday, January 31, 2011


I have been learning recently, because of a handful of business interactions, that sometimes there is simply nothing I can do, personally, to make a situation go how I want it to go. These interactions have made me angry, and sometimes I let the person know exactly why I was angry and what they should do to fix it.

The thing was, in every one of these situations, when I expressed my anger and what I wanted the other person to do about the problem, it didn’t make it better. In fact, the problem remained, unfixed, and the relationship got worse.

It would have been one thing if it happened once, but 3 times?

As I have started to look at it more closely, I am coming to see/feel/sense that the angry things I am feeling and wanting to say are really pretty useless. It doesn’t mean that my opinion is useless, but that something else is going on than my opinion.

In the Lord's Prayer we pray "Thy will be done," and I am getting a first hand lesson in how different that is from "My will be done". The more I look at it, the more I see that sometimes my will is really dumb!

Honestly, sometimes when I am praying recently, the voice that comes to my thoughts is (in such a nice way, really) "Shut UP!" It's saying. "Just be QUIET for a second and let God be his amazing, soulful self, and quit saying all these same old things, always trying to get YOUR way." But really it just comes as a feeling that says, "Now is not your turn to talk".

Often when we talk of "humbling" experiences it means something bad happened, or we failed at something. But it feels so good to shut up and let God be good. Being humbled is the best. So peaceful.

Clamoring about to get my own will is like picking a scab. The wound never heals. But ceasing all that, and instead waiting, listening, working, praying - causes me to feel cared for, remembered, and let's the problem be taken care of – in the right way.

May we all find more of the peace of God's sweet will. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Listening To The Inner Voice

Listening to the inner voice is such an interesting thing to do. You never know what it is going to say!

Recently a woman I work with spoke to me in a very condescending and disrespectful way. Over the several years we have worked together, this has happened not-infrequently. It used to make me very, very angry. Until today, literally each time I have listened in prayer for how to respond, the voice has said, "bite your tongue, be humble, let it go." And each time I have striven to do that. It has been good practice for me to not react, and instead think of her charitably.

Today when these words came out of her mouth the things that were said were so out of place, so, not right for the situation, that the inner voice, in all confidence said, "It is best to let her know that what she said was inappropriate".

Interestingly, I still had to do some wrestling with feelings of anger because I knew that just because the inner voice told me to speak frankly to her, it was not a license to speak with anything less than love. In fact, the feeling was simply that this communication was what was necessary. Certainly not an opportunity to vent. I find the inner voice tells me to do not what I want, and not what someone else wants, but what best fills the need of the situation.

It is fascinating to me to see these thoughts evolve because in times past I came to associate confronting her with selfishness. I had wanted to confront her to tell her all the reasons the way she was acting were wrong. But each time, as I was honest with myself, I saw that blowing up at her wouldn’t do any good. This time, however, I felt in my bones that it would be selfish to not have this open communication.

This is what gives me so much confidence in the inner voice – it is not the same every time. It's not a rule book, but a living, adapting, creative voice that responds with confidence and causes me to be bigger and better than I have been before.

What is the living inner voice saying to you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Songs from the Valley

Many years ago I recorded my first cd. Not Tree of Life (2009), but way, way before that. I called the compilation of music "Songs from the Valley" because it was a bunch of songs I wrote as I was battling my way out of a bad depression. In any case, I loved the songs. They were, to me, some of the greatest riches I had been blessed with as I fought my way through that rugged time.

I felt, as I always do when I make something; I wanted very much to share it! I wanted to show everyone else these treasures I had found and for them to be touched by them as I had.

So, I worked and worked to get it ready to give to my friends and family. It was more labor than I had ever put into a music project before and I knew they were all going to be as delighted and amazed by the songs and ideas as I was. When I was finished with it I began to give them out to all the folks I knew.

Thing was, weeks and even months passed and no one that I gave it to said anything about it. I was really surprised. No reactions, no "I really like this one", or. "what's this song about?"– actually nothing!

In fact, the only person who responded was my mom. And it seems, she really liked it. Of course I asked myself, "Does she just like it because she's my mom?" She was full of questions and observations about the songs, and every once in a while, when she was struggling with something of her own, she would intimate to me that the songs were "like water in the desert" to her.

At first I was hurt because all the other folks didn’t respond. But, after some humbling, and some self-reality-checking, I realized I couldn’t fret over it.

So, the positive was that my mom really loved it. It was humbling, but I was moved to ask myself. "If I wrote, recorded, mixed, and labored over these songs for only one person to really enjoy, was it worth it?" "If the inner Voice, my beloved inner compass, caused me to entertain these ideas so intimately and powerfully over all that time, believing that lots of folks would love it, and instead, just one did – was it worth it?" The voice of the world would certainly say no. It would (and did, in my thoughts) insist that I as a huge loser because no one cared about my creations except my mom (who, some would argue, has to like them).

But, in the place of real honesty I had to admit, yes. It was all worth it. To think of being able to reach a single person in that tender place of spiritual honesty – there is nothing that can replace it. And it is just what this artist always hopes to do.

There was one other person who was blessed – me. When I think of how deeply I was touched, healed, moved, and instructed by fighting the battles, doing the work, laying it all on the line for those songs, I can't imagine myself without those riches.

It was the beginning of a long, rigorous, and expansive path that I am still exploring. I have found that learning to give gifts that actually do the job – healing, helping, inspiring, encouraging, is a demanding road – humbling and exalting.

Bless you as you walk that path too!

If you want to hear a couple of songs from Songs from the Valley, go here. You will find "Christ in the Grass" and "Prayer for Purity" on the collection "Unreleased Gems".

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Body Of Christ, Hiking Through The Woods

Recently I went to an interesting event. It was a Sermon on Mount Hike/Lecture. 50 of us folks were lead on a 2 mile hike and through the woods while every so often we would stop and the speaker would talk us through some of the points of the Sermon on the Mount. Because so many of the points in that part of Jesus' teachings are based in images from nature, it was very interesting, direct, and brought some new insights.

An interesting part of the event was the way the ideas of the Sermon on the Mount bounced around among us as we walked together. Unlike most talks, there were few words, and more time to think about what had been said. And, there were opportunities to talk about the ideas, and even talk about unrelated things. It was lovely to see how the deep spiritual ideas bubbled through the conversations I had with others.

The thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the parallel between this walk and being a member of a church. How? Well, there were 50 of us, of all different ages, hiking abilities, interests, etc. Some of us like to walk fast, and others more slowly. Some folks were happy to have help crossing the streams while others leapt from stone to stone with great ease. Some folks were there because their parents had brought them and others because they were hungering deeply for a better understanding of Jesus' teachings.

All that said, if, by the end of the hike the group had split up based on those differences, it would have been a failure. Everyone had to get there in order for it to be a success. It was quite a powerful image to literally see varying paces at which members of the group were walking. Some were far, far ahead. Others were work as hard as they could, with lots of help from others, and courageously bringing up the rear. Sometimes I thought, "how can we remain one group?!" The needs and desires seemed so different and incompatible!

Yet, we did remain one group. The whole group went up and down the mountain together. And within the time we spent together there were countless ideas shared, connections made. Certainly there was no way to know all the conversations that took place. And some of the people never spoke to one another. But it was a living, breathing organism while we were together. It was a group that was alive together, striving together, allowing for differences, and coming together when it was needed. When some needed help it was given gracefully, even generously.

Seeing church in a microcosm like this makes everything seem a little easier than it is in a real church experience maybe – because it is so literal a metaphor. Of course you help someone across the stream when they need it! Still, I am finding it a hugely useful metaphor as I think about my church experience – that we are the body of Christ, and if the body is divided there is no success. But when the body is supple, strong, agile, and flexible, its progress is beautiful and causes greater unselfishness.

I love this from 1 Corinthians:

For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.