Several collections of words and images converged on me this morning. I try to pay attention when this happens and see what God is trying to say through the connections. I will spell out the sequence, highlight some key points, and then invite you to see what connections emerge for you.

#1 Richard Rohr’s Meditation on Suffering for Love.

“As Jesus put it, “Cut off from the vine, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The “vine and the branches” are one of the greatest Christian mystical images of the nonduality between God and the soul.”

John 15 is a central metaphor for my theology. See this post https://www.stevethomason.net/2016/01/19/images-of-the-vine/

“Sarah Fields says that “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”…Until we love and until we suffer, we all try to figure out life and death with our minds. Love, I believe, is the only way to initially and safely open the door of awareness and aliveness, and then suffering for that love keeps the door open and available for ever greater growth.”

#2 A YouTube video on Bible Journaling.

This came up in my YouTube suggested list. Monica actually draws in her Bible.

 

These are my doodles from John 15 when we were reading it with Hart Haus. Not a full sketch, but similar.

This made me think of the Wide Margin Bible I used during Hart Haus. The thought of using the scripture itself as a sketchbook is very cool.

#3 Two quotes my Dad gave me during our coffee meeting this morning:

“Put his [Jesus’] words into practice, and find them to be true” – Dallas Willard

“My actions are a result of my intention and my perception of how things are.” – John Ortberg

#4 A friend emailed a link to An interview that Krista Tippett did with Eugene Peterson.

This is the Emerald Pools at Zion. I did not take this photo, but I have been here many times.

I listened to this while I was on the treadmill this morning. I also discovered that, on this treadmill, you can choose a video that makes it feel like you are walking along paths in National Parks. So, I was able to listen to Eugene Peterson while “walking” through Zion National Park (My favorite National Park). That was awesome.

The interview is about 45 minutes. Here is one poignant moment:

MS. TIPPETT: But for you, that honesty, about the human condition, is absolutely at the heart of what is necessary about the Psalms.

MR. PETERSON: Yeah. It is. And how else do you get permission to do that except you have something that’s in the Bible. It’s inspired. It’s been practiced, dealt with by people for thousands of years. I was in conversation with Bono just two months ago.

And he was talking about — we were talking about the Psalms, and he says, “Well, what do you do when you get angry?” Unless — I’m not quoting, and I said, “Well, you’ve got to learn how to cuss without cussing.” And I think that’s what the Psalm like the Waters of Babylon, where he sat down and wept, there are ways in which you can express your anger in a context which doesn’t become mean. And I think that’s what the Psalms have always done. Not just the Psalms, but the stories.

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah, the Biblical stories.

MR. PETERSON: Yeah.

MS. TIPPETT: I know that you will be aware of this, too, that at this particular moment in history there is some sense that these kinds of passages and imagery in the Bible are part of what is dangerous about the Bible in the world. I think you — here’s something you say. I think you have a more sophisticated way of talking about what’s going on and what it is meant to work in us. I mean, you wrote, “It’s easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs, somewhat more difficult with our hurts, nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hates.” Talk about what is redemptive and actually good for the world in people being able to bring the dark emotions of their hates before God.

MR. PETERSON: Well, I think people need to be given permission to do it, to find a language of hate, disappointment, retaliation, and get that out. People who are — repress all those emotions often get sick, depressed. Learning how to express our fears, our discomfort, our hate, if you will, it’s often very freeing.

MS. TIPPETT: So, is it your sense that if people can bring that before God, it’s less dangerous as something that’s in the world?

MR. PETERSON: Oh, yes, much less.

MS. TIPPETT: And that’s just kind of one of the mysterious things about human beings in the world, isn’t it? [laughs] The mystery of us.

MR. PETERSON: It is, yeah. And I think that’s where art comes in too. The artist can sometimes bring out these feelings, perceptions that we don’t know how to do it ourselves. And yet if they’re a good artist, they know what they’re doing and they’re honest, they can be of great help.

What do you make of this?

I’m not exactly sure why I felt the need to blog this today. Something stirred in me, though. Perhaps something connected with you. I would love to hear what God is saying to you right now.

Eugene Peterson behind his house. Photo by Greg Fromholz from the On Being Interview

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