Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thinking, living simply

Christmas is over, the new year is about to begin. I was reading about the New Monastics yesterday, in particular the organization known as the Simple Way, and found something interesting.

"Action must be accompanied by reflection, and reflection by action."

Not only is it true, it is something that has been on my mind lately. I have enjoyed this December period of reflection and am beginning to recognize the great cycle of rest, reflection, and planning which leads one back to action. Rest and reflection seem particularly necessary to the work of an artist or visionary of any type. When one is deeply entrenched in the thoughts and actions of the work at hand, the struggles of the day, it is extremely difficult to "think big," or draw those abstract connections necessary for substantial innovation.

It's always nice to go away for a while, get some of that "mountaintop" perspective on your life. That's what generally happens when I go to Kentucky with my family to visit my aunt. Every year we spend Christmas together, and every year not only do I get to know my family better, but myself as well.

This time, the realization that came as a shock is that lately, I have been behaving of a citizen of Spartanburg. No offense to Spartanburg, but I only have one citizenship and that kingdom is not of this world. I haven't exactly learned to balance my life in this world with my role in the Body of Christ, but lately, the balance has been heartily skewed in favor of the former. This is me acknowledging the problem as a first step toward correcting it.

I'm so glad to be going to Atlanta this weekend. It's hard to explain the sort of perspective one gets when completely immersed in the local expression of the Body of Christ, but it's beautiful, and it's real. And the beauty of it all is, the closer one is with the Spirit of God, the more perfectly all other facets of one's life are handled, including one's responsibility to one's neighbors, country and planet. Jesus is panacea. Of course I'm not talking about knowing, talking, or preaching about Him, I'm talking about the Person Himself, and actually being one with Him. It's not like He's not here with me in Spartanburg, of course He is. But the link sometimes feels...tenuous. And we need to be shored up occasionally.

I've been experimenting with cooking a little more lately. Today I made pasta with a mushroom-garlic-shrimp cream sauce. There's a certain appeal to my sense of adventure in the challenge of creating a delicious meal from whatever is at hand. Dad has this great cookbook called More-with-Less. It's not just a collection of recipes, it's a presentation of an entire perspective on cooking. Mennonites wrote it. Something tells me that the New Monastics would get a kick out of it too. It basically holds to the premise that we Americans expect, and give ourselves, too much. Too many choices, quantities larger than we need, overcomplicated, exotic ingredients replacing what grows in our back yard. And of course, convenience foods, regarding which I am the queen of sinners. This book teaches how to apply your mind and creativity to create meals that are healthier, kinder to the environment, cheaper, and tastier all at the same time. I highly recommend it.

One piece of wisdom I took out of the book today is that a beautifully prepared meal can be a gift, showing your love to family and guests. More than that, there's this powerful idea of connectedness, an idea that cooking can be not only a manifestation of love, but even spirituality. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, but I'm sure Brother Lawrence would know exactly what I'm talking about. Approach everthing with prayer and attentiveness, that's one thing that God has been trying to tell me lately. And it's so foreign to the modern American way of life. Sometimes I just want to back out of life entirely and spend a few years learning how to live properly.

Which kind of reminds me of a friend's blog I read today. (or doesn't really, but I have to segue somehow) Tim and Hannah were true mentors to me before they moved to Austin. Lately I've been following their blogs and it's almost as good as soaking up the Diller goodness firsthand. Well Tim wrote an excellent post about bicycling as therapy. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't as much as looked at my poor Bike E since gaining a car in October. But Tim's very accurate description of the reflection, pleasure and feeling of connectedness that goes with riding a bike made me want to dig it out and give it some love. I've got a few reams of Root to deliver as well as a few other errands so I've decided to make an outing of it tomorrow. I've got my camera back now (HALLELUJAH! It shows up after a whole year missing!) so I'll take a few pictures. Then you'll finally get to see where my blog's funny name comes from.

Oh yes. We watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed today. I had some misgivings about it, but I was actually pretty impressed overall. (not that it didn't have its shortcomings.) I would encourage anyone with an open mind, who supposes that the scientific community is an open-minded place, to watch it. One interesting thing I learned (really it was only incidental in the movie but I found it fascinating nonetheless) is that the founder of Planned Parenthood (I forgot her name) was a leader in the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Doesn't surprise me, really.

Hmm. I should go to sleep now since I'll be rising early for my adventure tommorow!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lydia, Your thoughts are similar to mine -- winter break always seems to be a time to reflect, doesn't it? I'm thinking, too, about what I'm really living for. Am I living only for the moment, for today's pleasure or is my focus on Him?

    It's so good to know someone else thinks like me. ;) If you want, feel free to email me back -- signedp @ gmail.com.

    Your sister,
    Pearl Young


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