Friday, August 20, 2010

DONDI - it's what friends do

Some things are more important than my health.
I know, I know - without your health – it is so much harder to enjoy life – and to do what needs doing. Furthermore - maintaining or achieving optimum health is key – I believe – to following a spiritual path. To love others we must first love ourselves enough to ensure we have the strength to serve.

(I give this kind of counsel to people all the time – it’s the “care for the caregiver” speech. “You can’t help others if you’re not strong yourself.”)

I’m on a medical leave from work (as many of you will know). My key responsibility in this time is to ensure I am getting better. The congregation has suffered from a loss of leadership in this period. (not that they can’t get by without me – they can). This leave is costing the National Church significant funds to cover my time away. My job right now is healing and health restoration.

But some things are more important than my health. For all the sense of indebtedness to these “costs of caring” for allan, I find that there is a higher debt I owe. While I owe it to myself to heal. While I owe it to the church to get better soon. I owe my life’s blood to the ONE who saved me from a life of serving my own needs.

In the last couple of weeks my mental health journey has turned a corner. I’ve re-discovered the rock bottom ground that my soul is rooted in. I’ve found the legs that my personal dignity stands with. I’ve rediscovered the freedom of spirit that cannot be contained in a job description or prescription bottle or any other human measure. This ground, this dignity, this free spirit comes from the SOURCE of hope. For me, it is found in the choice to serve my MASTER and faithful FRIEND, Jesus the CHRIST.

It is in my daily choice to serve CHRIST – as CHRIST speaks to my heart today - that I find a way to open up the can of worms that is my mind’s nest of worry and confusion – to the clarity of a much bigger-than-me purpose.

In that can of worms I search and search for ways to please parents, parishioners, publicans and pastors. I try and try to do what’s good and right and expected of a decent hardworking person. But it’s only when I get into the deep ground where those worms become uncanned and free - that the nest of wiggling problems are grounded. The worms – when canned - are secondary, troublesome and often illusory. In the soil they each can do their wiggling work within the perspective of a larger all-encompassing vision.

On this acre of the Burnout River where I’m camped there is a giant old White Pine. She crowns the forest’s canopy by a good ten feet and has seeded the generations of trees around her. What is special about this old grandmother is that she has a couple of dozen branches rising straight up from her great stout trunk. Not that usual White Pine, Group of Seven, single straight trunk with branches lifting out and up like arms in praise. Her many many arms rise right up from her trunk.

For me this is an image of my own many many minds. Those who know me, know that I have few firm positions on any subject. Instead I am always looking for the next perspective and new thought. It’s a gift and it can be a can of worms to be sure.

What I’ve been meditating on, sitting at the base of this grandmother, is, what’s beneath all those branches? The root that drives deep into the sandy soil and draws lifeblood into those arms – is where my focus needs to be.

I tap into a root older and deeper than I am. It is not a part of me. I am a part of it. Perhaps I’m a single branch still growing but there is no division between the highest needle’s reach and the deepest push of root into soil.

This rooted vision allows me to see the wisdom of the world – the rules about “making it” – the ways to “please” – the pursuit of “happiness” as perhaps just the bark on the tree – and not the sap or life source that runs bottom to top.

The flow of the CHRIST-sap invites me to discover instead the one true thing I might do today. (I wish I could say that I don’t buy into all that worldly-wisdom can-of-worms work – but of course I do.) But instead of getting lost in all that – the one thing that roots me, grounds me, and puts all the rest into perspective is the choice I’ll make today to listen and touch and become that purpose. The purpose - the one thing - that will make this day shine.

Funny part is. Sometimes – it is only by denying my own best interests (as defined by that rule book) that I discover my own best interest (as defined by who CHRIST invites me to serve today – and in whom I find definition of who allan really is). To me this is a good deal. In exchange for service – I find a definition of self that is freeing, blessed, and truer to my soul than anything anyone or any institution can craft for me. Do you know what I’m talking about? This is what I call being “saved”.

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” Romans 10: 8

So, here I am working this morning. I’ve been told by several that this blog constitutes work. That I should lay off it until I’m restored. But the truth I know – that I’ve rediscovered – is that doing what CHRIST needs doing is more important than my health – even the health of my employment/insurance/conflict status.

It is in this service that I find my health, my peace, my soul’s delight, my true “self”. Without this service to CHRIST I find I am simply on the hamster wheel of trying to save myself. Jesus offers me the invitation to “save” (or re-imagine and re-work) the world while I let HIM worry about me.

I’m not talking about sticking my nose back in the church door and messing with the busyness of that organization. What I’m leading up to here is a pitch for all of you to join me in an effort to save the world today.

What if – in a 24 hour timespan – you could do something that would make a real, big, concrete difference to a few hundred children? If you could help put in place something that would make a difference for decades to come?

Would that be worth a sacrifice?
Would that be worth a risk?
Would that be worth the cost?

You know it babe.

For twenty four hours I’m gonna drum. I’m gonna drum with hundreds of other drummers all across this country. I’m gonna drum for your dollars. I’m setting up on the sidewalk outside your door with my drum and putting out my hat for you to add your “change” to it.

I need your help if this change is gonna come. I need you to make a sacrifice with me cause that’s the way it works with Jesus. None of us gets saved without the help of others – lots and lots of others.

So, if you want to help save the soul of this poor writer, I need you to sponsor me in this 24 hour drumathon. (No really – I’m not being overly dramatic about it – I’m totally serious. GOD has provided me/us with an opportunity that won’t come again - to change the course of the lives of hundreds of children in Dondi Angola. What is my life worth if I can’t spend 24 hours doing that?)

There’s tons of information about this project at the website you’ll find listed on the left hand side of this blog. Inform yourself all you like. It’s an excellent, solid, project with long time partners/friends of the United Church in Angola.

SO, I invite you to click right here on this link to sponsor me as a drummer.
You can cut and copy the following into your web browser. (Or email me and i'll send you the form.)

If you’ve ever appreciated the words that come from this one sappy branch of CHRIST - then here’s a way to say so.

AND if you don’t – don’t sweat it. Jesus will offer another way to save your/our soul today – HE’s very creative y’know.

I offer my love to you in this invitation - with the love that knows no bounds, does not measure, does not cost a thing – only invites us to give it all. May you find in your day the way to be free in this knowledge – and become a slave to what matters more than life itself.

1 comment:

Mick said...

Allan, this is a very adventurous and creative post. I can see you at the root of that tree, soaking in her old strength, letting her wisdom rise in you like her sap. Healing well means doing what is meaningful to you and I can see that you are. Of course I'll sponsor you for the Dondi drumming! A quote someone gave me today from Robert Johnson, the old and wise Jungian therapist: "Place the center of gravity in the self." Then Christ can work with us, as you are discovering!