Friday, July 4, 2014

Disciplined, the Better to Model Disciplines?

As noted in several of my "more recent" posts, I've been struggling quite a lot with the transition out of the home-renovation stage -- more than eight months of intensive work, almost exclusively on our house (save for a few conference presentations and one teaching opportunity), which I had no time or spare energy to blog about so had to content myself with posting pics on Facebook -- and into the next chapter, In Which I Find Work That Results in a Paycheck.  I have applied to everything from university presses, sessional teaching jobs and nonprofits on the one hand, to CostCo, Rona, Lowe's and local coffee shops on the other.  I still believe I will find work, soon, possibly even work that utilizes some of my best vocational skills.  And I haven't exactly been idle in the interim, either: I've done lots more little things for the house and assembled a book proposal, too.  But the Waiting remains frustrating.  

Not that the Father of the heavenly lights hasn't continued to give good gifts (James 1:17) along the way.  Just yesterday, as I explained Karen's and my vision and purpose for the house at the request of a friend and colleague who will be blogging about us soon, one of his questions nudged me in such a way as to consider this Waiting in a slightly different way.  Now, Karen and I have been careful to acknowledge that the founding of a house for spiritual direction and retreat doesn't mean that we've mastered related disciplines like silence, solitude, or sabbath-keeping; far from it!  No, we've insisted, opening this house will require us to grow in these things in order to model and teach them to our guests.  But even once we'd acknowledged that, it took Jim's questions yesterday to make me realize anew that those who would claim to model disciplines must often first be disciplined, both in the active sense (self-discipline) and the passive (being chastened -- but let's not digress here into a full discussion of what that looks like in the biblical tradition!).  That is, it's almost as if God has us going through a time of re-learning certain disciplines -- in addition to the two years of similar experience, leading up to the envisioning of Lectio House -- before (not just at the same time as) we model them for others.

So the Waiting isn't necessarily any easier.  But it's a gift (a small one, he grumbled semi-gratefully) to know that what has felt like the psalmist's valley of the shadow of death will, with enough perspective, be only the shadow of discipline -- a dark place, yes, but one in which the light can still sometimes break through. 

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