Lumunos helps you Reflect ~ Connect ~ Discover your gifts to find your call in life, through these stories and observations here, through our website, and through retreats. Help us help you continue to discover your calling in life. Donations are accepted through our Website.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike: Something Wanting to Be Born

Have you ever had the feeling that you had something in you that needed to be said? Something wanting to be born? Novelist John Updike, who passed away this week, described his writing process in a 1984 interview:

The moment of excitement comes before you sit down at your desk. It’s when you get the idea, and you feel it inside you as something wanting to be born, wanting to be said. And then you see the book more or less whole; then you are inspired, if ever, and feel excited about it. The rest is work… (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99942825)

I am no novelist, but these words resonated with me. Whether the work has to do with paint, budgets, parenting or home repair, there is often a moment in the creative process when you know there is something wanting to be born. You have no idea at that point how it will be said, or how it will turn out, or the work involved. (If you did, you might never start the project. Updike is right—often ‘the rest is work’.)

Thank God for John Updike. And thank God for these moments of ‘seeing things whole’. Without them we might never sit down at our desks to do whatever it is we are called to do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

After the Inaugural--The Power of Normal

I am thrilled that my four year old watched President Obama's inaugural speech at his preschool yesterday. I want this moment to be etched into his memory; I want him to be able to recall it 50 years from now, the way I (barely) remember the 'I Have a Dream' speech.

But beyond the celebrations of yesterday, I am excited for today, and the day after and the day after that. I look forward to the big deal becoming not a big deal. What I want is for my children to see the words 'President' and 'Obama' together, and not think anything of it. That it is perfectly normal for an African American to be president.

This kind of normalcy is important in other places. The church we attend had a woman minister when we arrived. (She has since moved on to another position). I liked that every Sunday my children's image of a minister was female. It was normal. Ministers are women or men. My daughter will have no tape inside her that says 'Women can't be ministers' because it hasn't been her experience. And millions of African American children will have no tape that says they cannot be president. It is the power of normal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lunacy and Prayer

Here is an idea that will either improve your prayer life, or get you locked up. Maybe both.

It comes from Henri Nouwen. The other day he sent his daily email (apparently they have computers in heaven) and said:

Our minds are always active. We analyze, reflect, daydream, or dream. There is not a moment during the day or night when we are not thinking. You might say our thinking is "unceasing." Sometimes we wish that we could stop thinking for a while; that would save us from many worries, guilt feelings, and fears. Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love.

I am one who has taken the practice of 'unceasing thoughts' to Olympic levels. I am the Michael Phelps of unceasing thoughts. I am also one who could benefit from more prayer. Could I actually convert my over thinking into prayer?

I decided to try it out the next time I got myself in that unceasing thought spiral. I was at the YMCA, exercising over the lunch hour. This is an intentional mini-sabbath practice, designed to step away from work for a rest. But pretty quickly I was back into my ponderings about the financial stress that nonprofits like Lumunos are under*.

I went with the Nouwen idea--converting my unceasing thought into prayer. It was a subtle difference, in some ways just talking to God about it rather than myself. I spoke to God about my fears, my hopes, my anxiety. Somehow it helped.

People who talk to God too much can be seen as a bit loopy. I'm not sure I want to be one of those people who walk down the street, speaking to someone or something unseen. Or do I?

*If you would like me to focus on the exercise machine and not the Lumunos budget, click here to contribute.