Restorative Practices

Restoration. As the owner of a 111-year old home I tend to associate the word with architecture, and as the occupant of a middle-aged (but, thank God. still flexible) body I make restorative yoga part of my daily practice. What does the word Restoration mean to you?

Many people make resolutions at the start of a new year with restoration in mind for things like motivation, health, organization, work-life balance, and even their sanity. The human condition presents countless opportunities to restore interpersonal relationships. Environmentalists attempt to restore ecosystems and wildlife habitats. And of course, regardless of one’s religious denomination, our relationship with our Creator-God always requires restoration.

Restoration is nuanced. Unlike do-overs, second chances, or refurbishment, restoration holds out the promise of an upgrade, a better than ever version. Not only is the broken piece restored to working order, it is stronger, more valuable, and has a promising future.

I have not published in more than a month. I allowed the entire season of Advent to pass without a word (although I continued to write every day, nothing made it to The Good Disciple blog). My attempts to reflect in a meaningful way resulted in forced, dry, and preachy prose that even I couldn’t bear to read. There’s enough of that out there already, and I didn’t want to add to it.

I spared you my socio-religio-political rants; they were too raw, too broken and therefore defeated the original purpose of this blog, which is to shine a light on what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

But wait, discipleship is one thing, and I will never stop being a disciple. But there comes a time when good disciples mature into good stewards. I’m not saying I’m either, but I’d like to explore that in-between space and maybe discover something new and restorative.

Just today, a very dear friend and mentor messaged me “Sometimes the Lord wants us to speak to one another from a place of brokenness, so together we can find healing and hope.” She’s right.

Perhaps like me, dear reader, you find yourself in need of restoration? If so, by way of a fresh start can we imagine our adult selves emerging, radiant and hope-filled, dripping with the restorative waters of our baptism, eager to live out our given roles of priest, prophet and king?

I am grateful for your readership and will do my best to publish regularly. Please subscribe to the The Good Disciple blog, if you have not already done so, and share your thoughts with me in the comment area that follows each blog post or on the facebook page. If you prefer, you can message me privately here.

And as always, please pray for me, as I pray for you.

The World is a Mess

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

I have a friend whose outlook on the state of the world has been reduced to conspiracy theories and an impending Armageddon. She shocked me the other day with words to this affect: “This city is home to a bunch of grubbers and people who are used to having everything done for them. When (the end) breaks loose and they lose everything and come knocking at my door, I won’t open it. Because I planned ahead and I’m taking care of myself.”

This is so sad. In addition to her teeny tiny unhappy world that she believes is about to implode, she has no faith and no vision. No faith in the generosity and goodness of others; no vision for a better world.

Granted, the daily hell we hear and read about and experience is unbearable. No need to spell out the escalating atrocities. People, nations, and leaders do unspeakable things to other people, nations, and leaders. It has to stop. “I beg you, stop. I ask you with all my heart,” Pope Francis said as part of his message to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the Angelus noon prayer on Sunday, July 27, 2014.

Let me tell you a different story. Three students making their way to a distant city, driving (perhaps a little too fast) on an unpaved road in a rural area of a South American country experienced a blowout and found their car spinning out of control until it slammed into a cinder block home. Amidst the shattered glass and gravel, the stunned students pulled themselves out of the wreckage. The two-room house, home to a poor couple with 11 children, was rubble. Miraculously no one was in the house at the time of the impact, but the damage was severe. Also miraculous, thanks in part to seat belts and airbags the three students’ injuries were limited to whiplash, cuts and bruises.

What happened next, as told to me by one of the students, provides a context and instruction to those of us who suffer losses and face our daily rubble, especially when the damage prevents us from seeing beyond the hurt to restoration. “After a few hours passed and the sun set, the family invited us to sit with them in the house (literally on bricks that had fallen) to eat dinner with them. They brought us eggs and potatoes and put blankets over our shoulders. I can’t really think of anything more incredible than this – we destroyed their home, and they invited us to eat with them.”

Jesus says “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid. What might have been a human tragedy can be re-framed as a miracle of human kindness. These are the whispers that tell us God is with us. These are the acts that renew our faith and give us courage. Jesus is here.  This is what living in right relationship with the World looks like.This is what it means to be an evangelizing people.

The World is not a mess.

Today’s readings can be found here.