My books have been sitting on the table in nice, neat stacks lately as I spend time loving friends and family.
Cleaning the house for my brother's Super Bowl party, spending the day at doctor's appointments and grocery shopping with my friend and her two week old baby, sharing my testimony with friends, worshiping through poetry and art at coffee houses, stretching my assumptions about God through discussion groups at a new church, meeting new people with the same passion for God and people.
It has been a full week, for sure.
I am reading a few books by Thich Nhat Hanh: You Are Here, Present Moment Wonderful Moment, and Living Buddha Living Christ. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr., Nhat Hanh has been a Buddhist teacher and advocate for peace and reconciliation. He also has a lot of beautiful things to say about Jesus and the Holy Spirit:
"We do not have to die to arrive at the gates of Heaven. In fact, we have to be truly alive. The practice is to touch life deeply so that the Kingdom of God becomes a reality...We read in the Lord's Prayer that we do not go to the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God comes to us: 'Thy Kingdom come...'" - From Living Buddha, Living Christ
Each morning for the past few days I have woken up a half hour earlier than normal to meditate, grounding myself in the present moment, opening myself to the work of God's Spirit, sitting in His quiet Presence, not expecting, just being. It can be difficult, rolling out of bed onto the blanket on my floor, sitting straight up and trying to not fall asleep or let my mind wander into the to-do lists of the day. But I know those moments are centering my day on God as I invite His Spirit to use me for His purposes.
Two beautiful morning meditations I love reciting by Nhat Hanh:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment
The Spirit is bringing morning light.
Sitting still, my heart is at peace.
This is a new day.
I vow to go through it in awareness.
The sun of wisdom will shine everywhere.
Notice how there's a lot of smiling going on in those verses! Something happens when I remind myself to smile in my sleepy, quiet morning delirium. My expression changes, my mood changes, and I am reminded that this moment is truly the only moment I am promised, so I should smile in it.
Speaking of love, for those of you who have been following my updates about going to Chicago through Mission Year, I wanted to let you know that Mission Year is doing a Love Drive during the month of February where they are giving away "Love God Love People" shirts for donations of $50 or more. If you would like to grab a shirt and donate to my Mission Year fund, I would greatly appreciate it. God uses His people to bless each other and the world. You can find the donation page here:
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