Posts Tagged ‘ worship ’

Drawn Beyond the Lines of Reason

A few weeks ago I was standing in a group of 3 or 4 after church, amongst whom was my friend Carol, our Pastor of Families, Children, and Youth, was telling one of the Sunday school teachers about Godly Play. Carol said something that intrigued me. She said that the point of Godly Play is to tell the children the biblical stories in a language that makes sense to them. Then have the children create a project. Now, oft the project doesn’t seem to be related to the story, but that is okay, because it is what the story does within the child’s heart that is being expressed, a heart affected by the story.

This idea, that so intrigued, me floated around in my mind for some time. As I related this event to another friend she said something about connecting our story to the project, I almost rejected this in the context that was in my pre-conscious. But, it is kind of hard to unhear something.

I read Peter Rollin’s Orthodox Heretic some time ago. It is a collection of parables that he created. I don’t really recall the parables so much as I recall what he tells us about parable in the introduction.

hOW tO speak Of sOmethIng that cannOt be
saId?

In the parable, truth is not expressed via some
detached logical discourse… it emanates
from the creation of a lyrical dis-course —a dis-course being
that form of (mis)communication that sends us
spinning off course and onto a new course.

A parable …will change our
world—breaking it open to ever-new possibilities….
(Rollins, Peter, Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales, 2009)

Also, of late I’ve been listening to Lateralus by Tool. The lyrics have been spiraling ’round in my head.

I imagine
drawn beyond the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.

Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
Red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
Let’s me see there is so much more and
Beckons me to look thru to these infinite possibilities.

Feel the rhythm, to feel connected enough to step aside and weep…
To feel inspired to fathom the power, to witness the beauty,
To bathe in the fountain,…To swing on the spiral ….                             With my feet upon the ground I move myself between the sounds      I’m reaching up and reaching out.

I’m reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
We’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.

And one more piece that fits into my recent thinking. The opening soliloquy of the movie Crash:

Its the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.

All of these elements started coming together yesterday as I pondered ecclesiology, something else I have been doing a lot of lately.

Again  I digress, well slightly.

So, yesterday the above mentioned elements started coming together and connecting in my mind. They began a dance, an intricate dance, dancing together. Clumsily, at first, but each beginning to find the rhythm of the other as they danced ’round my mind “beyond the lines of reason”.

So, we have parables and stories, even gathered from the culture at large  that reflect the biblical narratives, the biblical story or some aspect thereof, some theme, idea, maybe even the biblical stories themselves recast. A story teller tells the story to a group of creative adults. The biblical story, the parable crashes into the listener’s story and hopefully shatters reality,or at the very least begins to crack it open. This begins a process of some type of transformation within the listener. A transformation that may not be able to be put into coherent words to make logical sense. The listener struggles with the dissonance, the shattered reality. Now, we give the listener the chance to express herself artistically.

This seems to me to be worship. Can it work that way? Can it be?

Beginning in January our Monday Night Group is going to experiment with this crashing of the biblical story into our stories, cracking open our realities, and finding artistic expression. I think that there are infinite possibilities when we reach for whatever may come. Maybe we will find that the cracked reality expressed will shatter reality for the others in the group. Hopefully all will grow together, learning from one another, experiencing this story of God.

If you are in the Sacramento, CA area and might be interested contact me on Twitter, or here in the comments.

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Guest Post: Why I Love Islam –Jennifer

When asked to write a few words about why I love Islam, I jumped at the opportunity! Of course I would write about the greatest gift I have ever been blessed with, but where to begin? So, out came my notepad and pencil and I began scribbling away.

 

“Islam is a religion of peace”, I wrote. I sat with that for a moment. Yeah, so? That is one cliche we’ve all heard ad nauseum, the line almost every Muslim uses apologetically or in defense to some accusatory comment about Islam. I’m sorry, but being a true lover of this faith and a writer at heart, those words simply aren’t going to cut it. Something inside of me, and the vastness of this beautiful faith, demand more. Here it is:

 

Yesterday, as I was leaving my Doctor’s appointment, I walked by a long row of bright red, yellow and orange bushes. Yes, it is Autumn here in Toronto and the landscape of colors is breathtaking. For some reason, I found myself unable to move. I stood there in awe of this perfect scene and felt completely overwhelmed by the beauty of nature before me. Without even a thought, I found my heart and lips uttering these words:

 

رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ

Our Lord, you have not created all of this is vain. Glory be to you!

 

That, is one of the reasons I love Islam. You see, Islam is not a list of do’s and do nots. It is not simply a dogma to be followed or a prescribed set of rules to govern, but rather a true love, a spirt, that dwells inside the hearts of those who believe. It is a gift for all of us to be blessed with so much beauty that surrounds us, not only in nature, but in science, language, human kindness, etc., but an even a more so profound gift for our hearts to be inclined to naturally associate beauty with God and his bounties. So, when we see something that catches our eye, makes our hearts flutter, such as the Autumn scene I fell in love with yesterday, it is not short of a miracle that we can see God’s intrinsic beauty in those things and in turn give thanks and duly praise Him! Islam lends that gift to its believers. It leaves us in a continuous state of internal worship, reflection and connection.

 

Connection, is one of the other many blessings of Islam. When I think of my faith I think of a family; a group of people from different places all over the world, speaking a myriad of languages, celebrating the richness in the diversities of their cultures and yet sharing in the love of One God, following the teachings of One final messenger and striving towards One ultimate goal: living a mindful, peaceful, content life in hopes of attaining God’s pleasure. It always amazes me when I’m out and about and someone smiles and says “As-salaamu ‘alaikoum Sister” to me as they pass by. It makes my heart overfill with a sense of belonging. There could be no greeting lovelier than “Peace be upon you, Sister”. Sister.  Just the thought of us all being a part of one big family, that binds us only by God’s love and mercy, brings tears to my eyes.

 

When I think of a family, I think of safety, security and well being. Those are all things that I feel my faith offers me. Yes, it would be nice to sit and write an entire article on things that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but the reality of the world we live in is that there are things that can lead us unto paths that aren’t  in our best interests.

 

Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned from my faith is Trust. I Trust that God loves me and wants what’s best for me. In that, I follow what He has lovingly and wisely prescribed for me so that I might live the best possible life I can. Having my faith to turn to for answers when choices are difficult takes a huge weight off of my shoulders. In essence, I turn my faith and trust to God and know that I am in good hands.

 

What I really love about Islam is its simplicity. There is no middle man between me and God. His promise to me, as revealed in the Holy Qur’an is this: “When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me”.  (Al-Baqarah: 186). Each time I read or hear this verse I break down in tears because it is a reminder to me of just how easy it is to be close to my Creator. I love this verse because it says “every supplicant”, not only the super pious ones, those in positions of power, saints, but EVERYONE, including me! It also says, “whenever he calls upon me”. It doesn’t say during the 5 daily prayers, or in the middle of the night or at any other prescribed time. It simply says, “whenever”. For me, this is the best gift God has given me: His presence and closeness in my life at all times.