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Presence

I’ve been reflecting today why it is I so quickly give to others the love God has given me; why I treat God’s presence and voice like a hot potato. I truly do not know why I do that. Maybe like the game of hot potato I don’t want to be the joker who, when the trump sounds and the buzzer goes off is left with the medicine of the gospel that, since I didn’t pass it on has now become for me a drink of death. Maybe it is rooted in the fundamentalist cultural lag of “evangelism at all costs.”

Maybe it is like the hermit, Moses who Abbot Peter told me about. Maybe I am seeking a spiritual life that truly has less to do with communion with God and more to do with an alter to myself and my spiritual trophies. Maybe all these people I have surrounded myself with are like the princess who falls off her horse and the hermit brings in. Maybe like the princess all these students and people who see me as a savior of sorts are building for me an alter for me to worship myself.

I honestly do not know. I do know that my feet do not feel tethered to the ground. I have felt few season of tethered-ness in my life and one of them was certainly the months before last Christmas. Then I felt I was seeking God and he was seeking me and from that well I was seeking relationships of every variety. Then Christmas, travel and many sleepless nights and anxiety ridden days came which then butted up against the start to a semester that has been in a word un-rhythmic.

Since then I have just taken on more official roles of ministry and stepped more formally, though only formally, into what God called me to. At the same time I feel like I’ve lost grip of the informal ministry that is my DNA; the kind of ministry that meets people at wells and on the road to church. Now I struggle to see those people. Now I go to the well or I go to church while cursing all the people driving anywhere near the speed limit cause they, in my mind, are keeping me from some sort of goodness I couldn’t name if I had to.

God, it is muddled and I barely have the words to hypothesize anymore. I know the other day you came to me in a movie theatre and then again in the car ride home and finally in my apartment where I cried until I fell asleep. I want to be with you too. I don’t know that I really said that very clearly. I miss you. I think I get to a place too often where I think I’m good with you at a distance. Not like I can do life without you or that I feel like I am self-sufficient but rather I just want you to be proud of me. I wonder off from you not like a disobedient child but rather like a little boy who jumps onto the monkey bars for the first time publically to show his dad what a big boy he is.

Father, I want to show you what a big boy I am. I want so deeply to know your very tangible, almost physical love; the rolling in the dirt—eye level love you have for me. I want to look into your eyes the way Bina looks in my eyes and I want to jump to you and delight in your presence the way Bina delights in mine. I know deep down and on the surface that this is where life is lived but in this half-life I’ve been sitting in, this lukewarm stagnation it is easy to believe that the good life is found in destinations and goals and forward motion.

I think what I need to experience is some neutrality and maybe even some loss. Maybe I need to lose some sleep if it means gaining some presence. Maybe I need to keep practicing loss-oriented driving or even loss-oriented writing, parenting, working and even pastoring. I have a lot of really good sarcastic one-liners that can easily put others beneath me. Maybe I need to practice losing those thoughts by allowing them to pass through like a cheap dinner.

What I want, what I need is presence. I say presence because it encapsulates all relationships with others, with you and with myself. To be present with one is to be present with the rest and to be absent from one is to be absent or at least not fully present with the others.

So, God, I would love it if you’d keep showing up on my doorstep and I will try not to so quickly refer you to my neighbor. Please keep showing up and I will keep trying to invite you in and rest with you.