Quiet Spaces, Old Friends

There are so many things that are vying for our hearts,
and our minds, and our affections. We’re in an overload of marketing
and information. Sometimes, we get so distracted
and we lose our center.

~Brady Toops

I was staring at a blank monitor when the congregants were receiving ashen crosses on their foreheads. It was the first Ash Wednesday service I had missed in four years, but this world offers unbending deadlines and sometimes honor requires that we complete the seemingly less-than spiritual. So I stayed firmly planted in a leather office chair.

From all that I have said about our worried, over filled lives,
it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much
outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God
when he is speaking to us. We have often become deaf,
unable to know when God calls us and unable to
understand in which direction he calls us.

~Henri Nouwen

I purposed a short break and opened up an internet window, pulling up the music of long-lost friend. Back when I knew him, he was a college baseball player. He was the star of the campus, a grand-slam, a promising talent. Brady had signed a minor league contract with St. Louis Cardinals’ farm team. But then, he simply quit chasing the dream. He put down his bat and picked up a different stick of wood.

…help my own selfish ambitions, and me, wanting to get ahead
and get in the rat race. Help me to quiet that
and ask, ‘Lord, what’s on your heart? What do you feel
about my neighbor? How do yo feel about my enemy?
In that sense, i think you pick up your cross daily.

~Brady Toops

There are secrets you can learn in an office chair, lessons in missing a church service. I found them in five minutes of quiet solitude. And when I went back on the clock, the questions were left suspended in the space between my desk and the fluorescent lights–“what about the sacred heart, the wounded neighbor, the enemy of enemies?”

As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with,
books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make,
an inner chaos opens up in us. … [but] the discipline
of solitude… is a simple, though not easy way
to free us from the slavery of our occupations
and preoccupations and to begin to hear
the voice that makes all things new.

~Henri Nouwen

 

Last Letter Artist Series: Brady Toops “Lift Your Eyes” from Last Letter on Vimeo.

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