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Last year, our church held a series of discussions based on the book Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  Irving sensed racial tensions in her relationships but as much as she wanted to do right, she worried about offending people.  She knew she was missing something, something that kept her from truly getting it.  The book is the story of how this all changed.

Trying to get people to come to a discussion about this book was brutal.  Most of them expected to be told that they had done something wrong.  At best, they had hurt someone’s feelings.  At worst, they had done actual damage.  Thank you but no thank you.  They just didn’t want the discomfort.

The reality that they missed?  We are all products of our past.  By discussing issues of race, we have the opportunity to learn how our upbringing effects what we see and how we interpret it.  These discussions allow us to be products but not prisoners.  We can see a new way ahead.

Not that we will ever be perfect.  Perfection belongs to God alone but God does give us opportunities to grow.

It’s up to us to take them but first we have to see them and recognize them for what they are.  Opportunities to leave behind something broken and replace it with something better.

–SueBE

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God knew.  He knew we prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar even if the familiar is broken. It is just easier.

That is why he encouraged us to follow.  He will lead.  It is simply up to us to listen and to have the courage to choose growth.  To choose Him.

–SueBE

Change is often unsettling but we all need to change to grow.

There’s a potted plant growing in our church’s foyer. I couldn’t begin to guess what it is, as I have little knowledge of plants and even less luck growing them, but I assume it’s some sort of succulent. It is tall and spindly (much like me in high school), circuitously looping and twisting upwards and ending in a puff of leaves (not unlike the Lorax’s truffula trees) pressed hard against a window. It wants the sun. If the window were not there, where would it grow? Forever upwards, pointing its leafy face toward heat, warmth, light?

Our own spiritual journeys are a lot like that plant. They are seldom straightforward — they bend and reverse directions repeatedly. Yet no matter what occurs, we keep heading toward the light of God. Sometimes things get in the way. Our challenge is to discern which of those things are windows and which are not.

Windows are physical barriers that keep us from attaining unity with God. Some of those barriers might be time, family concerns, difficulties or differences with organized religions, or a lack of spiritual nurturing in childhood. But some barriers require a bit more poking to establish whether they are made of solid glass —or merely mirages.

If lack of time inhibits your spirituality, you may want to review your use of time: Are you putting God last, after the job, the dishes, even feeding the dog? It is quite easy to fall into the habit of associating your spiritual life with “spare” time. What’s more difficult is incorporating spirituality into the very fabric of your daily life, making it both warp and weft alongside more mundane commitments. My good friend SueBe has been marvelous in pointing out ways that I can do this — from taking time to walk a maze (or even just tracing a maze on paper with one’s finger) to prayer beads to simply stopping short of forming an opinion of someone else and turning it instead into an opportunity for reflection. My friend Alice introduced me to another one: Choose a prayer or biblical passage and read it aloud. Now repeat it, losing the last word. Continue to do this, dropping a word each time and pondering the changed meaning. Here’s a good quotation to start with, from Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Take time to examine your “window.” What is holding you back from union with God? Is it prejudices based on earthly (and therefore inherently feeble) interpretations of what and who God is? Are you letting someone else tell you what your heart knows is wrong? Or are you consciously setting up a barrier to God, putting God off, telling yourself you’ll “get to it” someday?

Is your window solid or a figment of your imagination? How can you get yourself “unstuck”? Take time to ponder your spiritual journey. Wipe out your windows — or at least wipe them clean — and get on with the business of growing. It is what we were put here to do, after all.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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