Friday, March 11, 2011

Within or Without

What have you given up for Lent?  Perhaps you have taken something on instead.  If so, what have you taken on?  I'm not a psychic, but I have a feeling that many of you have chosen to do or not do something from now until Easter that involves fasting, silence, or sacrifice.  Something that focuses on emptying ones self or life of the things that separate us from God.  While these can make wonderful spiritual disciplines, my extroverted nature makes me feel a bit uncomfortable with them.  I just don't typically get much energy from them, and isn't that what spiritual disciplines should be about?  What is the purpose of emptying oneself if there is no refilling?

I get energy from being with other people.  Every Monday night, I get together with a group of friends for a dinner party.  We don't necessarily do any praying (though I have chanted a grace on occasion), and there is certainly no fasting.  There are none of the things that are typically associated with spiritual disciplines, yet this time is spiritually fulfilling for me.  Monday Night Dinners are times when everyone who comes is given a chance to just escape the everyday hassles of life and enjoy being fully present with friends.  I believe that Jesus got something from being present with the disciples, too.

Jesus called the disciples together and hardly does anything without them.  When Jesus is transfigured, he has some disciples with him.  Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus takes disciples to be with him.  Yes, there are times when Jesus goes off to pray on his own, but he spends much of his time with the twelve.  I'm not saying that spiritual discipline cannot take the form of emptying ones self through fasting, silence or sacrifice.  In fact, sometimes it is necessary to do those in order to see Christ within ourselves.  Sometimes, however, it is also necessary to allow ourselves to be spiritually filled by others and recognize that, while there is Christ within us, there is also Christ without.

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