I’m on a reading spree at the moment: devotions, leadership, history, personal development, science, fiction, the Good Book- it feels good to be back. College did well to kill the love of reading that childhood did well to nurture. I quite like (and envy) how the Celtic Christian communities divided up their days: worship, work, and study. Sounds ideal to me!
Celtic Christianity (a far cry from its hyper-organised, cookie-cutter, Roman cousin and said cousin’s reformed offshoots) found ways to see the sacred in everything. Contemplative prayer was woven into every aspect of life. These guys had prayers for getting up in the morning, getting dressed, starting the fire, doing the dishes, planting seeds, churning butter, new babies, baby chicks, all manner of everyday things: mundane and special.
With these thoughts dancing in my mind I grabbed the latest Aldi gadget for dispatching weeds and went outside to clear the spaces between our patio slabs. As I scraped and swept and pulled grass and dandelions and flowers in the wrong place at the wrong time, I started to pray.
“Pull out of me all the stuff You don’t want in me.”
“Uproot from my heart all that’s not of You.”
I marvelled at the weeds’ tenacity.
No matter how much time I spend pulling them out, we both know that they will be back in full force in a couple of weeks. I thought of all the habits I wish weren’t so firmly rooted in myself, how diligent you must be to keep them at bay. I thought of how firmly I lack diligence!
Did you know that thoughts look like weeds in your brain? The more you think a particular thought, the stronger and more firmly rooted it becomes. That’s why it takes so much effort to overcome bad behaviour: the simultaneous work of nurturing a new thought and uprooting an old one seems relentless.
I thought about how God loves me regardless of how well/badly I uproot the sources of my faults and failings. His acceptance is not rooted in my behaviour or ability to change. He loves because that’s who He is. I thanked Him. My perspective flipped.
During a message I shared on Sunday I quoted David Mathis: “St. Patrick wanted to see the Gospel grow in Irish soil rather than pave it over with a Roman road.” I looked over the cold, grey patio slabs and marvelled at the tenacity of life to grow in places where it is resisted.
My prayers moved from internal to external.
“Lord, may Your love grow in unexpected places.”
“May Your love flourish in places where it is not welcomed.”
“May Your life disperse far and wide, even where hearts have become hard and grey.”
“Help me to love others well with the love that You give.”
I sat down on a slab and stopped seeing the moss and the dandelions and the grass as my enemies.