The biggest message that has been impressing itself upon me from various directions is that of the balance of three 'movements' of life. It is very much discernable in a whole variety of neo-monastic writings (such as 'A Passionate Life', 'Cave Refectory Road' and 'Reaching Out' and others).
By 'movements', I mean our movement towards God (UP), towards others (IN) and towards the world (OUT). Others use a triangle to emphasise this balance between these movements in our lives.
Cave Refectory Road presents a particularly helpful model by giving the movements images:
- 'Cave' is the place to which we draw away from others and our mission in the world to seek God, to pray, to engage with our Creator.
- 'Refectory' arises from the monastic practise of the common meal, the place of hospitality as mission but also as deepening in relationship and discipleship. We find emphasis on the value of shared meals and the powerful Kingdom image of feasting.
- 'Road', then, is our mission to the world...our 'going to make disciples.' Our engagement with the world as a spiritual discipline as much as an adherence to the call of Jesus.
It is not to difficult to see this pattern clearly in the life of Jesus and the movement he began. Secluded prayer, table fellowship, itinerant disciple making on the road with his talmidim/apprentices.
In post-Christendom UK, our world needs to discover not a 'system of beliefs' but rather a way of life. Author Brian McLaren makes the observation in his book 'Finding Our Way Again' of the rise in popularity of Buddhism amongst spiritual seekers and suggests it is because a Buddhist's 'path' is about life rather than dogma.
Like the disciples of Jesus, waiting to follow the first Rabbi who would call them, so our world listens to the peaceful way, whoever offers it. Yet, here we are, followers of the Way of Jesus, the Way of love, investing more energy in church survival than much else.
I wonder what those dimensions look like in your life? Your family? Our Jesus communities and in our world?
A great Old Irish word is Cymborgi...meaning 'Companions if the Heart'...like an ancient Band of Brothers/Sisters. Who today might commit to such a thing? I would.