Again

This semester weekdays are not conducive to posting, so the weekday hiatus continues, hopefully this weekend I will get some space to write. Happy All-Hallows Eve! Peace and joy to you.

I will leave you with my favorite Kari Jobe song. . .

Spying Sanctity

[This is a completely unfinished post, a thought awaiting completion. But what the heck! Will not post again until next Sunday or Monday. Super grateful for my readers. God love you!]

Someone shared a quote with me today, which made me think of a comment my wife once made about a woman she had known and counseled for years before I ever met her. This woman was abandoned by her husband and went on to financially support and raise her several (amazing) children alone. We met this woman one day in a supermarket and chatted with her for about 30 minutes. After she left, Patti said (as I later wrote down),

Now to me, that’s sanctity. Nothing about her draws attention to herself. She has every reason to be bitter with life, to nurse her wounds. Yet no complaining, no blaming, no pity-seeking, no back-patting or a needy trying to indirectly make the conversation about her. She’s all about her kids, about us, her mom, all about what needs to be done, what can be done. She knows she made bad decisions in marrying that guy, she knows she’s got issues, but she doesn’t wallow in that. She got help, forgave and set to work. She knows who she is, she trusts God loves her, focuses on the beauty of her kids and just forges ahead.

I want that.

Me too. I often examine my conscience thinking on her story.

Here’s the quote, by Greek Orthodox theologian Christos Yannaras. For whatever reason I thought of this woman as I read his words.

In the language of his place and time, Christ spoke of the mode of existence and life “according to truth” as the “kingdom of heaven.” He preached that those who guide us toward this “mode” are not pious religious people, those who find satisfaction in being virtuous, those who shore up their ego by keeping some kind of law. Those who guide us are people who have lost all confidence in their own [self-righteousness], people who expect no personal reward whatsoever, and only thirst to be loved even if they don’t deserve it – despised sinners: tax collectors, robbers, prostitutes, and prodigals.

Celebrate the Healing of the World: Dance!

[the posts this week are old re-posts so hopefully new for most readers]

It is central to Christian living that we should celebrate the goodness of creation, ponder its present brokenness, and, insofar as we can, celebrate in advance the healing of the world, the new creation itself. Art, music, literature, dance, theater, and many other expressions of human delight and wisdom, can all be explored in new ways. ― N.T. Wright

My wife and I were invited last weekend to a ball by one of the members of her choir. She wore a lovely yellow dress, I rented a tuxedo. I’m not a dancer, she is. I don’t have soul in my bones, she does. I can’t relax easily in a large crowd of unfamiliar people (about 300), she can. The beauty of that difference is that I learn from her and stretch. I did.

In fact, after several hours of an intoxicating mix of Jazz, Ragtime, Blues, Motown and Swing music — all live — I found myself losing my New England puritan inhibitions and dancing with abandon. Or more accurately, found myself succumbing to Patti’s choreographic allure, her boogieing elixir. Which, of course, is no indicator of exactly what I looked like doing it. Hence, the importance of losing my (rational) inhibitions and ceasing to care.

On the way home we had a wonderful conversation and were able to broach a contentious subject that is usually very difficult for us to discuss, bringing it to a new resolve. I said to her, “Wow, that was an amazing grace.” She said, “Yes, it is! I really believe dancing together helps us to love together better. It’s why I always tell you I want to dance and ask you to make date opportunities for us to do that. Do you remember that I always asked couples who argued all the time to do something strenuously physical together? And I’d say, not sex guys. That helped them burn out the aggression and practice non-verbal communication and intimacy. And it releases all kinds of good hormones that open up new bio-chemical channels of communication.” My wife was a licenced social work counselor at Catholic Charities from the late 1980’s to the mid 90’s. I said, “Man, that gives a whole new meaning to two becoming one flesh!”

It’s nice to be married to a therapist.

As I thought about it, it also made new sense out of the importance of liturgical worship being very physical and communal, so you get to ritually practice unity with the Catholic motley crew in praising God and acting in harmony before you exit the church to do faith together in the world.

Patti and I over the years have made it a habit to alternately walk together, play racquetball together, workout together and dance together. Without exception, the time spent doing those things always clears the air between us and leaves us better than we began. To us it’s obvious now that if your only bodily intimacy is sex, sex will become a problem as it cannot bear that much weight.

So men I encourage you, diversify the artful ways you get physical with your wives — and the more you make of it an art, intentionally and creatively putting effort into it, the more beautiful she will feel.

Uneven

Periodically, I let my readers know when I likely will not be posting for a time. I do that as a courtesy,  as I am gratefully aware that some of you read my posts regularly. This week will again be particularly hectic, so I likely will not post until the coming weekend.

As someone commented here last week, at times my ‘primary work’ by which I support my family takes precedence over this work of joy.

God bless you!

Tom Neal, Layman Promoter

I interrupt this blogging break for a shameless service announcement.

I will be offering in July and August a presentation series called Called, Formed and Sent here in New Orleans at the Seminary with a dear friend and colleague of mine, the almost-D.Min. Susie Veters, on the lay vocation.

THE LAY VOCATION!

I am excited about it! It ‘s an opportunity to feature publicly Susie’s and my unbridled passion for the beauty and dignity of the vocation and mission of the laity to build up the Body of Christ and consecrate the world to God.

Here is the flyer and registration info is here.

Thank you for spreading the word!

Yep, the video: