Last Monday, I woke up thirsty. My need got me pondering formation, melancholy, and thirst. My thirst that morning may have something to do with eating popcorn with Sue for dinner the night before. We had driven four hours back home from Southern Indiana, after spending two days with our kids and grandkids. We had arrived home to a couple inches of snow and a layer of ice, so I went to work carrying in our luggage and then proceeded to pound away at the cement- like ice-covered snow. Fortunately for me, my good neighbor, Nick Karsh, came over and offered a helping hand.
Melancholy has been an unwelcomed traveling companion of mine since I first began to understand the Jesus-following life. I cannot date this for you. I am not sure I even have the ability to describe my experience.
“It is on my mind.” Usually that is my response when someone asks me why I am writing a particular paper, working on a specific teaching, or shaping the latest blog post. Serving in the Name of Jesus is on my mind today. Years ago, Chuck Swindoll wrote a book entitled Improving Your Serve.
I blame this reflection on Tish Harrison Warren. I have never met her. I only know her through her splendid and gifted writing. Strange how I can blame someone I do not know. She lives in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and I live in Bloomington, Illinois. She is a woman and I am not. She is Anglican and I am not. She is a priest in the Anglican Church and I am not. She is a highly praised writer and I am not. I could get lost in the contrasts, but for now, to the point, I blame her for compelling me to ponder the intimate relationship between spiritual formation and bed making.
I struggle with January. The cold wind and the dark days seem to function as highway bandits and rob my inner world of warmth and light. I hold no secret formula or easy path through the melancholy. I only remind myself that I have been here before.
My wife and I are only a handful of hours back home from Rome. Jet lag is real, but we are up and going. It is week nine of my sabbatical and today I am chewing on Exodus 20:16. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Whenever I think of the old prayer-praise, “God is good. God is great,” I am particularly drawn to a magnificent attribute of God. This specific divine characteristic is the eighth word of my sabbatical
Pure. I carried that word to Kickapoo Creek today. It has become a significant place of refuge during this sabbatical gift. I will circle back to the creek shortly. “Pure” is the seventh word of the seventh week of my sabbatical and it is squarely on my heart. Images of someone or something free of impurities, without dust, dirt, pollutants, contaminates, or sin enter my thoughts.
My sabbatical marches on. It is the sixth week and this week ushers in the sixth word from the Ten Commandments. On my heart is this line, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). I more than realize that most of us do not give this imperative much thought. In full confession, I tend not to give this command much thought in my life either.