‘Jesus our navigator for life’
A wise person once said, “God made human’s in God’s image and we’ve been returning the favour ever since”. This is a short way of describing our human tendency to create images of God that reflect our own world views and understanding of how things work. We interpret God through our own experience of life and our relationships to others. If our own relationships have been loving, we will probably see God through loving eyes. If we’ve been mistreated and hurt by others, we may see God as a distant and punitive figure. We then project this experience onto our images of God. Is it any wonder humans have been arguing about God’s nature and purposes for thousands of years.
Thankfully, God has given us a corrective to this through the person of Jesus. The ancient stories of his life and witness, reveal a God that moves beyond our own limited understanding and images of God and human life. He points us to a way of being that challenges individualism, self-interest and violence. Through concrete actions Jesus shows us who God is. A God who heals, restores and invites us into abundant life. He is our navigator for the journey. The way, the truth and the life.
‘Finding our Still Place’
There’s a lot of talk these days about the benefits of meditation and stillness practices. This was once the domain of seasoned spiritual practitioners, but it’s now becoming much more mainstream. Neuroscience has shown us that meditation practices have a positive effect on the brain and mindfulness techniques play a key role in psychological therapies. Many schools are incorporating a time of meditation into student timetables and reporting the positive impacts on student performance and well-being.
We know stillness practices are beneficial, yet most of us struggle to incorporate into our daily lives. Our culture is built around hyper-activity and producing outcomes. We know this is causing widespread stress, anxiety and physical illness. How do we break this this pattern and find ways to nurture mind, body and soul?
One way is to be intentional about finding a still place in ourselves. We can only do this when we physically stop for a moment and let go of the thoughts and emotions that occupy our minds. The discipline of simply stopping what you are doing, is half the battle. Find somewhere quiet and find a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths, in and out. Notice your body, your breathing, the sensations. Come in touch with yourself – your mind and your body. Keep breathing until you find an inner place of stillness. If your mind remains busy, don’t be alarmed. Don’t try and fight it, just notice these thoughts and try not to attach to them, just let them go. Just enjoy being with yourself, without external distractions or worries. Just rest in the still place that dwells within you. Do this for as long as you are able or as many times as you can throughout the day. As you incorporate this spiritual practice into your daily routine you’ll soon see the results.
One practical and often overlooked way to care for others is to be fully present to them. That means giving them our full and undivided attention without the preoccupation of our own thoughts and agendas. This enables us to see and hear them, so we can find out what is really going on in their lives. Those who seek to follow Jesus are to be experts in practicing presence. This was the key posture that Jesus adopted in his healing ministry. He noticed and responded to the deeper need in people, particularly those who were invisible and overlooked.
We all know how wonderful it feels when someone pays us attention and makes us feel valued. Our world would be so different if all people had this experience. I encourage you to be fully present to others as an intentional spiritual practice. You’ll be amazed what you’ll discover about your neighbour as well as yourself!