The contemplative way of spirituality is the way of stepping aside from anything and everything we think or feel that would distract us from what is present right here and now–the conscious awareness of God’s presence.
Dave Brisbin | 11.12.17
It often helps to hear deep spiritual truths as expressed in faith traditions other than our own. We can become so familiar with our own traditional expressions that we don’t hear them anymore…they become enveloped in colloquial meaning and lose the ability to shock us into deeper awareness. And we do need to be shocked. Native Americans did not put their energy into buildings or infrastructure. They didn’t value the physical trappings of Western societies and lived nomadically within the systems nature provided. They saw life, meaning, and purpose from a vastly different perspective—one that Jesus was trying to convey as well.
Dave Brisbin | 11.5.17
Maria Montessori said that play is the work of the child. She recognized that the playful activities of childhood influence the pattern of the connection between nerve cells in the brain, the development of motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, creativity, emotional wellness, problem solving. And if play is the work of the child, then toys are the tools. And yet, the child knows nothing of this. The child just plays, and all this development happens in the background as by-product. John Lennon wrote in a song that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. As adults, we often dismiss the play of the child as meaningless childhood expression, missing the deeper significance.
Dave Brisbin | 10.22.17
Looking at the record of increasing human awareness of the intimacy of God’s spirit recorded in scripture: from a wild, fearful presence on a mountaintop, to the shepherd-like pillars of cloud and fire leading the people of Israel, to the cloud standing outside the tent speaking to Moses, to that presence settling on and filling the tent and eventually the temple, to filling Jesus at his baptism, to the apostles at Pentecost…what of us? How do we move from the awareness of Spirit standing outside our tent to resting on and filling us as well? How do we receive the Holy Spirit? What does that even mean? And how do we know if we have that filling?
Dave Brisbin | 10.8.17
Ever notice how it seems to take longer to get somewhere you’ve never been than to get back again? Why is that? Watching every turn, wondering if you missed one, if there’ll be a street sign, how much longer…? I always like to look at a map of the whole route before letting the GPS lady lead me around by the nose. There is a certain amount of anxiety involved in going somewhere for the first time that is relieved once we have some idea of the overall shape of the journey. And what’s true for external journeys is certainly true for interior ones as well. We are always looking for signs and prophecies, plans and God’s will to help us see the way before we actually travel the way.
Dave Brisbin | 10.1.17
Meister Eckhart said that the spiritual life is much more about subtraction than addition, but what does that mean? Many spiritual teachers have spoken about the fact that life is divided into halves, but what is the distinction? Putting the two together, the first half of life is about building the physical platform for survival, happiness, meaning, purpose, identity—it’s about acquisition both physically and emotionally…about addition. The second half is about undoing all that, about the subtraction of layer after layer of manufactured identity and the illusion of certainty. It’s about coming full circle back to the garden where we play with Presence in the cool of the evening and become vulnerably secure in trust. But what does a second half of life journey cost and look like?
Dave Brisbin | 9.10.17
Anyone who’s played football had to learn the playbook and how to run the plays in the book, but the real play of football begins where the playbook ends. What do you do when the playbook has delivered you the ball, put it in your hands, and now it’s just you, a field full of linebackers, and a goal line? A great chef begins where the recipe ends and jazz players are defined by the music they make beyond the printed page. It’s a great irony that the church has traditionally told us that God will bless us if we just obey the rules, the law…especially considering that Jesus spent most of his precious time trying to tell us and show us that we can only begin to see the blessings God is constantly showering on our lives once we outrun the rules:
Dave Brisbin | 8.6.17
When Jesus says that he is the Way, truth, and life, if we’re to take him at his word, what he is saying is that he is both a person and a process. The implications of this statement are radical, but we typically don’t even consider them as the church has come to focus almost exclusively on Jesus as a person and has lost the promise of process: finding the person/truth that makes us free. But though the processness of Jesus may be lost on us, it wasn’t on his first followers who called themselves “talmidey urha,” Aramaic for Followers of the Way…not followers of Jesus.
Dave Brisbin | 5.21.17
Reading an article by a pastor who now consults and coaches other pastors on growing church attendance, building programs, and time management created a moment of dissonance that I needed to process. In coaching pastors on protecting their time, to focus their time on necessary growth, the author stated that a pastor can only have meaningful relationships with 120 people at a time, and in a church that group is always changing and needs to be managed to the point of actually changing phone numbers and cutting off access to those outside the current 120. Sounds harsh, contains truth, sounds antithetical to Jesus’ principles, but Jesus had inner circles as well. Hence the dissonance. How to balance?
Dave Brisbin | 11.27.16
Coming off Thanksgiving and probably the loudest family gathering ever, I realized that the gratitude we all felt and hadn’t quite put into words, was being expressed through sheer volume: through the day long dance of family members moving in and out of conversations and laughter and food and games. It was a constant motion, a giving and receiving that blurred into one thing that I suppose we could describe as family or love or long-familiar relationship. When we look at God from a Christian point of view, we’ve been asked to see three persons in one God, but what does that mean, and why is it important? What does it offer each of us day in and out?
Dave Brisbin | 11.20.16
When a person gets up to accept and award or honor, whether a politician to a movie star, I’ve always wondered what exactly is meant when he or she inevitably says they are “humbled” to accept this award. That statement can be authentically heartfelt and can mean many things, but if we really break down what humility means, is it really humble? What is humility and why does Jesus hold it as such a primary value? In Jesus’ stories and parables, it is obvious to scholars that he is tapping into the ancient Jewish tradition of the “anawim…” those who are poor and lowly, meek and gentle, those who have been oppressed and marginalized to the point that they have nowhere left to turn except directly to God.