Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2006

Faith Forum

How can I feel spiritually renewed for the new year?

January 7, 2006

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Landscape stirs feelings of bliss, bleakness

John Brewer, member, Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N. 1100 Road:

I don't know about you, but cabin fever makes me mean and snippy. It was cause for celebration when the temperature in Lawrence got into the 50s the week after Christmas.

Outdoor exercise saves me from imploding into the creepy weird moods that are brought on by short days, bitter cold and overcast weather.

The streets in my neighborhood were quiet because they were deserted. All the university students were out of town for the holidays.

Among the holiday flotsam I saw on my walk was a silver Christmas tree ball lying next to the curb. In another block I saw a partial string of Mardi Gras beads lying in the grass; elsewhere a green Christmas ribbon bow, the off-the-shelf kind you don't have to tie yourself.

Just a few items - not an avalanche of Yuletide trimmings by any means, but enough to set the mood.

Crossing this landscape made me feel a little bleak, but it also was blissful because of the stillness and the warm sunshine. And I was quietly amazed by the number of birds and squirrels that thrive in this landscape without the benefit of central heat or prescription drug coverage.

Maybe I worry too much. Bleak and blissful: That's my spiritual challenge at the beginning of the year.

- Send e-mail to John Brewer at jbrewer@sunflower.com.

Eliminating distractions hones focus on renewal

The Rev. Gary Teske, lead pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

The nature of this question seems to imply that we have to do something to experience spiritual renewal. In reality, renewal of any kind generally comes from doing less of what drains and exhausts us rather than doing more of what we think will renew us.

I suspect this is also true when it comes to spiritual renewal. Spiritual renewal by definition is not self-renewal but renewal that happens in us when the spirit of God comes to us. Jesus reminds us that this spirit is not something we run out and find, buy or hunt down. In John 3:8, he says, "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is for everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Spiritual renewal is something God wants for us, and so we can be confident that it will come to us when we leave time and opportunity for God to make it happen. The understanding of Sabbath is central to spiritual renewal when we realize it not as a time of doing more, but as a time of refraining from doing what distracts and drains us so that God has time and opportunity to put his spirit to work, renewing us in our entire beings.

"Be still and know that I am God!" (Psalm 46:10)

- Send e-mail to Gary Teske at gteske@tlclawrence.org.

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