Originally uploaded by On Porpoise
It’s been a while since I wrote anything. I guess this Thanksgiving has just been a restful and quiet time. I have been writing, but more journaling anything else.
I want to give a shout-out to my dear friend, and sort of adopted “dad” here in Oregon. He is the author of the book, The Porpoise Diving Life. You can read the whole thing online, but probably the coolest thing is that he just got it published on audio. Check it out here.
To give you an idea of where Bill’s heart is, I think this endorsement by Jim Henderson is great:
“Bill Dahl – God’s Screenwriter!“
“For a number of years I’ve been telling people to read the bible as if it were a movie. In his devotional for the discouraged Bill suggests something similar when he asks people to temporarily ignore what Jesus said and instead observe who he hung out with, where he walked and how he seemed to feel about his numerous interactions with ordinary people. Bill playfully transports us into a journey within God’s blue ocean through the life of a porpoise. He masterfully leads us deeper into the heart of God’s reality through the simple act of observing what is happening right in front of all of us. His insights and experience with the discouraged, wounded, curious and marginalized are poignant, humorous and above all very, very real. Bill is one of today’s spiritual revolutionaries who is attempting to rescue Jesus from religion and give him back to everyday people.
The Porpoise Diving Life explores what it looks like if we were more interested in being real than in being religious. Human beings want to know two things
1) That I am not alone
2) That I am not stupid (well not the only stupid person)
The Porpoise Diving Life provides a place for you to meet people who understand these feelings and fears and have resigned from religion and are exploring new ways of following Jesus that are real.”
By Jim Henderson – co-founder and Executive Director of Off The Map and the author of a.k.a. lost – connecting with the people Jesus misses most, and Jim & Casper Go To Church – Frank conversation about faith, churches, and well-meaning Christians. Jim is an innovative thinker and passionately committed to normalizing evangelism for ordinary Christians.
I have been thinking a lot about my own thought processes as I engage in relationships. One of my greatest strengths is to be able to see, hear, perceive beyond peoples’ words to really understand what they are thinking and feeling. I can tell a lot about a person by his face, her voice, the way someone “is.” Because of this, I am often able to relate to others pretty well and put myself in their place. There are certain things that really stand out to me that for many would not be as obvious.
This morning in our men’s group, something was made clear to me. There was a moment in our conversation when we expressed our joy in our willingness to share who we are and the enjoyment of getting to know each other. I realized that getting to know who someone is takes such a long amount of time; his story, his patterns, her emotional responses, her struggles and joys. These things come through significant interaction, time spent together, deep conversations. Often times, who we are can be deeply impacting for those who take the time to figure us out. But few, get that significant time. And maybe none can ever understand who we really are.
It seems to me that there is something that is even more deeply transformational for people. That is, the WAY we are. The way we are tends to stand out immediately. Are we hurried or are we able to be with someone in the moment? Are we peaceful and relaxed or are we tense and preoccupied? Do we emanate with a love and openness that invites sincerity, or do we come across as closed and judgmental thereby inviting superficiality?
It is the WAY we are that gives the invitation for others to desire to know who we are. Truly, I think this is what most people got from Jesus during his three years of ministry. He was saying often who he was… but how could anyone possibly get it?!? They missed it most of the time… interesting that in the texts that we have he didn’t talk about being born of a virgin, that he was of the family tree of David, that he was born in a manger. How disappointing for him that no one could possibly understand the oneness that he had with God, something that he talked about a lot… And yet, people could tell something was different about Jesus because of the WAY that he was. It was profoundly different. Perhaps there is something to this.
I guess it is my hope with our emerging Gathering that we can not only celebrate who we are, but that something would be happening in us that would change the way we are. When this begins to change, our interactions with those around us will be changed as well. This is my hope personally as well… who we are is our own thing… but the thing that spreads through my own interactions with people is a way of being. This is what I hope to bring to the world… or maybe just Bend, Oregon.
I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day. I must say that Sufjan Steven’s Christmas albums are so beautiful. I bought my ticket to fly back to MN. I have tried on my vintage snow pants, my ski boots (thank you Michael), and found the object of my ski jacket affection. Powderhorn Night Hawk Down… Gosh… I haven’t seen anything this vintage-ly beautiful in a long time. Way out of my price range, though, and thankfully I have already gotten my new ski jacket and have yet to use it to the purpose it was intended. Thank God that I live close to the mountains.
After a conversation with our spiritual formation team at church, I am left with some very strong thoughts regarding leadership in the way of Jesus and in the context of religious history. I feel that in some of the churches that I have been a part of, I have left very frustrated with the tendency of the “official” leadership to be very removed from the relational side of being a leader and raising up leaders after him/her. There tends to be a distance from the “official” or professional church leaders and those who are not.
It comes down to this (and I’ve written on it before: From the Professional Elite to the Spiritual Director). I feel like we in the West have lost, to a great degree, a certain historical model of leadership… that being that each leader has at least one person under him that is being invested in, trained, and encouraged to develop leaders under him. It is based on the notion that our experiences, our wisdom, our growth into holiness, might actually be of some use to someone else. Some call it spiritual friendship, some call it spiritual direction, but it essentially comes down to simple yet radical discipleship. I know that I, and many others like me, ache to be invested in and committed to by even one person older than us. Lives change because of this.
The concept of leadership is a scary one to many… and I think it comes down to our idolization of professional leaders and the neglect of those of us in leadership to make it our intense mission to dismantle this. We no longer think of every person as a leader, we no longer act our our profession of “the priesthood of believers.” Every person in official, or professional leadership, whether it be in Christian community or even some other religion, should be asked, “What person is following your footsteps? What person are you seeking out to encourage into a leader?” For a vision to grow in a deep and significant way, for lives to be changed at the very roots, for a way of living to spread… perhaps a living in the kingdom of God and a heart tuned into the Holy Spirit… there needs to be relationship involved in leadership.
Jesus had twelve… he lived with them and they watched his every move. Many of the historical monastics, gurus, church fathers (Eastern especially) had individuals they were feeding into. We, though, in our current modern times have become privatized, individualistic, and when we leave the office, our work is done for the day. If we can somehow move beyond this, I believe that there will be a more unified group of people beginning to look like Jesus at very deep levels and that people will begin to see themselves as the leaders they are meant to be… and we will not be alone on our journeys.