What is Truth? (Frederick Buechner Excerpt)

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I was having a dialogue on Facebook recently with a friend who holds different beliefs from mine. We have a love and respect for one another that transcends any differences between us and we entered into a short exchange of thoughts about the Bible. She genuinely asked me how I can believe it with all its contradictions and questionable translations. I told her how I see it and we had a civil conversation about it that, I hope, left us both better people for having had it.

Not long after, I opened my email inbox which held my daily reading excerpt from Frederick Buechner. I’ve pasted it below and it’s pretty much what I was trying/hoping to say in that Facebook conversation. Hours before this, in another book, I came across another passage mentioning the particular silence written about below.

Since Buechner is a much greater master of words than I could ever hope to be, I wanted to share this because he puts into words what I can only struggle to say…

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“Somebody should write a book someday about the silences in Scripture. Maybe somebody already has. “For God alone my soul waits in silence,” the psalmist says (62:1), which is the silence of waiting. Or “Be not silent, O God of my praise,” which is the silence of the God we wait for (109:1). “And when the Lamb opened the seventh seal,” says the book of Revelation, “there was silence in heaven” (8: I)—the silence of creation itself coming to an end and of a new creation about to begin. But the silence that has always most haunted me is the silence of Jesus before Pilate. Pilate asks his famous question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), and Jesus answers him with a silence that is overwhelming in its eloquence. In case there should be any question as to what that silence meant, on another occasion Jesus put it into words for his disciple Thomas. “I,” he said, “I am the truth” (14:6).

Jesus did not say that religion was the truth, or that his own teachings were the truth, or that what people taught about him was the truth, or that the Bible was the truth, or the church, or any system of ethics or theological doctrine. There are individual truths in all of them, we hope and believe, but individual truths were not what Pilate was after, or what you and I are after either, unless I miss my guess. Truths about this or that are a dime a dozen, including religious truths. THE truth is what Pilate is after: the truth about who we are and who God is if there is a God, the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about truth itself. That is the truth we are all of us after.

It is a truth that can never be put into words because no words can contain it. It is a truth that can never be caught in any doctrine or creed including our own because it will never stay still long enough but is always moving and shifting like air. It is a truth that is always beckoning us in different ways and coming at us from different directions. And I think that is precisely why whenever Jesus tries to put that ultimate and inexpressible truth into words (instead of into silence as he did with Pilate), the form of words he uses is a form that itself moves and shifts and beckons us in different ways and comes at us from different directions. That is to say he tells stories.

Frederick Buechner 
from The Clown in the Belfry & Secrets in the Dark

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ALREADY OPEN DOORS

Hi friends…

4 minutes on open doors…

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as you keep your eyes open for them.

Blessings,

Monique

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To have a courageous conversation, click this link to schedule an introductory call with me and we can explore where you are feeling stuck and help you locate those doors. No charge. Just please follow through if you book a call.

5 COUNTER-INTUITIVE NOTIONS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

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** image credit: Victoria Yore and Terrence Drysdale

Hi friends…

So what might those notions be?

These came to mind…

  1. Being still when you have a thousand things to do. Seems like the last thing you should do when you’re swamped with a busy schedule. There are people to see, places to go, fires to put out, calls to make, emails to send. But then, things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Here’s what St. Francis de Sales and Martin Luther had to say about it…

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2. Giving when you’re low on money. What? Really? That just doesn’t seem like good accounting. It seems like the last thing you should do when you’re low on cash, and wondering how you’re going to pay your bills is give some (or all) away. But for some reason, the law of the universe is “give and you shall receive.” Perhaps because it takes faith to give. It takes trust to give. And that faith and trust are never more tested than when we give even though it looks like utter foolishness. You can trace some of the greatest (and sometimes wealthiest) people to their generosity. If you were to examine some of their lives, you’d find that they gave when it hurt to give and when it seemed they had nothing.

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3. Doing less, not more. Striving: it seems like a good word and a good idea, but is it? Sure, we should strive to love more deeply, create more authentically, trust more fully, work more heartily, but striving is something different. Striving is doing something in our own strength and forgetting why we’re doing what we’re doing, and for whom. Striving can be exhausting. When there is much to do, and so many depending on us, to step away requires faith, it takes strength, and that first takes willingness.

 

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4. Loving and being kind to someone who has hurt or offended you. Whenever I’ve heard of people sort of mocking the idea of following Christ, as if it’s for simpletons and weaklings, I wonder if they know about this thing he said: love your enemies. This is where the rubber meets the road. Whether someone stepped on your toe, or destroyed your life (or the lives of people you love), we are called to love… which is the absolute last thing we feel like doing in that moment or season.

 

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5. Keep going when you feel like giving up. You’ve been planting seeds and watering them continuously. You’ve been hoping, praying, trusting for a situation to change or improve. You’ve done your part. What gives? What’s taking so long? Where’s that harvest you were promised? Sorry, I don’t have an answer on that one. I wonder myself sometimes.

What I do know is that even though everything in you wants to call it quits and forget about it… even though you’re frustrated, tired, exhausted and want to throw in the towel, something inside you refuses to give up. Even though it would be easier, you can’t. You won’t. You’ll get up one more day and keep going. You’ll trust one more day and anticipate something good, even though you have every reason to say, “Hey, after all this time, it ain’t happening.” Even though the outward reality looks completely opposite. Again, things aren’t always what they seem. Just like in the best plays, there’s always something going on behind the scenes to make the story one worth telling.

It’s what the best stories are about, the best movies: tenacity, overcoming, resilience… moxie. It doesn’t even seem possible to keep going, but you do and you will.

 

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In all five of these things, what stands out is that none of them “feel” good, or make sense. They’re completely contrary to how we normally operate. So they must require a strength outside of ourselves in order to pull it off.

Exactly.

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* * Image credit: Christian Schloe 

 

If you’d like to have a courageous conversation, click here to book an appointment with me (no charge). I’d be happy to talk with you and explore how you can move your life forward.

Blessings,

Monique

http://www.artoflifecoachmonique.com/

 

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Ever Wished You Could Go to Middle Earth?

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Well, you can… sort of.

Hey friends…

Just wanted to share something with you that will give you a unique way to practice self-care, to take a respite from the noisy world of “things to do” and allow you to escape, relax and just go, “Ahhhh,” for a little while.

Some years ago, I came across these amazing guided Middle Earth meditations and have been using them on and off ever since. If you love to use your imagination and you’re a lover of all things Lord of the Rings, then I hope you’ll enjoy these meditations (SEE BELOW) by two English gentlemen who create these fantastic relaxation videos.

All you have to do is give yourself 15-20 minutes, lean back, or lie down, close your eyes, maybe put some earphones in, and allow yourself to enter a mythical, mystical world where you see and hear with your mind places you’ve possibly wished you could travel to.

My personal favorite is The Green Elven Wood (of course!) and Shelter in the Hobbit Shire. Let me know which ones you like.  Enjoy!

Maybe they will even inspire your own creativity. Hope so!  😉

Blessings & creative juice…

Monique
Artist & Coach
http://www.artoflifecoachmonique.com/ 

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Let’s have a conversation. You can click this link to schedule an introductory call with me and we can explore where you are feeling stuck and how to help you move forward. No charge. Just please follow through if you book. 

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN…?

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What do you do when the hardships you face seem like too much to bear? It could be something very serious happening to a loved one, it could be your health, it could be your living situation, it could be your marriage…it could be all of the above at once. Everything is shrieking at you to pay attention to it, to tend to it, to do something, for God’s sake!

So what do you do?

Honestly, I can’t tell you what you should do, but I can tell you the only thing I know to do, the only thing that makes sense, though it goes against everything the exterior world clamors…

For God’s sake (and my own and others’)…I get very, very still. I go inside…into the inner chamber of my heart…and there, I find God waiting for me. There, in the stillness, in the quiet, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen,” as Rumi wisely said.

And so I listen.

And I hear a call above the waves and wind shouting, “Be still!” (It’s incredible how loud that inaudible voice can be.) That call is the anchor that draws the little boat of my soul back into the only harbor that gives peace…God’s presence.

There, my thoughts are calmed. There, the injustices that stare me in the face lose their power. There, answers are found. There, my heartbeat is restored to a normal rate.

There are some extremely frightening things going on in my life right now, in the life of someone I love (life or death things not related to illness) so being able to even sit down and write this is the only proof I need that it’s true–there is power in stillness, there is power in faith and hope, and there is relief from fear in God’s love. I don’t feel it every minute, but that says more about my wandering focus than about God.

There is a time to do all we can to work, to help, to tend to…and there is a time to be still, to trust and to wait for the answers to come. It is a very fine art to find the balance between these two and to live within them.

I do not know of anything that is made better by anxiety and fear. I only know of all the things that are made better by trust and love.

 

– Monique Amado

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* Image credit: Christian Schloe

Remembering Your Belovedness (with Henri Nouwen)

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Dear friends,

The best way to value ourselves is to remember, and bask in, who God says we are and how much God values us. If we stay grounded there in that Great Love, it becomes less and less likely that we will devalue ourselves or allow others to do so.

This is an old talk by Henri Nouwen which I think will help you, as his words have helped me, to stay connected to who God says you are. It will strengthen you in all your inner and outer dealings in this world. I listen to the entire thing at least once or twice a year to refresh my memory and keep me strong.


In case you don’t know who Henri Nouwen is, he was a grace-infused human being who lived and worked among the L’Arche Community and said that these lovely people taught him more about God’s acceptance than anyone else. He said this was due to the fact that they did not know or understand anything about his degrees, his accolades or his accomplishments (let alone his failures and weaknesses), but only knew him by his heart.

Believe me, time listening to these words will be time well spent.

Wishing you God’s peace & security…

Monique