Everything Belongs - Chapter 3

Aaron Austin | February 16, 2020

As I allude to from time to time, I'm not really a sports fan (though in high school I was decent with a hacky sack). Somehow, both Emma and Jake have ended up playing sports, so I find myself in places I would usually avoid, like gymnasiums. It just so happens I read this chapter of Everything Belongs while sitting on the sidelines of the Lexington Road Church of God's basketball court while Jake was practicing with his Upward team. I was pretty sure the squeaking of rubber and thumping of overinflated plastics was not an ideal environment for reading, but this was something I could do without wifi.

Even in this rather raucous environment, this chapter left me with a deep peace. I found myself quietly noticing what was happening around me--the players running, the basketball flying through the air.  And somehow I found a strange contentment. As I fell into the present moment, I sensed the smile of God. There was no blame or shame--just an abiding presence.

It's amazing the great lengths I go to avoid the present moment. I listen to audiobooks while I wash the dishes. I listen to podcasts while I drive. I watch Netflix while I run on the treadmill. Sometimes I listen to NPR while I eat breakfast and type emails. Often, the present moment often goes unnoticed.

Two words that are still tumbling around my mind after reading this chapter are acceptance and competition. Somehow, when I embrace this moment, I can see that I too am embraced. As Rohr says, "things are okay as they are." There's nothing I can do to change this moment right now. That doesn't mean that I don't work for change and a better world, but if my effort is driven by some need to prove myself, it won't carry the same transformative power. I'll still be exerting control.

It's hard to accept the moment, but it's also hard to accept ourselves. So often shame holds us back. But perhaps the healing that comes from this acceptance is the very thing that helps us change. Rohr quotes Julian of Norwich, "the Lord looks on his servants with pity and not with blame. In God's sight we do not fall; in our sight, we do not stand. Both of these are true, but the deeper insight belongs to God." What a beautiful and transformative vision of our loving creator.

This acceptance frees me from competition. When there is nothing for me to prove, I find I don't need to compare or contrast myself with others. There's no need to make myself feel better with notions of superiority or to berate myself with reasons I don't measure up.

I already feel like these truths are slippery. They are not something reasoned, but something practiced. While I am certain I'm far from understanding these thoughts on contemplation, it's nice to have those moments where feel like you can see a little more clearly and find some perspective. I wonder what thoughts or feelings you encountered while reading this chapter. What inspired you? What did you discover about yourself or about the One who awaits your gaze? Maybe take a few moments to sit and just be wherever you are.

Here's a song I wrote for last Sunday that explores some of these ideas. You can listen here.

Step into the Light

You've heard it said
God is watching every move you make
Keeping track of all your wrongs
But what if there's no score
What if there's no game
You've been swimming in grace all along

Step into the light
Do not be afraid
Shadows lurk in hearts
But my light courses through your veins
My beloved child
Hear me call your name
I remember when
I first sparked/sang your soul awake

You've heard it said
A wall will keep you safe
Keep out your enemies
What if it turns out we're much the same
Searching for eyes to find our symmetry

You've heard it said
God helps those who help themselves
So if you're down on your luck
Then you're at fault
But what if we're here to help each other see
Finding grace in the places where there's want

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