Listening as a spiritual exercise; day 3 of Ramadan

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Today I entirely slept through pre-dawn breakfast. I tried to wake up for it but my body was tired more than hungry. Yet when I came to from my slumber I was hungry, but I resisted the urge to something and I started my day. It started off with a bit of prayer and a bit of writing, as I took some time to write about day 1 and 2 of my experiences of Ramadan. I see a lot of every day practices as being spiritual, and by writing it out I find it to be more apparent with how spiritual the event truly was. When I was done with my writing I set out to go to a new church per my church incognito project…

My understanding of the Seventh-Day Adventist was very limited, and per my adventurous spirit, I set out to go to the one in my community to experience it corporately. With open ears and an open mind, to listen and talk to members of the church about what being Seventh-Day Adventist means to them.

Now I won’t disclose what I gleaned from my time at the Seventh-Day Adventist church because that’s what my next post is going to be about, but I will say this, I talked to the pastor as well as members of the congregation and it was truly rewarding to talk at length but also to listen at length as well. I now have a broader perspective of what Seventh-Day Adventists than I did before and it was truly a good time inasmuch a God time.

This was my first interaction with anyone today and it truly set the course for actively listening to those around me for the duration of the day. I actively listened to what my pastor said per his message about fathers and it nearly moved me to tears because I recalled my time of being a father once before; it was a brief slice of my history, but I am thankful to God for the time I was a father and I look forward to the next time! I even found myself more engaged to the conversations over dinner with friends and acquaintances; I usually listen, but I found myself more in tune to what was being said and I think I contributed more than I usually do.

So with all that being said, listening was my keyword on this third day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Great Listener, for God truly listens to all of that we say and God eagerly awaits for us to communicate. God still speaks, but sometimes God’s voice is found in the still and the silence rather than the noise, and sometimes we ourselves need to sit in the still and silence in order to listen to hear the voice of God.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Ken Ham vs Bill Nye debate; what’s the point?

It has come across in my news feed on Facebook that tonight there’s going to be a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham (you can watch it live here). I find it more than slightly unnerving that this is going to take place, and maybe more unnerving is people rooting for it. The thing is, I bet if Bill Nye and Ken Ham took the time to dialogue they could probably find some common ground in the midst of their different viewpoints, if they took the time to graciously listen to the other person a lot of good could come from it, but I am a skeptic to the debate being a “good thing” because of several reasons:

1) If they’re debating, they’re already coming into it with their views and perspectives intact and they will leave with it intact.
2) They will be bring their big guns out with the aim to destroy the other person.
3) There will probably be some educated/formalized insulting of the other person.
4) Versus is a GREAT (sarcastic) way to perpetuate an Us Against Them paradigm.
5) Both followers of either sides will have fundamentalists who will relish in the verbal carnage that takes place.
6) What good will come from this except for either individual’s views being put out there to a possibly larger audience…

I truly wish that it was a time for Bill Nye and Ken Ham to lay down their verbal weapons of mass destruction and just listen to the other. Sure, throw in some Q&A time, but listening…that’s a key to any relationship, whether it’s a good one or even a bad one, and only good things can come from listening.

~Nathanael~

It’s not a relationship if there’s no communication – 5/28

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In any relationship, you better put out.

Put out what you want out of it that is (what did you think I meant? ;-))
Despite being funny and perhaps slightly provocative, there’s a lot of truth what I wrote. It is only little kids who can start up friendships on a truly organic level; he has crayons/Legos/Hot Wheels, I do too, let’s share, we’re now friends…But as you get older, you start to realize that friendship isn’t as easy as it once was.

Differences don’t make for a deal breaker in friendships, diversity in all shapes and forms is the spice of life, and it makes for better relationships because it gives you the room to hear from someone who’s on a different path in life. In my own life I recognize that the differences I have between friends has aided to my broader thinking about the world at large.
If there’s truth to Thomas Aquinas’ statement of beware the man of one book in the same turn beware the man of one type of friend; because anything that is outside of that group of individuals norm (self-imposed or not) is going to be mere speculation.

Another facet of relationships is what you won’t do. I don’t think that on our minds from the get-go, but over time we might unless we suppress/”put up” with the foibles and faults with our friends, but there’s a line to that, and if it becomes detrimental and unhealthy for you it might be a good time to call it quits. Now what constitutes a deal breaker? I truly think it varies relationship to relationship, but there are some common threads; you’re taken advantage of, you’re put down, you’re physically/emotionally/spiritually/etc abused, you feel worse after hanging out with that individual than better, you’re not given room to speak, you’re not given room to BE who you truly are…these are some symptoms that the relationship isn’t a healthy one. If you have the audacity to say something along the lines “but I can’t stop being friends with that person, they’re my friend!” Well, here’s one for you, would a REAL friend treat you like dog shit? Would a friend really make you compromise your integrity and character? If it’s not healthy, there’s no point being around that person at all.

Put out what you can in any relationship in a healthy manner, if one relationship doesn’t work out, there will be opportunities for others. 🙂

~Nathanael~

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Sometimes I wish I were a fly on the wall

Sometimes I wish I were the proverbial fly on the wall, the eavesdropper, the one who hears what others have to say whether they are aware of my presence or not.

Because I think people are fascinating not just some of the time, but all of the time, for better or worse…

The other day I returned to a church that I’m involved with in the context of youth ministry, but due to my work schedule and the other church I attend has kept me from attending. Yet at the advice/request of one of my best friends I’m going to do a two-fer Sunday mornings.
Yet it was interesting being back, a lot of new faces (albeit I was at a service I normally don’t attend) and the dynamic of a large(r) gathering was a bit of a short-lived shock. I sat close to where I normally would, so I guess that’s habitual, but it was interesting to look around at the diversity…which is needed within the church, and to see some of that being lived out, it gave me a case of the warm fuzzies.

Yet…On my way out the door I caught two conversations, overheard at church as it were. One guy was expressing to another guy that he found it hard to believe that “this was church” because he didn’t feel any guilt. One woman was talking to another woman and shared how coming to this church was a secret fix for her, even though she didn’t like how the pastor didn’t read from the Bible as much as she’d like.
WOW! That’s all I will say, because whether the nature of church and feeling guilty being paired together (which I can recall times where I’ve been in such churches) and the nature of a pastor not reading enough of the Bible… Again, people are fascinating…all of the time!

I think I’ll write my insights to what these individuals talked about, but later, I have to buzz out of here!

~Nathanael~