Preparing a Home (Day Fifteen)

Preparing a Home (Day Fifteen) May 16, 2012

I’ve become a serious blog slacker, at least by my typical standards. My regular discipline is to post daily, but I’ve actually had to make a conscious effort NOT to keep up that pace while on our trip. And believe it or not, the world hasn’t come to an end without a daily post from me.

Hard for a narcissist like me to grasp, but it’s true. The world can keep spinning on its axis without my input.

I’ve decided that this practice of being a bit more of a slacker is part of my effort to get my house in order. And I think the metaphor applies on many levels. The idea emerged at a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah lounge in San Francisco a couple of nights ago.

We were enjoying a meal with Aaron, our favorite northern California tour guide and family friend. He was filling us in on his most recent spiritual practices, which have included, among other things, a three-day vow of silence, mediation in solitude, small group gatherings and yoga. On one level, it all sounded very much like the stereotypical California prescription for self-help, but there was one distinct difference that stuck with me.

“I’ve been working on preparing a home,” said Aaron, “here.” He pointed toward his heart. He went on to explain that, in order to be fit to share properly of himself with others, he needed to get himself in condition to do so generously and capably.

This, I realized, was exactly what has always been missing from the self-help phenomenon; we’re so focused on self-improvement, but we rarely talk about what to do next.

Sure, meditation is great. But simply focusing on personal practices without an end-goal of giving yourself away t the world is akin to self-worship. It would be like spending years and millions of dollars to construct an incredible house, only to cordon it off and only allow people to peer in from the outside.

A home is only a home if it’s lived in. Likewise, a life is only full if it’s broken open and shared. And just like we wouldn’t invite guests over without tidying up, planning a meal and getting ready to accommodate them, part of our own personal spiritual practice must be with the ultimate goal of being vulnerable to others, of loving them recklessly, but with the preparation that affords us the capacity to do so over and over again.

That’s part of what this trip is doing for me, I think. It’s funny that we actually left our entire house in Colorado behind, taking only what we could stuff in our little Prius. All of the stuff will catch up eventually, but this time for me has been about preparing a different kind of home, like the one Aaron is working on. He also wisely warned against being too reckless in giving of ourselves – something we folks in ministry are prone to doing.

“There’s always more need to be met in the world,” he said, “but we have to know when we’re trying to draw from a dry well.” So yes, even I, the obsessive, prolific, narcissist blogger sometimes have to walk away from the computer and work on some personal housekeeping. I just have to remind myself that’s it’s for a good cause.

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