Renunciation

Well, the Nichols are back – they flew in yesterday after a few months of maternity leave, visiting families, sharing w/ supporters, and letting everyone they know try and spoil their new little one, Anna (who isn’t so little anymore… OK, she’s only five months old, but that’s still bigger than she used to be.) And it’s good to have them here again.

So I haven’t written anything on here in a while, huh? I think that’s mainly because it’s been so difficult for me to focus on anything these last few weeks. A part of that is the uncertainty and frustration brought on by all the visa issues that still continue. Partly it’s been as I try and use this uncertainty and unsettled feelings as catalysts to explore more of who I am, and try to understand myself better. And a part of my silences have been because when I make it home at the end of the day, I’m just tired and culture and language shocked.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it still wears on me – practicing the language I haven’t spoken in months (except to yell at the TV or the French fans during the World Cup), catching up with neighbors and friends, trying to enroll in classes, messing with visa stuff (still), looking for a new place to live (Jenna and I “Traded Spaces” – however, since she had no “space” to trade, whereas I had a two bedroom apartment, I may have come out slightly behind on the deal… shoot), and all the day-to-day business stuff that needs to get done – eating, groceries, cleaning, laundry. So adjustment is happening, slowly, but not leaving much time or energy to say hello to the internet-ites.

So, allow me to say it now, properly – “Hello, all you internet-ites.”

The other day I was going through a few old journals that were lying around. Apparently, three years ago I was reading Richard Foster’s “Sex, Money, and Power,” and I guess this quote resonated with me then as it does now – it’s been some of my food for contemplation recently.

We defeat the powers by an inner renunciation of all things. In a posture of total renunciation, we have nothing to lose. Suppose the powers take our goods and possessions – no matter, our possessions are only on loan from God: protecting them is more his business than ours. Suppose the powers seek to destroy our influence by defaming our reputation – no matter, our reputation is not ours to protect, and we could not do it even if we wanted to. Suppose the powers throw at us the fear of death itself – no matter, we belong to One who can lead us through death’s dark pathway into greater life.
So you see, we simply have nothing to lose. We are positionless and possessionless, and this complete and total vulnerability is our greatest strength. You cannot take something from someone who has nothing.

What is more, when our nothingness is filled with God, we are in possession of everything, and that also can never be taken away. When we have nothing, yet possess everything, then we are most secure.

So I read this, and part of me doesn’t even know what to do with it. Part of me is deeply attracted to this idea (ideal?), but there’s a part of me that just likes my cool stuff (or even stuff that is potentially mine). Renunciation is all fine and good, but what about my camera, my computer, my guitar, my favorite pair of flip-flops? How about my house, my car, my boat, my airplane, my spaceship, my giant pet ninja emu Stanley? And then my mind tries to twist itself up in knots by asking the practical questions – it’s all good for Foster to talk about stuff like this, but how do you do it? How do you make it work in real life? Cause baby, I’m not there yet. I want to be, and I’d like to believe I’m moving in that general direction, but I’d be full of unrealistic expectations if I expected to wake up tomorrow morning with the detachment and Zen clarity of the Shaolin monks (I’d also like to wake up with their amazing Kung Fu skills, but even I know that might be pushing it.)

I guess the heart of the matter – the core of the apple, if you will – is simply deciding. Yes friends, you too can be “the Decider.” Right. Maybe it’s a perspective shift where you realize that all these things are just and only that – things. Maybe it’s the process where our knowledge of where our treasure is shifts from the tangible and the shiny to the precious and eternal. Maybe it’s will-power and self-discipline and self-denial. Maybe it’s a supernatural event of having a heart be transformed from something deaf to the cries of the world and their own broken life into a living, aware heart – sometimes full of pain, sorrow, and rage, sometimes full of laughter, joy, and contentment, but always full of life.

Or maybe it’s a combination of the above – different for each individual, yet guiding us all to that place where we too can be burdened with nothing, yet possess everything, and living our lives in complete and utter freedom.

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1 Comment

Filed under food for thought

One response to “Renunciation

  1. Laura

    hey- hope you are doing well! Say hello to the gang for me, its good to know that you are all in the same place again, at least for a little while! Hang in there, Ben. You are only meant to take it one day at a time

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