on my third (and last, i’m cutting myself off) cup of coffee for the day, and still not feelin too awake. usually this happens when there’s some sort of grappling in my soul. hmmm….
i’m writing a paper for the first time since college. yep. a book review. on celebration of discipline, you know, the book i told all of you to amazon the other day. yeah, i meant that.
in introducing the importance of spiritual discipline Foster writes:
“the purpose of the disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear. when the inner spirit is liberated from all that weighs it down, it can hardly be described as dull drudgery. singing, dancing, even shouting characterize the disciplines of the spiritual life.”
hello inspiration. nice to meet you.
my challenge is not so much that i am adverse to challenge, no no. i greatly enjoy a new challenge, give me something to conquer, please. but i want to be an expert all the time. my mother could tell you, not being able to perfectly read the annals of the great dr. seuss on the first day of kindergarten was quite the traumatic experience for me.
it is precisely for people who hate to be the new kid, like me, that i would assume Foster adds this quote by Thomas Merton soon after defining the purpose of discipline:
“we do not want to be beginners [at practicing the spiritual disciplines]. but let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”
a beginner all my life, my favorite word of the whole book.
but so very necessary for this soul to hear. it reminds me of something beth moore wrote in one of her books, and i can’t remember which one, nor do i have it in front of me, but she essential writes that she’s always assumed that her ability to worship God was severely limited so long as she was this side of heaven.
oh that i would have a learners heart within me! may i ever see myself as a beginner, severely limited in my effort to bring glory to my King as long as this flesh and blood is my home.
now on to the disciplines…
“christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word. it is that simple”
“eastern forms of meditation stress the need to become detached from the world…[but] detachment is not enough; we must go on to attachment. the detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God. christian meditation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely.”
Foster suggests the medieval practice of “re-collecting”. sitting with your hands facing down, representing the laying down of all worries and concerns at the Lord’s feet. “hand’s down Lord, i submit to you my worry over my job, the concern i have for the kids on my street…” etc. etc. then turn your hands upward and ask God to fill you with His peace, wisdom, love, etc. for each situation you laid down. “hand’s up Lord, i receive your peace over my job, your peace and wisdom for the kids on my block…” etc. a beautiful practice really.
foster also sites william penn in this chapter, with perhaps one of my favorite quotes of all time:
“true godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.”
love, love, love.
“to pray is to change. prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.”
“in our efforts to pray it is easy for us to be defeated right at the outset because we are taught that everything in the universe is already set, and so why pray?…but the Bible does not teach that. the Bible pray-ers prayed as if their prayers could and would make an objective difference….it is stoicism that demands a closed universe not the Bible.”
“real prayer is something we learn. the disciples asked Jesus ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (luke11:1)…it was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process. i was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for i knew i was learning.”
“frequently our lack is not faith but compassion. it seems that genuine empathy between the pray-er and the pray-ee often makes the difference.”
wow Lord. break my heart for those around me.
and finally, foster quotes kierkegaard beautifully
“a man once prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. but he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.”
oh give me ears to hear and wisdom to shut my mouth!
Foster’s teaching on fasting is one of the best i’ve ever read, but it is largely understanding the physiology of it all. excellent, and most helpful, but not overly quotable. this one i will share though:
“fasting allows us to keep our balance in life. how easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. how quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them…this is not excessive asceticism; it is discipline and discipline brings freedom.”
as to not make this the longest post in human history (or at least my blogging history…) i will break there. the above disciplines are what foster calls “inward disciplines” between the individual and God. i’ll keep blogging the highlights of the book the next few days.
you should still just buy or borrow the book though.
in other news!
we’re almost done with the epic week of recipes! a-la-peanut-butter-sandwhiches! today: italian sausage and veggie lasagna
you will need…
1 lb. (3-4 links) of chicken italian sausage
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small eggplant, sliced thinly
3 cups of raw baby spinach
1 large container light cottage cheese (buy local or organic when you can!)
1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or we used colby-jack for fun!)
garlic, marjoram, basil and cilantro for added jazz
remove sausage from casings and brown the meat in a pan, breaking it into small chunks as it cooks. in a separate pan, heat a small amount (1 tbs?) of olive oil over high heat and caramelize the onion. in a large saucepan combine cooked sausage, caramelized onions and spaghetti sauce.
jazz up your cottage cheese with some garlic, marjoram, basil and cilantro, just a good healthy shake of each and mix well.
in a greased 9×13 pan layer sauce, noodles, eggplant, cottage cheese and spinach, you should get two complete sequences of layers. add a layer of noodles and remaining sauce to top it off. sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.
bake at 350 for about an hour, until the edges get golden and the cheese is bubbly.
ben even likes the eggplant in this one. it’s miracle lasagna. that being said, it’s so tasty, it did not last long enough to be photographed. sad. but you all know what lasagna looks like : )
blessed weekend to all of you!