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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Experience leads to Doxology: a Gracious Plenty

Dr. Clyde S. Kilby, well known scholar of The Inklings, used to teach his students at Wheaton College that one of the effects of the Enlightenment is the separation between living in one's head and living from one's heart. He used to explain that we are to live from the heart and allow the head to follow our experiences, bringing understanding. The Enlightenment has taught us moderns to lead with our heads (knowledge) and hope it will sink into the heart. The problem with that is that when we lead with our heads we lose a ton of sensory knowledge and mystery of living (being).

The way Dr. Kilby would quite humorously help his students understand his point was to tell them, "A fella can't kiss his girl and think about it at the same time."

This past weekend I went to a gathering of people who love and enjoy making or talking about all things art. What was so amazing, to me, about this gathering of Rabbit Roomers -- Hutchmoot 2011 -- was the pouring out, the giving among, the interest in each other. To me, it seemed people were there to get to know one another and enjoy what people were thinking and doing. The conference began on Thursday night and went until Sunday night; so it became something that we soaked in. There was so much available to think about, explore and do and the time and space to do it within.

What I received from the weekend were these words; through the mouths of those around me, speaking God's Truth into me; "Do not be afraid! You have permission -- you are welcome and even wanted in what God is doing!" God did a mighty work in my heart washing away the lies and scaffolding of doubt that I had accumulated throughout my life. Things like, "don't bother other people, who do you think you are to _____, they think you're just trying to get attention, they think you're using them, you're not nearly smart enough to ______." You know, things like that.

On Sunday I could not get out of my head the image from LOTR of the flooding of the Tower of Orthanc in Isengard; and I began to realize that God was opening me up to new and deeper levels of my baptism. I was being flooded and washed and stripped of those structures that had supported those lies within me for years.

The second to the last thing we did before the conference ended was listen to each other. We heard what was happening in and among us that weekend; and a palpable sense of wonder and awe grew, for me, in the room -- then Andrew Peterson stepped forward to lead us in our last experience together: to sing the Doxology. What followed was something I was not prepared for. For me, it was a resurrection, a gathering up in Power. We, God's people, together: out of overflowing hearts let ourselves go and sang His praises and our thankfulnesses for what we had been given from His hand. It was amazing; and words can not form it's description.

So then, I head home. Wonder and amazement following me every step. When I got there I found out Walter Brueggemann was speaking at Augsburg College; so, I went! And from stepping out of one experience with God's people, I stepped into another. Dr. Brueggemann brought some understanding to me of what I was a part of this weekend. He taught me that Doxology is the "exuberant abandonment of God's people to what God has done." It happens when His people sing His praises for His active Presence and Care in their lives. He also told us that when God's people speak the Gospel and sing His praises the structures of scarcity and fear crumble.

This knowledge felt like whipped cream and a cherry on top of my amazing Hutchmoot time and I found I even knew exactly what to call it; thanks to a woman from Texas who shared the term with us Hutchmooters Sunday afternoon: a gracious plenty. God is a God of a gracious plenty: what we need plus a little more -- like a cherry on top.

All thanks and praise be to God.