Formation Notes - March 13, 2019
We began with a reflection from Maggie Cheung
My Perspective and His
A few months ago I had the opportunity to see a popular Broadway musical at the Paramount Theater downtown. Theater – any performing arts, really – is a place of great joy for me, where I am captivated by what human beings can do, and heaven feels a little bit closer.
About two thirds of the way through the show, I became aware of a “bend” in my eyesight. My view of the stage was close and unobstructed, but for a few moments I found that I could access an additional view of the stage, from a higher vantage point. It was as if I were sitting in a fancy box seat looking down on the actors, but still close enough to see each expression on their faces. In these moments I had a “knowing” that this was God’s vantage point. I was getting to view the show with Him.
You’d think this would have felt transcendental, powerful, like a big Hollywood moment with fireworks. But it felt very ordinary and natural, accessible, a place for me to visit at any time. In the days following I asked God about this moment many times and the only thing that stood out to me is that at that point in the show, I had an awareness of relating to the teenager perspective in the play as well as the parent perspective. Two vantage points, two perspectives.
This winter was a mopey one for me. We started a house remodel in January and for about two weeks in February, due to snow and school closures, my three kids and my husband were home with me every day along with the grouchy construction crew. As someone who needs plenty of space and alone time to be a functioning human being, this was a time of great trial for me. A first world problem for sure, but one that was crippling my life with Jesus – and I was allowing it.
One morning I woke up, rolled over, and started scrolling through my phone. This article from the Atlantic Monthly popped up, about “workism” making Americans miserable. That’s clickbait for me. I opened it, quickly read through it, and followed the links within that article to another piece describing how things can be so normal, so every day, a “default setting” that we stop even noticing what’s happening. I strongly encourage you to read this essay as I believe it speaks to the place where we are sleepily content, uninspired and unmotivated to push out and beyond into something bigger than ourselves. I read through it and thought to myself, “Ok, God. I’m hearing you.”
I got out of bed and began to pray.
This was so hard to do. This took so much work. The amount of effort it took to haul myself out of my own funk, to sit up straight and put my attention on God and what He was saying, was embarrassingly enormous. But that’s how our default settings work. Everyone is at the center of their own story, starring in their own personal biopic. But with everyone back at school, my husband back at work, and my house (mostly!) finished, I sat on my couch and fought through the noise and the self-pity and the feeling that this time would be better spent with a package of Oreos and Netflix.
And promptly fell asleep.
As so often happens when I make quiet time to pray, I end up drooling onto a couch pillow for the better part of an hour. This time, though, I had a dream. I was on one of those calm fairytale rides, like the ones at Disneyland, where you’re in a little car moving through a story. I was with a younger smaller person who seemed a lot like my seven-year-old daughter, but I think was probably a younger smaller version of myself. We were riding together until our car suddenly divided and she went one way and I went another. My car rambled along and then took me behind the scenes of the story I’d just seen. And I wasn’t seeing the machinations and innards of the workings of a ride, I was seeing a different story. Actually, the same story, just a different version of it. I took note of this in my dream and I soon came back together with the smaller me, who I knew had taken a different ride. I knew she hadn’t seen the alternate story, but had a sense she would eventually. And all was well.
I woke up knowing that God was speaking to me about perspective. About seeing through His eyes. About there being an alternate story to the one I could see with my own eyes. He reminded me of the moment at the musical, which had happened weeks and weeks earlier. “You saw it your way,” He was saying, “and you also saw My way.”
We already access different perspectives, not just from the gift of empathy, but from our own experience. I could relate to the teenager point of view because I was one. That’s easy. I could relate to the parent of a teenager point of view because I’m quickly headed to that place in my own life. I can easily imagine it. I felt that God was telling me that with some practice – the effort to willingly operate outside of my default settings – I could also begin to see from His perspective. Not just in a place where accessing His beauty is easy for me, like a musical performance, but always, as I’m riding through the story of my daily life.
WHERE WE ARE HEADED IN FORMATION
Maggie’s reflection provided an entry point into DPNW’s upcoming formation series where we will learn about and practice dwelling in the presence of God in our daily lives. Consciously entering into His perspective is one of the first ways to do this. There are ways we can cultivate His presence in our day to day. There are also familiar places where we struggle and get stuck. Let’s begin to cultivate together so that we can help each other through the stuck places
John McGinn led us through a time of praise and thanksgiving to God for things past, present, and forthcoming. Reaction from those attending spoke of “God’s economy”, in which the time we spent praising Him felt like mere seconds compared to minutes in the natural. We also watched a powerful video that stirred up our desire to see the face of Jesus.
Please join us next month, April 10, at St. Bridget when Misty and Dean Tougas will teach more about cultivating God’s presence.