Cemetery Cross at QuiltyThis past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel south to Tennessee for a day to meet some old friends (well – “old” as in from my college days, even though they are just as “old” as me), and to go with them to see my son’s musical group in concert in Greeneville.  It had been twelve or thirteen years (by my recollection) since we’d last seen one another, though we’d kept up on Facebook the past couple of years.

But it was almost like walking into a time warp.

During my three semesters at Milligan, my constant companion was Craig.  We met the first day in the dorm (he was just across the hall), loved music, and shared a number of other interests as well.   We also tended to “push” each other – in some ways good, and in some ways not.  Musically, we grew together, learning how to cooperate in the setting of a band.  We got involved in a number of practical jokes, and spent a good deal of time hiking up into the mountains, into caves, and into some intentionally dangerous situations there.

But the thing I appreciated most of all was our talks together.

Once our homework was done (and sometimes even if it wasn’t), we’d sometimes talk until three or four in the morning about most any topic under the sun.  He loved the Beatles and was a russophile (illegally owning a cat named “Trotsky”, may he rest in peace).  I loved Peter Gabriel imports, movies and fireworks (with a mortar launcher that could be operated from our rooftop).  We also had a number of demons we struggled with.

While I didn’t know what it was at the time, I struggled a lot during the winter (January – March) with depression (something I’ve written about here before) and impulsivity, which don’t mix well.  Our midnight talks certainly helped me get through this, and became some of my fondest memories of my time at Milligan.

Friday, when we met in Greeneville, I had made excellent time, which gave Craig, his wife (who I also knew from Milligan) and I some time to catch up.  One of the topics we talked about was Craig’s conversion into the Eastern Orthodox church, which I found to be incredibly interesting – both because of my relative ignorance on the EOC, and because I wondered how his journey took him there.  Along the way, we discussed all sorts of things, from canonization to orthopraxy to prayer to tradition to repentance.  Even when we might have disagreed, it didn’t matter, because our purpose was communion and encouragement, much of what it used to be.

After the concert, we went back to their house (they were gracious enough to offer me a room for the night), and sat down to talk “for a bit”.  It seemed like we’d only been talking for a few minutes when I looked down and saw the time on my iPod – 3:00 am.

My first thought was: some things never change.

Which got me to thinking.  We had talked about repentance – metanoia (Gr.) or t’shuvah (Heb.) – and how it was – visually – an image of recognizing the direction you are walking, stopping, and then turning back toward God and walking toward Him.  With repentance, it is we who change, not God, and when we turn to Him, He is still the same.  Our relationship with Him is how it was before we turned away.

Something else we talked about was prayer – prayer as something far more than a laundry list of concerns and desires, but a basic building block of our relationship with our Father.  Honestly, my prayer life sucks.  My conversation with Craig, if nothing else, revealed this to me (among some other things I’m trying to right.)  I’ve got some ideas on improving, with one of the basic ones being to just start doing it, even if it feels stilted…

So as I drove back, I thought through all of the things that God might have been trying to say to me over the weekend.

Pray.

Repent.

Love.

Spend time in each other’s presence.

All things I know, but I don’t do – or at least don’t do well.

God speaks in all sorts of ways, and sometimes the most tangible way He speaks to us is through His image in our brothers and sisters.

Shalom.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 5:55 pm and is filed under Devotional, Original Articles, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Comments(+Add)

1   Chad Holtz    http://www.chadholtz.net
March 16th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Amen.

When you don’t talk politics you almost come across as a decent guy.

2   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
March 16th, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Chad, that was rude.

Chris, thanks for sharing.

3   Chad Holtz    http://www.chadholtz.net
March 16th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Rude? I thought it was one of the nicest things I’ve said to Chris L in weeks.

4   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 16th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Chris,

One of the most difficult aspects of my current transition from paid preacher to whatever it is that the Lord has in mind that he hasn’t decided to divulge to me just yet is prayer.

When I was a preacher, it was a no brainer to show up for prayer meetings on Saturday, pray during worship, pray over sermons, etc. Now with a busy as sin schedule, I have to make time to pray and force myself to do so.

Eugene Peterson has helped me a lot in this area. He has helped me realize that someone is praying even when I am not (the Holy Spirit). Here’s something I just read today: “Not all prayers are conscious. Not all prayers can be identified as prayers. Prayer is the language underlying and sometimes surfacing in all our language as we grow up in Christ. Most of us pray a good deal more than we are aware that we are praying. It’s not that prayer does not involve attentiveness and alertness to God; it’s only that it doesn’t require a learned skill. Trying harder doesn’t help.” (Practice Resurrection, p 266).

Good luck. I will pray for you as I too struggle.

jerry

5   Chad Holtz    http://www.chadholtz.net
March 17th, 2010 at 6:52 am

A perspective on prayer from the rabbi I meet with each week:

Whole-ing Prayer

6   Mike    
March 17th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I would love to read your blog Chad, but it seems that my school internet blocker won’t let me get there… this is new because I could get there a couple days ago.

And before anyone gets the wrong idea, it’s blocked because it is an uncategorized site… and our system blocks all sites until they are categorized… (sigh) So I guess I will look at it when I get home.

Anyway, I was talking to my son the other day and my wife asked him do you pray? And he said, “All the time, constantly.”

Which made my very happy, but also made me think. I think sometimes we only regard prayer as being the times when I shut myself away and it’s just me and God. It is important to take time out for this, but the “prayer bursts” as I call them that I sometimes engage in throughout my day are just as important.

My son is taking a test in a class, I glance at my watch, remember where he is and say a quick prayer. Something goes right at work, I say a quick prayer of thanks.

It’s not formal, but I think it may be just as important to have that constant dialogue with God throughout the day.

-Just a few thoughts

7   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
March 17th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

#1
It is no wonder since Jerry left hardly anyone has an open and honest transparent post about spirituality because when they do Mr. Tolerant shoots it down.

That said, nice writing, great insight, the kind of stuff a blog named prophets priests and poets should offer.

8   Brett S    
March 17th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Tennessee, down south?

If you ever really come down south, look me up. I’ll pray with ya.

Tonight offering includes green cinamon rolls and St. P’s breast plate.

Peace

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  1. Thought for the Day, March 18, 2010 « Pilgrim at Lake View Avenue    Mar 18 2010 / 9am:

    [...] of mine recently wrote a post about his own struggles with prayer. You can read about it here: Rolling Down South. For another perspective on prayer, visit another friend here: Whole-ing [...]