Chewing on Faith & Art: Experiments in light

Ruminate is an experiment in light. The work they publish asks if we can wince without blinking, if we can gaze without squinting, how the terror of lightening and warmth of dawn can meet in the soul.

Ruminate was the first journal to publish work that became part of Triptych, and they have continued to share my words on their blog and in print. Now, the book has arrived and Ruminate is celebrating a tenth anniversary. This week, we’ll celebrate both with parallel serial blog posts. I’ll share work from the book that began as work for Ruminate, and they’ll spotlight portraits from Triptych that show people in everyday life speckled with sparks of faith.

The first piece Ruminate accepted from me proved their willingness to look hard at struggle. “40 Days” ran in their issue on confession and stares point-blank at the temptations, deserts, and floods in marriage.

Revisiting the piece now brings its own struggle. And also proves it’s worth looking hard at temptations, deserts and floods. They persist. They sometimes overtake us. Maybe we keep writing and reading to make way for the light– taking the risk it may arrive in storm or sunrise– believing, somehow, it exists in both.

Listening: Act IV

One of the problems, I’m realizing, is I listen to consume.

I’m highly intentional with many of my regular routines, but several of those are turning out to be only half good. After school, I ask my children about their days. During dinner, we share highs and lows. While I run, I podcast interviews with diverse thinkers. But in most of these situations, I’m listening to gather information rather than to marinate in some experience outside myself.

No wonder I have trouble praying.

An hour yesterday stuck in the car flipping radio stations confirmed much around me is noise. Partly, I’m uninspired to listen deeply because so little of what surrounds me requires it. Billboards, commercials, sit coms, pop music and most of the internet demand attention but require very little of it. More of my energy is spent managing the competition than considering the content.

As a counterpoint to all the noise, my devotion this week will be to listen to only one song. (In this case, Bach’s Preludio from Partita No. 3 in E)

Might I listen more naturally in conversation or prayer if I exercise deep listening muscles in other dimensions of life? Will constant exposure to something masterful make me more willing to turn off the chatter (around me and coming out of my own mouth)? Can steeping in music teach me something about steeping in the living words of others and in the Living Word?

Listening: Act II

As I continue to make a discipline of pausing and watching before asserting myself into others’ experiences, I want to restrain the expansion of my will but also to become more receptive. My devotion this week will be to ask at least one question before giving any solution or opinion.

What will this task reveal about my posture toward others? How pervasive is my tendency to use conversation as a stage for me rather than as an opportunity to learn? How will having the same standard of listening across my roles of home and work make way for greater integrity of my heart?