the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Time of Inexplicable Joy

To relate this story, I have to go back a couple of weeks to the weekend of October 29-30. This was the Halloween weekend. You will note that on October 30, I posted the essay entitled The Contemplative Life. On the following day, October 31, I posted the series: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. I am referring to what happened to me as a time of inexplicable joy, because it was a time where the feeling of joy was inexplicable, and it was also not necessarily a feeling but an awareness of joy.

The truth is, I was very sick that weekend. It was an upper respiratory infection that made me feel like death warmed over. The weekend didn't start out that way. Sandra and I went to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit (MHS) on Saturday, the 29th. It was a beautiful day, the wind was cool and blowing briskly and the sun was shining brightly. It was later that evening when the sickness hit me. It seemed to come on all at once. The short of it is that I was too sick to preach or sing. I called the church folks and cancelled service because I couldn't get a stand-in that late on Saturday. I also called in sick to my secular job on Monday, the 31st.

Spiritually, however, I was in a warm and fuzzy place after spending the day at MHS. I read several things on contemplation and prayer. But I also pulled out one of my old volumes read many years ago. It was The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. I began to read Brother Lawrence and it was then that I remembered the time in my childhood when I had the natural gift of the presence of God in my life.

I think the time of joy began with that memory that had been buried for decades. All day Sunday and all day Monday, while I was sick, and in between naps, I talked with God. It was just like the old days as a boy in the woods. A peace and calm enveloped me that I have no way of explaining or even understanding. I tried to read, but couldn't. I tried to think about other things but they held no interest for me. All I wanted to do was to sit around and dwell on the joy in my heart and the love of God.

I thought it was depression. I have been depressed for as long as I can remember and have been on medication for the depression for ten years. But this feeling was not like my usual bouts of depression. Usually I feel like I am swirling down in a whirlpool or a black hole. But this time was different. I felt warm. I felt loved. I just didn't want to leave that place.

On Tuesday, I had to go back to work. All morning I had the same inability to concentrate on things other than God. I couldn't do my work. I became iritated when I was interrupted or when the phone would ring. Finally, around mid-morning, the outside interferences and my iritable reaction to them broke the magic. From that point forward it was a normal day, and I was back to being my normal self.

But I have wondered what happened to me that weekend. As I continue my study into the writings of San Juan de la Cruz, I wonder. Could I have experienced the beginning of infused contemplation? It might have been the cold, or the drugs, or...


Blogger Pilot Mom said...

I think maybe I would leave it as your encounter with God until He shows you differently... I would just treasure it in my heart! :)

11/12/2005 1:41 AM  
Blogger HeyJules said...

I agree with Claire, but I gotta say, that gave me some big, fat goosebumps!

I've only rarely been at that place where you were and it was shortly after my depression lifted this year. For about two weeks or so I couldn't seem to stop talking to Him all night long. He'd be throughout my dreaming and then between dreams I'd wake up just enough to talk to Him audibly and then back to sleep again.

It happens very rarely now but it does still happen and its always in the throws of darkness when He and I can hear each other think.

11/19/2005 8:50 PM  

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