Contemplative Life

Sabbatical Ends, A New Season Begins

You look around, and you see a world that is impenetrable, that cannot be made sense of.  You either raise your fist or say ‘Hallelujah’…I try to do both.”   Leonard Cohen

I am back from Sabbatical.  It was wonderful, restful, beauty-full, and remarkably good starting the very first day in April when God met me in a monastery and kept on coming, with quite a few visits along the way.  My favorite words to describe the time away all start with ‘re’: re-energizing, re-freshing, re-newing, re-forming, and the best one, ‘re-invigorating’ which by definition means, “to give new or renewed strength or energy to something or someone.”  The sabbatical put the vigor back in.  Praise be to God and thanks be to you for your prayers!  And thanks to Jeff and the Coracle board who wisely and graciously made it possible, and to our whole Coracle team who kept our ministry serving and growing these past months.

The ways and moments that met me powerfully are many, quite a few photographic testimonies exist on Instagram and Facebook.  I’ll be sharing stories and insights over the coming months, and some of it I’ll be unpacking and living into for the coming years.  I hope you’ll join me on Zoom on Thursday, August 24 at 12.30pm EST when Jeff and I will talk about some of the best stories and already distilling themes as our next Soundings Seminar.  I promise to tell about one specific day that included atomic bombs, gorgeous paintings, and the most remote monastery in the Western Hemisphere. Also, at next week’s Space for God at 8.30 Tuesday morning EST I’ll be offering something directly from one of the trips.

Among many key inputs and several companions along the way was the surprise of Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016.  The Canadian poet, songwriter, musician, and author is best known for his song simply titled “Hallelujah”, made more famous when it appeared in the movie “Shrek” and countless American Idol-esque performances since.  A recent documentary about the song and more about Leonard Cohen’s life itself touched me on a couple of very early mornings on the island of Crete.  The last scene is him saying unscripted and quite transparently, “You look around, and you see a world that is impenetrable, that cannot be made sense of.  You either raise your fist or say ‘Hallelujah’…I try to do both.

YES!  Yes.  This is what so many of the Psalms are about, like Psalm 37 among others.  They start with an angry assessment of all that is not right, they end by looking again to God, trusting him, and then explicitly and conscientiously praising him.  Jesus, with his eyes firmly fixed on his Father (John 5.19-20a), also stared at the things that break people wherever he encountered them, and did something.

Holding these two realities together—the brokenness of the world and that of the God who is utterly Real and truly praiseworthy—is deeply what I’m about and have been since my first trip around the world in 1994-1995.  It’s going on 30 years now, and I’m not loosening my grip on either truth.

AND, this is also what Coracle is most deeply about—We are people keeping our eyes fixed on God through Christ and being unwilling to ignore the realities of the world that break God’s heart.  Yes, here again is our mission: “to inspire and enable people to be the presence of God in the brokenness of the world through Spiritual Formation for Kingdom Action.”  I am re-invigorated.  Yes… deeper into Jesus, deeper into the places that need God’s healing power, including our own, including my own.

And I am not alone.  We—those who love Jesus and hate things that hurt people—are together.  If you’ve read this far, you care about Coracle and want to be a part of this ministry, and we want you to be a part of this community.  We want to go wherever God leads us, and do that together with others of like mind, like heart, like fire, and like desire.  Coracle is drawing us together, creating a place and a community, enabling us to find encouragement on the journey, strength for the building, and courage for the fight.  Jesus promised us trouble.  He also promises that he has overcome it (John 16.33).

You might remember the vision coming out of last year’s season of corporate discernment, called “The Next Journey”.  Well, Tara and I moved into our new house in Falls Church, VA this past Saturday and we are essentially unpacked.  And, I wrote this newsletter sitting in my office at Coracle’s new ministry space in Arlington, VA.  Wow.  And so much is happening in Baltimore, more is coming at Corhaven in the Shenandoah Valley, other physical places are percolating, and there’s much online and more coming so anyone anywhere can join in, be blessed, and be a part of.

Thank you truly for contributing to our Mid-Year Campaign.  You’re making all this possible and we need all the financial support that comes in these next couple of months as we make these transitions and grow.

Sabbatical was great, and it’s really great to be back.  God is really really good.  God’s worth saying “Hallelujah” about (and to), often.

On the journey,

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