In the writing of my new book Beauty in the Wreckage: Finding Peace in the Age of Outrage, there were parts that were my favorites and I want to share one from each chapter with you. In this second post, I have selected portions from chapters 6-10. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, you can get three free chapters and the links where to buy it at this website.
Chapter 6- Prayer as Breathing
As we breathe, our lives become a prayer that never ceases. It is the place in the Spirit where we live, we move, and have our being. It is the beginning place of our union and constant communion with the Divine. It is the beginning place of the sweet embrace of heaven and earth coming together within us with every present inhalation and exhalation. It is the beginning place of this ever-present receiving of shalom.
Our prayer as breathing is the invitation of shalom.
And there is an absolutely beautiful intimacy in giving everything we have and everything we are to the Divine- every thought, every emotion, every motive, every heartache, every burden, every tear, every praise, and every word of thanksgiving, always done with every breath taken.
Chapter 7- Shalom as Transformation
Shalom is where the holy inner work begins. It is the light that exposes the darkness of our false self and the love that resurrects and illuminates our true self.
And this movement from the false self, which exists in disunion, toward the true self, which is resurrected in shalom, is a holy (and wholly) transformative experience. It is the discovery of, and the transformative movement toward, who we were always meant to be as fully integrated, fully alive human beings.
Chapter 8- Living as Presence
There is the ever-present reality into which we can reside, where love wholly embraces, where peace makes its home. It grows into a new way of living, a new way of seeing people and the world, and it becomes the perpetual outflow of our spirit.
And this reality is so much more than a singular event, so much more than a sporadic, momentary act, so much more than an expression of gratitude when the conditions are right. It is a an ever-flowing expression and heartbeat of presence and gratitude in everything, in every moment of the day, with every breath taken. And is never dependent upon the situations or circumstances of our lives.
From the depths of our souls and with every breath, we become this life-giving and ever-present reality.
We give thanks. It is so good.
Chapter 9- Community as Life
But that is what we desperately need right now. We do not need communities of perfection. We need communities of brokenness that are deeply rooted in the Ground of Being and that carry and sustain one another in this deep and abiding love.
Faith communities of the future must be an equal playing field. And everyone, no matter who we are, whether it be a pastor, an elder, a lay-people, or simply a seeker, must realize that we are all in the same place before God, that we all need to bare our hearts and souls to one another without fear, and that we all need the encouraging words, love, prayers, and care of the others.
Faith communities of the future will be raw and bare bones in its vulnerability and honesty, and also renown for its depth and hunger for the Christ. They will be faith communities that lack pretense, judgment, and self-righteousness and simply invites people to come together around a table, to roll up their sleeves, and to speak with an honest hearts in pursuit of the healing and restoration of God, even when there are a few F-bombs or when we are joined by someone who is drunk or high.
The table of the Christ always has room and there is always an empty seat of invitation for everyone.
Chapter 10- When Shalom Goes Forth
We need a growing movement of dreamers and revolutionaries and prophets from community to community who envision a different way of seeing and an alternative way of living in the world.
We need a people rising in the radical resurrection of shalom, who have flipped the script, and who will take this great light into the darkness, who will straighten these crooked paths, who will be repairers and restorers of this great breach of injustice and unrighteousness, and who will stand up, even in the face of intimidation, violence, and impending death, to be the resurgence of love and beauty in the wreckage.
Resistance is not enough. We must become shalom. And then we must take this shalom courageously with us, as we revolt against this present darkness together.
There is absolutely nothing more beautiful and revolutionary than when the unsurpassable peace and love of God’s shalom pours into each of us, becoming our collective center, becoming our collective source, and then that which we begin to carry with us, as we lock arms in community, as a family, and carry this light of peace and love into the world.
This is how the cycle will ultimately end.
This is how these dead bones will begin to rise.
This is how love will decisively win.
This is how beauty will flourish in the wreckage.