Phones

PhonesToday’s Word: ‘PHONES’ as in… let’s try this together: let’s turn them off. Let’s shut them down. Let’s see what happens!

I woke up to the gentle sound of a strumming guitar from an alarm app I use. I picked up my phone, turned off the alarm and headed downstairs to feed the pup and take her outside. Back inside, I opened a weather app to see what it was like outside as I lit a fire in the family room. I brewed some coffee, sat on the couch and put in my earbuds. Looking for the Headspace app, I got distracted by a news app. After reading the first four headlines about Covid-19, US tourists stranded in Europe, a shortage of hospital beds, and another nursing home in lock-down, I continued looking for Headspace. Distracted, I opened a sports app. I wondered what might be going on there. Absolutely nothing. I checked FB and IG, and was just about to launch Headspace when I noticed an alert from my weather app. I opened it. I read it. Never mind that I had just been outside.

Finally, opening Headspace I was greeted by “The Wake Up” which posed this question: “When was the last time you went a day without your phone?” A short video featured a number of ‘Headspacers’ sharing their responses: “Can’t remember…” “Don’t think I ever have…” “Traveling without my charging cord…” “Hiking, and out of range.”

This got me thinking: how would I answer that question? Most of us are up to our eyelashes in technology every day; dawn-‘til-dusk-and-beyond. Giving ourselves a sabbath; not merely a break, but some intentional time to rest, renew, and restore could be the single best thing we “do” all week. I knew I was in trouble when I opened the weather app after just being outside.

So, here’s the challenge for Sunday: decide on a duration of time that you’ll just turn it off. Can you step away from it for an hour?

Let’s try this together. Let’s turn them off. Let’s shut them down. Let’s see what happens!

#100days50words

Rodeo

RodeoToday’s Word: ‘RODEO’ as in… this really isn’t our first one, as far as disease goes. We’ve been here before. Maybe that’s the good news.

I know I’m equipped with an inordinate, even maddening amount of positivity (“there’s a pony in here somewhere…”), but this “plague” that we’re dealing with isn’t the first one on record and probably won’t be the last.

Well, now, that wasn’t very positive, was it?

If you think back 493 years or so, give or take a couple, the people of Wittenberg, Germany were scrambling to stay out of the way of a virus that had already seriously impacted countless lives around the world. Martin Luther, monk, priest, theologian, professor, pastor, and hymn writer had some prescient things to say about social responsibility in dire times. Digging deep into his faith for some answers—or, more accurately, some responses, he came up with a plan for moving ahead. It’s a good one.

Here is Martin Luther’s 493 year old manifesto:

“Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

(Luther’s Works, Volume 43, page 132)

Prayer, social distancing, a strong sense of community responsibility, service – it’s all there. And it’s all right here as well. So let’s press on, take heart and remind ourselves early and often that this isn’t our first rodeo.

Now, go wash your hands.

#100days50words

Motivation

MotivationToday’s Word: ‘MOTIVATION’ as in… “What’s your motivation for doing what you’re doing right now?”

Andy Puddicombe is a brother from another mother and another friend whom I’ve never met. I call Andy my “friend” because he and I spend time together every morning. Andy is the co-founder of Headspace, a meditation app launched in 2012 which has millions of followers and subscribers around the world.

(The premium version of the app is now free for all US healthcare professionals working in public health settings).

I’ve used Headspace for a couple of years, but it’s been particularly helpful lately. I’ve found that by making a commitment of 10 to 15 minutes each morning helps frame my mind for moving through the day. Centering into the exercise by focusing on the rhythm of breathing, Andy asks, “What’s your motivation for doing today’s meditation?” I’m paying closer attention to that question.

More broadly, “Why do we do what we do?” My natural inclination, of course, is to do pretty much everything for myself. But challenging me to really think about my motivations gives me that opportunity to step into a different, far more healthy and whole place: our relationship together. I’m doing this right now to create wider margin for clearer doing, thinking, and being.

My motivation for sharper awareness is to learn how this unique time in our shared history can teach us to live differently; to be different each day for one another. I want to be spirited differently, be creative differently, be connected differently, be present differently, practice gratitude and generosity differently so that as a missional child of God I’ll live differently. My hope and expectation is that when we all do this together, when we’re all paying attention to our “other-and-outwardly-focused” motivations for doing what we’re doing, it will be like a drop of water in a pool, rippling all the way to the edges.

That’s some good motivation! A favor, please? Would you be willing to hit the “share” button wherever you read this and let’s widen the circle? Go ahead and “Share” this. Thank you friends!

#100days50words

Patience

A frayed rope unraveling against a white background.Today’s Word: ‘PATIENCE’ as in… when patience runs thin, what happens next becomes vitally important.

It’s safe to say that the human race is doing pretty well navigating through this challenging time.

For the most part.

We’re doing pretty well navigating things we haven’t had to navigate before, in spite of describing it with words and phrases like self-quarantining, social distancing, schooling from home, working remotely, national emergency, unprecedented global event, pandemic, to say nothing of the absence of toilet paper. But we’re doing alright.

Aside from the occasional not-quite-so-subtle-sideways-looks from someone wearing a mask toward someone not wearing a mask, or the not-quite-so-subtle-double-take from the person who happens to get within six feet of someone else who is reaching across a five-foot high pallet of paper towels at Costco, we’re doing rather well.

Except for the public, online chastising of apparently the entire boomer population (all 73 million members of the “gray tsunami”) for not appropriately quarantining, by a writer apparently writing on behalf of the entire millennial population (roughly, ironically the same number), we’re doing pretty well.

But I still need some help.

And here’s what I need to keep in mind every day: patience.

Patience allows us to give others the same benefit of the doubt as we need. We’re in this together, so when we’re running low on patience maybe it’s because we’re fearful of what we don’t know. And we don’t know a lot. If we’re looking sideways at someone because they’re running errands and coughing in aisle 14 instead of maintaining a stricter sense of self quarantine, maybe it’s because they needed to pick up some medication from the pharmacy and we just happened to walk past them in the dog food aisle. And speaking of dogs, maybe they have a dog or two and they’re down to their last three scoops of food. When we’re on our last three scoops of patience, we do all kinds of things.

Let’s work at creating a generous amount of space for others to enter in.

And let’s pause, breathe in, and welcome each other with patience.

#100days50words

Gesture

GestureToday’s Word: ‘GESTURE’ as in… when a grocery store asks the community to just pause, to step aside and let those on the edges come to the center, that’s an amazing way to embrace one another in love!

Yesterday I posted the guiding narrative for thriving generously. Just in case, here it is again: “We thrive as generous people by seeking lavish interactions with the world around us so that the abundance of the few can transform the scarcity of the many into a feast of blessing where all have enough.”

Soon after, I received an email from a local grocery store taking big steps toward generosity. What they’re suggesting is absolutely biblical:

At this time, we are asking all customers to respect our request of having the opening hour of 7 to 8 a.m. each day reserved for those shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems. In doing so, our intent is to provide an opportunity for those individuals to be the first to shop after our overnight cleaning and stocking so they have increased access to essential products.”

This takes me right into the fantastic book of Leviticus (like it does!):

“When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing around the edges of your fields and don’t pick up what falls on the ground. Leave it for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the LORD your God!” (Leviticus 22:23)

In challenging times it’s easy to overlook others. Challenges have a way of narrowing our vision to the point where we’re not looking at the edges where the most vulnerable are. It’s easy to overlook those who are not as mobile, or technologically equipped, or socially nimble, or emotionally agile or savvy as the next person. So when a grocery store asks the community to just pause, to step aside and let those on the edges come to the center, that’s an amazing way to embrace one another in love!

What a beautifully generous gesture!

#100days50words

Generous

Generous 1Today’s Word: ‘GENEROUS’ as in… the guiding narrative for a generous life goes like this: “We thrive as generous people by seeking lavish interactions with the world around us so that the abundance of the few can transform the scarcity of the many into a feast of blessing where all have enough.”

I’ve worked with three different small groups over the past two years pulling apart this narrative (along with the other six Thriving Rhythms narratives) in an effort to understand how living into these seven specific rhythms creates a deeper sense of thriving in our lives. I’m convinced that by exploring what it means to be spirited, creative, connected, present, grateful, generous and missional people, we’ll have what we need when global challenges present themselves locally.

There’s an enormous amount of fear swirling around what we know and what we don’t know about Covid-19. Fear is always a response to what we can’t see and don’t know. But as that fear begins to wane—and it will, we will encounter more stories of generosity as they begin to surface. Already stories are beginning to bend the narrative from fear on toward a more generative, generous rhythm of life: people are checking in on others who are not just isolated, but insolated.

Those with financial resources are coming to the aid of others who are vulnerable on just about every level.

Parents with flexible work schedules are reaching out to families with inflexible work schedules and providing not just child care, but tutoring and mentoring with encouragement.

Seth Godin nailed it again today in his blog. He writes,

Staying at home and sheltering in place is not selfish, it’s generous! Practicing social distancing helps keep the virus from infecting and impacting others and at the same time it flattens the curve of the spread of the pandemic, giving healthy facilities a chance to provide care over time.”

If you need a mantra, here it is: “As a child of God, I am a ‘generous’ human being; I’m free to live open handedly and open heartedly.”

This can change everything.

#100days50words

Quarantine

QuarantineToday’s Word: ‘QUARANTINE‘ as in… maybe just another word for sabbatical.

My good friend Greg, having just returned from Norway, is just beginning a 14-day quarantine.

Three nights ago, Greg and his traveling companions were notified at 3AM that they had a very small widow of time to leave Norway in order to return to the United States. That very small window of time included scrambling to rebook new flights for a party of eight, then driving some pretty gnarly, ice-covered roads through the Scandinavian countryside in the dark to get to the airport. But they’re back, safe and sound. Well, they’re back, anyway. And Greg’s summary of the whole ordeal: “…bottom line, all is well and we’ve got some great stories to tell.” I love that about Greg, he’s got ‘Positivity’ in his Top-5. I just know it.

Isn’t it amazing what happens when our plans are interrupted, when we’re forced to take an alternate route, leave at another time, go in a different direction? Stories. Creativity. Perspective. Quarantine. Sabbatical. The quarantine means that Greg now has a bit of “discretionary time” on his hands. And because it’s impossible for Greg to work remotely, he’s got some time to play, create, and gain some new perspective.

When I asked him what he’ll be doing during the quarantine, he used the words “creative juices,” “Northern Minnesota,” “Cabin,” and “The Milky Way” all in the same sentence. That’s another thing I love about Greg.

This got me thinking about how quarantine is not unlike sabbatical. The gift of quarantine is time to step away from the normal routines. Usual rhythms of life are interrupted and we’re able to tap into new opportunities that we wouldn’t have had. So as long as all of our schedules are a bit wonky, which for some, admittedly, will feel like driving some pretty gnarly, ice-covered roads through the Scandinavian countryside in the dark to get to wherever it is we’re going, we might as well embrace it.

What kind of creativity can come out of your next 14 amazing days?

Big shout-out to @gregash28!

#100days50words