On These Things... ~E Reiss
Philippians 4:8 says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
And sure, we can all nod to that one. We love true, and honorable and just, at least we like to think we like those things...
The medievalists taught us, even if we've fogotten, how to meditate on the things that scripture brings. In their writing, they would often stop to provide a list of virtues, or the attributes of God, or of a series of good things that are revealed to us in God's word. The modern reader frowns while we slog through a list, but the intention was for us to sit... and consider... each word... for a moment. Only then moving on to the next line, or thought or paragraph to come.
If you haven't done this kind of meditation, Philippians 4 is an excellent place to start. I'll walk you through it, but green light to daydream a bit on your own. It's interesting how the mind can be a springboard for the spirit in exactly this sort of way.
Something true: kids and animals are adorable.
In the photo above, who cares about economic status, or the suffering we endure in life, or the notion that camels can be quite unruly... for a moment, grin and let your heart laugh like a girl enjoying her camel.
Something honorable: a great teacher pouring into their kids.
Didn't you have one of these? The teacher that was amazing, and that was a safe place for a kind word or a great conversation? Someone who went the extra mile to help a class that needed it, or came early to stay late to develop the class that was needed, but wasn't a part of the curriculum already? The kind of teacher that inspires effort, and careers, and even calls without calling, students to become teachers themselves, to pass the goodness on another generation - these folks are honorable!
Something just: a judge who gets it right.
They do, a lot more often than you might think. Yes, the stories are legion about this case or that one that doesn't end like it should. But here imagine the judge who gets it right. Who lays down a ruling with wisdom and with balance. Who weaves mercy with justice in way that is good for society AND the individual. I've stood in the dock before such a judge and appreciated their insight and kindness even as I paid the fine and court costs. True justice is a good thing and we should celebrate it when it comes.
Something pure: clean, cold water on a hot summer's day.
It's no accident that water is a symbol of purity in almost every culture. But for this exercise, think of being hot... and of being thirsty... and then of acquiring a very cold bottle of water. That first drink is something isn't it? Simple, life-giving, non-partisan, non-agenda driven pleasure. It's something pure. Let our lives be more like that.
Something lovely: the color green.
Not that green, you contrary colorist, the good green! The deep, rich, royal, relax, and exhale green. The life giving springtime green. The green of Irish moss in the lee. The warm, swirling ocean green leading you to the coral reef with it's dance of life and color. The green of the fir in the dead of winter, standing his post with faithfulness and unassailable life. The green of a Yucatan lime.
That green is lovely! Think about that green.
Something commendable: the person who fixes a problem, without making it a thing.
They quietly do this, in homes, and in digital spaces, and in organizations of every stripe, every single day. She moves the welcome mat so it doesn't stick the door to irritate her family when they go out for the day. He sees the typo misspelling and just corrects it, without grammer policing anyone. It's the million little things, adjusted, tweaked, bumped and nudged and loved and all without an ounce of credit. If you've done this lately - I commend you in absentia. Consider your life and context and take a moment to be grateful for the one who made your life a tiny bit easier - without you even realizing it.
Something excellent: the student who writes a sonnet, as a ghost story, and pulls it off.
Yes, Evangeline is well above average, I couldn't hold it in any longer, settle down. But if you don't think that was excellent, on her first try at a sonnet, then you need to go through the list again and be more positive. It was Bill and Ted level excellent.
Something worthy of praise: the great musical performance.
Think about the artist you love that just clocked it.
Don't you dare hold it in, give out a healthy whoop and put your hands together. There are things that are fun, and that are extraordinarily worthy of praise. *Insert crowd noises and applause here.*
There now, wasn't that a worthwhile 4 minutes of time? In our unending era of tragedy porn and 24 hour cycles of bummer cable content, take a moment to think about these things, more often.
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.