RwR 16/7 to 22/7

A busy week.

SoTW: Wrong – Lucas King / Shepherd of My Soul – Martin Nystrom

A bit later than expected, but still glad it’s on a Sun night.

 

How I’ve been…

  1. Physically:
    1. Sleep was forced earlier due to the schedules of ICT, but I’ve found out I can function decently on a few days of 3-4 hours of sleep. Not good for the long-term, of course.
    2. Sleeping in camp also somehow allows one to have much better sleep than at home (despite the uncomfortable conditions). Probably because one’s so exhausted.
    3. Exercise has been discontinued after returning from camp. I suppose I’ll have to restart it again soon…
  2. Mentally:
    1. Felt surprised I could get so much done during ICT, but unfortunately nothing that I planned to get done. The usual work, of course.
    2. Slowed down a lot upon returning (for Sat and Sun), so maybe it was good to rest for a bit.
  3. Emotionally:
    1. Generally so busy that I hadn’t had much time to think that much.
    2. Still, there were a few instances when I reflected and found some things interesting. But for the most part, I’m not sure if it’s due to busyness or due to something else that I’m like that.
    3. I’d say the week was flat, then.
  4. Socially:
    1. No meetups this week but met a lot of old acquaintances, some friends and new people during ICT.
    2. It was a surprisingly humbling experience (upon reflection) – maybe this’ll turn out for the better.
  5. Spiritually:
    1. An okay week. Hadn’t been to church for today and last Sunday – resting for the former and packing for the latter. But there’s certainly things which came to mind, floated away, then drifted into sight again.
    2. It’s surprising what time can do – and also what it can’t do. But God can do much…
    3. [What God’s taught me this week]: It is good to be humbled when one meets those of a humbler station in life than one. Though they have little in the eyes of the world, there is much I can learn from them.
    4. That, and how the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr actually had a second, longer, part that was frequently cut. This is what it says:
      1. God, give us grace to accept with serenity
        the things that cannot be changed,
        Courage to change the things
        which should be changed,
        and the Wisdom to distinguish
        the one from the other.

        Living one day at a time,
        Enjoying one moment at a time,
        Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
        Taking, as Jesus did,
        This sinful world as it is,
        Not as I would have it,
        Trusting that You will make all things right,
        If I surrender to Your will,
        So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
        And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

        Amen.

      2. I find the second half of the prayer intriguing. For those who frequently like to claim that ‘God wants you to be happy’ and ‘If you find God you’ll find joy’ (there’s a well-fought debate on the difference between happiness and joy, but that’s for another time), it’s interesting that Niebuhr doesn’t present ‘ultimate happiness’ as being possible in this life. Instead, it’s a lower bar – a lower standard which most of us will find acceptable.  After all, I don’t think it’s possible to be infinitely happy in this life – even if one was, it wouldn’t last forever. But by being reminded that God’s grace makes it possible for us to be reasonably happy, I find it strangely comforting.
    5. Finally, on how it’s not possible (or recommended) for a Christian to live a physical life of seclusion. No doubt the Desert Fathers lived in communities and different orders of later monks/friars had different purposes, but this story reminds one of the need to do good in the world as well:
      1. One of the fathers asked Abba Nastir, the friend of the blessed Anthony, saying, “What is the best work for me to do?” And he said unto him, “Not all kinds of labour are the same. For the book saith that Abraham was a lover of strangers, and that God was with him; and Elijah was a lover of a life of silent contemplation, and God was with him; and David was a humble man, and God was with him; therefore whatsoever work thy soul wisheth to do, provided that it be of God, that do, and keep thy heart from evil things.”

        And the brother asked him again, saying, “Father, tell me other things”; and the old man said “Abba Anbastion asked Abba Athri, saying ,’What shall I do?’ And he said unto him, ‘Go, make thy belly little, and the work of thy hands great, and be not troubled in thy cell.'”

        And again the brother asked him, saying, “If there be a persecution, is it better to flee to the desert or to the habitation of men?” And the old man said unto him, “Go wheresoever thou hearest that true believers are, and have no friendship with a youth, and do not dwell with one; and if thou art able to do so, dwell in thy cell, for this is good, and cleanse thy garden with herbs. This is far better than going to a man and asking him questions.”

        And again the brother asked him, “I wish to dwell in close friendship with a brother, and I want to live a life of silent contemplation by myself in my cell, and he must give me what I want, and I will give him the work of my hands.” The old man said unto him, “The fathers have never sought after a thing of this kind; and if thou dost not give bread to the poor Satan will not permit thee [so to live].”

    6. Explaining this whole story (so that others aren’t stumbled) will probably take a separate post, but I find the quote ‘Go, make thy belly little, and the work of thy hands great’ greatly amusing. But the third part is critical: “be not troubled in thy cell” – too often in our striving we become anxious and wonder whether we’re doing enough. This seems to take the middle road: Not falling into sloth (which, truthfully, should trouble one), and not falling into anxiety over one’s works (which are established by God). This also reflects a sense of trust in (and peace from/within) God, which I could always use more of/grow in.
  6. Character improvements:
    1. More could be done with regards to nailbiting, but I don’t know about any definite improvements so I’ll say nothing.
  7. Hobbies:
    1. Bit of time on cello and viola on Sat, much time slacking and resting in games.
  8. Random thoughts:
    1. “So busy…”
    2. “Tired…”
    3. “Tired…”
    4. “Oh shi…”
    5. “There, but for the grace of God…”
    6. “Meh…”
    7. “Mmm…”
  9. Week ahead:
    1. Need to do acads but that’s about it…yea.
  10. Prayer for upcoming week:
    1. Clarity and wisdom with regards to the work which lies before (me).
    2. For God to gently lead and guide me to where He wants me to be…in more ways than one.
    3. Renewed commitment to follow, and courage to back that commitment.

 

 

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