Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Navigating the Asteroid Field: Spiritual Growth Practice

One metaphor I keep returning to in my thinking about how to pursue the life of faith with intentionality is the asteroid field.  I haven't yet written about it here. but did bring it up recently over on Felicity Dale's Blog.  The topic there had to do with the tension between tending internal relationships vs. outreach to others, but that raised the question of whether there is a regular "sequence" to these things or not.  (E.g. "FIRST we get close, THEN we can reach out to others.")  In that context I dropped in my thought about navigating in the absence of a stable sequence or pathway.  I think it applies both to groups and individuals.  At any rate, here's the comment from that conversation which will at least introduce the metaphor for us here.

The critique of "sequentialism" resonated with me. It's like the traditional way of navigating where you have a map and a route and just go step by step. But that only works if the terrain stays put! These days I think navigating as a faith community is more like flying your moving spaceship through a field of randomly drifting asteroids. There is no "path," and if you start trying to chart one the asteroids will have moved before you get it finished so it's obsolete before it's done. Navigating in this environment is, I think, done by quick orientation followed by incremental movement, then repeat. And orientation means knowing what's right next to you as well as where you ultimately are trying to go.

In practice, I think that calls for the listening to God and each other that others have mentioned. We Refresh our awareness of where we are and where we are going, then Respond. So the path forward isn't laid out in advance as a sequence A to B to C to D etc. Rather, the sequence is replaced by a discipline: "(Refresh, Respond) Repeat."
I think, if we do that, then the original question about community vs. mission gets answered over and over as God leads.
Thoughts on an (R,R)R practice for faith life?  I'd love to hear them.

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